Tag Archives: First Amendment

Comments from an OLD BLACK FART: Pressitutes not journalists

31 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD BLACK FART. Urban Dictionary defines pressititute:

presstitute

A term coined by Gerald Celente and often used by independent journalists and writers in the alternative media in reference to journalists and talking heads in the mainstream media who give biased and predetermined views in favor of the government and corporations, thus neglecting their fundamental duty of reporting news impartially. It is a portmanteau of press and prostitute.

Bishop T.D. Jakes tweets about the power of thought:

T. D. Jakes @BishopJakes
Most people’s thoughts are held captive by the influences of their past or held hostage by their environment. Research and think 4 yourself!

Moi chooses to use the Investing Answers definition of “critical mass” because when one analyzes why a Free Press is important to the information stream of a society, “critical mass” is important.

What It Is:

Critical mass refers to the size a company needs to reach in order to efficiently and competitively participate in the market. This is also the size a company must attain in order to sustain growth and efficiency.

How It Works/Example:

A company’s critical mass is determined by the size of its staff, resources, revenues, and market share. Once these elements reach the size that enables a company to operate efficiently, it is said that a company has reached its critical mass. Critical mass is the point at which a company becomes profitable.

To illustrate a company’s critical mass, consider Company XYZ which was recently formed and has been experiencing steady growth and increasing strength in the market. The company’s steady revenues allowed Company XYZ to invest in more capital and to hire additional employees. XYZ’s productivity subsequently increased and their revenues exceed their expenses: XYZ then becomes profitable. The company is said to have reached its critical mass, since its capital and human resources have reached a size at which they can sustain themselves through productive efficiency.

Why It Matters:

A company’s critical mass is important to consider because it can mean the difference between thriving and surviving in a market environment. A company that sustains profitability is safely above its critical mass. http://www.investinganswers.com/financial-dictionary/economics/critical-mass-623

In Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person, moi wrote:                                                                               The key is developing the idea that facts should be used to support an opinion.
The Critical Thinking Community has several great articles about critical thinking at their site. In the section, Defining Critical Thinking:

A Definition

Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.

The Result

A well cultivated critical thinker:

• raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
• gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
• thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
• communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism. (Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008). http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766 http://drwilda.com/2012/01/22/critical-thinking-is-an-essential-trait-of-an-educated-person/

Critical mass, journalism and education are intertwined if one thinks the critical issue is how to get peopleto fully participate in the political process, especially when their participation in the political process is key to the society’s movement up the economic ladder and democratic development.

Moi wrote about “group think” in Penn State: An example of ‘groupthink’ The University of Oregon has a great synopsis of “groupthink.”
In Groupthink, the synopsis describes the key elements of “groupthink.”

Groupthink occurs when a homogenous highly cohesive group is so concerned with maintaining unanimity that they fail to evaluate all their alternatives and options. Groupthink members see themselves as part of an in-group working against an outgroup opposed to their goals. You can tell if a group suffers from groupthink if it:

1. overestimates its invulnerability or high moral stance,
2. collectively rationalizes the decisions it makes,
3. demonizes or stereotypes outgroups and their leaders,
4. has a culture of uniformity where individuals censor themselves and others so that the facade of group unanimty is maintained, and
5. contains members who take it upon themselves to protect the group leader by keeping information, theirs or other group members’, from the leader.

Groups engaged in group think tend to make faulty decisions when compared to the decisions that could have been reached using a fair, open, and rational decision-making process. Group thinking groups tend to:

1. fail to adequately determine their objectives and alternatives,
2. fail to adequately assess the risks associated with the group’s decision,
3. fail to cycle through discarded alternatives to reexamine their worth after a majority of the group discarded the alternative,
4. not seek expert advice,
5. select and use only information that supports their position and conclusions, and
6. does not make contigency plans in case their decision and resulting actions fail. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/theory/grpthink.html

The Founders of the U.S. Constitution recognized the importance of a Free Press and attempted to guarantee an Free Press by enacting the First Amendment. The Pressitutes have Voluntarily given up much of the Freedom they have been granted.

According to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:

Seek Truth and Report It

Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:
– Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
– Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
– Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
– Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
– Be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make.
– Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
– Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was grante– Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
– Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.
– Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant. – Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
– Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
– Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
– Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
– Label advocacy and commentary.
– Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
– Never plagiarize. Always attribute.

