bookmark_borderGiving extra time off to parents is unfair and discriminatory

I recently read a New York Times article about the fact that many companies have been providing extra time off to parents during the coronavirus pandemic to help them with the challenge of taking care of their children while schools and day cares are closed. At first glance, this sounds like a kind and helpful gesture. However, in my opinion these policies are unfair and discriminatory towards those of us who do not have children.

The companies providing extra paid time off for parents include Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce. Facebook, for example, has given parents 10 additional weeks of paid time off in 2020 and an additional 10 weeks starting in January 2021. According to the article, some employees who do not have children and therefore do not benefit from these policies have, understandably, voiced complaints. Laszlo Bock, the former head of human resources at Google, told the Times, “for people to get upset enough to say that ‘I feel this is unfair’ demonstrates a lack of patience, a lack of empathy, and a sense of entitlement.”

I am 100% in agreement with the sentiment that these leave policies are unfair, and I find Bock’s statement deeply wrong and offensive. Having a child is not something that happens due to random chance. It is something a person chooses to do. There are all sorts of different projects and pursuits that a person can choose to take part in, depending on what is important to that particular person. Having a child is not inherently more worthwhile than spending one’s time traveling, writing, reading, cooking, making art, any other activity, yet current leave policies treat parenthood preferentially to these other pursuits. For any non-parenting-related activities that employees choose to pursue, they are expected to fit these into their nights, weekends, and vacation days. There is no reason for parenting-related activities to be exempt from this. 

Giving different benefits to different people based on their parental status is unfair, and it demonstrates a lack of empathy not to see this. Recognizing an unfair situation as such does not demonstrate a lack of empathy or a sense of entitlement. In fact, it is Bock who demonstrates a lack of empathy by demanding that people without children simply tolerate discriminatory treatment without complaining. It is parents who demonstrate a sense of entitlement by believing that they deserve to be paid while doing completely non-work-related personal tasks, while their colleagues without children are foregoing their hobbies and spending their time working.

To give an example from my own life, I have numerous hobbies, interests, and passions that are extremely important to me, including reading, writing, creating art, and occasionally, attending high-profile trials. With the two or three weeks of vacation time per year that is standard at white-collar companies, it is impossible to attend an entire trial, unless the trial happens to be very short. When the Whitey Bulger and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trials happened, each lasted several months and I missed the majority of them, using my vacation days the best I could and trying to predict which days of testimony would be the most important to attend. I even asked my company if I could take unpaid leave to attend the trials and was told no. On the other hand, If I had been interested in having a baby instead of going to trials, I would have been given three months of paid leave, in addition to my two to three weeks of vacation time. In other words, under the policies that are common at white-collar companies, people who wish to have children are given leave to ensure that they do not have to choose between this and their job. People who wish to attend trials, or pursue any other time-consuming passion or interest, are forced to do exactly that: to choose between their passion or interest and their job. How can anyone consider this to be fair? 

And now, in addition to the customary maternity and paternity leave policies that are already discriminatory, companies are offering parents even more time off. This is adding more unfairness on top of an already unfair situation. It does not demonstrate “entitlement” to speak out against discrimination and injustice. 

bookmark_borderPelosi’s bigoted effort to remove Confederate statues

As part of the nationwide trend to get rid of everything that has anything to do with the Confederate States of America, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is demanding that 11 statues in the Capitol building be removed.

In a letter to the Architect of the Capitol and the Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, Pelosi wrote:

The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation. Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to those ideals. These statues pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed. While I believe it is imperative that we never forget out history lest we repeat it, I also believe that there is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country.

The statues that Pelosi is criticizing are part of Statuary Hall, a chamber in the Capitol that displays 100 statues of historical figures, two from each state. The list is as follows: Jefferson Davis (Mississippi), James Zachariah George (Mississippi), Wade Hampton (S. Carolina), John E. Kenna (W. Virginia), Robert E. Lee (Virginia), Uriah Milton Rose (Arkansas), Edmund Kirby Smith (Florida), Alexander Stephens (Georgia), Zebulon Vance (N. Carolina) Joseph Wheeler (Alabama), and Edward White (Louisiana). More details about these individuals can be found here. In her letter, Pelosi also made a point of mentioning that Davis and Stephens were charged with treason against the United States.

By demanding the removal of these statues, Pelosi is the true bigot in this situation.

