The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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31 December, 2006


More Leftist hypocrisy. They make laws that sound good then do their best to thwart them

Labour's flagship freedom of information laws are being blocked by ministers who are increasingly refusing to answer routine inquiries about government policy, new figures show. Seven government departments, including the department in charge of monitoring the new powers, are identified in a Whitehall report as refusing to give answers to more than half of all requests made by the public.

The Foreign Office has the worst record by claiming exemptions for 70 per cent of all requests it has received. In total, of the 62,852 requests made to central government since 1 January 2005, 26,083 have not been granted. And of those questions the Government considers properly resolved many have not been answered to the questioner's satisfaction.

The report also shows that public requests for information have fallen to the lowest number since the laws were implemented. The Department for Constitutional Affairs, which has responsibility for implementing the "right to know" laws, has the second worst record, by only providing full answers to 39 per cent of all requests.

Next month the Government is to go to court to try to prevent the public using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain even innocuous information about "the formulation" of policy after the Information Commissioner, the legislation's watchdog, ruled that ministers must reveal material that does not harm policy-making. Government lawyers are to appear before the Information Tribunal in an attempt to have the commissioner's decision overturned by arguing that all policy-related information must be withheld.

The legal challenge will be followed by the introduction of regulations designed to stop the media from making full use of the new powers. These regulations represent a direct attack on the spirit of the law, once heralded by Labour as the end of the culture of Whitehall secrecy. The media and other organisations will be restricted to a handful of requests a year, while the time taken by officials and ministers to consult and consider requests will now be counted when calculating whether people should be charged for any disclosure.

Figures released by the Department for Constitutional Affairs reveal requests to central government fell to a low of 7,641 between July and September, compared with 13,603 in the first three months after the law came into force. Freedom of information campaigners warn that this might be evidence that the public have become frustrated with their failure to get answers. Overall, the success rate for requests across all departments has fallen by 2 per cent to 60 per cent in the past six months.

While Labour has been happy to release documents embarrassing the previous Tory administration over its handling of "Black Wednesday" - Britain's forced withdrawal from the ERM - ministers have been less willing to let the public use the Act to shed light on Labour's own political controversies. For example, ministers are still refusing to release earlier drafts of the Attorney General's advice on the legality of the war with Iraq. At the heart of its strategy is the Orwellian-sounding Central Clearing House where all sensitive or difficult requests are sent. Set up by ministers before the introduction of the laws, the unit employs 12 staff to monitor the public's use of the legislation.

Maurice Frankel, the director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, says the Government's approach "strikes at the very heart" of the legislation. Michael Smyth, the head of public policy at the law firm Clifford Chance, said that while he acknowledged the Freedom of Information Act had opened up government, the regulations, due to come into force in April, will "emasculate" the media. "The Government dined out on the mantra that the FoI Act was to be motive-blind ... but these bizarre proposals will turn FoI requests into something where motive will become relevant," Mr Smyth said.


Where do SCOTUS Justices Alito and Roberts stand on free political speech?

A federal court decision last week upheld the right of citizens to petition their government--a right taken for granted before the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law codified speech restrictions. The ruling is overly narrow but welcome all the same. And if it's appealed, as expected, the Supreme Court will have another chance to weigh in on Congress's efforts to chip away at First Amendment free-speech guarantees in the name of "reform."

The case dates to 2004, when Wisconsin Right to Life ran television and radio spots informing the public that U.S. Senators were filibustering President Bush's judicial nominees. The ads said Wisconsinites should contact Democrats Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold and urge them to oppose the filibusters. McCain-Feingold bans certain kinds of political ads in the 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election, and the anti-abortion group sued on the grounds that its ads should be exempt from the blackout period.

Last year a district court rejected that argument, ruling that the Supreme Court's 2003 McConnell decision upholding McCain-Feingold precluded such exemptions. Wisconsin Right to Life appealed, and in January the Supreme Court said McConnell does in fact allow for exemptions and that the district court should reconsider its ruling.

Last week a federal court did just that and reversed course. In a 2-1 opinion, the court held that certain "issue" ads are permissible during campaign season, even if they (gasp) refer to candidates seeking re-election. And while we agree with the result, the justification for the court's finding is still troublesome and revealing of McCain-Feingold's assault on political speech.

The ads are acceptable, said the court, because they urge voters to call both Senators instead of just one, "do not comment on either Senator's past or current position regarding \[filibusters\]" and don't "reveal either Senator's thinking on the issue." In other words, campaign finance "reform" has left us with a system that allows corporations, unions and other special interest groups to petition government on issues of public importance so long as they don't expressly advocate the election or defeat of an actual politician.

The good news is that the Federal Election Commission is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court, which will get a chance to reconsider its muddled rulings on campaign funding and political speech. Since the 5-4 McConnell decision upholding the campaign finance law, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito have joined the High Court. It's not certain how far either would move in a deregulatory direction, but it's encouraging that both voted with the 6-3 majority in last term's Randell v. Sorrell decision, which struck down Vermont's expenditure and contribution limits.

McCain-Feingold's backers claimed the law would rein in large donors and facilitate political campaigns that are less expensive, less negative and less influenced by special interests. If that nirvana has arrived, we haven't noticed. Proponents also promised that reform wouldn't hurt the ability of grassroots organizations to run ads that inform the public and hold politicians accountable. The folks at Wisconsin Right to Life beg to differ.

Perhaps the lesson is that limiting political speech isn't the cure for whatever supposedly ails the electoral system. Let's hope the Supreme Court seizes this opportunity to start dismantling the speech-regulation regime known as McCain-Feingold.


Godless bigots in Australia too

Criticism of Islam is often held to be "hate speech". Even the most swingeing criticism of Christianity never is. How strange! Both are large and influential religions. The column below is by Christian philosopher Bill Muehlenberg and is a reply to a Christmas-day article by columnist Jill Singer in the Melbourne "Herald Sun".

THANKS, Jill Singer, for picking Christmas to launch your atheist jihad. You have not only offended millions of Australian Christians, but those of other faiths as well. By celebrating Richard Dawkins' new book, The God Delusion, you show how out of touch you are with the overwhelming majority of the world's population.

The God Delusion is a 400-page attack on religion. It is one of the most narrow-minded, intolerant and bigoted books I have read in a long time.

Singer claims she is concerned about religious intolerance. The real worry is intolerance coming from unbelievers. Singer and Dawkins are quite happy to offend and ridicule the majority of those who do not share their narrow atheistic crusade. Dawkins is contemptuous of all religions, so he is an equal-opportunity offender. But it is Christianity that he especially savages. He says the Bible is just plain weird and systematically evil. He speaks of God's acts as God's jealous sulk, God's maniacal jealousy, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Yahweh is simply a cruel ogre and a monster according to Dawkins.

So much for tolerance and open-mindedness. In Dawkins' view, and presumably Singer's, religion is the source of all evil, while atheism is the path of enlightenment, brotherhood and liberation. Never mind the millions of people killed in the name of atheistic utopias, be they Stalin's, Hitler's or Mao's.

And never mind that even non-religious academics, such as Prof Rodney Stark, have claimed with massive amounts of documentation that Christianity created Western civilisation. Prof Stark points out that most of the benefits of the West, such as freedom, democracy and prosperity, are largely due to the Christian religion.

Another secular author says that for all the slaughters in the name of religion over the centuries, there is another side of the ledger. Every time I travel in the poorest parts of Africa, I see missionary hospitals that are the only source of assistance to desperate people. God may not help amputees sprout new limbs, but churches do galvanise their members to support soup kitchens, homeless shelters and clinics that otherwise would not exist. Religious constituencies have pushed for more action on AIDS, malaria, sex trafficking and genocide in Darfur. Believers often give large proportions of their incomes to charities that are a lifeline to the neediest.

I am not aware of any hospitals or charitable works set up by atheists.

And never mind that many noted philosophers have pointed out that it was the Christian emphasis on reason that gave rise to modern science. Singer and Dawkins are way out of their depth, showing their ignorance about the gospel accounts in particular and theology in general. They really should keep silent on subjects they clearly know so little about. As one Marxist commentator put it, "This is why (atheists) invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince". The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be.

Singer says we should all worship at the altar of reason. That is just what the revolutionaries argued in the French Revolution when churches were ransacked and believers were sent to the guillotine. The truth is, a lot of open minds need to be closed for repairs. The nasty diatribes launched by Dawkins and Singer are examples of secular fundamentalism and intolerance. Indeed, they seek to make a sharp distinction between faith and reason, between religion and science. They claim that science gives us truth, but faith is simply myth. But more sober minds on both sides of the debate recognise these to be false polarisations. Faith, at least in the Christian religion, is informed by reason. It may at times go beyond reason, but it does not run counter to it.

And the scientific enterprise is also characterised by faith commitment. There are all kinds of unproven assumptions and presuppositions which may or may not be testable. The myth of complete scientific neutrality and objectivity has been countered by many important thinkers. Singer is free to engage in her simplistic thinking and crude materialism, in which only matter matters. But for billions, non-material things such as truth, beauty, justice, love and even God are very meaningful realities, which the narrow world of atheism will never fully enjoy nor understand.


30 December, 2006


This one is too much fun for me to question the research methods too deeply

Doing housework can cut substantially a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, according to researchers. A study comparing the beneficial effects of different types of exercise found that moderate housework had the biggest obvious effect.

More than 44,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year. Last year 12,400 women died from the disease, most in their postmenopausal years.

Previous research has examined the link between exercise and breast cancer in postmenopausal women, but this is one of the first studies to include a large number of pre-menopausal women. Experts recommend that women exercise for 30 to 45 minutes five times a week to reduce their risk of breast cancer.

The study, part-funded by the charity Cancer Research UK, looked at a range of activities — including work, leisure and household occupations and chores. The pre-menopausal group doing housework spent, on average, 17.7 hours a week doing it while the post-menopausal women spent 16.1 hours. Pre-menopausal women who did housework were found to be about 30 per cent less likely to develop breast cancer than pre-menopausal women who did none. Meanwhile, post-menopausal women who did housework were found to be about 20 per cent less likely to develop the disease than post-menopausal women who did none.

The researchers analysed data from 218,169 women from nine European countries, with an age range of 20 to 80 years. They followed the women for an average of 6.4 years, during which time there were 3,423 cases of breast cancer. The average age at which the disease developed in the participants was 47.6 years for pre-menopausal women and 65.6 years for post-menopausal. All forms of activity combined was found to reduce the risk in the post-menopausal women participants, but had no obvious effect in the pre-menopausal women. But the researchers found that all women, both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal, who undertook housework had a “significantly” reduced risk of getting the disease.

The research, published in the January edition of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, concluded: “In this large cohort of women , . . increased non-occupational physical activity and, in particular, increased household activity, were significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk, independent of other potential risk factors. “Our results . . . provide additional evidence that moderate forms of physical activity, such as household activity, may be more important than less frequent but more intense recreational physical activity in reducing breast cancer risk in European women.”

The authors noted that housework was one of the “main sources of activity” for women living in these countries. Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer information, said: “We already know that women who keep a healthy weight are less likely to develop breast cancer [Rubbish! Fatties get least breast cancer]. “This study suggests that being physically active may also help reduce the risk and that something as simple and cheap as doing the housework can help. “Cancer Research UK’s Reduce the Risk Campaign recommends that men and women take regular exercise and maintain a healthy body weight to help prevent cancer.”


U.K.: Let's say farewell to the 'ethnic minorities'

Ten per cent of the British population come from “ethnic minorities”, a reporter on the BBC Today programme told us solemnly on Monday. He was discussing the Conservative Party’s drive to make the choice of candidates better reflect what Tories, too, call the “ethnic minority” population. The reporter added that this should be 10 per cent. By “ethnic minorities” he didn’t (and the Tories don’t) mean Albanians (Christian or Muslim) or the Irish, or Australians, Japanese or Jews.

Labour, meanwhile, has established an “ethnic minority taskforce” chaired by Keith Vaz, MP. His roadshow will not be visiting the Ukrainian community in Derby, or the Polish community in West London. It will not be talking to the substantial number of more recent immigrants from Eastern Europe who do not yet even speak English. Its remit includes third-generation black Christians whose only language is English. It does not include (white) Bosnian Muslims who speak no English at all. Mr Vaz is himself described as coming from the “ethnic minorities”. He (a Roman Catholic whose English is rather plummier than mine) is of Indian (Goanese) origin.

Oh, come on. Ethnic means “coloured” doesn’t it? If not, tell me in what respect not. The word is an adjective. The noun “minorities” is increasingly and unceremoniously dumped these days in favour of a new usage of “ethnic” as a noun in its own right — as though “ethnics” were members of a single tribe. Only one thing unites this wholly imaginary tribe: not their language, not their religion, not their background, not their culture — but the colour of their skin.

What hypocrisy this is. In Britain the word “coloured” is now more or less shunned in polite usage, and for a good reason: use of the term implicitly categorises people by the colour of their skin, which we shouldn’t do unless it tells us something useful and distinctive about the whole set.

What does a description of the colour of someone’s skin usefully convey in modern Britain? Their religion, language or culture? No; the Afro-Caribbean “community” (itself a conflation of two quite distinct groups) is mostly English-speaking and Christian: a culture closer to the British mainstream than that of a (white) Albanian. Indian Sikhs and Bengali Muslims are worlds apart. Those from the Indian sub-continent do not consider themselves to be black. Islam is much closer to Christianity than Buddhism or Hinduism.

Mr Vaz is no more or less representative of a black British voter in Brixton than I would be. A Bangladeshi Muslim in Tower Hamlets is unlikely to want Priti Patel (a new Tory candidate whose family origins are in India and Uganda) to speak for him on the dispute in Kashmir. Do British Indians consider themselves an oppressed minority any more? I doubt they would agree on this. Do prospering immigrants from Hong Kong feel common cause with refugees from Zimbabwe?

A growing diversity — of race, outlook, culture, gender — among our representatives in Parliament is an excellent thing and the Tories and Labour are right to push hard for it. But quotas for skin-colour are surreptitiously insulting, and plain wrong about the category they presume to identify. It’s time we recognised the whole concept of “the ethnic minorities” as the sloppy and ignorant anachronism it is: a category that simply does not exist.


Aunty's anti-Western bias is a dangerous political tool

Ignorant and ideologically biased ABC staff need re-educating. ("Aunty" is a common nickname for Australia's main public broadcaster -- The Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Those concerned about ABC bias may be disappointed in the ABC's new director of editorial policies, Paul Chadwick. "During the selection process I made it clear that if the ABC wanted a chief censor, I did not want the job," Chadwick said after news of his appointment last week. "The fact that it was offered and the fact I accepted reflected the understanding that this is not a chief censor role."

There has been hope among critics of ABC bias that the new director of editorial policies role, which attracts a salary of at least $280,000 a year, would redress fundamental concerns over ideological bias among ABC staff. But Chadwick's emphasis - indeed, his insistence - on the point that he will not act as a censor at the ABC raises the concern that such hopes are illusory.

Accusations of ABC bias are a problem that will certainly recur in 2007, if only because the partisans of one major political party or the other are unhappy with the broadcaster's coverage. I believe that ABC bias is one of the central problems in our national media. It is a problem I have observed both at close first hand and at the distance of consumption of ABC broadcasting products.

From both perspectives, the problem reveals itself as coming from the same source: the spiritual and metaphysical rootlessness of the tertiary-educated Australian middle class. I have always contended that dealing with this problem at its roots will require nothing less than the complete philosophical re-education of those ABC staff members engaged in intellectual tasks. Short of outright privatisation, this is the only way to arrest the endemic anti-Western bias which, at our ABC, expresses itself as partisan political passion, with the institutions and figureheads of Western liberal democracy as its principal targets.

The ABC represents the Australian intellectual class in miniature. The journalists, writers and artists who make up that class suffer broadly from the confused values that have characterised Western intellectual elites since the late 19th century. There is political passion without historical knowledge. There is philosophical scepticism, without the well thought-out metaphysical beliefs to make that scepticism useful. There is a nihilistic tendency that goes beyond the call of reason, and summons those afflicted with it to a fundamentalist rejection of the society in which they live, and which on the whole treats them very well.

This is the sort of problem that I talk about when I talk of ABC bias. It is not the problem of whether seven minutes or 12 minutes are given to Liberal and Labor spokesmen on the environment in the course of a tedious ABC interview. Much more important than such technical trivia is the question of the underlying and perhaps unconscious attitudes of those doing the interviewing, the editing and the production work on the program.

In a sense, the problem is not the creation of ABC culture as such. It is rather a problem of the Australian tertiary-educated middle class. As flag-bearers for that class, media workers naturally carry most of its baggage. In most social situations, this does not matter at all. A journalist riding the train or ferry to work in the morning is no more dangerous or offensive than another kind of office worker, or the person driving the train or boat. But once at work, ensconced in a position of command over the tools of mass communications media, the ideas at the back of a journalist's mind become more significant, and potentially threatening.

Where commercial market forces impose the disciplines of punchiness, topicality and brevity in news, the menace factor is correspondingly reduced. Where journalists in this country have the liberality to do their thing, as at a commercial-free ABC where ratings are irrelevant and the only professional issue of importance is the estimation of one's peers, the danger from their philosophical disconnectedness from society correspondingly increases. Given the attitudes of the Australian tertiary-educated class, ABC bias is the inevitable consequence of having a public broadcaster that does not operate on commercial principles.

Some say that the ABC board, with all its Howard Government appointees, ensures that the ABC cannot be biased. I have always contended that the ABC board is virtually irrelevant to the broadcaster's operating culture. The board could become, to a man and woman, more right-wing than Keith Windschuttle in his most right-wing moments. This will never affect the Monday-to-Friday newsroom thinking of an ABC journalist whose day-to-day contact is with other ABC journalists. If anything, the persistent stacking of the board with right-wing figureheads is likely to merely reinforce the crusader mentality of those excitable ABC staff members who have come to believe that their own positions, and perhaps the future of civilisation as they understand it, are under threat from the Howard Government.

Similarly I do not predict any great change in ABC operating culture as a result of the creation of any number of so-called opinion programs loaded with predictable voices from various spots on the ideological spectrum. Opinion programs, particularly if they are labelled as such (and one hopes they will be), are unlikely to carry much persuasive value one way or the other. The impact of the programs will depend entirely on the quality of work done by presenters. Like the opinion pages of newspapers, opinion programs on the ABC may provide a forum for the nation's salient political ideas. But in and by themselves, they will not change the content of any overwhelming bias that lies within the hearts and minds of our intellectual class.

Perhaps those making the coffee at ABC staff cafeterias may be excused from the need to learn the basic outlines of Western metaphysical discourse: the tension between utopian political ideologies and the doctrine of original sin, for example. But any staffer who is paid to write, record, edit or in any other way contribute to the production of verbal output through the media of ABC TV and radio should be trained to recognise the key elements in historical Western intellectual discussion. Re-education, leading to a broadened view of the traditions of Western civilisation itself, is the only way to counter the deep-seated anti-Western hostility that characterises our intellectual elites in the modern era.

Note: Just because Leftists use the term "re-education" in an Orwellian way, it does not mean that everybody does. Sometimes it means only what it says!


29 December, 2006


House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) has pledged to take up a lobbying reform proposal that would impose new regulations on speech by grassroots organizations, while providing a loophole in the rules for large corporations and labor unions.

The legislation would make changes to the legal definition of "grassroots lobbying" and require any organization that encourages 500 or more members of the general public to contact their elected representatives to file a report with detailed information about their organization to the government on a quarterly basis.

The report would include identifying the organization's expenditures, the issues focused on and the members of Congress and other federal officials who are the subject of the advocacy efforts. A separate report would be required for each policy issue the group is active on.

"Right now, grassroots groups don't have to report at all if they are communicating with the public," said Dick Dingman of the Free Speech Coalition, Inc. "This is an effort that would become a major attack on the 1st Amendment."

Under the bill, communications aimed at an organization's members, employees, officers or shareholders would be exempt from the reporting requirement. That would effectively exempt most corporations, trade associations and unions from the reporting requirements-but not most conservative grassroots groups, which frequently are less formally organized.

Larger, well-funded organizations are also currently eligible for a "low-dollar lobbyist exemption" that Pelosi's bill does not give to grassroots organizations. If an organization retains a lobbyist to contact lawmakers directly at a cost of $2,500 per quarter or less, or employs a full-time lobbyist at a cost of $10,000 per quarter or less, the organization does not have to report to the government.

Public Citizen, a liberal "government watchdog," is taking credit for helping Pelosi craft the legislation and expects the final draft of the bill to closely resemble Pelosi's Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2006, which contains these provisions.

Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, said the changes would help "streamline" how grassroots organizations are regulated by the IRS and other laws. Public Citizen would like Congress to adopt the IRS's definition of "lobbying," which includes communication that encourages the general public to contact a member of Congress on pending legislation or public policy.

"The IRS has a definition that requires all organizations, including non-profits, to file as a part of our tax returns," Holman said. "When it comes to the election code and the lobbying disclosure act, they have no definition of grassroots lobbying. It's excluded from everything. The IRS has a definition of grassroots lobbying, but their information is not publicly reported. It's just our tax returns to the IRS."

Suzanne Coffman, director of communication for Guidestar.org, which makes IRS 990 forms available on the Internet, said any secular, non-profit organization that has more than $25,000 in income per year is required by law to make the last three years worth of tax forms available upon request. "We get them directly from the IRS, and we have more than two million 990s online" said Coffman. "For non-charitable organizations, like private charities or private foundations, we have fewer because the IRS began scanning those only in April 2005. They focused on charitable organizations, which make up the bulk of exempt organizations, because those are the ones that accept tax-deductible contributions. The need for accountability is much higher with them than with other types of organizations which are sort of subsidized by the taxpayer because they federally are tax exempt, but not like a charity is."

Public Citizen's public IRS 990 disclosure forms show that it raised more than $3 million in 2005. That year, the group spent $297, 431 on mail and $178,182 on consulting and professional fees.

A coalition of grassroots organizers, including David Keene of the American Conservative Union, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America and Terrence Scanlon of the Capitol Research Center, have written an open letter calling on Public Citizen to renounce its efforts, which they called "flawed to the point of hypocrisy."

"This bill would apply to those who have no Washington-based lobbyists, who provide no money or gifts to members of Congress, and who merely seek to speak, associate and petition the government," it said. "Regulating the speech, publishing, association and petitioning rights of citizens is not targeted at corruption in Washington, as Public Citizen and its supporters would believe. Instead, it is targeted directly at the 1st-Amendment rights of citizens and their voluntary associations."

The Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act, which made some of these changes, was actually approved by both the House and the Senate in the 109th Congress, but failed to make it through a conference committee.

To help dramatize the bill this time around, Pelosi is planning to assign sponsorship of various amendments to incoming freshman, which they will promote in their maiden House floor speeches.

Current law prevents former members of Congress and senior staff as well as senior executive staff from lobbying for one year. Pelosi's proposal would extend that to two years and completely ban members and staff from accepting gifts, meals and privately sponsored travel



And yet more encouragement for people to lie to keep out of trouble

Businesses have been warned by a Government watchdog they must individually quiz every member of staff on gay rights - or risk being sued for discrimination. Industrial relations quango Acas has spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money drawing up a detailed 18-question test to establish whether workers are being unfair to any homosexual colleagues. Employers are advised to use the so-called 'audit tool' on all staff, then check their answers against a special score sheet to ensure staff do not have a bad attitude. A poor score earns a 'STOP' warning, which, according to Acas, means the company is at risk of being sued for discrimination.

Questions range from knowing how many gays live in the UK, to whether the business displays a 'rainbow flag' - a symbol of homosexual rights - on the premises. Poor scores are awarded for, for example, any 'jokes or banter' relating to gay or bisexual people. Acas said it was part of the 'Government's drive to promote good practice' on the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. Any firm which is alarmed by its results can ask for two free days consultancy, from Acas, paid for by the taxpayer. An expert will help the firm to develop an 'action plan'. The equivalent cost of the consultancy advice is an estimated 1,000 pounds.

Acas is the Government quango in charge of industrial relations in Britain, and provides advice and a reconciliation service to stop disputes reaching the tribunal stage. It has not sent the quiz to businesses, but they are all required to be up-to-date on Acas advice if they want to avoid being sued, and would be expected to download it from the website. In practice, most companies are so anxious about expensive tribunals in litigious modern-day Britain that they make sure they follow all Acas guidelines.

The test, however, was last night dismissed as a politically-correct waste of employers' time and public money. Business leaders said it was more likely to create rather than solve problems, by raising issues which had not previously caused any concern. Matt Hardman, of the Forum of Private Business, said: 'This is indicative of the state we have got ourselves into over discrimination laws. 'They seem determined to go to ridiculous lengths to flag up something which is unlikely to be an issue in most workplaces. 'In instances where it does arise, it will be dealt with informally in the first few weeks of employment and be dealt with quickly, and in an amiable away. It does not require something like this. 'We must be sensible, not take politically correct steps that are perhaps more likely to create problems than solve them.'

James Frayne, campaign director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'It's bizarre to think that people actually sat down and came up with this idea and thought it was great. 'This is just the latest in a long line of absurd schemes public sector bodies have come up with and which all add up to a small fortune for the taxpayer. Unfortunately, it's very unlikely 2007 will say anything different.'

The questions ask staff if nicknames are more likely to be given to gay members of staff than homosexual ones, or if there is an office equality policy or lesbian, gay and bisexual support group. Answers which Acas wants to see - such as ticking 'no' to the suggestion gay workers are more likely to be teased - receive a green rating, or 0 points. Saying yes would earn a red rating, or two points. A total of 31 points or more earns a 'STOP' rating. This carries the warning: 'Your organisation may well not be properly addressing issues relating to lesbian, gay or bisexual people in the workplace. 'Importantly this suggests that there is a lack of awareness relating to treating people fairly regardless of their sexual orientation, which may mean discrimination on the grounds of people's sexual preferences. 'Remember organisations that discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation, whether perceived or not, leave themselves open to a potential legal challenge under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.' A total of 0-10 is a clean bill of health, while 11-30 means proceed with caution, according to Acas.

Earlier this month, Acas came under fire for warning firms they could be sued unless they ensured office Christmas parties were politically correct. In an extraordinary advice pamphlet, the quango told firms they had a 'duty of care' to drunken staff and could face crippling legal action if they do not get home safely. Managers were also told age discrimination laws could be breached if the music and entertainment caters only for younger staff, and holding a raffle or giving out alcoholic prizes could offend Muslims. It even added a 'proper risk assessment' must be carried out before any decorations were put up, particularly if they could be fire hazards. Businesses said it made holding a Christmas party barely worth their while.

Acas said: 'Promoting equality and diversity and ensuring employees feel valued and can give their best are key issues for today's workplaces. 'This audit tool is designed to give an indication of where (an) organisation is in regard to sexual orientation and gender reassignment.' The organisation added: 'It is definitely not a test; it's designed to bring a sensitive topic out into the open and gauge whether an organisation protects basic equal rights at work whatever the individual's beliefs and practices in their personal lives.'


28 December, 2006

A British drinker mocks British government alcohol correctness:

It is that time of year again, when the family of experts and authorities gather around to hand out shock-horror warnings that binge drinking at Christmas can be bad for us.

Here is the shocking news for them: we know. And we don’t care. For many of us, Christmas is supposed to be one big binge — a burst of spending, eating and drinking that is less festival of light than heavy session. That, after all, is what the B word means — “a bout, usually brief, of excessive indulgence” — not “a slippery slope into alcoholism”. Hopefully somebody bought the binge-whingers a decent dictionary for Christmas. Given the alternatives — not drinking at all, or not stopping — a binge has always seemed to me the best way to celebrate.

The official abuse of the meaning of “binge” is more than semantics. It blurs the distinction between the social drinking that millions happily indulge in, and the serious alcohol problems that afflict a few. The definition of “binge drinking” has been so watered down that a binge is defined as imbibing double the recommended daily limit at one sitting. So three glasses of wine, or two pints of strong lager, now qualify as a “binge” for women. Men may just be allowed a third pint before falling into the binger category. Less Ho, Ho, Ho than No, No, No.

What is all the fuss about? I grew up in suburban Surrey in the Seventies, and have blurred memories of Christmas as a ten-day bender sprinkled with violence and vomit. Somehow we survived to drink another day. By contrast, Christmas bingeing is viewed with horror today not because we drink more, but because officialdom thinks less of people — especially young people. The anxious authorities are mortified by the spectre of the public letting go, of the masses off the leash and on the lash for a few days.

But be of good cheer, there is life after a binge. Shane Warne is not only the greatest cricketer of his generation. His ability to drink himself stupid between repeated bouts of brilliance has made him a hero to binge drinkers everywhere. As he said when announcing his retirement last week: “I’ll have a few drinks and a few smokes afterwards, and take it from there.”

Some of us might not want to go so far as the binge drinker’s bible (aka the Bible), where it is written (Ecclesiastes 8:15) that “a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry”. But the occasional binge is one of life’s small joys for many. And, as even the Government’s own National Alcohol Harm Strategy admits reluctantly, most who drink more than the official guidelines “will not suffer harmful effects” — no more harmful than a hangover, anyway. The binge-whingers should remember that for millions of us this week, a binge is just for Christmas, not for life.


Compulsory halal meat in UK schools

Post lifted from Cranmer

Cranmer is indebted to his faithful communicant Ms Dexey for bringing his attention to the fact that Reading schools are serving halal meat to their students with neither their foreknowledge nor parental approval. It is not the option to which Cranmer objects, but the compulsion. The RSPCA condemns the practice of slitting an animal's throat while it is conscious, but issues of cruelty and inhumane treatment have been completely ignored as Berkshire schools bend over backwards to accommodate the sensitivities of Islam.

The reason given is that Reading `has a high proportion of Muslim students'. By the same reasoning, Bradford, Oldham, Leicester, Slough, and most of London should also be serving nothing but halal meat, and now the precedent has been set, it will not be too long before the demands are made.

But Cranmer finds a flaw in this multicultural manifestation. Of course the Christians may object, and without doubt their pleas will fall on deaf ears, but the Sikhs also have cause for complaint, and they have yet to raise their voice on this matter.

Unlike Hindus, some Sikhs eat meat, not least because one of their gurus is recorded as being a hunter. Yet within the Sikh faith are the `kurahit', or prohibitions, one of which is to not eat meat `killed in the Muslim way'. The origins, as ever, have more to do with the politics of identity, but it is a sustained article of belief for Sikhs all over the world - they are simply not permitted to eat halal meat at all. In Reading, they have been doing so without their knowledge.

Consider for one moment if these schools had been serving reconstituted pork disguised as some other meat, without the knowledge of Muslim students or parents. There would be uproar, with a high-powered delegation of `senior Muslims' to Downing Street demanding national repentance and a global apology, to which the Prime Minister would doubtless acquiesce.

In this instance, the sensitivities of other faith groups and the demands of the animal rights activists are subjugated to the demands of the Muslims.

27 December, 2006


The U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 and in 1993 ruled that state laws establishing hate crimes could be constitutional. Because of these rulings, a crime of murder, for example, becomes worse if the murderer hates the victim. The ruling apparently assumes that some murderers are friendly chaps.

And the law can also be applied against a person who is found innocent of the alleged crime, but is found guilty of the hate that motivated the non-crime. Duh? In other words, thoughts can be illegal -- you can be sent to the pokey because you hate me even though you have not been found guilty of hurting me.

Most states now have hate crime laws that have been carefully tailored to meet the politically correct tests that were imposed by the above-mentioned Supreme Court decisions. The People’s Republic of Massachusetts, of course, is a leader in this respect with its hate crime laws that cover race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and, presumably, the eating of sweet pickles.

When a crime motivated by hate is committed, it is true that hate speech is often the most important match that ignited the deed. We see that example every day in the Middle East where endemic killing is fed by huge daily doses of hate speech in the media and, most importantly, in mosques. Young Muslims do not emerge from the womb as killers-to-be any more than do young Americans or Jews. But after years of hearing hate speech they look at Americans and Jews with hatred so instinctive that it needs only the slightest excuse to explode into an orgy of killing.

But because hate speech can have such terrible consequences does that mean that it should be criminalized even when no provable criminal act took place? Apparently the answer to that is yes and no. It all depends upon who is doing the hating.

For example, the Congressional Black Caucus concluded its four-day, 35th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington on September 25, 2005. In addition to the members of the black Caucus, Democratic Senators Clinton (NY) and Obama (IL) attended and heard (and did not disassociate themselves from) the remarks of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) who, among other things, said that President Bush is the modern day version of Bull Connor (the poster-boy bigot from Birmingham, Alabama, who in 1963 turned a fire hose and attack dogs loose on a black protest march led by Martin Luther King, Jr.), and that being poor and black in the United States is “not an inconvenience – it’s a death sentence.”

Rangel conveniently overlooked the fact that Bull Connor, two of the most racist governors of the time, Wallace (AL) and Maddox (GA), and Senator Robert Byrd (W. VA – with a Klu Klux Klan background) were all Democrats, or that the Civil Rights Act that gave political life to blacks would not have passed if Democrats of the day had their way.

Rangel is a demagogue and a hypocrite. And the congressional leaders who, by their silence, accepted Rangel’s distorted opinions regarding America and its president share his guilt. Hundreds at the conference heard Rangel’s remarks plus, according to Caucus leaders, another 100,000 over a live Web cast. Millions more became aware of his comments through the general media. Young blacks are listening to such demagogues – and reacting.

Rangel and others have peddled racism for 40 years. He and his ilk are a powerful deterrent to the progress of the people that they allegedly represent because they feed their trusting constituents a steady diet of hate speech. And they are living insults to those who have through their taxes have spent billions to assist black Americans and who, through their generosity, are doing the same today in the hurricane-battered cities of the Gulf of Mexico.

But Rangel and other America-hating left wingers are not accused of hate speech. How come?


"Civil liberties" perversions in Australia

Last week the Victorian Court of Appeal ordered a retrial of Jack Thomas on terror charges. The judges found the interview Thomas gave to ABC television's Four Corners could be used in evidence, as it potentially incriminated him. But here's the bizarre part. A number of civil libertarians were reported as being appalled at the ABC for showing the interview. "They must have known they shouldn't do it," said a past president of Liberty Victoria.

In reading this reaction I was reminded of the contrary opinions of the great English legal and moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham. This is the man who was largely responsible for the first Reform Bill of 1832 that vastly expanded the voting system; Bentham lobbied for such a broadening of the democratic base for many years. He also pushed for prison reform and was a progenitor of the John Howard Society (that's the prison reform group named after the long-dead Brit, not a fan club of the Prime Minister).

Bentham, who lived from 1748 to 1832, also played an important role in advancing the cause of women's voting rights. But my point is only this: Bentham had impeccable 18th-century reformist credentials in all sorts of important areas that affected real people. And yet he had a near pathological dislike, indeed loathing, of what we today would call civil libertarians.

Here's how Bentham saw it. This crowd of people forget that criminal trials are basically about getting at the truth. What is needed is a way to determine if an accused person actually did what the police are accusing him of. So relevance and truth are the key factors in any set of procedures. Yes, we'd all be better off opting to have a system that deliberately lets 10 or even 100 guilty persons go free rather than convicting one innocent person. That's why, contrary to the way newspapers often portray things, a not-guilty verdict does not in any way equate to an innocent verdict. Many guilty people are acquitted. It's the price we all willingly pay to keep the innocent out of jail, as much as is practically possible. But notice how you can admit all that and still believe that the point of a criminal procedure system is basically to find out the truth. That's certainly how Bentham saw it.

The problem with the civil libertarian mind-set is that any desire to find the truth -- to convict people who actually did what they are accused of -- seems to get brushed aside in the headlong rush after moral abstractions. Bentham caustically portrayed such thinking as a sort of fox-hunting game. Their goal, he said, was to ensure convicting accused criminals resembled a jolly good day of hunting. That means you can't catch too many. You'll need lots of irrelevant rules which will be sure to trip up the police on occasion, to make sure a few foxes get away. And you want to make sure these rules don't have anything much to do with determining guilt or innocence. The goal is always to keep the game nice and entertaining, with a fox here and there slipping away for the sake of the game itself.

Bentham went further. He saw the mind-set that, say, would exclude evidence when it clearly and undoubtedly points to guilt as part of a typical lawyer's world view, one where a person can be earning a huge salary and yet see himself as doing God's work. It's fox-hunting without any blood on one's hands; nice work if you can get it.

Now let's go back to Thomas. He either did or did not accept cash from al-Qa'ida. If he did not, or if the jury has a reasonable doubt he did not, then he should be acquitted. But if it is clear that Thomas did what he is accused of, then how, precisely, is there any injustice done if this is proved through his own words on an interview he freely gave to the ABC?

There is no obvious rationale for saying our criminal procedures should ensure the stupid don't get convicted. Nor are there any immediate grounds Lfor saying that the press should cover up admissions. Even if the ABC had promised not to show the interview until after the trial, I cannot see why that should stop the police from forcing the public broadcaster to hand over the tapes of the interview.

Confessions are sometimes suspect because we know as a matter of experience that innocent people sometimes confess to things they did not do. In other words, we're worried about the truth of the confession and fear coercion and pressure. We only should accept a confession after it's plain the confessor is telling the truth. But those civil libertarians last week weren't worried about truth. They were worried about the conduct of the ABC (not an obvious candidate for Right-wing monster organisation, truth be told). And they worried about Thomas's legal representation. You see, a smart person wouldn't have admitted anything, and so a smart lawyer would have ensured he shut up.

And so on and so forth. Not one iota of concern for whether the system works reasonably well in getting at the truth and actually takes off the streets dangerous people who do bad things: some of whom, luckily for all of us, are just plain dumb. Maybe Liberty Victoria should have its members read a little Bentham.


26 December, 2006

British Academics seek right to offend

A right that they theoretically have already -- but not of course in practice. See also here under the heading "Staff are silenced by fear of reprisals"

A group of academics is demanding the right to be controversial in a new campaign for freedom of speech. Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF) says that in today's political climate it is "harder than ever" for scholars to defend open debate. AFAF says they must be allowed to question received wisdom, and managers should not be able to discipline academics for voicing unpopular views. The group is calling on all university lecturers to sign its online petition.

"Restrictive legislation, and the bureaucratic rules and regulations of government quangos and of universities themselves, have undermined academic freedom," the groups says. "Many academics are fearful of upsetting managers and politicians by expressing controversial opinions. "Afraid to challenge mainstream thought, many pursue self-censorship."

A Leeds University lecturer, Frank Ellis, took early retirement this year before a disciplinary hearing over his comments that there was evidence to suggest white people had higher IQ levels than black people.

Statement of freedom

The statement of academic freedom which lecturers are being asked to sign says two principles are the foundation of academic freedom: "That academics, both inside and outside the classroom, have unrestricted liberty to question and test received wisdom and to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions, whether or not these are deemed offensive. "That academic institutions have no right to curb the exercise of this freedom by members of their staff, or to use it as grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal."

