- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Benedict off target

“I can understand why nearly three-quarters of U.S. Catholics say they approve of their new pope, Benedict XVI. When he said he was ashamed of the existence of pedophile priests and their subsequent abuse of young boys, unlike the scoffers, I believe him.

“ ’We will rid the church of pedophile priests,’ said Pope Benedict on his flight to America. That’s good news except for one thing: The root problem among the priests was homosexuality, not pedophilia. Pedophilia is the attraction by adults to children, both boys and girls, and the priest scandals have been, with few exceptions, man to boy.

“It is a disservice to shift the focus of the Catholic Church disgrace to pedophilia in order to soft-pedal the larger danger of homosexual behavior to an ever-increasingly, gay-sympathetic public. …It will be difficult to oppose the cultural shift AND the homosexual clergy with the truth, but I believe Pope Benedict has the moral fortitude to do it.”

Sandy Rios, writing in “Pedophilia and the Pope,” Thursday at Townhall.com

Women’s studies

“Recent reports have sounded the death knell for women’s studies programs, citing dwindling graduates when compared to the halcyon days of protests and consciousness-raising. ‘Is [feminism] irrelevant in today’s world,’ The Independent wondered, ‘or has the quest for equality hit the mainstream?’

“As the head of a thriving women’s studies department at Ruskin College, Louise Livesey had read about the apparent irrelevance of campus feminism and, boy, was she singing a different tune: ‘It’s not true that it’s died,’ she says. ‘I was very surprised the courses that are still running were rendered invisible, purely because it’s a better story if you can proclaim the subject dead rather than just struggling.’

“Unfortunately, few voices in the media have drawn a correlation between the apparent lack of interest in women’s studies and the fact that the departments are often woefully underfunded and ignored by universities at large — undermining the theory that we live in a postfeminist world where women’s issues enjoy equal treatment. But it’s much easier to interpret the current state of feminist departments as a sign of their superfluousness rather as than a sign that the sexism that makes them necessary still abounds.”

Annsley Chapman, writing in “Women’s studies, still alive and fist-shaking,” Friday at Salon.com

Gigglepuss ‘R’ Us?

“A year and a half ago, a Swedish father posted a video of his son laughing on YouTube. … A few months later, the video was reposted by another YouTube user. This second version of the video has racked up 45 million views, putting it ninth on the All-Time Viewed list.

“Like many baby videos, ‘Laughing Baby’ was placed on YouTube to share with friends. But I’m always surprised that parents put these videos up, considering what fate awaits them: YouTube commenters.

“Things start off well with ‘lol. when people laugh, i tend to laugh so i was cracking up’ and ‘Cute, cute, cutee!!!’ Soon, however, the malcontents appear: ‘This child is possessed by satan. Exorcism needs to be performed.’ And more insidiously: ‘Guaranteed there are perverts watching this.’ And more emphatically: ‘INSANE DWARF.’

“Still, there is one meaningful debate that can be gleaned from the tumult. … Do these little video distractions buoy our spirits and connect us to our fellow humans, or are we frittering away our time and talents with two-minute diversions? Do we laugh at the Laughing Baby, or is the Laughing Baby laughing at us?”

Michael Agger, writing in “Laughing Baby vs. the YouTube Commenters: A battle of Internet good and Internet evil,” Wednesday at Slate.com.

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