First of all, contrary to Pelosi’s claims, Confederate statues do embody the highest American ideals. The Confederacy fought for the right to secede from the Unites States and establish itself as an independent nation. Resistance to government authority is the ideal that America was founded upon; arguably the Confederacy and not the Union is the true heir to the philosophy of the American Revolution. Even if you believe that the existence of slavery in the Confederacy outweighs this, and therefore do not admire the Confederacy, that does not give you the right to demand that Confederate statues be removed. The rights of those who admire the Confederacy need to be respected, because in addition to resistance to government authority, diversity is also one of the highest American ideals. And a key part of diversity is ideological diversity.

The whole point of Statuary Hall is to showcase a diverse collection of statues representing all 50 states. I have not seen Statuary Hall in person, but when looking at photos of it, I am struck by the variations among the statues. Not only are they physically different, made of a variety of different materials, but they represent a wide range of historical figures from different time periods, backgrounds, and walks of life. They represent historical figures with a wide range of viewpoints, beliefs, and ideologies. But Pelosi is essentially saying that only historical figures with mainstream, moderate, politically correct views deserve to be honored. In other words, only those historical figures who conform to what happen to be the prevailing beliefs in 2020 deserve to be celebrated.

Contrary to Pelosi’s claim, Confederate statues do represent heritage. The fact that Pelosi does not share or value this heritage does not change this.

To call the inclusion of 11 statues of Confederate-leaning historical figures among a collection of 100 a “grotesque affront” to American ideals is, ironically, the ultimate in intolerance and bigotry. And to pointedly mention that two of the statues’ subjects were charged with treason is the ultimate in authoritarianism. It is Pelosi who is being cruel, barbaric, and hateful by declaring that there is “no room for celebrating” those who fought bravely on the losing side of a war. Demanding the removal of Confederate statues is the action of a bully with no tolerance for any views or values that differ from hers. A homogeneous collection of statues representing mainstream ideologies is the exact opposite of what America as a nation should aspire towards. But that is exactly what Pelosi is advocating. This type of mindless conformism is truly a grotesque affront to American ideals.

bookmark_borderStatue of Confederate soldier hanged in North Carolina

In an absolutely disgusting act of bigotry and hatred, a mob of excuses for human beings in Raleigh, North Carolina tore down statues of Confederate soldiers from atop an obelisk and hanged one of the soldiers from a light post.

According to the Associated Press:

Protesters in North Carolina’s capital pulled down parts of a Confederate monument Friday night and hanged one of the toppled statues from a light post.

Demonstrators used a strap to pull down two statues of Confederate soldiers that were part of a larger obelisk near the state capitol in downtown Raleigh, news outlets reported.

Police officers earlier in the evening had foiled the protesters’ previous attempt to use ropes to topple the statues. But after the officers cleared the area, protesters mounted the obelisk and were able to take down the statues.

They then dragged the statues down a street and used a rope to hang one of the figures by its neck from a light post. The other statue was dragged to the Wake County courthouse, according to the News & Observer.

Out of all of the despicable acts of destruction that have taken place over the last few weeks, hanging a statue is the worst yet. Every person (and I hesitate to even use that term) who participated in or applauded this horrific act should be hunted down, caught, and jailed for the rest of his or her life. Then, he or she should burn in hell for all eternity.

There are no words to fully convey the moral wrongness of what was done to this statue. There is no justifiable reason for someone to have such anger, rage, and hatred towards a statue. The statue did not hurt anyone. The statue did not do anything wrong to deserve this. The artist(s) who designed and built this statue did not deserve to have their work destroyed in this manner.

Apparently, someone decided that in order to make a statement against acts of violence that have been perpetrated against African-Americans, it would be a good idea to “lynch” a statue representing the Confederacy. No idea could possibly be worse. The statue that was so cruelly destroyed represents the soldiers who fought bravely for the South’s independence, despite being outnumbered and outgunned. It represents the Confederate States of America, a country that existed from 1861-1865 before being crushed by the more populous and industrialized North. I would go so far as to say that the statue represents resistance to government authority; in other words, freedom.

By pulling down and hanging statues of Confederate soldiers, these excuses for human beings are stomping on the underdog. They are trampling on the idea of freedom, the idea of rebellion, and the idea of resistance to authority. It is bad enough that the authoritarian federal government brutally and barbarically crushed the South’s attempt to secede and form their own country. But apparently that was not enough because now, in the year 2020, mobs feel a need to brutally and barbarically destroy statues representing that rebellion as well. The fact that the brave, honorable, losing side of a war is not even allowed to be honored with a statue or monument is beyond absurd. The fact that those who sympathize with the winning side of a war would have such rage towards the side that they unjustly defeated is incomprehensible. What was done to this statue is the ultimate act of bullying and intolerance.

