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Jackson Doughart

Jackson Doughart joined the Prince Arthur Herald staff in June 2013, and now serves as Editor of the English section. He holds a master's degree in political studies from Queen's University and formerly interned at the National Post. By day, he is Research Coordinator at the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a public policy think tank in Halifax.

Regarding ‘the Sauce’: Are college undergrads really adults?

The annual advent of injuries, deaths, and other unfortunate incidents resulting from excessive drinking by university students merits a deeper discussion. Here at the Prince Arthur Herald, my colleague Tom Stringham has made some good preliminary points about how alcohol use factors into the social culture and habits of young people. I suspect that the conventional wisdom about the perils and futility of prohibition contribute to the effective silence around the issue. Yet one consequence of the greater space provided for arguments about the legalization of cannabis is the opportunity for some people to break from the established, “whatcha-gonna-do?” line on youth alcohol abuse. The libertarian perspective on substance ingestion eschews the prospect of laws curbing access or punishing overuse on the ground of individual liberty and autonomy. The more anti-paternalist types even chide "hidden laws", i.e. norms and conventions of behaviour which limit conduct in ways that state does not or cannot. These arguments deserve to be met with much more scepticism, even if it would not lead to any further legal limitations. For certain, even the freest of "consenting adults" do not live on a figurative island where only they bear the consequences of their actions. Society pays on the whole for the decision of individuals to drink to excess in the material forms of health-care costs and decreases in productivity. But more importantly, the fundamental institution of one’s immediate social relationships—with one’s family, one’s friends, and one’s colleagues—are harmed when one does not behave responsibly, a category which certainly includes alcoholism. But I think the application of the "free, consenting adults" argument to young people is faulty at an even more basic level. People who leave home at age 18 to attend university—an environment that encourages the taking of risks involving substance ingestion—may technically be adults by… Read More

Don’t ignore the anti-Israel movement, Part II

There are a couple of threads from the topic of campus anti-Israel activism which I would like to note as an addendum to my column from last week of the same title. To be clear, I don't think that the article by Robyn Urback, which served as the leaping point for last week's piece, was so bad as to deserve a double round of criticism. It is only that the issue is of enough importance to merit some more attention. To recap: the anti-Israel movement may indeed seem trivial in the short term, but it ought not be ignored because of the ideas and language that it pumps into the discursive mainstream. The critical bulk of the population which today ignores the BDS and Israeli-Apartheid crowd is the very group who may someday adopt its rhetoric—and not out of persuasion but out of vogue. So, on to the added points: 1. Another notable element here is the increasing Islamic presence on university campuses. Many Muslim students—speaking from experience, the majority of Muslims with whom I have discussed the topic—see the pro-Arab cause as being worthy on the grounds of religious community and Islamic solidarity. So while one is right to observe that most students are presently ignoring the movement, it is worth noting that its prescriptions find a natural audience in campus Muslim communities, even if the putative political ideologies of the radical Left and devout Muslims may be at odds. The confluence between these two groups may in fact be even more pronounced, for it is the radical Left that has taken up the cause of laundering Islam's public image from its commonly-believed associations with terrorism and jihad. Protestations against "Islamophobia" (inverted commas explained here) are as likely to come from today's Left as they are from organizations purporting to… Read More

