POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH: ARCHIVE
The creeping dictatorship of the Left...
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28 February, 2006
BRITAIN'S CHIEF RACE WATCHDOG IS SOUNDING INCREASINGLY SENSIBLE THESE DAYS
He sounds a lot like The Prime Minister of Australia in fact
Muslims must accept that freedom of speech is central to Britishness and should be preserved even if it offends people, says Sir Trevor Phillips. The chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) said we should "allow people to offend each other". And he suggested that Muslims who wanted a system of Islamic Shariah law should leave the UK. His comments follow angry protests against cartoons satirising the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Sir Trevor told ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby programme: "What some minorities have to accept is that there are certain central things we all agree about, which are about the way we treat each other. "That we have an attachment to democracy, that we sort things out by voting not by violence and intimidation, that we tolerate things that we don't like." And that commitment to freedom of expression should also allow Muslim preachers to make comments about homosexuality that are offensive to broad segments of the British population, he said. "One point of Britishness is that people can say what they like about the way we should live, however absurd, however unpopular it is," said Sir Trevor.
He also rejected the idea of Shariah law in Muslim communities in the UK. "We have one set of laws. They are decided on by one group of people, members of Parliament, and that's the end of the story. "Anybody who lives here has to accept that's the way we do it. If you want to have laws decided in another way, you have to live somewhere else," he said.
THE POLITICALLY CORRECT DELUSIONS OF THE EUROPEAN LEFT
From a review of "The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium" by Paul Edward Gottfried
According to Gottfried, we have witnessed in recent decades a gradual and accelerating evolution of the European Left away from doctrinaire Marxism and toward a multicultural substitute that bears little resemblance to the earlier creed. Essentially, no one on the European Left calls for nationalizing the means of production or looks toward a sweeping overthrow of capitalism at the hands of a class-conscious proletariat any longer. Why this should be is a complicated matter. Social, economic, and demographic changes in Europe have made substantial inroads into an ideology aimed at the working class. There is, also, reality’s stubborn refusal to conform to classical Marxist predictions of the immiseration of the proletariat; anyone can see that the working class of the Western world enjoys a standard of living of which even the nobility of yore could only have dreamed.
The European Left is, therefore, post-Marxist. As Gottfried puts it, “Looking at the legislation Communists have pushed center-left coalitions into supporting—from hate-speech laws directed primarily against the European Christian majority populations, through the criminalization of published or televised communications deemed to deny or minimize Nazi acts of genocide, to the sponsoring of multicultural programs, to the declaration of national commemorations for the deportation of Nazi victims, gay rights, and the raising of public subsidies for asylum-seekers—it is not clear how these projects fit into Marxist revolution.”
Inseparable from the modern European Left, Gottfried argues, is an intense self-loathing for all things Western (themselves and their ideology excluded, naturally), and particularly for the Western past. This pathology manifests itself in “the frenzied desire to repopulate the West with non-Western immigrants, some of whom are unmistakably hostile, and the propensity to exalt what is non-Western as a replacement for Western moral and spiritual impoverishment.” One is reminded of Robert Frost’s definition of a liberal as someone who refuses to take his own side in an argument.
Although American conservatives from time to time still write books and articles about the alleged problem of leftist anti-Americanism in Europe, Gottfried suggests that the “anti-Americanism” complained of by many on the Right is only superficial. Although European leftists have vigorously dissented from American Middle East policy, they deeply admire what the United States has become at home, finding “aspects of American politics and society they wished to import into their own country.” And unpleasant as it may be to admit, why shouldn’t they, given the leftist premises that dominate American political speech, even among many self-described conservatives? “Generous immigration policies, a culturally pluralistic, creedal basis for citizenship, and the readiness to employ government to banish prejudice were American trends that the European Left, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet model, ran to espouse.” Alain Minc, one of Le Monde’s senior editors, wrote last year that “no democrat can ever be anti-American, seeing that America is the land identified in an almost ontological sense with modernity and progress.”
In its never-ending “antifascist” crusade, the European Left is anxious to reeducate those backward souls whose religious convictions and bourgeois values could, they fear, easily give place to a fascist resurgence. Now any sensible person realizes that fascism is about as likely to return to Europe as the Bourbons are to return to the French throne. But the European Left sees fascism and oppression everywhere: in even the mildest expressions of nationalism and national identity, in insufficient devotion to multiculturalism, and in continuing allegiance to the bourgeois family.
According to Gottfried, “Whether fighting to allow unrestricted Third World immigration into Europe, gay marriage, the lowering of the legal age for male homosexual prostitution, the building of mosques at the expenses of European taxpayers, this Left is implacably hostile to those who think differently and trace this deviation to fascist sympathies.” Merely calling attention to atrocities perpetrated by communist regimes is frequently denounced as evidence of fascist tendencies, since cataloguing such offenses supposedly serves to divert attention from fascist crimes, the Holocaust in particular.
Sometimes the antifascist crusade even involves the criminalization of insensitive speech, as in France where the infamous Loi Gayssot, introduced in 1990, has been applied “to prevent or inhibit criticism of immigration, the growing Islamicist presence in France, and responses to attacks on the French Catholic identity.” Banning such speech is one of the therapeutic functions of the managerial state, staffed by leftists, whose task it is to govern in accordance with officially sanctioned victimology and to punish patterns of thought and behavior among the majority population that indicate a lack of penitence for past racism, sexism, homophobia, and other sins against officially protected groups.
Given the cultural and political dominance of the Left in present-day Europe, such that even alleged conservatives all too often speak in a leftist idiom, the continent’s future is, to say the least, uncertain. On the one hand, Western Europe is experiencing a massive influx of non-Westerners who are, quite possibly, religiously and culturally unassimilable and who, in many cases, lack even the desire to be assimilated into their new societies. On the other, Europe is dominated by a political and intellectual class that views this demographic revolution as a delightful source of enrichment for a Europe in need of redemption.
One hardly needs a crystal ball to predict the outcome of a clash between a determined and self-confident Muslim population and a European elite that lacks the will to defend itself—and worse, has long since abandoned the thought that Europe possesses much worth defending in the first place. Unless the continent’s political culture undergoes a dramatic transformation in the very near future, the suicidal ideology of the European Left practically guarantees not only that Europe as we know it will simply disappear amid the radical demographic shifts that the Left itself has engineered, but also that its trip to the graveyard will be accompanied by delusional hymns to multiculturalism, human brotherhood, and the glorious victory against resurgent fascism.
Kingsley R. Browne on Sex Differences
Post lifted from Keith Burgess Jackson
There are a number of reasons that "all-consuming" jobs are aversive to women. One reason, of course, is children. Seventy or eighty-hour (or even fifty or sixty-hour) work weeks are not compatible with the level of family involvement that many people, but especially many women, desire. Because women, on average, desire greater day-to-day involvement with their children than men do, intense career investment is more costly to them. Despite the fact that surveys find that women are as satisfied with their jobs as men are, they are less satisfied with the number of hours they work, despite the fact that they work shorter hours.
Not only are the psychic costs to women higher for participation in grueling careers, the psychic rewards may be smaller. Because women, on average, attach less value to being at the very top of their profession than men do, the psychic payoff to women from single-minded dedication to (or obsession with) achievement of professional status is often less than for men. That is, women are more likely than men to say, "If that's what this career requires, it's not worth it to me." In academia, a primary measure of status is scholarly productivity. Scores of studies of academic productivity have found that men publish more articles than women do, typically about 50% more (independent of whether they have children). This disparity is obviously not due to women's inability to publish more but rather to the fact that they choose not to.
Although one might argue that jobs should not be structured to require so many hours, the fact that some people (predominantly men) are willing, even eager, to work such hours, means that competitive pressures to be productive result in many other people working longer hours than they might like even in the absence of a formal requirement. The two most obvious solutions to this problem, if it is a problem, is to break the link between productivity and reward or to prohibit people, even those who are eager to do so, from working long hours. Neither of these courses of action is practical, of course. Even if universities stopped providing tangible rewards for scholarly productivity, the major status reward of scholarship is not in its tangible recognition by one's employer but by its reception in the scholarly community. As for limiting work hours, that is easy enough to do for factory workers, but not so easy for academics who may do much of their work at home or in otherwise unsupervised settings. Apart from practical concerns, there is, of course, the further question whether either of these responses would be desirable.
27 February, 2006
U.K.: INCORRECT TO TALK ABOUT BLACK CRIME
Black boys are victims of statistical racism says a leading criminologist who believes that yearly crime figures only reinforce the negative stereotype of young black men as `a problem' to society. Through extensive research Marianne Fitzgerald, a Professor of Criminality at the University of Kent has found that street crime is unrelated to ethnicity [It's just those racist police arresting innocent blacks, of course] but has everything to do with poverty and social circumstances. [So what causes poverty? Could it be ethnic characteristics?]
Fitzgerald who worked for the Home Office research unit for over 10 years was concerned about the way so called `ethnic' statistics were being used, particularly in the context of crime. She started by examining education statistics and then moved onto explore the notion `statistical racism' through the publication of crime figures. Her educational research led her to conclude that the education system (primary school to GCSE secondary stage) was letting down black children especially in poor areas. [Their own behaviour has nothing to do with their failure to learn, of course]
"In discussion, I'd see kids who we're unmistakeably bright but when I got them to fill in a short survey at the end of class, it was obvious they were being sent out into the world with a standard of literacy which was lower than that of my 8 year old granddaughter even though they were nearly twice as old and just as bright. "This meant their job prospects were poor; so their chances of legitimately earning the things they aspired to were very limited.
She added: "Yet, as I knew only too well, those in the poorest areas were surrounded by crime and opportunities for crime. Also very few of them were white but that was simply because these were areas that most whites had long-since abandoned." [And why would whites have abandoned them? Whites LOVE being victims of black crime!]
She has agreed with Trevor Phillips' admittance last year that black boys perform much worse in schools than white boys was true but pointed out that Asian boys from poor groups like the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were also under-performing. However when you contrast, pupils of Indian origin (a group on equal social-economic terms as whites [And why would that be?]) they actually do better than average, with Indian girls too out-performing whites in secondary schools.
The common denominator which stands out is ethnicity rather than race. [A distinction without a difference?]
Fitzgerald says that Trevor Phillips suggestion that black boys be given separate treatment rings alarm bells about what has been referred to as `statistical racism'. When analysising prison statistics she says she was labelled as a `liberal' criminologist because she questioned the massive over-representation of black people but not `Asians'. At the Home Office all major police forces were told that from 1996 they would have to provide annual statistics on stop/searches, caution and arrests broken down by ethnic group. To Fitzgerald it was obvious which group would come out on top. [Obvious indeed]
She said: "In the long term I had concerns about ways these figures might be interpreted as a measure of the scale of `black criminality', even if this wasn't stated openly." She highlights there was "a very pronounced degree of disproportion in the prison figures from the start." Similar patterns were also apparent in the Met's arrest figures "which account for the bulk of any supposedly national statistics for black people anyway, because nearly two thirds of the total black population lives in London."
The solution to statistical racism in the long-term, is to identify all of the factors which produce these patterns in the figures and addressing the underlying causes - many of which have nothing at all to do with race and ethnicity. For example street crime as a result of poor housing, unemployment or even the pressure to have the latest designer labels. [How awful to be under such pressure! An excellent reason to mug people!]
Statistical information could be used to emphasise that government policies, for example police operations are having an adverse effect on members of the black community - most of whom will be innocent of any crime. "The immediate challenge is to stop the figures being read as if they told us some objective truth about essential differences between whole groups of people," she says. [Group statistics don't tell us about group differences??]
Pro-Test: supporting animal testing
A new campaign by Oxford students makes the case for scientific progress and medical research
In recent months, medical research and animal testing has become an increasingly inflammatory topic in Oxford, England. The media interest has so far been in student fears and grievances, and the violent methods and intimidation of the animal rights protesters.
All acts of violence on the part of animal rights protesters should be denounced, and there are laws in place for this. Yet SPEAK, the non-violent animal rights group, is fully within its right to protest and make its case, however noisily.
There is little merit in being drawn into a debate about the methods of animal rights groups. This shifts the attention away from the key issues, which concern science, and our understanding of the role played by medical research in the advancement of human knowledge and welfare. Animal experimentation is an integral and necessary component of such research, and should be defended for these reasons.
With this in mind, a 16-year-old student set up Pro-Test, with the idea of defending the construction of the new Oxford animal facility. Pro-Test began with a small-scale counter-demonstration on 28 January 2006 with the slogan 'Support Progress: Build the Oxford Animal Lab'. In reaction to the positive response from Oxford students, local business owners and other people on the day, a website was launched: www.Pro-Test.org.uk. Today, Pro-Test consists of a group of students who are concerned above all with the promotion of science, medical research, reasoned debate, and human welfare. The goal of Pro-Test is to make the case for animal testing. It is generally well known that vaccines, antibiotics, transplant surgeries, medical devices such as pacemakers, and other developments would not be here today if animal testing had not been used. But animal rights activists want to stop all current and future animal testing.
Challenging this through a defence of scientific experimentation should not be just the particular concern of Oxford students, or of scientists. It is an issue that concerns society as a whole, and goes to the heart of how we understand ourselves, and what vision we have of humanity and the capacity for bettering human welfare through the pursuit of scientific research. Life as we know it would not be possible without experimenting on animals.
Animal rights activists often demonise scientists, pretending that they are sadists who enjoy torturing animals just for the sake of it. There are countless examples of the lengths to which scientists go to minimise the suffering of animals. But the simple point is that scientists are not sadists: they act in the way that they see fit, according to principles that they share with the rest of us.
Animal research takes place not because of the laziness of scientists, or because it is just the cheapest option foisted on to scientists by pharmaceutical companies that put profits before anything else. They take place because they are a necessary component of scientific research. At the early stages of biomedical research, alternatives to animal testing exist, which is why the majority of research devoted to finding new treatments is done through chemical, biochemical, biological and pharmacological assays involving DNA, RNA, proteins, and mammalian cells.
But in the end, drugs must be tested in an animal model in order to see the effects of a compound in the entire body, not just in a cellular environment. Testing drugs in animals before doing so in humans helps researchers find potential toxic side effects, as well as understand the metabolism of drug compounds and consequent effects seen throughout the body. This cannot be replicated in cellular assays.
As in all fields of human activity, errors have been made. Animal rights activists use isolated cases as reasons for stopping animal testing. In fact, looking more closely at such cases suggests the opposite conclusion: not less but more testing.
A famous example often cited by animal rights groups is thalidomide. Thalidomide was introduced in 1956 and marketed as a sedative. Within several years, its use had spread around the world and women began taking it to help combat the nausea associated with pregnancy. In 1961, several physicians linked thalidomide with birth defects they observed in cases of female patients who had been taking it. Very quickly, these results were confirmed worldwide, and thalidomide was taken off the market.
Thalidomide did initially pass safety tests in animals because the proper tests - namely, testing thalidomide in pregnant animals - were not performed. If a thorough battery of tests had been performed in animals, the birth defects would have been detected. Animal rights groups confuse an error resulting from an absence of testing with one resulting from conducting tests on animals. They claim, quite erroneously, that thalidomide did not cause birth defects in animals, only humans. Once the drug was pulled off the market, additional tests in animals were done, and it was found that mice, rats, hamsters, marmosets and baboons all suffered similar effects as observed in humans....
In contemporary debate, animal rights groups dominate the agenda. Those who oppose animal rights groups often concede on the principle, and argue only with the methods of animal rights activists. Yet the only way to challenge the climate of fear that currently surrounds the debate on animal testing is to win the argument. Confidence in the strength of their ideas will give people the will to stand up to the threats and intimidation. This can only come through a defence of animal research as a necessary component of scientific experimentation.
Pro-Test stands by the belief that the value of human life is such that these drugs should be tested on animals before they are tested on any human beings.
26 February, 2006
The Politically Correct vs. the Politically Ridiculous: No heroes in the port drama
With the approval of the Bush administration, a company owned by the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over commercial management of shipping and stevedoring operations at six major American ports, located on the eastern seaboard and in New Orleans. When attention was suddenly drawn to this development last week, the urge toward public-safety questions was understandable. Not panic, but legitimate questions.
Sure as Dean follows Howard, though, understandable concern rapidly degenerated into calculated hysteria from poseurs seeking to claim the high ground from a president against whose measure they stand as national-security Lilliputians. Accelerating the downward spiral, the administration's initially temperate but unconvincing defense of the transaction devolved just as quickly into nauseating politically correctness.
Neither corner of the ring has distinguished itself. In one, leading Democrats and some Republicans are evidently shocked to learn that many of the nation's ports are managed by foreigners. Indeed, even as they railed against the prospect of this buy-out by UAE's Dubai Ports World, Inc., they skipped past the inconvenient fact that the seller, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, is a British concern. Naturally, they prefer to cast the issue as one of foreign port-terminal management because they lack the gumption to state that the problem is Islamic participation in what is a gaping soft-spot in our armor. Yet, as usual, such too-clever-by-half cravenness has landed them in a box. Terminals at the ports in question - like many others in the country - have long been under the management of non-Americans. Should we expel everyone?
Especially precious in this regard is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's newfound passion for port security. Fresh from throwing in her lot with partisan efforts to derail the Patriot Act and frame the NSA's surveillance of wartime enemy communications as a crime, the '08 stars in Mrs. Clinton's eyes have suddenly twinkled with a fond memory: namely, how her husband managed to win the 1992 election, in large part, by getting to the right of the first President Bush on what was that era's great global menace - post-Tiananmen Square China. So here she is, trying to elbow her way to the right of the current Bush administration on the scourge of al Qaeda . and hoping the rest of us are struck by amnesia.
You may recall, however, that, upon election, President Clinton proceeded to get tough with Beijing for, oh, about ten minutes. After that, there was no transfer of precious technology and no national security secret that couldn't be had for the right price. Oh, and guess who now controls several port operations on the West Coast? And has for years? Well, whaddya know? It's China.
Indeed, Chinese infiltration of U.S. ports would have been even more pervasive if Senator Clinton's husband had had his way. In 1998, the Republican Congress (led by Senator James Inhofe (OK) and Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA)) had to stop him from turning over management of a 144-acre terminal at the former U.S. Naval Station in Long Beach to the Chinese Ocean Shipping Company - a subsidiary of the People's Liberation Army linked to arms trading to Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Pakistan, Cuba, and even the street gangs of Los Angeles.
Of course, in the Clinton years, when anyone had the temerity to suggest that maybe it wasn't such a hot idea to give away the store to thuggish, democracy-crushing Communists, we were told such troglodyte notions were insentient to the alchemy of "constructive engagement." This was the very "why make friends when you can let them buy you?" philosophy that led these super-competent, obsessed-with-national-security Clintonistas to sell $8 billion worth of F-16s, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, other advanced weapons, and sundry munitions to - guess who? - The United Arab Emirates.
That happened in early 2000. For those keeping score, that's less than two years after al Qaeda blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It is one year after the Clinton administration had Osama bin Laden targeted at a camp in Afghanistan . but called the strike off because the al Qaeda chief was in the company of high UAE officials, including an Emirati prince. A few months later, while the Clinton folks were getting the UAE its new military hardware, the regime's friends at al Qaeda were blowing up the U.S.S. Cole.
So why do I have this crazy feeling that, in a new Clinton era, we'd be apt to find a lot more "engagement" than exclusion of the UAE (not to mention other dubious "partners") at our ports? In any event, now that Senator Clinton is all over this port thing, it'll be interesting to hear how she plans to tackle those dread Chinese foreigners managing California's coastline - not to mention her explanation of why the administration in which she figured so prominently thought it was okay to sell lots of stuff that goes boom to a country apparently not even fit to run a port terminal.
Meanwhile, President Bush, who has never, ever vetoed anything in five years - not campaign-finance "reform" that shredded core First Amendment protections, not bursting budgets they haven't built calculators big enough to tally, not a law extending Fifth Amendment protections to alien enemy combatants, etc. - has somehow decided that this, the great principle of equal-market access for checkered Muslim regimes, is where he draws his line in the sand.
The president is promising to kill any legislation aimed at derailing the deal, so offended is he by the suggestion that, in the middle of a war against jihadists, a tiny Islamic country with a history of terror ties, which lives in an unstable, al Qaeda-friendly neighborhood, maybe, just maybe, might be a smidge less suitable for port management than, say, a private company based in England. (England, for those with a short memory, is a country with which we have a bit of history, and which was, for example, patrolling the no-fly zone with us in Iraq while the aforementioned Emirati prince was cavorting with bin Laden in Kandahar.) I mean, does it get any more chauvinistic than that?
So while Democrats pander to our fears (and thus adopt the very cudgel they claim the administration has clubbed them with since 9/11), the president panders to what he takes to be our sense of fair play. He has he challenged lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal reports, to "step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard" than a British company. Well, okay. The Middle Eastern company is wholly owned by an Islamic autocracy. The president says we need to democratize the Islamic world because autocracies are unstable. And this particular one, oil-rich but only about the size of Maine, has more non-citizens than citizens among its four million or so residents, is enmeshed in a territorial dispute with those famously reasonable mullahs in Iran (over the Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island), and has been a hub for international narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
Nonetheless, the administration regards the regime - which does not show much promise of democratic reform - as both friendly and adherent to moderate Islam. As usual, "moderate" is in the eye of the beholder. For example, it is a crime punishable by imprisonment in the UAE for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man - because that is a violation of the meta-tolerant Religion of Peace's sharia law, which governs the realm. Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women (and more than one if they like), but you can get sent to prison for such crimes as urging Muslims to convert to other faiths.
Moreover, as my friend Frank Gaffney points out, the regime despises our close ally, Israel. The UAE promotes the idea of a one-state solution in "Palestine" (hint: the one state is not Israel), and may well be funding charities in Gaza and the West Bank - where "charities" are notorious for underwriting terrorism. It was also a key supporter of the Taliban - one of only three countries to recognize bin Laden's kindly hosts as the official government of Afghanistan. In fact, the UAE is the country through which bin Laden was allowed to transit when al Qaeda moved its headquarters to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.
All that aside, we are at war with jihadists who, more than anything else, seek to strike us domestically with weapons of mass destruction - including nukes if they can access them. Lo and behold, it turns out that the UAE has been used as a transfer-station for nuclear components in the conspiracy of Pakistani proliferator A. Q. Kahn, who was selling technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. Obviously, the Kahn enterprise would have made other plans had it not believed it was on safe footing with the UAE.
Does all this mean the port deal ought to be scotched? I think it does, but I have a (slightly) open mind - as do a lot of other people who fret over our security. The Bush administration contends that the UAE has cleaned up its act since 9/11. There are reasons to be skeptical. The administration, after all, also counts Saudi Arabia and Yemen as cherished friends. It has set a laughably generous grading curve for Islamic regimes (and Islamic leaders) seeking the "moderate" diploma which qualifies them for the status of "ally" in the war on terror. Moreover, while the UAE has plainly taken some steps in the right direction, its facilitation of the enemy prior to 9/11 was substantial. It is not generally our practice to consider hardened criminals redeemed after only four years of good behavior - especially when "good" in this context is, to put it mildly, relative.
On the other hand, port commercial management is not exactly the same as port security. If it really insists on pressing ahead with this deal, the administration should have a chance to demonstrate why, at a time when our homeland is a target and it takes very few operatives to execute a massive attack, we should be comfortable with the UAE in such a prominent role at our borders - even if security remains primarily the task of the Department of Homeland Security. But the administration should make that case to Congress and the American people, not to a secret tribunal (the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) which is run by the Treasury Department - rather than the Pentagon or DHS - and for whom the promotion of commerce has pride of place over national security.
Which is all to say: This transaction needs a long, careful look. It doesn't need stone-throwing from opportunists who would be better advised to check their own glass houses. And it doesn't need bully-pulpit demagoguery. You don't need to be an "Islamophobe" to have doubts here. You just need to have an IQ of about 11.
What little boys were made of before lawsuits
BY NED CRABB
Two weeks ago, a six-year-old boy was suspended from first grade for three days for "sexual harassment" because he allegedly put "two fingers inside [a] girl's waistband while she sat on the floor in front of him," according to an AP story. Sexual harassment at age six. Growing up kind of fast these days, aren't they?
"He doesn't know those things," the boy's mother told the local press. "He's only six years old." The woman said she "screamed" about the suspension.
Yeah, well, I'd scream too. The whole thing is stupid--children poking at one another and then being punished for it in terms of adult concepts, described with adult words.
We didn't have "sexual" or "harassment" In The Old Days (henceforth, ITOD) when I was in school. The words were in the dictionary, but adults did not say "sex" in the presence of kids. Uh-uh. Children repeated things like that. And I certainly never heard a teacher use a silver-dollar word like "harassment" to describe the human-nature orneriness of children stuffed into a schoolhouse all day. ITOD we called it "teasing" or "picking on (someone)." Let me translate "harassment" into a couple of situations at one of the country schools in which I matriculated circa Truman-through-Eisenhower.
One day after school I was unmercifully teasing and picking on Dixieanna Hamlin in the cloakroom. I had a serious crush on Dixie and she was not giving me enough attention. Cleverly, I decided that amusing monkeyshines and teasing--grabbing her scarf, messing up her hair, etc.--would further her regard for me. "Ned Crabb," she said, eyes narrowed, "you stop that right now or I'm gonna let you have it." Assuming my antics were too hilarious to resist, I didn't even slow down. And so Dixie slapped me right across the jowls. I was stunned. And humiliated; it happened in front of other classmates. They stared at Dixie and me for a few seconds, their eyes round in amazement, then they bee-lined for the school bus.
I didn't speak to Dixieanna for weeks; didn't dare look in her direction. Eventually, she made a point of saying hello to me even when I desperately tried to look at something interesting out the window, such as a crow. She was nice to me in the lunchroom and on the bus, and after a while we became good friends. She never became my girlfriend, but the friendship lasted until we were adults and I moved away from Oklahoma. I had so nurtured my own humiliation at the slap that it wasn't until years later that I realized my persistent antics (the cloakroom had not been the only incident of teasing) had humiliated Dixie. It was a lesson I still carry with me. Thank God Dixie and I had not had the intervention of teachers and principals or the exquisite modern horror of charges of "sexual harassment," followed, as is often the case, by "psychological counselors" and civil-rights lawyers.
Another lesson in "harassment" ITOD came the next year, when a tough farm kid who was a buddy of a guy I'll call Joe Bob Eubanks, the scariest student-thug in two school districts, confronted me in the hallway and said: "Joe Bob is gonna beat the [very bad word, especially then] outta you after school 'cause you drew a cartoon of him." Now that, to my mind, was real harassment, though we called it "going after (someone)" back then. Joe Bob was "coming after" me. If I could've sicced a psychological counselor or a glowering lawyer on Joe Bob I would've leaped at the chance, but we hadn't heard of those things either.
There was no way I could've told a teacher or the principal about my impending disaster, because such a thing would have been disgraceful in the eyes of the other kids; I would've been "yellow." Besides, I really had used my budding artistic talent rather offensively, portraying Joe Bob as a knuckle-dragging gorilla with a finger up one nostril. (It was an early work from my Goya period.)
After the final bell, the knuckle-dragger came after me in front of a collection of onlookers. In a bizarre moment of possible hysteria I ran straight at him, head down, little fists pumping. It was no contest, naturally. Joe Bob put a fist in my teeth. Hoo boy, that hurt. Then he picked me up and slammed me face down, rubbing my face in the dirt. Somehow, I managed to squirm away and stand up. "You ain't had enough, runt," he said. I refused to cry and I didn't run--I simply backed away with alacrity. And then, to my amazement, about a half-dozen boys walked over and stood in front of me. "It ain't fair, Joe Bob," one of them said. I had not run, and had taken my punishment for the cartoon. I had schoolyard cred. Most children do have an innate sense of what is fair and what "ain't," and they will, quite often, settle things themselves.
I wish I could say that Joe Bob and I also became friends. No chance. If I ever see that guy again--even if he's the male equivalent of Mother Teresa--I'm gonna punch him in the teeth.
The Left's patron saint was a war criminal
Bolivia's Evo Morales solemnly invoked Ernesto ''Che'' Guevara, the patron saint of Latin America's woolly Left, in his presidential inauguration. An exhibit at New York's Center of Photography explores Guevara's fascinating afterlife as a marketing tool for all kinds of products, from watches to ice cream. Saint or gimmick, the durable Argentine adventurer lives on. Like Mickey Mouse, he sells and gets no royalties.