Minimize Harm…….                                                                                                                                                   http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.
George S. Patton

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It’s ALL about ME, Pledge of Allegiance case: Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District

8 Sep

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART:

<blockquote>The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless. [Emphasis Added]
Abraham Lincoln
Annual Message to Congress — Concluding Remarks
http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/congress.htm
Washington, D.C.
December 1, 1862 </blockquote>

Brian M. Rosenthal of the Seattle Times wrote an excellent report in the Seattle Times about the flap involving whether students at John Stanford International School will be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Keep in mind that both Washington State law and Seattle School District policy require the saying of the Pledge. In, Pledge of Allegiance sparks controversy at John Stanford, Rosenthal quotes parent, Haley Sides:

<blockquote>When Haley Sides moved to Seattle after four years in the Air Force, she chose to settle in Wallingford so her 6-year-old daughter could attend John Stanford International School — an educational community promoting the same type of multiculturalism Sides has tried to instill in her half-Jamaican daughter.
Sides was outraged when the school’s new principal announced this week that students will be asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each day. The practice, which has long been mandated by district policy and state law but has not traditionally been observed at John Stanford, will start Monday.
“It pains me to think that at a school that emphasizes thinking globally we would institute something that makes our children think that this country alone is where their allegiance lies,” said Sides, her voice oscillating between disappointment and anger. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016575845_pledge22m.html</blockquote>

Well, excuse moi. Girlfriend, you happen to live in this country which still has the goal of educating children no matter their gender, race, or creed. In many countries YOUR daughter would not be afforded the opportunity to attend a primary school and college wouldn’t even be a consideration.

Mark Walsh reported in the Education Week article, Massachusetts High Court Weighs Pledge of Allegiance in Schools:
<blockquote>A lawyer for a group of atheist and humanist families argued before the highest court of Massachusetts that a state law requiring public schools to lead daily recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance violates the state constitution.
“This case presents a classic equal-protection situation where an unpopular and wrongly vilified minority faces obvious official discrimination,” David A. Niose told the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Sept. 4.
A family identified as the Does, with parents and three school-aged children described as atheists and humanists, challenged the state law requiring the pledge in schools because of the inclusion of the words “under God.”
The children have not been required to recite the pledge themselves, in keeping with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1943 decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. But the family argues that schools conduct a patriotic exercise that “exalts and validates” one religious view—a belief in God—while marginalizing their “religious views” on atheism and humanism, as their legal brief puts it.
“By inserting ‘under God’ language into the pledge, we have a pledge where children, every morning, are pledging their national unity and loyalty in an indoctrinational format, in a way that validates God belief as truly patriotic and actually invalidates atheism as second-class citizenry at best and downright unpatriotic at worst,” Niose told the Massachusetts high court.
(The oral arguments in Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District are available in video form at the Web site of the Supreme Judicial Court, which is where I observed them.)
The Does, joined by the American Humanist Association, are challenging the Massachusetts law under the state constitution’s equal-protection guarantee, not as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on any government establishment of religion or its guarantee of free exercise of religion.
The U.S. Supreme Court famously took up a case involving an establishment challenge to school-led recitations of the pledge. But in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, the court held in 2004 that an atheist father who had challenged the practice in his daughter’s school lacked standing because he did not have custody of the girl.
That atheist, Michael A. Newdow, organized a new challenge that included another family, and that suit led to a 2010 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, that school recitations of the pledge were predominantly patriotic exercises and did not violate the establishment clause.
Later that year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, in Boston, upheld a New Hampshire law that requires schools to set aside time for teachers to lead the pledge.
In the Doe case, a Massachusetts trial court held that school recitations of the pledge did not violate the rights of the atheist and humanist children under the state’s Equal Rights Amendment.
During Tuesday’s arguments before the state high court, the lawyer for the Acton-Boxborough district said that the pledge is not inherently religious and the recitations of it do not create a disadvantaged class of religious-minority students….
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2013/09/massachusetts_high_court_weigh.html?intc=es</blockquote>

Here is the video:

http://www2.suffolk.edu/sjc/archive/2013/SJC_11317.html

What do the remarks of President Lincoln have to do with the flap involving the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance flap at John Stanford International School in Seattle or in Massachusetts? It is about developing the Common Good. Whether one believes the cause of the Civil War was to eliminate slavery or not, the war was fought to keep a fragile union in-tact. In much of the world, tribes or clans are the governing authorities. Far from being an idyllic life governed by the romantic concept of the naïve of rule by “Noble Savages,” these clans and tribes often dispense brutal and harsh “justice.” See, Rosseau and the Noble Savage Myth: http://pages.uoregon.edu/jboland/rousseau.html Because of many disparate cultures, many countries are in the midst of civil wars or in danger of breaking apart.

It is fascinating to moi that so many of those who claim the other side is intolerant are just as intolerant. True tolerance does not involve giving up one’s beliefs or demanding that others sacrifice their beliefs. Sometimes it involves listening with courtesy to ideas that you will never agree with. Often it involves acting with gasp, decorum. This country is a nation of immigrants, some were the original aboriginal people, others voluntarily immigrated, still others were brought here as slaves and others fled their homes because of repression. We’re all here together. There have to be some common cultural norms so that those with different cultures and histories can peacefully co-exist. The U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and certain ideas which have evolved over time like public education are examples of the glue that can hold disparate groups together. The Pledge of Allegiance is another example of the common cultural experience. Of course, some quibble with the phrase, “Under God.” Let’s go back to the concept of tolerance. Dictionary.com defines tolerance:

<blockquote>noun
1.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions,practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’sown;freedom from bigotry.
2.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.
3.
interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tolerance</blockquote>

The people who find the Pledge so intolerable probably would not have understood President Lincoln’s preservation of the “Union.” Unlike President Lincoln who understood the power of words and symbolism, for whom the “Union” was all about US. The permanently aggrieved often see the world in terms of ME.