Writing on the AFAF website, Professor Roy Harris from the University of Oxford said: "Getting university authorities to agree to these principles is an essential step towards safeguarding academic freedom for the future." Professor Mary Evans from the University of Kent said: "Universities need to be able to maintain, and even extend their ability to think the unthinkable. "They should not accept a role as mere instruments of state agendas."

Simon Davies, co-director of the policy engagement research group at the London School of Economics, added: "I'm deeply worried about the number of academics who flee in terror at the slightest wisp of controversy. "Rather than engage the world in a spirit of challenge, too many academics have been sedated by an oppressive environment of political correctness and risk aversion."

Source. More detail here under the heading: "Scholars demand right to be offensive".

The war goes on

Is it a war on Christmas, or a war on Christianity?

Once again, the time of year in which there is supposed to be “joy to the world” arrives rife with conflict over the very symbols of the season, despite protestations to the contrary. In the name of political correctness — the modern euphemism for Marxist intolerance — we have seen this Yuletide season a decision by the city of Chicago to prohibit the use of a trailer from the movie “The Nativity Story” at a Christmas festival, the removal of Christmas trees from the Seattle-Tacoma airport, the usual threats of lawsuits from the ACLU and other Marxists organizations over the performance of Christmas carols in public schools, and the efforts to replace the holiday wishes of “Merry Christmas” with more generic, or meaningless, greetings. All, ostensibly, to avoid offending those who adhere to a faith, or non faith, other than Christianity.

In Chicago, city bureaucrats spent the better part of two days attempting to extricate themselves from their self-created difficulties arising from their decision to seek a ban on the use of the movie trailer. The festival, at Chicago’s Daley Plaza, is officially the German Christkindlmarket, a privately-funded event. One of the sponsors was New Line Cinema, producers of the movie “The Nativity Story,” and as part of the sponsorship, trailers from the movie were going to be shown.

Officially, city bureaucrats were worried that the movie trailers “may offend non-Christians.” Somehow, those bureaucrats seemed to have overlooked the fact that the festival is, indeed, a Christmas festival, and Christmas is, inherently, a Christian celebration. That others may wish to somehow secularize the celebration, or to somehow deny it, is not particularly germane.

At Sea-Tac airport, Christmas trees were removed almost immediately when a lawsuit was threatened. The trees were, fortunately, replaced when public outcry effectively embarrassed the man who first raised the question about the appropriateness of the display, and led to him almost immediately rescinding his objections.

But across the country, the attack on Christmas continues with varying degrees of success on the part of the politically correct attempting to impose their own brand of tyranny. It wasn’t that long ago that a New Jersey school decided to prohibit even the instrumental rendition — no lyrics — of traditional Christmas carols like “Silent Night.” Or that a school in Washington banned the performance of the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” because it somehow was deemed to have “religious” connotations.

The Christmas season, it seems, is supposed to have no reference to the reason, or the tradition, it represents. Unfortunately, it seems only at this particular time of year that the continual onslaught against a particular religion, Christianity, receives any real notice, but it is not limited to this particular time of year. The ACLU battled residents of San Diego for 15 years over whether or not a cross memorializing veterans should be removed from Mt. Soledad. That case was finally resolved when the land was taken over by the U.S. government as a national memorial, allowing the cross to remain. The City of Angels, Los Angeles, has had to remove a cross from its city seal.

As these attacks go on, however, there is no mention of the obeisance the U.S. military is forced to show the Islamic terrorists detained at Guantanamo for their faith, the special treatment that must be accorded the Korans supplied to them, or the criticism leveled against guards when they were falsely accused of desecrating those Korans.

It is tragically ironic that in attacking one faith, the politically correct continues to pervert the First Amendment. In finding a non existent clause in the amendment — a separation of church and state — it has demanded the abrogation of a clause which actually does exist — Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof — by forcing the acceptance the tenets of a non religion, atheism, or of a non Christian religion, Islam.

Meanwhile, the famed “Little Town of Bethlehem” remains under siege. It was only a couple of years ago that Islamic terrorists seized the Church of the Nativity and held hostage several nuns and priests while vandalizing and looting its contents. Bethlehem, once 80 percent Christian, is now 85 percent Muslim, and the Christmas, and Christian, symbols there are being eliminated there with the same surety the politically correct are endeavoring to do in the United States.


25 December, 2006

Happy winter solstice to you, too ...

The GOP wishes you a happy holiday. You heard right. Not "Merry Christmas," but "Happy Holidays." Not that I have a problem with someone wishing, or indeed, having a happy holiday. 15 years ago that statement meant pretty much what it said; a happy holiday.

The problem today is the subtext that has been added over the course of 15 culture war-filled years. Vehement protest over the "exclusivist" nature of wishing one a "Merry Christmas" has led to the substitution of "Happy Holidays" in its place. Odd too, isn't it, that histrionics of this kind usually issue from the preachers of "tolerance". Apparently, "live and let live" is something for everyone else to abide by--everyone else but the multi-culti cheerleaders, that is. Thus, when organizations such as Walmart or the Republican party makes use of the phrase "Happy Holidays" in a public setting, it does so in full knowledge of the current cultural context.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing offensive about the phrase "Happy Holidays," but I think it's unnecessary and a little silly for the GOP to bow to the gods of political correctness. Seen in the light of the recent mid-term drubbing, it would seem that this is tantamount to swinging at a slow pitch and missing completely. It wouldn't hurt the GOP to tout its "traditional" credentials after an election in which many diehard conservatives stayed home. Granted, posting "Merry Christmas" on GOP.com wouldn't reverse President Bush's stance on immigration, but it would be a nice gesture--a signal that the politics of hypersensitivity have no place here.

As 2008 draws closer, and the Democratic slate of contenders looks ever more formidable, it is vitally important that the GOP gets its head straight. Fortunately for all of us, Republican ineptitude isn't the end of the world. I stopped in Walmart today during my lunch break; as I headed toward the exit, I distinctly heard the greeter wish me a "Merry Christmas." I thanked her and wished the same.


Bell-ringers are prime suspects

Comment from Britain

Heard the one about the Tory shadow minister who wanted to dress up as an elf in Santa’s grotto? (Well, they are all going green.) Sadly the punchline is not as funny as the Lib Dem MP lending a hand to the Cheeky Girl. Tim Loughton, the Shadow Minister for Children, was prevented from displaying his elfin charms at a charity children’s Christmas party, because he had not been vetted by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). Welcome to the spirit of Christmas present, where Santas, party helpers, choir members and bell-ringers can all come under suspicion of being undercover perverts, and children must be protected from an honourable, but unvetted, elf.

A report entitled How the Child Protection Industry Stole Christmas, published by my friends at the Manifesto Club, lists seasonal horror stories from around the country. A fat old man offering children gifts if they sit on his lap in a cosy grotto — that’s “grooming”, isn’t it? So Santa often has to be vetted, and even then probably won’t be allowed to put children on his knee, ask for a kiss or do anything more than shake hands under bright lights and even CCTV cameras. All it needs now is for the Santas to claim that they cannot have chubby children on their knee anyway because of health and safety regulations.

Elsewhere, unvetted volunteers are barred from some Christmas parties, photographing Nativity plays is frowned upon, and some churches require all adults in mixed-age choirs to be vetted. Oh succumb, all ye faithful. As for those notorious church bell-ringers they not only need CRB-vetted supervisors, but also parents must be informed that an adult may touch their child’s hand, and young campanologists are given warning not to wear anything “overtly provocative”, presumably in case it rings somebody’s bell.

As Josie Appleton, the report’s author, says: “This isn’t about ‘PC gone mad’. Sadly, these procedures have become entirely normal in schools, churches and community centres across Britain.” Whatever the intentions, the effect can only be to spread bad will and mistrust towards all men. One mother selling letters from Santa on eBay even assures customers: “The magic of Christmas is here . . . I am CRB-checked.” Magic!



The politically correct agenda of The Episcopal Church is being used to shut orthodox people up under the guise of tolerance when, in fact, liberals and revisionists tolerate anything except those they disagree with.

Consider the following: A godly Anglo-Catholic and evangelical priest from the Diocese of San Joaquin is duly elected the new Bishop of South Carolina. Within days of his clear win-on-the-first-ballot victory, a group calling themselves Via Media, announce that they think he is unsuitable for the job and write letters to the church's bishops demanding that they refuse him consents. Lawrence's sin? He is a true believer who is not buying into sodomy, homogenital priests and same-sex unions fictitiously disguised as 'gay marriage'.

They laughingly raise the issue of his "manner of life", without seeing the incongruity that the duly elected homogenital Bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson's "manner of life" might, at the very minimum, be questionable. Heaven forbid that anyone should question the new darling of the left's surrogate for sexual dysfunction.

So the Via Media, a laughable knock-off of the true Via Media hope, and presumably pray, that Lawrence will not get consents, so they can, with their new found political clout, make sure that a "moderate" will get elected, and then begin their long drive to overturn the diocese's mostly orthodox clergy. Will it work? Time will tell.

Then a group of liberal/revisionist bishops in California go after the Anglo-Catholic bishop of San Joaquin John-David Schofield saying he "abandoned the communion" of the church and filed presentment charges at him. They were ultimately thrown out, but not before the good bishop had a few sleepless nights wondering what exactly he had "abandoned".

The irony is that it is the four or more bishops in California who have abandoned the faith, while it is Bishop John-David Schofield who is upholding it!

And more recently the new "pin stripe trousered" One (see the New York Times photo) Presiding Bishop, Mrs. Schori tells that same bishop if he thinks he can take his diocese out of the Episcopal Church he has another think coming.

She accused him of "spiritual violence" saying that he had taken vows three times over to uphold the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church!"

She then says, "If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity." There is so much hubris here you could scrape it off a cathedral wall.

The truth is, there have been a growing number of bishops who have been doing "spiritual violence" to the Episcopal Church for the past 40 years including Pike, Spong, Walker, Charles, Robinson, Bennison, Shaw and Griswold, to name but a few, and their "spiritual violence" has lead to empty pews and now possibly, a departing diocese.

Spong's 12 Theses is a total departure from the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church" as to be laughably Unitarian, Pelagian and Gnostic all wrapped up in one package. And two presiding bishops, Browning and Griswold both turned a blind eye to him, with Griswold saying at one point, during his nine years, that Spong had actually brought people into the church with his inquiring mind, forgetting perhaps that he gutted his own diocese during his tenure at the Diocese of Newark.

Mrs. Schori links the doctrine and discipline of the church to property, a truly giant step forward into ecclesiastical thin air. Here is what she says: "As you contemplate this action (leaving the TEC), I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the property held by the Church today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for those who enjoy it today and those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future."

So to uphold the doctrine and discipline of the church is to make sure that all properties remain in the TEC! Really. What a giant stretch of the imagination. Has any bishop or archbishop in history ever made such a claim? Is the Dennis Canon above Holy Scripture?

If what she says is true, what is Mrs. Schori going to say to, or do with, bishops like John W. Howe (Central Florida) or James Stanton (Dallas) who have already let parishes go without a fight, to other ecclesiastical jurisdictions? Why is she not writing to them? If these are diocesan matters, and properties are held in trust for the diocese and national church she will need to litigate against every diocese that has ever let a parish go without a fight.

Presumably dioceses like San Diego and Los Angeles are safe because they are litigating, often repeatedly, to keep or get back those parishes that have left the Episcopal Church.

Schori: "Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation."

And the church's forbears would never have tolerated a Spong or Pike either. If they knew what was being preached from pulpits today they would roll over in their graves. Can you imagine the Rt. Rev. Samuel Seabury (1729 -1796), the first American Episcopal bishop and the second Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, listening to the whine of a Louie Crew or V. Gene Robinson over legitimizing homoerotic behavior!

And who is doing most of the litigating? Would Mrs. Schori care to explain how J. Jon Bruno (Los Angeles) is repeatedly going after three parishes in his diocese and where the money is coming from, or that Charles Bennison, (Pennsylvania) a rank revisionist is selling closed churches and using the money to fund a war chest to go after two orthodox parishes!

And where was the victory for the Diocese of Pennsylvania in closing St. James the Less? Mrs. Schori's says properties are for "those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future." The truth is there isn't going to be a future for that parish. The entire parish left with the priest. The doors of St. James have closed forever. Bennison's efforts to jump start the parish has already failed. He now has to pay for the church's upkeep, so Philadelphia's elite, who lie buried in the graveyard, are not disturbed by a church-turned-boutique.

The Executive Council recently appropriated $100,000 for the church's task force's work on fleeing parishes, with the group also obtaining a further $25,000 co-opted from an insurance company that could be used to help those liberal and revisionist diocesan priests go after orthodox priests and parishes.

And what will Mrs. Schori say to Bishop Peter James Lee (who has already cut a deal with one parish) when he cuts a deal with two multi-million dollar parish estates so he doesn't have to face endless litigation?

Will she be firing off threats of presentments to other orthodox bishops across the country that cut deals with fleeing parishes? Where will it all end? What will she do if Bishop Duncan says the Anglican Communion Network is now the formative unit of a 10th province if Global South Primates initiate a new structure for orthodox Episcopalians, that they promised to do in Kigali and reaffirmed in Virginia recently, and give Duncan the nod to go ahead under their protection. And guess what, they are not asking Rowan Williams for permission.

They probably realize that his visit with the Pope bombed and they have even less respect for him now. Is the Archbishop of York just waiting in the wings for the top job? A number of British commentators think so.

Mrs. Schori is clearly a continuation of Frank Griswold but in pin stripe trousers, and she has nailed her ultra-liberal colors to the TEC mast. She has no theology worth talking about. One priest described her theology as variously Pelagian, Marcion, Gnostic, Pluralistic and Universalist. She has reduced everything to Millennium Development Goals. One writer says Mrs. Schori has replaced the catholic notion of "faith once for all delivered" for a "faith du jour", and nobody has blinked.

But political correctness and its twin sister liberal intolerance was also visible over the issue of women's ordination. At first it was brokered in on the back of the Civil Right's movement without any theological work being done. Twenty five years later it is now mandatory, no bishop will ever obtain consents unless such a bishop approves. The consciences of Anglo-Catholic priests and some Evangelicals were simply stomped on.

The Rev. Dr. Laurie Thompson, Dean of the School of Doctoral Studies at the Ambridge, PA based Trinity School for Ministry said that while liberal bishops will not send their seminarians to be educated at T(E)SM they do accept graduates from TSM. But, observed Thompson, TSM's students are increasingly wary of submitting to a non-supportive authority.

Finally, any notion of liberal niceness, and 'why can't we all get along', or 'go in peace to love and serve the Lord' has forever evaporated. Mrs. Schori has demonstrated that her oceanographic background with squid and octopi has taught her that having multiple tentacles to squeeze orthodox bishops was indeed the right background for her new job.

All that remains to be seen is how fast orthodox bishops can escape her clutches, or be cut off, before they themselves are squeezed to death in her liberal, tolerant embrace.


24 December, 2006


A congressman said Thursday that he will not retract a letter warning that unless immigration is tightened, "many more Muslims will be elected" and use the Quran to take the oath of office. Republican Rep. Virgil Goode triggered angry responses from a civil rights group and some colleagues with a letter this month to constituents concerned about a decision by Rep.-elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, to use the Quran when he is sworn in. "I will not be putting my hand on the Quran," Goode said at a news conference Thursday at the Franklin County Courthouse.

Goode, who represents Virginia's 5th Congressional District, said he is receiving more positive comments from constituents than negative. "One lady told me she thinks I'm doing the right thing on this," he told Fox News. "I wish more people would take a stand and stand up for the principles on which this country was founded." Goode also told Fox News he wants to limit legal immigration and do away with "diversity visas," which he said let in people "not from European countries" and "some terrorist states."

In his letter, Goode wrote that strict immigration polices are necessary "to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America." "The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran," he wrote.

Ellison said Thursday that Goode and others had nothing to fear about Muslims. "They are our nurses, doctors, husbands, wives, kids, who just want to live and prosper in the American way," Ellison, a Democrat from Minneapolis, said Thursday on CNN when asked what he would say to Goode if they met. "All of us are steadfastly opposed to the same people he's opposed to, which is terrorists, and so there's nothing for him to be afraid of." Asked whether he thought Goode was a bigot, Ellison said, "I don't know the fellow, and I'd rather just say that he has a lot to learn about Islam. ... I don't want to start any name-calling."

Virginia's senior senator, Republican John Warner, said in a statement Thursday that he respects the right of congressional members to freely "exercise the religion of their choice, including those of the Islamic faith utilizing the Quran."

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois Democrat who is Jewish, said Thursday that he hoped Goode would meet with Ellison, saying he would "see what I saw: a good American with good values of a different faith who's trying to do right by the people he represents." The Council on American-Islamic Relations had asked Goode to apologize, saying the remarks sent "a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office." Ellison was born in Detroit and converted to Islam in college.



In the usual dishonest Leftist way, they pretend that there is no difference between rounding up lawbreaking and law-abiding people

U.S. Hispanic groups and activists on Thursday called for a moratorium on workplace raids to round up illegal immigrants, saying they were reminiscent of Nazi crackdowns on Jews in the 1930s. They accused the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of "racial profiling," or selective enforcement against Hispanics, for arresting 1,300 workers on immigration violations in December 12 raids at meatpacking plants in six states. "We are demanding an end to these immigration raids, where they are targeting brown faces. That is major, major racial profiling, and that cannot be tolerated," said Rosa Rosales, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, at a news conference. "This unfortunately reminds me of when Hitler began rounding up the Jews for no reason and locking them up," Democratic Party activist Carla Vela said. "Now they're coming for the Latinos, who will they come for next?"

The groups, which included LULAC, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, sent letters to U.S. Michael Chertoff, urging a halt to the raids. They also called on Congress to quickly to approve immigration legislation that would allow for "guest workers" to remain in the United States.

The government crackdown follows months of political debate about illegal immigrants that culminated in a new law authorizing, among other things, construction of a 700-mile wall along several stretches of the U.S.-Mexican border. Many of those arrested in the December 12 raids, all at Swift & Co. plants, were from Latin American countries.

Chertoff said the raids showed that illegal immigrants, estimated to number 12 million in the United States, contributed to the problem of identity theft because they worked under false or stolen identities. Anger at anti-immigrant rhetoric and measures is said to have hurt Republican candidates with Hispanic voters in November elections that saw the Democrats win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. LULAC, the oldest and largest Hispanic group in the country with 115,000 members, said workplace raids would cause families to be separated if the arrested immigrants were deported and also would hurt the U.S. economy. "Every labor-intensive industry including the hospitality, construction, agriculture and restaurant industries will be adversely impacted if these raids continue," Rosales said.


Moronic "sexual harassment" correctness

It shows how politically correct and devoid of sense teachers tend to be

A father in Maryland says his 5-year-old son knows nothing about sex, but the boy was written up for sexually harassing a kindergarten classmate.

Washington County school officials told Charles Vallance that his son pinched a girl's buttocks earlier this month in a hallway at Lincolnshire Elementary School. The school says that meets the state's definition of sexual harassment. Vallance says his son was only playing around and had no sexual intent. School officials say the incident will remain in the boys file until he goes to middle school.

Citing state data, the (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail reports that 28 kindergarten students in Maryland were suspended for sex offenses in the last school year - 15 of those suspensions for sexual harassment.


Australia: Long sentence for killing an Aborigine

Why are crimes alleged to be "hate" motivated penalized relatively heavily while other negligent but unintentional killings in Australia get just a slap on the wrist? The victims are equally dead

A man has been jailed for 7 1/2 years for shooting dead an Aboriginal woman and wounding another man in a racially motivated attack. Bradley Stuart Burge, 33, was today sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for the January 2000 drive-by shooting in Port Hedland, in Western Australia's north. He had pleaded guilty to murder and causing grievous bodily harm.

Burge, originally from country NSW, admitted using a 12-gauge shotgun to fire a single shot at people gathered in a park. The shot hit a 39-year-old woman in the leg and she bled to death. The blast also hit a 32-year-old man in the leg, leaving him with a permanent disability. Burge's brother Kerry James Burge, who was allegedly driving the car at the time of the shooting, has pleaded not guilty to the same charges and will face trial next year.

Burge's lawyer Josephine Pepe today told the West Australian Supreme Court her client had not meant to kill or harm anyone, only to frighten them. "They were out to do a prank that went horribly wrong,'' Ms Pepe told the court. But prosecutor Carolyn Moss called the attack "cowardly''. "This is a clear cut case of a racially motivated offence,'' she told the court. "It was pure chance and pure luck that no one else was hit . . . and there were no further fatalities,'' she said.

Justice Ralph Simmonds sentence Burge to a minimum of seven and a half years in prison, backdated to his arrest in September last year. "These are matters of grave community concern,'' he said. "The results were deeply and doubly tragic.'' But Justice Simmonds said he accepted Burge had not intended to kill anybody. He said the attack had been out of character for Burge and was not part of a pattern of violence or racism. Burge was made eligible for parole.


23 December, 2006


The state's Christmas tree controversy has shifted from the airport to the Capitol, where the governor lit a menorah this week, but officials rejected a Nativity scene. It all started earlier this month with the plastic holiday trees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. A rabbi wanted to add a large menorah to the display, but airport officials, worried about lawsuits and requests from other religions, ordered the trees removed instead. They put the trees back up a few days later -- without a menorah -- after Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky of Chabad Lubavitch in Seattle said he wouldn't sue.

Bogomilsky had made the same request last year for a menorah to go with the decorated trees at the state Capitol, and he said he was delighted Monday afternoon when Gov. Chris Gregoire lit a menorah, the candelabrum lit by Jews to celebrate Hanukkah.

But when Ron Wesselius, a real estate agent in Olympia, then proposed also adding a creche, a display depicting the birth of Jesus that is the religious basis for Christmas, he was turned down. "I had been thinking about it, but it's one of those things -- you don't want to create waves," Wesselius said Wednesday. "But when I saw the menorah was there, I thought, 'Hey, why don't I ask?' " He said he was surprised at the response.

Steve Valandra, a spokesman for the Department of General Administration, said officials were concerned that in comparison with a tree or menorah, a Nativity scene might carry a stronger impression of government endorsement of religion. Lawyers for the state felt there was insufficient time to fully research the issue, he said. "Based on that, without having more time, we had to say no," Valandra said. Wesselius said he hadn't decided whether to press state officials to change their minds.



The ACLU turns to the courts in a bid to overturn the Michigan constitution. The Michigan constitution now says: "'The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting" but the ACLU figures that the courts can overturn that. The courts have long ignored the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution so the ACLU may be right. The USA has a lawless judiciary at the highest level

Filing a lawsuit today on behalf of 19 students, faculty and applicants to the University of Michigan, a coalition of civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, are asking a federal court to declare that the newly passed Proposal 2 has not changed the Supreme Court’s view, stated as recently as 2003, that it is constitutionally permissible for universities to consider race and gender as one factor among many in university admissions. "We are pleased to be able to represent current students and faculty, as well as prospective students, in a case that will be the first to evaluate exactly what Proposal 2 means in this state," said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. "The recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court made clear that it is entirely within the law for universities to consider race or gender as one of many criteria in selecting their student body. Proposal 2 should not change that."

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, asks the court to issue a "declaratory ruling" explaining that Proposal 2 does not ban programs that use race or gender as part of the decision-making process in any manner whatsoever. Such a construction of the language of Proposal 2 would place an unconstitutional burden on the ability of protected groups to advance their interests and rights while leaving other members of the community free to advance theirs without any similar burdens.

Rev. Wendell Anthony, President of the NAACP, Detroit Chapter, said, "Affirmative Action is still the law of the land. Recent events in Michigan related to the passage of Proposal 2 have only increased our energy to keep the doors of equal opportunity open and accessible for all of America's sons and daughters. We have come too far to allow the doors of opportunity to be shut in the face of the American promise of liberty and justice." Proponents of Proposal 2, called the "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative," have asserted from the beginning that it would not end all affirmative action but, instead, would only make it "unconstitutional to pick winners and losers based solely on race and sex."

Source. (H/T STACLU)

Good kids can come from any environment

Genetics research has shown for years that it's your inborn characteristics, not your environment, that make most of the difference in your life. Below is described one outcome of that -- though genetics is not mentioned, of course

There's good news for children growing up in bad neighborhoods in a comprehensive study led by nationally renowned University of Colorado at Boulder sociology Professor Delbert Elliott. The 8-year effort analyzing the successful development of children in different kinds of neighborhoods in Denver and Chicago found that children growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods were doing much better than expected. The rate of successful development for children from the best neighborhoods was 63 percent while the success rate for children living in high-poverty, disadvantaged neighborhoods was 52 percent.

"There's an 11-point difference between our worst neighborhoods and our best neighborhoods," said Elliott, director of the CU-Boulder Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. "That's very surprising." "The idea that living in high-poverty, disorganized, disadvantaged neighborhoods is kind of a death sentence for kids is clearly not the case," he said. "We're getting kids coming out of those neighborhoods that are doing quite well."

The examination of neighborhoods was one of four integrated studies launched by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Network on Successful Adolescent Development. The portion of the study conducted by Elliott and his colleagues looked at neighborhoods, while three other teams focused on family and school influences on development, and youth development in rural farming areas.

The results were published this fall in "Goods Kids From Bad Neighborhoods" by Cambridge University Press. The study was co-authored by Scott Menard, Amanda Elliott and David Huizinga of the CU-Boulder Institute of Behavioral Science, William Julius Wilson of Harvard University and Bruce Rankin of Koc University in Turkey.

The researchers used U.S. census data, personal interviews and focus groups to study 662 families and 820 youths age 10 to 18 from 33 neighborhoods in Denver, and 545 families and 830 youths from 40 neighborhoods in Chicago. Names of all neighborhoods in the study were changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants.

Relatively little is known about how adolescents from disadvantaged neighborhoods overcome adversity, according to Elliott. While most other studies focus on crime, drugs and the dysfunctional behavior of youth in poor neighborhoods, this study focused on success: the factors that helped adolescents develop into healthy, productive, contributing citizens.

In examining the combined effects of neighborhood, family, school and peer group, the researchers were surprised to find that "success in any one of those seemed to be able to buffer the kids from the negative effects of living in a bad neighborhood," Elliott said. This finding is "very encouraging" because it means that the conditions in all four contexts don't have to improve at once in order to make a difference in children's lives, he said.

It also was somewhat surprising that the impact of each of these social contexts was fairly similar, although not identical, Elliott said. For positive youth development, the family and the school are the two most critical contexts. But for issues of delinquent behavior, drug use and early sexual activity, the critical context is the peer group.

As expected, the family has a strong influence on the behavior of younger children but this influence wanes starting at about age 15 when the school and peer group gain in importance. The good news from this finding is that good family-based interventions are available for parents of younger children, he said. "We know that we can teach parents how to do a better job of parenting," Elliott said. "That's an intervention in disadvantaged, high-poverty neighborhoods that potentially can have a dramatic effect on youth development. The earlier we can do that the better, given this age effect that we see. You can't wait until kids are 16, 17, 18."

Another key finding was that parents in disadvantaged neighborhoods are doing a pretty good job of parenting. The researchers didn't find that the quality of parenting was strongly related to the type of neighborhood. The tendency for poor parenting, bad schools and antisocial peer groups to cluster in bad neighborhoods was quite weak. When the difference in financial resources between poorer and wealthier neighborhoods was taken into account, "The quality of parenting was just as good and in some cases better than in more advantaged neighborhoods," Elliott said.

The nature of the parenting was different, however. In disadvantaged neighborhoods, a lot of the parenting dealt with teaching children how to deal with the dangers in their neighborhoods -- the exposure to drugs, delinquency, crime and the dysfunctional behavior of some of the adults and teens who live there, he said. "A large part of the parenting practice issues for those parents had to do with ensuring the safety of their children," he said.

One of the findings in the companion MacArthur study on families showed that trying to confine kids to the house in a dangerous neighborhood doesn't appear to be a good strategy because teenagers are too apt to sneak out to be with their peers. "There's such a need on the part of adolescents to be with their friends that if you don't provide positive social contexts for that to happen, it's going to happen anyway, and it's going to happen in some sort of context where you don't have good monitoring and supervision, and then you get some pretty negative outcomes," he said. A more effective strategy was for parents to get their children involved in afterschool programs, church-related activities or athletics where there is adult monitoring and supervision. This strategy looked like it was "very, very effective," he said.


22 December, 2006

Journalism that is politically correct to the point of stupidity (if not outright deception)

I reproduce two posts below from Taranto

Crackpot portrayed as normal

Remember Cindy Sheehan? Neither does anyone else, which we suppose is why the Associated Press is now putting forward a new "folk hero" for the "anti-war movement": Rosemarie Jackowski, a diminutive sexagenarian from Vermont who was arrested in 2003 for disrupting traffic and has been appealing her conviction ever since. The AP makes her out to be just a regular old lady; "Vt. Woman Is an Unlikely Peace Activist," reads the headline, and the story, by John Curran, includes a putative veteran's endorsement:
"She's not a loony toon by any means," said Andrew Schoerke, 73, a retired U.S. Navy captain who was arrested with her. "She's a very down to earth, sensible, caring person with some very strong convictions."
But as blogger Dan Riehl points out, a simple Internet search turns up lots of information the AP leaves out. Her page on SelvesandOthers.org describes her as an "advocacy journalist" and includes links to articles she has written. In "Reparations for Iran," dated Aug. 9, she writes:
The United States owes reparations to the people of Iran. How much should be paid for the 1953 coup? How much is a democracy worth? Here's a thought. Suppose the U.S. gave all of its nuclear weapons to Iran. Would that be a win, win, win scenario? The world would be safer because the only nation that had ever used nukes would no longer have any. The people of Iran would be compensated for the 1953 coup. The U.S. taxpayers would be spared a bill for reparations.
In "Vermont Vets Support Ward Churchill Statement" (June 19), she praises a statement in which the crackpot Colorado "scholar" seemed to endorse terrorism to "get those in power to stop killing Indian children":
When I first saw this Churchill statement on the Mickey Z blog site, my initial reaction was that it was beautifully constructed poetry. Ward Churchill, the gentle poet, that was a new concept. As I read and re-read it over and over, I came to the conclusion that it is one of the most powerful pleas for peace and justice in literature.
Similarly, in a May 20 piece, she likened Churchill to Galileo. She also ran for attorney general last month as the nominee of the far-left Liberty Union Party, according to whose Web site she is also a member of the Socialist Party USA.

This information would seem to be useful in evaluating the AP source's claim that Jackowski is "not a loony toon." And surely it is a refutation of the AP's own claim that she is "an unlikely peace activist." It's hard to think of how she could be any likelier a peace activist.

Curran, the AP's reporter, at best shows a remarkable lack of skepticism about Jackowski's self-packaging as a normal grandma. But this is pretty much par for the course: The press tried to present Cindy Sheehan as a grieving everymom, when in fact she turned out to be an America-hating crackpot. Is it any wonder people don't trust journalists?

Diversity Drivel

The Boston Globe reports on a silly new study that purports to reveal something about race relations in Massachusetts:

Despite the increasing diversity of the population here, the state's black, white, Asian, and Latino residents are living largely separate lives and take a dim view of race relations, according to a poll released today.

At work, in their neighborhoods, and socially, an overwhelming majority of white residents, for example, still interact predominantly with other whites. The survey showed that 61 percent of white respondents said they see "only a few" or no African-Americans in daily life, and 71 percent said they see only a few or no Latinos.

"We have made a great symbolic statement about Massachusetts as a home to diverse people," said Steve Crosby, dean of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies, which commissioned the survey along with three think tanks at the University of Massachusetts. "But this data tells us there is still serious work to be done in terms of race relations and conditions for all ethnicities in our community." . . .

According to the survey, African-Americans and Latinos also associate mostly with people of their own race and ethnicity, though they are not as segregated as the white residents. A large majority of Asians also said they interact with few or no African-Americans and Latinos, but they reported seeing more white residents in their daily lives than they do people of their own race.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Massachusetts is 83.4% white, 5.9% black, 4.7% Asian and 7.9% Latino (that last category overlaps with the racial ones). What this means is that if you came in contact with a representative sample of Massachusettsans each day, the vast majority of them (5 out of 6) would be white, while only a few would be black (about 1 in 17), Asian (1 in 21) or Hispanic (1 in 13).

The only finding the Globe describes that departs from this is that "African-Americans and Latinos . . . associate mostly with people of their own race and ethnicity." What sort of "serious work" would Steve Crosby do to prevent them from doing so?

How human rights always lead to human wrongs

A comment from Britain

Jeremy Bentham described the Declaration of the Rights of Man by French revolutionaries as “nonsense on stilts”. Nice rhetoric, but ultimately unsuccessful. Since 1789 the idea of human rights has thrived. It now even has its own day. This year’s Human Rights Day, was dedicated to the war on poverty. Bentham was right. The idea that we all enjoy certain rights, not because any legal system gives them to us, but simply because we are humans, is silly. But, in the 18th century at least, it was beneficial silliness.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are born equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that amongst these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These statements are not self-evident. They are not even true. They are gobbledygook. Yet they inspired the Constitution of the United States, one of mankind’s great achievements.

Alas, once nonsense is up and running, it is hard to rein in. Initially, our self-evident human rights were simply protections against the abuse of power. Today, entitlements to all manner of goods are making themselves evident to human rights oracles. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, claims that we have human rights “to food, to work, to healthcare and housing”.

This inflation has changed the politics of human rights. Whereas human rights once supported limited government, they are now invoked in favour of the welfare state and the maximal government it requires. Which is why the human rights movement, although well intentioned, has become a malign force.

In an article to mark Human Rights Day this month, Ms Arbour claimed that poverty is caused by human rights violations. It is true, of course, that if people had food, healthcare and housing, they would not live in poverty. But it is absurd to say that lacking these things causes poverty. Lacking these things is poverty. Why do millions of people lack decent food, healthcare and housing? That is the question.

The human rights lobby sees poverty as an essentially legal problem. All humans are entitled to food, healthcare, housing and so on. But countries where poverty is common have failed to enshrine these entitlements in law. If they embraced human rights, poverty would be legislated out of existence.

If you are tempted to agree, perhaps you will also like this idea. The government should enrich us by passing a law that entitles all Brits to an annual income of at least one million pounds. The difficulty, of course, is that Britain’s GDP is considerably less than one million pounds per person. It is impossible to provide everyone with this income.

The same goes for the more modest entitlements that human rights enthusiasts claim to be universal. Providing every citizen with decent food, healthcare and housing exceeds the productive capacity of many poor countries. Mauritania’s annual GDP, for example, is only $400 per person. It would be nice if Mauritanians were richer, but declaring that they should be will not help. Entitlements to wealth do not create wealth. On the contrary, they hinder wealth creation.

To see why, consider a less absurd entitlement. Suppose Gordon Brown introduced a minimum household income guarantee of £40,000. This may appear possible, since British GDP is now £52,000 per household. In fact, the policy would soon defeat itself. Only dedicated Protestants would continue to work. Those whose efforts would earn them less than £40,000 would not bother, and nor would those who earn more, given the tax rates that would be required to fund this entitlement. With mass indolence, the average household income would soon fall well below £40,000, whatever the law said we were entitled to.

Poor countries are not exempt from the perverse incentives created by entitlements. In fact, they are more vulnerable to them. Where labour is less productive, even modest entitlements will undermine the incentive to work. In Britain we can guarantee all citizens food, healthcare and housing without destroying economic incentives. But this is because we are already rich. Such entitlements would devastate less developed economies.

The causes of poverty are debated by economists. Yet most agree that property rights are essential for wealth creation. Without them, wealth cannot be accrued. And if people cannot accrue wealth, they have little incentive to create it. Why invest capital and effort in a business if you cannot feel secure in your ownership of it, and of the profits that flow from it? Communism and anarchy create poverty in the same way: by undermining property rights.

Property rights are not universal entitlements. If I own some land then you do not own it. You lack entitlements that I enjoy, such as the profits made by farming that land. Such inequalities are inherent to property rights. Which may explain why human rights activists do not care for them. In an 800-word article on fighting poverty, Ms Arbour did not once mention property rights. Instead, she lamented “unequal access to resources” — something entailed by private ownership of them.

Tens of millions of Chinese have worked their way out of poverty in recent years. It was not achieved by extending human rights law in China. Nor is it an “economic miracle”. It is a predictable consequence of establishing property rights.


Official British paranoia about "hate crime"

Contrary to UK government expectations, Englishmen just don't behave like Muslims

After the bombings in London on 7 July 2005, the British state exerted at least as much energy keeping a watchful eye on the white hordes as it did trying to find out who detonated the bombs. Many predicted a swift and unforgiving `Islamophobic backlash'. Police officers were posted outside mosques. A National Community Tensions Team set about monitoring anti-Muslim incidents around the country and provided intelligence to the government and police. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, issued a plea for calm, warning against that `temptation in some' to make Muslims a `scapegoat'. Brian Paddick, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, called for everyone to keep their eyes peeled for hate on the streets.

Even doctors' surgeries were enlisted in the post-7/7 spying game. One primary care trust sent an email the day after the bombings asking staff to watch out for signs of hate: `At a time of raised tensions such as this, it is important that all staff challenge racism and prejudice in a positive way.' A union official called on progressives to take a stand against the `backlash' against `our Muslim brothers and sisters'.

Backlash? What backlash? We now know that the post-7/7 fantasies of an anti-Muslim pogrom were just that: fantasises, fuelled by an excitable and unfounded view of the white working classes as ignorant and given to violent outbursts. Figures published by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) last week show that for the year 2005-2006 (which covers 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006, thus including the aftermath of the bombings) there were prosecutions for 43 cases of religiously aggravated crime. That's right, 43. Far from being a backlash, this figure is socially insignificant, representing a minuscule minority of overall crime for 2005-2006. The `backlash' predicted by so many turned out to be a handful of mostly minor incidents carried out by drunks and losers.

As the Director of Public Prosecutions said as he presented the figures - sounding somewhat perplexed - `the fears of a large rise in offences appear to be unfounded'.

Some of the headline coverage of the stats has chosen to focus on the percentage rise in prosecutions for religiously aggravated offences. `The Crown Prosecution Service's Racist and Religious Incident Monitoring report for 2005-2006 shows an increase in prosecutions on the previous year for both types of offence', says the CPS press release. `Religiously aggravated cases rose by 26.5 per cent.' That seems to be true. But in this instance, 26.5 per cent represents a mere nine cases: there was a rise from 34 prosecutions in religiously aggravated cases in 2004-2005 to 43 in 2005-2006. Fewer than half of these religiously aggravated incidents in 2005-2006 can definitely be said to have targeted Muslims: of the 43 cases, Muslims were victims in 18 of them, Christians were victims in three, and a Sikh was a victim in one. In the remaining 21 cases, the actual or perceived religion of the victim was not known (more of which in a minute).

