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Zero Tolerance, Precious Snowflakes, and the End of Western Civilization.

14 Nov

If you even casually read the news, before too long you will run into a story about some ordinary Public School student being suspended for some totally harmless behavior, under one insane “Zero Tolerance” policy or another. A little more in-depth study will quickly uncover tales of bumptious parents raising holy hell because their child has been held to some kind of objective standard, instead of being given the deference  to which they are sure said little snowflake is entitled.

And this, in a nutshell, sums up what is wrong with the Public School System, and why it isn’t going to get fixed.

There was never a time when Public Schools didn’t include a degree of indoctrination. Never. But there was a time when there was an unspoken agreement between the Parents and the Teachers; the Teachers would indoctrinate the little house apes, and in exchange would also teach them to read, write, and do basic math.

At some point this broke down. Maybe it was when Education Policy became a Federal matter, and the Parents no longer felt they were in substantial control of the curriculum. It also might have to do with the failure of ‘modern teaching theory’ to pound the basics into pointed little skills. It doesn’t matter. The agreement is broken. Parents no longer feel powerful social forces pushing them to allow teachers to discipline their kids, so they are ready to raise Holy Hell if a teacher does something they wouldn’t (or wouldn’t have the guts to). In reaction, schools try to develop systems of regulation that allow them to maintain some kind of order, without opening them up to lawsuits. So they make “No Tolerance” policies that they can point to when they are in trouble.

And, predictably enough, in the midst of all this idiocy, the good, kind people who are attracted to teaching children for good reasons, are repelled from it by runaway stupidity. And that leaves the kinds of people who are attracted to teaching for the wrong reasons; the ones who like to exercise petty power over children. Who are even more inclined to make up “Zero Tolerance” policies. And who Parents are less likely to tract. And so on, and on.

It doesn’t seem to me that there is a way out of this downward spiral. Parents don’t trust the schools to discipline their kids because the schools keep proving that they can’t be trusted. At the same time, until Parents are willing to trust the schools again, the schools are going to be so anarchic that desperate Administrators are simply going to overreact at every opportunity.

School vouchers might break the cycle, if the schools that TAKE the vouchers make their policies clear and have the authority to expel students. Otherwise, that’s it. We’re doomed. In a generation or so, so little will actually be learned in Public Schools that the vast majority of high school graduates with be semi-literate simians.

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Vice

31 Oct

I’d like to talk a little about Vice. I’m for it. Or, rather, I’m against being against it. The older I get the less persuaded I am that the laws intended (ostensibly) to rein in Drug Use, Alcoholism, Prostitution, and, Pornography do any good in any way commensurate with the harm that they cause.

And the thing is, there are people clamoring to add things to the list of Vices that say volumes about the impulse to control that motivates the Crusaders. People are Crusading against Genetically Modified food, against High Fructose Corn Syrup, against Sugar. A Crusade against Tobacco has been going on nearly as long as I’ve been alive. Some of these Crusades appear, for the moment, to have  some  basis in fact, but many of them are simply the prejudices of the Crusaders, which they want to impose on everybody.

Now, this is hardly new. Read just a little history and you are sure to encounter previous Morals Crusades; factory owners who forbade this and that, Prohibition, and so on. And, often, we take a very superior attitude toward these moralizing ancestors. And then go right out and do the same thing in the name of “The War On Drugs” or “The Obesity Epidemic”.

(Aside; how the hell can we have an Obesity Epidemic? An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of a communicable disease. Is that why the thin people are so hysterical? They think they’re being exposed to Fat Germs?)

In my Cranky opinion the difference between a Victorian Christian busybody pestering people about drink and church attendance and a Modern Secular busybody who wants to restrict what people eat is not visible to the naked eye. I can understand some genuine concern about Prostitutes and Drug Users, but the laws that are used to “Help” them don’t seem to achieve much good, and do appear to have all kinds of unpleasant fallout. The War On Drugs costs huge amounts of money, is the primary cause of most of the SWAT raids gone bad that you can read about on the internet, and attempts to ‘close loopholes’ that previously allowed people the authorities were “sure” were guilty have brought us “Asset Forfeiture”. And Asset Forfeiture is, frankly, the return of the Sheriff of Nottingham without the colorful Medieval costumes. I can accept that drugs like Cocaine, Heroin, and even Marijuana ruin lives. So does alcohol, but it only took us thirteen years to realize that banning that was a huge mistake. Why can’t we drop this idiotic “War? If legalizing everything is a mistake, we can always ban it again.