In the final analysis, for many who are so excised by the Pledge, it is not about you or US, but it is about ME.

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New Federal speech guidelines for college campuses and the U.S. Constitution

19 May

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART:

Moi wrote in Free speech on college campuses:

The U.S. Constitution should be cherished by every American. Here is information about the First Amendment from the Legal Information Institute:

first amendment: an overview

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. See U.S. Const. amend. I. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the Court has interpreted, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments. See U.S. Const. amend. XIV.

Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the “separation of church and state.” Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of “blue laws” is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person’s practice of their religion.

The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. For more on unprotected and less protected categories of speech see advocacy of illegal action, fighting words, commercial speech and obscenity. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message.  The level of protection speech receives also depends on the forum in which it takes place.

Despite popular misunderstanding the right to freedom of the press guaranteed by the first amendment is not very different from the right to freedom of speech. It allows an individual to express themselves through publication and dissemination. It is part of the constitutional protection of freedom of expression. It does not afford members of the media any special rights or privileges not afforded to citizens in general.

The right to assemble allows people to gather for peaceful and lawful purposes. Implicit within this right is the right to association and belief. The Supreme Court has expressly recognized that a right to freedom of association and belief is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. This implicit right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes. It does not include a right of social association. The government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities. The right to associate also prohibits the government from requiring a group to register or disclose its members or from denying government benefits on the basis of an individual’s current or past membership in a particular group. There are exceptions to this rule where the Court finds that governmental interests in disclosure/registration outweigh interference with first amendment rights. The government may also, generally, not compel individuals to express themselves, hold certain beliefs, or belong to particular associations or groups.

The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances guarantees people the right to ask the government to provide relief for a wrong through the courts (litigation) or other governmental action. It works with the right of assembly by allowing people to join together and seek change from the government. http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

Peter Bonilla explains why free speech rights on college campuses are important in a PolicyMic article. http://drwilda.com/tag/free-speech-on-college-campuses-a-must-especially-during-election-seasons/

InFree Speech On College Campuses a Must, Especially During Election Seasons:

As I’ve written here on PolicyMic, though, and as the case log and publications of my employer, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), make clear, colleges and universities frequently fall far short of being the bastions of free speech they should be. Further, they often come down especially hard on political expression at the very times when it’s most relevant. Part of the problem is universities’ tendency to misinterpret their obligations under the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits nonprofit educational institutions from engaging in certain political activities, such as institutionally supporting candidates for office.

Such misinterpretations frequently lead university administrations to prohibit or restrict broad swaths of protected speech, defying both the First Amendment and common sense. The University of Oklahoma, for example, in 2008 banned “the forwarding of political humor/commentary” using university e-mail accounts. That same year, the University of Illinois system issued warnings to faculty against engaging in basic political activities — including wearing campaign buttons, attending rallies, and even placing stickers on their cars. Then in 2011, Illinois’ flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign proposed an electronic communications policy that would have banned any and all “political campaigning” by faculty and students. Fortunately, these policies were all revised or scrapped after FIRE objected. Yet such misconceptions by universities are common enough that FIRE has issued and re-issued a policy statement on political activity to guide universities in policy and practice. http://www.policymic.com/articles/3454/free-speech-on-college-campuses-a-must-especially-during-election-seasons

See, Censorship of Free Speech on College Campuses Grows http://www.educationnews.org/higher-education/censorship-of-free-speech-on-college-campuses-grows/

and Why Students Need a Guide to Free Speech on Campus More Than Ever http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/08/why-students-need-a-guide-to-free-speech-on-campus-more-than-ever219.html

Greg Lukianoff writes in the Wall Street Journal article, Greg Lukianoff: Feds to Students: You Can’t Say That:

The scandals roiling Washington over the past two weeks involve troubling government behavior that had been hidden—the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the Justice Department’s surveillance of the Associated Press, among others. Largely overlooked amid the histrionics has been a shocker hiding in plain sight. Last week, the Obama administration moved to dramatically undermine students’ and faculty rights at colleges across the country.

The new policy was announced in a joint letter from the Education Department and Justice Department to the University of Montana. The May 9 letter addressed the results of a year-long joint investigation by the departments into the school’s mishandling of several serious sexual-assault cases. The investigation determined that the university’s policies addressing sexual assault failed to comply with Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

But the joint letter, which announced a “resolution agreement” with the university, didn’t stop there. It then proceeded to rewrite the federal government’s rules about sexual harassment and free speech on campus….

This attack on campus free speech follows the Education Department’s directive two years ago requiring every college in the country that receives federal funds to lower the standard of evidence in sexual-harassment cases. The “preponderance of the evidence,” the judiciary’s lowest standard of proof, became the required standard. (Many institutions had previously used the “clear and convincing” standard.) As former Dean of Harvard CollegeHarry Lewis has noted, the “preponderance of evidence” mandate means “more convictions—of both guilty and innocent individuals,” which is a troubling result “in a society that values individual rights.”

