Category: Bias

The More Things Change . . .

By , July 16, 2014 11:23 am

This:
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Pampering Illegal Aliens
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Reminds me of this:
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Charges of Pampering Japanese
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Cross posted to GregoryTaggart.com

The Art of Denial

By , June 4, 2014 4:44 pm

When the shoe is on the other foot and fits so well . . . you get comedy.

Cross posted from PartialPosts.com

Why I Post What I Post

By , March 3, 2014 1:17 pm

In light of my recent posts on Arizona SB1062, the bill that Gov. Brewer vetoed the other day, I feel I need to be clear: I don’t hate gays or lesbians. I am not a homophobe. As the saying goes, I have friends (and relatives) who are gay or lesbian. I wish them well and, for the most part*, support them in their quest for equal rights. My religion challenges me to love all people. I try to do that. Most of the time I succeed.

No, my posts—and posts like them on other subjects—come from a deep-seated belief in the value of religious liberty and from an ongoing frustration with those on the left who label my side, the conservative/religious side, “haters,” “deniers,” “misogynists,” “fascists,” “homophobes,” and “racists,” among other things. I know in my heart that I’m none of those things, and I’m confident that all or the vast majority of the conservatives/religious people I know are not. Thus, I’ve made up my mind to push back whenever I see those on the other side of an argument cavalierly throw around such evil epithets posing as reasoned argument.

I want to stress the word “cavalierly.” I am not a Pollyanna. I realize there are people–people on both sides of the aisle–who are, in fact, haters, deniers, misogynists, fascists, homophobes, and racists. When they act out on those traits, they should be called out. That said, it seems that the best way to do that is on a case-by-case basis rather than to label an entire groups of people unfairly and, generally, for political purposes.

That is all.

*I support traditional marriage, again not out of any animus towards the LBGT community but out of a belief in the nature and purpose of marriage that I won’t go into here. I do support civil unions.

Cross posted to GregoryTaggart.com.

Court or Steamroller? When Rights Conflict

By , March 1, 2014 4:27 pm

I don’t care which side you are (were) on in the recent outcry over Arizona’s SB1062, but I assume you are interested in the facts of what the bill did and did not do. From what I’ve read, the bill was badly misrepresented. And in the process, its proponents were labeled haters and homophobes, while Jon Stewart called the bill repugnant–even though SB1062 did not even mention same-sex marriage or homosexuality and even though it essentially copied laws that are already on the federal books and on the books of 18 states.

In fact, the proposed law would have come into play if, say, the government attempted to force a small business to provide birth control. It would have applied to a government’s attempt to compel a business to pay for abortion services for its employees. If you can think of a case where the government–state or federal–might impose a burden on someone’s sincere religious belief, the proposed law would apply. Yes, it could have come into play had a baker refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

But the bill WOULD NOT have decided the case. The bakery would still have to pass GO. The owner would still have to demonstrate that he or she was acting out of a sincere religious belief. The same-sex couple would still be able to argue that the baker’s belief was less than sincere and did not justify refusing them service. And a court would ultimately have to decide between the two parties—based on the rules set out in the proposed law. In other words, the bill did not create an exception, so religious people could discriminate willy nilly. It simply sets the standards by which a court would adjudicate such a case.

Don’t believe me? Here, for your reading pleasure, is the best description of the proposed law I’ve read. It’s written by 11 prominent law professors, some of them Republicans, some Democrats; some of them support same-sex marriage, some don’t. Nine of them felt that Gov. Brewer should have signed the bill. Two were unsure. Among the 11 are Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard and Michael McConnell of Stanford, two of the brightest lights in the legal academy.

You can read what they wrote at the link–without any filtering by the press or Comedy Central or by me. The following are three key paragraphs:

SB1062 would amend the Arizona RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] to address two ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation under other RFRAs. It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.

