You don’t have to be obsessed with bodily privacy to object to pornoscans; you just have to value your dignity.

As her Maxim pictures show, Susie Castillo is perfectly willing to have you look at pictures of her body. But that doesn’t mean she’s willing to let you strip her with your technology, not even if you’re the TSA: She’s concerned about potential health risks as a frequent flyer. Trying to fly out of Dallas Fort Worth recently, the former Miss USA opted out of a pornoscan and was therefore groped. She blogs:

… this pat down was completely different. It was MUCH MORE invasive than my first one at LAX, just a week before. To say that I felt invaded is an understatement. What bothered me most was when she ran the back of her hands down my behind, felt around my breasts, and even came in contact with my vagina! Honestly, I was in shock, especially since the woman at LAX never actually touched me there. The TSA employee at DFW touched private area 4 times, going up both legs from behind and from the front, each time touching me there. Was I at my gynecologist’s office? No! This was crazy!

I felt completely helpless and violated during the entire process (in fact, I still do), so I became extremely upset. If I wanted to get back to Los Angeles, I had no choice but to be violated, whether by radiation or a stranger. I just kept thinking, “What have I done to deserve this treatment as an upstanding, law-abiding American citizen?” Am I a threat to US security? I was Miss USA, for Pete’s sake!

Besides, is this procedure really protecting us? I remember hearing about an Al Qaeda terrorist successfully evading security detection by placing a bomb in his rectum. All in an attempt to assassinate Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef. So what if that happened in the US? Would we then be subjected to random rectal exams in addition to x-rays and being groped by strangers? How far is this going to go? More specifically, how far will WE let this go? As they say, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I think it’s time to stand up for our personal liberty.

Her blog post also has a video of her telling her story, and links to petitions.

It seems somewhere in Pennsylvania is a high school English teacher who writes steamy romance novels under a pen name. And parents are complaining. That’s right: Parents are complaining that their kids’ English teacher is a published novelist. (WNEP)

Really, the horror! An English teacher who’s a competent writer? So competent that people want to read her books? We can’t have THAT, now can we?

Seriously, the teacher shouldn’t be hiding this — she should be waving it around saying, hey, look, I actually know the subject I’m teaching! And maybe if you want to write novels, and you’re willing to work hard at it, you can learn from me! And if not, at least you’ll learn about literature from someone who knows what it is to write a novel, and who understands that literature is supposed to entertain.

OK, I realize that the subject matter may mean a few more students than otherwise will be thinking about her sexually. Well, if that’s a reason to remove a teacher from the classroom, you’re going to have to disqualify young female teachers, young male teachers, and pretty much all teachers who don’t look like Betty White. (Cue comment from someone with a crush on Betty White.)

And yes, if the novels are steamy, they might be a bad idea for high-school classrooms. You’ve got to keep all sexuality out of the high-school curriculum — except of course for the class that’s all about sexuality — which is why this teacher should stick to Shakespeare, who of course never mentions sex, violence, or disobeying your parents. Have these people ever taken high school English?

H/T National Youth Rights Association.

By now most of us have heard the warnings about our Facebook profiles. Amanda Gutterman of the Columbia Spectator issues a counter-warning:

From the moment the college application process began, we were told that the content of our Facebook profiles could be used against us in admissions. We have learned to censor our traceable online behavior so as not to compromise our professional or educational prospects. Unfortunately, this has led to journalistic over-caution. We fear that anything we say now will be used against us later. And maybe it’s true. After all, not enough time has passed for us to take a careful account of the degree to which students’ first publications can affect their futures. Even editors have advised me to mitigate the strongest claims in my columns for fear of consequences to come. Perhaps they are right. But the most insidious kind of censorship—the hardest to recognize, the hardest to combat—is self-censorship, the persistent imaginative failure that prevents us from even recognizing what we should be writing about.