Last week’s letter is part of a decades-long effort by anti-“hate speech” professors, students, activists and administrators to classify any offensive speech as harassment unprotected by the First Amendment. Such speech codes reached their height in the 1980s and 1990s, but they were defeated in federal and state court and came in for public ridicule.

Despite these setbacks, harassment-based speech codes have become the de facto rule. Earlier this year, my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, published a study that looked at 409 colleges and found that 62% maintain codes that violate First Amendment standards. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323582904578485041304763554.html?mod=hp_opinion

Lukianoff goes on to state in Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes at Colleges and Universities Nationwide:

Among the forms of expression now punishable on America’s campuses by order of the federal government are:

  • Any expression related to sexual topics that offends any person. This leaves a wide range of expressive activity—a campus performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” a presentation on safe sex practices, a debate about sexual morality, a discussion of gay marriage, or a classroom lecture on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita—subject to discipline.
  • Any sexually themed joke overheard by any person who finds that joke offensive for any reason.
  • Any request for dates or any flirtation that is not welcomed by the recipient of such a request or flirtation.

There is likely no student on any campus anywhere who is not guilty of at least one of these “offenses.” Any attempt to enforce this rule evenhandedly and comprehensively will be impossible.

“The federal government has put colleges and universities in an impossible position with this mandate,” said Lukianoff. “With this unwise and unconstitutional decision, the DOJ and DOE have doomed American campuses to years of confusion and expensive lawsuits, while students’ fundamental rights twist in the wind.”

“The Departments of Education and Justice are out of control,” continued Lukianoff. “Banning everyday speech on campus? Eliminating fundamental due process protections? Ignoring its own previous statements? They even misquoted the Supreme Court. This cannot be allowed to continue. FIRE will use all of its resources to oppose this menace to our constitutional freedoms and to free speech and academic freedom on campus.” http://thefire.org/article/15767.html

Ben Franklin states it best:

AUTHOR:

Benjamin Franklin (1706–90)

QUOTATION:

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

See, http://constitutioncenter.org/learn/educational-resources/historical-documents/perspectives-on-the-constitution-a-republic-if-you-can-keep-it

Resources:

Center for Campus Free Speech                               http://www.campusspeech.org/

Free Speech Off Campus Must Be Protected                           http://chronicle.com/article/Free-Speech-Off-Campus-Must-Be/130660/

Column: Free speech sacks ban on college-athlete tweets http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-04-15/twitter-social-media-college-sports-coaches-ban/54301178/1

Student Press Law Center                                                             http://www.splc.org/wordpress/?cat=26

Free Speech, Social Media and Community Colleges: Let the Clash Begin                                                                 http://www.communitycollegereview.com/articles/401

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A comment about the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on gay marriage: Is it time to get government out of marriage

21 Mar

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement regarding their position on civil marriage:

American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Same Gender Civil Marriage

3/21/2013

For Release:  March 21, 2013

Article Body

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports civil marriage for same-gender couples – as well as full adoption and foster care rights for all parents, regardless of sexual orientation – as the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children.

The AAP policy statement, “Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian,” and an accompanying technical report will be published in the April 2013 Pediatrics (published online March 21).

“Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage,” said Benjamin Siegel, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, and a co-author of the policy statement. “The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.”

In a previous policy statement published in 2002 and reaffirmed in 2010, the AAP supported second-parent adoption by partners of the same sex as a way to protect children’s right to maintain relationships with both parents, eligibility for health benefits and financial security. The 2013 policy statement and accompanying technical report adds recommendations in support of civil marriage for same-gender couples; adoption by single parents, co-parents or second parents regardless of sexual orientation; and foster care placement regardless of sexual orientation.

“The AAP has long been an advocate for all children, and this updated policy reflects a natural progression in the Academy’s support for families,” said Ellen Perrin, MD, FAAP, co-author of the policy statement. “If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so.”

A great deal of scientific research documents there is no cause-and-effect relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and children’s well-being, according to the AAP policy. In fact, many studies attest to the normal development of children of same-gender couples when the child is wanted, the parents have a commitment to shared parenting, and the parents have strong social and economic support. Critical factors that affect the normal development and mental health of children are parental stress, economic and social stability, community resources, discrimination, and children’s exposure to toxic stressors at home or in their communities — not the sexual orientation of their parents.

According to the policy statement, the AAP “supports pediatricians advocating for public policies that help all children and their parents, regardless of sexual orientation, build and maintain strong, stable, and healthy families that are able to meet the needs of their children.” 

# # #

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.

This causes moi to ask whether it is time for government to get out of the business of marriage and only sanction civil unions for everyone. The government would define a valid civil union and the contractual benefits which flow from that union would be defined by government. Marriage would be defined by various religious institutions and they are free to marry whom they choose. Marriage would then be a two-step process of civil union and whatever ‘blessing’ ceremony the community of faith allowed.

