Teachers reprimanded two seven-year-old boys for playing army games – because it amounted to ‘threatening behaviour’.The youngsters were disciplined after they were spotted making gun-shapes with their hands.Staff at Nathaniel Newton Infant School in Nuneaton, Warks., even told the boys’ parents to ‘reprimand’ them.A father of one of the boys said: ‘This is ridiculous. How can you tell a seven-year-old boy he cannot play guns and armies with his friends.‘Another parent was called over for the same reason.
‘We were told to reprimand our son for this and to tell him he cannot play “guns” anymore.
What prevents kids from misusing either is instilling in them a much broader ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy, as well as a basic respect for human life. The likelihood of misusing a gun isn’t an isolated issue that pops up in a vacuum. It’s either symptomatic of, or enabled by, broader problems that telling kids what they can’t play at recess just isn’t gonna solve, such as bad parents who don’t safely lock up their weapons or don’t teach their kids morality and responsibility.
Indeed, in their zeal to end “threatening behaviour” wherever it arises, the practical effect of such rules is more likely to be the message that military and police service aren’t something children should emulate or look up to, because they’re inherently “threatening” professions.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
It seems another demographic group Democrats once took for granted is snapping out of Obama fever. At the Daily Beast, David Graham reports that American Muslims don’t think the president’s actions match his pro-Islam rhetoric. Aside from insisting that Islam is a religion of peace and appointing a few Muslims to important positions, Obama hasn’t met enough with American Muslim groups or “remade the political landscape for Muslims”:
“Just like the last time, we’re quite happy if any president offers positive rhetoric toward the Muslim world or Islam, but it really needs to be backed up with concrete policy initiatives,” says Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading American Muslim group. “We’re still in Afghanistan, we’re still in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian situation has gone south. We’re not there—we’re just continuing with the previous policies.”
It’s not just foreign policy. Across the board, Muslims are expressing disappointment with Obama’s progress on issues relevant to them in the domestic policy realm. What they express is not so much anger as disillusionment, a recognition that the president hasn’t remade the political landscape for Muslims. (American Muslim opinions mirror international opinions. A Pew survey released Tuesday finds that citizens in majority Muslim countries remain skeptical of Obama.)
Exhibit A is the Park51 project, the proposed mosque and Islamic center in Lower Manhattan that opponents dubbed the “ground zero mosque”. After delivering what appeared to be a full-throated defense of the project, he walked back his comments the next day, saying, “I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.” It was a crucial litmus test for many American Muslims—and one that Obama failed. “He’s still missing the political courage to stand up for communities, and not just Muslim communities,” says Shireen Zaman, the executive director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank on Muslim issues.
As the Left always does when discussing different ethnic groups, it’s simply assumed at the outset that the positions cited are intrinsically anti-Muslim.
Whatever you think of the wisdom of starting or continuing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, both conflicts were waged against specific governments the United States determined to be enemies, not against Muslims generally; indeed, both wars liberated their Muslim populations from nightmarish despots and gave them a genuine shot at liberty, so one could just as easily call a premature withdrawal from either theater anti-Muslim for enabling a descent back into totalitarianism.
In it, Superman consults with the President’s national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.
Superman replies that it was foolish to think that his actions would not reflect politically on the American government, and that he therefore plans to renounce his American citizenship at the United Nations the next day — and to continue working as a superhero from a more global than national perspective. From a “realistic” standpoint it makes sense; it would indeed be impossible for a nigh-omnipotent being ideologically aligned with America to intercede against injustice beyond American borders without creating enormous political fallout for the U.S. government.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
The last time NewsRealBlog checked in on Natalie Portman, the actress was selling some new, decidedly-PC ideas about sex and love. But since her appearance at the Academy Awards accepting the Best Actress award for Black Swan, Portman has found herself on the other side of the feminist divide. LifeNews.com reports that part of her speech didn’t sit well with everyone:
After thanking fellow nominees, her parents, and the directors past and present who guided her career, Portman saved her concluding praise for “my beautiful love,” dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied.
Then, as if to underscore how the bright and promising career and the accolades she’s received up to that very moment paled in comparison, a visibly pregnant Portman thanked Millepied for giving her “the most important role of my life.”
The problem, according to Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams:
“At the time, the comment jarred me, as it does every time anyone refers to motherhood as the most important thing a woman can possibly do,” she wrote today. “But the reason why didn’t hit until I saw the ever razor sharp Lizzie Skurnick comment on Twitter today that, ‘Like, my garbageman could give you your greatest role in life, too, lady.’”
