Wendy Kaminer quotes

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Wendy Kaminer

Birthdate: 28. December 1949

Wendy Kaminer is an American lawyer and writer. She has written several books on contemporary social issues, including A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight From Equality, about the conflict between egalitarian and protectionist feminism; I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions, about the self-help movement; and Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety. Wikipedia

„When the government seeks to expand its power to spy on us, for example, it should be required to show how the loss of anonymity and freedom will make us safer.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

"Ashcroft's Lies" in The American Prospect (14 July 2002) http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=ashcrofts_lies
Context: When the government seeks to expand its power to spy on us, for example, it should be required to show how the loss of anonymity and freedom will make us safer. The FBI already enjoys the broad power to eavesdrop; according to government reports, it intercepts some two million innocent telephone and Internet conversations every year. The administration wants to expand its power to conduct surveillance by minimizing the role of the courts in monitoring it. Will this make us safer from terrorism or simply less safe from our government?

„They terminated the program because it was publicly exposed, and, outside the university’s ideological bubble, it was simply indefensible.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

"Re-Thinking Thought Reform" (4 November 2007) http://thephoenix.com/BLOGS/freeforall/archive/2007/11/04/Re-Thinking-Thought-Reform.aspx
Context: University of Delaware President Patrick Harker grudgungly terminated the ideological re-education program exposed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (and reported here last week.) FIRE has the story, which includes troubling accounts of threatened retaliation against students who declined to defend the now defunct "residence life" program and to demonize FIRE as an ideologically biased, conservative organization.  (In fact, FIRE is a civil liberties group that advocates for the rights of all students, regardless of ideology.)
This is a victory for freedom of speech and thought, of course, and one that demonstrates why preserving free speech is so essential. University of Delaware officials did not terminate this program because they suddenly realized the wrongfulness of subjecting students to mandatory thought reform. They terminated the program because it was publicly exposed, and, outside the university’s ideological bubble, it was simply indefensible.

„Jerry Falwell knows who caused the terrorist attack on America: the ACLU.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

"Our Very Own Taliban" (17 September 2001) http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=our_very_own_taliban
Context: Jerry Falwell knows who caused the terrorist attack on America: the ACLU. “The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this,” he declared on the 700 Club, because, he explained, the ACLU, abetted by the federal courts is responsible for “throwing God out of the public square (and) the public schools.”
This is a familiar charge and a false one. God is still present in the public schools, where students are free to pray, alone or in groups, so long as their prayers aren’t officially sponsored and don’t infringe on anyone’s freedom not to pray.

„To rationalize their lies, people — and the governments, churches, or terrorist cells they compose — are apt to regard their private interests and desires as just.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

"Lies and consequences." in The American Prospect (19 May 2002) http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=lies_and_consequences&gId=6282
Context: To rationalize their lies, people — and the governments, churches, or terrorist cells they compose — are apt to regard their private interests and desires as just. Clinton may have lied to preserve his power while telling himself that he was lying to protect “the people” who benefited from his presidency. Liars — especially liars in power — often conflate their interest with the public interest. (What’s good for General Motors is good for the United States.) Or they consider their lies sanctified by the essential goodness they presume to embody, like terrorists who believe that murder is sanctified by the godliness of their aspirations. Sanctimony probably engenders at least as much lying as cynicism. We can’t condemn lying categorically, but we should categorically suspect it.

„If we all don't enjoy the same rights, then no one enjoys any rights at all; some of us merely enjoy privilege.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

"6/24/95 Wendy Kaminer on Crime" (24 June 1995)
Context: Not everything that appears true is true. The ACLU is devoted to some very controversial principles — like the principle that everyone who is arrested should enjoy the same constitutional rights, regardless of their alleged crime or their character. We don't take that position to irritate people; we take that position because we believe in it. We believe in it, in part, in a spirit of enlightened self-interest, because the rights of each one of us are co-extensive with the rights of everyone who is arrested and prosecuted in the criminal courts. If we all don't enjoy the same rights, then no one enjoys any rights at all; some of us merely enjoy privilege.

