jasonbwatson

July 31, 2014

Which would you expect to be true?

On July 29 the Christian News Network reported on a psychology class being taught at Ohio State University. According to the report, the school’s Psychology 1100 class included an online quiz which contained this question:

Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125. Which of the following statements would you expect to be true?

* Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian.
* Aine earns less money than Theo.
* Theo is more liberal than Aine.
* Theo is an atheist, while Aine is a Christian.

The report states that, according to the school, the correct answer is the first one. It is not difficult to decipher the implications of this question/answer–Christians have a lower IQ.

An anonymous student told Campus Reform about this quiz item and he was also quoted in the Christian News Network story saying, “Colleges will tolerate pretty much any religion other than Christianity. If colleges really want to give everyone a fair shot, they should stay away from making comments about any religion.” That, of course, would be what neutrality means, right? Not judging or belittling or promoting any one religion over another would be what one would expect in an environment that promotes tolerance and understanding, right?

Now, OSU does have a policy that prevents discrimination on the basis of religion, amongst a variety of other things including “gender identity or expression [and] genetic information….” (See the previous four posts for my comments on this issue). And I am certainly not suggesting that this quiz item was part of some nefarious scheme by anyone at OSU to insult Christians or Christianity. Having said that, can you imagine the uproar had this question used Democrats and Republicans instead of Atheists and Christians? How about homosexuals and heterosexuals? Pro-choice versus pro-life? African-American and Caucasian? What if it had said Atheists and Muslims? I don’t think it takes a whole lot of creativity or mental gymnastics to conclude that the reaction would have been swift and severe. Had any group other than Christians been the group insulted by this question there may well have been someone fired over the incident.

Hemant Mehta, in a blog post on Friendly Atheist, wrote of the question, “it just strikes me as a horribly written, too-simplified-to-be-useful question.” Mehta quotes Kaitlyn Schallhorn of Campus Reform stating, accurately, that the question may have been created by a teaching assistant rather than a professor. No doubt. The problem is, Mehta has zoomed in the fact that it is a lousy question, one that would never be permitted in legitimate psychological study while neglecting the content of the question. He is right about the question but, again, had the question been reversed and Aine-the-Atheist been the one with the lower IQ I doubt Mehta would quite so dismissive of the question.

Mehta suggests what he calls a “simpler solution” rather than getting worked up over the question: “Toss the question and have a discussion in class about how to properly interpret studies.” That would be wise, yes. It may also be a good idea, particularly given that this is a psychology class we are talking about, to have a discussion over why the question is so poorly worded and what impact such an assertion could have on the group being maligned by the implication as well as anyone who believed it to be true. Mehta ended his post with this statement: “There’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that it’s somehow evidence of anti-Christian discrimination.” Maybe not, but it is certainly evidence of the double standard that exists in so many places in the United States when it comes to tolerance and respect for Christianity as opposed to tolerance and respect for almost any other belief or position.

Perhaps more concerning than the fact that a teaching assistant (probably) created this question and it made it into the hands of students taking the course is the statement made by an unnamed Ohio State administrator. This individual, according to The Daily Caller, said that the quizzes are created by graduate assistants and are “typically fashioned based on textbook material” (emphasis mine). See all of the “imagine if it was…” examples above and try imagining any college or university utilizing a textbook which asserted such a thing. Imagine any textbook publisher even publishing such a thing!

All told, this incident will soon be forgotten, and it probably should be. But do not forget that the reality is this: the tolerance so loudly championed by most in this country seldom extends to Christians or Christianity. They want you to believe they are tolerant, but don’t expect it to be true.

May 30, 2013

Intended to be fun?

Earlier this month, in a post titled “How Do You Feel?”, I addressed my concern over a growing movement around the country to provide “gender identity counseling” to young children in order to help them determine whether they feel like they are a boy or a girl, and to then provide services necessary to help them achieve that identity, even when that involves hormones and other changes to the body.

Now, just last week, a school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin asked its elementary students to dress as members of the opposite sex for a day as part of a week of special activities at the school. Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities originally dubbed the day “Gender Bender Day,” though it changed the name to “Switch It Up Day” after a flurry of opposition and criticism from parents. Changing the name of the day was about the only concession that was made, though; one school board member basically dismissed parental concerns, accusing parents of “using the kids for political purposes.”

