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Freedom of Speech

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Commenter Wilkey points out:

… We keep hearing that Muslims must tolerate blasphemy because free speech. But Europe doesn’t have free speech. In most European countries, including France, there is a long list of blasphemous statements for which one can go to jail – from publicly denying facts, like the Holocaust, to denying opinions, like racial equality.

America has a lot of ways of enforcing blasphemy taboos as well, such as being forced out of your job (e.g., James D. Watson, Jason Richwine, Brandon Eich, etc.), public humiliations, leaking confidential conversations, and so forth.

The Left is an amorphous religion from which one cannot claim religious freedom, because the Religion of Political Correctness has never been formally declared. But it has its own dogma – racial and gender quality, etc. It has its own scriptures – poems like “The New Colossus,” and plays like The Crucible. It has its own hymns – “Imagine.” It has its own deities, including one – The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior – with his own holiday. “Public schools” are now effectively parochial schools owned and run by the Religion of Political Correctness.

A belief in magic is almost mandatory these days.

It must seem to Muslims very hypocritical to claim they must accept blasphemy while banning blasphemy against the Left.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Charlie Hebdo, France, Freedom of Speech 
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From the NYT, a column that won’t be terribly novel to iSteve readers, but it’s good to see this kind of sensible analysis getting out there more broadly:

The Mystery of Benghazi 

By ROSS DOUTHAT 

TWENTY-FOUR hours after the American compound in Benghazi was attacked and our ambassador murdered, the tragedy seemed more likely to help President Obama’s re-election campaign than to damage it. 

… What happened instead was very strange. Having first repudiated the embassy’s apology to Muslims offended by a movie impugning their prophet, the Obama administration decided to embrace that apology’s premise, and insist that the movie was the crucial ingredient in the Sept. 11 anniversary violence. 

For days after the attack, as it became clearer that the Benghazi violence was a Qaeda operation rather than a protest, White House officials continued to stress the importance of the “hateful” and “disgusting” video, and its supposed role as a catalyst for what Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, insisted was a spontaneous attack. 

This narrative was pushed on Sunday morning programs, on late-night talk shows and at news conferences, by everyone from Rice to Hillary Clinton to the president himself. When Obama spoke at the United Nations shortly after the attacks, the video was referenced six times in the text; Al Qaeda was referenced only once. 

… What explains this self-defeating strategy? … 

Perhaps, then, the real explanation for the White House’s anxiety about calling the embassy attack an act of terror has less to do with the “who” than with the “where.” This wasn’t Al Qaeda striking just anywhere: it was Al Qaeda striking in Libya, a country where the Obama White House launched a not-precisely-constitutional military intervention with a not-precisely-clear connection to the national interest. 

In a long profile of President Obama published last month by Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis suggested that the president feared the consequences of even a single casualty during the Libyan incursion, lest it create a narrative about how “a president elected to extract us from a war in one Arab country got Americans killed in another.” 

How much more, then, might the president fear a narrative about how our Libyan intervention helped create a power vacuum in which terrorists groups can operate with impunity? That’s clearly happened in nearby Mali, where the ripple effects from Muammar el-Qaddafi’s overthrow have helped empower a Qaeda affiliate. In this context, it’s easy to see why the administration would hope that the Benghazi attack were just spontaneous mob violence rather than a sign of Al Qaeda’s growing presence in postintervention Libya as well. The only good news for Obama in this mess is the fact that Romney, always intent on projecting toughness, hasn’t attacked the original decision to go to war in Libya, or tied the intervention itself to Al Qaeda’s North African advances. 

If the Republican nominee were less reflexively hawkish, the White House might be facing the more comprehensive critique that it deserves — and the story wouldn’t be about just the specifics of Benghazi, but also the possibility that Obama’s entire policy in the region has put American interests and lives at risk.