Guevara was slain in cold blood by the Bolivian army nearly 40 years ago. He had infiltrated Bolivia to test his theory that a few foci sustained by hard-core guerrillas would detonate the continental Revolution. It didn't work.
Freddy Alborta, a photographer from La Paz, took remarkable pictures of Guevara's corpse propped up on a laundry countertop. The intent may have been forensic, but the outcome was mystical. The shirtless Guevara looks like Jesus descended from the Cross or those images of the dead Christ venerated on Good Friday. The martyr's image at the moment of his sacrifice, seen by millions, opened the way to his apotheosis......
Guevara-worship may be naive or opportunistic, but there is something downright obscene in his promotion by capitalist commerce. Guevara simply was not a nice fellow. There is nothing benign about the real Guevara, pistol in hand, giving a cold-blooded coup de grace to the Castro regime's enemies at La Cabana fortress. Or his bloody repression of anti-Castro peasants in the Escambray mountains of central Cuba when the Castroite regime was 2 years old. Guevara's hands had much blood on them besides his own. In real life, he was a war criminal.
Guevara died a martyr's death while carrying out a fool's errand. He came to believe his own mythmaking. Cuba was no Vietnam and Castro no Ho-Chi-Minh. In Cuba, the corrupt and sloppy dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista imploded when it lost the support of the United States in 1958. Castro's genius lay in his ability to take control of the ensuing chaos; Guevara, who was along for the ride, read a proletarian Iliad into what was essentially a farce.
When he tried to replicate the Cuban outcome in Bolivia, revolutionary peasants were nowhere in sight. Castro's promised support did not materialize. The Bolivian military were supposed to join the people's legions or cave in like Batista's, but they did not. So Guevara died a delusional Argentine Robin Hood who, unlike his prototype, was not nearly as smart as the sheriff of Nottingham. Never mind -- pass the T-shirts.
25 February, 2006
AT LAST HOMOSEXUALS ARE RECOGNIZING THEIR GREATEST ENEMY
Gay rights group are claming victory after anti-gay Muslim leader Sir Iqbal Sacranie pulled out from speaking at a London conference after gay protests. Sacranie was to have been a keynote speaker at a trade union-sponsored Unite Against Fascism conference at the weekend; however his views on homosexuality were widely condemned as echoing the anti-gay hatred of the BNP. "This climbdown is a victory for humanitarian values over homophobic prejudice. We want Muslim leaders like Sacranie to be part of the anti-BNP alliance, but only if they respect the human rights of gay people and other minorities," said Peter Tatchell of the gay human rights group, OutRage!, which helped coordinate the protests against Sacranie being invited to speak.
The conference organisers claim Sacranie withdrew because he had another engagement. But this is disputed by Peter Tatchell of OutRage! "Three days ago the conference organisers were adamant that Sir Iqbal would be a speaker," said Tatchell. "After being deluged with protests they are now saying he is no longer available. This is not a credible explanation. We believe the organisers realised they could not secure the acceptance of a homophobe at an anti-fascist conference, so they dumped him. "Sacranie's attitude to gay people is similar to the homophobia of the BNP. He should have never been invited in the first place.
Fellow OutRage activist and gay Muslim, Ramzi Islam, added: "Sir Iqbal is leader of the anti-gay Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). As well as actively campaigning to maintain homophobic laws like Section 28, he last month publicly denounced lesbians and gay men on BBC Radio, saying they were immoral, harmful and spread disease.
NO FREE SPEECH ABOUT CHAPPAQUIDDICK?
A community college student in Massachusetts faces possible disciplinary action for shouting "Remember Chappaquiddick!" during an on-campus speech by Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy yesterday. Paul Trost, 20, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., says he was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success. "Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said of the introduction, which occurred in the school's student center yesterday morning.
Just as Kennedy began speaking, Trost was walking out of the room when he shouted, "Remember Chappaquiddick!" "Most of the crowd gasped," Trost said. "Then I walked out of the student center." The student says a campus police officer went outside and stopped him. He also saw some state troopers go outside, the type who accompany Kennedy around the state to provide security. Trost says the cop took down his information and told him he would be hearing from school officials about disciplinary action. A spokesman with the campus police verified the incident but stressed that Trost was not arrested.
The student said one of his teachers confronted him after a class about the Chappaquiddick issue. "One of my teachers called me ignorant and told me this was an embarrassment to the school," Trost told WND. "She said to me, 'Can't you forgive him after all these years?' And I said, 'No, he killed somebody.' "If it had been me or any other person, we'd be in jail," Trost says he told his instructor.
Referring to his two-word shout, Trost said, "I did it because I know about Kennedy's past. I know what happened at Chappaquiddick. "I wanted to send a message to him that my generation still knows about it. We haven't forgotten about it." Trost said he was satisfied to know that students on campus were talking about the Chappaquiddick incident later in the day - some of whom, in fact, were not familiar with it.
In 1969, Kennedy was driving a car that went off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Mass. His passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, was killed after the car landed upside down in the water. No autopsy was ever performed to determine her exact cause of death. At the time, Kennedy claimed he tried several times to swim down to reach Kopechne to no avail. He came under fire for not reporting the incident to authorities until the next morning. In the interim he reportedly made an effort to call a family legal adviser.
"I haven't yet found out what's going to happen to me," Trost said, referring to the warning from campus police.
FOOD CORRECTNESS GETS AN ELECTRONIC BOOST
Or how to ensure that kids pig out on everything fattening once they escape parental control
A student slides a tray toward the cafeteria cash register with a healthy selection: a pint of milk, green beans, whipped sweet potatoes and chicken nuggets - baked, not fried. But then he adds a fudge brownie. When he punches in his code for the prepaid account his parents set up, a warning sounds: "This student has a food restriction." Back goes the brownie as the cashier reminds him that his parents have declared all desserts off-limits.
This could be a common occurrence at Houston schools when the district becomes one of the largest in the nation with a cafeteria automation system that lets parents dictate -and track - what their kids get. Primero Food Service Solutions, developed by Houston-based Cybersoft Technologies, allows parents to set up prepaid lunch accounts so children don't have to carry money, said Ray Barger, Cybersoft's director of sales and marketing. It also shows the cashier any food allergies or parent-set diet restrictions for his or her account, and the student is not allowed to buy an offending item.
Parents also can go online to track their child's eating habits and make changes. "If parents want Johnny to eat chips one day a week, they can go in and make changes to allow them to buy a bag of chips on, say, Fridays," said Terry Abbott, spokesman for Houston Independent School District, the nation's seventh-largest with more than 250,000 students.
Robin Green, whose 14-year-old son, Jerry, is in seventh grade in the Houston district, said she would probably sign up for the new voluntary monitoring system once it's implemented within the next year. Green was concerned that parents from low-income families without access to computers would not be able to participate, but Abbott said parents can go to their school and work with cafeteria representatives.
Barger said his company's system already is being used in schools in Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee, as well as other Texas cities. Several other companies have similar cafeteria monitoring programs at other schools.
Prepaid cafeteria accounts have been around for five to 10 years, but programs that allow parents to say what their kids can or can't eat are a more recent development, said Erik Peterson, spokesman for the Washington-based School Nutrition Association. His organization did not have exact figures on how many school districts use such programs.....
Karen Cullen, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children's Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, cautioned that the system is good only if it sparks communication between parents and their children on healthy food choices. "Kids need to be able to make healthy choices," Cullen said. "Parents can't be in charge. Children need some freedom."
24 February, 2006
The Adversary Culture: The perverse anti-Westernism of the cultural elite
Below is just the introduction to a big article by the redoubtable Keith Windschuttle
For the past three decades and more, many of the leading opinion makers in our universities, the media and the arts have regarded Western culture as, at best, something to be ashamed of, or at worst, something to be opposed. Before the 1960s, if Western intellectuals reflected on the long-term achievements of their culture, they explained it in terms of its own evolution: the inheritance of ancient Greece, Rome and Christianity, tempered by the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the scientific and industrial revolutions. Even a radical critique like Marxism was primarily an internal affair, intent on fulfilling what it imagined to be the destiny of the West, taking its history to what it thought would be a higher level.
Today, however, such thinking is dismissed by the prevailing intelligentsia as triumphalist. Western political and economic dominance is more commonly explained not by its internal dynamics but by its external behaviour, especially its rivalry and aggression towards other cultures. Western success has purportedly been at their expense. Instead of pushing for internal reform or revolution, this new radicalism constitutes an overwhelmingly negative critique of Western civilization itself.
According to this ideology, instead of attempting to globalise its values, the West should stay in its own cultural backyard. Values like universal human rights, individualism and liberalism are regarded merely as ethnocentric products of Western history. The scientific knowledge that the West has produced is simply one of many "ways of knowing". In place of Western universalism, this critique offers cultural relativism, a concept that regards the West not as the pinnacle of human achievement to date, but as simply one of many equally valid cultural systems.
Cultural relativism claims there are no absolute standards for assessing human culture. Hence all cultures should be regarded as equal, though different. It comes in two varieties: soft and hard.
The soft version now prevails in aesthetics. Take a university course in literary criticism or art theory and you will now find traditional standards no longer apply. Italian opera can no longer be regarded as superior to Chinese opera. The theatre of Shakespeare was not better than that of Kabuki, only different.
The hard version comes from the social sciences and from cultural studies. Cultural practices from which most Westerners instinctively shrink are now accorded their own integrity, lest the culture that produced them be demeaned.
For instance, although Western feminists once found the overt misogyny of many tribal cultures distasteful, in recent years they have come to respect practices they once condemned. Feminist academics now deny that suttee, the incineration of widows, is barbaric. The Indian-American cultural studies theorist, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak gives suttee an honourable place in Indian culture by comparing it to the Christian tradition of martyrdom. Feminists once denounced the surgical removal of the clitoris of Muslim women as female genital mutilation. Lately, the procedure has been redefined as genital "cutting", which the literary and art critic Germaine Greer now argues should be recognized as an authentic manifestation of the culture of the Muslim women concerned.
Similarly, the Parisian literary theorist, Tzvetan Todorov, in The Conquest of America (1985), compares Mexican cannibalism to the Christian Eucharist, and the Australian postmodern historian, Greg Dening, in Mr Bligh's Bad Language (1992), declares Polynesian human sacrifice to be the ritual equivalent of British capital punishment.
Something is obviously going terribly wrong here. The logic of relativism is taking Western academics into dark waters. They are now prepared to countenance practices that are obviously cruel, unnatural and life-denying, that is, practices that offend against all they claim to stand for.
To see how decadent these assumptions have become, compare today's relativism to the attitude that prevailed when the culture of the British people was in its ascendancy. Sir Charles Napier, the British Commander-in-chief in India from 1849 to 1851, signed an agreement with local Hindu leaders that he would respect all their customs, except for the practice of suttee. The Hindu leaders protested but Napier was unmoved:
You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.
The moral rationale of cultural relativism is a plea for tolerance and respect of other cultures, no matter how uncomfortable we might be with their beliefs and practices. However, there is one culture conspicuous by its absence from all this. The plea for acceptance and open-mindedness does not extend to Western culture itself, whose history is regarded as little more than a crime against the rest of humanity. The West cannot judge other cultures but must condemn its own.
Coup against Summers a dubious victory for the politically correct
A plurality of one faculty has brought about an academic coup d'etat against not only Harvard University president Lawrence Summers but also against the majority of students, faculty, and alumni. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which forced Summers's resignation by voting a lack of confidence in him last March and threatening to do so again on Feb. 28, is only one component of Harvard University and is hardly representative of widespread attitudes on the campus toward Summers. The graduate faculties, the students, and the alumni generally supported Summers for his many accomplishments. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences includes, in general, some of the most radical, hard-left elements within Harvard's diverse constituencies. And let there be no mistake about the origin of Summers's problem with that particular faculty: It started as a hard left-center conflict. Summers committed the cardinal sin against the academic hard left: He expressed politically incorrect views regarding gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and the military.
The original no-confidence motion contained an explanatory note that explicitly referenced ''Mr. Summers' apparently ongoing convictions about the capacities and rights not only of women but also of African-Americans, third-world nations, gay people, and colonized peoples." The note also condemned Summers for his 2002 speech in which he said calls from professors and students for divestment from Israel were ''anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent."
Although the explanatory note was eventually removed from the motion, it was the 400-pound gorilla in the room. Summers was being condemned for expressing views deemed offensive by some of the faculty. I personally disagreed with some of Summers's statements, but that is beside the point in an institution committed to academic freedom and diversity of viewpoints.
In the minds of at least some vocal members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, expressing such politically incorrect views is the academic equivalent of provoking Islamic extremists by depicting Prophet Mohammed in a political cartoon. Radical academics do not, of course, burn down buildings, at least not since the 1970s. Instead they introduce motions of no confidence and demand resignations of those who offend their sensibilities (while insisting on complete freedom of speech for those with whom they agree -- free speech for me but not for thee!).
Once the academic bloodletting began, it was difficult to stanch the wound. Everything Summers did, or did not do, became the object of criticism. Not only was the honeymoon over, the divorce had begun, at least in the minds of those determined to get rid of Summers. When he selected a new dean of Arts and Sciences, there were complaints. When the new dean resigned, there were complaints, some from the same faculty members who opposed the original selection.
When Summers recused himself from any investigation of his friend Andre Shleifer for investing in Russian companies while he was consulting about the Russian economy, he was condemned by some who would have condemned him even more vociferously had he not recused himself.
Summers could do no right in the eyes of his radical critics, who could never forgive him for his perceived original sins and who saw an opportunity to build wider coalitions every time Summers took actions that alienated other groups, as a president -- especially an activist and sometimes abrasive president -- will inevitably do. Some less ideological critics of Summers's leadership style then joined the radicals in a cacophony of strange bedfellows, but the core of the opposition always remained the hard left.
It was arrogant in the extreme for a plurality of a single faculty to purport to speak for the entire university, especially when that plurality is out of synch with the mainstream of Harvard. It was dangerous for the corporation to listen primarily to that faculty, without widely consulting other professors, students, and alumni who supported Summers. Now that this plurality of one faculty has succeeded in ousting the president, the most radical elements of Harvard will be emboldened to seek to mold all of Harvard in its image. If they succeed, Harvard will become a less diverse and less interesting institution of learning governed by political-correctness cops of the hard left. This is what happened in many European universities after the violent student protests of the late 1960s. It should not be allowed to happen at Harvard in the wake of the coup d'etat engineered by some in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
23 February, 2006
CHILDREN'S GAMES NOW INCORRECT
The Left's latest attempt to destroy childhood happiness. Below is a transcript of the Fox News "Schools Banning 'Tag'" story -- lifted from The Locker Room. See also further commentary on The Locker Room
Bill Hemmer, host: It's a part of childhood in playgrounds all across the country, but now there is a push in some schools to ban the game of "Tag." From Seattle, Dan Springer's in right now. Dan, good morning.
Dan Springer, reporter: Yeah, Bill, how did we ever survive to adulthood? First it was dodgeball, and now an increasing number of schools in America are banning the playing of "Tag" on their playgrounds. The latest is Adams Elementary in Spokane, Washington. The principal claims the students were getting hurt and also were being coerced to play. Fearing lawsuits and hurt feelings, she put an end to "Tag."
Principal (Mary Weber, not identified by Fox): There's a bullying issue if students don't want to participate in something, and they're kinda being forced to by someone running up to 'em and shoving them and saying "You're It!" Um, we want all students not only to be safe but to feel safe.
Springer: The ban upset many of the students, and one decided to do something about it by circulating a petition. In just a couple of hours, third grader Kubby Boyd had 46 signatures. But when he gave them to the principal with a suggestion that anyone who is too rough be disciplined, well, the principal refused to budge.
Kubby Boyd, third grade student: I felt pretty bored when I came outside because we usually have nothing to do, and that's all we play, "Tag."
Springer: Some schools in California, New Jersey and Wisconsin have already banned "Tag," agreeing with the National Association of School Psychologists, which believes quote "There's a potential for some victimization" endquote. But others say not letting boys be boys is hurting them and society.
Christina Hoff Sommers: Our children are healthy. They're not fragile and in need of all of this zealous protectiveness, and we actually harm them when we deny them the healthy challenges of childhood.
Springer: Now while there is no more unsupervised "Tag" in the Spokane school, they do allow it in gym class, albeit with a Nerf ball. And in case you're wondering, football is allowed on the playground; however, there's a catch, Bill: you can't run. You can throw the ball, but no running with the football.
(Available currently from this Fox page among others; right now it's the top Java-script link under "Video" on the right-hand menu down the page.)
California Domestic Violence Lawsuit Will Help Secure Services for All Abuse Victims -- Including Males
Yes. There ARE abusive women, incorrect to mention it though that might be
At the age of 11, Maegan Woods tried to stop a domestic dispute between her parents. She soon found herself staring down the barrel of her father's shotgun. She watched helplessly as the trigger was pulled. She is only alive today because the gun didn't fire--the safety was on. Maegan was abused and witnessed domestic violence in her home for most of her childhood. By age seven there had been knife attacks, punches, kicks, and more. It was hard to leave--the abuser was the one who earned the money, and the victim was unable to work because of a disability. On numerous occasions they looked for help to escape the abuse but were refused. Why?
Because in Maegan's family, the abused spouse was her father, and the battering and child abuse were perpetrated by her mother.
The California Battered Women Protection Act of 1994, codified in Health & Safety Codes Section 124250, et. seq., created funding for domestic violence shelter-based services. However, by defining domestic violence as something only experienced by women, the statutes exclude male victims from receiving state-funded domestic violence services, including shelter, hotel arrangements, counseling and legal services.
Meagan, now 21, and her father, David Woods, are the lead plaintiffs in a new lawsuit against the State of California and numerous state agencies and state-funded domestic violence service providers. Beginning in the mid-1980s, David was violently attacked on numerous occasions by his wife Ruth, who suffers from a bi-polar disorder which, in her case, creates a propensity toward violence.
On several occasions David decided that he and Maegan should get out of the house to escape Ruth's violence. However, with his disabling condition and inability to work, David had no money to provide for himself and his daughter. Numerous times he contacted a Sacramento domestic violence agency he had heard of in the media, WEAVE, but they always told him "we don't help men," and never offered him a referral to another facility. David tried churches and various programs, but all they could offer for men were homeless shelters with waiting lists. He found nothing for abused men and their children. David gave up and sank into a heavy depression.
By February 2003, Maegan began telling her father to find a place of safety from Ruth's violence. He again called WEAVE and again was told "we don't help men." Maegan, then 18, became so frustrated watching David being abused that she called WEAVE herself and insisted they help her father. According to Maegan, WEAVE said they do not help men, and that men are the perpetrators of domestic violence, not the victims.
That year Ruth finally began to seek professional help for her problems. David, loyal and a firm believer in his marriage vows, stuck by her. In January 2004, the two appeared together on the NBC's John Walsh Show and discussed Ruth's violence.
Domestic violence policies based on the woman good/man bad model kept David trapped in his violent marriage in a number of ways. The biggest reason David didn't leave Ruth was Maegan. She was frequently the target of Ruth's attacks, particularly when David wasn't around to protect her and take Ruth's blows. Domestic violence researcher Richard Gelles, whose groundbreaking work on domestic violence in the late 1970s was instrumental in bringing the issue to public consciousness, explains that current policies often trap abused fathers like David. They can't leave their wives because this would leave their children unprotected in the hands of an abuser. If they simply take their children, they can be arrested for kidnapping. Moreover, they would probably lose custody of their children in the divorce anyway, again leaving their children in harm's way.
These cases often have tragic results. In the highly-publicized Socorro Caro murder case, Socorro often abused her husband Xavier, a prominent Northridge, California rheumatologist, and once assaulted him so badly he had to have surgery to regain his sight in one eye. Trapped and not knowing what to do or where to go, Xavier endured the abuse, once telling his wife "one day you are going to do something that cannot be undone." A short time later Socorro shot and killed three of their four children. Their baby survived only because Socorro ran out of bullets. She was later convicted and sentenced to death for the murders.
While police intervention often works for abused women, abused men understandably fear that once the police are involved, their wives will accuse them of being the abuser and it is they who will be believed. Draconian arrest policies often direct police to make an arrest, and police are often pressured to arrest the man. The anti-male bias of police policies was evident in the Woods case. During the 1995 shotgun incident, Ruth called the police after David wrestled the shotgun away from her. Maegan yelled to her mom, "Tell the truth!" and Ruth told the police she wanted them to come because she wanted to kill her husband.
Nevertheless, when the police arrived and David opened the door to let them in, the officers immediately grabbed him by the wrist, wrestled him to the ground, and handcuffed him. They only uncuffed him after Maegan told them that it was her mother who had the gun.
What's needed are domestic violence policies tailored to the needs of all victims of abuse, regardless of gender. Decades of research shows that heterosexual males make up a significant part of the population of domestic violence victims. According to the most recent fact sheet released by the Centers for Disease Control, men comprise over 35% of all domestic violence victims. In a meta-analytic review of 552 domestic violence studies published in the November, 2000 issue of the Psychological Bulletin, psychology professor John Archer found that 38% of the physical injuries in heterosexual domestic assaults were suffered by men....
Much more here
22 February, 2006
Backlash at jailing of historian who denied Holocaust
Still some concern for free speech in Britain
David Irving, the far-right British historian, sat stunned and open-mouthed yesterday when an Austrian court found him guilty of denying the Holocaust and sentenced him to three years in jail. "I'm very shocked and I'm going to appeal," Irving, 67, said as he was bundled out of the Vienna courtroom by armed anti-riot police. From the public gallery a British supporter shouted "Stay strong, David", before he too was led away.
But in Britain there was dismay at a verdict that could turn Irving into a right-wing martyr. Irving had pleaded guilty to denying the Holocaust in two speeches in Austria in 1989. He was arrested when he re-entered the country, where it is a crime to deny the Holocaust, last November, and had been in custody since.
During his seven-hour trial yesterday Irving sought to convince the jury that he had changed his mind and now acknowledged the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis. "I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," he told the court. But the judge and jury were unswayed. One hundred and fifty-eight people have been convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria between 1999 and 2004, but only a handful other than Irving have been imprisoned.
Lord Janner of Braunstone, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, was pleased by the conviction. He said: "It sends a clear message to the world that we must not tolerate the denial of the mass murderers of the Holocaust. The Nazis tried to wipe out an entire people . . . We must learn the lessons of the past to build a decent society for the future."
The verdict came amid a furious debate in Europe over freedom of expression, with many defending the media's right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The Arabic television station al-Jazeera broadcast the verdict to its Islamic audience.
Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, was recently acquitted of making speeches inciting racial hatred. Abu Hamza, the radical Islamic cleric, was sentenced last week to seven years in prison for inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder.
In Britain there was alarm at the sentence. "Anyone who denies the Holocaust is off their rocker," Gerald Howarth, Tory MP for Aldershot, said. "But to send a man to prison for three years for something that he said sixteen years ago and has since changed his view - what are we coming to?" Anthony Beevor, the military historian, said: "However nauseating, these people should be confronted in debate rather than chucked into jail and turned into martyrs."
The verdict will end for good the career of a man banned from a dozen countries from Canada to South Africa for belittling the murder of the Jews and glorifying Hitler. In 2000 Irving was forced into bankruptcy when he unsuccessfully sued Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic who had called him a Holocaust denier. He was ordered to pay 3 million pounds in legal costs and had to sell his Mayfair home.
She said yesterday: "He should have been met by the sound of one hand clapping. The one thing he deserves, he really deserves, is obscurity."
(From The Times)
And another good comment:
"A few Austrians, such as Lothar Hobelt, an associate professor of history at the University of Vienna, believe it should never have been set up at all.
"This is a silly law by silly people for silly people," he said. "In fact, having a law that says you mustn't question a particular historical instance, if anything, creates doubt about it, because if an argument has to be protected by the force of law, it means it's a weak argument.""
NO FREE SPEECH FOR CHRISTIANS
My name is Robert xxxxxx and my wife and I are teachers in xxxxxx in Florida. My daughter is a 10th grader who also attends xxxxxx High in xxxxxx County. A few days ago, my wife got a phone call from their assistant principal saying Robyn, my daughter, was written up and sent to the office. Her biology teacher said that Robyn was voicing her disapproval of having a new Gay Alliance club at xxxxxx. Robyn said that by allowing this volunteer gay club, they were putting a stamp of approval on it. The biology teacher said that Robyn should respect student's right to be gay. My daughter, Robyn, said "You give those people that right, but you won't give my Lacrosse team funding or recognize it as a school sport." The assistant principal said if Robyn continues to "show disrespect" to Ms xxxxxx, she will face the consequences. My wife said, "I can't tell my daughter to change her belief or not voice it if it challenges her faith." "My daughter is a Christian." The API replied by saying, "I'm a Christian, too, but I must protect their right to sin."
My point is, "Where do we draw the line?" Should our concern for "political correctness" and civil rights/liberties govern our actions in daily life to a point that we entrust our minor children with important eternal lifestyle decisions? Sexual orientation, birth control, and abortion to name a few. Many children in high school are asked to make adult decisions that they are not qualified to make. And yet her school won't even fund or host the sport she plays so passionately. Where's the value system here?
My fear is that our "cradle to grave" government control of our children will result to a generation that will lack passion, drive, moral and ethical values, and will no longer view human life as valuable, precious, and irreplaceable. The truth is, God did! That is why Jesus died for us. I also fear that society will use our "right" to protect our "wrongs" to a point that 2+2 can equal whatever you want it to. I guess this philosophy will help with "standardized testing" but to what standards... The only standards that we can be tested on are God's standards as written in His word!
Campus Liberal Commits a "Hate Crime"?
No doubt he will weasel his way out of it -- with the co-operation of all concerned
A contributor to Cornell University's "premier liberal voice" has been charged with stabbing a black student on the university's campus after using "racial epithets" toward him. According to the Cornell Daily Sun, Nathan Poffenbarger [Class of] '08, a regular contributor to the campus magazine, "Turn Left" was charged with second-degree assault, a class "D" felony, after allegedly stabbing a visiting student on West Campus during an altercation on Saturday (February 18).
Police said the attack stemmed from a racial incident. "Witnesses told police Poffenbarger was yelling racial remarks at someone else, when the victim, a black male student, stepped in to stop him. The victim's name has not been released," News10 reported. According to the Ithaca Journal, Poffenbarger is white.
Capt. Kathy Zoner of the Cornell Police Department, told the Sun that the current charges could be elevated to class "C" under hate-crime statutes "if racial motivations are proven."
Wayne Huang , the former editor-in-chief of "Turn Left," confirmed that Poffenbarger was a regular contributor to the magazine. Huang and "Turn Left" staff member Josh Perlman both said they were "shocked" to learn Poffenbarger had been arrested in this matter:
"He had written a lot of good news pieces for us," said [Perlman]. "I had spoken to him earlier that day about a new article he was going to be doing. He didn't seem weird or anything when I spoke to him, just enthusiastic to be writing as he usually was. I was extremely shocked to hear about all this. This seems really out of character."
According to "Turn Left's" website, its mission statement is to "uphold and maintain tolerant and respectful political dialogue on the campus, promote and practice an ideology rooted in the belief of equality and freedom."
Emergency workers took the victim to Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira where he is in stable condition, the Sun reported.
21 February, 2006
RAPE OK IF GIRL HAS HAD VOLUNTARY SEX WITH OTHERS??
Italy going soft on criminals too
Italy's highest court ruled Friday that a man who raped the 14-year-old daughter of his girlfriend can seek to have his sentence reduced because the girl was sexually active, news reports said.
The ruling provoked an outcry across Italy, was condemned by UNICEF and prompted other justices on the court to issue a statement saying the ruling was wrong and in the future would be cited as a bad example of a high court decision, the ANSA news agency reported.
The case goes back to 2001, when a court in Sardinia convicted Marco T. of sexual violence and threats against the 14-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend and sentenced him to more than three years in prison, ANSA said. He requested a reduced sentence, saying the crime was less serious because the girl had already had several sexual partners. His request was rejected, but Italy's high court said the judges should re-evaluate the decision because the girl "since the age of 13 had had many sexual relations with men of every age." "And it's right to assume," the ruling went on, according to ANSA, "that at the time of the encounter with the suspect her personality, from a sexual point of view, was much more developed than what one might normally expect from a girl of her age."
The suspect's lawyer, Andrea Biccheddu, defended the ruling, saying the episode between his client and the girl "didn't provoke any trauma," because the girl had had so many sexual partners. He said his client deserved to have his sentence reduced by two thirds, the agency said.
