Human beings may tend to be most satisfied when they’re within a hierarchy, but it would be mistaken to assume that it’s actually the hierarchy that gives them purpose.
An apparent epidemic of suicides from the most disadvantaged corners of our society all the way to the heights of success suggests a problem of meaning and purpose, which our culture is less and less helping us to resolve.
Compared to our usual experience on national rankings, Rhode Island’s having the 19th-best ranking for life expectancy is good news, although that puts us second to last in New England, before Maine. Writes Bill Murphy:
People in Minnesota live the longest in the United States: 78.7 years old on average. Mississippi ranked 51st (the study includes Washington, D.C.). Live expectancy there is just 71.8 years. That’s a 9.6 percent difference.
It should be noted that the leading causes of death are lifestyle-related, such as smoking, drinking, and eating poorly, so this is another area in which the best prescription may be a healthy economy.
Given the hot topics of the day, however, this bit from the underlying research is interesting:
Other notable findings seen in Table 1 are declines in deaths [from 1990 to 2016] from self-harm by firearm (13.2%) and physical violence by firearm (28.5%) but an increase in self-harm by other means (16.9%).
Here’s a confession: One reason I’m looking forward to the end of the legislative session in Rhode Island this year is that I’ll be able to clear out my news feed and stop paying such close attention to issues related to specific bills. Near the top of the list of topics I’ll be happy not to watch so closely is the matter of “equal pay.”
It’s not that the question isn’t an important one to answer or that it doesn’t raise very interesting philosophical questions; the problem is that so few of the articles or essays that flit across my computer screen address the actual questions, much less the interesting ones. The progressive assertions and statistics are simply taken at face value. More than maybe any other issue I’ve followed, this one marches along with a moral certainty that never bothers to wonder why people would be doing things that would be obviously wrong if they were really doing them.
Tennis pro Rafael Nadal stumbled right into the path of this intractable march when he suggested, in response to a direct question, that the pay rates of men and women in professional tennis is “a comparison we shouldn’t even make”:
Female models earn more than male models and nobody says anything. Why? Because they have a larger following. In tennis too, who gathers a larger audience earns more.
Pause for a moment and put aside the identity politics and the ideological war. When an athlete has a large audience, isn’t it reasonable for that athlete to receive more of the financial rewards? Isn’t this the same as musicians or other performers? If we take the identifying quality of sex out of it, nobody would be incensed that stronger, more-aggressive competitors attract larger audiences and more money. Those who elevate a tangential quality are the ones bringing sex into it.
I haven’t seen any indication that Nadal was saying that the pay difference is just the natural order of the universe and ought to be maintained as a matter of principle. He was just making a plain statement of fact. If the audience changes, then the pay should and will. Anybody who wants to achieve a world in which people are as interested in female tennis as male tennis should work toward that end, but attacking it pay rate first sows division and is unfair to players currently in the game.
An effort to turn the writer’s focus from the markers of children’s progress out of the house and to the truly valuable time between those markers.
Women and men are not having as many children as they would like; perhaps the reason has something to do with “family planning” being a euphemism for avoiding the growth of families.
Here’s an interesting finding from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute:
- Students in Catholic schools are less likely to act out or be disruptive than those in other private schools or in public schools. According to their teachers, Catholic school children argued, fought, got angry, acted impulsively, and disturbed ongoing activities less frequently.
- Students in Catholic schools exhibit more self-control than those in other private schools or public schools. Specifically, they were more likely to control their temper, respect others’ property, accept their fellow students’ ideas, and handle peer pressure.
- Regardless of demographics, students in Catholic schools exhibit more self-discipline than students in public schools and other private schools. Thus, there is at least some evidence that attending Catholic school may benefit all sorts of children.
Of course, I’m predisposed to find this encouraging, not only for personal reasons because it affirms that something is nowadays missing from secular education and society. But even if we can write off the results of this study for some reason, that a credible study does find evidence for the conclusion is important. It indicates that families are rational to want access to different types of schools, given their specific circumstances, and should have increased ability to make those decisions.
