Archive for the ‘Public Safety’ Category

Aphorism LVI

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Imagine if most measures used within a school were established to advance a student’s progress, instead of to evaluate the teacher.

Imagine if each student began their school career with a ability / disability diagnostic, repeated periodically, to address sight, hearing, emotional, physical, aesthetic, and cognitive strengths and weaknesses that would be systematically addressed with an individualized, multi-year development strategy geared to each student.

Imagine if the student’s advances in health, safety, creativity, play, nutrition, occupation, vocation, and spirit were supported and coordinated along with their education.

Imagine if parents, teachers, and other caregivers, but not the state, were partners in such a freely chosen, voluntary process.

This, then, can be the Catholic school of the future.

But if the state tried to impose such a model on all, it would be forcing into existence a dysfunctional, totalitarian regime beyond the wildest dreams of the most notorious tyrants in history.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The Inestimable Value of One Human Life: Trayvon Martin

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

The national controversy over the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, in which thousands have demonstrated in protest, shows the inestimable value of one human life.

Would that each loss of life, whether that life be from war, or disease, or crime, or accident, or slavery, or abuse, or persecution, or abortion, receive the same serious and deserving attention.

Each and every single human life, no matter how young, how old, how dark, how light, how big, or how tiny, merits the same loving attention, merits the same Gospel of Life.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism XLII

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Public space set aside permanently for ongoing, overnight anarchy (of whatever political persuasion) inevitably leads to violence.

Violence under these conditions is inevitable, because such continuous assignment of public space allows anarchist elements to mass through the process of anarcho-tourism and to progress to their logically violent conclusion.

Chicago learned its lesson on this point a long time ago, as just about any Chicago Police officer is willing to announce:

“Da bahrgk glozez atd levven B-M.”

Translation: “The park closes at 11 PM.”

Or simply: “Da bahrgk iz glozedt.”

Translation: “The park is closed.”

Freedom of assembly does not include the freedom to camp out on public property not assigned for camping use.

This simple stricture–no overnight camp-outs in city parks not designated for such use–will greatly allay the rise of another Weather Underground on the Far Left or of fascist mob rule on either the Far Left or the Far Right.

Such a stricture still allows for social movements to peacefully gather in civic public places during the daylight hours.

For more, please see my Aphorism on anarcho-tourism, or anarchotourism.

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Violent Language from the Proponent of an Anti-Bullying Campaign

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Sex advice columnist and MTV personality Dan Savage has gained note of late for his anti-bullying campaign, It Gets Better, and for a recent White House invitation.

But I recall that the same Dan Savage was the author of some of the most violent and threatening language in print, for example, in his November, 17, 2006 column–

The ex-gay thing is over. It’s dead. It was b______ from the start, and it’s b________ now. And I will personally track down and b____-slap the next fundie douche who sends me an e-mail explaining how Jesus can cure me. And I will personally track down and _____ in the mouth of the next cable-news anchor who entertains—even for an instant—the notion of a miracle cure for homosexuality.

Consider yourself warned, Paula Zahn.—Dan

Dan Savage, Savage Love column, 11/17/06, accessed 7/5/11

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/33778/savage-love

I have not found a record of Mr. Savage disavowing his earlier, violent language. It is therefore very contradictory that the author of such violent statements should be on the college speaking circuit, featured in newspapers and media internationally, and honored by a White House invitation.

I hope Mr. Savage does disavow his earlier threatening and violent statements. They are still quite present on the Internet, speaking louder than his present words against bullying.

For more current violent and scatological language by Mr. Savage, please see minute 2:30 and forward of the following video. Warning: content not appropriate for children.

Mr. Savage is also known for his recurrent defense of anal intercourse as a sexual practice. He included a gross and snide remark about Benedict XVI into a 2009 column in this regard.

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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US Peace Corps Mourns a Loss, Confronts a Problem

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

While the Peace Corps mourned the loss of its first director, Sargent Shriver, on 1/18/11, it was confronting a major scandal in ABC 20/20’s 1/14/11 revelation that over 1,000 of its female volunteers have been sexually assaulted or raped in the past decade, with a highlight on the murder of Peace Corps volunteer Kate Puzey in Benin, who courageously reported the sexual abuse of girls in the school where she served.

See the related Politics Daily article on years of lack of action by the Peace Corps in response to sexual assaults and worse against its female volunteers.

ABC reported that Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams issued a belated apology to the Puzey family.

The suffering of dedicated young women like Kate Puzey should be memorialized in the abolition of sexual abuse of girls and women, and in the overturning of the indolence of those who failed to act. What a terrible human norm is the abuse of women and girls!

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Mental Illness and the 1/8/11 Tucson, Arizona Shooting

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Political narratives, as self-reinforcing and immediate as they might be, crumble in the face of the seemingly insolvable problems posed by certain mental illnesses.