If you go you beyond the press release and dig into the CPS report, you'll see that this means there were fewer prosecutions for religiously aggravated cases involving Muslims as victims in 2005-2006 than there were in 2004-2005. In 2004-2005, there were prosecutions for 34 cases of religiously aggravated crime, in which the victim's actual or perceived religion was Islam in 23 cases; in 2005-2006, there were 43 cases of religiously aggravated crime, in which the victim's actual or perceived religion was Islam in 18 cases. This means that the number of prosecuted anti-Muslim crimes fell from 23 to 18 in a year in which we were warned of an ominous rise in anti-Muslim hate.

Of the 43 cases in 2005-2006, around one quarter involved assault or harassment against the person. The charges prosecuted included: 21 for religiously aggravated public disorder (shouting in the street, etc); 10 for religiously aggravated criminal damage (graffiti, smashing windows, damaging religious buildings, etc); nine for religiously aggravated assault; and three for religiously aggravated harassment. So, 72.1 per cent of the prosecutions involved public disorder or damage, and 27.9 per cent (or 12 cases in real terms) involved assault or harassment.

It is worth asking what constitutes a religiously aggravated crime. When does public disorder become `religiously aggravated public disorder'? The CPS says it uses a `similar definition' for religious incidents as the Macpherson report into the investigation of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence used to define a racist incident. So a religiously aggravated incident is an incident perceived to be religiously aggravated by the victim or any other person. With such a sweeping subjective definition of religiously aggravated crime - where it is the perception of the victim or any bystander that counts - the really shocking thing is that the police books aren't overflowing with religiously aggravated whispers, allegations and prosecutions.

So subjective is the definition of a religiously aggravated offence that in 21 of the 43 prosecutions in 2005-2006, the actual or perceived religion of the victim was unknown. What can this mean? Presumably that some of the crimes were victimless; maybe, for example, someone was prosecuted for shouting generally anti-religious remarks in a public place. It is also noteworthy that the CPS report refers to a victim's `actual or perceived religion'. This might mean that some of the `Muslim' victims of religiously aggravated crimes were not Muslims, but rather were only perceived as such. Perhaps some were Sikhs verbally assaulted as if they were Muslims. It seems you can be a victim of Islamophobia even if you are not a Muslim.

The police and other bodies positively trawled for evidence of anti-Muslim hate post-7/7. London's Metropolitan Police published a leaflet titled `Communities Together Can Help Fight the Effects of Terrorism in London' - and by `effects of terrorism' they didn't mean injuries or rubble, but that imagined anti-religious backlash. The Met promised to respond `quickly and robustly' to prejudice and hate, and provided phone numbers for different organisations for those who felt `vulnerable, confused and angry' or believed they may have been `a victim of prejudice'. The Islamic Human Rights Commission ran ads on an Islamic TV channel encouraging Muslims to report harassment, which can be `anything from verbal abuse, nasty looks to physical assault.' The Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism also encouraged more reporting of anti-Muslim incidents, and said Islamophobia can include anything from physical assault to not being shown `respect' in public life.

Taking into account the widespread predictions of an anti-Muslim backlash, the open-ended definition of a religiously aggravated crime, and the cynical hunt by the police and unelected, self-serving groups for any hint of harassment or danger post-7/7, it is fairly remarkable that the number of prosecutions of religiously aggravated offences in 2005-2006 was only 43, and 18 for cases where Muslims were known to be the victims. Post-7/7, while the government, police, church and various worthy self-defined community groups feverishly predicted a rise in hateful violence, the vast mass of the population seem to have remained peaceable and tolerant, simply getting on with their everyday lives.

Looking at the nature of some of the religiously aggravated crimes of 2005-2006, it is clear that anti-religious hatred is not a real social force but rather something indulged in by sad and often drunk individuals. Look at the cases highlighted in the CPS press release, presumably because they were seen as among the most dramatic. One incident of religiously aggravated common assault involved a defendant who refused to pay for his meal in an Indian restaurant and then subsequently submitted a waiter (who was Muslim) to verbal abuse and physical assault. In another, a Turkish Muslim woman and her teenage daughter were waiting at a bus-stop when a drunk shouted abuse at them and spat on the ground near where they were sitting; as the women boarded the bus the man spat in their direction and `his spittle [made] contact with their upper body clothing'.

These are nasty incidents, and it sounds as though both men need to be put firmly in their place. But they also sound like the kind of inebriated incidents that happen fairly frequently around the country. I've witnessed numerous arguments and scuffles in Indian restaurants on Saturday nights, often involving a bunch of drunks making ignorant racist remarks at waiters. And who hasn't had that uncomfortable feeling of being approached by a drunken loudmouth, often shouting and swinging his fists, while waiting at a bus-stop or sitting on a train? These two religiously aggravated incidents - flagged up in the CPS press release as examples for journalists to use - reveal nothing about society at large. Rather they show what most of us already know: there are some dickheads out there.

The two cases do, however, highlight dangers behind the authorities' religious hatred agenda. The man who refused to pay for his meal in an Indian restaurant and shouted at the waiter was sentenced to six months' imprisonment - six months. The judge admitted that `it would not have been custody if the offence [had] not been religiously aggravated'. The drunk at the bus-stop was sentenced to three months' imprisonment. Here, the authorities are explicitly punishing people not only for what they do, but also for what they think; not only for their actions, but also for their thoughts, for the fact that they `hated' someone. This takes us into the realm of thought crime, where a man who pushes an Indian waiter and calls him a `f*cking c*nt' is likely to be get a slap on the wrists, while the man who pushes the waiter and calls him a `Muslim c*nt' can be thrown in jail for six months. It may be a crime to push a waiter; but should it be a crime to hate a waiter or his religion?

Finally, as in most hate crime debates, the aim of this overzealous punishment of individuals who commit religiously aggravated crimes seems to be to `send a message' to the rest of us. The authorities are using these cases to tell us they are serious about stamping out religious hatred and `hate speech'. This degrades the law and any idea of natural justice. Individual cases are effectively turned into showtrials, as the law is used to correct what are seen as backward attitudes among the populace. Individuals are punished particularly harshly for something they said or thought while committing a crime, while the rest of us are patronised by police officials and judges who think we are backward and prejudiced. This is less about justice, and more about social engineering - and such a project is far more poisonous and divisive than anything a pissed-up buffoon could do on a Saturday night.


21 December, 2006


A Commack School District bus driver says he nearly lost his job because he refused to take off his Santa Claus cap while driving his route. With his long white beard and generous midriff, 65-year-old Kenneth Mott bears more than a passing resemblance to St. Nick. The Bayport resident says he has been wearing his furry red-and-white hat every December since he started working for the Baumann and Sons bus company, which transports students in the Commack School District, five years ago.

But after Mott completed his morning route on Thursday, shuttling kids to Rolling Hills Primary School and Commack Middle School, he said his supervisors at Baumann and Sons called and demanded that he take off his Santa hat. Mott said he was told that a parent of a child complained to the district about Mott's headgear, saying that the child doesn't believe in Santa Claus and was bothered by the hat.

"I said, 'What, are you kidding me?,'" Mott recalled. "I thought it was a big joke." He resolved to keep his hat on that afternoon. "Nobody is going to tell me what I can do and can't do," said Mott, who added that he doesn't pretend to be Santa Claus while driving, nor does he play Christmas carols or decorate his bus. "This is America. I'm not hurting anybody."

Benedict Pressimone, who also drives a bus for Baumann, bought his own Santa hat to wear on his route after he heard the story. "This is ridiculous," said Pressimone, of Holbrook. "We have to make a stand."

But Mott said that after he told parents that Friday might be his last day on the job because of the hat, supervisors suddenly had a change of heart and told him he could wear the hat after all. Representatives of Baumann and Sons did not return calls for comment Monday.

Commack School District Superintendent James Feltman said he told the district's transportation supervisor that the hat could stay since it was not a religious object, was not distracting to the driver, and didn't interfere with the driver's duties. Feltman said he received one call from a parent, in support of Mott and his hat.

Michele Morley, a member of the Rolling Hills PTA, said Mott "always" has worn his hat on his route. "The kids point him out: 'Look, there's Santa,'" she said.

Feltman called the dispute a misunderstanding of the district's policies, which allow everything from menorah ties to Christmas sweaters to Halloween costumes. "On Halloween, do we tell teachers and staff and drivers not to wear Halloween outfits?" Feltman asked. "During holidays, do we tell teachers they can't wear sweaters that have Christmas trees? "I think it comes mostly under the category of misunderstanding," he said.

Even though the dispute apparently is over, Mott said the issue has soured his holiday season. "They sure took a lot of the joy out of my Christmas," he said.



Welcome to Fortress Mozart. It was not exactly showbusiness as usual at the renowned Deutsche Oper in Germany last night as the nervous political classes filed through airport-style security checks so that they could watch the decapitated head of the Prophet Muhammad being held aloft in the name of art. The great and the good were stripped of their opera glasses, and plainclothes police mingled with the audience. Dog teams checked out the aisles and foil sheets were stuck to windows in order to make them shatterproof.

There were howls of protest in September when the opera management cancelled performances of Idomeneo for fear of sparking anger from Muslims around the world. The West, it seemed, was capitulating before Islam, surrendering Mozart, one of the defining symbols of European culture, on his 250th birthday. "The decision to cancel was insane, laughable and unacceptable," Wolfgang Schaeuble, the Interior Minister, said. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, agreed. The Cabinet, which is dominated by Wagnerians, became fans of Mozart, an Austrian, overnight.

German politicians turned out in force at the performance and were determined to draw a line, if not between Islam and Christianity, then at least between artistic freedom and the paralysing fear of terrorism. Mr Schaeuble was there; Ms Merkel was not, but allowed Bernd Neumann, her Culture Minister, to leave a Cabinet session early so that he could get through the police cordons. Earlier, Mr Neumann had said: "If the mere fear of Islamic protest leads to self-censorship, then the democratic principle of the freedom of expression is directly threatened." The leaders of the Green Party were in attendance, as was Klaus Wowereit, the Mayor of Berlin.

Newspapers sent their terrorism experts rather than music critics. They wore grim expressions, as if they were about to charge out of the trenches into the clash of civilisations. Leaders of the Muslim community, having at first promised to attend, stayed away. Ali Kizilkaya, the chairman of the German Islamic Council, said that the idea that Muslims should sit shoulder-to-shoulder with Christian politicians in a show of solidarity towards Mozart was "a bit too populist for my liking". Aiman Mazyek, the secretary-general of the Central Council of Muslims, agreed. "I go to the opera to relax, not in order to chuck religion, art and politics into one pot."

The offending scene in the production, by Hans Neuenfels, arrives at the end. The King of Crete has been saved from drowning in a storm by the intervention of Poseidon, God of the Sea, and must repay his debt by sacrificing his son. The King rails against the injustice in an epilogue, and stumbles on stage with a bag containing the heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad. The head of Muhammad has become the symbol of this potential conflict with Islamic sensibilities, the operatic equivalent of the Danish cartoons.


Australia: Bikini party forbidden

A win for the wowsers and feminists -- an unholy alliance these days. Victoria does seem to have a lot of both

A nightclub bikini booze-up has been sunk by public [one small part of the public, to be precise] outrage. Amber Lounge management yesterday scrapped plans for a Christmas bikini party where women wearing bathers would have received unlimited free drinks at the CBD bar on Friday night. In a two-hour meeting with the director of liquor licensing, Sue Maclellan, and Victoria Police yesterday, both the management and promoter WTF Productions decided it was in their best interests to dump the party. Ms Maclellan had threatened to stop the event going ahead if she concluded that it failed to meet the legal requirement for responsible serving of alcohol. The bar will now host a Hawaiian summer party night offering two free drinks for all who attend.

Rape crisis counsellors and alcohol experts slammed the bikini party, claiming that it reduced women to sexual objects and exposed them to the risk of extreme intoxication and sexual assault.

Ms Maclellan said the result was good for all those involved. "Following a meeting between Amber Lounge management, the promoter of the Christmas bikini night, and liquor licensing and Victoria Police, the club manager and the promoter have decided to withdraw the bikini party promotion following liquor licensing concerns about whether the event met licence requirements to serve alcohol responsibly," Ms Maclellan said.

Centre Against Sexual Assault manager Helen Makregiorgos - who had condemned the proposal for reducing women to sexual objects - said the decision was fantastic. Premier Steve Bracks weighed into the controversy yesterday, saying people could dress as they chose, but clubs had to ensure they served alcohol responsibly.



Brisbane Tattersall's Club was in uproar last night after members voted to maintain its ban on women members. In doing so the members went against the wishes of seven of their 10 committee men who sought to overturn the 141-year-old ban. The vote came after a passionate debate in which president Peter Carroll and other committee men were criticised for supporting the "yes" case. The committee's motion to allow women was lost by 106 votes - 1683 to 1577.

Mr Carroll is understood to be considering quitting. "Of course I'm disappointed," he said. "It's a private club and it was a democratic vote. "If that's what they want you have to abide by that." A number of committee men can now expect to face a challenge. There were rousing cheers last night in favour of speakers proposing a "no" vote.

The membership includes 17 judges, 219 managing directors, 481 accountants, 38 stockbrokers, 149 doctors, 97 architects, 510 solicitors and 140 barristers. Tattersall's on the Queen Street Mall was founded in 1865 in an age when women could not vote. Although women cannot become members, they already enjoy club facilities as guests of their partners.

The vote was a resounding victory for vice-president Jonathon Bloxsom, who staunchly opposed the entry of women. One member, who voted against the motion, said: "Many of the members felt under siege from women and they certainly weren't going to have outsiders tell them what to do in their private club." Leading businesswoman Sarina Russo waited outside the club during the vote. She was turned away when the membership voted to exclude women.


PC Canadian judge loses

The Muslim Canadian Congress has expressed dismay at the decision by Ontario judge to ban a Christmas tree from her court. "This is stupidity and takes political correctness to new heights," said Farzana Hassan, President of the MCC. "We should ban political correctness, not the Christmas Tree," said Ms. Hassan.

Reacting to the judge's remarks that the Christmas Tree was "a Christian symbol that might alienate people of other creeds and cultures," Ms. Hassan said the judge was creating an unnecessary issue and looking for problems where none exist.

She welcomed the decision of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in restoring the Christmas Tree back to the Ontario Court.

The MCC has urged all Muslims to celebrate Christmas with their Christian cousins and light up Christmas trees to send a message to the Ontario judge that she is wrong on all counts of her argument.


20 December, 2006

Britain: PC ban on throwing sweets to children at Christmas pantomine

Throwing bonbons and boiled sweets into the audience has been a tradition of the festive pantomime for many decades. But bureaucrats are set to stamp out the tradition because they claim boiled sweets could injure a member of the audience. Instead organisers of one pantomime have been told they must go down into the crowd and hand out the sweets. It is just the latest example of health and safety fears and political correctness stamping out some of our oldest Christmas traditions. Since the early 20th century pantomime characters - usually the Dame - have thrown sweets to children in the audience as a Christmas treat.

The ruling was made by a committee for the Preston Drama Club in Lancashire which fears an injury could spark a compensation claim. The club, which attracts huge numbers of children and adults to its performances each year, is staging Sleeping Beauty at Preston Playhouse this season. But committee members believe it would be far too costly to insure against a member of the audience losing an eye or sustaining another injury. So rather than fork out for the costly insurance they have banned the tradition of throwing sweets to the children instead.

Some members of the group have branded the move as "ridiculous" and say health and safety restrictions are killing tradition in Britain. Don Stephenson, president of Preston Drama Club, said: "There are so many rules and regulations now we were not really surprised because this is just another one. "We have had so many of these things about what you can and can't do. They are only sweets, they wouldn't hurt anybody."

Another member said: "It was felt that insuring against an injury - say someone losing an eye - in a freak accident would cost too much money. "We're only a small outfit and while the chance of such an injury occurring is remote, to say the least, it is a risk we cannot take. I do lament the death of traditional practices but people are increasingly litigious and only to ready to turn to the courts and so that is the way it is." A final decision will be taken after January 6 by the club at the close of the Sleeping Beauty production on January 6.

The ruling is the latest in a long line of politically correct rulings that aim to wreck the experience of Christmas. One school which took turkey off the Christmas menu to replace it with halal chicken was met with fury from parents. But Oakwood Technology College in Rotherham has backed down after parents of non-Muslim pupils complained. The 1,000-pupil comprehensive planned to scrap the festive tradition even though only one in five students is Muslim.

A survey by the Daily Mail found Jesus in his manger with three wise men appeared in just one in every 100 cards. Hundreds of cards avoided any images linked to Christmas at all, including fir trees, baubles, snowmen or Santa Claus. Laura Midgley, co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: "No-one has ever been serious injured at a pantomime from something throwing a sweet to the audience. "Instead of carrying out these preposterous risk assessments maybe they should concentrate on polishing their performance."



Homosexuality trumps everything in Massachusetts now -- despite their puritan past. Maybe their puritanism always was a bit queer. Excerpt below from Jeff Jacoby:

A lawsuit filed in US District Court last week accuses 109 Massachusetts lawmakers of violating the US Constitution. The plaintiffs are leaders of VoteOnMarriage.org, a grass-roots campaign to amend the Massachusetts constitution by defining marriage "only as the union of one man and one woman." It was a year ago this week that the proposed amendment, having attracted a record-setting 170,000 signatures, was formally transmitted to the Legislature by the Massachusetts secretary of state. What was supposed to happen next is spelled out in the state constitution. Article 48 directs the House and Senate to meet jointly and vote on amendments proposed by citizen initiative; those that get at least 50 votes in two consecutive sessions are then put on the state ballot.

But for a year now, the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature has declined to obey the law. On May 10, it voted to delay consideration of the marriage amendment until July 12. On July 12, it recessed until Nov. 9. On Nov. 9, by a vote of 109-87, it recessed yet again, to Jan. 2, 2007. Which just happens to be the day the current legislative session expires -- and all unfinished business dies with it. If that happens, it will mark the second time in five years that the Legislature has killed a marriage amendment by flouting the Constitution and brazenly refusing to vote.

So the amendment's sponsors have gone to court, in the longshot hope that a federal judge will either order the recalcitrant legislators to comply with the law and take the required vote, or put the amendment on the 2008 ballot anyway if they won't. (Governor Mitt Romney has filed a similar complaint in state court. So have sponsors of another amendment, one dealing with statewide healthcare.)

The response to all this from many supporters of same-sex marriage has been a tortured explanation of why defying the Massachusetts Constitution is actually a good thing. "It's not a matter of following the constitution," the legal director of the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU told my Boston Globe colleague Sam Allis. "It's following the constitution down the drain." In other words, nothing must be allowed to jeopardize same-sex marriage -- not even democracy and due process of law.

More here

Multiculturalism is dead?

Article below from Britain's Leftist "Guardian"

So farewell then, multiculturalism, dumped like prog rock and fondue sets in that dustbin for fads, the 1970s. Shall we kill it off? asked the man from the Times. "Yes, let's do that," replied Trevor Phillips, the head of the Commission for Racial Equality. "Multiculturalism suggests separateness. We are in a different world from the 70s."

Just four years ago Phillips served on the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain that produced a blueprint for multiculturalism. But now, in an instant, the inviolable wisdom of a generation of liberals is buried. Confirming the sudden passing of the idea, Polly Toynbee, writing yesterday in this paper, congratulated Phillips: "[He] breaks with unctuous, unthinking platitudes about the richness of all diversity in a multicultural society, as if any difference was a self-evident asset."

What must poor David Goodhart think of this abrupt volte-face? The recent author of a thoughtful and carefully reasoned 10,000-word essay on the limits of diversity, he was dismissed for his pains as a racist by many on the left, including Phillips, who compared him to Enoch Powell. "I have always suspected [Goodhart] is too brainy for his own good," noted Phillips.

In other words, why bother with a lengthy egghead argument when you can simply issue a diktat? But whether or not the liberal state apparatus will now throw its gears into reverse remains to be seen. The April Fool's Day leader in this newspaper pointed to the confusion over the path to greater social cohesion, suggesting that successive governments have been too slow in setting up Muslim schools. "The resources were inadequate to promote a vibrant Islam of which these British youngsters could be proud." I must confess, I have difficulty in understanding how dividing children along faith lines brings them together, or why it is the state's responsibility to promote religion, but perhaps it's one of those ideas that you just have to go with until someone in authority sometime in the future decides that it doesn't make sense after all.

The truth is, of course, the liberal elite can debate equality and diversity, liberty and responsibility until Abu Hamza turns up on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, but it is impossible to legislate for identity. Toynbee states: "Muslim teaching on women staying one step behind will not do: respect for religion cannot take precedence over respect for British law." Perhaps she's speaking figuratively, but there is no law that prevents Muslim women from walking one step behind men, which is the formation that I notice increasingly on the streets near where I live. Should there be a secular police, some grotesque parody of the Saudis' Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, to intervene and ensure that they reform in double file?

Nowadays I see noticeably more young British Muslim women adopting the full veil with only slits for the eyes. To remove themselves so completely from sight seems like an act of self-erasure, but if it is, then it's one they appear to perform willingly and, judging by the manner in which they parade, with no little pride. My guess is that many second-and third-generation Muslims choose this dress not out of religious beliefs, but because they think it's cool. By which I mean, they like the identity that the accoutrements of religious observance afford them, how it sets them apart, makes them visible, albeit by making them invisible. For that, after all, is what most young people want: a sense of their own identity.

In the 1970s, there was a craze for skinhead haircuts and clothes among young whites. The immediate response of liberal critics was to denounce them all as Nazis, but it soon became apparent that the majority of them were attracted to the image, the identity, and had no real interest in the ideas. The danger, of course, is when style becomes stance. And there is little doubt that among a significant minority of young Muslims in this country, a stance of violent anti-Americanism and, to a lesser degree, anti-westernism has become de rigueur. I would imagine that a fair portion of the 13% of British Muslims who said in a recent Guardian poll that they wanted to see further terrorist attacks on America did so because they thought it was the cool, angry, radical thing to say. Young people, alas, are like that.

Predictably, the knee-jerk liberal response is to shout "alienation", start looking for evidence of social deprivation and talk of the reaction to "American imperialism". However, the handful of British Muslims who have been arrested on terrorist charges appear to be from middle-class backgrounds and do not seem to have gone short of education or employment.

There is a country in which Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are treated little better than slaves, performing menial tasks with no rights and negligible protection. It's called Saudi Arabia and it is the home of the Wahabbism that informs the international spread of Islamic fundamentalism. Similarly, whatever your view of the war in Iraq, to say that it is a war on Islam raises the question of what the intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo was: presumably a war for Islam. Of course, if you're young, angry and striking a pose, you can't get bogged down in those kinds of complexities.

In the April 1 leader, it was suggested that "the perception everywhere is that the proud, expansionary faith of Islam is under attack". Back in the 70s again, some angry whites thought the proud, expansionary creed of Britishness (also known as colonial domination) was under attack and joined the National Front. They were correctly identified as fascists and a zero-tolerance policy was put in place by the liberal left, without much concern about the alienating effects on the fascists. The fear was that if they were not denied a platform, racial violence would increase, and so might support for them.

Yet there is much more trepidation about how to deal with Islamo-fascist groups such as al-Muhajiroun. The fear now is that if they are denied a platform, racial tension will increase, and so might support for them, as a generation of Muslims radicalise behind the veil and the beard. But just as al-Muhajiroun should not be excluded from debate, nor should anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, hesitate to call them reactionary zealots simply because they are non-white.

One of the shibboleths of multiculturalism was that different communities needed to be treated differently. Ultimately, though, the aim must be to be treated the same. In this respect, it's important to see that the difference between the posture of fashion and politics of fascism is the same in all communities, regardless of what they wear. One will pass, the other needs to be sent on its way.


British public dislike political correctness

Political correctness is overwhelmingly unpopular among the people it is supposed to be helping, according to a poll showing that four in five questioned are fed-up with it. The Yorkshire Post can reveal the results of an ICM poll commissioned by the Campaign Against Political Correctness (CAPC), which suggest that positive discrimination and action on the basis of race or gender are disliked irrespective of people's own background.

When asked "Are you fed- up with political correctness?" 72 per cent of people living in Britain who do not describe themselves as "white British" - because of their race or nationality or both - answered "yes". This was only 10 points lower than the same answer among those who class themselves as "white British". Women are almost as opposed to political correctness as men, with 79 per cent agreeing with the question, alongside 82 per cent of men.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the most hostile towards political correctness were the middle aged. Among those aged 45 to 54, 85 per cent agreed with the question and it rose to 88 per cent among those aged 55 to 64. Of young adults, aged 18 to 24, 22 per cent were content with political correctness, but 72 per cent were still "fed-up" with it.

Shipley MP Philip Davies, a patron of the group, added: "The figures make it clear that everyone dislikes it, irrespective of race or gender. "Most of this political correctness seems to be carried out by white, male, middle class do-gooders with a guilt complex, who only serve to help build up resentment that wouldn't exist otherwise." Mr Davies last night put down a Commons motion highlighting the poll's findings and urging the Government to reverse positive discrimination policies.


19 December, 2006

Why can't Canadians speak against same-sex marriage?

Two views of homosexuality are creating tensions in Canada. Some believe, on the basis of equality, that there should be no distinction drawn in any way by society between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Others are opposed to homosexuality for practical, medical, moral and/or religious reasons. The "no distinction" approach has dominated primarily because of the decisions of appointed judges and human rights panellists. It was on this basis that the legalization of same-sex marriages was made.

Even within the parliamentary process, the decision on same-sex marriage has been made by a very few individuals. When same-sex marriage was first debated in Parliament in June 2005, 19 NDP MPs and the 39 Liberal Cabinet members were ordered by their leaders to vote in support of it. The Liberals then rammed through the legislation by disallowing any amendments and imposing closure to cut off debate. In debate last week, the NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties again excluded the public from the same-sex marriage debate by requiring its MPs vote along party lines. Liberal Leader Stephane Dion was not much better. He begrudgingly allowed a free vote, although making the claim that same-sex marriage is a "fundamental" right under the Charter of Rights.

He was wrong. The Supreme Court of Canada has never ruled on whether the traditional definition of marriage is unconstitutional. The Ontario Court of Appeal decision on same-sex marriage, which assumed the leadership role among the provincial courts on this issue, is now under a cloud, due to a complaint laid against Chief Justice Roy McMurtry before the Canadian Judicial Council for serious judicial impropriety and the apprehension of bias for his part in that case.

Same-sex marriage is now public policy and has already triggered some significant changes. This new definition of marriage has a profound impact on the welfare of children. A large body of social scientific research indicates that children thrive best with a mother and father who teach them gender identity and sex role expectations. This was the conclusion of a committee of the French National Assembly, which recommended, in January 2006, that France not accept same-sex marriage due to its detrimental effect on children. The French committee criticized studies on same-sex parenting that claimed it had no ill effects on children, on the basis that these studies lacked scientific rigour, included inadequate sampling, and showed a lack of objectivity.

The Court of Appeal of New York and the Supreme Court of Washington last July also rejected same-sex marriage because of concern for the welfare of children. Same-sex marriages are not functionally equivalent to opposite-sex marriages, but are different in structure, values and practice. It is widely acknowledged that these differences include the fact that sexual faithfulness is not usually regarded as a requirement in same-sex relationships, but is of vital importance in a heterosexual marriage.

Same-sex partners experience a higher incidence of health problems resulting in shorter life spans. The duration of same-sex marriages is shorter than that of opposite-sex relationships: on average, the former last only two to three years. These factors are detrimental to children who require stability in their lives.

A trend resulting from same-sex marriage is evident in the Netherlands, which has allowed homosexual couples to register their partnerships since 1997 and which legalized same-sex marriages in 2000. Statistics show that the out-of-wedlock birthrate there has increased by an average of 2 per cent a year -- more than in any other country in western Europe. This indicates a marked decrease in a desire for legal marriage and an increase in cohabitation.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada has put law and religion on a collision course. The Catholic organization, the Knights of Columbus, in Port Coquitlam, B.C., was required to pay a fine for causing "hurt feelings" when it denied the use of the organization's hall to a lesbian couple to celebrate their wedding. Religion-based social services, such as counselling and adoption services, are now required to conform to the same-sex marriage law. The tax-exempt status of churches has become the subject of intimidation and harassment. Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary was threatened by the Canada Revenue Agency with removal of the Roman Catholic Church's tax-exempt status if he persisted in speaking against same-sex marriage during a federal election.

Those who favour same-sex marriages are free to speak their views, but those opposed to them are being harassed and coerced into refraining from doing so. This was evident at Ryerson University in June when a respected professor of ethics from McGill University, Dr. Margaret Somerville, who opposes same-sex marriage, was subjected to public attack, including picketing when she received an honorary degree there.

Within school boards, teachers and other individuals are being forced to deny their religious beliefs and freedom of speech by being required to promote same-sex marriage, and publicly refraining from expressing any opposition to it. A teacher and school counsellor in British Columbia, Chris Kempling, submitted a letter to his local newspaper objecting to homosexuality. This resulted in his suspension for one month without pay by the B.C. College of Teachers, which alleged that Kempling's letters "poisoned the school environment." Subsequently, Kempling was a candidate for the Christian Heritage Party and, in that capacity, had a letter to the editor published in his local newspaper opposing same-sex marriage. He received a further suspension of three months without pay.

School boards in Quebec and Ontario, especially in Toronto, Hamilton and London, now require homosexual "education" in their school systems. Such programs do not provide balanced instruction on the issue, and the medical, psychological and legal impact of homosexuality are not mentioned. As these examples show, these are monumental consequences to same-sex marriage. Are these the changes that Canadians want? Who knows? We've never been given the opportunity to express our views. A referendum on the issue is clearly required.


No Christmas play at British school

It is the time of year when parents and grandparents look forward to seeing their children dressed up as Mary and Joseph or the Three Wise Men. But the traditional Nativity play at Knowland Grove Community First School in Norwich has been axed in favour of a celebration of a range of different faiths.

Yesterday pupils' families branded the politically-correct move "disgusting", while leaders of other religious communities said they were just as disappointed by the continuing erosion of the Christmas festivities. Instead of a Nativity play, the school's 100 children aged four to eight are presenting pieces about the origins of Christmas, the Jewish holiday Hanukkah and the Hindu festival of Diwali. It is entitled the "Festival of Lights", a phrase commonly used for Diwali, held in October.

Housewife Beverley Browne, 49, whose four-year-old grandson is at the school, said: "The Nativity is a very important story and I think it's disgusting not to do it. "Christmas should be all about the little ones learning about Jesus - that's the story they should learn about. This school's idea is rubbish. I think this is political correctness gone crazy. "I just can't believe what's happening in this country. We're supposed to be a Christian country and all our little ones should learn all about Jesus and Christmas."

Another mother said: "I'm very angry and upset about this because the Nativity play's been a tradition at the school since I was a pupil there. "A lot of parents feel so strongly about this that they're threatening not to send their children to school on the day of the new show. "At Christmas we always have a nativity play and invite parents and grandparents along. This is what Christmas is all about - Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus being born."

Byron Simmonds, chairman of the Progressive Jewish Community of East Anglia, said the school's move was well-intentioned but misguided. "It's a good thing to study different religions, but it is Christmas after all, and we certainly don't have anything against schools organising Nativity plays. "I can see why parents would be upset - Norwich is hardly the most cosmopolitan place, and yet the play sounds as if it's been watered down until it won't really be about Christmas at all."

The move comes as Christmas traditions come under attack as never before. Last week the Daily Mail told how schools across the country were replacing Nativity plays with secular productions featuring such characters as reindeer, eskimos and even Elvis Presley, while only one in 100 High Street Christmas cards now has religious theme. And Chancellor Gordon Brown has attacked Government-funded playgroups for replacing Christmas parties with politically-correct "winter celebrations".

However Knowland Grove headteacher Trudi Sharred insisted that Christmas was "alive and well" at the school. "Our children have been singing carols and songs in the mall, our Christmas tree is up, and we will be sitting down to our Christmas meal this week," she said. "We decided this year to take a slightly different approach with our end of term production to include a look at some of the other great cultural festivals of the world while maintaining the traditional Christmas message."

The younger two age-groups will present pieces on Christmas and Christingles while Year Two will perform a poem about Hanukkah and Year Three will explain Diwali. "All the children I know are looking forward to taking part in our Festival of Lights," added Mrs Sharred.

Norwich has one of the least ethnically-diverse populations in England, with just 587 Jews and Hindus at the time of the 2001 census, and Ofsted said "virtually all" pupils at Knowland Grove are "white British".


Dishonest Words

Consider first the case of "homophobia." In current usage, it is applied to any negative view of homsexuals or homosexuality, whatever its source. Thus, for instance, someone who is opposed to homosexual activity because his minister told him that the bible says it is wicked would routinely be labelled homophobic.

A phobia is an irrational fear. It is occasionally argued that the source of negative views of homosexuality is the fear that one might have homosexual inclinations, but it is a considerable stretch to claim that source for all negative views. It seems obvious that some people are opposed to homsexuality because they think their religion condemns it, some because they think it has bad consequences, and some for any of a variety of other reasons. Labelling all of them "homophobic" is a way of (falsely) implying a single cause for the conclusion--and, by doing so, attempting to stigmatize all those who hold it and dismiss all possible reasons they might have.

A second example is the term "racism." In a recent exchange here, Mike Huben referred to "racist science" in a context where it meant "(hypothetically) correct scientific research that demonstrated the existence of differences among the races" (if this is not a fair summary, I expect Mike to correct it). That was a striking definition of the way "racist" is used to mean, not "hating or despising other people because of their race" but "holding beliefs on racial subjects other than those of the person using the word." Again, that usage is an implicit argument and a dishonest one, since the implication again is that the only possible reasons for disagreeing with the speaker's views on the subject are bad ones.

The pattern is not limited to people whose politics I disagree with. Libertarians do the same thing. In our context, the question is how to label people who disagree with libertarian views, on particular subjects or more generally. The two popular choices are "statist" and "collectivist."

Both are wrong. There are lots of reasons why someone might favor the draft, or minimum wage laws, or price controls, or the war on drugs. Worship of the state is no doubt one possible reason, but certainly not the only one. Belief that what really matters is the collective and not the individual is one possible reason but not the only one. Each of those views could readily be held by someone who agreed on the whole with libertarians about values, outcomes they wanted, but disagreed about the consequences of particular policies. Most obviously, someone might favor the draft because he believed it was necessary in order to defend the U.S., and want to defend the U.S. precisely because he was in favor of freedom and thought the U.S. was much freer now than it would be if someone else conquered it.

In each of these cases, the pattern is the same. We have a conclusion that might be reached for any of a variety of reasons. Someone who wants to attack the conclusion does it by picking one reason he considers particularly unattractive and indefensible, using that reason to label the conclusion, and thus (dishonestly) implying that anyone holding the conclusion does it for that reason.


State interference that jeopardises free speech

The letter to the editor reproduced below refers to the prosecution of a British man who remarked that homosexuals are sometimes pedophiles. I have further comments on the case on today's TONGUE-TIED

I rarely write to newspapers, but I was so incensed to see a front page headline (December 13) devoted to a crass remark made by a 75-year-old Tory councillor, Peter Willows. I am not a Tory nor am I gay, but I agree with all and sundry that the remarks were indeed offensive and homophobic in the same way any comment in a derogatory manner towards a particular section of society would rightly be condemned if based on race, creed, religion or sexual orientation.

What, however, beggars belief is not only political correctness gone absolutely barmy but also the fact that police and court time, not to mention the cost at taxpayers' expense, is wasted on the ignorant comments of this councillor. Does this mean we are to assign a section of the police force as TAFSS (The anti-free speech stormtroopers)?

Peter Willows was no doubt wrong but to vilify and castigate him over these comments is also entirely wrong. What next? Quislings employed the length and breadth of the country listening for comments that can be reported to the TAFFS, so the wrongdoer can be hauled before the courts to be punished for his/her comments at a party, barbeque, Henley Regatta or football match?

Jay Nemes and Johnny Core, two gay men, who have every right to be offended, speak for I am sure the overwhelming majority of all sections of society when they say "freedom of speech in England ended on December 12, 2006".

Although some of my comments may sound over the top, we should look around at many other countries today and cast our minds back only a relatively few years and take stock. If we go down the road that this court case could lead us, what next? Book burning?

We have seen political correctness gone haywire over recent years, affecting everything from nursery rhymes, children's toys, poetry, job descriptions and food on our supermarket shelves.

Don't think this is a one-off; everything is cyclical as history has proven, from the debauchery in ancient Rome and again during the Renaissance, to the Puritanical regime under Cromwell, through to the Brownshirts of Oswald Mosley. It may be a long fuse but once the blue touch paper of State interference is ignited, usually the result is catastrophic.

Tony Bingham, South Coast Road, Peacehaven


18 December, 2006

Christmas candles "unsafe" in the Unhinged Kingdom

They've only been doing it for 259 years without mishap but you never know!

Children at one of the biggest Christingle Services in Essex will not be allowed to put lighted candles in their oranges this year in the wake of new safety fears, it has emerged. Instead, youngsters at Chelmsford Cathedral's Christmas Eve celebration will be using non-flamable glowsticks similar to those waved around at rock festivals.

But yesterday, one of the family event's organisers, Richard Spilsbury, said that the move was not in response to political correctness but instead the genuine concerns of some parents at last year's event. "Last year the cathedral was jam packed with people, and it was very difficult to physically move around," he said. "I know it sounds a bit of a kill-joy, but we thought we would give this alternative a try. "What happens at the service is the children process to the altar where they hand over cardboard tubes containing money for the Children's Society. "They then go back to their seats where they are given a Christingle, which is an orange with four spikes on it - with sweets - and a candle in the middle. "The idea is they then form a circle with the candles lit, the lights go down and it really looks very magical. "Last year there were so many you couldn't do this and we had problems getting children back to their seats."

Mr Spilsbury said that last year it was so difficult to move around, supervisors could not light all of the Christingles themselves and instead had to rely on the congregation lighting them from one to the other. "Things were so crammed some parents were very worried about candles and childrens' hair," he said. "We're not talking about 10 or 20 here - there were well-over 300 Christingles given out." Mr Spilsbury said the idea of using glowsticks instead of candles had been proposed by the Childrens' Society itself as an alternative. "We thought we would give it a try. They glow quite brightly," he explained.

He added that the sticks were activated by being shaked or bent. "We haven't quite worked out when to do it - there is a lot of preparation. "But if it doesn't work, we will go back to candles. The thing is, we don't want to spoil things, but we also don't want to put anyone in danger." The Christmas Eve Christingle Service takes place at Chelmsford Cathedral at 3pm.


Male/female sex roles gave modern the humans advantage over Neanderthals

One in the eye for the feminists: More evidence that sex roles are normal and natural in mankind and not "socially constructed"

Diversified social roles for men, women, and children may have given Homo sapiens an advantage over Neanderthals, says a new study in the December 2006 issue of Current Anthropology. The study argues that division of economic labor by sex and age emerged relatively recently in human evolutionary history and facilitated the spread of modern humans throughout Eurasia. "The competitive advantage enjoyed by modern humans came not just from new weapons and devices but from the ways in which their economic lives were organized around the advantages of cooperation and complementary subsistence roles for men, women, and children," write Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner (University of Arizona).