New Zealand’s attempt to ensure “pay equity” across entire industries should be a warning about the wisdom of government’s attempting to guide our economy through narrow political lenses.
The Supreme Court didn’t decide the Masterpiece Cakeshop case as narrowly as many in the mainstream are suggesting.
Welcome to the new “inclusive” paradigm:
Over the past 25 years, Sharonell Fulton has been a mother to more than 40 children through foster parenting in Philadelphia.
She has opened her heart and home to children who have suffered abuse and trauma, offering them an oasis of love and comfort during tumultuous times. …
When Philadelphia recently severed ties with Catholic Social Services, Fulton said that she felt fully “the pain of rejection.” Fulton, who had been using the Catholic Social Services program for her own foster parenting, said that seeing “the city condemn the foster agency that has made possible my life’s work fills me with pain.”
Sadly, nothing is as important to progressive governments as fealty to their gods. Everybody must proclaim the truth of the progressive religion. In ancient Rome, Christians were persecuted and executed if they would not go through the motions of worshiping Roman gods. Very often, the early martyrs weren’t required to explicitly reject their own beliefs (by, for example, speaking ill of Jesus) so much as to bend a knee to the supposedly more powerful ones under a supposedly divine caesar.
Just so, Philadelphia Catholics aren’t forced to proclaim the falsehood of their beliefs, but only to behave as if their beliefs must be false for all practical purposes. This modern variation is so much the worse because it doesn’t exact its punishment on the believers, but on the suffering and disadvantaged people whom the Catholics wish to help.
We’ll see how history judges secularists who believe it is better that children should suffer than that they be helped by Christians acting according to their beliefs. Of course, those of us who believe in God also believe there is a much more important judge than credentialed chroniclers of the past.
Both the Providence Journal‘s Kathy Gregg and WPRI’s Ted Nesi are reporting today that the State of Rhode Island, more specifically, the Executive branch’s Office of Health and Human Services (the Rhode Island Executive Branch being currently occupied, we should note, by Gina Raimondo), missed a critical court deadline to appeal a court ruling and thereby may have put state taxpayers on the hook for “$8 million annually for each year starting in 2016-17″. From Ted Nesi’s story about this disturbing and jaw-dropping situation:
We should expect to see more of this sort of news:
After the Maine Council of Churches changed its decision-making process earlier this year, the Bishop of Portland was forced to withdraw from the group, the Portland Press-Herald reported Tuesday.
The council had previously required unanimous agreement before advocating on a public policy issue, but in February adopted a simple majority vote. This meant that continued membership in the group could have forced the Diocese of Portland to be represented by views at odds with Catholic teaching.
This shows the typical progressive approach to tolerance. When the radicals were in the minority, they were satisfied with an organizational neutrality and acceptance that allowed the group of religious leaders to work together on issues on which they all agreed. As soon as the radicals had secured a majority, the organization shifted its focus to excluding those who disagree on a very narrow range of cultural (essentially sexual) questions.
Being inclusive, you see, means excluding. Acknowledging agreement on just about every area of social interaction is sublimated to the LGBTetc agenda.
This is not so new. Progressives like to think that they’re at the cutting edge of human evolution, but their impulses are very old. An in-group defines a moral necessity, and as soon as they’re able to enforce it as the mandatory law, they will.
Western civilization has had a pretty good run advancing pluralism and the ability to coexist while disagreeing. Perhaps it is ironic that the (abstract, arguably demonic) forces of intolerance would manage to reverse that progress in the name of tolerance, but I fear that our education system has too long tilted toward propagandizing over truly educating younger generations for us to recover without drifting a while into darker times.
Yes, I recoil from talk about race gaps on standardized tests like the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), because the focus on race misses the underlying problems and undermines our ability to fix them. Still, one can’t deny that they exist:
The difference of opinion, ultimately, is what to do about this. More money gifted to the same failing system is not the answer. Finding ways to give black families, proportionally, the same opportunities as white families probably is. In other words: The answer is a combination of responsibility and freedom.
