An education in inequality

“A recent study by the Yale University Child Study Center shows that Black children — especially boys — no matter their family income, receive less attention, harsher punishment and lower marks in school than their White counterparts from kindergarten all the way through college. A subsequent article published in “The Washington Post” reported that Black children in the Washington, D.C. area are suspended or expelled two to five times more often than White children. It’s a national trend that needs to be addressed.”

From News One, more here.

The NYT wants to know: should newspapers point out lies?

Can they really be asking this question? Indeed they can.

I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.

Apparently if they did this they would qualify as ‘truth vigilantes’. I would have used the word ‘reporters’.

(Thanks, Mr Jender. And thanks also for the many expletives with which you alerted me to the story.)

Au Revoir, Mademoiselle

“A town in Western France has banned the word “mademoiselle” – the French equivalent of “miss”. The move comes as feminist groups campaign for the word to be consigned to the dustbin of history everywhere. Could its days be numbered?”

You can read more from the BBC here.

Identity, Privacy, and Teaching Ethics

In a column in Xtra, “‘They’ is me: TRANS REPRESENTATION / Call us what we wish to be called”, Ivan Coyote tells the story of receiving a email from a student who was looking for Ivan’s legal name as part of an assignment for a university course. Ivan writes: “This young woman had tried and tried, she said, to find it online, but couldn’t, and she really wanted those extra marks. Would I be so kind as to just tell her?”

Ivan’s reaction? “I took a deep breath. I was flabbergasted, skin crawling with chill fingers at how totally creepy this felt, an entire college English or writing or queer studies or whatever class assigned the task of violating my privacy for extra credit at school.”

After reading the column, I shared Ivan’s reaction. I thought this was an appalling assignment. But after talking about this issue with library science and journalism professors it turns out that this sort of assignment isn’t out of the ordinary. Students are often asked to track down the legal name of authors. One student told of being asked to find a particular writer’s home address. I’m still not clear what purpose this serves in the study of library science though I can see the purpose for journalism students, I guess. It seems to me there is an interesting question of teaching ethics here. Has anyone dealt with this before?

When is a sex act degrading?

Jezebel has an interesting article on whether facials are degrading (it’s here – but be warned, it’s probably NSFW. Unless your workplace is a lot more interesting than mine.)

I suspect there’s no person- and context-independent answer to the question of whether something like a facial is degrading. But I thought a particularly problematic part of the article was this:

A lot more straight porn features women happily accepting facials than reacting with disgust and evident humiliation. That acceptance may be feigned, but it suggests that the primary turn-on about facials for men isn’t the desire to degrade women.

Porn routinely features women ultimately enjoying all sorts of things – including rape. That doesn’t mean that such depictions aren’t misogynistic.

CFP: Bellingham Conference

CFP: Bellingham Summer Philosophy Conference 2012

The 13th annual Bellingham Summer Philosophy Conference will take place from July 29th to August 2nd, 2012, in Bellingham, Washington. Everyone in the world is invited to submit a paper, or to volunteer to be a commentator or session chair, but conference attendance is by invitation only, and will be primarily limited to those whose papers are accepted for presentation, and those volunteers who are asked to commentate/chair.

To submit a paper: Papers submitted to the 2012 BSPC are automatically and simultaneously submitted to both the conference and the BSPC 2012 special issue of Philosophical Studies, and every paper accepted for the conference will be published in the journal issue. So all submissions must be papers that are not submitted (or scheduled) for publication elsewhere. (Authors of accepted papers will have a chance to revise their papers, after getting feedback during the conference, before publication in the Philosophical Studies issue.)

Submissions should be prepared for anonymous review and emailed to the 2012 BSPC Program Committee at bspc2012 AT (Please include a word count, including footnotes and bibliography, on the first page of the paper.) Papers on any topic are welcome, but the conference program committee will be looking for papers that are of interest to all BSPC participants, regardless of AOS. Papers of any length will be considered, but shorter papers (under about 7,000 words, including footnotes and bibliography) will have a better chance of being accepted than longer papers.

The deadline for submissions is March 1st, 2012. Authors will be notified of the Program Committee’s decisions by mid-May.

To volunteer to be a commentator or chair: All volunteers should e-mail the 2012 BSPC Program Committee at Prospective commentators should indicate their areas of specialization. The deadline for volunteering is March 1st, 2012. Volunteers will be notified of the Program Committee’s decisions by mid-May.

Please note: The BSPC is a workshop-style conference whose participants are expected to read all of the papers in advance, to attend all of the sessions, and to come prepared for discussion. You should not submit a paper or volunteer to comment or chair unless you plan on being a responsible conference participant.

For more information about the conference, go here.