Kuhn and Stiner note that the rich archaeological record for Neanderthal diets provides little direct evidence for a reliance on subsistence foods, such as milling stones to grind nuts and seeds. Instead, Neanderthals depended on large game, a high-stakes resource, to fuel their massive body mass and high caloric intake. This lack of food diversity and the presence of healed fractures on Neanderthal skeletons-attesting to a rough-and-tumble lifestyle-suggest that female and juvenile Neanderthals participated actively in the hunt by serving as game drivers, beating bushes or cutting off escape routes.

The Middle Paleolithic Neanderthal record also lacks the artifacts commonly used to make weather-resistant clothing or artificial shelters, such as bone needles. Thus, it was the emergence of "female" roles - subsistence and skill-intensive craft - that allowed H. sapiens in ecologically diverse tropical and sub-tropical regions to take advantage of other foods and live at higher population densities. "Earlier hominins pursued more narrowly focused economies, with women's activities more closely aligned with those of men with respect to schedule and ranging patterns," write the authors. "It is impossible to argue that [Neanderthal] females and juveniles were fulfilling the same roles-or even an equally diverse suite of economic roles-as females and juveniles in recent hunter-gatherer groups," they add.

While some degree of niche specialization between adult male and females is documented for many large-mammal species, recent humans are remarkable for cooperative economies that combine pervasive sharing and complementary roles for individuals of different ages and sexes.


Muslim pilgrims urged to complain

American Muslims making a religious pilgrimage to Mecca are being encouraged to file civil rights complaints if they feel discriminated against by airlines. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), citing what it called the "airport profiling" of six imams removed from a recent flight, yesterday said Muslims traveling this month to the holy site in Saudi Arabia need to be aware of their rights. "Given the increase in the number of complaints CAIR has received alleging airport profiling of American Muslims, we believe it is important that all those taking part in this year's hajj be aware of their legal and civil rights," said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesman. The group has established a toll-free hot line (800/784-7526) for victims of "flying while Muslim," as Muslims have begun departing for the weeklong hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime obligation to visit the holy city of Mecca, which this year begins Dec. 29.

But M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), said the announcement by CAIR "continues the tired stoking of the flames of victimization." "They are unfortunately exploiting, for purely political reasons, what should be a sacred and purely spiritual story of our faith's annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca," Dr. Jasser said. "We need new leadership and organizations which use their passions and the bandwidth of the media to lead the ideological fight against radical and political Islam rather than this tired pre-emption of supposed discrimination."

CAIR is representing the six imams removed from a US Airways flight last month and has asked for a meeting with the airline to seek an out-of-court settlement. It maintains that police and witness reports detailing the imams unusual behavior before their removal last month were ethnically and/or religiously motivated. The imams say they were praying and did not, as the reports say, change seats and make remarks critical of President Bush and the Iraq war.

Pilots and air marshals called the incident a "PC probe" to intimidate passengers and crew from reporting suspicious behavior by Muslim passengers and are fearful the incident will set off a domino effect of lawsuits. Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, thinks this is a ploy to extort money from the airlines. "I think CAIR is soliciting complaints, and if they don't get it, they will make it up," said Miss Burlingame, who is also a director for the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation. "People complain about everything, including bad weather, so, the angry Muslim activists will be loaded for bear," Miss Burlingame said.

A guide issued by CAIR advises Muslims that "as an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel." "You have the right to complain about treatment that you believe is discriminatory," the guide says. Those treated in a discriminatory manner are advised by CAIR to "ask for the names and ID numbers of all persons involved in the incident. Be sure to write this information down."

The Washington Times obtained police and witness reports just days after the incident involving the imams, and reported on Nov. 28 that the men did not sit in their assigned seats, asked for seat-belt extensions they did not need, and spoke in Arabic among themselves. Federal air marshals and pilots were also asked by The Washington Times to examine the imams' seating arrangement, and reported that it resembled a pattern used by the September 11 hijackers. "That behavior has been identified as a terrorist probe in the airline industry," one pilot said.

One airline official who asked to remain anonymous called the CAIR threats about ethnic profiling "much ado about a practice that does not exist in any major airline." "You do wonder what the ultimate aim is here; to eliminate a discriminatory practice that does not exist, or is there some other agenda afoot," the official said.


Do they know it’s Christmas?

By Frank Furedi

Forget 'Peace on Earth' - Christmas has become a battleground in the culture war over the status of religion

Never mind `Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All Men' - Christmas has become a battleground in the confused clash of values over the status of religion in modern society.  It is difficult to know who or what to believe in the perplexing debate about the War on Christmas. On one side, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is convinced that ‘illiberal atheists and aggressive secularists’ have launched a crusade against the Christian symbols of Christmas. On the other side, a Guardian writer claims that ‘The phoney war on Christmas’ is a fantasy dreamt up by religious bigots, while the president of the National Secular Society thinks that those raising the alarm about an attack on Christmas are trying to provoke ‘resentment against a perceived enemy’.

Depending on whom you believe there may or may not be a war on Christmas. And there may or may not be an underhand anti-secular campaign masquerading as a defence of traditional Christmas. The only thing that we can be certain about is that there definitely is a debate between at least two sides that deeply dislike each other. Whether or not there is a war against Christmas, there is certainly a war of words about it. And whatever the facts, Christmas has been turned into a symbolic battlefield in an undeclared culture war throughout the Anglo-American world.

The symbolic significance of Christmas has been recognised in the United States by both sides in the culture war. Liberal author Bill Press’s book, How The Republicans Stole Christmas: Why The Religious Right Is Wrong About Faith and Politics And What Can We Do To Make It Right is more than matched by Fox News anchorman John Gibson’s effort, The War on Christmas: How The Liberal Plot To Ban The Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought. Both of these books are long on titles, short on ideas and betray a powerful sense of moral illiteracy. 

So what is going on? There may not be a concerted war against Christmas, but this symbolically charged holiday has become a target of critics who would like to marginalise its role in public life. Nibbling away at the status of Christmas is not without consequences. According to a new report, three out of four UK employers have banned Christmas decorations from their offices because they are concerned not to offend other faiths. Of course these headline-seeking surveys should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Christmas celebrations have not quite been abolished in the British workplace. My own quick survey of friends and acquaintances indicates that Christmas is still celebrated, but in a more restrained manner. One human resources director told me that she felt uneasy about the office Christmas party because it ‘raised equality issues’. ‘What if some employees insist on a Diwali Party’ she asked. This kind of attitude explains why in many workplaces the Christmas spirit has become conspicuous by its absence. Some company killjoys are motivated to abolish the Christmas office party to avoid the risk of health and safety and litigation. Others do not want to ‘offend’ non-Christians. They see Christmas becoming a hassle that they can well do without.

That the times are changing is demonstrated by the number of cards I get that self-consciously avoid wishing me ‘Happy Christmas’. The growing tendency towards sending a Christian-free card is definitely not a fantasy invented by religious bigots. Everyone knows that it is happening and that such cards are implicitly making a statement. That is why there has been so much media interest in this year’s seasonal cards sent out by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Just this morning I received a surprisingly humorous card from the Commission For Racial Equality. The front of this send-up card states that it is a ‘DRAFT Christmas Card Proposal’, and is covered in scrawled questions about whether the pictured reindeer are sufficiently diverse, whether a risk assessment has been done on the candles etc . Inside, where it states ‘Season’s greetings from the CRE’, the word ‘Season’s’ is circled and linked to a question ‘Christmas?’ The card highlights a world where the words you choose to greet people have symbolic significance. Like all good satire, this card points to something very real going on in society (view the card).

If Christmas is losing its monopoly in the seasonal cards market, its role has also diminished within UK schools. Many schools no longer stage a nativity play, and the Christmas concert is often transformed into a worthy multi-cultural and multi-faith celebration of ‘diversity’ or of nothing in particular. Elsewhere the Red Cross has reportedly banned its staff from putting up Advent calendars associated with Christmas, and there are various reports of the local council language police rebranding Christmas lights as Winterlights or renaming Christmas ‘Winterval’.

The attempt to deprive Christmas of any distinct religious or cultural significance is not confined to Britain. In Australia, the Lord Mayor of Sydney decided to ban the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ and turn Christmas cards into civic greetings cards. In the USA, too, there are many sad anti-Christmas crusaders who criticise the event for excluding or offending non-Christians. One state government banned employees from saying ‘Merry Christmas’ while at work. Many American schools have renamed the Christmas break as ‘Winter Break’ or ‘Winter Celebration’. These incidents do not quite add up to a war, but they do reflect a cultural mood that seems uncomfortable with the celebration of a traditional Christmas.

Predictably there is now also a counter-campaign to uphold traditional Christmas symbols and practices.  The Sun, Britain’s largest selling daily, has launched a campaign to ‘save’ Christmas from political correctness, denouncing officious bureaucrats for their petty attempts to spoil the Christmas celebrations. Both the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and the Roman Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor have attacked the trend for downplaying the traditional image of Christmas; Williams took particular exception to the absence of any Christian themes in Christmas stamps issued by the Royal Mail.  Some Muslim leaders are also worried that those trying to marginalise Christmas could provoke popular hostility, and that Muslims will be blamed. Last month the Christian-Muslim Forum published a letter criticising the attempt to suppress Christmas.

Some supporters of the campaign to save Christmas appear to believe that the problem they confront is that of militant secularism. The missive issued by the Forum, in the name of a leading Islamic cleric and the Anglican Bishop of Bolton, states that ‘there seems to be a secularising agenda which fails to understand the concerns of religious communities’. The leaders of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church objected to what they see as an ‘ongoing secularist campaign to drive Christ out of Christmas’ (3). That same theme is expounded upon in a report by a new think-tank, Theos, entitled Doing God: A Future for Faith in the Public Square.  ‘Aggressive secularists’ are also the target of the Archbishop of York.

However, secularism as such should not be held responsible for the behaviour of simpletons who wish to rebrand Christmas into a meaningless exercise in diversity. It is worth noting that the institution of Christmas has coexisted with secularism for a very long time. More importantly, Christmas has been secularised for more than a century. Yes, the festivities have an important religious dimension, but most people experience the rituals associated with Christmas in a very secular manner. Of course, many of us decry the commercialisation, yet shopping represents a far more important dimension of our Christmas experience than going to Church. The amount of energy devoted to the purchase of Christmas presents far outweighs what is channelled into religious reflection.

Whatever church leaders say there is no need for a malevolent atheist campaign to drive Christ out of Christmas. For a very long time now Christ has had only a walk-on part in the proceedings. The gifts, the office party, the family meal, the boozing and all the hectic activity around the Xmas tree are profoundly secular events that nevertheless have major significance for people’s lives. That Christianity provides the story and also gives meaning to this experience points to the relatively harmonious interaction between the religious and the secular, at least at that time of year. That is why, through many decades, the secularisation of Christmas did not diminish the symbolic importance of the event.

By protesting about the alleged aggressive secularisation of Christmas, the Church evades confronting the difficult question: why is it now unable to give Christian meaning to Christmas? This month a vicar in Dorset banned a man from wearing a Santa Claus outfit in his carol service.  Apparently the good vicar wanted to put religion at the heart of the celebration, to counter the influence of secularism and materialism. However, it is more likely to be the Church itself, not the wearing of Santa hats, that is responsible for the feeble sense of religious meaning associated with the celebration of Christmas.

The attempt to restrict the public role of Christmas is encouraged not so much by a hatred of religion, but by a profound sense of moral malaise. It has become commonplace in contemporary Western society to assume that it is not possible for us to have a common language through which we make sense of the world. It is assumed that there are no durable values that can transcend differences in identity, culture and religion. Instead of attempting to uphold values to which all humans can subscribe, we are counselled to respect difference and celebrate diversity. From this perspective, it is offensive to wish ‘Happy Christmas’ to someone who is not a practising Christian. Such sentiments are now fairly widespread – at least among sections of the middle class and in public institutions. Which is why many of us play it safe and send out cards that refrain from wishing the recipient ‘Merry Christmas’.

The bewilderment that surrounds Christmas is symptomatic of the far wider problem of not knowing how to behave in circumstances where we lack a moral language for expressing right and wrong. We feel far more comfortable describing something as safe or risky than in making a value judgement using words like good or bad. That is why critics of Christmas often hide behind the language of health and safety. For example the Sun ripped into the management of a Castleford shopping centre for preventing a 30-strong choir from performing in their usual spot because it was deemed too risky for them to stand in front of the fire exit. In the same way, a major bank warned its employees not to place Christmas decorations near computers as they could be a fire hazard.

The Sun also rightly took exception to the child protection campaign Kidscape’s demand that youngsters should be banned from sitting on Santa’s knee. In this case the prevailing mistrust about the moral status of grown-up men makes it easy to question the role of Santa Claus. Of course although Santa is not a religious figure he serves as a recognised symbol of Christmas. Michelle Elliot, Kidscape’s director argued that ‘you can’t vet all the people dressed as Santa’. Which is why a shopping centre in Llanelli, South Wales has installed a webcam to spy on Santa. And if Santa needs to undergo a police check why not the church leader who is in charge of a choir of children practising their Christmas carols?

Fear of paedophiles masquerading as Santa Claus, an obsession with health and safety, a mood of risk aversion and anxiety about offending others are powerful motifs that influence everyday life and encourage doubts about the familiar. That is why there is so much pressure on Christmas to reform its image. There is also another influence at work. Western society finds it increasingly difficult to affirm its institutions and celebrate its achievements. A powerful mood of cynicism prevails that uncritically dismisses tradition and celebrates the most shallow and philistine reaction against it.

In this vein, Channel 4 television has decided to transmit an ‘Alternative Christmas Message’ by a Muslim woman in a veil, at the same time as the Queen’s traditionally Christian message. Lacking the moral resources to deliver a statement on its own account, Channel 4 has opted for hiding behind a mask. It is not so much a hatred of Christianity but a mood of moral disorientation that encourages the desire to devalue the meaning of Christmas. Nevertheless, it is hardly surprising that some church leaders should interpret this response as symptomatic of a bias against Christianity. ‘This country disbelieves in itself in an amazing way’ observed the Archbishop of York.

Much more here

17 December, 2006


In the long record of public wars between intellectuals the fight over Edward Said's Orientalism is not the most vicious, but it has peculiar contemporary significance.... Now, nearly 30 years after Said's influential bestseller landed like a scud missile in the arcane world of Eastern scholarship, British orientalist Robert Irwin has published a fresh and devastating critique, Dangerous Knowledge. In the tradition of great feuds, Irwin's grudge against Said, an Arab-American and long-time professor of literature at Columbia University in New York, has not mellowed with the years. "A work of malignant charlatanry" is how Irwin describes Said's sweeping polemic, which labels the entire field of oriental scholarship as racist and imperialist and inspired the field of postcolonial studies.

Said, who died in 2003, saw the sinister hand of orientalism behind every Western imperial adventure, from Napoleon's 1798 invasion of Egypt to the 20th-century struggles over oil and strategic control in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Afghanistan. From negative Western stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims to the West's sense of its own cultural and intellectual superiority, orientalism, in Said's mind, was the guilty party. In a preface to the 25th anniversary edition of Orientalism he blamed experts on the Arab and Islamic world such as Princeton's Bernard Lewis and Johns Hopkins University's Fouad Ajami for helping US hawks think about "such preposterous phenomena as the Arab mind" and providing the reasoning for the Iraq war. "Without a well-organised sense that the people over there were not `like us' and didn't appreciate `our' values - the very core of traditionalist orientalist dogma - there would have been no war," he wrote.

Lewis coined the term "clash of civilisations" to describe the conservative Muslim collision with modernity. "Lewis's verbosity", Said bit back, "scarcely conceals both the ideological underpinnings of his position and his extraordinary capacity for getting things wrong."

But, as Irwin confirms, it is Said, not Lewis, who is guilty of that offence. He dedicates most of his tome to recording the colourful history of the "motley crew of intellectuals and eccentrics" whose scholarship through several centuries helped to establish orientalism in the West's leading universities.

In the process he debunks Said's thesis linking Western scholars of Islam and Arabic culture with European imperialism. On the contrary, he shows that for the main part orientalists have opposed colonialism and supported Arab nationalism. He accuses Said of ignoring German scholars' dominance in orientalism because Germany's failure to become an imperial power in North Africa or the Middle East undermined his central argument. He finds it equally curious, given Said's thesis, that imperialist Britain had to be dragged to orientalism. Oxbridge scholars through the 19th century were obsessed with biblical controversies, not Islamic ones.

Rebutting Said directly in the penultimate chapter, Irwin begins with character assassination, questioning Said's qualifications as a Palestinian, the identity he claimed as his driving force. Although he was born in Jerusalem in 1935, his parents were Lebanese and he was educated mainly at Cairo's Victoria College, "the Eton of the Middle East". The only Arabic spoken in his wealthy household was to servants and Said did not take lessons in the language until the 1970s.

Next he tackles Said's factual errors. As an example of his "breathtaking ignorance" Irwin points out that Said has Muslim armies conquering Turkey before they conquered North Africa, when it was the other way around, and Britain and France dominating the eastern Mediterranean from the end of the 17th century, when it was still controlled by the Ottomans.

Flagrant inconsistency is his second charge. The Persians under Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes built up a mighty empire and sought to add Greece to it. But rather than denouncing them for their imperial ambitions, Said presented them as the "tragic and innocent victims of misrepresentation by Greek playwrights".

Among the many orientalists Said curiously sneered at was E. G. Browne, author of A Year Among the Persians and a tireless campaigner for Persian independence and democracy.

The extent of Said's influence was underscored when the Art Gallery of NSW in 1998 staged "Orientalism: From Delacroix to Klee", an exhibition of paintings and photographs produced by European artists in the 19th century on subjects in North Africa and the Levant. According to the notes in the exhibition catalogue, the works confirmed Said's thesis about the "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture".

In an article for online journal The New Criterion at the time, Keith Windschuttle noted a contradiction. As Said wrote his book in the late 1970s, about half of the 19th-century orientalist art that was put to auction in London and Paris was being bought by dealers for Arab clients living in the West. Twenty years after Orientalism was published, collectors of North African and near and Middle Eastern descent dominated the market for the paintings Said found so demeaning, "with Western and Japanese buyers all but priced out". Irwin concludes it is an intellectual scandal that Said's argument about orientalism could have been taken seriously. It fed on the West's "hand-wringing and guilt" about its imperialist past. And despite some grains of truth, orientalism is "essentially fiction".

The above is an excerpt from an article by Deborah Hope that appeared in "The Australian" newspaper on December 9, 2006


By Jeff Jacoby

From the land that produced "A Christmas Carol" and Handel's "Messiah," more evidence that Christianity is fading in Western Europe: Nearly 99 percent of Christmas cards sold in Great Britain contain no religious message or imagery. "Traditional pictures such as angels blowing trumpets over a stable, Jesus in his manger, the shepherds and three wise men following the star to Bethlehem are dying out," the Daily Mail reports. A review of some 5,500 Christmas cards turns up fewer than 70 that make any reference to the birth of Jesus. "Hundreds . . . avoided any image linked to Christmas at all" -- even those with no spiritual significance, such as Christmas trees or Santa Claus.

Presumably the greeting-card industry is only supplying what the market demands; if Christian belief and practice weren't vanishing from the British scene, Christian-themed cards wouldn't be, either. But some Britons, not all of them devout, are resisting the tide. Writing in the Telegraph, editor-at-large Jeff Randall -- who describes himself as "somewhere between an agnostic and a mild believer" -- announces that any Christmas card he receives that doesn't at least mention the word "Christmas" goes straight into the trash. "Jettisoning Christmas-less cards is my tiny, almost certainly futile, gesture against the dark forces of political correctness," he writes. "It's a swipe at those who would prefer to abolish Christmas altogether, in case it offends 'minorities.' Someone should tell them that, with only one in 15 Britons going to church on Sundays, Christians are a minority."

Meanwhile, the employment law firm Peninsula says that 75 percent of British companies have banned Christmas decorations for fear of being sued by someone who finds the holiday offensive. And it isn't only in December that this anti-Christian animus rears its head. British Airways triggered a furor when it ordered an employee to hide the tiny cross she wears around her neck. At the BBC, senior executives agreed that they would not air a program showing a Koran being thrown in the garbage -- but that the trashing of a Bible would be acceptable. "It's extraordinary," remarks Randall. "In an increasingly godless age, there is a rising tide of hatred against those who adhere to biblical values." A "tyrannical minority" of intolerant secularists is openly contemptuous of traditional moral norms. "The teachings and guidance of old-fashioned Christianity offend them, so they seek to remove all traces of it from public life."

You don't have to be especially pious to find this atheist zealotry alarming. Nor do you have to live in Europe. Though religion remains important in American life, antireligious passion is surging here, too. Examples abound: In two recent best sellers (The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation), Sam Harris heaps scorn on religious believers, whose faith he derides as "a few products of ancient ignorance and derangement." A study in the Journal of Religion and Society claims that belief in God correlates with higher rates of homicide, sexual promiscuity, and other social ills, and that when compared with relatively secular democracies, the churchgoing United States "is almost always the most dysfunctional." Secular absolutists demand that schools and government venues be cleansed of any hint of religious expression -- be it a cross on the Los Angeles County seal, a courthouse display of the Ten Commandments, or the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

What is at stake in all this isn't just angels on Christmas cards. What society loses when it discards Judeo-Christian faith and belief in God is something far more difficult to replace: the value system most likely to promote ethical behavior and sustain a decent society. That is because without God, the difference between good and evil becomes purely subjective. What makes murder inherently wrong is not that it feels wrong,but that a transcendent Creator to whom we are answerable commands: "Thou shalt not murder." What makes kindness to others inherently right is not that human reason says so, but that God does: "Love thy neighbor as thyself; I am the Lord."

Obviously this doesn't mean that religious people are always good, or that religion itself cannot lead to cruelty. Nor does it mean that atheists cannot be beautiful, ethical human beings. Belief in God alone does not guarantee goodness. But belief tethered to clear ethical values -- Judeo-Christian monotheism -- is society's best bet for restraining our worst moral impulses and encouraging our best ones. The atheist alternative is a world in which right and wrong are ultimately matters of opinion, and in which we are finally accountable to no one but ourselves. That is anything but a tiding of comfort and joy.


Predator Panic: A Closer Look

"Protect the children." Over the years that mantra has been applied to countless real and perceived threats. America has scrambled to protect its children from a wide variety of dangers including school shooters, cyberbullying, violent video games, snipers, Satanic Ritual Abuse, pornography, the Internet, and drugs. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent protecting children from one threat or other, often with little concern for how expensive or effective the remedies are-or how serious the threat actually is in the first place. So it is with America's latest panic: sexual predators.

According to lawmakers and near-daily news reports, sexual predators lurk everywhere: in parks, at schools, in the malls-even in children's bedrooms, through the Internet. A few rare (but high-profile) incidents have spawned an unprecedented deluge of new laws enacted in response to the public's fear. Every state has notification laws to alert communities about former sex offenders. Many states have banned sex offenders from living in certain areas, and are tracking them using satellite technology. Other states have gone even further; state emergency leaders in Florida and Texas, for example, are developing plans to route convicted sex offenders away from public emergency shelters during hurricanes. "We don't want them in the same shelters as others," said Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw. (How exactly thousands of desperate and homeless storm victims are to be identified, screened, and routed in an emergency is unclear.)

An Epidemic?

To many people, sex offenders pose a serious and growing threat-especially on the Internet. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has made them a top priority this year, launching raids and arrest sweeps. According to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, "the danger to teens is high." On the April 18, 2005, CBS Evening News broadcast, correspondent Jim Acosta reported that "when a child is missing, chances are good it was a convicted sex offender." (Acosta is incorrect: If a child goes missing, a convicted sex offender is among the least likely explanations, far behind runaways, family abductions, and the child being lost or injured.) On his NBC series "To Catch a Predator," Dateline reporter Chris Hansen claimed that "the scope of the problem is immense," and "seems to be getting worse." Hansen claimed that Web predators are "a national epidemic," while Alberto Gonzales stated that there are 50,000 potential child predators online.

Sex offenders are clearly a real threat, and commit horrific crimes. Those who prey on children are dangerous, but how common are they? How great is the danger? After all, there are many dangers in the world-from lightning to Mad Cow Disease to school shootings-that are genuine but very remote. Let's examine some widely repeated claims about the threat posed by sex offenders.

One in Five?

According to a May 3, 2006, ABC News report, "One in five children is now approached by online predators." This alarming statistic is commonly cited in news stories about prevalence of Internet predators, but the factoid is simply wrong. The "one in five statistic" can be traced back to a 2001 Department of Justice study issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children ("The Youth Internet Safety Survey") that asked 1,501 American teens between 10 and 17 about their online experiences. Anyone bothering to actually read the report will find a very different picture. Among the study's conclusions: "Almost one in five (19 percent) . . . received an unwanted sexual solicitation in the past year." (A "sexual solicitation" is defined as a "request to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk or give personal sexual information that were unwanted or, whether wanted or not, made by an adult." Using this definition, one teen asking another teen if her or she is a virgin-or got lucky with a recent date-could be considered "sexual solicitation.") Not a single one of the reported solicitations led to any actual sexual contact or assault. Furthermore, almost half of the "sexual solicitations" came not from "predators" or adults but from other teens-in many cases the equivalent of teen flirting. When the study examined the type of Internet "solicitation" parents are most concerned about (e.g., someone who asked to meet the teen somewhere, called the teen on the telephone, or sent gifts), the number drops from "one in five" to just 3 percent.

This is a far cry from an epidemic of children being "approached by online predators." As the study noted, "The problem highlighted in this survey is not just adult males trolling for sex. Much of the offending behavior comes from other youth [and] from females." Furthermore, "Most young people seem to know what to do to deflect these sexual `come ons.'" The reality is far less grave than the ubiquitous "one in five" statistic suggests.

Recidivism Revisited

Much of the concern over sex offenders stems from the perception that if they have committed one sex offense, they are almost certain to commit more. This is the reason given for why sex offenders (instead of, say, murderers or armed robbers) should be monitored and separated from the public once released from prison. While it's true that serial sex offenders (like serial killers) are by definition likely to strike again, the reality is that very few sex offenders commit further sex crimes.

The high recidivism rate among sex offenders is repeated so often that it is accepted as truth, but in fact recent studies show that the recidivism rates for sex offenses is not unusually high. According to a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study ("Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994"), just five percent of sex offenders followed for three years after their release from prison in 1994 were arrested for another sex crime. A study released in 2003 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that within three years, 3.3 percent of the released child molesters were arrested again for committing another sex crime against a child. Three to five percent is hardly a high repeat offender rate.

In the largest and most comprehensive study ever done of prison recidivism, the Justice Department found that sex offenders were in fact less likely to reoffend than other criminals. The 2003 study of nearly 10,000 men convicted of rape, sexual assault, and child molestation found that sex offenders had a re-arrest rate 25 percent lower than for all other criminals. Part of the reason is that serial sex offenders-those who pose the greatest threat-rarely get released from prison, and the ones who do are unlikely to re-offend. If released sex offenders are in fact no more likely to re-offend than murderers or armed robbers, there seems little justification for the public's fear and the monitoring laws targeting them. (Studies also suggest that sex offenders living near schools or playgrounds are no more likely to commit a sex crime than those living elsewhere.)

While the abduction, rape, and killing of children by strangers is very, very rare, such incidents receive a lot of media coverage, leading the public to overestimate how common these cases are. (See John Ruscio's article "Risky Business: Vividness, Availability, and the Media Paradox" in the March/April 2000 Skeptical Inquirer.)

Why the Hysteria?

There are several reasons for the hysteria and fear surrounding sexual predators. The predator panic is largely fueled by the news media. News stories emphasize the dangers of Internet predators, convicted sex offenders, pedophiles, and child abductions. The Today Show, for example, ran a series of misleading and poorly designed hidden camera "tests" to see if strangers would help a child being abducted. [1] Dateline NBC teamed up with a group called Perverted Justice to lure potential online predators to a house with hidden cameras. The program's ratings were so high that it spawned six follow-up "To Catch a Predator" specials. While the many men captured on film supposedly showing up to meet teens for sex is disturbing, questions have been raised about Perverted Justice's methods and accuracy. (For example, the predators are often found in unmoderated chatrooms frequented by those looking for casual sex-hardly places where most children spend their time.) Nor is it surprising that out of over a hundred million Internet users, a fraction of a percentage might be caught in such a sting.

Because there is little hard data on how widespread the problem of Internet predators is, journalists often resort to sensationalism, cobbling a few anecdotes and interviews together into a trend while glossing over data suggesting that the problem may not be as widespread as they claim. But good journalism requires that personal stories-no matter how emotional and compelling-must be balanced with facts and context. Much of the news coverage about sexual predation is not so much wrong as incomplete, lacking perspective.

Moral Panics

The news media's tendency toward alarmism only partly explains the concern. America is in the grip of a moral panic over sexual predators, and has been for many months. A moral panic is a sociological term describing a social reaction to a false or exaggerated threat to social values by moral deviants. (For more on moral panics, see Ehrich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda's 1994 book Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance.)

In a discussion of moral panics, sociologist Robert Bartholomew points out that a defining characteristic of the panics is that the "concern about the threat posed by moral deviants and their numerical abundance is far greater than can be objectively verified, despite unsubstantiated claims to the contrary." Furthermore, according to Goode and Ben-Yehuda, during a moral panic "most of the figures cited by moral panic `claims-makers' are wildly exaggerated."

Indeed, we see exactly this trend in the panic over sexual predators. News stories invariably exaggerate the true extent of sexual predation on the Internet; the magnitude of the danger to children, and the likelihood that sexual predators will strike. (As it turns out, Attorney General Gonzales had taken his 50,000 Web predator statistic not from any government study or report, but from NBC's Dateline TV show. Dateline, in turn, had broadcast the number several times without checking its accuracy. In an interview on NPR's On the Media program, Hansen admitted that he had no source for the statistic, and stated that "It was attributed to, you know, law enforcement, as an estimate, and it was talked about as sort of an extrapolated number.") According to Wall Street Journal writer Carl Bialik, journalists "often will use dubious numbers to advance that goal [of protecting children] . . . one of the reasons that this is allowed to happen is that there isn't really a natural critic. . . . Nobody really wants to go on the record saying, `It turns out this really isn't a big problem.'"

Panicky Laws

Besides needlessly scaring children and the public, there is a danger to this quasi-fabricated, scare-of-the-week reportage: misleading news stories influence lawmakers, who in turn react with genuine (and voter-friendly) moral outrage. Because nearly any measure intended (or claimed) to protect children will be popular and largely unopposed, politicians trip over themselves in the rush to endorse new laws that "protect the children."

Politicians, child advocates, and journalists denounce current sex offender laws as ineffective and flawed, yet are rarely able to articulate exactly why new laws are needed. Instead, they cite each news story about a kidnapped child or Web predator as proof that more laws are needed, as if sex crimes would cease if only the penalties were harsher, or enough people were monitored. Yet the fact that rare crimes continue to be committed does not necessarily imply that current laws against those crimes are inadequate. By that standard, any law is ineffective if someone violates that law. We don't assume that existing laws against murder are ineffective simply because murders continue to be committed.

In July 2006, teen abduction victim Elizabeth Smart and child advocate John Walsh (whose murdered son Adam spawned America's Most Wanted) were instrumental in helping pass the most extensive national sex offender bill in history. According to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the bill's sponsor, Smart's 2002 "abduction by a convicted sex offender" might have been prevented had his bill been law. "I don't want to see others go through what I had to go through," said Smart. "This bill should go through without a thought." Yet bills passed without thought rarely make good laws. In fact, a closer look at the cases of Elizabeth Smart and Adam Walsh demonstrate why sex offender registries do not protect children. Like most people who abduct children, Smart's kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, was not a convicted sex offender. Nor was Adam Walsh abducted by a sex offender. Apparently unable to find a vocal advocate for a child who had actually been abducted by a convicted sex offender, Hatch used Smart and Walsh to promote an agenda that had nothing to do with the circumstances of their abductions. The two high-profile abductions (neither by sex offenders) were somehow claimed to demonstrate the urgent need for tighter restrictions on sex offenders. Hatch's bill, signed by President Bush on July 27, will likely have little effect in protecting America's children.

The last high-profile government effort to prevent Internet predation occurred in December 2002, when President Bush signed the Dot-Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act into law, creating a special safe Internet "neighborhood" for children. Elliot Noss, president of Internet address registrar Tucows Inc., correctly predicted that the domain had "absolutely zero" chance of being effective. The ".kids.us" domain is now a largely ignored Internet footnote that has done little or nothing to protect children.

Tragic Misdirection

The issue is not whether children need to be protected; of course they do. The issues are whether the danger to them is great, and whether the measures proposed will ensure their safety. While some efforts-such as longer sentences for repeat offenders-are well-reasoned and likely to be effective, those focused on separating sex offenders from the public are of little value because they are based on a faulty premise. Simply knowing where a released sex offender lives-or is at any given moment-does not ensure that he or she won't be near potential victims. Since relatively few sexual assaults are committed by released sex offenders, the concern over the danger is wildly disproportionate to the real threat. Efforts to protect children are well-intentioned, but legislation should be based on facts and reasoned argument instead of fear in the midst of a national moral panic.

The tragic irony is that the panic over sex offenders distracts the public from the real danger, a far greater threat to children than sexual predators: parental abuse and neglect. The vast majority of crimes against children are committed not by released sex offenders but instead by the victim's own family, church clergy, and family friends. According to a 2003 report by the Department of Human Services, hundreds of thousands of children are abused and neglected each year by their parents and caregivers, and more than 1,500 American children died from that abuse in 2003-most of the victims under four years old. That is more than four children killed per day-not by convicted sexual offenders or Internet predators, but by those entrusted to care for them. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, "danger to children is greater from someone they or their family knows than from a stranger."

If journalists, child advocates, and lawmakers are serious about wanting to protect children, they should turn from the burning matchbook in front of them to face the blazing forest fire behind them. The resources allocated to tracking ex-felons who are unlikely to re-offend could be much more effectively spent on preventing child abuse in the home and hiring more social workers. Eventually this predator panic will subside and some new threat will take its place. Expensive, ineffective, and unworkable laws will be left in its wake when the panic passes. And no one is protecting America from that.


Black Activists Criticize CNN Report on Racial Bias

Project 21 Members Say Establishment Media Poll and Report on Race Had "Predetermined Outcome"

A CNN December 12 news report and poll data implying that Americans are racist is being criticized by members of the black leadership network Project 21. Results of a survey of 328 blacks and 703 whites conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corp. found that 84 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites considered racism a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem, and 51 percent of blacks and 26 percent of whites claim to have "been a victim of discrimination." Percentages were lower when people were asked if they knew anyone who was "racially biased," with only 31 percent of blacks and 21 percent of whites saying they did. Only 12 percent of blacks and 13 percent of whites surveyed further admitted to being racially-biased themselves.

"I think all of this had a predetermined outcome, needing only anecdotal comments to lend a veneer of credibility," says Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. "The CNN report serves only one purpose, and that is to convince the public at large - specifically white people - that they are evil racists. It is a vulgar exercise to try to find racism in the fiber of every white."

"Racism is based on ignorance. Hard work, perseverance and accomplishments on the part of individuals can evaporate racial bias," notes Project 21 Fellow Deneen Moore. "For example, Troy Smith, the black Ohio State quarterback, received a record percentage of votes from sports journalists to win the Heisman Trophy last week. What mattered most were Smith's superior accomplishments on the field and not his skin color. During World War II, white bomber pilots called for the help of the Tuskegee Airmen because of their success in combat and not because of their skin color. When individuals excel at what they do, others will see them for their accomplishments not their skin color."

Project 21's Massie adds: "Racism and ignorance are not synonymous, but racism has unfortunately too often become a catch-all for anything a person of color does not like. We dislike for a plethora of reasons. It is entirely possible for a white person to be critical of a black person who wears 'gangsta' attire and listens to violent and misogynistic rap music. That doesn't make them a racist. Even if popular culture leads them to believe that the majority of blacks subscribe to gangsta rap's anti-social mannerisms, it makes them ignorant and not necessarily racist."

To apparently offset the lack of admitted racists in the survey, CNN reported one researcher's claims that an estimated 80 percent of white Americans are racist but don't realize their bias. Professor Jack Dovidio of the University of Connecticut said "racism is like a virus that has mutated into a new form that we don't recognize" that "is not conscious" and "expressed in indirect, subtle ways." This new, subtle alleged racism is said to occur when realtors steer clients toward racially-homogeneous neighborhoods and in employment discrimination against non-European names.

Project 21's Mychal Massie responded to the latter allegation by noting, "The only 'discrimination' I have ever faced because of the spelling of my name is from people who think it is a woman's name. When I owned my own business, my clientele was 100 percent white, and my retention rate was over 90 percent. I don't think these people chose me because of my color, but because of the quality of service I provided."

Noting the bias in the means with which CNN tested people for its televised report to prove inherent racial prejudice, Project 21's Moore adds: "The racial bias test touted by CNN last night only proves what we already know - when given a choice, individuals will prefer individuals of common ancestry. This is basic human nature, not racism. There is a huge difference in a computer test where individuals must make a split-second choice based on color versus real life experiences."


16 December, 2006

CNN reports nearly all white Americans may be racists

Post lifted from News Buckit

A new poll from Opinion Research given front-page treatment by CNN shows that many Americans still see racism as a lingering problem. Just not a problem they have.
Almost half of black respondents to the poll -- 49 percent -- said racism is a "very serious" problem, while 18 percent of whites shared that view. Forty-eight percent of whites and 35 percent of blacks chose the description "somewhat serious."

Asked if they know someone they consider racist, 43 percent of whites and 48 percent of blacks said yes.

But just 13 percent of whites and 12 percent of blacks consider themselves racially biased.
The findings so far aren't that surprising, but wait for it... the MSM gem comes in the two paragraphs that follow:
Professor Jack Dovidio of the University of Connecticut, who has researched racism for more than 30 years, estimates up to 80 percent of white Americans have racist feelings they may not even recognize.

"We've reached a point that racism is like a virus that has mutated into a new form that we don't recognize," Dovidio said.
Let's suspend reality for a moment, dismiss the poor journalistic style, and take all of these assertions on their face.

It's safe to assume that the 13% of whites who say they're racists recognize that their feelings come from their own racism. This leaves us with undeclared-racist white America, or 87% of whites. Leaving out the declared racists, Dovidio implies that 92% of this remaining portion may be latently racist (that is, the 80% who may be racists and don't know it, divided by the 87% of whites that said they aren't racists. 80/87=92%.)

To make a long story short... 100% of declared racists plus 92% of undeclared racists means that 93% of white America may be racist.

That's a lot of racists and, apparently, one heckuva virus.

Even if Dovidio meant to include the 13% of confirmed racists in the 80% number, that still makes 80% of whites "possibly" racist. And really, how is that much different than saying 100% might be? (Maybe he declined to say 100% because "100%" wouldn't be believable. 80% sounds scientific, doesn't it?)