The current panic about “Human Trafficking” is simply a long discredited Victorian Witch Hunt being recycled by modern Feminists (look up “White Slavery”), and actually accomplishes little other than to place women accused of being prostitutes into the paws of people who absolutely will not listen to them, unless they stick to the Human Trafficking Hysteria script. Who does this actually help? Is it mean of me to suggest that the driving force behind it is a bunch of crabby women who are waking up to the realization that some men would rather pay for sex than put up with THEM?

As for Gambling, where do agents of the Law get the unmitigated gall to raid poker games when every state in the Union is running a Numbers Racket? That’s what a State Lottery really is, except that the traditional Mob run racket offered better odds and probably had more honest books.

Vice isn’t crime that one person visits on another. Vice is what we do to ourselves. It arguably isn’t good for us, but the history of Government attempts to stifle it isn’t impressive. In fact it’s often revolting.

The progress of civilization is seen in the degree to which the common man is able to tell all the people who want to order him about (for his own good) to climb a tree. Anti-Vice Crusades do not forward civilization.

A Short Rant About Roofs

24 Oct

There is so much wrong with “Modern Architecture” that it would take a book to even begin to cover the subject. That book is FROM BAUHAUS TO OUR HOUSE by Tom Wolfe, and I strongly recommend it. Today, however, I am going to limit myself to the plague of flat roofs. One of the Progressive Intellectual idiots who birthed the Modern movement (I could look up which one, but who cares?) decided that peaked roofs were a crypto fascist symbol for the monarch’s crown. The rest of the Modern movement was so brain dead that they went along with this. As a consequence, a large proportion of the buildings built since, say, 1935, have flat roofs. Which have standing water on them.  And leak.  And rot faster than they should.  And require more maintenance…….

This is what happens when delusional dogma is allowed to override common sense.

Censorship and Porn

17 Oct

I was born in 1961, which means that I started to be interested in nude girls during the period when the standards for ‘girlie mags’ was shifting from the Playboy standard (no pubic hair, early 1960’s), to the Penthouse standard (soft focus pubic hair, 1969), and thence to the Hustler standard (sharp focus genitalia, 1974). For a while it looked like we’d be up the plumbing with a camera probe by the end of the ’70’s. Of course, as an adolescent I couldn’t buy these magazines. And if you think that stopped me (or any other motivated boy) from getting my hands on them, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell you.

The feminists of the day hated this. They asserted, with some justice, that pornography was demeaning to women. It’s hard to argue, but a lot of everyday things are demeaning. Ask anybody who’s worked in fast food. If they had merely called Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, and all their imitators tacky and in dreadful bad taste I would agree with them. I’d still look at porn, mind you, but I don’t pretend that it’s Great Art.

The problem is that they want to censor pornography. They want the government to ban it lest their tender sensibilities get hurt. Which means they have learned nothing from the history of the women’s movement; the governments of the past have routinely used censorship of pornography to punish those who want to educate about birth control. Censorship is not a power to grant to the State lightly, because once the State has that power over a category of expression, all manner of material that the State finds bothersome will be classified as belonging to that category.

And banning nudie magazines, or x-rated films, won’t do away with them. Certainly not in this day of cheap printers and digital video. All that it will do is hide it, to a degree, from the feminists, while removing any legal protections from the women who, for whatever reason, pose for it.

I have scant patience for feminism, as a rule. The vast majority of its champions strike me as upper middle class nitwits concerned almost exclusively with their own comfort ahead of anything resembling justice, or common sense. And they seem to religiously avoid anything really difficult, such as the treatment of women in Islamic countries.

I willingly admit, however, that The Sexual Revolution was for the most part NOT to their advantage. There is a song by Stephen Stills called LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH, and every time I hear the line

“there’s a girl sitting right next to you
And she’s just waiting for something to do”,

I cringe. I may not LIKE Andrea Dworkin and her sisterhood of “all heterosexual intercourse is rape” feminists, but when I consider that LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH was performed by a notorious Liberal, I can begin to understand why they are as mad as so many March hares on the subject.

But that doesn’t make them right. Pitiable, maybe. But not right. The spread of porn may be annoying, but it is far less dangerous than a State that believes it has the right and duty to censor what its citizens see.

