Thursday, November 27, 2003

The War Against Boys is an odd piece of infotainment. For example, I think the book would have been a lot better if she had cut the rhetoric and packed the book with facts. Is it really necessary to whine about wasting valuable classroom time with telling people that sexual harassment and rape are bad, and then turn around and start talking about 'character education' and teaching about manners. While I'm all for manners, it's not the primary use of the school. If parents abdicating their responsibility to teach manners, should the school teach them?

especially since she spent the whole first part of the book whining about having this ideology taught in the schools. Is it ok to teach any ideology in school? Is it only ok if you agree with the ideology? Also, she complains about research methods such as surveys and interviews of children, yet after one of these complaints, she uses a survey of women and men- 70% of the boys say yes to casual sex, and a 100% of the girls say no to sex. There's no control in this. Where's the outrage? Not to mention, she gripes because some teenage girls are not exactly the soul of wit and wonderfulness. Yea, the average 16 year old is going to make this wonderful response to a question. Not only that, she gripes because they say valorize a girl who wants to write an essay from Hitler's point of view as outspoken, instead of some nice nelly who is well liked by class mates and has a high GPA. The outspoken girl is valorized because instead of going along with public opinion, she thought up a creative idea. Yea, she's going to be thought of as weird, and 16 year olds do like to shock, but weird people bring a lot of energy into our civilization. New things have to happen or civilization will run down, that's what they forget.

Her anecdotal evidence leaves something to be desired too. She's talking about these schools and how after they implemented character education, they had better conduct, but how does she know that the character education caused that? The classic illustration of this is that ice cream eating and crime levels go up together. Does one cause the other? She also uses the words moral education, but I'm not sure if she knows that morals and values have been co opted to mean bigotry and ignorance.

Not only does she do that, she accuses people of patholgizing boys, but she attributes the same pathological attributes to them. She talks about how some people seem to think that boys are protobatterers, but then at the end, talks about how boys are full of more aggressive behavior, and how we need to civilize them in same sex classrooms.

And a final thought- she is always appealing to common sense. That's a flawed tactic of rhetoric, because she assumes that everyone agrees with whatever she is talking about. Also, it coerces the reader to think "this must be alright- everyone thinks that, it's common sense!"

Also, this post has a lot of rhetoric. I'll point out some of the more obvious pieces here. I use the words 'gripe' 'complain' and 'whine' very often when speaking of the author's viewpoint. This is an example of using negative words to create a negative feeling. I used a scary 'they' at the end of the 2nd paragraph. Dehumanizing your enemies has worked for both sides and every side in between. I also did not bring up that I like the fact that she doesn't think bullying is cool, but think that using that to put neo con indoctrination into schools isn't cool. Oh, guess where the rhetoric is in that sentence. Read carefully for more examples, and remember, I was just a pundit, so remember, that pundit on TV or radio has just as much currency as I do.

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