Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On Michael Savage and Autism, an Appeal for Calm

Those of us who follow talk radio and/or autism-related issues are aware that a campaign has sprung up calling for the firing of syndicated radio host Michael Savage.

Speaking on his July 16 broadcast, Savage claimed that 99 percent of autism cases are fake; that they actually are examples of kids misbehaving and bad parenting.

According to Media Matters, Savage said:
I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.' " Savage concluded, "[I]f I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, 'Don't behave like a fool.' The worst thing he said -- 'Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry.' That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have.
In response, Savage says his comments were taken out of context by Media Matters. He explained his views more fully this week, telling Jacques Steinberg of the New York Times, for example, that the 99 percent fakery figure was "hyperbole." On his own website Savage called on people not to make a rush to judgement about his views based solely upon the charges of critics. He added that his comments were actually in support of truly autistic children, who, he said, lose out on services and funding they need because money is "pilfered by those who are not autistic." "The truly autistic child needs as much help as he or she can get," he said; what he opposes is "fakery."

Nonetheless, calls for Savage to pay a severe professional penalty continue. A big advertiser stopped advertising, a seven-station radio network in Mississippi dropped the show, and there have been calls for Savage's firing.

The group AutismLink circulated a letter Monday evening saying it is calling on autism organizations to sign a petition calling for Savage's firing. Tuesday afternoon the group circulated the following list of organizations and individuals it said have called for Savage's firing:
AutismLink, National Autism Organization
Autism Centers of Pittsburgh
FEAT of the Carson Valley, Minden, NV
National Autism Association
Mary D’Angelo, Parent, St. Louis Missouri
Autism Society of West Virginia, South Central Region
Henderson Homeschoolers
Las Vegas Special Needs Homeschoolers
Autism Society of York PA Chapter
Janice Bachert, New Berlin, WI
Mary Neumeier, Walden, NY
Aware4Autism, PA
Autism Connection, Marion Ohio
Autism Society of , Harrisburg, PA Chapter [sic]
Daniel J. Cavallini, Attorney at Law, Indianapolis, IN
FEAT (Families for Effective Autism Treatment), Louisville
Mary Pat and Steven Cantando, New York
Queens County Parents Autism Coalition (QCPAC) in Queens, NY
Autism Resource Network, Inc., Hopkins, MN
Brookings Area Autism Support Network, South Dakota
Autism Show U Care
Autism Spectrum Support Group of Lebanon County, PA
PEACE (Parental Encouragement for Autism in Chidren Everywhere), Lakeland FL
The FUZZ Foundation, Indianapolis, IN
Organization for Autism Spectrum Information & Support, Inc., Ohio
Lyme-Autism Organization, Portland, OR
My sense of this is that those who are calling for Savage's firing should calm down. Savage clearly has sympathy for children disabled by autism. His greatest offense was that his disgust over what he believes is people using autism for financial gain encouraged him to exaggerate the extent to which autism is overdiagnosed and the ease with which genuine autism (which presently is incurable) can be cured. The hyperbole was not helpful, but it should not be confused with an attack on the genuinely disabled.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:44 AM

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Racial Bias Is What Some People Want Us to See... No Matter What has published an op-ed by our David Almasi on the Vogue magazine-LeBron James-Gisele Bundchen mini-scandal (covered on this blog previously here):
Racial Bias is What Some People Want Us to See… No Matter What

Comedian Chris Rock used to play a recurring character on "Saturday Night Live" named Nat X. During the humorous, nonsensical rants of this Black Nationalist talk show host, Nat X would sometimes be chased by his studio's "white-man cam.” When it caught him, bars would appear on the screen and Nat X would yell "That's what you wanna see!"

April's cover of Vogue magazine, featuring an Annie Leibovitz photo of basketball phenomenon LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen promoting its "shape issue," is drawing fire for what magazine critic Samir Husni calls an image that "screams King Kong."

Leibovitz's photo featured James, dressed to play and bouncing a basketball, looking like he is yelling while clutching a smiling Bundchen around the waist.

Adding to Husni's criticism, University of Maryland assistant professor Damion Thomas told the Associated Press that the Leibowitz photo "reinforce[s] the criminalization of black men."

