A Philosophical Look At Opposite-Sex Roommates

I never really expected to revisit the tragic death of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student that committed suicide off the George Washington bridge after his dormmate videotaped Clementi in an amorous tryst with a fellow male student.  Indeed, I hoped that his death would serve as an awakening toward the importance of sex within the confines of the marital institution rather than a rallying point for the LGBQT community to twist this tragedy to advance its social awareness agenda. 

Beginning this August, Rutgers University will offer opposite-sex living arrangements to its freshman students.  Parents wary of this program may certainly be concerned; the parent cannot override the wishes of the student.  With the goal of creating an “inclusive community”, the ability to select opposite sex dormmates is being heralded as a breakthrough in gender-awareness at the university.  Purportedly, the response is overwhelmingly positive. 

Rutgers’ decision to facilitate co-ed living arrangements likely had its inception long before Clementi’s death.  And with the weight of public support and advocacy groups, it seems unlikely the university will reverse course anytime soon.  Like many social issues, homosexuality and its identity in society is still hotly contested.  Were it as simple as providing studies showing the effect of homosexuality within the college environment and its effect on society, an institution would either ratify or reject the proposal allowing close-quarters opposite-sex living arrangements.  Many political, social, and educational think tanks have conducted such studies – but the results are scattered across the social gambit.  Black is white and white is black.  Consider the entire debate in California regarding same-sex marriages and Proposition 8.  One side presented evidence on the virtues (or lack of detriment) of homosexual marriages, while the other attacked the findings of such “evidence.”  All else being equal, the judge merely considered the argument he judged “more right.”

In that respect, Rutgers has chosen the position it considers “more right.”  Its own studies linked with popular opinion legitimize its decision.

Whether we agree or disagree, a fundamental question underlies the entire debate: is there any one, right answer?   Or does humanity live in a world of gray where black and white are but theories in an otherwise pragmatic world? 

The tendency, I feel, is to ignore the fundamental question and instead look to the practical benefits and consequences.   Rutgers University examined a problem – homosexual exclusion – and fashioned a remedy designed to both fix the problem and serve as a beneficial template for others. 

Most of humanity reasons as such: what is right?  As much as we try to consider the consequences of any one action, we are often left with conflicting studies and opinions such that the end result is either throwing up ones hands in exasperation or recognizing that any true answer is elusive and therefore unknowable.  Likely humanity’s failing lies in its perception that we cannot fully know truth and so, with limited information, we make decisions as rational – and sometimes irrational – human beings.

Were it possible for Rutgers to see the full implications of its decision toward homosexual inclusion in housing, it’s quite possible that it would reject what it currently accepts.

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Nobel Prize Committee Defends Obama’s Award

The running joke is that President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for one reason: he wasn’t George W. Bush.

But even more humorous, the Nobel Prize Committee defended its award claiming that Barrack Obama’s accomplishments merited it.

Let’s give the award some context though. The Nobel Peace Prize is meant to be awarded for recognition of accomplishments made “during the preceding year.” Nominations for the Prize end on February 1 at which point the candidates are vetted, names are whittled down until a handful remain, and then one is chosen.

So, let’s fill in the blanks. What did Obama do prior to February 1? Let’s see… He ascended to the Presidency two weeks earlier. Before that he was a junior senator from Illinois. Does that about cover it?

The Norwegian Nobel Peace committee apparently saw it differently:

To those who say a Nobel is too much too soon in Obama’s young presidency, “We simply disagree … He got the prize for what he has done,” committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland told The Associated Press by telephone from Strasbourg, France, where he was attending meetings of the Council of Europe.

Jagland singled out Obama’s efforts to heal the divide between the West and the Muslim world and scale down a Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe.

“All these things have contributed to — I wouldn’t say a safer world — but a world with less tension,” he said.

Read that last sentence again. Okay, never mind that the world is not safer – there is less tension. Currently America is engaged in Iraq and 13,000 more troops are being deployed to Afghanistan. North Korea is developing nuclear capabilities and Honduras is in its own little world. Less tension? For relaxing a Bush policy?

