Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | April 6, 2012

The Stupid Society Chronicles: Hunting Happy Meals

Q.  What do you call a society that sits still for a lawsuit to prohibit the sale of fast-food meals that include toys?

A.  Stupid.

We have become the caricature curmudgeons and common-sense libertarians warned about decades ago.  The day of mindless stupidity and standardized irresponsibility is upon us.  Our news media post headlines like this:

“Calif. kids can have Happy Meals, judge rules”

… and we don’t bat an eye.  Instead of finding grotesque the very idea of judges ruling on what can be sold to accompany meals, we shrug and move on.

Some of us probably think, “Well, the judge made a sensible ruling, and things could be worse.”

Others have a confused idea that there exists a sort of moral brokerage inhabited by judges, politicians, and celebrities, which occasionally puts up some white smoke and signifies that it has reached a new decision about how we are to live our lives.  This idea lurks in the human subconscious, manifesting itself from generation to generation in fealty to the imagined moral brokerage of the day: the emperor and his officials, the priestly class, the state church, the monarch, the parliament, the Party, the media, the cradle-to-grave welfare state.

The human spirit has a very powerful sense that there must be a set of “oughts” and “shoulds” to guide us.  Used in our own lives, as individuals and in voluntary congregations, this sense does great good.  But when we insist on using the apparatus of civil government to herd our fellow men around like pasture animals, according to the oughts and shoulds favored by a few, we turn into a Stupid Society.

Societies that put government in the roles of father, mother, priest, and tutor invariably descend into stupidity.  No generation of humans has ever been wise enough to use the power of the state against the lives of the citizens, on an endlessly interpolated basis, without getting stupid.  No generation ever will.  If you let the state advertise a food pyramid to you, and if you let the state decide what kind of medical care everyone should get, and who should pay for it, the constituency will always be there to take the next step, and the next, until you have activists petitioning the courts to slap Happy Meals out of other people’s hands, and judges agreeing to rule on such petitions rather than throwing them out because they’re an egregious abuse of law.

We have had heavy-handed, intrusive, intricately detailed government for decades now.  Nothing that has happened in the last 40 years has happened in unregulated conditions (and little in the last 80).  Other than criminal enterprises, there is no such thing as the left-wing fantasy of businesses running rampant in the absence of regulation.  Regulation touches literally everything businesses do and is one of the biggest business costs, in some states second only to employee costs.

The beauty of regulation and regulatory bureaucracies is that they can grow by stealth.  The people can tootle along thinking they’re free, and they just want breathable air and food safe from e. coli and salmonella, and the next thing they know, cities are outlawing Happy Meals, and judges are entertaining lawsuits brought by activists for whom city ordinances just aren’t far-reaching enough.

Fifty years ago, such a premise for a lawsuit would have been laughed out of court.  Today, everything in our society has been softened up, bruised, corrupted – like rotting fruit – by decades of victory for the twin impulses of statism and regulatory sanctimony.

Neither impulse can be domesticated, and both are incompatible with liberty.  If a government you pay taxes to will even consider the idea of outlawing Happy Meals, what else will it consider that could affect your livelihood, your life choices, or your liberty of conscience?  (How about a plastic bag ban?)  It is useless to insist that our governments won’t go too far; they already have, and specifically, much farther than their apologists claimed they would back in the 1910s, the 1930s, the 1960s, the 1990s, and even the decade just past.  Assurances that government would never go that far have always been proven false.  They will be again.

The day is here.  We have officially become a Stupid Society, at least in terms of the way our government is suffered to behave, from the courts and city councils to the school systems, the vast army of regulators, and the Regulator-in-Chief in the Oval Office.  I know for certain that there are many, many Americans who are not fit for a Stupid Society: who see the nanny state for what it is, and reject the regulatory premise refined and glorified in the last century.  But there will have to be more, if the nanny state is to be given its notice via the electoral system.

So it’s necessary to point out from time to time where the Stupid Society is manifesting itself.  The California judge’s ruling on the Happy Meals is the opposite of meaningless or merely funny; there is a monstrous regiment of false and dangerous statist assumptions behind it.  The whole episode should never have even happened.  If we want to restore our Stupid Society to a condition of intelligence and liberty, we will have to agree on that – and change our course.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.


Responses

  1. If we can’t keep our children eating crap from MacDonalds how can we ever hope to overcome the mighty Russian Navy and impose the government of our choice on Syria?

    This is another example of how Michele Obama has destroyed America.

    I say let’s make sure that our industrial-sized boxes of Macaroni-n-Cheez stay big so that we maintain a stout and offensive posture.

    • Clearly you feel that this is “meaningless or merely funny”; and that there isn’t “a monstrous regiment of false and dangerous statist assumptions behind it”. So, therefore if you are wrong and if a modern version of big brother/nanny sister should in time rule over our descendants with the magnanimous tyranny of ‘good intentions’…then our descendents will have such as yourself to blame. But I imagine that prospect is meaningless or merely funny as well.

      And if that is so, then you don’t deserve the liberty of your inheritance and you are, in effect spitting upon the sacrifices of those who gave their lives to bequeath the liberties you take so lightly.

      • Geoffrey I feel that there’s a large number of people who have correctly identified a real problem ……and you completely at a loss to know how to del with it….and are going about in pretty much a way every bit as ridiculous as the author understands it to be and nearly as stupid and dangerous as you think it to be.

        But make no mistake…. MacDonalds et al is a damn blight upon our society and free market choices w/o any real understanding of human nutrition have left children at the mercy of ignorant parents and rapacious marketing.

        • There have always been a certain percentage of willing Tories in America, even from it’s founding. Since they are incompatible with citizens in a free country, they have to be evicted periodically, as they were in the 1780s. We’re well overdue at this point for another cycle of that.

          • what prevents you from leaving on your own prior to the indignity of eviction?

      • “Neither impulse can be domesticated, and both are incompatible with liberty.”

        If our slimy green friend got paid to prove every one of JED´s points he could hardly do a better job.

  2. Imagine for a minute that you’re at a barbecue in Arlington, VA and late in the evening, around the fire pit, you’re sharing a bottle of cabernet with some member of the American nomenklatura, say the number five guy at the FBI or a deputy director of the EPA. In the spirit of conviviality, you read aloud opticon’s above missive and ask for a comment. This, or something very similar, is what the response will be:

    “Yeah, you guys moan and groan but what does it all mean? I’m doing what they pay me to do. It’s not a political position, it’s government, a different thing. We have a job description, just like you do, and we do it. People gripe but as long as the lights come on when they flip the switch, water comes out of the tap, the school bus shows up to pick up the kids and they don’t run out of beer at the liquor store, nothing serious is going to happen. It doesn’t matter where people live or what their government is like, they’re going to complain. We can handle it. If you should get too serious keep in mind that we’ve got unlimited funds if we want to fight you and if push comes to shove we’ve also got the option of virtually unlimited violence at our disposal. Don’t forget about David Koresh.

    • I can easily see “some member of the American nomenklatura” (wonderful word) taking that attitude.

      But if you think that the American military is ever going to visit “virtually unlimited violence” upon an angry but peacefully protesting American public…then you have no concept whatsoever as to the heart and mind-set of the American military. Perhaps you forget that the US military Officer’s oath of allegiance is to the Constitution, not to the President or the political class, much less the nomenklatura.

