The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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28 February, 2007


The United States Supreme Court yesterday decided not to review a case challenging the constitutionality of a New York City public school policy that expressly permits the display of the Jewish menorah and Islamic star and crescent during their respective religious holidays, but completely bans the display of Nativity scenes during Christmas.

The constitutional challenge was brought by the Thomas More Law Center, a national, public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on behalf of Andrea Skoros and her two minor children, devout Roman Catholics, who attend the New York City's schools. The lawsuit was filed only after William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, made several unsuccessful attempts to convince school officials to allow Nativity displays alongside the other religious symbols.

The Supreme Court considered the Law Center's petition for review at seven different conferences. At the end of the day, however, by deciding not to review the case the Court passed on the opportunity to clarify its much maligned Establishment Clause jurisprudence. More fundamentally, the Court allowed to stand an anti-Christian policy that adversely affects over one million students enrolled in the Nation's largest public school system, which has 1,200 public elementary and secondary schools.

In the petition, the Law Center asked the Supreme Court to review a February 2006 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in which a sharply divided panel upheld the constitutionally of the City's Nativity ban. The Circuit Court held that this policy of permitting Jewish and Islamic religious symbols but banning Christian religious symbols was permissible in part because it achieved a valid "pedagogical endeavor" by "us[ing] children's natural excitement about various year-end holidays to teach the lesson of pluralism by showing children the rich cultural diversity of the city in which they live and by encouraging them to show tolerance and respect for traditions other than their own."

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, commented, "This case presents yet another example of how federal courts are using Justice O'Connor's contrived test to cleanse America of Christianity. This unprincipled test allows judges to impose their own ideological views under the pretext of constitutional interpretation. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court refused to take up the case and remedy its flawed jurisprudence."

In a religious display cased decided by the Court in 2005, Justice Thomas echoed the sentiments of Thompson, stating, "The unintelligibility of this Court's precedent raises the further concern that, either in appearance or in fact, adjudication of Establishment Clause challenges turns on judicial predilections. . . . [A] more fundamental rethinking of our Establishment Clause jurisprudence remains in order."

Robert Muise, trial counsel for the Law Center who handled this case, was disappointed with the Court's decision, stating, "Our Constitution plainly forbids hostility toward Christians. Our Nation has a strong Christian heritage that is reflected in our traditions. One such tradition is displaying a creche during the Christmas season. New York City's Nativity ban exhibits a hostility that is contrary to our history and our Constitution. The Supreme Court should have reviewed this case."


The arguments in the failed (so far) David Parker case

Lawyers for parents aggrieved over material normalizing homosexual families taught to their children, argued that the Lexington school system's refusal to permit them to withdraw their primary school-age children violated their First Amendment Rights under the US Constitution.

"The defendants have chosen to brazenly use tiny children's psyches to promote ideology over faith" said lawyers for parents David and Tonia Parker, and Rob and Robin Wirthlin. The parents' requests to compromise and withdraw their children from homosexual material and discussions in the classroom were rebuffed by school officials, who claim a "legitimate state interest" to normalise same-sex romantic relationships in the minds of schoolchildren.

The plaintiffs' attorneys responded to a motion to dismiss the case from the defendants, the town and public school system of Lexington, saying the defendants are violating "the establishment clause" and "free-exercise" clauses of the Constititution, by inculcating material subversive to the faith of the couples' children. This violates government neutrality in matters of religion and non-religion.

"The First Amendment protects religion, not secularism. Secularism may be important to combat an allegation of establishment, but secularism can never be allowed to burden faith," read the plaintiff's brief, alleging that "the government has intentionally chosen to elevate non-religious secular causes over their deep and abiding religious faith."

"The burden here is nothing short of an intentional attempt to wipe the plaintiff's faith away altogether," argued their lawyers. "The obvious and well-pleaded impressionable age of the children, combined with the State's abject unwillingness to even notify the parents that it intends to indoctrinate on these extremely personal topics virtually ensures that if the State gets its way, the Plaintiffs' children will not harbor the families' beliefs."

The lawyers explained that the parents were not concerned about the mere "exposure" to homosexual families - exposure easily obtainable from children on the playground, but instead seek to "prevent adult-initiated indoctrination or psychic imprinting." The plaintiffs' attorneys offered to provide the Court expert testimony affirming that very young children see a "transference" between parents and teachers, where they see the teacher as almost equivalent in moral authority to a parent, thus validating the parents' concern about the effect of this indoctrination on their children.

"The defendants' sole motivation is their own political determination that the Plaintiffs' faith should be eradicated, and the place to start this process is with their children", stated the couples' lawyers. "This places an enormous burden upon the parents, a small minority of believers, and the minor plaintiffs who will be emotionally conflicted and drained."


Catholics slam Britain for Equality Act's "Violation of Religious Liberty"

Say Britain poised to overturn centuries of legal development in human rights

In comments preceding the upcoming international congress, "Conscience in Support of the Right to Life," the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life said Britain is poised to overturn centuries of legal development in human rights. Bishop Elio Sgreccia told reporters the provisions of the Equality Act that claim to defend human rights, are a "violation of liberty." The Equality Act's Sexual Orientation Regulations will make it illegal to deny goods or services based on sexual orientation, including adoption of children. "I think that conscientious objection is fully justified and I would be surprised if a nation, such as Great Britain, usually considered as the homeland of fundamental liberties, would deny at least on one occasion recognition of this objection," Bishop Sgreccia said. Zenit Catholic news agency quoted the bishop saying, "I hope this won't take place or that, in any case, it will trigger an appeal before the Court of Human Rights."

Responding to the same legislation, the bishop of the Scottish diocese of Paisley wrote in a pastoral letter that there is "something sinister" happening in Britain. "For the first time in the modern era in this country, the Catholic Church is facing the prospect of being forced to act against her faith and against her convictions, or else face legal challenge and possible prosecution."

In a four-point manifesto, Bishop Tartaglia said the Church has no desire to unjustly discriminate against homosexual persons, but said that "no one has the right to be an adoptive parent," and that Catholic adoption agencies base their decisions on the belief that children are best served by being adopted by "a mother and father who are married."

The bishop urged his flock to be prepared spiritually for persecution. "We are so much at home in contemporary society that we have probably not seen this coming." "Affluence, prosperity, aspiration and a pervasive spirit of relativism may tempt some to set aside the principles and values of the Catholic faith and life." He warned Catholics, however, not to allow the Christian voice to be pushed "to the margins of society." "This unfortunate episode may well herald the beginning of a new and uncertain time for the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom."


Atheists' Attacks on Bush Administration's Faith-Based Initiatives Hurting the Poor

Anti-religious groups claim program is evidence of the establishment of a "theocracy"

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a lobby group working since 1978 to abolish government-supported expression of religious belief, is preparing to make oral arguments in the Supreme Court for its high-profile lawsuit against the Bush administration's faith-based social initiatives.

The Foundation will argue, beginning February 28, that the Administration violated the Establishment Clause by organizing national and regional conferences at which the faith-based organizations were allowed to discuss how they can meet the social needs of their communities. The tone at some of these conferences, the Foundation complains, resembled a "revival" meeting at which typically participants pray and openly acknowledge the existence of God.

Since their start in 2001, the government's Faith-Based Community Initiatives have been under steady attack by anti-religious groups who claim that the program is evidence of the establishment of a "theocracy." The government's claim, however, is that smaller organizations run by churches and other local religious groups are better placed to help and understand the needs of individuals than are large, top-heavy government bureaucracies.

Research by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life has found that "a solid majority of Americans (66%) favour allowing churches and other houses of worship to apply, along with other organizations, for government funding to provide social services."

The FFRF, a "national association of nontheists," says its goals are to "promote freethought (sic) and to keep state and church separate." The group supports a totally secularized public environment as well as euthanasia, under the rubric of "death with dignity," and unlimited publicly funded abortion.

The Foundation's litigation successes in the past have included the abolition of a state Good Friday holiday, the ending of bible instruction in public schools and the removal of Ten Commandments monuments and crosses from public land.

The results of some of their public interest lawsuits, however, have been decried as a campaign against freedom of religious expression that has backlashed on the poor.

The Associated Press quotes Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a group filing briefs in support of the government's initiatives, who said of the group, "They are successful in the sense that they have disrupted government funding for faith-based initiatives. But real people with real problems are no longer getting help because of some of their lawsuits."


27 February 2007

Normal British bureaucratic bungling blamed on "racism"

I think the ladies deserve compensation for their treatment but there have been plenty of cases of whites getting similar treatment from immobile and wasteful bureaucracies. Putting someone on nil duties is a standard bureaucratic way of getting that person to resign

The Home Office has been branded "one of Britain's least impressive managements" after an employment tribunal ruled that two interpreters were subjected to years of sexual and racial discrimination. The department now faces a bill of up to 2.3 million pounds to compensate the two women, who claimed they would have been treated differently if they had been white men.

The tribunal found that they suffered systematic discrimination because of the procrastination of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, and accused more than 100 human resource staff of mismanagement. The attack came at a hearing in London yesterday into the claims of Marti Khan, 48, who is fluent in various Indian languages, and Odette King, 57, who speaks Farsi. Both worked in Terminal 3 at Heathrow but also travelled to other airports to translate for new arrivals and at detention centres.

The tribunal found that the women had been effectively redundant since 1990, when the Home Office outsourced interpreting to freelances. Officials failed to reassign them to other roles and though they were contracted to work 41 hours a week, they were paid to do nothing or asked to carry out basic clerical duties. They could have remained in that position until retirement had they not complained to managers. Their complaints about the lack of work and that freelances were paid more were ignored by senior officials. They were signed off sick and placed on paid leave but after writing to Charles Clarke, then the Home Secretary, they were dismissed from their 25,000-a-year jobs.

Jeremy McMullen, tribunal judge, ruled that the women were unfairly dismissed and condemned their treatment by the directorate, which John Reid, the Home Secretary, branded "not fit for purpose" last year. The judge said: "What happens when one of Britain's least impressive managements, by its sole consistent attitude of procrastination, drives two long-service Asian women to become uncooperative and dismissive? The answer is systemic race and sex discrimination against them and dismissals unfair according to every tenet in the canon."

Mrs Khan, of Heston, West London, is claiming 970,000 in compensation, including 682,000 for loss of her career, 60,000 for injury to feelings and 30,000 aggravated damages. Mrs King, of Barnes, southwest London, is seeking 550,000, including 302,000 for the loss of her career. Imtiaz Aziz, their lawyer, said the panel could increase any award by 50 per cent to reflect the Home Office's breach of statutory grievance procedures. Both women are also seeking an order that the Home Office find them jobs, although this would cut the compensation.

Mrs King said after the hearing: "This has never been about money for either of us and we feel vindicated by the judge's damning ruling. We just want to have jobs in the Home Office and are prepared to work in any capacity."

Mrs Khan said that her department had been like a "ghetto" by the time she and Mrs King were short of work. "It was a total waste of taxpayers' money to pay me to do nothing whilst at the same time employing [others] at 50 per cent more than my hourly rate to undertake the tasks."

The Home Office claims that relations with the two women have broken down irretrievably and says that they acted unreasonably in rejecting job offers before they were dismissed. The panel is expected to announce how much compensation each woman will receive next month.


The pain of being a conservative at the BBC

If you want to see BBC man in his natural habitat you must travel to the unpromising reaches of Wood Lane in west London, the corporation's spiritual heartland. You can learn a lot about the organisation from pavement level. Your eye will certainly be drawn to the familiar outline of Television Centre (known as "the centre" by BBC types), but you will also take in the massy new development which squats by the elevated section of the Westway. This is known - in irritating coinage - as the "media village" and its imposing size and confident design telegraph to the observer that this organisation is a leviathan.

With its proliferating television and radio channels the corporation is easily the country's most important media organisation. It reaches into every home, is many people's constant companion, and shapes and moulds opinion in ways that we hardly understand. Its stated ambition is to become the most "trusted media organisation in the world" and given its glittering reputation for quality, accuracy and fairness we might think that it has already realised that aim.

However, after 25 years as a BBC reporter I concluded that I could not trust it. Auntie has moved away from its nonpartisan ideals to championing progressive causes. And that is a distorting prism through which to see the world.

Back to pavement level. As you stand there outside the Tube at White City, BBC people course past you. They swing into work with their interesting bags and clothes, no two alike. In this respect, at least, the BBC does fulfil its royal charter obligation to balance: no style goes unrepresented. But their colourful plumage camouflages a more insidious conformity. For with membership of the tribe comes adherence to a set of well defined political beliefs, distinctly inclined to the left.

These convictions are not made explicit to the outsider; the line for public consumption is that the BBC has no line. But this is moonshine; it takes very strong editorial positions which are consistent and clear. There is no central diktat, for instance, insisting that all employees believe that George Bush is an idiot and that the American religious right threatens world peace. But you would find few BBC people who would dissent from such views.

Why should this be so? First, the majority of BBC employees share similar backgrounds: they are middle-class arts graduates of liberal outlook. Second, the internal political culture within the corporation's newsrooms is well defined and subtly coercive. It was Lord Macpherson, in his inquiry into the Stephen Law-rence murder, who alerted us to the possibility that organisations can develop institutional deformations; in the case of the Metropolitan police it was racism. In the case of the BBC, by precise analogy, it is leftism.

When I first joined the BBC in the 1970s I accepted all this as the natural order. In BBC Scotland where I worked in the 1980s there was a suffocating anti-Thatcher consensus. As it happened, I was the business and economics correspondent and I had become convinced that Thatcherite economics were necessary and actually worked. These heretical views were looked upon askance; most of my colleagues thought I was just winding them up. "You don't really believe that, do you?" they would sometimes ask plaintively. I nearly came to blows with one producer (who later rose to prominence at BBC Westminster) because he would not accept that Thatcherism was a legitimate political creed at all.

The anti-Thatcher bias was sometimes jaw-dropping. In 1984 I returned to my office in Scotland having covered the Tory conference in Brighton at which the Grand hotel was bombed by the IRA. "Pity they missed the bitch," one of my colleagues commented. When I moved to London I found things were just as bad. If you find yourself working alongside well educated, intelligent and agreeable people it can be uncomfortable to be the dissenting voice. As one producer described it, you almost feel part of an ethnic minority. I remember a planning meeting at The Money Programme where we were discussing privatisation. I offered up the Thatcherite orthodoxy; there was a pause of the kind you get when someone has made an audible bodily function at a dinner party and then I was politely ignored.

Try making a reasoned argument against abortion, single parenthood or comprehensive education - or in favour of the Iraq war - at the BBC and see how much progress you make.

Of course none of this would matter if it was merely about the discomfiture of a handful of misfit conservatives in the BBC's ranks. But it is much more serious than that. The fact is that the BBC's internal political culture profoundly colours its news output. The corporation's public stance has always been that it is fair, evenhanded and nonpartisan. Sadly the reality is different.

Of course the convictions of individual journalists have a bearing on what is broadcast. How could that not be so? For it to be otherwise BBC journalists would need to display a judiciousness that would be remarkable in the judiciary itself. All journalism is about selection: which story to cover, which to ignore, who to interview and which bits of it to use in the finished piece. At every stage journalistic judgment comes into play. As consumers of news, we should all be aware that the BBC's news agenda is only one among many; it is fallible, partial and hugely influential. Scripts are often as opinionated as any editorial in The Guardian.

There will be many, I'm sure, who will immediately object and fly to the BBC's defence when I claim that the corporation's journalism consistently favours the Labour party and the liberal left generally. They will point especially to the Iraq war, Andrew Gilligan, Lord Hutton et al. Surely that proves the corporation is robustly independent? Er, no, actually. What was striking to me while working on the Today programme was how rapidly a doom-laden BBC line emerged about the war; from the very outset Today and the rest of the corporation were instinctively and viscerally opposed to military action. When I suggested that our coverage was skewed, the programme's editor told me: "That's a very dangerous view."

The BBC's stance had consequences. I believe it reduced even further the slim chance that military action would prove effective, for the combined might of the BBC's suasion was committed from the outset to proving that the war was a disaster and Tony Blair a liar (just think what effect that had on opinion both in Britain and around the world). The loss of public support, orchestrated by the BBC, has been a grievous handicap for the war party. The only reason the BBC bet the farm on Gilligan was that it passionately wanted to believe that not only was the war wrong but that the government had lied through its teeth. Inconveniently Hutton found otherwise, not that this altered the BBC's conviction that, really, it was right all along.

The BBC is too big and important an institution for the situation to be allowed to persist. The first step towards a remedy must be for the corporation itself to acknowledge that it has a problem. There are plenty of BBC people, including senior and well known individuals, who will do exactly that in private. But it is essential that the BBC breaches the omerta - the code of silence - and fesses up in public. Then some practical steps could be taken. Bias not only stifles public debate, it is also destructive for the corporation.

In the late 1990s my colleagues had elected me to the BBC forum, designed to improve communication between management and staff. At one meeting in December 2000 I suggested to Greg Dyke, then the director-general, that there should be an internal inquiry into bias. Dyke, a Labour party donor and member, mumbled a muddled reply. As he left the meeting I overheard him demand of his PA: "Who was that f*****?"

"Diversity" is a concept much venerated within the BBC and yet my diverse political view was never respected. Dyke labelled the institution "hideously white", but skin colour is not the only diversity issue. There is a need for some kind of reasonable balance between people of differing political complexions. It is striking, for instance, that whereas I could name a long list of senior BBC journalists with left-wing antecedents, I cannot think of a single one from the right.

It is time that the BBC started hiring journalists from the right, not as a token presence but as part of the mainstream. And it would not be a bad thing if, like London policemen, BBC producers and reporters got "diversity training" that sensitised them to the problem. A more radical change would be to go for a market solution. No one demands that newspapers should be nonpartisan; readers are allowed to choose the one that chimes with their outlook. Why should broadcasting be different?

Fox News in America challenged the old networks and showed there was a big appetite for such a service. But entry costs are very high. Why not take, say, 2% of the BBC's revenue (a tasty 60 million pounds) to establish a rival service? Wouldn't it be refreshing to have a real alternative to Radio 4? The BBC has demonstrated it cannot be all things to all men; perhaps it is time for a change.


Britain: The other e-petition -- about forbidden photographs

A Hampshire photographer has taken a stand against the suspicion and restrictions snappers face due to the 'paedophile panic'.

E-petitions are getting popular. Recently 1,633,894 people (and counting) signed a petition on the British government’s 10 Downing Street website opposing the idea of road-pricing. And it’s not only drivers who are using the system to make their point.

On 14 February, a petition against restrictions on photography was started by Simon Taylor, a 43-year-old semi-professional photographer from Hampshire, England (1). The petition says: ‘We the undersigned petition the prime minister to stop proposed restrictions regarding photography in public places.’ Since he launched the e-petition it’s received over 4,000 signatures. News about his petition is even on the front page of the current issue of Amateur Photographer magazine (2).

The ‘more details’ section of the webpage fleshes out Taylor’s point: ‘There are a number of moves promoting the requirement of “ID” cards to allow photographers to operate in a public place. It is a fundamental right of a UK citizen to use a camera in a public place; indeed there is no right to privacy when in a public place. These moves have developed from paranoia and only promote suspicion towards genuine people following their hobby or profession.’

What the ‘moves’ are is not stated, although admittedly there’s very little room to offer much information in the e-petition ‘more details’ box. So I ring Taylor to get more information. He points out that there are a number of disturbing instances where photographers are being told (wrongly) that they can’t photograph groups of people and scenes in public places by child protection officers, security guards, London Eye officials and police officers. Sometimes photographers have been told to delete their photographs. He’s written about some of the cases on his website, where there are also more details about the petition (3).

Photographers have also been asked for identity cards or proof that they are members of a photography club or a professional photography organisation, as if only officially approved photographers should be allowed to take pictures. Taylor believes everyone should be able to take pictures in public places, regardless of their professional status. He argues that, if anything, photographers should carry cards which highlight their rights, the ones that are the same as any other citizen.

As his website notes: ‘I and many photgraphers like me are getting increasingly frustrated at the restrictions that are imposed upon us, suspicion we suffer and the incorrect assumptions that are made.’ (4) As he tells me over the phone, ‘if I point my large camera at a child there will be people who instantly say “he’s a paedophile“‘.

And yet, even though Taylor thinks anyone should be allowed to take photographs in public, he supports the policy that says people who care and work closely with children should be submitted for checks by the Criminal Records Bureau. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, which passed through the UK Parliament last year, will require every adult who works with children (millions of people) to submit to such CRB checks. But as Josie Appleton, author of the Manifesto Club’s report The Case Against Vetting, points out, 10million people have been CRB-vetted since 2002, despite the fact that cases of adults physically harming children are rare. All of this only helps to stoke the paedophile panic, the culture of paranoia about adults near children, which Taylor says he is trying to challenge (5).

Also, Taylor is mistaken in believing that there is no legal right to privacy in a public place. Unfortunately, such is the closing down of public space these days, there is such a legal right. ‘Privacy’ has already been used to place curbs on the freedom of professional photographers. For example, in 2004, the European Court ruled that Princess Caroline of Monaco did have a right to go shopping free from being snapped by paparazzi cameras. Anyone can use this precedent in Britain - where the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and European Court rulings are recognised - to argue in court that they, too, have a reasonable expectation of privacy in public places (see Princess of Privacy, by Tessa Mayes).

The media must be free to photograph events in public as part of communicating information in a democracy. When the courts allow journalists to argue as a legal defence that their work is ‘in the public interest’, it is a recognition of the fact that the media help to facilitate an important democratic right for all of us to know what’s going on in the world.

Taylor’s petition raises important questions about freedom of the press and the stifling impact of fear and suspicion on journalism and investigation, or just on pursuing a hobby. Unfortunately, it also highlights that e-petitions are fairly limited in the extent to which they can develop debate and push for change.


26 February, 2007


I know very little about tennis so I had to read a long way into the article excerpted below before I understood what was going on. Apparently men's tennis is of greater interest to the public than women's tennis so more people go to matches between men and more people watch men's tennis on TV. So male tennis players earn more for the tournament organizers so the organizers have always paid men more in prizemoney -- which seems fair. But it is not EQUAL! And The Left never cease in their efforts to pretend that unequal things are in fact equal. So money earned by men is now going to be taken off them to be given to women. Equal pay for work of UNequal value, in short -- just the opposite of what feminists have always claimed they want.

One of the last bastions of sporting inequality - Wimbledon's prizemoney allocation - is about to crumble. The All England Club, which has offered greater rewards to male players than women for the past 123 years, is poised to follow the Australian Open's equal pay policy. The crusty home of tennis met this week to discuss prizemoney in the face of withering fire from recent champions Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport.

The Australian Open and the US Open have led the way in the battle for tennis equality, while the French Open employs an ad hoc approach. Roland Garros offers equal prizemoney -- but only from the quarter-finals onwards. But Wimbledon has stubbornly resisted calls to follow suit. Roger Federer last year earned $1.6 million for his fourth successive Wimbledon victory, $74,000 more than Amelie Mauresmo pocketed. Wimbledon has found itself under increasing pressure to modernise [Ancient Leftist propaganda: Leftism is "modern". Leftism is "outdated" would be more accurate] its pay scale.

The All England Club was expected to confirm a ground-breaking pay scale overnight. If so, Women's Tennis Association boss Larry Scott will have achieved one of the most monumental changes in international sport. Wimbledon has traditionally used stronger television ratings for men, especially in the early rounds, as the basis of its argument.

Reliapundit has more.

The oldest surviving bastion of Communism surrenders to reality

When Eliezer Gal arrived at Israel's first kibbutz he had already served in the Red Army as a platoon tank commander at the siege of Leningrad, escaped to West Berlin after being marked down by Stalin for the labour camps and been turned away by the British when he arrived in Palestine aboard the Jewish refugee ship Exodus. Mr Gal took a lowly job in the cow shed for 18 years and married Michal, a daughter of the kibbutz's founders, raising his family in the pastoral version of Zionist communism.

Now, aged 82, he is living one final adventure, which he and the other members of Degania call Shinui (The Change). The kibbutz has just voted to privatise itself and assume the trappings of capitalism. His verdict? "It's a lot more comfortable. We get a lot more independence, both economically and generally. "I have seen the other world, I was born in a different world. When I came here it was the real, pure communism. But I knew then that it couldn't survive forever because people abused it. "I'm only surprised that it survived for so long. I came from the Great Mother of Communism and she only lasted 70 years. We made it to nearly a hundred."

The kibbutz movement has been in crisis for more than a decade but news that its pioneer is ushering in its own version of perestroika has shaken Israel. Degania has been overrun by television news crews seeking to document the passing of a way of life that the vast majority of Israelis never experienced but which, nevertheless served to define their identity.

Kibbutznik Tzali Kuperstein, a leading promoter of Shinui, said: "Israel has passed a lot of broken milestones in recent times, with corruption in high places, resignation from the armed forces chief and investigations of our top politicians. "We found ourselves in a different way of life. We have to adjust, and the way we are going means that we will keep the kibbutz movement alive."

This is a view shared by Daniel Ben-Simon, a veteran commentator for Ha'aretznewspaper. "In order to understand Israel you have to go to Degania because it all started there," he said. "Israelis have a love-hate relationship with it because the kibbutzim were the country's security shield for so many years and their members were the brightest and the best. They ran the elite military units. All the first political leaders came from there. They were so few but so influential.

"When the poor, new immigrants began arriving, the kibbutzniks became objects of hatred, and when the movement began to collapse there was not much sympathy. But Degania is like a first child: when it became vulnerable like the rest of us we could finally afford to have some sympathy. It is a symbol of a simpler time, of what Israel once was."

Degania's members insist that they are still proud socialists. "As silly as it may sound we remain one big family," said Ze'ev Bar-Gal, Mr Gal's 43-year-old son-in-law, whose monthly income has doubled as the kibbutz's computer services manager. "What used to bother many of us was that some members were putting a lot of money into the pot and there were others giving nothing and still receiving more than the big contributors," he said.

Degania was founded in 1910 when ten men and two women rode on horseback across the River Jordan and established a camp at Umm Juni on land purchased by the Jewish National Fund. The pioneers built a defensive quadrangle of work buildings from locally quarried basalt. At the time they wrote: "We came to establish an independent settlement of Hebrew labourers, on national land, a collective settlement with neither exploiters nor exploited - a commune". Its 320 members paid their salaries into a communal account and received an allowance based on need.

A year ago the kibbutz quietly transferred to a trial system where members were paid according to ability and allowed to keep their earnings. In return, they paid for services and a "progressive" income tax destined to support the elderly and less well-off. Now The Change has been confirmed as permanent by the votes of 85 per cent of the kibbutz, an improvement on the 66 per cent who gave their consent for the one-year trial. "We have only privatised the service side, not the businesses," explained Mr Bar-Gal. "It's more a change of mentality than anything else and it has put social responsibility into people's heads."

His wife, Tamar, a third-generation kibbutznik, thinks The Change is wonderful. "I don't feel that capitalism has invaded our lives. I think that our socialism has matured. Our new rules are extremely socialistic. When my grandparents came here they couldn't live without the commune because it was hot, swampy and dangerous. But times change. Our socialism is definitely not dead."


The incorrectness of SUVs

Britain: 'Chelsea tractors' [4X4s, SUVs, 4WDs] are seen as symbols of wanton environmental destruction. But class hatred, envy and gender are distorting the facts, argues Bryan Appleyard

I was queuing to pay at a motorway service station. Violence was in the air. A small, bald man, a lorry driver, was shouting at a young woman. He seemed to be angry because she and her passenger had laughed at him. He had stopped when she had stopped, specially to shout at her. But after a few tense moments his real grievance became apparent. She was driving a 4x4, a BMW, and, as his articulacy crumbled under the weight of his anger, it became clear what was the real issue: he hated her for her car.

In Richmond owners of 4x4s will soon have to pay 300 pounds a year to park their cars. Ken Livingstone, who thinks drivers of 4x4s in London are "idiots", plans to introduce a special 25 pound congestion charge. The Church says Jesus wouldn't drive a 4x4. The Alliance against Urban 4x4s continues its campaign of so-called "subvertising" - sticking fake parking tickets headlined "Poor Vehicle Choice" on the cars they hate. The alliance has also carried out "a daring protest" at Chelsea football ground aimed at the players' big 4x4s. Mothers using a "Chelsea tractor" to take their children to school are abused for their crimes of congestion and emission. If Jade Goody were a car, she'd be a 4x4. "Basically," says Sian Berry, a Green party spokesperson and central figure in the alliance, "they are a disaster for fuel economy."

Meanwhile, there is an academic campaign to establish that 4x4s are unsafe. Students from Imperial College London have watched cars at key sites in the city and discovered that drivers of 4x4s are more likely not to wear seat belts, and to use mobile phones while driving. Other studies have shown that 4x4s are more dangerous to pedestrians. Car insurers have said that 4x4 drivers are 25% more likely to be involved in an accident and are also more likely to be at fault. Each fragment of evidence is turned into a screaming headline about the iniquity of 4x4s.

These cars have become emblems of all our environmental crimes. They represent 7.5% of the UK car market and 100% of British car loathing. The very idea that in town, or even in the country, anybody should use a car in which all four wheels are driven is regarded as a crime comparable to logging the rainforests or clubbing seals. Across Europe, owners of 4x4s (or, as they are also called, Sports Utility Vehicles, or SUVs) have become eco-pariahs, malevolent planet-warmers. If you happen to be sitting in a Range Rover Sport, a BMW X5 or, worst of all, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S in London, it is best not to catch the eyes of any pedestrian.

The environment is the issue, but not the only one. Berry admits that, if they made a 4x4 as green as a rainforest, she'd still go after them on grounds of safety. But darker forces are also at work. Class hatred is plainly expressed in much of the anti-4x4 rhetoric, as is envy. A City bonus boy driving a Cayenne is, in the eyes of many, the distillation of social injustice. The high driving position - significantly called the "command" position - and the sheer bulk of the vehicles can, to people who can't afford them, seem like the engineering of arrogance.

Sexism is also involved. It's largely women who do the school run and, if they do it in a monster SUV, the resulting congestion is seen as a peculiarly female failing. But there are two more twists of this particular knife. The 4x4 off-road tradition is, in essence, masculine. These new luxury SUVs, however, are absurdly easy to drive. In some cases you can drive over a mountain with no special skills or muscle tone. The electronics do all the work. Women, infuriatingly for some, can do the tough stuff as easily as men.

In fact, secondly, they can often do it better. As I was to learn while Land Rover's experts were giving me an off-road lesson, women are better at this surprisingly delicate art than men. They listen to their instructors and do what they are told, which for men can be as difficult as stopping to ask for directions. Off-roading often requires the driver to do exactly the opposite of what he would do on-road - selecting higher gears, using less power to preserve traction - and men find it harder to quell their instinct to go for high revs and too much power. The real fear of that man in the service station and, perhaps, of men in general when they see a woman in a powerful machine, was that he was being outclassed as a driver.

And, on the subject of 4x4s, it's a case of left and right unite and fight. Right-wing tabloids rage against 4x4s as eagerly as left-wing eco-warriors. These are not cars; these are social history.

Is the loathing of 4x4s justified? This is complex: few people fully understand the issues, the engineering or history. But the place to begin is with a figure - the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by a car per kilometre travelled.

Atmospheric carbon is the substance most likely to end human life or, at least, our reign over the planet. We toss 27 billion tons of carbon dioxide (over 7 billion tons of pure carbon) into the air every year. This traps heat and causes global warming. The UK emits just under 2% - about 550m tons. Of this, about one fifth - 110m tons of CO2 - comes from vehicles. The critical figure for judging the green credentials of a car is, therefore, the weight of CO2 it emits.

So, for example, the Toyota Prius, with a hybrid electric-petrol drive, emits 104 grams per kilometre. The latest Land Rover Discovery diesel emits 244g. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S emits 378g. Even this, however, does not look too bad next to the Bugatti Veyron, which emits 547g, or the Ferrari Scaglietti, which manages 475g. For perspective, a Ford Mondeo diesel emits 159g, and the European Union target for average emissions across each manufacturer's entire fleet is 130g. What these figures show is that 4x4s are, indeed, higher-than-average emitters, but they are not the highest. Fast cars are much worse. And people carriers can be pretty bad. The Chrysler Grand Voyager, for example, emits 303g. Luxury cars are just as bad. The Mercedes S600 Pullman emits 355g and the BMW 7 series rises to 337g. Why, then, are 4x4s singled out? "Because," say the weary executives at Land Rover who have heard it all before, "4x4 fits neatly into a headline."

This is fair enough. The Richmond parking scheme, for example, was universally reported as an attack on 4x4s, but in fact applied to all high-emission vehicles. The term 4x4 has supplanted "gas guzzler" as the supreme automotive shorthand of hate. It's better than mere words - it's a term that catches the eye before it engages the mind.

The rational answer is that the SUV sector has boomed. In the UK in 1996, 78,000 were sold; last year it was 176,000. This is slightly down on the year before, but, for a number of reasons, it is not clear yet whether it represents a real change. Sian Berry points out that this growth represents a reversal of the general trend towards lower-emitting cars that has persisted since the oil shocks of the 1970s. Individually, 4x4s may not be the worst offenders, but they are in danger of becoming the most numerous. Attacking 4x4s, therefore, is a way of reinstating the trend towards lower emissions and of drawing attention to the issue. The fact that 4x4 does fit neatly into a headline is a definite plus.

But there is a serious problem with this argument. At the Westminster offices of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, a body that advises the government on emissions, a self-confessed "tree-hugger", Alex Veitch, hands me a chart. It tracks market share against CO2 emissions. The big peak - between 6 and 18% market share - accounts for vehicles emitting between 130 and 200g. The line drops very steeply indeed above 200, where almost all 4x4s live. In other words, if all 4x4s were taken off the road tomorrow, the effect on emissions would be minimal. The real task, as Veitch sees it, is to drive down emissions of the middle market - the Mondeos and Vectras. "If you focus on 4x4s, you miss the more important point that this is all about low-carbon cars. You might persuade people not to buy a 4x4, but they may just buy a high-emitting saloon."

But for green campaigners the demonisation of the 4x4 is the perfect strategic tool. "We've kept the debate up," says Berry. "Our school-run event really drew it to people's attention. Every time the evidence comes out, like the stuff in the BMJ [British Medical Journal], it backs up our case. Then groups like the Church of England say: what would Jesus drive? Every time it gets into the media, we've got spokesmen ready all around the country to make our case. We're not ranty eco-warriors wanting to wipe out the cars; we say, here's something silly and something can be done about it. Local radio stations feel safe having us on a phone. It's a touchstone issue."

Almost nobody, campaigners say, actually needs four-wheel drive because almost nobody uses them to go off-road. "It's for middle-class people in boring city jobs," says Berry, "who need some way of believing they could get back to nature at any time." This fantasy element would have startled the originators of four-wheel-drive cars. In spite of the current research, the truth is, four-wheel-drive cars are intrinsically safer because of their ability to cope with poor road conditions ? if they're currently less safe, then it is the drivers who are at fault. For this reason, engineers in the 1950s thought that four-wheel drive was the technology of the future.

Yet, almost from the beginning, glamour was attached to this obscure engineering device. The American wartime Jeep was just so damned sexy. "The British were used to small, round cars like the Austin 7," says John Carroll, the editor of 4x4 Magazine, "then this stark, angular thing comes along driven by guys who look like film stars. No wonder there were so many war babies." After the war this sexiness survived mostly on film and among off-road hobbyists and collectors. Carroll himself has "about 12" old 4x4s he uses for off-roading, or what petrol heads call "mud plugging". And it was for mud-plugging that in 1947, on his farm in Anglesey, Maurice Wilks, the chief designer of Rover, built the Land Rover. He had taken one look at the Jeep and was convinced he could do better.

And he did. Down at the Land Rover Experience Centre at Eastnor in Ledbury, I drove HUE166. Built at Solihull, this was the first of a pre-production batch of 48 Wilks-designed Land Rovers. It is a joy. Its drive train makes it shimmy weirdly on the road, it is noisy and slow. But there is an almost tangible rightness about it. And, when I later drove a Freelander and a Defender - the current iteration of the original "Landy" - on Eastnor's off-road circuit, I endured a blinding revelation. Serious off-roading, like sex, is about as much fun as you can have without laughing. And - a deep, dark fear, this - it may be even more like sex in that women do it better.

