Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Free Religion

Mike Pence Really Could Be Worse Than Trump

As the talk of impeaching President Trump has ramped up, a lot of people seem to be really excited by the prospect of his removal. I’m afraid I can’t share the enthusiasm. Why? I’m a Hoosier–I grew up in Indiana, the state Vice President Pence governed from 2013 to 2017. My parents still live there. Every year I come back from grad school in the summers and over the holidays to reconnect with my roots, and even when I’m faraway I make a point to stay up to date on the happenings in my state. This means that for the last four years I’ve had a pretty detailed look at Pence. Most Americans seem to view him as some kind of serious, responsible, adult Republican. This understanding is grounded in the way Pence has presented himself on the national stage–as this taciturn, businesslike bridge between the different Republican factions. Pence has done an impressive marketing job getting people to view him this way, because when he’s in power it’s a very different story. Let me tell you some Mike Pence tales.

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A Radical Proposal for Kindergarten and Pre-K

In our schools, we are often trying to accomplish two conflicting goals at once:

  1. We want our quickest students to maximize their potential–this means we want them to be in classes that move at their pace.
  2. We don’t want our slower students to be dismissed and devalued, so we are reluctant to separate them from the quicker students and put them in remedial classes where they may be given a low priority.

If we put fast students and slow students in the same age group together, the class will either move at a pace that’s too slow for the quick kids or too fast for the slow kids. If we separate them, educational resources tend to flow disproportionately to the kids who are already at an advantage, as they tend to have the most involved parents.

I have a suggestion to get around this problem while at the same time resolving public policy disputes about state support for expanding Pre-K education.

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Duck Dynasty and Corporate Speech

American cable station A&E has put Phil Robertson, star of its hit reality series Duck Dynasty, on an indefinite hiatus for making comments in the January issue of GQ magazine in which he disparaged gay people. There have been two broad categories of reaction to this. LGBT rights supporters are happy, believing that A&E’s move sends a message that criticizing homosexuality is no longer okay. Conservative Christians, on the other hand, are upset–they believe that A&E has stifled Robertson’s free speech rights. Who’s right?

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Obama at the UN

Barack Obama addressed the United Nations yesterday on the subject of Middle East policy. In the meantime, Mitt Romney continued to criticise the Obama administration on the same issue. Today I would like to discuss the remarks of each, and point out one key flaw at the heart of both men’s policies.

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Free Speech and Chicken Shops

Background: recently, chicken shop CEO Dan Cathy said the following:

we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about

The reaction to this has largely divided people into two camps. Opponents view Cathy’s comment as homophobic and bigoted; they’re staging boycotts and modified sit-ins popularly described as “kiss-ins”. Supporters agree with Cathy’s view. However, there has been an interesting backlash to opposition to Cathy’s comment. Some people are saying that, independent of whether or not Cathy is correct, he has the right to his opinion and we must respect it. These people have missed the point of the debate, and, on a more theoretical level, have missed the point of free speech. Here’s why.

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