This criticism turns a high-end fashion magazine with a circulation of around a million into an international news story and a potential flashpoint for racial hostility.

The controversy over the photo is the creation of conspiracy theorists willing to find a racial angle in just about anything.

The alleged victim James' response was one of indifference. He told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "who cares what anyone says?" and that he was "just showing a little emotion."

Darryn "Dutch" Martin, a black conservative with Project 21 (full disclosure: a group with which I work), said in a press release: "There are people who are, and probably forever will be, racially hypersensitive for either personal or professional reasons. Nothing that reasonable people say or do will convince them otherwise. I believe critics are using this canard of racial stereotyping as a smokescreen to hide their true disdain for any images of interracial closeness or intimacy between black men and white women."

Hours after Project 21's press release hit the Internet, I received an e-mail from liberal blogger Rogers Cadenhead suggesting I visit his blog. A fellow liberal blogger had already gone to the trouble of tracking down a World War I-era army recruiting poster that closely resembles the Vogue photo. On his "Watching the Watchers" blog, Cadenhead reproduced the magazine cover and the poster and opined: "Leibovitz, who has a history of referencing iconic images in her photographs, appropriated the composition from a famous poster that's believed to be an inspiration for the film King Kong… I wonder if James, presented with the two images, would be as generous."

Leibovitz has not yet said this is what she did – it is only speculation. And the poster was comparing Germans to apes (and not necessarily King Kong).

Vogue's cover didn't personally make me draw a comparison between LeBron James and King Kong until I read Husni and Thomas's criticism. Nor was I aware of the recruiting poster until Cadenhead contacted me. Despite now being exposed to it, I don't think of James as an ape not do I hold him in the same contempt as I do Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German empire of nearly a century ago.

To be honest, the first thing I thought about when I saw the photo was how it resembled the way James looks on the bottle of Powerade that is sitting in my refrigerator. James is an endorser of the sports drink.

LeBron James is a noted basketball player who is at the peak of his physical prowess, which is what Vogue was celebrating by featuring him on the cover with one of the world's top supermodels. Rather than judging James – and, by extension, other blacks – by the content of their character, skills or intellect as Vogue intended, the race-mongers instead seem more interested in bringing things down to the lowest common denominator. There never seems to be a party where they don't want to be a skunk.

After all, Nat X said that's what we wanted to see.
Go to if you'd like to make a public comment on this op-ed or this issue generally. To contact author David Almasi directly, write him at [email protected].

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:27 AM

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Project 21's Nedd Makes His Faith Known - In Really Big Letters

From David Almasi:
Congratulations to Project 21 member Bishop Council Nedd II for pushing back against the atheist assault on faith in Pennslyvania.

Bishop Nedd, who serves the Diocese of the Chesapeake and Northeast of the Episcopal Missionary Church, is also the chairman of In God We Trust, an organization dedicated to promoting religious values and freedoms. Before Christmas, the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation rented a billboard on U.S. 30 West in Chambersburg that read "Imagine No Religion." In February, In God We Trust rented a billboard of its own just down the street that asks: "Why Do Atheists Hate America?" and features a photo of a child saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

"We found out about it, so we figured we would respond," Nedd told the Chambersburg Public Opinion. "We want to provide a counter balance and draw attention to the issues. This is a national campaign and we want to spark debate. We also feel very strongly about the issue."

Nedd's billboard will rotate among various locations in the Chambersburg area over the next six months and may eventually go national. The atheist billboard was taken down at about the same time as Nedd's went up, and it now reads: "In God We Trust: Kegerreis Outdoor Advertising LLC. The previous sign posted at this location does not reflect the values or morals of our company. Thank you."

To see the entire Chambersburg Public Opinion article about the billboards, click here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:19 AM

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

DarkStar's "Race Hustling" Response

DarkStar has responded to my comments about the letters in the Washington Post by four presidents of historically-black colleges and universities and by Project 21's Mychal Massie, and the Wall Street Journal op-ed by Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom.

You can read what DarkStar said here.