The Grand Strategy of the Obama Administration isn’t much different from that of the Bush Administration: Invite the World, Invade the World, In Hock to the World. But, you won’t hear that from Romney and Ryan.
I would add one more explanation. The Obama Administration is reflexively pro-multicultural and therefore anti-free speech in the advanced European and Canadian fashion. They see the First Amendment as all very fine for pornography, but, to be frank, more substantive free speech is outdated in a multi-ethnic age of empire when the government has to keep hot-under-the-collar newcomers, such as Muslims, and old grievance groups, such as blacks, from burning down cities over perceived slights. 
For example, the guy who posted this video on Youtube is an immigrant career criminal. Making a video is one of the few legal things he’s done in recent years. But you don’t hear anybody saying, “I disagree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it, but not your right to live in my country, you crook.”

So, now he’s back in jail. Nominally, he’s back inside for all the illegal stuff he has been doing, but we’re not supposed to pay that much attention to immigrant conmen as long as they stay nonviolent. But we all know that he’s really in jail for exercising his First Amendment right to wage his homeland’s ethnic struggles on the Internet. 

Of course, nobody is talking about: Why is that crook in the United States? That’s because immigration is increasingly become a sacred civil right for foreigners, which, in turn, means that freedom of speech is increasingly undermined for Americans.

Speaking of supporting free speech, have I mentioned lately that speech isn’t free? It turns out to be expensive to keep your family going. So, if you’d like to help support my work:

First: You can send me money via Amazon (not tax-deductible). Click here and then click on the button for the amount you want to pay. It’s especially quick if you already have an Amazon account, but any major credit card will work fine. (I want to thank all the generous folks who helped me work out the kinks in this method, using their own real money.)

Second: You can make a tax deductible contribution to me via VDARE by clicking here. You can use PayPal for that, or the usual credit cards.

Third: You can mail a non-tax deductible donation to:

Steve Sailer
P.O Box 4142
Valley Village, CA 91617-4142

Thanks.
(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
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Back in 2008 when Mark Steyn and Maclean’s newsweekly were being legally persecuted in British Columbia for publishing an article insufficiently submissive toward Islamic activists’ sensitivities, I announced:

And it’s time we did something about Canada’s repeated violations of the basic human right to free expression. It’s time to boycott vacationing in Canada until Canada improves its human rights situation. 

Granted, I can only afford to vacation places where I can pitch a tent; but let the word go out to Canadian firewood retailers that they won’t be getting any of my business until they help pressure their government to stop persecuting writers.

I have been informed that persecution of writers in Canada has lessened in recent years, so I hereby announce a suspension of the boycott. But, be aware, Canadian campfire fuel vendors, that the hammer could come back down at any moment.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Canada, Freedom of Speech 
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Ozzie Guillen, the Venezuelan motormouth baseball manager, was recently hired by the Miami Marlins. (For an intro to Ozzie’s personality, here’s the video “Ozzie Guillen Visits a Sick Child.”) He quickly got himself semi-Watsoned for saying, in the midst of one of his usual stream-of-consciousness effusions:

Guillen’s comments appeared in a Time magazine article, in which he said he “loved” and “respected” Castro, the longtime Cuban leader. Time reported that Guillen said: “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years,” but Castro is still here, he added, referring to Castro as an expletive.

So, the Marlins suspended Guillen for five games. 

As I’ve long pointed out, anti-Castro Cubans swing a lot of weight in Miami. There’s not much in the way of effective freedom of speech on Castro-related topics down there. The good news is that they aren’t stealthy about it. They revel in being known for publicly crushing dissent. They think that shows how powerful they are. (The career fate of Miami Cuban ex-CNN anchorman Rick Sanchez, however, shows that for national power, it’s best to make it a taboo to even mention how powerful your group is.)

Every year, the rest of America becomes more like Miami, just on different topics.

Off topic, that reminds me that I once sat right behind home plate at a White Sox game with all the players’ wives and relatives who get the special tickets. A whole bunch of Ozzie’s kin and in-laws were there, with the men all wearing lots of silver jewelry. They were a fun bunch. I sat right behind future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas’s wife (now ex-), who was showing all the other players’ wives this huge diamond he’d given her. Good times.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Freedom of Speech, Sports 
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From today’s Boston Globe:

E-mail on race sparks a furor at Harvard Law
Student regrets questioning the intelligence of blacks
By Tracy Jan
It was a private dinner conversation among three friends. The topic: affirmative action and race. The debate presumably was passionate, given the divergent opinions of the Harvard Law School students.