Four-wheel drive cars intended for road use did not take off in Britain until the Range Rover appeared in 1970. Pricey and luxurious, this was a car for the lord of the manor, to distinguish him from his gamekeeper in his original Landy. Yet it was just as capable off-road, and it had plastic seats, bungholes and a floor that was level with its sills, so that its interior could be hosed down after a day of mud-plugging.

The move to on-road four-wheel drive was accelerated by rallying technology and, crucially, by the Audi Quattro, a high-performance car that made four-wheel-drive sexy for urban hot shots with no love of mud. But it wasn't until the late 1990s that the modern 4x4 was truly born. Manufacturers like Toyota, BMW, Audi and even Porsche invaded the market with four-wheel-drive machines. Meanwhile, the Range Rover had lost its bung holes and become a stately cruiser and, in Sport form, a fast two-ton supercar.

Their main market was America, where the love of big cars endures. In fact, over there these cars weren't even seen as big. In the 1970s the US government had reacted to oil shocks by imposing fuel-consumption targets on manufacturers. These never worked. Many big cars were simply classified as trucks to escape the controls, fuel consumption did not fall, and interstates became infested by monstrous vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade, the Chevrolet Suburban or, a favourite with British footballers, the Lincoln Navigator. These scarcely came to Britain, where big 4x4s were to remain a niche, though growing, market....

If this were a novel, the blonde, hippie-ish, Tufnell Park-dwelling Sian Berry would be contrasted with tall (6ft 3in), dark, corporate Phil Popham, the managing director of Land Rover. In fact, if this were a novel, they'd probably have an inter-ideological romance. Popham joined the company in 1988, straight from a university course in business studies, and became MD last year. Laid-back and, unlike many of his type, relaxed about time, Popham has all his strategy ducks in a neat row. He has big points to make and he makes them coolly and without digression.

The first is that 4x4s are justified by their "breadth of capability" - the wet-grass gymkhana argument - and their general ability to get around. The second is the "dust-to-dust" cost argument, the true environmental cost of a vehicle from build to scrap. Large amounts of carbon are emitted when a car is built, so, with over 70% of all Land Rovers still on the road, the company can claim its green credentials are much better than emission figures suggest. The credibility of the Prius has been eroded by figures showing its dust-to-dust may be damagingly high.

The third big point is that, because of their ticklish position, 4x4-makers are reducing emissions faster than any other sector. Land Rovers are now mostly diesel. The fleet used to be 75% petrol; this year it will be 80% diesel. Diesel can cut consumption, and thus emissions, dramatically. A petrol Range Rover Sport emits 352g, a diesel 271g. Land Rover is also launching a carbon-offset scheme to offset the carbon production of new cars from build through the first 45,000 miles. Money from sales will go to Climate Care (www.climatecare.org), which will invest in carbon reduction around the world.

Mild impatience crosses the Popham features when I point out this is clear evidence that the company is rattled by the campaigners. "We are doing this in addition to substantive improvements in fuel efficiency. There must be a recognition that we're on a long path of continuous improvement." The problem with offsetting is that it is open to an obvious criticism: why not do all the beneficial offsetting things and stop emitting as well? At this point we enter the only possible future for Land Rover and, ultimately, for all car makers: new drive-train technology.

Lexus already makes a petrol hybrid SUV - the RX400h - which emits 192g, low for a big 4x4 but not that low for cars in general, and almost twice as high as the Prius. At Land Rover, Mike Richardson, a tweedy individual who reeks of old-school British engineering, is in charge of the low-emission future. Nobody will say when the company will produce its first diesel hybrid, but I suspect it will be sooner rather than later. The cost will be high. Richardson says it currently looks like 3,000 pounds per car. But it has to happen, as all the other low- or zero-emission technologies (fuel cell, all-electric) are a long way off....

There can be no doubt that the days of the high-emitting car are numbered. If you are convinced by the arguments for human-caused global warming, this is an unconditionally good thing. But the anti-4x4 frenzy has all too often been misguided, sectarian and even - as I saw in that service station - potentially violent. It is riddled with irrationality and prejudice. Yet it has succeeded in putting pressure on the car makers - and that, I suppose, was always the point.

There is another point made not by green politics nor emission figures. It is made instead by the gleam in the engineers' eyes and by the weird rapture that overcame me while driving HUE166, or while, at the wheel of a modern Defender, I peered down a vertiginous, rock-strewn slope into an icy pool of incalculable depth at Eastnor. The original Land Rover in all its iterations is possessed of something supremely pure; it provides, to make better use of BMW's slogan, the ultimate driving experience. Even Sian Berry says she never puts a fake parking ticket on a Defender. She says it's because they genuinely go off-road and they last a long time.

More here

25 February, 2007

U.S. 'Hate crime' victims: Mostly Young, poor and white

210,000 targeted annually due to bias, statistics show

The most likely victim of a hate crime in the U.S. is a poor, young, white, single urban dweller, according to an analysis of Justice Department statistics collected from between July 2000 and December 2003. A November report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics detailing a study of 210,000 "hate crimes" a year during that period has gone virtually unreported by the U.S. press. But it does contain some surprising numbers. While race is, by far, the No. 1 factor cited as the reason for hate crimes, blacks are slightly less likely to be victims and far more likely to be perpetrators, the statistics show.

As defined by the report, a collection of data compiled by the National Crime Victimization Survey and the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, an ordinary crime becomes a hate crime when offenders choose a victim because of some characteristic - race, religion, ethnicity, religion or association - and provide evidence that hate prompted them to commit the crime.

The NCVS is a database of 77,600 nationally representative people interviewed every other year about their experience with crime, while the UCR data is based on law enforcement reports to the FBI. About 56 percent of hate crimes were motivated, at least in part, by racial hatred, according to the study, and most were accompanied by violence. While nine in 10,000 whites and nine in 10,000 Hispanics are victimized by hate crimes, only seven in 10,000 blacks are targets, according to the report.

"Generally, per capita rates of hate crime victimization do not appear to vary based upon victim's gender, race, ethnicity or educational attainment," says the report on all hate crimes reported by victims and police. "However, young people; those never married, separated or divorced; those with low incomes; and those living in urban areas did report experiencing hate crimes at higher rates." In fact, those between the ages of 17 and 20 were far more likely to be victims than in any other age group - with 16 incidents per 10,000 people. Those never married, with 16 incidents per 10,000, or separated or divorced, with 26 incidents per 10,000, were also much more likely to be victims of hate crimes. Those with incomes less than $25,000 faced worse odds of victimization, 13 per 10,000, as well as those in urban areas, also 13 per 10,000.

The report says 38 percent of all those reporting hate crimes said the attacker was black, and in 90 percent of those cases, the victim believed the offender's motive was racial. In incidents involving white attackers, only 30 percent attribute the hate crime to race, while 20 percent attributed it to ethnicity. The report says 40 percent of white hate crime victims were attacked by blacks, adding, "The small number of black hate crime victims precludes analysis of the race of persons who victimized them."

The report by the Justice Department is the one most often cited by hate-crime experts as depicting the true national story. It shows the number of incidents is more than 15 times higher than FBI statistics alone reflect. While the annual FBI report, compiled since 1992, is based on voluntary reports from law enforcement agencies around the country, the new report, "Hate Crimes Reported by Victims and Police," found an average annual total of more than 200,000. "It's an astounding report," said Jack Levin, a leading hate crime expert at Northeastern University. "It's not necessarily completely accurate, but I would trust these data before I trusted the voluntary law enforcement reports to the FBI."

According to the new report, hate crimes involve violence far more often than other crimes. The data show 84 percent of hate crimes were violent, meaning they involved a sexual attack, robbery, assault or murder. By contrast, just 23 percent of non-hate crimes involved violence. Other studies have suggested that hate-motivated violence is more extreme than other violence.

While the press took no notice of the report, it has been praised by pressure groups promoting hate-crimes legislation and enforcement such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for its comprehensiveness and breadth - by far the largest study ever done on hate crimes


The incoherence of moral relativism

Last week, during a conversation about the `cartoon jihad' uproar, I used the phrase "emotional incontinence." This did not go down well. I was promptly told, in no uncertain terms, that I mustn't "impose" my own cultural values. Apparently, to do so would be a form of "cultural imperialism", an archaic colonial hangover, and therefore unspeakably evil. I was, apparently, being "arrogantly ethnocentric" in considering Western secular society broadly preferable to a culture in which rioting, murder and genocidal threats can be prompted by the publication of a cartoon.

As the conversation continued, I was emphatically informed that to regard one set of cultural values as preferable to another was "racist" and "oppressive." Indeed, even the attempt to make any such determination was itself a heinous act. I was further assailed with a list of examples of "Western arrogance, decadence, irreverence, and downright nastiness." And I was reminded that, above all, I "must respect deeply held beliefs." When I asked if this respect for deeply held beliefs extended to white supremacists, cannibals and ultra-conservative Republicans, a deafening silence ensued.

After this awkward pause, the conversation rumbled on. At some point, I made reference to migration and the marked tendency of families to move from Islamic societies to secular ones, and not the other way round. "This seems rather important," I suggested. "If you want to evaluate which society is preferred to another by any given group, migration patterns are an obvious yardstick to use. Broadly speaking, people don't relocate their families to cultures they find wholly inferior to their own." Alas, this fairly self-evident suggestion did not meet with approval. No rebuttal was forthcoming, but the litany of Western wickedness resumed, more loudly than before.

This tendency to replace a coherent argument with lists of alleged Western wickedness and an air of self-loathing is hardly uncommon. Indeed, in certain quarters, it is difficult to avoid. In her increasingly baffling comment pieces, the Guardian's Madeleine Bunting has made much of bemoaning "our preoccupation with things; our ever more desperate dependence on stimulants from alcohol to porn." (One instantly pictures poor Madeleine surrounded by booze, drugs and pornography - and tearfully alienated by all of those other terrible material "things" she doesn't like having, honest.)

In one infamous recent article, Bunting - a "leading thinker", at least according to her employers - waved the flag for cultural relativism and denounced the idea of Enlightenment sensibilities: "Muscular liberals raise their standard on Enlightenment values - their universality, the supremacy of reason and a belief in progress. It is an ideology of superiority that is profoundly old-fashioned - reminiscent of Victorian liberalism and just as imperialistic." Bunting's argument, such as it is, suggests no objective distinction should be made between democratic cultures in which freedom of belief and education for women are taken for granted, and theocratic societies in which those freedoms are curtailed or extinguished. As, for instance, when Islamic fundamentalists took umbrage at Western-funded school projects in Northern Pakistan and promptly destroyed the offending schools, on the basis that illiterate girls were being taught `un-Islamic' values.

Nor, apparently, should we notice that restricting the education of women and their social interactions has obvious consequences for healthcare and prosperity, both of which Ms Bunting seems to disdain. Indeed, she has explicitly argued to this effect, insisting women in the developing world should reject the evils of capitalism and material advancement as this disrupts their "traditions of keeping children with them in the fields" - traditions which, of course, we must respect and, better yet, romanticise, albeit from a safe distance.

Perhaps Enlightenment values, including tolerance, education and free speech, should only apply in the nicer parts of London, but not in Iran, or Sudan, or Saudi Arabia. Presumably, Enlightenment values are fine for Guardian columnists, but wrong for poor women in rural Pakistan. And, given Ms Bunting's recent Hello-style interview with the Islamist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who insists that disobedient women should be beaten, albeit "lightly", perhaps we can assume she's prepared to accept similar chastisement, all in the name of the moral relativism she claims to hold so dear?

During her tirade against `muscular liberals', Bunting argued that Enlightenment values should be "reworked" (in ways that were, mysteriously, never specified), then said: "One of our biggest challenges is how we learn to live in proximity to difference - different skin colours, different beliefs, different ways of life. How do we talk peacefully with people with whom we might violently disagree?" This sentiment echoes those of Ken Livingstone's race advisor, Lee Jasper, who maintains that "you have to treat people differently to treat them equally."

But judging by Bunting's own assertions, and the claims of those who share her views, perhaps we should assume that "reworking" Enlightenment values means pretending they don't exist in certain kinds of company. Perhaps we should pretend we don't disagree at all - as demonstrated by Bunting's own flattering interview with an Islamist cleric who advocates suicide bombing, the murder of apostates and the stoning of homosexuals. Though one can't help wondering what would have happened if Ms Bunting had actually dared to challenge Qaradawi's prejudices with any rigour. How would he have reacted? And what would this tell her - and us - about the limits of moral relativism?

Perhaps we should assume that when faced with bullies and bigots we should say nothing, do nothing, and pretend everything is fine. Though quite how that polite little lie will help the victims of bullying and bigotry isn't entirely clear. And one has to raise an eyebrow at those who will happily bask in the advantages of values that they refuse to defend and pointedly disdain for the sake of appearance. But such is the nature of cultural and moral equivalence, and those who espouse it.

Cultural equivalence came to fruition of a sort in strands of postmodern leftist theory, French obscurantists like Foucault and Derrida, and in anthropological studies, where it was essentially suggested that the local meaning of certain practices should be determined for greater insight. All well and good, one might think. But in terms of leftist political rhetoric, cultural equivalence has broadly come to mean than no objective judgment should be made as to whether those practices and beliefs are better or worse than any other, or have consequences that are measurably detrimental given certain criteria. The actual moral and practical content of a given worldview is, of course, to be studiously ignored, as this would imply some kind of judgment might be made. In common usage, this assumption reduces analysis to mere opinion and is corrosive to critical thought for fairly obvious reasons. In order to maintain a pretence of `fairness' and non-judgmental equivalence, there are any number of things one simply cannot allow oneself to think about, at least in certain ways.

One could, for instance, imagine a hypothetical culture which ascribed great meaning to the assumption that the Sun revolved around the Earth. However deeply held this belief might be, and however much cultural significance might be attached to it, it would nonetheless be wrong, and demonstrably so. And one is under no obligation to pretend otherwise, or to start revising textbooks in order not to give offence.

Perhaps more to the point, advocates of cultural equivalence don't actually believe in it. It's frequently just a faØade for grumbling about capitalism, or consumerism, or choice, or whatever it is the person in question doesn't like, but nonetheless indulges in, and upon which their own livelihood generally depends. The titans of cultural equivalence clearly wish to identify with (or be seen to identify with) the perceived underdog, and to find suitable explanations for why those cultures don't function particularly well - say, in terms of child mortality, education or life expectancy. In order to do this, they must construe their own cultures as malicious, vacuous and predatory, even when they're not. (Cue the term "hegemony" and "Bush-Hitler" T-shirts.) Almost any assertion can be made, regardless of its incoherence or deviation from reality, provided one arrives at the preferred conclusion. Which is to say, whatever the problem is, it is always and forever `our' fault.

This prejudicial outlook and willingness to overlook the obvious can have surreal and grotesque effects. As when the faded Marxist Terry Eagleton informed Guardian readers that suicide bombers are actually "tragic heroes" who "have no choice" but to arbitrarily kill and maim for Allah. Eagleton went further, insisting these "tragic heroes" are morally equivalent to their victims - say, the 57 unsuspecting guests who were killed at a Jordanian wedding party.

Oblivious to this curious moral inversion, Eagleton happily attributed these acts of homicidal `martyrdom' to "despair", which, naturally, suits his own Marxist narrative and view of `imperial oppression.' He was, however, careful to avoid any reference whatsoever to the religious ideology that actually drives the phenomenon and shapes its expression, despite the fact jihadists invariably mention it as their motive. (Oddly, `martyrs' don't usually mention "despair" as a motive; quite the opposite in fact. But Eagleton knows which conclusion one is supposed to arrive at, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.)

In such an atmosphere of pretension and mental disarray, it's no great surprise that conspiracy theories flourish. As when the Guardian's Al Kennedy salaciously implied that "on 9/11 covert US government intervention killed thousands of innocents [in the WTC] and handed the country, if not the world, to a ... torture-loving, far-right junta." Unhampered by things like evidence, Ms Kennedy also believes that the British government seeks to "harass and murder Muslims anywhere [it] can." Doubtless she and Mr Eagleton have much to talk about.

Despite their evident lunacy, these culturally equivalent postures are almost obligatory among a certain kind of middle-class leftist. Curiously, the academics and theoreticians who advocate moral relativism, or variations thereof, seem reluctant to illustrate their theories with practical examples. One fashionable CE advocate, Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, has advanced the notion of a "cosmopolitan" approach to morality. But, again, it's all but impossible to find any explanation of how "cosmopolitan pluralism" - which sounds wonderful, of course - would actually address radically conflicting values. How would moral relativism fare when faced with jihadist demagogues or practitioners of voodoo who beat small children to exorcise bad spirits?

A `cosmopolitan' moral worldview is obviously appealing, at least superficially - provided conflicting values never actually meet. Relativism must seem quite plausible if one is a well-heeled moral tourist and can flit from one culture to another, nodding appreciatively at the local colour and whistling about diversity, while committing to none of the values in question. But what happens when incompatible views bump into each other on the same piece of turf, and over something rather important, like the education of women or freedom of speech?

And what, I wonder, would Professor Appiah or Madeleine Bunting make of the following real situation? In a crowded shopping centre, a man sees an apparently unaccompanied woman shrouded in a niqab stumble and fall down. He extends a hand to help the fallen woman and asks if she's alright. This enquiry is met with a look of horror and the man is angrily waved away by the woman's husband, who promptly berates his fallen wife for reasons that aren't clear. Does this reaction - which we're supposed to respect - foster basic civility and encourage strangers to help? If we memorise the various conflicting religious and moral codes of each minority, will we learn to hesitate before offering to assist an injured woman? Will we have to first search out the husband and ask for his permission? Or, more likely, will we learn to ignore her altogether? And will this make us better people?


Australia stops illegal imigrants again

Australia is striking a deal with Indonesia for an even more radical version of John Howard's Pacific Solution - sending 85 Sri Lankan asylum seekers home via Indonesia in possible breach of international refugee conventions. The asylum seekers, who were intercepted by the navy near Christmas Island on Wednesday, are set to be taken to Indonesia and then sent back to Sri Lanka after secret talks between the three countries in Jakarta yesterday. This means they would be sent home via Indonesia, which is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention. Australia would be free of any responsibility towards them, and the asylum seekers would almost certainly be robbed of any chance to lodge an asylum claim under international law.

Sri Lanka's ambassador to Indonesia, Janaka Perera, confirmed last night that Australian and Indonesian officials had told him the 83 men would be returned to Jakarta, then sent home. He expected the men to arrive in Sri Lanka within days. "Sri Lanka's position is that they have travelled illegally to another country and they should be returned to Sri Lanka." Both Australia and Indonesia had said they would assist with the repatriation, he said.

It is understood that Australian and Indonesian law enforcement and immigration officials discussed the plan in Jakarta yesterday.The Herald understands the meeting was told Australia feared it would face a flood of asylum seekers if tough action was not taken against the new arrivals. The boat carried the largest single load of asylum seekers to approach Australia since 2001, the year of the Tampa crisis that spawned the Pacific Solution, under which asylum seekers were refused access to the Australian mainland. Under that process, boat people were still given the opportunity to lodge asylum claims at offshore detention camps such as Nauru.

Before the deal was revealed to the Herald in Jakarta, the Prime Minister, John Howard, had insisted the 85 would not be brought to the Australian mainland. He said the boat's arrival was an opportunity to tell people smugglers that "they needn't think for a moment that our policy has changed". Australia still had "a very strong, effective border protection policy".

In November 2001, after trailing badly in the polls for months, Mr Howard stormed to victory in the federal election in the wake of the Tampa crisis. During the campaign, he declared: "We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come."

The new boatload departed Indonesia, with two Indonesian crewmen on board, intelligence sources confirmed. Yesterday's meeting discussed either directly shipping the asylum seekers back to Java, or flying them to Jakarta. Returning them on their boat was rejected for safety reasons. Indonesia could justify returning them to Sri Lanka as they had arrived in Indonesia illegally, Australian officials told the meeting. They also said the Sri Lankans should be returned as quickly as possible to prevent them lodging asylum claims or staging protests. Australian and Indonesian officials also agreed to co-operate to apprehend the people smugglers behind the operation. It is understood Australian intelligence has already identified two suspects. Australian Foreign Affairs officials refused to make any comment.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees senior officer responsible for asylum seekers in Indonesia, Shinji Kubo, said his organisation had not been informed of the moves. "We are very keen to know what will happen to them," he said. Other international officials, speaking anonymously, said it would be legally dubious for Australia not to deal with the refugees itself or to return them to Indonesia, and could create an international test case. The case was complicated by an obligation to rescue lives in danger at sea. Refugee advocacy groups had called on the Government to bring the asylum seekers to mainland Australia or provide access to lawyers for advice on their rights.

The Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, denied reports that the navy had tried to turn the vessel back to sea when HMAS Success intercepted it. But he said the Government wanted to ensure the asylum seekers did not reach the mainland. "[We] do not want to encourage this sort of behaviour - of people being put on unseaworthy vessels out in the middle of the Indian Ocean - and the tragedy that can come from that. "I think it is quite irresponsible to be sending a boatload of people on a small vessel, which is proven one way or the other to be unseaworthy."

Asylum seekers who land on the mainland have more extensive legal rights than those held on external territories such as Christmas Island. Mr Andrews said crew from HMAS Success had repaired engine damage on the men's boat on Tuesday when they first intercepted it, but they found it had stopped moving shortly afterwards. Navy crew invited the men aboard on Wednesday when they discovered the vessel had been further damaged to the point that it was unseaworthy. Mr Andrews did not know whether the navy would tow or sink the vessel. "This is Australian Government policy in practice," he said.


24 February, 2007

British judge rules against Muslim girl, 12, over veil in school

A girl aged 12 yesterday lost her fight to be allowed to wear a full-face veil in class when a High Court judge backed her school's decision to ban it. The Muslim girl's lawyers had argued that the school's actions were irrational and infringed her human rights, after it had allowed her older sisters to wear the niqab for nine years. But Mr Justice Silber ruled that the Buckinghamshire school's veil ban was "proportionate" for security reasons, that it upheld uniform policy, prevented others coming under pressure to wear it and because the veil stopped teachers from relating well to pupils.

Lawyers for the family said that were bitterly disappointed and were considering appealing against the judgment. Of the 120 Muslim girls in the 1,300plus pupil school, about half wear a headscarf, or hijab, but none wears a niqab.

During the case, the judge was told that the three older sisters had all played an active part in the school and that staff had never objected to their niqabs. All had achieved high A-level results, which showed that the veil had not impaired their learning, her lawyers argued. One was now in medical research, the second was training to be a doctor and the third was at university. As a result, they said, the ban on the youngest girl was irrational, thwarted her "legitimate expectation" to be allowed to wear it and breached her right to freedom of "thought, conscience and religion" under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The 12-year-old girl, known as claimant X for legal reasons, joined the grammar school in September 2005. She chose not to wear the veil in her first year, but last year, after reaching puberty, decided to wear it. The headmistress objected and she was removed. Although she is receiving tuition at home and was offered a place at a different, mixed grammar school that permits the niqab, she wishes to go back to her old school. But Mr Justice Silber, who stressed that he was dealing solely with the facts of one case and was not seeking to resolve the wider issue of wearing the niqab in schools, rejected her plea.

In a summary of the judgment, he said her human rights had not been breached because she had been offered another place at a similar school, where she could wear the niqab. Equally the school was within its rights to ban the veil for security reasons, the importance it attached to a uniform and the need not to put others under pressure into wearing it. "I took into account the margin of discretion allowed to the school and held that the decision of the school was proportionate," he wrote. He said that not only had no other girl tried to wear the niqab under the current headmistress, but that a long time had passed since the girl's sisters had left the school. "The evidence shows that there was now a greater concern for security and that the experience of the staff at the school is that they were impeded in teaching the sisters of the claimant because they wore the niqab," he added. The judge urged the girl to accept the offer of a place at a nearby grammar school, rather than continuing to miss out on a large part of her education.

The girl's headmistress said that she hoped her pupil would return, even though she was not allowed to wear the veil. "We want to focus now on supporting our student," she said. "We hope that she will return to school and resume her education as part of our community."

Andrew Adonis, the Schools Minister, welcomed the judgment, which came as the Government dismissed calls for schools to do more to accommodate Muslim pupils who want to wear a headscarf or grow a beard. The Muslim Council of Britain also accused state schools of failing to respect the wishes of Muslim children when organising sex education, changing rooms and religious assemblies.


'Genocide denial laws will shut down debate'

She's one of the best-known warriors against Holocaust denial. Yet Deborah Lipstadt thinks EU plans to ban 'genocide denial' are a disaster.

‘For European politicians, bringing in a ban on genocide denial is like apple pie. It’s what I call a freebie. They’re doing it to make themselves feel good. I mean, who could possibly be against standing up to nasty genocide deniers? Only when you get to the heart of it, this “freebie”, this populist move, could have a dire impact on academic debate. Even on truth itself.’

Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, may be one of the best-known warriors against Holocaust denial. But she has no time for the proposals currently doing the rounds of the European Union which suggest making it a crime to deny the Holocaust, other genocides and crimes against humanity in general.

Last week it was revealed that Germany, current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, is proposing a Europe-wide ban on Holocaust denial and other forms of genocide denial. This would make a crime of ‘publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising…crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes [as defined in the Statute of the International Criminal Court].’ (1) In some European countries – most notably Germany and Austria, which formed the heart of the Third Reich – it is already against the law to deny or minimise the Nazis’ exterminatory campaign against the Jews in the Second World War. This new legislation might also make it a crime, punishable by fines or imprisonment, to raise awkward questions about the official history of conflicts that took place over the past 20 years.

‘This is so over the top’, says Lipstadt, in between sips of decaf coffee in the plush surroundings of the Athenaeum Hotel in Piccadilly, London. Her earthy New York accent sounds almost out of place in a building where even the doorman comes across as posh. ‘The question of genocide, the history of genocide and what you can say about it, should not be decided by politicians and judges’, she insists.

Lipstadt certainly can’t be accused of being soft on deniers. Her book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, published in 1994, meticulously exposed the lies and the underlying racist agenda of those who deny the truth of the Nazi Holocaust. Famously (or infamously) she was subsequently sued by the British historian David Irving, whom she had named in the book as a Holocaust denier. In January 2000, the 32-day trial, a showdown between an American-Jewish historian and a far-right British historian, became a legal debate about the history of the Nazis, and the nature of truth itself. Irving lost rather spectacularly. The judge branded him an anti-Semite, a racist and a Holocaust denier who had ‘deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence’. Lipstadt recounts the experience in History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving.

Yet this ridiculer of deniers is no fan of the idea that Holocaust denial or genocide denial should be outlawed. The current EU proposal to criminalise denial of contemporary genocides and war crimes is an affront to serious historical debate, she says.

Consider Srebrenica, the massacre that took place at the end of the Bosnian civil war in 1995 in which it is estimated that 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed. ‘Some people argue that, given there are only so many tens of thousands of people in Srebrenica and the Serb soldiers went after an X number of a specific group, then it is genocide. But someone else might say it’s a massacre of the X population, not a genocide – because if you’re going to use that word then you have to go back to what the Nazis did to the Jews or what was done to the Armenians [by the Turks in the First World War]’, says Lipstadt. ‘That is an entirely legitimate debate to have about Srebrenica. Are we now saying that the person who says it’s not a genocide will be fined and punished?’

Lipstadt is also worried about the way in which debate about the Armenian experience might be closed down. During the First World War, as Ottoman Turkish forces fought against the Russians, some of the Armenian minority in Eastern Anatolia sided with Russia. Turkey responded by rounding up and killing hundreds of Armenian community leaders in April 1915, and then forcibly deporting the two million-strong Armenian community in marches towards Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq). Hundreds of thousands died as a result. At the end of last year, to the fury of Turkey, France made it a crime to deny that the Armenian tragedy was a genocide, and now Germany seems to hope that the rest of Europe will follow suit by accepting its proposals to outlaw denial of all genocides.

‘This is another body-blow to academic debate’, says Lipstdadt. ‘I know serious historians who do not deny for a minute what happened to the Armenians, who do not deny the severity or the barbarity of what happened to them. But they question, they ask intellectually, “Was this a genocide, or was it a horrendous massacre?” They don’t ask that question on ideological grounds; they don’t have a shred of allegiance to Turkey. They ask it intellectually, because they want to get to the truth.’

‘I happen to think they’re wrong’, she says. She believes the Armenians did suffer a genocide. ‘But you can, indeed you must, have a vigorous academic debate about historical events. And in the course of that vigorous academic debate you probably would illuminate weaknesses in both sides of the argument, and hopefully sharpen the arguments as a result. That is what academic debate is about. This kind of legislation could put a kabash on that.’

Last year, in its reporting of the French decision to outlaw denial of the Armenian genocide, the BBC was forced to explain why it put the word ‘genocide’ in inverted commas. ‘Whether or not the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians during the First World War amounted to genocide is a matter for heated debate’, it said (2). Yet if the proposed legislation is passed in the EU, then such things will no longer be a matter for heated debate; they will become legally-defined truths that you deny or question at your peril. Maybe even the BBC will find itself in the dock for putting ‘Armenian genocide’ in inverted commas.

It strikes me that as well as stifling open academic debate the proposed legislation could criminalise political protest. Very often these days, Western powers justify wars of intervention abroad in the language of combating genocide. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair described their bombing crusade over Kosovo in 1999 as an effort to stop Slobodan Milosevic’s ‘genocide’ against the Kosovo Albanians. In truth, the final number of civilians killed in Kosovo – including both Kosovo Albanians by Milosevic’s cronies and Serbs in NATO air strikes – was fewer than 3,000. The Nazis were capable of killing 12,000 a day in Auschwitz alone. As Nazi camp survivor Elie Wiesel said, taking umbrage at the use of Holocaust-talk to justify the Kosovo campaign, ‘The Holocaust was conceived to annihilate the last Jew on the planet. Does anyone believe that Milosevic and his accomplices seriously planned to exterminate all the Bosnians, all the Albanians, all the Muslims in the world?’ (3) If EU officials, in their infinite wisdom, decide that a conflict such as Kosovo is genocide, and therefore the bombers must be sent in, will protesters who question that line be criminalised under the new legislation?

Lipstadt finds today’s over-use of the genocide and Holocaust tags, to describe conflicts or political repression, disturbing and distasteful. She seems still to be reeling from an article she read in The Times on Saturday, the day before we met. Under the headline ‘We are vilified like Jews by the Nazis, says Muslim leader’, the paper reported that Birmingham’s most senior Muslim leader had compared contemporary political Britain to Nazi Germany.

‘That is ludicrous. It is stupid and ridiculous’, she says. ‘Is there fear of Muslims today? No doubt. Do some politicians play on that? Of course. But to compare Muslims in Britain to Jews in Nazi Germany…that shows an utter lack of historical understanding, not to mention sensitivity. Here, the police go out of their way to explain to Muslims what is going on. In Nazi Germany if a Jew spoke to a policeman he got hit. It was a whole government dedicated to being against you, to eliminating you. So that is a disgusting kind of analogy. It is wicked, and cleverly wicked. Sometimes it is done in a calculating fashion to further your aims by playing that victim card.’

To the ‘befuddlement’ of some of her colleagues, Lipstadt is also opposed to laws outlawing actual Nazi Holocaust denial. Such laws already exist in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, and under Germany’s proposals these will be extended to the rest of the EU and will also cover genocide and war crimes denial. She points out that there is a huge difference between those historians who legitimately debate something like the Armenian experience, and the charlatans who distort the truth in order to show that the Holocaust didn’t happen and ‘the Jews’ are all liars. Where ‘genocide denial’ laws might frustrate serious academic debate, Holocaust denial laws are only aimed at punishing weird and malicious pseudo-historians. Yet she is against the censorship of these charlatans, too.

‘I’m opposed to Holocaust denial laws for three reasons’, she says. ‘First because I believe in free speech. Governments should make no laws limiting free speech, because it is never good when that happens. Second, because these laws turn Holocaust deniers into martyrs. Look what happened to David Irving when he was released from jail in Austria – he became a media darling, given room to spout his misinformation. We should ignore them rather than chasing them down.

‘And thirdly, and most importantly, such laws suggest that we don’t have the history, the documentation, the evidence to make the case for the Holocaust having happened. They suggest we don’t trust the truth. But we do have the evidence, and we should keep on developing it and deepening it, and we should trust it.’

Ironically, given her outspoken opposition to laws against Holocaust and genocide denial, many point to Lipstadt’s legal victory over David Irving as evidence for why the courtroom is a good place to resolve historical issues and punish those who lie about or deny historic tragedies. ‘I wish they wouldn’t do that’, she says. She points out that her case was not about ruthlessly pursuing Irving in order to prove the truth about the Holocaust. ‘He came after me! He sued me! I didn’t want it. I tried to stop it. Our whole legal strategy was premised on trying to make this guy go away. Only when it was very close to the case, when I saw the wealth of evidence that showed how he had lied and distorted the facts, was I glad it had come to court. Aside from that, I can think of no other instance where history has benefited from courtroom adjudication.’

‘Politicians should not be doing history’, she says. ‘They have a hard enough time doing politics right and doing legislation right. Let them not muck up history, too.’


Australia to get tough on requiring immigrants to learn English

Mutual obligation is to become the Howard Government's new mantra on immigration, with migrants expected to learn English after they arrive in Australia. Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration Teresa Gambaro will use a speech tonight to unveil a major shift in the Government's approach to migrants, saying that Australia always helps those in need but expects "those receiving assistance to contribute in return".

"The principle of the 'fair go' is a uniquely Australian value. A 'fair go', however, expects fair effort," Ms Gambaro will tell a symposium run by the Islamic Council of Victoria and the federal Government. "The Government will continue to support all migrants by ensuring they have access to education, employment and involvement with mainstream community activities. "In return, the Government expects migrants to make the effort to learn the language and the culture."

It is unclear at this stage how the Government plans to enforce the program. The shift to mutual obligation will bring settlement services in line with the Government's approach to social security over the past decade, where responsibilities are imposed on welfare recipients. It follows moves by the Howard Government to emphasise integration over diversity as part of a broader shift away from multiculturalism.

Ms Gambaro says there are already many common values between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians and that "there is no incompatibility between a commitment to Islam and being Australian". "For Australia's Muslims, there is no conflict between veils and Vegemite," she says. Mutual obligation would also help Australia's non-Muslim population better understand Islam, the Queensland MP says.

The speech by Ms Gambaro is her first in the new portfolio and maps out a significant new direction for settlement services. Ms Gambaro says the term multiculturalism has become "redundant". She says: "Multiculturalism, as a term, can be interpreted in any number of ways ... in my view, its very imprecision is a critical weakness. "It doesn't tell us what we share in common, it doesn't tell us who we are, it doesn't tell us what our values are."

Ms Gambaro says that while individual backgrounds should be celebrated, "we cannot afford to be confined by them". "Australia cannot be a nation of islands within an island," she says. "Instead we should celebrate our cultural diversity and commitment to shared Australian values and a great method of doing this is by ensuring we can all speak to one another - in English."

Ms Gambaro, whose Italian parents came to Australia with scant English skills, says she can empathise with migrants. "Learning English can be difficult - I know this from personal experience - but it is not an insurmountable hurdle, nor is it an unreasonable expectation. This is because English language ability is a passport to participation, a passport to prosperity."


23 February, 2007

How newspapers spread a Marxist ideology about California's affordable housing crisis

By Wayne Lusvardi

A local newspaper editor is out with a column which reflects the dominant journalistic paradigm of the affordable housing crisis in Southern California (see here). We might dub this paradigm the U.C. Berkeley School of Journalism theory of the housing affordability crisis.

Unfortunately, housing affordability policies are typically made by local decision-makers in response to crises manufactured by newspaper editors with claims to superior insights and with a mission to "raise the consciousness" of all of us about the affordable housing crisis. To compound this problem, the public is inculcated with this paradigm and believe it to be an accurate reflection of reality. Once institutionalized in the community it becomes a nearly irrefutable ideology.

The social action committees of local liberal and even evangelical churches frequently embrace this ideology in advocating more affordable housing (see Jill Shook, Making Housing Happen: A Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models. This ideology is typically spurious and we should not believe its newspaper propagators, the pandering politicos who embrace it for political gain or the self-righteous religious leaders who legitimate it as reflecting the moral high ground.