But nothing in the amendment would say who wins in either of these cases. The person invoking RFRA would still have to prove that he had a sincere religious belief and that state or local government was imposing a substantial burden on his exercise of that religious belief. And the government, or the person on the other side of the lawsuit, could still show that compliance with the law was necessary to serve a compelling government interest. As a business gets bigger and more impersonal, courts will become more skeptical about claims of substantial burden on the owner’s exercise of religion. And as a business gets bigger, the government’s claim of compelling interest will become stronger. (Emphasis supplied)

A few paragraphs later, the 11 law professors summarize the bill’s impact as follows:

So, to be clear: SB1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons. It says that business people can assert a claim or defense under RFRA, in any kind of case (discrimination cases are not even mentioned, although they would be included), that they have the burden of proving a substantial burden on a sincere religious practice, that the government or the person suing them has the burden of proof on compelling government interest, and that the state courts in Arizona make the final decision. (Emphasis supplied)

Did you catch that? Those who are refused service by a business can still sue. Those who are sued can assert the defense of sincere religious practice. And the courts get to sort it out–just like they would have done prior to the bill becoming law. The only difference is that the evidentiary rules governing that courtroom exercise would be codified.

And that’s repugnant? My eye.

Cross posted to GregoryTaggart.com.

Is it Anti-Science to say that Science Needs to Clean Up its Act?

By , October 21, 2013 12:15 pm

The Economist says there’s Trouble at the Lab. Nick Brown Smelled Bull. What’s going on here? Where’s the rational, reasoned thinking we are told is the hallmark of science?

According to The Economist,

This [that too many scientists use inappropriate statistically techniques] fits with another line of evidence suggesting that a lot of scientific research is poorly thought through, or executed, or both.

Nick Brown would surely agree. The BS he smelled involved applied positive psychology and

A butterfly graph, the calling card of chaos theory mathematics, purporting to show the tipping point upon which individuals and groups “flourish” or “languish.” Not a metaphor, no poetic allusion, but an exact ratio: 2.9013 positive to 1 negative emotions. Cultivate a “positivity ratio” of greater than 2.9-to-1 and sail smoothly through life; fall below it, and sink like a stone.

The theory was well credentialed. Now cited in academic journals over 350 times, it was first put forth in a 2005 paper by Barbara Fredrickson, a luminary of the positive psychology movement, and Marcial Losada, a Chilean management consultant, and published in the American Psychologist, the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the largest organization of psychologists in the U.S.

Brown, a 52-year old part-time master’s student at an obscure London university with a degree in computer science, would have none of that.

In what world could this be true? he wondered

So off he went. The story of his campaign against this particular piece of bad science is well worth the read.

Like Brown, I am not a scientist. I’m not even particularly well-schooled in the subject. But I follow it. I read my share of articles on the subject. I read a few blogs that deal with it. I even have friends who are scientists. Accomplished ones, in fact. Sadly I’ve also read my share of Facebook posts touting science as the Holy Grail and at the same time disparaging faith and religion. Well, these two articles should give pause to those who place their faith in science. For as The Economist says, quoting Dr. Bruce Alberts, editor of Science,

[S]cientists themselves . . . “need to develop a value system where simply moving on from one’s mistakes without publicly acknowledging them severely damages, rather than protects, a scientific reputation.” This will not be easy. But if science is to stay on its tracks, and be worthy of the trust so widely invested in it, it may be necessary.

Apparently the emperor isn’t the only one in need of some new clothes. Richard Dawkins, call your office.

Another Headline that Doesn’t Deliver

By , September 4, 2013 11:26 am

I am not an Obama fan. Never have been. But neither am I a fan of headlines and taunts that promise one thing and deliver another. Case in point, the headline at this link and the text beneath it. Compare them with what the President says in the video at the same link.

Note how he even refers to the press conference in which he originally talked about the red line: “When I said, in a press conference, that my calculus about what’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons . . . ”

Only someone who willfully tries to misunderstand what Obama is saying in that video–the press conference in Sweden–could write the headline and accompanying text. In short, the claims at the link are bald face lies.

Folks, we’re in serious times. We’re at the brink of possible war. Lives are at stake. So, sure, hold the President accountable for what he says and does about Syria, but don’t make stuff up. Now is not the time to score political points based on a willful misunderstanding (aka misrepresentation) of what your political opponent says.

And yes, I’m fully aware that the current occupant of the White House and his sycophants in the media have done similar things to his opponents. Shame on all of them, red and blue.

The Associated Press Stylebook and Race

By , July 15, 2013 1:42 pm

I was proof reading my most recent post and began to wonder if I was using and capitalizing race and ethnic terminology appropriately. For example, I had written the term “black” in lowercase but the term “White-Hispanic” in uppercase. Hey, I thought, I should check The Associated Press Stylebookto see what’s appropriate in the world of journalism. Unfortunately, I only have the 2004 edition, so things may have changed, but here’s what I found (all bolding, italics, and capitalization is original).