My response:

1) There does not appear to be a consensus on the definition of the term "race hustling." Based on comments I'm getting, some folks think "exploiting racial divisions" is enough to qualify the term; others think the person doing it must do so with a profit motive of some sort. Possibly, the term simply needs to evolve until a consensus forms. With luck, by the time it does, the word "archiac" will apply.

2) If I read him correctly, DarkStar still believes the Thernstroms were attacking historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) because they began their Wall Street Journal op-ed with questions including: "Half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, should we still support an institution of higher education that is less than 1% white?" and "If all educational doors are so wide open to black students and professors, should we really hope that schools such as Fisk survive?" I still contend that asking those questions, but resolving by the end of their op-ed that HBCUs are valuable, means the Thernstroms' piece was not an attack on HCBUs. People can decide for themselves here.

3) DarkStar wishes Mychal Massie had addressed more issues in his letter to the Post. For what it is worth, the letter the Post published from the four HCBU presidents was 579 words as published. The Post told Mychal his letter in response would have to be 200 words or less to be considered.

4) DarkStar finds "revolting" my reference to all-male universities historically being the first examples of institutions of higher learning to practice inequity. Of this, he said:
I find the total lack of taking history into account to be revolting. Why must Black history be destroyed at the expense of integration? Especially since this part of "Black History" is actually American history? Let's keep the HBCUs around and remove the HWCUs.
I had in mind the 1636 founding of Harvard and its early successors when I wrote that; these schools not only were all-male, but had other restrictions. I don't believe referring to this "destroys black history"; more provocatively (though it does not seem to be hard to provoke DarkStar), I don't think the admission of females destroyed male history, or that closing HCBUs (not that I've seen anyone quoted in any of these posts and articles call for that) would "destroy black history."

Finally, DarkStar seems (to me) to be offended by expressions of support for the integration of HBCUs. I remind him that integration has for some generations now been taught in our schools and throughout our society as a positive value at the very center of our civil moral code. As such, no one should be surprised to find members of the integration generations puzzled at continued support for institutions that appear on the surface to reject this value. It would be more surprising if it were not so.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:24 AM

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Project 21’s Massie Responds to Black College Presidents in Washington Post

From David Almasi:
Last Sunday, the Washington Post published a letter to the editor from four presidents of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Maryland, who took issue with Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom asking, in a Wall Street Journal essay, "are historically-black colleges good for blacks?"

Why they chose the Washington Post to air their grievances and not the Journal is unknown, but here is a portion of what the four contended:
Such mistaken interpretations of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the landmark 1992 Fordice Supreme Court case do a great injustice to historically black institutions and the students they serve. Most unfortunately, they threaten to open old wounds related to race and poverty.
In a rebuttal published in today’s Post, Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie responded:
Asserting that U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom failed "to understand that a main object of the civil rights movement was to enhance educational opportunities for [blacks] by eliminating the vestiges of segregation and enhancing their educational institutions" is nothing short of revisionism.

The 1992 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Fordice did not hurt historically black colleges and universities. It upheld Title IV, on desegregation of public education, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There is no debate that historically black institutions have been permitted to escape adherence to Title IV specifically because they are black. What's more, they have escaped penalty while their proponents viciously castigate other institutions for lacking diversity.
To read all of Mychal’s letter, click here.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]

Addendum from Amy: The DarkStar Spouts Off blog has published a long critique (attack?) on Mychal's letter. I found it odd in a couple of respects:
1) DarkStar/Ed Brown refers to Mychal's "race hustling ways." I've been unable to find a definition anywhere for the slang term "race hustling," but I thought it referred to the exploitation of racial divisions for personal profit. If I am right (I invite readers to write to tell me they disagree), I don't think the term applies to someone who advocates the elimination of racial divisions in an uncompensated letter to the Washington Post written on his free time.

2) DarkStar castigates Mychal for not addressing a litany of other, related issues, but letters to major newspapers intended for publication nearly always must be short and succinct to have any hope of being published. Writers can't address everything they might wish to.

3) DarkStar ends with:
Here is the bottom line to all of this, besides the disgust I'm feeling towards Massie's letter. Why is it that people like [Abigail] Thernstrom and Massie say close down HBCUs because of their segregated history, instead of saying close down HWCUs, because of THEIR segregated history?

