Federal Court Ruling

Federal Court Ruling: A federal court has ruled that Christmas (like Hanukkah, Easter, and Passover) may be observed in the public schools as a cultural event but not as a religious holiday. Educational lawyers interpret that as meaning that songs like “Silent Night” may be sung in a class learning about religious customs or in a music appreciation class but not as a religious celebration. Do you support the idea of banning all religious celebrations from the schools in this manner?
Docudramas: When Elizabeth Taylor learned that a TV movie based on her life was in preparation, she went to court to block its production, claiming that the so-called docudrama was “simply a fancy new name for old-fashioned invasion of privacy, defamation, and violation of an actor’s rights.” Some people would say that her request should have been denied because it represents censorship. What do you think? (Would you think differently if the docudrama concerned the life of a deceased celebrity, such as Kurt Cobain or Elvis Presley?)
Behaviors: Think about how mannerly the students, faculty, and staff at your college
are (could be done anywhere, just think of the people who are around you). Observe their behavior in various situations, noting examples of courtesy and rudeness.
Attitudes: Apply your critical thinking to each of the following issues. Make a special effort to recall situations you have observed that are related to the issue, and ask yourself, “What conclusion do these observations point to?” (If your observations have been too limited, solicit the observations of other people.)
a. In recent years, books and articles have warned people of the dangers of “workaholism.” During the same period there have been few, if any, warnings about chronic laziness. Which is more prevalent in this country today, workaholism or chronic laziness?
b. The view of winning attributed to Vince Lombardi is “Winning isn’t everything—it’s the only thing.” Is this a healthy view to bring to athletic competition? To other forms of competition?
c. Many people believe parents should be held legally and financially responsible for children over the age of sixteen who live at home. Is this a reasonable stance?
Limiting an Issue: Apply the approach explained in this chapter to two of the following issues. Be sure to select issues that interest you. For full credit, respond to at least two other student postings.

a. Is the U.S. federal income tax system in need of reform?

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b. Is the teaching of sex education in elementary schools desirable?

c. Should divorce laws be tightened so that obtaining a divorce is more difficult?

d. Is it possible for a sane person to commit suicide?

e. Are students’ attention spans shrinking?

f. Should prostitution be legalized?

g. Should the lobbying of legislators by special interest groups be outlawed?

h. Should all advertising be banned from children’s TV (for example, from Saturday morning cartoon shows)?

i. Is devil worship a threat to society?

j. Is it reasonable to believe that some UFOs are extraterrestrial?

k. Are male athletes superior to female athletes?

l. Is political correctness a problem on your campus?

Analyze Argument: Analyze ONE of the following summaries in the manner demonstrated in chapter 18. Be sure to get beyond your first impressions, and avoid the errors in thinking summarized in Chapter 13. Answer all the questions you raise, deciding exactly in what ways you agree with the idea and in what ways you disagree.

a. Feeling and intuition are better guides to behavior than is reasoning. We need immediate answers to many of our problems today, and feeling and intuition are almost instantaneous, while reasoning is painfully slow. Moreover, feeling and intuition are natural, uncorrupted by artificial values and codes imposed on us by society. Reasoning is a set of programmed
responses—tight, mechanical, and unnatural. Thus, if we wish to achieve individuality, to express our real inner self, the part of us that is unconditioned by others, we should follow our feelings and intuitions instead of our thoughts.

b. It is commonly accepted that the best way to improve the world and relations among its people is for everyone to curb his or her own self-interest and think of others. This concern with others is the basic idea in the Golden Rule and in most religions. It is, of course, questionable whether that goal is realizable. But, more important, it is mistaken. It is not selfishness but the pretense of altruism that sets person against person. If everyone looked
out for himself or herself, and pursued his or her own interests, there would be not only less hypocrisy in the world but more understanding. Each person would be aware of where everyone else stood in relation to him or her. And no one would be dependent on others.

c. The institution of marriage has outlived its usefulness. More and more people today, particularly young people, are realizing that it makes more sense to have informal relationships. A couple should live together only as long as both individuals want to. Whenever one wants to end the relationship, he or she should be able to do so, neatly, without legal complications. This could be done if marriage were abolished. Everyone would
benefit. People would retain their individual freedom and be able to fulfill their own need to develop as a person, responding to their own changing values and interests.

d. College instructors should not be permitted to set restrictive attendance policies; they should be made to treat students as responsible adults, leaving each student free to decide his or her attendance behavior. Students know their own strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else does and are mature enough to decide which classes they need to attend. Some courses will be new and challenging to them. Others will merely duplicate prior learning. Some instructors will add to the students’ store of information and challenge their intellect. Others will merely read the textbook aloud. Left to exercise their own judgment, students can use their time wisely, attending the classes of the good, interesting, dedicated teachers and avoiding those of the dullards and deadbeats.
e. One of the reasons crime is so rampant in our society is that we put too much emphasis on determining why the criminal committed the crime and whether the police treated the criminal fairly. Those are important matters, but other, equally important, ones seem to be neglected lately— like protecting law-abiding people from dangerous, irresponsible people
and making punishments severe enough to deter crime. We cringe at primitive societies’ handling of crime—for example, cutting off a thief’s hands or a perjurer’s tongue. But at least such punishments reflect a recognition that crime is an outrage against society that should not be tolerated. I am not suggesting that we return to such a standard of justice, only that we get tough with criminals. Two steps that would provide a good start would be setting determinate sentences for crimes instead of giving judges the wide latitude they now enjoy and refusing to let legal technicalities set aside a conviction when a person is clearly guilty.

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