Heck, what makes the "actual" non-racists (of the 7% or 20% variety) not possibly racist? Our sagacious media and its sagacious representative from academia leaves that question unanswered.

This doesn't even begin to explain why Dovidio would declare whites and whites alone to be so overwhelming bigoted, simultaneously leaving unmentioned any latent racism present in other races. The poll is interesting, but the article itself -- ever-growing and ever-changing -- is without a doubt a hit job.

I estimate this story is 76.3% likely a result of MSM bias. But really, what's in a number?


`Tis the season, and once again Christmas is under siege by various political and commercial interests. If you haven't heard, for several years, Christmas, including even the word "Christmas," has been under attack. Various groups have been attempting to dilute Christmas by promoting competitor holidays, as well as punish those who attempt to preserve Christmas.

Examples abound, but the most obvious are the replacement of "Merry Christmas," with "Happy Holidays," resulting from such artifices as the artificial elevation of Chanukah, the inclusion of Ramadan and the invention of Kwanzaa as Christmas competitors. Exiling Jesus from Christmas observance is now almost the norm, and even the semi-secular Santa Claus is under attack by Leftist interests.

Before jumping in head first into the business of saving Christmas, it's worthwhile to use an analogy. It's been said that if British fox hunting had been beloved by blacks and gays, rather than white British aristocrats, it would have been embraced by the political Left instead of banned by it. In other words, anti-fox hunting activists are as motivated by their political hostilities as they are by their regard for animal welfare. Indeed, evidence suggests even more so. In regard to hunting endangered animals, which foxes are not, the Left gives a pass to non-white indigenous groups in, for example, Australia and North America, if it is part of their traditional customs. It's as though the animals must not be endangered while said groups hunt them!

One of the unmentionables about Christmas censorship is why this phenomenon occurs mainly to Christian holidays, and generally not to other religion's holy days. Attacks on Christmas started on the Left, and only migrated to the commercial sector after an effective period of demonization.

What is it about Christmas that has provoked such hatred in the Left? Similar to the fox hunting ban, the Left's dislike of white Christians lies at the heart of Christmas phobia. This has resulted in Christmas being placed onto the Left's chopping block. And as with fox hunting, if the American style of celebrating Christmas were less "white," Leftists would be less inclined to ban it. Indeed, they may become the strongest supporters of "exotic" Christmases. The elite Left, majority white, is nothing if not self-hating. Being irrationally xenophilic is their passive-aggressive response to "apple pie" Americana.

The Left is animated by hatred of individuals and groups of people in positions of power whom it has rightly or wrongly deemed evil. In America, that historically means the Left hates whites, especially Western European Protestants. That whites, and in particular, Anglo Saxons, no longer have the lock on power they once did in the United States doesn't disturb the Leftist mind. Leftists are equally oblivious to actual threats, such as the Islamic jihad terror movement, which threaten Leftist progressive values more than the once-dominant American Anglo Saxon culture ever did, if it ever did.

In the mind of the American Left, Christianity is intimately connected to American Anglo Saxon culture. As a result, so is Christmas, ridiculous though this is in historical context.

The Left hates the majesty of Anglo Saxon culture, and that includes its Christmas traditions. In attacking the Protestant Jesus, small-town Biblical values, and even Santa Claus, the Leftist, at least subconsciously, feels he is attacking the hated Anglo Saxon. Details like Christianity being a religion of Middle Eastern origin practiced mostly by non-whites are not a concern of Leftists, who operate on inaccurate feelings, not fact. The Leftist is only worried about the people in his world, not the real world. In the Leftist's world, Christianity is the religion of a hated and powerful white majority. Obvious contradictions to this worldview are ignored through the process of cognitive dissonance.

Despite a good show, most Leftists are not really worried about Constitutional issues, such as the separation of church and state. Witness a California school system's inclusion of Islamic teachings in the curricula, including role playing, fasting and memorizing the Koran, which was upheld by the Leftist-dominated 9th Circuit Court. Christian parents are rightly shocked by the Court's double standard that would have condemned out of hand an equivalent instruction in Christianity.

The secret to saving Christmas is to understand that in the mind of a Leftist, other religions, particularly Islam, are "multicultural" religions practiced by "people of color." Hence, they get a pass from Constitutional oversight, while Christmas, the predominate religion of whites, doesn't. Of course, such color-coding of religion makes egregious history. But Leftists are only interested in the feelings of the historically illiterate 60's folk singer. The historical reality of Ethiopian Abyssinians celebrating Christmas while most Europeans were worshipping Odin or Zeus is not a mental reality for Leftists.

So, if Christians want to save Christmas, they need to play the game. Ask yourself-What's more important, reviving the Christmas of Bethlehem or preserving today's degenerated version? Let's face it, even without the Christophobes, Christmas has strayed from its roots.

Now is a good time to call Leftists' bluff. Give them one hell of an international Christmas. Nigerian Christmas meals. Chinese Nativity scenes. American Indian Christmas dances. After all, Jesus was from Nazareth, not Newcastle. I'm betting most Leftists will be much less inclined to attack authentic displays of non-"Eurocentric" Christmases once confronted with them.

Leftists, being more sensatory than factual, are easily swayed by flaws in human logic, known as cognitive biases. Short circuit their thought process by waving some multicultural meat in front of them, and 80% of Leftists will forget all about their appeals to Constitutional principal. It's really a win-win situation, regardless. Christians get Christmas back, and Leftists get another exotic experience with "The Other" to feel good about.

Businesses-no dummies-will sense where the money is moving, and quickly tear down the Happy Holiday signs and return Merry Christmas to its rightful place. The remaining leftists who actually stand for principal-those un-hypocritical few who are truly committed to a strident form of secular government-will find that even the 9th Circuit will have abandoned them once the first American Indian crŠche graces a public lawn or Ethiopian Christmas greeting is posted in a public school hallway. That being said, I'll respect their heavy but even-handed condemnations of all expressions of any religion in government, but then thank God they are only reminders not to abuse our freedom of religious expression, not actual law.

Heck, even traditionalists like me may see more Christmases as an opportunity to boost the traditional American Christmas. Real competition, and not the contrived politically correct kind, will do it good. That's' the American way. I'm confident the American Christmas of yesteryear will make a strong comeback as a partner with other Christmases.


Ward Connerly to extend his campaign for racial colorblindness after his anti-preference win in Michigan

Building on his success in Michigan, Ward Connerly announced Wednesday he is exploring possible ballot measures in nine more states to ban racial preferences in public education, employment and contracting. Sacramento-based Connerly led successful efforts to prohibit preferences in California in 1996 and Washington state in 1998 before notching his latest victory in Michigan last month. "I think we need another critical mass, if you will, of states that are in the race-free zone," the former University of California regent said during a telephone conference with reporters, suggesting voters want to put the divisive issue to rest.

Exploratory committees have been established in nine states, Connerly said: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Connerly said a decision will be made in 45 to 60 days on which of the states have the best "resources" to place the issue before voters on Nov. 4, 2008, when the nation elects its next president. "There are only 23 initiative states -- three down and 20 to go -- and we don't need to do them all," Connerly said. "But if we do a significant number of them, I think that we will have demonstrated -- without doubt -- that race preferences are antithetical to the popular will of the American people."

Connerly, who founded his American Civil Rights Institute in Sacramento in 1997, said residents in several states under consideration have invited his organization. "We will be going there and meeting with people and learning more about their signature-gathering process, learning more about the political dynamic of those states, what it would cost us to go in ... (and) how much support we can expect," Connerly said.

Andrea Guerrero, a San Diego attorney who has written a book on the impact of Proposition 209, which banned racial preferences in California, maintains that Connerly's preference for the ballot over the legislative process shortchanges minority voters. "He's consciously going to voters knowing that conservative, white, elderly, male voters are overly represented in the voter rolls and at the polls," Guerrero said.

As a UC regent, Connerly led the effort in 1995 to end racial preferences. He acknowledged Wednesday that the percentage of some minorities attending UC has dropped. At UCLA, for example, there were only 96 African American freshmen this year in a class of 4,800 -- and 20 of them were athletes, according to university officials. Connerly said these numbers reflect a return to a "colorblind ethic" as mandated by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. "We strayed from that with this notion that we have to use race to get beyond it," he said.

John Uhlmann, chairman of the American Civil Rights Foundation -- Connerly's legal defense entity -- called him "an American hero." Connerly, however, has come under criticism for drawing roughly 10 times the median compensation of a chief executive officer of a nonprofit in Northern California, according to a survey done earlier this year by The Bee. In 2004, he received more than $1 million in compensation, including salary and speaking fees, as head of the American Civil Rights Institute. "In my eyes, it's blood money," Guerrero said. "Money that he's earning is money earned by taking away opportunity from disenfranchised minorities."

Connerly took umbrage at the suggestion that by expanding his movement into more states he will make even more money. He said he did not take a full salary for several years, and his compensation includes money he earns from speaking engagements. No other CEO, he said, spends as much time on the campaign trail under as much duress. "They do a lot of work, but they can sit at their desk and do it," he said. "They don't have to go out and be subjected to barbs and life threats and other things."


Hate Crime to Hate Speech: The Road to Perdition

By Selwyn Duke

The precedents you set really do matter. In my recent piece, How We Will Lose Our Freedom of Speech, I mentioned that the concept of "hate speech" is a corollary of that of "hate crime." The brief reference was probably glossed over by most, but it is in fact such a significant element in our Orwellian gutting of the First Amendment that it warrants exposition.

In an older work of mine, Hate-crime Laws and Evolutionary Tyranny, I endeavored to prove that hate crime laws are an attempt at thought control. The same could be said of hate speech legislation, but the relationship between these two categories of law is much more direct than a mere sharing of a common goal. Let's examine this. (Note: Henceforth when I use the words hate/hateful, I mean them to be understood as "ideas defined as hateful by the powers-that-be.")

The effect of hate crime law is that it empowers the authorities to administer harsher punishment when hateful motives are discerned. For example, let's say that two identical violent acts are committed. The first act is deemed a regular (I suppose, politically correct) crime, and the perpetrator is sent to prison for ten years. The second crime, however, is labeled a hate crime, so the perpetrator receives twenty years. Now, this begs the question: What are the extra ten years imposed in the second crime for? Well, we know that ten years were all the act itself warranted because that's what was handed down when only the act was considered. Thus, I would assert the following: The additional punishment is for the ideas or thoughts expressed through the act.

But it's more than that. Through it, yes, but more to the point here is that the extra punishment is without question levied because of what was expressed during the event. After all, the hate patrol discerns the nature of the crime based on what the perpetrators say before, during or after the commission of it. If you beat someone over the head with a club while spewing garden-variety curses or nary a word, your punishment is less severe than if you hurl racial epithets at your victim as you do so.

Ominously, it is only then a short leap from the practice of punishing hate speech uttered during a violent incident to the practice of punishing hate speech uttered apart from one. For, if the expression of hateful ideas is so injurious to society, why would we limit their prohibition to one narrow context? But the salient point here is that the expression of certain ideas is already prohibited in a de facto sense in that context. Another precedent . . . .

Thus, I find it an inescapable conclusion that hate speech laws are an inevitable consequence of the embrace of hate crime laws. If we accept the proposition that it truly is legitimate to punish hateful ideas, why should we think that what serves as evidence of their existence would mitigate or exacerbate the consequences? It is logical to assume that someone who merely speaks out of hate wouldn't be punished as severely as someone who speaks and assaults out of it, but this is only because the latter case involves a decidedly violent act. But the punishment levied for an act is a separate thing entirely from the extra punishment levied for the thoughts that motivated the act. If it truly is legitimate for the government to proscribe the adult expression of certain ideas, then it is inevitable that government will eventually have a role whenever and wherever those ideas are detected. And if those certain ideas in and of themselves warrant a certain degree of punishment, it then is not hard to make the case that they warrant that degree of punishment regardless of the context in which their existence is revealed. This is why the validation of hate speech laws is a corollary of the validation of hate crime laws. To accept the latter is to pave the way for the former.

Caesar should undertake only that which is his rightful province and leave unto God the things that are God's. Thus, while spiritual betterment consists in striving to hurt no one in thought, word or deed, only the last of these is the concern of rulers. But it now seems that government would don a divine mantle as it proscribes not just harmful deeds, but words as well. One should shudder to think what might befall us if little "g" ever developed the technology to read thought.

After my article about the loss of free speech was published, I was deluged with email, and some of these respondents wanted to know what could be done about our impending loss of freedom. So now I'll present a few suggestions. In keeping with the principle that "The best defense is a good offense," we traditionalists need to take the offense. It's not enough to just combat the movement toward hate speech laws - we need to eradicate the hate crime laws that are just one step up on the devolutionary ladder. Thus, instead of just seeking to maintain the status quo, we must attack the source and try to get Big Clairvoyant out of the hate business.

As to this matter, while pressuring legislators to rescind hate crime legislation is imperative, the bureaucratic machinery of the hate police must be dismantled as well. Here's what I'm talking about. In previous pieces I included many examples of individuals who were persecuted for unfashionable use of the tongue. And while many others document these cases as well, what's usually not emphasized are the bureaucracies that do the dirty work. So, here's what you must know: These bodies are often known as "Human Rights Commissions," which, once empowered to play God, often develop adjuncts known as "Human Rights Tribunals." Of course, whatever "human rights" they purport to protect, the right to free speech is not among them. But one example involves the case of Hugh Owens, a man I mentioned who was punished for criticizing homosexuality. He ran afoul of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and its tribunal.

And here is what is truly chilling: Most of our states and many of our localities already have human rights commissions. And more are being spawned every year. Oh, they're not punishing people for violating the hate police's precepts yet, but just wait until those precepts become law. These Orwellian institutions will be positioned to hit the ground running. But "Human Rights Commission," ah, it has such a ring to it. Only an ogre sporting a white sheet would oppose an entity with a name that suggests such a noble mandate. And hate crime sounds as bad as human rights commission sounds good. And now that we're accepting a new boogeyman of a category called hate speech . . . .

It's sad really. One of the best things about man's nature is that most people can't be seduced into embracing evil knowingly. One of the worst things about man's nature is that most people can be seduced into embracing evil unknowingly. You certainly can fool enough of the people enough of the time.


15 December, 2006


Two elderly spinster sisters face the agony of selling the home they have shared for 40 years when one of them dies after judges ruled they are not entitled to the same rights as gay and lesbian couples. Joyce and Sybil Burden, who have lived together all their lives, argued they should be spared inheritance tax in the same way as married couples, or homosexuals who form a civil partnership. But yesterday the European Court of Human Rights threw out their case, by a 4-3 verdict, landing them with a 10,000 pound legal bill and facing certain future heartbreak.

The sister who lives the longest will now be forced to sell the family home when the other dies in order to raise the 61,000 pound inheritance tax bill owed to the Treasury. Joyce, 88, said the sisters had only wanted the same protection given to lesbians and gays - who pay nothing. They are spared any duty to allow their loved one to remain in their shared home. Joyce said last night: "I am terribly upset by this and I just don't know what we are going to do. "We have spent our lives looking after people and never once done anything wrong. And now we are being punished for doing the right thing. "This government is always going out of its way to give rights to people who have done nothing to deserve them. "If we were lesbians, we would have all the rights in the world. But we are sisters, and it seems we have no rights at all. It is disgusting that we are being treated like this. It is an insult."

Joyce and Sybil, 80, who have been asking the Government to look at their case for 30 years, decided to write to the European courts after Labour introduced the Civil Partnership Act in 2004. To their dismay, this granted the same right to gay and lesbian couples to avoid inheritance tax as married couples, but not to cohabiting family members. After writing a simple letter to the European Court of Human Rights, they were stunned when it responded saying it would hear their case. Their letter, written without any legal advice, read: "In desperation we write to you, for, as second-class citizens, we seek justice against the unfair laws we live with in the British Isles." The sisters, whose three-bedroom house on farmland near Marlborough, in Wiltshire, was built for 7,000 pounds in 1965 but is now worth at least 875,000 pounds, then hired a lawyer to put their claims to the Strasbourg court.

But, by the narrowest of verdicts, the court yesterday sided with the British Government - which effectively argued it was legally entitled to discriminate against siblings. Britain's representative in the court, Nicolas Bratza, was one of four judges who voted against the spinsters. Their judgement said they agreed with the Government there is no comparison between siblings and gays, so they are not entitled to the same rights. The case of Britain was that siblings had not chosen to enter into any legally-binding agreement, it was simply as a result of birth. This meant they are not entitled to the same protection.

One of the three judges who backed the spinsters said that while the ruling was legal, it was unfair. Family campaigners said the court's ruling gave the legal stamp of approval to discrimination in favour of gay couples. Jill Kirby, of the Centre for Policy Studies, said the ruling was also a blow to children who live with elderly parents, in order to care for them. They also face picking up a huge inheritance tax bill when the parent dies. She added: "In a case like this, where there lives have been intertwined for many years, it seems very unfair they are not afforded the same protection as a couple who have registered a civil partnership but whose lives have not been shared to anything like the same extent. "Once the decision was taken to extend rights beyond those who are married, it is only reasonable it should be offered to couples in situations like this". She added relatives who choose to live together were now "out in the cold", as all other sections of society had the opportunity to gain protection from inheritance tax. Co-habiting couples, who are currently unprotected, at least have the option of getting married.

Joyce and Sybil worked as land girls on the farm during the war but never married, caring for their parents and two aunts until they died. They moved to nearby Pangbourne in 1948, but moved back to the farm when their father Frank died in 1965. They then built their home on part of the land, where they have since lived. They live on the income from leasing out the farm. With their estate now valued at least 875,000, each sister has made a will leaving all her property to the other. If one sister dies, the inheritance tax payable would be worked out by taking the value of half the estate, subtracting the current tax-free threshold of 285,000, and calculating 40 per cent of the remainder in this case resulting in a bill of 61,000. They say the surviving sister would not be able to pay the bill, and would be forced to sell.

Author Patricia Morgan, an expert on the family, also criticised the verdict. She said: "I do not see any reason why one type of relationship should qualify, and another should not. It is direct discrimination. "Part of the reason is no doubt financial. The Government does not want to lose the money." Anastasia de Waal of the Civitas civic values study group said siblings may have missed out because they had not vocally demanded new rights. The gay lobby was vociferous in demanding equality with marriage, in order to give greater stability to its relationships. Under current laws, 40 per cent tax must be paid on inherited property above a 285,000 threshold. In the 2007-08 tax year, the threshold will rise to 300,000.


Banned for a George Bush T-shirt

Leftists don't like it when their "must not offend anybody" gospel is applied to them

An Australian was barred from a London-Melbourne flight unless he removed a T-shirt depicting George Bush as the world's number one terrorist. Allen Jasson was also prevented from catching a connecting flight within Australia later the same day unless he removed the offending T-shirt.

Mr Jasson says Qantas and Virgin Blue were engaging in censorship but the airlines say the T-shirt was a security issue and could affect the sensitivities of other passengers. "The woman at the security check-in (at Heathrow) just said to me, 'You are not wearing that'," Mr Jasson, 55, said yesterday.

Mr Jasson, who lives in London and was flying to Australia to visit family on December 2, said he was first told he would need to turn the T-shirt inside-out before he would be allowed to board the Qantas flight. "I told her I had the right to express my opinion," he said. "She called other security and other people got involved. Ultimately, they said it was a security issue . . . in light of the present situation." After a prolonged argument about freedom of speech and expression, Mr Jasson said a Qantas gate manager said he could not fly at all unless he wore another T-shirt. Mr Jasson said his clothing had already been checked in and he was forced to buy a new T-shirt - this time with London Underground written on it - coincidentally the site of a terrorist attack last year. "I felt I had made my point and caved in," Mr Jasson said.

But after arriving in Australia, Mr Jasson said he put his Bush T-shirt back on and was again banned from boarding a connecting flight - this time a Virgin Blue plane from Adelaide to Melbourne. "It was argued other passengers could be offended," Mr Jasson said. "I said it was most offensive that I would be prevented from expressing my political views." Mr Jasson said the T-shirt often sparked comment from people in the street.

A Virgin Blue spokeswoman said the airline had a policy to ban offensive clothing and bare feet. "Most people use common sense and don't go out of their way to offend people," she said


The Australian Left moves Right on Immigration

Only days after Tony Blair did much the same in Britain

Learning English and getting a job will be the cornerstones of Labor's new approach to multiculturalism, which will emphasise integrating into Australian society over celebrating cultural diversity. Settlement services more tailored to new arrivals' needs, greater recognition of overseas skills and strategies to ensure skilled workers aren't forced into unskilled jobs are among the ideas being considered by the new Labor leadership.

The latest plan is another sign that new Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd is methodically dealing with potential political wedges that John Howard would have planned for him on issues of race or on Australia continuing to have troops in Iraq. Mr Rudd yesterday confirmed a more flexible version of Labor's commitment to withdraw troops from the troubled nation, laying out a timetable of up to six months if Labor wins the election due late next year.

In a speech to the Fabian Society in Melbourne last night, Labor's immigration, integration and citizenship spokesman, Tony Burke, said more needed to be done to make multiculturalism work. "The recognition we're making is that simply promoting diversity on its own isn't enough," Mr Burke said. The Government had "dropped the ball on integration", which was vital to the success of a multicultural society, he said. "The Government has been talking about integration as though integration and multiculturalism are mutually exclusive," Mr Burke said. "This is wrong. Integration is the way to make a multicultural society work. "There is an alternative to integration - and it's called disintegration."

The strategy comes as the Prime Minister pushes for stricter rules on citizenship and follows revelations in The Australian last month of government plans to scrap the use of the term "multiculturalism".

Mr Burke, whose southwestern Sydney seat of Watson includes the suburbs of Kingsgrove and Lakemba, said multiculturalism as a policy had changed significantly since its introduction. "A multicultural Australia has never been about people living in cocoons," he said. "It's about taking the benefits of the richness of people's diverse backgrounds and building a stronger community."

Mr Rudd said he supported the idea of putting integration and citizenship under the responsibility of the immigration portfolio and thought people should become citizens a reasonable time after coming to Australia. The move came after Mr Burke, Labor's immigration spokesman under Kim Beazley, suggested to Mr Rudd when he became leader last week that the title "integration" be added to the portfolio. "The shadow immigration minister, Tony Burke, is now the shadow minister for immigration, integration and citizenship, that is our position," Mr Rudd said in Melbourne.

Mr Rudd defended Labor's policy on multiculturalism, saying he did not believe that integration and having pride in your heritage were contradictory. "We also have a shadow minister for multiculturalism, we don't see these things as contradictions of one another," he said. "When I look at this great City of Melbourne what I find exciting about the city is its multicultural mix, its wonderful contribution from cultures from all over the world," Mr Rudd said in the suburb of Box Hill against a backdrop of Asian restaurants. "Mr Howard might see these things in absolute contradiction of one another, I do not."

The Labor leadership is wary of having the ALP divided over its policy of protecting people's right to maintain their national heritage and customs, while the Coalition is demanding more of immigrants on the question of citizenship and accepting Australian values. Although Mr Rudd on Tuesday formally dumped Mr Beazley's proposal for all visitors to sign off on Australian values before entering the country, he has not rejected the Government's plans for a tougher citizenship test demanding more knowledge of Australia and its history. In promoting integration as a pillar of the immigration portfolio, Labor has signalled that it supports the idea that migrants should expect to adopt citizenship and be involved in society.

Mr Burke also argued the Government was creating barriers to integration through its temporary protection visa scheme, which gives some asylum-seekers a three-year visa with an option to reapply. He has pledged he will try to scrap the scheme from Labor policy at next April's national conference. "The Government's use of consecutive temporary protection visas has sent a message to the visa-holders to not integrate," he said. "Labor believes it's better for Australia to make a decision ... if someone's leaving, they should get on a plane; if they're staying they should get on with a new life as part of the Australian community." Settlement programs also needed to be reviewed because they were run on a "one-size-fits-all model", which failed to address many needs of new arrivals


14 December, 2006


Local officials vow that the bells of a Baptist church will continue to peal above the complaints of atheists. A sound system owned by the borough of Jewett City and the town of Griswold and housed in a church has prompted the Connecticut chapter of American Atheists Inc. to demand that the governments cut their ties with the bells. The group also wants the volume turned down.

More than 75 residents pushed back Monday, demanding that the borough's Board of Warden and Burgesses not silence the sound system that plays the chimes heard throughout the area. Some officials say that barring a court order or legal advice to the contrary, the bells will continue to sound. "The bells will continue to toll until they stop us," Borough Warden Cynthia Kata said. Burgess Patrick Sullivan was defiant. "The borough is not gonna run," he said. "We're here, and we're gonna fight."

Dennis Paul Himes, director of the Connecticut atheists chapter and William Russell, a chapter member and a Norwich resident who initially complained about the chimes, did not attend Monday's meeting. They said they were not invited, though Kata disputed the claim. Himes said Monday that the borough and the town should sell the sound equipment to the church or a private organization. Municipal involvement with the bells violates the separation of church and state and that the arrangement permits the church to benefit from government property, he said. Atheists have on occasion sued over such issues as the dispute in Griswold but that the group's resources are limited and chooses its legal battles carefully, Himes said. Russell said if the town and borough refuse to sell the sound system or move it to a secular site, he will "take the issue to wherever and whoever I have to." "If you read your Constitution, government is not supposed to promote any religion," he said. "What are the bells in the Baptist Church doing? Promoting religion."

If a lawsuit ensues, several residents and businesses say they will buy the equipment and donate it to the church.



General Augusto Pinochet, who died Sunday, was the most successful dictator of the 20th century - yet also one of the most vilified. Dictators are supposedly judged by two tests. How many people did they kill? And did they bring prosperity to their people? These two tests hang together because Marxists believed that their various ideological despotisms (in Cuba, China, the USSR) would eventually midwife a utopia - justifying their mass murders retrospectively.

So how did individual dictators fare? Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong each murdered tens of millions in labor camps, purges, forced famines and war. But they were less successful at improving their societies. Stalin built a society on terror and extended it through conquest - but the USSR couldn't feed itself, and eventually collapsed in economic ruins. Hitler committed suicide in the literal ruins of Berlin with the German people digging for scraps in the rubble of the Third Reich. Mao? He killed as many millions unintentionally through his industrial "Great Leap Forward" as he did with malice aforethought in his purges and "Cultural Revolution" - and China's current prosperity is squarely rooted in a silent repudiation of his economic principles. Yet Mao won lavish praise in Western obituaries, from the London Daily Telegraph to The New York Times.

Francisco Franco and Fidel Castro, meanwhile, each murdered no more than tens of thousands of people following their victories in civil war and rebellion. Moreover, their economic paths diverged. Castro squandered billions in Russian subsidies in the course of ruining the Cuban economy. With those subsides ended, Cuba today is a tragedy: a naturally prosperous island reduced to beggary and prostitution by the personal vanity and economic illiteracy of a foolish old man who still sees himself as a dashing revolutionary.

Wisely, Franco never saw himself as glamorous. He was a cool cynic who manipulated other people's ideologies to ensure his own dominance and 40 years of stagnant politics. Behind a facade of tranquility, however, he transformed Spain into a dynamic market economy, built its middle class and created a stable society, modern in every respect except its political system. Within five years of his death, Spain was a democracy too. Franco received contemptuously hostile obituaries. Castro's? Let's hope we read them soon.

That brings us to Pinochet. His victims are estimated at some 3,200. One innocent murdered is one too many. But if we are talking comparisons, Pinochet's total of innocents murdered is (as estimated by the Cuba Archive Project) about a twentieth of Castro's - partly because Pinochet exiled many of his dissidents, while Castro sinks his "boat people" so that the sharks get them. And Pinochet's economic legacy outstrips that of most advanced democracies, let alone the economic rubble of all the communist dictators. Within a decade of the 1973 coup, Chile was a stable growing economy - transformed by monetary, supply-side, trade and labor market reforms introduced by Pinochet.

When Chile returned to democracy in the late '80s, it continued his free-market approach. The whole world noticed this. As communism was collapsing in 1989-91, one encountered self-described "Pinochet Marxists" in the Soviet bloc who sought an extension of one-party rule to impose the free-market reforms now needed to repair the ravages of socialism. Thus, if successful economic transformation could justify political mass murder - the Marxist test - then Pinochet should be celebrated without reserve as the savior of his country (with Franco as a strong runner-up).

Contra the Marxists, however, murder is not an economic policy, and the soundest economic policy can't justify murder. If Pinochet authorized murders, he should have been tried for them - though the same rule should apply to Castro, other surviving dictators and those supporters of Allende who killed opponents in the Chilean civil war.

For Pinochet's coup was in reality a short civil war. In 1973, Chile's Parliament and Supreme Court, backed by public opinion, called for military intervention to overthrow President Salvador Allende for his flagrant abuse of the Constitution. (They also feared an imminent Marxist coup led by him.) One of three military leaders who responded to that call, Pinochet gradually accumulated power afterward - probably corrupted by the delusion that he was essential to national salvation. But the original coup was never a personal power-grab: It was an attempt to save Chile from a Marxist dictatorship that, on the evidence of history, would have proved more enduring and more blood-stained than his own rule. Pinochet, in short, first defeated Marxism and then disproved it - which explains better than anything his status as the world's worst dictator even though it is at variance with so many other facts.

Among them is the fact that Pinochet also surrendered power voluntarily after defeat in a referendum. In a historic deal, he bargained a dignified retirement in return for restoring democracy and an amnesty. That amnesty satisfied most Chileans and founded Chilean democracy in a secure national consensus - but spurred Pinochet's foreign enemies on to greater efforts. He was arraigned before British courts at the behest of a Spanish magistrate on the most dubious pretexts of international law at the very moment that Castro was being feted in Madrid. "Human rights" activists then kept up the legal chase.



The politically correct British police are great at oppressing law-abiding folk. It's only criminals they can't be bothered with. Post below lifted from Burning our Money

Yesterday afternoon I was formally detained by the Metropolitan Police. And I have the Stop and Search docket to prove it.

What was I doing? Drug dealing? Causing an affray perhaps? No. I was standing a hundred yards from New Scotland Yard, in Caxton Street SW1, making a video about police waste for the Taxpayers' Alliance.

My afternoon began when I set myself up with my camera in front of that famous revolving Scotland Yard sign, exactly where all those TV reporters stand. I began talking into the camera, which is mounted on a hand-held monopod (a bargain at 14.99 pounds from Jessops).

Within about 30 seconds I was approached by a PC who asked what I was doing. This turns out to be quite common while out filming, so I explained.

He responded by asking if I was with the media, and I said 'yes- 18 Doughty Street'. Amazingly, he'd never heard of it! He then said I was in a sensitive area, and asked how long I would be? I told him a few more minutes, and he said OK. But by remaining right beside me watching and listening, he put me off my stroke. So I thanked him civilly and moved off down the street, well away from the Yard.

A few more minutes passed and I carried on filming myself talking into the camera. I was then apprehended by two of Blair's Community Police Officers.

Again, they asked me what I was doing, again I explained, and again they told me I was in a sensitive area. They then said they'd observed me "behaving unusually with a metal pole". And even though I showed them exactly what I was doing- and showed them my "script" comprising pages printed from BOM- they very politely told me I was to receive a Stop And Search.

For those that don't know, Stop and Search is a multi-page form introduced after the Stephen Lawrence case, which the officer has to fill in with all kinds of box-ticking and other assorted guff, including the suspect's ethnic group ( which the suspect has to complete himself, in case a wrong guess by the officer "causes offence"). It took the officers- two of them remember- 20 minutes to complete, with doubtless further time required back at the station to process and record.

So while one of them was busy ticking and writing away, I asked the other if I could go on filming afterwards. Not there I was told. OK, where could I go? He couldn't say because, although not formally defined, the whole of Westminster- and other vast swathes of London- constitute a "sensitive area". So I'd probably get stopped again.

Well, why don't they stop the tourists queuing up to have their snaps taken in front of the Scotland Yard sign? Ah, well... that's because they're tourists. I wanted to ask about the big bearded Asian ones with the 500mm telephoto lenses, but I guessed that might land me inside on a race-hate wrap.

And how come they don't stop mainstream TV journos filming outside Scotland Yard? Ah,well, that's because they're TV broadcasters... they have big crews and that. Which clearly makes the whole thing a lot safer than some loopy white middle-aged bloke with grey hair and specs talking to a metal pole.

So after they'd taken ID and radio-namechecked me, I took myself off down to College Green outside Parliament. That's always full of loopy guys talking guff, and nobody batted an eyelid down there.

After I'd calmed down, I came up with the three questions I'd like answered:

1. WTF should I be recorded on a Police database for filming myself on a public street in central London?

2. WTF are the police wasting time on nonsense like this, when really bad stuff like this is happening?

3. WTF is the Met's terrorist profiling so pants that someone like me gets caught in it?

I am old enough to remember when law-abiding taxpaying middle-class types used to have respect for the police. But the more the cops harrass and criminalise us, the more we understand how fundamentally dysfunctional they have become.

Violent crime and anti-social behaviour rage on our streets, yet all our 16 billion pounds per annum cops can do is close police stations, and spend a man-hour infringing my civil liberty.

With the likes of Sir Ian Bonkers Blair at the controls, the current system is broken irrepairably.

Has Tony Blair seen the multi-culturalism light?

The full text of Blair's "about turn" speech is here

The Prime Minister has long hinted that he harbours doubts about the ideology of multi-culturalism that has done so much to divide one British person from another. Yesterday, he finally expressed those doubts - plainly enough to infuriate both professional multi-culturalists in the public sector and the Muslim Association of Britain, which described his remarks as "alarming".

The most important feature of Tony Blair's speech was an admission for which we have waited far too long: that there is a connection between Islamic extremism and political correctness. Muslims who hate this country are nourished by the constant assertions that our nation's history is a catalogue of shame; indeed, many of them will have been taught this since their first history lessons in a British primary school. (It is, sadly, a common experience now for state-educated children to be instructed, at some stage, to write essays based on the assumption that they are slaves on a British plantation.)

Multi-culturalism portrays itself as a means of celebration: in fact, it is an invitation to all minorities to complain, loudly and persistently, about their victimhood. And, when this self-pitying worldview comes into contact with religious fanaticism, the results can be - literally - explosive. That is presumably what Mr Blair means when he says that the events of July 7 last year threw the whole concept of multi-cultural Britain "into sharp relief".

The Prime Minister and his close colleagues are plainly fed up with the lumbering grievance-mongers of the race relations industry: in the fight between Ken Livingstone and Trevor Phillips, reforming head of the Commission for Racial Equality, they are cheering loudly for the latter. Good for them.

True, the ideology that Mr Blair now decries has been advanced chiefly by his own party. Given his readiness to apologise for ancient wrongs, it would perhaps have been appropriate to acknowledge this more recent mistake. Still, we are delighted that Mr Blair has come round to the view that this newspaper has always held, and that our countrymen have clung to through decades of official bullying and hectoring.

What, though, are these "British values" that Mr Blair wants everyone to accept? It will not do to cant about freedom, fairness and tolerance: admirable as they are, these virtues would serve equally well for Ecuador or Finland. British values, surely, are bound up in our institutions: common law, a sovereign parliament, habeas corpus, counties, army regiments: the very institutions that have often been traduced by this ministry. Perhaps Mr Blair might devote his final months to repairing some of this damage.


13 December, 2006

Who is to blame if Australian blacks die young?

According to the article below, it is the fault of white Australians. No mention that large numbers of Australian blacks (Aborigines) destroy their own health from childhood on. As kids, many sniff dangerous substances for the "high" and as adults many spend most of their days blasted out of their brains with alcohol.

In the usual way, the article also conflates Aborigines with Torres Strait Islanders -- Australia's other black race. But Islanders have no more problems in Australia than whites do. They are not remotely in as bad a way as Aborigines. Both races were primitive when the white man came but the Islanders (Melanesians) were gardeners, whereas the Aborigines were hunters and gatherers.

The article below is implicitly a call for behaviour modification -- very authoritarian. Aborigines are to be prevented from making "bad" decisions about their own lives -- even though those decisions are perfectly reasonable within their own culture and background. Even many decades under missionary supervision did not give Aborigines "white" values. Both Lenin and Hitler originally presented themselves as do-gooders. Do gooders are never very far from Fascism

The figures paint a staggering reality. Indigenous men and women die 17 years earlier than other Australians. Indigenous children are dying at almost three times the rate of non-indigenous children. Many indigenous people suffer chronic diseases, which are entirely preventable and have virtually been eliminated in the non-indigenous population. Indigenous access to primary health care remains extremely poor.

These are not mere statistics. These people are real Australians who are suffering and dying daily. They are someone's grandparents, parents, children, brothers or sisters, aunties or uncles. Indigenous Australians want the situation to change, but we need support and encouragement to make this change.

The situation is perverse and illogical for a country of Australia's social and economic standing. How can the majority of the Australian population enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, and yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples endure a health situation comparable with many Third World countries?

For many Australians, out of sight is out of mind, or their view of indigenous Australia is clouded by negativity in the media. Politicians wax lyrical about human rights injustices throughout the world, but seem to disregard what is taking place in their own back yard. How can such inequality and injustice take place in a country where everyone is supposed to be treated equally and given a fair go?

Because make no mistake, the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a national shame. We stand diminished as a nation and as individuals by ignoring the plight of our fellow Australians. It is simply not acceptable for governments to continually state that the situation is tragic, then to say it should be treated with urgency and then fail to put in place targets, funding and timeframes to address the issue.

More here


"World cultures class" for kindergartners??

The West Virginia Human Rights Commission is investigating charges that an elementary school teacher used a biracial kindergarten student as a prop to illustrate differences in skin color and ethnic backgrounds during a world cultures class. Rhonda Bennett, a preschool teacher at Peterson Central Elementary School in Weston, is also accused of telling schoolmates that the child had been adopted -- a fact the family of the 5-year-old girl says she did not yet know. Joseph Mace, superintendent of Lewis County schools, also has refused to return phone calls and e-mails from The Associated Press but acknowledged the incident to a local television station last week.

The Human Rights Commission supplied a copy of the family's complaint Wednesday after the AP filed a request under the state's Freedom of Information Act. A copy had been shown to school board members two weeks ago, but it was retrieved from their possession after about five minutes, said board President Paul Derico. Derico did not identify Bennett, whose name was in the complaint. However, he said the teacher involved once worked for him when he was a principal at a school in Jane Lew. "This person is an excellent teacher," he said. "She just made a bad choice." Derico said the school board has taken no action against the teacher because it is waiting for a recommendation from the superintendent.

The complaint, which does not name the girl or her family, says the incident occurred in mid-September, when a teacher's aide removed the girl from her regular classroom. The child told her mother that evening that she had sat on Bennett's lap while the teacher and other students talked about her skin color.

In a written statement accompanying her complaint forms, the mother said she contacted the school and spoke with several people who confirmed her daughter's account but described the lesson as a good one.