Close down the HWCUs, transfer the money and facilities to the HBCUs, and then let's see what happens.
Mychal's letter didn't call for closing down historically-black colleges; he exposed the hypocrisy inherent in calling for integration while promoting segregation.

In their letter's lead sentence, the four HCBU presidents called for "eliminating the vestiges of segregation and enhancing [black] educational institutions..."

The four HBCU presidents opposed and supported segregation in the same sentence.

As to Thernstrom: Although you'd be hard-pressed to tell from the college presidents' and DarkStar's attack on her views, she expressed support for the continuation of historically-black institutions. Her essay concludes:
"[Historically-black colleges and universities] do seem to meet a real need, serving their students well in important respects. In a free society, many private and public institutions will have a distinctive profile. Group clustering is not necessarily unhealthy; indeed, it's an inescapable feature of a multiethnic nation. No one worries that there are 'too many' Jews at Yeshiva and Brandeis, 'too many' Catholics at Notre Dame and Holy Cross, 'too many' Mormons at Brigham Young. And so it should be with Howard, Fisk and Mississippi Valley State. That's what democratic pluralism means."
Hardly a call for the "closing down" of HBCUs, as DarkStar alleges.

4) The college presidents and DarkStar attacked Abigail Thernstrom, yet Abigail Thernstrom's essay was jointly written with her husband, Stephan Thernstrom. Isn't the man's input as worthy of note as the female's?

Possibly this anti-male inequity could be addressed by establishing and supporting all-male universities...

...or perhaps it is that kind of thinking that got all this higher education inequity started in the first place.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:13 PM

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Are the Airlines Anti-Family?

Planning a trip, husband David Ridenour finds that airlines aren't exactly family-friendly...
You ever wonder why airlines are about as popular as used car dealers these days? Perhaps it's due, in part, to their anti-family policies.

Case in point: I learned this afternoon that when you fly with your family on Southwest Airlines, you can't use one frequent flyer number for everyone to consolidate your miles, but must establish a frequent flyer program for each family member. It doesn't matter that the same person is paying for all the flights nor that the children are very young.

As a Southwest agent helpfully noted, "It's a frequent flyer program -- you have to fly frequently."

That customer service training really paid off, didn't it?

Well, the Southwest agent wasn't exactly correct, anyway.

You see, since you can give away your "Rapid Rewards" points to any family member, the only thing Southwest achieves through this rule is giving already busy parents one more thing to do.

I take that back, it does do at least one more thing...

It adds to Southwest's costs (stockholders are gonna love that). Do they really think a seven year-old is going to fly more so he can take advantage of special Rapid Rewards promotions?

Of course, its not just Southwest that has anti-family policies.

Almost all the airlines now charge an "excess weight" charge -- usually $25-$50 -- for any bag weighing over 50 lbs.

The airlines argue that this policy is necessary to reduce excess fuel costs caused by overloaded baggage compartments. But if if this was really the case, wouldn't they impose an overall weight limit rather than a per piece limit?

Under the current policy, a businessman with two bags weighing 49 pounds each -- 98 pounds total -- is charged nothing, while a parent with a bag weighing 70 pounds -- or as little as 51 pounds -- is charged up to $50.

There's a practical reason why parents, especially those with small children or children with special needs, might have heavier luggage. They might try to consolidate everything into one bag to have a hand free for children.

These parents are faced with a choice: Pay the extra $50 or take the risk their child won't be lost or abducted in a busy airport.

Cost savings? In this litigious country, it's only a matter of time before a distraught parent sues an airline.

Stockholders are gonna love that, too.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:22 PM

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Moral of the Story...

...don't get your picture on page one of the newspaper on the same day you commit theft in front of a convenience store security camera.

(Thou shalt not steal is a good moral, too.)

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:29 AM

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Where is the Feminist Outrage?

Deneen Borelli wants to know: Where is the feminist outrage over jailing of British woman in Sudan?

Says Deneen:
"I'm amazed by the silence of the so-called women's rights groups like NOW. This is an example of their selective feminist outrage. When it fits their liberal agenda and bias, they are extremely vocal. When it doesn't, their silence is deafening."
My personal theory is the feminist leaders don't identify much with elementary school teachers. Teaching young children is a female-dominated profession, and feminist leaders tend not to think highly of those professions.