VIOLENT BLACK MUSIC TAKES LIVES
I reproduce below a news report followed by another article arguing that violent black music is dangerous and should not be beyond criticism
News report excerpt:
Earl Patrick McNeese, better known to Fredericksburg-area hip-hop fans as Praverb the Wyse, winced when he read the news about the fatal stabbing of Courtland High School junior Baron "Deuce" Braswell II. First, McNeese, a 23-year-old Stafford County resident, felt some of the pain experienced by the victim's family--and by the families of the six teens charged in the crime. Then the hip-hop artist grieved for the damage done to the image of a genre he's been trying to help liberate from the chains of a "bad boy" image. "Rap music already has a bad stigma and this incident adds more fuel to the fire," McNeese said.
Like many others, he read news reports that the stabbing took place while "Knuck if You Buck," a song popularized by the Crime Mob rap group, was playing at a Four-Mile Fork motel party. Crime Mob is made up of teens who were members of an Atlanta gang. The lyrics in the 2004 song make references to fighting at a party. The song is "crunk music," meaning "crazy drunk," and incites behavior similar to moshing and slam dancing, he said. Crunk, a bass-heavy type of rap music with risque lyrics, is hot right now and getting a lot of radio play on hip-hop stations. Turn the radio dial to any hip-hop station and crunk is there. Drive past the mall and it may be blasting from passing car radio speakers.
The genre originated in Memphis with the group Three 6 Mafia, but Atlanta has taken most of the credit with artists such as Lil' Jon and OutKast. McNeese wasn't at the motel party, but says he can guess what happened during what he calls "a sad incident, indeed." "Did the song spark the incident?" he said rhetorically. "In my opinion, yes. The song was intended to liven the party up--and it did, to an extent where someone got killed." "I just hope this incident draws people together, and it teaches teens that loyalty to your school or neighborhood is cool, but at the same time extreme loyalty can result in tragedy," McNeese said.
Lonnie B, a DJ, recording artist and hip-hop icon in the Richmond area, has different ideas. "You can't blame the music for somebody's actions," Lonnie B said. "If people are that ignorant and weak-minded, the problem is much bigger than the music." But he also said, "It's more likely to happen when you play crunk music, but it can happen to any type of music." He said: "Hip-hop is not music, it's a lifestyle. Hip-hop is the way you talk, the way you dress, the way you talk or slang. Rap is the words, the music. Crunk is a sound."
The suggestion that "Knuck if You Buck" might have had some small part in his murder is certainly generating letters to The Free Lance-Star. Some readers may feel that the idea of a link between the two clearly violates the most sacred rule of "political correctness"--that "gross" equals "good." Anyone who objects is likely to offend someone, with the clear suggestion that the offender is somehow involved in "hate speech," which of course is the end of all discussion--if not the end of all reason.
If we are looking beyond a mere inanimate song as the perpetrator of the violence, we might wonder about the kid with the knife. Perhaps he is responsible for killing Baron Braswell. However, we might also ask whether the kid with the knife would have stabbed Baron if his "nice" friends were not screaming "Mayfield Mob," beating Baron to the floor, and kicking him. Or whether the temporary thugs (as the "nice boys" were called) would have knocked Baron to the floor if the DJ had not chosen to play songs which he well knew would incite "dancers" to crash enthusiastically into each other--in keeping with the somewhat violent sentiments of the song.
Which brings us to another tenet of the Political Correctness Religion: "Songs (and those that sing them) are sacred." As long as it has a melody or, in the case of gangsta rap, a beat, any words or any behaviors are perfectly acceptable. In fact, if "nobody can understand the words," or if 100 percent of the people who listen to the song do not go out and stab someone, it must be okay, and should not be criticized. In fact, even looking at the lyrics might be a violation of somebody's First Amendment rights. One might also wonder if the guy with the new "gangsta" CD thought about playing "punchin' stompin' backbone-breaking" music in a dark room to stir up a crowd of kids who had recently been tackling each other on the footfall field.
To move further up the chain, one might wonder about the rich record producers in New York and Los Angeles. Think of how much money they've made by taking the most self-destructive, brutal, woman-abusing losers and making them multimillionaire heroes for our "nice kids" to copy--sometimes with fists and feet and knives and time in jail. Academics, students, rappers, and "experts" all say that "violent video games, and violent movies and TV shows" don't really have much of an effect on the society. But I guess Baron didn't know that.
And neither do the little boys who grow up hearing again and again that little girls are just "hos and b-----s." Or the little girls who think that's the way they're supposed to act. Or the five "nice kids" whose lives are now ruined because they have now experienced the Real Rule: "Garbage in, garbage out."
As a teacher who has been helping to supervise school dances for 40 years, I have found it instructive to watch what kids do in response to different songs--from tenderly dancing with their sweeties to slow love songs, to happily bouncing around to "YMCA." And then comes the instantly scary and awesomely disgusting stuff that goes on when a few of "those" songs are played in a row. We know firsthand that, contrary to the experts, music does affect behavior and so requires serious supervision by those more aware of consequences than 14- to 17-year-olds--and the "experts" who write books.
As the local police know well, any dance that continuously plays that stuff in a dark room is absolutely certain to have the same kind of behavior that just resulted in so many lives being ruined and so many people being hurt--guaranteed. Maybe we should wonder whether exposing our children to poison just to make rich guys richer is as innocuous as the experts say.
We seem to be part of a society that thinks that "Knuck if You Buck" and its associates are harmless ways to educate our children as to how they should treat each other. Maybe we're not much different from the Mad Mullahs who teach their little boys and girls to blow themselves up in the middle of their own people another harmless educational miracle.
20 February, 2006
INFINITE OFFICIAL RESPECT FOR ISLAM BUT NONE FOR CATHOLICISM
Catholics must worship that stupid loser on the cross, I guess. Let's have some fun Jihad instead! In any case, you can believe -- as I do -- that homosexuals should be treated on their individual merits (I don't care where they put their dicks as long as it is not coercive) without also believing that defenceless children should be thrust into the midst of a perverted life
Governor Mitt Romney and a legislative leader yesterday delivered unwelcome news to the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts, who plan to seek permission from the state to exclude gay and lesbian parents from adopting children through its social service agencies. The governor said he was not authorized to give such an exemption, and State Representative Eugene L. O'Flaherty, the House chairman of the joint committee on the judiciary, predicted little support among lawmakers for any request by Catholic adoption agencies for an exemption from the state's antidiscrimination policies. ''I would say there would not be an appetite to entertain that," O'Flaherty said.
The comments were made a day after the Globe reported a plan by the four bishops of Massachusetts -- representing Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Fall River -- to hire a Boston law firm to explore legal and political strategies for opting out of gay adoptions. Catholic Charities of Boston, the social service arm of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, has in the past two decades processed a small number of gay adoptions in compliance with state antidiscrimination laws. The Vatican has stated such adoptions are ''gravely immoral." The bishops' plans are at odds with the 42-member board of Catholic Charities of Boston, which voted unanimously in December to continue the practice of allowing gays to adopt.
Yesterday, representatives of the archdiocese and Catholic Charities said the funds to pay the Boston firm, Ropes & Gray, to prepare a legal strategy for the exemption were coming from the budget of Catholic Charities of Boston. Some board members expressed surprise, and dismay, that the agency's funds were being used for that purpose. The members serve three-year terms and at the pleasure of Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley, several members said. ''I'm shocked," said Donna DePrisco, a board member. ''I find it hard to believe."
One board member, who asked to remain nameless, said the bishops' plans has angered many on the board. The board member said some on the panel may consider resigning if the bishops persist with the plan. Meanwhile, the bishops' hope of getting help from Romney, who is a strong opponent of gay marriage, was dashed yesterday. Romney said that when he read the story in the Globe yesterday morning, he asked his legal counsel to research whether he had the authority to exempt an organization from regulations governing the placement of children with same sex couples. ''My understanding is that any exemption would require legislation and would not be something I would be authorized to do on a personal basis," the governor said. He did not express his own view on the issue.
O'Flaherty said that over a dozen years ago the Legislature adopted the law barring contractors from discriminating against gay couples, and said lawmakers would be unlikely to entertain the bishops' request. ''This is a very divisive issue that I don't see making it onto agenda for a debate," O'Flaherty said. ''We have enough on our plate already." He said he would oppose granting such an exemption to any social agency that contracted with the state, although he said he respected the church's right to follow its own doctrine on the issue.
The bishops may also consider going to court to fight the requirement that they adhere to the state's antidiscrimination policy, on First Amendment grounds protecting religious freedom. In the past two decades, Catholic Charities of Boston placed 13 children with same-sex couples, a fraction of the 720 adoptions the group completed during that time. Those adopted were all foster children who were considered hard to place because they had special needs or were older. If Catholic Charities does not get an exemption, it either has to allow gay adoptions to continue or risk having its adoption license pulled, state officials have said
Russia's first homosexual parade vetoed by 'outraged' city
In portraying conservatives as "homophobic", American Leftists seem to have have forgotten how the Soviets treated homosexuals. The few reservations modern-day Western conservatives have about homosexuals ("marriage", adoption) are nothing compared to the Soviet response. I am old enough to remember Soviet officials actually claiming that homosexuals did not exist in the Soviet Union: Such behaviour was said to be "bourgeois" and "pre-revolutionary". It would do our current Leftist shriekers good to find out what REAL "homophobia" is
Plans to stage Russia's first gay pride parade have been vetoed by Moscow's city government on the grounds that the idea has caused "outrage" in society. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's administration said yesterday it would not even consider an application for a parade, prompting Russia's gay community to threaten legal action in the European Court of Human Rights.
Gay and lesbian activists have been campaigning for permission to stage the country's first gay pride event on Saturday 27 May. The date marks the 13th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Russia in 1993. But the plans have drawn a furious reaction from religious leaders and been condemned as "suicidal" by other gay activists .
Earlier this week Chief Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin warned that Russia's Muslims would stage violent protests if the march went ahead. "If they come out on to the streets anyway they should be flogged. Any normal person would do that - Muslims and Orthodox Christians alike ... [The protests] might be even more intense than protests abroad against those controversial cartoons." The cleric said the Koran taught that homosexuals should be killed because their lifestyle spells the extinction of the human race and said that gays had no human rights.
The Russian Orthodox Church has called it "the propaganda of sin". Bishop Daniil of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk yesterday condemned the plans as a "cynical mockery" and likened homosexuality to leprosy.
The mayor's spokesman, Sergei Tsoi, said a parade would not be allowed. "[The plans] have caused outrage in society, particularly among religious leaders," he said.
In the Communist era Russian homosexuals were jailed for five years and their "condition" was classed as a mental disorder. In post-Soviet Russia public acceptance of homosexuality has been glacial. An opinion poll last year showed 43 per cent of Russians believed gay men should be incarcerated.
19 February, 2006
Lessons from Europe on bad regs
By John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation
Politicians and activists of a certain mindset look across the ocean to Europe for examples of what’s wrong with America and what to do about it. Those of a certain other mindset cast the same gaze but see answers to different questions: what’s right with America and what not to do about it. I am decidedly in the latter camp, offering only a couple of major exceptions in the areas of school choice and tax policy. The latest foolishness from the continent makes me particularly worried because it sounds so strikingly like policies endorsed by some North Carolina lawmakers and education officials: efforts to combat soft-drink marketing aimed at schoolchildren.
While some critics of soda machines and cola ads mouth a broadly anti-capitalist critique, the usual justification for banning them is childhood obesity. In Europe, soft-drink companies themselves decided that the prospect of regulators blaming them for kiddie flab was so dire that they needed to announce last week a “voluntary” ban on advertising to children under 12. They also said they would eliminate soda machines in primary schools while increasing the availability of non-carbonated drinks in secondary schools. There are two reasons to resent the policy outcome in Europe and to fear its emulation in North Carolina. One involves pragmatism, the other principle.
The pragmatic objection to such regulation (or self-regulation by threat of force) is that it consumes scarce resources on the wrong goal. I won’t deny that too many children are drinking too many soft drinks, but let’s put it in some perspective. This isn’t the major cause of childhood obesity. Lack of exercise is. If children spent more time outside playing, rather than inside watching TV or manipulating their video controllers, it wouldn’t matter as much whether they had a few more sodas than they should. They would burn off the extra calories. Fixating on the availability of soft drinks and fast food, rather than on a lack of assertive parenting and strenuous physical education, isn’t just unwise. It’s counterproductive.
The other objection here is one of principle. While one might make the argument that marketing products within government schools is an appropriate area for public legislation or regulation, an attack on advertising in that case serves as a blow to the bulwarks that protect the right to commercial communication everywhere. In the European case, the initial thrust of activism may have been limited to controlling what is said or sold at the schoolhouse, but the new policy isn’t limited to its confines. If regulators can force soft-drink makers to ban an entire category of ads, the precedent will likely lead to more-sweeping regulatory proposals in the future which, if enacted, will whittle away still more at our personal freedom.
Advertising to children is not a villainous act. Indeed, there are some authors who even argue that such advertising helps more than it hurts families by reducing the price and improving the quality of the products they consume, while ensuring that children actually like the clothes and enjoy the toys they are given. As Forest Gump might say, Europe is as Europe does. Let’s be smart enough not to commit the same mistakes in the land of the free.
GRASSROOTS REBELLION AGAINST FOODS FASCISTS
What's good and bad for you is all a matter of opinion -- the science is all up in the air -- but you would never know it from listening to the ostensible "do-gooders". And some of the things that they allow -- such as milk -- are high in calories anyway!
The 12- and 13-year-olds dug candies out of their pockets and backpacks, devouring them as appetizers, desserts, or substitutes for lunch in the Boston middle school cafeteria. One girl squeezed Xtra Sour Goo Candy from a pink tube and licked the drops of strawberry-flavored sugar from her palm. She sprayed another sour candy from a pump into her mouth, while a classmate sucked a giant diamond-shaped candy in a plastic ring on her hand.
The children attend Mildred Avenue Middle School, which has banned soda and junk food from its one vending machine and instead stocks it with low-fat yogurt, cheddar cheese cubes, and calcium-infused orange juice. With its candy-chomping pupils and its healthy vending machine, the Mattapan school models the problem as well as a possible solution for improving children's nutrition, an issue the state Senate is to tackle today. The Senate plans to debate whether to limit the sale of high-calorie snacks and sugar-laden soft drinks in school vending machines.
The bill, which comes amid similar efforts by school systems across the nation, is likely to pass the Senate, but it would need approval from the House and Governor Mitt Romney. Its prospects are unclear in the House, where a more stringent bill has been under consideration. A spokesman for Romney was noncommittal yesterday on the measure.
Like Mildred Avenue in Dorchester, dozens of schools across the Bay State -- including some in Natick, Framingham, Billerica, and Marlborough -- offer vending machines stocked exclusively with healthy choices. But a lunchtime visit to Mildred Avenue yesterday showed that school officials and lawmakers cannot control what students eat by changing what is sold in vending machines. Children bring candy and other snacks from home or buy them on their way to school. And they don't think the proposed law would change their eating habits. ''Sometimes, we have headaches and we need sugar in our heads," said Yarmisha Cofield, a Mildred Avenue seventh-grader who ate the $1.29 tube of sour candy and only picked at her school lunch of fried chicken. Her friend Europe Thomas, 12, had spent $2 on a bag of chocolates at a convenience store and ate them before lunch. An unfinished tray of chicken, peaches, and chocolate milk sat before her. ''I'm not in the mood for it," Thomas said.
Senate leaders say their bill is designed more to educate pupils from a young age about healthy eating habits than to outlaw junk food. ''We think we need to move in a phased approach and not come down with a hammer right away," said Senator Richard T. Moore, chairman of the Joint Health Care Financing Committee and an Uxbridge Democrat.
Child obesity can lead to diabetes, asthma, and heart disease and affect students' capacity to learn, Senate President Robert E. Travaglini said yesterday during a meeting with reporters to unveil the proposal. The bill, following guidelines recommended by the American Beverage Association, which represents Coca-Cola and Pepsi, would ban soft drinks from vending machines in elementary schools. The machines would be allowed to sell only water, 100 percent fruit juices, and low-fat or nonfat milk during the school day. Middle schools would be allowed to sell sports drinks, low-calorie juice drinks, and zero-calorie sodas. High schools could stock their vending machines with soda as long as healthy alternatives are available in at least equal quantity. Schools would also have to limit the calories in vending machine snacks. The House bill goes further by banning all soda and sports drinks during school hours at all three school levels and by regulating the fats, sugars, and carbohydrates -- in addition to calories -- of snacks sold in school vending machines.
Senate leaders cast their bill as a compromise, saying they wanted to balance the need to improve childhood nutrition with concerns from school systems and the food and beverage industry about losing revenue from vending machines. Representative Peter Koutoujian, a Waltham Democrat who sponsored the House measure, said he is disappointed that his bill is being overshadowed by the Senate compromise. Sue Burchill, the nurse at Mildred Avenue School, said the Senate bill does not go far enough and a comprehensive vending machine junk food and soda ban is necessary precisely because students sneak in candy and chips from home. ''They are not capable of making good choices at this age, so you have to do it for them," she said.
Sixth-grader Oscar Villanova, 12, bought orange juice and cheddar cheese sticks from the school vending machine to supplement his lunch of chicken, apple, and milk. He said he would have preferred chips.
18 February, 2006
A SMITH COLLEGE STUDENT IS DISGUSTED BY THE OPPRESSIVE ANTICS OF HER FELLOW LEFTISTS
Sounds like she is a REAL idealist. She'll end up a GOP voter. Smith College is a private liberal arts college for women located in Northampton, Massachusetts. A highly selective institution with an undergraduate enrollment on campus of 2,500
I recently found my application essay for Smith from back in high school when I was applying to colleges. In response to the question, "Why did you choose to apply to Smith College?" I wrote, "I have a fervent interest in social justice. Your focus on instilling a spirit of diversity, acceptance and social responsibility excites me. The atmosphere of your school is welcoming. It is a place where intellectually curious young women can be fully challenged."
Last week, I attended the Hot Seat debate on the topic of whether the "Vagina Monologues" was empowering or demeaning. I came because I was interested in hearing both sides of the argument and I assumed other people were as well, regardless of their personal views about the play. The room was almost completely full, with people standing along walls even though new rows of chairs had been added in the back. From overheard conversation, I gathered the impression that most people were supportive of the "Vagina Monologues," but I still, assumed that they had come to be an attentive audience. After all, if you don't want to hear any criticism about the "Vagina Monologues," you can go to see the play or have discussions with like-minded friends. Why would you go to listen to a debate if you have an enormous opposition to hearing both sides?
So you can listen to your side attack the other, apparently, and so you can be rude from the anonymous comfort of your seat. While the debaters opposed to the "Vagina Monologues" managed to keep their points related to the text of the play and its possible influences, the debaters involved with the production of the "Vagina Monologues" accused the other side of "parroting" a Web site that they cited in their arguments. It was, no question about it, a low shot. In one word, they managed to communicate: "Not only are you wrong when you disagree with us, but you are incapable of forming your own opinions. We have our own opinions. We are better, and smarter, than you."
Never mind that a more disrespectful opposition might have, in response, accused them of "parroting" Eve Ensler and others involved in the formation of the "Vagina Monologues." I think they were pretty sure that the other side would not do that, and that if they did, they would be disparaged by the vast majority of the audience. How would the debaters from the "Vagina Monologues" know that the audience was on their side? Because the audience was seemingly incapable of silencing their scorn and contempt for those arguing that the Vagina Monologues are misguided feminism gone awry. While they managed to refrain from shouting, they constantly spoke in contemptuous tones, burst into conversation after everything the opposing side said and yet were miraculously quiet when it was their side's turn to take the microphone. Perhaps they misunderstood their role: in a debate, the debaters on stage are the ones invited to talk and express their thoughts. The audience consists of those invited to listen, and to later express their own thoughts during the question-and-answer portion of the event.
All this sadly confirms what I have noticed in my one and a half years at Smith College: Respect and diversity are very important qualities to the student body, as long as the people who want respect are on their side, and as long as their diversity does not include the diversity of opinion. Are you black, Asian, blind, gay or someone who speaks English as a second language? You'll be welcomed to Smith, which is how it should be. Do you think that modern feminism has gone a little overboard in recent years, that a fetus with a beating heart is a human life or that George W. Bush has ever said one single sentence that expressed a good thought? You'll be outwardly despised, your classmates will automatically assume that based on your belief in one area you hold an entire set of beliefs that may not accurately represent what you think and any signs you put up on campus - in places approved by the college - will mysteriously disappear. This is not how it should be.
I have a twofold theory as to the blatant disrespect on campus, though I'm not sure how accurate it is. The first part is that disrespectful people see their rudeness as "expressing their beliefs". Expressing your beliefs is fine. It's when you don't let other people express their beliefs, or when you denounce their intelligence for doing so, that the problem comes in. The second part is that, in the minds of some students, the opposition are not full people. They are Representative of What's Wrong With the World.
Actually, they embody the purpose of education: to think for yourself.
Britain galloping down the road to serfdom
By Theodore Dalrymple
ID cards and smoking bans are only the tip of British servitude
I have lived under a Latin American military dictatorship where daily life was freer than in Britain today. Of course, you couldn't go out into the street and shout "Down with Se¤or Presidente", at least not without dire consequences; on the other hand, you were considerably less surveyed, supervised and harried as you went about your business than you are in contemporary Britain.
The average Briton, we are told, is filmed 300 times a day once he steps out of his door. His home is hardly his castle, either. If he doesn't have a television he receives repeated menaces from the licensing authority, which may send an officer to inspect his house. And the form granting him the inestimable democratic right to vote comes with the threat of a 1,000 pound fine if he doesn't fill it (and he'll go to prison if he doesn't pay the fine).
Numerous officials have the right of entry, and his most private affairs are increasingly of interest to the tax authorities, who have de facto, though not de jure, dictatorial powers. When, as rarely happens, a Chancellor of the Exchequer reduces a tax, he is said by almost every commentator to be giving money away, which implies that we all accept, like the good slaves that we are, that the economy belongs to the Government, and the fullness thereof.
If the citizen should drive, he soon discovers that his vehicle confers anxiety rather than freedom. Slight infringements of the driving rules are photographed and he is fined. When he parks he soon discovers that wheel-clamping is the one public service that works with clockwork efficiency. Squeezing money from him is likewise the one task that the State takes seriously, for he cannot rely on the police to protect him, or the schools to educate his children, or the hospitals to succour him when he is ill, or public transport to take him anywhere without hitch. A bloated payroll does not translate into efficient services: on the contrary, it is incompatible with them.
The State is increasingly concerning itself with the individual's private habits, instituting a reign of virtue, chief among which is healthiness (we are approaching the situation of Samuel Butler's satire, Erewhon, a country where illness is a crime). Though not a single smoker is unaware of the dangers of smoking, and hasn't been for 30 years or more, he is now to be prevented from smoking in public, even when he is among other smokers only.
The pettiness of this official persecution of smokers (who are not prevented from paying a lot of tax) can hardly be exaggerated. The hospital in which I used to work instituted a no-smoking policy, so that smokers had to leave the building to smoke. To do this, one orthopaedic patient needed a wheelchair, but to hire a wheelchair he had to pay a 60 pound deposit, which he did not have. He grew so angry that he needed sedation.
Increasingly the citizen is asked to denounce his neighbour, for example if his neighbour is cheating social security. (Cheating it is the only rational response to so preposterous, impersonal and inhumane a system.) This official invitation to atomise society further by sowing mistrust among the population has not yet been entirely successful; but posters such as the one I saw last weekend in a bookshop - "Racism is a crime. Report it!" - engender a vague but nevertheless all-pervasive anxiety. After all, racism is a vague term, open to many interpretations, and there is an increasing tendency to treat complainants as if their complaints were self-justifying: you have been badly treated if you think you have been badly treated. Far from being a generous and compassionate principle, this attention to, or even encouragement of, complaint confers immense and often arbitrary powers on officialdom. It is not liberating, it is infantilising.
In many NHS trusts, bullying is defined as behaviour that causes a person to feel bullied. No objective evidence whatever is necessary, and the resolution of any complaint is at the discretion of bureaucrats, who thus assume Kafkaesque powers. More and more of us live in an atmosphere of vague and unseen surveillance that might at any moment explode into unanswerable accusation.
We also live in a propaganda state. No one believes what a government official says any longer because he is assumed to be a liar, ex officio as it were, even when he is telling the truth. We assume that all official information is self-exculpating, self-congratulating or self-glorifying in intent, that all official speech is therefore spin or political advertising. Those of us who work in the NHS - not a small number - receive expensively produced glossy publications from our employers, full of photographs of happy, smiling workers meeting happy, smiling customers, at the very same time as drastic cuts must be implemented to meet burgeoning debts and there are patients in casualty who have been waiting for hours for admission. One is reminded of the Stalinist images of flaxen-haired peasant maidens serving at banquet tables groaning with food of every description that were disseminated to the world in the midst of one of the most severe famines in history.
Let them eat lies! In this context, the proposal that we should, at all times, carry identity cards containing a great deal of personal information is particularly sinister. We all know that a suicide bomber is not going to be put off by the mere possession of a biometric ID card, and that the only thing that will deter muggers is efficient policing. Are victims of mugging going to be able henceforth to demand muggers' identity cards before handing over their cash at knifepoint?
But the requirement that we should carry such cards will no doubt give the police another target to aim at: 20 non-carriers a week, for example, producing 1,000 pounds in fines. After all, the immense outlay on producing the cards and the interest on the resulting debt will have to be paid for somehow. You know it makes sense.
In the meantime, Britons always, always will be slaves.
17 February, 2006
THE SILENT CONSPIRACY THAT HAS HURT WOMEN
Article by high-profile career woman Amanda Platell:
You don't have to look far these days for evidence that women are losing their way. We fought hard for our freedoms, and for what? For a generation of women who, in survey after survey, say the stress of juggling their professional and personal commitments is making them profoundly unhappy. For a society which, as the Pope highlighted in his written address this week, no longer knows the difference between love and sex. For a set of priorities that has placed the yearning for professional achievement and the financial riches it brings above the joy of motherhood.
My mother's generation - the ones we pitied for a life of domestic and marital servitude - must look at us and wonder whether all they have missed out on is the right to make themselves miserable. Theirs was a world where men earned the crust and women made the sandwiches. It was a world that had to change. And it did. The first feminists blazed a trail for my generation. They gave us the chance to have it all ; to be truly fulfilled as career women, as wives and as mothers (in that order).
So why do I find myself now as among a growing band of one-time feminists looking back on our own lives and wondering whether the world we helped create is the one we want to bequeath to the next generation? On the surface, I've had a glamorous life, I've edited a national newspaper, been spin doctor to the leader of the Tory Opposition, and co-presented a primetime political TV show. I've earned big money and travelled the world - all from pretty humble beginnings. But have I really had it all, as we promised ourselves we would?
Fortunate as I am to have lived the life I have done, my marriage ended in failure and I was never able to have the children I longed for (though in my case that owed more to biology than circumstance). Look around you and there are plenty of others like me; the women who inherited a new world order - and who now bear the emotional scars to prove it. It's only now , as we start to look back, that we can see just how much we've scorched the social landscape around us. In our rush to embrace the new, we have systematically rejected much that, for centuries past, had brought women stability and happiness. Is it any wonder that the younger generation aren't sure what to think, and instead allow the thrill of youthful hedonism to drown out the conflicting signals around them.
On the one hand they are told they must strive to have it all; and on the other, they can see around them the evidence that this will never truly be possible. Or at least not without great cost to their physical and emotional well-being. Far too often, it seems to me, the unwitting price of female emancipation has been heartache, stress and a life spent chasing false promises. But if we women are ever to feel truly happy with our lot, I believe we have to stop whingeing, stop blaming men and society, stop playing the victim and stand up and ask the unthinkable; are we ruining for ourselves? Could it be that the freedom we now enjoy is part of the problem?
These were questions I wanted to answer when Channel 4 approached to make a documentary on the role of women today, to be broadcast next Friday (3rd February). To do so, I decided to seek out the people who might be able to tell me how and why women had lost their way. I spoke to the feminists who launched the revolution and interviewed women from all walks of life: career mums, health professionals, grand-mothers, sixth-form girls, politicians who make the laws, and the people who carry them out. The answers I received were both revealing and profoundly shocking - but not in the way I had expected. Far from mocking my theory that feminism had created its own set of problems, many acknowledged it as a great unspoken truth - the last female taboo.