    * Full text of the e-mails

Stephanie Grace, a third-year law student, felt she had not made her position clear, so she followed up via e-mail, according to a person with direct knowledge of events.

“I just hate leaving things where I feel I misstated my position,’’ Grace wrote. “I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African-Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.’’

The lengthy e-mail, sent to her two dinner companions six months ago, ignited an Internet firestorm this week when it was leaked and first reported Wednesday by the legal blog abovethelaw.com, followed by other websites.

Yesterday, Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School, condemned the e-mail that suggested blacks are [actually, it suggested might be] genetically less intelligent than whites.

“Here at Harvard Law School, we are committed to preventing degradation of any individual or group, including race-based insensitivity or hostility,’’ Minow wrote in a message to Harvard’s law school community.

Minow said she had met with leaders of Harvard’s Black Law Students Association on Wednesday to discuss the hurt caused by Grace’s e-mail. She also said Internet reports alleging the association had made the e-mail public and pressed for the student’s future employer to rescind a job offer were false.

Grace did not respond to a request for an interview yesterday.

Grace, an editor of the Harvard Law Review, is headed for a federal clerkship in California with Ninth Circuit Court Judge Alex Kozinski. She graduated from Princeton University in 2007 with the highest honors and obtained a degree in sociology, according to the university’s registrar. A Princeton website said Grace conducted research on how the racial composition of one’s freshman year roommates influences behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions in subsequent college years.

In her e-mail to her friends, she wrote that while she could “be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that [black people] are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. . . .

“I don’t think it is that controversial of an opinion to say I think it is at least possible that African-Americans are less intelligent on a genetic level, and I didn’t mean to shy away from that opinion at dinner,’’ she continued.

She signed off on the e-mail with, “Please don’t pull a Larry Summers on me’’ — referring to the former Harvard president who was pressured to resign after faculty unrest in part because he suggested in a 2005 speech that women lacked the same “intrinsic aptitude’’ for science as men.

On Wednesday, Grace sent an apology to leaders of the Black Law Students Association, the president of the student government, Minow, and several faculty members.

“I am deeply sorry for the pain caused by my e-mail. I never intended to cause any harm, and I am heartbroken and devastated by the harm that has ensued. I would give anything to take it back,’’ Grace said in the apology, obtained by the Globe.

“I emphatically do not believe that African-Americans are genetically inferior in any way. I understand why my words expressing even a doubt in that regard were and are offensive.’’

Leaders of the association declined to comment yesterday on the controversy.

In her statement yesterday, Minow called the incident “sad and unfortunate’’ but said she was heartened by the student’s apology. She added: “We seek to encourage freedom of expression, but freedom of speech should be accompanied by responsibility.’’

Okay, so, if you are a Harvard Law Student, you aren’t allowed to speculate in a private email message about possibilities that the Dean doesn’t like? Especially not on issues related to major legal questions, such as disparate impact, which was at the heart of last year’s Ricci Supreme Court case?
I might say that Dean Minow should notice the “chilling effect” she is imposing on First Amendment rights in an era when more and more speech is in the form of private but archived and forwardable text messages. But, of course, that would be naive. She is well-aware of that, and it is her precise intention to reduce Americans’ freedom of speech on certain topics.

Obviously, the student is correct on the facts and the Dean of the Harvard Law School is acting in the fashionable ignorant and anti-scientific manner. We can’t be sure at present whether the sizable racial gaps in average intelligence that are an absolutely indisputable finding of a century of intense social science inquiry are partially genetic or not. But we sure can’t rule it out.

On the other hand, my view — not a very popular one, I’ll admit — is that the genetic debate shouldn’t matter to the law. Whether or not the racial gaps in behavior might be quite different in the next generation, there is massive evidence that they won’t be terribly different for individuals currently around today. And those are precisely whom disparate impact law operates upon.

I’ve been following social science statistics since 1972, the year of the Supreme Court’s Griggs decision that invented “disparate impact.” Lots of things have changed since 1972, but the racial gaps in behavior have changed less than almost anything else in our society. Is that due to nature? Nurture? A combination?

I don’t know. We’ll find out eventually.

