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The Most Active Threads since Friday

by Jeff Steele — last modified Jul 03, 2023 10:30 AM

The topics with the most engagement since my last post included closing Nottingham Elementary School, the Supreme Court decision regarding student loans, the Supreme Court decision regarding wedding websites, and whether calling God "mythical" is insulting.

The most active thread since I last posted was the thread about the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision which I've already covered. But, only a few posts short of that one was a thread titled, "APS Closing Nottingham" and posted in the "VA Public Schools other than FCPS" forum. "APS" refers to Arlington Public Schools and "Nottingham" is an elementary school in north Arlington. Apparently, the APS school board recently announced a proposal to send current Nottingham students to other nearby schools and use Nottingham as a swing space for schools that are being renovated. Changes of school assignments are always controversial and the length of this thread at 37 pages shows that this case is not an exception. However, the initial reaction from Nottingham parents in the thread was surprisingly subdued. They were far from thrilled with the proposal, but indicated that they could live with it. There was far more outrage from parents associated with the schools to which Nottingham students would move with near apocalyptic predictions regarding the extra traffic it would cause. But, it appears that the conventional wisdom expected Nottingham families to react with outrage and entitlement. When a few posters responded in ways that fulfilled that stereotype, they become the face of Nottingham parents. Frankly, I think it is an unfair portrayal, but posters complaining that they were being victimized because they are white and wealthy and that some would even be killed because of this decision made easy targets. Many of the pro-Nottingham responses were justifiably lampoonable. One poster was inspired to create a sarcastic version of Martin Niemöller's famous quotation, "First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out...", paraphrasing it to say, "First they overcrowded Glebe And I did not speak out..." While Nottingham parents threatened everything from moving out of Arlington to legal action, they didn't quite reach the point of comparing the closing of their school to the Holocaust. Though in the case of some posters, that may only be a matter of time. Still, and I am adamant about this, many of the Nottingham posters were level-headed and entirely reasonable in their responses. They just didn't get much attention. Nobody is likely to be thrilled with the closing of their much-loved school and their children's future schooling that had appeared to be settled suddenly being thrown into question. On the other hand, some of the posters with ties to other schools seem to be taking an inordinate amount of joy from this proposal. For instance, one poster wrote, "Hahahaha. Yes. Karma for Nottingham who was oh so obnoxious in the 2018 go round." This was a less respectful version of a point made by several other posters. According to them, past efforts by Nottingham families to successfully oppose proposals that would have added additional students to the school left Nottingham under-enrolled and vulnerable to this sort of development. A final decision on the proposal to convert Nottingham into a swing space is apparently not due for almost a year. So, this is not likely the last we've seen of this thread.

While the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision dominated DCUM's over the past few days, another Court decision was the topic of another thread. Posted in the "Political Discussion" forum, a thread titled, "SCOTUS on Student Loan 9 - 0" dealt with the Court's decision to prevent President Joe Biden from forgiving student loans. The original poster, a Biden critic, was in such a rush to taunt about the outcome that he misstated what had happened. The 9-0 decision was to deny standing to individuals who had sued to stop the forgiveness. The Court ruled separately 6-3 that the HEROES act could not be used to forgive loans. I haven't read much of this thread but what I have read suggests that very little of the discussion deals with the case itself or the details of the ruling. Tellingly, it took until page 17 of the 27 page thread for the name "MOHELA" to appear. MOHELA is a loan servicing company that was used by the State of Missouri to establish standing in the case. MOHELA itself was not a party to the case and actually wanted nothing to do with it. The Court majority's contention that Missouri had standing because of MOHELA, despite MOHELA itself not claiming harm due to Biden's forgiveness plan, is one indication how flexible the Court's right-wingers tend to be in order to reach their desired outcome. However, this thread devotes little attention to such details of the Court ruling and instead rehashes countless old and well-trod arguments. Some posters insist that students should pay their bills. Supporters of loan forgiveness compare student loands to the PPP loans that many businesses received that were forgiven. I guess it is understandable for the Political forum, but much of the discussion is about casting blame for various things. Former President Barack Obama is blamed for the high cost of college. Biden is blamed for attempting to forgive loans in the first place. Those who are saddled with loans are blamed for taking them out and not wanting to pay them back. Frankly, the level of discourse is disappointing, if not entirely unexpected. All of these student loan discussions tend to devolve to generational differences. Older posters attended college when tuition was much lower and might even be paid with the income of a summer job. Younger posters attended during a time of increased tuition and often had parents who had not realized the importance of college savings. Loans were easily obtained and encouraged. More recently, the importance of college savings has led to a generation that generally can afford college thanks to 529 plans and other such savings. As a result, one generation staunchly believes that it paid its own way and others should do so as well. Others blame those who didn't put money into savings. That leaves the generation with loans with few sympathizers.