Even those who led the feminist crusade were ready to admit that their idealism had laid waste to much that had made women happy in previous generations. For as long as I can remember Fay Weldon has been a feminist icon of mine. She reached me through literature in a way that other feminists never did through lecturing. If anyone could explain feminism's legacy, it would be her. But when I went to meet her, at the start of my research, what I got instead was an apology. "Women like you should be cursing women of my generation", she told me. "All we did was make you go out to work and earn money and have children and completely exhaust yourselves. I'm sorry". She called women like me 'the lost generation' - the ones who had inherited a barren landscape after the revolution had marched through. "If you want to be like a man, then feminism hasn't gone far enough", she said, "if you want to be like a woman, it has gone too far.
And there, straight away, was the kernel of the matter: feminism was supposed to about equality, not sameness. We wanted to better our sex, not obliterate it. But that is what has happened. In striving to be the same as men, the only things we were guaranteed were the exhaustion and stress and guilt that came with the effort of labouring to become something we never were and never could be.
And striving to be like a man had other consequences. For a start, men don't like it - at least, not the kind of men you'd want to spend your life with. This has led to another unsayable truth. Women today take their 20's out for themselves, to pursue career and relationships - but not permanent ones - to experiment, to have fun. It's the 'me' decade of their life. I have no problem with that, but it does lead to a kind of independence that can make it hard for women to ever settle down with another person and willingly accept all the emotional and financial compromises that entails.
This, in turn, has led to another unintended consequence - this time biological. The principled and often pathological belief that men and women have to be treated the same has led women to believe they can have kids whenever they want and with whomever they want - or even by themselves if they choose. The principle legacy of that belief is not more contented mothers, but more women putting money in the pockets of a booming fertility industry as they discover the hard way that nature doesn't perform to order and pays no regard to social idealism.
Yet when two highly esteemed doctors had the temerity to point out this simple truth, they were pilloried. To howls of derision from the feminist lobby, Susan Bewley and Melanie Davies - consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology - wrote an article for the British Medical Journal stating that the "the most secure age of childbearing remains 20-35". I went to meet them, and they told me that the growing belief among women that pregnancy can be delayed until their 40's is becoming a serious public health problem. "The problem is that women think because we're healthy and we live longer, somehow our reproductive health goes on longer", they told me. "But that's not the case.
But what about the whole IVF industry? "People just don't realise how fantastically ineffective IVF is", they replied. "At maximum, one in three young women using IVF to get pregnant will be successful, provided they haven't got a serious problem. But once you're over 40, the numbers go right down".
Yet we, as a society, are complicit in this lie. We look at women like Cherie Blair, pregnant with Leo at 45, and assume that this is every woman's right. Too many women have found that this complacent self-assurance results only in years of heartache and despair. But if even the people we trust to look after our health get burnt when they try to address the issue, how can we ever have an informed debate about the life choices facing women today?
Shouldn't the Government make it their duty to tell women the truth about the costs - to their health and emotional wellbeing - of chasing the have-it-all dream? The Blair government has, in many ways, been progressive in its attitude towards women. It has has had more women cabinet ministers than ever before, doubled maternity leave and introduced paternity leave rights. But do such gestures disguise an absence of understanding about the real problem facing women today: that they expect to much of themselves, and that too much is expected of them?
I felt sure the Minister for Women, Tessa Jowell, would have some right-on feminist response, so I tracked her down at the start of a countrywide tour where she was listening to women's concerns. I expected a sop: what I got was a shock. Tessa said straight out that her daughter would not tolerate the stress of the impossible juggling act that women of her generation performed. Moreover, she admitted no amount of government policy would ever bring about the perfect work/life balance that might help make women happier. Part of the problem, she admitted, was that the anticipated participation of men in the home and parenting stakes has simply not materialised, and certainly not to the degree expected. Women, even when they work full-time, are still the primary carers of children and elderly relatives, still do most of the housework, cooking and shopping. Only a fraction of men have taken up paternity leave. Perhaps, as Tessa suggested to me, such characteristics are part of women's DNA - and no amount of legislation can change this fundamental difference between the sexes.
Yet unequal though the share of domestic duties may be, marriage is still the most successful way to raise a family. So why, then, has the Labour Government done so much to remove any recognition of, or incentive for, marriage? Perhaps in part because we women haven't taken it seriously enough ourselves. I certainly didn't when I got married 22 years ago. I spent more time thinking about the frock than the future I was embarking on. The result? The dress was great; the marriage a disaster.
And there are plenty of other women like me still making that same mistake today. Indeed, the law makes it easier to get married than to buy a used car. But it's not just the ease of marriage that has brought the institution down; it's the ease of divorce and the way women increasingly see men as meal tickets for life. If men and women are to be treated as equal, how can we support the huge payouts now coming through the divorce courts to women from relatively short and childless marriages? Of couse it is right and proper that when a woman has devoted her life to raising a family when the husband has been the breadwinner, then she should be entitled to the same financial support if the marriage falls apart. But with more and more women earning their own incomes within a marriage, why are men still obliged to pay them vast sums if they go their separate ways?
I wondered if men were being put off marriage by the way the divorce laws were being interpreted by the courts, so I went to see one of Britain's leading divorce lawyers, Sandra Davies, who handled Princess Diana's separation from Prince Charles. Again I was prepared to be told I was out of touch with modern life. Again I was suprised. Sandra said something I had long suspected, but never dared articulate: that in her experience, women did not try hard enough at marriage any more. "I think women today have different expectations of marriage than the previous generation", she told me. "They feel they're entitled to be happy, that they don't have to make an effort for it. And because of the disposability mindset of society today, if a marriage isn't working they simply move on".
Sandra admitted that the divorce settlements at the top of the league were having a trickle-down effect. "I think that it has created a groundswell of anxiety in men, and it is certainly in my experience putting men off getting married at all". So, by supporting and perpetuating an increasingly unfair divorce system, we are in effect putting men off marriage - the institution most women still believe makes them happier and more secure than any other. How sad.
But then, once again, there is a silence borne of political correctness that surrounds this whole issue. Even to hint that we women have some culpability in the slow degradation of marriage has for too long been seen seen as a betrayal of the sisterhood. Yet until women can own up to our own responsibilities how can we ever try to improve our lives?
I was particularly concerned about the potential inheritance we were leaving the women of tomorrow, so I headed off to Henrietta Barnett's in North London, one of the best academic girl's schools in the country, to talk to them about their expectations of the life that lay ahead of them. I was not suprised that all the 17 and 18 year old girls wanted to have it all: marriage, kids and a high-flying career. But there was little understanding that life is not that easy, that there will have to be compromises reached and sacrifices made along the way. Their headmistress, Mandy Watts, admitted the school gave the girls no counsel in these matters and saw it as a big gap in their education. As a result of the issues we discussed, she now hopes to be more up-front with her girls about the difficulty of having it all. If only all schools could be as honest.
And so my journey had brought me full circle, from the past generation to the future one, and the thread running through it all was a startling realisation that women are covertly contributing to our own unhappiness. So why had we put up with it for so long? Because to tell the truth felt like a betrayal of the core promise of feminism, an admission of failure. But women haven't failed: it's just that our expectations were unrealistic. We set the bar too high and so have spent our lives crashing into it. The simple truth is that we can't have it all. We can't have everything we want, when we want.
For decades it has been a crime against our sex even to say these things. Perhaps now we can start to admit that the real crime has been the conspiracy of silence.
THE INCORRECTNESS OF LOTTERIES
Elitist attacks on the ways of poor people
Last Friday's euro lottery jackpot of œ120million was shared between three lucky winners. Eleven rollover weeks had seen an explosion in ticket sales accompanied by the usual media frenzy. Polls were conducted on the 24-hour news channels, with familiar arguments being raised for and against. Alleged experts on the human condition voiced concern that the recipients would be somehow damaged. Viv Nicholson, the 'Spend, Spend, Spend' football pools winner of the 1960s, was mentioned as testament to working-class folly.
One criticism, which initially seems reasonable, is that a state lottery is a regressive tax. The statistics bear this out by showing that the overwhelming majority of ticket buyers are from the lower income brackets. All those pounds are redistributed in ways that the majority will gain little advantage from. Few Doncaster pensioners are ever likely to visit the lottery-funded Royal Opera House, for example.
It makes sense that the less well-off should ignore the abysmal odds and buy more tickets than the well-off. The drudgery of low-paid work and unemployment is magically vanquished, if only in the imagination before once again the wrong numbers are rolled.
However it is patronising to suppose that this will somehow damage or traumatise. Fantasising about a dramatic reversal of fortune is a condition of being human, as is having enough self-awareness to understand the limits of such dreaming. And there is, after all, next week's jackpot to look forward to! It would surely be better to put the argument for progressive tax than to rail against something which is, after all, a matter of choice rather than compulsion.
Another argument against the lottery is that a big win can damage the individual and community. When the UK lottery was introduced, it was argued that profit would be used to bolster rundown estates, with the building of sports centres, youth clubs and grants for new businesses. Yet opponents point to how communities can in fact be irreparably damaged. One example cited is the closure in 1998 of a south Wales oil company when its lottery syndicate hit the jackpot. The winnings were distributed between members, the notices of key workers handed in. Although the majority chose to stay on, the site was no longer viable. After an unsuccessful search for replacements the company was forced to relocate to Manchester. Company chairman Paul Miller solemnly announced the closure: 'I can confirm that we are closing the operation down because the workers have won the Lottery. We interviewed each of the staff about their intentions and decided we could not carry on. The whole situation has come out of the blue.'
Certainly this impacted on the community, with a loss of trade to local shops and business. Yet cost-cutting practices are hardly the unique manifestation of lottery wins. A business folding because of a lottery win is a rarity. Companies downsize, relocate and collapse all the time. This is because of the volatility of market forces, something which communities in South Wales already have much experience of.
The impact on the individual is also a concern. Among the winners at the factory was 21-year-old Mark Baylis, who three months before had matched five numbers and the bonus ball to scoop œ27,000. 'I regard myself as the luckiest man in Wales', he said. 'I am certainly going to keep playing the Lottery. I know it might sound greedy, but after all, everything comes in threes. To be honest, I've done everything I wanted to with the money from the win in May but I am sure I will find something to spend it on.'
Winners who are flagrant and free in their spending are more easily demonised. These include 'lotto lout' Michael Carroll. He was accused of 'terrorising' his neighbours by racing quad bikes and, in a 'just' end to the morality tale, ended up in prison on drug offences. The Daily Mail took pleasure in vilifying his nouveau-riche lifestyle. The Guardian condemned the Lotto for encouraging a culture of instant gratification. There is also the notorious 'Lotto rapist', Iorworth Hoare, whose œ7million win while on temporary release gave rise to widespread outrage. Claire Phillipson, director of 'Wearside Women in Need', was delighted that the press had revealed his identity. The fact the lottery is entirely random, and therefore unselective, seems to have been temporarily forgotten. Luck, it seems, must come only to the deserving.
When the UK lottery was set up in 1994, a broad platform of Calvinists, penitent gamblers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) argued that the seeds of addiction would be sown among the disadvantaged in society. This is an assertion alarming in its condescension. Anecdotes aside, there is no solid statistical evidence in support of the assumption that playing the lottery plunges a person into addictive behaviour. For the overwhelming majority it is harmless fun on a par with backing a horse in the Grand National.
It's nothing new for the well off to be concerned about the follies of the working classes. In the early 1900s cinema going was similarly demonised, as were the adventure paperbacks known as penny dreadfuls.
The impulse to patronise remains. Take for example Camelot's insistence on counselling its big winners. It's debatable whether this reflects a puritan disdain for excess, or a fear of the bad press should the winnings be blown in an orgy of drugs and sex. The advice given before the fat, life-transforming cheque is handed over is more sober than any winner is likely to be. Camelot says:
- Do not rush into anything
- Get used to what you now have
- Look forward to planning your future and consider all options
- Consult a financial advisor
- Ensure you know what is happening to your money
- Make a will
- Don't talk to strange men in parks and under no condition return home with them to view puppies.
Academics are also keen to put a dampener on the celebrations. Since the launch of Britain's lottery in 1994, 1,053 millionaires have been created. It is easy to suppose that each of these has had an easy time of it, but not according to research conducted by Michael Argyle, a professor at Oxford University.
According to Argyle the big win undermines any reasonable stability that a person has until then enjoyed. The termination of a work contract severs links with friends, without gaining automatic acceptance by an alternative peer group. The win is a source of estrangement rather than fulfilment. Similarly, the papering over of problems in any relationship merely serves to hide rather than solve them. Taste in clothing, housing and even food may be challenged. The basic belief at the heart of such theorising is that ordinary people lack the capacity to cope with change, even when it is so obviously sought after. He argues: 'The things we really want - love, health, eternal life - can't be easily bought.'
To the best knowledge of historians, lotteries have been around since Old Testament times, with Moses using one to award tracts of land west of the River Jordan. The Great Wall of China may also have been financed by a lottery, as was the network of roads in Julius Caesar's day. Portugal set up the first one in the modern era, in 1498, with the profits being distributed to the poor. However, it is arguably only in our own age that lotteries have been subject to such fear, loathing and condemnation.
16 February, 2006
HATRED OF CHRISTIANS NOT A HATE CRIME
When is a hate-crime not a hate-crime? Answer: when the powers-that-be say it isn't. One problem with hate-crime laws is that they're more the result of bad ideology than good criminology, and nothing illustrates this point better than the current spate of church burnings in Alabama. As you may know, five churches were burned in rapid succession late last week, followed by four more overnight Monday/Tuesday. Yet, while I had encountered much reportage on this story prior to writing this piece, I had yet to hear any government official or media figure hazard the guess that these acts could constitute a hate-crime. So I did a Google news search.
I entered the terms "church fires" and "hate crime" and, lo and behold, a search engine capable of plumbing the very depths of the Internet found a staggering twenty-two results (as of 2/7). More significantly, all the articles cited only one or the other of a mere two sources that mentioned hate-crime in relation to this arson-targeting of churches. Twenty-one of the articles mentioned an FBI agent, Charles Regan, who said,
"We're looking to make sure this is not a hate crime and that we do everything that we need to do."
Now, I realize that this was more likely just a manner of speaking than a Freudian Slip, but it seems to me that, when the crime involves a favored group, the powers-that-be look to make sure that it is a hate-crime. And with great zeal too, I might add.
Truly ridiculous, though, was the statement by the director of the Intelligence Project (it monitors what it deems hate groups) of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Mark Potok. Now, for those of you not acquainted with the SPLC, I'll point out that it's a leftist "civil rights" organization headed up by Morris Dees, a man who, after having sued certain white supremacists into oblivion, finds purpose and fund raising success by casting about for clandestine Klansmen among conservatives. It is in this context that you should view the comments of his underling Potok, who said,
"I don't think there's anything thus far to suggest a hate crime."
No one mentioned whether or not he managed this proclamation with a straight face. Really, though, when I imagine someone making such a statement, I envision a man rapidly blinking his eyes with a visage of feigned credulity, saying, "Oh-no! Gomer, I see no evidence of a hate-crime!" No, we're not in Kansas anymore. Don't pay any attention to that bigot behind the curtain!
Now, back to reality. Nine Baptist churches, with both black and white congregations, have been burned in a relatively small geographical area within a very narrow time-frame. Okay, the fact that they are all Baptist may not necessarily be significant since it's the dominant denomination in that area. In other words, it would not require too great a statistical fluke to target nine churches in these counties and happen upon only Baptist ones. Although it should give one pause for thought.
However, to the best of my knowledge, even in the Bible Belt, churches constitute only a very small percentage of the buildings. I suspect that Alabamans have also built schools, stores of various kinds, municipal buildings, residences, offices, barns, warehouses, restaurants and lots of other types of structures. Thus, while I'm no mathematician, I think there are pretty long odds against randomly targeting nine buildings and happening upon only churches. If Morris Dees and company can't grasp this, they surely didn't amass their organization's $120 million fortune through wagering. Save incense and decorative candles, you don't burn things you like. This was a hateful act. So, SPLC, don't pour gasoline down my back and tell me it's rainin'.
Next, could you imagine the reaction if nine synagogues or mosques had been thus burned? The monolithic mainstream media would elevate the story to prominence and exhaust themselves pontificating about how dreadful these hate-crimes were. And the posturing by public officials, oh, the posturing, it would be intense enough to induce backache.
As for this story, there's nothing for the media to glom on to. If only black churches were in the crosshairs, there would be the white bigotry angle. The media can't get enough of that. But the fact that they're all Christian? Please! Such concerns aren't in their programming. in either sense of the word.
While many officials only have the best of intentions when prosecuting hate-crimes, they are frailty-ridden creatures of their age like everyone else. And hate-crime laws add another subjective element to the assessment of criminality. Put differently, people judge things based on their conditioning, and their biases come into play when assessing biases. If a group that has been assigned "hated victim" status is targeted, there's usually an assumption that hate had to have been a motive. If a group that has been assigned "hater status" is targeted, however, the assumption is usually that it is not. And even most conscientious officials, pundits and newsmen always seem to be decades behind the times. While they see a white hood or swastika around every corner, the wave of antipathy toward Christianity seems to escape their notice.
This, despite the vigorous attacks on Christmas that secular fundamentalists have made an annual ritual. This, despite the palpable anti-Christian bias that pervades academia, Hollywood and the rest of the popular culture, and which prejudices millions against the faith. Why, with the way Christianity has been demonized, to not expect attacks upon Christian symbols and institutions defies logic.
But while I've allowed that many who execute these laws are relatively innocent cogs in the machinery, I cannot say the same for the vanguard of the hate-crime law movement. In point of fact, these laws are exactly what these social-engineers intended them to be: an ideology-based attempt at social control masquerading as a noble law enforcement tool. This is why we so often see such an unapologetic embrace of a double-standard in their application.
Case in point: in 2004, eleven Christians arrived at the Outfest National Coming Out Day street fair, a celebration of homosexuality, in Philadelphia, PA. While their goal was to peacefully protest the event by carrying signs and singing hymns, they were confronted by a group called the "Pink Angels," whose members blocked them and directed obscenities their way. Outrageously, the Christians were arrested and charged with a hate-crime for simply exercising their First Amendment rights. And the Pink Angels? You guessed it: no action was taken against them.
Of course, though, since other Western nations are even more hostile toward Christianity than are we, even more egregious examples are to be found abroad. One example would be the fate that befell Canadian Hugh Owens, who was fined forty-five hundred Canadian dollars for creating a newspaper advertisement that included four Bible passages critical of homosexuality. Then there was the case of his countryman, Mark Harding, who was convicted of another hate-crime for distributing pamphlets critical of Islam. Part of his punishment was Islamic indoctrination under the dominion of the leader of a Canadian Islamic organization. However, no hate-crimes charges were brought against the Muslims who called him issuing death threats or those who congregated around the courthouse during his trial and chanted, "Infidels, you will burn in Hell."
Now, some may ask why foreign nations should be relevant to our situation. Well, with the intensifying of anti-Christian sentiment and with Supreme Court Justices like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer saying that we need to look for inspiration beyond our borders, to the laws and constitutions of other nations, these governmental transgressions could be a portent of things to come.
At home or abroad, the dirty little secret is that hate-crime laws are designed to be a vehicle through which traditional activism and expression can be squelched so the leftist agenda can take the floor unopposed. They are a hammer, but not one used on every nail that sticks up. Rather, only the ones that stick up the "wrong" way. Yes, it seems hate is whatever those in power say it is. In light of this, I have some advice for those whose church is next targeted by arsonists. If the facade is burnt beyond recognition, just tell the authorities it was a homosexual mosque. They'll send out the cavalry that day.
FREE SPEECH ENSURES ECONOMIC PROGRESS
Religious outrage sparks public uproar. Charges of blasphemy provoke impassioned demands for fearsome retribution and for the guilty to pay the ultimate price. A heated national debate erupts over the fundamental tenets of society, politics and culture.
It is Scotland, and the year is 1696. The furore in question is the affair of one Thomas Aikenhead, an 18-year-old theology student. On a freezing Edinburgh night in the autumn of that year, Aikenhead and three acquaintances found themselves hurrying up the Scottish capital's Royal Mile as they sought refuge from the biting cold. As they passed the city's austere Tron Church, an embodiment of the country's repressive Presbyterian church, the young man turned to his fellows and joked: "I wish right now I were in the place Ezra called hell, to warm myself there."
The casual remark would turn out to be no laughing matter. The next day, Aikenhead's comments were reported to the authorities of the Scottish church, the Kirk. They didn't see the funny side. A swift inquisition of other students revealed a litany of ridicule of the faith by Aikenhead. He had claimed that the Bible was a work of invention by the prophet Ezra; that Christ's miracles were cheap magic tricks; and that the Apostles were "silly, witless fishermen". The incensed ministers of the Kirk quickly made the affair a cause célèbre. Scotland's chief prosecutor, the Lord Advocate, began a prosecution under a law that those who "railed and cursed against God" or the Trinity were to be punished by death. A repentant and shattered Aikenhead was convicted and condemned. Desperate appeals by distinguished supporters to the Scottish Privy Council, and to King William in London, failed as the Kirk demanded that an example be made. On January 8 of the following year, Aikenhead was put to death.
Three centuries on, the Aikenhead affair, which is related in compelling detail by Arthur Herman in his fascinating book The Scottish Enlightenment, offers some striking insights into the worldwide uproar surrounding the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad first in a Danish newspaper and, later, in other European papers.
The 17th-century incident is, not least, a reminder that Islam has had no monopoly of extreme responses to religious offence. Aikenhead's tragedy reminds us, too, how devout belief by a mass of the population can be cynically exploited for worldly ends by those who claim to be motivated solely by religious conviction. Then, the young man's error was seized on by the Kirk as a means to strengthen its theocratic grip on temporal power in Scotland; now, the confected outrage of President Ahmadinejad of Iran is a powerful means to unite the faithful of a poor nation that might otherwise focus on their Government's shortcomings - not least, their lack of free speech.
Yet among the most important historic lessons we can take from the Aikenhead story flows from what was to follow. The young man's tragedy was to be born just a few decades too early. Even as he went to the gallows, Scotland was in the grip of political and intellectual forces that, by the middle of the next century, would transform its society and its economy, laying many of the foundations for the modern West as we know it. Just four decades later, David Hume, the Scottish philosopher, was able to write: "It is a rare and fortunate age when you may think what you like, and can say what you think."
In this short time, Scotland made a great leap forward, in which it broke free from the dogmatic, authoritarian Kirk under which it had been yoked by John Knox, the firebrand preacher. Instead, it embarked on an age of enlightenment in which freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas would trigger a great wave of economic and social progress, giving the world, among others, Adam Smith, the father of economic thought.
The vital link between free speech and economic progress is a neglected facet of the intense debate sparked by the Danish cartoons. It is one that we should celebrate and cherish. Freedom of expression has been, and remains, the seedbed from which Western economic, social and scientific advancement has flourished. It has been the catalyst for the prosperity that we all enjoy. In earlier times, too, swaths of the history of economic and technological progress are, in fact, a story of heretical rebellion against dogmatic orthodoxy, and thus a testimony to the power of free expression.
Of course, it is possible to point to authoritarian regimes - now and in the past - that, for a time, have been able temporarily to achieve economic progress in some form despite brutal suppression of free speech. History suggests, though, that the inevitable consequence of such repression is to stultify progress, stunt growth and ultimately bring about the collapse of the regime at the hands of a disaffected population. Little wonder that, at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, India was so keen to badge itself as "the world's fastest-growing free-market democracy".
It is, then, sad that some Western goverments - our own and that of the United States in particular - seem to have forgotten these lessons of history and have been feeble in their advocacy of free expression in recent days. Sure, publication of the cartoons may have been ill-judged, insensitive and offensive, but free speech means that we must tolerate statements to which we actively object, however misconceived. The limit to free expression plainly lies where its exercise, through threats of violence, intimidates others into silence, or tries to. The duty of government is not to pronounce on whether a particular statement was in bad taste, but to defend vigorously our fundamental freedoms. To do otherwise is to pander to a retreat from reason and free discourse as the foundations on which our prosperity, and our society, has been built.
From The Times
FOOD CORRECTNESS REBELLION IN BRITAIN
Britain's canteen ladies are on the point of rebellion and they are blaming celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, whose high-profile campaign to provide better school dinners has left them with a lot more work for no more money. Oliver's huge-rating series Jamie's School Dinners provoked a national debate last year with his Feed Me Better campaign. Amid a blaze of publicity, the television chef visited Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street, where he delivered a petition with more than 270,000 signatures calling for more money to be spent on school lunches. Mr Blair announced that his Government would provide an extra pound stg. 280million ($663million) to lift the average expenditure on a school meal from 37pence in some areas to at least 60p across the board.
However, school canteen staff in London, Cheshire and Nottinghamshire say the money has been allocated to ingredients rather than wages, despite the extra hours staff are being required to work to improve the quality of school food. They are threatening mass walkouts if their wages and conditions are not improved. "Have you any idea how long it takes to peel fresh carrots for 700 children?" Transport and General Workers Union representative Cathy Stewart told The Observer newspaper. "Or cook meat pies to feed 300 or bake seven cakes? Our workload has soared. The dinner ladies are under tremendous pressure ... to deliver top-notch nosh but at rock-bottom pay."
Staff at 21 schools in Ms Stewart's Hackney region in east London will vote on whether to take industrial action to press for more pay. Canteen ladies in Newcastle, in the north of England, have already won a multi-million-pound pay claim. Canteen staff in some areas earn as little as pound stg. 9000 a year. "The Government says they are putting more money in but we are not seeing it in facilities or wages," Ms Stewart said. "All we want is fair pay. I would like to say to (Education Secretary) Ruth Kelly, come and spend a full day in a school kitchen in Hackney and see how hard this job really is."
Ms Kelly said more money had been provided to schools specifically for canteens and their staff. "We are investing pound stg. 220million specifically to help schools and local education authorities transform school meals through training and increased hours for cooks, equipment and a minimum spend on ingredients," she said.
Canteen staff are also angry at the public's impression that it needed Oliver to get them to lift their game. Ms Stewart said she and her members had been trying to improve the quality of ingredients long before the TV chef took up the cause. "We do not need Jamie Oliver to teach us how to cook," she said.
15 February, 2006
Rainbow Coalition racism
Just pretending racism doesn't exist doesn't mean it isn't there. Racism is not a forest; racial slurs pelted at black Republican candidates are not trees falling silently. People hear them, people see them and they are coming from a Democrat near you. Yes, the Rainbow Coalition party has a dirty little secret: racist practices against blacks who dare to speak differently. Democrats know how to fight and attack opponents whose skin color means they should not play for the other team.
How else can you explain Lt. Gov. Michael Steele of Maryland being pelted with Oreo cookies at Morgan State University in Baltimore? The unfunny joke -- Oreos are black on the outside, white on the inside -- shouldn't make any reasonable person laugh.
Otto Banks, a black Republican and recent Harrisburg City Council candidate, endured his share of similar racial attacks. Mailings by the Democratic State Committee portrayed him as a sellout, his signs were defaced with the word "whitey" and he was constantly called "Uncle Bush Tom." Said Banks, now an outreach director for the Republican State Committee: "An African-American Republican running for office can expect to be pictured incessantly with President Bush, linked with the NRA and gun proliferation ... labeled a sellout and compared to Strom Thurmond." Yet that has not scared him away from the GOP. One campaign Banks will concentrate on is that of Lynn Swann, newly endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate. Swann, the ex-Steeler, ex-chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and self-proclaimed conservative, is black.
Racism is based on fear and fear makes people behave in ways they might not normally consider. The Democratic Party is fearful of losing its black-voter base, so it attacks. But the same bile it hurls on a daily basis at white Republicans comes out racist when it attacks black Republicans. Just ask Condi Rice. Numerous unflattering labels have been hurled in her direction.
Something to consider, though. The superheros of the black movement -- Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton -- are noticeably absent when a black Republican is attacked. They have no problem donning their race-card capes when a liberal black is attacked. But they had a hard time finding Maryland on the map when New York Sen. Chuck Schumer's henchmen did an illegal credit check on Michael Steele. Where was their outrage? Their circus-like news conferences? Oh, wait -- Steele isn't black, he's Republican.
What made the civil rights movement so great was that it was an agenda that was not personal; it had the support of all races. But somewhere along the way, the civil rights movement was hijacked by radical liberalism. Somehow, I find it hard to believe that Martin Luther King would have advocated anyone of any color being treated in such a despicable way. Nor would he have appreciated his wife's funeral, a celebration of a life well-lived, being turned into a political rally intent on embarrassing a sitting president. This is the legacy of the civil rights movement?
