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Monday, April 04, 2005

Rapture Monday: Civil Rights

Posted by: Hammer / 1:20 PM

Civil Rights

This appeal to Black Americans is becoming increasingly familiar:
Spilgrove is apparently confused, Gramley says, to suggest that homosexual protest has advanced civil rights in America, since "the debate on homosexuality has nothing to do with civil rights, but rather [to do with] forcing the acceptance of abhorrent sexual behavior on all America." She points out that homosexuals as a group have never been denied suffrage or been required to attend segregated schools, and they have never been forced to sit at the back of the bus or drink from "Gay Only" water fountains.
Education is an important right. Access to public facilities is an important right. Gay-dar aside, you can't pick a homosexual face out of a crowd as easily as a non-white face. So such overt discrimination is difficult. How about employment? Should it be permissible to fire someone just because they are Black? Or gay? How about marriage? Should it be permissible to deny an interracial couple the right to marry? Or a same sex couple? Count the number of Black and gay Americans in Congress and tell me whether it reflects America at large.

One of the great failures of our great country is that you can still find dead men dangling at the end of a rope. Whether the rope is thrown over a stout tree branch are tied to the hitch on 4x4, the dead body tied to that rope is either going to be Black or gay. The right to be free from murderous ignorance might just be the most basic civil right of all.

That culture of lying for life

Beware when Agape reports on science:
A new brain-imaging study recently published in the journal Neurology suggests that thousands of brain-injured people who are treated as if they have lost all awareness may actually hear and register their surroundings, but they are not able to respond.

Not only could these findings have extensive implications for patient care, they could also weigh heavily in court when it comes to cases that dispute the mental state of what appears to be a vegetative patient.

This brain-imaging technology is known as magnetic resonance imaging, and, according to the research, it could prove to be a powerful tool for family members and doctors as they seek to determine a patient's level of mental engagement.

Neurology is online. If you search for "brain imaging", you'll get 7,527 hits. The first 10 hits are all from March, 2005. Looks to me that all -- or nearly all -- of the articles in Neurology have some references to brain imaging. The Agape item probably refers to this February, 2005 article. According to the abstract:
Background: The minimally conscious state (MCS) resulting from severe brain damage refers to a subset of patients who demonstrate unequivocal, but intermittent, behavioral evidence of awareness of self or their environment. Although clinical examination may suggest residual cognitive function, neurobiological correlates of putative cognition in MCS have not been demonstrated.

Objective: To test the hypothesis that MCS patients retain active cerebral networks that underlie cognitive function even though command following and communication abilities are inconsistent.

Conclusions: The first fMRI maps of cortical activity associated with language processing and tactile stimulation of patients in the minimally conscious state (MCS) are presented. These findings of active cortical networks that serve language functions suggest that some MCS patients may retain widely distributed cortical systems with potential for cognitive and sensory function despite their inability to follow simple instructions or communicate reliably.

Agape tries to tie this research back to the Schiavo case. The two are not related. Schiavo was not "minimally conscious", because she failed to demonstrate unequivocal evidence of awareness. She couldn't respond to questions or commands. The distinction cannot be overstated. The independent medical experts who examined Schiavo determined that she was not minimally conscious, consequently the research noted in the Agape article is wholly irrelevant to Terri Schiavo.

But if prayer is medically effective...

Two items in an Agape rundown caught my eye:
...Christian author Joni Eareckson Tada, an advocate for the disabled, is concerned that the Terri Schiavo case is likely to encourage the pro-euthanasia crowd. ... "What I'm afraid of," Tada explains, "is that there will be those who will look at the situation of Terri Schiavo and turn it on its head -- pro-euthanasia advocates, who will say, 'Oh, how awful that this woman had to linger so long toward her death; she should have been aided with a lethal injection ... to hasten her death more quickly and more compassionately.'"

...Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is urging everyone to pray that God will either restore Pope John Paul to health or end his suffering.

Some will argue that prayer is medically effective. If that's the case, then prayer to end the Pope's suffering distinct is medically indistinguishable from administering a lethal level of pain killing medication.

A good start ruined

A point of agreement:
A Christian group is calling for a nationwide boycott against the use of radio frequency identification devices, or RFID, to track students in schools.
Then the good start is ruined:
RFID and similar technologies are already in use, and their incursion into everyday life is a rapidly growing trend. For instance, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has already announced its intention to make use of "contactless chips" or "proximity chips" or "contactless integrated circuits" in passports and identifying documents in the coming years. ...

John Conner is a spokesman for "The Resistance for Christ," a group that opposes the formation of the so-called new world order. He believes one day every student in the world as well as the population at large will be forced to wear tracking devices under the premise of security.

"What these devices are going to do is just, ultimately, turn over ever last bit of privacy that we have to this global system," Conner says. Potentially, he warns, RFID will become a form of technological oppression that "dehumanizes every student and every person who is forced -- mind you, forced -- to take these beastly tracking devices, and this opens the door for limitless abuse."