This country is headed for another confrontation over the meaning of religious freedom and the guarantees of the FIRST AMENDMENT. Whether one agrees or not, some religious groups have a theological basis for defining marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. They are not going to change. So, the question is whether society wants to be tolerant and pragmatic or to punish those who are not politically correct. Moi has a Hallelujah moment for some in the gay community and their supporters – tolerance is different from acceptance. If the goal is to get everyone to accept a definition of marriage other than one man and one woman, you will fail. If the tactic is to demonize religious folk, call them bigots, prevent certain denominations from offering adoption services and foster care as well as go after church tax exemption, this can be done at great cost to the culture and society. Isn’t it time for a pragmatic approach?

Too often we forget that the principal purpose of the metaphorical wall of separation between church and state was always to prevent governmental interference with a religion’s decisions about what its own theology requires. . . . To be consistent with the Founders’ vision and coherent in modern religiously pluralistic America, the religion clauses [in the United States Constitution] should be read to help avoid tyranny — that is, to sustain and nurture the religions as independent centers of power. . . . To do that, the clauses must be interpreted to do more than protect the religions against explicit discrimination.

Stephen Carter

The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion

Moi discussed the secularist view in The great cultural divide: Many of us will never be secularists:

There are many folks who simply just don’t get that there are many people of faith. This faith group is of a variety of religions and a variety of theologies. Some “liberal” strands of faith have no theology or interpret their theology in line with contemporary social thought. They see religion as part of a wider social movement. For this group, there are no fixed theological positions because the emphasis of their faith is “social justice” however that is defined. Many in this secularist religion group simply do not understand that many of faith have a fixed theological perspective on religion. They feel that theology does not change because the cultural context has changed. In this group there are eternal positions because they are very cognizant of an eternal life. Moi thought the many attempts to persuade her by providing lists of people who support a particular position were laughable. People who made the lists or who thought because this prominent person or that prominent person supported a position would make moi and many others jump on board were clueless. What they did not realize is that moi and others, to paraphrase the old Righteous Brothers song “believe in forever.” It doesn’t matter how many people, whether they are prominent or not believe something, that doesn’t change the theological perspective. Many of these proponents do not believe in the Bible, that it is a stupid little book that only morons follow. Moi suggests that these secularists spend some time digesting the book of Daniel. People of a non-secularist faith are not morons and really don’t want to be treated as such. So, the question is how do various groups operate in the society were all have to live.  https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/the-great-cultural-divide-many-of-us-will-never-be-secularists/

As the character, Margo Channing said in All About Eve: Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night! .

There should civil unions for society which establish the contractual relationships and government benefits of a union. Marriage should be defined by theological entities.

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Can’t yoga be watered down like Christmas was? Is there a ‘happy holidays’ yoga?

24 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Remember when the forces of secularism pushed the “Happy Holidays” maximum because no one should be offended by the expression of “Merry Christmas.” The forces of tolerance and celebrate diversity did not want YOUR religion forced on ME. So much for that “celebrate diversity” thing. Let’s fast forward to the yoga movement and the attempt to spread love, joy, and flexible limbs into the education setting.

Marty Graham of Reuters reports in the article, Parents sue school for teaching yoga to children:

SAN DIEGO—The parents of two California grade school students have sued to block the teaching of yoga classes they complain promote eastern religions, saying children who exercise their choice to opt out of the popular program face bullying and teasing.

The Encinitas Unified School District, near San Diego, began the program in September to teach Ashtanga yoga as part of the district’s physical education program — and school officials insist the program does not teach any religion.

Lawyers for the parents challenging the yoga program disagreed.

As a First Amendment lawyer, I wouldn’t go after an exercise program. I don’t go after people for stretching,” said lawyer Dean Broyles, who heads the National Center on Law and Policy, which filed the suit on Wednesday in a San Diego court.

But Ashtanga yoga is a religious-based yoga, and if we are separating church and state, we can’t pick and choose religious favourites,” he said.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in a broader national clash over the separation of religion from public education that has seen spirited debate on issues ranging from the permissibility of student-led prayer to whether science instructors can teach alternatives to evolution.

The lawsuit, which does not seek any monetary damages, objects to eight-limbed tree posters they say are derived from Hindu beliefs, the Namaste greeting and several of the yoga poses that they say represent the worship of Hindu deities.

According to the suit, a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation, which supports yoga in schools, allowed the school district to assign 60 minutes of the 100 minutes of physical education required each week to Ashtanga yoga, taught in the schools by Jois-certified teachers.

Broyles said that while children are allowed to opt out of the yoga program, they are not given other exercise options.

