Patterico's Pontifications


The Scolds Walk Among Us, And The Stupid Never Ends

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:31 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Just a reminder that the scolding nannies are alive and well, and wreaking a particularly annoying kind of havoc because they are so determined to help us become our best selves.

First, from an article titled “Why the way we teach kids table manners is actually kind of racist,” we immediately learn two things: we are eating our food incorrectly, and the word “racist” no longer has any meaning:

The message that eating food with your hands is unmannered is dripping with the control and shame of colonization — and we need to rethink our idea of “good manners,” says chef and food activist Joshna Maharaj.

Maharaj, who was born in South Africa to an Indian family, relates how her father taught her how to eat certain ethnic foods using their hands, while focusing on tidiness and efficiency. He also taught his children how to eat other foods using cutlery. She grew up believing that food eaten with one’s hands tasted better. In a multi-cultural family where different ethnic dishes are represented, this all makes perfect sense. However, Maharaj loses me when she gets out her judgey broad brush:

Recently, I chatted with someone who told me a story about her young niece, who goes to a prestigious preschool and was eating rice with her hands at lunchtime. The feedback her parents received was that this child needed to work on her table manners and use proper cutlery to eat. I immediately felt a rush of anger bubble up inside me when I heard this. The message that eating food with your hands is an unmannered way to eat is a real problem for me because it is dripping with the control and shame of colonization, which is particularly dangerous in an educational context. Suggesting that a child who eats with her hands has no manners is an echo of European colonial powers looking to tame the wildness out of the people they controlled. These European table manners were imposed on conquered people in an attempt to “civilize” them. It’s a damaging message about right and wrong ways to do things. It positions the technique as superior and the people who practise it as setters of the standard, leaving those with a different approach to eating with a status of inferiority. The idea of a single standard of acceptable table manners is just one of a host of strategies used to grow and promote racism. It’s a subtle message but one that is reinforced three times a day, every day, which makes it quite powerful.

God almighty, I just want to eat my waffle in peace!

Next, a judgy scold penalized the winner of a swim competition because, to the imbecile’s surprise and nobody else’s, the school-issued bathing suit exposed more of the swimmer’s curvier figure than the bodies of the leaner swimmers wearing the same regulated suit:

A 17-year-old swimmer from Anchorage, Alaska, was disqualified from a race that she won on Friday, because of what officials called a “uniform violation.” Though the teen wore a suit issued by her team at Dimond High School, in accordance with uniform regulations, and it matched the styles worn by her competitors, she was the only athlete who was disqualified. Why, you may ask? Because she was targeted for the way the suit fit her curvier, fuller-figured body.

The incident, which is currently under investigation, comes after more than a year of tensions over the fit of suits worn by athletes at youth swim meets in the state of Alaska.

While there are Federation guidelines concerning the styling of bathing suits worn during competition, they are clearly going to fit different body types differently. Welcome to Girl 101. This isn’t rocket science, especially as the rules are not evenly applied to all swimmers:

Although the swimsuit regulations are derived from guidelines written by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the way rules are enforced is determined by state-level sports association. The Federation’s uniform rules say that girls’ swimsuits should “cover the buttocks and breasts,” and presents a diagram that shows “appropriate and inappropriate” swimsuit coverage. (The Federation also issued a memorandum on swimsuits in August, which said that there was a “trend” of female swimmers wearing their suits inappropriately.)

However, some say that these rules are unclear, and that many female swimmers have at least part of their buttocks exposed. Swim team parents also argue it doesn’t make sense to penalize athletes (let alone inconsistently) when their uniforms shift as they are competing.

A swim coach at another school within the district that regularly competes with Diamond High, pointed out the obvious:

These young swimmers aren’t being punished for wearing their suits in scandalous or provocative ways, but rather, because their ample hips, full chests, and dark complexions look different than their willowy, thin, and mostly pallid teammates. Some will argue this scandal has nothing to do with race. But the issue becomes glaring when officials are overheard acknowledging that white athletes are baring too much skin as well, yet they’ve never been disqualified for a similar violation.

It gets much worse for the young high school senior whose victory was stolen from her last week. This same girl was the subject of one rogue team parent’s photography project last season, in which they took graphic photos of her backside in her swimsuit — without her knowledge or consent — and circulated the images via email as evidence that her attire is immoral. She is a minor — that parent should be arrested for possession and distribution of child pornography.