      As for the enlisted person, while they swear to follow the lawful orders of their superiors, the first part of their oath is to the Constitution as well. If officers ever were to order them to visit ‘unlimited violence’ upon peacefully protesting Americans, their oath of allegiance to the Constitution would supersede those orders. And while 18 yr old privates would definately hesitate to disobey, the non-coms, who really run the military, would shortly follow those officers who refused to visit unlimited violence upon American civilians.

      • You’re the one bringing up the military. There’s no shortage of violent options available for government at every level if they feel it’s necessary. Towns without movie theaters have SWAT teams; police departments patrol with helicopters, armored vehicles and now, drones; federal and state employees that once engaged in mundane activity, forest rangers, for example, are now armed. Special “combined task forces”, ostensibly aimed at gangs and drugs, have developed intricate webs of professional informants that enable them to confiscate property and money at gunpoint for their own purposes. Any sort of public agency has some form of law enforcement presence, universities, public transport
        agencies, even the US Dept. of Education has an armed investigation and enforcement branch. Certainly the military is the training ground for the personnel of these agencies but it’s not needed to carry out the mission.

        Reputedly one of the big complaints of the 18th century colonists was the forced quartering of mercenaries in their homes, the detested Hessians rented by George III. We’ve gone far beyond that. Now we’re occupied by a domestic army of our own citizens and our assets are confiscated to feed and house them and provide them with health and retirement benefits that most of us can only dream of. Don’t forget the veritable army of prison guards required to monitor the flow of penitentiary contraband. City residents pay incredible property taxes to finance the golden years of their own employees that probably live somewhere else. Since this situation is mathematically untenable, the future should be interesting.

        • TO: Chuck Martel

          You are quite right about the Armies of enforcement that seem to crop up everywhere and, also, about the future being a very intersting one.

          I remember that back in the seventies and eighties American tourists to Spain used to criticize that country’s use of the military, armed with full auto submachineguns, and with visible presense in airports, public buildings and, often, walking beats.

          “Why, it’s like going to Nazi Germany” they used to say. Of course those comments were spiced with a good amount of bias since Spain at that time was governed by Franco, the Head of State that Americans loved to hate.

          The funny thing is this: Look at us now. Look at all of Europe too and, when you are done with that visual exploration, look at Spain as well.

          Following the criticism of that time, we are all like Nazi Germany now, it seems.

          Actually, not trying to be funny here, but have you noticed the modern dress code for police agencies? Short cropped hair or shaven heads, tight, custom fitted shirts, black shinny combat boots and gun belts loaded with tactical gear. Long gone are the days of lose, non-threatening, kinda boring looking uniforms and the one single 4″ S&W 357 Mag with the two (at most) speed loaders. Back then the only other tactical equipment at the gun belt was, albeit not always, the one single set of handcuffs. Now the look is much more paramilitary than the Spanish “Guardia Civil” ever showed nand no one seems to mind.

          Times change, I guess…

          rafa

          • “Now the look is much more paramilitary than the Spanish “Guardia Civil” ever showed nand no one seems to mind.”

            In the movies, the bad guys can’t shoot strait when the climax against the good guys occurs. In real life, all things being equal, if you go into a fist fight and the other guy pulls a knife you’d better have one too. If it starts as a knife fight and the other guy pulls a gun, you’d better have one of those. But in the real world, whomever ups the ‘ante’ first, more often than not wins the fight.

            Criminals may well be armed with machine pistols and wearing body armor, terrorists are damned well not going to just have a handgun… now that as a society we’ve overturned almost all the taboos, criminals adopt the attitude no limits, of whatever it takes to win… how can the ‘rough men’ who stand ready to protect the sheep do otherwise?

            • Yup. You are quite right about the difference between Hollywood and real life. However, I was more trying to point out the selective and often bigoted nature of people who make evaluations of other societies based on created, often contrived and even indoctrinated biases. As in the case of Franco’s Spain and their security concerns and handling at the time. Remember that this is the period in which Basque separatists started the bombings and the drive-bys.

              It’s different when bad things start to happen in your own back yard, isn’t it…?

              By the way, this is something that needs to be closely watched by all of us because it tends to be overreacted on and that makes the overreaching of power a real possibility. But, wait, that’s already happening…

              rafa

            • The opportunity for a US law enforcement officer to exchange gunfire with a “terrorist” is probably less likely than getting a phone call from Salma Hayek. This sort of an encounter is far more likely: http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2011/07/death-penalty-administered.html

              • It’s true that the odds are far against any particular policeman exchanging fire with a terrorist. But if the terrorists decide that it’s time to initiate Americans into what Israeli’s have had to deal with, you can bet that people will be screaming that the cops should have armed themselves better, so as to be properly prepared.

                As for the Turner case, notice the knee jerk dismissal of the cops version. The news reportage was entirely weighted toward the ‘victims’ version.

                The cops claim that Turner, a giant of a man, “raised a bag that contained two 24-ounce cans of beer and swung it “tomahawk-style” onto a deputy’s head”, which when it exploded made the sound of a gun going off.

                That’s easily verified with the security tapes taken of the outside which in a wrongful death suit, would be revealed in discovery. And, if the son is telling the truth, the family would bring suit.

                If the video shows the cops are lying, it will (unless the DA’s corrupt, result in additional, serious felony charges against the top management of the sheriffs office. Since the cops know this, they have to be either confident that the tapes show what they claim or running a bluff, which given the risk, would be criminally stupid.

              • If someone is “attacked” with two cans of beer they have the right to exact the death penalty on the can swinger? Evidently that makes a can of PBR a deadly weapon. Execution without trial for non-cooperation is “within department policy” in Bakersfield? A “giant of a man” can’t be humanely controlled by a large, professional, well-trained police department? Sorry, but part of the problem is that NO police department is willing to admit that one or more of their own has gone too far. When, in the rare circumstance that the legal process finds that one of these psychopaths with a badge and gun has exceeded even the nearly limitless bounds of accepted behavior, it is the taxpayers that pay the bill. These are the kind of guys that you’re defending:
                http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_20132005/ex-minneapolis-park-police-chief-admits-child-molestation?IADID=Search-www.twincities.com-www.twincities.com

                and: http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_20293191/former-coon-rapids-police-officer-sentenced-sexual-abuse

              • What I’m ‘defending’ is the average cop who’s willing to put their life on the line, on a daily basis, to protect if necessary, your ass. Not the occasional psychopath, a categorization you appear willing to apply to the entire profession.

                It’s not the threat from two cans of beer, but if true, the explosive sound they made when exploding, which ‘may have’ led, in the heat of the moment, to an individual cops perception that Turner represented a serious threat.

                I’m NOT saying this as fact, I’m saying it’s possible… and that, with video evidence to ascertain the truth of the matter, the certainty of discovery would make highly unlikely that even a corrupt department would try to cover up an unlawful wrongful death.

                For the cops to do so anyway, would imply that the entire prosecutory and judicial system in that county is corrupt and feels protected from State and Federal investigation, which is highly unlikely.

                The entire demeanor of the media reportage is that the cops are guilty until proved innocent, certainly you appear to concur with that view and the end result of that will be the exact opposite of what you wish.

