Republic of Isolation

Paris is the City of Blight for culture-shocked Japanese: report,” AGF, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/francejapanhealth, 13 December 2004 (from Wordpark)

The other day, an entry was how Germans are complaining that they can’t integrate immigrants. The French have a similar problem.

PARIS (AFP) – A strange illness has descended on Japanese living in Paris, tipping many of them in a state of profound culture shock after realizing their ideals about the French capital were unrealistic, a study said.

More than a 100 expatriates a year are sinking into a state called “the Paris syndrome” which is characterized by feelings of persecution or suicidal tendencies, according to the mental health facilities of city hospitals, according to a study in the Liberation newspaper said.

Most of the rest is prattle. Europe is xenophobic. Too staid to work, still too rich to want to work, too scared of foreigners to let others work, Europe continues to sink into its isolation. With Japanese immigrants, one can make fun of the problem. Highlighting the much more catastrohpic effects of isolating Muslim immigrants, such as the street violence and synagogue burnings, might be too close to actual news.

I was going to end with a cheap shot accusing old Europeans of racism, then thought better of it. Then I read

Many of those feeling victimized by the experience are Japanese women.

“They are, in general, young ladies who have been spoiled and protected. Ill-prepared for Western freedom, they often go off the rails,” the head of the French association Young Japan, Bernard Delage, said

Racist and sexist in one neat package. Way to go France!

Left-Right Drug Imperialism

College Fails in Bid to Grow Marijuana,” by Donald G. McNeil, Jr., New York Times, 14 December 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/14/national/14marijuana.html (from Democratic Underground)

What’s New in the Legal World? A Growing Campaign to Undo the New Deal,” by Adam Cohen, New York Times, 14 December 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/14/opinion/14tue4.html

A related article and op-ed. Both have some baggage, but both deal with a fundemental issue. The first chronicles a big-government crackdown on a state institution. The latter deals with some implications of the counter-attack.

A longstanding request to grow marijuana at the University of Massachusetts so it can be tested for medical uses has been turned down by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The decision was faxed to the university on Friday and made public yesterday by the Marijuana Policy Project, an independent group that favors legalization of marijuana, particularly for medical uses.

Perhaps President Bush can save the states.

…And last month in the Supreme Court – in a case about medical marijuana – the justices found themselves having to decide whether to stand by Wickard.

In that case, two Californians who use marijuana for medical reasons argued that Congress, which passed the Controlled Substances Act, did not have the constitutional power to stop them. To pass a law, Congress needs a constitutional hook, and the Controlled Substances Act relied on one of the most important ones, the Commerce Clause, which authorizes Congress to “regulate Commerce … among the several States.” The Californians argued that their marijuana did not involve interstate commerce because it never left their state.

Cohen mentions the catastrophic effect FDR had for freedom and states rights

That is where Wickard v. Filburn comes in. Roscoe Filburn was a farmer who argued that his wheat crop should not fall under federal production quotas because much of it was consumed on his own farm. The Supreme Court held that even if that wheat did not enter interstate commerce, wheat grown for use on a farm altered supply and demand in the national market. The decision gave Congress broad power to regulate things that are located in one state, like factories and employer-employee relationships.

The effects of states rights conservatives have already been great.

Some leading conservatives want the court to overturn Wickard and replace it with a pair of decisions from the 1800’s that one brief filed in the case said would return “Commerce Clause jurisprudence to its settled limits prior to the New Deal.” That would be a bold move, but the court has already been heading down this path. In recent years, it has struck down the Gun-Free School Zones Act and a crucial part of the Violence Against Women Act for exceeding Congress’s power.

He courageously exposes right-wing hyprocricy

It may be, however, that the justices are quicker to limit Congress’s power when it does things they don’t like (like gun regulation) than when it does things they do (like drug regulation). They may be waiting for a more congenial case.

But then engages in some of his own

If the Supreme Court drifts rightward in the next four years, as seems likely, it could not only roll back Congress’s Commerce Clause powers, but also revive other dangerous doctrines. Before 1937, the court invoked “liberty of contract” to strike down a Nebraska law regulating the weight of bread loaves, which kept buyers from being cheated, and a New York law setting a maximum 10-hour workday. Randy Barnett, the law professor who represented the medical marijuana users, argues in a new book that minimum wage laws infringe on “the fundamental natural right of freedom of contract.”

??? A perfectly good editorial, then it degenerates into fearmongering. States rights means rights for the state. Let the several united States decide their drug policies. Let them decide their leaf-weighing policies. This is the reason that Alabama, with some of the stricted anti-drug laws in the country, helped defend California in the medical marijuana case.

The federal imperialist can be right wing or left wing. He can be FDR or John Ashcroft. Federal imperialisms destroys the civic life of states.

In its order, drug agency said the lone government-licensed marijuana farm, operated by the University of Mississippi, grew enough for researchers. It said that 18 medical studies using the drug had been approved since 2000.

But Dr. Lyle E. Craker, the professor of plant biology at the University of Massachusetts who applied for the license three years ago, said researchers complained that the government’s marijuana was weak and that it was hard to get permission to use it.

“We wanted to have a source independent from the government and with a known potency so doctors can run clinical trials,” he said. Researchers would still have needed D.E.A. permission to work with the drug.

It also destroys lives.

Derbyshire’s Homophobia

A Dance to the (Disco) Music of Time: A review of Homosexuality and Civilization, by Louis Crompton,” by John Derbyshire, The Claremont Institute, http://www.claremont.org/writings/crb/spring2004/derbyshire.html, 6 April 2004.

