Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Heartfelt Public Prayer

A few days ago, Danny Wool posted a comment about a disturbing story that took place close to where he lives. It seems that a public school teacher in Port St. Lucie, Florida, allowed the classmates of a 5-yr old boy being diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome to rebuke him and vote him out of the class.

Amanda Baggs, who writes extensively about issues related to the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, has published her analysis of this heartbreaking story.

Very likely there will be a clamor to sanction the hapless teacher, Wendy Portillo, whose astonishing lack of empathy for her afflicted student is nothing short of disheartening.

But I'm not in favor of rebukes or sanctions. After all, that's what the classmates were visiting upon young Alex Barton at the behest of the teacher. So I can hardly countenance the same treatment for Ms. Portillo (or the faculty or the school bureaucrats).

To my mind, remorse is the most appropriate naturally occurring affective emotional state that immediately precedes a personal decision to revise one's practices, going forward. To my mind, public rebukes or sanctions would interfere with the process of coming to remorse, and are thus a contra-indicated treatment.

That leaves me but one functional alternative, which I now invoke.

I sincerely pray that Wendy Portillo's heart be softened and that she and her cohorts in the Port St. Lucie school system find their heartfelt remorse, and resolve never again to abuse their students or any other fellow human beings.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Crockwork Orange

Last August, I posted an essay here about a travesty on Wikipedia involving a clique of agenda-driven editors who were trashing the biographies of several distinguished scientists and academics, one of whom I have known personally and professionally for 24 years.

Since then, the issue of problematic biographies of living people has emerged as the number one unsolved problem on the English Wikipedia.

On Sunday, an uninvolved editor, who had recently become aware of the problem, undertook to correct on her own one such biographical article, whereupon there erupted a firestorm of hostile reaction from that same clique of agenda-driven editors.

The pitched battle has been waging for five days now.

And there is a gaggle of observers at Wikipedia Review closely following the drama in a commentary thread entitled A Scientific Dissent From Wikipedianism.