It’s a powerful word because it evokes powerful feelings. Hearing the word “segregation” instills in our minds images of violence, exclusion, and a bitter hatred of innocent men for no reason beyond the color of their skin. We remember a time when little boys and girls couldn’t ride the bus together or sit at the same lunch table for fear of being shouted down, bullied, or even arrested. We know it represents a dark, evil, and unforgivable period in American history.
Or do we? Perhaps not, if we listen to local NAACP leader and spokesman Rev. William Barber, who was arrested today on charges of trespassing while screaming and pleading with fellow activists to rebel against the Wake County public schools’ recent decision to resegregate. This would be a compelling tale of a brave man resisting police state oppression, if he were correct that the schools are resegregating at all. Unfortunately for the good reverend’s cause, they are not.
Actually, the Wake County School Board is relaxing government controls that previously forced students to attend schools far away from their homes based only on their parents’ socioeconomic status. The bizarre and somewhat authoritarian policy of redistributing thousands of students to new schools every year, which encumbered students’ social development and caused abnormally long bus rides, was created with the intention of improving school performance through increased racial diversity. It is unclear whether there was any reason at the time to believe that racial diversity would cause students or teachers to become smarter. However, it is abundantly clear now that the plan has not worked. In 2007-2008, an abysmal 18% of Wake County public schools met the already lax standards of adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind. That is not the mark of a successful government program.
Now the School Board has voted to eliminate much of the harsh policies that forced redistributing students across great distances, instead focusing its efforts on neighborhood schools to avoid long bus rides. The obvious benefits of this are multi-faceted and substantial. Consumption of gasoline will decline, providing schools with a small but precious way to save money in a time of across-the-board budget cuts. Carbon emissions will be slashed, as well. Most importantly, parents will have greater choice in where to send their children to school, and children will enjoy shorter bus rides and a more stable base of friends as they can attend the same school year after year, if, of course, that is what they want.
The School Board’s decision is an invaluable step forward in the movement to put parents back in charge of how their children are raised. The emotional issue of racial segregation is a fraud, a scapegoat set up to distract debate away from the real issue of school choice and throw advocates of freedom into an un-winnable game while busy-body school assignment officials try to retain some semblance of usefulness. Concerned parents cannot defend themselves against the accusation of being racist because the accusation is made without evidence, and therefore cannot be refuted with evidence. What they can do – and what we all must do – is stand our ground and never waiver in asserting our right to choice and freedom, not long bus rides and bureaucratic control.
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NC District 13 Republican Congressional Candidate Bill Randall speaks at a townhall meeting at Crossroads Entertainment.
I attended a townhall meeting with Bill Randall to cover the event and talk to Mr. Randall. Out of courtesy, (and for lack of digital memory) I did not film my one-on-one conversation with him. Let it be said simply that he and I discussed the philosophy of the Constitution, case law, and legal precedent, and that while I do not wholeheartedly agree with his stances, I have respect for the way he carried the discussion and thank him for his time.
I did ask Mr. Randall a question while he was speaking, which is captured very shakily on camera. The four-part video of his speech and several of the questions he answered is shown below. Topics discussed include the wars, the Federal Reserve, the state of our economy, the limitations the Constitution places on the federal government, the life of an unborn child, and the importance of granting equal rights to all citizens regardless of their personal views or practices.
News and Observer Publishes Excruciatingly Stupid Article – Reveals Total Disconnect from Rational People and the Internet
The Triangle newspaper The News and Observer has never been known for providing spectacular insight into the economic and political dilemmas of our day, but the Saturday issue demonstrated a new low for journalism. In a painfully anti-intellectual front-page story on black people using Twitter, the N&O indirectly illustrated how far out of touch the papers are with the rational, individual-oriented thought process of most Americans, as well as how little they know of the personality of the internet itself.
The article begins with a headline that cannot lead anywhere meaningful: “For many blacks, Twitter enables a vibrant online life.” The obviousness of this hurts; it never would have occurred to most people to think that blacks didn’t enjoy Twitter just as much as everyone else. The body of the article opens as such:
Janelle Thomas knows how popular Twitter is among African-Americans.
The soon-to-be UNC-Charlotte graduate has 300 followers on the micro-blogging service, most of them young African-Americans like her. One friend sends out as many as 100 tweets – or messages – per day, enough to clog her account and eventually force Thomas to drop him from her circle.
To reiterate, this is on the front page of the Saturday issue of North Carolina’s second-largest newspaper, and it was written by a reporter for the Charlotte Observer, NC’s largest. Reading about the Twitter life of a person who uses Twitter in precisely the same way that almost everyone else does cannot possibly be an experience worth any money, yet this article is published in for-profit newspapers. The article goes on to state more straightforward truisms about the internet:
“Literally, some people will tweet ‘Got up’ or “Going to class’ or ‘This girl in front of me is crazy looking,'” said Thomas, a communications major.
I hope she does well in her major.