Bennett allegedly told the mother she had taught the lesson before, and that the girl did not seem upset by it. The teacher said the lesson was intended "to show that we all are alike, but we have different skin, eyes, hair, nationalities, etc." The principal also said the lesson "has been taught in this manner for years" and had his approval, the mother wrote. "He further stated the teacher had brought Chinese children up in front before, and nobody ever had any problems."

The 43-year-old mother, who is white, said race has never been discussed in her home, and she was never asked if her daughter could "be used for show-and-tell." "It is not the lesson in dispute; it is the manner in which my child was `exploited.' This incident has led to questions from my child such as, `Why am I different? What is wrong with me? What color am I?' " she wrote. The family has since explained that the girl was adopted, even though her parents had felt she was not mature enough to understand the concept. "The issue is not whether the lesson is `good' or `bad,' but placing a young child in a position they do not understand," the mother wrote. "The system needs to see this from the child's point of view -- not through the eyes of an adult."



The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, attacked "aggressive" secularists and "illiberal" atheists yesterday for "throwing out the crib at Christmas". In his strongest assault yet on attempts to purge Christianity from public life, Dr Sentamu said such people were undermining the country's cultural traditions. The Archbishop's comments reflect the growing fury of Church leaders at reports of companies banning Christmas decorations and schools leaving Jesus out of nativity plays.

They also signalled his intention to declare all-out war on secularists, who he claimed were unfairly blaming other faiths to advance their own anti-religious agenda. "Aggressive secularists are trying to pretend that it is possible to enter into the true meaning of Christmas by leaving out Jesus Christ," he said. "The person who is at the heart of the celebration is totally excluded. This really is a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water, or in this case throwing out the crib at Christmas."

The Archbishop continued: "This aggressive brand of secularism is trying to undermine the cultural traditions of this country by using flawed arguments about 'multi-faith, multi-culturalism' whilst at the same time trying to negate faith groups all together." Dr Sentamu, a Ugandan-born former judge, added: "The aggressive secularists pervert and abuse any notion of diversity for the sake of promoting a narrow agenda. Meanwhile those other faith communities, who have stated categorically they are not offended by Christmas, know that if Christmas falls, they will be next.

"Why don't the aggressive secularists and illiberal atheists listen to the great wisdom of Sir John Mortimer, playwright and atheist, who writing in The Daily Telegraph on April 28, 1999, said 'Our whole history and culture in Europe is based on Christianity, whether you believe in it or not. Our culture is Christian; Shakespeare, Mozart - all that makes life worth living is part of the Christian tradition' ."

Earlier yesterday Jack Straw, the Leader of the Commons, said suggestions that Christmas decorations in offices could offend staff of other faiths were "total nonsense". "The simple truth is that my Muslim constituents and Muslim friends also wish to see Christmas celebrated," he told MPs. "What is forgotten by people who come out with this nonsense is that those of the Muslim faith honour our prophets and those of the Jewish religion as much as they honour their own prophets." In October Mr Straw started a national debate when he revealed that he asked Muslim women to remove their full-face veils when they visited his constituency surgery.

A survey published on Tuesday claimed that three out of four employers had banned Christmas decorations for fear of offending other faiths. The study found that 74 per cent of managers were not allowing any decorations in their offices this year. Bosses also felt that Christmas trees and tinsel made offices unprofessional, said law firm Peninsula.


Multiculturalism downgraded in Australia: Migrants will be required to show a basic level of assimilation

Migrants striving to be Australian citizens will be forced to sit a test and sign a pledge committing themselves to Australian values that could include the idea of "mateship" and "having a go". Prime Minister John Howard yesterday released new details of the proposed 30-question examination and an accompanying statement of "shared Australian values". The statement - that must be signed - will include a commitment to freedom, fair play and equality, as well as respect for "parliamentary democracy" and "the rule of law". But Mr Howard went further and said most people would agree that Australian values included mateship and "the concept of having a go".

All migrants aged between 18 and 60 applying for citizenship will have to sit a computer-based test which will contain between 30 multiple choice questions randomly chosen from a selection of 200. Mr Howard strongly denied the new procedures were aimed at stopping some people from gaining citizenship. "It is not designed in any way to keep some people out," he said. "It is designed not as some kind of Trivial Pursuit, but it is designed to ensure that people understand and have a working capacity in the national language, which is English."

Mr Howard's undersecretary for immigration, Andrew Robb, said migrants could sit the test as many times as they needed to, and anyone found to be illiterate could apply to be assessed in different ways. "A practical, commonsense test will serve to enhance the value of Australian citizenship as something worth striving for," Mr Robb said.

In a surprise move, the signed statement on Australian values will also need to be filled out by people coming to Australia on temporary visits where they could stay longer than 12 months. This means that foreign students, and others coming for more than a year, will need to sign the commitment. It will also have to be filled out by people seeking permanent residency. Mr Robb said before leaving their home countries, migrants will be given material outlining the values and laws of Australia.

The concept of a citizenship test was first revealed by Mr Robb in September but has been refined and approved by Cabinet after more than 1600 responses to a citizenship paper. Mr Robb says the new procedures will go into place as soon as legislation is drawn up and passed by Parliament. Opposition leader Kevin Rudd said last night he wanted more details on the proposal before deciding his stance on it.


12 December, 2006


Talk about the pot calling the electric kettle Afro-American!

Scrooge hospital bosses have banned a troupe of carol singers from performing in the wards - in case they pass infections to patients. The Gospelaires male voice choir have spread festive cheer at hospital bedsides for the past 40 years with their renditions of Christmas carol favourites. But the 16-strong group of elderly men have been told they are a health hazard and will not be allowed to enter the wards of their local Torbay Hospital in Torquay, Devon. Under a new "visitor charter" drawn up by hospital chief executive Tony Parr all groups have been banned from visiting the sick during the festive season.

In a letter to the Gospelaires Tony Parr said: "Infections in hospital are of major concern to the public and to health staff. "There is clear evidence that the risk of infection, which is usually at its greatest over the winter period, can be reduced by restricting visiting times. "We have therefore standardised and in some cases reduced visitor times and introduced a visitors charter. "In light of these changes we have concluded that it is no longer possible to accept offers of Christmas visits by groups. "In reaching this decision we have been mindful of the need to balance the pleasure that such visits can bring to people in hospital with our responsibility to look after patients health."

The Torbay Gospelaires say they take care to rub their hands in antibacterial hand gel and have always followed medical precautions advised by the nurses and are stunned by the total ban. For the past 40 years the popular group, which has an average age of 65, has performed classics like Silent Night and Come All Ye Faithful in the hospital without incident and to enthusiastic applause.

Conductor Colin Reynolds, 75, said: "It is political correctness gone mad. "I find it all very sad, it is yet another example of pushing the traditional element out of Christmas. "You do wonder whether they would have been as quick to show us the door if our material had been less Christian. "All the choir men are very disappointed as this was always one of the highlights of our year and we enjoyed the visits very much. "So much so that two years ago, when one of our men was terminally ill with cancer, he came with us and we took him around in a wheelchair, he just didn't want to miss out. "The patients really love to hear us sing, and the nurses, too. We have always been very well received and have returned year after year for the past four decades. "Many people have thanked us and said that we helped them feel better at what can be a very distressing time - noon wants to be in hospital at Christmas and we just want to make a bad situation a little better.

"Last year was one of the best visits ever and after we had finished we got a call asking if we could sing just once more in Accident and Emergency, to cheer up the staff who had had a very busy night. "Surely 16 men would not present a health hazard and we would have taken all the hygiene precautions necessary. "Yet we have been told by one of the hospital chaplains that dogs are sometimes allowed into the wards because it is therapeutic for the patients - it is quite unbelievable. "Surely we would be less of a risk than a dog?"

The choir have been told by hospital management that they may perform in the public areas - such as the canteen and entrance hall - but they will not be allowed past the threshold of the wards. But Colin says the group, who have released eight LPs and CDs of gospel songs over the years, will not be taking up the offer. He said: "The point of the exercise is that we help to cheer up the people who really need it, the patients and the nurses, not the visitors hanging around getting a sandwich."

And the ban has caused outrage in Torquay where the Gospelaires have become a well-known and much-loved Christmas feature performing at numerous venues across the town. But Hospital management insist the ban is needed to prevent the spread of winter sicknesses. Spokesman for Torbay Hospital, Caroline Hill, said: "We have some very seriously ill patients here, they are acute cases and many are recovering from operations. "There are serious hygiene concerns with allowing groups of people into hospital in winter and we need to reduce the risk, can you imagine how awful it would be to have a vomiting bug on top of another illness? "As to hygiene concerns hand gel is important in the fight against incoming infection risk but does not fully protect poorly patients from norovirus the stomach bug known as winter vomiting which is very prevalent in the general community over the holiday period. "We have had overwhelming support from public and patients for restricting visiting times and numbers on the wards to lessen the risk of illnesses being brought in."


Australia: Must not call a student a terrorist -- even if he behaves with the same petulance and aggression that they do

Racial tensions have erupted in the school system, with a teacher facing an anti-discrimination board complaint after branding a Muslim student a "terrorist". The classroom confrontation, revealed by The Daily Telegraph on the anniversary of the Cronulla riots, shows that race tensions in parts of southern Sydney are close to boiling point. The clash exploded at Blakehurst High School when legal studies teacher Michael Seymour told Lebanese student Wagih "Zac" Fares "I don't want to negotiate with a terrorist" during a minor incident during lessons.

Outraged by the slur, Wagih, 16, punched the classroom wall and door before running from the school pursued by Mr Seymour in his car. Wagih shouted: "I'm not a terrorist. How can you call me a terrorist? Do you know what is happening around the world?" He said Mr Seymour replied: "I'm sorry, Zac. Please don't run. I'm sorry, just calm down." After returning to the school Wagih picked up tables in a hallway and threw them, again screaming: "I'm not a terrorist."

Mr Seymour, a teacher for 20 years, was reprimanded and ordered to attend a multicultural sensitivity course. It was found Mr Seymour had not intended to shock, embarrass or humiliate Wagih but his family claim Wagih he has lost all confidence and his self-esteem. Unhappy about the school's handling of the matter and concerned about Wagih's future treatment at the school as he enters his HSC year, the Fares family, of Brighton-le-Sands, has lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board. They want Mr Seymour kicked out of the school.

Fallout from the incident comes as the Iemma Government and police are desperately trying to avert a resurgence of racial and cultural violence. Sensitivities among communities of Middle Eastern background - particularly in the Sutherland Shire and the areas around it - are still running high a year after the riots. Wagih's sister Zena said yesterday the family wanted Mr Seymour, a highly regarded teacher, transferred out of Blakehurst High because her brother was now "frightened" of him and his presence would affect his work. In a statement to the Anti-Discrimination Board - a copy of which has been obtained by The Telegraph - she said: "My brother was already dealing with difficult issues as this incident happened during the time of the war in Lebanon - we didn't even know if our family was dead or alive."


New Testament Christianity a "cult"?

The Anglican diocese of Sydney [comprising mainly evangelicals] is in danger of acting more like a cult than a church in its attempts to suppress dissent and diversity, says one of its ministers. The Reverend Keith Mascord, acting minister for the South Sydney parish, has urged reform and an immediate change of direction for the church in an unprecedented open letter to the diocese's clergy and lay people. His letter reveals concern about a speech to ordination candidates given by the Dean of Sydney, Dr Phillip Jensen, in which he was said to have declared it sinful for women to preach to men. The dean, an opponent of women becoming priests, was also said to have declared it sinful for men to allow women to preach.

The letter calls for seven changes, including a new way to deal with grievances and a relaxation of restrictions on non-Sydney ministers coming into the diocese. It will be considered by the diocese's policymaking body on Monday. Dr Mascord said there was an emerging culture of fear and a trend towards "censorship of thought" within the diocese when it should be motivated by love, humility and openness. "People are increasingly afraid to voice alternative views, to argue a different case than the dominant line, for fear of being verbally abused and/or socially isolated," Dr Mascord wrote. "People are afraid to go public through fear of being crushed. This is appalling, more characteristic of a cult than a church."

The Bishop of South Sydney, Rob Forsyth, said there was no suppression of dissent. "There are strongly held views in the diocese and I will admit that it sometimes takes courage to disagree with them. This has been true of the diocese for the past 100 years." The bishop did not share the dean's position that God did not wish women to preach in church. "Phillip's view is held by a good number of people in diocese but it is not an official view because there are genuine differences about what the scriptures mean. The Archbishop of Sydney licenses women to preach in mixed audiences. No one's been refused ordination because they have a different view on women."

Dr Mascord said his intention was not to burn bridges but to encourage a more "Christlike" diocese that lived out the values of the gospels and was a place of lively and respectful debate. He understood going public carried some risk but he felt the issue was too important to remain silent. Dr Mascord said his concerns were distilled from "countless conversations" with people in the diocese, including many who "feel voiceless and powerless". He had received more than 100 letters of support.

Criticism of the church's uncompromising theology is not new but has been mainly limited to progressives from outside the diocese opposed to its position on women and homosexuality. Rarely has such internal criticism surfaced publicly. James McPherson, the president of Anglicans Together, said Dr Mascord's overall thesis "all rings true".


Media bias against men

Despite years of activism, education, research and even government intervention, men and women are still not portrayed equally or fairly by the media, new research shows. Men are overwhelmingly described as either villains, aggressors, perverts, philanderers, or, in rare positive stories, as metrosexuals, a study into news and current affairs stories about men reveals. The findings are supported by research into stereotypes of men in advertising, which found they are commonly represented as insensitive, stupid or incompetent.

Jim Macnamara of the University of Western Sydney, studied more than 2000 articles and TV stories about men over a year. He found 69 per cent were unfavourable, compared with just 12 per cent favourable and 19 per cent neutral or balanced. Out of 100 stories about fatherhood in the nation's six most popular newspapers and magazines, only one was written by a man. Many did not even quote a man, Dr Macnamara said.

When men were portrayed positively - in shows such as Queer Eye For a Straight Guy - it was often because they had "embraced their feminine side". He said this further demonised men by reinforcing feminine traits as positive and masculine as negative. Although the "metrosexual craze" was largely created by advertisers to sell products during the time of the study - mid-2004 to mid-2005 - it was uncritically embraced by newspapers, magazines and television, Dr Macnamara said.

He found 99 per cent of stories about violence portrayed men as the aggressors, though this view was not supported by statistics. "You can watch Sunrise and it's common to see a woman say that men are 'commitment-phobic'. That's just not true. You can see from the men volunteering to fight bushfires or join the army or going through the Family Courts to get access to their children that men are attracted to commitment."

Dr Macnamara said the impact of the negative representation of masculinity was being seen in social policy. "Men are already being excluded from jobs working with children, Family Court decisions are overwhelmingly made against them," he said.

The findings, published earlier this year in a book based on Dr Macnamara's doctoral thesis, mirror ongoing analysis of television commercials by Mike Morrison, the chief strategist for the advertising firm George Patterson Y&R. Mr Morrison has studied men in TV ads and found they are often shown as incompetent or ignorant, particularly in commercials for household products. He said that when society accepted stereotypes, advertising often adopted them. He said such advertisements were often the product of lazy writing. "You might see an ad for sanitary napkins with a young man in it who does not even know what they are," Mr Morrison said. "That's not only wrong, it's boring. It might be an easy ad to write, but that doesn't make it a good ad."


11 December, 2006

No, the NY Cops Didn't Murder Sean Bell

But there are lessons to be learned

New York's anti-cop forces have roared back to life, thanks to a fatal police shooting of an unarmed man a week ago. The press is once again fawning over Al Sharpton, Herbert Daughtry, Charles Barron, and sundry other hate-mongers in and out of city government as they accuse the police of widespread mistreatment of blacks and issue barely veiled threats of riots if they do not get "justice."

The allegation that last weekend's shooting was racially motivated is preposterous. A group of undercover officers working in a gun- and drug-plagued strip joint in Queens had good reason to believe that a party leaving the club was armed and about to shoot an adversary. When one of the undercovers identified himself as an officer, the car holding the party twice tried to run him down. The officer started firing while yelling to the car's occupants: "Let me see your hands." His colleagues, believing they were under attack, fired as well, eventually shooting off 50 rounds and killing the driver, Sean Bell. No gun was found in the car, but witnesses and video footage confirm that a fourth man in the party fled the scene once the altercation began. Bell and the other men with him all had been arrested for illegal possession of guns in the past; one of Bell's companions that night, Joseph Guzman, had spent considerable time in prison, including for an armed robbery in which he shot at his victim.

Nothing in these facts suggests that racial animus lay behind the incident. (Though this detail should be irrelevant, the undercover team was racially mixed, and the officer who fired the first shot was black.) But even more preposterous than the assertion of such animus is the claim by New York's self-appointed minority advocates that the well-being of the minority community is what motivates them. If it were, here are seven things that you would have heard them say years ago:

1. "Stop the killing!" Since 1993, 11,353 people have been murdered in New York City. The large majority of victims and perpetrators have been black. Not a single one of those black-on-black killings has prompted protest or demonstrations from the city's black advocates. Sharpton, Barron, et al. are happy to let thousands of black victims get mowed down by thugs without so much as a whispered call for "peace" or "justice"; it's only when a police officer, trying to protect the public, makes a good faith mistake in a moment of intense pressure that they rise as vindicators of black life. (As for caring about slain police officers, forget about it. Sixteen cops-including several black policemen-have been killed since 1999, not one of whom elicited a public demonstration of condolence from the race hustlers.)

If the city's black advocates paid even a tiny fraction of the attention they pay to shootings by criminals as they pay to shootings by police, they could change the face of the city. If demonstrators gathered outside the jail cell of every rapist and teen stick-up thug, cameras in tow, to shame them for their attacks on law-abiding minority residents, they could deglamorize the gangsta life. Think you'll find Sharpton or Barron patrolling with the police in dark housing project stairways, trying to protect residents from predators? Not a chance. Among the crimes committed in minority communities since last week's police shooting of Sean Bell there has been a 26-year-old man fatally shot in the Bronx; another man hit by stray bullets; a sandwich shop in Brownsville robbed by thugs who fired a gun; and three elderly men robbed at knifepoint by a parolee in Queens. Those minority victims who survived will have to rely on the police and the courts, not the race "advocates," for vindication.

2. "Police killings of innocent civilians-each one of them a horror-are nonetheless rare." The instances of an officer shooting an innocent, unarmed victim are so unusual that they can be counted on one's fingers. Last year, of the nine suspects fatally shot by the police, two had just fired at a police officer, three were getting ready to fire, two had tried to stab an officer, and two were physically attacking an officer. Far more frequent are the times when the NYPD refrains from using force though clearly authorized to do so. So far this year, officers have been fired upon four times, without returning fire. In 2005, there were five such incidents. And the NYPD apprehended 3,428 armed felons this year, 15 percent more than last year. Each arrest of a gun-toting thug involves the potential for the use of deadly force, yet is almost always carried out peacefully.

The Department has dramatically driven down the rate of all police shootings-justified and not-over the decades (in 1973, there were 1.82 fatal police shootings per 1,000 officers; in 2005, there were 0.25 such shootings per 1,000 officers, bringing the absolute number of police shootings down from 54 in 1973 to nine in 2005). The NYPD's per capita rate of shootings is lower than many big city departments.

Yet New York Times columnist Bob Herbert charges the police with an unbroken pattern of "blowing away innocent individuals with impunity." The "community," he wrote on November 30, "which is sick of these killings, is simmering," What are "these killings," about which the "community" is simmering? Herbert reaches back over three decades and adduces five prior to the recent shooting of Sean Bell. Each was a disaster that provoked the NYPD to scrutinize its tactics. But the number of innocent bystanders killed by criminal thugs in New York dwarfs the number of innocents killed by the police. Sharpton recently said that the minority community has to fear police officers as much as robbers. This is a groundless charge. What is true is that stoking the myth that the police are a threat to blacks harms the minority community by inflaming anti-cop sentiment and retarding community cooperation in the fight against crime in inner-city neighborhoods.

3. "The police work every day to save lives." If New York City murders had remained at their early 1990s highs, instead of dropping from 1,927 killings in 1993 to 540 in 2005, 13,698 more people-most of them black and Hispanic-would have been dead by last year. They are alive today thanks to the relentless efforts of the NYPD to bring the same level of safety to poor minority neighborhoods as to Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side.

The undercover officers who killed Sean Bell over the weekend were working the strip club in Queens where the incident occurred at 4 AM because of its record of illegal guns and drug sales. Their intentions that night were to protect the residents of Jamaica and the occupants of the club from violence; that they ended up killing an unarmed man is undoubtedly a nightmare for them almost as horrific as it is for the victim's family.

It may turn out that the officers failed to follow departmental procedures during the incident (though the NYPD's rule against firing at cars that are trying to run an officer over seems highly unrealistic). If so, the city will hold them accountable. The criminal justice system may even find them criminally liable. But there is absolutely no evidence that racial hatred lay behind either the officers' presence at the club or their behavior once there-contrary to the outrageous slander of New York City Councilman Al Vann, who called the shooting of Bell and other police shootings the product of "a discriminatory mind, a prejudiced mind," adding, "We have to admit [that] the problem is . . . institutional racism."

A New York Times reporter, Cara Buckley, coyly echoed this inflammatory charge on Wednesday. In referring to the undercover officer who fired the first shots at the car, she says: "The officer's fear, if that was what motivated him, was unfounded" (emphasis added). We will leave aside the spurious judgment that just because no gun was ultimately found on the car's occupants, the officer's fear of a gun was "unfounded." The officer, after all, had heard Sean Bell say, "Let's fuck him up," and Bell's friend, Joseph Guzman, respond, "Yo, get my gun." That officer was then the target of an oncoming vehicle driven by Bell. The most offensive part of Buckley's statement, though, is her suggestion that the officer might have been motivated by something other than fear-and what else could that be but racism or some kind of violent animus?

The New York Times, Al Vann, and other City Council hotheads such as Helen Foster notwithstanding, someone who believes that black lives are worth less than white lives is not going to put his own life at risk working in dangerous environments trying to get guns away from criminals.

4. "If you witnessed a crime, help the authorities solve it." The police could probably lock away just about every dangerous thug roaming the streets if they got more cooperation from witnesses and people with knowledge of the crime. Instead, they often encounter a wall of hostile silence in minority communities. Bystanders sometimes deliberately block officers chasing a criminal. The stigma against helping the police-referred to derogatorily as "snitching"-is pervasive. "If you're a snitch, people want to kill you," a teen robber in a Brooklyn crime rehabilitation program that I observed this spring explained. Helping the police is seen as helping the enemy, defined in racial terms. Even black officers are part of the hated white establishment. "Black cops, I disrespect them. They sucking the white man," asserted another juvenile delinquent in the Crown Heights rehab program.

Many law-abiding residents of crime-ridden neighborhoods buck this self-defeating social norm. They attend police-community council meetings in their local precinct month after month, learning about police initiatives, and they report anonymously on drug deals and vice hot spots. They are the eyes and ears of the department, and without their help, the NYPD might not have achieved the unmatched crime drop of the last decade. It would be astounding if any of the anti-police activists leading protests about the Sean Bell shooting had ever attended a precinct community meeting or offered to help the police solve crimes. Presumably, they have more important things to do than work to improve the quality of life in minority neighborhoods. Let the police take care of that. But even if the anti-cop activists can't be bothered to give a few hours a month to fight crime, they could at least use their bully pulpit to call on others to share what they know about criminals and to help get violent offenders off the street before they injure more people and property. Instead, their opportunistic cop-bashing only increases the hatred of the police and the stigma against cooperating with them. As a result, more lives will be taken by cop-eluding barbarians.

5. "The NYPD and the criminal justice system investigate every police shooting with profound seriousness; they will not rest until the facts are uncovered and justice done." The premise of the current grandstanding by "minority advocates" is that the authorities would shrug off the recent shooting without heat from the street. One thinks of the rooster in the fable, who believes that his crowing raises the sun. "Business will not go on as usual until we get justice for Sean Bell," Sharpton said on Wednesday. It is not Sharpton and his cronies who are getting justice for Bell, however. The street agitators could all go home (sometimes, as in the case of Sharpton, to suburbia) and wait quietly for a resolution, and the system would proceed just as diligently to assign fault if fault was present and to hold any wrongdoers accountable.

Other publicity-hungry politicians are just as desperate to add their voices to the post-shooting hue and cry. New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton issued a joint statement on Wednesday: "It is of the utmost importance that the investigating authorities, led by the Queens district attorney, conduct an aggressive, impartial investigation to ferret out the facts." What do they think would have happened without this self-righteous piece of boilerplate? That the "investigating authorities" would have conducted a biased, half-hearted investigation?

Every time the anti-police lobby issues superfluous demands for a "full investigation" and threats of violence if "justice" is not done, they send the destructive message that the police are indifferent to the loss of life. Or worse: "I'm not asking my people to do anything passive anymore," said City Councilman Charles Barron. "Don't ask us to ask our people to be peaceful while they are being murdered. We're not the only ones that can bleed."

6. "Police officers make mistakes; tragically, those mistakes are sometimes deadly." Perhaps Al Sharpton, Charles Barron, and Jesse Jackson have never made an error of judgment, except for Tawana Brawley and such like. Perhaps, too-though this is truly unlikely-they have had to confront the possibility that they are facing someone about to shoot them and in a split-second to decide whether to shoot first. Perhaps in such circumstances, they would never ever make the wrong decision. If so, perhaps they are justified in strutting around like beings of superhuman prescience and infallibility.

But most police officers are like other human beings: they do make mistakes. And because they are carrying lethal weapons, in order to counter the illegal firepower packed by lowlifes, very occasionally those mistakes take an innocent life. The Police Department works incessantly to make sure that its officers never make a fatal error. It tries to drill into officers reflexes that will guard against wrong split-second judgments. It constantly reviews its training and official procedures to improve those reflexes. But out in the field, even the best training can prove inadequate to the pressure and confusion of a possibly deadly encounter.

This is not to say that the public and elected officials should automatically excuse every police shooting-which they are obviously far from doing. But to presume that every mistaken shooting represents a system-wide failure is inaccurate and unrealistic. The New York Times darkly commands: "[T]he Police Department must . . . confront the fact that a disaster that everyone swore to prevent seven years ago has repeated itself in Queens." But because cops are humans and therefore fallible, it is impossible to prevent every wrongful shooting-without emasculating the police entirely. The New York Times has itself made a few mistakes over the last seven years; perhaps it, too, needs to confront its persistent fallibility.

7. "The police concentrate their efforts in minority communities because that is where the crime is." Race hustlers accuse the police of "racially profiling" and targeting minorities for unjustified police action. After showing up in New York for his time in the Sean Bell spotlight, Jesse Jackson announced: "Our criminal-justice system has broken down for black Americans and young black males. We've marched and marched, bled too profusely, and died too young. We must draw a line in the sand and fight back."

Memo to Jackson: The police have a disproportionate number of interactions with blacks because blacks are committing a disproportionate number of crimes. That fact comes from the testimony of the victims of those crimes, themselves largely black, not from the police. In New York City, blacks committed 62 percent of all murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults from 1998 to 2000, according to victim and witness identification, even though they make up only 25 percent of the city's population. Whites committed 8 percent of those crimes over that period, though they are 28 percent of New York residents. These proportions have been stable for years and remain so today. It's not the "criminal-justice system" that has broken down for young black males; it's families and other sources of cultural support. Changing the subject and blaming the police just perpetuates the problem.

The furor over the Sean Bell shooting shows no sign of abating; if anything, the specious racial rhetoric is becoming more ugly and dangerous. To the extent that the exploitation of this tragic event makes the police think twice about engaging with possible criminals or turn a blind eye to crime in the ghetto (as was once the case), the most direct victims will be the hundreds of thousands of innocent, upstanding minority New Yorkers.


The incorrectness of photography --again

Note previous posts on Oct 22nd (4th post down) and July 26th about other Australian instances of this mania. There have also of course been a lot of similar instances in Britain and the USA

The 1937 photograph of a bronzed sunbather by Max Dupain is the most famous image of Australia's beach culture - but so suspicious have authorities become of cameras on beaches that his photographer son, Rex Dupain, was threatened with arrest while working on a new book about Bondi. After pulling out his $8000 Hasselblad to snap a couple of backpackers sleeping on the sand, Dupain - one of Australia's most celebrated photographers - found himself surrounded by four police officers who confiscated his camera. Although it is legal to photograph anyone in a public place, Dupain found himself questioned for 25 minutes by the police.

"Lifeguards and the police are taking the law into their own hands and they regard anyone with a camera as a potential pervert," Dupain said yesterday. "We sit at home and watch the close-up of people's lives on disturbing television reality shows but someone taking pictures at the beach is seen as a threat. Our days as a free society are completely over."

Dupain started taking shots at Bondi three years ago for his new book, The Colour of Bondi, and wanted to capture the authentic look of the beach by photographing people who were relaxed and unaware they were being snapped. He was questioned by lifeguards and the police on at least half a dozen occasions while working on the project, but said the final confrontation was the most disturbing. "They thought the Hasselblad was some sort of trick camera because they couldn't find a display screen," he said. "They wouldn't believe it wasn't a digital camera."

The photographer said catching people unaware was "how we learn about ourselves". Dupain approached the local Waverley council for a permit of the type issued to people filming television commercials so he would not be harassed. "They said, 'Sure, it will only cost you $160 an hour'."


10 December, 2006

Black Group Decries Discriminatory Hawaiian Admissions Policy

Court Ruling Allowing Preferential Treatment of Native Hawaiians Greases the Skids for Race-Based Island Government

Members of the black leadership network Project 21 decry a Ninth Circuit federal court ruling that allows a Hawaiian school to discriminate against non-native Hawaiians, and note that the ruling could jump-start legislation stalled in Congress to create a race-based island government that directly contradicts our nation's "melting pot" tradition of inclusion. "Responsible lawmakers, jurists and the residents of Hawaii oppose race-based preferences," noted Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "This ruling once again shows how a handful of unelected judges can override the will of the people, and how important it is to have judges who strictly interpret our Constitution."

Established in 1887 by the will of the last royal descendent of King Kamehameha, the nonprofit Kamehameha Schools currently give "first right" of admission to those with native Hawaiian ancestry. In a razor-thin 8-7 decision, the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this preferential policy could continue. In her majority opinion, Judge Susan Graber said the policy helps "counteract the significant, current educational deficits of native Hawaiian children in Hawaii."

In his dissent, Judge Jay Bybee noted: "I believe the majority's novel approach to statutory interpretation is readily manipulable and would enable courts to rewrite statutes whenever they want to save a particular program, contract or enactment."

The Doe v. Kamehameha Schools ruling is also being seen as a boost for "The Native Hawaiian Government Restoration Act," a bill proposed by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to create a native Hawaiian government with sovereign immunity akin to that enjoyed by Indian tribes. Critics of the legislation say it could create a race-based government that would institute a virtual caste system and overturn federal laws and safety regulations as well as endanger the operations of military bases such as Pearl Harbor.

A May 2006 poll commissioned by the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii found that 67 percent of Hawaiian residents oppose the proposed Akaka bill and 80 percent generally oppose race-based preferences. Despite this overwhelming public rejection, Professor Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii's Richardson School of Law told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of the ruling, "This gives the green light, I would think, for Congress to pass the Akaka bill."

"All of this is a transparent attempt to create race-based preferences for a select group of people," said Project 21's Massie. "This ruling must be viewed as an incremental attempt to establish a type of sovereignty which would ultimately relieve native Hawaiians of all federal responsibility. Nothing in said formula, however, convinces reasonably-minded persons that the so-called plight of these people would improve."

In 2000, a decisive 7-2 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a "Hawaiians only" voting provision for the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Regarding the record of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Center for Individual Freedom noted in 2004 that it is "the most reversed court in the country" with 250 percent more unanimous reversals of its decisions appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court than any other circuit at that time. "The 9th Circuit continues to show its proclivity for ruling from the bench in favor of that which is antithetical to a civil and unified American fabric. This is exactly why it is not only the most reversed court in the history of judicial circuits, but also the most frequently chastised court by the U.S. Supreme Court," said Massie.


The voice of the people?

There are certainly many Australians who agree with her

Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has branded her critics as out of touch with ordinary Australians. Fresh from announcing a political comeback, Ms Hanson refused to back away from her latest attacks on minorities. In comments this week, Ms Hanson criticised Muslims and said she was worried black South African immigrants were bringing diseases into Australia.

Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd yesterday said the former MP was unlikely to win support with such views. But Ms Hanson angrily defended her stance. "They are not in tune with what the average person is saying, or they don't care," she said. "I am not anti-people, I am very pro-Australian. And if you want to be a member of Parliament, that's what it's all about."

Ms Hanson said she felt hurt by the criticism and believed she was being unfairly singled out for being a woman. "I just feel I am under more scrutiny than any other politician, and also because I am woman," she said. "And I get upset about it."

Ms Hanson plans to stand as an independent MP at next year's election, but is yet to say if she will run for the Lower House or the Senate. A Herald Sun voteline showed signs of support for her return to politics, with 1780 readers backing the move, and 281 opposed.

Ms Hanson stands to make a six-figure sum even if she fails to make it into Parliament. If she gains 4 per cent of the vote, she will get $2.05 a vote for campaign expenses. Ms Hanson, an MP from 1996 to 1998, reaped $190,000 after standing for the Senate in a failed 2004 comeback. She said yesterday her latest tilt had nothing to do with the money. "If you think I stand for money it's an absolute insult and a slap in the face for me," the former member for Oxley said.

Mr Howard said Australians had moved on from Hanson. "I don't believe that people are very interested in what she is saying now," he said. Mr Howard said he was critical of "zealous multiculturalism", but did not believe people should be singled out for their race or religion.

Mr Rudd said Ms Hanson had failed to come up with any positive policies. "I think Ms Hanson has in the past always been good at identifying what she sees as being problems, but I've never seen Ms Hanson come forward with any practical solutions for the long-term," he said.

Ms Hanson has said she was concerned at the ease with which people were able to gain Australian citizenship, especially Muslims and Africans. "We're bringing in people from South Africa at the moment," she said. "There's a huge amount coming into Australia who have diseases; they have got AIDS." But immigration authorities said migrants were subject to stringent health checks.

Ms Hanson refused yesterday to elaborate on her vision for Australia, saying she would declare her position on other issues closer to the election. "I'm not going to discuss that at this stage," she said. "I'll make my comments next year."


9 December, 2006

The Right Not to be Offended

Post lifted from Coyote Blog

One of the main salients in the war against free speech is the notion that people somehow have the right not to be offended;  in other words, that authorities may legitimately limit speech that gives offense to anyone.

I could site a zillion examples, particularly on campuses, but this one is at the top of my inbox (emphasis added):
Sparks flew during question period at a Nov. 21 Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) council meeting after a motion that would prevent pro-life groups from assembling on CUSA space was tabled.

The motion -- moved by Katy McIntyre, CUSA vice-president (student services), on behalf of the Womyn's Centre -- would amend the campus discrimination policy to state that "no CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding be allocated for anti-choice purposes." ...

According to McIntyre, anti-choice groups are gender-discriminatory and violate CUSA's safe space practices.

The motion focuses on anti-choice groups because they aim to abolish freedom of choice by criminalizing abortion. McIntyre said this discriminates against women, and that it violates the Canadian Constitution by removing a woman's right to "life, liberty and security" of person....

McIntyre said she received complaints after Lifeline organized an academic debate on whether or not elective abortion should be made illegal.

"[These women] were upset the debate was happening on campus in a space that they thought they were safe and protected, and that respected their rights and freedoms," said McIntyre....

Julien de Bellefeuille, Student Federation of the University of Ottawa vice-president (university affairs), said that although his student association does not currently have any policies regulating anti-choice groups, he said the motion is a good idea and something that his school should adopt as well.

Note that the debate is not over whether abortion should be illegal, but whether advocates of abortion bans can even discuss their position publicly.  Ms. McIntyre is arguing straight out, with no possibility of confusion of motives, that she thinks that women who believe as she does should be protected from being anywhere in the vicinity of an opponent of her position (presumably she could protect herself without this motion simply by not listening to such speech, so the purpose most be to eliminate opposing speech altogether.

I have a couple of thoughts.  First, there is no right not to be offended.  Trying to define any such right will be the end of free speech.  Second, its funny how the offense is only treated as one-way.  While I am OK with abortion, I have many friends who vociferously oppose it.  I am positive they are in turn offended by supporters of abortion, but I don't see any motion here to protect them from offense or provide them a "safe zone" free of opposing views.  Third, it strikes me that a better word for the "safe zone" she wants is "echo chamber,"  where like-minded people as her can be free from having to hear any opposing opinion.

Australian flag banned at Australian soldier's funeral

Leftist clergy hate patriotism

The Uniting Church [formerly the Methodist church] has again sparked outrage by refusing to fulfil a Digger's [Australian soldier's] dying wish to have the Australian flag draped over his coffin. The Highfield Rd Uniting Church in Canterbury banned the flag at the funeral of long time congregation member and war veteran Geoff Bolton on November 15. It is believed the family were only told of the church's policy on the morning of the funeral and were forced to have the RSL service in the church's foyer.

Essendon Uniting Church minister Wes Campbell outraged many by refusing dead World War II veteran George "Dick'" Vipond a flag on his funeral casket in March last year, forcing the Digger's family to move the funeral to a nearby Anglican church.

State RSL president Major-General David McLachlan said he was disappointed as he thought the issue had been resolved after working with former Uniting Church moderator Sue Gorman last year. "It is an incredible insult to the family and also to Mr Bolton himself," told 3AW. "He was a veteran, he wanted to be buried under his national flag that he'd fought under and he his family has agreed to the RSL service. "I think it's just unacceptable. Here are people wishing to have the final ceremony conducted in the church where Mr and Mrs Bolton were married some 50 years ago. "The churches at the moment are crying out for membership, but those that have been faithful members of the church get treated this way and I just don't think it's right."

Former Uniting church moderator Sue Gorman issued a statement in June last year stating "the Synod Standing Committee gives strong affirmation for the use of the national flag within the Christian funeral liturgy." "The majority of Uniting Church of Australia Ministers... allow the coffin to be covered with the national flag during the funeral service (of a returned Service person) and they can continue to follow this practise," she said. However she cautioned all parishoners consult carefully with ministers to make sure funeral wishes and arrangements were clear, "with all ministers to devise a way forward when the reasonable requests of bereaved families with respect to the flag on the coffin conflict with the understanding of the Minister." A statement from the Uniting Church is being prepared and will be released shortly, spokesman Rev Kim Cain said.


A strange politically correct Christmas season in Melbourne (Australia)

BAH, humbug! What has become of a jolly old-fashioned Christmas when a radio commercial yesterday earnestly implored everyone to place their orders for an organic turkey and a gluten-free pudding? Call me Scrooge but we are entering a very confused, plastic and politically correct Christmas season. If we don't watch out, it may soon become an offence to burp.

And what was that about celebrating the birth of Jesus? Has he been transformed into a Wombat Divine? Scrooge himself, before he was converted to let his hair down and really enjoy Christmas, was a "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner". Those were Charles Dickens' immortal words in A Christmas Carol.