The kids who are opting out are getting teased and bullied,” he said. “We have one little girl whose classmates told her her parents are stupid because she opted out. That’s not supposed to happen in our schools….” http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/02/22/parents_sue_school_for_teaching_yoga_to_children.html

See, Promoting Hinduism? Parents Demand Removal Of School Yoga Class http://www.npr.org/2013/01/09/168613461/promoting-hinduism-parents-demand-removal-of-school-yoga-class

The Free Dictionary summarizes yoga:

Yoga 

Definition

The term yoga comes from a Sanskrit word which means yoke or union. Traditionally, yoga is a method joining the individual self with the Divine, Universal Spirit, or Cosmic Consciousness. Physical and mental exercises are designed to help achieve this goal, also called self-transcendence or enlightenment. On the physical level, yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the body. These postures are performed to make the spine supple and healthy and to promote blood flow to all the organs, glands, and tissues, keeping all the bodily systems healthy. On the mental level, yoga uses breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dyana) to quiet, clarify, and discipline the mind. However, experts are quick to point out that yoga is not a religion, but a way of living with health and peace of mind as its aims.                                   http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Ashtanga+Yoga

The problem for many Christians and particularly Christian parents is NOT that kids don’t need exercise, they do. The problem is the spiritual aspects which emphasize the “Divine.” That is not what Christians believe.  The majority of Christians believe in the Trinity. Guess what, the FIRST AMENDMENT protects those beliefs.

So, what is a “celebrate diversity,” we are soooo tolerant, and hip to boot school district supposed to do when confronted with the “yoga conundrum?” Well, bucky, one waters down the concept as with “happy holidays’ and the new name is ” yocise,” the divine becomes your healthy life. “Yocise” focuses on YOU and fits with the culture’s philosophy of ME and we are no more tolerant with “yocise” than we were with “happy holidays.” “Celebrate diversity.”

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Porn: Iceland knows it when they see it and they want none of it

17 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Thank goodness for the U.S. Consitution which not only defines rights for Americans, but sets limits on government. Peter Lattman writes in the WSJ article, The Origins of Justice Stewart’s “I Know It When I See It”:

The Law Blog unabashedly loves Fred Shapiro, the Yale Law School librarian and the author of the indispensable “The Yale Book of Quotations.” In a column in the Yale alumni magazine earlier this year, he listed some of the most famous quotations by Yale alumni. Among them was the characterization of pornography by Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart (pictured): “I know it when I see it” (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964).

We also love Ray Lamontagne (Yale Law ’64), who sent Shapiro a letter after he read his column:

You might be interested to know that the Potter Stewart quote was actually provided to him by his law clerk, Alan Novak ’55, ’63 LLB. Justice Stewart was a great justice and I do not want to take anything away from him. But he was stuck on how to describe pornography, and Novak said to him, “Mr. Justice, you will know it when you see it.” The justice agreed, and Novak included that remark in the draft of the opinion. Whichever way you might want to attribute the quote, it came from a Yalie. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/09/27/the-origins-of-justice-stewarts-i-know-it-when-i-see-it/

The government of Iceland “knows it when it sees it” and is taking steps to ban what it considers to be obscene. There is some evidence that sustained exposure to porn desensitizes one to valuing women and could support impulses toward violence against women.

A concise explanation of the issue of porn and violence against women can be found in Robert Jensen’s Pornography and Sexual Violence:

Implications for Policies and Practice

Debates about pornography up until the late 1970s were dominated by moral and legal arguments made in a framework that pitted religious conservatives who support traditional sexual mores against liberal defenders of sexual freedom. The feminist critique of pornography, growing out of the anti-rape and anti-violence movement, rejected that dichotomy and introduced a harm-based, civil-rights approach to the question ( Dworkin, 1988; MacKinnon, 1987). Rooted in the real-world experiences of women sharing stories through a grassroots movement, the feminist critique highlighted pornography’s harms to the women and children:

  1. used in the production of pornography;
  2. who have pornography forced on them;
  3. who are sexually assaulted by men who use pornography; and
  4. living in a culture in which pornography reinforces and sexualizes women’s subordinate status.

From this perspective, instead of focusing exclusively on narrow questions of causation, we can see that pornography’s impacts on the lives of all women and children — and especially those who have experienced violence and sexual violation — can be important. For example, if a woman is raped by a man she is dating who has in the past tried to force her to use pornography with him, the question of whether or not his pornography consumption was a causal factor in the rape may not be the most important issue. Instead, it would be important to examine how pornography was one component of a pattern of abuse in the relationship. This suggests that advocates in domestic and sexual violence work should ask survivors about the role of pornography in the abuse perpetrated against them.

While boys have long found ways to obtain pornography even though it is illegal to sell such material to minors, their access to hard-core pornography in the age of the Internet and VCR/DVD player has become steadily easier. And at the same time that pornography has become more mainstream, the mainstream media have become more pornographic. So, not only are men exposed to more — and more extreme — pornography at younger ages, but so are girls, with effects on their conception of their own sexuality.

It is also important to recognize that pornography is but one aspect of a huge sex industry, which includes not only mass-media sex but phone sex, strip clubs, massage parlors, escort services, street prostitution, and sex tourism. And sexuality — especially women’s sexuality — is used in increasingly more explicit ways to sell products of all kinds in advertising and marketing. This leads to what may be the most crucial question about pornography: What kind of human feeling, empathy, and intimate connections are possible in a world in which bodies are used so routinely in the process of selling and also are for sale virtually everywhere we turn? The implications of that are potentially dramatic, not only in the realm of sexual and domestic violence, but also in those areas of our lives that we want to believe are untouched by the domination/submission dynamic of patriarchy ( Jensen, 1997). Pornography is important not only for the specific effects it has on an individual man’s behavior, but for its role in shaping our conceptions of the body, gender, sexuality, and intimacy.

