The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, March 25, 2003  

The 19th, 20th, or 21st: Take Your Pick

I see in the paper today that the English are finally allowing Scotland to enter the 20th century, finally abolishing the feudal "crofting" laws in place there since 1707. ("Scotland Turns Tables on the Rich," by Thomas Wagner, Associated Press.)

Make no mistake, many Scottish and other landowners are coming along kicking and screaming:

The Land Reform Bill is one of the most important steps taken by their legislature since [Prime Minister] Tony Blair's government gave Scotland and Wales limited autonomy. Supporters say the new law will boost the economy, empower rural communities and the 30,000 crofting families, and rectify a situation in which half of Scotland's private land is owned by just 343 people.

But Peter de Savary argues that investors are just as important to the economy. De Savary transformed Skibo Castle in the Highlands from a private home into the Carnegie Club in 1995. It is now a resort where the rich can golf, ride horses, hike, and dine lavishly.

"The Madonnas and Michael Douglases of the world won't come here anymore," de Savary said. "Security is important to these people." [Ed.: The article informs readers the horrible excuse for an actress and technologically enhanced singer known simply and pretentiously as "Madonna" was married at Skibo Castle two years ago.]

Another opponent is Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of Harrods department store and the father of Dodi Fayed, who died with Princess Diana [Ed.: Diana F. Spencer] in a 1997 car crash. He owns the 65,000-acre Balnagown Estates, 10,000 acres of which is croft land.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force Academy is still mired somewhere in the 19th century, when men were animals and women were their slaves, as we learn from "E-mail Gave Hint of Climate at Academy," by Angela Couloumbis of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Interviews with current and former cadets and military experts suggest that despite having admitted women for more than 20 years, the academy remains a male-dominated institution, particularly in the higher echelons, with a culture that unabashedly favors men over women....

"There's a climate at the academy that makes it difficult for a victim of sexual assault to come forward, and that is retaliation," said Rep. Heather Wilson [(R-N.M.)], a 1982 graduate [of the Air Force Academy] who served several years in the Air Force.

"At the academy," she said, "if a guy's buddies decide to protect him, they control whether the victim eats, sleeps, uses the telephone, leaves the campus, even how many push-ups she does....So the opportunity to retaliate and to force somebody out is greater."

Academy officials, while acknowledging that their institution has a problem, have said the school does take rape allegations seriously, and has in the last decade established a number of sexual-assault awareness programs, as well as a 24-hour hotline.

Academy critics counter that the hotline is staffed by cadets, who while well-meaning might not have the proper experience to counsel rape victims. Complicating matters is that victims have difficulty accessing necessary services -- such as nurses specially trained in processing rape kits -- given the campus' isolated location and the academy's strict rules governing when cadets can come and go.

Does not one of the men in charge of the USAFA have a wife or daughter? Good God, why is rape treated so cavalierly in our society?

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