                It will result in the lessening of principled, honest police work not a reforming of it. Reform certainly needed in any police force which condones the abuse, much less wrongful death, of citizens under the color of authority.

  3. What prompts this legal decision, it needs to be underlined, is government’s current penchant for dictating how and even why we live our lives. If they hadn’t meddled, the decision would never have to be reached.

    Ditto the Obamacare cluster-bang.

    That said, and speaking of job descriptions, I would like to read the one that states that it is the government bureaucrat’s job to dictate what we eat, what we do, what we talk about, what we can and cannot do in every aspect of our lives regardless of how menial or trivial it might be. And, if found, I would like to know who wrote that job description. I’m guessing a politician and I’ll bet he was a liberal, socialist, Kumbaya idiot to boot.

    I would also like to see what part of a politician’s oath of office states that they were elected in order to have them meddle in our personal affairs and to use that meddling attitude to posture and pretend that they give one rat’s (***) about what happens or doesn’t happen to any one of us as individuals.

    I would also like to see those “we the people” clowns that knee-jerk vote for these dingleberries time and time again hang their heads in shame; but I’m not holding my breath…

    rafa

  4. In days of yore when I was an active member of that class of reptile known as a lawyer I was frequently asked by a client “Can I sue him (or her)?”. I used to answer by saying “Wrong question”. Anyone can sue anyone. God bless the Constitution and SCOTUS for securing our right of access to the courts and to litigate to our hearts content. The correct question is “If I sue him, will I win?”. And so to the latest contrived rant by Dyer. The judge, in fact, didn’t entertain this silly lawsuit and dismissed it because there is no law in any state of the union which says that you may not stuff yourself and your dependant children full of supersize “happy-meals” until you all toddle off to obese hell, or wherever you aspire to. In fact, other than feeding poisons to other people, you can eat whatsoever you wish (other than hashish brownies), and I am unaware of any proposals which would change that happy state of affairs.

    Now, people with expertise in the areas of medicine and nutrition such as the Surgeon General advise us now and again that feeding our children with 14 happy meals each and every week is not very good for them. But, damn it, this is only advice, you don’t have to pay a blind bit of heed to it, and what does he or she know anyhow? In fact, the only coercive food legislation is the legislation which has forced the food-industry, kicking and screaming, to tell you what you are actually eating. This means that you and I have a choice whether or not to eat mechanically rendered chicken-burgers, or yellow stuff which pretends to be cheese (If these are your favourite things, go ahead and gorge!). Is forcing the food industry to disclose what is actually in its products an infringement of our liberties? Hardly! In fact it does the exact opposite. It gives you choice. What doesn’t give you choice is our burgeoning securocracy and the ever increasing amount of security legislation which ever further encroaches upon our civil-liberties, our persons, and our property. But, relax, there isn’t even an eenchy weenchy chance of anyone in the government stopping you filling your face with big(ger) Macs.

    So guys, go ahead. Supersize to your hearts content. Give that second megadeth burger to your kids. Think of it positively, when the securocrats get us into their next war of choice, your kids will be to fat to fight.

    • I’m kind of partial to unpasteurized milk. Know where I can buy any?

      • Off any farmer hereabouts. However, dairy herds must be certified TB and brucellosis free. You can also buy delicious brie made from unpasteurized milk and which probably has more cals weight for weight than any megadethburger. Hell, who needs to live forever?

        • Never take life too seriously because it’s for damned certain that you’re never going to get out of it alive…

        • Actually that is incorrect in most states. You must join an association in order to obtain unpasturized milk. If you buy it off a farmer – and the transaction can be traced – the farmer will be fined at a minimum – and shut down in the extreme.

    • So, in this case that even Paulite agrees was frivolous, did the plaintiff(s) have to pay court costs and attorneys’ fees to McDonald’s? If not, you can see where the weakness lies in our system. Defendants can be peppered with frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit, imposing enormous litigation costs on legal commerce.

      Of course, every once in a while the frivolous lawsuits result in enormous verdicts for the plaintiffs.

      • The case was frivolous, as was Dyer’s argument – for which the case served as her ritual straw man. It richly deserved a frivolous response. I have no idea whether McDonalds got their costs. Costs are at the discretion of the judge and normally follow the result. The threat of costs usually discourages private litigants who might sue big corporations. The threat of costs is no threat at all to a big corporation which is taking a legally specious case to intimidate a troublesome private individual. Even the possibility of having to pick up the tab is often sufficient to put off a private consumer who has been wrongfully refused indemnity by insurers – including medical insurers.

        • Perhaps the judge has authority to award both costs and attorneys’ fees for frivolous litigation, but we know that attorney’s fees are seldom granted when a plaintiff’s case is dismissed. The deserved response to this sort of abuse of the court system should be an award of costs and fees, and possibly additional penalties, as well. The absence of any indication that attorney’s fees were awarded suggests to me that no such newsworthy event occurred.

          So, maybe McDonald’s got their filing fee back, but they are still out the major costs of litigation, with no disincentive for another frivolous and officious intermeddling plaintiff to try to hit the lottery. (Going around picking legal fights with major corporations who haven’t harmed you is a little different from suing on a contract dispute about whether an expense is covered by your insurance.)

  5. Ah, a lawyer, well that explains a lot. So the relevant question is “If I sue him, will I win?”” not one word about is it morally just to do so…

    “In fact, other than feeding poisons to other people, you can eat whatsoever you wish (other than hashish brownies), and I am unaware of any proposals which would change that happy state of affairs.”

    Anyone perusing the news should be aware of plenty of examples of the emerging ‘health police’ but let me enlighten you with just a few examples…

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to limit food donations to city charities, including homeless shelters, because the government is unable to measure the nutritional value of the food

    N.Y. parents want to ban ice cream trucks

    A smoking ban — for homes?

    UK’s NHS Seeks to Limit Care for Smokers, Obese

    • Geoffrey:

      And there are more…

      Hunters in some states are no longer allowed to donate the meat from their hunts to homeless shelters.

      Michelle Obama launched (lunched?) a program on child obesity (no joke!).

      Schools now supervise individual lunch boxes and confiscate Mom’s packed goodies if they don’t agree with them, including bologna and cheese sandwiches and, of course candy bars.

      Cakes are no longer allowed during school class birthday celebrations. Neither are cupcakes or any other evil, conservative stuff like that.

      Sodas are being outlawed in school cafeterias. Some juices too.

      Etc…

      The day will soon come when some “unelected” government flunky will tell us which hand they approve to wipe our…errr…noses.

      As for the silly attempt at humor with the “too fat to fight” statement, my generation was spared this level of intrusion (thank God) and, for some reason, I have this weird and strange yet very clear recollection that young men back then were quite capable of fighting just fine. Fact is that my own father’s generation fought quite well too. Ask that other control freak government, the Nazis…

      I’m not so sure about the future generations of little wimpy robots that are not being allowed to play tag, to play soldier or cowboys and indians and that cannot even experience the pleasure of being able to discern the difference between winning and losing.

      rafa

      • The law personally allows you to eat as much Bambi as you want whether humanely killed in a abattoir or murdered by a kosher butcher. If Bloomberg or your kids school don’t want to feed you with certain things, that’s their private choice. Move schools.