What we do know is that disparate impact-based affirmative action doesn’t, on the whole, make individual beneficiaries smarter. You would have heard about it if it does. The social scientist who came up with an environmental cure for the racial IQ gap would be the biggest superstar of his age. People have been working on that for half a century, but nothing, so far, has done much good.

Moreover, we’ve had a four decades of affirmative action, and the racial gaps are about the same. So, we can conclude that disparate impact law doesn’t rectify biases in tests or the like.

Now, it could be that the one standard deviation gap in average intelligence between white Americans and African Americans could be wholly eliminated by some environmental change. Maybe if pregnant black women ate more arugula, their children would grow up to have the same average IQs as whites.

Instead, it give individuals of some races preferences over individuals of other races to make up for the lifetime lower average performance of their group. Now, it’s possible that future generations of their group will have higher average performance (if the prenatal arugula diet works, say), but we don’t see much evidence at all that disparate impact-based affirmative action is accomplishing that for people already old enough to benefit from affirmative action.

So, genetics don’t really matter for the law. The reason, however, that ev
erybody acts like it matters is that it serves as a proxy for the argument over whether the law giving affirmative action privileges to individuals causes those privileged individuals to stop underperforming. The burden of proof should obviously be on those who argue against the equal protection of the laws, but they have such a weak empirical case that they maintain their hegemony by demonizing heretics.

On a less august, cattier note, is it true that the forwarder of Ms. Grace’s private email is a libertarian activist and that the email was six months old?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Freedom of Speech 
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Paul Shirley, a 6’10″ white basketball journeyman and sportswriter, got fired from ESPN for blogging on FlipCollective that he wouldn’t be donating to Haiti “for the same reason that I don’t give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don’t think the guy with the sign that reads ‘Need You’re Help’ is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him.”

That reminds me of the Two Minutes Hate directed at William Bennett about the same period of time after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans for referring to Steve Levitt’s Abortion-Cuts-Crime theory on the radio. I wrote:

Ever since New Orleans, the hysteria among the political and media elite has been building: Who among us bigshots will crack first and allude to the elephant in the living room?

Also, I’m reminded of the 2003 incident when Michael Eisner fired ESPN columnist Greg Easterbrook for mentioning “Jewish [movie] executives” in denouncing a slasher film in his blog on the The New Republic:

Easterbrook was widely excoriated both for terminal unhipness and for supposedly resurrecting the myth that Jews control the media. Disney supremo Michael Eisner, however, did control Easterbrook’s other employer, ESPN, which immediately fired him. Most commentators opined that Easterbrook had it coming.

All I can say is that if Walt Disney were alive today, he’d be spinning in his cryogenic preservation chamber.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
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Barack Obama really, really doesn’t like people mentioning his past.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Now Obama’s presidential campaign is increasingly using the list to beat back media messages it does not like, calling on supporters to flood radio and television stations when those opposed to him run anti-Obama ads or appear on talk shows.

It did so as recently as Monday night, when it orchestrated a massive stream of complaints on the phone lines of Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM in Chicago when the radio station hosted author David Freddoso, who has written a controversial book about the Illinois Democrat.

The latest use of the database, called the Obama Action Wire, is proving yet another new and potentially powerful tactic in the closing weeks of a campaign that has already been dominated by Internet-based messages and media. …

“The Action Wire serves as a means of arming our supporters with the facts to take on those who spread lies about Barack Obama and respond forcefully with the truth, whether it’s an author passing off fiction as biography, a Web site spreading baseless conspiracy theories or a TV station airing an ad that makes demonstrably false claims,” said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Sen. John McCain‘s campaign uses the Internet for fundraising and organization but does not have anything like Obama’s alert system to bombard a specific media outlet in real time.

Obama’s campaign says supporters have placed thousands of phone calls to TV and radio stations and sent even more letters to newspapers.

A page on the campaign’s Web site, headlined “Hit ‘em where it hurts,” told supporters how to complain to advertisers at stations that ran a recent anti-Obama ad.

“We’ll provide you with talking points on this maliciously false hit ad to help guide you through the process,” the page said, citing a spot run by a conservative group called the American Issues Project.

The campaign says supporters sent roughly 100,000 e-mails in August to stations that aired the ad, which criticized Obama for his ties to former 1960s radical William Ayers.