The editor gets on his high horse to single out for special castigation those who bemoan the high cost of housing but oppose any new development in Pasadena, of which several are currently running for city council and the Board of Education on an odd housing affordability and anti-growth platform. In an attempt at understanding real estate economics, our newspaper editor writes that because the supply of newly created downtown condos and apartments in Pasadena is relatively small and demand is steady, prices remain too high to be affordable. So our editor cum housing economist reasons that developers will try to get away with building no affordable housing if they can; or only the minimum required by the Inclusionary Housing ordinance.

Where does this editor get this notion of the affordable housing crisis? Why he gets it in part from fellow journalists such as Dave Zahniser of the hard leftist LA Weekly who describes "Pasadena and other desirable parts of the West San Gabriel Valley" as "mere tiny cogs in a sprawling wheel of gentrification rolling through Southern California." This is no surprise because our newspaper editor did a prior apprenticeship as editor of the hard Leftist Pasadena Weekly where such paradigms have reached the status of an occupational ideology.

Gentrification is the buzz word for the "bourgeoisie" allegedly buying up homes that would otherwise go to the "poor" (the new term for the "proletariat"). The flip side of the negatively loaded term "gentrification" is the term "smart growth," a more positive term oddly embraced by the political Left. So "gentrification" is what the "Bourgeoisie" does and "Smart Growth" is what leftist housing activists and government Apparatchiks do; but it is the same reality.

This rather neo-Marxist view of housing affordability believes the profit motive coupled with NIMBY-ism and lack of laws mandating affordable housing is what creates the affordability problem. In this view only government can provide affordable housing to low income people by expropriation from real estate developers (i.e., the "Capitalists") and the productive class. Too little supply and incessant demand creates unaffordable housing. Friedrich Engels wrote wrote something similar in The Housing Question in 1872:

"How is the housing question to be settled then? In present-day society, it is settled just as any other social question: by the gradual economic levelling of demand and supply, a settlement which reproduces the question itself again and again and therefore is no settlement.. But one thing is certain: there is already a sufficient quantity of houses in the big cities to remedy immediately all real 'housing shortage', provided they are used judiciously. This can naturally only occur through the expropriation of the present owners and by quartering in their houses homeless workers or workers overcrowded in their present homes."

Let's quickly take a look at what this paradigm leaves out:

* First, housing affordability is created by economic obsolescence. The more new housing that is built, the more the old housing becomes more affordable. The old neighborhood filtration process of buying a "fixer" house at the bottom of the housing affordability ladder has been subverted by the wave of immigrants (God bless them) who flood into selective neighborhoods where there is a favorable political climate and institutions to protect them (i.e., Pasadena-based Institute for Popular Education, MECHA at PCC, etc. - see here http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/article.php?id=3251&IssueNum=13).

* According to the U.S. Census, one third of Pasadena's population are low income migrants, who somehow find affordable housing in the City. How can there be an affordable housing crisis if that large a proportion of low income people can ingeniously find a way to live in upscale Pasadena? The answer is that by doubling up in old housing stock migrants inflate rental housing. This turns the Neo-Marxist view upside down, because it is the "Proletariat" that are inflating housing costs.

* By mandating that developers set aside 15% of new condos and apartments for low income persons, government inflates housing costs all the more. This is because Inclusionary Housing laws expropriate from middle-income persons to subsidize low income people through higher condo prices and apartment rents. This creates a ripple inflationary effect on market rate housing as well.

* No mention is made of all the layers of unnecessary bureaucracy that developers must vet through to get approvals to build housing in Pasadena (e.g., design, environmental, green building, historic preservation commissions, etc.). Most of these commissions are stacked with representatives of professions who benefit from more onerous regulation (e.g., architects, environmentalists, historical preservationists, engineers, and even builders). There is no way to fast track an affordable housing project in Pasadena and leap frog these special interests.

* Most of the low income migrants in Pasadena are along the Villa Street corridor in Districts 1, 3 and 5. These districts are typically comprised of smaller, older housing stock which would otherwise serve as the first rung on the ladder of housing affordability for first time buyers. Activists and politicians in these districts have used liberal eviction laws and courts, housing discrimination laws, anti-deportation laws, threats of urban riots, court decisions (Serrano vs. Priest) and the bully-pulpit of local Leftist newspapers, such as the Pasadena Weekly, to form a protected class of migrants and protected migrant neighborhoods (witness the Pasadena Weekly's recent crusade against eviction of a low income tenant in one of the upscale downtown apartment projects). First-time home buyers are thus propelled to the fringe in exurbia to find affordable housing; which only further congests our freeways.

* As migrants double up in housing everywhere they can find it, they drive the marginally poor into homelessness and out of the cheap labor force. The March issue of The Atlantic Magazine reports that between 1960 and 2000, the employment rate for low-skilled Black men plunged from 89% to 56%, attributable in part to immigration.

* Contrary to popular opinion, Pasadena's Inclusionary Housing law doesn't harm the profit motive of developers. Developer's still make the same rates of return on their projects by shifting this burden to landowners in the form of price discounts when buying land; and onto other renters who must subsidize through their inflated rents the rent of low income tenants.

* Inclusionary housing laws are not producing affordable housing for poor people. To the contrary they are producing luxury housing for low income people in upscale locations with amenities such as gyms, pools, spas, mini-movie theaters, computer suites, etc.

* Technically speaking, there is no "gentrification" in developing high density, high rise housing on former commercial sites in downtown Pasadena because there was no pre-existing affordable housing on such sites. Developers should not be subject to Inclusionary Housing laws where they have removed no existing low income housing from the community.

Local policies for affordable housing are typically made by cliques of newspaper editors and journalists, local politicians, local liberal religious leaders, and academics with claims to superior insights, knowledge, and expertise as reflecting the superior moral consensus of the community. These claims are typically spurious and we shouldn't believe any of them or embrace the dominant ideology which controls their selective perception of reality. They are all phonies, ideologues, or deluded incompetents who are making the problem worse. It is impossible to "raise the consciousness" of anyone to the affordable housing crisis because nearly all of us are stumbling around on the same dim level of consciousness by embracing a proto-Marxist ideology mostly found in newspapers that obscures the uncomfortable and politically incorrect reality of housing affordability. It is little wonder that Karl Marx made his living as a newspaper journalist.

Rational argument tends to be weak when dealing with such local power structures and cultural forces. But if we are concerned with public policy it is at least a good starting point to know not only what vested interests but what vested ideas we are up against.


Cliches often contain some truth; the well worn stereotype of the British as people who don't much like children is, sadly, just. We hardly needed last week's report from Unicef on the wellbeing of children in rich countries to tell us that we neglect our own quite shamefully. If neglect is abuse, then we are a nation of child abusers, both rich and poor. The children of the well-off suffer mildly from affluent neglect; the children of the poor suffer much more from the ordinary kind. They have no one to come home to, no one to look up to, nowhere to go except to hang out in the street.

Although I have some serious reservations about the report, the overall picture is so conclusively bleak, as far as a minority of British children goes, that we must accept some of its conclusions. In overall wellbeing, British children are the worst off in a list of 21 rich countries, and they are worst off, too, in the individual categories of relationships, behaviour and subjective wellbeing. Life is lonely, scary, unhealthy and dangerous for a large minority of British children.

Only 65% of British children eat the main meal of the day with their parents several times a week; thrown upon the company of other youngsters, only 42% of British children find them "kind and helpful". In a survey by Britain's National Family and Parenting Institute, quoted in the Unicef report, only 65% of children said they felt their parent(s) made them feel loved and cared for and only 76% said their parent(s) were always there when they needed them.

That makes a quarter or more of children who feel uncared for and neglected. When it comes to having an orderly, healthy breakfast before school, only about half of British secondary pupils say they get any. They may have been lying to shock the pollsters, but if not that means nearly half of all British parents cannot be bothered to ease their children into the day with breakfast.

Not surprisingly, British children are way ahead of others in the rich world in what are called risk behaviours. In plain English this means smoking, binge drinking, underage sex, eating junk food, obesity, teenage pregnancy, bullying, fighting and getting into trouble. In some cities the children are becoming feral. The recent shooting dead of two 15-year-old boys in the hellish estates of south London are the extreme manifestation of this terrible neglect.

What stands out from the Unicef report is that in this country parents either do not care enough about children to make time for them, or they cannot afford to make time for them. With high numbers of single parents and stepparents, with high numbers of irresponsible and absent fathers and full-time working mothers, that is understandable. All these things impose tremendous stresses on parents. Children get pushed out of their rightful time and place in their parents' lives, more so here than in the rest of Europe. What can be done?

It would be a start to enable - if not to force - parents to spend more time with their children. It seems blindingly obvious that this government's policy of driving as many women out to work as possible is counterproductive. The only acceptable reason for doing so is to control the welfare queens, who think having lots of babies will win them a meal ticket for decades - and that could surely be dealt with differently.

Most women want to stay home with their babies. Only 6% want to work full time and all mothers know that childcare is an expensive lottery. Yet 55% of working women are in full-time jobs. It is nonsense to shift money about to provide "affordable childcare", which is neither good nor affordable; it is less good than what most mothers provide themselves and it costs more, all in, than letting her stay at home.

The result is that working mothers are harried and tired, especially if they are single, and short of the time their children - and their wider families - need. Part of the reason for so many women working such long hours, against their real wishes, is the high cost of housing. That is the root of many social evils and there is no question that a big housebuilding programme must be a top priority for the next government.

It also seems obvious to me that fathers should be held firmly accountable for their children, as David Cameron argued on Friday. I believe that process should start with dismantling the crazy benefits system which makes a man substantially better off - cash in hand at the end of the week - if he abandons his wife or girlfriend, and which enables a feckless never-married girl to be just as well off as a respectable abandoned wife or quasi-wife. Unfortunately the government has proved quite unable to run the Child Support Agency and there seems little reason for optimism about this.

What is needed - and it is something governments cannot and should not try to engineer - is cultural change. We need a lot more of what John Stuart Mill called moral disapprobation; these days it is called stigma. It is a good thing to show disapproval, even anger. It is wrong for men to abandon their children. It is wrong for a girl to have a baby without having another parent for it. It is wrong to have children whom you cannot afford to support. It is wrong to neglect your children, to fail even to give them breakfast and make sure they get to school.

In the past 30 years there has been a general horror of being judgmental, but why? These actions, wrong in themselves because they cause suffering to children, are also wrong because they cause serious social problems for the rest of us. Society should express disapprobation, forcefully.

Governments can follow in expressing such disapproval. They could deny irresponsible single mothers the privilege of independent housing and offer them educational care hostels only. They could try punishing irresponsible fathers in their pockets. They could order schools to provide after-school exercise and clubs and hobby groups, every day, year round. They could give massive tax breaks to stay-at-home mothers and to marriage. They could support charitable mentoring schemes.

Above all, they could scrap the laws that terrify responsible adults out of trying to control other people's children. All this does, however, involve being judgmental so I don't suppose it will happen.


Let people say when to give in to minorities

IF you doubt that the fine notion of a human right is degenerating into a greasy little phrase used to hold Western mores to ransom, it’s time to return to the birthplace of multiculturalism. Canada, the country that invented multiculturalism more than 30 years ago, has been consumed with another doctrine in recent weeks. Canadians call it “reasonable accommodation of minorities”. Translated into Australian, the question becomes: at what point should we tell minorities “You’ve had a fair go, pal, now stop asking for special favours”?

To understand this fertile debate, you need to dip into Canada’s multicultural chronicles. A Montreal YMCA agrees to frost the windows of a room used for exercise classes so that teenage boys at a neighbouring synagogue will be saved the indignity of glimpsing Lycra-clad women doing Pilates and aerobics classes. An Ontario judge orders the removal of a Christmas tree from the entrance to a Toronto court to avoid offending non-Christian sensibilities.

The Supreme Court overturns a Quebec school board’s ban on Sikh students wearing a kirpan - a ceremonial metal dagger - to school because it infringes a boy’s religious freedom. Female police officers in Montreal are requested to let their male counterparts deal with Orthodox Jews who find it offensive to be touched by a female. A Filipina mother complains to the Quebec Human Rights Commission about her son being chided at school for the way he eats. The school said they were targeting bad manners. The mother said it was the traditional Filipino way of eating. And on and on it goes.

Against that background, a small town in Quebec caused quite a stir last month by issuing a set of standards so newcomers understand “the social life and habits and customs” of life in their new country.

The provocative statement issued by Herouxville says that a “woman can drive a car, vote, sign cheques, dance, decide for herself, speak her piece, dress as she sees fit ... walk alone in public places, study, have a job ... However, we consider that killing women in public beatings or burning them alive are not part of our standards of life.”

The statement explains that townsfolk listen to music, drink alcohol and decorate Christmas trees. Boys and girls play games together, men and women ski on the same hill, and “if you came to my place we would send the kids to swim together in the pool”.

“Don’t be surprised, this is normal for us,” the declaration says. It seems that Herouxville, a town with no migrants but in need of immigration, has been watching events unfold in Europe. Mayor Claude Dupont told one newspaper that the standards are “saying out loud what some people are thinking quietly but don’t have the balls to say”.

But when a small town in Quebec does the talking, it is depicted as insular, racist hicksville by Canada’s left-leaning media. When respected academics such as Francis Fukuyama say more or less the same thing, even keen multiculturalists will slowly nod their heads and concede there may be something to this argument about realigning the unruly rights debate. Writing in the Journal of Democracy last year, Fukuyama pointed out that “some contemporary Muslim communities are making demands for group rights that simply cannot be squared with liberal principles of individual equality” on which Western societies are built. The kinds of accommodation include demands for sharia law, or at least Islamic family law, the right to exclude non-Muslims from certain types of events or the right to challenge free speech in a pluralist society, he explained.

With impeccable timing the Danish cartoons are back, once again raising the issue of just how far we extend the alleged right not to be offended. Satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published the notorious Danish cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed, was in court last week defending itself against three Muslim organisations claiming “injury caused by religious slander”. French presidential candidate and Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy weighed into the case, issuing a letter supporting the newspaper for expressing “an old French tradition, that of satire, derision and disobedience”.

Sarkozy’s defence of his country’s mores was a stark contrast to the cultural cannibalism across the Channel where a 19-year-old student at Cambridge University went into hiding earlier this month after publishing an offensive cartoon of the Muslim prophet in a special edition of a student magazine on religious satire. The student is facing the prospect of disciplinary action by university authorities.

Whether you’re with Sarkozy or the Cambridge authorities on this, two things are pretty clear. No right, whether group or individual, is absolute or unconditional. Even the right to life is qualified: think abortion, killing in war or self-defence. So assertions that a prisoner has some right to be given halal meat in jail - as child sex offender Sharif Mahommed claimed and won in a Queensland court recently - is just as much poppycock as saying that in Western societies Mormons have an inalienable right to polygamy or Muslims have a right to practise female circumcision. Societies can, do and should set limits and conditions on alleged rights.

The second certainty flows from the first. Fuelled by the human rights industry, requests for accommodation are framed as rights. And because what is often claimed as a right is really no more than an individual society deciding to accommodate requests from minorities, these are essentially political, not legal, questions. Whether a municipality should pay for a women’s-only swimming pool so Muslim women are not forced to share the water with lubricious males should be decided by elected representatives of the people, not by judges.

Instead, the courts get to play umpire. Last week, the head teacher of a high-achieving grammar school in Birminghamshire was dragged into court for not allowing one of her students to wear the full-face veil - or niqab - in the classroom. The school policy allows girls to wear the hijab - or head scarf - but drew the line at the niqab.

Lawyers would have us believe these are legal questions only their learned friends on the bench can determine. It’s nothing more than a naked grab for power and a belief that their views on these matters are more educated than the great unwashed. At the hands of the legal profession and a zealous human rights industry, terms such as human rights and discrimination have fast fallen into disrepute.

Lawyers may be consciously or unconsciously blind to the dilemma. But the upshot is clear enough: accommodating minority demands for special group rights that conflict with liberal democracies is nothing short of cannibalisation of Western culture.


22 February, 2007

Greyhound racing now incorrect

The article below is from Britain's Leftist "New Statesman". This attack on the working-man's sport shows how far the Left has drifted from its old claim to represent the worker.

As a former registered dog-breeder myself, however, I think I should confirm the correctness of two facts mentioned below:

1). Greyhounds that do not win races (i.e. most of them) ARE often put down while still young.

2). It is a great pity that so many are put down as they makes excellent pets -- particularly for less active people and those who live in small premises -- for the quite surprising reason that they do NOT require much exercise or activity. They are happy to lie around all day with only a short walk for exercise. Confinement that would distress most dogs bred for hunting is no problem to a greyhound. They are more like cats than dogs in their need for activity.

I greatly deplore the cruel way many large dogs are inappropriately accomodated and insufficiently exercised in city conditions but for people who must keep a watchdog in the city, a greyhound is the kind solution. And when you do exercise it, people will often stop to admire and discuss your greyhound!

More than 25,000 greyhounds are discarded every year by the racing industry, and most of them get killed. This sordid cruelty must not continue. Cleopatra had hers. Queen Elizabeth I had hers, too. And I've got mine - Molly Kay, a shy, sleek, blue, aerodynamic wonder of the world. But the journey from the pyramids to the asylum where our eyes met and we fell in love is a lamentable narrative. It's a story of not rags to riches, but riches to rags and even unceremonious death.

On 16 February, David Smith, a local businessman, appears before North Durham magistrates facing an unprecedented prosecution: he has been killing thousands of greyhounds for years. He won't be prosecuted for that - it's not illegal - but has been summonsed in a private prosecution by the Environment Agency for illegally dumping thousands of unwanted greyhound carcasses on his allotment. How did it come to this?

Greyhounds are reckoned to have been around in their contemporary form for about 8,000 years. Their relics appear in the tombs of pharaohs. Their prowess streaks across the vases of Mediterranean empires. The greyhound diaspora stretches from the Middle East, along conquering trails through Europe, to the royal houses of our own monarchs, from the Tudors to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

These fleet sight-hunters who target rabbits and hares and squirrels have been petted as accessories to the aristocracy. They are admired for a peculiar faculty: greyhounds have been known to surpass 40 miles per hour, and yet they lie around all day, like Mae West, resting. That magnificent greyhound chest is for breathing and extreme acceleration. They dash, like springs; they soar. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer describes them as "fowels in flight". Their heads and hips are perfectly engineered for spasms of speed. They run for joy; there's even a notion that they smile, and then they spend the day prone.

The Normans banned the common people from owning greyhounds. Royal dynasties colonised them, and they made house room for greyhounds much as, sometimes, they admitted clever black slaves: as exceptions and adornments. In some societies, including our own, the greyhound was prized above a woman. The history of this dog is stitched into narratives of empire and class, of country and city.

They have been bred not for killing but for running. In less than a century, however, the greyhound has been transformed from an emblem of luxury to a victim of capitalist exploitation. In the 20th century the greyhound was proletarianised; the dog became a working-class man thing - like allotments and football and pubs, an excuse to get away from their women. This happened, however, only after the industrialisation of its spectacular prowess, with the creation of a mass spectator sport and a billion-pound betting industry.

This modern crisis begins there. The effort to release the greyhound from rural sport to urban stadium triumphed in the invention of a mechanical lure early in the 20th century. That allowed the greyhound to hurl itself around the oval stadiums that then proliferated in Britain, Ireland, America and Australia. Britain's first was Belle Vue, built in Manchester in 1926. The industry proliferated until the 1980s, when stinky, scruffy stadiums were closing down en masse. London now has only two - Wimbledon and Walthamstow.

But the decline in the live audience did not lead to a decline in either the number of dogs or the betting. The betting industry offered a fresh opportunity for you to part with your money when it invented the Bookmakers' Afternoon Greyhound Service (Bags). That means afternoon racing where the dogs sprint round empty stadiums. So, although live spectatorship declined, betting flourished. But Bags needs more dogs, and that means more surplus dogs.

Tony Peters, founder of Greyhound Action - the direct-action wing of the greyhound welfare movement - reckons that you need only study the stud books of the British and Irish breeders (most greyhounds in Britain come from Ireland) to see the source of the problem.

Greyhounds are bred to race. If each track needs 400 new dogs a year to compete, behind those racers are all the siblings who don't make the grade. "Every year more than 30,000 are bred to race," says Peters. "The industry is churning out all these dogs." Even those who do triumph on the track have relatively short racing careers. Injury or exhaustion can finish off a racer by the age of four. Then they join the armies of the discarded - it is believed that between 25,000 and 30,000 greyhounds are discarded every year. Most of them get killed. "No one was tackling this problem," says Peters.

Stop the sport altogether

Certainly not the bookmakers' industry, which is estimated to have an annual turnover approaching 2 billion pounds. Bookies are becoming interested in virtual racing - punters, it seems, will bet on anything, even the illusion of a greyhound. That appears to be an attractive option, too, to Greyhound Action, which wants to see an end to greyhound racing altogether.

The bookmakers' alibi against the growing abhorrence of greyhound destruction is the historic and necessary separation between the breeders and the bookies. This, of course, masks the symbiosis between all the players: the bookies are largely the owners of the tracks, and it is the bookies who have generated the demand for the beasts. The bookmakers tasted the first scent of pressure in 1991 when Norman Lamont, the then chancellor, introduced a voluntary levy of 0.4 per cent as a contribution to a greyhound fund for the industry, to be run by the British Greyhound Racing Board. The board was described by the racing commentator Jim Cremin as "a sham democracy", set up "in the hope of gaining control of government funding".

Many bookmakers did not contribute - including the intransigent chair of the Association of British Bookmakers, Warwick Bartlett. Unsurprisingly, little had changed by the new millennium, when the industry came under growing scrutiny from a convergence of animal welfare campaigners, corporate concern about the decline of the stadiums, and a government that was worried about the unseemly evidence of excessive gambling profits and the sordid state of the business. Cremin warned of growing government disquiet while bookmakers sat "on both sides of the negotiating table" as owners of tracks and as businesses profiting from the racing.

The Gambling Bill concentrated the mind. The government's greyhound man in the Lords, David Lipsey, took over the board, restructured it, and brokered a deal with the promoters to increase the levy to 0.6 per cent by last year (2006). But much of that fund is invested in reinventing the industry and marketing greyhound racing as a classier night out before hitting the clubs. It has not dealt with the killing fields and the dogs bred to die.

Ten thousand dogs are retired from racing every year. Some are put to sleep and disposed of by local authority pounds. Some go into rescue sanctuaries, and the number that find a new home is increasing - up from 2,000 a year to about 3,500. Molly Kay is a lucky one - she is living happily ever after among doting human beings. But she is in the minority: most of her generation lived a life brutish and short, only to be discarded by a corporate culture that depends on people like David Smith. His prosecution draws attention to the industry's total failure to take responsibility for the gap between surplus value and surplus to requirements.


Political Correctness: The Ultimate Gag order

Where did this strange animal Political Correctness (PC) come from? Never in our history have we had to be afraid of what we say, write, and do. We must not bow to that fear. Since PC tries to restrict our freedom of expression--particularly any form of dissent--it is imperative that we learn everything we can about it: more, for example, than it is simply a rebuke to various forms of bigotry.

In an address to academia in 1998, writer Bill Lind dissected PC from top to bottom. What Lind said is so vital, I will try, with implicit permission, to give you a capsule version of the five points he made.

First, political correctness is cultural Marxism. Although it's everywhere, this socialistic idea is most evident on college campuses, where crossing the line set up by sainted "victims" groups gets you in deep trouble.

PC also thrives on lies. Let's say you're told that a certain fact is true. But reality contradicts that. So reality is forbidden, to make the lie seem true. And the power of the State is used to keep the lie alive. That's why political correctness creates a totalitarian state.

Second, PC, like Marxism, uses a single factor to explain history. Marx uses economics. PC uses power. The power is determined by which groups have power over the other groups. With political correctness, nothing but power has any significant meaning.

Third, with PC, certain groups are deemed to be "good". These groups, such as feminist women, blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, etc, are considered "victims", therefore "good"-- whether they are or not. White males, of course, are the bad guys. Their "evilness" is equivalent to the wicked bourgeoisie in economic Marxism.

Fourth, both PC and Marxism take from one to give to another; (or keep for themselves. You can clearly see this at work in quotas, preferences, affirmative action, and other illegal transfers of assets from one group of citizens to another. The nice word for it is expropriation. The more accurate word is stealing.

Fifth, both political correctness and Marxism have a method of analyzing situations which automatically gives them the answers they want. This devious little process is called Deconstruction. Which simply means taking one text, removing its meaning, and re-inserting any other meaning desired.

George Orwell did an outstanding job of this in his chilling novel, 1984. "Newspeak" gave opposite meanings to common words: War became Peace, Slavery became Freedom, Ignorance became Strength.

Orwell had unknowingly described political correctness when he defined the principle of Newspeak: "The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of INGSOC (English Socialism), but to make all other modes of thought impossible."

Get that? Make all other modes of thought impossible! That bit of tyranny appears to be the objective of today's PC crowd in Washington. And if that's true, it's the worst form of treason because it undermines the most sacred bastion of freedom we have: Freedom of Thought.

And no true American should hold still for that.


Britain: It is time to be honest about black crime

So is society fractured or isn't it? Politicians' views on this seem to depend on whether they are in office at the time. When you are in opposition, a spate of street shootings - or even the distinctly atypical murder of a toddler (James Bulger) by two maladjusted children - can be a sign of endemic social breakdown.

But when your party is in power, gang members killing one another with apparent impunity is a "specific problem" in a small minority of the population. Not surprising, then, that David Cameron opts for the societal meltdown analysis while Tony Blair prefers to see the latest eruption of gun violence as an isolatable phenomenon which should not be taken as a "metaphor" (I think he meant "symbol") for the country as a whole.

They are both right, and they are both missing the same crucial point. Mr Blair is clearly correct when he says that most teenagers are not members of armed gangs, and that the majority of young people in Britain are not even involved in low-level anti-social behaviour. The problem of gun crime is, as he says, almost entirely limited to what he calls a specific small sub-culture.

But while the actual crimes with which we are all so concerned at the moment are characteristic of a very small, identifiable minority in clearly locatable parts of our inner cities, the fact that they are occurring is not unconnected to the social and political philosophy which his party has endorsed (and which Mr Cameron's party is failing to repudiate).

The sub-culture to which Mr Blair alludes in his coded way is that of black delinquency (the mores of which have drawn in quite a few non-black participants). That neither he nor Mr Cameron will say precisely this (although they both go so far as to refer to the influence of rap music) is central to our failure to cope with it. Just as using the word "black" in this context is to lay oneself open to the smear of racism, any perceptible targeting of black youths for particular attention by the police lays officers open to career-ending disciplinary procedures. The "sus" laws, which allowed officers to stop and search people on suspicion of carrying weapons or drugs, were scrapped because they were said to be a form of racial harassment.

That was the beginning of what became a systematic programme of denial, the ultimate consequence of which was that blameless black people were left unprotected in effectively unpoliced neighbourhoods, and that many black mothers were left to grieve for their sons.

When your child has been shot, having droves of police combing the scene for forensic evidence after the event must offer little comfort. What you and your neighbours need is the kind of fearless, effectual police presence that will prevent these crimes from happening in the first place - and that does not mean "social outreach" or "working with community leaders".

For the police to be nice to the most conscientious people in the neighbourhood is all well and good, but getting through to that small, specific minority of armed drug gangs involves something quite different - and it is often not "nice" at all. The women in those communities who campaign against gun crime know this, but their courage is almost never matched by political spokesmen, for whom the fear of being labelled racist is rather more urgent than the fear of having their children shot in cold blood. (And, in Mr Cameron's case, maybe the drugs question helps to make this an untouchable issue on another level altogether.)

But this is not all about gun crime in the black community. Most anti-social behaviour is a white youth problem but it is still, in Mr Blair's terms, "specific". So Mr Cameron's argument for society being fractured is - forgive the condescension - perhaps more right than he knows. When he talks of the family breakdown, the failure of paternal responsibility, and the collapse of parental authority that seems to be epidemic in Britain, he is describing a minority phenomenon. In affluent, middle-class life (which now constitutes a much larger proportion of our society than it did a generation ago), parenthood has never been a more conscientious vocation. In my experience, today's young parents are devoted to the welfare of their children to the point of obsession: a devotion which, perhaps to an unprecedented degree, involves fathers as much as mothers.

It is not British parenting as a whole that is failing. It is a segment of it: a noisy, belligerent, feckless, disruptive segment, the consequences of whose behaviour can wreak havoc on the quality of life of inordinate numbers of people in its vicinity. Society is indeed fractured: it is broken into different parts which are growing more and more dissimilar to one another. The failing part is living in a parallel universe where irresponsibility is a way of life. Isolated by welfare dependency from the need to come to terms with what has traditionally been considered the role of adults, which begins with the obligation to provide for a family, that part of society is being left behind in a morass of hopelessness and futile bitterness in which alcohol and drugs, and the anarchic thrill of delinquency, are ready diversions.

So it is literally true, as Mr Cameron says, that we have too many "adults behaving like children", but I doubt somehow that he will recommend the radical reform of a welfare state which has made it possible (and even economically advisable) for fathers to abandon their children and for teenage girls to choose single motherhood as a lifestyle. He talks of restoring support for marriage in the tax and benefit system, but would he actively dismantle the benefit support system which has created welfare ghettos?

What about Mr Blair? Will he acknowledge the role that has been played in this mess by his party's commitment to non-judgmental permissiveness - which has left communities unable to defend themselves and the police afraid to protect them? And will he ever say a word about the greatest retreat of his premiership: the abandonment of welfare reform that he once rightly believed was essential to restoring Britain's moral health?

The whole country may not be going to hell in a handcart. But that does not diminish the problem we face with some parts of it, which we have no chance of solving unless politicians speak frankly about the existence of an underclass and the part they have played in creating it.



Report from a black activist, Noel Pearson

On a recent Friday night I walked out on to the lawn of my mother's house in my home town. It was after 2am and though my family lives a kilometre away, I could hear loud music booming from several stereos in various parts of what I would have called a village in my youth, but which more accurately answers to the description of an outback ghetto today. The music emanated from houses known as party houses, where numbers of men and women congregate to binge drink, share marijuana, often out of what are called bucket bongs, laughing, shouting, singing and dancing and seeking sexual partners - consensual and otherwise.

By midnight the bonhomie of the early evening descends into tension, as various bingers develop dark moods, vent anger, resentment and suspicions at those to whom they earlier professed love. Arguments and fights ensue, over the smallest slights and often over ownership of and access to the dwindling supplies of alcohol.

While parties rage at a number of notorious locations throughout the town, with erstwhile hosts boosting their stereos with specially bought amplifiers, often placed at windows facing outwards as if for the benefit of the rest of the inmates of this sad place, it is hard to maintain the fiction that this place is a community. It is a hellhole where whirring fans and airconditioners in the concrete block houses drown out the noise, including the screams.

This Friday night was the third night in a row of parties, beginning on Wednesday evening following the receipt of Family Tax Benefit payments, which continued at a lower gear over the next day and got back into top gear on Thursday night following the receipt of CDEP work-for-the-dole payments. The number of people missing from work has led almost every community to declare Fridays as the unofficial start of the weekend. School attendance collapses from already low levels earlier in the week. This has led to many proposals over the years from educators to reduce school days in Cape York Peninsula schools to four days, as if that would be a solution.

As I drove around the streets at 3am, I passed by drunks stumbling from one party house to another. I passed groups of young teenage girls walking around or sitting on the kerbside. For too many of them, sexual activity begins young at Hope Vale, very young. Who knows the circumstances of their first experience, but the incidences of abuse that come to light are only the tip of the iceberg of sexual assault, unlawful intercourse with minors, and incest. That older men should be able to have sexual relations with the young girls I pass in the street in exchange for alcohol, marijuana or esteem, is water off the moral backs of our people. Young men may jump through windows to rendezvous with their paramours, but it is as likely they do so to interfere with women and children.

My home town looks and feels like a ghetto. The mango trees, frangipanis and old wooden church still evoke the mission of my early youth, but the fibro and weatherboard cottages built by the hands of our own local carpenters have been replaced by welfare housing, increasingly built by outside contractors. The uniform rows of kit homes and Besser Block houses are of course much more expensive and have better amenities (at least at first, because they do not last for long), but they look squalid. The once lovingly tended gardens with topiary, gardenias and fruit trees are scarce today, and the plastic bags, VB cans, old motor cars and general rubbish spill out of the homes and on to the streets.

With the eyes of someone who returns to his home town for holidays and occasional weekends, I marvel that the people who live here do not see the shit in front of their eyes. Despite vastly improved levels of funding and infrastructure the place is a mess compared with the village of my childhood. I drove past the place where my parents brought up our family in a small fibro cottage with no hot water and a pit toilet out the back. We got electricity when I was in Year 4 but I did not see television until I went to college. Now they have Austar and adults carelessly expose children and young people to their pornographic videos and DVDs.

Earlier in the afternoon at the roundabout I saw the shocking sight of a beautiful puppy that had been run over by a vehicle, in a pool of blood on the bitumen. As we say in the language of this place, Ngathu wawu baathi, my soul cried for this lost life. In my nocturnal drive I passed the puppy in the same place. The binge drinking will continue to daybreak, and on through Saturday. Bingers pass out and catch some sleep, before waking again to resume the fray.

The parties change gear during the course of the four days as participants come and go, supplies run out and fresh supplies are brought in from Cooktown. The beauty of electronic banking is that welfare and CDEP income is dropped into keycard accounts automatically, and Centrelink will assist recipients to stage the time at which payments are made to members of a household. So Jimmy can get his on Wednesday and Sally can get hers on Friday. There is money for drinking and drugs over a longer stretch of the week. Centrelink's intention of course with flexible payment plans is to assist people to manage their income to purchase food and pay their bills, but the reality is that it makes more money available for binge drinking over a longer period of time.

As I drive down to the beach early on Saturday morning I see the young children emerging out of the houses, as if from a war zone. Yes, there are children and young girls in the homes of the hosts of the binge drinking parties. How they fare through these weekly episodes depends on whether their often inebriated parent is nevertheless able to keep an eye on their welfare, because the chance that molesters are among the party people is very high. Older children may run off and stay with sober relatives, particularly grandparents, but what happens to the ones left behind? Some of the young people sitting on the kerbside at 3am are simply scared to go back home.

On Sunday things will be quiet. "They run out of grog," people explain to me. The town will be mostly quiet for the next two, and if you are lucky, three days. The bureaucrats from Peter Beattie's Government will do their business with the people and organisations of Hope Vale in the sane part of the week. Certainly the communities of Cape York Peninsula during the quiet days can give the impression of being pleasant if untidy "communities". You can excuse the rubbish and the ubiquitous high barbed wire fences and iron cages that have to be constructed around almost every public facility, because after all this is an Aboriginal community.

But the public servants and politicians only visit for the day and never sleep in the town. They never have anything other than the official conversations down in the administration offices, so they too easily have the view that "this place is not too bad", "we just need to co-ordinate the programs" and "we have a demand reduction plan" for the alcohol problem. The underbelly of these so-called communities is not intriguing like a David Lynch movie, it is Hobbesian.

Meanwhile in public policy land three relevant events take place. First, journalist Margaret Wenham reported in The Courier-Mail on February 8 as follows: "Hundreds of impoverished indigenous people in remote communities have been hit with fines totalling nearly $600,000 for breaking Queensland's controversial alcohol management laws. Figures, released this week by the Justice Department, also show that seven people have been jailed and six vehicles confiscated since December 2002 when AMPs were phased into the state's 19 discrete indigenous communities. Reports of the penalty tally were greeted with dismay by Aboriginal leaders who said most people could not pay the fines and the AMPs were not working to curb violence."

The problem with Wenham's argument and that of any Aboriginal leader to whom she refers, is that if you divide $600,000 worth of fines between 19 communities over 3 1/2 years, the average fine for each community is about $9000 per annum, or less than $200 per week. The liquor licensing authorities in Queensland do not release liquor sales figures from each community, and no one tracks alcohol purchases from outside of the communities, but if you make a rough estimate of alcohol expenditure per week I would say an average of $10,000 per week would be extremely conservative. So if an average community spends $520,000 on alcohol, how can you say that $9000 worth of fines is causing or even compounding impoverishment? Is it not the spending on alcohol that is causing poverty?