The story of Tommy Robinson’s arrest may very well prove to have been a key bellwether of the modern West, so it’s worth highlighting here. For that purpose, I’ll turn to Mark Steyn, who has long been a clear (and entertaining) voice on the broader topic of free speech in the face of Wester Civilization’s cultural collapse:
On Friday, Robinson was livestreaming (from his telephone) outside Leeds Crown Court where last week’s Grooming Gang of the Week were on trial for “grooming” – the useless euphemism for industrial-scale child gang rape and sex slavery by large numbers of Muslim men with the active connivance (as I pointed out to the Sky guys) of every organ of the state: social workers, police, politicians. Oh, and also the media. …
he was outside the Crown Court in Leeds. He was not demonstrating, or accosting or chanting, or even speaking. He was just pointing his mobile phone upon the scene from a distance. Within minutes, seven coppers showed up in whatever they use instead of a Black Maria these days, tossed him inside it and drove off. In other words, these were not “investigating officers” called to the scene: They showed up with the intent to take him away. Within hours, he was tried, convicted and gaoled – at HM Prison Hull, a Category B chokey, or one level below maximum security. The judge in the case, one Geoffrey Marson, spent all of four minutes on trying, convicting and sentencing Robinson. It is not clear whether that leisurely tribunal included his order expressly forbidding “any report on these proceedings” (the case is Regina vs Yaxley-Lennon because that’s Robinson’s real name).
The gag order on reporting about the arrest has apparently been lifted, but that doesn’t drive the chill from the air. Steyn contrasts Robinson’s treatment with the kid-gloves handling by authorities that allowed these “grooming gangs” to become true, systemic atrocities.
We’re approaching a time in history that calls for clarity, and in cases like this, clarity should be easy. The question that will determine the future may be how able we are to clear the identity politics from our eyes.
Casting about for something new (and yet sincere) to write this Memorial Day, I happened upon Mark Steyn’s quoting of his daughter’s poetry. In his New Hampshire town, apparently, the tradition is for fifth graders to read selected or self-authored poems in remembrance of the deceased heroes who have safeguarded our freedom and our way of life.
Fille Steyn’s offering is sweet and simple and not but so original and raises the question of poetry in our age. We don’t hear of adults’ reading poetry at such events anymore, and when we do, it seems contrived (not the poetry, necessarily, but the reading). Appreciation of the art seems to have faded. Perhaps the fault lies with the pill of modernism, deathly to the arts, that found a subject for mockery in the effort of crafting profundity and making it rhyme. Perhaps we’re not training ourselves to be as literate as once we were.
Or perhaps (and causal of the other possibilities) with a surfeit of entertainment soaking up our boredom, we’ve lost appreciation for the task of creating and understanding depth. My mother’s father, when we was old, took to writing poetry. One imagines the practice was once more common, and a population that writes poetry for leisure is more likely to read the pros for pleasure.
In 2012, I placed my grandfather’s picture over the first of two poems I wrote on successive Memorial Days. Here’s the second. I have to confess that it took some sitting with the poems, this morning, to find the meaning. That is the point of poetry, isn’t it? Poetry is rich and thick and, when it works, leaves us with memorable lines that somehow hint at the fertile contextual soil from which they sprang. Poetry is work.
On this day, last year, my subject was the quasi-debate about our proper attitude on Memorial Day… celebratory or somber? That question seems related to the loss of poetry. Simple words easily understood allow us to tread lightly on the ideas beneath. We nod at sentiment and congratulate the fifth-grade author.
There is most definitely a place for that, not the least in the training of the young to honor the dead. Still, the effort of deeper communication enriches the honor, and the richest of honors is due to those whom we recall on Memorial Day.
Ireland turns away from its pro-life heritage, a Brazilian soccer star flirts with polygamy, and the Western world lurches right past the lessons of its heritage.
