Happy New Year (Again)

This came up on the stereo just now, by sheer coincidence. Since it's day-appropriate, I feel obligated to share:

What we want is a brand new year
Open your heart and set us free
What we need is a brand new life
We'll decide on our own destiny

What we want is a brand new life
For brother and sister, husband, wife
Single and lonely, living in fear
What we want is a brand new year

(Pete Townshend, "New Life"; from The Iron Man: A Musical)

URLs du Jour -- 1/1/2006

Happy New Year, Saladeers! Sorry, I have nothing appropriate to the day: no retrospectives, no resolutions, no predictions. But:

  • Oh, OK, I lied: my close personal friend Dave Barry has written the only year-in-review article worth reading for the Miami Herald:
    It was the Year of the Woman. But not in a good way.
  • Back in my Usenet days, I commented to the effect that "social justice" was the type of "justice" that penalizes people who haven't done anything wrong, and rewards people who haven't had any wrong done unto them. In other words: George Orwell, call your office. Hayek famously titled the middle volume of his Law, Legislation, and Liberty trilogy The Mirage of Social Justice.

    Unfortunately, despite this devastating criticism from both me and Hayek, this hazy (yet insidious) concept has wormed its way into academe anyway, where it's embraced without criticism. And vague concepts enshrined as policy leave the door open to abuses of power. Tara Sweeney at "The Torch" notes the case of Prof. Thomas Klocek at DePaul University:

    At a September 15 activity fair, Klocek got into an argument with some members of two student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and United Muslims Moving Ahead. Klocek, a religious studies scholar trained at the University of Chicago, expressed informed opinions on the Middle East and the argument grew mutually offensive. DePaul administrators responded by suspending Klocek without a hearing, prohibiting him from contacting the press, and threatening to monitor his classes when he was reinstated.
    Klocek's dean justified this heavy-handedness by pointing to the fact that DePaul had "defined commitment to social justice as one of its core values."

    Tara comments: "Here we see social justice being used as justification for suppressing academic freedom, and as an excuse to bypass any semblance of fairness."

    Asking the Google to find the phrase "social justice" at UNH websites reveals a depressingly large number of hits.

  • Kausfiles points to yet another instance where the fabled LA Times fact-checking process passed on a bogus report from "sources" as fact. This is fast becoming a dog-bites-man kind of story, isn't it?
  • And the Public Editor at the New York Times has a difficult time hiding his frustration with his bosses:
    THE New York Times's explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency.

    For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making.

    Of course, one of the reasons for the stonewall might be that jail time could be involved.

Last Modified 2006-01-08 7:37 AM EST