URLs du Jour

2018-05-02

[Amazon Link]

Our Amazon product du jour poses a puzzler: if you buy this for a dog that's not a chihuahua, is it unacceptable cultural appropriation? Discuss among yourselves.

  • Proverbs 13:10 concerns itself with arrogant know-it-alls (according to "The Message"):

    10 Where there is strife, there is pride,
        but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

    "… especially in those who take my advice."


  • We have not one, but two stories from my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat today. First, from yesterday's print edition; it's all about hope at the University Near Here: UNH hopes Unity Day replaces Cinco de Mayo.

    The University of New Hampshire is hoping to turn the last Saturday before classes end in the spring into a new campus tradition — Unity Day.

    Dean of Students John T. Kirkpatrick announced in an email last week that students, staff, faculty and town leaders are working together to “craft a day and a way for all of us to serve our community this year.”

    And, as it just so happens, "Unity Day" falls on May 5 this year, which translated into Spanish is… well, I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader.

    As detailed in the recent report from the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate, "Unity Day" is UNH's attempt to respond to one of the "demands" issued last year by "the Students of Color at the University of New Hampshire, the Black Student Union and other members of fellow Diversity Support Coalition". Specifically:

    We demand the immediate cancellation of the annual “End of year barbecue” which falls on Cinco de Mayo, and facilitates racist stereotypes that students perpetuate. In addition, we would like the University to issue a formal denunciation of the ‘celebration’ annually.

    UNH is basically saying: well, we can't do that. How about this instead?

    The Foster's article is mainly a vehicle for Dean Kirkpatrick to express his earnest hopes that nobody will offend the easily-offended this year (key words embiggened):

    Kirkpatrick is a champion of the first amendment right to freedom of speech and isn’t calling for bans on self-expression. That said, he’d like to see the cultural appropriation associated with past Cinco celebrations go. It’s a free country as long as you’re not threatening someone, Kirpatrick said, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

    There won’t be any legal repercussions for students wearing sombreros, serapes, ponchos, and the like, however, Kirkpatrick wants students to understand the consequences of their actions. “Why would you willingly do something that you know hurts someone else?” he asked.

    “The key is education,” said Kirkpatrick. “We can’t say ‘no sombreros,’ but we can tell them why it’s bad.”

    This is basically a rehash of what Dean Kirkpatrick said in the runup to Halloween last year. You know, the other day of the year on which people choose to be offended by what other people are wearing. Which I commented on at the time. Let me repeat what I said back then:

    I would ask Dean Kirkpatrick: "Dean, you know that you disgust and offend me when you treat ostensible adults as children and hector them on their costume choices. Why do you keep doing that?"


  • And in today's Foster's, there's a story about the Turning Point USA event held at UNH. Unsurprising headline: Not all welcome UNH free speech event.

    A student-sponsored free-speech event at the University of New Hampshire was moved last minute because of alleged threats of violence to the Whittemore Center, where about 200 audience members sat in a 7,500 seat arena.

    While there was no hint of violence during the Tuesday night talk sponsored by the UNH chapter of Turning Point USA, some students felt the event was inappropriate and hateful and tried to stop it from occurring by keeping attendees from entering the arena and by attempting to disrupt the talk given by political commentator and comedian Dave Rubin.

    See above item, where the UNH Dean of Students is described (I assume self-described) as a "champion of the first amendment right to freedom of speech". Dean, I'll eagerly await to hear about your condemnation and discipline of the students who tried to stop this event from occurring.


  • Jacob Sullum's wonderful review of two books ( The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President and Thomas S. Szasz: The Man and His Ideas) was in last month's Reason, and is now available on the Interweb: The Myth of Donald Trump's Mental Illness.

    Is the president of the United States mentally ill, or is he just an asshole? That is the puzzle posed by The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. The question would have amused Thomas Szasz, the late psychiatric iconoclast whose legacy is considered in a new essay collection edited by Jeffrey Schaler, Henry Zvi Lothane, and Richard Vatz.

    Szasz, who died in 2012 at the age of 92, spent his career calling attention to the ways in which "the myth of mental illness" (the title of his best-known book) muddles our thinking about troublesome people and problematic conduct. The sweeping, creeping medicalization of thought and behavior that Szasz decried is epitomized by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is where "mental health experts" look when trying to diagnose Trump (or anyone else).

    Sullum makes a good choice in juxtaposing these two books. There's a lot of things there for people interested in the nature of "mental illness" and how it applies to all politicians, not just Trump.


  • And there's a new Facebook group in town, dedicated to "common sense" proposals to eliminate the danger to Americans from sharp pointy things: Everytown for Knife Safety. Sample:

    Working on tips from concerned students, authorities detained a Michigan community college business major and...

    Posted by Everytown for Knife Safety on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    It's essentially just one joke, over and over, but brilliantly executed.


Last Modified 2018-05-04 2:17 PM EST