Crimethink must be punished
Feb 29th, 2016 by Ken Hagler

Child Faces Crim­i­nal Charges After Using Weapon Emo­jis on Insta­gram. A Vir­ginia 12-year-old faces crim­i­nal harass­ment charges after post­ing an Insta­gram mes­sage that said “meet me in the library Tues­day” fol­lowed by gun, knife, and bomb emo­jis. [Hit & Run]

The charges are a smoke­screen. What this girl is real­ly being per­se­cut­ed for is thought­crime, for using an emo­ji of a gun. They don’t have to actu­al­ly get a con­vic­tion, just send a mes­sage to show the oth­er peas­ants what will hap­pen to them. If they didn’t, peo­ple might esca­late to more seri­ous thoughctrimes like draw­ing pic­tures of guns with their crayons, or even some­thing tru­ly unfor­giv­able like point­ing their fin­gers and say­ing “bang.” By going after one girl, no mat­ter the out­come, they’ve giv­en the oth­er inmates of their gov­ern­ment school a pow­er­ful les­son on why they should “exer­cise [them­selves] in crimestop.”

Missing the point
Sep 16th, 2014 by Ken Hagler

Com­mon Core Will Make Schools in U.S. More Like Chi­na and That’s Not a Good Thing. The New York Times recent­ly pub­lished a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view with Yong Zhao, a pro­fes­sor of edu­ca­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ore­gon. Zhao was born in Chi­na; unlike many Amer­i­can intel­lec­tu­als, he does not think U.S. schools should try to emu­late Chi­na.


Chi­nese schools stamp out indi­vid­u­al­i­ty and make kids spend all their time prepar­ing for exams that are focused on “nar­row intel­li­gence.” This pro­duces few­er cre­ative and entre­pre­neur­ial peo­ple, which is pre­cise­ly what the author­i­tar­i­an nation­al gov­ern­ment of Chi­na wants, accord­ing to Zhao. [Hit & Run]

The prob­lem is that stamp­ing out indi­vid­u­al­i­ty is also pre­cise­ly what the US gov­ern­ment and many Amer­i­can intel­lec­tu­als want.

Quote of the Day
Nov 28th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Schools exist to teach chil­dren two things: con­for­mi­ty and sub­mis­sion to author­i­ty. Any­thing else a child learns is com­plete­ly inci­den­tal. This is why bul­ly­ing per­sists. Forc­ing chil­dren to go to school and be around bul­lies is part of train­ing them to believe they have to sub­mit to hor­ri­ble peo­ple for the rest of their life. 


The result of public schools
Nov 17th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Amer­i­ca the Illit­er­ate. We live in two Amer­i­c­as. One Amer­i­ca, now the minor­i­ty, func­tions in a print-based, lit­er­ate world. It can cope with com­plex­i­ty and has the intel­lec­tu­al tools to sep­a­rate illu­sion from truth. The oth­er Amer­i­ca, which con­sti­tutes the major­i­ty, exists in a non-reality-based belief sys­tem. This Amer­i­ca, depen­dent on skill­ful­ly manip­u­lat­ed images for infor­ma­tion, has sev­ered itself from the lit­er­ate, print-based cul­ture. It can­not dif­fer­en­ti­ate between lies and truth. It is informed by sim­plis­tic, child­ish nar­ra­tives and clichés. It is thrown into con­fu­sion by ambi­gu­i­ty, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gen­der, more than rur­al or urban, believ­er or non­be­liev­er, red state or blue state, has split the coun­try into rad­i­cal­ly dis­tinct, unbridge­able and antag­o­nis­tic enti­ties.

There are over 42 mil­lion Amer­i­can adults, 20 per­cent of whom hold high school diplo­mas, who can­not read, as well as the 50 mil­lion who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade lev­el. Near­ly a third of the nation’s pop­u­la­tion is illit­er­ate or bare­ly lit­er­ate. And their num­bers are grow­ing by an esti­mat­ed 2 mil­lion a year. But even those who are sup­pos­ed­ly lit­er­ate retreat in huge num­bers into this image-based exis­tence. A third of high school grad­u­ates, along with 42 per­cent of col­lege grad­u­ates, nev­er read a book after they fin­ish school. Eighty per­cent of the fam­i­lies in the Unit­ed States last year did not buy a book.

The illit­er­ate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so with­out the abil­i­ty to make deci­sions based on tex­tu­al infor­ma­tion. Amer­i­can polit­i­cal cam­paigns, which have learned to speak in the com­fort­ing epis­te­mol­o­gy of images, eschew real ideas and pol­i­cy for cheap slo­gans and reas­sur­ing per­son­al nar­ra­tives. Polit­i­cal pro­pa­gan­da now mas­quer­ades as ide­ol­o­gy. Polit­i­cal cam­paigns have become an expe­ri­ence. They do not require cog­ni­tive or self-critical skills. They are designed to ignite pseudo-religious feel­ings of eupho­ria, empow­er­ment and col­lec­tive sal­va­tion. Cam­paigns that suc­ceed are care­ful­ly con­struct­ed psy­cho­log­i­cal instru­ments that manip­u­late fick­le pub­lic moods, emo­tions and impuls­es, many of which are sub­lim­i­nal. They cre­ate a pub­lic ecsta­sy that annuls indi­vid­u­al­i­ty and fos­ters a state of mind­less­ness. They thrust us into an eter­nal present. They cater to a nation that now lives in a state of per­ma­nent amne­sia. It is style and sto­ry, not con­tent or his­to­ry or real­i­ty, which inform our pol­i­tics and our lives. We pre­fer hap­py illu­sions. And it works because so much of the Amer­i­can elec­torate, includ­ing those who should know bet­ter, blind­ly cast bal­lots for slo­gans, smiles, the cheer­ful fam­i­ly tableaux, nar­ra­tives and the per­ceived sin­cer­i­ty and the attrac­tive­ness of can­di­dates. We con­fuse how we feel with knowl­edge.


The core val­ues of our open soci­ety, the abil­i­ty to think for one­self, to draw inde­pen­dent con­clu­sions, to express dis­sent when judg­ment and com­mon sense indi­cate some­thing is wrong, to be self-critical, to chal­lenge author­i­ty, to under­stand his­tor­i­cal facts, to sep­a­rate truth from lies, to advo­cate for change and to acknowl­edge that there are oth­er views, dif­fer­ent ways of being, that are moral­ly and social­ly accept­able, are dying. Oba­ma used hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in cam­paign funds to appeal to and manip­u­late this illit­er­a­cy and irra­tional­ism to his advan­tage, but these forces will prove to be his most dead­ly neme­sis once they col­lide with the awful real­i­ty that awaits us. [Infor­ma­tion Clear­ing House]

It’s pop­u­lar for peo­ple to say that pub­lic schools are fail­ing, but all of this demon­strates that they have in fact been a bril­liant suc­cess at their actu­al objec­tive.

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