They are a little bit sexist that way.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:15 AM

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Washington Post Cheerleads Conversion of a Small Number of Evangelicals to Anti-Global Warming Activism

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post had a worthy entry in the category of wishful-thinking opinion-newswriting on page A1 of the Washington Post Wednesday, with her story "Warming Draws Evangelicals Into Environmentalist Fold."

Based on the content of the piece, it might better have been titled, "Assiduous Environmentalist Lobbying Draws a Mere Handful of Evangelicals into Environmentalist Fold," but that doesn't have the pro-environmentalist cheerleading quality the Post goes for in these pieces.

Presumably lacking statistical evidence of mass conversions, Eilperin uses argument-by-anecdote to imply that a significant number of Christian evangelicals are converting into anti-global warming activists:
At 8 on a Saturday morning, just as the heat was permeating this sprawling Orlando suburb, Denise Kirsop donned a white plastic moon suit and began sorting through the trash produced by Northland Church.

She and several fellow parishioners picked apart the garbage to analyze exactly how much and what kind of waste their megachurch produces, looking for ways to reduce the congregation's contribution to global warming.

"I prayed about it, and God really revealed to me that I had a passion about creation," said Kirsop, who has since traded in her family's sport-utility vehicle for a hybrid Toyota Prius to help cut her greenhouse gas emissions. "Anything that draws me closer to God -- and this does -- increases my faith and helps my work for God."

Her conversion to environmentalism is the result of a years-long international campaign by British bishops and leaders of major U.S. environmental groups to bridge a long-standing divide between global-warming activists and American evangelicals.
Eilperin goes on to call Denise Kirsop's pastor, Joel C. Hunter, a "pivotal advocate for cutting greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming Earth's climate," leading readers to believe Hunter has been a lynchpin of mass conversions of evangelicals on the topic.

The article's evidence of Hunter's influence is slim, however: He has preached on climate change to five congregations in Florida and his global warming sermons are on the Internet, where they have been seen by 3,000 people. Beyond that, he's signed a statement or two on his personal opinion on climate change, appeared on a commercial (Eilperin doesn't reveal who funded it), and drafted, in concert with a paid employee of an environmentalist organization, some materials for other evangelicals to read on climate change.

Nothing about this appears particularly "pivotal." If Hunter is going to change the way a significant number of the approximately 78 million evangelicals in the United States think about climate change, he hasn't done it yet.

Eilperin discusses the great lengths to which environmentalists have gone to convert evangelical leaders into anti-global warming activists -- even, in Hunter's case, arranging a "Windsor Castle retreat" and a royal audience:
There was a private session with Prince Charles and a tour of the organic garden at the prince's Highgrove estate, as well as intense conversations among the participants about how Genesis 2:15 calls upon Adam to "serve" and "keep" the Garden of Eden.
One wonders just how "intense" conversations about the Garden of Eden can be, particularly among like-minded individuals. (It appears to not have occurred to Eilperin that God tossed Adam out of the Garden of Eden for interacting with nature a little too much, but if there is a Biblical call to care for Eden, it supposed was located somewhere near Baghdad, so our military's been on the job for a while now.)

Given that the environmentalists have been working hard for some years now specifically to recruit high-name-I.D. evangelicals to their global warming cause, the real story -- which we are unlikely to see in the Post -- is why they haven't been more successful.

Eilperin does mention that evangelical leaders James Dobson and Chuck Colson disapprove of "green" evangelism, and she notes at one point that Hunter isn't in the majority. But even this is spun in a manner that implies that Hunter's point of view will become increasingly dominant; that its just a matter of time:
While he remains in a distinct minority, and a number of others on the Christian right disparage his efforts, Hunter and others like him have begun to reshape the politics around climate change.
Despite finding great significance in the conversion of Hunter, along with Ted Haggard, late of the National Association of Evangelicals, to the anti-global warming cause, Eilperin skips entirely the work of the Interfaith Council For Environmental Stewardship, and the many prominent signers in the religious community to its Cornwall Declaration, which takes an entirely different, but still faith-based, position. It's hard to imagine the group would have been left out, had its position been closer to that of Rev. Hunter.

