Monday, 4 October 2004

As requested

Those with medical conditions may want to skip this post.

Inside baseball

Over the last few days (perhaps, in part, prompted by this) I’ve been pondering the value of Introduction to American Government and its variants.

The examined life

I handed back students’ first exams this afternoon in Intro to American Government. It was bad: μ = 66, σ = 18, n = 24. I spent almost an hour talking about the exam and (figuratively) trying to talk a few students off ledges.

Blowing out the Dores (not)

A belated congratulations to the Vanderbilt Commodores on the occasion of only their second SEC win since the beginning of the 2001 season (somehow, I’d forgotten they beat Kentucky last year) and snapping a 14-game losing streak against the West. Congratulations are also due to the Mississippi State Bulldogs on living up to their reputation as “Vandy of the West,” and to Bulldog QB Kyle York on making it onto the field; apparently he got tired of admiring his pickup truck’s mud tires and decided to play for a change.

Pain and beauty as Dorian Grey

Sunday, I decided I was massively overdue for a haircut, so I decided that one of my projects of the day would be to get a trim (I also bought some groceries and a couple of books, but that’s neither here nor there). Since the only place to get a haircut on a Sunday is at a mall, that’s where I went. And that’s where the pain started.

Deux mots

A couple of words for my friends at Redstate: bad timing.

Gays and lesbians should not be allowed to teach in public schools, Republican Jim DeMint said Sunday in a U.S. Senate debate.

The remark came late in the first debate between DeMint and Democrat Inez Tenenbaum — a testy and acrimonious hour that broke little new ground on their positions on most issues.

DeMint, a Greenville congressman, said the government should not endorse homosexuality and “folks teaching in school need to represent our values.”

The good news is, at least someone’s patriotism was questioned in the debate. (Couldn’t have a good debate without some patriotism-questioning.)

Tenenbaum, the state education superintendent, called DeMint’s position “un-American.”

DeMint said after the debate that he would not require teachers to admit to being gay, but if they were “openly gay, I do not think that they should be teaching at public schools.”

Tenenbaum later told reporters that “the private life of our teachers should stay private. I was shocked to hear him say that.”

And we have a nominee for “bad paraphrase of the day”:

College of Charleston political scientist Bill Moore said DeMint’s position would be unconstitutional…. [I didn’t truncate the quote; the ellipses are in the original. Go figure.]

No, DeMint’s position isn’t unconstitutional. A law that implemented DeMint’s position might be—presumably, Lawrence v. Texas and Roemer v. Evans would be controlling precedent, but I don’t think the Supreme Court has ruled that employment discrimination against homosexuals is unconstitutional.

The most amazing thing about this whole situation: Congress has virtually nothing to do with the hiring practices of local school districts (which are solely state and local responsibilities, even under cooperative federalism), so why on earth was this even being debated in the first place? Sheesh.

Oh, and for the donors who contributed to DeMint’s campaign via the Redstate effort, I have three more words: ask for refunds.