        • He’s an elected official and the schools are public schools… Please try for a less addlebrained response in the future.

          And though you can mistreat animals and cruelly draw out their death, kosher or not, you can’t ‘murder’ an animal.

          Since rafa and I provided actual examples of J.E. article, your inability to respond substantively makes clear that you know the criticisms to be true, which also makes clear, that you are no friend to liberty. You are one of those who seeks to control others and rationalizes that it is for their own good. Which makes you a supporter of tyranny, whether you acknowledge it or deny it, changes it not a bit.

          • an attorney might tell you, GB, that schools have a duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent harm from befalling children under their supervision and mention that regulations designed to prevent harm are likely to be viewed as lawful until demonstrated to be impermissibly faulty.

            this coddling of children is very unfortunate has has resulted in added expense to the taxpayer

            • The ‘cure’ nannyism advocates for is far worse than the ‘dangers’ it seeks to prevent. Because instituting restrictions ‘for their own good’ is an arbitrary, ever evolving ‘standard’, inevitably it must lead to tyranny.

              Tyranny is evil (the word live spelled backwards) and because liberals lack the wisdom to see the obvious unintended consequences of what they advocate, the path they walk will condemn millions to slavery. “There is a way which seemeth just to a man: but the ends thereof lead to death” the Christ

              They shall have much to answer for and the excuse that they had good intentions won’t excuse their willful blindness.

              “There’s none so blind, as they that won’t see.” —Swift

              Ask any Eastern European old enough to have lived under the Soviets and they will tell you all about the living hell that Marx’s road of good intentions led too.

              • GB,

                If I may add to your response.

                Neither schools nor government have the duty to protect us from our own personal decisions. That is not enumerated anywhere. Schools particularly, do not have the right to replace parental authority which is exactly what they do when they meddle in a kid’s lunch box choices. Schools have taken it upon themselves not to instruct us, and they do rather badly, by the way, but to re-educate us which is entirely diferent

                But, and it is very important to understand this, they do not do any of these things out of stupidity or lack of wisdom. They do these things because their hidden charter is to usurp any other form of leadership but their own and to excercise their deep-rooted desire to rule over everything and in every aspect of life. THAT is what will give them total and absolute control over all of us.

                No parental authority less they serve to instill another thought process or decision making besides theirs. No God because they would lose the power to grant us whatever they wish and to take it all away whenever it suits them. No morality less that nasty teaching ever get in the way of what they would want us to do for them. No personal responsibility less that ever stands in opposition to their own self-serving agenda of making us into somethign akin to cattle. No individualism less that ever gets in the way of their intended herding of all of us. No courage because that would fuel our opposition of them. No patriotism because then they wouldn’t be able to replace the “patria” with their own chosen icon or persona.

                This is all a well laid plan and it is being flawlessly executed at all levels. From the area of maximum indoctrination (schools) to the area of maintenance (MSM), it is all geared to support the slow cooking of the frogs.

                rafa

              • actually, rafa, the schools DO have a duty to protect children from adverse consequences of the children’s own poor personal decisions.

                schools have every right to enforce their legit rules despite the objections of parents. my neighbor’s daughter was always told to keep a loaded sidearm in her lunch box once she reached 6th grad., sometimes, though, the school officials would interfere with the parental desire.
                …..you probably know as much but sorta forgot it for a minute or something.

                • I once promised that I wouldn’t fence with liberal/socialist idiots, but here it goes anyway…

                  Actually, Fuster, you have your conservatives all confused. That was GB’s quote, not mine. Although, to be fair, I agree with him.

                  As for the rest of your cave in, panting, butt licking post, here is what I think:

                  The schools are not “defending” children form their own decisions. They are “children” for crying out loud. But they are, under the cover that people like you grant them, attempting to outstage their parents and undermine their authority. They do this for their/your own nefarious reasons. Read my post and you might be coaxed to understand that these are indeed the reasons they/you stoop so low.

                  I also believe that you are making your neighbor’s daughter up. A debate style worthy of liberals, socialists and other forms of unrepentant fools. Your president/leader/hero certainly uses that same technique often and you seem to follow, in lockstep, I might add, his footsteps just like the lackey that you so willingly are.

                  rafa

              • “Evil is live spelt bachwards”

                This is definitely your most profound observation ever.

                The world is in your debt.

          • Public schools or not. You are perfectly free to feed your children megadethburgers, candy bars, cheese sandwiches, unpasteurised milk, bambi-drumsticks, or whatever. You cannot force other people or agencies who are providing food to your kids to give them what YOU want. You remember the saying “beggars can’t be choosers”

            • “You cannot force other people or agencies who are providing food to your kids to give them what YOU want”

              Nor are we protesting public agencies from deciding what they’ll serve, but rather the imposition of what the lunch may consist, that the parent sends with their child to school. Once again, a straw man argument in place of relevant rebuttal.

              News flash! Any objective observer cognizant of logic 101 knows that your avoidance of the issue we criticize is a clear indication of an inability to respond. Which means you’ve lost the argument and pretending you haven’t changes that reality, not a bit.

              “This is definitely your most profound observation ever.”

              Perhaps or perhaps it’s simply the deepest you’re able to appreciate. Though even that is in doubt, given that your poorly concealed sarcasm indicates that you fail to appreciate that the observation is, in fact a profound one, “brevity being the soul of whit”, but easily mistaken by the shallow for semi-clever repartee.

              The less words used to convey a truth and the greater the insight provided, the more profound the observation.

  6. I see fuster that you remain committed to the foolish notion that we can ride the Tiger’s back without consequence. Once you allow schools “duty to protect children from adverse consequences of the children’s own poor personal decisions” to supersede Parental rights into areas divorced from education (school lunches, etc.) you turn education into indoctrination and that way lies tyranny, no matter how good the intentions of those who merely seek control for the others benefit.

    • GB:

      You are talking to a socialist stone. I know, I know…I do that too. But, really, it ammounts to finger snapping an ant from your pant legs. The little buggers land on the grass pretty much unscathed and soon enough there will be more of them riding on you. Which is why we call them “pests”.

      rafa

      • I can’t quite agree as to fuster, who I suspect clings to his liberalism more out of fear of scorn from his liberal friends, than because he doesn’t understand the illogic of his position.

        Paulite t however is a rabid leftist, so much so that were this the 30’s he might have traveled to Russia to enlist in Lenin’s great cause and perhaps been purged but even then, as they put him up against a wall to be shot, he would still believe that it was all somehow a mistake.

        Heinlein put it well; “Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire“. – Robert A. Heinlein

        I suspect that Paulite t wants to control people and that fuster supports that, out of fear of being labeled an evil racist capitalist reactionary.

        Were this Nazi Germany, Paulite t would give the orders and fuster would merely be following orders.

        • Hmmm, Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz?

          • Absolutely priceless analogy!

        • GB:

          You carry the water; you are part of the team.

          Also, to clarify, there is this: lack•ey (l k) n. pl. lack•eys. 1. A liveried male servant; a footman. 2. A servile follower; a toady.

          Or this…”Lackey is typically used as a derogatory term for a servant with little or no self-respect, who belittles themselves in order to gain advantage.[2] such advantage is often assumed to be slight, temporary and often illusory. For common verb usage see Toady and Henchman.”