People who raise critical questions about pornography and the sex industry often are accused of being prudish, anti-sex, or repressive, but just the opposite is true. Such questions are crucial not only to the struggle to end sexual and domestic violence, but also to the task of building a healthy sexual culture. Activists in the anti-violence and anti-pornography movements have been at the forefront of that task. http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/arpornography/arpornography.html

The government looked at the evidence and decided to act.

The U.K.’s Telegraph reported in the article, Iceland considers pornography ban:

The government is considering introducing internet filters, such as those used to block China off form the worldwide web, in order to stop Icelanders downloading or viewing pornography on the internet.

The unprecedented censorship is justified by fears about damaging effects of the internet on children and women.

Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland’s interior minister, is drafting legislation to stop the access of online pornographic images and videos by young people through computers, games consoles and smartphones.

“We have to be able to discuss a ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime,” he said.

Methods under consideration include blocking access to pornographic website addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography….

The proposed control over online access, that mirrors attempt in dictatorships such as China to restrict the internet, is justified as a defence of vulnerable women and children.

“Iceland is taking a very progressive approach that no other democratic country has tried,” said Professor Gail Dines, an expert on pornography and speaker at a recent conference at Reykjavik University. “It is looking a pornography from a new position – from the perspective of the harm it does to the women who appear in it and as a violation of their civil rights.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/iceland/9866949/Iceland-considers-pornography-ban.html?fb

Iceland will use “government action” to control porn.

The U.S. Constitution does not prohibit all action against pornography, but unlimited government action like the actions contemplated by Iceland would be prohibited. The Center for Law and Justice summarizes Constitutional principles in Pornography on the Internet & in the Community:

Pornography and the First Amendment

Since 1973, the Supreme Court held (as a general rule) that the First Amendment protects pornography under the principle of freedom of speech. Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 27 (1973).  This article discusses four major exceptions to this general rule, together with the ACLJ’s position on each.

Adult Obscenity (“hard-core” pornography)

The Supreme Court has declared time and again that “obscenity” is not protected by the Constitution. See, e.g., Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 484-85 (1957), Memoirs v. Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413, 418 (1966).  Before 1973, obscenity and pornography were virtually synonymous. Id. In 1957, the Supreme Court said that the test for obscenity was “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest.” Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 at 489 (1957).

But in 1973, the Supreme Court retreated from previous case law, and limited the government’s regulatory abilities to so-called “hard core” pornography. Miller, 413 U.S. at 27.  In doing so, the Court adopted a new three-part test for obscenity, limiting the regulation of obscenity to “works which depict or describe sexual conduct,” Miller, 413 U.S. at 24 (emphasis supplied).  Before 1973, the definition of “obscenity” allowed government to freely regulate pornography dealing with “sexual matters” (such as nudity), Memoirs, 383 U.S. at 418, and not just “sexual conduct.”

ACLJ’s position.  The ACLJ firmly advocates a change in the definition of “obscenity,” which would allow lawmakers to freely address the threat that pornography poses to their communities.  The Supreme Court adopted its 1973 definition, seemingly because it nobly desired an expansive interpretation of the First Amendment, while cutting out only the forms of pornography that harm society.  See Miller, 413 U.S. at 27-28. However, empirical evidence since then has strongly proven that pornography in general leads to violence and to the degradation of communities.10 As a result, it cannot be doubted that the Supreme Court’s newer, relaxed definition of obscenity has harmed society.

Child Pornography

The ban on child pornography has been upheld by the Supreme Court, which defines child pornography as “sexually explicit visual portrayals that feature children.” United States v. Williams, 553 U.S. 285, 288 (2008).  The Court has further said that proscription of child pornography does not violate the First Amendment, “even [if the] material … does not qualify as obscenity.” Id….

Separating Pornography from Children

Although the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects “non-obscene” pornography, it has allowed governments to make pornography inaccessible to children.  In 1978, the Supreme Court noted that “the government’s interest in the well-being of its youth and in supporting parents’ claim to authority in their own household justified the regulation of otherwise protected expression.” FCC v. Pacifica, 438 U.S. 726, 749-50 (1978) (internal quotations omitted).  Furthermore, the government’s compelling interest in protecting children from pornography holds firm, even if that material is not obscene for adults. Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629, 634-35 (1968); Denver Area Educ. Telecomm. Consortium, Inc. v. FCC, 518 U.S. 727, 755 (1996).  Such restrictions are especially appropriate over the airwaves, because “[p]atently offensive, indecent material presented over the airwaves confronts the citizen, not only in public, but also in the privacy of the home, where the individual’s right to be left alone plainly outweighs the First Amendment rights of an intruder.” Pacifica, 438 U.S. at 748.  The Court also found it significant that radio is “uniquely accessible to children.” Id. at 749.