“When you’re pregnant, especially for the first time, there are a lot of amazed and awed moments in between the heartburn and insomnia. But is motherhood really a greater role than being secretary of state or a justice on the Supreme Court? Is reproduction automatically the greatest thing Natalie Portman will do with her life?” Williams wondered […]
“Why, at the pinnacle of one’s professional career, would a person feel the need to undercut it by announcing that there’s something else even more important? Even if you feel that way, why downplay your achievement?” a clearly befuddled Williams writes.
“Why compare the two, as if a grueling acting role and being a parent were somehow in competition? And remind me — when was the last time a male star gave an acceptance speech calling fatherhood his biggest role?
Yes, how dare Portman celebrate bringing a child into the world? Doesn’t she realize that ignorant political lectures are the only non-industry topics allowed by Hollywood etiquette at major functions?
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
I confess: I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. My interest in pro sports is pretty much limited to whether or not anything good comes out of the big game’s annual crop of Super Bowl commercials. We got a couple winners this year, but Democrat Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has declared one ad not only a failure, but an outrage, as well.
Pepsi ran this commercial, in which a black man on a park bench smiles at a pretty white woman who sits down nearby, and his wife angrily throws a Pepsi Max can at his head, which instead hits the woman when he ducks.
“In this month of African-American history where we’re trying to celebrate what is good and great, it certainly seems ridiculous that Pepsi would utilize this kind of humor,” she said. “It was not humorous. It was demeaning — an African-American woman throwing something at an African-American male and winding up hitting a Caucasian woman.”
Jackson Lee said she has a sense of humor and believes in the First Amendment. She also said the Super Bowl is a great time for “fellowship” with family members.
“That is why I’m so disappointed with the Pepsi advertisement that showed a demeaning role for African American women, in an ad that showed a can being thrown and being utilized to wound someone else or hit someone else,” she said.
“I think that we can come together in a much better way, sell Pepsi, and as well talk about good nutrition,” she said. “But, frankly, I consider this insulting, and so did many other women of all colors.”
Many? Name five. It’s a little hard to pin down the Congresswoman’s objection—is she coming down on the very concept of slapstick humor, or simply that Pepsi would dare depict black people up to the same sort of shenanigans that America has been laughing at white people doing for years?
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Remember Katie Couric’s insipid suggestion that Americans needed a Muslim version of The Cosby Show to help us get over our seething Islamophobia? It earned derision in the blogosphere for its condescending view of the country as a hive of bigotry and its refusal to give the Islamic world any share of the blame for Islamic image problems, but PopEater reports that the idea is picking up steam among Muslims in the television industry:
“We want to see a typical Arab-American family that is just like every other family in America,” said Arab-American comedian Dean Obeidallah, who has developed a pilot for Comedy Central. “Television has had the ability to demonize Muslims and Arabs, but we realize that it also has the ability to humanize us.”
Couric’s suggestion might not be as radical or as far off as her critics decried. In fact, Muslim-American writers say that broadcast and cable networks are starting to be more receptive to scripts prominently featuring both Arabs and practitioners of Islam. A decade-removed from the September 11th terrorist attacks, television may finally be ready to portray Muslim-Americans as more than terrorists and taxi cab drivers.
“Hollywood would definitely embrace a Muslim ‘Cosby Show’ with one caveat: It would have to be really good. It’s the one factor that has linked shows about minorities like the ‘Cosby Show’ or even ‘Will & Grace.’ Currently, I believe Americans are open to any minority as long as the show speaks to universal human truths and makes them laugh,” said Muslim-American Hollywood television and movie producer Tariq Jalil, the executive producer of the comedy ‘Marmaduke.’ [Emphasis added.]
That’s true—as we discussed on January 3, neither the words nor the deeds of the American people indicate hostility toward American Muslims—and it’s nice to hear Jalil acknowledge what Couric didn’t, but that also undermines the alleged need for more Muslim programming in the first place.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Carl Kozlowski at Big Hollywood hails Ron Howard’s new film The Dilemma as “an instant classic for the conservative comedy lover,” so it’s fitting that some leftists don’t think it’s so funny. Rob Shuter reports that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is blaming the movie’s less than stellar opening weekend on a joke about electric cars being gay:
“Although there are a million reasons why a film can fail, we hope that Ron Howard and Universal will recognize from this that alienating audiences isn’t a recipe for success,” said Herndon Graddick, deputy director of programs at GLAAD, who oversees GLAAD’s work with TV networks and film studios.
Back in October, CNN’s Anderson Cooper started a firestorm when he said he was offended by a movie trailer he had seen wherein an actor repeatedly used the word “gay” in a derogatory way.