No matter which way you cut it, racism is ugly, vile, and used as the lowest common denominator when all else fails. If you have problems with candidates, attack their principles or their ideas, not the color of their skin. Last time I checked, that was called racism.
Plenty of tolerance, little understanding
By Matt Price
Dumbstruck by the violence, intimidation and murder committed under the guise of anger over the Danish cartoons, I've been wondering whether the fruitcakes directly involved in the global mayhem, along with well-meaning people preaching "tolerance and understanding", recognise what's been surrendered this week. I'm all for tolerance and understanding. When its practitioners argue Islam is a peaceful creed, I'm prepared to ignore the religion's violent history and focus instead on ample evidence of Mohammed's modesty, humour and willingness to accommodate alternative viewpoints. I can empathise with devout Muslims who must peer from behind their veils at a modern world where Big Brother contestants flash their knobs on prime-time television and teenage magazines contain instruction manuals to assist pre-pubescent girls perform oral sex and wonder what in Allah's name has become of us all.
As a not-especially devout Catholic who still attends church, I can even vaguely relate to the indignation felt by followers confronted with gratuitous, childish insults to their gods and icons. But after the senseless savagery committed in the name of Islam, the tolerance-and-understanding-meter is fast running out of coinage.
Having paddled through an ocean of punditry and reportage, it was a letter to Melbourne's The Age newspaper that best encapsulated the sadness and significance of the disgraceful cartoon backlash. "I ask myself what is in the minds of people who cannot tolerate any questioning of their ways, their society and their religion," writes James from Prahran. "As a formerly tolerant and open-minded Australian who used to believe that we can accept and live with each others' differences, I now strongly believe that Western traditions, beliefs and freedoms are incompatible with the Muslim world. "I ask now, why do Muslims wish to live in Western societies if they find our freedoms so abhorrent? I ask, what do they bring to our society but venom and anger? I ask, why should we allow them into our tolerant society? I am now a racist."
If Jimmy's being tough on himself, who in the tolerance-and-understanding brigade can't relate to his misery? That a series of poorly drawn, mainly unfunny scribblings can trigger a murderous jihad defies belief. Had a dozen of Australia's prominent cartoonists - comfortably the world's best - been instructed to turn their attention to Mohammed, we'd now be preparing for World War III.
Bill Leak, this newspaper's resident inkster and incorrigible shit-stirrer, would not, I suspect, be an automatic inclusion in any reliable list of prominent neo-cons. "I'm not sure if I've been infected with something," he told me this week during a discussion about the cartoon wars. "But for the first time in my life I've found myself in violent agreement with Janet Albrechtsen. I mean, by any measure these were very ordinary cartoons - not funny, lamely drawn. And what is it now? Ten people dead, riots around the globe. Imagine the consequences had the cartoons been any good."
Members of the T&U brigade acknowledge that nobody has a right to dictate what others must find insulting or offensive. We accept the overwhelming majority of Muslims demonstrating around the world this past week were not involved in the violence and vandalism and would have been appalled at the havoc wrought in alleged defence of their faith. But what's utterly bewildering is that millions of people who find themselves driven to protest over drawings of Mohammed, first published six months ago in an otherwise completely obscure Scandinavian magazine, seem incongruously unharried by other disturbing images.
For example, the videotaped beheading of kidnap victims or people hijacking aircraft full of passengers and flying them into crowded buildings. Unsurprisingly, most newspaper editors have resisted the natural instinct to let readers know exactly what the fuss has been about by publishing the offending cartoons. It's not been worth the potential grief and public curiosity can easily be sated with a glance at the internet.
Up in Brisbane, where The Courier-Mail ran one image last week, local Muslims arranged talks with editor David Fagan. Islamic Council of Queensland president Abdul Jalal entered yesterday's meeting declaring: "I'm hoping that we'd agree on some sort of basis we could put through The Courier-Mail a weekly article portraying the correct image of Islam, and what Islam in the wider community should be doing to build a better relationship."
Read that sentence again and you get a sense of the magnitude of Mr Jalal's problem. We columnists can be remarkably persuasive but no amount of newsprint can erase the reality - forget image - of what's occurred this past week. And while Australian Muslims have been sensibly restrained in their complaints about the cartoons, I suggest what members of the wider Islamic community should be doing to build a better relationship is to direct the lion's share of their ire and disappointment towards violent members of its brethren rather than newspaper editors.
How deeply depressing all this must be for decent, law-abiding Muslims in Australia and elsewhere. What confounds T&U brigadeers as much as anything is that this spate of global mayhem comes at a time when Islam is under intense scrutiny and its image, correct or otherwise, has taken a pounding. If fanatics and extremists aren't swayed by logic, more sober believers must bury their heads in despair at the timing and context of the cartoon over-reaction....
MORE POLITICALLY CORRECT "SCIENCE"
An academic row has erupted after one of the world's leading scientific journals refused to publish an article which claims that men and women think differently. Peter Lawrence, a biologist and fellow of the Royal Society, accused Science of being "gutless" after it explained that its decision was because the piece did not offer "a strategy on how to deal with the gender issue".
In his paper, Mr Lawrence questioned why, when 60 per cent of biology students are female, only 10 per go on to become professors. This "leaky pipeline" has been blamed on discrimination and a lack of choice which, if corrected, will produce equal numbers of men and women in science. But Mr Lawrence dismissed "the cult of political correctness" that insists men and women are "equivalent, identical even" and argued that "men and women are born different".
The journal considered the article for seven months and, after making a number of changes, gave Mr Lawrence a publication date, proofs and a chance to order reprints. But at the last minute he received an e-mail from Donald Kennedy, the editor-in-chief, in which he said that the journal was not going to publish the article. The piece "did not, at least for us, lead to a clear strategy about how to deal with the gender issue," said Kennedy. "So much has been written on all sides of this problem that it sets a very high bar for novelty and persuasiveness, and although we liked your essay we have had to decide to reject it."
Mr Lawrence, a developmental biologist who works at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, said: "It was a lame excuse. I could not get it published for reasons that I think were political." Mr Lawrence's piece - Men, Women, and Ghosts in Science - has since been published online by the Public Library of Science Biology and has become one of the most popular articles over the past few days, attracting about 60 e-mails, almost all from women.
One woman reader said that the men who want to avoid the issues the article raises "are simply running scared of getting lynched like Larry Summers", a reference to the Harvard president who caused a furore with a speech in which he raised the issue of whether women have less innate scientific ability. The most vociferous criticisms of Mr Lawrence's ideas have come from Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who accused him of "mashing together true genetic differences between men and women with old- fashioned stereotypes. In so doing, he perpetuates the very problem he is trying to address about why so few women get to the top in science".
Science is reeling from having published two papers that contained the most notorious fraud of recent years, Prof Hwang Woo-Suk's human embryonic stem cell research. Over two years ago, the journal was also criticised for trying to influence a Congressional debate by publishing a widely reported paper linking the drug ecstasy to brain damage, which was subsequently retracted.
"Science" magazine is also enormously one-sided in favouring the "global warming" claim. For the latest example of that, see here
14 February, 2006
British Racism at work again -- Soldier rejected as police trainee because he was white
A hero soldier who served in Iraq and Bosnia has been rejected by his local police force because he is a white male. Mark Gough, 25, had wanted to be a cop since his teens but joined the Army for "life experience" first. He served six years with the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and his unit was among the first into Iraq in the 2003 toppling of Saddam. The dad of one did six months in Basra before leaving the Army and applying to the police.
He passed a preliminary course with flying colours and was described by some serving officers as a "perfect candidate". But Mark's application to the Gloucestershire force was turned down. And his shock turned to anger when he learned he was one of 109 white male hopefuls rejected, while minority groups and women had sailed through.
Every black, Asian and female applicant was invited to interview, but two-thirds of the white males were rejected.
Mark, who lives with wife Amanda, 29, in Quedgely, said: "I'm surprised I've been judged on the fact I'm a white male. "I can only assume I was one of the 109 because we aren't women or part of a minority group." The force had 301 applications for 192 vacancies. All 109 rejected were white males, leaving 63 to go through, along with all 129 female and ethnic minority applicants.
Gloucestershire Police said it was its duty to create a force representative of local minorities, although just 2.8 per cent of the county's population is from an ethnic minority. Assistant Chief Constable Michael Matthews said: "This positive action will undoubtedly mean disappointment for others."
COMMENT ON THE ABOVE STORY:
Yes, that's right, Gloucestershire police are operating a racist and illegal recruitment programme that sets out to deliberately discriminate against white applicants in order to meet ethnic minority recruitment quotas!
No complaints from Gloucester City Council. No complaints from the local Commission for Racial Equality. No complaints from the local rag and no internal police investigation either!
But just imagine the furore had the police force been caught out operating a racist recruitment programme that deliberately discriminated against non-whites!
However not everyone is so complacent. Civil liberties group Liberty and Law, we today learn, has reported the Gloucestershire Constabulary to the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) for what are blatant breaches of both the Race Relations Act and Sex Discrimination Act. Liberty and Law, regular Regional Voices readers will remember, has also recently done the same in respect of the racist recruitment practices of Somerset and Avon Police.
It is hoped that unsuccessful white applicants, being victims of racial discrimination and having suffering stress, anguish and humiliation, will take our advice and sue the Force concerned for damages, using one of the numerous "no win - no fee" schemes available.
ANOTHER ISLAMIC DICTATE: VALENTINE'S DAY INCORRECT
An Islamic separatist women's group, known for its fierce opposition to Western-style romance, vowed to prevent couples celebrating Valentine's Day. "We will not allow anyone to observe Valentine's Day as it does nothing but spread immorality among youth," said Aasiya Andrabi, firebrand leader of the separatist Dukhtaran-e-Millat or Daughters of Faith. The group, which supports a 16-year-old separatist insurgency against New Delhi's rule in Indian Kashmir, is also engaged in a crusade to stamp out immorality in the Muslim-majority region. Valentine's Day, which is celebrated February 14, is "against our culture and Islamic teachings," Andrabi said in a statement reported by Current News, a local news agency.
The anti-Valentine's Day protest Andrabi's return to moral policing after her release from jail where she spent four months for harassing a couple. The group kicked off its campaign Friday against "Lover's Day" in Srinagar, the state's summer capital, by raiding half a dozen shops, confiscating Valentine's Day cards and making a bonfire out of them. The aim of Valentine's Day is to "pave the way for Western culture to invade youths' hearts and minds and distance them from their traditional culture and Islamic principles," added Andrabi. The group has previously smeared black paint on film posters portraying semi-naked women.
Andrabi, who wears a head-to-toe veil in line with Islamic tradition, has also been running a largely unsuccessful campaign to get women to wear similar attire in Indian Kashmir. Kashmirs largely Muslim population is socially conservative, but over the past few years couples have openly dated in parks, restaurants and Internet cafes.
"We want to save our youth from indecency and desire to see them as true followers of Islam. We won't like them to follow Western culture," Andrabi said on Saturday. Moderate and hardline factions of the regions main separatist alliance and other Islamic groups rallied around Andabi when she was in jail and urged her release, saying she was doing a good job fighting obscenity and immorality.
FOOD CORRECTNESS DICTATORS HAVE THEIR LEGS KICKED OUT FROM UNDER THEM AGAIN
But they will continue to act as if nothing has happened
Article by Jeff Jacoby
I don't usually follow nutrition stories, but it was hard to miss last week's shocker about low-fat diets. Like many papers, The Boston Globe put it on Page 1, high above the fold: "Study finds no major benefits of low-fat diet." The study, a project of the National Institutes of Health, had taken eight years, cost $415 million, and involved nearly 49,000 older women, 40 percent of whom were assigned to a diet that kept their intake of calories from fat significantly below that of the other 60 percent. Researchers had expected to confirm what earlier studies and conventional medical wisdom had long suggested -- that consuming less fat is good for your health.
What they learned instead was that the women who dutifully cut back on fried foods, ice cream, and pizza ended up no better off than the women who ate whatever they wanted. The two groups developed breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks, and strokes at the same rates. Millions of Americans have been trying for years to reduce the fat in their diet -- eating bread without butter, salads without dressing, chicken without skin -- and now the largest study of the subject ever conducted says it has all been for naught. You could have had those fries after all.
And so once again we are reminded, as The New York Times sighed in an editorial on Thursday, that "the more we learn about nutrition, the less we seem to know." Does oat bran reduce cholesterol? Can dietary fiber prevent colon cancer? Are high doses of Vitamin E good for your heart? Once, the experts said yes. Then the experts said no. It sometimes seems that for every study that makes a nutritional claim, another study inevitably makes an equal and opposite claim.
Researchers can't even agree on whether eating less fat is the way to lose weight. Some insist that obesity is caused by ingesting too much fat, making a low-fat diet the key to shedding pounds. Others claim that reducing fat leads to overconsumption of carbohydrates -- and that it's carbs, not fat, that make people gain weight. Which theory did the massive new study confirm? Neither. Apparently there is still no clear-cut answer -- not even for $415 million.
But clear-cut answers are just what so many Americans want, and what so many of them think science ought to be able to provide. There is a seemingly inexhaustible willingness to believe that the voice of science is the voice of truth -- impartial, incorruptible, and unambiguous. It isn't, of course. Scientists are no less vulnerable to error or bias or ego than the rest of the human race. Scientists too can blunder or act from ulterior motives or convince themselves of things that aren't so. And yet on the whole they enjoy a level of deference and public trust that people in most other fields can only envy.
Which is probably not a good thing. Scientific pronouncements should be subjected to the same level of healthy skepticism as the promises of politicians or the claims of advertisers -- or the views of newspaper columnists. With the best of intentions (and otherwise), scientists sometimes peddle claptrap. Just because a statement begins with "A new study shows . . ." or "Researchers have found . . ." doesn't mean that what follows is true. "We in the scientific community often give strong advice based on flimsy evidence," Berkeley statistician David Freedman said last week in a comment on the low-fat diet study. "That's why we have to do experiments." And why the rest of us have to remember that contradiction, confusion, and changing opinions have always been a part of the scientific process.
One day after last week's low-fat story, the New England Journal of Medicine was out with a study concluding that saw palmetto extract, an herbal product, has no effect on the symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate. Earlier studies had found just the opposite, and more than 2 million American men take saw palmetto for their prostate condition. So does it work or doesn't it? Whichever answer you choose, there's a study to back it up.
In Newsweek last month, Dr. Harvey Simon of the Harvard Medical School recanted a view he had preached for years: that the only way to benefit from exercise was through intense aerobic activity, complete with pounding heart and rivers of sweat. Now, citing the latest research, he says he was dead wrong, and that gentle, no-sweat exercise -- even walking or gardening -- is also highly effective.
From cardiac health to climate change, it's worth keeping in mind that what the experts say today they may not be saying tomorrow. As that noted scientist Emily Litella used to put it in the old "Saturday Night Live" skits: Never mind.
13 February, 2006
FEMINISM FAILS IN AUSTRALIA TOO
Surprise! It failed to make men into women! But the poor sad feminist excerpted below is still hoping
It is unnerving to acknowledge, especially after Betty Friedan's death, that participation of Australian mothers in the workforce is on the decline. There may be many explanations: the cost of child care, the generosity of government benefits to traditional breadwinner families, and women choosing to "opt out". Throw in Australia's long working hours and the Howard Government's cultural campaign to exalt the homemaker (before it realised it needed her working) and you have an ideal climate for a backlash against the revolution Friedan ignited.
The most important ingredient, however, in stalling mothers' once unstoppable march into jobs is the failure of the much-heralded "new man" to arrive on the scene. Today's urban, educated men are different from the taciturn breadwinners of yesteryear, for sure. They are more sensitive, more interested in the arts, in fitness, in food and furnishing. But when it comes to getting down'n'dirty in the kitchen, or supervising the kids, the statistics tell an old-time story. Working mothers do a double shift, and working fathers don't - and some women, it seems, won't take it any more.
Feminism changed women but it did not change enough men - enough. And without men's transformation, it was always going to be a hard slog for mothers to gain equality. Workplaces have progressed haltingly in the 40 years since Friedan's The Feminine Mystique became one of the most influential books of the 20th century. But in the home, the lives of most men and women with children have hardly shifted.
And so it is disquieting, but not unsurprising, to see the data reported by NATSEM, the economic modelling centre at the University of Canberra, showing young mothers' withdrawal from work. In 1990, 58.7 per cent of partnered mothers aged 25 to 34 were in the workforce; by 2003, this had declined to 52.4 per cent. For partnered mothers aged 35 to 44, a similar slide is evident - from 75.5 per cent participation to 70.6 per cent.
In the US, where the trends are in the same direction, The New York Times ignited a huge debate late last year with a story that claimed increasing numbers of women graduates from elite universities were setting "a career path to motherhood". A blistering analysis in American Prospect magazine by Linda Hirshman came to the same conclusion. As one bride with a master's degree told her: "He's the CEO and I'm the CFO. He sees to it that the money rolls in and I decide how to spend it."
Decades of workplace feminism have left untouched the abiding belief that women retain the major responsibility for raising children and keeping up the home. Ten years into the Howard Government, it is important to remember why the decline of mothers' workforce participation is a cause of concern rather than a heartening sign of expanding choice.
Friedan said it best in the famous first paragraph of her book: "Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night, she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question - 'Is this all?' "
A career of full-time homemaking, especially for educated women, usually is not enough. And, in trying to persuade themselves it is, a new generation of women will be prey to the same demons of depression and breakdowns that plagued the Valium-addicted mothers Friedan described. If full-time homemaking were the fulfilling, influential and socially validated role conservatives claim it to be, you can bet more men would be doing it.....
The formula for producing the new man is yet to be discovered. It would help if the Federal Government reversed its policy of giving the least family and tax benefits to parents in the most egalitarian of arrangements - where both partners work part-time. Women might have to get more serious about their work, adopt learned helplessness in the house and, as Hirshman advises, marry younger men or much older ones. Equality at home and at work is still a fine goal. The journey there is longer - and more tiring - than Friedan thought it would be. But it's the only trip to take.
There's more to life than security
If `freedom from harm' is the ultimate right, liberty loses out
'Shanty towns in the shadows of skyscrapers' is how parts of the developing world are often described. It is a provoking visual image. Go to Westminster Palace in London and there are images equally as potent. Particularly striking is the contrast between the statues erected to liberty through those who secured it - Cromwell, Pankhurst and Churchill among others - and the constructs of black concrete that border the palace to protect it from a potential vehicular terrorist attack. Here is an image that evokes a central political tension of our times. Not, I would argue, between liberty and security, but between life and death. Or more accurately: between the fear of death and the enjoyment of life.
On a recent visit to the Houses of Parliament with a London friend, I asked him what he thought of the black concrete blocks. He didn't think them much intrusive and surely a mild inconvenience considering just how devastating would be, say, a truck bomb exploded near a packed Commons during prime minister's questions (PMQs). This is a disposition shared by many today. It is one that places physical security at the apex of a hierarchy of rights. In this case, then, the right to visit the seat of one's government without having to view and experience it bordered by ugly concrete blocks is superseded by a 'right to life' that justifies the presence of said blocks.
This view finds support at the highest levels of government. As Bruno Waterfield has highlighted on "Spiked", home secretary Charles Clark has '[gone] against his earlier statements, [and has] told MEPs that the highest freedom, in a new "hierarchy of rights", [is] the right not to be killed'. UK prime minister Tony Blair speaks constantly of a 'new climate' post-7/7, and believes that judicial objections made to anti-terrorism legislation in the past are losing credibility, as 'for obvious reasons, the mood now is different, people do not talk of scaremongering'.
The terrorist threat always presupposed an actual terrorist attack, but now hypothetical victims have become actual ones ('the circumstances of our national security have self-evidently changed') the primacy of the 'right to life' takes hold. Every erosion of rights becomes a minor infraction on our liberties, as the 'right to life' dwarfs all other claims. What good is freedom of expression to a dead man? The police force can expect strong support when they try to extend the reach of their powers. After all, they are guardians of this Ultimate Right; nullifying the terrorists who threaten to violate it on a grand scale.
One might think that this fetishising of the Ultimate Right represents life over death - with those concrete blocks, our deportation of radical preachers and steadily accruing police powers indicative of our determination to remain alive. This anal focus on the 'right to life' has, however, much more to do with death than with life. The 'right to life' and the preventive measures employed to secure it aren't so much about the living of life as the avoidance of death. Were we truly at war, with a substantial proportion of the population facing a clear and present mortal danger, life defined as the avoidance of death might be sufficient. It would take exaggeration of the rankest sort to suggest this is the case. To impose some perspective: it would take 58 terrorist attacks with the mortality rate of the 7/7 attacks for the toll to reach 3221, which is the number of Britons killed on the roads in 2004. It would take many more terrorist attacks to approach the number killed in the Blitz.
Our jitters about boarding underground trains may obscure, but they do not remove, the fact that the 'war on terrorism' is for us a very low casualty operation when compared to, say, the great wars of the twentieth century. If 7/7 evoked the Blitz spirit, it did so with an ounce of the Blitz threat. Our leaders and parts of the media, then, proffer a fear of death that is far removed from the chances of us dying. If we understand that the enjoyment of life in a democratic society comes from our liberties, we should see any reduction in our rights not as a sacrifice to security but as a give-away to those obsessed with death.
The statues that surround Parliament say something about life and its enjoyment just as surely as the protective barrier says something about death and our fear of it. All countries have their national myths. These are sustaining narratives that inject virtue into the history and purpose of a nation. Britain's national myth is a 'Whig History', which interprets our past as the steady march of liberal democracy from the Magna Carta (1215) to the present day. Along the way are various staging posts in which, so the Whig History goes, our lives and liberties were challenged and yet we overcame the threat. The sculpted figures in and around Westminster palace are testaments to these victories, as many are statues erected to those who helped to secure liberty.
Oliver Cromwell, for example, whose rendering by Sir Hamo Thornycroft (1899) can be seen in front of Westminster Hall, has the place of a torch carrier for liberty - as bridging the gap between an illiberal Charles I and a less illiberal Charles II. Winston Churchill - our 'Greatest Briton' - who stands (even) larger than life in Parliament Square, is credited with being the inspiration for the defeat of fascism and the survival of our liberal state in the face of realistic annihilation.
Now, the Whig history is not without its flaws, and those specified by historian Herbert Butterfield back in 1931 still obtain. In particular, Butterfield noted the determinism of the approach. If all British political roads lead to liberty, no road really ever led anywhere else. Therefore less 'fitting' histories (such as a less charitable view of Oliver Cromwell or Churchill than stated above) are submerged beneath interpretations that comply with an orthodoxy that asserts the inexorable march of liberal Britain. There is an attendant risk of complacency (we need do nothing to secure liberty) and apathy (nothing we do will matter anyway), along with historical inaccuracy.
However, despite the intellectual landmines it presents, we could do with something of the spirit of Whig History today. This is because, unlike the Ultimate Right adherents, followers of Whig History can recast dying as having to do with the enjoyment of life. Whereas the 'right not to die' lobby meet death with the fear of more death, Whigs can find purpose in death - namely a noble sacrifice for a liberal cause. This imposition of meaning on to otherwise rather baffling and disorienting carnage can provide the motivation for us lucky enough to be alive to wish to live in liberty. Did those people die so we could be less free, or more? Would they wish that we lived our lives in the fullest freedom, or have us be preoccupied with a fear that we will suffer their fate? I've decided to go with life over death; with the statues over the black concrete blocks.
12 February, 2006
Who's obsessed with homosexuality?
It is the liberal elite, not the public, that kicks up a fuss about gay MPs
The UK Sun's outing of Lib Dem leadership contender Simon Hughes last week was presented as yet more evidence of the British masses' homophobia. Brave individuals rushed to defend Hughes against the millions who apparently would shun him. 'It's okay that he's GAY!', liberal commentators shouted towards the public gallery.
By these accounts, it was fear of public humiliation that had kept Hughes in the closet for so long. One columnist talked about the 'irrational loathing' and 'bigotry' that marked the Sun and its readers, and predicted that Hughes would now receive hate mail. The Guardian's news blog consoled: 'Sadly, it is hard to believe that Britain, at least as filtered through the media lens, is ready for a major party leader who is single, let alone gay.. Having a demonstrably virile family man in Number 10 has set the bar high. Is it any wonder that politicians deny they are gay when the penalties for admitting it still seem steep?'
But all the fuss about the affair came from Islington dinner tables. SE16 - the area of south London where Hughes is MP - remained nonplussed. There were no voters on the streets outraged at their representative's perversions. One constituent told BBC Radio Five Live that everybody in the constituency had long known anyway, and that it was not as if he had been caught 'dressed as a Nazi doing it with donkeys'. The only notable public reaction was from a handful of Muslim Lib Dem party members who switched back to Labour (they had recently switched to the Lib Dems over the Iraq war, so were hardly party faithful).
Nor was there reprobation from the Sun. Yes, there were the usual sharp headlines ('Another Limp Dem.Bites the Pillow'), but the paper's concern was less with Hughes' sexuality than with the fact that he had denied it. Hughes was pictured having a heart-to-heart with political editor Trevor Kavanagh, who reported 'Lib-Dem leadership challenger Simon Hughes last night spoke frankly about his gay sex life - and said he had been WRONG to hide it'. According to Kavanagh, 'Mr Hughes appeared relieved to get his confession off his chest after living under suspicion of a secret life for 30 years in politics'.
The Guardian blog cited the Sun's earlier headline to mark the recent marriage of Elton John and David Furnish - 'Elton takes David up the aisle' - as evidence of prejudice. But what it failed to note was the Sun's lengthy descriptions of Elton John's nuptials - the groom and groom's choice of clothing, their guest list, their pledges of love - that almost gave it the air of a royal hitching.
It is simply not the case that being gay is political suicide for an MP. There is a long list of openly gay politicos - Peter Mandelson, Chris Smith, Matthew Parris, Alan Duncan - most of whom are far closer to power than Hughes (though not all of them are entirely happy about being photographed with their boyfriends). Nick Herbert, a gay Tory MP, won a seat in the fusty Arundel and South Downs at the last election. In the current issue of Gay Times, four MPs are pictured on the dancefloor with their shirtsleeves rolled up. Alan Duncan recalls: 'When I came out, there was nothing but a positive reaction from the Tory Party. I still get two or three thank-you letters a week.' Indeed, former Tory leadership hopeful Michael Portillo confessed his previous gay love affairs in an attempt to boost his political standing.
So why all the fuss about homophobia? This issue owes less to public prejudice, than to the conceit of the liberal elite. The gay issue has become one of the signature tunes for an otherwise vapid elite; a point of principle it uses to mark itself out from the crowds. Overtures to gayness are implicitly directed at the backward and bigoted masses, who supposedly aren't sensitive enough to appreciate the finer points of gay love. Though public tolerance is growing, the gay question is kept politically fraught by constant attempts to turn it into a public education programme.
Just look at the fuss surrounding Brokeback Mountain: commentators fell over themselves to talk about how 'deeply moved' they were by the Western gay love story, and rubbed their hands with glee at the thought of Midwest America having to swallow this bitter pill. (Meanwhile, the film is quietly mainstreaming at cinemas all over the Western world, with not a gasp to be heard.) Or take the pages of commentary that accompanied the first wave of gay civil partnerships. This wasn't just about saying 'how nice that couples are finally able to tie the knot', but was instead a self-conscious posture, with journalists proving their sensitivity and appreciation of gay relationships.
All of this is not good news for gays. Gays were once a freak show because of their exclusion from mainstream society. All the most artificial aspects of gay culture - from drag queens to bull dykes - developed as a poke in the eye for the heterosexual mainstream. The gay community was shunned and ridiculed, and so it wore its marginalisation almost as a badge of pride; rather than being at ease with itself, it was always putting on a pose.
Now, at a time when public attitudes have eased, gays are becoming a new kind of freak show. Instead of achieving free and easy equality, their role as pin-ups for the liberal elite sets them apart from society. They are pushed forward as a lesson for all: 'He's GAY! Do you have a PROBLEM with that?', go commentators' cries. The new sin is not to be gay, but to hide it - an assumption that perhaps puts the Sun in bed with the Guardian blog.
Once, gay public figures were outed in order to suggest that there was something wrong with being gay. Today, there is a new breed of outing, which is about shining a light on the perceived prejudices of the masses. Gay figures are pushed forward and put on awkward parade. This keeps homosexuality politically live, at a time when by rights it should be fading as an issue of public concern. In this context, who could blame some politicians for wanting to keep the closet door firmly shut?