„Liars — especially liars in power — often conflate their interest with the public interest. (What’s good for General Motors is good for the United States.) Or they consider their lies sanctified by the essential goodness they presume to embody, like terrorists who believe that murder is sanctified by the godliness of their aspirations.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

"Lies and consequences." in The American Prospect (19 May 2002) http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=lies_and_consequences&gId=6282
Context: To rationalize their lies, people — and the governments, churches, or terrorist cells they compose — are apt to regard their private interests and desires as just. Clinton may have lied to preserve his power while telling himself that he was lying to protect “the people” who benefited from his presidency. Liars — especially liars in power — often conflate their interest with the public interest. (What’s good for General Motors is good for the United States.) Or they consider their lies sanctified by the essential goodness they presume to embody, like terrorists who believe that murder is sanctified by the godliness of their aspirations. Sanctimony probably engenders at least as much lying as cynicism. We can’t condemn lying categorically, but we should categorically suspect it.

„I've always seen the formulation of public policy — and solutions to social problems — as a collaborative effort. I've always felt that my part of the job was to analyze and criticize in the hope that other people might use my work to forge solutions.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

"6/24/95 Wendy Kaminer on Crime" (24 June 1995)
Context: I'm better at criticism than social engineering, so I always have a hard time answering good practical questions like "what can the average person do?" Of course, there are obvious answers, like the average person can get involved in local politics, the average person can get involved in violence prevention programs in his or her own neighborhood, the average person can engage with local radio and TV talk shows on crime. I'm afraid, though, that's not a very good answer. I'm best at knowing what I can do personally, which is write and think about issues like these, point out problems, and hope that people like you can do a better job than I can of figuring out where to go next. I've always seen the formulation of public policy — and solutions to social problems — as a collaborative effort. I've always felt that my part of the job was to analyze and criticize in the hope that other people might use my work to forge solutions.

„Not everything that appears true is true.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

"6/24/95 Wendy Kaminer on Crime" (24 June 1995)
Context: Not everything that appears true is true. The ACLU is devoted to some very controversial principles — like the principle that everyone who is arrested should enjoy the same constitutional rights, regardless of their alleged crime or their character. We don't take that position to irritate people; we take that position because we believe in it. We believe in it, in part, in a spirit of enlightened self-interest, because the rights of each one of us are co-extensive with the rights of everyone who is arrested and prosecuted in the criminal courts. If we all don't enjoy the same rights, then no one enjoys any rights at all; some of us merely enjoy privilege.

„I'm better at criticism than social engineering, so I always have a hard time answering good practical questions like "what can the average person do?"“

—  Wendy Kaminer

Of course, there are obvious answers, like the average person can get involved in local politics, the average person can get involved in violence prevention programs in his or her own neighborhood, the average person can engage with local radio and TV talk shows on crime. I'm afraid, though, that's not a very good answer. I'm best at knowing what I can do personally, which is write and think about issues like these, point out problems, and hope that people like you can do a better job than I can of figuring out where to go next. I've always seen the formulation of public policy — and solutions to social problems — as a collaborative effort. I've always felt that my part of the job was to analyze and criticize in the hope that other people might use my work to forge solutions.
"6/24/95 Wendy Kaminer on Crime" (24 June 1995)

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„For the most part, executions happen in obscurity. If people did hear about executions, if they were publicized, even televised, I fear more would enjoy them than be repelled by them.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

"6/24/95 Wendy Kaminer on Crime" (24 June 1995) http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice_prisoners-rights_drug-law-reform_immigrants-rights/62495-wendy-kaminer-crime

„Only people who die very young learn all they really need to know in kindergarten.“

—  Wendy Kaminer

Comment about the title of Robert Fulghum's famous book, in I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional : The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions (1992), Introduction, p. 7

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