Second, on Monday this week the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University released a study which showed that in the period from 2000 to 2004, an estimated 1145 indigenous Australians died from injury, disease or suicide caused by drinking. The study found that many indigenous people died very young from diseases that do not exist among young non-indigenous people. A third of the deaths investigated were female. The second biggest alcohol-related killer of indigenous women was haemorrhagic stroke, and the average age of the deceased was only 25 years. Among non-indigenous people, stroke is a disease of the elderly. The worst alcohol-related killer of indigenous people, alcohol liver cirrhosis, on average shortens indigenous sufferers' lives to 54 years. The other major causes of death - suicide, road traffic injury, assault injury, stroke - mainly kill indigenous people in their 20s and 30s.

Third, Premier Peter Beattie met the mayors of Queensland's indigenous shire councils to discuss the problems besetting indigenous communities. The Premier emerged saying his Government would be making various investments in the communities and he expected the community leaders to take greater responsibility for alcohol.

One problem with the Premier's hopes is that these councils are still the owners and operators of the canteens which sell alcohol to their people. The councils are as addicted to the profits from the canteens as the Queensland Government is to gambling revenues. Tony Fitzgerald recommended in his Justice Study report to Beattie in 2002 that the nexus between alcohol profits and councils be broken, but the nexus remains. Typically it is the justice groups that want to maintain AMPs while shire councils want them to be watered down. In fact the Government is considering proposals from councils to allow weekend trading and takeaways, against the opposition of local justice groups.

Beattie's minister responsible for the issue, Warren Pitt, has already weakened restrictions in some communities. Beattie and Pitt need to spend an anonymous night or two in at least one, preferably a couple, of these communities. They need to be in the town on the binge-drinking nights, and they need to take a quiet drive or walk around the town and hear and see the nightmare that the sober people and children have to endure.

Last year Hope Vale's Mayor Greg Mclean invited a delegation of children from the local primary school to present their views to a large roundtable of assembled bureaucrats and community leaders. In plain English the children pleaded to these black and white adults that they wanted the drinking and violence in their community to stop. As I drove through my home town on the Sunday evening on my way back to Cairns, I saw the dead puppy still in the street. I thought about the distance between being inured to the fate of a puppy that didn't see the car coming, and being inured to the fate of our own children.


21 February, 2007

The NIMBY versus the PINATA Cliche of the California Housing Affordability Crisis

Introducing "Politically Protected Immigrant neighborhoods"

By Wayne Lusvardi

There are numerous factors that reportedly contribute to the so-called housing affordability crisis in California: lack of land, high development fees and exactions, open space and environmental requirements which didn't exist in prior decades, no more infrastructure financing from surrounding homeowners after Prop. 13, etc.

But, perhaps, there is another factor that has gone mostly unrecognized: the dominant academic and media paradigm from which we see the affordable housing crisis. It is the paradigm best known by the acronym "NIMBY" (Not-In-My-Back-Yard-ism). Government officials, developers and activists all agree that the most significant obstacle faced when trying to build affordable housing is community opposition.

This paradigm is based on the notions that the housing affordability crisis results from the profit motive coupled with NIMBY-ism and lack of laws mandating affordable housing. In this view, when housing demand exceeds supply only government can provide affordable housing to low income people by expropriation from real estate developers and the productive class. But is this so? Is community opposition the key road block to creating affordable housing? Or is it a symptom of a larger mostly unrecognized problem?

A problem with the NIMBY paradigm is that the housing affordability crisis can typically be found in communities where there also are politically Protected Immigrant Neighborhoods (PIN's), usually in neighborhoods comprised of smaller, older housing stock. Such neighborhoods have historically been the first rung on the housing affordability ladder for first-time buyers. Activists and politicians in these Protected Immigrant Neighborhoods have used liberal eviction laws and courts, housing discrimination laws, anti-deportation laws, threats of urban riots, high property crime rates, court decisions (Serrano vs. Priest) and the bully-pulpit of local Leftist newspapers to deter first-time home buyers and renters; and to create living space for a politically protected class. First-time home buyers are thus forced out to the hinterlands to find affordable housing; which only further congests our freeways.

One of the consequences of jamming immigrants into immigrant magnet neighborhoods is that housing prices and rents are inflated by immigrants doubling up in old housing stock. The only market power that low income immigrants typically have is numbers. This turns the Marxist view upside down, because it is the "Proletariat," not the "Bourgeouisie" that are inflating housing costs by "rentrification" (not "gentrification").

NIMBY is more than an acronym, it is a political cliche which is more persuasive than any formal academic theory. A cliche does not give an altogether truthful picture of reality. Cliches often function to obscure the breakdown of institutions, such as housing markets, whose stability has been overwhelmed by immigration. Cliches, such as NIMBY, fill our absence of knowledge about what really causes the housing affordability crisis. Once a cliche is firmly established in the minds of the public, it attains the status of taken-for-granted truth and is very difficult to dislodge even by clear empirical counter-evidence. This is what sociologists call "cognitive dissonance" ("I have made up my mind don't confuse me with the facts;" "Bush lied, people died"). The popularity of a cliche does not depend on the amount of the quality of evidence for it, but on the way it meets the social and psychic needs of a particular situation.

The NIMBY cliche is not benign or morally neutral. It is a negatively loaded term. Who benefits from the distortion of reality from the NIMBY cliche? I think I know the answer: it benefits those who understand the housing affordability crisis as an agenda of utopianism that is held by the political Left. It is those on the political Left who hypocritically claim to be the champions of the poor in combatting the housing affordability crisis; a crisis they have principally manufactured themselves with the assistance of the media by creating and maintaining politically Protected Immigrant Neighborhoods.

According to the NIMBY cliche, NIMBY's are not just those trying to protect the nest-eggs of their home values, they are also considered evil. And because they are evil this gives a moral rationale for confiscating their homes by eminent domain often for other than pure public purposes. Or it gives a rationale for imposing compulsory increases in rents on some to subsidize the rents of others. Or it provides a rationale for shaking down landowners for 50% of the value of their land by Inclusionary Housing laws. Or it is justification for rent control so that NIMBY landlords can not evict tenants which represent some political constituency to a politician.

The NIMBY cliche will not likely be abandoned on the basis of empirical evidence alone. But perhaps an antidote would be an anti-cliche, such as PINATA (Protected Immigrant Neighborhoods Always Takeover Affordable housing). The word "PINATA" is not used here to cast Mexican immigrants in an equally negative or evil light but to focus our attention on the larger reality behind the affordable housing crisis. Perhaps, by use of a reverse-cliche such as PINATA, we can see how negatively loaded and distorting the term NIMBY is.

A pinata is a Mexican paper-mache sculpture filled with candy, designed to be bludgeoned by children until the candy tumbles out. A "Meat Pinata" is defined by Pseudodictionary.com as:

"Meat Pinata is a "victim of aggravated assault, a person beaten repeatedly."

It is time to stop using NIMBY's as "MEAT PINATAS" in our public policies, State Housing Elements, Inclusionary Housing laws, building regulations, and eminent domain actions. However, this is not an invitation to bash immigrants (God bless them). It is an invitation for a clearer and more realistic lexicon and paradigm about our affordable housing policies.

It is time to stop using cliches to avoid uncomfortable truths. It is time to stop using using the NIMBY cliche to advocate affordable housing on one hand while creating politically Protected Immigrant Neighborhoods that remove the most affordable housing supply from first time homebuyers and working class renters in communities on the other hand. It's time to take the mask off of all the affordable housing advocates, pandering politicians, phony academic affordable housing experts, government planners, and self-righteous religious activists who are only worsening the affordable housing situation by denying the existence of the metaphorical 1000 pound pinata blocking the doorway to affordable housing.

A possible starting point would be the initiation of lawsuits against communities to invalidate Inclusionary Housing laws and Housing Elements of General Land Use Plans and other affordable housing policies when 10% to 35% or more of the population are low income migrants living in politically Protected Immigrant Neighborhoods. How can there be an affordable housing crisis for the poor when such a large proportion of the population in many cities are low income migrants who somehow find affordable housing?

The principal generator of cliches, the mass media, would be another good starting point to changing our vested ideas about affordable housing. But since we can't count on any change with the agenda-driven media either, perhaps we need a counter cliche such as PINATA - Protected Immigrant Neighborhoods Always Takeover Affordable housing.


That she is a vocal lesbian had nothing to do with it, of course

A senior British officer involved in the killing of a Brazilian mistaken for a suicide bomber on a London underground train was promoted today to a top policing job, looking after the royal family's safety. Cressida Dick was in charge of the operation that led to Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, being shot seven times in the head on an underground train at Stockwell station in south London in July 2005. His family said they are "disgusted" by Ms Dick's promotion.

The shooting came amid frenzy in London over the threat of suicide bombers. Two weeks earlier four British Islamists had blown themselves up on three underground trains and a bus, killing 52 people, and detectives say that the day before the shooting five other suspects had attempted to carry out copycat attacks.

The Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), which oversees the London force, said, despite "unprecedented circumstances", Ms Dick had been promoted to the rank of Deputy Assistant Commissioner. Her job, which begins on March 19, has responsibility for the protection of the royal family and other senior individuals. "Having considered these circumstances, we are satisfied that our decision to confirm promotion is the right one to take at this time," said Len Duvall, the MPA's chairman. "The MPA is keenly aware that the people of London must have confidence in the police who work, in what are often difficult circumstances, to protect them. "By confirming this promotion we are making it clear that the officer retains our full confidence."

The family of Mr de Menezes said they were angry at the news. "The idea that police officers who were responsible for Jean's killing are being promoted makes me feel sick," said Patricia da Silva Armani, one of Jean's cousins. "I do not understand how people who kill innocent civilians are allowed to carry on working as if nothing has happened. To promote her is disgraceful."

Last July the BBC reported the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), had recommended Ms Dick face criminal action for her handling of the operation. However, prosecutors decided no police officers involved in the incident should face action. The Crown Prosecution Service instead ruled the London force as a whole should be prosecuted under health and safety laws. Britain's top court, the House of Lords, will rule on a judicial review of the CPS decision not to hold any individual officers responsible after an appeal by Mr de Menezes's family. The full IPCC report into the shooting will not be made public until that legal action is completed.



One has to wonder what the Founding Fathers would have thought about a group of people who would purposely choose to stifle dissent in the face of heated issues just to advance their ideological quest for control. What would they think of those who would purposely avoid engaging in meaningful, fact-based debate, devoid of spin and rhetoric instead promoting only their idea of the truth sans credible examination? Considering that they spilled blood to water the tree of liberty, it wouldn't be a stretch to think they would consider this group contrary to everything the United States stands for.

Today, centuries after patriots gave life and limb to secure independence from just such political tyranny we are seeing it manifest among our own citizens in the form of ideological bigotry. On issue after issue we are faced with the bullhorn mentality of the "Me-First Contingent," America's Fifth Column. Two glaring examples of the Fifth Column's fingers-in-the-ears ideological bigotry can be seen in the issues of global warming and the catalyst for the Iraqi conflict.

People have their opinions about both of these subjects and everyone is entitled. But it is to the extent that the opinion emanates from fact-based knowledge and not from ideological propaganda that its worth is assessed. Turning up the volume on the "I know you are but what am I" bullhorn of ignorance doesn't eliminate the fact that one either is learned on a subject or isn't. It is because of this that the debate over global warming and the catalyst for the Iraqi conflict expose the great underbelly of American ignorance.

I can't count how many times I have heard elected officials, news anchors, pundits and average Americans advance the false notion that the only reason we engaged in this conflict in Iraq was weapons of mass destruction. It leads me to believe that all the information they acquired on the topic came from a third, fourth or fifth party rather than the source.

It is factually ignorant to believe that the premier reason the US went to war in Iraq was because of weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Saddam Hussein's WMD program - which included the manufacturing of conventional long range missiles - was the fourth reason given; genocide, the failure to release prisoners of war and the failure to renounce all terror activities being the first three. This doesn't take into account the fact that Hussein routinely violated the ceasefire agreement that brought the Gulf War hostilities to an end.

The reason why WMD became the focus of the Fifth Column was because stockpiles - stockpiles - of biochemical weaponry weren't discovered. Our forces did in fact find banned weaponry but not in the stockpiles that would have been needed to satisfy anti-war activists and Bush-haters. So, the media rolled with the "no WMD" mantra even though it was fundamentally false and the Fifth Column ate it up.

But consider if we would have had an honest, open and fact-based debate about the catalyst for going to war in Iraq. If the genocide that Saddam Hussein had been perpetrating against his people would have been given as much importance as the WMD issue it is hard to believe that today's efforts in Iraq would be as viciously condemned as they are.

We are seeing the same one-sided, bullhorn mentality where the issue of global warming is concerned. Much has been written about global warming recently and I, for one, am all for an open, honest and fact-based debate on whether or not man is making a significant contribution to the demise of the planet. Sadly, those with control over the media, along with their agenda-driven friends at the United Nation and environmental activists, are as keen on open, honest fact-based debate as Saddam was on going to the gallows.

When the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued their latest report - or any of the first three for that matter - how prevalent was the information that the release was a Summary for Policy Makers sans any scientific data? Was the fact ever trumpeted that the IPCC is a politically-based panel sponsored by the United Nations? Did the news media offer the American people information on pressure that was exerted by the Clinton/Gore Administration to manipulate verbiage in the first assessment's final report to reflect a more dire situation than really existed? Has the news media or global warming proponents ever acknowledged that there are a plethora of scientists who do not subscribe to the theory of man-influenced global warming or the dire predictions for the demise of our planet?

Sadly, the answers to all of these questions are in the negative. The suppressing of any credible debate on this issue is in full-swing complete with a propaganda movie by Al Gore that contains facts that have already been debunked, an environmental magazine calling for Nuremberg-style trials for global warming skeptics and CBS News "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley comparing skeptics to Holocaust deniers.

But consider if we would have had an honest, open and fact-based debate on this issue, devoid of political manipulation. Perhaps that debate would have allowed the voices of 60 scientists who wrote to the Canadian Prime Minister asserting that the "science" of global warming was crumbling in the face of the facts:

"Observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future.Significant [scientific] advances have been made since the [Kyoto] protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases. If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary."

Yet, the volume from those of the bullhorn mentality continues to increase stifling all dissent, rendering impossible the honest, open, fact-based debate needed to arrive at a true consensus on these issues. Just like the person who only reads the first paragraph of a news item and then claims to know the entire story, the Fifth Column in America is miserably ignorant of the facts and simply doesn't care to explore any possibilities that might invalidate their beliefs.

If I had to place blame on any one source for this pig-headed ignorance I would have to place it at the feet of those who believe good self-esteem can be bestowed instead of earned and those who congruently adhere to the "it takes a village" mentality. Truth be told, if it does take a village to raise a child then someone should call the Department of Children and Family Services because our children are being abused and the village is responsible.


Australia: Federal government warns Muslim haters of citizenship loss

Dual citizens who work to divide Australia rather than unite it should be stripped of their Australian citizenship, Treasurer Peter Costello said today. "If somebody is an Australian citizen and also, let's say, an Egyptian citizen and that person doesn't support what this country stands for... I think we'd be within our rights to say to that person, well, Australia's not for you," Mr Costello told Macquarie Radio.

The comments come after the uproar started by Australia's Islamic leader Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilali who compared Australian women to uncovered meat and also claimed Muslim Australians had more right to live in Australia than Anglo-Saxons, the majority of which are descendants of convicts. "You get into a difficult situation if they're not dual citizens, because at that point, if you take away Australian citizenship they're not a citizen of anywhere, they've got nowhere to go."

But Mr Costello said burning the Australian flag should not be outlawed. "I hate people burning the Australian flag," Mr Costello told Macquarie Radio. "It makes me sick in my stomach but then you think to yourself, these people are disaffected people, some of them are just plain bad people, I wouldn't want to make them martyrs."


20 February, 2007

A small defeat for Lesbianism: Mother gets the right to be a mother

Post lifted from Stop the ACLU

Howard Bashman reports:

“The Utah Supreme Court today affirmed the parental rights of Cheryl Barlow, the mother of a 5-year-old child, granting Barlow’s request to reverse a lower court decision that had granted parental standing to her former partner, a lesbian political activist.” So begins a press release that Alliance Defense Fund issued today.

Today’s ruling of the Supreme Court of Utah in Jones v. Barlow can be accessed here.

It’s ridiculous that we’re even discussing (at state supreme court level no less!) whether a parent has the right to direct the upbringing of her own child without interference and disruption from a legal stranger. What we have in this case is a mother doing what she thinks is in the best interest of her own little girl. On the other side, we have a hardcore political activist creating chaos into the lives of that little girl and her mother, not in the best interest of the child, but seemingly in order to advance a radical political agenda. Of course, openly using children as political props is not uncommon among some.

The court savaged the idea that the homosexual extremists and lower court were attempting to advance that non-parents have veto power over true parents.

This temporary status is reinforced by the fact that the surrogate parent may arbitrarily cast the relationship aside at any time and thus terminate all parent-like obligations and rights. 67A C.J.S. Parent and Child  348 (2002); Taylor v. Taylor, 364 P.2d 444, 445 (Wash. 1961). It would be a perverse doctrine of law that left a legal parent unable to enforce support obligations against a surrogate parent's will because of the temporary status of the in loco parentis relationship but allowed a surrogate parent to extend her parent-like rights against the legal parent's objections for as long as she saw fit. Under such a distorted legal regime, the parent like rights and responsibilities are permanent and abiding for as long as the surrogate parent wants them to be, yet transitory and fleeting when the legal parent seeks to enforce a parental obligation against the surrogate parent. Such an inequitable result, which would prioritize the rights of the surrogate parent over the needs of the child, demonstrates that the in loco parentis doctrine does not contemplate a perpetual grant of rights and is, in fact, ill-suited to convey such rights.

One of the arguments put forth in cases like this is that the non-parent “dressed the child, wiped his nose and took him to the zoo,” etc. This is for emotional impact only and has no legal meaning. By that argument, any day care worker, especially these days when many women are leaving their 12-week old babies in day care from 8-5 every day, to make parental claims.

The court did the right thing by restoring calm in the life of a little girl and common sense about the role and the rights of parents.

Braving the wrath of latte man

Australian writer, Rebecca Weisser says a British Leftist author has faced some unpalatable facts about the Left:

Author and journalist Nick Cohen should be a darling of the Left. He regularly contributes to the New Statesman and The Observer in Britain and made a name for himself as a longstanding critic from the Left attacking Tony Blair's triumph of style over substance. But something happened to Cohen between the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, which he vehemently opposed, and the anti-war rallies of 2003. Cohen's leftist coterie had airbrushed from their memories everything they knew about the brutality of Saddam Hussein's regime and the principles of solidarity with the oppressed.

Cohen thought that once Saddam had been toppled, the liberal-Left would back Iraqis building a democracy and denounce the slaughter of innocent Iraqi civilians by "insurgents" hell-bent on building either a Baathist state or a "godly global empire to repress the rights of democrats, the independent-minded, women and homosexuals". But around the world among the liberal-Left the consensus was that there was only one target with blood on his hands - the "world's No.1 war criminal, George W. Bush". "Eventually," Cohen writes, "I grew tired of waiting for a change that was never going to come and resolved to find out what had happened to a Left whose benevolence I had taken for granted."

The result is an incisive book, published last month in Britain and this month in Australia, What's Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way, which denounces as moral bankruptcy the tendency of some in the liberal-Left to end up as apologists for fascist governments and movements. Cohen's ambition is to show how the Left of the 20th century ended up supporting the far Right of the 21st century.

Inspired by US writer Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism, Cohen ranges over the history of the Left during the past century, examining the relationship between the Left and fascism. Cohen finds the roots of this behaviour in the Nazi-Soviet pact, when Marxists openly supported fascism and declared democracy the enemy. He surveys the defence by some in the Left of Slobodan Milosevic and his ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, Noam Chomsky's defence of Pol Pot, Michel Foucault's support for the Islamic Revolution in Iran, tacit support for the perpetrators of 9/11, the Madrid bombing, London's 7/7 and the attribution of ultimate responsibility to the US.

The Australian Left has not been immune to this topsy-turvy logic, which pursues Betrand Russell's fallacy of the superior virtue of the oppressed to ridiculous conclusions. Clive Hamilton, executive director of the Australia Institute, was one of the few on the Left even to admit that it was in the interests of the world that democracy should succeed in Iraq but his caveat was that the US should be humiliated in the process. "The bloody nose that the US has received in Iraq has severely dented the confidence of the neo-cons and that can only be good for the world," he wrote for Foreign Policy in Focus, a US left-wing think-tank, in July 2005.

The Australian Left's impassioned campaigns on behalf of David Hicks and "Jihad Jack" Thomas are part of the impulse to apologise for those who by their own admission support the violent imposition of Islamic fundamentalism but decry loud and long the slow and imperfect functioning of the US judicial and legislative processes in the unfamiliar area of the international laws of war.

Cohen, like Christopher Hitchens, Melanie Phillips and David Aaronovitch, stands in the proud English tradition of writers such as George Orwell who came from the Left and dared risk its wrath criticising it. He is a signatory of the Euston Manifesto, a document created last year by those on the Left disillusioned by its drift to support the far Right. It set out the principles which the Left should stand for - democracy, freedom, equality and internationalism, and those which it should condemn - tyranny, terrorism, anti-Americanism, racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Cohen worried it was so bland that it would sink without a trace. In fact, it launched a tidal wave of support and dissent. "It was a symptom of liberal life that a statement of the obvious produced by obscure men and women in a London pub could cause such a fuss." In denouncing the failings of the Left, Cohen made an unwanted discovery - its anti-Semitism.

A headline on The Guardian website, "David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen are enough to make a good man anti-Semitic", was challenged by an enraged reader who protested against the inherent bigotry and demanded the headline be rewritten as, "David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen are enough to make a good man, or woman, anti-Semitic."

Source. There is an excerpt from Nick Cohen's book here

Museum DNA test proposal

Fake Australian Aborigines (some with blond hair) who roll in affirmative action privileges fear exposure

The Natural History Museum in London wants to use the remains of Tasmanian Aborigines to develop a simple DNA test for Aboriginal ancestry. A report obtained by The Weekend Australian says research into the DNA of the remains it holds could provide a key to creating such a test. "DNA analysis of the remains and subsequent comparisons with (the) Tasmanian community may allow the establishment of Aboriginal descent in the absence of documentation," it says, provoking condemnation from Aboriginal groups. The report cites the development of such DNA testing as a key "benefit" of allowing the NHM to hold on to the remains.

Australian researchers said such DNA testing could be done, but suggested it would only demonstrate Aboriginal descent "on the balance of probabilities". They also expressed concern some right-wing commentators might demand DNA vetting of those claiming government-funded Aboriginal cultural and welfare programs. The number of Australians identifying themselves as Aboriginal in the census has risen sharply from 265,459 in 1991 to 410,000 in 2001.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said he was not interested in the DNA test. "There is only one issue that concerns us and that is respecting the remains of indigenous people and rightful custodians of those remains," Mr Brough said. "The distress caused to indigenous people in Tasmania far outweighs any potential scientific gains."


19 February, 2007

"Heroville", Canada

The tumultuous entry (now broadcast around the world) of Herouxville, Quebec into Canada's immigration debate demonstrates the great divide that exists in Canada on the immigration issue.

On one side are the majority of Canadians who instictively feel something is wrong with Canada's mass immigration policy (currently about 250,000 per year, the highest per capita in the world). On the other side are Canada's mass immigration industry and its supporters (often described as a fifth column) who tell Canadians that mass immigration is wonderful.

The national and international uproar that Herouxville has caused is wildly out of proportion to its size. The town has a population of 1300 and is located in rural Quebec, about 150 km. northeast of Montreal. Most Canadian towns and cities of all sizes have passively accepted the historically high immigration levels that Canada's federal government set for the country in 1990, but which it has never justified. In doing so, Herouxville is literally like David taking on Goliath.

In fact, the little town's virtual "Declaration of the Rights of Canadians", which bravely contradicts official multicultural policies, sounds almost like a call to revolution.

Ironically, Herouxville has not had the direct experience with mass immigration that Canada's urban centres have had. In fact, it has only a few immigrants. So it is surprising that it has made its recent observations. Undoubtedly, the observing has been done from a distance. And obviously the place it has looked at is the large urban area of Greater Montreal. Like Greater Toronto/Southern Ontario and Greater Vancouver/Fraser Valley, the Montreal area has experienced probably the highest immigrant inflow and the greatest demographic change in its history.

Clearly, recent immigrants have felt empowered by their high numbers. And they have been encouraged by Canada's immigration industry to assert their power. And that is precisely what Herouxville is reacting to. In the opinion of many Canadians, the little town is saying now what the country's federal government has been too timid to say, but should have said many years ago: that the interests of the country (in this case, Canada's cultural practices) are paramount. Cultural practices that conflict with those in Canada have to be left behind in immigrants' countries of origin.

The councillors clearly point out that, like most Canadians, they are willing to accept some immigrants, but that a long-established society exists in Quebec. This society has developed its own culture and it is tired of hearing recent multiple demands, (particularly in the Montreal area) that Canadians should adjust to the cultural wishes of new arrivals.

As public reaction across the country has subsequently shown, Herouxville's frustration is shared by the majority of the country's population. For years, most Canadians have disapproved while Canada's "officialdom" has either not spoken up against or subserviently bowed to demand after demand.

There is a long litany of disapproved demands. For example, like most people in Canada, Herouxville did not like the Supreme Court's approval of the wearing of the Sikh dagger (kirpan) in schools. Like most of Canada, it does not approve of women being subordinated to men and male maltreatment of females---a practice which is officially denied but actually practiced by some immigrant groups.

It also believes that newcomers should use the public schools to learn how to integrate into Quebec society; immigrants' own private schools will undermine that goal. Finally, it declares that Canada has many traditions such as Christmas which have to be respected.

One thing that the declaration does not say directly is that the immigration industry and a significant number of recent arrivals seem to believe that this demographic change in Montreal and other parts of Canada should continue unabated. It would seem that Herouxville does not approve.

Obviously, this is because, like the rest of Canada, Herouxville was never asked if it wanted a mass immigration policy. Nor was it asked if it wanted the major demographic transformation which has occurred in the country since this policy was implemented in 1990.

It would seem that, by implication, Herouxville (as well as a number of other Quebec towns and some provincial politicians who have recently expressed solidarity with Herouxville), are bluntly saying to Canada's official "accommodators": "Why are we bringing in all of these people?" and "Enough is enough!"

Canada's accommodating "officialdom" has not liked what Herouxville has said. Among the accommodators is Canada's CBC, which eminent Canadian journalist Robert Fulford has called a "herd of independent thinkers". Although the CBC has done very good work generally, its record on immigration is poor, to say the least.

Many Canadians are aware that the CBC has shamelessly promoted mass immigration, abused its position as a publicly-funded institution to cater to every whim of Canada's immigration industry (often reaching new depths of sycophancy in the process), and intimidated anyone who opposes mass immigration. There is a huge amount of evidence to back up these claims.

The like-minded in a number of other media outlets (as well as a number of politicians) have mocked and patronizingly dismissed Herouxville and the many Canadians who agree with the Quebec town. Neither they nor the CBC want to admit that mass immigration policies have spawned what many Canadians would call a cultural, enviromental and economic disaster-in-progress.

Nor do they want to shoulder part of the responsibility for what has occurred, or face the good possibility that they will be called to an accounting. In fact, both continue to use their power to bully. And both find it incomprehensible that they could be wrong.

However, according to the Herouxville Town Council, "officialdom" is wrong. Direct response to the town has been much like that recorded in the rest of Canada. Around 99% of the 2000 people who had e-mailed the council by the end of last week agreed with the Town Councillors. In one Councillor's opinion, the reaction of the majority of e-mailers is summed up by one commentator: "At last, someone is standing up instead of prostrating themselves like certain ministers, judges, executives and companies."

Most Canadians would say: "Three cheers for Herouxville". And, for its demonstration of courage in trying to restore sanity to immigration and to re-take control of Canada from the country's immigration industry and its fifth column supporters, most would bestow on it the well-deserved title of "Heroville".


Muslim clerics push for flags to be flown on mosques

The Australian government's repeated insistence on assimilation bears some fruit:

Senior Muslim leaders have called for the Australian flag to be flown outside the nation's mosques as an expression of the Islamic community's "loyalty" and commitment to this country. Muslim clerics yesterday urged Australia's 300,000 Muslims to back the idea as a symbol of "integration" and pride. The former chairman of the Prime Minister's Muslim reference group, Ameer Ali, pushed the Australian Muslim community yesterday to adopt the flag. "Even in Muslim countries in the mosque they fly the national flag ... (such as) in Pakistan. If that can be done in a Muslim country why not in Australia?" Dr Ali said.

He said Muslims opposed to the flag being displayed outside mosques were religiously narrow-minded. "I think they are looking at it from a very narrow, religious angle," he said. Dr Ali said he spearheaded the initiative of displaying the flag outside Muslim schools owned by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils when he ran that organisation in 2002. He also ensured that students sang the national anthem during special functions. "We are Australian Muslims," he said. "And it (the flag) is a symbol of our national identity."

One of Australia's most respected female Muslim leaders, Aziza Abdel-Halim, said displaying a national flag outside mosques would not conflict with Islamic teachings. "Putting the Australian flag (outside mosques is) a good sign of integration, of being at one with everyone else in this country and our pride in being Australian," said Sister Abdel-Halim, also a former senior member of John Howard's Muslim advisory body. "I don't see anything at all that would contradict Islamic teachings in any way. It would be a nice gesture to have it, especially now that Muslims really need to underline the fact that they are loyal to this country."

Another respected imam, Amin Hady, said it would be especially important for the Australian flag to be flown outside mosques on special national occasions, such as Anzac Day and Australia Day. "That is to me a good idea to reaffirm the commitment of anyone living in this country, including the Muslims who are part of the population," the Indonesian imam said.

Islamic sources have told The Weekend Australian that the move to fly the flag was discussed by executive members of the Lebanese Muslim Association, one of the Islamic community's most prominent organisations. But the move, backed by several LMA board executives, to display the flag outside Lakemba Mosque, in Sydney's southwest, were staunchly opposed by some community members.

It is understood that the LMA's proposal came after a Muslim man tore down the Australian flag from the Lakemba office of the Mufti of Australia, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, last year and stomped on it to express his opposition to it. It is believed that Sheik Hilali - who recently labelled Westerners liars and oppressors and said Australia belonged more to Muslim immigrants who "paid for our passports" than Anglo-Saxon convicts - reprimanded the man before ordering him from the office, on the same premises as the mosque.

But Muslim leader Keysar Trad said last night some community members would consider the idea of displaying the flag as "politicising a place of worship". "I have no problem with the flag being at Muslim schools, but a place of worship is for all people to be equal and as such I believe places of worship should maintain the tradition of not raising the national flag," Mr Trad said. And prominent Sydney-based Islamic cleric, Khalil Shami, expressed fears yesterday that hoisting the flag outside mosques would lead to potential violence and further division within the community among factions opposed to the idea.


Victorian schools declare themselves 'war toy free zones'

Toy soldiers, model war planes and wrestling figurines have been banned in schools across the state in a politically correct crackdown. Primary schools and kindergartens have declared themselves "war toy free zones" and outlawed traditional toys and playground games that have even a tenuous link to war.

All schools contacted by the Sunday Herald Sun said they had a policy banning war toys. Principals said schools feared they could be sued by litigious parents if they allowed plastic weapons and war toys in the school ground. "The litigation is so rife you don't risk it," said Clifton Hill primary school head Geoffrey Warren. "It can take a bit of fun out of things. But there's such a wide range of views among parents and you don't please all the people all the time, let me tell you."

Children at primary schools and kindergartens are also forbidden from playing "war-like games" such as cowboys and indians and poison ball. "Obviously parents are going to be disappointed their children are losing the opportunity to do what children have always done," said Parents Victoria president Gail McHardy. "I think there would be much stronger parental support for a ban on video games at school." At one Melbourne kindergarten, children who bring in wrestling figurines are told to put them back in their bags until they get home.

Former RSL president Bruce Ruxton said the social engineers behind the ban on traditional childhood fun were misguided. "They think it's evil," he said. You won't stop kids doing that. It's a political correctness of some type, but misguided."

Child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Greg said the war toy ban had no logical basis. "There is no evidence playing with toy soldiers or wrestling figurines in any way, shape or form has negative effects on the child's psychological development," he said. "I'm happy to embrace new research and see it filter down into policy. But really, show me the evidence."

The Government yesterday distanced itself from the toy bans. "It is up to the school community to determine what type of toy is acceptable at their school," said a spokesman for Education Minister John Lenders.


18 February, 2007

Australia: Therapy plan for terror suspects

A bit bizarre but treating Islamic terrorism as a mental illness has much to recommend it

TERROR suspects could be given taxpayer-funded counselling for being angry or having low self-esteem. Under the proposal, the Federal Government would provide psychological counselling and anger management support to terror suspects and those subject to control orders. But secrecy surrounds the initiative because the Australian Federal Police has refused to reveal the specifics of its proposal.

Scant details were released through a Federal Government question on notice. "Some of the options considered include religious education, psychological support and assistance with issues such as anger management, low self-esteem, social identity and family separation," the AFP said, responding to a question on voluntary education programs for terrorists. "The AFP continues to examine how education and counselling may be used within the context of control orders. "Programs developed overseas in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are also being examined as part of broader AFP considerations." The AFP refused to say how much the program would cost.

The Opposition has also demanded to know what research shows a link between terrorism and people with low self-esteem. The battle for answers started back in October when Opposition Justice Minister Senator Joe Ludwig asked about voluntary programs for terrorists. And during a Senate Estimates Committee on Wednesday, Senator Ludwig again demanded more details from the Government. "Labor was interested in whether there was a link between terrorism and these pathological and behavioural problems and we are looking forward to the AFP's response," Senator Ludwig said yesterday. "The other issue that Labor is interested in is whether or not these programs, which are constructed overseas, are appropriate for an Australian context."

It's understood counselling and education programs would not be forced upon alleged terrorists. In their answer provided last week, the AFP said it continued "to examine how education and counselling may be used with the context of control orders". "Any education and counselling which might be employed will need to be tailored to the individual circumstances of the person placed under the order." It said it would examine how education and counselling could be used within the context of control orders, which impose a range of restrictions and need the Attorney-General's approval


Blind feminism has hurt our children

The "Sure Start" daycare scheme is typical of British Labour's failure

For ten years I have been advising various elements of new Labour on how to improve the care of small children. Alas, almost everything the Government has done has been the opposite of what was needed. No wonder Britain came bottom of Unicef's league table of the happiness and welfare of children in industrialised nations....

The great obstacle for new Labour was "the wimmin". The party bought into a "men in skirts" version of feminism that is vigorously hostile to parents being at home when their children are small. Nowhere was this clearer than in the Sure Start programme.

Here was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to alter the life chances of the most disadvantaged children. After the success of similar American schemes, such as Highscope, it could have provided psychiatric, medical and practical support to break the cycle of deprivation. But as Norman Glass, Sure Start's founding director, complained after he had resigned, it went in the wrong direction. A significant proportion of the budget has been wasted on the provision of group day care - including expensive and unnecessary buildings. Although Polly Toynbee, the principal media cheerleader for Labour's child policies, has maintained frequently that group day care is not harmful, the evidence of countless studies contradicts her.

I spent a week in Copenhagen observing 18-month-olds in what is often regarded as the best day nursery in the world. The Danish Government holds it up as the model of its system (three quarters of Danish children are in day-care nurseries by age 18 months), and representatives from all three of our political parties have been shown around it. But the most unbiased of observers would have found it hard to avoid the conclusion that the toddlers were upset by their care. Some became aggressive, others withdrawn, but it was horrifying to see the contrast between their wellbeing at home, where I also observed them, and their manifest distress while at the nursery.

Although I admire Toynbee's writing on many subjects, she epitomises the blindness to evidence found in this area. When Jay Belsky, the distinguished psychologist, published the findings of the Sure Start evaluation in the British Medical Journal, it turned out that the programme had not only failed to help the children, but had also led to worse outcomes for some of the most disadvantaged.