WGN also was flooded with calls and e-mails shortly before and during an Aug. 27 interview with Stanley Kurtz, a conservative writer who has examined Obama’s ties to Ayers.

“WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears,” read the first message confronting the station, an e-mail that also provided detailed background information on Kurtz, Obama and Ayers.

The WGN alerts were sent primarily to Obama supporters in the Chicago area but were quickly posted to electronic message boards and Web sites, spreading them worldwide. Many of those who called to complain were from outside Illinois, and they flooded the station’s switchboard in a way a WGN producer called “unprecedented.”

On Monday night, Zack Christenson, executive producer of “Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg,” said the response was about the same. “It’s just constant, constant phone calls, and the e-mails are pouring in,” he said, adding that the extra volume of calls made it more difficult to run the show.

Obama’s campaign describes the system as a grass-roots truth squad that arms supporters with information. But others see an attempt to stifle free speech.

“If Barack Obama demonstrates this little regard for free speech from his opponents during the campaign, what could the American people expect from him as a president?” Ed Martin, president of American Issues Project, said in a statement.

I’ve read Fredosso’s book. If there are lies in it (and I didn’t notice any), Obama should sue for libel. Lotsa luck with that, Barack.

The emerging method of political power, as pioneered by Berlusconi in Italy, and imitated by Putin in Russia and by Chavez, less effectively, in Venezuela is to control what can be said on television and radio.

Obama won’t actually own the airwaves and there is still that pesky First Amendment, but it appears that his team is working out a plan to use mobs to intimidate media outlets. Think about it from a station manager’s point of view — We could interview some reporter who has spent months investigating Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko, and have all our advertisers receive countless fulminating emails forwarded from Team Obama threatening to never buy their products again … or we could do a segment on Megan Fox.

Sure, it’s hard to sell books without doing publicity tour interviews, so there will be fewer books about President Obama, but the publishers can instead sign Megan Fox up to write her autobiography, so everybody’s happy, right?

Further, considering how much the U.S. government suddenly seems to more or less own as of this week, all sorts of new possibilities are opened up. Matthew Yglesias is already salivating over what President Obama could do as the ultimate owner of the country’s biggest insurance company:

In November, there’s going to be an election. And in January, there’ll be a new President. And in the interim, progressive groups will probably come up with a lot of “ten ways to make everything awesome” proposals. And it’ll take 41 conservative senators to filibuster them all, and so they’ll all be filibustered. But if the government directly controls major financial institutions, that would give the new administration extraordinary leverage over the national economy. Suppose the new CEO of AIG decided he didn’t want to insure assets of companies whose executives make unseemly multiples of the national median income? There are all kinds of crazy things you could do. And of course not all of them woul dbe good ideas. But some of them would! And the smart folks on our side need to be figuring out which ones they are. It seems doubtful to me that a progressive administration would ever be able to get away with this much nationalizing of everything, but what’s done is done and I think it creates a real opportunity for “socially conscious insurance underwriting” or whatever you care to call it.

Fortunately, Obama has a trusted long-time adviser with decades of experience running socially conscious public-private partnerships. That man is otherwise occupied at the moment, but a President Obama has the Presidential Pardon to spring Tony Rezko out of the correctional facility and into the West Wing.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Freedom of Speech, Obama 
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From the New York Times:

Unlike Others, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend in Speech

By ADAM LIPTAK

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A couple of years ago, a Canadian magazine published an article arguing that the rise of Islam threatened Western values. The article’s tone was mocking and biting, but it said nothing that conservative magazines and blogs in the United States do not say every day without fear of legal reprisal.

Things are different here. The magazine is on trial.

Two members of the Canadian Islamic Congress say the magazine, Maclean’s, Canada’s leading newsweekly, violated a provincial hate speech law by stirring up hatred against Muslims. They say the magazine should be forbidden from saying similar things, forced to publish a rebuttal and made to compensate Muslims for injuring their “dignity, feelings and self-respect.”

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, which held five days of hearings on those questions here last week, will soon rule on whether Maclean’s violated the law. As spectators lined up for the afternoon session last week, an argument broke out.

“It’s hate speech!” yelled one man.

“It’s free speech!” yelled another.

