- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

‘Extremist spirit’

“Though holdovers from the counterculture of the 1960s will probably hate to hear it, Andrea Dworkin, who died [Saturday], was one of their own. The rosy lens of intervening decades has softened many people’s memories of those times, so that it’s become easier to see the ‘60s as a time of righteous, liberal-minded protest movements and groovy celebrations of pot and casual sex.

“But Dworkin … kept the faith. She was one of the last remnants of the extremist spirit you encounter when you go back to the source materials — leaflets, underground newspapers, manifestoes — created right in the moment, the spirit that called for, and firmly expected to get, permanent revolution, the abolition of work and the summary shooting of ‘pigs’ in the street. …

“Dworkin came out of and contributed to a subculture of feminism that specialized in … irresponsible overstatement. A certain style developed: Throw out a handful of lurid, grisly anecdotes as if they amounted to an indictment of an entire class of people (usually men), who … must all be equally responsible for them. …

“After this came the dodgy statistics, the one out of every four women said to have been raped in her lifetime, the alleged upsurge in domestic violence reports after the Super Bowl, and other mediagenic numbers.”

Laura Miller, writing on “The passion of Andrea Dworkin,” Tuesday in Salon at www.salon.com

Cell mates

“Massachusetts guarantees its prison inmates the right to marry, and it also guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. But trying to exercise both rights at once is a bridge too far even for the Bay State, reports the Boston Globe:

” ‘The state Department of Correction has denied permission to two male inmates to marry at a state facility for sex offenders, according to a letter signed by the prison superintendent.’ …

“It’s the second time the department has denied a marriage request from a pair of men incarcerated in the same facility. It did allow a female con to marry another woman who wasn’t in prison. So we guess the Massachusetts rule is that gay couples are allowed to marry, so long as at least one partner is out.”

James Taranto, in “Best of the Web Today,” Wednesday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Name game

“Once a name catches on among high-income, highly educated parents, it starts working its way down the socioeconomic ladder. Amber, Heather, and Stephanie started out as high-end names. …

“Many people assume that naming trends are driven by celebrities. But how many Madonnas do you know? Or, considering all the Brittanys, Britneys, Brittanis, Brittanies, Brittneys, and Brittnis you encounter these days, you might think of Britney Spears; but she is in fact a symptom, not a cause, of the Brittany/Britney/Brittani/Brittanie/Brittney/Brittni explosion — and hers is a name that began on the high end and has since fallen to the low. Most families don’t shop for baby names in Hollywood. They look to the family just a few blocks over, the one with the bigger house and newer car. … [M]any parents, whether they realize it or not, like the sound of names that sound ‘successful.’

“Once a high-end name is adopted en masse, however, high-end parents begin to abandon it. Eventually, it will be considered so common that even lower-end parents may not want it, whereby it falls out of the rotation entirely. The lower-end parents, meanwhile, go looking for the next name that the upper-end parents have broken in.”

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, writing on “Trading Up,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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