Archive for July, 2009

A Teaching Moment

Posted in Society on July 29th, 2009

One thing that has, for good or ill, come out of the whole Gates-Crowley-Obama affair is the creation or dissemination of the phrase, “a teaching moment.” It seems to be the new catchphrase in the lexicon of race relations, especially relations between Blacks and Whites.

I assume, possibly incorrectly due to the odd inconsistency with which social engineers’ expropriate and redefine words and terms, that “teaching moment” is a corruption of Robert Havighurst’s term, “teachable moment.”

Teachable Moment
Pronunciation: \?t?-ch?-b?l\ \?m?-m?nt\
Function: noun
Date: 1952

Definition(s):

  1. A moment of educational opportunity: a time at which a person, especially a child, is likely to be particularly disposed to learn something or particularly responsive to being taught or made aware of something.

Specifically, in 1952 Havighurst advised educators that,

A developmental task is a task which is learned at a specific point and which makes achievement of succeeding tasks possible. When the timing is right, the ability to learn a particular task will be possible. This is referred to as a ‘teachable moment.’ It is important to keep in mind that unless the time is right, learning will not occur. Hence, it is important to repeat important points whenever possible so that when a student’s teachable moment occurs, s/he can benefit from the knowledge.

— Robert Havighurst
Human Development and Education

Both the phrase and its meaning make perfect sense to me. Likewise, I cannot do other than agree with the idea that repetition is often necessary in order give the best chance of teaching someone something. It makes even more sense in the context of social engineering or any of its sub-disciplines. If you keep repeating something, people will eventually believe it and accept it as fact.

But, since these phrases, “teachable moment” and “teaching moment” are currently coming to forefront of the rhetoric surrounding prejudice, racism, and race relations between Blacks and Whites in America, I have a couple of very serious questions:

  1. Who is intended to be the Teachers and who the Students?
  2. Who decided upon the Curriculum?

If these “teachable moments” are solely meant to be uni-directional and solely meant to be used by Blacks to teach Whites about the Blacks’ perception of America, as I suspect that most of the people using the term intend things to be, then they need to cease and desist misusing and abusing such lofty terms as “race relations” and “racial reconciliation.” Both relationships and reconciliation requires compromise, collaboration, and bi-directional learning / teaching.

Related Reading:

America: A Narrative History (Brief Tenth Edition)  (Vol. One-Volume)
Obama: The Call of History
Japan's quest for autonomy;: National security and foreign policy, 1930-1938,
The Nature of Prejudice: 25th Anniversary Edition
The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Not A Hate Crime?

Posted in Politics, Society on July 28th, 2009

I’m utterly against Hate Crimes legislation in the first place but, if we’re to be forced to endure the evil of criminalizing thought and motive in addition to action, the standard and the law should be enforced fairly and equally, irrespective of the minority status of the perpetrators and the victims. Sadly but quite expectedly, the people who created these “thought crime” laws had no such equality in mind when they did so and enforcement of these laws is very unidirectional.

Recently a woman living in East Austin, TX was awakened by a brick being thrown through her 4 year-old son’s bedroom window. Attached to the brick was a note reading, “Keep Eastside Black. Keep Eastside Strong.”

Austin Police say that the incident doesn’t fall under the hate crime category, which is a classification of a charge but not a charge itself. The excuse is that the the note attached to the brick didn’t include hate speech.

The truth, after the apologetics and dissembling are removed, is that the incident won’t be allowed to fall under the hate crime category because the women in question, Barbara Frische, and her young son are White.

Detail’s via The Austin American-Statesman:

Early Friday morning, Barbara Frische said she woke up to the sound of glass breaking inside her East Austin home.

She called police but didn’t learn what had shattered the double-paned window in her 4-year-old son’s room until after police arrived. Officers showed her a brick with a note attached: “Keep Eastside Black. Keep Eastside Strong.”

“It’s the first time anything like this has ever happened to me,” said Frische, who is white. She has lived in her house on 13th Street for about 10 years.

The incident doesn’t fall under the hate crime category, which is a classification of a charge but not a charge itself, said Austin police Sgt. Richard Stresing. He said the charge probably would be criminal mischief and deadly conduct, both misdemeanors.

Crimes based on race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability or gender are flagged as hate crimes, Stresing said, so they can be referred to the Department of Justice. The note attached to the brick didn’t include hate speech, he said.

Frische was featured in a Statesman Watch article in May in which she lobbied for action to be taken on a charred house that neighbors said had been a gathering place for drug dealers, prostitutes and squatters.

Frische said she received no negative feedback from area residents after the article ran and said she does not think this incident is connected to the article.

Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said incidents such as the one that happened to Frische are rare.

“Throwing a brick into somebody’s home, that’s a crime,” Linder said. “It’s a criminal act, and that’s how it should be addressed.”

Linder said this incident is linked to an undercurrent of racism that city leaders have yet to address in East Austin.

Even Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, amid his apologetics admits that the crime is linked to an undercurrent of racism in East Austin. Yet the law will not address it as such.

If Barbara Frische and her son were Black or Hispanic and living in a White neighborhood in western Austin such an incident would certainly be treated as a hate crime because a note reading, “Keep Westside White. Keep Westside Strong,” would definitely be classed as hate speech – even if it’d been taped to her front door instead of hurled through her son’s bedroom window!

But, of course, hate crimes laws were never meant to be enforced evenly. The people who championed them are primarily minorities and White ethno-guiltists who operate under a particularly self-serving (mis)definition of racism. In their minds only Whites can commit hate crimes based on race because only Whites can be racist.

If this wasn’t a hate crime then neither was anytime the Klan burned a cross in some Black’s front yard.

Related Reading:

The Latino Reader: An American Literary Tradition from 1542 to the Present
The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility" (Incerto)
Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don't
Texas Slow Cooker: 125 Recipes for the Lone Star State's Very Best Dishes, All Slow-Cooked to Perfection
Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States

What’s The Point?

Posted in Politics on July 27th, 2009

During his speech at a National Press Club luncheon, Democratic Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, questioned the point and necessity of lawmakers reading the health care bill before voting upon it.


What’s The Point of Reading The Bill?

That is an almost unbelievable statement, both for its candor and for its gross irresponsibility. I think that there are few in Congress who would make such a statement, irrespective of how many of them are like Rep. Conyers and lack the ability to read and comprehend such a piece of legislation. Most would, at least, pretend to be marginally qualified to do their jobs.

I love these members, they get up and say, “Read the bill.”

What good is reading the bill if its a thousand pages and you dont have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?

— Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.)
National Press Club luncheon

I’m not without a certain small – very small – sympathy for Rep. Conyers; any bill of over 1000 pages is painful to read. Yet it is Rep. Conyers’ job to read these bills and to develop at least a modicum of understanding of them before voting for or against them.

For that matter, how is it that the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee requires a team of attorneys to explain a legal document to him? How and why is Rep. John Conyers a member of the House Judiciary Committee, much less its Chairman, if he cannot comprehend the text and meaning of such a document?

The question should not be, “What’s the point in reading the bill?” The question should be, “What’s the point in Conyers being in his position if he’s functionally illiterate?”

Related Reading:

Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About American Law, Fourth Edition
Index to the Miscellaneous Documents of the House of Representives
The Democrats: A Critical History (Updated edition)
Everything Changes: Help for Families of Newly Recovering Addicts
Sherman E. Burroughs (Vol-1): Memorial addresses delivered in the House of representives of the United States in memory of Sherman E. Burroughs, late a representative from New Hampshire