Sunday, October 22, 2006


Tag is now out during recess at Willett Elementary School in Attleboro. So is touch football and any other unsupervised "chasing" games that are deemed to pose the risk of injury as well as liability to the school. "It's a time when accidents can happen," said Principal Gaylene Heppe, in her second year at the helm of Willett. Heppe included the new rule as part of a standardized set of playground rules that were not in play upon her arrival. In doing so, she joined in a growing movement against traditional games played by young children in school gymnasiums and playgrounds. A few years ago, school administrators in the area, as well as around the country, took aim at dodgeball, saying it was an exclusionary and dangerous game. Modified versions now include softer balls and ways for children to re-enter the action.

While no district-wide policies banning contact sports at recess appear to have been put in place locally, many principals are making up new rules in an atmosphere reflecting society's increasingly cautious and litigious nature. Elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyo. and Spokane, Wash. banned tag at recess this year. So, too, did a suburban Charleston, S.C. school, outlawing all unsupervised contact sports.

Reasons cited by school administrators largely focused on safety; kids would get too rough or run into each other, giving rise to parent complaints and threats of lawsuits. Another reason cited was that in a free-for-all activity at recess, such as tag, some children would become unsuspecting, and unwilling, participants in the game. A number of those same schools, however, allowed those activities with supervision during gym classes.

Some Willett School parents interviewed for this story said the new recess rules are misguided, especially with the serious issue of childhood obesity. Others said they work against children developing skills to negotiate rules and resolve disputes. "I think that it's unfortunate that kids' lives are micromanaged and there are social skills they'll never develop on their own," said Debbie Laferriere, who has two children at Willett. "Playing tag is just part of being a kid," she said. "Now, for children not to be able to make those decisions by themselves without interference from adults doesn't give them the opportunity to make their own choices." Games like tag give children "social skills that transfer to later in life," she said.

Parent Christine McAndrews agreed. "I think it's a little bit silly," she said, adding that she was not aware the rule was in place. "The kids love to play pick-up football games that they organize themselves. It's great for their social skills and they resolve things on their own. It's good for them." "It's part of being a kid," she said.

Willett parent Celeste D'Elia, on the other hand, backed Heppe's decision. Her son, she said, feels safer and enjoys the alternatives to throwing a football around. "I've witnessed enough near collisions" in the playground area, D'Elia said. "I support anything that makes the playground safer and helps teacher to keep track of them."

Calls to a handful of elementary schools in this area revealed that principals are dictating the rules of play at recess, but the rules differ. David Barner, principal of Thacher Elementary School in Attleboro, said there is no outright ban on tag, touch football or other such games during recess at the school. "We do have discussions at the beginning and throughout the school year about rules so that students play appropriately," he said. The physical education teacher plays a large role in instructing children on how to play games, he said.

Matthew Joseph, new principal of Hyman Fine Elementary School, also said there's no prohibition of contact sports at recess. Teachers and others, however, are trying to redirect children from physical games to those that involve teamwork. There is also an effort to get children using the new playground the PTO installed and a new field. Team games, like kickball, are encouraged, he said.

Mary Brown, principal of the Solmonese Elementary School in Norton, on the other hand, doesn't consider tag a contact sport. "We play two-hand tag on the shoulder" which is supervised, she said. "No pushing is allowed." Tag football is also allowed for third-graders, if supervised, Brown said. Of course, she noted, "you have to have someone out there young enough to run around with them."

George Gagnon, principal of Falls Elementary School in North Attleboro, said playground rules have swung a different direction since he started there four years ago. Tag, touch football, soccer, "they can play all that," he said. That wasn't the case before he arrived. Gagnon's philosophy is, "I'd rather see them running around, getting fresh air and coming back in refreshed." He feels children are "trapped" in organized sports like football, hockey and baseball. Running around outside at recess, kids make up their own games with their own rules and resolutions, Gagnon said. Accidents occur "every couple of days," he said. "But kids run and fall --- that's kids."



