Two nights ago, the Shenendehowa Board of Education voted 4 to 2 in favor of a new policy designed to protect the rights and safety of transgender students. High school students in the district will now be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity. The new policy also allows all students, regardless of sex or gender, to access single-user bathrooms and private changing areas.
Images of distinguished rabbis hacked to death in a blood soaked synagogues floor during a prayer service are about a hatred so deep that any rational discourse cannot assuage it. These images evoke memories of the Holocaust and the flight from Europe to a national home. Israelis’ are assailed by the same venomous loathing they sought to escape and the same international indifference to their plight.
Most Supreme Court justices are libertarians in some sense. But what kind and for whom varies widely.
We all believe we have rights to decide lots of things for ourselves. But what are the limits? The more “conservative” the justices and others are, the closer to the Tea Party, the only limits they recognize are force and fraud. Various conservative philosophers have been very plain about that. Regulations, almost all regulations, interfere with that freedom of action.
Hard to believe, ours is a nation literally founded on a principle of church/state separation, when most current political emphasis, especially that of evangelically driven single minded, religionist zealots, seems obsessively focused on the opposite. As this commentator noted in a two-thousand twelve essay, it was not hostility to Christianity that moved our founders to downplay it, it was the need to ensure religious neutrality. The Treaty of Tripoli, an agreement between the United States and the Muslim Region of North Africa, signed in 1797, by then President George Washington and approved by the Senate, under John Adams, states flatly: “The Government of The United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion.”
The Cuomo Administration’s preference for secrecy – even at the expense of the public’s right to know – was criticized in a report by an independent fiscal watchdog. The report examined the Administration’s plan to divert over a half billion dollars from New York City’s water quality program to construction of the new Tappen Zee Bridge. The Tappen Zee Bridge links Rockland and Westchester counties in the southern Hudson Valley. Construction of the new bridge could cost $4 billion.
Toward the end of every year, we all seem to receive a slew of solicitation letters. Let’s not kid ourselves. People wait until the last minute to decide where to send their tax-deductible contributions. They have a great many choices. There are genuine charities that really deserve their money. There are churches and synagogues, temples and mosques. There are environmental organizations and educational institutions, hospitals and more. And then, dear friends, there are the WAMC stations. If you don’t use the radio station, perhaps this is a time to tune out. But if you do, let’s deal with the reality of what, as a communal group, we are up against.
Early this year, a Report was issued by the White House Council on Women and Girls with the startling finding that one in five of our nation’s female students have been sexually assaulted. Since that time, this oft-repeated statistic has been called everything from “appalling” and “tragic” to “overblown” and “inaccurate.” Wherever an individual falls on that continuum of reactions, I think all would agree that even one incidence of sexual assault is too many.
While the wizards of new technology wax lyrically about the wonders of technological development, there is another side, one often overlooked in the avalanche of new products. Clearly computers have changed our lives, opened new horizons of learning and have abbreviated research efforts, but there are hidden societal costs that are unnoticed or intentionally ignored.
Yesterday, President Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, a Black Mississippian and two white New Yorkers, murdered fifty years ago, working to register Blacks to vote in Mississippi. They were among many who lost their lives in that struggle.