Thursday 7/31/14

  1. Is their any science behind this fad?
  2. Gaza blowback
  3. Science versus who’s Religion?
  4. Beauty Will Save the World
  5. Bipartisan Pox Resolution

1

An Australian physician poses as a question to a governmental authority what I have taken more as a given:

The political justification for ‘Safe Schools’ programmes, or the associated ‘Gay-Straight Alliances’, is that there is a plague of gay-based bullying in our schools, and the only way to counter that is through celebrating homosexuality. That justification, however, is doubtful.

In one large study comparing a thousand homosexual and heterosexual adults in the UK, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2003, the researchers found no increase in bullying of gay men compared to heterosexual men, whether at school or subsequently, whether verbally or physically. “Reports that gay and lesbian people are vulnerable to such experiences because of their sexuality are often taken at face value”, these researchers noted, with other studies failing to draw a comparison to heterosexual students.

In other words, there are many reasons to be bullied at school – for being too smart, too dumb; too fat, too weak; or for being “gay” even when you are not gay. A report in the news only last week finds one-third of 10-year-olds in Australia report being bullied for various reasons. That is something many young people go through, and the claim that homosexual people suffer disproportionate bullying appears to be “taken at face value”.

I think back 50 years to high school and younger. I needed to start shaving before I turned 13. I was teased in the locker room for a, er, related phenomenon. I’m not sure whether that was “bullying.” I actually felt rather smug about it. My best friend was analogously, not identically, teased in the locker room.

In high school, I recall many people being bullied, but I don’t recall any male being bullied for (to avoid anachronistic terms) being a “sissy” or displaying feminine behaviors. I don’t recall a female being bullied for athleticism, or a swaggering walk (I do recall a hirsute girl being called “Man-Woman” behind her back.)

An adolescent acquaintance of mine, of whom I almost completely lost track in the intervening years, died a few years ago in his early 60s. A younger co-worker of mine turned out to have been one of his adoring students (he was an excellent teacher) and said – which startled me – that she’d always assumed he was gay and was surprised that the obituary mentioned wife and children. I don’t recall anything about his mannerisms that made me question his masculinity.

Bear in mind that my adolescence was spent in a highly religious Evangelical boarding school, prone to Pharisaism. Bullies and victims we had aplenty, and I was kind of sensitive to it even though peer pressure made me go long some times. But we just weren’t fixated on whether someone’s sexuality was “off.”

The only possible exception can recall was a freshman boy who appeared to emerge from a spontaneous dorm hall wrestling match with a “rise in his Levis.” Circumstantial evidence I recall makes me think he was teased some for that, but I don’t recall the teasing. I have no doubt that some of my friends were “closeted” about some of their feelings.

That’s what has made me explode (in the privacy of my own home) at credulous “gay bullying” stories from schools: “Yeah? So kids are still teasing/bullying each other? What else isn’t new?”

Okay. Rant/reminiscence over: Is any reader aware of studies that actually show disproportionate bullying of gays – i.e., that they get bullied more than the “too smart, too dumb; too fat, too weak” etc.?

2

[T]here are some hard-headed and non-sentimental reasons to oppose the [Israeli] assault [on Gaza], for those unmoved by photographs of four-year-olds having their legs blown off as their Congress cheers and Israelis invent clever jingles about there being no school in Gaza because they’re no children left to attend. At Aspen over the weekend, at an important national security forum, Lieutenant General Michal Flynn, the outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said that if the Israelis succeed in destroying Hamas, something worse will emerge from the rubble. He went on (in the CNN radio excerpt I heard; not cited in the print stories) to say that recruitment to jihadist groups had been spiking in the past weeks throughout the Muslim world, as the jihadis used images of Israeli killing of children to draw in young men from throughout the region. In short, it appears that Israel is acting the world’s principle recruitment agent for terrorism. Four years ago, David Petraeus said the Israel-Palestine conflictendangered American troops throughout the region, and now a comparably top national security figure asserts that Israel is threatening to bring to power worse groups in Gaza while implicitly recruiting terrorists throughout the Middle East.

(Scott McConnell)

3

Our local newspaper has had a volley letters to the editor over science and religion, and more specifically about whether we must choose between them.

So far, by my recollection, we’ve had a Christian of some sort saying we must choose religion, a Christian of another sort saying we needn’t choose because there’s no conflict, and then, Wednesday, a perennial favorite atheist letter writer saying we must choose science because the Bible’s a book of fiction and trying to explain the world on fiction is really dumb. (I’ll give him partial credit: he suggests that the Bible’s stories of miracles are meant to clue us in that it’s fiction, which is a couple of clicks better than the usual take that miracle stories show the credulity of the Bible’s authors.)

The first and last author should read David Bentley Hart’s The Experience of God. So should anyone who thinks there’s a conflict between science and traditional Christian faith. Snippets:

Unfortunately, one of the more insidious aspects of today’s public debates over belief and unbelief is that they are often sustained by the illusion that both sides are using the same words in the same way; since there are no immediately obvious linguistic barriers to overcome, each side understands the other just well enough to be deceived into thinking that both are working within the same conceptual frame.

There has sprung up a whole generation of confident, even strident atheist proselytizers who appear to know almost nothing about the religious beliefs they abominate, apart from a few vague and gauzily impressionistic daubs or aquarelle washes, and who seem to have no real sense of what the experience of faith is like or of what its rationales might be.

[T]he rise of the Christian fundamentalist movement was not a recovery of the Christianity of earlier centuries or of the apostolic church. It was a thoroughly modern phenomenon, a strange and somewhat poignantly pathetic attempt on the part of culturally deracinated Christians, raised without the intellectual or imaginative resources of a living religious civilization, to imitate the evidentiary methods of modern empirical science by taking the Bible as some sort of objective and impeccably consistent digest of historical data.

4

Goldberg, focusing on mass culture, pointed out that Hollywood’s movies are often less left-wing than Hollywood’s actual politics (more pro-military, pro-family, queasier about abortion, etc.), and suggested that the entertainment industry knows at some level that if its stories don’t “tap into something real about the human condition, they will fail” — which means that they have to encompass conservatives insights and ideas even when their creators are reliable liberal partisans.

(Ross Douthat, boldface added).

My emphasis falls on a phrase that I think is very important. Good art often is truer, which often means more authentically conservative, because good artists produce art that may be truer than what they say when they open their mouths in dialog.

Some 30 years ago, an abortion opponent noted that abortion in great literature is always horrifying because – well, because abortion is horrifying. I wondered if Cider House Rules, which came out fairly soon after this, was John Irving’s effort to make art align with his ideology to prove this abortion opponent wrong. (I do not know if he succeeded in producing great literature, as I’ve not read the book – only that he produced something with an eager audience.)

5

Whereas, a Democrat-affiliated political figure who holds a significant position in the federal civil rights establishment thinks free speech on campus is dangerous and would regulate it by unconstitutional speech codes (H/T Eugene Volokh); and

Whereas

The Hill reported yesterday that the seemingly routine H. Res. 440, a House Resolution that would congratulate Pope Francis on his election last March and recognize his inspirational statements and actions, has fallen victim to politics. The Resolution has not emerged from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and only 19 of its 221 co-sponsors are Republicans. Apparently at least some Republicans see the Pope as too liberal.

(Religion Clause);

Now therefor be it resolved that a pox fall on both their houses!

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.