Monday, February 13, 2006

Evening at FEE

As some of you have probably seen on the news, the northeast U.S. had quite a blizzard. It started yesterday evening and really got going by midnight, leaving well over a foot of snow in my town. I ventured out today only to dig out a bit, not wishing to drive anywhere. Central Park set a new snowfall record, 27.9 inches.

I arrived at last night's event at the Foundation for Economic Education fortunately when mild flurries had only begun. Normally I take I-684 southbound to I-287 westbound (more like WNW), then go several miles to FEE's exit. It's about a 40-minute drive, not the most direct route, but it's straight and easy. However, I was running late yesterday and took the Saw Mill Parkway instead, which is very direct. It goes southeast and intersects with I-287 only a mile from FEE's exit. I prefer to avoid the Saw Mill for it's tricky turns, but it is a bit faster: I arrived in half an hour and just made the start of the lecture.

Coming home was a different story. There wasn't much snow on my car when I left at midnight, but the couple of inches on the ground were very slippery. Not wanting to risk the narrower Saw Mill, I took I-287 and then I-684, not arriving home till past one. Even with the benefit of driving in the tracks left by cars ahead, I had to keep to about 30 mph all the way. I had many choice words for the SUVs who decided they could pass me like I was standing still. What idiots! Let them kill themselves for all I care, frankly, but the sad thing is that they'll take others with them (like one turkey who followed me for a few miles, always staying just a few car lengths behind).

It was certainly worth braving the storm to hear and meet Dr. Alan Charles Kors, who gave an astounding lecture on how "political correctness" (putting it mildly) has taken over so many American college campuses. A large banner can proclaim a "****fest" (a vulgar term for a female body part), and that's celebrated as free speech, but just try to have a "Christfest" on Good Friday. An example I'd like to add is that gays and lesbians can have a march to show pride in their preference, but heaven forbid you should mention homosexual men's shorter lifespans because of their hygienically risky lifestyle. Even in a medical context, that's liable on many campuses to get you into a "sensitivity program."

Leftist academics have perpetuated a double-standard where students are forced to walk on verbal eggshells. Dr. Korz didn't mention how Mayor Nagin of New Orleans called it a "chocolate" city, since Nagin isn't an academic, but it shows the hypocrisy of liberal outcries. Liberals have stayed quiet about Nagin's remarks that, even with his after-the-fact excuses, are nothing but racially divisive. Meanwhile, God have mercy on Larry Summers for his suggestion last year that women have different aptitudes than men. It doesn't count that the studies theorize that women are better than men in some things; it's unacceptable to imply there is anything a man may be better at than a woman.

The double-standards are not limited to speech codes. A recent example is Phi Beta Kappa, which Dr. Kors said "has chapters on the most oppressive campuses," denying George Mason University's request for a chapter. The reason? GMU supposedly restricted the freedom of speech by deciding not to pay Michael Moore $35,000 to come speak on campus. Moore said he was going to show up for free, "in support of free speech and free expression," but should we ever expect slanderous left-wing extremists to "get it"? In no way was GMU forbidding Moore to come -- it merely said it would not pay him (part of which comes from tax dollars). He was perfectly free to exercise free speech, just for free.

A good illustration of the liberal mindset is what Virginia Delegate Robert Brink said of Moore's so-called "disinvitation": "It's GMU's job to provide a forum for as many points of view as possible." Really? I wonder how many parents -- oh, forgive me, parents and guardians -- of GMU students realize that that's why their children attend. I myself thought that the job of any institution of learning is to teach. Not so to liberals, who weren't content with reducing public high school diplomas to evidence of self-esteem; they've also turned the responsibility of undergraduate programs into teaching students "cultural respect."

A curious thing Dr. Kors said was that political correctness on American campuses, and the stifling of freedom of speech (especially for conservatives, classic liberals and "religious right" Christians), really surged in 1984. Dr. Kors traced that redoubling of efforts to the fact that a majority of college students, along with a majority of American voters, supported Ronald Reagan's re-election bid. It was, of course, completely intolerable that young minds would vote for a candidate who opposed favoring one ethnic group over another, someone who believed that individuals should advance on their own efforts, and someone who sought the reduction of government interference in our lives.

It wasn't until the question-and-answer session afterward that Dr. Kors spoke of the 1993 "water buffalo incident," which really brought the national spotlight onto absurd speech codes. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. During his lecture he gave several other examples of liberals' double-standards when it comes to speech. Being pressed for time, I'll simply say you should listen to the entire presentation when the audio is available on FEE's webpage for that night. It was really terrific, worth listening to in its entirety.

I didn't blog about last month's Evening at FEE with Dr. Charles Murray because I missed a lot of it, and I haven't had time to listen to the MP3. I was in the very back, focused on Dr. Murray's speaking, when a few people in front of me suddenly moved their chairs. Then I saw they were carrying an elderly woman, still in her chair, who had lost consciousness. She was out for only a moment but was not talking or responding: she wasn't following a pencil with her eyes, nor would she squeeze someone's hand. I was extremely frightened she had a stroke. One of our attendees, a resident at Columbia, said the same thing.

So I quickly pulled out my cell phone, dialed 911, then handed it to a staff member who knew the address and how to give directions. Meanwhile, I had a bad feeling the ambulance might have trouble finding FEE's driveway, so I excused myself and ran down to the street to flag them down. Actually it was a couple of police officers who arrived with paramedic kits and an oxygen tank. Thankfully it was just a fainting spell: the lady was ok and started talking once they gave her oxygen. She initially refused to go to the hospital, just for observation, but the police coaxed her into it. Her blood pressure was still extremely low (systolic only in the 70s).

If there's the remote possibility of a stroke, better safe than sorry: call an ambulance right away. There are some new commercials warning that time lost is brain lost. Every moment that passes before treatment means more brain cells die. My father had a stroke at 80 years old, falling down and struggling in the kitchen for a few minutes until my mother found him. I wasn't home at the time. He later told me he knew it was a stroke, but what he didn't tell me was that, fearing he'd become an invalid, he only wanted my mother to help him to bed so he could die. She refused and quickly called 911. Had she not been so quick to act, no "clot-buster" drug in the world could have saved his life.

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