To take a little detour from our usual subject matters around here, I think you’re crazy if this is you:
The woman, who was identified only by her first name in the news report, said every room in her family’s home was wired with the Amazon devices to control her home’s heat, lights and security system.
This particular woman is in the news because an Amazon Echo device (aka “Alexa”) mistakenly acted according to a series of cues that its owners didn’t actually speak and sent a recording to somebody on their contact list whose name happened to be similar to a word from their conversation.
It’s not encouraging that something like this could happen by accident, but more disturbing is that the mechanisms for it to happen are in place to begin with. At some point, a payoff in convenience or the “neat” factor ceases to be worth the creeping loss of our privacy. For my part, the fact that computers, tablets, and phones don’t have hard-wired shut-off switches for cameras and microphones already puts us past that line. Bugging our own homes goes well beyond that.
Not that long ago, this would have been a satisfactory explanation:
Carruthers said 98 percent of the spa’s clientele is female, and he employs no male staff. The spa has waxed the arms and backs of male clients, but has never hidden its inability to accommodate a Brazilian wax for a male.
“When we’ve been asked about a male Brazilian wax [which removes hair from the client’s genital area] in the past we tell them we’re not able to provide that service and they move on,” Carruthers told the Windsor Star. “It’s never been an issue.”
So what’s changed? Well, as PJMedia’s Tyler O’Neil explains, in the view of some people, having male genitalia no longer makes one male. Thus, a man who says that he’s a woman feels entitled to sue a waxing salon for $50,000 because its female Muslim employee will not play along with his view of reality.
One suspects that the money is not really the issue. Our society has cultivated a toxic system of self-interest, activism, and moral euphoria. For a more-local example, look to a sensationalizing article in GoLocalProv. When a lesbian couple inquired about preschool at a nearby Christian school, the school sent them, among other things, the affiliated church’s statement of faith, which included the phrase, “the Bible, the word of God, clearly identifies homosexual practices as sin and abhorrent to God.”
The applicants sought publicity against the school, and the response led the organization to take security measures. The person who incited that response disclaims responsibility:
“The fact that he said he contacted law enforcement? I can’t help with what the Internet reaction was. I can’t help who called or who did any of that. If people are that incited, they’re incited for a reason. I was simply trying to raise awareness,” said [Lisa] Hazard.
Not that long ago, those inclined toward alternative lifestyles encouraged an attitude of “live and let live.” If a school had found itself under threat because somebody had discovered that the headmaster was homosexual, and if the person who had promoted that discovery had denied responsibility because “people are upset for a reason,” Hazard’s ilk would have cited it as evidence of intolerance.
So what’s changed? The radicals feel they have the upper hand, so all that talk about tolerance and diversity is no longer convenient as they seek to force universal conformity to their worldview.
Providence College responds to questions from the Current on Vice President Kristine Goodwin’s restraining order against Michael Smalanskas.
Ashley Welch reports in CBS News:
The highest rate of depression was in Rhode Island at about 6 percent, while the lowest was in Hawaii at 2 percent. Every state except Hawaii experienced rising diagnosis rates of depression over the course of the study period.
The report notes that a variety of factors contribute to depression rates as calculated using insurance data. Obviously, areas in which doctors screen for depression more often will have higher rates, as will areas in which people are more likely to seek a doctor’s help when they’re feeling low.
To have the worst rate in the country, though, Rhode Island must surely have more going on than these technical reasons. One suspects a healthier economy with more opportunity (that doesn’t require insider schmoozing) would help, as would freedom from the sense that powerful people are always trying to take advantage of you.
Building off the successful “Justice Reinvestment” reforms that were enacted in by Rhode Island lawmakers in 2017, the state’s asset forfeiture laws should next come under scrutiny, as they can often lead to the unfettered government seizure of cars, cash, and other private property. While many policymakers might assume that such laws are directed at criminals, in reality, simply being accused of a crime or violating a regulation may be sufficient for the state to take your property.
I fear the University of Denver is more an indicator than an outlier:
Members of two conservative groups at the University of Denver say their organizations are likely disbanding after investigations by the university and pervasive harassment by fellow students have made the campus a “toxic environment” for their groups.