          Perhaps “idiot” is too strong a word in today’s tolerant and inclusive society and I apologize for using such a harsh, strong word within this sensitive and well behaved group, but the part that states “…Such advantage is often assumed to be slight, temporary and often illusory” is what makes theirs an “unintelligent” choice in my opinion. There, was that better…?

          I’ll chalk up my visceral reaction to an almost total lack of patience with anyone that would willingly and publicly grant school bureaucrats power over parents and would yield to them the right to rule over OUR children.

          Paulite doesn’t only carry the water; he also cleans their boots and washes their soiled underwear. All a matter of degrees, I guess…

          rafa

          • I presume if you had a decent argument you wouldn’t have to resort to name calling. As someone who has been a self-employed capitalist all my life I strongly suspect that you are a frustrated self-hating tax-payer supported apparatchik. You show all the symptoms.

            To respond in your own idiom: If you read what this “nazi communist” (surely a contradiction?) actually said you would see that I am defending your absolute right to stuff yourself and your kids with whatever rubbish takes your fancy. And remember that big bonus. They’ll be too fat to fight, and if they bring back the draft some day they won’t even need daddy to arrange a safe posting to the Texas Air Reserve or whatever. The liberal kids will (as usual) fight their lousy war for them.

            • rafa apologized for using the word idiot but if the show fits…

              “nazi communist” a contradiction? N.A.Z.I. “The full title of Adolf Hitler’s party was Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party). The term Nazi was an “acronym formed from the first syllable of NAtional and the second syllable of SoZIalist. Such terms, usually formed from the initial letters or syllables of successive parts of compound names, were popular in the Third Reich.”

              That Hitler combined socialism with fascism “a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism” in no way obviates that he was a socialist.

              Socialism is the mother of Communism because when advocates of socialism run out of other peoples money, having destroyed the dynamics of capitalism that allowed them to have their little social/economic experiment, rather than admit to the failure of socialism to work in a sustainable manner, they turn to ‘blaming the rich’ and then confiscating their wealth and assets. When that doesn’t work, they progressively lower the definition of who is ‘rich’, until all that is left is de facto Communism.

              That’s where your path leads but the willful denial that refuses to see the logically obvious makes you culpable for the current and future lives your advocacy will ruin.

            • “The liberal kids will (as usual) fight their lousy war for them.”

              As usual? I’m a Vietnam vet and it wasn’t liberal kids fighting that war, nor is it now. In the 60’s many of the liberal kids were dodging the draft by any means available, staying in college or fleeing the country. Some, like Kerry judged that being a military ‘hero’ would further their political career. When a purple heart wasn’t enough, he jumped on the popular anti-war movement, as his only principle was and is, self-interest.

              Today’s military is made up of volunteers; patriotism and a means to a better life being the primary motivators, something liberal kids abjure, who instead embrace college (which isn’t working very well lately) as the means to an upwardly mobile life.

              • Yes, its a bad thing to generalize. I shouldn’t have tarred all conservatives with the GWB/Cheney brush. My fault.

                p.s. At least Kerry went to ‘Nam.

    • GB, the schools have legal responsibility for every damn thing that happens on school premises.

      if a kid pulls a syringe previously used by her parents from her lunchbox and sticks it in another kid, is the school liable?

      if a kid is instructed by parental units to use the stiletto strapped to his leg to cut the tongue out of any other kid denying the divinity of someone or other…is the school liable?

      —-I gave up any hope for socialism at 16, raffles. I’m still clinging, albeit slenderly, to the idea that there might be hope for you.

      • Sigh. Fuster, no one begrudges schools exercising their proper legal responsibilities. We begrudge them… indoctrinating our children and seeking to impose their social standards upon the young by usurping what are clearly parental rights. If you can’t see and acknowledge that there is a difference between the two, then you don’t want to see the difference and talking to you is a waste of time. So, do you agree that there is a ‘line’ inappropriate for public officials to cross? If not, then you are on the side of the tyrants and the only question left is if you’re a knave or a fool.

        • absolutely agree that there’s a line and that it’s far too often crossed GB.

          I do believe I started out this thread noting that the loony left thinks it means well with this and does some harm.

          I’m all for the school system actually teaching kids some basic science concerning human nutrition and returning to the insistence that exercise is a necessary and proper part of the school day and of human existence.

          what I do not agree with is that the schools are obliged to agree with and instill the ideas of the all the parents rather than substitute better ideas.

          the “home-schooling” movement among the religious far right is also a worrisome thing. kids NEED to hear ideas that are different from those of their parents and to socialize with people who are quite different from the parental units.

          • And that, GB, is the socialist trap (which, come to think of it, rhymes with “crap”). Make something sound as if it has big, good intentions and everything is allowed.

            Veiled in this posting is the “Home schooling by religious zealots” crap. And the “it’s OK to supersede the parents” crap as long as it’s “for the children” crap.

            BS all of it. Social re-engineering all of it. Government is king all of it. “God doesn’t exist” or, the other preferred socialist godless line: “God doesn’t know what He is doing” crap.

            Crap, all of it. Put it where it belongs, in the toilet. And, then, please, really do this for the children…FLUSH!

            rafa

          • “what I do not agree with is that the schools are obliged to agree with and instill the ideas of the all the parents rather than substitute better ideas.”

            No one has suggested that! All we’ve said is that there’s a difference between education and indoctrination and that when schools move into areas that are not their purview, such as what a student brings for lunch from home…then the school is out of line.

            It’s fine for schools to teach that potato chips have little to no nutritional value, it’s quite another for the school to dictate what Johnny may bring from home and eat.

            Studies show that home schooled students surpass publicly educated students, which is a reflection of the greater individual attention the teacher can provide. There is a mild concern that home schooled children are missing out on social interaction but if the child has friends in their neighborhood, plays in organized sports, goes to the mall, etc. that should be sufficient.

            Kids do “NEED to hear ideas that are different from those of their parents and to socialize with people who are quite different from the[ir] parental units”, as long as those ideas aren’t presented in an atmosphere of indoctrination and that the ‘different types of people’ aren’t encouraging morally reprehensible behavior.

            • “what I do not agree with is that the schools are obliged to agree with and instill the ideas of the all the parents rather than substitute better ideas.”

              That passage is what needs to be challenged. “Better” according to whose lights? And who decides? What KIND of “better ideas” are we talking about?

              I don’t sign up to either of the following generic premises:

              1. That if parents disagree with what a school is doing, the parents must be “wrong.”

              2. That if a school wants to “teach” or manage something a certain way, the school must inherently have a “better idea.”

              I do, however, support the generic premise that if the parents object to something, the school system is required to take that seriously and very likely stop doing it, or change how it’s done. If the community decides the schools are not to do something that the education professionals think is a “better idea,” then the schools must cease doing it. Period. Public schools belong to the taxpayers, not to the education professionals. The teachers work for us.

              Of course the community should be able to override the public employees. That happens all the time when cities, counties, states, and the US federal government decide, by due process of law, to do or not do something opposed by the members of particular professions. The people have every right to, for example, decide that no child’s home-packed lunch shall be taken away from her at school, and that no parent shall be charged for a publicly-provided lunch withour her prior explicit agreement. How utterly absurd to think the people are not, or should not be, empowered to make these decisions.