Every living thing (“person” is too kind a term) who participated in or contributed to this destruction is a bigot and a bully who should not be allowed to exist on Earth. I condemn this act in the harshest possible terms.  

bookmark_borderUCF Professor Charles Negy deserves to be promoted, not fired

An uproar is taking place at the University of Central Florida because a professor had the audacity to disagree with the prevailing, politically correct narrative on racism.

Psychology Professor Charles Negy, author of “White Shaming: Bullying Based on Prejudice, Virtue-Signaling, and Ignorance,” has been active on Twitter since the death of George Floyd and the resulting protests. A sampling of his tweets is as follows:

Continue reading “UCF Professor Charles Negy deserves to be promoted, not fired”

bookmark_borderProtests, riots, and double standards

Reports of the atrocities committed by protesters turned rioters in the wake of George Floyd’s death continue to pile up:

  • In Minneapolis, where the protests began, rioters destroyed a bar that a firefighter spent his life’s savings to build. They burned down an 189-unit affordable housing development and a high-tech manufacturing company. They torched a police station and vandalized, burned, or looted nearly every single building in the surrounding shopping district. They attacked a tanker truck and beat the driver. And they  attacked a woman in a wheelchair while looting a Target.
  • Rioters in Atlanta damaged the College Football Hall of Fame and smashed windows at CNN’s headquarters.
  • In Chicago, they smashed the windows of stores, including a Macy’s and a 7-11.
  • In Denver, someone deliberately crashed their car into a police car, severely injuring 4 people.
  • In Rochester, New York, rioters beat up a shop owner who was attempting to defend her store.
  • Rioters apparently shot a man in a car in Richmond, Virginia.
  • In Philadelphia and Los Angeles, people set police cars on fire.
  • In Columbus, Ohio, they destroyed and looted the Milestone 229 restaurant.
  • People vandalized Confederate monuments at the University of Mississippi and at North Carolina’s state capitol building. They vandalized statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Jeb Stuart in Richmond, Virginia, and burned down the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They spray-painted the word “traitor” on the Confederate Defenders statue in Charleston, South Carolina. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, they vandalized a statue of General Alexander P. Stewart.
  • In Nashville, people tore down a statue of lawmaker and newspaper publisher Edward Carmack, smashed the windows of the courthouse and set it on fire, and spray-painted obscenities on sidewalks.
  • In Philadelphia, they set a statue of Mayor Frank Rizzo on fire.
  • In Dallas, they beat up a store owner and stomped on his head after he attempted to defend his business.
  • In San Antonio, Texas, they destroyed a mall and attempted to damage the Alamo, but were stopped by brave, armed citizens.
  • In Washington, D.C., rioters vandalized historic sites around the National Mall, including the World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and statue of General Casimir Pulaski. They punched and kicked Secret Service agents and threw bricks, bottles, and rocks at them, injuring 60. They also vandalized 6 Secret Service vehicles. And they attacked Fox News reporter Leland Vittert and his cameraman.
  • In Boston, people are currently setting police cars on fire, throwing bottles at journalists, and smashing the windows of various businesses including a bank, a clothing store, a shoe store, a cell phone store, a restaurant, and a Walgreens.

I could continue to add to the list, but then this blog post would be as long as a novel, and I would stay up all night working on it. Suffice it to say that the number of examples of protesters harming innocent people and their property is nearly infinite.

The only thing more infuriating than these senseless acts of destruction is the discrepancy between how the media and the general public have treated them versus how they have treated protests against authoritarian measures to stop the coronavirus.

The majority of comments that I’ve heard and read about the George Floyd protests from people in the media and on the internet have expressed praise, sympathy, and understanding. Even when it is acknowledged that harming innocent people and their property is wrong, emphasis is placed on how understandable the protesters’ anger is, how legitimate their grievances are, and how frustrated, hurt, and traumatized they are feeling. Those who criticize the acts of destruction are treated as the real problem. Additionally, not once I have I witnessed any media members comment on the lack of social distancing during these protests.