For instance, a survey of all the studies on its impact found that whereas 41 per cent of children in day care for more than 20 hours a week were insecure, this was true of only 26 per cent of toddlers cared for full-time by their mothers. More recently, a definitive study of more than 1,000 British children by Penelope Leach revealed that children who experienced day care were more likely to be disturbed than children cared for by minders or by grandparents. Most recently, several studies have demonstrated heightened cortisol levels and proneness to attention deficit disorder in children in day care. The most consistent finding is that such children are more likely to be aggressive.

Interestingly, few if any of the new Labour elite opt for group day care for their own children. They prefer one-on-one nannies. I once heard a new Labour woman minister say, "if women really want to sit around all day looking after their children, OK". Like the vast majority of senior politicians, she had never done so - otherwise she would have known that it is nothing less than the most exacting of roles.

Real feminism requires us to reevaluate the roles of both men and women. Of course, that means women having careers as men do - but not at the expense of their role as mothers. Likewise, it entails men becoming much more involved in caring for their small children and investing less in their careers - at present, by far the most significant pillar of identity for both sexes in the English-speaking world.

In most of mainland Western Europe nearly all children under a year old are cared for by a parent and in Southern Europe most under3s are too. We could do the same in Britain. What is desperately needed is a government whose main goal is to correct the balance of the household economy that has been wrecked by the market and its workaholic ways.


Are we all racists and victims now?

Those who want to turn everything into a race issue today are desperate to impose a phoney new national morality. Comment from Britain:

The less public racism there is in UK society, the more every issue and argument seems to become ‘racialised’, with allegations of racial abuse, bigotry and bullying flying on all sides. The message seems to be that we are all now potential racists and/or victims of racism. This is a far more dangerous notion than anything the odd stray racist might say today.

A few years ago, when Eminem and Tiger Woods both reached the top of their professions, somebody observed that you knew America had been turned on its head when the top rapper was white and the top golfer was black. There is a similar feeling of the world turned upside down in the UK media recently, as a right-wing tabloid launches a big anti-racism campaign, while a darling of the liberal intelligentsia is accused of racism.

The Sun, traditionally seen as a bigoted tabloid and the bete noire of anti-racists, launched its ‘Let’s Beat the Bigots’ campaign in the wake of the furore over the ‘racist bullying’ of Shilpa Shetty in the Celebrity Big Brother house. Its front page declared: ‘As Shilpa wins Big Brother, 11 kids ask….what do we all have in common?’ Each of the multiethnic kids’ collective was pictured holding up a label, ranging from ‘Nigger’, ‘Yid’, ‘Paki’, ’Chinky’ and ‘Towel-Head’ to ‘Pikey’ and ‘Chav Scum’.  So the Sun’s answer was that they were all British victims of racist name-calling by the bullies and bigots ‘who plague our streets and shame the nation’.

Meanwhile, at a more rarefied level of life on Planet Media, one of the pillars of the liberal establishment was becoming embroiled in another race row. Will Hutton of the Observer, Sunday sister paper of the Guardian, who has been one of the key media supporters of New Labour, found himself accused of racism after he used the unexceptional expression ‘Third World intellectual’ in an exchange of views with Lord Meghnad Desai. Now, some of us might think that Hutton can reasonably be attacked for just about everything he says and writes. But this bizarre allegation of racism sends out the same message as the Sun’s campaign and the ruckus over CBB: that bigotry is supposedly all around us in Britain today.

Everything, it seems, is now being reinterpreted through the prism of race and anti-racism. Thus in education, the government has announced plans to shake up history teaching (again) to focus more on issues to do with ethnicity and Britishness. And in sport, every confrontation now risks being declared an issue of racism. The Turkish player Emre has claimed he is being driven out of English football by allegations that he insulted a black opponent, while the white umpire Daryl Hair is suing the international cricket authorities for racial discrimination, over the loss of his job after last summer’s row about alleged Pakistani ball-tampering.

Believe you me, I have no wish to write any more about the CBB debacle. But the extraordinary fallout from the ‘racist bullying’ episode provides a striking illustration of where things are heading. When that silly reality TV programme was on it became the focus of a national circus of breast-beating and witch-hunting over alleged racism. Since it ended, things have gone further still, with the police formally interviewing housemates, reportedly as part of their major investigation into ‘racist behaviour in the Big Brother house’ – a new criminal offence apparently invented for the occasion. As well as interrogating Jade Goody and her mother and mates over their behaviour towards Shetty, the police also inevitably plan to interview Jermaine Jackson over allegations that he mouthed the words ‘white trash’.

Many influential voices have hailed this new focus on racism in Britain as a great step forward. Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights and figurehead of the anti-racist industry, even embarrassed himself by writing an article headlined ‘Hooray for Shilpa, Hooray for Britain, Hooray for the Sun’ (in the Sun, funnily enough), praising the paper’s post-CBB campaign.

But none of this is anything to celebrate. The obsession with racialising everything today has nothing to do with promoting freedom and democracy. It is a desperate attempt to impose a phoney new national morality – one that is more likely to breed further divisions. It is about reducing us all to the status of victims and bullies in need of discipline and re-education. As such, it provides a fashionable justification for the authorities to police the behaviour of individuals, enforcing an ostensibly anti-racist etiquette at the expense of free speech and open debate.

It is important to understand how the meaning of racism has changed. Historically speaking, one could draw a basic distinction between prejudice and racism. Prejudice meant the arbitrary and irrational bias of individuals against others, for no more reason than that they came from another village or had red hair. The rise of racism as a political and social force, driven from the top of society downwards, was a far more modern phenomenon.

The emergence of a powerful nationalist outlook from the eighteenth century, and of imperialism from the nineteenth, gave rise to politics of racial superiority in British and Western society (more often expressed through asserting the inferiority of others). The elite’s nationalist-racial politics were first directed against the lower orders at home, and then turned outwards against colonial peoples. That laid the basis for popular racism to ignite in British society in the decades after the Second World War, with the onset of mass immigration from Asia and Africa. The politicians, police and immigration authorities were at the cutting edge of racism.

Over more recent decades, however, racism has lost its purchase over British politics and society. The disoriented elite has become incapable of organising a traditional nationalist response – see the tortured debate about the meaning of ‘Britishness’ today. It would be unimaginable for a prime minister now to mobilise a fiercely anti-foreign ‘Falklands Factor’ as Margaret Thatcher did to such effect 25 years ago. Contrary to the impression often given, everyday racial tensions and violence are far less in evidence now than in the recent past.

So why do we hear so much about racism today? Because the elite has sought to adopt the politics of anti-racism as a new moral code through which it can dominate society and show its superiority over the bigoted herd. The powerless, like Jade Goody, are blamed for racism, while the powerful like Phillips or the police or the media are cast in the role of saviours. In this sense, far from marking an advance towards liberation and equality, state anti-racism today seeks to play the same role as state racism did in the past.

A key moment in the racialisation of everything came with the 1999 Macpherson Report into the investigation of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence. This established a new definition of a racist crime; basically, that an incident should officially be deemed racial if anybody – not just the victim, but anybody – claimed that it was. This catch-all standard was quickly adopted by the New Labour government, police and courts, and has since permeated every aspect of our culture, right down to the CBB house.

Our understanding of racism has become separated from the exercise of power. Instead personal attitudes, even if expressed in private, and petty insults can now be interpreted as the height of racism. When radical groups such as the Black Panthers first talked about ‘institutionalised racism’ in the 1960s, they meant the oppressive power of state institutions. By contrast, when the Macpherson Report talked about the problem of ‘institutionalised racism’, it referred to the backward attitudes or even ‘unwitting’ racism of individuals working for the state.

In a rewriting of history, we see the sort of petty personal prejudice exhibited in the CBB house now being recast in the powerful role of racism, as a ‘scourge’ of society. Examples must be made, national scandals invented, a strict etiquette imposed, primarily on the white working class but on everybody else, too. The message from above appears to be that we Brits may not know who we are any longer, but we know we don’t want to be like Jade Goody.

In all the flailing about to establish some semblance of a national moral consensus, it seems the two things we all agree celebrities (our ‘role models’, after all) cannot be today are paedophiles and racists. Some seem to think that is something worth ‘hooray-ing’ about. But others among us might reflect that a society which can only unite against stupid, silly ‘racist Jade’ is exhibiting the lowest-of-the-lowest common moral denominators.

It is ironic that voices like the Sun and its supporters, who pride themselves on being fierce critics of multiculturalism, should now feel able to boast about an anti-racist campaign that rests upon the same essential premise as that creed: that we all have separate identities, but are ‘united’ by the experience of being victims of other offensively bigoted individuals. Such victim identity politics is always more likely to divide than to unite.

Worse still, the new anti-racist etiquette can only breed further confusion about what we are allowed to say or think, and paralyse any attempt to have an honest debate about the true state of affairs.

Look one last time at Jade Goody telling heat magazine in tears that she doesn’t know what to say anymore, or even what food to eat, in case people ‘think it’s wrong’; or Jo O’Meara crying to the press that ‘none of it makes sense. I don’t know how this has all happened.’ They are strange little celebrity snapshots of what could happen to public debate about far more serious issues, from immigration to integration and terrorism, if the conformist thought police are allowed to use the all-purpose stick of anti-racism to beat everybody into line.


17 February, 2007

Britain: Polish road signs `help to keep drivers on straight and narrow'

There are probably more speakers of Gujurati, Hindi, Bengali and Urdu than Polish in Britain so why not signs for them? Fair's fair!

Council chiefs defended a decision to erect road signs in Polish after being accused of political correctness gone mad. Eight temporary diversion signs in English and Polish were placed around country roads on the Cheshire-Shropshire border at the request of Cheshire County Council. The signs, which explain how to reach the market town of Whitchurch while road works are underway on the A49, were condemned by some residents as a waste of money.

But Steve Kent, highway engineer for the council, said the decision was motivated by safety concerns. Thousands of Poles have settled in Whitchurch and Crewe, and many are employed as drivers. Police have been repeatedly called out to deal with congestion caused by lorries taking wrong turnings. Mr Kent said: "It is a practical and commonsense approach to a problem which we encountered on two similar schemes at the end of last year. "We found that Polish-speaking drivers were failing to understand diversion signs and were arriving at sections of roads that we had closed off. That caused congestion as we had to reverse them out. "In other cases, they would drive on a footpath and thunder past a work gang, which has safety implications. "We thought that creating the signs, which are just eight out of around 200 for the scheme, could prevent similar problems. They probably cost a couple of hundred pounds, which was footed by the contractor at no cost to the council."

Philip Davies, a Tory MP who campaigns against political correctness, said: "It's absolutely bonkers but what worries me is that once one council starts, others follow." A driver, who asked not be named, added: "You could be forgiven for wondering whether you were driving deep into Polish countryside, not the middle of Cheshire." Two months ago one of the biggest bus companies in Manchester was ordered to suspend its fleet amid concerns over whether its Polish drivers had a good enough command of English to understand road signs. About 100 of the 130 drivers at UK North and GM Buses Ltd are Polish.


Britain Bottom of Children's League

When the only standards inculcated are that you must not speak ill of blacks, Muslims and homosexuals, no matter how offensive and dangerous they may be, can we wonder at an alienated, aimless and frustrated youth? Post below by Iain Dale

So Britain is a shameful bottom of the UNICEF league table in virtually every category listed in their survey of children's well-being. And you know, guess whose fault it is? Yup, Margaret Thatcher's. You couldn't make it up. Apparently, according to left wing commentators on the radio and television child poverty only really started in 1979 (bit of a coincidence, that).

I think it is more than a coincidence that British children have become more obese, ill-educated, sexually active, drunk and impolite under a government which purports to put children at the top of their agenda. We even have a Minister for Children? But when the two most memorable holders of that post have been Margaret 'Islington Childcare' Hodge and Beverley Hughes, perhaps it is becoming all the more understandable.

The truth is that Government can set an agenda on issues like child obesity and improve the education system, but the focus here should be on parents rather than government. It is parents who guide a child and set the parameters for acceptable behaviour - or at least it should be. Let me tell you a story to illustrate what I mean.

A friend of mine had a handbag stolen by a group of schoolkids. In the handbag there was a quantity of jewellery. My friend knew the children were from a particular school so she contacted the Head Teacher who managed to identify the five kids involved. He contacted their parents and asked them to return my friend's jewellery. Of the five sets of parents only two agreed to do so. The other three verbally abused the Head Teacher. Is there any hope for children when their parents act like that?

And we also hear today that children with step-parents are about to outnumber those with two married parents for the first time ever.

Limit Muslim migration, Australia warned

Good that somebody dares to say the obvious

Life can become untenable when the Muslim population of a non-Muslim country reaches about 10 per cent, as shown by France, a Jewish expert on Islam says. The Australian Jewish News yesterday quoted Raphael Israeli as saying Australia should cap Muslim immigration or risk being swamped by Indonesians. Professor Israeli told the Herald that was a misunderstanding. But he said: "When the Muslim population gets to a critical mass you have problems. That is a general rule, so if it applies everywhere it applies in Australia."

Professor Israeli, an expert on Islamic history from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has been brought to Australia by the Shalom Institute of the University of NSW. The Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council is co-hosting many of his activities. He said Muslim immigrants had a reputation for manipulating the values of Western countries, taking advantage of their hospitality and tolerance. "Greeks or Italians or Jews don't use violence. There is no Italian or Jewish Hilaly [a reference to the controversial cleric Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly of Lakemba mosque]. Why?"

Professor Israeli said that when the Muslim population increased, so did the risk of violence. "Where there are large Muslim populations who are prepared to use violence you are in trouble. If there is only 1 or 2 per cent they don't dare to do it - they don't have the backing of big communities. They know they are drowned in the environment of non-Muslims and are better behaved." In Australia, Muslims account for about 1.5 per cent of the population.

Professor Israeli said that in France, which has the highest proportion of Muslims in Europe at about 10 per cent, it was already too late. There were regions even the police were scared to enter, and militant Muslims were changing the country's political, economic and cultural fabric, and demanding anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies. "French people say they are strangers in their own country. This is a point of no return. "If you are on a collision course, what can you do? You can't put them all in prison, and anyway they are not all violent. You can't send them all back. You are really in trouble. It's irreversible."

Professor Israeli said that in Australia a few imams had preached violence. "You should not let fundamentalist imams come here. Screen them 1000 times before they are admitted, and after they are admitted screen what they say in the mosque." He said some Muslims wanted to impose sharia (Islamic law) in their adopted countries, and when propaganda did not work they turned to intimidation.

Professor Israeli said his task was to describe, not prescribe. He also said his warning did not include immigrants, including Muslims, who simply wanted to improve their lot. As long as they respected the law and democracy, their numbers - Buddhist, Muslim or Jew - were immaterial. It became material when a group accepted violence. "The trains in London and Madrid were not blown up by Christians or Buddhists but by Muslims, so it is them we have to beware," he said.

Keysar Trad, of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, said "Not only religious clerics need to be screened before entering Ausralia but also academics . this type of academic does nothing but create hatred, suspicion and division. We should review not only what the man has said but also those who have sponsored him, to see if they endorse those comments."


16 February, 2007

Hypocrisy revealed: The OTHER Durham rape case

An instructive comparison with the Leftist persecution of the Duke Lacrosse players. Post below lifted from Townhall

There's another accusation of rape floating around Durham this week. The accuser was allegedly attacked at a house party this Saturday. The accuser is white. The suspect is black.

Heard anything about that? Yeah, I didn't think so.

The mainstream media has bent over backward to keep race out of this. Even those who first gave a description of the alleged rapist as a “black man” later redacted that from their reports. The News & Observer never printed it at all. And none has pointed out, as the Duke Chronicle has done, that the alleged victim was white, making this a mirror image of the Duke lacrosse case.

Some maintained all along last spring that their protests were not about race but about men’s violence against women. Still others tried to fan racial and class tensions by saying that if these were black men accused of raping a white woman, the man would be in jail. Well, now we know two things: it was always about race for the pot bangers and the Group of 88 professors at Duke, and it is demonstrably true, after Sunday’s incident, that a black man can be accused of raping a white woman and still be on the street.

It was never about protecting women. I know that because I live in a neighborhood that has the dubious honor of being the namesake of at least one serial rapist. There were few candlelight vigils; there was no national media attention; there were no pot-bangers when the women of my neighborhood couldn't take their dogs for walks at dusk. And, those black-on-white rapes just didn't bring the activist out in people the way the Duke non-rape did.

The News & Observer's omission of race is laughable:

The man is described as being in his late teens or early 20s, about 6-foot-1 and wearing a black do-rag, a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans, according to a police news release.

Why laughable? Because the same story appeared in the Charlotte Observer, written by the same reporter, with "black" included, since it was part of the original police report. It was clearly removed in the Raleigh edition:

Police had not charged anyone late Sunday in connection with the allegations but released a description of a suspect: a black male, in his late teens or early 20s, about 6-feet-1-inch tall and wearing a black do-rag, a gray sweat shirt and blue jeans, according to the news release.

And, isn't this uncharacteristically respectful of the judicial system, coming from Duke University?

Duke University administrators will wait for Durham police to finish their investigation of a freshman's allegations that she was raped at an off-campus party before doing an inquiry of their own.

What? Not disbanding the African-American fraternity-- Phi Beta Sigma-- whose members threw the party? I mean, we don't have to wait for anyone to be charged, do we?

K.C. Johnson notes a difference in treatment by the D.A.'s office, too. I'm shocked-- shocked!

"We haven't made any arrests or anything yet," said Maj. L.A. Russ of the Durham Police Department. "He would not get involved this early."

"But in the lacrosse case," Blythe correctly notes, "Nifong assumed control of the investigation, according to police reports, before any charges were filed."

I'm glad things will be handled more level-headedly this time in Durham, but I'm sad to say it's probably not because the people and politicians of Durham have learned any lessons. But regardless of the reason, it's good to know this case will go more fairly. I just hope the dear "victim" in last year's case hasn't made things harder for this girl if, in fact, her story is true.

The Duke lacrosse season starts in the next two weeks. Please support them as you can. I'll be going to a few games.

British swim centre bars two-year-old girl because she isn't Muslim

Discrimination OK if it favours Muslims

When Lee Williams saw a parent-and-toddler session advertised at his local pool, he thought it was the perfect chance to teach his young daughter to swim. Arriving at the leisure centre already in her swimming costume, two-year-old Darby was desperate to get into the water. But she was left in tears when staff said they were not allowed in the pool because the session was for Muslim women and their children only.

Mr Williams, 34, bitterly criticised Manchester City Council yesterday after it admitted that advertising for the session, on its website and on leaflets, had been misleading. 'I can understand why Muslim women need to have this kind of session, but the council should not be advertising it as parent and toddler,' he said. 'They made out I'd got it wrong, but I had checked on the council's website for the times.'

The incident happened at Abraham Moss Leisure Centre in Crumpsall. Mr Williams, a delivery driver from Blackley, had seen the parent-and-toddler session being promoted on the council's website and a leaflet. But when they arrived, reception staff told Mr Williams he could not swim with Darby because it was a women-only session and they would have to come back later. Despite his protests that he had specifically checked the time of the session, the staff were insistent.

It was only when he telephoned the council to complain that he was told the session had been privately booked for Muslim women. According to Islam, women are forbidden from exposing their bodies to any man but their husband. A spokesman for Manchester City Council apologised to Mr Williams. He said: 'We were sorry to hear that he had been turned away. We are ensuring that our website is updated and staff are briefed so this does not happen again.'

The incident is the latest in a series of rows between local authorities and the public over swimming lessons for ethnic minority groups. In December last year, Croydon Council in South London came under fire for running Muslim-only sessions at one of its leisure centres. Non-Muslim members of Thornton Heath leisure centre were angry that they could not swim during the Muslim-only sessions on Saturdays and Sundays unless they obeyed the strict dress code. For men, this involved wearing shorts which kept the navel hidden and were extended below the knee, while women bathers had to wear a swimming costume which covered their body from the neck down to the ankle. Similarly, Wolverhampton Council and South Lanarkshire local authority have also been criticised for operating women- only swimming for Muslims.


Australia: Meddling with families rejected -- so far

[Queensland] Premier Peter Beattie has rejected a call to close a legal loophole allowing parents to smack their children, saying it would make him a hypocrite. Former Education Minister Dean Wells yesterday called for a legislative ban on parents smacking their children, saying as it was "unlawful to hit your next door neighbour with a stick, it ought to be unlawful to hit your kids with a stick". Mr Wells, the member for Murrumba, said corporal punishment of children was not linked with better behaviour.

But the Premier yesterday said although he respected Mr Wells' view, he did not share it. "I have to plead guilty, I'm not going to be a hypocrite," Mr Beattie said. "I have smacked my three children. It's about moderation. "It's not about crazy violence in any way but I think that any parent has the right, in my view within reason - provided there's no permanent damage or injury - to smack their child." Attorney-General Kerry Shine echoed the Premier, saying there were no plans to change or appeal the laws on domestic discipline.

The issue will be discussed at a public forum on children's rights today at Parliament House. The forum, presented by Just Rights Queensland and Concerned Psychologists Queensland, will also include Children's Commissioner Elizabeth Fraser. Ms Fraser will tell the forum that parents have responsibility for raising children and encouraging their involvement in society, including discouraging inappropriate behaviour.

Section 280 of the code states it is lawful for a parent or person in place of a parent to use "by way of correction, discipline, management or control, towards a child or pupil. . . such force as is reasonable under the circumstances". A group of 12 Queensland psychologists lobbied the State Government in 2005 to repeal the law, which dates back to 1899. Dr John Reddington, who represents Concerned Psychologists Queensland - a lobby group opposed to the physical punishment of children - said smacking should be banned, just like capital punishment and drink-driving. He said the practice had been outlawed in schools and in the case of foster parents, creating an "absurd situation". "The whole thing is an illegal mess and needs to be sorted out quite apart from the ethical consideration," Dr Reddington said.



How Australians see themselves has become a theme for the coming election

The small town of Taylors Arm, in the rolling farmlands of northern New South Wales, was once famous as the setting for "A Pub With No Beer", an Australian country song. The customers who flocked to the pub for Australia Day on January 26th were displaying a fashion that has not been much in evidence in the 50 years since the song was a hit: many were carrying an Australian flag, or had one stamped on their bodies. Until recently, the flag was rarely flaunted. Now, few politicians risk a television statement without being seen to be standing next to it.

As Australia's federal parliament came back this week from its lengthy summer break, the flag's rebirth has become a symbol of the so-called "culture wars" that are likely to reverberate through the general election later this year. John Howard, the prime minister, who will be seeking a fifth term for his conservative coalition government, has successfully stoked these wars to win four elections since 1996. But this time he is facing Kevin Rudd, who took over as leader of the opposition Labor Party in December and who has staked out a tough response to Mr Howard's cultural definition of Australia.

An opinion poll on February 6th gave Labor a 12-point lead over the government, after the distribution of second-preference votes, compared with the two points it had just before Mr Rudd's ascension. Voters also rated Mr Rudd 16 points ahead of Mr Howard in their approval rating (compared with an 18-point deficit for Kim Beazley, Mr Rudd's predecessor). Despite these good showings, however, Mr Rudd faces a big battle to persuade voters to buy his picture of themselves.

The culture war stems from a bid, by the Labor government defeated in 1996, to redraw Australia's national identity. Labor's picture of the country focused on multiculturalism, closer ties with Asia, breaking the constitutional link with the British monarchy and making amends for past wrongs to indigenous people.

Mr Howard robustly rejected all that. On Australia Day last year (the holiday marks the British settlement of Australia in 1788), he launched a campaign to revive the teaching of Australian history in schools and to recapture the "values, traditions and accomplishments of the old Australia". This was code for the old British, pre-multicultural Australia.

In a speech last October the prime minister lauded certain historians who had rebuffed "the black armband view of Australian history". To Mr Howard, this mournful version paints the country's story as "a litany of sexism, racism and class warfare" and is a product of the "posses of political correctness".

Mr Rudd countered in November with "Howard's Brutopia", an article in the MONTHLY, a centre-left journal. He called the prime minister's culture war a strategy drawn from the American Republican Party, designed to raise fears and then offer voters what appear to be old certainties: "tradition versus modernity, absolutism versus moral relativism, monoculture versus multiculture". All this, pronounces Mr Rudd, is a cover for "the values debate...that Howard is desperate not to have". He defines the debate he wants as a battle between treating people fairly and the "market fundamentalism" of Mr Howard's economic policies.

The unfurling of flags in Taylors Arm and elsewhere suggests that Mr Howard's brand of inward-looking Anglo nationalism may still be doing rather well. But, come the election, Mr Rudd has other things on his side: relative youth (at 49 he is 18 years Mr Howard's junior), stability and drive. He has made the running with climate change and education, two issues that register strongly with voters. On the other hand, Mr Howard has the advantage of incumbency, a successful record as a ruthless political strategist and an economy that is humming into its 16th year of uninterrupted growth.

The opinion poll identified a large corps of swing-voters. No doubt it will be they who decide which way the election goes, and perhaps the culture war too.


15 February, 2007


Post lifted from David Thompson

In previous columns I argued that grievance politics and the cultivation of pretentious `sensitivity' has led to practised victimhood becoming a vehicle for censorship and passive-aggressive intent. This convergence of tribalism and dishonesty has many effects that warrant further attention. Some are merely absurd, as when U.S. gay activist groups took umbrage at an innocuous Snickers advert. The ad in question dared to suggest that some straight men feel uncomfortable kissing other straight men, albeit inadvertently and while eating a chocolate bar. The Mars Corporation, which immediately pulled the advert, was accused of "anti-gay prejudice" and told to "correct the intolerant message they sent to millions of Americans." Apparently, tolerance is being redefined to mean continual affirmation and any suggestion, however flippant, that not everyone is comfortable with displays of same-sex affection is to be expunged from public life.

Other effects are less trivial and have philosophical connotations of a rather curious kind. These generally entail extensive knowledge of various social categories, the moral weighting of each respective group, and its position in an elaborate hierarchy of victimhood. The workings of this system are not entirely obvious and are frequently counter-intuitive. I'll therefore try to outline some of its features in order to prevent the more sensitive among us being accidentally oppressed.

For some commentators, innocence and guilt depend less upon personal actions than on the racial, economic or religious group a person can be said to belong to. Hence we're often presented with a menu of Designated Victim Groups, members of which may be afforded a measure of immunity from individual responsibility, while claiming privilege on grounds that something bad happened to someone else ostensibly a bit like them. Viewed in this light, disadvantage becomes analogous to virtue, irrespective of how it came about or why it persists.

Conversely, members of Designated Oppressor Groups are often expected to bear responsibility for actions other than their own - even the actions of strangers who lived centuries earlier. Thus we arrive at notions of genealogical guilt, whereby unsuspecting descendants of 17th century plantation owners are deemed by birth indebted to complete strangers who can claim a different ancestry. Variations of this premise underlie practically any utterance involving the term "post-colonial." This genealogical approach to morality can have bizarre effects on a person's ethical priorities.

An author and blogger by the name of Theron Marshman made these effects explicit while writing under the guise of Harkonnendog on a popular leftwing website: "Rape is a crime unlike others. In any rape case, but especially in a rape case where a black woman accuses a white man, the rapist should be considered guilty until he proves his innocence. And he must prove his innocence not beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond any possible doubt. People claim this is unfair, but 400 years of slavery and countless millennium [sic] of male on female rape make this not only fair, but necessary."

What's striking here is the confidence with which the author insists that real-world particulars must give way to a quasi-Marxist categorisation of human beings, whereby guilt is assigned to types of people and on a fairly random basis: "Let's just say the accusation of rape is false, that doesn't take away the rapists' genealogical guilt. Yes, they're still rapists even if these particular men didn't rape this particular woman. How many slaves have their forefathers raped? Nobody asks that question. I've no doubt these men would be raping slaves if they could get away with it. They are white and rich."

Marshman goes on to insist that the lives of three white youths are "inconsequential" compared to the "descendents of slaves getting just recompense." One can only presume that "just recompense" entails convicting people of crimes they did not commit, provided they have the correct skin pigment and belong to a Designated Oppressor Group.

Of course, if one is prepared to dispense with the particulars of who actually did what to whom then grandiose theory can run wild, and on a planetary scale. The free-thinking capitalist societies referred to as "the West" are widely regarded as constituting a Designated Oppressor Group. For some adherents of this belief, the West is the quintessential oppressor, against which all others should be measured, if and when time permits. It's therefore all but unimaginable that Western societies, or any representatives thereof, could ever be the good guys in any situation. Should the West need to defend itself and its interests against hostile action, consternation is obligatory and almost any Western response to aggression can be denounced as "disproportionate" on the basis that military advantage should, at best, count for nothing.

According to some devotees of this outlook, the inferior (non-Western) force should prevail because of its military disadvantage, as this would be "fair." This ideological preference is based on a belief that power is intrinsically very, very bad, except when others have it, in which case it suddenly becomes good, regardless of how it may be used. This remarkable sequence of ideas may help explain Iran's nuclear armament efforts being defended by Kate Hudson of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The phrase "asymmetric warfare" has entered popular usage and many of those who use it focus primarily on the asymmetry of military capability, rather than the asymmetry of morality, tactics and intention. Again, this follows from the notion that the ability to defend oneself is a very bad thing indeed, with the exception of certain perceived underdogs, for whom an entirely different moral standard is available. (The words "Israel-Palestine conflict" spring immediately to mind.) Those of a critical disposition may wish to object at this point on the basis that the asymmetry of military capability is for most purposes a moral non sequitur. Simply put, if a person threatens me or my family with a baseball bat and I happen to be carrying a gun, the fact that I'm better armed is in no meaningful sense `unfair.'

Even when the West and its principal self-declared rival have been roughly equal in their military capacity, culpability may still be assigned entirely to the West. As, for instance, when Ken Livingstone described the Cold War as "our fault", rather than conceding that it might have had just a little to do with Stalin, Communist expansion and the invasion of large parts of Europe by the USSR. This eagerness to climb underneath any unattended blame is difficult to account for in terms of history and causality; though sceptics may find it more explicable in terms of personal psychodrama, like some Phantom Guilt Syndrome. After all, rending one's garments and saying, very loudly, "it's all my fault" is only a notch and a half away from saying "it's all about me."

Elsewhere, I've noted the tendency of certain middle-class leftists to publicly decry material possessions and the capitalist infrastructure on which their own livelihoods and status depend. The general intent of such demonstrations seems to be to affect a superior tone while deflecting the potential envy of those who actually like material possessions and who may wish to possess more - perhaps even as much as is possessed by certain well-heeled Guardian columnists. This mismatch between how some people wish to seem and what they actually are is, I think, central to the phenomenon of pretentious guilt. Some, like pop psychologist Oliver James, presume to project their own anhedonic disposition onto the world at large, claiming - with no credible evidence - that wealth and its associated freedoms are very bad for "us." What seems more likely is that wealth is very bad for Oliver James, who seems unable to resolve the emotional and material contradictions of being a middle-class lefty.

James is far from alone in the realm of hand-wringing projection and there's a minor genre of similarly conflicted literature. A puritan distaste for success is the premise of several books that conflate any number of issues in order to argue that prosperity and freedom cause "disorders" like inequality and are thus bad things to have. The intended greenish-leftwing readership may well have sympathy with this idea, if only because their own ideologies aren't particularly good at generating things like affluence and freedom.

This tendency to direct blame inwards, to oneself and one's own society - occasionally with a note of overtly masochistic zeal - has become a defining trait of much of today's leftist commentariat and the pages of the Guardian provide an inexhaustible supply of commentary premised on this reflex. There, for instance, one can marvel at the columnist Decca Aitkenhead as she insists, via somewhat circuitous argument, that the "precarious, overexaggerated masculinity" and murderous homophobia of some Jamaican reggae stars are in fact the results of slavery and the "sodomy of male slaves by their white owners." Ms Aitkenhead maintains that "the vilification of Jamaican homophobia implies. a failure to accept post-colonial politics." Thus, sympathetic readers can look forward to feeling guilty for not only "vilifying" the homicidal sentiments of some Jamaican musicians, but also for the culpability of their own collective ancestors. One wonders how those gripped by this fiendish dilemma can hope to resolve their twofold feelings of shame.

Thankfully, Aitkenhead's article - adamantly titled Their Homophobia is Our Fault - concludes with the solution: "Real liberal values would demand debt relief, fair trade, investment. If that happened, homophobia would soon organically dissolve." From this one might suppose that only Guardian readers are obliged to apply themselves to this matter as it's beyond the capabilities and purview of Jamaican people themselves. (Readers may recall that Ms Aitkenhead is the author of The Promised Land: Travels in Search of the Perfect E - a "travelogue about visiting poverty stricken locales and dropping ecstasy in search of the perfect clubbing experience" - a volume which surely underlines the author's credentials in matters of moral gravity.)

However, while rhetorical self-harm is a staple of the Guardian comment pages, one of the more dramatic examples can be found in the musings of Melbourne neuroscientist and environmental crusader, Dr John Reid. Interviewed in December for the Australian radio programme Ockham's Razor, Dr Reid voiced his concerns about the impact of Western society on the biosphere and the success of human reproduction in general. In doing so, Reid outlined a solution that would gratify even the most self-flagellating Guardian columnist.

Ominously, the doctor warned that "the problem of overconsumption [and] overpopulation will not be solved by civil means" and that "we in the affluent world will have to accept substantial reductions in our standard of living to allow space for the poor... Income and wealth distribution within our societies will have to become much more equal. The higher up the tree one is, the greater the sacrifice one will have to make." The nature of these sacrifices soon became clear: "Private property rights will be severely curtailed."

Listeners soon discovered that other customary rights would also have to be "curtailed" with no less severity. In order to curb population growth, Dr Reid suggested "we" might put "something in the water." That something could be "a virus that would be specific to the human reproductive system and would make a substantial proportion of the population infertile."

In case listeners were unsure of which undesirable category of humankind would be subject to this remedy, the good doctor made his own preferences clear: "The world's most affluent populations should be targeted first." Faced with this vision of a streamlined tomorrow, one has to wonder how Dr Reid managed to overlook a somewhat relevant fact: That the most effective forces for limiting population growth have time and again proved to be affluence, secular democracy and the education of women - attributes that are intimately intertwined and generally associated with the Western societies that Dr Reid is so eager to dispense with.

I was once asked why I didn't have more empathy with the political left. "I don't dislike myself enough," I replied, largely in jest. But as time has passed this offhand remark seems less flippant. I've often wondered at what point a political leaning becomes a performance, then a pantomime, and finally a mental health issue. At some point ideology can be so unmoored from external reality that it serves as little more than an expression of a person's feelings about themselves. Exactly where that point lies is a matter for debate, but with the aforementioned figures in mind it's becoming harder to avoid the question.

Dutch politician blasts Koran, Mohammed

DUTCH anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders was quoted as urging Muslims to dump half the Koran and saying he would chase the Prophet Mohammed out of the country if he was alive today. "Islam is a violent religion. If Mohammed lived here today I could imagine chasing him out of the country tarred and feathered as an extremist," Mr Wilders told De Pers daily in an interview.

Mr Wilders, who is seen as an heir to murdered populist Pim Fortuyn and whose new party won nine seats out of the 150 in Parliament in November elections, has warned of a "tsunami of Islamisation" in a country home to one million Muslims. "I know that we're not going to have a Muslim majority in the next couple of decades, but it is growing," he said. "You no longer feel that you're living in your own country. There is a battle under way and we must defend ourselves. There will soon be more mosques than churches here."

Mr Wilders, who has lived under heavy guard since 2004 when a Dutch-Moroccan killed filmmaker and Islam critic Theo van Gogh, has campaigned to ban the Muslim burqa veil, wants to freeze immigration and ban new mosques and religious schools. "If Muslims want to stay here they must tear out half of the Koran and throw it away. They shouldn't listen to the imam. I've read the Koran ... and I know that there are enough awful things in it," he said.

Maverick politician Fortuyn broke taboos with his criticism of Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands and his pronouncements that the country could not absorb anymore foreigners. He was gunned down in 2002 by animal rights activists just days before an election which saw huge popular support for his party.

Nasr Joemann, secretary for the Contact Organisation for Muslims and Government, said he planned to raise the demonisation of Islam with the new Dutch cabinet, expected to be finalised in the next week after months of coalition talks. "I don't think this sort of comment from a member of parliament is good for integration or for relations between Muslims and non-Muslims but we don't want to react to the content because we cannot take it seriously," he said.