Finally, though it does little good to say so (Eilperin apparently isn't swayed by criticism on this particular point), Eilperin really shouldn't continue to imply ("greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming Earth's climate") that all scientists believe in the human-caused global warming theory. The Washington Post may not acknowledge much diversity when it comes to global warming, but the wider world is more open-minded.

Cross-posted on NewsBusters.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:20 PM

Monday, June 04, 2007

Parents Lose Legal Custody of Home-Schooled Children

The Massachusetts Department of Social Services took legal custody of two children, not because of any allegation of abuse or neglect, but because their parents were deemed "unfit" relating to home-schooling their children.

Parents Lose Legal Custody of Home-Schooled Children

To the consternation of officials from the Waltham Public Schools and the Massachusetts town's Department of Social Services (DSS), Kim and George Bryant decided to home-school their son, Nick, and daughter, Nyssa.

This decision ignited a legal fight between the local government and the Bryants that lasted over six years and became so contentious that the DSS took legal custody of the children.

The DSS was awarded legal custody of the Bryant children after the school district obtained a court ruling in 2001 stating the Bryants were "unfit" parents because they didn't file an educational plan or grading system meeting school district approval. The Bryants countered that their plan was very similar to one accepted for a familyin Framingham, another eastern Massachusetts school district.

Nonetheless, Kim and George were determined to be in "educational neglect" of their children, and the DSS was awarded legal custody of Nick and Nyssa. The children, however, continued to live with their parents and Bryants continued to provide and pay for all of the children's expenses. At no point did the DSS offer or provide any services. George Bryant explained, "DSS did virtually nothing to support the 'health' of my family," while claiming legal custody of the children. Both sides additionally agree the children were never abused mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally by their parents.

On June 12, 2003, DSS officials and four police officers arrived at the Bryant home at 7:45 am and ordered the children be taken to a hotel, where they would be given a standardized test. DSS worker Susan Etscovitz charged: "We have legal custody of the children and will do with them what we see fit... They are minors and they do what we tell them to do."

After the DSS failed to convince Nick and Nyssa to go to the hotel to sit for the test, the Framingham Juvenile Court issued a same-day ruling ordering their parents to take them. At the hotel, the children continued to refuse to take the test. Nyssa said, "We don't want to take the test. We have taken them before, and I don't think that they are a fair assessment of what we know." George Bryant echoed his daughter's complaint, saying, "Private school students do not take standardized tests. Why should our children be subjected to this, against their will?" He added: "We do not believe in assessing our children based on a number or letter. Their education process is their personal intellectual property." Surprisingly, Waltham School Superintendent Susan Parrella provided support to the Bryants' cause when she weighed in on the matter in quote to a local newspaper: "An acceptable home school plan is in place right now. I was not aware of any testing occurring today."

Nonetheless, a court hearing to determine whether a complete transfer of custody of the Bryant children to the DDS would take place due to their noncompliance was scheduled for the next day. But the hearing was later postponed indefinitely. George Bryant commented, "We were told [Thursday] that we must show up [Friday]. Several hours later we received a note in our door from DSS saying that it will be discussed at a later time." Since the issue was left unresolved, the Bryants were burdened for some time by the possibility that DSS officials and police officers would arrive at their door to demand their compliance with school district regulations, or perhaps to take the children to foster homes.

The Bryant case may be an extreme example, but home-schooling families in the Bay State often face hostile local governments. Scott Somerville, a staff attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association, notes "Massachusetts is a barbaric [state] for homeschoolers."

While Nick continued to be home-schooled, Nyssa chose to enroll in a public high school in the neighboring Belmont Public School District in the fall of 2003. To facilitate her placement, Kim compiled a transcript highlighting the work Nyssa completed during her home schooling. As a result of her past educational achievement, Nyssa began high school a grade above most students in her age group. She made the school's highest honor roll every semester.