Thankfully, smarter heads prevailed, and the Anchorage School District announced Tuesday that it is overturning the disqualification and reinstating the team’s lost points. The district has also removed the official’s certification, and will suspend the swimsuit coverage rule moving forward.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


First Parent Sentenced in “Operation Varsity Blues” College Admissions Scandal

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Actress Felicity Huffman, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiring to pay $15,000 to a fake charity that facilitated cheating when her daughter took the SATs, was sentenced today. She is the first parent to be sentenced in the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. While prosecutors had recommended one month in jail, she ended up with a lesser sentence:

Actress Felicity Huffman has been sentenced to 14 days in prison.

Huffman also received a $30,000 fine, 250 hours of community service and one year supervised release, federal court Judge Indira Talwani said today in Boston.

Before announcing the sentencing, Talwani said Huffman knew what she did was wrong, saying, “She knew it was a fraud it was not an impulsive act.”

“Trying to be a good mother doesn’t excuse this,” the judge said.

Huffman stood before the judge in Boston and at one point read from a paper, saying, “I am sorry to you.”

She went on to apologize to her daughters and her husband, actor William H. Macy.

“I am deeply ashamed of what I have done,” Huffman told the judge. “At the end of the day I had a choice to make. I could have said ‘no.’”

More parents are to be sentenced, as well:

Huffman is the first of 34 parents to be sentenced in the scheme. The dozens of parents charged in the case paid up to $500,000 to get their children into elite schools, according to authorities, in some cases by labeling them as recruited athletes for sports they had never even played. Fifteen parents have pleaded guilty, and another 19 are fighting the charges, according to the Associated Press.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Joe Biden: The, Uh, Constitutional Candidate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 am

Every time I wonder whether I could vote for Joe Biden, I remember how he behaved as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the hearings of good men like Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over that.

But I have nevertheless come to the conclusion that the hair-sniffing old coot is the guy Republicans should hope becomes the Democratic nominee. For one thing, although I think Trump is likely to be re-elected, people have to realize that whoever the Democratic nominee is might win. And Biden is super old, so if he wins, there’s no way he serves a second term.

The other thing is: he’s not as crazy as the rest of them. I’ll give the mic to Matt Welch:

Let us not now pretend that Joe Biden brought anything like coherence to Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Houston.

At some point near the exhausted end of the nearly three-hour affair, the 76-year-old former vice president blurted out within the space of a few seconds the sentences “Make sure that kids hear words,” and “I know Maduro.” Confronted with the Obama administration’s unlovely record on deportation, he just lied about it: “We didn’t lock people up in cages. We didn’t separate families.” And at the close of one particularly free-associative word salad that hopped from the Afghanistan surge to Pakistani bases to weapons inspectors to the authorization for the use of force in Iraq, the perennial presidential contender simply concluded, “I said something that was not meant the way I said it.” We feel you, Joe.

Yet the Democratic front-runner also played a starring role in what was arguably the most clarifying exchange of the night. Moderator David Muir, addressing the cavalier gun-grabber Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), asked her to address Biden’s recent assertion that “There’s no constitutional authority to issue that executive order when they say ‘I’m going to eliminate assault weapons,'” because, “you can’t do it by executive order any more than Trump can do things when he says he can do it by executive order.”

“Well, I mean,” Harris began, failing to suppress a smug laugh, “I would just say, ‘Hey, Joe, instead of saying no we can’t, let’s say yes we can!”

As the crowd hooted and applauded, Delaware’s favorite son attempted to interject: “Let’s be constitutional! We’ve got a Constitution.” Ha ha, what?

I too found that very striking. Not that Pappy Joe’s record is one of fealty to the Constitution. But the fact that someone is actually bothering to mouth the words, rather than ignore them in a blatant demagogic pander the way the loathsome Harris did last night, is important. I actually think Joe is less likely to simply pen something to grab your guns in a ridiculously unconstitutional matter. And that means something.

Joe Biden is truly the only candidate who doesn’t spend all his time in a debate pandering to the crowd. I find myself warming to the plagiarizing oatmeal-brained old guy.

But then there is his incoherence. My God, the incoherence. Americans simply aren’t going to vote for an old white guy who reminds them on a daily basis that his mind is mush.


[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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