THE LATE BETTY FRIEDAN
There was, to be sure, lots not to like. Betty Friedan was one tough mother. She overstated her case about the boredom of the 1950s American housewife, and she indulged in vicious and damaging hyperbole, describing the suburban housewife as living in a "comfortable concentration camp." But she transformed certain female realities that would benefit generations that came later, whether pleasing to liberal or angering to conservative.
Before she wrote "The Feminine Mystique" in 1963, many women who aspired to work in certain trades or pursue careers in the professions were consigned to the closets of their suburban homes, both literally and figuratively. She blazed a way out into a world of expanded opportunities that young women today expect as their natural due. It's important not to confuse Betty Friedan, the mother of modern feminism, with all that came after her. When she saw the damage wrought by radical feminists, she challenged the movement she founded, confronting the lesbian conspirators who would ignore the emotional wants and needs of women who yearned to be full-time mothers, or who wanted to mix family with work. She was denounced by some of the sisters as "bourgeois."
In her 1981 book, "The Second Stage," she examined some of the not-so-good changes her revolution had wrought. She told of the "executive assistant" she met in the office of a Los Angeles television producer. The woman, in her late 20s, beautiful, accomplished and "dressed for success," liked her work and saw it as a rung on the ladder to greater opportunity. "I know I'm lucky to have this job," she told Betty, "but you people who fought for these things had your families. You already had your men and your children. What are we supposed to do?"
Like most revolutions, feminism pushed the culture a few inches too far, ignoring the iron law of unintended consequences. Women who put their careers above all often found themselves listening to the remorseless ticking of their biological clocks without a man to love or child to nurture. Feminists had ignored Mother Nature, and Nature is the toughest mother of all.
The number of childless women in their early 40s doubled over two decades. One study found that 42 percent of successful women in corporate America were childless after 40. The numbers grew in other professions as well, as women became workaholics like the men they had railed against. By the 1970s, Betty Friedan's famous "feminine mystique" had hardened into conventions that deprived women of the warmth and caring that had marked their sex as la difference .
Betty Friedan made the mistake of imagining that all women were alike. She underestimated the passion of the conservative women led by Phyllis Schlafly, who almost single-handedly defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. In one debate, Ms. Friedan screamed at Mrs. Schlafly: "I'd like to burn you at the stake." Phyllis, who never loses her cucumber-like cool, replied: "I'm glad you said that, because it just shows the intemperate nature of proponents of ERA."
Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly clarified the issues for women, issues that still teeter on the seesaw of public opinion. Betty had the media with her, but Phyllis had a grass-roots movement of her creation that's still alive and well. John Kerry won the majority of single women in 2004, but George W. won the overwhelming majority of married women, who figured he would be more likely to keep the home fires ablaze.
Betty Friedan was contemptuous of the radical feminists who set women against men, women again women, feminists against family. She warned young women of the peril of distorting the priorities of women and starting a war nobody could win. She was right about that, too.
The Holocaust Memorial Museum
Dr Helen gets it:
I just went to see Glenn do his book signing at CPAC where there were bloggers, journalists and reporters galore! From there, I went to the Holocaust Museum to look at the exhibits. As a psychologist, I found the exhibition on "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race" the most interesting. The Nazi emphasis on health and fitness was certainly intriguing--while it sounds good in theory, it reminds me of why I feel upset with all the fitness gurus in this country with their propaganda that makes smokers seem like outlaws and those who eat at McDonald's one step away from a heart attack and lifelong reliance on the health insurance system. It is all about more government control--even to the point of telling people how to eat and exercise. Heck, I ate at McDonald's on the trip up and it was fairly healthy.
The National Socialist Party is an amazing representation to me of the worst characteristics of the authoritarian mixed with far left leaning propaganda. While the far left sometimes likens the right to Nazi's, it seems to me that Hitler also had traits of the left--I guess that's why they called it the National Socialist Party. One of the displays in the Deadly Medicine exhibit mentioned a quote from Hitler that I did not write down--but the gist was that the goal of the National Socialist Party was to have children as its top priority (in a 1938 speech, Hitler proclaimed the mother to be the most important citizen in his state) and that the selfishness of the individual was to be overlooked for the good of the collective society. Sounds very much like a form of socialism to me.
11 February, 2006
HOMOSEXUALS HARASS CHRISTIAN COLLEGES
Below is an email from Paul Conn of Lee university
We learned several days ago that a national organization called Soulforce has targeted Lee University as one of the most "anti-gay" universities in America. This organization, which describes itself as a group of "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians", announced plans for a two-month bus tour to "confront" nineteen prominent colleges and universities, including Lee, which have policies forbidding homosexual behavior. This group announced they will arrive at Lee University on March 16. The bus tour, which it calls "Equality Ride" is being planned, they say, because Lee and the other targeted institutions are "epicenters of intolerance and oppression" which "force students into fear and self-hate."
We learned several days ago that a national organization called Soulforce has targeted Lee University as one of the most "anti-gay" universities in America. This organization, which describes itself as a group of "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians", announced plans for a two-month bus tour to "confront" nineteen prominent colleges and universities, including Lee, which have policies forbidding homosexual behavior. This group announced they will arrive at Lee University on March 16. The bus tour, which it calls "Equality Ride" is being planned, they say, because Lee and the other targeted institutions are "epicenters of intolerance and oppression" which "force students into fear and self-hate."
Obviously, this rhetoric is extreme. It provides little basis for dialogue and trusting conversation. On the one hand, I recognize the need for Lee students to discuss and explore freely the scriptural perspective of homosexuality, and I understand it is a sensitive and important issue for many students at a deeply personal level.
On the other hand, I do not believe the organizers of EqualityRide offer positive, balanced dialogue. They describe their approach as "take-it-to-the-streets activism." In my judgment, this kind of confrontational event is not a constructive way for the Lee University family to address the issue of homosexuality, and I do not believe our students would be well-served by this approach. I recently talked by phone with the organizers of the bus tour, explained to them my objections, and asked them not to come to Lee . They responded that they are coming anyway, whether we like it or not, and said they want Lee to provide a public forum, such as chapel, classes, luncheons, for them to make their case.
In my opinion, it would be irresponsible of us to offer any public forum, on such a serious issue, to a group of individuals whom we do not know, and who do not know us, who have no investment in our campus culture or life here together, and no accountability to any of us before or after their visit. We would not be so foolish as to try to prevent these individuals physically from coming onto our campus, but we also do not intend to present them with the legitimacy of any kind of official forum.
I have always welcomed personal dialogue, as you know, with any Lee student, alumnus, or parent, on any subject at any time, and that includes those who are struggling with the issues of homosexuality. Many other faculty and staff here at Lee have that same commitment, as we have demonstrated on many occasions. But we have no obligation to provide credibility and validation, to people who intend to come onto our campus only long enough to argue with us.
Here at Lee, we believe that God offers love and grace to all of us, all the time. We believe as Christians we should extend that grace to others, as Christ extends it to us. We also believe that, even as He loves us, God nevertheless requires us to obey certain laws which He has established. We believe that homosexual conduct is one of the behaviors which are prohibited by scripture. Although we are not wise enough to understand the psychological and emotional complexities which produce same-sex romantic and physical attraction, we believe that it is not the natural course of human affection, and that scripture approves sexual intimacy only when it occurs between a married man and woman.
We understand there are people who do not share this view. We respect their right to reach their own conclusions about sexuality, and to live their lives (or choose a college) consistent with their own beliefs. At the same time, Lee University has never been unclear about where we stand on this issue. We openly state, to every potential student or staff member, that homosexual conduct by members of our campus family is not acceptable, and when individuals join our community, they also join us in that lifestyle commitment. This aspect of our Christian discipleship is deeply rooted in our theological tradition, and we are not reluctant to affirm it.
We believe that people who visit our campus should be treated with courtesy and respect, and this of course includes gays and lesbians. Lee University is a place of friendship and grace. It is our goal always to be firm in our convictions while still reflecting the love of Christ to people who disagree with us. If this group insists on coming our way, I confidently expect that there will be no hostility, or expressions of contempt or derision, shown to them by anyone on our campus. It is important for Lee always to be a place where we show a gentle spirit to all people who visit here, even when they are uninvited, and even when they are harsh in their judgments of us and our spiritual commitments.
V Stands for Vulgar at Smith College
Valentine's Day is next Tuesday. However, instead of associating the day with love, romance and affection, students at Smith and across the country now associate the holiday with the zealous "V-Day" campaign and its accompanying rally cry, "The Vagina Monologues."
Instead of positive publicity promoting healthy relationships, both romantic and platonic, students are being subjected to crude and vulgar advertising for "The Vagina Monologues." Pictures of flowers made to look like women's sexual anatomy adorn posters, mailbox stuffers and flyers. Words and phrases such as "Do you multiple orgasm?" and "Sex fair" are being thrown in our faces.
This type of speech is unacceptable for an institution of higher learning, especially one that values strong, female leadership. Besides the vulgarity, "The Vagina Monologues" is decidedly anti-male, commercializes violence against women and reduces women to little more than their sexual anatomy. The manner in which the play promotes the use of graphic language, evident to anyone who has seen a performance or read it thoroughly, is additionally disturbing.
This is not an issue of political preference, as women from both ends of the political spectrum have come out against the use of "The Vagina Monologues" in the V-Day campaign. Noted radical feminist Betty Dodson stated in reference to "The Vagina Monologues," "That's the main problem with V-Day. Women end up with a false idea that V-Day will end violence against women and girls. Ending violence is a worthy cause, and I am all for it, but consistently equating sex with violence offers no real solution."
Instilling a fear of men through "The Vagina Monologues" performances on college campuses across the country will not end violence against women. "The Vagina Monologues" paints a despairingly bleak picture of the male nature, as is evident in all the men portrayed in the play as rapists and child molesters, save "Bob," the single non-violent male character who is obsessed with the female anatomy.
Teaching women not to trust men will not change anything, and furthering the use of derogatory terms against women challenges the core principles of feminism. By highlighting women talking about themselves and their anatomy the way the characters in the play do, the play is allowing men to follow along and to see women in terms of their anatomy instead of in terms of their intelligence, creativity and passion. Men attend the play and hear women shouting out the "C-word"-- not a word associated with empowerment and liberation but rather with derogatory connotations of violence and vulgarity. Using harsh, offensive language is part of the "shock value" of the play, but in actuality such vulgarity contributes little to the feminist cause.
This play does not in any way liberate women. "The Vagina Monologues" sends the message that women identify solely by their sexual anatomy and that the female source of power comes from her vagina. Telling an audience that your vagina feels "chatty," or that your vagina would wear "a beret," or that it is named "Froggie Doodle Mashy Pie" does not make women stronger, but makes them sound pathetic and crude.
A production that is supposed to end violence against women should teach audiences that women should be independent, free thinkers and focus on personality and intellect, not their sexual anatomy. Teaching women how to be great leaders, to be confident, well spoken and poised is far more important than a monologue telling women that their vagina is a "village." Students at institutions such as Smith College should be focusing on all of the strong, capable women that are educated here and go on to do amazing things. We should be honoring women for their talent, not their anatomy. Smith College is an institution that values civil debate and intellectual conversation. We are smart, privileged women, and we do not need to cater to the "shock value" of "The Vagina Monologues" to learn about an important issue such as domestic violence.
On Feb. 11 we challenge all Smith women and members of the Smith Community to make an informed decision as to whether or not to see "The Vagina Monologues."
(From the Smith College Republicans)
FROZEN FOOD NOW INCORRECT
British food correctness at work
Stormy waters lie ahead for Captain Birds Eye. The fish finger company is being forced to find a new berth. Unilever, the parent company, is jumping ship, blaming frozen food's bad image for the decision to sell one of its most famous brands. Despite the good captain's "nutrition mission" on television commercials, and a 60 million pound overhall of the range last year, Birds Eye has struggled to reverse growing perceptions of frozen food as unhealthy and outdated. "It's modern and it's healthy," Trevor Gorin, a Unilever spokesman, said, "but it's hard to turn people's ideas around. The popularity of chilled food has been a big problem, too. The decision to sell was not an easy one, but we can't afford to be sentimental."
Birds Eye, founded by the American biologist Clarence Birdseye in 1922, is one of the iconic brands on supermarket shelves, selling more than 515 million fish fingers a year. More than 1.7 million people a day eat the company's peas. Its advertising figurehead, Captain Birds Eye, has become a household name since he appeared in 1967. He was even honoured with an obituary note in The Times during a temporary demise "after long exposure" in 1974. The white-bearded sailor made a comeback in 2002 after an attempt to replace him with a younger, stubble-clad impostor provoked protests from his fans.
Now the captain and the Birds Eye workforce, who include 900 staff at a frozen vegetable site in Lowestoft, Suffolk, and hundreds more at the fish plant in Hull, must wait until the company is sold before their future is decided. Unilever hopes to complete the sale by the end of the year. Birds Eye's Grimsby factory, where fish fingers had been made since their invention in 1955, closed a year ago with the loss of 620 jobs. Heinz and Findus have also put their frozen food divisions up for sale in recent months.
Reacting to yesterday's announcement, a spokesman for the Transport and General Workers' Union said: "Our members face an uncertain and unsettling future. We are very disappointed that Unilever has chosen to sell." Unilever said that it was also selling most of its European frozen food brand, Iglo, which with Birds Eye has an annual turnover of about 1.5 billion pounds. It will retain control of Iglo in Italy, where the market is performing better, as well as the ice-cream brand Walls.
Patrick Cescau, group chief executive, said that the decision to sell "has been a tough call. It has been a successful business for us over many years. However . . . in recent years growth has been harder to come by." Potential buyers for Birds Eye include the private equity group Capvest, which bought part of Findus this month.
10 February, 2006
Shocking Study Finds College Students Joke About Sex!
According to a report released yesterday by the American Association of University Women's Educational Foundation, 62 percent of 2,036 college students surveyed said they had experienced sexual harassment. The president of the foundation told The Chronicle of Higher Education that "sexual harassment pervades college life and prevents students.from achieving the social and academic benefits that colleges and universities offer." And according to USA Today, the foundation will be rolling out initiatives at 11 colleges and universities aimed at "building a sexual harassment-free campus." This all sounds very serious. Unfortunately, however, the major revelation of the survey is not that actual sexual harassment is rampant, but rather that no one seems to know what sexual harassment really means. As supporters of FIRE know, this is a rampant problem on college campuses, where administrators routinely prohibit all kinds of constitutionally protected speech as harassment.
Here is what sexual harassment really means, according to the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education: conduct of a sexual nature "so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it affects a student's ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment." The U.S. Supreme Court has put forth an even more restrictive definition of harassment in the case of student-on-student conduct.
By contrast, the survey provided students with 15 "examples of different types of sexual harassment," the first of which was unwanted "sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or looks." The students were then asked whether they had experienced any of the listed examples of sexual harassment. Their responses to that question determined whether they had been "sexually harassed." Not surprisingly, the primary form of "sexual harassment" that students reported experiencing on campus was the first type: they reported that they had "received sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or looks." The other, more severe forms of harassment were far less prevalent.
Perhaps the most telling evidence of the inaccuracy of the survey is this: according to the report, "the top reason that students gave for not reporting sexual harassment is that their experience was not serious or `not a big deal.'" Here's the problem with that: according to the Supreme Court, for conduct to constitute sexual harassment, it must be both "severe or pervasive enough to create an objectively hostile or abusive work environment" and the victim must "subjectively perceive" the environment to be hostile or abusive. Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc. (1993). If the so-called victim believes that the unwanted joke or comment was "not a big deal," it does not constitute sexual harassment.
Say it with me, people: one offensive joke or remark does not constitute sexual harassment! This has been reiterated by courts across the country and by the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education, which is responsible for enforcing federal anti-harassment law at institutions of higher education. Sure, you can say that a majority of college students have been "sexually harassed" if you define sexual harassment to include any unwanted sexual remarks or jokes, just as I can say that hundreds of men ask for my phone number every day if I define "men" to include "imaginary men that I make up in my head." But that doesn't make it true! The true definition of sexual harassment has been set forth repeatedly by the Supreme Court and by the federal government agency that administers anti-harassment law in the educational context.
The attempt to define harassment down by college administrators and now by the American Association of University Women both infringes on the constitutional right to freedom of expression and does a terrible disservice to the victims of actual harassment.
THE 'THROW-AWAY-THE-KEY' FALLACY
By Jeff Jacoby
Consider some recent news items, all from the past several weeks:
+ A worldwide security alert is issued after 23 inmates escape from prison in Sanaa, Yemen; among those at large is Jamal Badawi, mastermind of the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 US sailors. Badawi had been sentenced to death, but on appeal his penalty was reduced to 15 years. Another of the escapees is Fawaz al-Rabe'ie, convicted for his role in the deadly bombing of a French oil tanker in 2002.
+ Joseph Druce, a convicted murderer serving a life term in Massachusetts, is found guilty of murdering fellow inmate John Geoghan, a former priest serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for sexually molesting a child. Judge Francis Fecteau imposes a penalty of life in prison without parole, in effect adding nothing to the life sentence Druce is already serving.
+ Germany releases Mohammed Ali Hammadi, a Hezbollah terrorist serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of US Navy diver Robert Stethem during a hijacking in 1985. Under German law, even murderers imprisoned for life become eligible for parole after 15 years, and Hammadi has been behind bars for more than 18 years. Though German authorities deny it, some observers suspect that Hammadi's release is connected to the freeing of a German hostage held in Iraq a few days later.
A prison break, a murderer who kills again, a paroled killer -- such stories occur with frequency, and no obvious thread links these three. Yet they do have something in common: They demonstrate the fallacy in arguing that capital punishment is never necessary, since killers can be sentenced to life in prison. Lock up even the worst murderers and throw away the key, the theory goes, and they can never kill anyone again. But they can and often do.
Like the 23 convicts in Yemen, murderers sometime escape from prison and shed more blood. A few years ago, the US Supreme Court handed down an opinion that began: "In 1974 respondent Robert L. Jones began serving a life sentence after his conviction for murder in the State of Georgia. He escaped from prison some five years later and, after being a fugitive for over two years, committed another murder." With luck, the terrorists who broke out of that Yemeni prison will be recaptured before, like Jones, they kill again -- but it is not unreasonable to fear the worst.
Like Druce, convicted murderers sometimes kill behind bars. Life without parole offers no protection from jailhouse killers to those *inside* prison walls, such as guards and other inmates. In 2001 and 2002, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported last year, 129 inmates in state prisons and jails were victims of homicide. A policy of "lock 'em up and throw away the key" may keep a murderer alive only at the cost of sentencing yet another victim to die at his hands.
And then there are all the cases such as Hammadi's, in which convicted murderers are knowingly set free by the state. Germany's 15-years-and-out "life" sentence is reminiscent of the Massachusetts policy under former governor Michael Dukakis, when even defendants sentenced to life without parole could look forward to regular weekend furloughs and eventual release on parole. Other states have been just as casual about turning killers loose. In Louisiana, that state's supreme court noted in 1982, "it was common knowledge that life imprisonment generally means 10 years and six months." According to The New York Times, in his first two years as California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger "paroled 103 lifers, 89 of them murderers."
An astonishing number of violent crimes are committed by released prisoners. In a 1995 study, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that in one 17-month period, criminals released on probation or parole inflicted at least 218,000 violent crimes, including 13,200 murders.
Not all ex-cons are murderers, of course. But it stands to reason that people who have already killed once are at least as likely as other criminals to turn to murder again, if they are given the chance. At least 8 percent of prisoners currently on death row had already been convicted of homicide before committing the murder for which they were sentenced to death. There have been 7,250 death sentences since 1976, suggesting that at least 600 additional victims died because their killers were not executed the first time they murdered.
Life without parole is no substitute for the death penalty when it comes to protecting innocent lives. That is not to say that execution is the appropriate punishment every time a defendant is convicted of murder. It *is* to say that it should be an option for jurors to consider as they weigh the evidence in individual cases. When justice calls for life without parole, the jury is allowed to say so. When justice calls for death, it should be allowed to say so too.
THE INCORRECTNESS OF RED MEAT
Panic: 'Red meat cancer risk clue found,' says BBC News reporting on a new study which suggests a mechanism by which eating beef, pork and other red meat might increase the risk of bowel cancer. A small group of volunteers were fed three different diets: one in high in meat but low in fibre; high meat and high fibre; and no meat. Those in the high meat, low fibre group had significantly greater damage to the DNA in their colon than the other groups. The researchers, from the Dunn Human Nutrition Group and the Open University, suggest that N-nitrosocompounds, substances formed in the gut after consuming red meat, may be responsible.
This study follows a report published in 2005 that suggested that those who ate red meat twice a day were a third more likely to develop bowel cancer than those who ate red meat less than once a week. Cancer of the bowel causes 16,000 deaths in the UK each year.
Don't panic: This new study is only suggestive of a possible cause for why red meat might cause cancer. The link is far from proven, and if there is an increased risk it would appear to be small.
The study obliged volunteers to eat 420g of red meat each day for two weeks. That is an unusually large quantity of meat - roughly equivalent to eating four quarterpounders a day. Moreover, the small number of subjects involved and the short timescale suggest more work is required.
Even if this mechanism suggested was to be confirmed, the risks are still small. The 2005 study found that the annual risk of bowel cancer at the age of 50 for the high meat consumption group was 0.17 per cent, compared to 0.12 per cent for the low meat consumption group. Either way, bowel cancer is not a major threat for most people. While such figures translate into large numbers at a population level, they are fairly meaningless as a guide to individual behaviour.
Other factors are important, particularly age - 80 per cent of bowel cancers occur in people over the age of 60 - and survival rates have improved a lot in the last few years. So, chances are you can carry on scoffing the bacon sandwiches and beefburgers, and still live to a ripe old age.
9 February, 2006
ONCE AGAIN A DEAFENING SILENCE FROM AMERICA'S SO-CALLED "FEMINISTS"
They pretend to be concerned about the welfare of women but are in fact just Leftists who use fake-concern about women to promote hatred of ordinary people and their way of life. They really care not at all about women. If they did they would be hitting the streets over the story below:
Nazanin, 17, was sentenced to death by hanging for defending herself against three rapists. A young girl who defended herself and her chastity against three male assailants who intended to kidnap and rape her causing injury to one of them who later died in hospital was condemned to death by hanging in an Islamic court in Iran. Nazanin who has seen no more than 17 Springs, all of which under the tyrannical rule of the Mullahs is now facing execution for trying to defend herself and her honor.
Nowhere in the world and under no law self defense is considered to be a crime, but in the tyrannical mullacracy of Iran if a woman does not resist rape she will be stoned as adulterer and if she does she will be hanged.
Nazanin, this young innocent girl, was assaulted by three criminal men in the West of Tehran while strolling with her niece in a park last March (2005). To defend herself she pulled out a knife and stabbed one of her assailants. The knife penetrated the ribs of her attacker who later died in the hospital. The attacks on women in Iran is so frequent that many are forced to carry a concealed weapon for self defense. Unfortunately the Islamic law does not even allow women that right.
Despite the fact that she had been acting in self defense, as shown by the evidences presented and the testimony of eyewitnesses, Nazanin was sentenced to death by hanging. In the last court hearing she repeatedly said “I only defended myself and the honor of my family”. Her words fell of deaf ears and the all male jury who like their misogynist prophet thought it is outrageous for a woman to stand for her rights and defend her dignity and honor, swiftly ordered her execution. The travesty of justice in Islamic Republic of Iran is beyond description
TWO COMMENTS ON AB 606 -- CALIFORNIA'S LATEST LEGISLATION TO PROMOTE HOMOSEXUALITY TO THE CHILDREN OF UNWILLING PARENTS
You would think that a State with such an abysmal record of teaching the "3 Rs" would have more urgent priorities but destruction, not construction, is what Leftism is all about. Arnie COULD still veto the bill but will he?
Comment from here:
AB 606 is a dangerous bill that will have far-reaching implications in our schools and what it taught. It would remove local discretion of school boards and give immense power to the state. It would also pave the way for schools to be forced to include curriculum, textbooks or other materials that accept, embrace and advocate homosexuality.
AB 606 seeks to force all school districts in California to implement and advertise anti-discrimination policies that specifically focus on homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender. These policies must include teacher and staff training on how to “identify” so-called discrimination. This is another sly attempt to label any teacher or student’s objection to homosexuality based on moral or religious reasons as being discriminatory.
AB 606 deletes the current provision in law that gives schools the option of excluding curriculum, textbooks, presentations, etc based on homosexuality into their discrimination policies. If schools choose not to include curriculum and textbooks into their anti-discrimination policies they are not in violation of the law. But AB 606 would remove this option taking control out of the hands of local superintendents and school boards and give curriculum framework decisions to the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. With the local control exemption deleted from law, it would be the State Board of Education that could at any time revise the state curriculum frameworks and guidelines and the moral and civic education curriculum even worse and it would be implied that schools must abide by and implement them.
At any given time a State Board dominated by liberal members could revise the curriculum to include the most radical pro-homosexual teachings. Likewise, a very liberal State Superintendent, like former Superintendent Delaine Eastin, could unilaterally single out conservative school districts and withhold their funds. AB 606 would allow for the State Superintendent to solely determine which schools and school districts are in compliance with the required pro-homosexual policies. For those schools that are deemed out of compliance they would have their funding suspended until it was deemed they were in compliance.
You see what they are doing? Homosexual activists behind this bill want to force every school board, superintendent and school principal to implement an anti-discrimination policy that favors homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender and force schools to have curriculum, textbooks, materials and more that reinforce the policies that promote and advocate homosexuality to California’s students. Those behind AB 606 can no longer look the public in the eye and claim they are not forcing their agenda on society! They are doing so blatantly and with the threat to schools of losing their funding!
Comment from here:
The government and its elected leaders main function (supposedly) is to protect rights, to preserve justice and to manage society for the betterment and growth of said society. We do not really see this any more, instead we see a concentrated effort to place the acceptance of the gay lifestyle above all other concerns. This lifestyle is very harmful to people, physically emotionally and mentally. This is documented fact. If you practice this lifestyle, odds are you will die younger(1) and suffer from more mental and physical problems than if you lived a normal, natural lifestyle.
In California for example, there are those in its legislature who make it the number one priority, above all other worries or needs for the state, to make sure no matter what the gay lifestyle will become the norm. They spend a disproportionate amount of time crafting gay legislation forcing the gay lifestyle into schools, the business world, local governmental regulations...
They are doing this with apparent impunity, no one even seems to notice what is happening until the affects are entrenched. I mean, what average Joe or Jane pays attention to their state legislature and what they are doing? The liberal leftist Media generally keeps this kind of legislation unreported or on the 'back page'. They DO notice when the affects of these laws start being felt though. Try starting a Club for Christians to fellowship with one another at California State University for example. This is now against the law. California State Law [Title V] prevents student groups at public universities from excluding people based on religion or sexual orientation. This pretty much kills a Christian club that wants members to be Christian instead of wiccans and gay activists.
Right now in California, it is next to impossible for a Christian to send their children to public school and know they are in a physically and morally safe environment. This is just plain fact. With the addition of AB606 to the plethora of other gay lifestyle laws already in place, Christian children do not stand a chance of a moral upbringing. "Children should learn their morals at home" you say? Yes, children's parents and church leaders teach them moral values to help them lead moral upright lives. These new legislative efforts will confuse them and cause the children to distrust their parents and pastors.
The pro-gay curriculums, starting as low as kindergarten, actually teach that the students should reject what their parents and church leaders say, that their parents and churches are "wrong" - "they are bigots full of outdated principles based on hate". They do this in an outlined systematic way, with materials forced into the system by the gay friendly legislature and ultra gay friendly teachers unions. If the children speak up in school with the moral values taught at home and church, they will be ridiculed by teachers and class mates...not a good thing. At a time when LA Unified has a graduation rate of under 50%, should we be spending so much time in sensitivity training and re-working the moral codes of kids who cannot read or do arithmetic?
AB606 actually demands that the few remaining moral school districts comply with the indoctrination, or have their funds yanked, with the final say so residing in one person, who of course if about the most gay friendly leftist you will ever meet. "If you do not like it, put your kids in a private school" you say? Ninety five percent of families in California do not have the luxury of being able to afford private schools and all the additional costs that go with a private education. "Well then Home School" you say? If the cost of living in California did not require almost every couple to both work full time to make ends meat, then that would be feasible. Raising our children correctly should not be for the fabulously wealthy only.