In the Internet age, bravery in student journalism is not trailing a military unit on the Iraqi front lines. Rather, it is the willingness to address controversial issues as they surface, not once these points of view have become popular. Our brand of fear—which is frankly selfish—censors our thoughts almost unnoticed. Next time, let’s skip the delayed reaction. I for one hope to do better.

The problem is not limited to student journalists. As has often been noted, in this Internet age we are all publishers, and we all face the danger that comes with expressing our opinions. At the same time, we all face the dangers that come with not expressing our opinions, including the danger to our character if we hide our thoughts out of fear.

One thing we should be working on to address this problem is the development of social norms of tolerance, and especially norms of tolerance that recognize the differences among Internet contexts. Few if any Facebook posts, for example, ought to weigh against a student’s admission to college, or even (at least at most jobs) his candidacy for employment. And we should understand that we can be most comfortable expressing our opinions if we build a culture that welcomes disagreement.

Amity Shlaes thinks the reason grade-schoolers are being arrested for classroom misbehavior is that they are being treated as if they have rights, and they shouldn’t be.

The headline’s great: “School Kids in Handcuffs Reveal Teacher Bondage.” Really! Leading someone off in chains without justification proves he has too much protection from arbitrary power!

While arresting someone does mean treating him as the sort of person who has rights and can be held accountable for violating the rights of others, surely it is possible to recognize that students have rights while granting teachers enough authority to run their classrooms. One solution: Make education voluntary, so that schools’ and teachers’ authority can be granted by their students, just as colleges and their professors and administrators get their authority from students’ decisions to matriculate.

In the outcry against the bullying of gay kids for being gay, people sometimes mention the straight boys who are taunted with accusations that they’re gay. They, too, we are told, need to be connected with the gay and allied community and reassured that everyone deserves acceptance.

I was such a boy, and let me tell you: When the bullies are saying you’re gay, anyone who tells you to go call the gay organization is a bully. He’s a bully because he’s agreeing with the bullies and letting them define you. The same applies to anyone whose response to a boy who’s been accused of being like a girl is that there’s nothing wrong with being a girl.

You’d think a movement whose core principles are supposed to include that everyone deserves acceptance for who he or she is would grasp this point: Straight boys need to be accepted as straight males, not as seemingly gay or as women with boy parts. If a boy is upset because he’s being told he is what he’s not, he is trying to assert his identity in the face of a denial of it, and the most important thing he needs to hear is that he is who he is. If he’s upset because he’s being told he’s like what he isn’t and doesn’t want to be, he needs support in trying to be who he is and wants to be. Responding to his pain by singing the praises of gays and women not only denies him this reassurance, recognition and support, but treats him as if the bullies are right in their characterization of him. It thus demonstrates agreement with the bullies so strongly that any “of course you’re not, but” will seem an echoingly hollow disclaimer.

The straight boy in this position has a very different problem from the gay boy who is subject to homophobic bullying. The gay boy faces an enemy that sees who he is and disapproves; the straight boy faces an enemy who refuses to recognize who he is — and, on top of that, accuses him of being something of which the enemy, and perhaps he himself, disapproves. The supportive responses vary accordingly.

Now, if the straight boy believes that it’s just as good to be gay as to be straight, he at least is not being accused of being something that he thinks is worse than what he is. But his own view of homosexuality is really a very minor part of the sting, if any. Even if he thinks he’d be better off if he were gay, he is still being told he is what he’s not, and he’s still being treated badly because of the identity that’s being imposed on him. So trying to make sure he has a positive view of gay people, even if you can somehow avoid making it seem you think he’s gay, is not helpful; if you want to get into that issue with him, and you’re not trying to support the bullies, you need to save it for another time.

But even that understates the case. Shaping one’s character is a long-term project: One needs to recognize that a trait is worth having in order to develop it and develop pride in it. If a boy is trying to develop into a manly man, and he is told he is unmanly — which, while it is not true of all gay men, is always implicit when homosexuality is used as an accusation — telling him not to regard this description as an insult means telling him to stop trying to develop any distinctively masculine traits. It means telling him he is wrong even to want to be the person he wants to be.