As long as it is Leftists who do the abusing, of course

In choosing to phrase her jab at Virginia Senator George Allen, whose mother is Jewish, with the term "Macacawitz," Democratic congressional candidate Al Weed's now former field organizer Meryl Ibis has with a single word encapsulated the difference between the Jewish minority and all others. For she reproached Allen for using an ethnic slur-by using an ethnic slur herself (indeed by innovating one). "Macacawitz" is testimony to the fact that Jews don't enjoy the same PC protections their fellow minorities do.

Perceived as part of the power structure, Jews are subconsciously considered by the Left, the media establishment and the other minorities as a privileged minority, and therefore not as vulnerable or in need of protected-class status. This is what makes Jews in fact the most vulnerable minority of all.

Perhaps this is best illustrated by a point that writer Hillel Halkin made in a 2002 Commentary article titled "The Return of Anti-Semitism" -namely that hostility toward Jews has grown in direct proportion to the number of Jews killed. In contrast, sympathy for Middle Easterners-a minority in the more traditional, visible, color-coded sense-has increased in direct proportion to the number of people they've killed. It seems, the more people that Muslims kill, the less popular Jews become. This has managed to happen because Jews are the politically incorrect minority.

When other minorities-rightly or wrongly-accuse someone of being a racist, the conditioned, immediate reaction is guilt-if only for a moment-before rationality takes over. But when Jews-rightly or wrongly-accuse someone of being an anti-Semite, the immediate reaction is eye-rolling. And at least once, I've gotten a "Yeah, so?"-eliciting from me a momentary inclination to answer, "Oh, sorry-never mind. Nothing wrong with being anti-Semitic; why some of my best friends are anti-Semites!"

If one thinks about it, what other ethnic group is blamed for genocidal murders against it? What other ethnic group's back do the other minorities not have? Indeed, what other minority do the rest of the minorities help bash? And what other minority's enemies do the media help in fabricating crimes by the said minority? What other minority has placards devoted to it at pro-terrorist rallies in Boston and San Francisco, reading Death to the [fill in minority]? Finally, what other nation has been exterminated not because of some ethnic rivalry with another nation or by some conquering force, but because of an entire, diverse continent pitching in? Then, after no nation offered this ethnic group a safe harbor, such that it had to shed even more of its blood to secure one, the world decided it wanted a recall of that agreed-upon harbor.

Jews don't inspire the Left's sympathy. We are perceived to be an essentially "white" minority, and one doesn't get a warm fuzzy feeling from sticking up for white folks-and moneyed white folks at that. Ah yes, the money. Whoever has the money has the power, right? Those rich Jews are imperturbable, above any threat. Just like rich America can solve any problem; if it's not doing so, it means its people are indifferent, greedy, or corrupt.

With money being on the minds-to the point of obsession-of working Joes, of disgruntled anti-capitalists, and of have-nots, it's the jealousies that make it more dangerous to be a member of the Jewish minority than of the have-not minorities. Even Jewish generosity to less fortunate minorities has bred contempt among the latter, the thinking being, "Boy, those Jews must really have a lot of money if they're wasting it on us. Those bastards!"

The caricature of the well-off Jew has spun off into another, increasingly oft-heard contemporary libel against Jews: that it's "risky" to contradict the "powerful" Jews: "Oh, you can't say anything against the Jews-you'll get in trouble." (Yes, God forbid you might get hit with a ton of press releases from the ADL.) These folks would find truth in the statement that in at least one way, there is more freedom of speech in the Middle East. Anyone can go over there and, without any consequences, declare publicly that Jews suck; here it's not so easy.

But Jewish "power" doesn't come from any ability, much less inclination, to threaten anyone. The notion is all the more contradictory given that, generally speaking, we're better behaved than most other minorities. And when we're offended, we mostly just whine while others kill (a distinction that the country's collective reticence during the Mohammed-cartoon controversy admitted-even if our tongues still won't).

