Roughly 50 years ago, Don McLean released his son song, “American Pie” with its famous line about “The Day the Music Died.” It was a reference to when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson died along with pilot Roger Peterson in an airplane crash. For Afghans, the day the music died coincided with the Taliban takeover of their country. Nothing drove home that fact than the horrific killing of Afghan folk singer Fawad Andarabi, who was executed by the Taliban for playing music. Continue reading “The Day the Music Died: Taliban Ban Music and Then Execute Leading Afghan Folk Singer”
A very disturbing case of alleged police brutality just got far worse after defense counsel for Jim Jones, 62, alleged in open court that a prosecutor with the District Attorney for Lawrence County, Tennessee told a deputy sheriff to delete pictures of the beaten Jones. The prosecutor “has been terminated” but the question is whether the disclosure will feature in a trial for civil damages.
In my torts class, we discuss liability for the mishandling of corpses as well as torts like the intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress related to deceased remains. The latest such example could well be a torts final hypothetical. Wylie Funeral Homes in Baltimore is accused of giving a widow an empty urn and lying about the handling of the remains of her deceased husband. It only gets more bizarre from there. We will be discussing this case in class for years to come.
I was once told by a pilot that jet bridges are the most dangerous places in aviation because “no one dies on the plane.” When someone has a fatal episode on a plane, the preference is to move the person outside to “call the code” on the bridge rather than require the plane to be held or quarantined due to the death. If you just move them outside, they died somewhere else. The result is that it can be challenging to determine how many people actually die on airplanes.
That story came to mind this week as more schools moved to end standardized testing — a move that can guarantee no one fails in their schools. In this case, students who lack proficiency in basic subjects are being sent out into society or even college to fail somewhere else. Anywhere other than the school. Continue reading “Oregon Suspends Need For High School Graduates To Be Proficient in Reading, Writing, and Math”
In my travels over the past week I took to an occasional diversion I sometimes make by visiting small and noteworthy cemeteries that come by once in a while. The two I visited recently presented two different perspectives on how we as a culture lay our loved ones to rest. Each of these have their own virtues and like most things in life one is not necessarily better or worse, but is so often according to the views of the beholder.
Here we find two of the same; different but not opposed.
Mark Twain once said that “A sense of humor is the one thing no one will admit to not having.” Twain observation came to mind this week when Robin DiAngelo warned that “Comedy is . . . an excuse to get to be racist.” It appears that DiAngelo is moving from “White Fragility” to white comedy. The remarks of the author of the book “White Fragility” were carried on the Wisconsin-based non-profit Mythinformed. DiAngelo singled out “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” as racist entertainment. For free speech advocates, the comments are concerning given the crackdown in other countries on comedians. Continue reading ““An Excuse to Get to be Racist”: “White Fragility” Author Issues Warning on the Dangers of The Comedy”
We have previously discussed the continued failing of the public schools in preparing African American students for college or the workforce. I have specifically discussed the horrific figures coming out of Baltimore despite being one of the top districts in terms of per capita spending. Recent data now offers another chilling statistic: 41 percent of students in the Baltimore system have a 1.0 (D) GPA or less. Continue reading “Baltimore Public School Data Shows 41% of Students Have a 1.0 GPA or Less”
We have been discussing the controversy over the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media offering a chair and tenure to New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones. After the university rescinded the tenure offer, Hannah-Jones agreed to accept the position on a non-tenured basis. She then later demanded tenure and the board changed its position after a national campaign. Now, Hannah-Jones has denounced the university and accepted a position at Howard University. Continue reading “Nikole Hannah-Jones Turns Down Tenure at UNC and Accepts Chair At Howard University”
The Fourth is one of my favorite holidays as an opportunity for all of us to celebrate our common article of faith in the independence of a nation committed to freedom and individual rights. While the New York Times ran a piece this weekend on the divisiveness of the American flag and the Washington Post ran a story on how the Statue of Liberty is now a sign of hypocrisy, there are many who still view this country as the greatest hope for freedom in the world. Those are the symbols of the people we strive to be — and the millions who came before us. The American Republic was always meant to be a work in progress. I have criticized our erosion of freedoms and individual rights (particularly free speech) but those are our transgressions — our failure to live up to what this country stands for or the symbols of our long struggle. For example, the assault on free speech across this country is being carried out despite our founding principles, not because of them.
On this day, it is important to remember and to celebrate what was have accomplished in the protection of liberty. We have the ability to change our society but our constitutional system remains the greatest vehicle of justice and equality in the world. This holiday unfortunately shows how our differences threaten to overwhelm our common article of faith in this representative democracy. However, there is more than unites us than divides us and this holiday is a reminder of that transcendent fact. Many of us will join today to celebrate these United States and its history and values. My family will celebrate with a cookout and, of course, lots and lots of fireworks. Continue reading “HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!”
Below is my column in The Hill on the suspension of Rudy Giuliani by the New York Bar. The widespread hatred for Giuliani may be blinding many to the more troubling aspects of the opinion by the New York Supreme Court.
We have previously discussed the tendency of the United Kingdom toward “nanny state” legislation. Now, starting in 2023, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is moving to ban junk food advertising online and before 9pm on TV — a move that will not only limit speech rights but undermine broadcasters who rely on such revenue. It is a move reminiscent of the Big Gulp laws of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York as the government moves to protect consumers from themselves. As will come as little surprise to many of this blog, I oppose such moves both as a limitation on speech rights and the freedom of choice. Continue reading “Out of Sight, Out of Mind? United Kingdom Moves to Ban Junk Food Advertising”
Below is my column in The Hill on the recent ruling on college athletes by the Supreme Court. The decision could prove to be the critical “crossing the Rubicon” moment for college sports and force schools to address long unsettled questions regarding big sports programs.
There is a controversy in Seattle over plans for a pride event to charge people more based on their race. The Seattle Human Rights Commission is under fire this week after sending a letter dismissing a complaint over the announcement that the Taking B(l)ack Pride on June 26th would charge White entrants a “reparations” fee. The Commission told Charlette LeFevre and Philip Lipson of Capitol Hill Pride that they needed to “educate” themselves and consider the harm that they would cause by being participants in the event. Update: While the response of the Commission caused outrage from many, Lipson and LeFevre quickly apologized for even raising the issue.
Random selection is not generally an approach that most people opt for in the selection of doctors or even restaurants or a movie. However, it appears to be the new model for some in higher education. Former Barnard College mathematics professor Cathy O’Neil has written a column calling for “random selection” of all college graduates to guarantee racial diversity. It is ever so simple: “Never mind optional standardized tests. If you show interest, your name goes in a big hat.” She is not the only one arguing for blind or random admissions. Continue reading ““Just Blind Chance”: The Rising Call For “Random Selection” For College Admissions”
There has been a great deal of controversy over the graduation address of Fairfax County school board member Abrar Omeish to the Justice High School in Falls Church on June 7th. In her remarks to the graduates, Omeish praised a teacher who made social activism part of her class and warned the graduates that they are going into a world filled with racism and white supremacy. However, what really struck an admittedly libertarian chord with me was the third danger that she warned about: “excessive individualism.” Like free speech, individualism is now being presented as a danger rather than a strength in our society.