Truth is, Californian Christian families pretty much have no choice. Their kids will go to public school, and thanks to their gay-activist politicians (and teachers) their children WILL be taught from kindergarten (or even preschool if the leftists have their way) on up that the gay lifestyle is ok, normal and even desirable. The children will be exposed to hours and hours of what can only honestly be called indoctrination, instead of using that time to learn to read, write and do arithmetic.
Take them to court, demand their parental rights! Of course this will not work as the 9th circuit courts have already stated that what the school wants to teach, the parents are required to accept. No choice. There are NO Parental RIGHTS when it comes to educating their children.
So as I see it, parents are forced to send their children to school by the government, it is the law. The government says that they will teach the children whatever they want, no matter what anyone thinks. The courts tell parents stay out of it, they have no right to decide what their children are taught as right and wrong. Again, this is the law. Under the guise of protecting so called gay students from bullies, to make them safe, the government has made the schools unsafe for Christian students. (There is more than just the safety from bullies, but also the safety of their souls, the safety of their physical and mental health.)
As this seeps in to Christians consciences over the next few of years, I predict we begin to see an acceleration of families moving away from California to more family friendly states. There already has been a growing exodus due to the states incredibly bad business environment left by Gray Davis. Businesses have been leaving at faster and faster rates, and with them employees. While this has been on the mend some what, it has a long way to go before it gets better. As for myself, I have already moved my family away from the horrors taking over society in California to a more family friendly locale. My children are too important to me to risk in the cesspool of the California educational system.
8 February, 2006
FATHERS DON'T MATTER
The California Supreme Court on Thursday shifted the balance in fights between divorced parents with a ruling that eases the way for a parent with custody — usually the mother — to move away over her former mate's objections. Anthony Yana, a divorced father from San Luis Obispo County, tried to prevent his ex-wife from moving to Nevada with their 12-year-old son, Cameron. The ex-wife, Nicole Brown, who had full custody of the child, had remarried and her new husband had a job in Las Vegas.
Brown, who has two other children with her second husband, argued that Cameron would suffer if he was separated from his half-siblings. She also offered Yana more time in the summer with their son. Yana argued that moving would put the boy in a community with poor schools and more crime. He also moved for joint custody. A lower court ruled that a judge should have held a full hearing on Yana's objections before the mother could relocate.
The high court disagreed, in Brown vs. Yana. The court ruled that a parent who lacks custody, usually the father, would have to show that the move would harm the child before he would be granted a hearing. A hearing "in a move-away situation should be held only if necessary," Justice Marvin Baxter wrote for the unanimous court. A trial court may deny a hearing if "the noncustodial parent's allegation or showing of detriment to the child is insubstantial in light of all the circumstances presented in the case," Baxter said.
The decision limits the impact of a 2002 court ruling that critics had warned would result in expensive legal battles every time a custodial parent attempted to relocate over the other parent's objections. Attorney Jeffrey W. Doeringer, who represented Brown in the case, called Thursday's ruling "a step back" from the 2002 decision. "The Supreme Court has put a little wedge in there and said wait a minute, before you open the door to move-away litigation, there has to be something substantial," Doeringer said. "It is not fair to the parties or the children to go through the emotional and financial strain of this kind of litigation."
Daniel Helbert, the trial attorney for Yana, said the ruling would make it harder for a divorced parent to prevent the custodial parent from moving with their child. "You can't just say that my son is going to be living 1,000 miles away and we won't share the same relationship," Helbert said. "I don't think that is going to be enough to get a hearing anymore."
David L. Levy, who heads the Children's Rights Council, a Maryland-based international child advocacy group, complained that the court created "too high a bar" for obtaining a full hearing to challenge a move. "A child should have easy access to both Mom and Dad," Levy said. "Nobody should have to fight to maintain that relationship."
CALIFORNIA LEFTISTS SAY YOU MUSTOPPOSE LAW ENFORCEMENT
A coalition of nonprofits groups, labor unions and business owners on Thursday threatened to boycott any Costa Mesa business that refuses to display a poster opposing the city's immigration-law enforcement plan. "We will not give these businesses the luxury of neutrality," spokesman Nativo Lopez said. "The silent Germans allowed the Nazis to flourish, and there can be no silent Germans on this issue."
The City Council voted 3-2 in December to allow some police officials to check felony suspects' legal status and to launch the deportation process if they are in the country illegally. Officials say it's a tool to get criminals off the street. The council majority insists race is not an issue, but many opponents of the plan don't believe that. The city is 31.8 percent Hispanic, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
Costa Mesa businesses expressed mixed reactions to the boycott threat. "We wouldn't put up the sign, because we don't have a stance on this issue either way," said Randy Klein, manager of Coast Jewelry on Newport Boulevard. "We'd put up the sign because we are against this policy based on its (merits), but we don't like anyone trying to force us to do so," said Hooman Yeroushalmi, manager of Persian Treasure Rugs on Newport Boulevard.
Mirna Burciaga, owner of El Chinaco restaurant on 19th Street, supports the boycott. "Businesses on the Westside are already losing customers because people are afraid to come out of their homes, even to buy a glass of milk," she said.
There is a high concentration of Hispanics on the city's Westside. The coalition, Citizens for Constitutional Rights, also called for Costa Mesa residents to practice "non-violent civil disobedience" by refusing to provide police officers with information about crimes.
"I don't believe (Lopez) will be able to mobilize the people of Costa Mesa, because he doesn't understand their needs," Police Chief John Hensley. "I've been out in our community, particularly the immigrant community, and I know (Lopez) does not represent them. Our relationship with the immigrant community is strong."
About 20 people representing groups such as Los Amigos of Orange County and UFCW Union Local 324 attended the coalition's news conference Thursday. Lopez said they will go to each business in Costa Mesa in the next 60 days to offer the signs. The city has about 6,000 businesses. After 60 days, businesses without a sign will be boycotted unless the council has repealed the policy, he said. The group also is planning an April 1 protest in front of City Hall
7 February, 2006
THE ORWELLIAN WORLD OF NU-LABOUR BRITAIN
Sometimes I get the eerie feeling that Britain is being governed according to the Paris Hilton school of political science. When asked if any articles about her had appeared in the UK, Hilton replied no, but there had been some in London. When told that London is in the UK, she answered, "Whatever. UK. Right." Tony Blair couldn't have put it any better himself.
Unlike his long line of predecessors, Blair is curiously uninterested in the history and traditions of the countries which make up the United Kingdom and the historical development of laws, including the freedom of speech and thought that the British have enjoyed -- in sharp contrast to citizens of European countries -- for 800 years. Sometimes he seems to be barely aware of the nature of the people he is governing and anyway, the past is another country. Enjoying far greater power than the President of the United States, Blair has, in the words of conservative columnist Melanie Phillips, "ripped the heart out of the . British constitution" and "has behaved like a constitutional vandal, fragmenting the United Kingdom and destroying the independence of the second chamber."
Most alarming is the New Labour focus on controlling not only speech, but thought. Political correctness is thought-control under a less threatening name, and The Times of London's Europe correspondent Anthony Browne has described the descent into a Kafkaesque world in his new pamphlet, The Retreat of Reason, published by conservative think tank Civitas. He demonstrates that the new ideology has effectively stifled public debate on topics the government doesn't want discussed. He adds that throughout all levels of government now, "there is an intellectually dishonest response by people who preferred political correctness over factual correctness".
He cites, among other examples, the explosion of HIV infection in Britain. The politically correct response is, "too many teenagers are indulging in unprotected sex", which, as we know, won't stand up to scientific scrutiny, but never mind. The factual response is, "immigration from Africa". With regard to the rise in anti-Semitic attacks, Brown cites the politically correct response of "gangs of white skinheads". The factually correct response is "Muslim youths".
Perhaps most disturbing is: this school of political correctness and to the devil with the facts has seeped through Britain's police departments where it has been adopted with enthusiasm. A woman by the name of Lynette Burrows, who is a kind of family values campaigner, took part in a BBC radio discussion panel about Britain's new civil partnerships Act that allows gays to enjoy the same legal rights as married people. Burrows does not appear to be opposed to the Act, but the mother of six doesn't think gay men should be allowed to adopt boys. She said that placing a boy with two homosexual men would offer the same risk as placing a little girl with two straight men who shared a house. Her comments were mild and not hostile to homosexuals.
A keen member of the public called the police and the police contacted Burrows saying "a homophobic incident" had been reported against her. As recently as five or six years ago, the response of the police to such a caller would have been, "Well, it's a free country. The lady can hold any views she likes and can say them to whoever she likes." Not any more. According to The Daily Telegraph, a spokesman for the Fulham police said, "It is standard practice for all parties to be spoken to, even if the incident is not strictly seen as a crime. It is all about reassuring the community. We can confirm that a member of the public brought to our attention an incident, which he believed to be homophobic. "All parties have been spoken to by the police. No allegation of crime has been made. A report has been taken but is now closed."
A report has been taken? He said it was policy for "community safety units" (isn't an entire police department a community safety unit?) to investigate "homophobic, domestic and racist incidents" because these were "priority crimes". I have no doubt that with the burgeoning violence on the streets, daylight muggings, burglaries with violence, drive-by shootings and a soaring murder rate, the British would prefer real crimes be given "priority" status. Meanwhile, Burrows has commented, "They were leaning on me, letting me know that the police had an interest in my views. I think it is sinister." Indeed.
Next, we come to public enemies: 73-year-old Joe Roberts and his wife Helen, 68, who complained when they saw a table in their local council office displaying homosexual literature. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts were of the opinion that taxpayer-funded premises and employees should not be used for promoting lifestyle issues and called to complain, as is their right. The council reacted negatively, whereupon the pair asked whether they could at least display some Christian literature on the same table. Permission was refused on the grounds that it might give offence to the gay community. Mr. Roberts hit back with along the lines of "Well, what if I'm offended by homosexuality?" The phone call ended and that should have been the end of the angry exchange. Mr. Roberts had issued no threats and had simply expressed an opinion that might not be uncommon among his age group. He wasn't advocating violence or discrimination against gays. It was a harmless complaint to his local town hall. But in today's Britain, the holding of unfashionable, or outdated, views is not only not tolerated, but is subject to police scrutiny.
The next day, two police officers came to call on the elderly couple and spent over an hour grilling them about the 10-minute phone call. The officers told the pair that they were "walking on eggshells". The Robertses were left with the impression that repeating their request to the council could lead to their being charged with a crime.
National British columnist Peter Hitchens, writing in the conservative Daily Mail, argues that British police officers now "have been carefully and systematically trained in the [Orwellian] Newspeak of the New Left." He writes that he has been shown a document that is used to train officers in "community awareness" and that "it smacks of the re-education camp and the thought police."
"Land of hope and glory, mother of the free"? I think not.
MORE ON THE LATEST BRITISH SPEECH RESTRICTIONS
Critics of the Government's Racial and Religious Hatred Bill have hailed the amendments passed by rebel MPs as a "triumph" for freedom of expression. That is a strange way to describe the passage of yet another law limiting free speech. There are already, one study claims, almost 50 statutes curbing the freedom to say what you believe. Now we have one more. The amendments reduced the scope of the Bill, for example limiting the offence to "threatening" rather than including "abusive or insulting" words. But even if no case is ever brought under this mess of a law, it reinforces the idea that there is too much freedom to speak.
So what's to celebrate? Many of those who wanted the Bill amended seemed not to champion free speech, so much as "Me! Me! Me! speech". What they were demanding was less the right to free expression than protection for their own privileged self-expression.
Why were the Rev Ian Paisley and evangelical Christian groups - not always thought of as champions of civil liberties - such prominent opponents? They sought to defend their freedom to insist that there is one true God and to call Muhammad's marriage to a child immoral. Fair enough. But it is hard to imagine them fighting for the freedom of their critics. Indeed, their complaint was that that proposed law would not have banned the "blasphemous" Jerry Springer - the Opera.
Artists and writers were understandably in the forefront of the opposition. Yet many seemed concerned to protect their own freedom to produce offensive books or plays, not the right of others to offend their sensibilities. One author, while hailing offensive art as "exhilarating", also worried about the impact on "less rational people" of offensive ideas from the political platform or the pulpit. Those who asked that we look at the law from the comedian's point of view presumably did not have in mind Bernard Manning or even Jimmy Carr, the TV comic condemned for cracking gags about gypsies. Nor have many of these champions of artistic freedom defended Jamaican reggae artists censored for anti-gay lyrics.
The Muslim leaders who wrote to The Times demanding their freedom to hate homosexuality while supporting the proposed ban on religious hatred revealed a similarly one-eyed attitude towards free speech. The competing proponents of "me speech" all tend to portray themselves as potential victims, in need of special protection from the law or their opponents. Thus humanists got the new laws extended to protect "religious belief or lack of religious belief". Many on both sides also seem to share a deep fear of the allegedly irrational mob, whom they imagine as a pogrom waiting to happen.
Call me a free-speech fundamentalist, but I agree with George Orwell that the only ideas that really need defending against informal or formal censorship are those seen as outlandish, extreme or offensive. It is by defending free speech for "them" that we uphold our right to free thinking - the freedom to hear and judge every idea for ourselves, and to revile, ridicule or ignore it as we see fit, rather than being denied that opportunity by our not-in-front-of-the-children culture. As Orwell pointed out, quoting Rosa Luxemburg, the German revolutionary, freedom must mean "freedom for the other fellow", not just free speech for me, me, me.
BUT BRITISH HATE-SPEECH LAWS DON'T APPLY TO MUSLIMS
The only people arrested during the demonstrations appear to have been non-Muslims! As far as the hate-filled Muslims are concerned, only vague promises of later investigations could be extracted from the police
The Conservatives last night called on the police to arrest militant Muslims who threatened Westerners with violence during protests in London over newspaper cartoons that mocked the Prophet Mohammed. As fanatics - some dressed as suicide bombers - staged more protests yesterday, David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said the police should take action against what were clearly offences of incitement to murder. At the height of the protests on Friday demonstrators chanted slogans threatening more London bombings, praising the "magnificent" 9/11 hijackers and waving placards saying "Massacre those who insult Islam", "Europe you will pay" and "Europe you'll come crawling when Mujahideen come roaring".
Mr Davis said last night: "Clearly some of these placards are incitement to violence and, indeed, incitement to murder - an extremely serious offence which the police must deal with and deal with quickly. "Whatever your views on these cartoons, we have a tradition of freedom of speech in this country which has to be protected. Certainly there can be no tolerance of incitement to murder."
Scotland Yard said a decision not to arrest protesters was taken because of public order fears. It confirmed that police had received more than 100 complaints from the public about the protesters' behaviour.
On Friday 500 demonstrators marched from Regent's Park Mosque to the Danish embassy in Knightsbridge to protest at the publication of "blasphemous" cartoons in a Danish newspaper, and subsequently in other countries and on the BBC. Yesterday, more than 1,000 demonstrators staged a second protest outside the embassy. The only arrests made were of two men found carrying cartoons of Mohammed. Police said they had been detained "to prevent a breach of the peace". On Friday police provided a motorcycle and helicopter escort for the protesters. Video cameras recorded the events.
The Tory call for action is in stark contrast to the response from Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, who blamed foreign newspapers for stirring up the row by publishing the cartoons. He said: "Re-publication of the cartoons has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong." But the Tories defended the right of editors to publish them. Dominic Grieve, the shadow attorney general, said: "From what we know about the cartoons it is understandable that they have caused offence. "However, the decision as to whether to publish or not is one of taste and decency that should rightly be taken by newspaper editors, broadcasters and their owners and is not one for government....
As the clamour for action grew, police sources said there were no arrests on Friday because of fears of a riot. A senior Scotland Yard officer said: "We have to take the overall nature of the protesters into account. If they are overheated and emotional we don't go in.....
INCORRECT TO MENTION DISRESPECTFULLY THAT BLACKS TEND TO DRESS MORE FLAMBOYANTLY
But you can laugh at anything "Rednecks" or Christians or conservatives do of course. Post lifted from Byron Crawford. Note that the post includes a link to the pictures concerned
The true story behind Ghetto Promgate '06
I can't bring myself to watch any of the cable channels that feature sports programming, but I would imagine that this story has been making the rounds. As mentioned in the previous post, there was a story about it in the Sports section of the New York Times. I first noticed it last night via a link to my site from the infamous Free Republic.
In case you haven't heard, Eric Govan, a public relations manager for the Golden State Warriors was fired yesterday for sending out a racially insensitive email titled "Ghetto Prom."
The Sports Section of Record sayeth:Eric Govan, the No. 3 person on the Warriors' media relations staff, sent the e-mail featuring 17 photos, many depicting scantily clad black people in formal attire and commentary on the outfits. The e-mail went to dozens of newspaper reporters, columnists and sports editors, as well as television and radio stations.Supposedly, he only meant to send the email - a forwarded message - to his wife, but somehow he pressed the wrong button or some shit. He quickly fired off an apology email.
Again, the LJR media:''You just received a previous forwarded e-mail titled 'Ghetto Prom' that was sent accidentally,'' Govan wrote. ''I assure you that this is totally out of character for myself and want to apologize to anyone who might be offended. My sincere apologies. This won't happen again and shouldn't have happened this time.''But alas the damage had been done; the story was out, homeboy was fired, and my site began to receive a torrent of visitors looking for said ghetto prom pictures. Because I guess no real media organizations saw fit to run them along with the story.
Here's the thing: I haven't seen the actual email myself, but I'm assuming - though there are a few different sets of ghetto prom pictures floating around the 'Nets - that these are the same pictures I ran on this site going on a year ago.
How do I know this? The email I got the pictures from, which was sent to me by my mother, had 17 pictures in it, just like the email in question. My post featured 16 of the 17 pictures - I didn't post the very last one, titled "ghettoes," here because it was a picture of a woman with really long toenails, and it made me gag to look at it.
So fine, you're saying, you once got the same email this jagoff got. As some unfortunate black youth in the comments of the previous post wisely pointed out, that email obviously circulated quite a bit in the past year. Indeed, I'll admit that I didn't personally travel to Appalachia with a .... digital camera and take these pictures.
There, I said it. The cat's out the bag. Also, not to further ruin the effect for those of you at home reading this, but I'm not actually inside your computer. I know, I know... that's the magic of the Internet, or - as it was called in '96 - "the information superhighway."
But then the Times story mentioned something about commentary on the outfits.
I didn't seem to recall there being any commentary attached to the pictures when I received them. After all, anyone who's taken a stroll through the blogosphere lately would know that any mouthbreather with a functioning PC can post pictures of things, sans any useful context.
So I went and dug up the original email. Lo and behold, there was no commentary along with these pictures. I'm assuming, then, that it was my comments (as featured at some point or another on roughly every third site on the Internets) that were included in this email.
6 February, 2006
Democracy in a Cartoon
(By Ibn Warraq )
Best-selling author and Muslim dissident Ibn Warraq argues that freedom of expression is our western heritage and we must defend it against attacks from totalitarian societies. If the west does not stand in solidarity with the Danish, he argues, then the Islamization of Europe will have begun in earnest
The great British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty, "Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being 'pushed to an extreme'; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case."
The cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten raise the most important question of our times: freedom of expression. Are we in the west going to cave into pressure from societies with a medieval mindset, or are we going to defend our most precious freedom -- freedom of expression, a freedom for which thousands of people sacrificed their lives?
A democracy cannot survive long without freedom of expression, the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to insult and offend. It is a freedom sorely lacking in the Islamic world, and without it Islam will remain unassailed in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress; ossified, totalitarian and intolerant. Without this fundamental freedom, Islam will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality; originality and truth.
Unless, we show some solidarity, unashamed, noisy, public solidarity with the Danish cartoonists, then the forces that are trying to impose on the Free West a totalitarian ideology will have won; the Islamization of Europe will have begun in earnest. Do not apologize.
This raises another more general problem: the inability of the West to defend itself intellectually and culturally. Be proud, do not apologize. Do we have to go on apologizing for the sins our fathers? Do we still have to apologize, for example, for the British Empire, when, in fact, the British presence in India led to the Indian Renaissance, resulted in famine relief, railways, roads and irrigation schemes, eradication of cholera, the civil service, the establishment of a universal educational system where none existed before, the institution of elected parliamentary democracy and the rule of law? What of the British architecture of Bombay and Calcutta? The British even gave back to the Indians their own past: it was European scholarship, archaeology and research that uncovered the greatness that was India; it was British government that did its best to save and conserve the monuments that were a witness to that past glory. British Imperialism preserved where earlier Islamic Imperialism destroyed thousands of Hindu temples.
On the world stage, should we really apologize for Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe? Mozart, Beethoven and Bach? Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Breughel, Ter Borch? Galileo, Huygens, Copernicus, Newton and Darwin? Penicillin and computers? The Olympic Games and Football? Human rights and parliamentary democracy? The west is the source of the liberating ideas of individual liberty, political democracy, the rule of law, human rights and cultural freedom. It is the west that has raised the status of women, fought against slavery, defended freedom of enquiry, expression and conscience. No, the west needs no lectures on the superior virtue of societies who keep their women in subjection, cut off their clitorises, stone them to death for alleged adultery, throw acid on their faces, or deny the human rights of those considered to belong to lower castes.
How can we expect immigrants to integrate into western society when they are at the same time being taught that the west is decadent, a den of iniquity, the source of all evil, racist, imperialist and to be despised? Why should they, in the words of the African-American writer James Baldwin, want to integrate into a sinking ship? Why do they all want to immigrate to the west and not Saudi Arabia? They should be taught about the centuries of struggle that resulted in the freedoms that they and everyone else for that matter, cherish, enjoy, and avail themselves of; of the individuals and groups who fought for these freedoms and who are despised and forgotten today; the freedoms that the much of the rest of world envies, admires and tries to emulate." When the Chinese students cried and died for democracy in Tiananmen Square (in 1989) , they brought with them not representations of Confucius or Buddha but a model of the Statue of Liberty."
Freedom of expression is our western heritage and we must defend it or it will die from totalitarian attacks. It is also much needed in the Islamic world. By defending our values, we are teaching the Islamic world a valuable lesson, we are helping them by submitting their cherished traditions to Enlightenment values.
TORCHING WHITE CHURCHES NOT A HATE CRIME
Comment lifted from The Locker Room. The event referred to is described here
It was just announced on Fox News that the torching of 5 Baptist churches were not being considered a "hate crime." This is because 4 of the churches were predominantly white. Of course, all five churches were Baptist and all 5 churches were Christian. I guess only race counts when "hate" is considered as a motive. On the other hand, if all 5 were mosques or synagogues? Maybe its only white Christians that can't be the victim of a hate crime.
The Rise in Divorce among older couples: It's Always Hubby's Fault
In both the United States and Japan, divorce among older couples is on the rise. The American Association of Retired Persons detailed the phenomenon among American seniors in a study last year, and Japan's wave of gray divorce is expected to swell into a deluge, since Japanese women will soon be legally able to claim half of their husbands' retirement pensions.
There are various explanations for the trend but media commentators agree on one thing--when the husband divorces his wife, it's hubby's fault. When the wife divorces her husband, well, it's hubby's fault too. In a recent New York Times article Terry Martin Hekker, whose husband of 40 years divorced her, criticizes what she and others in the media are calling a trend: selfish older men dumping their wives for younger women. In Japan, a popular book is Why Are Retired Husbands Such a Nuisance?, and one of Japan's most-watched television dramas is Jukunen Rikon ("Mature Divorce").
One Japanese newspaper says "some Japanese women see their husbands as an obstacle to enjoying their sunset years. With few hobbies or friends to turn to, many Japanese retirees, often nicknamed `wet leaves' for their tendency to cling to their wives, spend their time at home." These "wet leaves" are increasingly being swept aside by their newly independent wives.
In both countries this "Pin the Blame on the Husband" is unfair. For one, the stereotype of the husband trading in his wife for a younger model is by and large a myth. The women in the AARP study were 60% more likely to claim that they ended their marriages than the men were, and men were almost twice as likely as women to say that they never saw their divorces coming. In contrast to the Porsche and trophy wife stereotype, the AARP study found that these divorced men had many serious concerns, high among them their fear of losing touch with their children after a divorce.
Many of these men would see their fears in Hekker's description of her divorce. Hekker likens her anger to that of the jilted bride Miss Haversham in Dickens's Great Expectations who "spent decades.consumed with plotting revenge." She says that at a family baby shower recently, her niece said "I don't want to end up like Aunt Terry." In other words, Hekker plays the victim and the family has been instructed to feel pity for her and outrage at her ex-husband, who now is apparently persona non grata among his relatives. What a nice reward for the 40 years he worked to provide his wife and children with a comfortable standard of living.
Japanese women--who enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world-are apparently similarly ungrateful. Is it so surprising and contemptible that after four decades of work, work, work, retired Japanese men don't know what to do with themselves? They've never known the freedoms and unsupervised days that their homemaker wives have enjoyed.
This is not to say that there's no validity to women's complaints. Radio host Howard Stern recently interviewed television commentator Geraldo Rivera, who in 2003 married a woman less than half his age. Stern was only half-joking when he asked "aren't you worried about your future? Think of it--when you're 75, you're going to be stuck married to a 45 year-old woman."
In this area biology dictates much--if men found 60-year-old women as attractive as they found 30 year-olds, the human race would have died out a long time ago. Yet marriages break up for a variety of reasons, most of them having little to do with male perfidy. There's a big distinction between dumping your wife for a younger woman, and pursuing a relationship with a younger woman after your marriage has ended.
Though nobody says it, "dumped for a younger woman" is sometimes just a woman's cop-out for not taking responsibility for her own contribution to the marital breakdown. Hekker says her ex-husband spent 16 pages of his divorce papers "meticulously detailing my faults and flaws." Yet the New York Times' editors didn't ask her to devote a single one of her 1,600+ words towards giving the reader a clue as to what her ex-husband's feelings and complaints might be. Given the way the media is portraying gray divorce on both sides of the Pacific, this is no surprise.
5 February, 2006
DECEPTIONS ABOUT RAPE: A STATE UNIVERSITY NEWSPAPER THAT CANNOT MULTIPLY
Leftists salivate about rape. It liberates some juicy "anti-men" or "anti-other-people" hatreds in them. Post lifted from The Volokhs -- which see for links
The Oregon State University newspaper (The Daily Barometer) had this to say last week:
According to a press release issued by the Women's Center, 2,000 rapes occur every five minutes.
Huh -- 2,000 rapes every five minutes. That would mean 2000 x (60/5) x 24 x 365 = 200 million rapes a year (presumably in the U.S.). Many people underestimate the frequency of rape. Still, one would hope that it doesn't happen 200 million times a year; at least a little bit of multiplication should have alerted the writer and the editor that something was wrong.
Something was indeed wrong; when I e-mailed the Barometer to ask what the source was, they pointed me to the press release they were citing. It reads:
About 2,000 rapes are committed daily at the rate of about one every 5 minutes.
Not 2,000 rapes every five minutes, it turns out, but 2,000 rapes daily, or one every 5 minutes. Off by a factor of 300 (5 x 60) from how the newspaper rendered it.
But wait! A "rate of about one every 5 minutes" would be about 300 daily ((60/5) x 24), not about 2000 daily. The Women's Center press release was also mistaken (on at least one of the statistics, and maybe both); and again a little multiplication would have helped catch this.
For those who are interested about what the real number actually is, the answer of course is that we don't know for sure. The National Crime Victimization Survey, a survey of noninstitutionalized Americans age 12 or over, estimates that there were 72,000 completed rapes in the U.S. in 2003, plus 45,000 attempted rapes, and 82,000 sexual assaults (completed or attempted attacks short of vaginal, anal, or oral penetration); the 72,000 number would of course translate into roughly 200 rapes daily, not 2000. On the other hand, other studies have reported considerably higher levels, including the 700,000 number that corresponds to 2000 daily (though this was from the early 1990s, and the rape rate has apparently fallen considerably since then). To my knowledge, there continues to be a hot debate about the number (though not about whether 60/5 x 24 = 2000).
I e-mailed the Daily Barometer and the Women's Center to ask what's up, and to suggest that a correction be published (or, as to the web site, simply made); no response from them yet, I'm afraid.
(Note that the NCVS site was down when I checked the link; I fortunately have a printout from which I read the data, but I wanted to alert people that they might have trouble accessing the data themselves.)
