Jan 26, 2006

"Fight for these human lives" [LINK]

Second of two:

Kimberly Tsatsarones offers several situations a woman may face that would justify abortion. While there may well be such scenarios, the ones she offers are troubling at best.

She appears to be suggesting that a baby who is certain to be taken away from a drug-addicted mother by the state and suffer drug withdrawal may be better off dead than adopted. If the suggestion is that the mother would bring the baby to term only if she were certain to retain custody, that seems awfully selfish and irresponsible on her part.

It also seems odd to dwell on the case of a mentally ill woman who is manifestly unable to care for her children. It's worth noting that in exercising her right to "choose," the woman brought these children to term. But if anything, her compromised mental state may call for less choice on her part, and for greater vigilance by the state in ensuring her childrens' basic welfare. Why would her decision to abort be considered any more informed than her attempt to care for them?

Ms. Tsatsarones argues that abortion opponents often fail to consider such difficult situations. Perhaps so, but her letter exemplifies the converse: how abortion is routinely offered as the simple answer to so many difficult questions, much like the hammer that makes everything look like a nail.

"Men naturally rebel" [LINK]

First of two today:

While there's been much welcome attention paid to the lagging educational performance of boys, Doug Anglin and his litigious father should be ashamed for their frivolous anti-discrimination suit against Milton High School.

Their basic premise is incoherent: that we must simultaneously treat boys and girls the same while taking special consideration of boys' differences. Thus, the plaintiffs complain that more hall passes are required of boys. They also say rules favoring compliance with authority are "designed to the disadvantage of males," because boys "naturally rebel." Could this naturally rebellious behavior have something to do with boys' special need for supervision in school hallways? Just a thought.

As a way to bolster male achievement (at least on paper), the Anglins' recommend that we give out academic credit for playing sports and grade students on a pass/fail basis, measures that are unlikely to improve the education of any student. As far as I can tell, their only legitimate complaint concerns one teacher who gives extra points to students who decorate their writing assignments, a practice that is certainly suspect and academically insubstantial, but hardly worth clogging the courts.

Welcome to the crazy world of adulthood, Doug. It appears you're learning just fine!

Jan 24, 2006

"Deaths written off" [LINK]

Concerning misplaced empathy:

Following the recent predator strike, Kendra Bucklin suggests that we have little empathy for "innocent Pakistani citizens" who "love their families just as we do," and wonders what would have happened if the strike had occurred on American soil. It's true that some of the unintended casualties may have been innocent, not counting at least four notorious terrorists.

While Ms. Bucklin's question is compelling, I find my own sense of empathy leads me to temper any outrage. I try to imagine myself welcoming Ayman al-Zawahri, one of the most hunted men in the world, to dinner. That leads me to believe that some of those killed were less than innocent, and not entirely concerned with the safety of their families.

Jan 20, 2006

"The New Jim Crow" [LINK]


Only days after Martin Luther King's birthday, it was ironic to read Josiane Hudicourt-Barnes' characterization of MCAS as "the new Jim Crow." She blames the educational achievement gap on "tests created by white people" that disregard the cultural differences of poor minorities, whatever those are supposed to be. Jim Crow, of course, embodied the very same idea: that separate consideration must given when confronted with the prospect of educating blacks.

Jan 12, 2006

"Security First" [LINK]

It's been a while...

I agree with Tim Galvin's response to Evan Meinder's challenge. I, too, would have no problem with a future President Hillary Clinton monitoring transmissions from possible terrorists overseas. I would only dispute Mr. Galvin's observation that "we live in a different world now where such drastic measures" are appropriate.

The President's Article II-based authority to engage in warrantless surveillance for the purpose of foreign intelligence has been recognized long before September 11, has been upheld repeatedly by the judiciary, and is neither new nor drastic. On the other hand, the notion that the FISA court, which unlike the NSA program targets domestic suspects and internal communications consistent with the Fourth Amendment, would somehow trump the President's preeminent authority on foreign threats, is a truly drastic novelty.