The Moral Is

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If You Care About California, Then You Should Care About Salinas

Editor's note: Zocalo Public Square is publishing a series of articles this week about the Monterey County community of Salinas and the challenges residents there face. You can find the series online here. Do you worry about the future of California? Then you should worry about Salinas. Because if this Monterey County town of 155,000 can't build itself a brighter future, it's hard to imagine other struggling places doing the same. "Rich in Land. Rich in Values. Ripe With Opportunity," reads the slogan on a city website, and that's no exaggeration. Salinas might be the richest poor city in California. So many poor California cities sit well inland, but Salinas is just eight miles from the Pacific. It might have the best weather in the state. It's part of the prosperous Monterey Bay region, and close enough to Silicon Valley that rising apartment rents have become a problem (a two-bedroom costs more in Salinas than it does in Seattle or Miami). And while many poor California places are

Commentary: Sexism In Science Is No Funny Joke

A controversy has erupted over an attempted joke by a Nobel prize winning scientist at the 2015 World Conference of Science Journalists held in South Korea last June. It turns out that Science, like the rest of society, has a problem of sexism. In this segment of The Moral Is, Fresno State biology professor Dr. Madhusudan Katti confronts the pervasive everyday sexism in science and challenges the institutions of science to address the structural barriers and cultural climate that keep women out of science. Did you hear the one about the Nobel Laureate who, when invited to a lunch honoring women in science, casually told a roomful of journalists and scientists that girls need to be segregated in science labs because they either fall in love with you, you fall in love with them, or if you criticize them, they cry? Funnily enough, his audience thought that was no funny joke. But when some of the journalists reported it, guess who was the one who went home crying? While that attempted joke

Fresno Firefighter Speaks For First Time Since Accident

For the first time since his dramatic fall through the roof of a burning garage, a Fresno firefighter is speaking publicly. Fire captain Pete Dern walked out of the hospital Friday to speak to a crowd of press and supporters. "Hi. I'm am Pete Dern," That's the voice of the Fresno Fire Department captain who in March was caught on cell phone video falling through a garage roof into a blazing inferno below. It took crews nearly two minutes to rescue him. Dern's head and hands are still heavily bandaged. Burn scars and skin grafts are clearly visible on his arms. He has undergone more than 19 operations and 50 dressing changes to treat the second and third degree burns over much of his body. He says the overwhelming support, including several fund drives and campaigns, has given him strength to recover. "Our community here in Fresno, I just want to thank everybody for all their prayers and support. It really matters. I can feel the support," Dern said. Dern was able to walk under his own

Commentary: Weigh Free Speech Against Other Moral Concerns

The horrific killings in January at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine inspired commentators to defend speech and press freedoms as absolutes. But in this edition of FM89's commentary series The Moral Is, CSU Bakersfield philosophy professor Christopher Meyers says free speech needs to be balanced against other moral concerns. ----- In the wake of January's shocking murders at Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices, CBS anchor Scott Pelley departed from his reporter's stance to provide a brief commentary on the shootings and on press freedom. It was powerful stuff, eloquently written and spoken. Unfortunately it was also seriously misguided. He was right when he said "there is no democracy without journalism and the strength of a people depends on the quality of their information." And he correctly showed the connection between a press corps and these basic rights: "Silence," he noted, "is the end of freedom." Where he went wrong was when he concluded that, unlike most of our other

Commentary: Too Many "Firsts" When Talking About Women Running For President

Is America ready to elect a woman to the Presidency? In this edition of The Moral Is, Communication Professor Diane Blair argues that how we talk about women's presidential candidacies emphasizes their novelty in the presidential political arena and belittles the long legacy of the women's political leadership and accomplishments. In 1872 Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for the U.S. presidency. She declared her candidacy even though women didn't even have the right to vote at this time. Clearly, Woodhull knew her candidacy was more about making a symbolic point. Since then, approximately 40 women have either run or explored possible runs for the U.S. presidency. Interestingly, most of these women's campaigns were referred to as an "historic first." For example, in 1964, Margaret Chase Smith was presented as the first woman to run as a presidential candidate from one of the two major political parties. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm was recognized as the first black woman to run