              • Although I realize that this is “antique thinking” I firmly believe that schools should be tasked with “instructing” and that parents should still be reponsible for “eduacting”. Otherwise, the real and perhaps present danger is that shools will indoctrinate under the guise of educating. In fact, that is exactly what schools are doing currently.

                rafa

              • Au contraire, I subscribe to a rather less self-indulgent philosophy. When at home, children should comply with the rules and ethos of home. When at school, they should comply with the rules and ethos of school. If the latter means physical education and not eating certain foods, so be it. This is part of the discipline and socialization that is an integeral part of schooling and education. Naturally enough, parents should have an imput into the governance of their children’s school, but schools are a microcosm of society and cannot indulge every parental whim. Learning to adapt is a more important lesson for life for children than their parents personal obsessions. And if the dietary code of your children’s school is so offensive to you, and you deem it essential for them to eat megadethburgers or nut-roast, or whatever, you should move school. And if the food they are getting courtesy of the taxpayer is not to your liking, and if this is a matter of huge principle to you, you should move them to a school where you can buy them food you approve of with your own money. So “eat your greens” and stop your perpetual whingeing.

                • There is so much socialist BS in Paulite’s post that it is hard to know where to begin. Stuff like this: “When at home, children should comply with the rules and ethos of home. When at school, they should comply with the rules and ethos of school”.

                  What this means to these monkey brained lackeys is that children must learn that there are authorities out there that are better and superior to their parents and that total and absolute compliance to those is a good thing. That would pave the road for further and deeper indoctrination and the constant output of little worker bees.

                  A rule, any rule…an ethos, any ethos is good as long as it is endorsed by a government bureaucrat or by a leftist politician. But let the ethos of any school be one of prayer, abstinence or of following a religious principle and, watch it!…the wrath of government will be upon you.

                  Of course the leftists and the socialists mix their transparent little idiocies up with little stuff like “children must be taught to comply with rules”. Omitted from these “wise” words are the words that clarify “as long as the rules are morally sound, supported by natural law or that they follow traditionally accepted norms.” This self-allowed selectivity of when something should be and when something should not be is what allows them to take whatever context they chose and to argue a point totally and entirely separate from those other rather inconvenient triggers.

                  Here:

                  “What do you mean a little 11 year old girl shouldn’t learn how to put a condom on her little 12 year old boy-friend?” “Why teach them abstinence if they are going to “do it” anyway?” “Are you saying that a little girl should disobey a rule in school (gasp! gasp!…) just because she might have a moral objection to it?” or “Why shouldn’t your daughter be taught that lesbians are a wonderful way to have two mommies instead of one?”

                  ‘Cause, the lackeys tell us, if that is part of the ethos of school, they should just obey it. If not, they are “mega burger eaters of the worst kind and should be ostracized from the rest of the more compliant, sheep-like children.

                  Those are the weird and sometimes evil arguments that we find today. But, let’s project this without changing Paulite’s rules of civics one iota.

                  “And why should the schools not teach your sons and daughters to worship the State if that happens to be the ETHOS of that particular school?” or, “Of course children should be taught that mean stuff like hunting is evil and that Bambi actually cried in mourning for his majestic, free father?” or “Why should a school not tell the children that their fathers and mothers are evil if they give them a bologna and cheese sandwich for lunch?” “Why should children not be taught to sing songs of praise for president Obama, our second black president?” “Why should schools not teach every child under their tutelage that a tolerant and good society will allocate entitlements according to each individual’s personal needs and that expecting a rewards for individual contributions is evil, selfish and one sided?”

                  After all, it is all being done to teach the lovely little future communists inclusiveness, tolerance and love for more and more and more and more all-loving, all-caring government….

                  Give me a break!

                  rafa

              • ” I do, however, support the generic premise that if the parents object to something, the school system is required to take that seriously and very likely stop doing it, or change how it’s done.”

                Take seriously yes, change or stop if the school has stepped over the ‘line’ between parental authority and the schools rightful mission to educate, yes.

                However, the “generic premise” to which you refer, would include semi-controversial (for some) topics like evolution. As a caveat, I do not hold with the view that evolution and intelligent design are necessarilymutually exclusive but for parents to object to the teaching of evolution (as an established, widely accepted scientific theory) in a public school is a ‘bridge too far’ for me.

                When a teacher refuses to discuss the inconsistencies in the theory of evolution or presents it as established fact, they stray into indoctrination. When parents insist that ‘intelligent design’ be also taught as having equal evidence to the evidence in favor of evolution, it’s the parents who have crossed the line into indoctrination.

                • “When parents insist that ‘intelligent design’ be also taught as having equal evidence to the evidence in favor of evolution, it’s the parents who have crossed the line into indoctrination.”

                  Now, now, GB, think of it this way: Evolution is a theory. Intelligent Design is a theory. If we teach one should we not present the other as an additional, even a parallel theory?

                  I’m a bit like you in the sense that I subscribe to the thought that one is not exclusive of the other, but I also understand, as I’m sure you do too, that Intelligent Design, as it stands, is a matter of faith. But, to some rabid evolutionists, the theory of evolution seems to also be a matter of faith.

                  We can look at all the vestiges and appendages that are attributed to the remnants of evolution, we can unearth bones and fossils and we can make up all sorts of documentaries that provide us, with wonderfully put together rationalization, “proof” that evolution did indeed make everything as it currently is. The problem with that is that it is all rationalization and that it does not really “prove” anything. Evolution, to the dismay of some, is still nothing more than an unproven fact, a theory.

                  And you are right, to present it any other way is disingenuous or, at worse, perhaps somewhat of a proof that evolution might indeed work in reverse…
                  🙂

                  rafa

          • Teaching kids nutrition and compelling them to take exercise is the thin edge of the socialist wedge, GB. You need to watch yourself. Obesity is the right of every American kid.

            • “When at school, they should comply with the rules and ethos of school. If the latter means physical education and not eating certain foods, so be it.”

              Rules necessary for safety and order and an ‘ethos’ which doesn’t stray across the line between education and indoctrination, yes.

              Physical education as a required activity, yes. Not serving certain foods in the cafeteria for public consumption, yes.

              Not allowing the eating of foods brought from home, emphatiically NO. There lies the tyranny of the unelected beauracracy, nannyism and social compulsion, which has no place in a society that values individual liberty.

              Your suggestion that parents unhappy with indoctrination should uproot their lives and move (where?) or pay for their children’s enrollment in a private school is ludicrous and unjust in the extreme. Let the offenders, in this case schools who wish to indoctrinate the children entrusted to the care, change. Any other suggestion is condoning injustice.

              Rather than change their school, why don’t you (and all those who seek control at odds with individual liberty) emigrate to one of the liberal european states, before the coming Muslim demographic wave takes away that option?

              • Government is always “one size fits all.” (Or maybe two: too small and too large.) It doesn’t matter to government if your child can run 5:30 miles, and swim marathons, she can’t have a Coca-Cola and a bag of potato chips.

  7. Happy Easter and Chag Pesach Sameach to all TOC readers and correspondents!

    • and a happy Easter to you, opticon.

    • Happy Easter and a sweet Passover to you too opticon, and to all.