Even on comedy stages, the new trend seems to be to casually announce "I'm not a fan of the Jew," as one Italian comic did at a recent open mic. (This declaration didn't precede or cap off any related bit; he just wanted to put that out there). The previous week another comedian had informed the audience that he didn't like Jews-but that he had a good reason: his boss is Jewish and he's an a-hole.

Is this the new "boldness?" In the current environment, people are "finally able to say what we think," as many in Europe and the Middle East have been putting it of late, particularly when expressing doubts about Holocaust numbers. Ironically, the same people whom we've heard over the years marveling at the world's silence amid the Holocaust, dismayed that the world "could have allowed" something like that to take place, are today coming to the conclusion that there can be a rational aversion to a group, and are allowing for the possibility that Jews bring the enmities on themselves, that they must have had it coming, just as they do today. And so here we are: Holocaust studies are at an all-time high at universities, as are anti-Semitic incidents, and school children go about collecting six million paper clips (or pennies, depending on the school) to get a sense of what that number looks like. What "Macacawitz" shows us is that all of these exercises will have amounted to a how-to guide.

The ironic "Macacawitz" term has reminded me of a thought I had when Mahathir Mohamad was retiring as Malaysia's prime minister in 2003 and went on about Jews controlling the world. For a moment, I actually thought: "That's kind of interesting-the anti-Jewish stuff coming from someone of the Oriental persuasion. Not something you see every day. Arabs and Europeans, yeah, but someone of Mongoloid stock? Hey, it's all about diversity! Far Easterners should get their chance too."

As George Will put it, "Celebration of tolerance is the first refuge of the intolerant."

Perhaps the biggest irony was summed up by Claremont McKenna College Professor John J. Pitney, Jr. on the Political Mavens blog: "Thanks in part to the 'macaca' episode, the Virginia Senate race remains tight. If a Republican loss there tips control of the Senate to the Democrats, then Robert Byrd will become the chamber's president pro tempore. Concern about racism would thus put a former Klansman in the line of succession to the presidency."


More photo-hatred in Australia

This should be great for the Australian tourism industry. Waverley Council controls Australia's most famous beach -- Bondi

A Sydney council has decreed the act of taking a photograph in a public place is a hazard to public safety. Waverley Council rangers have been given orders to move people on who have not sought its permission to take photographs in a public area because shoppers are "running the gauntlet". The Saturday Daily Telegraph was alerted to the draconian measures - normally associated with totalitarian dictatorships - while conducting a news poll and taking pictures of obliging shoppers in Spring St, Bondi Junction, on Thursday evening.

The ranger issued orders to leave the public area, outside the Eastgate shopping centre, after a security guard notified rangers of our survey - unrelated to the council or the shopping centre. Ranger Nikki Taylor said permission was required to take the photos because it was a "safety issue" to stop people in the street. Waverley Council's Bondi Junction manager Linda McDonald confirmed the measures, saying she believed her rangers had legal grounds to ask people to leave public areas if they were talking to members of the public without permission. "Anyone conducting any act [Even the Soviets did not go that far] on public space is obliged to apply for a permit," Ms McDonald said. "It's a policy of Waverley Council as caretakers of public space." "It's part of our policies and procedures, it basically came about by people saying 'we don't want to run the gauntlet'."

Ms McDonald said this policy was the same as "every other Sydney council". But councils contacted yesterday had not heard of the extreme policies and lambasted them as an attack on free speech. Manly Mayor Peter McDonald was stunned by the ranger's orders. "There's no way Manly Council would support that," he said. "I think that makes Waverley Council look a little silly." A Manly Council spokesman called the policies "extraordinary". "It's Waverley, not North Korea," he said.

Randwick Council said it would only give move-along directions to people disrupting the public if a complaint was made, but did not require anyone to make a formal request to use their public space.

Edwina Stratton, 35, Randwick, who was interviewed on Spring St for the poll, said she had not felt endangered or agitated when approached by The Saturday Daily Telegraph. "People asking for money is more of an imposition than people doing surveys," the mother of three said. "They have a lot more of them in that area and they haven't cracked down on them." The newly-elected mayor of Waverley,George Newhouse, could not be reached for comment.


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