Having worked with the mentally ill on and off for decades, I pray that the Tucson, Arizona shooting of 1/8/11 puts the public policy focus again on research and treatment for mental illness.

But I doubt that will happen, simply because mental illness, despite the shootings of several famous American and world figures over the years, is not the public policy priority it should be. Mental illness is a difficult and expensive problem to solve, and we apparently are not up to addressing it collectively either as a nation or internationally.

It is much easier to point fingers and construct political narratives than it is to solve difficult health and social problems like mental illness through scientific research and compassionate care. This is what I call choosing identity rather than choosing mercy.

According to the 1/9/11 Wall Street Journal:

“At Pima Community College, Mr. [Jared Lee] Loughner had five contacts with campus police for classroom and library disruptions, the school said. The school suspended Mr. Loughner last year, saying he could not return unless he obtained clearance from a mental-health professional that indicated his presence would not present a danger to himself or others.

Under federal law, a mentally ill person is barred from purchasing a gun if a court has found that the individual is a danger to himself or the community.

“Just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean you’re prohibited from buying a gun,” said an official at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“You can be diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and buy a gun. A judge has to find you mentally ill before you are prohibited.”

Brent Kendall, Shooting Puts Focus on Gun Laws, Wall Street Journal online edition, January 9, 2011, 5:50 P.M. ET,

Please see this scientific study entitled Assassination in the United States: An operational study of recent assassins, attackers, and near-lethal approachers, at the US Secret Service website:

“What does seem clear for almost all subjects was that their attack or near-lethal approach occurred after a period of downward spiral in their lives.”

Fein, R., & Vossekuil, B. (1999). Assassination in the United States: An operational study of recent assassins, attackers, and near-lethal approachers. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 44, 321-333, pg. 332.

Mental illness accounts for an untold number of deaths, and figures prominently in many assassination attempts.

Yet we collectively put our mentally ill out on the streets, and do not act quickly enough to identify and treat dangerous, mentally ill persons.

Pima Community College apparently acted very responsibly in barring the alleged assassin Mr. Loughner from school. But there apparently was no required next step–even though getting kicked out of school is a “downward spiral” event–that would have forced an evaluation of Mr. Loughner from a mental health point of view that might have prevented his purchasing a gun.

Pima Community College also should be credited with another positive action: according to press reports, school officials met with Mr. Loughner and his parents. The US FERPA law prevents parents from being notified of certain disciplinary actions by colleges regarding their children–unless the children consent in advance for their parents to be notified. That Pima Community College and the parents managed to meet in this age of FERPA (and in spite of FERPA?) indicates that an exceptional effort was made by both the college and the parents. Too often FERPA prevents the very persons who could be most helpful to a troubled young adult–the parents–from knowing the full extent of a young adult’s mental illness.

Adult-onset mental illness is one of the most tragic phenomena to address, and it is especially devastating for parents, who often have successfully raised their children to that point. Certain mentally ill young adults can quickly become quite dangerous. We must adjust our public health and law enforcement strategies to address such serious diseases.

A young adult barred from school for mental health reasons should also be temporarily barred from gun ownership. If there is sufficient reason to bar a student from school pending psychiatric treatment because of an apparent danger they may pose, there also should be sufficient reason to bar them from gun ownership until they likewise receive psychiatric treatment or evaluation.

So I ask my friends, colleagues, and readers to stop constructing political narratives around the 1/8/11 Tucson, Arizona shooting for a few minutes, and consider the problem of the dangerously mentally ill. We can do more to address that problem, and perhaps save many future lives.

Was it a political narrative that killed John Lennon and that shot Ronald Reagan, or was it a mentally ill person?

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The US 1946-48 Guatemala Syphilis Experiment

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Thousands of news articles and blogs worldwide are covering the shocking discovery by Wellesley College researcher Prof. Susan M. Reverby that US scientists engaged in a Tuskegee-style syphilis experiment from 1946-48 in Guatemala, during which persons were similarly and purposely infected with disease and left untreated without their informed consent.

Those who hold the naive Enlightenment idea that science automatically supports human rights against ideology, religion, and ignorance have now thus been in for another corrective shock.

It is not generally known what an immense ethical apparatus exists within governments and universities worldwide to prevent scientists from violating the rights of research subjects, from cheating on or misrepresenting scientific results, from appropriating the work of others, and from exploiting of the work of students and junior scientists, among other lapses, for the simple reason that scientists are human. The general public also has no idea of the number of scientific ethical breaches quietly disposed of annually worldwide within this government and academic ethical apparatus. This ethical apparatus grew in part after the shocking story of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. With the Guatemala Syphilis Experiment, the saga continues.

Science does not guarantee health or virtue or truth. Science only informs and corrects, and can make physical health more likely with the proper practice of medicine. Ethical and moral behavior, informed by science, help reveal and protect the truth. But the practice of informed virtue itself advances virtue.

