Thursday, December 25, 2014

For your reading displeasure: some end-year non-PC rants.

Re the notion that if black kids do poorly in school, it's because they attend awful schools: Don't get me wrong, this may sometimes be the case. Maybe more than sometimes. But whence this knee-jerk assumption that lousy test scores and graduation rates indicate ipso facto that students are victims of an uncaring administration that has provided them with the dregs of Teacherdom? Can't it mean that black kids have more difficulty learning than white kids?* In fact, that's the first possibility that should be considered in keeping with Occam's Razor. Ditto the evidence that black grade-schoolers are punished and suspended more than white students. The approved explanation is that teachers are so inherently racist that they can't control themselves even when dealing with the youngest, most innocent black kids. But could it more simply mean that blacks have some behavioral maladjustment that begins manifesting itself at an early age?** It is no more racist to wonder about such things than it is to observe that some races seem taller than others. How do we know what else is encoded along with the genes for color and such? We'll find out one day soon, of course, but it remains to be seen whether that info will be suppressed if it's unfavorable to a protected group.

Re that viral cat-calling video that created such a stir: Gals, if you don't want men to come on to you, then for whom are you trying to look sexy? (Not a rhetorical question. I'm honestly asking.) It's disingenuous to say that you're just trying to look good for yourself: You know deep down that "looking good for yourself" (or "for other women") is in reality a measurement of your ability to attract men. In other words, you know you look good when you glance in the mirror, see yourself as a man would see you and say Ooooh, mamacita. Dressing hot and then acting offended when you get the response that hot women get is a bit like putting on ultra-spiked heels and then complaining when people notice that you're really tall. If you don't care about attracting men, dress comfortably. Wear baggy clothes and sneakers or flats. Now, if you're arguing that we men are supposed to keep our mouths shut even when you look super-hot, fair enough. I can buy that. Just don't deny the reality of what's going on here. Because, as Michael Corleone said to Carlo near the end of The Godfather, "It insults my intelligence."

What the hell is "profiling," anyway? Let's say I eat a certain food I've never tasted before and suffer horrific digestive consequences. Then I try that food a half-dozen times more and I get sick again each time... Guess what, folks...I'm gonna stop eating it. So would you. If a certain species of dog bites me every time I encounter it, I'm going to shy away from that type of dog. Similarly, if blacks account for over 90% of the murder perps in NYC, and I'm a cop, how can I not be influenced by that? That doesn't mean that every black I meet is a murderer, but it does mean that I can hardly be blamed for having a visceral flinching reaction to the next black stranger I meet in a high-crime area. Besides, certainly, to hear blacks tell it, I they profile cops, too, expecting the worst from each such encounter. Should we try to fight such tendencies? Sure. Should we implement policies that discourage such tendencies? We probably should (though I'm not persuaded in the case of terrorism). But it's just human nature to feel this way. Tell me where I'm off-base.

Finally, returning again to rape or "date rape": In a society marked by endless bloviation about female empowerment, independence and self-esteem, I fail to see why we're gravitating to a position where it's a man's legal responsibility to supplant the woman's judgment with his own in deciding whether sex should occur. Let's suppose that a woman has been drinking a fair amount at some
holiday gathering and is therefore more suggestible; less inclined to refuse a man's advances. Let's even suppose that as a result she (a) has sex with someone she'd never consider sleeping with when sober and (b) is aghast the next morning to discover that she indeed did so. Why is that the man's problem? Provided she was still conscious and communicating with the outside world when it happened, I don't see how that can be called rape. For as I've noted before, if that same tipsy woman gets behind the wheel of a car and plows into a mother with baby carriage on her way home from the holiday gathering, she'll be held liable for driving under the influence. So why is she not fully and solely liable for screwing under the influence?

And hell, if she was "too drunk" to give a valid consent, why was he not "too drunk" to be held responsible for pressing on? Why do we argue a one-way, gender-specific code of conduct/liability?

There are many behaviors that are considered marginally ethical in a polite society but do not rise to the level of illegality. The average person selling a used car will not disclose every last quirk; caveat emptor generally applies in such transactions (though, of course, if you withhold major safety defects that have tragic consequences, there will be repercussions). If you're offering a house for rent, you may elect not to mention to prospective tenants that it gets awfully drafty in the winter months, thus the renter's heating bill is apt to go through the roof (literally). A politician may neglect to volunteer that he had an affair, cheated on his taxes, smoked dope, or all of the above. None of these is admirable, but should we label them crimes?

There is—and must continue to be—a distinction between being a cad and being a criminal.

As a libertarian and a man, I am dismayed by today's fulminating obsession with expanding the category of actions that supposedly constitute rape. Not a few campus activists want to include sex obtained under false pretenses...e.g. if a guy forgets to mention that he's married, doesn't have the credit score he implied he had, or really never intended to see the woman again (a la Tinder). I'm sorry, folks, that can't be rape. But the so-called "rape by deception" movement already has achieved some legislative traction, so it's a trend worth watching in 2015.

Happy New Year.
* Sure, the problem could be cultural and in no way genetic. Black kids may get less support at home, and/or black kids may face anti-educational peer pressures that (most) white kids don't face. I'm just saying let's not automatically dump on the teachers or the schools.
** Ditto. Kids who come from unstable domestic situations may bring emotional baggage to school along with their pencils. But regardless...


Anonymous said...

On Christmas you post this. Nice.

Anonymous said...

Loving the holiday wisdom Steve...Happy New Year