In the United States, that debate has been settled. Under the First Amendment, newspapers and magazines can say what they like about minorities and religions — even false, provocative or hateful things — without legal consequence.

The Maclean’s article, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” was an excerpt from a book by Mark Steyn called “America Alone” (Regnery, 2006). The title was fitting: The United States, in its treatment of hate speech, as in so many other areas of the law, takes a distinctive legal path.

“In much of the developed world, one uses racial epithets at one’s legal peril, one displays Nazi regalia and the other trappings of ethnic hatred at significant legal risk, and one urges discrimination against religious minorities under threat of fine or imprisonment,” Frederick Schauer, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, wrote in a recent essay called “The Exceptional First Amendment.”

“But in the United States,” Professor Schauer continued, “all such speech remains constitutionally protected.”

Canada, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France.

Earlier this month, the actress Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist, was fined $23,000 in France for provoking racial hatred by criticizing a Muslim ceremony involving the slaughter of sheep.

By contrast, American courts would not stop a planned march by the American Nazi Party in Skokie, Ill., in 1977, though a march would have been deeply distressing to the many Holocaust survivors there.

Six years later, a state court judge in New York dismissed a libel case brought by several Puerto Rican groups against a business executive who had called food stamps “basically a Puerto Rican program.” The First Amendment, Justice Eve M. Preminger wrote, does not allow even false statements about racial or ethnic groups to be suppressed or punished just because they may increase “the general level of prejudice.”

Some prominent legal scholars say the United States should reconsider its position on hate speech.

“It is not clear to me that the Europeans are mistaken,” Jeremy Waldron, a legal philosopher, wrote in The New York Review of Books last month, “when they say that a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack.”

It’s totally obvious how Liptak is slanting this New York Times article to get readers to presume that Steyn’s article is “hate speech.” There’s not a single quote from Steyn’s essay “The Future Belongs to Islam” in Liptak’s entire 1,838 word article. On the other hand, Liptak uses the word “hate” (or “hateful”) 18 times, “Nazi” three times, and “Hitler” once.

The real story here is, once again, about how diversity dooms free speech.

And it’s time we did something about Canada’s repeated violations of the basic human right to free expression. It’s time to boycott vacationing in Canada until Canada improves its human rights situation.

Granted, I can only afford to vacation places where I can pitch a tent; but let the word go out to Canadian firewood retailers that they won’t be getting any of my business until they help pressure their government to stop persecuting writers.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
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In his Freakonomics blog on the New York Times, economist Steven D. Levitt issues a stirring defense of freedom of speech and scientific inquiry. Well, no, actually, Levitt sidesteps that whole tarpit and instead complains that he, Levitt, should have gotten more publicity.

James Watson, Black Intelligence, and New Research by Fryer and Levitt

By Steven D. Levitt

Nobel Laureate James Watson got into trouble recently for expressing the opinion that blacks are less intelligent than whites.

If you look at almost all existing data from standardized tests in the United States, there is indeed a sizable black-white test score gap. Whether the gap is due to genetic differences is a hotly debated academic question.

Roland Fryer and I have done some research on this topic which we think is potentially quite interesting and important — although we seem to be the only ones with this opinion at present. (The paper was rejected yesterday by the American Economic Review on the second round of review, and a search of Google Scholar reveals only two citations to the working paper version released in early 2006.)

In my work with Fryer, we analyzed a newly available nationally representative survey of children ages two and under, done by the Department of Education. Included in this study are tests of mental ability around a child’s first birthday. While you might think it would be impossible to capture anything meaningful at such a young age, it turns out that these measures of one-year-olds’ intelligence are somewhat highly correlated with IQ scores at later ages, as well as with parental IQ scores.

The striking result we find is that there are no racial differences in mental functioning at age one, although a racial gap begins to emerge over the next few years of life.

So what does this mean for the genetics vs. environment debate? Quoting from our abstract, “the observed patterns are broadly consistent with large racial differences in environmental factors that grow in importance as children age. Our findings are not consistent with the simplest models of large genetic differences across races in intelligence, although we cannot rule out the possibility that intelligence has multiple dimensions and racial differences are present only in those dimensions that emerge later in life.”