Don’t ignore the anti-Israel movement

In Wednesday's National Post, Robyn Urback argued that Ryerson’s “anti-Israel zealots” are of no great concern. With respect, I disagree. Even if the supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) campaign constitute a small minority of students and the general public, their activities merit worry and response. In the short term, Ms Urback is correct that Israel’s economy and legitimacy will not be harmed. But this is not necessarily true for the Jewish state’s long-term prospects, which I would argue is a more important issue, given the crucial support provided to Israel by Canada and the United States—two countries where the BDS movement is concentrated. Aggressive radical activism from a vocal minority may seem insignificant today, but the ideas that it thrusts into the public sphere can eventually trickle down into the general consciousness. The culturally-Marxist literature from the 1960s, for instance, was well-regarded by only a small group of people who were not treated seriously by the mainstream. But the agenda that the New Left pushed consistently—about “the other”, about the politics of gender and sexuality, and about the supposedly-oppressive influence of tradition—has become the nucleus of today’s political correctness, which effectively all “respectable people” must observe in public. Ms Urback’s argument hinges not only on the reaction of people who care deeply about Israel, but to a greater degree of those who have no investment in the issue and who brush off the anti-Israel nuts out of apathy; ergo, the small cadre of activists is just talking into an echo chamber, with its noise reaching only deaf ears elsewhere. Perhaps I’m just more pessimistic than she, but I think that the apathetic faction is the very population to be worried about. It is these people, who are “too busy getting a university education” to care, that could… Read More

Sore Winners

Two recent houndings by the political left, those of Brendan Eich and Brandon Ambrosino, suggest a disturbing future ahead for those who do not subscribe to progressivism. Both of these men have been publicly criticized, and one has lost his job, for their views against homosexual marriage. Despite being a political opinion that was held by the present Democratic president throughout most of his first term, this persuasion has become anathema. And judging from the public nonchalance that has met these episodes of bullying, we can expect that more of them will follow, and that the commitment to respecting individual views and expressions will continue to erode. To review: Eich was forced out as CEO of Mozilla, the tech company that developed the Firefox internet browser, for having donated on his own private behalf $1000 to Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative in California that affirmed marriage as exclusively heterosexual, later to be overturned as unconstitutional. His firing followed an internet campaign encouraging users to boycott Firefox on the ground that its executive was an anti-gay bigot. Ambrosino, meanwhile, is a homosexual man who writes for Ezra Klein's new website Vox. He opposes homosexual marriage, has written approvingly of Liberty University (a Christian institution founded by Jerry Falwell), and believes that not everyone who disagrees with the gay movement, including same-sex marriage, is motivated by hatred. Ambrosino has been duly castigated as an apologist for homophobia, leading several Left-leaning writers to criticize Klein’s decision to hire him in the first place. This despite the fact that Klein’s website is not dedicated solely to GBLT issues, but rather to political and “data journalism” generally. The critical piece of this proverbial puzzle is the nature of the censorship involved. These men are not being muzzled by a state thought police or being… Read More

Does our Culture Make People Stupid?

Review of The Triple Package by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld (New York: The Penguin Press, 2014). The latest book by Amy Chua, affectionately dubbed the “Tiger Mom” after her previous recommendation of stricter upbringing for children, has been met with much emotional response in the American press. Chua and her co-author (and husband) Jed Rubenfeld offer a compelling thesis about the source of success and failure for cultural groups in the United States. They argue that the conventional explanations for inter-group disparities, such as innate traits such as IQ, institutional and popular prejudice, and income disparities, are not cogent theories. Rather, developed cultural traits and practices that influence people throughout their lives, and which differ greatly from one group to the next, best explain why the members of certain groups vastly outperform others in material terms. The three traits which they identify form the “triple package”. First, members of successful groups possess a sense of chosen-ness and superiority, i.e. they see themselves as a vital population that is in some sense above the rest. Second, group members are insecure, often being stressed to the max about not being successful and fearing the prospect of failure, which brings shame upon their parents and group. Third, successful cultures are able to inculcate an impulse control, convincing their members to delay gratification and avoid the enticing pleasures of contemporary life which come through no effort or merit. The groups adduced in the book are not easily categorized by the common racial constructions of our discourse. The successful groups discussed included Nigerians, Jews, Mormons, Iranians, Lebanese, and Asians—a crew motley enough to suggest that accusations of racism against the authors are certainly unfounded, and instead represent a rather cheap and demagogic way of silencing their arguments. It is for this reason, as well… Read More
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