The purpose of this article is not to convey meaningful news; it is to disseminate an arrogant, racist sociologist’s baseless opinions about groups of people. “Some researchers have surmised that African-Americans might use Twitter more heavily because they use it in a more conversational way than other groups.” There is no reason to use the flattering title of ‘researcher’ for a person who merely ‘surmises’ pointless personal opinions about people’s behavior based on their skin color. This is not research, and it is not even reporting. It is uninteresting speculation on par with that of a teenage boy’s obscure political blog, but without the associated expansive vocabulary and familiarity with use of the internet.
The greatest aspect of American thought is an aversion to collectivizing behavior: every action is considered in the context only of the individual who performed it, and we don’t link individual traits to meaningless groupings such as the color of a person’s skin. The internet is especially a place to celebrate this, since the anonymity afforded by the online community forces each person to judge another’s postings only by their content, not by generalizations of society. Yet the sociology majors who now control the mainstream media cannot think like this. They insist on insulting individuals by interviewing and examining them for their role in an imagined collective. Only in a demented, anti-individualist, philosophically void world could a trend of more black people using Twitter be examined for its sociological implications, as if blacks are using the internet for any reason other than that they want to use the internet.
My friends at the libertarian Reddit recently informed me of the Department of Justice’s bizarre letter to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) regarding restructuring of – not the economy, health care, or gay rights, no – college football. Specifically, CNN Political Ticker reports that Senator Hatch raised a complaint with the Obama administration about the lack of a national championship in college football, which he views as the result of violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act on the part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Perhaps that sounds a little strange, as if the government is taking the Sherman Act and using it to change the policies of the private sector in a manner only tangentially related to trust-busting. Indeed, it is exactly that, as Obama was actually quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying he would “throw [his] weight around a little bit” in college football in order to get a proper playoff system established. The claim that the government is throwing its weight around in private affairs is one I expect to hear Rush Limbaugh making on a slow news day, not Obama openly stating as a bragging point.
When I read about this atrocity, I had to wonder about Senator Hatch and his political ideology. Whereas the Republican platform claims to advocate a limited federal government and interference in private affairs only when it is necessary for the public security, it seems improbable that Hatch could believe the lack of a college football championship is a threat to anyone’s security. What I found surprised me perhaps more than it should have. Although the senator has a moderate amount of respect for fiscal responsibility, repeatedly voting against economic stimulus bills and advocating a balanced budget, his honest Republicanism and regard for the Constitution ends there. On the issues, Senator Hatch is a neocon, a theocrat, and a big fat bully. He has a history of arbitrarily doing just what Obama loves – throwing his weight around – whenever he sees something that he does not like.
The senator’s concept of rights and free speech is odd, to say the least: “…we must amend the Constitution to restore the historic right to protect the flag. … We are not interested in diminishing free speech. But, by restoring the traditional power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag, we are drawing the line between legitimate free speech and destructive conduct.” Democrats and Libertarians in the audience will wince at the idea of an amendment to prohibit flag-burning. But Republicans and all rational persons should writhe in agony at the use of the phrase “right to protect the flag”, which means, “right to use violent force to protect the flag” (as that is the only way the government can enforce any law), which means, “right to use violent force to stop other people from destroying property they created and own as a public statement.” Apparently Hatch believes that just after the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness comes the right to force other people not to destroy something they own if it runs contrary to customary social values.
This arbitrary and inexplicable concept of rights may explain why, in 2004, Senator Hatch tried to outlaw the internet. Being that he was irritated with the rampant copyright violation on the internet, and obviously had never committed this crime himself, Senator Hatch proposed the INDUCE Act, which would have changed copyright legislation so that anyone who deliberately facilitates copyright violation would be tried for the violation itself. The bill qualified ‘deliberate inducement’ of violation by “whether the activity relies on infringement for its commercial viability.” What websites and services rely on copyright infringement for their commercial viability? To put it simply, all of them – or at least all of the ones you and I visit on a daily basis. The internet is a highly competitive economy, and most high-traffic sites operate on a fairly low profit margin. Cut out ten percent of their gross revenue, and they become inviable. What percentage of the page views on sites like Google, Youtube, MP3Raid, MegaVideo, and even Wikipedia derive from searches for illegitimate material? Not all or even most, but enough. Even Facebook would be dragged into court, as a common use among teenagers for the site is the redistribution of photographs of friends, which (believe it or not) is in violation of international copyright law. The point to recognize here is that relying on copyright violation for economic viability does not mean dealing explicitly in illegal transactions – it simply means benefiting from them to a significant degree. The very same network effect that makes the internet such a valuable resource also makes it impossible to completely separate oneself from the crime committed on it.
Orrin Hatch also voted in favor of federally prohibiting homosexual marriage while attempting to prohibit it Constitutionally. When Stephen Colbert and the progressives complain about the angry-white Christian-right, Senator Hatch is the sort of man they target. His inconsistent principles and inappropriate use of the term ‘rights’ to describe bullying by the government give the freedom-loving conservatives a bad name. He hangs tightly along party lines on denouncing welfare and blocking excessive spending, but party lines are his only motivation – he cannot be construed to have a philosophical understanding of the failures of government while he still views it as a morally acceptable way to force his Christian values and personal whims on the population of the United States. As a pious Mormon, Senator Hatch ought to ask himself whether Jesus would use political power to change the game of football.