Our compliments to Prof. Reverby for her discovery, which advances the cause of human rights and the protection of research subjects, and demonstrates the value of research.

Please see my earlier post also addressing the topic of the protection of research subjects.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Schools and prisons as the composite urban educational system

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Those seeking to end urban violence look first to change the school and the neighborhood and to gimmicks like a summit or a truce when they should be first looking to change the prison.

Prisons can send violence back to the school and neighborhood as quickly as the school and neighborhood can pacify themselves.

It was from the US prison over the past five decades that the gang culture codified, solidified, and expanded to become culturally normative in terms of urban mores, manners, art, fashion, and violence, including domestic violence and the expanded physical and sexual abuse of children.

The culture of the urban street and the culture of the prison are now nearly indistinguishable.

Compounded by self-contradictory wars on drugs, by a lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key attitude, and by over-committed state and local governments, prisons by default became our society’s most influential, effective, and powerful urban teaching institutions, having arguably a greater effect upon the quality of life in urban society than any combination of other institutions.

Through the growth of a “prison-industrial complex” in rural areas, certain rural communities have also become socially and economically dependent on prison society, changing the face of rural life in untold ways.

The research evidence assembled by the Correctional Education Association is abundant that education within prison reduces recidivism and increases earning after prison.

Hundreds of thousands of (mostly) men of (mostly) color, many with salvageable chances, languish in our US prisons. We should be educating these prisoners at a much higher rate than we are at present.

But such a program will not win elections, so neither political party is taking up this cause. This is social neglect of the worst order. We have thereby mis-educated five urban generations to violence, failure, and despair.

Schools and prison are actually one composite urban educational system, with the prison as the “anti-school” that defeats the purposes of school. Prison reform is therefore key to any sustainable urban school reform.

Unless we effectively reform and rebuild the educational component of the prison, our US urban civilization is doomed to become ever more violent and hopeless, and therefore, unsustainable.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s America article on Catholic Schools

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan has issued a clarion call for Catholic schools in the 9/13/10 issue of America Magazine. He urges all Catholics, not just school parents, to support these schools, and to give up our “hospice mentality” about Catholic education–the attitude of watching Catholic education slowly die.

Archbishop Dolan makes a strong point that whereas American Catholic schools arose as a response to anti-Catholic bias, the present challenge is secularization:

“. . . . the Catholic Church is now confronted by a new secularization asserting that a person of faith can hardly be expected to be a tolerant and enlightened American. Religion, in this view, is only a personal hobby, with no implications for public life. Under this new scheme, to take one’s faith seriously and bring it to the public square somehow implies being un-American. To combat this notion, an equally energetic evangelization—with Catholic schools at its center—is all the more necessary.”

Archbishop Dolan’s position deserves wide support.

It would be extremely naive to assume that today’s secularization is benignly tolerant of religious expression. Catholics of good will may not have any idea how far from common sense our public schools have moved toward the outright manipulation of children. To fully appreciate how different the approach of Catholic education is from today’s public education in this regard, please take a look at a recent article by Miriam Grossman, MD, on explicit sex education of little children in public schools. Such over-sexualized instruction is an important aspect of secularized education.

Catholic Schools are one important refuge that protects our young children from such inappropriate instruction. As an expression of religious freedom, Catholic schools protect children from such manipulation. Religious freedom cannot grow beyond private expression unless religious freedom is established in educational institutions.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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High speed rail as the icon and panacea of naive futurism

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

High speed rail is to 21st Century America what the monorail was to the 20th, the icon and panacea of naive futurism, realized mostly in theme parks and in visualizations.

In the post-9/11 world, the overlay of security that would be necessary to make high speed rail safe in the US would add much not only to the time and expense of construction and maintenance of such infrastructure, but also to the cost of and the time consumed by each trip, thereby reducing egalitarian availability.

While actual time spent on the high speed train between one city and another may be 20 minutes, an hour or more of security screening may have to be added to the trip. While multiple airlines subsidize the infrastructure of an airport, no such clustering of public and private resources is likely for high speed rail, unless high speed rail depots are also are located at airports.

Institutions such as cities and universities which shape their present institutional strategy around the assumed imminence of high speed rail may be sacrificing present opportunities for an uncertain future that may never come, and that may be limited in access only to the elite even if it does.

9/11 has changed the high speed rail equation. Such a change implies the following public investment strategies:

1. Better to plan a future utilizing the continued expansion of telecommunications and its capacity to bring people face to face instantly. This technology is getting cheaper, better, more useful–and more used–every day.

2. The increased costs associated with post-9/11 high speed rail imply the placement of other public infrastructure where it will be most near to those populations who will actually make use of it without the unnecessary expenditure of time or resources.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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