The school’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom debated closing at the end of last year, with its members fearful that they would be unable to land jobs after being investigated for “hate speech” and labeled racists and white supremacists in, among other places, the school newspaper. The group remains on campus, but with severely reduced numbers.
The Federalist Society there, meanwhile, has dwindled to a single student, and is set to shut down at the end of the year when the last remaining member graduates. Pervasive bullying and concerns about being called racist induced many of its members to depart this year.
Conservative students are getting a taste of what it’s like to be constantly under attack, and many are explicitly worried about what might happen to their future job prospects when they’re publicly labeled — even with no basis whatsoever — as racists and -phobes. When one side of public discourse treats the other side’s opinions as not only illegitimate, but a form of violence, and when the people who control our society’s institutions don’t enforce neutral rules, standing up for principles crosses over from a brave learning experience to a potentially reckless eccentricity. Better just to keep quiet.
I’m still hopeful that the United States can snap back from this (with the help of us reckless eccentrics), but that isn’t assured. In any event, we’re certainly getting a lesson in how a society can slide from freedom and dynamism into of suppression and injustice.
Christine Rousselle draws attention to a story that seems like a significant slip in our country’s shared appreciation of civil rights and dialogue:
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal organization that promotes life, marriage and religious liberty, has been removed from the “AmazonSmile” charitable giving program after being designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
AmazonSmile is a program that allows users to choose a nonprofit foundation to receive a small percentage of their Amazon purchases. ADF has been part of the program since its inception in 2013.
It is no longer the case that we can have multiple sides defending their own rights and interests. The SPLC — itself a hate group that has inspired violent attacks — can designate as unacceptable an entirely mainstream conservative organization that specializes in the legal defense of civil rights, and the organization’s funding will come under attack even from broad and neutral-seeming public accommodations like Amazon.
We’ve already seen YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter suppressing conservative views and conservatives’ ability to raise funds. Add that to campaigns to remove corporate sponsorships. The next milestone will likely be a decision by Amazon not to carry books by those with whom its executives disagree.
Let’s be direct. This was a predicted outcome of government’s decision to use the power of law to redefine marriage under the moral mandate that the traditional definition of the institution had no rationale but bigotry. Once that principle is accepted, rights are written off cheaply.
Even non-conservative Americans aren’t going to like where this assault winds up, whether it’s civil war or shared oppression, but by the time they awaken to the hangover of the “tolerance” happy juice, doing anything about it is going to be painful, indeed.
Gail Heriot gives Rhode Island history some national attention today:
On this day in 1776, Rhode Island (officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations) renounced its allegiance to George III—a full two months before the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. For such a little squirt, Rhode Island was fiercely independent. It refused to send a delegation to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and for a long time refused to ratify the Constitution the Convention produced. Finally, after the Constitution was up and running, President Washington was inaugurated, and the 1st Congress was assembled, Rhode Island was reminded that if it isn’t part of the United States and America, then it’s a foreign country. If it’s a foreign country, then tariffs can (and likely will) be imposed. Meanwhile, Congress passed the Bill of Rights, which reduced some of the concerns of Rhode Island citizens. Rhode Island decided to be “in.”
As a naturalized Rhode Islander (so to speak), I find myself wondering… what happened to our state? How did that independent spirit become a willingness to follow and to give other centralized power of us?
Or maybe there’s more consistency than that read would suggest. What if underlying that old cantankerousness was really just an attempt of the insiders of the day to make sure that folks in other states couldn’t meddle with their “I got mine” arrangements.
A sincere kudos to the Rhode Island Womxn’s Initiative, which originated as the Rhode Island branch of the National Women’s March for refusing to go along with the partisan mandate to ignore the bigotry of Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan. The local group has principles, at least.
Of course, those principles come with a bit of the new left-wing craziness, as seen in the group’s name. Womxn? When did “x” become a vowel? How does one pronounce that — “womzin”?
A more serious matter — fascinating, really — is how the concept of “an inclusive movement” winds up being so non-inclusive. Most obviously, one of the two largest groups in the country, heterosexual white men, is clearly excluded, at least to the extent that we don’t repudiate our own identity as such.
But this new X dynamic also excludes women qua women to the extent that it denies the legitimacy of their having their own voice absent “trans women and all people who don’t identify as strictly male or female.” That is, the group includes everybody up to, but excluding, those who identify as strictly male (although presumably those who are biologically women would get a pass on that, oddly), and it won’t recognize the unique identity of those who are biologically female and identify as such.
If one were to set out to construct a society in which nobody feels secure and settled except those who hold political power, and therefore feel untouchable, one could not do better than to concoct this ideology.
Progressive Democrat Representative Aaron Regunberg, currently running for the six-figure do-nothing gig of lieutenant governor of Rhode Island, has taken the opportunity of a Planned Parenthood endorsement to remind potential donors that his grandmother was an executive director for that abortion provider in the days before Roe v. Wade:
Her name was Bunny Regunberg. But “Bunny” was a bit of a misnomer. Grandma Bunny was not friendly and fluffy, she was a fighter. And she had to be, as executive director of her local Planned Parenthood in the years before Roe v. Wade.
My grandmother’s work stressed the importance of empowering people to make choices for themselves. Grandma Bunny passed away in 2016, but she left me with a deeply held commitment to stand up and fight for reproductive justice for all.
“Empowering people to make choices for themselves.” One wonders how far support for such empowerment goes for Regunberg. Choices about the schools that their children attend? Choices about how their money should be spent? Choices about work conditions and compensation? The list of choices that progressives like Regunberg seek to remove from people’s range of freedom goes on and on.
Apart from self-destructive “choices” that tend to put people under the loving wing of government, progressives’ devotion to “choice” seems to be limited to this “reproductive justice,” which is the farthest thing from justice for the unborn children whom it kills.
In most areas, progressives understand that “choice” and “justice” can be in conflict. I’m inclined to disagree with them about the circumstances in which that’s the case, but it would explode their rhetoric about abortion if they were forced to admit the trade-offs.
California may be pushing the envelope in the establishment of religion, but Rhode Islanders should understand that their state government has banned “conversion.”
The short documentary, I Lived on Parker Avenue, is very moving. As a CNA article by Maggie Maslak explains, it’s about a meeting between David Scottons — who was seconds away from being aborted, but was instead put up for adoption — with his birth parents.
“I hope those who watch will see what the adoption option can do. Without the adoption option, I would not be here today…my parents would not have the gift of their only child; nor would my grandparents have the gift of their only grandchild. That’s what adoption does. It can save lives and build families,” he said.
Moving forward, David plans on “always keeping in touch” with his birth parents, saying, “I am looking forward to seeing my biological sister and half-sister grow up as well.”
Pro-abortion advocates will likely call the film emotionally exploitative and self-serving for the young pro-life advocate at its center, but the subject is inherently emotional. To warn of exploitation would be to forbid pro-lifers from telling the compelling, true stories that support their views.
The question of whether David Scottons is serving his own interests as an activists gets to a curios rhetorical device that we see often from the left. On one hand, as we’ve seen with recent school shootings, nobody is presumed to have authority to speak on an issue unless they’ve been personally affected by something. On the other hand, somebody on the right who advances his or her message through a compelling personal story is presented as trying to cash in. The common theme, obviously, is that one is never presumed to be advocating in good faith for culturally or politically conservative issues.
Give I Lived on Parker Avenue a viewing. Then do what you can to find and support similarly compelling productions. On abortion as on a great many issues, we’re so clearly in the right that the only way we lose the battle of ideas is to back down when we’re attacked unfairly and illogically.
A look at differences in graduation rates suggests that we’re not addressing the actual problems that our students face.
A presentation on transgenderism by Dr. Michelle Cretella brought protesters to St. Pius V Catholic Church in Providence and taught lessons about tolerance and kindness.