- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

Open journalism

Don't journalists make a living by asking other people to talk to them? Don't they insist on a regular basis that public institutions be answerable to the public and the press for their decisions? And don't they make a fuss when public bodies clam up or take the fifth or refuse to cooperate? Of course, they do. But when the shoe is on the other foot, you'd be amazed what happens.

All this week, the New York Times has been embroiled in controversy over its decision to spike columns in its pages that differed from the editorial page's line. That line was that Augusta Golf Club should be pressured to admit women as full members. There have been stories everywhere about the internal censorship. But when the New York Daily News, which broke the story, called the Times up to ask for an explanation, they got this response from the Times spokesperson: "We don't discuss our editorial decisions." Instead, like Nixon's White House, we have to rely on a leaked internal memo to see the crisis of confidence in the paper. Here's my tip for any beleaguered government official being called on by a New York Times reporter: Tell them you'll comment on your internal decisions the minute Howell Raines does on his.

Campus anti-Semitism

At Montreal's Concordia University, the student body has just banned Hillel, the student Jewish group, from campus, suspending all funding to the group and revoking Hillel's ability to hold events, displays, and information tables. Hillel's offense? They distributed a flier for Mahal, a volunteer Israeli Defense Force program. Distributing a flier. We can't have that on a sensitive campus, can we? This is the same university where Benjamin Netanyahu had to cancel a speech because of rioting from Muslim students. The rise of naked anti-Semitism on America's campuses is a disturbing trend. Abroad, things are getting darker every day.

Suicide bombings

You didn't hear much about this in the media. But a Hezbollah radio station in South Lebanon recently broadcast speeches calling for extending the tactics of terrorism against Israelis to the West in general. At a rally in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, Sheik Nasrallah declared, "Martyrdom operations suicide bombings should be exported outside Palestine. I encourage Palestinians to take suicide bombings worldwide. Don't be shy about it." Don't be shy? My grim prediction: The minute war breaks out in Iraq, Hezbollah goes on the offensive in northern Israel and the offensive may well spread here. At least we can say we've been warned.

The end of privacy

What business is it of anyone's to inquire into the private sex lives of public figures, when those sex lives have absolutely no relevance to their public duties? My answer: It's nobody's business. Yet, not so long ago, in a brutal trashing of privacy rights, The Washington Post outed a U.N. arms inspector for belonging to sado-masochistic sex clubs. The man had not withheld this information from his bosses, everything he did was legal, consensual and between adults but he had his privacy violated just the same. There followed a series of smart-aleck digressions on the subject in the media, further rubbing the intrusion in the poor guy's face. But nothing compares to the comments penned by Slate's Tim Noah. Desperately trying to wring a column out of the story, Mr. Noah not only perpetuated the non-story, he even went so far as to equate the man's consensual sado-masochistic sex games with Saddam Hussein's torture methods. I kid you not. "One man's recreation is another man's torture," Mr. Noah glibly asserted. Then in a truly sickening reference to Saddam's brutality, he adds: "It would be less awful if [Saddams] victims were willing. But how much less awful?" The answer is: less awful by a universe of awfulness. There's a simple difference between one man's sex games and another man's brutal suffering at the hands of a dictator: consent. One has to ask: What universe is Mr. Noah in that he can even begin to think this way? Would he equate Stalin's gulags with leather-fetish clubs? Would he trivialize Hitler's holocaust by remarking how similar it is to some bondage games? Maybe he thinks he's being funny. He's not. He's being depraved.

Another Raines crusade?

Now here's a discriminatory policy the New York Times should get excited about. This time though, it's not even a private club but a public university, setting aside a "special lounge" for one gender only. At Berkeley, natch, as blogger Stefan Sharkansky has noted, the Boalt Hall School of Law has a women's-only lounge, providing, according to their web site, "a safe, private place for women to relax between classes, nap, eat, and use the phone." The lounge is just-for-women, financed by taxpayers. Can you imagine a group of white or male students trying to get away with that? Whatever happened to Title IX? The kicker is that women don't even make up a minority of law students at the law school. They comprise 60 percent of the student body! All genders are equal. But, in today's politically correct climate, some genders are more equal than others.

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