“Voluntary” end to slavery

So, that Colorado school board that thought history needs to be more “patriotic.”  It just gets better.  Via Talking Points Memo:

Mazanec’s first posts in the thread raised the possibility that the AP History course framework may have been conceived by people with an “agenda,” prompting an AP English teacher to respond by explaining that experienced AP teachers compile the courses’ exams.

She then wrote that her concern for the course “is an overly negative view of our history and many of our historical figures (if mentioned)” and cited history professors with “impressive credentials” who told her that the AP History curriculum is designed to “downplay our noble history.”

She used slavery to illustrate the point:

As an example, I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn’t our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. Does our APUSH Framework support or denigrate that position?

Oh my.  It’s one thing to read their more abstract comments, but this is simply breathtaking.  This kind of ignorance is what gives “patriotism” a bad name.  And my goodness, to think that somebody of such appalling ignorance is on a school board anywhere outside of North Korea!

The war on Okra

Great post on our mis-guided War on Drugs at wonkblog:

Georgia police raided a retired Atlanta man’s garden last Wednesday after a helicopter crew with the Governor’s Task Force for Drug Suppressionspotted suspicious-looking plants on the man’s property. A heavily-armed K9 unit arrived and discovered that the plants were, in fact, okra bushes…

Georgia state patrol told WSB-TV in Atlanta that “we’ve not been able to identify it as of yet. But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant.”

Indeed! Like cannabis, okra is green and it has leaves.

Okra busts like these are good reason for taxpayers to be skeptical about the wisdom of sending guys up in helicopters to fly around aimlessly, looking for drugs in suburban gardens. And that’s not to mention the issue of whether we want a society where heavily-armed cops can burst into your property, with no grounds for suspicion beyond what somebody thought he saw from several hundred yards up in a helicopter. [emphasis mine]

Even better news– this is largely being funded by the money police often steal via civil forfeiture.  It is so beyond time to end the war on drugs and put our resources to productive work that does not abuse our citizens.

Bill Maher is more right than Ben Affleck

Okay, I’m going to be too lazy to watch this whole exchange (though I did read this partial transcript here), but I find it really interesting that Wonkblog’s Christopher Ingraham characterizes Maher and Affleck as both wrong, but Maher is certainly mostly right, according to Ingraham’s characterization of his statements:

On Friday, Bill Maher and Ben Affleck got into a heated debate on the question of radical Islam. Maher’s general point was that fundamentalist views are highly prevalent in predominantly Muslim societies, and that well-intentioned Western liberals too often give them a pass on it.

Ingraham then brings some data:

In 14 of the 23 countries polled, at least half said honor killings for premarital sex were never justified when the accused is a woman. Overall, Muslims were more apt to find justification for honor killings for women rather than men, particularly in the Middle East. But there is a lot of variation between countries.

And in 9 of 23 countries  a majority favor honor killings.  And these are countries with lots of Muslims.  And this:

Death by stoning — a particularly heinous form of punishment for adultery — is supported by strong majorities of Muslim respondents in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories. Somewhat smaller majorities support the practice in Egypt, Iraq and Malaysia…

A similar pattern holds true when it comes to the question of whether Muslims who leave the faith — apostates — should be killed. Majorities of Muslims in six countries say this should be the case. Support is particularly high in Afghanistan. By contrast, Eastern European Muslims are much less likely to support the practice.

I would characterize that as highly prevalent in Muslim societies.  Especially as these views are most prevalent in the most Muslim societies and the lack of prevalence is in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, not generally characterized as Muslim societies.  At one point, Maher’s brush was explicitly too broad:

BILL MAHER: One reason they don’t get exposed is because they’re afraid to speak out because it’s the only religion that acts like the mafia that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book. There’s a reason why Ayaan Hirsi Ali needs bodyguards 24/7…

I’m sure Maher would readily admit that he does not mean the whole of Islam, but looking at the data it is quite clear that there are many Muslims who do believe in killing as just punishment for apostasy.  Are a majority of Muslims bloodthirsty jihadists?  Of course not, but it is equally clear that far too many support clearly abhorrent beliefs.

Musical interlude

Just because.  I had this song stuck in my head yesterday and Evan and Sarah got a huge kick out of me singing it.  Love the Kinks.

Photo of the day

Great “Natural World” gallery at the Big Picture:

A bird perches on a post as a wildfire burns in the background, near the Sobradinho neighborhood in Brasilia , Brazil, Sept. 12. Drought, high temperatures and areas of low humidity have caused fires to start at several places in Brasilia, according to the fire-fighters putting out the blazes. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

How much church?

On the way back from church yesterday my son Evan asked me how much most people go to church.  I love that I could give him a precise answer as soon as we got home thanks to the GSS on-line analysis tool.  And here you go:


What was also cool is that it led to me having a great conversation with David about social desirability bias.  I estimated a ballpark of about 5% inflation of attendance.  Looks like, in some cases at least, it may be way more than that.  I’m looking forward to showing David and Evan.  (And, wait, just found a great piece on this in the Upshot).

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