Sources: (June 18, 2003), WorldNetDaily (June 2003 coverage),, Talon News (June 17, 2003), GOPUSA News (June 17, 2003),,, Home School Legal Defense Association, Kim Bryant, George Greeley Bryant

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Friday, June 01, 2007

Christians Debate Global Warming

From Peyton Knight:
Yesterday, the Family Research Council hosted an event titled "Faith and Science in the Global Warming Debate."

The debate featured global warming "skeptics" Dr. Calvin Beisner, associate professor of historical theology and social ethics at Knox Theological Seminary, and Dr. Ken Chilton, Director of the Institute for Study of Economics and the Environment, squaring off against global warming “alarmists” Dr. Jim Ball, President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), and Dr. Rusty Pritchard, National Director of Outreach for EEN.

First to speak was Dr. Jim Ball of EEN. You may remember EEN from its controversial (and borderline blasphemous) "What Would Jesus Drive?" ad campaign, which sought to incorporate Christ as an anti-SUV zealot. Jim Ball's presentation was centered primarily on alarmist and exaggerated scenarios. Dr. Ball claimed that global warming is causing "more floods and droughts" and is "driving our weather patterns to the extremes." He also claimed that there are "major deadly consequences" just around the corner for Africa if we don't tackle the global warming issue immediately. For effect, Dr. Ball showed a slide of a woman from Northwest Kenya who, understandably, was in despair over a recent drought - not that this particular drought had anything to do with global warming, of course. According to Dr. Ball, Christians should consider embrace global warming as a moral issue from the standpoint of caring for the poor and less fortunate, as well as caring for God's creation. Dr. Ball also informed the partisan crowd that Newt Gingrich is on board with the global warming alarmists.

Next up was Dr. Cal Beisner. His presentation was quite impressive. It is clear he has a very confident, articulate and well-read command of the issue. Dr. Beisner stressed that mandatory CO2 restrictions like those called for in the Kyoto Protocol would have no discernable impact on the overall climate. However, he pointed out, "Capping CO2 emissions would be economically devastating to the world's poor," and such an action would be "unconscionable."

EEN's Dr. Rusty Pritchard followed next. In my view, his presentation and command of the issue was much more effective and coherent than that of his colleague Dr. Ball. Dr. Pritchard told the audience that EEN essentially agrees with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Newt Gingrich. Dr. Pritchard said that in order to avoid disaster, we could not allow the planet to warm more than two degrees Celsius. At one point Dr. Pritchard stressed that we do not need more government, but he quickly followed that up with a call for government to cap CO2 and set a greenhouse gas regulatory agenda. With those government controls in place, it would then be left to "the market" to price and distribute CO2 emissions. As for the poor who would be harmed most by the rising cost of energy? Dr. Pritchard said they can be assisted "through the tax code and subsidies." In other words: more government.

Last to speak was Dr. Ken Chilton. Dr. Chilton began by emphatically stating that the science of modeling the future of the climate was far from accurate or settled. Dr. Chilton also echoed his colleague, Dr. Beisner, stating, "Kyoto is costly but ineffective." Chilton noted that efforts to create a cap and trade system, like the one promoted by EEN, would be a bit cheaper than the Kyoto Protocol, but would do literally nothing for the climate, making it ultimately an expensive "symbolic gesture." He stressed that developing nations needed and wanted better healthcare and technology, and that restrictions on CO2 would inhibit their progress toward these goals. As for the connection between Christianity and the global warming issue, Dr. Chilton advised: "My advice to most of my brothers and sisters in Christ is to remain agnostic on this issue." Dr. Chilton added that it is "the height of human hubris" to think that man can manipulate God's creation on such a large scale.

Those interested can listen to the entire panel discussion here.
To contact author Peyton Knight directly,
write him at [email protected]


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:27 PM

Home Schoolers Banned in Calvert County

Calvert County, MD bans the use of a county building by home-schooled students on the grounds that such instruction, though open to the public, would duplicate county services and waste taxpayer dollars.

Activities Banned From Community Center: Alcohol, Crime... and Home Schooling?

You can take a foreign language class at community centers in Calvert County, Maryland. You can play ultra-violent fantasy wargames, possibly even ones based on pagan beliefs. You can even participate in Bible study classes. But Lydia Goulart and Kyle Travers have found out the hard way that you can't teach a class in fiber arts or host a geography club there if your lessons happen to be in conjunction with home schooling.

