Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

February 28th, 2002:

O Stephanie, where art thou?

I’ll add my name to the growing chorus of folks who’ve greatly enjoyed Stephanie Dupont’s extended guest-hosting of Brian Linse’s blog. I haven’t seen anyone else say this, so I’ll say it: Brian, when you get back to LA, do whatever you can to convince Stephanie to start her own blog. I guarantee it’ll get permalinked all over the place (except maybe by the Samizdata folks).

Dark clouds may be looming, however. Via the Insolvent Republic of Blogistan, we find that the Illuminated Donkey is questioning Stephanie’s existence. C’mon folks – just because someone can’t be tracked down via Google doesn’t mean he or she is a ghost. I admit, at first I thought Brian might be pulling a joke on us, but no more. I believe in Stephanie, and so should you.

UPDATE: Kathy Kinsley has also suggested that Stephanie get her own blog when Brian returns.

UPDATE: Gary Farber and Bill Quick are also insisting Stephanie is a hoax, most likely Brian in drag. They cite Brian’s friendship with Kinky Friedman and the fact that “Stephanie Dupont” is a character in some of the Kinkster’s novels. Well, from one good American to another (*), I say why can’t this merely be a nom du blog? If it turns out Brian has hoaxed me, I’ll admit it and congratulate him. In the meantime, I say viva Stephanie.

* – See here and scroll down a bit.

UPDATE: I met Brian (and Ann Salisbury and Kevin Drum) when I was in Anaheim in October. I asked him about Stephanie, and told me flat out that she’s a real person. So there.

Teaching intolerance

There’s been a fair amount of bloggage regarding this article in the WaPo about Islamic schools in America. I’m as alarmed as the next guy, but not because gasp we’ve suddenly discovered such things in our midst. No, my discomfort about these schools is the same as my discomfort about many religious schools. The problem I have with these schools is that they teach a distorted and frequently intolerant worldview. The fact that these specific schools are Islamic makes no real difference to me.

Here’s an example from the article:

[T]hey file into their Islamic studies class, where the textbooks tell them the Day of Judgment can’t come until Jesus Christ returns to Earth, breaks the cross and converts everyone to Islam, and until Muslims start attacking Jews.

It’s not the particulars that bother me as much as the us-versus-them underpinnings. I still remember a tale from my Catholic school days in which a “Moslem” king threatens to kill all Christians in the kingdom. At one point, he calls his staff into the throne room and demands that all Christians step forward. Fifteen people do so. “And do you wish to remain Christians?” he demands. “Yes” they say, at which point the king orders their executions. It was presented as a story of heroic martyrdom, where the best thing we little Catholics could do was die for our faith. The rather unflattering view of “Moslems” it gave us was left unspoken, but nonetheless it was pretty clear. Admittedly, we weren’t exhorted to become suicide bombers, but the bottom line message is the same: We’re right and they’re wrong, and you’re better off dying than becoming one of them.

I guess I see a lot of religious schools as being inherently isolationist, and I believe that isolated people are more likely to be xenophobic. Of course every parent should teach their children morals and values, and every parent should want to shield their children from inappropriate aspects of our popular culture, but at what point do you cross over into demonizing values and cultures that are not your own? At what point do you become like the people of a small town who can’t understand why some people don’t want to be forced to pray like the rest of them do.

I don’t want to make the same mistake that I’m accusing others of here and demonize all religious education. Religious education is generally a good and healthy thing, and even if I don’t much care for it, it’s as American as the First Amendment so I can take my dislike and stuff it. Besides, as I just pointed out in the links above, one doesn’t have to go to a private school to be isolated from Others. But I will always worry about people who grow up never knowing anyone who isn’t like them, for it will be easier for them to believe whatever they are told about those people.

You may be starting to suspect an ulterior motive on my part. You’re right – I mean this as a defense against that bane of right-wingers known as “multiculturalism”. The multi-cultis deserve a lot of the criticism they get, for their excessive relativism and their own peculiar brand of demonization, but the vision of multiculturalism is a good thing. It’s a reminder that there’s more than one valid viewpoint out there and that not everyone has your experiences and perspective. In short, The World Is A Big Place. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this was what the multi-cultis originally intended to teach us.

I had the good fortune to eventually get into an excellent public intermediate school (that’s “middle school” for some of you) and then into Stuyvesant High School, which was an incredible melting pot in addition to being a damn fine place to learn. Once I figured out that not everyone was Catholic – my first year in public school I gave Christmas cards to a fair number of Jewish kids because I didn’t know any better – I did fine. Going to college in Texas was further exposure to different perspectives and backgrounds.

I like to think that I’m a better person for the experience. I like to think that more people could benefit from similar experiences. That, in a nutshell, is the discomfort I have with sheltering children in overly controlled environments. The particulars of the environment don’t make much difference.

It’s Official

The Ballpark Soon To Be Formerly Known As Enron Field is now officially The Ballpark Formerly Known As Enron Field. Enron will get some money back in the bargain. As long as none of it goes to Lay, Skilling, or Fastow, I’m OK with that.

I don’t particularly care if stadium’s name is bought and paid for. For $100 million over 30 years, I’d have gladly called myself “Charles Kuffner, brought to you by Enron”. But would it kill anyone to leave the name as “Astros Field”, or deity forbid, “The Ballpark at Union Station” for this season?

Speaking of bought and paid for

According to this story in the Chron, “[a] $100,000 donation from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez’s bank in 2000 helped fund Republican efforts to retain control of the U.S. Senate”.

You know, I’m as desperate as any Texas Democrat to get a few of our folks back into state office. I just have a hard time believing that Tony Sanchez is actually one of us. I’ll still vote for him if he wins the primary – I really dislike Governor Goodhair, and I’m that big a tool – but I’m not gonna like it. I really wish Dan Morales had thrown his hat into this ring a bit earlier, instead of flirting with the Senate race. Alas.

At least Texas isn’t the only state with questionable gubernatorial candidates. Read about Ginger’s adventures with California’s Spammin’ Secretary of State, Bill Jones. Hey, all you LA Bloggers – what do you know about this guy?