Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "Casualty of 'peace'," March 24, 2001

Rats' rights! Johns Hopkins University is fighting a Clinton-era Department of Agriculture policy that regulates medical testing under the Animal Welfare Act. Red tape will require researchers to keep tabs on 42,000 mice, 3,000 rats, and 300 birds used for lab work, according to The Washington Times's Debra Saunders. She reported that the controversy started because a college student was "personally, aesthetically, emotionally, and profoundly disturbed" that "rats were suffering and subject to deplorable living conditions." Animal-rights activists sued and the Ag Department policy was the result. Ms. Saunders blames this dispute on false compassion: "Nice people stand up for their furry friends in the lab. They don't think about the nice, but sick, human beings who are helped by animal research." Oppression obsession: You can't even pay for free speech on college campuses these days. The Daily Californian, Berkeley's campus paper, offered extensive apologies for running an ad placed by ex-leftist muckraker David Horowitz. His paid column, "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery Is a Bad Idea-and Racist Too," cost $1,200 and inspired activists to protest, steal papers, and otherwise make noise. The Wall Street Journal reported that 75 students marched at the University of Wisconsin over the same ad. "That notion that free speech is a tool of the oppressor is now mainstream in the campus culture," noted columnist John Leo. He pointed out that even though most Americans probably agree with many of Mr. Horowitz's arguments, the academic establishment won't hear it. Thus the ivory tower is so obsessed with being oppressed that it can no longer function. Detestin' Heston: Planet of The Apes is getting a remake-and 76-year-old Charlton Heston will be in it, at least in a cameo. He talked to the E! cable network about his career as an actor and political activist. Mr. Heston, current president of the National Rifle Association, told the interviewer that he didn't think he was mistreated by his colleagues, with one possible exception: Barbra Streisand. "But Ms. Streisand, I suggest, is inadequately educated on the Constitution of the United States." She produced a 1998 network television drama, "The Long Island Incident," which took potshots at the NRA. Blame the gun: Violence attracts attention, noted the Orlando Sentinel's Charley Reese in a column about the San Diego school shootings, sending this message to the marginalized: "One way to get your 15 minutes of fame is to shoot a few people." Likewise, columnist David Kopel argued that intense media attention to school shootings sends the signal to a tiny subculture that a massacre means martyrdom. He wondered in National Review Online why nobody took responsibility for the perpetrator's moral development. He attacked the view that guns themselves are to blame, arguing that today's educational system allows such problems to grow and fester. We only notice alleged shooter Andy Williams's acts because they were sensational and deadly. "Sure, blame the gun," Mr. Kopel said. "Never mind that many students in government schools are routinely tormented and attacked in ways that would constitute a felony (if a school principal, rather than a ninth-grader, were the victim). Often, schools are so big and impersonal that administrators frequently don't even know there's a problem." Just a little bit: Is President Bush finally getting some respect? Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne called on his fellow talking heads to quit attacking Dubya's intelligence. When critics do this, it backfires. They look like narrow elitists and Mr. Bush winds up the hero of the common man. Mr. Dionne noted that this is the same mistake that played right into the able hands of Ronald Reagan. Mr. Bush learned the lessons from Newt Gingrich's failures and is a man to be taken seriously, despite what pundits think of his Texan roots, his down-home style, or his policies: "It is a form of intellectual laziness for Bush's critics to see attacks on the president's intelligence as a sure way to work themselves into power."

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