Commentary: Too Many "Firsts" When Talking About Women Running For President

Commentary: Educators Need To Do Better

We expect professionals who serve our community to exhibit not only high standards of technical expertise, but also to treat their clientele with respect. Such minimal expectations were contradicted by recent violations of professional behavior in our local schools. In this edition of The Moral Is, Jacques Benninga , professor of Education at Fresno State, decries a low standard of educator ethics in recent headline-making news stories. March 13 was a special day for teacher education in the Valley. It was Fresno State's annual conference on character and civic education, bringing together all student teachers from our university and from Fresno Pacific University for an all-day focus on issues related to developing the character of their future students and reinforcing in them their own ethical obligations to the profession. The conference also provided a forum for Fresno State to honor Central Valley schools for excellence in character education. After a months-long process, 13

Commentary: Is Tort Reform Really Necessary?

Many business groups across the country routinely call for changes to the legal system to reduce what they call frivolous lawsuits – something called tort reform. But in this edition of FM89's commentary series The Moral Is, Fresno State Business Law Professor Ida Jones says the current system, despite some well publicized exceptions, is working just fine. Have you heard about the man who sued Applebee's because he bent over and was burned by a sizzling skillet of fajitas which he then accidently dumped in his lap? He claimed the server didn't warn him that they were hot. Or the lawyer who sued a dry cleaner for $67 million because they lost his pants? And what about the woman who won a $3 million suit against McDonalds because the coffee was too hot? These types of lawsuits are the reason that business groups call for tort reform. Businesses argue that the pendulum has moved so far toward protecting injured people that businesses can't compete efficiently. The fundamental premise of

Commentary: Measles In The Magic Kingdom

Amid growing fears of epidemics from new and emerging infectious diseases, the US is also seeing old diseases like measles and whooping cough make a comeback. In this segment of FM89's commentary series The Moral Is, Fresno State biology professor Madhusudan Katti discusses the difficult moral choices facing parents worried about their children, and how science and public policy can help them. "Have you traveled to West Africa in the past three months?" If you've seen your doctor in recent months, you probably have been asked this question. "No." I say, adding, "Nor have I traveled to or been in contact with anyone who visited Disneyland!" A raised eyebrow, and the nurse laughs, "Yeah, we should be asking that too!" It is funny, the things we choose to fear in this world. A terrifying disease outbreak in a small part of Africa triggers a global panic, although it only spreads through direct contact with a victim's bodily fluids. A couple of Ebola cases appear in the US, and the CDC

Commentary: Good Moral Hygine Is The Remedy For Rotten Ideas

Do bad ideas and evil ideology spread like a disease? In this edition of The Moral Is, Fresno State philosophy professor Andrew Fiala argues that rotten ideas and pernicious ideologies will die out and that good ideas will eventually succeed, so long as we engage in moral and mental hygiene. We tend to fear that immoral behavior is contagious. Some fear that terrorism and radical ideology spread like a disease. But is this really true? Are evil ideas really contagious? Some idiots do commit copy-cat crimes. And an old saying holds that one rotten apple spoils the bunch. But human beings are not fruit. The vast majority of us are reasonable beings, not seduced by the pernicious ideologies of the rotten apples. Our bodies have natural resistance to disease and our souls have a natural resistance to vice and to bad ideas. Good nutrition and proper hygiene help to prevent the spread of disease. Morality and reason work in much the same way. The roots of our ideological immune system are

Commentary: Music Is Important For Every Age And Generation

Music connects people with the deepest part of their being, both for the young and the old, bringing joy, and many other benefits. In this edition of The Moral Is, Kaye Bonner Cummings of the Bonner Family Foundation of Fresno champions music for every age and generation. The famous cellist, Pablo Casals, once wrote: "Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart." And nowhere is the power of music more important than in our schools. A recent Wall Street Journal essay cited research that showed the power of music training to boost IQ, focus, and persistence among schoolchildren. Even compared with other art forms, music training for young children produced markedly better classroom results in processing sound, reading, and focus. At the high school level, the impact of music training trumps all other art forms in producing high academic results and satisfaction. A few years ago, I asked members of a high school choir to put in writing why music and choir were

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