An interview with John Derbyshire,” Collected Miscellany, http://collectedmiscellany.com/archives/000047.php, 11 November 2003.

Derbyshire Interview Follow-Up,” Collected Miscellany, http://collectedmiscellany.com/archives/000058.php, 11 November 2003.

Here to Stay: We’re here, we’re mildly and tolerantly homophobic, get used to it!” by John Derbyshire, National Review Online, http://www.nationalreview.com/derbyshire/derbyshire200405140857.asp, 14 May 2004

In the middle of a fascinating interview on Wall Street, novel writing, and mathematics, a fascinating prediction and statement

This is probably going to happen to me sooner or later, actually. I am not very careful about what I say, having grown up in the era before Political Correctness, and never having internalized the necessary restraints. I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one…

Defending his views in a follow-on essay

I described myself as “a mild, tolerant homophobe.” This means that I do not like homosexuality, and I think it is a net negative for society. As a conservative, inclined to give the benefit of the doubt (when there is doubt) to long-established practices, I cannot help note that there has never been a human society, at any level of civilization, that has approved egalitarian (that is, adult-adult) homosexuality. Male-male buggery has been proscribed in every society that ever existed. I am inclined to think that there are good reasons for these universal prohibitions. To say the least of it, male homosexuality is very unhealthy–much more so than, for example, cigarette smoking. A lot of the people who howl “Homophobe!” at me whenever I write anything about this topic are people who have to swallow a bucket of pills eight times a day just to stay alive. Is it any wonder I have trouble taking them seriously?

Earlier in a book review, Derbyshire questions the meaning of homosexuality

His topic is, of course, homosexuality, and this raises a number of problems right away. What is homosexuality? The term is currently used in reference to those who find erotic fulfillment only with coevals of their own sex. A great deal of Crompton’s book, however, deals with different matters. Much of it is about ephebophilia, or boy-love, a phenomenon whose connection to homosexuality is unclear. Indeed, many present-day homosexualist propagandists insist hotly that there is no connection at all.

And Derbyshire quotes Sir Kenneth Dover as writing

If Spartans in the fourth century B.C. unanimously and firmly denied that their erastai and eromenoi [i.e., senior and junior partners in an ephebophilic bond] ever had any bodily contact beyond a clasping of right hands, it was not easy for an outsider even at the time to produce evidence to the contrary, and for us it is impossible.

Further in the review, he breaks the situation down into four kinds

Reading Professor Crompton’s book, I found that the most useful way of thinking about his topic was as a sort of dance—a “dance to the music of time,” as it were. (Apologies to the late Anthony Powell.) The participants in this dance are not individual human beings but invariant components of the human personality, found in all times and places. Principal among those components I would list the following:

* Homosexual orientation. Some small proportion of people find erotic fulfillment only with members of their own sex.

* Ephebophilia. Some much larger proportion of adult men can be sexually aroused by contemplating the bodies of well-formed adolescent boys. Overt expression of this attraction has been approved in some societies (or among some social strata in some societies—this seems to be controversial), where it has led to open romantic bonding between adult men and boys. Some similar, but much less historically significant, phenomenon is found among women.

* Faute de mieux homosexuality. In societies, or institutions in societies—monasteries, prisons, etc. —where social custom or institutional imperative severely constrains access to the opposite sex, some large proportion of adults, perhaps a majority, will find erotic satisfaction, or at least release, with members of their own sex, when there are not strong institutional prejudices against this (as there are, for instance, in elite combat units of the U.S. military).

* Homophobia. (Note: This ugly and etymologically stupid word has entered general currency, so I use it here for convenience, though under protest.) The contemplation of homosexuality induces negative emotions—disgust and contempt, mostly, but also sometimes indignation, anger, and hatred—in many people.

The story told in Homosexuality and Civilization is in large part the story of a long dance among these four partners, with sometimes this one, sometimes that one taking the lead. The well-known proclivities of the ancient Greeks, for example, arose mainly from the union of the second and third of the factors I have listed.

But perhaps this is fiddling while Rome burns

My personal bet is that homosexuality will disappear before homophobia does — possibly quite soon, in a generation or so. Here’s my logic: One of the least controversial things you can say about homosexuality is this: Practically nobody wants his kids to grow up homosexual. Some people mind the prospect more than others, but practically nobody welcomes it — not even, I should think, homosexuals. (One of the rare exceptions is Sharon Osbourne, who recently remarked: “My only regret in life is that none of my children are gay.” I doubt any very large number of Americans take Mrs. Osbourne as a parenting role model, though.)

Now, the trend in current research on homosexuality, if I have understood it correctly, suggests that the homosexual orientation is indeed mostly congenital — the result of events in the mother’s womb, or in early infancy, with perhaps some slight genetic predisposition. The thing is, in short, mainly biochemical — part of a person’s physical make-up.

Supposing this is true, let us conduct a wee thought experiment — admittedly a fanciful one. A young woman in the late stages of pregnancy, or carrying a small infant, shows up at her doctor’s office. “Doctor,” she asks, “is there some kind of test you can do to tell me if my child is likely to become a homosexual adult?” The doctor says yes, there is. “And,” the woman continues, “suppose the test is positive — would that be something we can fix? I mean, is there some sort of medical, or genetic, or biochemical intervention we can do at this stage, to prevent that happening?” The doctor says yes, there is. “How much does the test cost? And supposing it’s positive, how much does the fix cost?” The doctor says $50, and $500. The woman takes out her checkbook.

Of course this is not happening anywhere in the U.S.A. right now. If my understanding of the state of current research is correct, however, it might very well be happening on a daily basis ten years from now.

Thus ending the first well-written defenses of homophobia I have read.