Friday, April 16, 2010

Cross-Dressing Fashion Show? Oops. Never Mind

Remember the so-called cross-dressing fashion show for school children in New Jersey?

Sounds like it was a good idea, regrettably presented:
"Your comments: Maple Shade school ends project after request is misunderstood to be about cross-dressing"
By Staff (April 15, 2010)

"The Maude Wilkins School in Maple Shade has cancelled a scheduled fashion show about the evolution of women's clothing. The Associated Press reported that a letter from a third-grade teacher to parents about what children were expected to do for the project was misunderstood by at least one Facebook-active parent, who took the letter as a request for boys to cross-dress. The parent's public complaints on Facebook were picked up by a conservative blogger and then other mainstream media, producing a firestorm that led to the cancellation of the project."
Sure enough, here's that AP article. Part of it, anyway:
"The evolution of a NJ cross-dressing controversy"
The Associated Press (April 15, 2010)

"A New Jersey school has learned a lesson after canceling a class project because a parent complained it would require third-grade boys to dress like girls.

"Teachers at the Maude Wilkins School in Maple Shade sent a letter to parents recently telling them their children were required to participate in a fashion show project for Women's History Month.

"The letter spelled out that boys did not have to wear skirts or dresses. But there was confusion nonetheless.

"Mother Janine Giandomenico (jahn-dah-meh-NEE'-koh) complained on Facebook — and the story started popping up on blogs and other media outlets this week. The school reacted by canceling the project....
Kudos to staff: They didn't present this SNAFU as part of a 'vast right-wing conspiracy,' or lay (all) the blame on that "conservative blogger." I remember the news stories: a number of them from "mainstream media." Looks like a number of reporters and editors didn't do their research all that carefully.

That happens. Deadlines can degrade professional caution.

Like the time Dolly Parton 'died:'

Conservative Bloggers, Mainstream Media, and Getting Off-Topic

Getting a little off-topic, I was struck by this phrase in the writeup: "...a conservative blogger and then other mainstream media...." Repeating the last part: "...then other mainstream media...." "Other?!" It's probably a slip of the fingers, but it reads as if regards that "conservative blogger" as part of "mainstream media."

Interesting, on a few levels.

I'm not, by the way, a "conservative blogger," although it may seem that way. I'm not liberal or moderate either. I'm a Catholic blogger. I've written about this before (November 3, 2008)

And the Lesson is: Do Your Research

I've had to drop a few remarkably interesting posts, when I found out that the facts didn't support a story I'd heard. Fact-checking can be boring, and doesn't always uncover fiction posing as fact. But I think it's a good idea to have a shot at tracing a story back to its source: or as close to the source as I can get.

I like the free flow of information and opinion that's online: but recognize that "I saw it on the Web" is hardly a ringing endorsement of authenticity.

Fact-Checking, Calumnies Against a School Project, and the Pope.

Actually, I'm not at all sure that those wild stories about the New Jersey school project were, technically, calumnies Seems to me, a "malicious misrepresentation of someone's words or actions" requires that the misrepresenter know that what he or she is saying is false.

Given the weirdness that's been going on for the last few decades in Western civilization, I wasn't at all surprised to hear that a school project would have kids cross-dressing. My online profiles often contain the phrase, "recovering English teacher." I've done serious time in American academia, and was an accredited secondary school teacher at one time. A cross-dressing project would be consistent with the goals of freeing kids from the stultifying confines of a repressive society. I'm overstating the case - but not by much.

I've written before: about the Pope, the Catholic Church, and that every-popular news item: Pedophile Priests! There's a significant disconnect between what news services are saying about the Pope and the Catholic Church - and what people who actually know something about the subject say.

But, like I say, I've written about that before.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.