The Resistance for Christ spokesman contends that RFID tracking technology is a predecessor to the universal sign that will be mandated by the anti-Christ during the period of history described by end-times scholars as the tribulation.

"This is the precursor to the 'mark of the beast' -- the 666 Satanic mark that the Bible talked about," Conner says, "and [the proponents of the RFID technology are] implementing this system under the guise of security and [saying] it's going to keep your children safe." But, ultimately, the San Diego activist warns, "what it's going to do is it's going to turn every single one of us into a piece of inventory -- not a human being -- a piece of inventory, a number."

Conner says even though born-again Christians will be "raptured" from the Earth before the tribulation reign of the anti-Christ, they should resist the use of RFIDs and other Orwellian influences in society. He is urging people everywhere to boycott RFID technology and to oppose its incorporation into schools or other aspects of daily life in America.

Can't we have a simple policy discussion without invoking the anti-Christ? Alternatively, we need an expansion of Godwin's law to include all things end-timesian.

It might be illegal, but it's not anti-Christian

A school administrator in Texas has won a verdict against the superintendent for denying her a promotion to assistant principal. At issue was the fact that the administrator sent her kids to a private school. I suspect that the superintendent was concerned with promoting someone who felt that the public school wasn't good enough for her own kids. In that case, it wouldn't matter what kind of private school the kids attended. The simple point being, you ought to show support for your employer. Would you really expect a promotion at GM if you drove a Lexus to work everyday?

Please don't make learning interesting

Outside of Dustin Hoffman's appearance as Lisa's substitute teacher on the Simpsons, Hammer opposes teachers dressing up in class. I think it's demeaning to the students to demand so little of their attention. How can we prepare our kids for a lifetime of drudgery in the workplace if we entertain them in the classrooms? That said, it's not immoral. To most people. To some, however:
A Christian family in Thomasville, North Carolina, is distraught over a public school teacher's reported use of sexually suggestive yoga poses and alleged promotion of cross-dressing and homosexuality in the classroom. ...

And Moon contends the teacher's behavior is not only unprofessional at times, but also immoral and inappropriate for a high school classroom. "When he lay down on the desk that day," she says, "he handed out a handout that told the students if they got into that position, it would enhance the function of their sexual organs." And reportedly, she notes, Orr has been known to show his students sexually suggestive yoga poses and raise questions disruptive to the learning environment in class.

Also, according to the concerned parent, Orr frequently teaches class in bizarre costumes or unconventional attire, including pantyhose, satin shorts, tights, and wigs. But despite these issues, she says she has been denied both a parent-teacher conference and a meeting with the school board to discuss the matter. ...

One former student of Orr's, a self-described Christian and now a university student, defended the high school teacher's methods and commended him for helping pupils gain perspective about other religions in an increasingly diverse world. The former East Davidson High student encouraged Orr in the open letter, telling him not to change his style, and added that, by lying on a desk and chanting, his old pedagogue was simply "demonstrating his unorthodox, yet highly effective teaching methods the way no other teacher could."

I do enjoy the distinction between the true Christians who oppose the teacher and the merely "self-described Christian" who supports the teacher.

Those liberal colleges

Either Atrios or Kevin Drum made this point recently, but I can't find either post. I'll make the same point here, only a lot less well and unclearly. The right is mad that there are liberals at all, but especially mad that you can't go to college without running into some: "72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal; 15 percent are conservative. 50 percent of faculty members identify themselves as Democrats; 11 percent as Republicans". If you ask a conservative about why minorities are underrepresented among corporate CEOs, the answer is never "it's discrimination". The answer is usually that the body of CEOs accurately reflects the body of qualified applicants. So, perhaps, the political makeup of college campuses accurately reflects the body of qualified applicants. Conservatives are more likely to be interested in climbing the corporate ladder than reflecting on the works of Proust with a group of undergraduates. As always, I'd prefer to have the facts speak for themselves. Let's look at who is applying for teaching jobs and see how they fair in the hiring process.

Oops.

The producer of Benji has a web site endorsed by Agape: "For parents who are likewise concerned, Camp wants to offer their families as much help and support as possible -- which is why he has added the new online resources to help them find family-friendly, moral, positive value books to read and movies to watch." There's a problem, though. He endorses the violence in Pirates of the Caribbean and the pro-evolution proselytizing of Inherit the Wind. Actually, I've enjoyed most of the movies on his list. What's next? An endorsement of Philadelphia? Almost -- he endorses Philadelphia Story. Ah, what's in a word?

Lack of trust

Back to Texas, where one school board is considering adding a Bible-based class as an elective. According to the Houston Chronicle:
"Our course is done in a very objective fashion," Johnson said. "We understand that you can teach the students, but not preach to them."

Johnson said the coursework would include the Bible's impact on America's founding fathers, students' understanding of geography of the Middle Eastern countries and the influence of the Bible in art and culture.

I don't think you can understand world history without understanding the development of religion. A thoughtful, academic discussion of the development of religion would be very useful to understanding our world. Somehow, though, I suspect that the class won't include Treatise on the Gods on the reading list. If it does, it's got my vote.

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