On the other hand, those who participate in protests against lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are routinely called “idiots” and “morons.” They have been suspended from their jobs and threatened with violence. Their cause – the right to privacy and freedom of movement – is mocked as petty and unimportant. People online have argued that these protesters have forfeited their right to medical services and that they should not be allowed to ride on public transportation. All of this despite the fact that, as far as I have heard and read, not a single anti-lockdown protester has harmed any people or property. And also despite the fact that the anti-lockdown protesters have the more legitimate and important cause. (This is not because George Floyd’s death wasn’t tragic and unjust – it absolutely was – but because the person who killed him has been fired, arrested, and charged, and nearly everyone agrees that his death was tragic and unjust. Stay-at-home orders, on the other hand, constitute a large-scale trampling on the rights of every single person, yet have gone not only unchallenged but actively supported by the majority of the media and the public, making it particularly important and courageous to protest against them.)

The protesters in Michigan who went to the state capitol while exercising their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms have been criticized more harshly for being “intimidating” than Black Lives Matter supporters have been for destroying buildings, vandalizing monuments, ransacking businesses, and beating and severely injuring people.

The attitude of society generally seems to be: Protesting peacefully against authoritarian government policies is selfish and irresponsible. Smashing, burning, and destroying everything in sight, however, is perfectly fine.

Did I miss a scientific discovery that being a supporter of Antifa or the Black Lives Matter movement confers immunity from the coronavirus?

bookmark_borderCollege admissions scandal does not justify affirmative action

I don’t think anyone would dispute that committing fraud in order to help your child get into college is wrong. Cheating on the SATs is obviously unfair, as is and bribing coaches to designate a student as a star athlete when he or she is not. Parents and college consultants who commit fraud should be punished, as the U.S. Attorney’s office is doing by bringing charges in this case. But it is wrong to draw the conclusion, from the actions of a few dishonest people, that all rich people are privileged and undeserving of the success that they have achieved.

For example, Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham writes, “There’s no greater system of affirmative action in America than the one designed to benefit the wealthy and well-connected, especially if they’re white.” She preposterously states that “unless it all comes undone – which is maddeningly rare – a rich kid’s success is always chalked up to his or her hard work and personal sacrifice.” In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. The media is filled with stories lauding people from disadvantaged backgrounds who achieved success, while people from wealthy backgrounds are stigmatized as lazy, entitled, and lacking in grit. It is assumed that their lives are nothing but ease and luxury and that their success is a result of their family connections and access to expensive lessons, summer camps, and college admissions counselors.

Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham argues that the college admissions scandal shows why affirmative action is needed. But this would just be replacing one form of unfairness with another. Yes, the actions of those arrested in the fraud case are wrong. And other, perfectly legal advantages that benefit rich students, such as giving preference to children of donors, are also unfair to other applicants. But why is the answer to this yet another form of discrimination? Giving preference to people simply for being non-white is equally unfair. In today’s college admissions system, those at the top and those at the bottom of the income ladder receive unfair advantages, the former group through money and social networks and the latter group through programs, admissions policies, and financial aid policies designed specifically to benefit them. It is those in the middle who are disadvantaged, with access to neither the social networks that many wealthy people have, nor the charitable and government programs for which the poor are eligible. Both of these forms of unfairness should be abolished.

A Boston Globe editorial went so far as to criticize the fact that colleges take athletic achievement into account in the admissions process. “Reserving spots for athletes is often a way of rewarding the rich,” the editorial states. “While there may be some inner-city squash or fencing or water polo teams, we’re going to go out on a limb and say there are probably not many…  Reserving spots for sailors may not officially be the same thing as reserving spots for rich people – but c’mon.” This is just insulting to students who excel at these sports. Admitting athletes in sports played by a high percentage of rich people is not the same as reserving spots for rich people – these students are being rewarded for their athletic ability, not for their family income. To dismiss fencers, squash players, polo players, and sailors as being granted admission merely because they tend to be rich minimizes these athletes’ talent and achievements.

No one chooses the economic circumstances into which they are born. It’s not as if a person is doing something wrong by being born into a rich family. Why should people who have the fortune (misfortune?) of being born to wealthy parents be punished for something over which they have no control? Yet that is exactly what happens when people treat wealthy students as inherently undeserving of success.

Why not have a system where colleges simply admit students based on merit, without regard to their race, ethnicity, or economic circumstances? Of course, merit is difficult to define, and it would be impossible to reach a unanimous decision about how the various factors – grades, test scores, musical, artistic, or athletic talent, extracurricular achievements, essay, and interview, just to give a few examples – should be weighed. But everyone should be able to agree that race has nothing to do with merit, not do social networks or parents’ decisions to donate money to a college. We should be striving to have a college admissions system that judges students on their individual merit, not one that adds one form of unfairness on top of another.