African-American The preferred term is black. Use African-American only in quotations or the names of organizations or if individuals describe themselves so. See black.

Arab [No entry.]

Asian, Asiatic Use Asian or Asians when referring to people. Some Asians regard Asiatic as offensive when applied to people.

black Preferred usage for those of the Negroid or black race. Use Negro only in names of organizations or in quotations. Do not use colored as a synonym. See colored entry.

Caucasian [This is the entire entry for this term.]

Hispanic The preferred term for those whose ethnic origin is in a Spanish-speaking. Latino is acceptable for Hispanics who prefer that term. (The feminine form is Latina.) Use a more specific identification when possible, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican or Mexican-American or the name of an indigenous group in a Latin American country. Avoid Chicano as a synonym for Mexican-American. Refer to people of Brazilian and Portuguese origin as such, not as Hispanic.

Indians American Indian is the preferred term for those in the United States. Where possible, be precise and use the name of the tribe: He is a Navajo commissioner. Native American is acceptable in quotations and names of organizations. In news stories about American Indians, such words as wampum, warpath, powwow, tepee, brave, squaw, etc., can be disparaging and offensive. Be careful and certain of their usage.

Jew Use for men and women. Do not use Jewess.

Muslims The preferred term to describe adherents of Islam. A Black Muslim is a member of a predominately black Islamic sect in the United States. However,the term is considered derogatory by members of the sect, who call themselves Muslims.

Polynesian [No entry.]

White [No entry.]

White-Hispanic [No entry.]

If I’ve excluded any race, ethnicity, or religion, I mean no ill will. The terms I covered seem to be the ones I and (I assume) most others have difficulty with. And I stress again: this is from the 2004 edition of the stylebook. Things may have changed.

Update: I’ve seen the links to the following story floating around the Internet, but until now, I had not followed them. What is apparent, however, is that this TV station in San Francisco did not have a copy of The Associated Press Stylebook handy, nor had they played Clue lately.


What if?

By , July 15, 2013 11:09 am

What if NBC had not doctored the recording of George Zimmerman’s telephone conversation with the police, you know, to make it sound like Zimmerman had told the police–unsolicited–that Trayvon Martin was black, which gave the impression that he was racially profiling Martin?

What if the media had referred to Zimmerman as Hispanic rather than White-Hispanic from the get go.?

What if the public had known early on that Zimmerman was 1/8 black, that he mentored black children?

What if the media had looked behind the gates of the gated community Zimmerman lived in?

What if some talking heads hadn’t speculated about a supposed “racial slur” uttered by Zimmerman, a slur that actually wasn’t?

What if the public had understood that the police initially had, in fact, arrested Zimmerman, handcuffed him, and taken him to the police station?

What if the media had made it clear from the outset that the evidence indicates that Zimmerman had, in fact, obeyed the police 911 dispatcher and stopped following Martin? If there had been evidence to the contrary, you’d think the state would have introduced it at trial, right?

What if the public had been made aware from the beginning that the forensic evidence supported Zimmerman’s story that Martin attacked him, that Martin was on top of him, that Martin was pounding him MMA-style, that Martin bashed his head against concrete many times, and that the only evidence of injury to Martin–other than the fatal gun shot, of course–was Martin’s bloody knuckles?

What if the media had done a better job of helping the public understand that this case was not about “stand your ground,” but was instead a case about simple self defense?

What if the prosecutor’s office had been–to put it charitably–more forthcoming about evidence in the Martin/Zimmerman case?

What if more in the media had followed Reuters’ lead in attempting to humanize a man that Florida State Attorney General Angela Corey, in full out CYA mode, continues to maintain is a “murderer” even after the not guilty verdict in a case that she never should have filed?

What if the public the media is supposed to serve, particularly that part of the public that is so outraged by the Zimmerman verdict, had actually followed the case in detail and actually had some idea of what the real case was really about?

Was Zimmerman justified in shooting Martin? The actual evidence seems to back up his version of events, but in the end, I don’t know, and neither do you.

Would the outcome have been different had their roles been reversed? Assuming Martin had had similar legal counsel working with the same evidence, I’d say yes. But I don’t know, and neither do you. If, in my hypothetical, Martin had been saddled with an overworked and underfunded public defender, then the outcome very well could have been different. But again, I don’t know, and neither do you.