This post was prompted by discussion between me and Robert Stacey McCain on his blog.

An elected official was banned from running for reelection because she objected to what an executive appointee had decided and called down the wrath of her constituents in the form of phone calls and e-mails; speech advocating her as a write-in candidate was censored and when, despite all efforts, the official received a plurality of votes, she was nevertheless denied office by that executive appointee.

That’s what Karissa Niehoff, then principal of Lewis H. Mills High School in Burlington, Conn., called teaching democracy. And the Second Circuit Court of Appeals says that’s OK: A reasonable principal wouldn’t have known better. The court even refused to say that the principal was wrong.

The case, which revisits an incident that has already been before the Second Circuit (then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor sided with the principal) may have broad ramifications for student rights because one of the statements for which then-junior class secretary Avery Doninger was punished was made on LiveJournal; the school thus asserted the right to control not only speech on school property, but all speech by a person who happens to be enrolled as a student, so long as it affects the school.

But the most disgusting part of the opinion is this: Under Tinker v. Des Moines, the key question in the case was whether Doninger’s speech was (or could have been expected to be) disruptive, and what the court treated as disruption was speech that should have been clearly protected: advocacy that Niehoff’s decision about a student performing event be reversed and that Doninger be elected senior class secretary. That’s a notion of disruption the butchers of Tiananmen Square would no doubt approve; it should have no place in an American public school.

Indeed, if conduct such as Niehoff’s is tolerable in American public education, we should abolish the public schools. The one worthwhile argument for having the government in charge of the schools is that it enables government to ensure that each rising generation is prepared to govern a free republic. The taxpayer should pay the teacher, on this argument, for the same reason he should pay the police officer and the judge: to protect his rights; the teacher merely does it at one remove, by educating the voters and jurors on whose judgment the future of freedom in an elective republic that relies on trial by jury must depend. Government-run schools can be legally required to teach American history and government, and because they are bound by the Constitution, they must do so while treating students as citizens with rights. As the Supreme Court said in Tinker, which the court in this case had the shamelessness to quote, “state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism.” A student in a public school thus learns both the knowledge and the habits he needs to help preserve the Republic.

But every student knows that many American public schools do not act as that argument would require. They routinely violate student rights, emphatically including the right of free speech, thus teaching students that “rights” are mere privileges granted by authority and subject to whatever limits authority chooses to set. If the courts do not teach a different lesson, both to students and to teachers and administrators, students in the public schools will continue developing the habit of submission to arbitrary rule instead of the habit of relying on their rights. And in that case, there is no reason to have public schools.

That said, it’s important to note that some students will refuse to learn such a lesson, no matter what the courts do. Avery Doninger seems to be one such student, having continued this case years beyond her high school graduation. For that, she should be honored.

Here’s the decision in Doninger v. Niehoff, courtesy of the Student Press Law Center.

Asked about corporal punishment, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman finds circumcision relevant:

I’ve long felt, in fact, that responsibility to circumcise is placed on the father precisely so that he will inflict upon his child a ritualized blow so intense as to make him recoil, yet so controlled that no damage is really done, to signify that this will be the worst the child will ever know from his parent’s hand.

I’m not so sure circumcision is “really” harmless. Moses Maimonides, one of the most revered rabbis and Jewish philosophers, explained its purpose this way:

As regards circumcision, I think that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate. Some people believe that circumcision is to remove a defect in man’s formation; but every one can easily reply: How can products of nature be deficient so as to require external completion, especially as the use of the fore-skin to that organ is evident. This commandment has not been enjoined as a complement to a deficient physical creation, but as a means for perfecting man’s moral shortcomings. The bodily injury caused to that organ is exactly that which is desired; it does not interrupt any vital function, nor does it destroy the power of generation. Circumcision simply counteracts excessive lust; for there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment: the organ necessarily becomes weak when it loses blood and is deprived of its covering from the beginning. Our Sages (Beresh. Rabba, c. 80) say distinctly: It is hard for a woman, with whom an uncircumcised had sexual intercourse, to separate from him.