The next most active thread dealt with yet another Supreme Court case. Titled, "SCOTUS sided with Christian Web Designer" and, like the previous thread, posted in the "Political Discussion" forum, this thread addresses the Court's decision to allow a website designer to discriminate against gay couples. This Court decision was even more farcical than then the previous one. The website designer in question had never produced a wedding website. Nevertheless, she claimed that she had been approached by a gay man to design a website for his wedding. Media organizations that contacted the man discovered that he has been married to a woman for many years and has no interest in a wedding website, gay or otherwise. It is a mystery why he was identified in the case in this manner. The Supreme Court has really destroyed its legitimacy by making a mockery of the question of standing. As in the previous thread, posters spend very little time analyzing the actual case or decision. Instead they simply post their previously-held beliefs on the topic. As such, a number of posters seem to believe that the case was brought by individuals seeking to force the woman to create a website for them. This was the exact opposite of reality. Supporters of the decision attack the justices that dissented, especially Sotomayor, but appear unable to cite anything about her dissent with which they disagreed. One poster based his criticism on the length of the opinion. The strange thing about the MAGA mentality is that MAGAs — at least the ones on DCUM — spend almost every waking moment in fear of being cancelled and complaining about any post of theirs that I remove. Yet, the same posters have no problem with this sort of now court-approved discrimination. Having thought about it, I feel that my own religious convictions require that I discriminate against non-gay MAGAs. I'll still treat gay MAGAs fairly, but the next time a straight MAGA complains about being "censored", I'll just cite this court case. The current Court majority has great deference for religious beliefs, or at least Christian beliefs. Previous cases have suggested that sympathy might not extend to other religions. But common sense suggests that decisions such as this will open lots of unexpected doors. Over a decade ago, Muslim cab drivers who predominately service Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport began refusing to provide rides to anyone transporting alcohol due to restrictions on alcohol in Islam. The last that I heard, courts had ruled against the drivers in this case. But, one would think that this Court decision would support the Muslim drivers.

The final thread at which I'll look today was posted in the "Religion" forum. Titled, "Is it ‘insulting’ to refer to god as “mythical’?", the original poster sets up sort of a logical test. She first asks the question posed in the thread's title about whether referring to God as "mythical" is insulting. She then asks whether it is insulting to compare God to another god or mythical being in which a person doesn't believe. Finally, the poster asks whether those who believe in one god think that other gods are "mythical". I'm not sure that this is the "gotcha" that the original poster seems to believe it is and, at least on the first page, most posters avoided it completely. Instead, they either fixated on definitions of various terms or engaged in semantics. Many posters felt that context and the audience being addressed made a difference about whether or not referring to God as "mythical" would be insulting. There were some unexpected crossing of lines with an Atheist poster arguing that telling any believer that their god was "mythical" would be insulting and a Christian poster saying that she has no issue with others thinking that her god is "mythical" because her beliefs are her own personal matter. Eventually, the thread devolved into a dispute of whether "god" should have a lower or uppercase "g". This almost proved to be a more contentious issue than the questions posed by the original poster. But, a complete meltdown of the thread occurred with posters began ignoring the original questions entirely and simply arguing whether or not God is a myth. Posters arguing that God, indeed all gods, is/are myths didn't seem to care whether or not they were being insulting. The Religion forum seems to be little more than fights between religious posters and atheists these days, something that has even carried over to the "Website Feedback" forum as they have taken their debates there. So, I guess that it is no surprise that this thread would end up as such a fight. To use context-appropriate terms, I find that there are saints and sinners on both sides of this debate. But, there are a couple of atheist posters who are particularly boorish. They are as persistant in their proselytization as the most fundamentalist of believers.

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