      “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” C.S. Lewis

      “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” C.S. Lewis

      “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” C.S. Lewis

      To those agnostics and atheists who do not believe, a happy day to you as well, may the reality of a just afterlife, prove to be a pleasant surprise for you.

      Agnostics and atheists typically believe that it is the faithful who walk in the darkness of superstition and ignorance. They might well consider that the inability to believe in a beneficent God does not signify a lack of faith, but rather, signifies the failure of trust, in the face of adversity. Faith cannot exist where trust is absent.

  8. Rafa,

    “Evolution, to the dismay of some, is still nothing more than an unproven fact, a theory.”

    A theory is NOT an ‘unproven’ fact. A theory is an examined explanation, which fits the observed phenomena and facts and is internally consistent with out serious self-contradiction or violation of the facts. And has generally been accepted by at least some, if not the majority of scientists, as most probably true. A hypothesist is an explanation which has not yet achieved full acceptance within the scientific community. Ther can be and often are multiple hypothesis and even theories.

    “Evolution is a theory. Intelligent Design is a theory. If we teach one should we not present the other as an additional, even a parallel theory?”

    As a matter of inclusiveness, yes but the empirical evidence in support of evolution far exceeds the faith based, ‘intuitive’ evidence in support of intelligent design. I can prove that certain assertions of evolutionary theory are factual, I cannot prove the existance of God, even though I intuitively accept it to be a self-evident truth.

    For those reasons, beyond a teacher acknowledging that some people believe in the theory of intelligent design and, a teacher’s willingness to discuss it, if there is interest, it is inappropriate for the theory of intelligent design to be given equal discussion in the classroom.

  9. If I found my children in a school that taught them how to use condoms and taught “intelligent design” (An oxymoron, if ever there was one!), and insisted they ate rubbish food, I would move schools.

    Thankfully, they went to sensible schools run by sensible teachers.

    Incidentally, scientists use the word “theory” to designate a system, not a hypothesis. For example “quantum theory”. Evolution neither excludes on includes God any more than does quantum theory.

    • Please explain how “intelligent design” is inherently an oxymoron.

      If you can’t or won’t that would make you the moron.

      NO school would insist that children eat rubbish food, nice try at avoiding the issue, which is the insistance that children not eat politically incorrect food provided by the parents.

      “Incidentally, scientists use the word “theory” to designate a system, not a hypothesis.”

      Theory: “A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.”
      Hypothesis: “A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation.”

      Nothing in there about a ‘system’ is there? You keep sticking your foot in it, don’t you?

  10. GB — we reached the response-in-thread limit so I’m moving the “generic premise” question here.

    I figured someone would bring up evolution under this heading. I didn’t myself because I don’t buy the whole “peasants are hysterical about teaching evolution” narrative, and didn’t want to illustrate any points with that hackneyed concept.

    I think it’s important to make a particular point, however. So you’ll know where I’m coming from, I’ll say this: as long as any theory is held to an empirical standard and is taught in the context of only the narrow claims for which it is suited, I don’t have a problem with teaching either evolution or intelligent design.

    That said, I regard the most important principle in the matter of the public schools to be that the will of the people should rule. There are due processes of law by which to express it, and they should be followed. But when it comes to retaining liberty and a respectful government, it is more important that the people be respected by their government than that any individual’s concept of a “better idea” be enforced in the public-school venue.

    Once you admit that latter concept, you are careening down the slippery slope. I might once have reflexively agreed that certainty of being right, in a scientific sense, ought to take precedence over what a majority in the community wants for their schools. I don’t anymore.

    It is a false, strawman proposition that communities of ordinary people who can read and interpret information are going to somehow ruin their future by resisting ideas that are demonstrably useful or empirically true. But even if it weren’t, it is a demonstrably valid proposition that letting public officials act as if they know better than the people what’s good for them leads to a loss of liberty. We are in the big middle of seeing that proposition validated, but history validates it as well.

    It would not have interfered one iota with America’s future if school districts had made different decisions 50 or 60 years ago about how to teach evolution. It does interfere daily with our liberty, that too many of us have come to accept the idea that the people can — and even must — be “known better than” by a hired bureaucracy. No partially proven theory is important enough to trump consensual, respectful government. The latter has to be the highest principle whenever what’s a stake is the functioning of a public entity.

    • While we agree on much J.E. you appear to be extending an unqualified approval to the principle of the “will of the people”. I find that difficult to argue with but would remind you that the “will of the people” is just another way of saying, “let the majority rule”, which is of course, the central principle of democracy.

      The point I am trying to make regarding the will of the people is perhaps best illustrated by Jefferson and Franklin’s observations on democracy;
      “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” Jefferson

      “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well- armed lamb contesting the vote.” Franklin

      When a majority decides that evolution, properly taught as current theory in a public school… is anathema and not to be taught at all, warning flags arise.

      In general however, I strongly agree that a government respectful of its citizens expressed will is of fundamental importance. It’s almost as important however that, that ‘will’ be rational and informed.

      • We probably disagree on whether it constitutes being irrational and uninformed for people to advocate teaching intelligent design in the schools.

        Some important factors in this are the relative controversiality of ideas and what the consequences would be if Idea X is not taught as its proponents think it should be.

        There would be zero consequences to the success and coherence of American society from adding intelligent design to school curricula.

        Evolution — particularly as politicized — and ID are both controversial as theories, whereas the operation of gravity and the reality of a spheroid earth are not. Controversiality matters; people are not stupid to be skeptical of the controversial, and it is presumptuous to “correct” them on things that can’t be proven conclusively.

        But that’s not really the heart of the matter. With respect to your point about the evils of unfettered majority rule in a democracy, (a) we don’t have a democracy, we have a republic, and the restraints on majoritarianism will factor into the decisions I am talking about. But (b) this isn’t a case of the rights of a minority being trampled. That’s not what is at issue.

        No one has a right to teach anything in the public schools. A minority that wants to teach Theory W should have to gain and keep the approval of the people to do so. The people pay for the service, and it is their minor children who receive the instruction. A minority represented in the unelected bureaucracy should not be able to force Theory W on them.

        Regarding this paragraph:

        “When a majority decides that evolution, properly taught as current theory in a public school… is anathema and not to be taught at all, warning flags arise.”

        … I can’t get worked up over this when the schools have decided that quite a number of things — mostly facts from history — should not be taught at all. As between knowing the actual facts of history and knowing about the theory of evolution by the 6th grade, I consider the history to be more important to making a competent citizen.

        Evolution is a legitimate and teachable subject, but it is disingenuous to suggest that it has not also been shrouded with heavily politicized advocacy. Parents should not have to sit still for that in the interest of the topic being included in school instruction. Frankly, it’s just not that important. It’s hard to think of anything broadly controversial that is important enough to require overriding the concerns of parents.

        We’re not going to lose our scientific future if ID is taught in some public schools. (Where parents don’t want it, they shouldn’t have to adopt it.) We’re not even going to lose our scientific future if the odd school here or here does NOT teach evolutionary theory. The world of information is too big, established, and accessible for that. On the other hand, we ARE going to lose our liberty with every small step we take in the direction of knowing better than the people what should be taught in the schools.

