CHRIS POWELL: Our Columbus Day holiday may survive all emergencies

Published on Monday, 4 October 2021 21:08

Governor Lamont is ready to use the Connecticut National Guard to compensate for any crucial labor shortages this week as his requirement for state government employees to be vaccinated or regularly tested for the COVID-19 virus takes effect and those employees not in compliance are placed on unpaid leave.

Any such shortages may be compounded by state government's work calendar, since next Monday is another of Connecticut's many gratuitous government employee holidays: Columbus Day. That's when state and municipal government give their employees a day off with pay in the name of honoring someone now widely despised among the politically correct for introducing the Old World to the New.

Most of state government's 50,000 full-time employees probably will be at their leisure next Monday even if state government is facing a disaster. But having just persuaded the General Assembly to extend his emergency powers to rule by decree to manage the virus epidemic, the governor presumably could repeal or suspend the holiday, bring everyone back to work, and reassign workers as necessary.

Of course such a proclamation might create a political emergency, the alienation of the army of the governor's political party, the state and municipal employee unions. It would be a rare Democrat who didn't let the hospitals and prisons close first.

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SCAPEGOATING INSTAGRAM: Having approved spending trillions of dollars on "nation building" in Afghanistan during his 10 years in the U.S. Senate without offering an apology for his role in that catastrophic failure, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal now is demanding accountability – from social media company Facebook and its subsidiary, photo- and video-sharing service Instagram.

Last week at a Senate hearing Blumenthal berated a Facebook executive for what he said was the harm done to children by their use of Instagram.

“My office did its own research," Blumenthal said. "We created an Instagram account identified as a 13-year-old girl and followed a few easily findable accounts associated with extreme dieting and eating disorders. Within a day its recommendations were exclusively filled with accounts that promote self-injury and eating disorders. That is the perfect storm that Instagram has fostered and created.”

Apparently Instagram is supposed to police the ages of its users, as if that is practical any more than it would be for internet and email providers, telephone companies, and even the U.S. Postal Service. Instagram is just another bit of communications technology that can be used for good or ill.

If there is a problem here it is one of parenting. New communications technologies always make parenting harder in some ways and easier in others.

Blumenthal himself hasn't made parenting any easier. He long has advocated a right to virtually unrestricted abortion, even abortion of fetuses able to survive outside the womb, and his state allows 13-year-olds both to use Instagram and to obtain abortions without the knowledge of their parents or guardians. Those abortions are allowed even though every such pregnancy is at least statutory rape and some abortions for minors have resulted from prolonged sexual abuse by adults, with abortion protecting the perpetrators.

That so many children have inattentive parents or none at all is a problem – maybe the country's most urgent one. Public policy may have something to do with it. But unless a corporate scapegoat can be found, will Blumenthal ever bring it to a hearing?

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NO BOOKS ARE BANNED: Last week was Banned Books Week, observed annually by the American Library Association and other groups to celebrate free expression and oppose censorship. But censorship today has nothing to do with books and everything to do with the electronic media – the internet, television, and radio, which increasingly yield to government pressure to suppress certain subjects and contentions.

The removal of controversial books from school curriculums is often cited as censorship, but it is no more censorship than any library's decision to stock one book and not another – and libraries themselves make such decisions far more often than schools do. Schools and libraries alike have the right to decide which books to use. Those decisions may be stupid or cowardly but they are not censorship.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Monday, 4 October 2021 21:08. Updated: Monday, 4 October 2021 21:10.