- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2000

Impossible success

"[H]ome-educated 12-year-old George Abraham Thampy won the Scripps-Howard spelling bee… .

"But that's not all. Home-educated students Sean Conley of California and Allison Miller of New York won second and third place respectively… .

"If we are to believe the mantra of state controlled education, this home schooling success should be impossible. Parents, without the 'help' of government recognition or state certification, educated their children well enough to excel at a national academic competition… .

"At the same time, home schoolers must remember that although they won a great victory last week, the battle is not over. Just last month in a Web chat with students nationwide, President Clinton 'benevolently' recognized a parent's right to choose home schooling as an option with the following quid pro quo:

" '[I]f you're going to do this, your children have to prove they're learning on a regular basis, and if they don't prove that they're learning, then they have to go into a school… .'

"The implications of the president's remarks are troubling to any home schooler who values freedom."

Stephen McGarvey, writing on "Home schoolers sweep spelling be," June 5 in Crosswalk at www.crosswalk.com

Single Scandinavians

"The pragmatists who ushered in premarital sex and living together into the Western mainstream have all but given up on marriage as a framework for family living, preferring cohabitation even after their children are born. For decades, couples in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland have put their relationships to the test of sharing bathrooms and closet space before heading for the altar, usually marrying only when a baby was on the way.

"But the 1990s witnessed a resolute rejection of marriage even among couples having children. By the end of the decade, more than half the babies in the region were born to unwed mothers twice the ratio for continental Europe and nearly 60 percent more than the United States. Unmarried parents are now the norm for Scandinavian children, which doesn't much bother sociologists or therapists here as long as the families stay together… .

" 'Because of the social welfare systems in Scandinavia, a woman has to be stupid not to realize that she has a better situation if she is not married,' says Erik Kofod, a founder of the Danish group Fathers in Support of Parents and Children. 'It's an appalling system that motivates people to do things that are unhealthy for society and for children.' For most couples in the region, marriage has changed from the point of embarkation in a relationship to a destination the majority never reach."

Carol J. Williams, writing on "When Love Is Never Having to Say 'I Do' " in the March 31 Los Angeles Times

Nothing on TV?

"Are Homer Simpson and Jerry Seinfeld symbols of a spiritual rot in American popular culture?

"Philosopher Thomas S. Hibbs thinks so… . [In his book, 'Shows About Nothing'] Hibbs charges that popular entertainment is suffused by an aesthetic of nihilism a belief that life is random, that the choices we make are largely meaningless, and that there are no objective standards of right and wrong. What's more, popular culture is fascinated with evil and violence… . Hibbs doesn't believe nihilism has been foisted on Americans by a Hollywood cabal. Hibbs … holds the audience for this material at least as responsible as those who purvey it. In the end, his argument isn't with the entertainment industry as much as it is with modernity itself. Nihilism, he says, is the inevitable product of certain strains of Enlightenment thought."

Charles Oliver, writing on "More Than Zero," in the July issue of Reason

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