Guide for the Perplexed, p. 378.

However, whatever your take on circumcision, it seems a bit shocking — and yet not without its logic — to say that making a man watch as his son’s sexual organ is mutilated will restrain him in the exercise of physical power over that son. It may be that the second-hand trauma serves such a function. That said, it also confirms the father’s sense of control, and of entitlement to control, of his son’s body.

Rabbi Hammerman’s post is also worth reading because it notes that humiliation and torture of children by parents are not limited to corporal punishment, or even punishment:

The moral issue of the moment is not about whether it’s OK to use the paddle on kids in classrooms. It’s that we are forcing them to row upstream without one.

Do you remember Crystal Magnum? By name you probably do not: Throughout her infamous crime, the media protected her identity while making her victims infamous. Crystal Magnum is the stripper who falsely accused several Duke University lacrosse players of raping her.

Now, Crystal Magnum is charged with murdering her boyfriend. (The Daily)

I don’t want to detract from a murderer’s responsibility for her (or his) crime, but if Crystal Magnum is guilty of murdering her boyfriend, her boyfriend walked into it — not by however he treated her, but by voluntarily having her in his life. If a woman is willing to try to destroy men’s lives for no good reason, men should stay away from her, just as women should stay clear of men who treat women with similarly dangerous contempt.

Cathy Young takes the opportunity to point out one of the lessons of the Duke rape-lie case — that male students accused of sexual misconduct need and deserve due process — and that the Obama Administration, which apparently did not learn this lesson, is attacking the rights of the accused in such cases.

Large tasks can be daunting, pushing people towards procrastination. So Stanford philosophy professor John Perry suggests embracing that devil and putting him to work: If you don’t feel like tackling the big task, he says, do a small task. You’ll get to the big one eventually. (WSJ)

There is a stereotype that professors in departments of women and gender studies are hostile to people with different opinions.

To go by a story in The Iowa Republican, one such professor in Iowa is doing her best to uphold the stereotype.

It appears that at the University of Iowa, student clubs can send out mass e-mails to the campus with administrative approval. The campus Republican club got such approval and sent out an announcement of “Conservative Coming Out Week.”

Prof. Ellen Lewin’s reply: “F*** YOU, REPUBLICANS.” (Without the asterisks, of course.)

When this proved controversial, Lewin sent an apology, then an explanation. Part of her explanation was that the Republicans were “appropriating the language” of gay rights. While the idea of “coming out” does have its roots among gay people, it means openly acknowledging an aspect of one’s identity that fear of a negative response has led one to hide — and Lewin’s e-mail is one piece of evidence that the University of Iowa might be a place where conservatives have reason to seek a closet.

But there’s better evidence that it’s OK to come out as a conservative at Iowa: University President Sally Mason responded to the incident with the following statement:

Dear Members of the University Community:

The University of Iowa encourages freedom of expression, opposing viewpoints, and civil debate about those opposing viewpoints. This is clearly articulated in our core values of Diversity and Respect. Because diversity, broadly defined, advances its mission of teaching, research, and service, the University is dedicated to an inclusive community in which people of different cultural, national, individual, and academic backgrounds encounter one another in a spirit of cooperation, openness, and shared appreciation.

The University also strongly encourages student engagement in such discussions and supports students acting on their viewpoints. Student organizations are sometimes formed along political lines and act on their political beliefs. Even if we personally disagree with those viewpoints, we must be respectful of those viewpoints in every way. Intolerant and disrespectful discord is not acceptable behavior.

Sally Mason

The Iowa Republican suggests that Lewin be punished. I disagree: Even offensive speech should be protected on a university campus. But even without naming names, this presidential e-mail makes very clear that Lewin’s reply was inappropriate, and that the University of Iowa is committed to open discourse and to ideological diversity. If the university administration leaves it at that, it will have handled the situation very well.

© 2010 Flourishing Now Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha