Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Biting the Bullet

Assorted home intruders, robbers, thugs, and would be spouse abusers all bit the bullet, so to speak, this week. You can read the stories at Civilian Gun Defense Blog. Here's one from The Dallas Morning News:

A convenience store clerk shot a man who was trying to rob the store Tuesday afternoon in Old East Dallas. About 1:45 p.m., two men entered a Shell convenience store off Interstate 30 near Winslow Avenue and began to act suspiciously, police said. When the clerk saw one man reach for gun near his belt, the clerk shot him in the chest. The man was hospitalized in critical condition, and the other suspect fled.

Remember as you read the other accounts at the blog that were gun control enthusiasts successful in realizing their ambitions to disarm the American public, none of these people would have had the means to protect themselves. Even so, the threat posed by their assailants would quite likely still have been just as great. If they were physically superior to their intended victim or if they were carrying a weapon, no laws to restrict gun ownership would have changed matters except that the intended victims would have been completely defenseless.

Pass 'Em a Shovel

Despite the best efforts of the New York Times and its accomplices on the Left, their collective outrage over the fact that the Bush administration would actually be doing its constitutionally-mandated duty by protecting the country from terrorists just isn't resonating in the heartland.

Talk of impeachment has been heard swirling about the fever swamps of the Left ever since the Times ran a story a week or so ago revealing that the National Security Administration has been eavesdropping on telephone conversations between al Qaeda suspects abroad and their contacts here in the States.

This, of course, is seen as an unconscionable infringement on our civil rights by the Left, which, however, only cares about civil liberties when they can be leveraged for their own power and influence.

Independent pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that:

Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans say they are following the NSA story somewhat or very closely.

Just 26% believe President Bush is the first to authorize a program like the one currently in the news. Forty-eight percent (48%) say he is not while 26% are not sure.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans believe the NSA should be allowed to listen in on conversations between terror suspects and people living in the United States. That view is shared by 51% of Democrats and 57% of those not affiliated with either major political party.

Numerous lawyers and constitutional experts have acknowledged that the Bush administration has the Constitutional warrant to do what it's doing and every president since Carter has thought likewise. Nevertheless, the MSM and the Democrats demands that Bush be punished for doing what most people want him to do and think he has the right to do simply reinforce the impression that these are not serious people when it comes to protecting our children from the Islamist plague.

Go ahead lefties, keep digging.

The Dover Decision II: Singling Out Evolution?

Judge Jones, presiding in the Dover ID trial, takes the school board to task for singling out evolution from all other topics in the high school curriculum as the focus of a disclaimer to be read to students. This, he argues, makes evolution suspect in students' minds which the school has no legal authority to do. The disclaimer, he writes: out evolution from the rest of the science curriculum and informs students that evolution, unlike anything else that they are learning, is "just a theory," which plays on the "colloquial or popular understanding of the term ['theory'] and suggest[ing] to the informed, reasonable observer that evolution is only a highly questionable 'opinion' or a 'hunch.'"

....Whether a student accepts the Board's invitation to explore Pandas, and reads a creationist text, or follows the Board's other suggestion and discusses "Origins of Life" with family members, that objective student can reasonably infer that the District's favored view is a religious one, and that the District is accordingly sponsoring a form of religion....

It is important to initially note that as a result of the teachers' refusal to read the disclaimer, school administrators were forced to make special appearances in the science classrooms to deliver it. No evidence was presented by any witness that the Dover students are presented with a disclaimer of any type in any other topic in the curriculum. An objective student observer would accordingly be observant of the fact that the message contained in the disclaimer is special and carries special weight. In addition, the objective student would understand that the administrators are reading the statement because the biology teachers refused to do so on the ground that they are legally and ethically barred from misrepresenting a religious belief as science, as will be discussed below....This would provide the students with an additional reason to conclude that the District is advocating a religious view in biology class.

That's one way of looking at it, but it's not the only conclusion a fair-minded person might arrive at. It could well be that these people see Darwinism, unlike anything else in the high school curriculum, as a challenge and a threat to students' religious beliefs, which even many Darwinians believe it is. Rather than prohibit it, they feel it necessary to try to maintain some measure of religious neutrality by letting students know that the school, even though it teaches Darwinism, is not endorsing the religious implications of Darwinism and seeks to offset those implications by referring students to works that present other possibilities. It might well be that the works the board chose to commend to students were of inferior quality (I have not read Pandas and People), but then they should be criticized for not picking the best resources available instead of castigating them for having the temerity to present an alternative to evolutionary dogma so that students don't get the feeling that the school is trying to undermine their religious convictions.

Second, by directing students to their families to learn about the "Origins of Life," the paragraph .... "reminds school children that they can rightly maintain beliefs taught by their parents on the subject of the origin of life," thereby stifling the critical thinking that the class's study of evolutionary theory might otherwise prompt, to protect a religious view from what the Board considers to be a threat.

The judge is not saying here, is he, that it's wrong for teachers to remind students that they can rightly hold on to beliefs they've been taught by their parents on this or any subject? Is he really saying that it's constitutionally acceptable to undermine in the classroom a student's religious beliefs, but it's wrong for schools to say anything that would protect students from having their religious beliefs subject to corrosive scrutiny? Is this what the constitution mandates, that we send our children to school to have everything they've been taught by their parents called into question, and the school dare not do anything to attempt to soften the blow? How Judge Jones can claim later that he's not an activist judge after writing something as arrogant and as radical as this completely escapes us.

....because [the] disclaimer effectively told students "that evolution as taught in the classroom need not affect what they already know," it sent a message that was "contrary to an intent to encourage critical thinking, which requires that students approach new concepts with an open mind and willingness to alter and shift existing viewpoints".

This is utter nonsense. Which position is most likely to foster "a willingness to alter and shift existing viewpoints," teaching evolution in the classroom and encouraging students to check out dissenting views on their own time, or teaching only evolution in the classroom and not permitting even the mention of any criticisms of the theory and refusing to encourage students to entertain the possibility that there may be other explanations for the design which permeates nature besides the blind mechanisms of neo-Darwinism? How can students alter and shift existing viewpoints if they're only exposed to a single view?

[T]he administrators made the remarkable and awkward statement, as part of the disclaimer, that "there will be no other discussion of the issue and your teachers will not answer questions on the issue." .... a reasonable student observer would conclude that ID is a kind of "secret science that students apparently can't discuss with their science teacher" which... is pedagogically "about as bad as I (plaintiff's witness Dr. Alters) could possibly think of." Unlike anything else in the curriculum, students are under the impression that the topic to which they are introduced in the disclaimer, ID, is so sensitive that the students and their teachers are completely barred from asking questions about it or discussing it.

Apparently the judge is tone deaf to irony. He quotes Dr Alters' testimony that a reasonable student observer would conclude that ID is a kind of "secret science that students apparently can't discuss with their science teacher" which he indicated is pedagogically "about as bad as I could possibly think of." and then proceeds to forbid the teaching of ID and the weaknesses in the Darwinian creation story, an unprecedented judicial action in the experience of almost all high school students. Does he not recognize that by banning ID from the classroom he's doing exactly what he criticizes the board for doing?

Accordingly, we find that the classroom presentation of the disclaimer, including school administrators making a special appearance in the science classrooms to deliver the statement, the complete prohibition on discussion or questioning ID, and the "opt out" feature all convey a strong message of religious endorsement.

As we argued above, there's no reason why any of these things have to be seen as an endorsement of religion. There's no reason why they cannot be interpreted as the actions of men and women concerned to avoid the appearance of lending the weight of the school district's prestige to a theory that is a manifest threat to the religious beliefs of students and thus violating the clear intent of Sante Fe.

There's more to criticize, and wonder at, in the judge's opinion and we hope to get to some of it later this week. To read our previous installment in this series on Judge Jones' decision go here.