So, I am against preventing the publication of images or writing that disturbs, annoys, or even demeans people. I do think that local populations should have some degree of control over what is displayed publicly. If a town wants to mandate that “Adults Only” publications must be sold in plain wrappers, I think they should be allowed to. I DON’T think that any local groups should be able to decide that people may not buy ‘filth’ over the internet, or view internet sites that feature it. I DO think that they should be allowed to limit what can be accessed on computers in publicly owned buildings, such as Libraries, because then it isn’t the viewer paying for it, it’s the taxpayers (at least in part). And nobody should be required to pay for something they consider demeans them, unless it is explicitly within the purview of the State (such as War; it’s right there in the Constitution.).

And, having said this, I’m not sure than there is a legal and constitutional way for local populations to do what I think they should be able to do. It needs thought. More thought than simply “Ban it all” or “No Censorship”.

A word on Gun Control and The Living Constitution.

10 Oct

The Constitution is a “Living Document” because there exists a process for its amendment. If you have a proposal (such as Gun Control) which is in clear violation of the Constitution as ratified and amended, and you are not proposing an amendment to address this, I must conclude that you are a scofflaw and a scoundrel. Consequently all your arguments and claims are suspect.

Vulgar

3 Oct

I should like to propose a renaissance of Vulgar. Not of Vulgar things, of which there is an ostentatious oversupply, but of the idea we can say that something is Vulgar, meaning; common, tacky, unartistic, and tiresome.

The thing is, in the culture wars every time something is said or shown that people don’t like, they reach for the Nuclear Option of claiming Offense and demanding that speech be silenced, ads be renounced, and so forth. Now, in the first place, since when did being un-offended become a Right? In the second, do we really want to give to some specific governing body the authority to remove the offensive? What if they decide that they are running things and they are offended by US?

The problem is the we have, as a society, abandoned the idea that it is possible to condemn speech without censoring it. The Free Speech radicals of the 1960’s shouted so loudly and to such effect that we aren’t prepared to draw the line anymore, for fear of being called names. And I, for one, propose to grit my teeth and accept the charge that I am unhip.

The problem with Rap Music isn’t that it crosses the line into what should be censored for the common good; for one thing I’m not convinced that such a line exists. The problem with Rap music is that it is tiresome, crude, and the opposite of clever. In a word; vulgar.

The problem with NEA exhibits like Andres Seranno’s PISS CHRIST isn’t that they are blasphemous. If God is insulted, Serrano will have a chance to explain himself in person before too long. The problem is that a group of self-appointed Intellectuals have decided that it is Art; which is absurd. It is an annoying attempt by a profoundly adolescent mind to get attention by attacking religion in an unoriginal manner with bathroom humor. In a word; vulgar.

The problem with the pronouncements of the Westboro Baptist Church isn’t that they are terrorists, or even that they are Bigots. Many a well spoken Bigot has had a long and successful public career (I’m looking at YOU Al Sharpton). The problem is that they are grating, boring, unoriginal, unintelligent …. vulgar. They don’t deserve to be spotlighted; they deserve to be identified and dismissed.

The term Vulgar just punctures SOOO many overinflated pretensions. It condemns and dismissed as unimportant at the same time.  It doesn’t trespass on people’s right to Free Speech; it simply proclaims the equal right of the people to ignore (or refrain from paying for) the speech of the adolescent, the tiresome, the crude, and the tacky. It is especially wonderful when applied to the so-called Fine Art that the Progressive Art World has inflicted on us for the past three quarters of a century or so. PISS CHRIST isn’t Fine Art; it’s a three dimensional political cartoon, of the type usually published by practitioners of what used to be (rightly) called Gutter Journalism. The claims that it is Art don’t even deserve the courtesy of debate; they are absurd and indefensible. Nothing like PISS CHRIST, that could be duplicated by a low grade moron in an afternoon, qualifies as Art. There is no craftsmanship in it. It is vulgar. It shouldn’t be censored, it should be ignored.

Join me. Call something vulgar today.

Film Ratings

19 Sep

I would like to propose that what is needed to improve the rating system for films is a wider rage of ratings. Herewith some examples, for your consideration;

CT (Child Television/Child Toy association; excessive cuteness may cause actual brain damage in adults) ; example: anything involving the Care Bears

TM (Teen Male; movie founded upon bare breasts and fart jokes; no one with an IQ over 80 will be admitted); example: PORKY’S

SB (Summer Blockbuster; more than 30% of screen time involves gunfire, explosions, or screaming. Earplugs recommended); example: most of Jerry Bruckheimer’s career.

A (Adult subject matter; actual plot and characterization, moderate historical accuracy, few if any explosions. No teens admitted under any circumstances, and audience members who insist on talking will be dropped from a great height.) Examples; THE LION IN WINTER, AMAZING GRACE, IKURU.