Too much tolerance: Australia needs leaders to show the way on respect
Below is an editorial from "The Australian" newspaper
AS the violence that erupted in the Sydney beachside suburb of Cronulla and the revenge attacks that followed demonstrated, civility matters. At its most extreme, an absence of civility can result in social collapse. Australia has clearly not reached that stage, but NSW Chief Justice Jim Spigelman is nonetheless on the mark to issue a warning about the deterioration of Australians' ordinary manners and the dangers this poses to our social fabric. As the Prime Minister agreed in response, good manners are the basis of a more civilised society. Knowing how to use a fish fork, pass the port correctly and other fine points of etiquette are not at issue. Rather, Justice Spigelman called for a "zero-tolerance" policy to reverse a decline in Australians' ordinary manners, evident in the alarming incidence of road rage, ugly behaviour by parents at school sporting events, the expanding use of offensive language, lack of courtesy when it comes to mobile phone use, the virtual disappearance in everyday interaction of the words please, sorry and thank you and the vulgarity of reality TV shows.
Zeroing in on the role of broadcast media, Mr Howard aired his view that TV networks were leading the collapse in manners and proposed they should adopt a voluntary curb on the use of foul language. He might add to his list the increasingly frequent presence of gratuitous violence on television that mars its value as family entertainment. Certainly offensive language is ubiquitous across much of popular culture - any parent who takes the time to read the lyrics of their teenagers gangsta rap CDs is in for a nasty shock - and reality television programs such as Channel 10's Big Brother and its "uncut" version are among the worst offenders. When gutter-level language, full frontal nudity, casual and hot-tub sex, drunkenness and discussion of masturbation are the common currency of Australians' evening viewing, it can only have the result of legitimising the lowest common denominator when it comes to standards of behaviour in social interaction. While reverting to censorship is unpalatable, there is sense in the Prime Minister's call for more voluntary restraint by broadcasters when it comes to violence, sexually explicit material and obscene language. Similarly there is a strong case for more parental guidance and supervision over what our youngsters consume on a daily basis.
Television, however, is not the only culprit. Leaders in many areas of Australian life are letting down the community by failing to provide role models on civility. NSW magistrate Pat O'Shane, for instance, did the Australian community no favour last year when she threw out a case of offensive behaviour against a 27-year-old man who told police "youse are f. . .ed", arguing she was "not sure there is such a thing as a community standard any more". Most Australians would disagree that as a society we should tolerate anti-social behaviour, whether it involves abusing police, schoolyard bullying, defacing property with graffiti, breaking windows or other forms of petty vandalism. The many parents fleeing to private schools believe, on the contrary, that there is too much tolerance in the public school system when it comes to disciplining bad behaviour. Unfortunately parents wanting to raise polite, respectful offspring are not being helped by the example of boorish behaviour from many in public life. From Nationals defector Julian McGauran giving Opposition senators the finger or former Labor leader Mark Latham calling Mr Howard an "arse-licker" and the Coalition "a conga-line of suckholes", role models are thin on the ground. Institutions such as courts, parliament and schools must not sanction ill-civility, or as a society we will suffer
ATTRACTIVE WOMEN DEFINITELY INCORRECT
The yearly Electronic Entertainment Expo show is known for cutting edge game announcements and outlandish costumes, but in recent years companies have been using scantily clad models to lure attendees to their booths. Now the Entertainment Software Association, the organization that runs the event, says that these "booth-babes" will be banned. Companies will be given on warning and then face an immediate $5,000 fine for further violations.
In a handbook given to exhibitors, ESA says that "sexually explicit and/or sexually provocative" models will be prohibited from the show floor. For the industry that has brought us Lara Croft of Tomb Raider fame to the blond-haired "Ghost" girl from Blizzard's Starcraft Ghost, it may be difficult to judge what is acceptable or not.
We don't know what prompted the change in rules, but last year PlanetWide Games pushed the envelope by having several scantily-clad models pose at their booth. Kevin Donovan, President of PlanetWide Games, told TG Daily that models made sense for the demographic. "Our online role-playing game R.Y.L. was meant to be edgy and the models appealed to the demographic," says Donovan.
4 February, 2006
BNP ACQUITTALS "A PARTIAL VICTORY FOR FREE SPEECH", SAYS FREE MARKET AND CIVIL LIBERTIES THINK TANK
As I noted yesterday on Dissecting Leftism, the prosecution of two British National Party men for hate speech has failed. The jury acquitted them on some charges and failed to agree on others. It seems that you may now say critical things about Islam in private conversations in Britain. It's not much and even that limited freedom is still under attack: The British government says it is going to try the men again on the charges that the jury could not agree about. The following press release therefore has my support:
"The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today welcomes the partial acquittal of BNP Leader Nick Griffin and his colleague Mark Collett. Both men had been charged with political offences. Their probable retrial on those charges where the Jury could not agree constrains the Libertarian Alliance from saying all that it otherwise might. But their acquittal on some of the charges is unreservedly welcomed.
Moving away from matters subject to the sub iudice rule, the Libertarian Alliance calls on the British Government to repeal all laws against racial hatred and racial discrimination. Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, comments: "The rights to freedom of speech and association are fundamental to a free society. So far as these rights are diminished, that society becomes less free. I was born in a country where these rights had been enjoyed for centuries. I have reached middle age in a politically correct police state where the Government is now trying to silence its opponents through the courts. Particularly under Tony Blair, this country has become a more genteel version of Zimbabwe.
"Doubtless, there are people who take offence at the expression of certain views on race and immigration. But free speech that does not include the right to give offence is not free speech. It is the political equivalent of decaffeinated coffee.
"If people are upset by what they read or hear, let them ignore it or argue against it. There is no place in these debates for the Thought Police.
" The Libertarian Alliance believes:
* That the Race Relations Act 1976 should be repealed;
* That the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 should be repealed;
* That, pending repeal, the Race Regulations subsequent to these Acts should be withdrawn;
* That those sections of the Public Order Act 1986 dealing with speech and publication should be repealed;
* That those sections of the Criminal Justice Act 1998 dealing with "racial aggravation" of offences should be repealed;
* That the Commission for Racial Equality and all similar organisations should be abolished, and their records burned;
* That all those convicted of thought crimes under the above laws should be pardoned and, where appropriate, compensated;
* That the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill now before Parliament should be abandoned;
* That the Human Rights Act 1998 should be amended to protect the right of people to say anything they like about public issues, and to associate or not associate as they please.
HOMOSEXUAL PROPAGANDA UPSETS FAMILY
Parents of a student who attended a taxpayer-funded summer educational institute are upset that the program included, without their prior knowledge, a seminar that promoted homosexuality. Jim and Beverly Burrows say their son returned home from last year's Governor's School "confused" about homosexuality as a result of the seminar, and that they have had to seek family counseling. "We feel that this was totally inappropriate for the students who were 15, 16, and 17 years old," the Burrowses wrote to officials at the State Departament of Public Instruction. "We feel that our rights as parents have been violated by this program."
In addition to complaining to DPI officials, the Burrowses wrote to editors at several newspapers in North Carolina. DPI officials have defended the seminar, saying it was optional for students to attend, as is the Governor's School itself. The seminar, "The New Gay Teenager," was based on a book with the same name, written by homosexual Cornell University professor Ritch Savin-Williams. The book and the Governor's School seminar discussed whether homosexual teen-agers benefit, or are harmed, by embracing labels based on their sexual orientation. The co-leaders of the seminar identified themselves as gay, Mrs. Burrows said - which is supported by documentation obtained by Carolina Journal.
"We trusted their reputation," Mrs. Burrows said. "It's supposed to be one of the highest honors in the school system, to go to the Governor's School." The six-week Governor's School is held every summer, with 400 students each at two locations: Salem College in Winston-Salem (West) and Meredith College in Raleigh (East). The "Gay Teenager" seminar was conducted at the West school. The residential program draws public high school students who are approaching their senior years, and who are nominated by their high schools' teachers and administrators. Students are identified as "intellectually gifted," and the program "integrat(es) academic disciplines, the arts, and unique courses.." Students explore "recent ideas and concepts in each discipline," but are not tested or graded. No academic credit is given for participation.
The Department of Public Instruction's Exceptional Children Division oversees the Governor's School. The state budget fully funds the program, with $1.3 million set aside for it this fiscal year. Students are nominated based on specific areas of academic or performing-arts excellence, and pay nothing to attend, other than the cost to travel to the schools.....
In a letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, the Burrowses alleged, based on a conversation with their son, that the seminar was "pro-homosexual." The Burrowses said that they should have been informed about what the students would be taught and that they were not given the opportunity to decline the seminar on behalf of their son. They also alleged that the staff leading the seminar had "a pro-homosexual agenda."
The Governor's School Internet Web site lists 88 optional seminars presented "recently" at the West school, but none indicates homosexuality or any other controversial subject matter. Some seem of limited interest, but the Web site says seminars "are very well-attended by students and faculty." Titles of other optional seminars include "Famine Relief for Mauritania," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy," and "Meet Your Meat, Part I" and "Part II." Lucy Milner, on-site director of the Governor's School West last year, estimated that about half the students and faculty attended "The New Gay Teenager" seminar.
The Burrowses also complained that the seminar was the last optional one conducted at the school, two days before the closing ceremonies. It also was the only seminar scheduled for its time slot, whereas in most other cases students had more than one to choose from. The Burrowses suspect the scheduling was intentional, meant to leave a lasting impression on the students. The seminar was not placed on the schedule until the end of the fifth week, after Milner said she was approached by faculty who said students had been discussing the issue. Seminars are regularly scheduled during the school session based upon topics that arise in class discussions.
The Burrowses also said the two staff members who led the seminar were both homosexuals who encouraged the students to remain active in promoting the issue. They said both instructors encouraged students to start gay and lesbian clubs at their schools after the students returned to their homes. The Burrowses also alleged that students were "taught in their classes to question and not believe what they had been taught by their parents all these years." They said their son was told that the Bible was not true, was filled with inconsistencies, and did not apply to society today. "After finding out what this program was really about," the Burrowses wrote to Atkinson, "we totally regret sending our son to [the Governor's School]. However, the damage.has been done." ......
Atkinson promised the Burrowses, in a letter dated Sept. 23, 2005, that the Exceptional Children Division would examine the courses and instructional practices of the Governor's School. On Nov. 3 the Burrowses were sent a letter from Mary Watson, director of the division, who defended the school's decision to conduct the seminar. Her letter contained a lengthy memo from on-site Director Lucy Milner, addressing the Burrowses' concerns and explaining her decision to allow the seminar......
One instructor of "The New Gay Teenager" seminar was Wesley Nemenz - the 19-year-old "office assistant" for the Governor's School. The Burrowses said Nemenz had contact with their son, "trying to convince him to start a `Gay & Lesbian' club at his high school." ....
While Milner and Watson denied any agenda at the Governor's School, Nemenz expressed a different view. "To lump every distinct, individual faculty member together and say that they had a collective `agenda' is absolutely ridiculous," Nemenz wrote in a Governor's School message board on the MySpace Internet Web site. But he said as individuals, "we all have agendas. It is my personal belief that [the Governor's School] is only an enabler for you to create your own agenda.
"In doing the New Gay Teenager seminar, my `agenda' was to shed light on an interesting way of looking at sexuality and to talk about my personal experience. . I believe my agenda succeeded. And I believe that people are better off for it. I could be wrong . but it's my agenda and I'll tout it if I want to. We all have our agendas."
3 February, 2006
Pseudo-Science in the Service of Political Correctness
Post lifted from Liberty Corner. For a detailed demolition of the old Marxist "authoritarianism" theory, see here
UnderstandingPrejudice.org, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (your tax dollars) and a branch of McGraw-Hill, is "a web site for students, teachers, and others interested in the causes and consequences of prejudice." In its pages one can "find more than 2,000 links to prejudice-related resources, as well as searchable databases with hundreds of prejudice researchers and social justice organizations."
I came across the site while I was searching for information about The Authoritarian Personality, about which I was instructed when I took my one and only college-level psychology course from Prof. Milton Rokeach, author of The Open and Closed Mind (related links). UnderstandingPrejudice.org reminds me very much of The Authoritarian Personality and Prof. Rokeach's teachings, in that it perverts science and logic in an effort to "prove" that conservative views are based on blind prejudice and will lead humanity into the abyss of authoritarianism.
Here is an example of what UnderstandingPrejudice.org tries to pawn off as rigorous analysis:[C]onsider the following hypothetical problem:First of all there's the presumption that the school is acting discriminatorily if it does not offer jobs to female applicants at the same rate as it offers jobs to male applicants. This is stated without mentioning the possibility that qualified candidates are more likely to be male in some cases (e.g., math teachers) and female in other cases (e.g., art teachers).Suppose your school or organization is accused of sex discrimination because the overall percentage of female job candidates offered a position in the last five years is less than the overall percentage for male candidates. To get to the bottom of this problem, you launch an investigation to see which departments are discriminating against women. Surprisingly, however, the investigation finds that within each department, the percentage of female job applicants who are offered a position is identical to the percentage of male applicants who are offered a position. Is this possible? Can each department practice nondiscrimination, while the organization as a whole hires more men than women?This problem is a variant of Simpson's Paradox [link added] (a well-known paradox in statistics), and the answer to it is yes -- nondiscriminatory conditions at the departmental level can result in hiring differences at the organizational level. To see how this might happen, imagine a simplified organization with two equally important departments, Department A and Department B, each of which receive the same number of job applications. As shown in Table 1, if Department A were to offer a position to 10% of its job applicants (female as well as male), and Department B were to offer a position to 5% of its job applicants (female as well as male), neither department would be discriminating on the basis of sex. At the level of the organization, however, more positions would be going to men than to women, because of the higher number of jobs offered by Department A than Department B. Unless there is a good reason for this difference in hiring, the pattern may represent a form of institutionalized sex discrimination.
Table 1. A Hypothetical Example of Sex Discrimination
of Job Offers
Department A Women 500 50 10% Men 1000 100 10% Department B Women 1000 50 5% Men 500 25 5% Combined Total Women 1500 100 6.67% Men 1500 125 8.33%
Moreover, the writer of the quoted passage blithely promotes the illogical proposition that the school as a whole can discriminate even if individual departments do not discriminate. But the whole cannot be greater than the sum of the parts. If each department does not discriminate with respect to applicants for its positions, that's that: Department A cannot discriminate against Department B's applicants, and vice versa. The aggregation of departmental statistics is therefore nonsensical.
Nevertheless, if the thought police find it necessary to aggregate departmental statistics in order to point the finger of suspicion at an institution, you can be sure that the thought police will aggregate those statistics. Of course, if Department B were to bend over backward toward women by giving them 75 job offers instead of 50, the aggregate statistics would come out "right": a total of 125 offers for women and 125 offers for men. That result -- discrimination in favor of a "protected" group -- is precisely the objective of the thought police, which is why they stoop to statistical tricks.
I know. I've been there.
The Cost of Affirmative Action
The Face of America
Is There Such a Thing as Legal Discrimination?
More on the Legality of Discrimination
Affirmative Action: A Modest Proposal
Race, Intelligence, and Affirmative Action
Affirmative Action: Two Views from the Academy
Affirmative Action, One More Time
A Law Professor to Admire
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Take a Hike, Nick Kristof
Post lifted from The Locker Room
Adding to my annoyances this morning is Nick Kristof's column in today's NYTimes. It's behind the wall of sleep, but I was able to read it here (no guarantees how long it will be available).
Kristof thinks we're all too fat and that this is a public health crisis. He says higher cigarette taxes and mandatory seatbelt laws have done more to improve the health of Americans in the last decade than anything doctors or pharmaceutical companies have done.
He then suggests such prescriptions as:
- Ban soda, potato chips and other unhealthy snacks from American schools, and discourage them in the workplace.
- Sell cigarettes only in pharmacies and raise cigarette taxes.
- Tax junk foods.
- Promote jogging and biking. Since we pay for all the consequences of inactivity (like those heart bypasses), we should encourage exercise. We should build more bicycle paths and turn more streets over to bikers, skaters and pedestrians - starting with Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.
- Distribute fruits and veggies to certain low-income people, as Maine does in FarmShare, a potent antipoverty program.
- Expand P.E.
- Design better stairways.
Only the better stairways idea is free of government involvement. Expanded P.E. is one of twenty programs NYTimes columnists have suggested for schools in the past year (together with showing BMI on report cards, encouraging girls to go into math and science, helping boys behave better in class, etc.). The others go back to the moral free-riding of paternalistic liberalism.
If obesity is so bad (and in most cases it isn't), allow health insurance companies to charge bigger people more money. If physical activity is good, allow health insurance companies to provide different and cheaper policies for more active people. The president's likely call tonight for large Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) might be a first step, so too might John Shadegg's proposal for a national health insurance market.
2 February, 2006
POLLUTION IS SURE TO BE OK IF MINORITIES DO IT
Hindus and Sikhs in Britain should have the right to cremate their dead on funeral pyres at open-air ceremonies, a race relations group said yesterday. The Anglo-Asian Friendship Society said that a ban on the use of funeral pyres, dating back to 1930, unfairly penalised followers of both religions. It has approached a local authority to seek land for open-air cremations and is threatening to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The charity, which has 2,000 members, said that its proposal for pyres located at sites across the country, beginning with one near Newcastle upon Tyne, would meet all planning and environmental requirements. Davendar Ghai, the society's president, said that open-air cremations were considered essential to the process of reincarnation. "Reincarnation is a foundation of the faith and the older generation fully believe that, without these essential last rites, the soul languishes in restless torment," he said. Mr Ghai said that many Hindus and Sikhs were offended by having no alternative but to use the gas-powered furnaces of a conventional crematorium.
In a traditional Hindu funeral, the appropriate disposal of the ashes is vital. They are cooled and carefully collected so that there is no possibility of intermingling with other ashes. Mr Ghai said that many relatives chose the expensive option of taking the remains to India to avoid risking the "catastrophic consequences for the departed soul" of a failure to observe all the rituals.
Lawyers working for the society, which is based in Gosforth, near Newcastle, have prepared a case to be heard under the 1988 Human Rights Act. The documentation, claiming that the Government's refusal to allow funeral pyres makes it impossible for Hindus and Sikhs to practise their religion, was presented to Newcastle City Council this week. Andrew Bogan, the society's legal adviser, said that it was seeking an open-air cremation site between 10 and 12 miles outside the city centre and a long way from people's homes. "This is a longstanding requirement that is as old as the religion itself and it has been neglected far too long," he said.
A Newcastle council spokesman said: "We look forward to reading the Anglo-Asian Friendship Society's proposals."
BRITISH VILIFICATION LAW GREATLY IMPROVED -- UNINTENTIONALLY
Freedom of speech amendments from the Lords just squeak past the Commons
Tony Blair's authority was shaken by two surprise defeats last night that weakened his Bill to create the crime of inciting racial hatred. Key measures were lost by a majority of just one after he failed to stay for the crucial vote. In a humiliating blow to Mr Blair, who has a 65-seat Commons majority, 21 Labour rebels voted with Opposition MPs while at least 40 more were absent or abstained.....
The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill was heavily watered down by 283 votes to 282 in the second most serious defeat for Mr Blair since the terror Bill last autumn. In an earlier vote, the Government was defeated on a technical measure by 288 votes to 278. To a chorus of "resign" from Conservative MPs, Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, told the Commons that he accepted its verdict and that the Bill would become law. But it was stripped of measures to outlaw "abusive and insulting" language and behaviour as well as the crime of "recklessness" in actions that incite religious hatred.
Had Mr Blair not left and the crucial vote been tied, the final decision would have fallen to the Speaker, who by convention would be expected to vote with the Government. Home Office sources put a brave face on events. An aide to Mr Clarke said: "I still think we can get prosecutions, but obviously it does raise the bar." The narrow defeat means that the Bill will become law with a series of amendments passed by the Lords designed to safeguard freedom of speech and meet the concerns of campaigners such as the comedian Rowan Atkinson.
The amendments restricted the new offence of inciting religious hatred to "threatening" words and behaviour rather than a wider definition covering insults and abuse. They also required the offence to be intentional and specified that proselytising, discussion, criticism, insult, abuse and ridicule of religion, belief or religious practice would not be an offence. Ministers had urged the Commons to back a government compromise.
Earlier, hundreds of protesters had gathered outside Parliament to complain about the legislation's impact on freedom of expression. Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Attorney-General, said: "We are delighted with this outcome. The House of Commons has been willing to defy the Government, which is greatly to its credit. The Lords' amendments are infinitely better than the Government's proposals and protect far better the right to freedom of speech."
1 February, 2006
PET DICTATORSHIP COMING IN BRITAIN
Cats, dogs and other family pets are to have five statutory "freedoms" enshrined in law - and owners who flout the regulations could face jail or a fine of up to 5,000 pounds after a visit from the "pet police". The Times has learnt that Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, is to produce detailed codes of conduct telling pet owners how to feed their animals and where they should go to the toilet, along with ways of providing "mental stimulation". Owners of "sociable" pets should provide them with playmates, the codes will say. Every domesticated animal will have a code of conduct tailored to their species, each of which is expected to run into dozens of pages. This will form part of the Animal Welfare Bill, expected to clear Parliament in the next few months.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will inform the owners of Britain's ten million cats, eight million dogs and one million rabbits of their new obligations in a series of pamphlets distributed to vets, pet shops, kennels and over the internet. The first code of conduct, produced for cat owners, has been obtained by The Times. The 18-page A4 document, drafted for MPs scrutinising the Bill, warns cat owners of the dangers of dogs. It reads: "Dogs should be introduced to cats very carefully. The dog should be on a lead at first so that it cannot chase the cat." Although any breach of these codes is not an offence in itself, failure to observe elements of the code will count against defendants in court.
The five freedoms laid down by the Animal Welfare Bill are: appropriate diet, suitable living conditions, companionship or solitude as appropriate, monitoring for abnormal behaviour and protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease. The law will be enforced by "pet police"; council employees with powers to enter property and seize animals. This is a significant shift from the present situation, where prosecutors have to prove a domestic animal is being mistreated.
The Bill, which has crossparty support and is expected to return to the floor of the Commons in March, also bans the docking of dogs' tails and pets being won as prizes by anyone aged under 16. Bill Wiggin, the Shadow Agriculture Minister who is seeing the Bill through committee stage, wants the legislation amended so that first-time offenders get a written warning. "There will be a lot of information in these codes of conduct and people who don't read them properly may fall foul of the law," he said. Janet Nunn, chief executive of the Pet Care Trust, said that owners should keep all vets' bills and other documentation to prove that they were looking after the animal properly.
Ben Bradshaw, the Animal Welfare Minister, said: "The vast majority of pet owners have nothing to fear from this legislation." The Bill increases the time in which a prosecutor can bring a case from six months to three years. Pet shops may bring in a register of animals sold, with customers signing to signify they are above the age of 16 and have been given care advice. The Bill applies to all vertebrates, but a code of conduct for invertebrates, such as lobsters, may follow. The Government has said it is an "enabling" Bill, which allows further rules to be drawn up under secondary legislation.
Political Correctness kills
(Post lifted from Stephen Pollard)
"I cannot recommend Anthony Browne's new book, 'The Retreat of Reason: Political correctness and the corruption of public debate in modern Britain', too highly. Unlike many attacks on political correctness, it doesn't trivialise the issue with reference to silly examples, but deals with the real damage that the pc mindset and consequent lack of thinking does.
It's well worth reading all the book (which you can download here) but I think one of the strongest sections is when he deals with HIV. I reprint it all, because it is important that it gets as wide an airing as possible, and will hopefully prompt you to download and read the entire book:
"It was a trivial event-the non-appearance of a pre-recorded interview on the BBC Radio 4's Today prog-ramme-that sparked the train of thought that led to this pamphlet. It wasn't just that the interview with me was dropped-an act of mercy on the listeners-but the contrast with the interview with a government minister that appeared in its place. The episode was an example of the increasingly frequent avoidance of public debate in Britain-the `politics of denial'-which is more than just a betrayal of the British public.
The absence of debate also led the government to announcing an inappropriate policy that would do nothing to tackle the problems it was aimed at. There was a conspiracy not so much of silence but of denial that stretched across the media and government from the lowest civil servants and reporters to the highest ministers and interviewers. There was endemic dishonesty towards the public, but because everyone was in denial to each other, few realised it because their virtual reality had become the widely acknowledged truth.
This received wisdom was in fact easy to disprove-it just required looking at some government tables-but everyone had an emotional investment in not disproving it. The collective denial so enveloped the media-political elite that they had little idea how detached their world-view was from reality. When I started putting the truth out in the public domain, I was met with an almost universally intolerant and intellectually dishonest response by people who preferred political correctness over factual correctness.
Even many of those who realised the intellectual honesty of what I had been reporting were unable to accept it emotionally, because for most people when intellect and emotion conflict, emotion wins.
The interview on the Today programme was on a highly sensitive subject-the exponential rise of HIV in Britain since Labour was elected in 1997. Figures from the government's Public Health Laboratory Service were being published showing a 25 per cent rise in just one year, with almost all the increase being among heterosexuals. The government and media had been warning for years about the dangers of the new complacency among heterosexuals, ever since the number of heterosexual cases had swept past the number of homosexual ones, a well reported and much commented-on phenomenon.
The government minister was responding on the Today programme to the latest increase with a new sexual health campaign telling people to practice safe sex. If teenagers would just wear condoms, it would put a stop to the rise. But the trouble is that the increase in HIV had virtually nothing to do with British people practicing unsafe sex-it was almost all the result of HIV positive people (mainly Africans) coming to the UK, and being diagnosed with HIV once here.
I first wrote about the issue in a front page story in The Times, announcing that African immigration had overtaken gay sex as the main source of new HIV cases in Britain, according to government figures. The government's epidemiologists with whom I had worked on the story had been worried about the reaction.
They needn't have bothered. The reaction was incredulity. Clearly, in most people's minds, the story couldn't be true-everyone knew the increase in HIV was because of complacent and promiscuous Britons. The Department of Health's director of communication, when I spoke to her about it, clearly thought I was bonkers -she was launching this safe sex campaign because everyone knew the rise in HIV was the result of unsafe sex. The only people who phoned me up to thank me about it were HIV doctors, who lived in the real world, not the politically correct virtual one. Their patients were now predominantly (and sometimes exclusively) African immigrants, and yet no one was talking about it.
Some doctors told me that when they had tried to bring it up in public with their local health authorities, they had just been shouted at. One of the government's own medical advisers phoned me up secretly from within the Department of Health thanking me for highlighting the issue, and urging me to carry on: Britain was facing a massive explosion in HIV and ministers and civil servants simply refused to discuss the cause of it. `Ministers just won't listen because they think it is racist' he said, `but the public deserve at least honesty.'
Even when the truth became intellectually commonly accepted, media outlets such as the Guardian and BBC carried on reporting dishonest accounts, presumably because they had such deeply held emotional beliefs in the issue that they couldn't bring themselves to write honestly about it. A cover story I wrote for the Spectator was directly attacked by a news story in my old paper the Observer, whose desire to disprove what I had written trumped their inability to do so.
In fact, although their tone was often somewhat sensational, the most intellectually honest media outlets tended to be Britain's much maligned tabloid media. It isn't the only time that Britain's tabloids, so hated by the left, have actually been the torch-bearers for truth by daring to write deeply uncomfortable things that others refuse to.
Two years after my front page story in The Times, the denial about the whole issue of HIV finally crumbled. The Public Health Laboratory Service now openly reports that African immigration is the main cause of new HIV in Britain, and even left-wing media are enabled to report it.
One person told me that, even if it is true that the HIV epidemic is driven by African immigration, it shouldn't be written about because it will just fuel racism.
But the result of that conspiracy of silence is that the government follows a policy that does absolutely nothing to combat the growth of HIV in the UK. Tackling the epidemic will fuel racism far less than allowing African immigration to spark an HIV explosion, a development allowed by government policy which is a political gift to the racist British National Party.
The one definite benefit is that the lives of HIV positive immigrants are saved. But if the cost of NHS treatment were spent in Africa, not the UK, it would save between 10 and 100 times more lives. There is also the human cost: the HIV epidemic that is being imported from Africa is now being transmitted within the UK. In fact, the majority of people who contract HIV from heterosexual sex in Britain are actually catching it from having sex with HIV positive African immigrants. In total, nearly 1,000 people have caught HIV from infected immigrants since Labour came to power, ironically finally giving a rationale to the government's safe sex campaign. That's 1,000 lives blighted, ultimately, by political correctness. Those who defend political correctness must accept that it can come at a heavy price"