In Calvert County, using a county building to "home school" children ranks among prohibited activities like alcohol use, criminal acts or hosting for-profit events. According to county officials, allowing home schooling parents to use public facilities for their classes and extracurricular activities would be a waste of taxpayer money because it would create "duplicate services" already provided by the public schools. This decision stands despite the fact that Goulart and Travers planned on opening their activities to the public and sought to utilize rooms that otherwise were empty.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, arguing Calvert County officials violated the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the law. The court ruled against Goulart and Travers, allowing the ban on homeschooling activities to continue. HSLDA appealed the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. On September 26, 2003, the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court overturned the District Court, affirming that teaching the young is protected under the First Amendment. However, the court also held that the Community Center had not violated the rights of the homeschoolers by excluding them from the facilities. HSLDA decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sources: The Home School Legal Defense Association, The Daily Record (Baltimore, Maryland) (September 29, 2003)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:26 PM

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Separation of Church and State?

photo credit: Peyton Knight

A church in downtown Warrenton, Virginia must use local government-mandated wood instead of fiberglass to fully restore its deteriorating steeple - at a cost of $262,000 more for the church.

City Tells Church It Must Spend $262,000

For over 130 years, the Warrenton Baptist Church in Virginia has been recognized by its intricately-carved 65-foot steeple. While the structure has remained strong over the years, time and weather have taken a toll on the shingles, siding and molding. Church members proposed replacing the current wood steeple with a fiberglass replica, but city officials rejected the plan, instead demanding the church pay an estimated $262,000 more than they have budgeted to have the existing steeple fully restored with wood.

The Warrenton Architectural Review Board rejected the fiberglass steeple replacement on the grounds that the material would "clash" with the vintage appearance of the historic district in which the church was located. Church officials appealed the decision to the Warrenton Town Council, but the Council unanimously rejected their appeal. Members of the church then filed suit in the Circuit Court of Fauquier County, arguing that the decision was "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."

The church had preferred to spend the funds on charitable works, and even considered relocating. Ultimately, however, it decided to acquiesce to the city's demands.

Sources: Washington Post (February 22, 2004), Fauquier Citizen, Fauquier Times-Democrat

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:31 PM

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Gay Marriage Activists Seek to Put the Government in Bedrooms

The folks who try to argue that traditional marriage can't be harmed by the gay rights agenda might want to tell these folks to put a sock in it.

Trying to get a law passed to forcibly annul marriages if the couple does not have children within three years of the wedding is hardly the way to strengthen any marriages. It's not a particularly wise public policy, either. What if a young married couple strongly wants to have children, but thinks it would be wise to finish school or pay off school loans first?

And, of course, those couples having difficulty conceiving will certainly appreciate the extra psychological pressure of a government-imposed reproduction deadline.

The time frame is nothing if not ungenerous. Folks get two years and a few months to get pregnant, or their marriage is kaput -- orders from the state. All you need is for one spouse to get sent overseas with the U.S. military (not necessarily Iraq, either -- we have plenty of long overseas deployments to South Korea and elsewhere) and the two year pregnancy window gets cut pretty short.

The minute a liberal sex activist tells you he wants to keep government out of the bedroom, believe the opposite.

Addendum: I've had e-mail suggesting (or, at the very least, wondering), if the fact that I objected to this "automatic annulment" idea with examples of how it adversely would affect married couples that do have children means that I don't disagree with the idea quite so much when it comes to childless married couples. Not so. I object to the automatic annulment idea across the board, in more ways than I had time to post.

I don't write about the gay marriage issue often, but anyone who is interested in more of my views on the matter might check out a response I wrote to Andrew Sullivan in 2004, when he expressed the opinion that, under the U.S. Constitution, "...under almost any rational understanding of equal protection, civil marriage has to be extended to gay couples." I think he's wrong about that.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:24 AM

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" Reviewed

Today's Examiner is carrying a review I wrote on former N.Y. Times reporter Chris Hedges' new book, "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America." "American Fascists" was released by Free Press on January 9.

If so inclined, you can read the review here.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:31 AM

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