Christmas was once a time when you ate too much and drank too much and did good works and embraced family. This old sinner went wandering through Melbourne's CBD yesterday, seeking the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Dickens described the original ghost, clothed in a simple green robe, bordered with white fur and sitting on a kind of throne made up of "turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreathes of sausages, mince pies, plum puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth cakes and seething bowls of punch".

Imagine trying to set that up in the heart of the city today. The inspectors wouldn't let you near a space without a building permit and animal welfare groups would set up a picket line. Instead, an environmentally safe artificial Christmas tree made of green, red and silver-frosted plastic stars stuck on the end of metal rods inserted into a green mesh cone now stands in the centre of the city. How lovely.

The tree, of course, has a commercial sponsor. A plum pudding on sale in a city store's food hall contains a health warning: "3.1 per cent alcohol by volume". The ingredients, also listed by law, are: "currants (10 per cent), raisins (10 per cent) sultanas (10 per cent), breadcrumbs (wheat flour), water, yeast, salt, soy flour, vegetable oil (canola), emulsifiers (471, 481), vinegar, vitamin (thiamin), butter (cream, water, salt), brown sugar, fresh eggs, flour, dates, mixed peel, Australian brandy, water, spices, lemon essence (contains colour 101), vanilla essence and baking soda". Yummy.

Please, pass Scrooge another slice of the delicious emulsifiers 471 and 481 with a dab of the colour 101. The accompanying brandy butter container, of course, tells Scrooge he is getting exactly 199.44 kilojoules of energy with each serve. Is that supposed to make Scrooge feel guilty enough to go for a brisk bicycle ride to burn off the brandy butter?

This Scrooge wandered on, joulelessly and sadly, past the five Myer windows, past the ghosts of Christmas past. No jolly Ghost of Christmas Present here either, but a crowd of somewhat confused human beings staring into caverns full of glassy-eyed, nodding and jerking replicas of Australian native animals. Mothers were trying to explain the show to their children. It was a difficult task. "Wombat Divine", said large signs, with a star overhead.

The story began: "For as long as he could remember, Wombat had wanted to be in the Nativity. "Now, at last, he was old enough to take part. "So, with his heart full of dreams, he hurried along to the audition." A strange theological tale then unfolded along the length of the windows. In short order, we learnt that Wombat was "too heavy to be the Archangel Gabriel", as well as being "too big to be Mary", "too short to be a King", "too sleepy to be Joseph", and too short, again, to be a shepherd. Instead, Wombat gets to play Baby Jesus. In the final window, the animals were in somewhat of a nodding frenzy as a panel explained: "On Christmas Day, when everyone was opening presents and eating pudding, they all agreed it was the best Nativity ever. " 'You were divine, Wombat!' said Emu, and Wombat beamed."

Don't tell the Archangel Gabriel, but those emulsifiers in the pudding can have the strangest side effects. How different to the abandoned days of Dickens' Mrs Cratchit and her pudding, "like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half a quatern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck on top". The pudding was enjoyed by Tiny Tim whose words, at least, endure to this day: "God bless us every one!"



Mega-incorrect though it is to say so. The kids get a bad start if only because unmarried mothers are mostly poor and dumb. Excerpt from a comment below by Australian relationships columnist Bettina Arndt

Children in single-parent families are getting less of just about everything that we know leads to successful adulthood. That's the conclusion of a powerful new book by Kay S. Hymowitz, Marriage and Caste in America, which argues that family structure underpins the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots in America, which is a disturbing trend applying equally in this country.

For all the talk about Murphy Browns -- elite, professional women choosing to become solo mums -- it rarely happens. Talk to well-educated, professional women, who could afford to have children on their own and you'll find few would even consider it. As Hymowitz shows, the old-fashioned, married-couple-with-children model is doing quite well among better-educated women. It is primarily among lower-income, less-educated women that it is in poor health.

The figures show that here, as in the US, it is largely low-income, less-educated twentysomethings who are having babies without a wedding ring. In 2001, only 3 per cent of women aged 25 to 29 with degrees were single mothers compared with 30 per cent of women with no post-school qualifications, with the latter's higher divorce rate swelling the numbers. Most educated women marry before they have children because they are preparing their children to carry on their way of life, suggests Hymowitz. They know that marriage significantly increases their chances of doing that. Kids with two parents are more likely to have two incomes cushioning them during their developing years. More money means more stability, less stress, better day care and schools.

While educated women still believe in marriage as an institution for raising children, that's dropped off the radar for women who lack their advantages. Hymowitz argues this means disadvantaged women have lost a reliable life script, a traditional arrangement that reinforced the qualities they and their men need for upward mobility, one of their few institutional supports for planning ahead and taking control of their lives. And they've lost a culture that told them the truth about what was best for their children.

There's no question that culture has disappeared. Just look at the soaps, such as Neighbours and Home and Away, which regularly feature young women becoming pregnant. Because of their early-evening slot, abortion is rarely mentioned. So bingo, the women become single mothers. In the women's magazines, there's a passing parade of celebrities having children on their own, with never a question asked about their choices.

According to last year's Australian Survey of Social Attitudes, 70 per cent of Australian women and 84 per cent of females aged 18 to 30 now believe single parents can bring up children as well as a couple. But educated women still have the good sense not to do it. Most choose to provide their children with the extra security of a two-parent family. It is those who can least afford to take the risk who have been sold a pup, which condemns the women and their children to a lesser life.


8 December, 2006

How We Will Lose Our Freedom of Speech

If people were asked about actor Michael Richards' epithet-laced outburst at a Los Angeles nightclub, there would be a lot of focus on the verbal assault but very little on an assault on freedom of speech. In truth, however, if there's anything at all relating to this story that rises above gossip-column fodder, it's that it's also fuel for demagogues who seek control over discourse in America.

Representing the two targets of Mr. Richards' bile, Frank McBride and Kyle Doss, "civil rights" attorney Gloria Allred appeared on Hannity and Colmes Thanksgiving eve. The stone-faced Allred opened with a very telling assertion, boldly proclaiming, "This is not free speech, this is hate speech!" This was no spontaneous statement. No, it was well-crafted and calculated and, I believe, designed to serve a far more insidious end than simply extracting money from a goofy comedian. Let's examine this with the introduction of a subject that on the surface seems unrelated.

As a dissenting justice in the 1958 Baer v. Kolmorgen case, one Judge Gallagher is quoted as having warned that "If the court does not stop talking about the separation of church and state, people are going to start thinking it is part of the Constitution." But the courts didn't stop, and the result is that four decades later this "fact" is imprinted upon the American mind. So much so, that now the average Joe has been inured to the denuding of the public square of historic religious symbols out of respect for this "principle" of the Constitution.

And this is why Allred's statement bears mention. There are social engineers in our time - and I count Allred among them - who are trying to imbue the American mind with the notion that so-called "hate speech" is not protected under the First Amendment. Now, let's try to understand how these puppeteers will transform America by taking a lesson in social engineering 101.

First, use the term "hate speech" as much as possible so as to burn it into the lexicon and establish it as a category unto itself. And it's not hard. This has already been accomplished with terms/concepts such as "sexual harassment" and, the concept of which hate speech is a corollary, "hate crime." Then, be sure to juxtapose the two terms frequently, as beautifully illustrated by Gloria Allred herself. Saying "This is not free speech, this is hate speech!" creates further separation between the two, cementing the notion that they are starkly different verbal species. Once this is accomplished, the idea that the latter is protected by the former may seem laughable.

Understand in its entirety what is being achieved here. Not only will this strategy persuade many legislators and judges that hate speech isn't protected under the Constitution and therefore can be criminalized, it will also influence the man on the street. And this harks back to the old advice, "If you really want something, act like you already have it." As long as you continually condemn "hate speech" and juxtapose it with "free speech," more and more people will assume that it already is illegal. And once enough Americans believe this, all that is left is to make it official. And the beauty of this is that you don't even have to lie. Success hinges mainly on the positioning of words, timing, tone and, most of all, re-pe-ti-tion.

Oh, you think it won't work? To a great degree it's already a fait accompli. After decades of "positioning" (this refers to Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci's idea about the placement of leftist ideologues in positions of influence for the purposes of altering the culture), with social engineers in academia, the media, entertainment and various organizations and activist groups, it isn't uncommon to find Americans possessed of this lie. I myself have met them, and even pundit Bill O'Reilly uttered this misconception on his cable television show. Remember, as nineteenth century philosopher William James said, "There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough people will believe it."

Ah, but there is that impediment called the Constitution. Or, not really. Although some fancy it to be an insurmountable bulwark against tyranny, it erects no wall so high that it cannot be scaled by justices corrupted by popular swill and emboldened by popular will. Just as they were able to perform the intellectual contortions necessary to read the separation of church and state into the First Amendment, so will they read freedom of speech out of it. Although, how it will happen is not entirely uninteresting.

Since many western nations, such as Australia, Canada and England, already have hate speech laws, there is precedent for them. But foreign precedent doesn't constitute American legal precedent, you say? Well, then you forget that there is precedent for the idea of considering it precedent. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg herself once said, "We must look for inspiration beyond our borders, to the laws and constitutions of other nations." And she is no lone gunman. Sandra Day O'Connor and others have expressed similar sentiments. Hate speech laws will come in like March goes out: Like a lamb. Most people won't object because, after all, who should be using offensive epithets anyway? I mean, common decency informs that a "good" person would prohibit such things. But it will be more like the ides of March.

But what am I talking about? Well, if you really take Ginsberg's advice and examine the "laws of other nations," you'll see that hate speech legislation was quickly broadened beyond the proscription of epithets to encompass unfashionable beliefs. "Aha! So this will be the poison pill that disenamors people of this scheme! Surely the average person doesn't want to see legitimate dissent squelched," you say? Ah, you have much to learn.

A good salesman doesn't give specifics, knowing full well that many won't read the fine print. When we first sold people on the separation of church and state, we billed it as a defense against the imposition of religion. If we had told Americans that this principle would expand inexorably and one day be used to tear crosses off city seals and property, remove religious statues, ban the singing of Christmas carols in schools, rename Christmas Trees "Holiday Trees," and that ne'er do wells would seek to remove the word "God" from the pledge and currency, they would have balked. So we just marketed the idea as a way to protect Americans' rights. And that's exactly how we'll peddle this.

And you don't have to worry about people uncovering our machinations. Most don't think about the law of unintended consequences - or the law of intended consequences of unintended motivations - and "most" is all we need to effect our will. Most people, be they laymen, legislators or judges, will know no better. And many of those who will, will be our well "positioned" operatives.

And what of the rest? What of those troublesome prophetic voices of doom? They won't be a problem. Oh, they'll warn of how hate speech laws in other western nations have been used to imprison people for speaking in accordance with their consciences. They will mention how Canadians Mark Harding and Hugh Owens were punished for, respectively, criticizing Islam and homosexuality. They'll cite the story of English schoolgirl Codie Stott, who was jailed on a "racial offense" after requesting to be seated with English-speaking students. Or, they may mention the case of Ake Green, a Swedish pastor who was jailed for criticizing homosexuality in a sermon. And they'll also point out that freedom of speech is not freedom of speech at all unless it protects even the most unpopular speech, for popular speech's popularity is protection enough. Yes, they'll warn about the perils of setting dangerous precedents and that one thing leads to another. All to no avail.

You see, good chess players are rare. Most don't think a few moves ahead. And the "watchdog" of the mainstream media? Surely you jest; it's more like our lapdog. We can count on it to print neither articles like this one nor stories like the above, lest such admonitions rouse Americans from their slumber. Instead, along with Hellywood and academia, it will do its best to convince all that the grand imperative of silencing the occasional acid-tongued bigot justifies the rending of the First Amendment.

Thus, those prophetic voices will remain in the darkness, a location from which credibility is ever elusive. After all, if some a half century ago had predicted that the principle of the separation of church and state would be used as it has been, they would have been thought crazy. Likewise, mere laughter and a rolling of the eyes will suffice in answer to today's prescient minds.

In summary, once support for the criminalization of hate speech has galvanized, we'll have legislation. And once the legalistic rationalization that allows for it permeates enough jurists' minds, we'll have it upheld in court. Then, with the principle of hate speech enshrined in American law, it will be open season on positions contrary to those of the positioned. Once an unacceptable belief is identified, our culture-shapers in the media, entertainment and academia will simply define it as "hateful" and beat that drum until it becomes the next supposition. And then the legal definition will be sure to follow.

And hegemony will be ours. As it is, the media, entertainment realm and academia sing our tune. Even corporations feel the pressure, as evidenced by their sensitivity training classes, support of politically correct causes, refusal to support traditional ones, and the limiting of the dissemination of politically incorrect ideas by certain Internet entities. Yes, we have done our best to imprison dissenting voices in that small, dark box. The last piece of the puzzle is the destruction of that box. And then America will be a beautifully dark place indeed.



Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson says she'll stand for Parliament at the next federal election. She didn't say whether she would run for the lower house or Senate. Asked why she wanted to return to politics, the former federal MP for the Queensland seat of Oxley said, "Why not". "I feel I want to have another go at it, and I'm putting my hat in the ring for the next federal election," she told the Ten Network news.

Ms Hanson said: "It's up to the people of Queensland, or wherever I decide to stand, to decide whether they want me to have a voice in parliament for them". "And you know what, they feel they haven't got a voice and someone out there asking questions on their behalf. "So I have every right to stand for parliament, like any other Australian, and I'm raising my issues, I'm raising my concerns. "So it's up to the people."

Earlier yesterday, a decade after warning Australia was being swamped by Asians, the right-wing firebrand voiced concerns about Muslims and said diseased Africans should be barred from the country. Last night, she said the main issues she would be campaigning on were the industrial relations laws and the nation's water crisis. "I've been on about water for many, many years - but also immigration," she said.

"Why shouldn't Australians know that the people we bring in to this country are there for the right reasons, and we bring them in for the right reasons? "Why do we have to bring people in who are of no benefit to this country whatsoever, who are going to take away our way of life, change our laws? "And I'm asking these questions. And it's about time someone dam well did, because the federal government is not addressing the concerns of the Australian people."

Ms Hanson earlier said she was concerned by the ease with which people were able to gain Australian citizenship, especially Muslims and Africans. "We're bringing in people from South Africa at the moment, there's a huge amount coming into Australia, who have diseases, they've got AIDS," Ms Hanson said. "They are of no benefit to this country whatsoever, they'll never be able to work. "And what my main concern is, is the diseases that they're bringing in and yet no one is saying or doing anything about it." A Department of Immigration spokeswoman rejected the claims, saying stringent health checks were carried out on all permanent and temporary residents.

Refugee groups were angered by Ms Hanson's comments, calling them "fanciful", damaging and hurtful to Africans who were simply trying for a life in Australia. But Ms Hanson said politicians had gone too far in affording rights to minority groups and she was angered at the loss of Australian traditions because of Muslims. "Our governments have bent over backwards to look after them (Muslims) and their needs, and regardless of what the Australian people think," she said. "You can't have schools not sing Christmas carols because it upsets others, you can't close swimming baths because Muslim women want to swim in private, that's not Australian. "Surely, can't we look at what's happened in other countries around the world with the increase in Muslims that are there ...?"

Ms Hanson also objects to the Howard Government's industrial relations laws, and said she had been encouraged to consider re-entering politics by the public who wanted her to represent the average "Joe". Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said that although he disagreed with Ms Hanson's ideas, he supported her democratic right to run. Ms Hanson failed to win re-election to parliament in 1998 and unsuccessfully stood for the Senate in Queensland three years later.

She served a short stint in a Queensland prison for electoral fraud in 2003 before the charges were overturned. She again tried a comeback in 2004, standing as an independent for the Senate, but failed to win a seat. However, she was awarded almost $190,000 funding from the Australian Electoral Commission after earning more than four per cent of the primary vote. Ms Hanson says she plans to release a book early next year about her political life and time in jail.


No one is served by covering up Islamic outrages

An editorial from "The Australian" below

It is precisely because the act was so stupid that level heads need to be kept about what happened last week during a school expedition run by Melbourne's East Preston Islamic College. According to a report of the incident filed by the school, a group of teenage Muslim boys on the outing defiled a Bible by urinating on it, spitting on it, tearing its pages and setting it alight. The boys involved have, appropriately, been expelled, and it is hoped they will grow up to be responsible Australian citizens who will look back and be horrified at the actions of their youth. Far more pressing is the need to root out the climate of intolerance described by non-Muslim teachers at the school, an atmosphere fostered by radical videos shown to students at the college that describe Australian Christians as "evil people". Here it is clear the school's principal, Shaheem Doutie, needs to do much more to prevent students from graduating into the wider community with such attitudes.

This incident once again focuses attention on the relationship between Islamic and non-Islamic communities in Australia, and the media's role in covering conflicts between the two groups. The issue came up last October when this newspaper reported that Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, imam of Sydney's Lakemba Mosque and Australia's senior Muslim spiritual leader, had delivered a rambling sermon which, among other things, suggested that if women walk the streets like "uncovered meat" they have only themselves to blame if they are sexually assaulted. The report had several effects. On the plus side, it gave Australia's moderate Muslims a chance to stand with the wider community and condemn the sort of retrograde thinking demonstrated by Sheik Hilali. This is something we would like to see happen again in the case of East Preston Islamic College.

But the reporting on Sheik Hilali also flushed out a number of people who were horrified by The Australian's coverage, and who wished the whole story would go away. Chief among them was self-styled Muslim advocate Irfan Yusuf, a young lawyer of Pakistani extraction, who accused this newspaper of committing an "editorial lynching" of the sheik in its news and opinion pages. This is simplistic thinking. Rather than condemn the newspaper, Mr Yusuf should have put his shrewd legal mind to work considering whether he would really prefer to let intolerant attitudes fester in the shadows before exploding and catching Australia unawares, as has happened in countries such as England, Denmark, Spain and The Netherlands. A far more responsible and thoughtful sort of thinking was demonstrated by the likes of Waleed Ali and Tanveer Ahmed, two Australian Muslims who saw the publicity surrounding Sheik Hilali's offensive statements as a chance to promote their own thoughtful messages about the need for Islam to modernise to remain relevant. Likewise, the reporting of the desecration of a Bible by Muslim students presents another opportunity for moderate Muslims to condemn extremists and point the way forward.

By its very nature, Australian society rejects the sort of intolerance demonstrated by Sheik Hilali and the EPIC students, and revels in deflating fundamentalisms of all stripes. A perfect example is this weekend's "Great Australian Bikini March", in which women are being urged to parade past the Lakemba Mosque in swimwear to protest against Sheik Hilali's comments. Lebanese Muslim Association president Tom Zreik has been quoted as describing the plan as "hilarious", showing he has the right idea. The more of this attitude, and the more light shone on extremists in Australia's Muslim community, the better.


7 December, 2006


In the hands of Shane Warne [a champion Australian bowler (pitcher) who has just devastated the England cricket team presently touring Australia], a cricket ball is an offensive weapon. A total of 650 fallen wickets prove it. Police on a London Underground station thought it was an equally dangerous item in the hands of Chris Hurd, a 28-year-old City accountant who occasionally bowls leg spin for his local team in Belsize Park, North London.

Mr Hurd claimed that he had been merely holding the ball as he rode the escalator at Baker Street station in London when he was stopped by a female British Transport Police officer and subjected to a ten-minute inquisition and allegations that he was carrying "a very hard object", which he should not have done in public as it was a potentially lethal weapon. He had, he said, taken the ball to work because he planned to watch the opening Ashes Test between England and Australia in a pub with friends later in the evening. Earlier in the day he had been throwing it in the air to strengthen his spin-bowling muscles.

But by the time he got to the station, he said, he was holding it firmly in his hand. He accused the officer of ridiculous overreaction. "There was a policewoman on the step below me and she was staring at the ball all the way up. As we got to the top she tapped me on the shoulder and said she wanted a word."

Mr Hurd, who works for Ernst and Young, the accountants, said the officer asked him if he knew he was carring a very hard object and he replied: "Yes, it's a cricket ball." She confiscated the ball while she questioned Mr Hurd for ten minutes, gave him a verbal warning and filled out a stop-and-search report.

"I told her I was only carrying it because the Ashes were about to start and I was very excited. I was wearing a very boring suit and looked every inch the bean-counter I am. It is not as if I was unshaven and looked dangerous. But she was completely humourless and showed no understanding of my excitement," Mr Hurd said. "When she let me go and gave me my ball back, she said she was being extremely lenient with me. She failed to realise that I presented no threat whatsoever and I left feeling completely misunderstood."

Mr Hurd said the encounter had shaken his faith in the police, and had caused him to sympathise with members of ethnic minorities who were subjected to stop-and-searches. "How can a cricket ball be an offensive weapon? I don't think it would be anyone's weapon of choice, and all I was doing was holding it. It wasted ten minutes of time for both of us, and left her with paperwork."

A spokesman said that British Transport Police had no knowledge of the incident but added: "Though we recognise England need all the help they can get at the moment, we would advise that the escalator is not the place to practise. "What if the ball was dropped and hit an old lady further down the escalator? "We would advise passengers to be careful, both for themselves and other people at this busy time. To ensure that the Underground is free of crime and free of the fear of crime, our officers maintain a highly visible presence."



Jokes based on double meanings are extremely common in the area of sex but one uptight feminist at the University of New Hampshire was not amused:

I was appalled at an advertisement I recently saw on the bulletin board in my dorm, which normally posts information on campus events, education opportunities, and general health information. The advertisement from Health Services, calling for safe sex, reads, "Whether you're the catcher or the pitcher, always wear a glove!" with a picture of a smiling woman holding a catcher's mitt and a man holding a bat next to her. Aside from the initial shock of viewing this metaphor as sexist, it does not even uphold its original message -- instead of portraying the man as an actual pitcher, as one who is throwing the ball, he is the batter, as one who is hitting it -- in this instance, I cannot ignore the clearly phallic power being depicted. (Moreover, the concept of a "catcher" and "pitcher" is something that is often used to refer to gay men, so it is not just heterosexual sex that is being distorted here.)

To consider the act of sex as a subject/object encounter, as this advertisement does, where a woman's role is to "catch" a man's "pitches," is degrading, disgusting, and completely beyond the type of behavior I expect from an institution of higher learning. To pair this type of advertising alongside messages of "always get consent" seems contradictory and dangerous to the lives of women - on campus and elsewhere. This poster is sending a message that sex is defined as an act done to a woman by a man, rather than a collaborative effort of two people. I am afraid that this is just replicating a system of hierarchy where women are expected to accept what they are given, including situations where they may feel pressured by men to have unprotected sex, and I hope that this type of safe sex awareness is torn down from our walls permanently.

I would like to say that while I do not disagree with the reasoning that safe sex relationships should be promoted on campus, I do not consider this form of safe sex promotion as reasonable, considerate, or tasteful. What also upsets me is that the message on this poster, as indicated on it, is based on the work of a woman, which may be reason for some to think that it should not be seen as offensive, because if a woman is the inventor, then other people, including women, should not be upset by it. This is exactly the type of behavior that only excuses such offensive messages, and perpetuates them.

I hope that Health Services realizes that this poster is not one that we should consider an effective tool to promote safe sex, and that is promoting an idea of welcomed submission by women. To the people that may think this letter is making a big deal out of nothing, that this type of poster is better than having no poster at all, I ask you to think of the women worldwide -- including those on our campus -- who are forced to accept their fates as only penetrable objects to men. "Harmless" advertising such as this is only one way in which we ignore those fates, and I'm hoping we can help put a stop to that.


OK for everybody but Christians to be warriors?

The article below does not attempt any amateur theology but those who are inclined to attempt it might read this first

A video game that depicts a crusade of violence by Christians could be heading for the bestseller charts this Christmas, even though it has been condemned by Muslims and secularists. The game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, is set in post-apocalyptic New York and features God’s army battling the Antichrist. Based on Left Behind, the bestselling Christian fantasy book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, it puts players in command of brainwashed legions fighting for Christianity.

Players are ordered to convert or kill to advance to the next level and remodel America as a Christian-controlled state, and establish its world vision of Christ’s dominion. They pit battles between the paramilitary Christian Tribulation Force and the grey, faceless, Global Community Peacekeepers of the Antichrist, said to be modelled on the United Nations. The fantasy is based on what might happen if the events of the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, happened today.

Critics accuse its creators of mixing religion and violence to appeal to teenage fans of violent games such as Grand Theft Auto. The game was sold originally in the US. British outlets are releasing the game for the Christmas market. The Left Behind books have sold more than 63 million copies.

Muslim groups have denounced the game as portraying Islam as evil and accuse its creators of insulting their faith. The Muslim Association of Britain called for the game to be banned, describing it as evil. It said: “This game is irresponsible and highly racist. It demonises every other religion which isn’t Christianity. People must boycott this violent game. “Games like this poison the minds of young people.”

Terry Sanderson, the president of the National Secular Society, said: “Fundamentalists on both the Christian and the Muslim side are creating this kind of nasty, extreme propaganda and aiming it at young people. I’m not into banning things or censoring them, but I think most Muslims and most Christians would recognise that this is crude and despicable hate-mongering and give it a wide berth.”

The creators of the game have dismissed the criticism, saying that the religious story- line in the game is not taken from the Bible and is a creation of the Left Behind authors, which should not be taken seriously. Troy A. Lyndon, the chief executive of Left Behind Games, said: “The game is designed to be a classic battle between good and evil. We have deliberately censored the blood and it does not gratuitously depict death or violence. Left Behind is not taken from the Bible, it is a fictional story.”


Australia: OK to mock Catholicism but not Islam

The verdict below is from the same body that ruled it offensive to laugh at Koran verses

Wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "Mr Abbott, get your rosaries off my ovaries" does not amount to the religious vilification of Catholics, a Victorian tribunal has ruled. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has struck out a case brought by pro-life campaigner Babette Francis, who had sought to have the T-shirts banned.

The T-shirts were produced by the YWCA during last year's public debate over who should control access to the RU486 abortion pill and refer to federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, a practising Catholic. One of the T-shirts was worn in Federal Parliament's upper house by Greens senator Kerry Anne Nettle.

VCAT senior member Rohan Walker has ruled that while "many ordinary people would find the slogan to be distasteful", it did not constitute religious vilification. "I do not think that the sale and distribution of T-shirts containing it (the slogan) incite hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of Mr Abbott, Mrs Francis or any other Catholic," he ruled.

The ruling, dated December 1, also says: "The slogan might generate a more negative response towards those who wear the T-shirts bearing it than towards Mr Abbott or any other devotee of the Catholic faith".


6 December, 2006

A History lesson:

.....a number of past and present scenarios (Author unknown)

Scenario: Parents take cute pictures of their 2 year-old playing in the tub.

1965 Parents go to Walgreen's, get them developed, and put them in the child's picture album which is shared with friends and relatives.

2006 Parents reported by Walgreen's to the Police, arrested for child pornography, and child sent to foster care.


Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

1965 Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his own to show Jack.

2006 School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.


Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1965 Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody is arrested, nobody is expelled.

2006 Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.


Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class; disrupts other students.

1965 Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the school principal. Sits still in class from then on.

2006 Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.


Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father's car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

1965 Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2006 Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy's sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused by her Dad, and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.


Scenario: Mark gets a headache and his Mother gives him some aspirin to take to school.

1965 Mark's headache persists. He goes to his locker, gets a couple of aspirin and takes them at the water fountain.

2006 Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.


Scenario: Mary turns up pregnant.

1965 Several high school boys leave town. Mary does her senior year at a special school for expectant mothers.

2006 Middle school counselor calls Planned Parenthood, who notifies the ACLU. Mary is driven to the next state over the border and gets an abortion without her parent's consent or knowledge. Mary given condoms and told to be more careful next time.


Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1965 Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2006 Pedro's cause is taken up by state Democrat party. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files a class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum as a required course. Pedro is given diploma anyway, but ends up mowing lawns and washing dishes for a living because he can't speak English.


Scenario: Jimmy takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a fire-ant hill.

1965 Ants die.

2006 BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism. FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

[. . . And who among us (boys mostly) didn't have a chemistry set that was capable of making all sorts of concoctions that would land us in the hoosegow today, and we were encouraged to learn to use it.]


I'll tell you what happened - the common denominator in all of these is meddling Government and its useless employees who could never find a real job unassisted, a bunch of hangers-on in a mutual affirmation sheltered workshop funded by predatory, coercive and ever-burgeoning theft of taxpayers' legitimate earnings.

The West is master of slave trade guilt

Europe is becoming an example of how a sense of historical responsibility can mislead present generations, writes Rebecca Weisser. In fact it is Leftist attention-seekers rather than the West as a whole that is ignoring reality

Andrew Hawkins has turned hand-wringing into performance art. In June the youth theatre director took a guilt trip to Gambia, where he donned a yoke and chain, knelt in front of 16,000 Africans in a football stadium and apologised for what he calls the African holocaust. Hawkins claims to be descended from Britain's first slave trader, John Hawkins. "God would consider what Sir John Hawkins did to be an abomination," Hawkins said. "It's never too late to apologise."

The "sorry" movement, which reached its zenith in Australia at the 2000 march for Aboriginal reconciliation across Sydney Harbour Bridge, has gone global. In much of western Europe, the US and Canada, inherited culpability for slavery, colonialism, the treatment of indigenous people and the Palestinian question has merged with modern guilt over Third World poverty in an orgy of muddled self-castigation.

As Britain gears up to commemorate the 200th anniversary next year of the abolition of the slave trade in the former British Empire, it has been difficult to make the point that the anniversary should be seen as the celebration of a great and hard-fought victory. As Patrick West wrote in his book Conspicuous Compassion: "While slavery was not a distinctly Western phenomenon, the campaign to abolish it was. And the West was the first to do so." It is the guilt and shame of the slave trade rather than the triumph of Enlightenment values that has dominated the public domain. Earlier this year, Liverpool councillors debated whether to rename several streets in the city, including Penny Lane of Beatles fame, which had been named after notorious slave traders.

This week, Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote to New Nation newspaper in Britain to express his "deep sorrow" that the slave trade happened. "It is hard to believe that what would now be a crime against humanity was legal at the time," he wrote. "Personally, I believe the bicentenary offers us a chance not just to say how profoundly shameful the slave trade was ... but also to express our deep sorrow that it ever happened, that it ever could have happened, and to rejoice at the different and better times we live in today."

His statement hasn't gone far enough from activists who want "an apology of substance"; in other words, money. "Blair's article is taking a backward step from Britain's official position in 1807 when it abolished the trade and expressed regret for what had happened," says Mawuli Klu of Rendezvous of Victory, a British African-led, and community based lobby group. "This has heightened feelings among people in the African community. We want an apology of substance that addresses the demands for African reparations."

There is a broader dimension to the call for reparations. Beth Herzfeld of Anti-Slavery International calls for states that benefited economically from the slave trade to write off the debts of poor countries harmed by slavery. The push to "drop the debt" for Africa, championed by celebrities such as U2's Bono, is driven by the underlying idea that Africa is poor because it has been exploited through colonialism, of which slavery is the most horrific and graphic example. Britain, along with other Group of Eight countries, has responded by agreeing to double aid to Africa by 2010 and write off debts to the poorest countries.

Yet African countries that participated in the slave trade were enriched by it just as European countries were. In his history of the Atlantic slave trade, author Hugh Thomas notes that the trade was possible only because of the participation of many Africans, such as the rulers of Benin and the kings of Ashanti, Congo and Dahomey, as well as European merchants and politicians. Indisputably, African slave traders were enriched not just with the money they earned selling slaves but by the land they expropriated from those enslaved. Thomas quotes King Gezo of Dahomey, who said in 1840: "The slave trade has been the ruling principle of my people" and "it has been the source of their glory and wealth".

Britain is not alone in struggling with a guilty conscience. The French have been debating whether Napoleon committed genocide on a par with Hitler, trying to wipe out the adult black population of the former French colony of San Domingo (now Haiti) after a bloody uprising at the start of the 19th century. French historian Claude Ribbe, in a book called The Crime of Napoleon, challenges the accepted view of Napoleon as a military genius and founder of the modern French state and presents him as an anti-Semitic racist who reintroduced slavery after its abolition in 1794, ordered the extermination of the Haitian population and founded an empire that could prosper only through slavery.

Even more contentious is whether French history teachers should be obliged by law to teach the positive benefits of colonialism. A law passed in the French parliament stipulates that French history textbooks should "recognise the positive role of the French presence in its overseas colonies, especially in North Africa". The law sought to acknowledge Algerian Muslims who fought on the French side in the Algerian war but provoked so much ire in France and Algeria that talks on a friendship treaty between France and Algeria broke down. French President Jacques Chirac inaugurated a Slavery Remembrance Day on May 10 this year, the fifth anniversary of the passing of a law by the French Senate recognising slavery as a crime against humanity.

The French and British history wars underline the common themes in a debate that is not limited to former colonial powers. Former colonies such as Australia and the US have been caught up in the same debate that has become part of the great Western guilt complex. And along with the guilt come the apologies. Blair has apologised for the Potato Famine, Bill Clinton apologised to the Sioux people, pope John Paul II apologised for everything from the persecution of Galileo and the execution of Jan Hus to Catholic involvement in the slave trade.

Yet the guilt complex seems to be a Western phenomenon. It is often said that Jews invented guilt and Catholics perfected it, but although Muslims are, like Christians and Jews, "children of the book", there have been few apologies emanating from the Islamic world or, for that matter, other cultures. Arabs, Persians, Berbers, Indians, Chinese and Africans were all involved in the African slave trade from the 8th century through to the present, with few proclamations of public guilt or effective action to eliminate slavery that exists largely in Africa and Asia.

Even using the narrowest definitions that exclude bonded and forced labour and servile concubinage, there are estimated to be 2.7 million slaves in the world today. Including bonded labourers, there are estimated to be 27 million slaves, and including all categories of trafficked women and children there are estimated to be 100 million slaves. The Anti-Slavery Society estimates there are 8000 female slaves in West Africa who are hierodules; that is, religious sex slaves. In West Africa children are kidnapped or bought for $20 to $70 in Benin and Togo, then sold into slavery for sex or domestic labour in oil-rich countries such as Nigeria and Gabon for $350. Hierodules also exist in India despite efforts to suppress the practice. Young women who are trafficked to the Middle East and North Africa from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal are sold for $3000 to $10,000. Imprisoned in a room by their owner for the sadistic use of himself and his friends, these women survive on average for about two years.

In response to such shocking statistics, the contrast between practical assistance and self-aggrandising symbolism is striking. While Hawkins is fundraising for another guilt trip, walking in yokes and chains, the Anti-Slavery Society, one of whose earliest members was William Wilberforce, is raising funds to purchase the emancipation of modern slaves and stamp out modern-day slavery. Wilberforce, a profoundly religious and deeply conservative man who fought all his life not just for the abolition of slavery but against child labour, cruelty to animals and discrimination against Catholics, was on his death bed when the bill he fought for, for so many years, was finally passed abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire. He said, "Thank God that I have lived to witness the day in which England is willing to give pound stg. 20 million for the abolishment of slavery." It was one of the great benefits of colonialism, an achievement of which Britain and the West should be proud, and an inspiration to present generations to continue to fight to eliminate slavery and spread the spirit of the Enlightenment throughout the world.


Men fight stereotypes

MENINISM is the catchcry of a movement of males who will storm the streets and burn their ties, rallying against the "all men are bastards" image that has an entire sex pigeonholed as violent, heartless and untrustworthy. This is according to a new study saying there is a competing interest to the feminist struggle for equality; men and boys are now the target of negative stereotypes. The research shows almost 70 per cent of social commentary on the male gender is unfavourable - portraying men as violent, sexually abusive, unable to be trusted with children, "deadbeat dads" and commitment-phobic. In the largest Australian study of its kind, Dr Jim Macnamara analysed more than 2000 media articles and programs and found men were mostly positioned as villains, aggressors, perverts or philanderers.

Yes, well, any women's magazine will tell you that. Male-bashing is a vital part of female bonding; it brings us together, gives us a common point of reference as well as something to complain about. And the much maligned male so thoughtfully gives us so much material to choose from.

Affectionate bitching is one thing - the male bashing is now taking a more serious turn where boys are growing up in a world where they are faced with a distinct lack of role models. According to Dr Macnamara, even the positive images of men in the media are delivered as a backhanded compliment with there being only one version of the "good men"; the sensitive metrosexual who is in touch with his feminine side. Not much to choose from really; the unemotional, aggressive commitment freak or the moisturised, dithering doormat.

The media's limiting rendering of men is alarming says the University of Western Sydney academic because social policy works hand in hand with social stereotyping. "Legislation is developed by government and largely driven by what is being said in society - it is already beginning to affect social policy if you look at child access and child custody issues. "There is overwhelming discourse that men cannot be trusted with children - there is a lot of concern about men being alone in the company of a child."

Despite the tide of opinion positioning men as the perpetrators of crime, Dr Macnamara says when it comes to violence against children - women are often responsible. "What we are doing is creating a society that believes 90 to 95 per cent of violence is committed by men and it's not true," he says. "Research shows violence against children is more often committed by women - I'm not trying to push the blame back to women. I'm saying that as a society we need to look at the image that we are creating for young boys."

University of Sydney media department Associate Professor Catherine Lumby was practically waving a Meninism placard along with Dr Macnamara until she heard that comment. "I'm sorry, if you want better statistics on this go to some experts," she says - a touch aggressively. "The statistics are overwhelming; the majority of sexual violence and domestic assaults is committed by men. That is sad, I don't blame men, I don't think they are some terrible, natural force who are evil. "Yes, some women are violent but for most women the problem is they are victims of violence."

A mother of two young sons, Dr Lumby says the media minefield is littered with unrealistic stereotypes for both males and females - and that rather than counter them by censorship, we should be teaching the youth how to navigate negative cliches. "I'm very, very conscious that there is a set of masculine stereotypes; are they a sports brain? Straight? Gay? "My concern as a parent is that my boys are able to find out who they are and (not) feel constrained by these preset, pre-fabricated ideas," she says.

But Dr Macnamara says the problem is more serious than men contending the "boys don't cry" mentality. The lack of good role models in the media is aggravated by a lack of positive role models in real life. He points to the increasing numbers of absentee fathers and the shortage of male teachers. "They are branded as troublemakers in schools - and they often have no role models in the home because of the high rate of single-parent households - and then in the media the role models they see are overwhelmingly negative."

And the trend towards "demonising, marginalising and trivialising of men and male identity" could turn into a tug-of-war with serious mental health consequences for a generation of young boys. "We are probably having a negative impact on young men's esteem and we are definitely having an impact on young boy's self esteem," he says. "Ultimately such portrayals could lead to negative social and even financial costs for society in areas such as male health, rising suicide rates and family disintegration."