ACLJ’s position.  Even more so than radio broadcasts, Internet pornography is “uniquely accessible to children” and “confronts the citizen … in the privacy of the home, where the individual’s right to be left alone plainly outweighs the First Amendment rights of an intruder.” Id. at 748-49. As a result, Congress has the clear, Constitutional authority to regulate the Internet to ensure that parents can protect their children from its greatest dangers.  ACLJ further supports a plan requiring pornographic websites to end with a “dot xxx” domain,11 so that pornographic websites can be more easily identified and filtered before they are visited.

Pornography and Local Zoning Laws

The United States Supreme Court has upheld zoning ordinances that keep pornographic businesses from being concentrated in a specific area, or that keep them away from schools, parks, religious institutions, and residential areas. Renton v. Playtime Theaters, 475 U.S. 41, 44 (1986), City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books, Inc., 535 U.S. 425, 430 (2002).  Such ordinances are valid if they meet three criteria.  First, the ordinance must not infringe on pornographic “speech,” but must rather regulate the “time, place, and manner” of the business. Id. at 47. Second, the ordinance must not be aimed at restricting the content of the pornographic “speech,” but rather the secondary, harmful effects that such businesses have on the surrounding community. Id.12   Finally, the ordinance must be “designed to serve a substantial governmental interest,” and they must “not unreasonably limit alternative avenues of communication.” Id. 

ACLJ’s position.  Because of pornography’s unique effects on neighborhoods and local crime, local communities have an important role to play in preventing its harmful effects.  ACLJ urges all municipalities to adopt zoning ordinances that curb the effects of pornographic businesses.

Conclusion

Pornography is more than just a private issue.  Over the past few decades, it has become a cultural crisis, with severe effects on society that are grossly underestimated.  Even if banning pornography altogether might be impracticable, ACLJ believes that lawmakers and communities should not be restrained in their efforts to address this issue.  ACLJ urges lawmakers to take advantage of the various options still available to them in combating the effects of this industry. http://aclj.org/pornography/pornography-on-the-internet-in-the-community

The culture seems to be sexualizing children at an ever younger age and it becomes more difficult for parents and guardians to allow children to just remain, well children, for a bit longer. Still, parents and guardians must do their part to make sure children are in safe and secure environments. As the Center for Law and Justice argues, there can be a case made for reasonable restrictions on porn which are Constitutionally permissible. The type of restrictions contemplated in Iceland would be considered “unconstitutional government action” in the U.S.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Constitution: Like what would Jesus do, folk wonder what would Martin do?

20 Jan

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: There are a group of Christians whose reflex actions to a host of contemporary issues is to ask the question what would Jesus do? The answer is contained by reading the Bible, it’s in there. Similarly, folk of all persuasions like to play the what would Martin Luther King, Jr. do or think. Conservatives like to quote the “I have a Dream” speech for evidence that there should be a “color-blind” society. Moi guesses “liberals” are calling themselves “progressives” or maybe they are still “liberals” like to quote anything from Dr. King which advances their agenda. People change, grow, and often modify their views or time. The best indicator of what a person was thinking is what they left behind in terms of conversations particularly if their life was ended too soon. Moi read this self-serving pronouncement from a group of church folk, which was reported in the Seattle PI.com article, Pro-gun protest ‘shockingly insensitive’ — area clergy:

Seattle religious leaders have drawn up a letter, with 201 signatures as of early Friday, decrying as “shockingly insensitive” a pro-gun rally scheduled at “high noon” Saturday in Olympia, during the weekend of the national holiday honoring assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The letter will be released on Friday morning.

We find it shockingly insensitive to Dr. King’s message, and contemptuous of his legacy, to celebrate the very instrument of his assassination during a holiday weekend dedicated to his memory,” said a draft of the clergy statement.  “The way to honor Dr. King’s memory is to condemn violence and to oppose any and all racial hatred, and we call on gun rights activists to join us in doing this rather than in focusing on the very means of Dr. King’s murder.” http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2013/01/17/pro-gun-protest-shockingly-insensitive-area-clergy/

Moi understands that many in the faith community do not like guns because their abhor violence, but shockingly insensitive? Really folks, you need thicker skin to exist in a world where oil worker hostages get blown up.

So, let’s play that game what would Dr. King do or think when confronted with a group exercising their FIRST AMENDMENT rights? If one reads the actual text of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” one is struck by the references to the U.S. Constitution, a document which he put his faith in to bring equality to those disenfranchised. Here is a portion of that speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. http://www.usconstitution.net/dream.html

Piers Morgan refers to the U.S. Constitution as “that little book.” Well, that little book is a bit like the Bible. Folk like to pick and choose passages from the Bible that suit their purpose and discard portions that they don’t like. Most Bible scholars agree on rules of construction for how the Bible is to be read and interpreted. So it is with the U.S. Constitution. One cannot discard the FIRST AMENDMENT or the SECOND AMENDMENT because one finds them or people who exercise their rights under the Constitution “shockingly insensitive.” The Constitution guarantees, like the Grace of God protect the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

Too bad those who are asking what would Dr. King do, don’t have the same faith in the U.S. Constitution that Dr. King did.

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