        • As it happens we probably don’t disagree on Intelligent design. If one believes in a God who created the universe, they must have set up the physical laws which govern its operation. Which common sense alone would suggest that the direction of the evolution of the living creatures created would not be left to sheer chance. It’s when Intelligent design is taught in a public school as religious instruction wherein a problem would arise.

          We do disagree as to the theory of evolution being inherently controversial, that some people find it controversial generally results from that theory being difficult to reconcile with their religious beliefs. Nor have I suggested that “it has not also been shrouded with heavily politicized advocacy.” Of course it has but that is irrelevant to my argument. Perhaps you have me confused with another commenter?

          As for being confident that our republic will reign in any untoward tendencies of majoritarianism, usually that is true but there are plenty of examples of when it did not.

          I agree that current standards of education are deplorable and that our educational systems failures in fundamentals have a much higher priority but that doesn’t obviate the matter of whether parental popularity should determine an academic curriculum.

          In the final anaysis however, I fully agree that educators whose attitude is that they know better and who ignore parental concerns
          are basically the ones out of line and who most represent a threat to liberty and the right of the individual to make up their own mind.

  11. One of the problems with the theory of evolution is that is supposedly happened in the past and we can’t verify it in our own time. Darwin was unable to point to an example that could be observed in nature.

    Later, some folks offered the example of the “peppered moths” of London. Originally, mostly white moths were observed, but as industrial London’s air became fouler and killed the lichens giving the white moths camouflage from predators, the darker colored moths prevailed. When I was in school, this was offered triumphantly by the evolutionists with a satisfied “I rest my case!” flourish.

    I was never convinced, If this is proof of evolution, then evolution is trivial. It was more like the Vikings raiding Ireland every ten years and carrying away everyone who did not have red hair. What would the population soon look like on the Emerald Isle? It would be decidedly weighted toward the auburn tresses. But the people would not have evolved, they would merely be the ones who were left after some selective “harvesting.”

    So, what’s your point, Vincenzo? Merely that the teaching of evolution ought to be better, and should not try to stretch the proof beyond its limits. It would not hurt to expose our children to alternative theories, either.

  12. GB — I didn’t mean to sound sharp in the last response. I do, however, believe that parental authority, as one of the key factors in community will, should indeed determine what is offered in the academic curricula of the public schools. I don’t subscribe to any idea of educators as better suited to making those determinations. If the people themselves are truly incompetent to do it, then they shouldn’t vote, hold public office, or indeed do much of anything that requires judgment, discretion, and knowledge.

    My hierarchy of moral priorities in this case places liberty at the top. If we have liberty, as guaranteed by a small and respectful government, we can’t be held back in the intellectual realm, even by the flawed and fallible schools we always have, regardless of how carefully we manage them.

    On the other hand, if we don’t have liberty, it won’t matter how closely the schools’ curricula conform to the latest developments in scientific theory and analysis.

    I hope I don’t have to explain that by “liberty,” I do not mean untutored, licentious ignorance. That is the construction leftists will frequently put on “liberty” when it is used on this context, but the construct is false and demeaning.

    The central asset of progress and societal success is the free human being. It’s not “education.” Humans with the latitude to invent and work for the benefits THEY, individually, deem desirable are the means of changing the world. Education is a tool, not a resource. The essential resource is the individual, and its use is optimized in liberty.

    Realistically, America can’t be held back by a few public schools that don’t teach evolutionary theory. But she can be destroyed by cumulative generations of people who have never been taught the idea of responsible liberty and natural rights.

    • No offense taken. I’m not as comfortable with making parental authority the determitive factor in academic curricula as you but then again I agree that as a practical matter, an informed public is not going to abuse that trust in either a consistent or widespread manner. And I am in full agreement in making liberty the foremost consideration. When that is first, we cannot long go wrong.

      • “And I am in full agreement in making liberty the foremost consideration. When that is first, we cannot long go wrong.”

        Agreed, and I appreciate your “getting it.” The people are much smarter in liberty than under the compulsion of collectivist schemes and intellectual centralization. The scientific progress unique to the West is a tremendous body of proof on that head.

        The most important factor in discovery, invention, and the seeking of the truth is liberty. With liberty, we will always make progress. Without it, progress provides no benefit and we won’t make it anyway.

        It is a leftist fairy tale that the people are relentlessly, impenetrably stupid if left to their own devices by the centralized state. America is living proof of the opposite. The older I get, the more I realize that we can’t go wrong prioritizing intellectual and economic liberty. That applies even when some groups of people prefer things that we don’t.

        When people are free to be persuaded about new ideas and information, everyone moves forward. There is no other basis for moving forward. If we want the theory of evolution to thrive in terms of testing, refining, and demonstration, the only way to achieve that is to respectfully accept dissent from it. A good theory has to stand up to the severest skepticism, because that’s the only way it will be held to the highest standard. If dissent isn’t allowed, or is only “tolerated” on certain bases by intellectual ukase, whatever comes out of the percolation process is likely to be weaker and less persuasive than it would otherwise be.

        That’s the magic of liberty: it brings about better outcomes than we imagined, by ALLOWING them to emerge. We can’t impose the best outcomes. We can only set the stage for them by prizing and cultivating liberty.

        • All of which is quite true if we first presume that the intellectuals that you are talking about are just that, intellectuals that defend a theory based on their honest and sincere belief that it is a good one.

          But, there are the other so-called “intellectuals”. The ones with a socio-political agenda; the ones that use or even make up some of these theories as tools to control or tools to destroy a culture. With them arguing is a waste of time and no amount of logic or common sense will ever get them to accept even the remote possibility that the opposing or complementary theory is even half valid.

          Common sense people argue commonsensically. Crooks argue crookedly.

          rafa

  13. I find it most telling when our esteemed blog hostess reminds of the number of things that schools willingly choose not to teach which are clearly more dangerous in the creation of a blindly obedient herd of sheep for the those of a more statist bent to boss around and fleece.

    As to evolution – there are many holes surrounding its adaptation as a natural law, like gravity. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taught nor should concepts like ID be off limits in the curriculum.

    But we have many things in school that are taught like a religion in the schools – religious faith is quaint and almost myth-like. Only whites can be racists. Every man is a rapist in waiting. Every kid will have sexual intercourse whether we want them to stop from doing so. The Europeans destroyed the peaceful and environmentally aware Indians. The US is inherently an evil country. I could go on.

    Until they go – I have no problem fighting about evolution and ID. As I say, if evolution as theory were absolutely true we would still have tails.

    • Indeed. The rabid drive to replace God with Government is also a matter of faith. The only difference being that you can see, and often smell, government but God is a bit more elusive than that. But, and this is somewhat ironic, the statist faith is based on government’s ability to resolve all and any problem but, at the same time, they stubbornly refuse to see that God has been doing that for ages. Why…look at evolution and tell me that this might not be problem solving at its best… 🙂

      But you are spot on about the liberal church and, very much like Muslims, the statist believes that lying and stealing is permissible if and when it forwards the faith that they so blindly endorse.

      However, and we must be careful not to make any mistakes here, some of the things you mention (The Green movement for one) are nothing more than tools of the statist. Sort of like the other white gloved hand and the scantly clad assistant that keep distracting us while the magician does something surreptitious under his black cape.

      rafa

  14. And I almost forgot the entire green movement. If that isn’t a church I don’t know what is.


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