5 December, 2006

Seattle, Capital of Misandria

This morning, I appeared as a guest on KBKS (KISS) 106.1FM in Seattle, on Jackie & Bender Mornings. Seattle, if you don't know, is the left-wing capital of Misandria, the land of man-hating women and vaginized men. Let me give you a little background about this show. There are four hosts of this program - Jackie, Bender, Sammi, and Jubal - two males and two females. Before I got on the air, Jubal, one of the guys, shaved off some of his pubic hair and placed it on a pizza. Then, one of the females, I don't know which one (I was too shocked to remember), vomited. OK, now you understand the "class" of these people. By the way, Seattle Magazine apparently voted Jackie & Bender Mornings the best AM radio show of Seattle. Go figure.

This interview, which was prerecorded an hour before it aired, was chopped up, edited, and slanted to make me appear misogynistic, which is untrue and why I generally don't agree to doing prerecorded interviews. Because of this disingenuous, unprofessional ambush, I have done my last prerecorded interview.

Inherent in KBKS's ambush was Sammi's accusation of me lumping all women together as golddiggers. I never said this, do not feel this way, and never felt this way. Truth be told, I believe that most women feel entitled, and I stand by that. Most does not equal all. This is exactly what I told the fab four, but that's not what they wanted you to hear.

After KBKS played my adulterated interview, when I could not respond, Sammi accused me of being ugly - her alleged reason for my attitudes. In her reprinted screed below, she invited Seattle women to Google me for proof of my ugliness. This fomented her man-haters in the listening audience to insult me. One even sent me hate-mail (also reprinted below).

People who hurl personal, ad-hominem insults during a debate are small. A radio host who purports to know my book without ever reading it is even smaller. You read that correctly: Sammi & Company never read my book. That's OK - the pusillanimous hosts and callers solidified my case (notice that there were zero male callers - they're too scared in Seattle to challenge the women), which delights me to no end.

The hot babes I've been involved with would argue with Sammi's defamatory comments about my looks, but they have too much class to lower themselves to contact Sammi. Now, I don't want to get down to Sammi's pathetic level, but I have a suggestion for her: lose the donuts and buy a gym membership.

As you know, women generally tend to attack personally when they don't like the subject matter. This is one of the main reasons men generally don't respect women. Instead of arguing with logic and reason, why not throw rocks? It's easier and feels better, right? If more fathers would be tougher parents to their daughters, this wouldn't be the case.

These KISS attackers had their fun, got their ratings, bashed men, bashed me, and ironically validated everything I've ever written about entitled women. They unintentionally enhanced the value of www.UnderTheClitoralHood.com, beyond what I could have wanted or expected. I thank them for that.


AIDS 'epidemic' among Australian homosexuals

And homosexuals don't seem to care

Forget gay marriage: the real story about homosexual Australians on this World AIDS Day is, once again and shamefully, an HIV/AIDS tragedy. This is because new figures from the University of NSW's National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research confirm a worrying trend. They indicate that 10 per cent to 18 per cent of the inner-city gay population of Sydney is HIV-infected. That means HIV infection rates are still rising.

By comparison, UN figures cited in The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday claimed that Lesotho, a poor African nation, had infection rates of 20 per cent. That makes Sydney's inner city comparable to an AIDS-ravaged African nation.

But you will not hear homoactivists, medical associations, legal institutes or others, some of whom have been very vocal in their support of gay unions, campaigning for a change in the way the gay community approaches the facts of infection, or arguing for a re-evaluation of the tenets of gay liberation.

They are too busy talking about relationship equality and gay marriage, even though the only reliable study of the intentions of gay men and lesbians, the Private Lives survey conducted by La Trobe University in 2006, found the overwhelming majority of gay men did not intend to formalise their relationships at all and that most weren't even in a relationship of any kind, let alone in a union that would approach the mainstream definition of a marriage.

It is time, then, that ordinary Australians - whether same-sex attracted like me, or otherwise - stood up and demanded more from leaders and activists. It is time to clear away the politically correct nonsense, to stop focusing on fripperies such as gay marriage and other diversions and start focusing on something that will really assist gay men and the wider community: an intense campaign aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention.

Twenty five years after Gay Men's Health Crisis, ACT-UP and Australian-based anti-HIV activism first kicked off, someone has to take the blame for this outrageously long-lived, unbelievably reviving, preventable epidemic. It is time to state that a reasonably well-educated, Western gay man who contracts HIV in 2006 because of sex is at least a reckless fool, and if he deliberately brings it upon himself, at best a suicidal sociopath.

Yes, believe it or not, there is a whole gay subculture that rests upon "bug-chasing", or the despicable sport of actively seeking out or passing on HIV infection for the satisfaction of sexual or other perverse fantasies.

A great effort from within and without the gay community is needed to counter these rising infection rates and the lifestyles and political ideas that support them, not least because of the strain they put on the health system. It is time the love got tough.

The situation has become so bad that you won't even hear the local AIDS councils and other prevention or support organisations raising outraged cries or calling for more funding from UNAIDS or other bodies. They long ago resigned themselves to the fact that global and government AIDS organisations with finite resources and a substantial commitment to the African tragedy, have little time and less money for affluent idiots at risk inthe West.

Who can blame AIDS officials, however, for their pragmatic allocation of tight resources, especially if the choice is between more eduction for a fool who ignores 25 years of the same and an innocent African child who is at risk of acquiring the illness via her mother?

What a miserable situation. It must, at the very least, force a rethink of the way governments and citizens, inside and outside the gay community, approach the rising HIV infection rates.

We could start by throwing off the notion of gay pride, for there is nothing to be proud about given Sydney's HIV infection rates.

This would involve a more sober evaluation of the plight of infected gay men. AIDS victims should, rightly, be spared the stigma that too often attaches to their disease. However, unlike the early days of the epidemic, individual responsibility is, often, the key now to whether or not a man becomes infected.

Some AIDS patients are no longer, and have not been for some time, purely blameless victims of this terrible affliction. It may sound harsh to say so but it is the truth. Recognising as much could save lives.

Perhaps it is time, in 2006, to encourage the return of a proper sense of personal and collective shame, for the sake of all of us, or at least to insist upon a more public accountability for the private decisions that are too often the cause of such increases in HIV infections. Because, no matter how one looks at these miserable figures and their depressingly familiar reflections in the infection rates of New York City, San Francisco and other Western cities, pride may literally be killing us.


The above guy talks some sense but still will not name the two things that are needed if any improvement is to happen -- persuading homosexuals to keep their penises out of so many different behinds and quarantining AIDS sufferers

4 December, 2006


The latest excuse for cancelling Christmas: It "creates pressure"!

There are some miserable bitches in the world

A pre-school has "cancelled Christmas" because it believes traditional pageants put too much pressure on young children. Parents received a letter last week informing them the annual Christmas celebrations at the Maitland Nursery School would not go ahead. The pre-school's director, Megan Filis, blamed the Department of Community Services for acting like a scrooge. In a letter to parents, Ms Filis wrote: "Due to concerns about the amount of pressure put on young children, our funding body, DOCS, has directed all early childhood services to avoid the more traditional types of group performances that we have been used to."

DOCS denied it had made such a directive, but the damage was done. Children were upset and parents were angry. "It's appalling," said Rebecca Crebert, whose daughter, Isabella, had been practising for the December 15 concert. "It's a finale of the work done all year, all the songs and all the actions."

A DOCS spokeswoman said Ms Filis had misinterpreted comments that were made at a recent meeting with DOCS officers. "In this case, DOCS staff were asked whether concerts were too stressful for young children. DOCS advised that the key to a successful end-of-year function was to ensure they were fun and child-focused and not to go over the top," the spokeswoman said. "They're only little children, and it's meant to be about having fun." The spokeswoman said DOCs "encourages centres to enjoy the festive season".

Ms Filis said last year's Christmas concert had "created pressure for children". "We were trying to bring it back to children having a fun day, rather than doing a big performance," she said. Instead of a pageant, Ms Filis will hold three drop-in days, enabling parents to visit their children for an hour. "Our last day will be more relaxed and informal without the group performance," she wrote in the letter to parents.

Ms Filis said Santa Claus would make an appearance, but Mrs Crebert said this was not good enough. "Isabella loves to perform. She was just so disappointed and said: 'Oh, Mum, what's happened? Why won't they let me sing our songs?"' Many of the 120 children, aged three to five, had also invited their grandparents. "It's a kick in the guts for the kids, their parents and their extended families," Mrs Crebert said. "We were looking forward to this, and there's really no pressure involved."


Anti-Christmas fanaticism attacked in Britain

A campaign to save the traditions of Christmas from the interference of politically correct town halls was launched by an influential coalition of Christian and Muslim leaders yesterday. Leaders of the two faiths warned that attempts to suppress Christmas bring a backlash and Muslims get the blame. And they said that while Christmas causes no offence to minority faiths, banning it offends almost everybody.

Notorious local authority attempts to stamp out Christmas include Birmingham's decision to name its seasonal celebrations 'Winterval' and Luton's attempt to change Christmas into a Harry Potter festival by renaming its festive lights 'Luminos'.

The angry rebuke came from the Christian Muslim Forum, a body set up earlier this year with the blessing of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Tony Blair. The body sent a letter to town halls in the name of Anglican Bishop of Bolton David Gillett and senior Islamic cleric and Government adviser Dr Ataullah Siddiqui. It pleaded for an end to the suppression of Christmas and the restoration of its Christian meaning. Council leaders were told: 'There seems to be a secularising agenda which fails to understand the concerns of religious communities. 'The approach of some is to exclude mention of any specific religious event or celebration in order to avoid offending anyone. The usual result of such a policy ends up offending most of the population.' The letter added: 'Any repetition of public bodies and local authorities renaming Christmas, so as not to offend other faith communities, will tend, as in the past, to backfire badly on the Muslim community in particular. 'Sadly we have seen it is they who get the blame - and for something they are not saying.'

The warning from the Council came as public organisations appeared to be redoubling efforts to obliterate Christmas from the calendar or at least remove any Christian element from the celebrations. The Royal Mail this year has removed any Christian references from its Christmas stamps. Notorious local authority attempts to stamp out Christmas include Birmingham's 1998 decision to name its seasonal celebrations 'Winterval' and Luton's 2001 attempt to change Christmas into a Harry Potter festival by renaming its festive lights 'Luminos'.

The letter from the Forum to town halls comes at a time of deepening anger over attempts by powerful organisations to ban any public reference to Christianity. Last week British Airways was forced to back down over a ban on employees wearing a Christian cross. Its order to check-in worker Nadia Eweida that she must wear a cross under her uniform met a furious reponse from the public and provoked an outcry from bishops, MPs and Government ministers.

Alarm over attempts by police and other public bodies to force Christians to accept gay rights rules have produced a major political row between churches and Government over the latest laws that, Anglicans fear, would compel priests to bless same-sex partnerships.

The letter to councils from the Forum said: 'We are conscious that all in public life wish to be similarly inclusive, but some seem to believe, for instance, that talk about Christmas is offensive to those of other faith communities. 'This is something which we have looked at together on the national Christian Muslim Forum and all of us, both Muslims and Christians, wish that people in public positions would take another look at how they deal with religious festivals.' The two leaders added: 'It is important for the 77 per cent who claim affiliation to one faith or another that these festivals should be seen and recognised, rather than banished from the public sphere.' They cited a series of festivals which were 'most commonly in evidence across much of the country' and which should not be suppressed: Christmas and Easter; the Muslim Eid, Hindu Diwali, and Jewish Hanukah.

Dr Siddiqui was appointed earlier this year as an adviser to the Government on providing better information on Islam to students. The appointment followed concern among ministers that Jihadist propaganda in universities was leading students into the hands of extremists. The Muslim cleric is head of the Islamic Foundation of Leicester and an Islamic higher education college, the Markfield Institute of Higher Education.


Come off it, folks: how many paedophiles can there be?

Boris Johnson manages to be jolly about a disgraceful situation

Really? I said, not quite able to believe my luck. There we were, waiting for take-off, and I had just been having a quick zizz. It was a long flight ahead, all the way to India, and I had two children on my left. Already they were toughing each other up and sticking their fingers up each other's nose, and now -- salvation! Hovering above me was a silk-clad British Airways stewardess with an angelic smile, and she seemed to want me to move. "Please come with me, sir" said the oriental vision.

At once, I got her drift. She desired to upgrade me. In my mind's eye, I saw the first-class cabin, the spiral staircase to the head massage, the Champagne, the hot towels. "You betcha!" I said, and began to unbuckle. At which point, the children set up a yammering. Oi, they said to me, where do you think you are going? I was explaining that the captain had probably spotted me come on board, don't you know. Doubtless he had decided that it was outrageous for me to fly steerage, sound chap that he was. I'd make sure to come back now and then, hmmm?

At which the stewardess gave a gentle cough. Actually, she said, she was proposing to move me to row 52, and that was because -- she lowered her voice -- "We have very strict rules". Eh? I said, by now baffled. "A man cannot sit with children," she said; and then I finally twigged. "But he's our FATHER", chimed the children. "Oh," said the stewardess, and then eyed me narrowly. "These are your children?" "Yes," I said, a bit testily. "Very sorry," she said, and wafted down the aisle -- and in that single lunatic exchange you will see just about everything you need to know about our dementedly phobic and risk-averse society. In the institutionalised prejudice of that BA stewardess against an adult male, you see one of the prime causes of this country's tragic under-achievement in schools.

I mention all this because the same absurd kerfuffle happened this week. Some child was put next to an ancient journalist and his wife on a flight, and the airline (BA again) went into spasm. As the hoo-ha raged, the press turned to the lobby groups, and someone called Pam Hibbert of Barnardo's obliged with the usual bossyboots quote. The ban on sitting children next to adults was "eminently sensible", said this eminently ridiculous figure.

I mean, come off it, folks. How many paedophiles can there be? Are we really saying that any time an adult male finds himself sitting next to someone under 16, he must expect to be hustled from his seat before the suspicious eyes of the entire cabin? What about adult females? Every week there is some new tale of what a saucy French mistress is deemed to have done with her adolescent charges behind the bicycle sheds; and, disgraceful though these episodes may be, I don't hear anyone saying that children should be shielded from adult women. Do you? Or maybe I'm wrong -- maybe all adults will have to carry personal cardboard partitions with them on every plane or train, just in case they find themselves sitting next to under-16s.

Even as I write, I can imagine the lip-pursing of some of my lovely high-minded readers. How would you like it, they will say, if some weird chap was plonked next to your kids? And they are right that I would worry about some strange adult sitting next to my children, chiefly because I wouldn't want the poor fellow to come to any harm.

To all those who worry about the paedophile plague, I would say that they not only have a very imperfect understanding of probability; but also that they fail to understand the terrible damage that is done by this system of presuming guilt in the entire male population just because of the tendencies of a tiny minority. There are all sorts of reasons why the numbers of male school teachers are down 50 per cent in the period 1981 to 2001, and why the ratio of female to male teachers in primary schools is now seven to one. There are problems of pay, and the catastrophic failure of the state to ensure that they are treated as figures of authority and respect; and what with 'elf 'n' safety and human rights it is very hard to enforce discipline.

But it is also, surely, a huge deterrent to any public-spirited man contemplating a career in education that society apparently regards all adult male contact with young people as being potentially a bit dodgy, a bit rum, a bit you know... It is a total disaster. It is not just that both boys and girls could do with more male role models in the classroom. Worse still, it often used to be men who taught physics, and maths, and chemistry, and it is the current shortage of such teachers that explains why 80 per cent of pupils studying physics are now taught by someone with a degree in biology; and that in turn helps explain why the numbers doing physics A-level have halved, and why physics departments are closing all over the shop, with all the consequent damage to our science base.

It has tended to be male teachers who take contact sports. Even if they can find a playing-field, these days, the poor male sports teachers have to cope with a terrifying six-inch thick manual explaining how they must on no account shout at their charges, and above all, on pain of prosecution, they must NOT BE LEFT ALONE with the kids. No wonder our children are apparently turning into big fat Augustus Gloops. It is insane, and the problem is the general collapse of trust. Almost every human relationship that was sensibly regulated by trust is now governed by law, with cripplingly expensive consequences.

I blame the media, I blame the judges, I blame the lobby groups, and in particular I blame the cowardly capitalist airline companies that give in to this sort of loony hysteria. If you happen to be reading this on a British Airways flight, and have quite rightly sustained a burst blood vessel, then I think you are entitled to an immediate upgrade.


Women pay the price of abandoning all standards

Feminism attacked traditional standards of female behaviour and young women have embraced that with a vengeance. So women are no longer treated with the respect that went with those traditional standards. Men now often describe all women as "Ho's" (whores, prostitutes) -- with the accompanying attitudes implied by that

Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are the stars of a new slew of internet gossip sites, fondly known as the "slagosphere", which run video of celebrity airheads and reams of paparazzi photographs that never make the magazines. Lately the on again, off again gal pals - or "frenemies" as they are sometimes called - have been plumbing new depths of banality and bad taste. They wear no underwear when they go out in their finery and keep accidentally-on-purpose flashing their shaven crotches to assembled cameras as they alight from Hilton's car or some limo. The gynaecological photos, complete with fresh caesarean scars in the case of recently single mother-of-two Spears, have become the talk of the internet.

But they have also unleashed a torrent of misogynistic abuse that is disturbingly violent and unhinged. The words are unprintable but the mouth-frothing hatred is startling. In site after site, from Egotastic! to The Superficial, anonymous writers tell the girls to "put it away" with a harshness that makes your toes curl. In one clip on the website X17, a male friend of Hilton's spews forth the most disgusting comments about Lohan's vagina to the paparazzi, now armed with video, while Hilton laughs up a storm at her frenemy's expense.

There is a terrible misogyny abroad at the moment - that has men walk up to attractive female strangers in nightclubs and hit them - not hit on them but punch them in the head with their fists. During schoolies week on the Gold Coast last month, for example, a 19-year-old man walking down Cavill Avenue king-hit pretty 18-year-old Natalie Montoya in the face, out of the blue, as she was standing on the corner with a group of girlfriends. "F--- off, slut," he said, knocking her to the ground and leaving her with a swollen nose and bleeding face.

After the shootings this year at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania and a high school in Colorado, The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert pointed out, "the killers went out of their way to separate the girls from the boys, and then deliberately attacked only the girls". Herbert describes the attacks in Colorado and Pennsylvania as "hate crimes" against women, "part of a devastating continuum of misogyny that at its farthest extreme touches down in places like the one-room Amish schoolhouse".

From the extreme pornography so easily available on the internet, to rap lyrics that glory in violence against "bitches", to Big Brother's male contestants holding down a woman and "turkey slapping" her, to pedophile fantasy fashions for little girls, the effect is the same. It dehumanises and disrespects women so that any degrading treatment becomes acceptable.

But there is no point in simply demanding that men change their attitudes. It is no coincidence that the rise in misogyny seems to coincide with some women's rejection of any self-respect or modesty. Underwear-eschewing paparazzi favourites such as Hilton, Spears and Lohan have become role models for young girls all over the world, as Shelley Gare points out in her new book, The Triumph Of The Airheads.

When you think about it, the misogyny sparked on the internet by the It girls' latest antics makes a sort of sick sense. Why would a man respect a woman who doesn't respect herself, when most of society's traditional protections for women have been torn down, often by women themselves, in the name of freedom? But freedom to flash your genitalia to the world is not liberating. It's just sad and ugly, reducing womanly allure to the level of a baboon and giving men no reason to behave well.


3 December, 2006

Court: Wisconsin boy can't join girls' gym team

Sexism! Illegal discrimination!

A boy who wanted to compete on his high school's girls' gymnastics team cannot sue for gender discrimination, a state appeals court ruled Thursday. The District 4 Court of Appeals upheld a judge's dismissal of Keith Michael Bukowski's lawsuit against the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which has a rule prohibiting boys from competing in girls' sports.

Bukowski filed the lawsuit as a junior at Stevens Point Area High School in 2004. He argued the WIAA rule preventing him from trying out for and competing on the girl's gymnastics team discriminated against him because his school did not have a boys' team. Bukowski argued that the rule violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as a federal law known as Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funds. In a 3-0 ruling, the court said Bukowski failed to show that WIAA, a nonprofit organization of public and private high schools that sets rules for sports competition, could be sued under either argument.

Bukowski didn't prove WIAA was an arm of the state that could be sued for the constitutional violation or that it received federal funding as required in a Title IX claim, the court said. The ruling backed a Portage County judge who came to a similar conclusion. Courts have previously ruled that letting boys compete on girls' teams jeopardizes opportunities for girls.

Bukowski's attorney, Jared Redfield, said he would likely appeal to the state Supreme Court. He said the ruling means "the WIAA can discriminate at will, which doesn't make any sense at all." But Bukowski, who had competed in gymnastics at a local YMCA, argued the case was similar to recent examples of girls who were allowed to compete on boys' teams in football and wrestling.

Redfield said female sports no longer deserved what he called a privileged status because participation among women has increased sharply in recent decades. "Why not treat the genders equally?" he asked. "If women can go on our football team and they can wrestle in tournaments, why in the world if there's no access for a male to participate in gymnastics should they not be on the girls' team?"

But WIAA executive director Doug Chickering said females remain underrepresented in sports. He said allowing Bukowski to compete would have put pressure on WIAA to grant frequent requests from boys who want to play on girls' volleyball teams. "Our fundamental reason for denying participation was that we didn't want to see girls displaced from girls' teams by boys," he said.

Bukowski graduated earlier this year so the legal fight by him and his mother would affect only other students in the future. Hundreds of students at his school signed a petition backing his efforts to compete in 2004 but courts rejected his attempts for a faster ruling that would have allowed him to compete. Bukowski, a student at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, may have lost an opportunity for a college scholarship as a result, Redfield said.

Principal Mike Devine said the school does not have a boys' team because of lack of interest and he was following the WIAA rule in refusing to allow Bukowski on the girls' team. He said the school recently hired Bukowski as an assistant coach for the girls' gymnastics team. "We're glad to have Keith working with our kids right now. He does have some talent in gymnastics," he said. "Even though he couldn't compete with us, he's teaching our kids. That's a somewhat positive outcome for this."


Dr Paul Irwing: 'There are twice as many men as women with an IQ of 120-plus'

Dr Paul Irwing is a senior lecturer in organisational psychology at Manchester University. He claims that men are more intelligent than women

All the research I've done points to a gender difference in general cognitive ability. There is a mean difference of about five IQ points. The further you go up the distribution the more and more skewed it becomes. There are twice as many men with an IQ of 120-plus as there are women, there are 30 times the number of men with an IQ of 170-plus as there are women.

I don't know why this is, all I can say is that we have a huge amount of data. In my 2005 paper in the British Journal of Psychology we looked at 22 surveys sampling 20,000 university students. In 21 out of the 22 studies males always had an advantage. That's a lot. We ignored the survey from Mexico because the results were consistent with a university that was extremely selective with respect to females [i.e. You have to be a very bright female to get into a Mexican university in the first place]. Why did Steve Blinkhorn call our research "flawed and suspect"?

The results of both studies were a shock to me. I find prejudice abhorrent. I've always taught sex differences from a left-wing point of view, that women are every bit as good as men. My findings don't fit my view of the world at all. Girls often do better than boys at school. There has to be some female compensating factor, most importantly the ability to process speech sounds, which means women read faster and more accurately and have an advantage in basic writing tasks. And women work harder than men and are more conscientious so they do things technic-ally correctly. Men are often quite original but deficient in what is technically demanded.

Historically women have been discriminated against. They've made tremendous progress and some people feel findings like this are a kick in the teeth. I have sympathy for that, but only people who know virtually nothing about IQ tests claim they have a cultural bias. All IQ tests are thoroughly tested and adjusted for bias, so if anything IQ tests are biased in favour of women not men.

People should have equal opportunities but if you want a society where everyone feels satisfied you're not going to find men and women doing the same things in the same proportions. It would help if we recognised that.


2 December, 2006

Multiculturalism: there is no alternative (?)

A conference in London exposed the authoritarian bent to diversity policies.

In recent months there have been some high-profile debates about the excesses of multiculturalism (along the lines of ‘It’s multiculturalism gone mad!), yet the solution is usually to call for more diversity policies and recognition of ‘difference’. The Mosaic of Multiculturalism, a conference held last Friday at Goodenough College in London, exemplified this seemingly contradictory trend. The conference’s subheading, ‘Falling Pieces’, suggested a withering away of the multiculturalist vision. Every session, however, seemed to conclude with a resounding ‘There Is No Alternative’ to multiculturalism

Professor Paul Gilroy’s opening keynote speech was, to be frank, lazy and ill-informed. Much of his assessment, that Muslims are being systematically targeted by Bush and Blair, seemed to extrapolate a leftish framework from the 1970s to today. From this perspective, critics of multiculturalism are apparently peddling ‘authoritarian populism’ as a sop to the ‘tabloid readers’ who vote for the far-right British National Party. When I asked Gilroy what he thought of the authoritarian and conformist trajectory of multicultural policies, he claimed, rather bizarrely, that ‘official multiculturalism doesn’t exist’. From time to time, veteran academics lose sight of charting recent developments in society, and Gilroy seemed to be a case in hand. But I couldn’t help wondering whether he was in denial about the uncomfortable realities of the multicultural dream.

Prior to Gilroy’s speech, the director of Goodenough College, major-general Andrew Ritchie, introduced the day’s proceedings. In his clipped, officer-class voice, he told us about the importance of diversity with cheery anecdotes about Her Majesty the Queen’s liking for ‘diverse, multicultural colleges like this one’. Now, when you have high-ranking military officers and the Queen promoting diversity, it’s hard to see how anyone can say there is no official multiculturalism – or to equate multiculturalism with anti-imperialist radicalism, as some on the left do.

The panel discussion on Religion and Multiculturalism seemed to take its cue from the Gospel According to Jacques Derrida. ‘Multiculturalism is not an option because humans are intrinsically different’, said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain. What ever happened to the universalism that is central to Islamic teaching? Dr Bari also argued that wayward mosques and clerics were the fault of not having enough ‘outcomes and structures in Muslim organisations’. Clearly, this religious scholar has been spending too much time with Tony Blair. What next, a ‘best practice’ charter for prospective imams?

Still, Dr Bari made some sensible comments on how Western rather than Islamic sensibilities are influencing second- and third-generation Muslims. Simon Keyes, director of St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, confessed all of the church’s ‘sins’ as if he were running for a bus. ‘We’ve been bastions of patriarchy, we’ve been guilty of homophobia and even racism’, he spluttered breathlessly. Keyes’ faith, it seems, is in something other than the Christian church.

Religion dominated further discussions on ‘positive contacts between Muslims and Jews in Britain’, with Dr Richard Stone advocating a relentless round of national self-abasement and apologies for past crimes. Yet stoking up ancient grievances hardly seems the best route to producing inter-ethnic harmony. Far better was Dr Jennifer Jackson-Preece’s talk on ‘Multiculturalism and security after 9/11’. Her points on how ‘security has become the core value in life’, as well as downplaying the scale of the terrorist threat, provided a welcome bout of level-headed analysis.

Far too often, though, conference speakers and subsequent discussions merely explored different dimensions of multiculturalism, rather than questioning its very premise. After all, who could possibly be against the marvels of diversity other than ‘tabloid-reading’ trolls? This is why strident criticism of multiculturalism was met with bewildered silence rather than outraged heckles. In the discussion on perceptions of multiculturalism and minorities in the media, Dr Shakuntala Banaji agreed that the limitations of multiculturalism itself, rather than the editorial policy of TV producers, would be a better issue to explore, ‘except that’s for a different and longer discussion altogether’. Really? And there was me thinking that the aim of a conference like this should be precisely to dissect the pros and cons of multiculturalism.

Occasionally, though, critics did cut through the bemused, dismissive veneer. In the final ‘Citizenship and education’ discussion, Professor Tariq Ramadan talked about the need for a ‘plurality of memories’ in the teaching of history and creating a ‘sense of belonging’ for ethnic minorities through history becoming a branch of ‘citizenship studies’. Elsewhere, Dr Rob Berkeley from the Runnymede Trust said there was ‘no going back to a monoculture solution’, and that education must reflect Britain’s cultural diversity. Then, from the audience, writer and academic Munira Mirza attacked these notions that education should only be related to fixed identities. Rather than box students in with what they already know, she put the case for education enabling students to transcend narrow, particular experiences.

Any complacency on the part of panel speakers only reflected the pervasive ascendancy of multiculturalism. Far from a rigorous and open debate about multiculturalism, the boundaries of debate only allow discussion of issues within multiculturalism - with the predictable conclusion that more diversity is needed.

What’s particularly worrying is how undemocratic and unconnected much of the discussion and policy appears to be. Too often there’s a projection of what ‘diverse groups’ are supposedly interested in and how, therefore, they should be treated. Far from multiculturalism being a vibrant, cosmopolitan vision of society, it’s merely an instruction manual for micro-managing groups defined by tick-boxes, regardless of their wishes. Far from critics of multiculturalism pandering to ‘authoritarian populism’, this seems a fair description of multicultural practitioners themselves.


An Amazing Discovery

Taranto notes rather sarcastically something that conservatives have been saying for years

Thanks to vigorous recruiting and pressure from corporate clients, black lawyers are well represented now among new associates at the nation's most prestigious law firms," the New York Times reports. "But they remain far less likely to stay at the firms or to make partner than their white counterparts." Why might that be? The paper offers a surprising theory:

A recent study says grades help explain the gap. To ensure diversity among new associates, the study found, elite law firms hire minority lawyers with, on average, much lower grades than white ones. That may, the study says, set them up to fail. . . . "If everyone in the law firms knows you're hiring according to a double standard, you actually may end up compromising the confidence that partners and others have in the ability of people hired on the basis of preference," [Roger] Clegg added. "It actually reinforces stereotypes."

In other words, by lowering standards on the basis of race, firms end up with a work force in which black lawyers are less qualified than their nonblack colleagues, and therefore they have a hard time advancing--a "mismatch," if you will. The logic seems so impeccable, we're surprised no one has ever thought of this before.


Journal abstract:

Major Histocompatibility Complex Alleles, Sexual Responsivity, and Unfaithfulness in Romantic Couples

Christine E. Garver-Apgar et al.

Preferences for mates that possess genes dissimilar to one's own at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a polymorphic group of loci associated with the immune system, have been found in mice, birds, fish, and humans. These preferences may help individuals choose genetically compatible mates and may adaptively function to prevent inbreeding or to increase heterozygosity and thereby immunocompetence of offspring. MHC-dissimilar mate preferences may influence the psychology of sexual attraction. We investigated whether MHC similarity among romantically involved couples (N = 48) predicted aspects of their sexual relationship. All women in our sample normally ovulated, and alleles at three MHC loci were typed for each person. As the proportion of MHC alleles couples shared increased, women's sexual responsivity to their partners decreased, their number of extrapair sexual partners increased, and their attraction to men other than their primary partners increased, particularly during the fertile phase of their cycles.


1 December, 2006


Frances Kemp booked an aisle seat on a recent British Airways (BA) flight because she had a bad leg that required extra space. Her 76-year-old husband Michael occupied the middle seat. A nine-year-old girl took the window position. When a stewardess asked Frances to switch seats with her husband, she declined. The stewardess explained that the seating arrangement breached the airline's child-welfare regulations and moved the child. Michael is a retired journalist with no criminal record; he made no contact-physical or verbal-with the girl; no complaint or request to move was received; the child's mother was elsewhere on the plane. The girl's welfare was deemed to be in peril solely because Michael was male.

BA has openly joined the ranks of airlines such as Air New Zealand and Qantas that view all men as a danger to children. It is difficult to know how many other airliners share this policy as it is rarely announced and can be enforced invisibly when seats are booked. Indeed, BA itself has been quietly instituting the policy since at least 2001 when another `seat rearrangement' drew attention. In answering a complaint from the humiliated man, BA explained, "We introduced the policy ... in response to customers asking us to make sure their children are not seated next to men. We were responding to a fear of sexual assaults."

It is not clear why parental worries cannot be resolved by carefully booking seats in advance or notifying attendants of a need to be extra watchful. But one thing is clear: some airlines are going to treat your father, husband and son as sex offenders simply because they are male. And the airlines show no sign of relenting. For example, in 2005, Mark Worsley had to change seats when a Qantas steward informed him that only women could next to unaccompanied children. When he registered a complaint, a Qantas spokesperson replied that the airline intended "to err on the side of caution" by continuing to act as though all men were dangerous. More recently and in the UK, Boris Johnson-a Member of Parliament-was asked to move from his seat by a BA stewardess. She retreated when he explained that the adjacent children were his own progeny. Johnson memorialized the experience in an article entitled "Come off it, folks: how many paedophiles can there be?"

If an airline restricted the seating of blacks because the 2004 Bureau of Justice data states "blacks [are] disproportionately represented among homicide victims and offenders", there would be a backlash of rage. It would make no difference that the parent or loved one of a white passenger had requested the `safety' measure. But, over the course of decades, Western culture has so thoroughly identified maleness itself with violence and abuse that major airlines feel free to openly treat them as predators. In response to the Qantas incident, Worsley stated, "Men are being demonized in the media for a long time now. I think probably this is just society's reaction-they think, `We'd better start tightening up on everything.' It's getting to the stage when all men are viewed with distrust."

The airlines' policy is rooted neither in fact nor common sense. Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states "In 2004, 57.8 percent of child abuse and neglect perpetrators were females and 42.2 percent were males. "It is difficult to know how these figures apply to the specific concern of airlines; for one thing, the figures indicate that abusers are overwhelmingly parents or `caregivers' and the airlines target men who are unknown to the children. But the data highlights the absurdity of believing one gender has a monopoly on violence against children. (The specific issue of sexual violence against children is more difficult to break down according to the gender of the perpetrator. Statistics are usually based on the state-by-state confirmed cases investigated by child welfare agencies. A BBC documentary claimed that women committed 25% of all sexual child abuse. But the statistics are too inconsistent, politicized and poorly gathered to be reliable.)

Moving from factual to common sense objections, it is difficult to believe that in-flight child molestation is a real problem. A plane is not a secluded spot in the woods; it is an extremely public place where attendants and others constantly patrol the aisles. Nevertheless, if a problem does exist, if there is more to the policy than parents concerned about things that haven't occurred, then it would make sense to ban unattended children or to seat them in a separate section. As it stands, the policy seems rooted in little more than a dangerous tendency to paint men per se as predators.

Why is the tendency dangerous and not merely insulting? Because men are becoming increasingly reluctant to help a child in need, to act as teachers and caregivers, or to offer protection. A heartbreaking example of the consequences of their understandable reluctance occurred in England in late 2002. 2-year-old Abigail Rae died by drowning in a village pond; a man who saw her in the street earlier on had wanted to help but he had been afraid of being labeled "a pervert."

The policy harms children in a more subtle manner; they may no longer trust men per se enough to ask for help when they need it. They may hesitate to approach a policeman or fireman who are, after all, still men. That is the message airlines are sending to children. And how is that message being heard by the boys who will grow into men? Seating men as though they were sexual predators is a vicious and discriminatory practice that has no basis in fact or logic. Indeed, if the illogic of the policy were consistently spun out, it would mean `women and children only' flights and the restricted seating of men at theaters or concerts.


The ACLU Targets Christmas

The ACLU is at it again. With an outrageous boldness that only they could muster, the ACLU has, once again, set their sights on Christmas celebrations. In their never-ending quest to completely eradicate all things religious from public life, the ACLU's latest lawsuit is an all-out frontal attack on the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

Let me ask you-when did a children's Christmas program become "an illegal activity"? When did the nativity story and Christmas songs become unconstitutional? This is the outrageous and dangerous charge the ACLU has leveled against a school district in Tennessee. A children's Christmas program has been deemed to be an "illegal act" because of the ACLU.

This week, our senior attorneys at the American Center for Law and Justice are working on this latest ACLU case. The ACLU is absolutely determined to censor Christmas. They have sued the Wilson County School System outside of Nashville, TN. We represent several school officials and teachers who have been charged with engaging in what the ACLU calls "illegal acts." The ACLU claims that the plaintiffs have been harmed, injured and "suffered irreparable damage" through the Christmas program because of its "Christian themes and songs." The ACLU will then ask for these actions be declared "unconstitutional and illegal."

It gets even worse. The plaintiffs and the ACLU allege that several kindergarten students role-played a nativity scene of the birth of Jesus-and had the audacity to sing "Away in the Manger" and "Joy to the World." According to the ACLU, these songs are exclusively Christian in nature because they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and are, therefore, inappropriate. School programs that include a live nativity scene and the singing of songs like "Away in a Manger" are common throughout the United States and, indeed, around the world. Thousands of school students will be participating in similar programs this year. The ACLU has, once again, shown its desire to engage in censorship.

Of course, if the ACLU wins this case, it would set a precedent from across the nation. This is precisely why we have engaged some of our most senior lawyers to defend school officials in this important case. Make no mistake about it-the ACLU will not stop with this lawsuit. They may come to your town and target your school. Their continued attempts to loosen the threads of our religious heritage and chip away at the foundation of our freedom is never-ending.

We, at the American Center for Law and Justice, will fight for religious freedom and freedom of speech this Christmas. We are standing with the school officials in Wilson County and with concerned students and parents. We will vigorously defend the rights of these students to engage in free speech on public school campuses. We are not going to sit back and let the ACLU, the Ghost of Christmas Past, remove the joy and significance of this holiday season.

Today the American Center for Law and Justice has launched a nationwide campaign entitled "Keep HIM in Christmas." We want to make sure that Jesus is at the center of this holiday. We want to keep HIM in the nativity scenes, keep HIM in the music, keep HIM as the focal point-and not allow the ACLU to operate as our nationwide censor.



Students, parents and concerned community members met at UNC-Chapel Hill Monday afternoon in an anti-war protest demonstration. About 40 members from Students for a Democratic Society, along with other political groups, marched from the "Quad" on the UNC-CH campus to the new Army Recruiting Center, located 1502 E. Franklin St. The group joined together in shouting anti-war chants as it made its way two miles down Chapel Hill's main road. "Out of Iraq, out of our schools," and "No blood for oil, U.S. out of Iraqi soil" were two of the group's main messages.

Two N.C. State students were there to protest with SDS. John Anagnost, a senior in political science, and Dante Strobino, a graduate student in electrical engineering, were among the many voices. "Modern military recruiting is racist," Strobino said. "They prey on economically disadvantaged people to join the military." According to Anagnost, campus organizations like SDS are losing interest among students. While neither Anagnost or Strobino think NCSU could maintain its own chapter, they said they feel someone will speak up. "The message is, no matter how many recruiting stations they build, there will always be an opposition," Anagnost said.

Ben Carrol, the Chapter Secretary of the newly-formed SDS, led the group in speeches given in front of the Army Recruiting Center. The group wasn't without resistance, though. A local group of veterans were waiting in front of the recruiting center to show their support of the U.S. military and recruiting efforts. "I guess these kids have nothing else better to do than be anti-establishment," Jesse Torres, a Vietnam veteran, said. Torres, who served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967, joined five other veterans and one citizen in the counter-demonstration. One of the counter-demonstrators was escorted away from the group when he shouted profanities and screamed at peace supporters. Police officers on-site declined to comment.