I’m not sure what was in the Committee’s happy-juice:

“Alfred Nobel wrote that the prize should go to the person who has contributed most to the development of peace in the previous year,” Jagland said.

“Who has done more for that than Barack Obama?”

Good question Mr. Jagland. Maybe you should have reviewed the other candidates on your list first.

No Surprise Here: U of Arizona’s Political Science Department Lacks Diversity

Although I rarely read the student newspaper, The Daily Wildcat, I glanced at it today and was bemused to read that that the University has zero Republican professors. While I dislike conflating the labels “Republican” and “Democrat” with “conservative” and “liberal”, political party is a rough indicator of probable social, moral, and economic values. With a whopping zero Republican instructors, I find it hard to think that any significant counter-balance exists to the liberal truths expounded from mouths of the left-leaning professors; but maybe the university simply cannot find any.

But that presumption is probably far too generous. Yes, conservative ideas are often at odds with liberal principles. Yes, a staunch conservative would be viewed as radical to bleeding heart liberal. Yes, it might seem outrageous to believe that the Constitution does not provide a general right of privacy. But if the University was looking for a token professor with unconventional beliefs, they found it in Bill Mishler.

Political science professor Bill Mishler said he hasn’t “committed voting” since roughly 1980. He called voting a waste of time and said anyone who doesn’t believe in the luck of roulette shouldn’t believe his or her vote makes a difference.

Mishler was the head of the Political Science Department from 1997-2004.

The political science department accepts these students, teaches them, and sends them into the “real world” a bit more “educated.” Let’s not forget that many of these students are only 18, 19, 20, and 21 years old – still relatively fresh from high school. Fill them up in the “facts” of a particular course; sprinkle in some snide political comments and soon these students become talking mouthpieces for the professors themselves. (Maybe Mishler is a reason the younger generation suffers from voter apathy). Even those with a inkling of conservative ideas are susceptible to these liberal leanings. And once those students are “educated”, it can be difficult to remain conservative.

Still, the solution is not through instituting quotas based on political affiliation. Rather, one answer resides within erudite students or blossoming professors to seek positions within institutions of higher education. Those students having withstood being boiled in the cauldron of liberalism should seek professorships and fellowships and to replace those fanning the flames of left-wing indoctrination.

The next time the University seeks a professor with unconventional beliefs more “radical” than Mishler’s non-voting conviction, it could do well to search among the conservative ranks.

Feeding the White Elephant: Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

With the onset of the new president-elect Barack Obama accelerating toward the driver’s seat of democratically controlled Congress, conservatives cannot help but brace themselves for the sweeping reversal of many of Bush’s policies – particularly in regard to stem cell research. Parties on both sides of the aisle expect Obama to issue an executive order ending the government federal funding ban on embryonic stem cell (ESC) research.

With as much progress stem cell research has achieved, applying the brakes to this Bush policy will detrimentally alter forthcoming advancements. Moral issues aside, ESC research has been spinning in a rut since its inception. Fueling its “development” with federal funding will merely exacerbate the problem.

After nearly a decade, human ESC research is much like the wizard in Dorothy’s Oz: facially powerful, substantively empty. With the promise being a virtual panacea, consider the results: there have been zero treatments and zero clinical trials. Total cost: billions. The continuous mantra chanted by its advocates still sounds, “more time.” California committed $3 billion in tax-payer monies over 10 years with the goal of developing a single treatment. Connecticut and Maryland have invested millions as well. They still have virtually nothing to show.

Consider the alternative: adult stem cells have treated over 80 diseases with over 1,300 clinical trials. Advancements in cord blood banking, and induced pluripotent stem cells are leading the way in medical breakthroughs. Recently, European physicians completed the first successful transplant of a human windpipe using (you guessed it) adult stem cells. Plenty more could be said of treatments for leukemia, diabetes, sickle-cell anemia and heart disease.

The government should support what works; it makes common financial sense: invest in known, proven, un-problematic means to advance medicine for a guaranteed rate of return. But channeling that money into decade-long speculation without proven results serves to limit development in medical pioneering. It is essentially pork barrel spending.

ESC research is by no means limited as a “moral” issue. An executive order subsidizing this research merely feeds the white elephant.