“I was shocked that not only they put it in the movie, but that they thought that it was OK to put that in a preview for the movie to get people to go and see it,” he told Ellen DeGeneres without naming the movie. “I just find those words, those terms, we’ve got to do something to make those words unacceptable cause those words are hurting kids.”
Both Howard (not exactly a right-winger) and star Vince Vaughn (a Republican) have defended the joke, with Howard noting that his movie is “a comedy for grown-ups, not kids” and that if “storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought.” Vaughn says that “joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together,” but “[d]rawing divided lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us.”
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
By now it goes without saying that middle America is hopelessly homophobic, at least according to leftist dogma, the average American’s opposition to “marriage equality” sufficiently proving their ignorant prejudice. But the scourge of homophobia is apparently even more far-reaching than any of us could have guessed—according to Ramin Setoodeh at the Daily Beast, even Hollywood is caught in its grasp, as demonstrated by Tinseltown’s refusal to let gay actors play gay roles. Or something:
With the film industry swept up in the congratulatory swirl of awards season, not a single openly gay actor is up for an Oscar nomination. Of course, that’s probably because no openly gay actors even starred in any big films of 2010. The lovable lesbian wives in The Kids Are All Right were played by the heterosexual actresses Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. The quirky couple in I Love You Phillip Morris were portrayed by straight men Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.
You could say that’s why it’s called “acting.” But that’s little comfort to gay actors, who are routinely shut out of the studio system, even though Hollywood is supposedly one of the most “gay-friendly” towns. Movies need to attract the broadest possible audience, and filmmakers worry that if they cast a gay person as a romantic lead, audiences will be too grossed out. Instead, straight actors get the roles, and everybody talks about how brave they are. Stanley Tucci has played gay so many times (The Devil Wears Prada, Burlesque) it’s like he’s switched teams. Eric Dane and Bradley Cooper were lovers in Valentine’s Day, and they follow a long tradition of straight actors who play gay and collect accolades: Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain), Sean Penn (Milk), Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry), Charlize Theron (Monster), Tom Hanks (Philadelphia) and Robin Williams (The Birdcage). The blog AfterElton.com could only name nine working gay TV actors, and they all hold minor or supporting roles. The new gay guy on 90210 is played by heterosexual hunk Trevor Donovan.
Somebody needs to explain to me why a moviegoer who would be grossed out by a gay romantic lead would be seeing a movie about gay characters to begin with. If anything, that there’s a “long tradition of straight actors who play gay” to begin with seems to undermine the theory that Hollywood’s consciously trying to avoid more traditional sensibilities. Indeed, Setoodeh’s list suggests that a lot of Hollywood’s heaviest hitters relish the thought of bringing positive and nuanced (though not always accurate) depictions of homosexuals to theaters.
You could argue that no one gay is on the A-list, so Hollywood has to hire straight people to fill those roles. But it also has to do with something else. Society still shows a prejudice against gay people, especially those who fit the stereotype: feminine men and masculine women.
Setoodeh too quickly dismisses the simplest explanation, that the number of gays in Hollywood is small to begin with, simply because the number of gays in the general population is so small.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Television can be a force for liberty in totalitarian and theocratic societies, but it can be used to thwart liberty, as well. Case in point: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s Daily Beast report on disturbing events in Afghanistan:
In the past several weeks, controversial television presenter Nasto Naderi has stepped up a campaign he began this year accusing women’s shelters of supporting prostitution and other behavior considered immoral. In December, Naderi showed footage of a family guidance center run by the organization Women for Afghan Women, followed by pictures of family guidance and women’s shelter staff entering their offices. According to Naderi, women’s shelters encourage behavior that violates Islam, though he has yet to offer any evidence to support his allegations.
The unwanted attention has sent a chill through women’s rights supporters in Kabul and created an environment of both fear and defiance among shelter workers. In a conservative country with little history of providing safe havens for domestic-violence victims, the concern is that Naderi’s charges could do great harm—and put shelter workers at risk.
“By these kinds of programs, people’s minds may be swayed, and they may think negatively about these kinds of safe houses,” said Selay Ghaffar of the organization HAWCA, which offers legal aid and temporary shelter to Afghan women seeking to escape domestic abuse.
Naderi makes no bones about what’s really driving his propaganda campaign, boasting that his people “have fought 30 years to put the word ‘Islam’ in front of Afghanistan […] But some NGOs come and want to make another way for our country.” It certainly isn’t concern for the shelters’ quality—“Mr. Nadiri says he hasn’t visited any of the 17 shelters officially registered with the government.”
Women’s defenders fear the legitimization of the Taliban could mean the end of the shelters: