IS ANYTHING CORRECT ANYMORE?
Leaving cookies for a neighbour can get you fined? It is the neurotic neighbour who should have been fined for being a nuisance
A Colorado judge ordered two teen-age girls to pay about $900 for the distress a neighbor said they caused by giving her home-made cookies adorned with paper hearts.
The pair were ordered to pay $871.70 plus $39 in court costs after neighbor Wanita Renea Young, 49, filed a lawsuit complaining that the unsolicited cookies, left at her house after the girls knocked on her door, had triggered an anxiety attack that sent her to the hospital the next day. Taylor Ostergaard, then 17, and Lindsey Jo Zellitte, 18, paid the judgment on Thursday after a small claims court ruling by La Plata County Court Judge Doug Walker, a court clerk said on Friday.
The girls baked cookies as a surprise for several of their rural Colorado neighbors on July 31 and dropped off small batches on their porches, accompanied by red or pink paper hearts and the message: "Have a great night."
The Denver Post newspaper reported on Friday that the girls had decided to stay home and bake the cookies rather than go to a dance where there might be cursing and drinking. It reported that six neighbors wrote letters entered as evidence in the case thanking the girls for the cookies.
But Young said she was frightened because the two had knocked on her door at about 10:30 p.m. and run off after leaving the cookies. She went to a hospital emergency room the next day, fearing that she had suffered a heart attack, court records said.
The judge awarded Young her medical costs, but did not award punitive damages. He said he did not think the girls had acted maliciously but that 10:30 was fairly late at night for them to be out.
SUMMERS WAS SO INCORRECT BECAUSE HE CHALLENGED BASIC LEFTIST RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
Forgive Larry Summers. He did not know where he was. Addressing a conference on the supposedly insufficient numbers of women in tenured positions in university science departments, he suggested that perhaps part of the explanation might be innate — genetically based — gender differences in cognition. He thought he was speaking in a place that encourages uncircumscribed intellectual explorations. He was not. He was on a university campus. He was at Harvard, where he is president. Since then he has become a serial apologizer and accomplished groveler. Soon he may be in aKhmer Rouge-style re-education camp somewhere in New England, relearning this: In today's academy, no social solecism is as unforgivable as the expression of a hypothesis that offends someone's "progressive" sensibilities.
Someone like MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins, the hysteric (see above) who, hearing Summers, "felt I was going to be sick. My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow." And, "I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill." She said that if she had not bolted from the room, "I would've either blacked out or thrown up."....
Men and women have genetically based physical differences; the brain is a physical thing — part of the body. Is it unthinkable — is it even counterintuitive — that this might help explain, for example, the familiar fact that more men than women achieve the very highest scores in mathematics aptitude tests? There is a vast and growing scientific literature on possible gender differences in cognition. Only hysterics denounce interest in those possible — differences or, in Hopkins' case, the mere mention of them — as "bias."
Hopkins' hysteria was a sample of America's campus-based indignation industry, which churns out operatic reactions to imagined slights. But her hysteria also is symptomatic of a political tendency that manifested itself in some criticism of President Bush's inaugural address, which was a manifesto about human nature. This criticism went beyond doubts about his grandiose aspirations, to rejection of the philosophy that he might think entails such aspirations but actually does not. The philosophy of natural right — the Founders' philosophy — rests on a single proposition: There is a universal human nature.
From that fact come, through philosophic reasoning, some normative judgments: Certain social arrangements — particularly government by consent attained by persuasion in a society accepting pluralism — are right for creatures of this nature. Hence the doctrine of "natural right," and the idea of a nation "dedicated," as Lincoln said, to the "proposition" that all men are created equal.
The vehemence of the political left's recoil from this idea is explained by the investment political radicalism has had for several centuries in the notion that human beings are essentially blank slates. What predominates in determining individuals' trajectories — nature or nurture? The left says nature is negligible, nurturing is sovereign. So a properly governed society can write what it wishes on the blank slate of humanity. This maximizes the stakes of politics and the grandeur of government's role. And the importance of governing elites, who are the "progressive" vanguards of a perfected humanity.
The vehemence of Hopkins' recoil from the idea that there could be gender differences pertinent to some cognition might seem merely to reflect a crude understanding of civic equality as grounded shakily on a certain identical physicality. But her hysteria actually expresses the left's ultimate horror — the thought that nature sets limits to the malleability of human material. Summers should explain this to her, over lunch, when he returns from camp.
From George Will