Would this case have attracted the attention it has, had the media done its job, had the race hustlers remained stage right (or left, I don’t care), I think the answer would be no.

Look, the African-American community is justifiably outraged about the short straw it too often draws in our justice system. And I can understand the outpouring of sympathy and concern for Trayvon Martin’s family. His death was a tragedy. But to use George Zimmerman as a tool to root out injustice, to destroy his life in a different, but very real way in order to advance that cause is another unnecessary tragedy–or a travesty, as Zimmerman’s attorney characterizes it.

Finally, I don’t want to make this about guns. Yes, a gun was involved. A legally acquired, legally carried gun. But for a moment, let’s forget that. Let’s suppose that Zimmerman’s version of events is accurate. Let’s suppose that Trayvon was the aggressor, that he sucker punched Zimmerman, that the punch laid Zimmerman out on the ground, that Martin straddled Zimmerman’s body, pummeled him MMA style, bashed his head against solid concrete. (All this, by the way, is a reasonable inference from the actual evidence rather than from speculation.) Let’s assume that Zimmerman did indeed think his life was in danger. And let’s assume that Martin didn’t stop, and Zimmerman couldn’t stop him. Under those assumptions, Zimmerman likely could have died an equally violent death.

In other words, assuming Zimmerman’s version of events is accurate, because he had a gun, someone died. It just wasn’t him.

This sad case was not about guns. It was about self defense.

Update: I just discovered TalkLeft, a blog written, in part, by a Denver criminal defense attorney. Her post on this case is worth reading.

Saul Alinsky Hell, Someone’s Been Reading Robert Caro

By , July 9, 2013 12:53 pm

Another two thumbs up for Robert Caro’s book The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. It easily ranks among the top 5 books I’ve ever read, a mesmerizing study of power in the hands of one man, the New York state and City parks commissioner. A parks commissioner!

This passage caught my attention today:

If a commissioner [of another department resisted his attempts to circumvent the law], Moses used the public rather than the private smear. “Mr. Moses told me . . . that he was able to control the press of New York City, so as to hold me up to such obloquy that I would not be able to stand it,” W. Kingsland Macy had testified a decade before. The smear technique that had been used then was used now–frequently.

In the hands of a man for whom the press acted as a gigantic sounding board, repeating and amplifying his words, the smear was a terrible weapon–particularly when those words were as caustic and cutting as Moses’. . . . (469)

How bad was it? How deep in Moses’ pocket were the press? This deep:

Mrs. Sulzberger [daughter of the founder of the New York Times, wife of the publisher in the 1930s] believed that Moses came “close to our ideal of what a Park Commissioner should be”; the Times evidently believed so, too. Its reporters and editors may never have been directly ordered to give Moses special treatment but, during the Thirties as during the Twenties, they were not so insensitive as not to know what was expected of them. Moses’ press releases were treated with respect, being given prominent treatment and often being printed in full. There were no investigating of the “facts” presented in those press releases, no attempt at detailed analysis of his theories of recreation and transportation, no probing of the assumption on which the city was building and maintaining recreational facilities and roads. The Times ran more than one hundred editorials on Moses and his programs during the twelve-year La Guardia administration–overwhelmingly favorable editorials. (461)

Just imagine what it would be like if a president of the United States had so much power and such a compliant press?

About those Abortion “Myths”

By , April 23, 2013 11:49 am

The Washington Post recently ran a piece titled “Five Myths about Abortion,” part of an on-going series titled “Five Myths: Challenging Everything You Think You Know.” And surprise! Some are challenging author Rickie Solinger on her use and abuse of abortion facts and statistics.

First comes Ramesh Ponnuru, who avers that “The Washington Post’s ‘five myths’ column propagates myths at least as often as it debunks them, and today’s ‘five myths about abortion’ adds to that dismal record,” then proceeds to dissect Solinger’s attempt at myth making.

Then comes Jonathan Adler, who likewise has his bones to pick with Ms. Solinger, in this case regarding myth #3: that Roe led to a huge increase in the number of abortions. According to Adler, “Solinger purports to be correcting a ‘myth.’ Yet nothing in Solinger’s account is directly responsive to the claim she purports to correct.”

In brief, Solinger’s piece doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. You can read the long version at the links.

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