Like all research, our study has its flaws and limitations. I have to say, however, that I imagined a lot of reactions to this paper, none of which were utter indifference on the part of academics and the popular press. But that was the reaction we got.

I just did a study of lactose tolerance among one-year-olds, and guess what? I didn’t find any racial differences! They were all lactose tolerant. So all those stories you hear about how East Asians don’t have a gene for lactose tolerance are just racist myths! I proved it with science!

I also did a study of one-year-olds’ ability to slam dunk on a ten foot basket. Once again, there were no racial differences. None of them could dunk. I even lowered the basket to six feet and still there were no racial differences in dunking. So, when you watch the NBA and there are all these blacks guys slam dunking, that’s just racism. Who are you gonna believe, science or your lying eyes?

Then, I got a bunch of Kenyan and Ethiopian highlander one-year-old babies together with some other babies and timed them in the marathon. As always, there were no racial differences. Not a single baby of any origin finished the 26.2 mile run. So, the next time the top ten finishers at a big marathon are eight Kenyans and two Ethiopians, don’t believe it!

You don’t want to end up like James D. Watson, suspended from running the laboratory that you have built up over the last 39 years for political incorrectness, do you?

Seriously, I always love how the New York Times is oh-so-skeptical about IQ testing in general, except when it supports something they like, and then credulity is the order of the day. Look, there is no IQ test for 1-year-olds. What Levitt did in this paper is look at a test of infant liveliness (e.g., how often the infant babbles) that has a fairly low but positive correlation with childhood IQ (a correlation which is, by the way, quite common. Indeed, it’s hard to find a behavioral measure that is not at all correlated with IQ — drumming ability is the most famous example of something with no IQ correlation, as all the Drummer Jokes told by high IQ rockers like Pete Townshend, Mick Jagger, and David Bowie might suggest.)

So, this test of liveliness of 8 to 12 month olds doesn’t show the differences seen among older children on IQ tests! If that isn’t stop the presses news, I don’t know what is.

Indeed, the highest IQ children (Northeast Asians) do the worst on this test of infant vivacity. With a typical Freakonomic leap of faith, Levitt and Fryer suggested that this shows that IQ differences aren’t genetic but are caused by environmental differences, presumably between age 1 and the earliest ages at which IQ tests are semi-reliable.

Of course, all Levitt actually did was show that this test of infant liveliness is a racially biased predictor of IQ. Why is it racially biased? Well, there are lots more ways for something to go wrong than to go right, but one obvious possibility is that the test of infant alertness might measure traits that differ on average between the races, but aren’t related to IQ differences between the races. For example, within a race, babies that babble more turn out to be a little bit smarter on average than more taciturn babies. Yet, Asian infants don’t babble as much on average as other babies, but that doesn’t mean they’ll turn out to have lower IQs on average than babies from races that babble more. But pointing out that this test of babies is racially biased is not as sexy a story as claiming it shows Nurture Triumphs Over Nature.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
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A press release:

Statement by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Board of Trustees and President Bruce Stillman, Ph.D. Regarding Dr. Watson’s Comments in Earlier this evening, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Board of Trustees decided to suspend the administrative responsibilities of Chancellor James D. Watson, Ph.D., pending further deliberation by the Board.

This action follows the Board’s public statement yesterday disagreeing with the comments attributed to Dr. Watson in the October 14, 2007 edition of The Sunday Times U.K.

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The mayor of Los Angeles, an energetic fellow, has proposed that the city provide free high-speed wireless Internet connections to every Los Angeleno. Sounds great! I could dump my expensive cable modem connection … assuming Mayor Villaraigosa would allow me to look at my own website.

Which is a big If. Colby Cosh recently pointed out that Saskatchewan’s new municipal Wi-Fi networks ban citizens from visiting “sites associated with pornography or hate groups.” One of the banes of my career is dealing with private censor companies that ban iSteve.com, such as the one that explained “The main goal of SiteCoach is to filter pornographic content and content glorifying violence, as well as right-wing and other so-called forbidden content that ‘hits below the belt’.” Who knows what Mayor Tony’s taxpayer-paid service will allow? Free Speech and Free Wi-Fi are antonyms.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Freedom of Speech 
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Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


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