A number of parents ended up keeping their children home from school for the day, and I commend them for doing so. According to MyChristianDaily, one parent described the day’s theme as “ridiculous” and “creepy,” though the principal of the school said it was all meant to be in fun and was, in fact, a suggestion from members of the school’s student council. Student councils are a great idea; providing students with the opportunity to make suggestions to school leaders and to contemplate how different decisions and activities can impact the school is a valuable exercise. But–as unpopular as it may be to say–there is such a thing as a bad idea, and it is the responsibility of the adults involved to tactfully say no when students suggest them. Even if the original idea did come from the students, the decision ultimately had to be made by the principal, and I find it unimpressive to say the least that he would pass the buck to the students.

The area’s local FOX affiliate, WITI, reported that when the day came it was unable to find many students actually participating–but found faculty and staffers who were doing so. Indeed, WorldNet Daily posted a photo of two male staffers dressed in female attire. Perhaps even more troubling is that the attire they were wearing would not have been appropriate for a school setting even if they were female. This would surely have been confusing and troubling for young children who saw male adults dressed that way, even if the children themselves were dressed normally. (In fact, The Daily Caller reported, “In a pretty massive letdown after all the hubbub, WITI reported that it couldn’t find a single cross-dressing student at the elementary school. Only some teachers and staffers were caught up in the transvestite spirit of Switch It Up Day.” If that is true it does cause one to wonder how there were no students who chose to participate in an idea that supposedly originated with students).

The Education Action Group, a conservative group in Michigan which runs a news site at EAGnews.org, quoted a parent saying, “They might as well call it ‘Transgender Day.'” EAG shared this opinion on the story: “We are concerned about student comfort. There are undoubtedly children at the school who felt like they had two bad choices today: either dress up as the opposite sex, which might make them feel uncomfortable, or dress normally and be out of place with the rest of the school, which might also make them feel uncomfortable.” Of course there was also a third choice, which was to stay home from school, but students should not be put in a position where they either go to school and feel uncomfortable and are therefore unlikely to be able to focus on learning, or stay home and miss a day of learning.

Now, I should say that I am inclined to believe the school’s principal when he says the idea came from the student council, and therefore I am not suggesting that the dress-up day was some devious design of the LGBT movement to make elementary students comfortable with crossdressing and blurred gender identities. I am also not suggesting that Tippecanoe was the first school to ever have such a day as part of its spirit week activities; I am sure it was not. Neither of these things, however, make the facts any less disturbing.

Perhaps the most astute observations on this event that I have found come in an article posted on Catholic Online, which I feel worthy to quote at length:

There does not seem to be any specific evidence that the day represents a deliberate effort by agents of the homosexual equivalency movement or the gender identity movement to undermine the concept of gender as a given within the minds of impressionable children.

Rather this appears to be the innocent design of enthusiastic, fun-loving school kids, supported by their school’s administration.

Yet, this is a troubling sign of a growing problem. When children conceive of “Gender Bender Day” as a normal part of their planning routine for spirit week, and responsible adults think so little as to rubber-stamp the event, shrugging and saying “it’s not illegal,” then we see just how far the problem has gone.

There is a Gender Identity or Gender Expression Movement which is actively seeking recognition in law of some new right to choose one’s gender. Already, the homosexual equivalency movement and the gender identity movement have gone so far in their efforts to change the culture that nobody thinks twice about cross-dressing children as part of school-sponsored activity.

We need to maintain vigilance in our parental oversight of the schools we send our children to.

I don’t think my Catholic friends will mind if I say “Amen” to that.

The parent who suggested the day might as well be called Transgender Day, Deidre Hernandez, also stated that she had never before complained about a school event, even though, “Every time something is bothering a liberal or an atheist, they come forward to complain. And somebody always has a problem with Easter or Christmas.” Ms. Hernandez certainly has a point there; those in the ACLU and on the liberal wing of the political spectrum seem to be all about protecting anyone from feeling uncomfortable at the sight of a Bible or the utterance of a prayer, but apparently there is no concern about encouraging elementary students to dress as the opposite gender or exposing them to adult males doing so very explicitly. My fellow WordPress blog katenews2day opined, “America is experiencing a double whammy – its public schools are not only producing illiterate graduates and drop-outs in massive number every year, its public schools are becoming boot camps in turning Americans into either gay or confused gender in the future.” She may have a point.

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