Snobbish Leftist "intellectuals" in Australia

Late last year that scholarly Stakhanovite Richard Nile surveyed expert readers of his Australian Public Intellectual websites for their pick of Australia's arguers and influencers. The result will confirm everybody's prejudices. For people who believe the Left long ceased its march through the institutions, having occupied all the best bits in the universities, there is ample evidence. Some of the founding Howard haters are on the list, such as Robert Manne, who is top of the pops.

Others will be upset that conservatives such as Geoffrey Blainey and Keith Windschuttle got guernseys. But there is no doubting the list leaned to the Left. Based on their writings, I counted 23 declared opponents of Howard Government policies and/or a market economy (often both), 12 who keep their politics to themselves and three likely to vote Liberal.

But what is interesting is the way some participants decided that the true mark of the public intellectual was obscurity. It demonstrates the way the academic establishment and its camp followers who write for websites and in small magazines are interested only in agreeing with each other. As one put it in commenting on Nile's project: "We live still in a deeply anti-intellectual culture, increasingly driven by the populism of politicians and the journalist (as) celebrity. The lack of intellectuals in the current crop of political leaders in Canberra is particularly noticeable. Apart from Kevin Rudd and one or two others, there would be more chance of starting a prayer group in Canberra than a discussion group. We also live in a time when nationalism (particularly Anzac) -- simplistic, feel-good and sometimes ugly -- is on the rise. In this climate, there is a great need for intellectuals."

Apart from the snobbery (why are ostensibly intellectual chitty-chats superior to prayer?) and the dishonesty (the times may be patriotic but, sport aside, Australians are not given to triumphalism), this sort of statement ignores the obvious question: Precisely what sort of intellectuals do we need? Those who interpret society through their own ideological paradigm, or experts whose disciplined expertise allows them to point to problems and suggest solutions across the spectrum of society?

That it seems we have an awful lot of the former and far fewer of the latter writing for general audiences illuminates a great deal more than the tyranny of academic orthodoxy, it demonstrates how the intellectual tastemaker dismisses all sorts of disciplines.

While there were a couple of economic commentators on Nile's list, there were no professional economists capable of interpreting a Reserve Bank of Australia bulletin for the rest of us. Certainly pediatrician Fiona Stanley got a go but there were no neuroscientists able to explain the way everything from psychiatry to economics is being revolutionised by new understandings of the brain. Most telling, although there were ample individuals who like to lament Australia's culture of consumerism and deplore the damage done to the planet featured on the list, which included 10 cultural commentators and three politicians, there were no actual scientists with an informed idea of what is going on.

Perhaps this is not surprising. As Drusilla Modjeska pointed out in her introduction to the modestly titled anthology Best Australian Essays: 2006, she had searched in vain "for the well-written, well-shaped essay with that personal signature by architects or astronomers, physicists or lawyers".

Modjeska has a point, of sorts. She is wrong to assume that because health economists and riverine ecologists are not writing finely crafted essays based on an 18th-century ideal of entertainment for an intellectual elite they are not contributing to the national life of the mind. In fact the commentary pages of The Australian and The Australian Financial Review demonstrate the state of debate on issues that matter is strong (although Modjeska could find only one domestic newspaper piece worth including).

But her argument demonstrates how narrow are the interests of the self-appointed opinion leaders, of the sort who responded to Nile. And how they do not much care that many of the people they think dominate debate do so from a stance that is uninformed by scholarship in fields on which they comment.

The debate over Windschuttle's estimate of the numbers of indigenous Australians killed by settler society is a classic case in point. Instead of just arguing over his evidence, some critics started from the assumption that because they did not like his politics in the present, his conclusions about the past were not only wrong, they were immoral. Certainly the various experts in cultural and postcolonial studies will say their research work qualifies them to speak as experts. But often what they offer appears as informed by personal politics as academic expertise.

To argue there is anything wrong with everybody who wants to having their two bob's worth would be absurd in a column of this kind. Thanks to the internet we are in a golden age of argument. The endless opinion pages in online magazines mean that for the first time everybody with something to say can tell the world all about it. The blog empowers all who want to be essayists, and in the real world the marketplace of ideas sorts out who is heard.

But in the protected economy of academe, public intellectuals can easily exist without appealing to much of a public. Of Nile's 40, only Peter Craven and Don Watson represent the freelance in the service of the republic of letters, writers who live by their ability to produce copy people will pay to read. However, many of the people doing the talking -- certainly in the ostensibly intellectual small-circulation print and online media, the sorts of places where participation earns an author's stripes as a public intellectual -- seem disproportionately drawn from disciplines that theorise about the way we live and largely dislike the way most Australians do it.

Certainly Noel Pearson, the epitome of the public intellectual -- a man who acts on his ideas -- is on Nile's list. But so are many others who only lament the state of the nation, mainly to other academics. As one survey respondent put it: "One of the really big problems in Australia is that the best and most important minds in the country are so marginalised, they don't have much influence! Influence is inversely related to the importance of what people have to say." As an explanation of intellectual irrelevance, this is lame. But it does demonstrate how supposedly smart people can talk themselves into anything.


14 February, 2007

Why Cops Stop and Frisk So Many Blacks

Blame high black crime, not police racism

Here we go again: another specious racial-profiling controversy. Al Sharpton has announced his intention to sue the New York Police Department for allegedly racially profiling black New Yorkers, based on recently released data on police stop-and-frisks. In fact, the data show that police are stopping blacks too seldom and whites too often. But even if the numbers didn't so completely undermine Sharpton's claim, the real scandal of his anti-police demagoguery would remain his refusal to acknowledge the black community's most pressing problem: sky-high crime rates.

As long as blacks commit crime in numbers wildly disproportionate to their representation in the population, police data are going to show higher involvement with blacks than with whites. According to victims and witnesses, blacks committed 68.5 percent of all murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults in New York last year, though they are only 24 percent of the city's population. Whites, who make up 34.5 percent of New Yorkers, committed 5.3 percent of those crimes. Blacks are nearly 13 times more likely to commit violent crimes than whites.

In light of this massive disparity in crime rates, the police stop-and-frisk data are not just reasonable but inevitable. Last year, 55 percent of police stops were of blacks-a proportion far below the 68.5 percent of violent crime that blacks commit-while 11 percent of stops were of whites, nearly double their 5.3 percent contribution to violent crime.

There are two reasons that the high black crime rate affects the chance that black men will be stopped in greater numbers than whites. First, the NYPD focuses its resources where crime is highest, and that is in black neighborhoods. In recent years, the NYPD has saturated high-crime areas with rookie cops, whose job is to intervene in crime early by stopping suspects. (It isn't just the NYPD that wants more cops in those neighborhoods; their law-abiding minority residents constantly beg the department for more police protection.)

Second, because police officers are 13 times more likely to be searching for a black than for a white suspect for any given violent crime-based, again, on the victim's own identification of his assailant (or, in the case of homicide, on that of witnesses)-their rate of stopping blacks, as they search for suspects, will be far higher than that for whites. So black men do face a higher chance of getting stopped in New York. The blame for that does not rest with the police, however; it rests with the criminal element within the black community that is terrorizing the hundreds of thousands of law-abiding minority New Yorkers.

If Sharpton really wanted to get the black stop rate down, he would be working day and night to bring the crime rate down. He would be telling young men to stay in school and to marry the mothers of their children, so that boys do not grow up without fathers. He would be demonizing criminals, not the police. Until that happens, New Yorkers should regard his concern for the well-being of the black community with skepticism


A 9/11 conspiracy virus is sweeping the world, but it has no basis in fact

In the article below, the very Leftist George Monbiot gets something right -- rather surprisingly

There is a virus sweeping the world. It infects opponents of the Bush government, sucks their brains out through their eyes and turns them into gibbering idiots. First cultivated in a laboratory in the US, the strain reached these shores a few months ago. In the past fortnight, it has become an epidemic. Scarcely a day now passes without someone possessed by this sickness, eyes rolling, lips flecked with foam, trying to infect me.

The disease is called Loose Change. It is a film made by three young men that airs most of the standard conspiracy theories about the attacks of September 11 2001. Unlike the other 9/11 conspiracy films, Loose Change is sharp and swift, with a thumping soundtrack, slick graphics and a calm and authoritative voiceover. Its makers claim that it has now been watched by 100 million people.

The Pentagon, the film maintains, was not hit by a commercial airliner. There was "no discernible trace" of a plane found in the wreckage, and the entrance and exit holes in the building were far too small. It was hit by a cruise missile. The twin towers were brought down by means of "a carefully planned controlled demolition". You can see the small puffs of smoke caused by explosives just below the cascading sections. All other hypotheses are implausible: the fire was not hot enough to melt steel and the towers fell too quickly. Building 7 was destroyed by the same means a few hours later.

Flight 93 did not crash, but was redirected to Cleveland airport, where the passengers were taken into a Nasa building and never seen again. Their voices had been cloned by the Los Alamos laboratories and used to make fake calls to their relatives. The footage of Osama bin Laden, claiming responsibility for the attacks, was faked. The US government carried out this great crime for four reasons: to help Larry Silverstein, who leased the towers, to collect his insurance money; to assist insider traders betting on falling airline stocks; to steal the gold in the basement; and to grant George Bush new executive powers, so that he could carry out his plans for world domination.

Even if you have seen or read no other accounts of 9/11, and your brain has not yet been liquidised, a few problems must occur to you. The first is the complete absence of scientific advice. At one point, the presenter asks: "So what brought down the twin towers? Let's ask the experts." But they don't ask the experts. The film-makers take some old quotes, edit them to remove any contradictions, then denounce all subsequent retractions as further evidence of conspiracy.

The only people they interview are a janitor, a group of firemen, and a flight instructor. They let the janitor speak at length, but cut the firemen off in mid-sentence. The flight instructor speaks in short clips, which give the impression that his pupil, the hijacker Hani Hanjour, was incapable of hitting the Pentagon. Elsewhere he has said the opposite: he had "no doubt" that Hanjour could have done it.

Where are the structural engineers, the materials scientists, the specialists in ballistics, explosives or fire? The film-makers now say that the third edition of the film will be fact-checked by an expert, but he turns out to be "a theology professor". They don't name him, but I would bet that it's David Ray Griffin, who also happens to be the high priest of the 9/11 conspiracists.

The next evident flaw is that the plot they propose must have involved tens of thousands of people. It could not have been executed without the help of demolition experts, the security firms guarding the World Trade Centre, Mayor Giuliani (who hastily disposed of the remains), much of the US air force, the Federal Aviation Administration and the North American Aerospace Defence Command, the relatives of the people "killed" in the plane crashes, the rest of the Pentagon's staff, the Los Alamos laboratories, the FBI, the CIA, and the investigators who picked through the rubble.

If there is one universal American characteristic, it is a confessional culture that permits no one with a good story to keep his mouth shut. People appear on the Jerry Springer Show to admit to carnal relations with their tractors. Yet none of the participants in this monumental crime has sought to blow the whistle - before, during or after the attacks. No one has volunteered to tell the greatest story ever told.

Read some conflicting accounts, and Loose Change's case crumbles faster than the twin towers. Hundreds of people saw a plane hit the Pentagon. Because it collided with one of the world's best-defended buildings at full speed, the plane was pulverised - even so, plane parts and body parts were in fact recovered. The wings and tail disintegrated when they hit the wall, which is why the holes weren't bigger.

The failure of the twin towers has been exhaustively documented by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Far from being impossible, the collapse turns out to have been inevitable. The planes cut some of the support columns and ignited fires sufficient to weaken (but not melt) the remaining steel structures. As the perimeter columns buckled, the weight of the collapsing top stories generated a momentum the rest of the building could not arrest. Puffs of smoke were blown out of the structure by compression as the building fell.

Counterpunch, the radical leftwing magazine, commissioned its own expert - an aerospace and mechanical engineer - to test the official findings. He shows that the institute must have been right. He also demonstrates how Building 7 collapsed. Burning debris falling from the twin towers ruptured the oil pipes feeding its emergency generators. The reduction in pressure triggered the automatic pumping system, which poured thousands of gallons of diesel on to the fire. The support trusses weakened and buckled, and the building imploded. Popular Mechanics magazine polled 300 experts and came to the same conclusions.

So the critics - even Counterpunch - are labelled co-conspirators, and the plot expands until it comes to involve a substantial part of the world's population. There is no reasoning with this madness. People believe Loose Change because it proposes a closed world: comprehensible, controllable, small. Despite the great evil that runs it, it is more companionable than the chaos that really governs our lives, a world without destination or purpose. This neat story draws campaigners away from real issues - global warming, the Iraq war, nuclear weapons, privatisation, inequality - while permanently wrecking their credibility. Bush did capitalise on the attacks, and he did follow a pre-existing agenda, spelt out, as Loose Change says, by the Project for the New American Century. But by drowning this truth in an ocean of nonsense, the conspiracists ensure that it can never again be taken seriously.

The film's greatest flaw is this: the men who made it are still alive. If the US government is running an all-knowing, all-encompassing conspiracy, why did it not snuff them out long ago? There is only one possible explanation. They are in fact agents of the Bush regime, employed to distract people from its real abuses of power. This, if you are inclined to believe such stories, is surely a more plausible theory than the one proposed in Loose Change.


Australia: Muslim child-molester must be given halal food in prison??

A child sex offender fed vegetables, nuts and "fatty and salty" tinned meat because prison authorities would not provide him with fresh halal meat prepared in accordance with Muslim religious laws has won a discrimination case against the Queensland Government.

In a ruling the Government fears could trigger an avalanche of claims from other prisoners denied special dietary requests, the Supreme Court found Sharif Mahommed, who was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment in 2000, had been discriminated against. He will be allowed to keep $2000 in compensation and will not need to contribute to a legal bill of tens of thousands of dollars, which will be funded from the public purse unless the Queensland Government attempts to take the matter to the High Court.

Mahommed, now out of prison, said he had suffered stress and lost weight behind bars because he ate more vegetables and nuts to make up for the denial of fresh halal meat. He blamed prison authorities for their "lack of knowledge in understanding my religious beliefs, poor training skills, coupled with a no-care and negative attitude to inmates in general". The Supreme Court defined halal meat as "meat which has been blessed and slaughtered by Muslim slaughtermen and prepared, cooked and stored in accordance with religious law".

The finding on Friday by judge Ann Lyons in the Supreme Court is an embarrassing defeat for Police and Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence. Ms Spence, who has predicted the opening of floodgates "to other prisoners requesting all manner of special diets", had instructed Crown Solicitor Conrad Lohe and barrister Christopher Murdoch in a bid to quash an Anti-Discrimination Tribunal judgment by barrister Jean Dalton SC.

Ms Spence said yesterday she found Justice Lyons's decision surprising. "I have asked Queensland Corrective Services to review the judgment to consider grounds for appeal," she said. "At the moment, Queensland Corrective Services provides diets requested on the basis of cultural or religious needs where possible."

Ms Dalton, who heard the original case, found that Mahommed "received substantially more than his fair share of unacceptable meals because he was put on a vegetarian diet when he was not vegetarian (and) at the time fresh halal meat was difficult to source and extremely expensive, so he was provided with canned meat instead".

The vegetarian diet consisted of salad and a protein replacement at lunch, with hot lunches such as vegetable patties or vegetarian sausages three times a week. At night the vegetarian dinners include lasagnas, curries, pizzas and kebabs. "They'd send me down a salad with chicken in it, they would send me down a pie, they'd send me down a salad with luncheon meat in it," Mahommed said. While rice and noodles were provided to Asian prisoners and special diets - gluten-free, low-fat and low-cholesterol - were granted to inmates with health concerns, no allowance was made for Mahommed's religious preference for halal meat.

Ms Dalton ruled: "There was evidence that nutmeat was served with regularity. He actively disliked some of it, such as the nutmeat and the sausages. He was served more salad and tinned meat than was provided on the general menu and found this unacceptable. It is not a matter of being fussy, or expecting restaurant quality food; no doubt he had to endure his fair share of poor meals, just like every other prisoner."

A Corrective Services spokesman said yesterday: "Where possible, fresh halal meat is served in our prisons."


13 February, 2007

Britain: "Human rights" hit lifesaving car seat law

The British police are really having fun as they politely satirize Britain's stupid "human rights" law

Police are failing to enforce car seat safety laws for children because it may infringe the human rights of the youngsters. Legislation introduced last year says that small children must use a booster seat as well as a seatbelt. But to gather evidence traffic police are supposed to take the children out of the car and measure them at the roadside.

Some forces believe this goes beyond their powers. The North Yorkshire force has refused to implement the law for four months while seeking legal advice. It said yesterday that it will start enforcing the law next week. A force spokesman said that because it was the parents, not the children, committing the offence, it could infringe children's legal and human rights to force them to be measured or give their date of birth.

The law applies to children under 12 and less than 4ft 5in tall. The Department for Transport estimates that it will prevent 2,000 child deaths and injuries each year. Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said: "The police's time would be better spent outside an infant school advising parents."

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "Education is an important part of enforcement but ultimately the police do need to take action and use their enforcement powers."


The British Government won't let people take action against criminals

"Call the police"! What a laugh -- as anybody who has ever called the police knows. And the British police these days seem to be more sluggish than most. You are lucky if they do anything at all. They almost invariably arrive too late. All they do is pick up the pieces after the harm and damage is done

Here it comes - the advice you've all been waiting for. A Home Office minister is going to tell you what to do about crime and anti-social behaviour. Watch your television screens tonight and you will be given the official word on how you - being the concerned, responsible citizen that you are - can take back control of your neighbourhood in the spirit of that rousing governmental slogan, "Don't moan, take action: it's your street too." Let me give you a preview of what you can hear this evening.

Panorama presenter Jeremy Vine asks Tony McNulty, the deeply underwhelming minister for police and security, what exactly the individual should do when faced with a nasty incident in the street. Should he "step in", in the spirit of that admonition to "take action", this being his street and all?

Mr McNulty replies in a tone that sounds rather less enthusiastic than his Government's slogan: "I think the general line must be to get in touch with the authorities and make sure that, if things are as bad as you paint, the police will be there as quickly as they can."

Sorry? Who precisely should be sure that things are "as bad as you paint"? You, yourself? Or the perennially sceptical police? And is the minister implying by this jaundiced phrase - "really as bad as you paint" - that most people's concerns are not actually serious enough to merit official attention?

Mr Vine perseveres with a concrete example: suppose you, the conscientious adult, see a young man aggressively shouting at an old woman. What should you do - retreat and call the police? Mr McNulty responds rather confusingly: "I think you should in the first instance. It may well be [that] simply shouting at them, blowing your horn or whatever, deters them and they go away." So how does it go again? You should "in the first instance" retreat and call the police (who presumably will help you to decide whether things are "as bad as you paint" by suggesting that you might be exaggerating or imagining the circumstances), but then - having so retreated - you are to shout or blow your car horn in an attempt to send the young thug scurrying away like a frightened kitten. Ok-a-a-y.

Mr Vine goes on with his vivid picture of life on the mean streets of Britain: the aggressive-looking young man is hitting the elderly woman, and the police still haven't turned up. What do you do then?

Mr McNulty is now reversing away at full speed from the Government's advice to take action rather than moan. What should you do about the woman being beaten up by the thug? "The same, the same, you must always." What? Wait for the authorities? In desperation, the minister advocates what most of us, in fact, do end up doing under such horrifying circumstances: you must "get back to the police". That is, ring them up again and again, reporting the worsening agony you are witnessing only to be told that they (a) haven't got a car in the area, (b) don't have the manpower to deal with small incidents, (c) will get there as soon as they can (which turns out to be anything from an hour to a day later).

But the minister does have some ideas about what you might helpfully do while the poor woman is being beaten senseless and you are waiting that interminable length of time for the police to show up to do their sympathetic but hugely ineffectual counselling. You can "try some distractive [sic] activities". Such as? Mr Vine offers, presumably not without a hint of sarcasm, "jump up and down", and Mr McNulty replies in the best Blairite demotic style: "I would say you know sometimes that that may well work." And while you are jumping up and down, and repeatedly ringing the police from the position where you have retreated, a safe distance from the thug who is ruining the quality of life in your community, you may wish to contemplate what an absurd mess we are in. When a society is helplessly bullied by its own juveniles, it can only be because that society has chosen to abdicate its responsibilities. It has been the rightful business of grown-ups to control and instruct the young for as long as human beings have lived in organised communities.

So politicians are quite right to say that this is not simply a matter for government: that it is the business of the adult population as a whole to confront the problem. What they seem to have forgotten is that it was government that made it virtually impossible for neighbourhoods to protect and police themselves. "Children's rights" legislation - which in practice amounts to the right of children to behave as badly as they like without fear of interference - has made it a potential offence for any adult to intervene effectively when a minor is misbehaving.

Even strong verbal chastisement can constitute unacceptable victimisation, let alone physical restraint. The adult who attempts to put a stop to destructive or delinquent activity among local thuglets will face the immediate danger of being attacked by the thuglets or by their vengeful and unapologetic parents, and the later one of being charged with assault. So the minister must counsel "retreat", and the helpless summoning of the police to every incident that is threatening to turn nasty. The police, as hamstrung as everybody else by the legal minefield of controlling minors, would rather spend their time on something less thankless and more glamorous, such as "organised crime". But it is disorganised crime - the anarchic, opportunist delinquency of barely pubescent children - that ruins more lives on a daily basis than elaborately planned bank heists.

There was a time, within living memory, when virtually all self-respecting members of society - parents, teachers, police, magistrates and politicians - believed that we were in this together: that there was a confederation of grown-ups who all took responsibility for inculcating social morality and civility in the young.

But then politicians and the criminal-justice establishment were persuaded by social scientists that deprivation was to blame for misbehaviour rather than individuals: never mind that the honest poor had once been very effective at controlling youngsters in their own streets. Out went "judgmentalism" and the enforcement of what a generation of teachers was taught to call "middle-class" standards of behaviour. So this is where we find ourselves - jumping up and down as we retreat from the thug who is beating up an old woman.



Jeff Pierson is a photographer whose action shots of hopped-up American autos laying waste to the asphalt at Alabama dragways have appeared in racing magazines and commercial advertisements.

Pierson's Web site boasted he has the "most wonderful wife in the world and two fantastic daughters." And until recently, he ran a business called Beautiful Super Models that charged $175 for portraits of aspiring models under 18. [Most of whom look pretty close to 18. "Children" is a mere technicality. I would be surprised if any of them are below the "age of consent"]

In a federal indictment announced this week, the U.S. Department of Justice accused Pierson, 43, of being a child pornographer--even though even prosecutors acknowledge there's no evidence he has ever taken a single photograph of an unclothed minor.

Rather, they argue, his models struck poses that were illegally provocative. "The images charged are not legitimate child modeling, but rather lascivious poses one would expect to see in an adult magazine," Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama, said in a statement.

Pierson's child pornography indictment arises out of an FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation of so-called child modeling sites, which have been the subject of a series of critical congressional hearings and news reports in the last few years. An August article in The New York Times, for instance, called the modeling Web sites "the latest trend in child exploitation."

In addition to Pierson, the U.S. attorney also announced indictments against Marc Greenberg, 42, Jeffrey Libman, 39, partners in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., business called Webe Web, which in turn ran the now-defunct ChildSuperModels.com site. It was one of the larger sites that featured photographs of child models, allegedly from Pierson, and became the target of a report on Florida's NBC6 affiliate suggesting that it was a magnet for pedophiles.

First Amendment scholars interviewed Wednesday raised questions about the Justice Department's attack on Internet child modeling. They warned that any legal precedent might endanger the mainstream use of child models in advertising and suggested that prosecutors' budgets might be better spent investigating actual cases of child molestation.

"I don't know what the DOJ's trying," said Lee Tien, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group. "The best I can say is that it's puzzling that they would devote investigative and law enforcement resources to something (like this). This is a far cry from what folks normally think of as child pornography."

The Web sites that prompted the indictments are now offline. But copies saved in Google's cache [or here] and through Archive.org show the photographs in question depicted girls wearing everything from sweaters to, more frequently, swimsuits and midriff-baring attire. Parents appear to have given their consent.

Richard Jaffe, Pierson's attorney, said he could not immediately comment because he was in court on Wednesday. Jill Ellis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the northern district of Alabama, confirmed to CNET News.com that no nudity was involved. An arraignment for Pierson has been scheduled for December 14 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Armstrong.

Because no sex or nudity is involved, the prosecutions raise unusual First Amendment concerns that stretch beyond mere modeling-related Web sites: children and teens in various degrees of undress appear in everything from newspaper underwear advertisements to the covers of Seventeen and Vogue.

When actress and model Brooke Shields was 15 years old, for instance, she appeared in a racy Calvin Klein jean advertisement featuring the memorable line, "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins." Shields also appeared nude at 12 years old in an Oscar-nominated movie called Pretty Baby that was set in a New Orleans brothel. Similarly, 14-year-old Jodie Foster, wearing revealing clothing, played a pre-teen prostitute in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver.

Sally Mann, named Time magazine's "photographer of the year" in 2001, was attacked by critics for featuring nude images of her own children in a book called Immediate Family. Famed photographer Jock Sturges' photos often feature nude boys and girls on the beaches of California and France--images that are far more revealing than those of swimsuit-clad youths.


12 February, 2007


A reader writes:

The problem is that the Duke Lacrosse Frame/Hoax is still going on. And there still exists the very real possibility that the Special Prosecutors assigned to examine the case are primarily focused on finding SOME KIND OF CHARGE to get this case to trial, and not on a search for justice. ANY KIND OF CHARGE would help save the state of North Carolina the legal and financal embarassment having to declare that this was only "a hoax and frame-up conducted by the state's agent, Michael Nifong", from the beginning.

One of the Special Prosecutors is James Coman, who insisted on proceeding with a second trial for Alan Gell, even after it was discovered that the DA in his orginal trial knew there were seventeen eyewitnesses who could prove his innocence, but had refused to divulge this information to the defense. If convicted, Gell would have again faced the death penalty, for a murder Coman knew he did not commit. Joe Cheshire and James Cooney were part of Gell's defense team (and are now part of the Duke defense team). Coman is said to harbor a considerable personal animosity towards both of them, and also against Wade Smith, another defense attorney.

Mary Winstead, the second Special Prosecutor, worked with Nifong trying to secure a conviction in the Malloy rape case. Crucial taped evidence in that case was somehow erased by Winstead (recall the erased tapes and cell phone evidence in the Duke case); she protested vigorously against bringing in out-of-state experts to try and reconstruct the tape. When the tapes were restored, Malloy was aquitted.

These are about the last two people I would assign to examining the lacrosse case. So the question becomes, why did AG Cooper select them? Can they be reliably expected to uncover all the wrongdoing by Nifong over the past two and a half decades? Or by the judges who appear to have collaborated with him on this case (Stephens, Bushfan, and Titus)? Or possible connections between members of the Durham civic administration and the prosecutor's office? And can they be expected to put a search for justice ahead of an attempt to rescue the state from liability and even a federal investigation?

That is why I am circulating the following three petitions, to end the Duke case and bring federal investigators to Durham. The lacrosse case is a political trial; and in political trials, noise counts. If you want to get involved in helping raise the noise level (and maybe saving three innocent defendants from wrongful conviction, and an entire town/county from a corrupt oligarchy) below is how:

Petition to Attorney General Cooper of North Carolina to end the hoax

Petition to the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department to investigate corruption in the Durham city administration

Petition to Attorney General Gonzales to investigate civil rights violations and hate crimes in the Duke lacrosse case


Meet Daniel P. and Allison B. and their children, Mujahid Daniel and Mujahid David, ages 13 and 11. Not your typical American family, but their situation may affect your right to speak to your children. During their marriage, according to court documents, Daniel and Allison followed a "quasi-Muslim philosophy." They also "amassed a large quantity of weapons," and Daniel was imprisoned for illegal weapons possession and for making threats. Allison testified that Daniel abused her and that she went along with his actions only because she was afraid of him. The couple divorced in 1997, when Daniel was in prison.

Daniel, now out on parole, wants to see his children. Allison objects, based on Daniel's "violent felony conviction record . domestic violence . extremist views regarding religion, including . jihad; and the letters written to the children while he was incarcerated, lecturing about religion and reminding the children that their names are Mujahid." ("Mujahid" means a soldier fighting for Islam; "mujahedin" is the plural.)

In December, a New York appellate court held that Daniel should be allowed supervised visitation after his parole expires this summer. But the court also upheld, in the name of "the best interest of the children," the trial court's order that Daniel not discuss with the children "any issues pertaining to his religion."

Now, it is surely in the children's best interests not to be taught militant jihad. But the trial court didn't apply a jihadists-only rule, or a "convicted felons lose their parent-child speech rights" rule. Rather, it applied the broad and subjective "best interests of the child" standard. Many parents might wonder how their own philosophies might be evaluated by family judges under that standard.

In fact, a wide range of parental speech has been prohibited by family courts, all in the name of the child's supposed best interests. One parent was enjoined from making any racial slurs in a child's presence. Another parent whose ex was a lesbian was ordered to "make sure that there is nothing in the religious upbringing or teaching that the minor child is exposed to that can be considered homophobic." A different court barred a father from taking his children to "any social, religious or educational functions sponsored by or which otherwise promote homosexual lifestyle."

In one case, two divorcing Wiccan parents were ordered to "shelter" their son from "involvement and observation of . non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." In another, a court ordered each parent to teach children "the need for religious tolerance and not permit any third party to attempt to teach them otherwise."

Even more courts have made custody decisions based partly on parent-child speech and religious upbringing. Courts in some states, such as Michigan, routinely favor the parent who takes the children to church more often. Other courts have denied parents custody based partly on the parents teaching their children the propriety of racism, polygamy or homosexuality.

If the rule is really "children's best interests above all," these results may make sense. Say a dying friend asked you to choose a custodian for his children. Wouldn't you reject candidates who would teach the children harmful ideas, whether racist, pro-terrorist or, depending on your views, pro- or anti-homosexuality?

But the question, which few courts have grappled with, is whether judges, using government power, are allowed under the 1st Amendment to make such decisions. A family court judge is a government official, bound by the Constitution. Orders mandating or forbidding certain kinds of speech pose serious 1st Amendment problems. So does allocating civil rights, such as the right to spend time with one's child, based on a person's speech.

But does the 1st Amendment mean something different when it comes to parent-child speech, especially when the parent is divorced? On the one hand, children are immature and less able to resist their parents' ideological excesses. There may be special reasons to protect children from parental teachings that harm their best interests.

On the other hand, parental self-expression rights are especially important. Many people would trade all their free-speech rights for the right to teach their own children. And government power to constrain how parents teach their own children is dangerous: Restricting the spread of ideas from parent to child can help today's majority, or today's elite, entrench its views for future generations. Also, the power to suppress parents' speech may not stay limited to broken families but might spread to intact families too.

I think the 1st Amendment should impose some constraint here. The Supreme Court has recognized that the equal protection clause bars courts from considering a parent's interracial remarriage in the "best interests" analysis, even when the remarriage might have led to social trouble for the child. Some state courts have likewise barred judicial consideration of parents' religious teachings, at least unless imminent physical or psychological harm to the child is shown.

The same should be done for parents' ideological teachings. Such "harm" standards are themselves often subjective, but at least they are better than letting judges routinely decide when a parent's ideological teachings are against a child's best interests.

All this having been said, of course situations like Mujahid Daniel's and Mujahid David's remain troubling. Should children be exposed to a jihadist philosophy that may lead them into crime, violence and war against our nation - which could be fatal for them as well as bad for us? Even if their father hadn't been a felon, might his teachings still have been so dangerous that we should protect his children from them?

However we answer these questions, we should remember that the rules courts make don't just apply to jihadists. Any parent whose views may be seen by some as against the child's best interests - because the parent is atheist, intolerant, pro-gay, anti-gay or whatever else - could find a judge curtailing his parental rights and his speech rights.



A judge in the Paris suburb of Bobigny has charged two police officers in connection with the 2005 electrocutions of two teens whose deaths sparked three weeks of rioting in France, officials said Thursday. The two officers were charged Wednesday for "non-assistance to people in danger," which carries up to five years in prison and a maximum $97,400 fine, judicial officials said on condition of anonymity in line with policy. The decision came more than 15 months after Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traore, 15, were killed as they hid from police in a power substation in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.

The Oct. 27, 2005, electrocutions triggered riots that raged through housing projects in troubled neighborhoods with large Arab and black populations. France's suburbs remain plagued by poverty, discrimination, tensions between youth and police and a sense of alienation from French society.

An internal police review of the electrocutions, released in December, faulted police officers for their handling of the incident. The report confirmed the officers had been chasing the teens before they were killed, which the Interior Ministry and police had initially denied. The report said officers should immediately have notified French energy company EDF that the youths were hiding in the power station. It also said that if officers had notified EDF, technicians could have intervened 15 minutes before the accident. Still, the report said such steps would not necessarily have prevented the electrocutions.

Under French law, everyone - not just police - must make an effort to help a person in danger as long as they or others aren't themselves threatened by bringing such aid. For example, although non-swimmers would not be required to jump into water to save a drowning person, they would be obligated to try to get help.

Judge Olivier Geron, in his decision, considered that the two officers should have tried to warn France's EDF to cut the power at the substation or take other measures to protect the teens. Le Figaro daily on Thursday, citing judicial sources, identified the two officers as Sebastien G., 32, and Stephanie K., 29. Both had testified about the case before Geron in November, along with three other officers.

Tensions in France's suburbs are a particularly sore subject for Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for president. The Interior Ministry declined immediate comment on the decision. Sonia Imloul, head of an association called Respect 93 that works to prevent youth crime in Paris' rough suburbs, said the police committed "homicide" and urged Sarkozy to apologize to the families. "The youths died for nothing, and this death must not remain unpunished," she said. "If two youths had killed two police officers, by today they would already be imprisoned." Local authorities hailed the charges. "We have always said that it is important that light be shed on what happened that day and what to understand how two young people could die because they were afraid of being stopped by police," said Olivier Klein, assistant to the mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois.


12 February, 2007


Meet Daniel P. and Allison B. and their children, Mujahid Daniel and Mujahid David, ages 13 and 11. Not your typical American family, but their situation may affect your right to speak to your children. During their marriage, according to court documents, Daniel and Allison followed a "quasi-Muslim philosophy." They also "amassed a large quantity of weapons," and Daniel was imprisoned for illegal weapons possession and for making threats. Allison testified that Daniel abused her and that she went along with his actions only because she was afraid of him. The couple divorced in 1997, when Daniel was in prison.

Daniel, now out on parole, wants to see his children. Allison objects, based on Daniel's "violent felony conviction record . domestic violence . extremist views regarding religion, including . jihad; and the letters written to the children while he was incarcerated, lecturing about religion and reminding the children that their names are Mujahid." ("Mujahid" means a soldier fighting for Islam; "mujahedin" is the plural.)

In December, a New York appellate court held that Daniel should be allowed supervised visitation after his parole expires this summer. But the court also upheld, in the name of "the best interest of the children," the trial court's order that Daniel not discuss with the children "any issues pertaining to his religion."

Now, it is surely in the children's best interests not to be taught militant jihad. But the trial court didn't apply a jihadists-only rule, or a "convicted felons lose their parent-child speech rights" rule. Rather, it applied the broad and subjective "best interests of the child" standard. Many parents might wonder how their own philosophies might be evaluated by family judges under that standard.

In fact, a wide range of parental speech has been prohibited by family courts, all in the name of the child's supposed best interests. One parent was enjoined from making any racial slurs in a child's presence. Another parent whose ex was a lesbian was ordered to "make sure that there is nothing in the religious upbringing or teaching that the minor child is exposed to that can be considered homophobic." A different court barred a father from taking his children to "any social, religious or educational functions sponsored by or which otherwise promote homosexual lifestyle."

In one case, two divorcing Wiccan parents were ordered to "shelter" their son from "involvement and observation of . non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." In another, a court ordered each parent to teach children "the need for religious tolerance and not permit any third party to attempt to teach them otherwise."

Even more courts have made custody decisions based partly on parent-child speech and religious upbringing. Courts in some states, such as Michigan, routinely favor the parent who takes the children to church more often. Other courts have denied parents custody based partly on the parents teaching their children the propriety of racism, polygamy or homosexuality.

If the rule is really "children's best interests above all," these results may make sense. Say a dying friend asked you to choose a custodian for his children. Wouldn't you reject candidates who would teach the children harmful ideas, whether racist, pro-terrorist or, depending on your views, pro- or anti-homosexuality?

But the question, which few courts have grappled with, is whether judges, using government power, are allowed under the 1st Amendment to make such decisions. A family court judge is a government official, bound by the Constitution. Orders mandating or forbidding certain kinds of speech pose serious 1st Amendment problems. So does allocating civil rights, such as the right to spend time with one's child, based on a person's speech.

But does the 1st Amendment mean something different when it comes to parent-child speech, especially when the parent is divorced? On the one hand, children are immature and less able to resist their parents' ideological excesses. There may be special reasons to protect children from parental teachings that harm their best interests.

On the other hand, parental self-expression rights are especially important. Many people would trade all their free-speech rights for the right to teach their own children. And government power to constrain how parents teach their own children is dangerous: Restricting the spread of ideas from parent to child can help today's majority, or today's elite, entrench its views for future generations. Also, the power to suppress parents' speech may not stay limited to broken families but might spread to intact families too.

I think the 1st Amendment should impose some constraint here. The Supreme Court has recognized that the equal protection clause bars courts from considering a parent's interracial remarriage in the "best interests" analysis, even when the remarriage might have led to social trouble for the child. Some state courts have likewise barred judicial consideration of parents' religious teachings, at least unless imminent physical or psychological harm to the child is shown.

The same should be done for parents' ideological teachings. Such "harm" standards are themselves often subjective, but at least they are better than letting judges routinely decide when a parent's ideological teachings are against a child's best interests.

All this having been said, of course situations like Mujahid Daniel's and Mujahid David's remain troubling. Should children be exposed to a jihadist philosophy that may lead them into crime, violence and war against our nation - which could be fatal for them as well as bad for us? Even if their father hadn't been a felon, might his teachings still have been so dangerous that we should protect his children from them?

However we answer these questions, we should remember that the rules courts make don't just apply to jihadists. Any parent whose views may be seen by some as against the child's best interests - because the parent is atheist, intolerant, pro-gay, anti-gay or whatever else - could find a judge curtailing his parental rights and his speech rights.



A judge in the Paris suburb of Bobigny has charged two police officers in connection with the 2005 electrocutions of two teens whose deaths sparked three weeks of rioting in France, officials said Thursday. The two officers were charged Wednesday for "non-assistance to people in danger," which carries up to five years in prison and a maximum $97,400 fine, judicial officials said on condition of anonymity in line with policy. The decision came more than 15 months after Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traore, 15, were killed as they hid from police in a power substation in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.

The Oct. 27, 2005, electrocutions triggered riots that raged through housing projects in troubled neighborhoods with large Arab and black populations. France's suburbs remain plagued by poverty, discrimination, tensions between youth and police and a sense of alienation from French society.

An internal police review of the electrocutions, released in December, faulted police officers for their handling of the incident. The report confirmed the officers had been chasing the teens before they were killed, which the Interior Ministry and police had initially denied. The report said officers should immediately have notified French energy company EDF that the youths were hiding in the power station. It also said that if officers had notified EDF, technicians could have intervened 15 minutes before the accident. Still, the report said such steps would not necessarily have prevented the electrocutions.

Under French law, everyone - not just police - must make an effort to help a person in danger as long as they or others aren't themselves threatened by bringing such aid. For example, although non-swimmers would not be required to jump into water to save a drowning person, they would be obligated to try to get help.

Judge Olivier Geron, in his decision, considered that the two officers should have tried to warn France's EDF to cut the power at the substation or take other measures to protect the teens. Le Figaro daily on Thursday, citing judicial sources, identified the two officers as Sebastien G., 32, and Stephanie K., 29. Both had testified about the case before Geron in November, along with three other officers.

Tensions in France's suburbs are a particularly sore subject for Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for president. The Interior Ministry declined immediate comment on the decision. Sonia Imloul, head of an association called Respect 93 that works to prevent youth crime in Paris' rough suburbs, said the police committed "homicide" and urged Sarkozy to apologize to the families. "The youths died for nothing, and this death must not remain unpunished," she said. "If two youths had killed two police officers, by today they would already be imprisoned." Local authorities hailed the charges. "We have always said that it is important that light be shed on what happened that day and what to understand how two young people could die because they were afraid of being stopped by police," said Olivier Klein, assistant to the mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois.



The dragon that has scared everybody else into terrified passivity is Muslim extremism. But Ms Khan, an ordinary Birmingham-born mother of two, has dared to speak out about the radicalism that has permeated her community. She refuses to be passive; she has summoned up the moral courage, at great risk to herself, to face down the jihadists who are giving Muslims a bad name.

With great frankness and fearlessness, she laments the capture of her area of Birmingham by jihadist radicals. She describes how mosques and madrassas have sprung up like mushrooms on almost every street corner, dedicated not to helping the community but to spreading the message of jihad; how preachers are indoctrinating the young to hate Christians and Jews; how her community is in denial about the radicals in its ranks; and how the mullahs collude in sanctioning forced marriages and polygamy. "Open your eyes" is her message to non-Muslim Britain. "It's all happening on your doorstep and Britain is still blind to the real threat that is embedded here now."

The Government, she complains, has listened too much to the Muslim Council of Britain, which does not represent ordinary Muslims' views, let alone the views of Muslim women. And even David Cameron, who came up to Birmingham this week to talk about empowering Muslim women, focuses too much on their education, when he should instead - she thinks - be promising to ban the arranged/forced marriages of teenage girls that take them away from school and often condemn them to a life of misery and submission.

Ms Khan's views are so refreshing. She was born here, of Pakistani parents, and says that she loves this country and is proud to be British. She has embraced this nation's values, is grateful for the protection and opportunities it has offered her and has no problem reconciling her race or religion with her nationality. She would be happy if her son joined the police or the British Army.

It seems odd that such views should even be contentious. Generations of immigrants before her have felt the same, and have often been more patriotic and appreciative of British values than native-born citizens who take their country for granted. Yet what the radicals teach - and what many Muslim youths now believe - is that their host country is to be distrusted and that religion must come before, or even instead of, their national allegiance. So Ms Khan is right to argue that more should be done to teach Britishness in schools, in order to combat the messages that young Muslims are often imbued with in their mosques.

But the most striking point she makes is that Britain is a particularly good place for Muslim women to live in, offering far more equality and opportunity than any Muslim country. Not only are girls encouraged to stay on at school, go to university and have careers. They are treated equally under the law and are not blamed for or expected to put up with domestic violence or rape.

More here

11 February, 2007

Far Left Groups Claim `Hate' On Rise In America

The liberal [Jewish] Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have just released a report claiming there's a dramatic increase in the number of "hate groups" in the United States. The ADL report alleges that the KKK, skinheads and neo-Nazis have grown more active in recent years and have increased their presence on the Internet. An Associated Press article quotes ADL statistics and alleged stats from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on the extent of "hate" in the U.S.

What no mainstream outlet has exposed, however, is the leftist agenda of both the ADL and the SPLC in vilifying pro-family organizations who are opposed to the normalization of homosexuality in our culture. The ADL, for example, promotes the passage of "hate crime" laws to criminalize any criticism of homosexuality. It offers such books as Gloria Goes To Gay Pride and What if Someone I Know Is Gay?: Answers to Questions about Gay and Lesbian People as well as pushes pro-homosexual materials in the public schools.

Jewish conservative columnist Don Feder has exposed the anti-Christian bias of the ADL in his 2005 column, "The Anti-Christian League." In addition, the leftwing Southern Poverty Law Center lists Traditional Values Coalition as a "hate group" on its web site, including our organization with despicable neo-Nazis groups and other racist organizations.

The SPLC is pushing for passage of "hate crime" legislation and for the normalization of homosexuality in our culture. It routinely attacks any conservative organization that promotes traditional family values.

DiscoverTheNetworks, a conservative web site, has produced an important expose of the SPLC and its leftist goals. According to DiscoverTheNetworks, "As part of the Intelligence Project, the SPLC website currently features a map of `Active U.S. Hate Groups.' Deeming racism the exclusive province of the `radical right,' Intelligence Project reports ignore groups on the left. Although SPLC denounces extremist religious groups like the Jewish Defense League and Westboro Baptist Church, no mention is made of any extremist Muslim groups." (The SPLC gets millions in grant money from 59 foundations, including atheist George Soros' Open Society Institute.)

TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty thinks this latest report from the ADL as well as statements from the SPLC are an orchestrated effort to manipulate public opinion into supporting passage of a draconian "hate crime" bill later this spring or summer. "The ADL and SPLC are experts at propaganda. I suspect that the issuing of this ADL report on the KKK and skinheads is a deceitful effort to push federal legislation that will create special federal protected status for homosexuals. The claim will be made that there is such an epidemic of hate in America that federal action is needed immediately."

TVC's research into the incidence of "hate crimes" has consistently shown that there is very little substance to the claims of such groups as the ADL or SPLC. "FBI statistics clearly show that nearly half of the `hate crimes' committed in the U.S. against individuals involved name-calling, nothing more," said Lafferty. "The ADL and SPLC have a political agenda, and they're using this latest report to push for minority protection for individuals who engage in homosexual behaviors."


British Labour demands end of "white male" control of councils

New Labour's ceaseless quest for the unattainable utopia of equality and diversity ensures that "race" and "culture" are topics never far from the news headlines. The latest diktat from Blair's regime emanates from Labour Community Secretary Ruth Kelly who wants to reduce the numbers of aging white males in town halls in a bid to make councils more "representative".

New figures from the government reveal that the "average councilor" is a 58-year-old white male and Ministers have today unveiled an initiative to attract more young, ethnic minority and female citizens into town halls. A survey for the government's Improvement & Development Agency (IDA) found that only one in 200 councillors was black, and only 2.7% Asian.

Dismissive of the fundamentally democratic idea that voters in borough and district councils currently cast their mark for the best party and/or the best personality to represent their local concerns, Labour's latest diktat implies that political parties contesting elections will need to draw up short lists based on the demographics of the borough/ward or constituency.

In so doing Labour is meddling, not only in the internal election procedures of political parties, but the wider issue of local council representation. The proposals can be seen as an attack on all political parties and on the thousands of thoroughly decent and hard working councillors from the Old Gang trio of Labour-Conservative-Liberal Democrats and other smaller parties who are doing what they can for their constituents under circumstances which are made increasingly difficult as a direct consequence of Treasury demands.

Given the current far-reaching review into funding of political parties it is not beyond the bounds of devious Labour thinking that political parties contesting local elections must draw up lists based on gender, age and ethnicity rather than the best person for the job, as a condition of State funding.

It is of course possible that this meddling could be another attempt to halt the inexorable rise of the BNP in council chambers the length and breath of Britain....

There is considerable suspicion within the majority community that the investigation will not examine those councils where there happens to be a disproportionate number of councilors from ethnic minority backgrounds. Take for example Tower Hamlets - a London borough with a population that is 51% white, 33% Bangladeshi, 6% Afro-Caribbean. The number of Bangladeshi councillors is an astonishing 61% (31 out of 51)....

There is no logical explanation why having a "diverse range" of councillors automatically means an improvement in the quality of services provided by the council, greater accountability or value for money for long-suffering and over-fleeced council tax payers but in these days or Orwellian political correctness rational explanations are never forthcoming by the liberal-leftists in Westminster and Whitehall.

To paraphrase the words first coined by former BBC boss Greg Dyke it will only be those "hideously white" dominated councils which will be subject to New Labour's latest diktat to further the transformation of Britain which is aimed at reducing the native indigenous majority to second class status. The politically correct bullies of the Labour hierarchy will not flinch at removing the slightly balding, slightly overweight and hideously white aged 50-plus males who, according to the IDA report dominate municipal life (even if those key players are life-long Labour members) to make way for the trendy, young, raceless, sexless new citizens of New Labour's idea of New Britain.


10 February, 2007

The dangerous and oppressive Fascism of the Green/Left

Post below lifted from The Anchoress

Buster and I had a lengthy drive yesterday and the subject of free speech, or, rather, suppression of speech, came up. We were talking specifically about his school environment, which has been becoming slowly but inexorably more Politically Correct in the past few years.

“The thing about being politically correct,” Buster said, “is that you have to be so damn careful about what you say, how you phrase a thing, because if you don’t get it just right, you’re immediately labled some sort of “ist” - racist, sexist, age-ist, size-ist. It leaves no room at all for normal human observation, and it discourages both thinking about a thing or even talking about a thing. And what worries me is - all these kids taking their regents and SAT’s - do they risk lowered grades if they dare express a thought that travels off the PC reservation? I have friends who will write a paper for Economics or Social Studies and the paper will reflect nothing at all of what they think, because they’re afraid of being penalized for thinking, or for exploring an idea. So, instead they just listen in class, gauge the teacher’s politics and then just parrot back what the teacher says to get the ‘A.’ I’m glad I’m graduating soon,” he mused, “but I expect it’s even worse in college, this sense of free speech and free thought being disallowed in favor of conformity and subordination of the self to whatever the hell power this is ruling the roost.”

I agreed with Buster that he will encounter more of this nonsense - and a more virulent strain of it - in college. “But it’s not just students who endure this,” I said. “Teachers also find themselves constricted by the demand that they conform to the politically correct (let’s just say it, ‘leftist’) orthodoxy if they want tenure. I told him about a long-time friend of ours, a high school social studies teacher who - before she got tenure - dared not offer an opinion outside of the (at that time) “Bush=evil, Kerry=genius” official line.

She did get tenure. She still tries not to opine very much among her fellow teachers who, because she remains silent rather than jumping into the “Bash-all-things-not-like-us” pool, have dubbed her “the token conservative,” and condescendingly allow that she is a fairly decent person, mostly, just very, very misguided. To some of them, she is an exotic creature - almost human!

“And, it’s not just teachers,” I told Buster. “In almost every job, now, even in the medical professions, you can find little orthodoxies that must not be trampled on at the cost of one’s livelihood or influence.”

“Well, I know we’re not supposed to use the word,” Buster said, “except, of course, when describing Conservatives in 21st Century America, but really, Ma, isn’t this sort of lock-step mentality, this obey-the-party or be-suspected-obey-the party or lose-your-job stuff what the Nazi’s did? Isn’t this fascism? Didn’t ordinary German’s find that if they did not conform to the demands of the Third Reich they’d be suspect, hounded from their jobs and all that?”

“Fascism is a very strong word, Buster,” I warned. It’s been thrown around way too loosely in the past few years. There are people who throw that word out anytime they encounter something with which they disagree. But…yes, your working definition of fascism is correct, and nowhere are we seeing that definition being played out more overtly than in the issue of ‘global warming.’

Now, I’m not saying that the earth isn’t warming up a bit, but I have serious disagreement with the “finding” that it’s all humanity’s fault, and on this subject, you’re expected to accept the whole narrative, or you’re a bad person. Did you know that a Weather Channel climatologist has said that any meteorologist who does not conform to the global warming narrative should be decertified?

“You mean they should lose their jobs for dissenting?”

“Yes. Never mind that there is no consensus on global warming, or that plenty of scientists say it’s junk science. Since the hoo-hah global warming folks cannot convince everyone with hard facts and logic, they’re simply going to impose their will, and their myth, on the rest of the world. It’s sort of like Christians imposing Christianity on the world, which would be a bad thing…only these folks would impose the theology of their environmental religion on everyone, instead. And yes, that’s a kind of fascism.”

“So, other scientists should speak out,” said Buster.

“Not that easy, Grasshopper,” I replied. “When a formerly well-respected environmentalist like Bjorn Lomborg dared to dissent and wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist, he was sneered at and was suddenly considered less-than-credible. When Lomborg as invited by a newspaper to sit for an interview along with Al Gore - as a sort of balanced debate on the issue - Al Gore backed out because he could not control the debate. In that way, Lomborg did not get heard. It was a way to silence him. Michael Chrichton was a media darling until he took the time to seriously debunk global warming at which point he became something unclean.”

Buster stared out the window for a while, annoyed and pensive. “Look,” he said eventually, “you and Dad have always told us that we have to stand up and make an argument, that if our ideas are built on strong foundations they can stand up to poking and prodding and questions. This sounds to me like these folks don’t trust the foundation of their story and don’t want it looked at too closely. That’s troubling.”

“You mean,” I smiled, “they just want us to shut up and obey?”

“Yes…and that’s pretty funny when you think about it, because these people want us to shut up and obey, and yet they’re mostly the same folks who think ‘obedience’ to something like the Deity is a laughable idea. They’re the same people who think the president is too unilateral. So, they’re hypocrites. And who came up with the notion of global warming, anyway? Who coined that phrase? Do we even have a name we can link this to, some scientist, like Einstein, who founded this theory?”

Oh, kid, I thought to myself…you’re going to have a hell of a time in college….

“Well, yeah, there is a stench of hypocrisy to all of this,” I agreed. Nancy Pelosi, the very rich and the very powerful may use private jets with impunity because they’re very important people with some sort of moral superiority, so they’re allowed to - for example - burn 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per hour to get to their very important and morally unimpeachable events. You, however, may be told you’re a greedy resource pig if you decide to drive an SUV or use the wrong sorts of lightbulbs.”

Today when he comes home, Buster will learn that:

The Democrat frontrunner for the White House in ‘08 wants the government to seize an entire industry - the oil industry - and take control of it.

Governor Ted Kulongoski, D, of Oregon wants to essentially silence a state-employed climatologist who does not agree with the global warming narrative.

A Delaware climatologist who dissents is being accused, of course of working for Exxon, because no one can actually disagree with “global warming” science unless they’re being paid off. (No one ever asks who is paying Al Gore, btw. I will make sure Buster understands that the tactic of accusing someone to be mentally unfit or “paid off” is not new to the practice of either fascism or - for that matter - communism.)

The European Union - which is having trouble dealing with its own CO2 emissions allowances - is considering environmental crime statutes which will, let me go out on a limb, here and make a prediction, be aimed at the United States.

Interestingly enough, nowhere in the newspapers or on news broadcasts will Buster hear that President Clinton, faced with the Kyoto protocols in 1997, did not even bother submitting it to congress because he knew it was garbage. And the congress made a point of unanimously rejecting it, anyway. No, Buster will never hear that. He will hear, instead, that President Bush killed Kyoto and therefore killed Planet Earth.

There are lots of cold, hard facts about global warming that Buster can read, but he has to look for them on his own, because the press has completely bought into the narrative. Why?

Well…that’s a really good question. In the late sixties and early seventies, the press bought into the “Zero Population Growth” movement because Planet Earth was going to die in 20 years if people didn’t stop multiplying like some disease. Then they bought into the “Coming Ice Age” movement (all the same people, I think) because the earth was going to die in 20 years if people didn’t get serious about the global cooling.

As I wrote here: If the people promoting the hysteria on warming were serious - if the issue were a real one and not simply a political tool, then the hyper-concerned folks would be welcoming and heralding thoughtful environmental programs and helpful policies from any-and-all quarters, even - gasp - from the right. Even - gaspgasp - from George W. Bush. (You know, the guy who frees oppressed women and is cursed at by the feminists, the guy who keeps an eco-friendly ranch and is restoring the destroyed wetlands of Iraq and is hated by the enviros.)

You probably don’t know what I am talking about. You probably have no idea that President Bush has been working with China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia on a creative - not Kyoto - environmental policy.
…the fact remains that if Al Gore or Bill Clinton or whoever else is ringing the sky-is-falling alarm bells were serious about Global Warming…if they really, actually believed that it was real, that it was, as Clinton says, “the most urgent issue of our time, more urgent than terrorism…” then rather than ignore this program, they’d have applauded this effort between co-operating nations.
So, you know…if the big boys of Global Warming aren’t really taking the issue seriously…if they find it so unserious as to allow the issue to be used as a political wedge or a rabble-rousing sound-bite, and that’s all…well, then I don’t have to take it seriously, either.

The Global Warming Hysteria Movement, complete with Media overhype, is not real. The proof is in the politics of it. It is a means to an end. To what end, I’m not sure.

As near as I can tell, it’s all about exciting legislation to take more control over individual liberties. And the irony, of course, is that the global warmingists - in a fast bit of projection and paranoia - have the floor, have the coverage, have the press quoting them at length, while they claim to be gagged by the evil and suppressive Bush administration. Meanwhile, Tim Robbins’ chill wind blows and blows and blows.

People’s thoughts, opinions and conclusions are being suppressed on this issue. Guess whose?

Is it fascism? I’ll leave that for others to decide.

Related reading:
University of Pennsylvania Prof: Al Gore is a Greenhouse Gasbag
The Paragraph Farmer: A Global Warming Thought Experiment
David Warren: Sekken
Fausta: Global Warming, Don’t I Wish
Don Surber: The Real Danger of Global Warming
Irish Pennants: Muzzle this Penn State Prof, quick!
Real Clear Politics: Bad Research, Worse Reporting on Global Warming
AJ Strata: Scientific Free Speech Dead in America
Randy Hall:A Bit of History for Global Warmers
Study: Greenland’s Glaciers have been shrinking for 100 years
Donald Sensing: What if Global Warming is a Good Thing?
Tim Blair: Growth Encouraged and Shunned
Siggy: Fertilizer for Evil
Selwyn Duke: The Temperature Also Rises
Dr. Sanity: The Totalitarian Mindset
More from Newsbusters
JR Dunn: Resisting Global Warming Panic
Crichton: The Environmental Speeches

Cheerleaders now incorrect at Australian football games

South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe last night revealed his club had discarded its cheerleaders this season because they made male fans feel uncomfortable. The Hollywood star also said his wife, Danielle Spencer, supported the club's controversial move. Souths will this season replace cheerleaders with a drumming band during NRL home matches.

"Our focus is to re-establish rugby league and women," Crowe said. "The focus on game day should be a positive experience for the crowd. "We feel they (cheerleaders) made a lot of people uncomfortable. "We examined game day and wanted to contemporise and make the focus football. "We felt we didn't need cheerleaders and would like them replaced by a group of drummers, male and female. "We've talked to a lot of people and everyone sees it as being progressive. "The whole idea of percussion will be exciting for the crowd."

Crowe said his club's game day producer Dein Perry had canvassed the opinions of fans before making the decision to sack the cheer-squad. Asked if other clubs could follow Souths initiative, Crowe said: "When they see how exciting this is, there will be a big call for it. "We found it hard to work out a positive about it. There was a grey area to it. "It makes women uncomfortable and it makes blokes who take their son to the football also uncomfortable. "But we are thankful for the time and effort the girls put in and some of them probably will be disappointed."

Crowe's stance was supported by Spencer, who liked the idea of men and women performing together in the drum band. "She likes the fact that game day entertainment will be multi-sex. She likes that aspect," Crowe said. "The positive response we've got particularly from women like my wife when they heard this was happening makes it a little easier for them to go to the game and simply enjoy the actual sport.

But two of Souths cheerleaders yesterday said they were disappointed not to be dancing this year. "We were employed by Souths as professional dancers and our role as cheerleaders was simply to add glamour to the image of the NRL in terms of marketing," Ashleigh Francis said. "Children at the games were constantly approaching us and asking us for autographs and photos and little girls would even ask us if they were old enough to be cheergirls too." Another Souths cheerleader, who did not want to be named, said: "How would we make people feel uncomfortable? The aim is for us just to enjoy ourselves and entertain the fans with the sport."


9 February, 2007

Free Inquiry? Not on Campus

And the college speech police threaten the liberty of us all

Remember when the Right had a near-monopoly on censorship? If so, you must be in your sixties, or older. Now the champions of censorship are mostly on the left. And they are thickest on the ground in our colleges and universities. Since the late 1980s, what should be the most open, debate-driven, and tolerant sector of society has been in thrall to the diversity and political correctness that now form the aggressive secular religion of America's elites.

The censors have only grown in power, elevating antidiscrimination rules above "absolutist" free-speech principles, silencing dissent with antiharassment policies, and looking away when students bar or disrupt conservative speakers or steal conservative newspapers. Operating under the tacit principle that "error has no rights," an ancient Catholic theological rule, the new censors aren't interested in debates or open forums. They want to shut up dissenters.

In October, for instance, a student mob stormed a Columbia University stage, shutting down speeches by two members of the Minutemen, an anti-illegal-immigration group. The students shouted: "They have no right to speak!" Campus opponents of Congressman Tom Tancredo, an illegal-immigration foe, set off fire alarms at Georgetown to disrupt his planned speech, and their counterparts at Michigan State roughed up his student backers. Conservative activist David Horowitz, black conservative columnist Star Parker, and Daniel Pipes, an outspoken critic of Islamism, frequently find themselves shouted down or disrupted on campus.

School officials seem to have little more interest in free speech. At Columbia this fall, officials turned away most of a large crowd gathered to hear former PLO terrorist-turned-anti-jihadist Walid Shoebat, citing security worries. Only Columbia students and 20 guests got in. Colleges often cite the danger of violence as they cancel controversial speeches-a new form of heckler's veto: shrinking an audience so that an event will seem unimportant is itself a way to cave to critics. In 2003, Columbia, facing leftist fury at the scheduled speeches of several conservatives (myself included), banned scores of invited nonstudents who had agreed to attend. Though some schools cancel left-wing speakers, too-including Ward Churchill and Michael Moore, or abortion-supporters Anna Quindlen and Christie Whitman at Catholic universities-right-of-center speakers are the campus speech cops' normal targets.

Official censorship-now renamed speech codes and antiharassment codes-pervades the campuses. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) recently surveyed more than 300 schools, including the top universities and liberal arts colleges, and found that over 68 percent explicitly prohibit speech that the First Amendment would protect if uttered off campus. At 229 schools, FIRE found clear and substantial restriction of speech, while 91 more had policies that one could interpret as restricting speech. Only eight permitted genuine free expression.

A 2002 New York Times article reported that today's college kids seem more guarded in their views than previous generations of students. The writer suggested several possible explanations-disgust with partisan politics and uncivil debates on cable news shows, perhaps, or simple politeness. A more likely reason is that universities have made honest disagreement dangerous, making students fearful of saying what they think.

Much campus censorship rests on philosophical underpinnings that go back to social theorist Herbert Marcuse, a hero to sixties radicals. Marcuse argued that traditional tolerance is repressive-it wards off reform by making the status quo . . . well, tolerable. Marcuse favored intolerance of established and conservative views, with tolerance offered only to the opinions of the oppressed, radicals, subversives, and other outsiders. Indoctrination of students and "deeply pervasive" censorship of others would be necessary, starting on the campuses and fanning out from there.

By the late 1980s, many of the double standards that Marcuse called for were in place in academe. Marcuse's candor was missing, but everyone knew that speakers, student newspapers, and professors on the right could (make that should) receive different treatment from those on the left. The officially oppressed-designated race and gender groups-knew that they weren't subject to the standards and rules set for other students.

Marcuse's thinking has influenced a generation of influential radical scholars. They included Mari Matsuda, who followed Marcuse by arguing that complete free speech should belong mainly to the powerless; and Catharine MacKinnon, a pioneer of modern sexual harassment and "hostile environment" doctrine. In MacKinnon's hands, sexual harassment became a form of gender-based class discrimination and inegalitarian speech a kind of harmful action.

Confusing speech and action has a long pedigree on the PC campus. At the time of the first wave of speech codes 20 years ago, Kenneth Lasson, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, argued that "racial defamation does not merely `preach hate'; it is the practice of hatred by the speaker"-and is thus punishable as a form of assault. Indeed, the Left has evolved a whole new vocabulary to blur the line between acts and speech: "verbal conduct" and "expressive behavior" (speech), "non-traditional violence" (Lani Guinier's term for strong criticism), and "anti-feminist intellectual harassment" (rolling one's eyeballs over feminist dogma).

Campus censors frequently emulate the Marcusian double standard by combining effusive praise for free speech with an eagerness to suppress unwelcome views. "I often have to struggle with right and wrong because I am a strong believer in free speech," said Ronni Santo, a gay student activist at UCLA in the late nineties. "Opinions are protected under the First Amendment, but when negative opinions come out of a person's fist, mouth, or pen to intentionally hurt others, that's when their opinions should no longer be protected."

In their 1993 book, The Shadow University, Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate turned some of the early speech codes into national laughingstocks. Among the banned comments and action they listed: "intentionally producing psychological discomfort" (University of North Dakota), "insensitivity to the experience of women" (University of Minnesota), and "inconsiderate jokes" (University of Connecticut). Serious nonverbal offenses included "inappropriate laughter" (Sarah Lawrence College), "eye contact or the lack of it" (Michigan State University), and "subtle discrimination," such as "licking lips or teeth; holding food provocatively" (University of Maryland). Later gems, added well after the courts struck down campus codes as overly broad, included bans on "inappropriate non-verbals" (Macalaster College), "communication with sexual overtones" (Lincoln University), and "discussing sexual activities" (State University of New York-Brockport). Other codes bar any comment or gesture that "annoys," "offends," or otherwise makes someone feel bad. Tufts ruled that attributing harassment complaints to the "hypersensitivity of others who feel hurt" is itself harassment.

Brockport, which banned "cartoons that depict religious figures in compromising situations," "jokes making fun of any protected group," and "calling someone an old hag," helpfully described for students what does not constitute sexual harassment: "non-coercive interaction(s) . . . that are acceptable to both parties." Commented Greg Lukianoff of FIRE: "The wonder is that anyone would risk speaking at all at SUNY Brockport."

Despite numerous court decisions overturning these codes, they have proliferated. College officials point to the hurt feelings of women or minorities as evidence that a violation must have occurred, in part because they want to avoid charges of racism, sexism, and homophobia- an overriding fear in today's academe, where diversity offices can swarm with 40 or 50 administrators. The Clinton administration's commissioner of civil rights in the Department of Education, Norma Cant£, reinforced this trend by interpreting racial and sexual harassment broadly, with an implied threat to withhold federal funds if universities didn't vigorously counter it. In 2003, the DOE office of civil rights issued a weary clarification, explaining to universities that harassment doesn't mean merely feeling offended. The letter has had little effect on the censoring fervor of the campuses, however. Occidental College officials soon found a student radio shock jock guilty of sexual harassment for using various crude terms on the air, calling one student a "bearded feminist" and another "half man, half vagina." On many a campus, tastelessness equals harassment.

Georgia Tech went so far as to ban "denigrating" comments on "beliefs," which would make almost any passionate argument over ideas a violation. Needless to say, the targets here are usually conservative. Ohio State University at Mansfield launched a sexual harassment investigation of a research librarian, Scott Savage, for recommending the inclusion of four conservative books, including popular works by David Horowitz and ex-senator Rick Santorum, on a freshman reading list. Two professors had complained that one of the books, The Marketing of Evil, by journalist David Kupelian, was "homophobic tripe" and "hate literature." This may have been the first time that a campus charged that a book recommendation qualified as sexual harassment. After a burst of publicity and a threat to sue, the university dropped the investigation.

Student censors regularly spirit away whole print runs of conservative student newspapers, almost always without reproof from administrators. Over the years, campus officials, including a few university presidents, have even encouraged such stealing. After repeated thefts of the Dartmouth Review, an official egged on the thieves by calling the paper "litter" and "abandoned property." In a commencement speech, former Cornell president Hunter Rawlings III praised students who seized and burned copies of the conservative Cornell Review in retaliation for printing a gross parody of Ebonics.

Once in a blue moon, a college president vigorously defends free speech. At Northern Kentucky University, president James Votruba rebuked and suspended a tenured feminist professor, Sally Jacobsen, who led a group that demolished a campus-approved right-to-life display. Jacobsen cited two justifications: her deep feelings and her alleged free-speech right to tear down displays that offend her. "I did invite students to express their freedom of speech rights to destroy the display if they wished," she said. "Any violence perpetrated against that silly display was minor compared to how I felt when I saw it."

But far more typical than Votruba was Washington State University president V. Lane Rawlins, who hailed the disruption-and subsequent cancellation-of an intentionally offensive student play that irritated blacks, Christians, Jews, gays, and others. Rawlins defended the disrupters, saying that they had "exercised their rights of free speech in a very responsible manner." Later documents showed that the university had actually organized and financed them. In the real world, such a revelation would have cost Rawlins his job. But on today's campus, it passes without comment, in part because students can point out, with perfect moral justification, that forcing the cancellation of speeches and stealing newspapers are just logical extensions of campus speech codes.

Nothing makes the campus censors angrier than someone who dares to question race and gender preferences, especially if he uses satire to do it. That's why the anti-affirmative-action bake sales that conservative students have sponsored at many schools-white male customers can buy cookies for $1, with lower prices for women and various minorities-have provoked such ferocious responses from campus authorities.

Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, provides a typical example. A Republican club there staged a bake sale, and several students then said that they felt offended. This amounted to a powerful argument, since hurt feelings are trump cards in the contemporary campus culture. (At the University of Wisconsin, for example, a black student testified in defense of the faculty speech code, complaining bitterly that a professor had used the word "niggardly" while teaching Chaucer. "I was in tears," she said. "It's not up to the rest of the class to decide whether my feelings are valid.")

Next came the usual administrative scramble to suppress free speech while expressing great respect for it. The university charged the club with a violation of the student code and threatened sanctions. The students folded under administrative pressure and apologized. When the Republican club president refused to back down, club members asked him to resign, and he did. The students' retreat was understandable, if not very courageous. The university in effect was trying them for bias, with the likelihood that a notation of racism would become part of their academic record and follow them to post-college job interviews.

The College Republicans at Northeastern Illinois University canceled an announced affirmative-action bake sale after the administration threatened punishment. Dean of students Michael Kelly announced that the cookie sellers would be violating university rules and that "any disruption of university activities that would be caused by this event is also actionable." This principle-politically incorrect speakers are responsible for attacks on them by students who resent their speech-is dear to campus censors' hearts. The university didn't view itself as engaging in censorship-and double-standard censorship at that, since it freely allowed a satirical wage-gap bake sale run by feminists. Absurdly, Kelly said that the affirmative-action sale would be fine-if cookie prices were the same for whites, minorities, and women. Other administrators complained that differential pricing of baked goods is unfair, thus unwittingly proving the whole point of the parody.

Schools will use almost any tactic to shut the bake sales down. At the University of Washington, the administration said that the sponsor had failed to get a food permit. At Grand Valley, the university counsel argued that the sale of a single cupcake would convert political commentary into forbidden campus commerce. At Texas A&M, the athletics director argued that a satirical bake sale would damage the sports teams by making it harder to recruit minorities.

One of the PC campus's worst excesses in suppressing unwanted speech is the drive by gays and their allies to banish or break Christian groups for their traditional beliefs on sexuality. Some 20 campuses have acted to de-recognize or de-fund religious groups that oppose homosexuality (as well as nonmarital sex), often accusing them of violating antidiscrimination rules-that is, refusing to let gays be members, or allowing them to belong but not serve as officers. The language of many policies would require a Democratic club to accept a Republican president, a Jewish group to allow a Holocaust-denying member, or a Muslim organization to accept a leader who practices voodoo.

About half of the attempts to move against Christian clubs have failed. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill dropped its move against a Christian club three days after getting a friendly warning letter from FIRE. "UNC couldn't defend in public what it was willing to do in private," said FIRE president Alan Charles Kors. "If an evangelical Christian who believed homosexuality to be a sin tried to become president of a university's Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance, the administration would have led candlelight vigils on behalf of diversity and free association."

Such Marcusian double standards-freedom for me, but not for thee-now have a beachhead in the law, thanks to the legendarily left-wing Ninth Circuit. In response to a "Day of Silence" sponsored by the Gay-Straight Alliance at his Poway, California, high school, Tyler Harper wore a shirt that proclaimed, on the front, "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned," and on the back, "Homosexuality Is Shameful/Romans 1:27." The school principal ordered Harper to take off the shirt. Harper refused, and sued. He argued that the purpose of the "Day of Silence" was to "endorse, promote and encourage homosexual activity" and that he had a First Amendment right to use his T-shirt message as a rebuttal.

When the Poway case reached the Ninth Circuit, Judge Stephen Reinhardt and his colleague Judge Sidney R. Thomas argued in a two-to-one decision that it is permissible to exclude T-shirt messages from First Amendment protection if they strike at a "core identifying characteristic of students on the basis of their membership as a minority group"-with minority status conveyed by categories "such as race, religion, and sexual orientation." This ruling, unless the Supreme Court takes it up and overturns it, creates a large new category of viewpoints that the First Amendment doesn't safeguard, at least within the Ninth Circuit. Based on the loose language-"such as" could apply to numerous groups-criticism of illegal aliens might now lack First Amendment protection, says UCLA law prof Eugene Volokh. Presumably, too, one can no longer criticize any minority religious opinion, such as the Islamic view that cartoons mocking Mohammed are out-of-bounds. But pictures of Christ in urine would be perfectly fine, since Christianity remains America's majority faith.

Some on the left applaud such Marcusian hairsplitting, arguing that First Amendment "absolutists" must learn to "balance" free speech and special protections for vulnerable groups. But in dissent, Judge Alex Kozinski expressed "considerable difficulty understanding the source and sweep of the novel doctrine the majority announces today"-nothing in state, federal, or common law supports it, he noted.

To understand the rising disrespect for free expression in the U.S., Kozinski might have been better off looking to Canada and Europe, both a bit ahead of us-if that's the right phrase-in embracing PC censorship.

Despite stated respect for free speech in its national constitution, Canada now has a national speech code and judges and elites eager to expand it. The Canadian Supreme Court has issued a series of rulings stating that the government may limit speech in the name of worthwhile goals, such as ending discrimination, ensuring social harmony, or promoting sexual equality. The state may now seize published material judged to "degrade" or "dehumanize" any group.

What free-speech supporters would regard as horrendous abuses have become commonplace. In 1997, for instance, the mayor of London, Ontario, ran afoul of Canada's Human Rights Code for refusing to declare a Gay Pride day, citing her Christian beliefs. The British Columbia College of Teachers refuses to certify teacher education programs at Christian universities if they urge students to abstain from premarital sex, adultery, or homosexual sex. The province's hate-speech laws use extremely broad language, criminalizing statements that "indicate" discrimination or that "likely" will expose a group or one of its members to hatred or contempt.

Ted Byfield, editor of the now-defunct Alberta Report, violated that province's human rights law by publishing an article noting that some children were grateful for the education they received at the government's residential schools for Indians, much despised by multiculturalists and admittedly abuse-plagued. An injunction against the Alberta Report forbade stories on partial-birth abortions after Byfield ran a story quoting unnamed nurses and official documents saying that some babies subject to the procedure at a Calgary hospital were born alive and deliberately allowed to starve to death.

Canada has become "a pleasantly authoritarian country," observes Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Robert Martin, a constitutional law prof at the University of Western Ontario, is harsher: Canada is now "a totalitarian theocracy," he says, devoted to the secular state religion of political correctness.

Things are no freer across the pond. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties announced that it would prosecute any priests found distributing or quoting the pope's words forbidding gay marriage. In England, author Lynette Burrows drew a police investigation for saying on a talk show that she opposes homosexual adoption. An Oxford student fared worse after a night out to celebrate the end of exams. Stopped by a mounted policeman, he drunkenly quipped, "Excuse me, do you realize your horse is gay?" Unfortunately, the humor-free local constabulary arrested the young man under the Public Order Act for making homophobic remarks.

By law, 11 European nations can punish anyone who publicly denies the Holocaust. That's why the discredited Holocaust-denying British historian David Irving went to prison in Austria. Ken Livingstone, London's madcap mayor, drew a monthlong suspension for calling a Jewish reporter a Nazi. A Swedish pastor went through a long and harrowing prosecution for a sermon criticizing homosexuality, finally beating the rap in Sweden's supreme court.

Naturally enough, Muslims want to play the same victim game as other aggrieved groups. The French Council of Muslims says that it's considering taking France Soir, which reprinted the Danish cartoons, to court for provocation. When French novelist Michel Houellebecq said some derogatory things about the Koran, Muslim groups hauled him into court, which eventually exonerated him. The late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci wrote an angry anti-Muslim book, meant to waken the West to the gravity of the threat posed by Islam. Her prosecution in Italy for writing the book was pending when she died in October.

Much of Europe has painted itself into a corner on Muslim-driven censorship. What can Norway say to pro-censorship Muslims when it already has a hate-speech law forbidding, among other things, "publicly stirring up one part of the population against another," or any utterance that "threatens, insults or subjects to hatred, persecution, or contempt any person or group of persons because of their creed, race, color, or national or ethnic origin . . . or homosexual bent"? No insulting utterances at all? Since most strong opinions can seem insulting to someone-can hurt someone's feelings-no insults means no free speech.

Chafing under First Amendment restrictions, many censorship-prone American leftists look longingly toward successful speech control up north or overseas. That's what they want right here. We are very lucky to have the First Amendment. Without it, our chattering classes would be falling all over themselves to ban speech that offends sensitive groups, just as Canadian- and Euro-chatterers are doing now. We know this because our campus speech codes, the models for the disastrous hate-speech laws elsewhere, were the inventions of our own elites. Without a First Amendment, the distortions and suppressions of campus life would likely have gone national. Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, and many rap artists would be in jail, or at least facing charges.

The cause of free speech can no longer expect much help from the American Civil Liberties Union, more concerned today with civil rights and multicultural issues than with civil liberties and free speech. True, the ACLU still takes some censorship cases-it led the fight against the first wave of campus speech codes circa 1990, for instance. But the rise of the ACLU's internal lobbies or "projects," such as the Lesbian and Gay Project and the Immigrants' Rights Project, has made the organization look more and more like a traditional left-wing pressure group, with little passion for the First Amendment. The ACLU is also following the money: funds flow in because the group responds to concerns of feminist, gays, and other identity groups, not because of its historical defense of free speech and civil liberties.

These days, the ACLU visibly stands aloof from obvious First Amendment cases-such as the college speech and harassment codes-and even comes down on the anti-free-speech side. Consider the group's stance in Aguilar v. Avis Rent-A-Car System, a case involving ethnic epithets aimed by supervisors at Latino employees of Avis in San Francisco. A California court ruled that Avis had permitted a hostile environment. The California Supreme Court, abetted by both the northern Californian and the national ACLU, agreed, and upheld the lower court's startling speech restriction: prior restraint on workers' speech, forbidding a judge-made list of specific words. These words, not yet revealed or promulgated, will soon be taboo in every California workplace, even outside the earshot of Latino employees, and even if they are welcome. As civil libertarian Nat Hentoff wrote: "This may be the broadest and vaguest restriction of speech in American legal history."

Even with the ACLU, the mainstream media, school officials, and much of the professorate AWOL, the speech police haven't gone unopposed. Just ask former Clinton official Donna Shalala. As chancellor of the University of Wisconsin in the late eighties, she proved a fervent early advocate of campus speech restrictions. Though Shalala occasionally praised free speech, she and her team imposed not only a full-fledged student speech code, later struck down in federal court, but also a faculty code that provoked the first (and so far, only) pro-free-speech campus campaign strong enough to repeal such repressive restrictions. The Wisconsin faculty code was a primitive, totalitarian horror. Professors found themselves under investigation, sometimes for months, without a chance to defend themselves or even to know about the secret proceedings. One female professor said: "It was like being put in prison for no reason. I had no idea what it was that I was supposed to have done."

A small group of free-speech-minded faculty formed the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights (CAFR). The group asked for help from the Wisconsin chapter of the pro-free-speech National Association of Scholars, which enlisted as speakers such celebrated allies as Alan Dershowitz and National Journal columnist Jonathan Rauch.

The First Amendment forces got a lucky break when the university signed a foolish contract with Reebok, in which it received millions of dollars in exchange for the use of the company's footwear by campus sports teams. The contract included a clause forbidding negative comments on Reebok products by any "University employee, agent or representative." The clause greatly irritated the anticorporate campus Left, which had usually been lukewarm or indifferent to free-speech concerns, helping convert some of its members to the anti-speech-code side. Later, a strong defense of free speech by a homosexual professor, called a traitor to his identity group for his courage, brought in other campus leftist allies. CAFR was amazed at how quickly many would-be censors backed down when confronted with controversy and threatened lawsuits. Wisconsin rescinded its faculty code-the first university to do so without a court order.

New national groups have joined the fight for free speech on campus (and off), among them the Center for Individual Rights, the Alliance Defense Fund, and FIRE, the most relentless of the newcomers. FIRE usually starts a campaign with a polite letter to a university president, noting that some policy is either unconstitutional or a clear violation of civil liberties. If it doesn't get the change it wants, it will then write to trustees, parents, and alumni, and take its case to the media.

FIRE now has an extensive network of campus free-speech "spies," as its cofounder, Harvey Silverglate, jauntily calls them (Alan Charles Kors, the other cofounder, prefers "concerned members of the community"). The organization is seeking new ways to open up closed campus systems, too, such as suing administrators as individuals, which FIRE believes will get their full attention. Another new tactic is to publicize what colleges spend on fighting for unconstitutional speech codes. Most of all, FIRE is trying to show stubborn administrators that the era of hiding gross civil liberties violations behind a PC wall of silence is over: the group wins more than 95 percent of its cases.

Political correctness took hold when there were 40 radio talk shows, three networks, and no bloggers. Today, the cross-referencing of PC outrages among bloggers, radio talkers, and rights groups makes it hard to run an old-fashioned repressive campus. University presidents now understand that their reputations do not rest entirely with the PC platoons. Donna Shalala escaped Wisconsin with her reputation intact. Sheldon Hackney, former president of Penn, did not. (I named my own annual award for the worst college president, the "Sheldon," in his honor.) When he stepped down from the Penn presidency, he didn't become the head of a major foundation, as many expected; instead, he wound up returning to Penn as a professor. Other reputations hang in the balance. Lee Bollinger, a First Amendment expert (and affirmative-action advocate), was invisible during the free-speech debates at Michigan and is almost as recessive today as president of Columbia. But it is getting harder for the Hackneys and Bollingers to waffle. Perhaps the battle to release the campuses from the iron grasp of PC will take decades, but the struggle for free speech is being fought-and won-now.



Still fighting the Massachusetts homosexuality evangelists

Officials from a Boston school district have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two couples who claim their parental rights were violated when homosexuality was discussed in their children's classrooms. US District Judge Mark Wolf did not immediately issue a decision in the case from Lexington, but peppered lawyers on both sides with questions and said he understood the importance of the case to both parents and school administrators.

Tonia and David Parker sued after their five-year-old son brought home a book from kindergarten that depicted a gay family. Mr Parker was later arrested for refusing to leave his son's school after officials would not agree to notify him when homosexuality was discussed in his son's class. Another Lexington couple, Joseph and Robin Wirthlin, joined the Parkers in the suit after a second-grade teacher read King and King to her class. The fairy tale tells the story of two princes falling in love. Both couples claim Lexington school officials violated their parental rights to teach their own morals to their children.

The case has attracted a great deal of attention in Massachusetts, the only US state that allows same-sex marriage. John Davis, an attorney for Lexington school officials, argued in court on Wednesday that teaching diversity is a "legitimate state interest". He said that it would be "an administrative nightmare" for schools in Massachusetts to try to predict when the topic of gay marriage will come up and to inform parents ahead of time. "The parents do have rights ... but they don't have the right to dictate to the public school system what their children can be exposed to in the way of ideas," Davis said.

Robert Sinsheimer, an attorney for the parents who filed the lawsuit, called the homosexual discussions and materials "a form of propaganda" that goes against the parents' religious beliefs. He said the parents do not want to dictate curriculum, but do want to be able to remove their young children from classrooms when homosexuality or gay marriage is being discussed. "What they fear is that their children are being brainwashed," he said.

About 30 people on both sides of the issue demonstrated outside the courthouse. Annie McQuilken, a Lexington parent who held a sign that read "We Support ALL Our Families", said she wants the schools to be able to teach children about all different types of families. "Discussing families is one of the things that goes on in the classroom, and we shouldn't single out a particular type of family for exclusion," she said.

After the hearing, David Parker said he did not want to limit the school system's curriculum, but did want to be told ahead of time when homosexuality was going to be discussed. "When the teacher puts it forward, it becomes the gospel according to the teacher," he said. "The children are so young - they can't reflect on that idea. They're too young to put it in context."

In Massachusetts, like most of the nation, there is no official education policy on when or how to discuss homosexuality in the classroom. State guidelines say only that teachers should define the different sexual orientations by the fifth grade; it is up to each school district to decide how to do that. An "opt out" provision in state law requires parental notification and the chance to remove their kids from the classroom if the curriculum "primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality issues." But school officials say same-sex marriage comes up in current events classes where it's not the primary focus and not subject to the "opt out" law.


8 February, 2007


Leftists are today's absolute monarchists

On January 30, 1649, King Charles I was executed; soon afterwards Eikon Basilike, his partly ghost-written apologia, was published. It rapidly became a bestseller, running through some 50 editions in the first year; no doubt that played its part in building public support for the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The Eikon can be described only as a High Tory document, arguing that a king and a subject have quite different functions. Whatever else may be said of him, Charles I was neither a liberal nor a democrat.

If one looks for the first recorded example of the use of the word "discrimination" in its modern political sense, one finds it in a rather tortuous sentence in Eikon Basilike. "Take heed of abetting any factions, of applying to any public discriminations in matters of religion." King Charles always did believe in uniformity in matters of religion; that was the policy of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Charles's enthusiastic supporter. Charles was a "no discrimination" king. That was his advice to his successors.

It has been surprising to find Charles's doctrine rising up again in the present dispute over the Catholic agencies' refusal to organise adoption for same-sex couples. It is even more surprising that Charles's doctrine has been adopted by the Left or liberal wing of politics. Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, seems to be deciding this adoption issue. He has said that he would never agree to discrimination; "no discrimination" has been echoed by the Government front bench in the House of Lords.

It seems to be the policy of the Liberal Democrats. David Cameron has told The Daily Telegraph that "we shouldn't put up with this discrimination on the basis of race, age or sexual orientation". If interpreted literally, that would eliminate the age of consent, which involves discrimination on the grounds of age, and would raise the awkward question whether paedophilia constituted a "sexual orientation".

Almost all law is concerned with discriminating between different cases that receive different treatment. Even the Civil Partnership Act itself is avowedly discriminatory. Same-sex couples gain substantial tax advantages, equal to those of a married couple. Members of the same family are not allowed to enter into civil partnerships with each other; nor are unmarried heterosexual couples. These seem to me to be unfair discriminations, but that is not the point. They undoubtedly are discriminatory and the exclusion of heterosexual couples is undoubtedly a discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is a matter of same sex, yes, but different sexes no.

Mr Cameron is a thoughtful politician, which makes his views on the adoption issue particularly interesting. He said: "It is time to sweep away failed multiculturalism. I don't think it would be right to allow carve-outs for Muslim groups or Hindu groups or whoever, so that means one law that everyone has to obey. And that's why I don't think a block exemption for Catholic adoption agencies would be right." Mr Cameron understands that he is attacking multiculturalism. He does not seem to understand that multiculturalism is the basis of liberalism.

If liberalism has a core of meaning, it is that different people, different groups, different churches, different religions, have a right to hold different views. Society has the overriding right to protect itself against anarchy and terrorism, but so far as possible society should leave people free to make their own judgments and decide on their own actions. All voluntary agencies could and should have been left to make their own rules for adoptions. The State could decide the rules for state agencies.

Mr Cameron is in company that would regard itself as liberal. He has most of the Liberal Democrats with him, and most of new Labour with him. He sees himself as a liberal Conservative. But his view that there should be no exceptions in law to allow for differences in religious beliefs is neither liberal, nor workable. It is illiberal because liberty depends on pluralism and therefore has to accept multiculturalism. It is unworkable because Britain has no way of imposing our belief systems on Islam. Other religions may give way, like the ocean; Islam is like a rock. Wise sailors do not steer into the rocks.

Society has no choice but to act against a church or religion that attacks social order, as some Muslim groups do. In the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I or King James I the English Government was justified in acting against Catholic plots, though many Catholics were unjustly punished and were pushed into extremism. British policy in Ireland has never been forgiven.

When Mr Cameron argues that Catholic adoption agencies should be given "time to find a way through the new rules", he does sound condescending to most Catholics. The Catholic Church has had a doctrine of marriage, as an indissoluble union between two people of different sexes, taking priority over all other relationships, since the time of Christ, endorsed by his specific words.

The Catholic Church believes that doctrine would be prejudiced if Catholic agencies arranged adoption for same-sex couples. After 2000 years, the Church is not going to change its mind because of a vote in the House of Commons. In matters of faith and morals, the Catholic Church sees itself as sovereign, because it is teaching the doctrine of Jesus. The Church may not break British law, but it will certainly not break its own law.

Harold Macmillan is said to have observed that a prime minister should avoid taking on three bodies, the Brigade of Guards, the Roman Catholic Church and the National Union of Mineworkers. Ted Heath was indeed destroyed by the mineworkers, Margaret Thatcher eventually defeated them. A prudent prime minister knows the limits of his own authority. He can pass laws, but he cannot enforce consent. The great religions command strong loyalties. It would be a great mistake if the British Government decided to take them on, and a pity if the Leader of the Opposition supported a policy of compelled uniformity.


Rising nationalism is a natural response

There is a fine balance to promoting tolerance

Unfashionable as it may seem, the Cronulla riots provide a useful reminder of the inherent risks of civil decline when the political class strays too far from grass-roots expectations on a nation's sense of self. The issue is not confined to Australia and is felt more in Europe than the US, where nationhood is more aggressively founded on a binding loyalty to a defined set of core values. Elsewhere in the West, a renewed clamour for national identity is a predictable and overdue response to the permissive extremes of the decades-long embrace of no-rules multiculturalism. The trend has been provoked by the rise of militant Islam, with its own competitive identity that transcends national borders. The reaction can be measured by a resurgence of pride in the Australian flag among young people and near universal support for the Government to impose a tougher citizenship test for migrants. It is reflected in the Government's decision to swap multiculturalism for citizenship in the title of the Immigration Department.

The new reality sits uncomfortably with the so-called progressive view that favours unbridled tolerance for the minority and a loathing for the dominant culture or conventional view. These themes are explored by Francis Fukuyama, professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, who says that if existing citizens do not sufficiently value their national citizenship, they can scarcely expect newcomers to value it. The potential cost of inaction is evident in comments by Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes in The Australian today that opinion surveys in Britain consistently show 50 per cent of British Muslims would like to see the introduction of sharia Islamic law. This is akin to exchanging the constitution for the Koran.

This new reality is prompting a reappraisal from all quarters. Writing in British newspaper The Guardian, Nick Cohen repudiates his left-wing heritage and outlines how the postmodern thought has bred the conditions for greater intolerance, such as that in Cronulla. It was the Left's capacity to support Saddam Hussein against coalition intervention that prompted Cohen's reappraisal, which has only been reinforced as his former comrades have also refused to speak out against the sectarian violence that has now laid siege to Baghdad, lest criticism be construed as support for the US. He argues that the death of socialism - disgraced by the communists' atrocities and floored by the success of market-based economies - has brought a dark liberation to people who consider themselves to be on the liberal Left. It has freed them to go along with any movement, however far to the Right it may be, as long as it is against the status quo in general and the US in particular.

Unfortunately for the West, the liberal tolerance shown by the Left to minority groups has not always come with reciprocal obligations. Professor Fukuyama argues that Europe's failure to better integrate its Muslim population is a ticking time bomb that has already contributed to terrorism. It is bound to provoke a sharper backlash from populist groups, and may even threaten European democracy itself.

Writing in the Journal of Democracy, republished in The Weekend Australian, Professor Fukuyama advocates a two-pronged approach involving changes in behaviour by immigrant minorities and their descendants as well as by members of the dominant national communities. First, it is necessary to recognise that the old multicultural model has not been a success and has led to demands for group rights that cannot be squared with liberal principles of individual equality. Second, national identity must be clearly defined and expressed. Both things are evident in Australia, with the reappraisal of multiculturalism as an open-cheque policy and the introduction of more stringent citizenship requirements. For Professor Fukuyama, a failure to be clear on national identity leaves a society vulnerable to being overwhelmed by those with a much better defined sense of community identity. Professor Fukuyama's view that jihadism is aided by the quest for identity spawned by migration to non-Muslim countries is particularly so if host countries fail to offer meaningful economic and cultural integration.

While Australia does not share the extent of problems faced by Britain and some European countries, such as The Netherlands, there are many lessons to be heeded. Just as Professor Fukuyama notes that disaffiliation within the Muslim community can provoke terrorism, so too were the Cronulla riots a predictable response to a growing sense that the dominant Aussie-Anglo culture was being undermined. Left unchecked, this can result in ugly consequences, but banning displays of the national flag at events such as the Big Day Out is no cure. The rational response to globalisation is to reaffirm one's affiliations, and the most sensible way to do that is through a sensible nationalism, where we all stand for something.


Leftists love to find "Victims" -- even if it is all in their own minds

Where some Australian Leftists see pornography, other people just see a child wearing nice clothes

A girl is standing alone on the beach. Her hips are thrust forward, her legs slightly parted. Her lips are wet with gloss. Some of her clothes are slightly askew. You can see her bra, white and tiny, through her singlet. She is not yet 12 years old, and she is selling the clothes she is wearing. Is the image vaguely pornographic? Does it sexualise the child?

Emma Rush, a feminist academic from the left-leaning think tank, the Australia Institute, believes it does. Last October, she put her thoughts down in an academic paper, provocatively titled Corporate Paedophilia. An electronic attachment to the report contained images of children taken from a David Jones catalogue (and also from Myer, Fred Bare, Frangipani Rose, Barbie magazine, among others). Some showed girls alone on the beach or in bush settings. Rush said they were "sexually vulnerable". In others, the child models wore make-up.

Rush flayed the advertisers, saying: "Pictures of sexy children send messages to pedophiles that children are sexually available and interested in sex. That is very irresponsible on behalf of the advertisers and marketers." She objected also to some of the products being marketed to children, such as the "bralette", a bandeau-style bra for girls aged four to eight, with removable straps. One version is made by Bonds. It is available from most department stores. "I just think, you know, what does a three to four-year-old child need to be wearing a bra for?" Rush said.

All the advertisers named in Rush's report were appalled to be accused of something as heinous as the exploitation of children. David Jones, which cultivates a reputation for high-quality apparel and corporate decency, was outraged. Chief executive Mark McInnes immediately telephoned Australia Institute director Clive Hamilton. In a heated exchange, McInnes demanded that any references to his company be removed from Rush's report. When Hamilton refused, David Jones called in the lawyers to defend its brand. Under changes to defamation laws that came into effect in January 2006, it is almost impossible for a big corporation to sue. But David Jones was determined to make its point and yesterday launched a creative legal course, claiming a breach of section 52 of the Trade Practices Act.

Legal analysts say the action is not certain to succeed, but there is quiet admiration for David Jones. The children in its catalogue were not scantily clad; they were dressed as children often are these days, in smart, designer clothes. Duncan Fine, a father of two boys and author of Why TV is Good for Kids, says: "Good on David Jones for standing up for themselves. I looked at the pictures and I thought, if you were to look at that and see something even vaguely pornographic, there's got to be something wrong with you. "It's the same with kids in bikinis. If you think a seven-year-old running across Bronte Beach is a sexual image, well, you have a major problem."

Fine says it is "irresponsible, just ludicrous" to use the term pedophilia in the report. "Pedophilia is a crime so awful, we shouldn't make light of it. It was clearly designed to get attention. And the idea that kids these days are somehow being harmed by advertising, well, there is just no evidence for that." Indeed, on almost every measure, today's children are doing all right. They are better educated than their parents, more likely to finish Year 12 and get a job afterwards, less likely to use drugs and get pregnant as teens. "If anything, we are in the age of the uber-parent," says Fine. "Parents are doting on their kids. Children are saturated with love and affection and care."

The term corporate pedophilia was coined not by the Australia Institute in 2006 but by commentator Phillip Adams, who first used it in a column in 1995 to describe the phenomenon "where childhood is truncated and abbreviated by the march of marketing, so children can be turned into little adults, and marched through the malls". Speaking to The Australian, Adams says he is concerned less with the sexualisation of children than by the truncation of childhood. "The age of consent for commerce has certainly been lowered. You still cannot physically seduce a child under the age of 16, but retailers and advertisers can seduce them any other way. "It's a fact that mighty corporations hire all the smart-arses to find ways to turn kids into purchasers of crap, basically. It's that seduction of the innocent that is objectionable." Adams remembers no marketing to children when he was himself a child, except perhaps in Batman comics. "There was a long period of pre-pubescence," he says. "Children were not sexualised. We lived in a world of sexual mystery. We knew bugger all. These days, it's anal sex, blow jobs: they know everything."

It's certainly true that children are exposed to sex and pornography earlier, and more often, than in previous generations. "You don't need to go to the internet for it. It's in the mainstream media," Adams says. Last year, one of the best-selling CDs for girls aged between eight and 14 was the Kids Pop Party Mix. It comes in a pretty pink CD case, with a purple karaoke microphone on the front. Most girls buy it to get just one song, the smash hit Don't Cha by the Pussycat Dolls: "Don't cha wish your girl friend was hot like me?/ Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?/ Don't cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me?"

The Pussycat Dolls started as a burlesque act, stripping to their lacy underwear for money. But the Kids Pop Party Mix is produced by an offshoot of good old Aunty. It's on the ABC Kids label, sold through ABC stores. The promoters market the CD by saying: "Finding the right music for that in-between age group - the eight to 14-year-olds - can be difficult, particularly in these days of soft-core pop videos. Parents want to ensure their children are listening to music that's appropriate to their age group. ABC Kids has come to the rescue with the bumper Kids Pop Party Mix." [the ABC referred to is Australia's mega-correct public broadcaster] ....

Adams says some parents appear to have abandoned "even the most classic parental responsibilities. God knows, I can't begin to imagine what is going on in the minds of parents."

But according to Fine, "Parents frankly don't believe their children are being manipulated. Where some people see pornography or exploitation, others just see a kid in a catalogue wearing nice clothes." This is the view of Louise Greig, a Sydney mother and entrepreneur, whose fashion label Frangipani Rose was among those targeted by Rush in the Corporate Paedophilia report last year.

Rush says the child in the Frangipani Rose ads had been styled provocatively, which horrified Greig, since the child was her own daughter, nine-year-old Georgina. "The idea that you can look at a photograph that I've taken of my own daughter and think, that's pornography - what goes through that woman's mind? What kind of planet does she live on, that she would think such sick thoughts?" Greig responded to the report.

More here

7 February, 2007

Dirty little secret of who is behind the rise in British antisemitism

Good news for Britain's Jewish community - antisemitic attacks have decreased sharply in the past year. Racist attacks on blacks, Asians and Arabs are "far higher than the level of antisemitic attacks". So mazeltov then, you lucky, lucky Jews. Stop that whining. You've never had it so good.

That, at least, is the view of Lee Jasper, "race adviser" to Ken Livingstone and also on the board of the National Black Alliance, National Black Caucus and Operation Black Vote. (Indeed, if you were to choose two words at random and put the word "black" in between, you'd probably hit on an organisation run by Lee and funded, somewhere along the line, by your wallet.)

Jasper was responding to a survey by the Community Security Trust that seemed to show antisemitic attacks had doubled in the past 10 years and increased by 37% over the past 12 months. The attacks were at their most concentrated during the summer war between Israel and Hezbollah. But Jasper, who can usually be relied on to show you racism in a handful of dust or a bowl of chicken soup, unilaterally decided that the figures were rubbish. No story there, he said. Why's that, I wonder?

The trust's report was carried by quite a few national newspapers; but the curious thing is not one dared to mention why these attacks had increased nor speculated as to what group of people might be responsible for them. The impression one was left with was that any of us might have been out kicking Jews at night, perhaps because there was nothing good on the box. This was despite one or two strongish clues: the war in Lebanon and the graffiti that accompanied the desecration of Jewish graves in north London. The words spray-painted read "Hitler" and "Kill All Jews" and "Allah". Now, call me Inspector Barnaby, but that last one is a bit of a giveaway.

A spokesman for the trust, Mark Gardner, said the usual suspects, white right-wing extremists, were not responsible - yet conceded, almost as an afterthought, that Muslims were "overrepresented" in identifiable attacks. That's overrepresented in the same way that elderly middle-class white men are overrepresented in the Long Room at Lord's, I'd guess. Still, at least we now have an idea why Jasper wished to deny the figures and why everybody else trod so gingerly.

But if you don't spell it out, nothing will be done. The police, for example, are too busy interviewing Celebrity Big Brother contestants about who called whom "white trash" or "poppadom" to worry about real, hate-filled, violent racism. And yet the clue to the rise in attacks on Jewish people lies in the bookshop they raided in Birmingham last week - and thousands like it up and down the country.


European appeasement again

Last September Robert Redeker, a French high-school philosophy teacher and author of several scholarly books, published an opinion piece in Le Figaro entitled "What should the free world do in the face of Islamist intimidation?" His piece concluded that while Judaism and Christianity are religions whose rites reject and delegitimise violence, Islam is a religion that, in its own sacred text, as well as in its everyday rites, exalts violence and hatred.

The article was posted on the internet, translated into Arabic, and widely distributed. Within a day, it was being condemned on Al-Jazeera TV and the offending issue of Le Figaro was banned in Egypt and Tunisia. Redeker received a large number of threatening emails. He was condemned to death on one Muslim site, which posted his address and a photograph of his home. Redeker and his family went into hiding. Five months later they are still living in secrecy.

Christian Delacampagne, writing in the latest issue of Commentary magazine, describes how the French reacted: "The communist mayor of Redeker's town condemned him, the headmaster of his school complained that he had included his affiliation at the end of the article, France's two largest teachers' unions, both socialist, issued statements saying they did not share Redeker's convictions. The leading leftist human-rights organisations denounced his irresponsible declarations and putrid ideas. The French Education Minister, Gilles de Robien, criticised Redeker. "The editorial board of Le Monde, France's newspaper of record, characterised Redeker's piece as excessive, misleading and insulting. It called his remarks about Muhammad a blasphemy. To judge from this response, large sectors of the French intellectual and political establishment have carved out an exception to the hard-won tradition of open discussion: when it comes to Islam, as opposed to Christianity or Judaism, freedom of speech must respect definite limits. "How did France reach this point?"

The last time France was faced with a large-scale threat from something similar - fascism - it reacted with denial, defeat and accommodation. Parallels are drawn by an American writer living in Europe, Bruce Bawer, whose book While Europe Slept describes rapidly growing Muslim enclaves across Western Europe in which women are oppressed, homosexuals are persecuted, infidels are threatened, Jews are demonised, "honour" killings are frequent, forced marriages are routine, and freedom of speech and religion are repudiated. European political and media establishments turn a blind eye to this in the name of an illusory multicultural harmony.

"Europe's media, when confronted with events or statements that vividly illuminate the goals of Muslim leaders and agitators, either don't report on them or edit out key facts," Bawer wrote recently on his website. "Few media accounts of the 2005 Paris riots, for example, mentioned participants' cries of 'Allahu Akbar'. A 2006 [London] Telegraph poll found that 40 per cent of British Muslims want Britain to become a sharia state, yet politicians still respond to every new riot, rape, honour killing or foiled terrorist plot by reassuring the public that the overwhelming majority of European Muslims are law-abiding, peace-loving supporters of democracy."

It's a bleak view, but Western Europe's 15 million Muslims today will be 30 million in 10 years. A similar argument is made in another book, Infidel, published last week by a former Dutch member of parliament and former Muslim, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is fluent in Arabic and Somali, has lived in Saudi Arabia, and worked for 10 years as a translator with the Muslims of Holland. Since criticising Islam and the oppression of Muslim women, she has been subject to so many threats and murder attempts she now lives in the US.

In an interview last week I asked her why there was such censorship, denial and silence from so many European liberals in the face of so many attacks on liberalism. "There is a combination of imperial guilt, and the civil rights movement," she said. "It created an attitude that all cultures are equal, that Western culture is not superior, that Christianity is not superior. This is especially so in the intellectual elite, the media, the education systems, in politics. But for the intellectual elite this belief is only theoretical. "It is the working-class communities who were the first to experience the realities of immigration and cultural differences. When there were the first protests in these communities about problems with immigration, and about problems with how immigrant women were being treated, the elite immediately turned on them by calling them 'racists'. "Instead of facing up to this new face of misogyny, the elites pretended it was because of discrimination. The immigrants became the new working class. The proletariat was reinvented .

"Holland's multiculturalism has deprived many Muslim women and children of their rights. It is tolerance for the sake of consensus, but the consensus is empty. Many Muslims never learn Dutch and reject Dutch values of tolerance and personal liberty. I read rants about Islamophobia, but none of this pseudo-intellectualising had anything to do with reality. "Until I came on the scene, no one wanted to say that the criminal behaviour of so many young Muslim men had anything to do with culture. There is such a resistance to quantifying, to statistics, because everybody knows where the statistics will lead. And if you publish that Muslims commit most violent crimes, there will be violence from the Muslims, and they will be supported by the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Socialist Party, which will explain away this behaviour as 'poverty'."

Faced with the rising tide of bomb attacks, plots, threats, demands and belligerent victimology from a violent, ignorant and sexually repressive subculture, the centre of European civilisation appears to be doing exactly what it did the last time blackshirts were on the march in Europe - appeasing, denying and capitulating

Source. (Note: Robert Redeker's site is here and there is an English translation of the "offensive" article here).

6 February, 2007

Rape: The woman is always right (1)

That's what the feminists tell us. Three current examples below that show how wrong any such assumptions are

The daughter of a church minister who made false allegations of rape against four separate men has been jailed for two years. Abigail Gibson, 22, made the "vile" claims against a work colleague, an ex-boyfriend, a stranger and even her father, Ian, who is a respected minister at a young offenders' institute.

One of her victims, Mark Berry, 26, had known Gibson for just two weeks after meeting her at a supermarket where they both worked. But when she learned he had complained to bosses about being bullied by one of her friends at the store, she set about trying to get him sacked. Chester Crown Court heard that Gibson, a security guard, fabricated a "tissue of wicked lies" alleging Mr Berry, who collected trolleys at the store, had raped her while they were both on duty late at night. Police launched an investigation and arrested Mr Berry, who was thrown in a police cell overnight and forced to give intimate DNA samples. He was so "utterly terrified" of going to prison for a crime he had not committed that he repeatedly broke down in tears and was physically sick when questioned by officers.

Only when Gibson alleged another man, her ex-boyfriend, had also raped her three months later did police realise she had made up the sex attacks. They discovered that Gibson had made two other false rape claims in the past and launched an investigation into her conduct. On Monday Gibson admitted one count of perverting the course of justice, relating to the false rape allegation at ASDA in Winsford, Cheshire, in September last year.

Sentencing Gibson to two years imprisonment, Judge Roger Dutton, said: "This is the fourth time you have made vile allegations against men. "You chose to make up a tissue of wicked lies about a man working in the same place as you, accusing him of a sexual offence against you. "You knew perfectly well it was untrue. He was arrested, he occupied a cell overnight for something he had never done. "Samples (of DNA) were taken and he was interviewed. He was utterly terrified. "The police were able to establish it was a wicked invention by you. Your behaviour was disgraceful. "You are a significant danger to any man who happens to be in your company alone, for he may well find himself the victim of an unfounded allegation of rape."

Peter Hussey, prosecuting, told the hearing that Gibson, from Northwich, Cheshire, had falsely claimed she had been raped four times in total. The first allegation was made when Gibson, whose Seychelles-born mother, Elizabeth, is a school teacher, was a teenager and she accused her father of rape. He was investigated but no charges were ever brought. Then, three years ago, Gibson, whose parents divorced seven years ago, went to police alleging she had been raped in Northwich town centre. Only when CCTV footage showed she was lying did she admit she had made it up.

In September last year she made the allegation against Mr Berry and three months later, on December 23, Gibson also accused an ex-boyfriend, aged 56, of raping her as she walked home from the pub. Once again, police found she had lied about the claim to get her former partner into trouble.

Last night Mark Berry's mother, Rosemary Derbyshire, 60, said her son's life had been destroyed by Gibson. "Mark and I are very pleased that Gibson has been jailed,' Mrs Derbyshire, from Winsford, Cheshire, said. "Mark was totally destroyed by the allegations, he is still afraid to go out of the house. "The episode has made him very dubious of women. He did not even know this girl and was not even at work when she said it happened. She has ruined his life."

Duncan Bould, defending, told the court that doctors who examined Gibson said she was not mentally ill, but may have suffered some kind of sexual or interpersonal trauma in childhood which could explain her behaviour.


Rape: The woman is always right (2)

A best-selling author who wrote about her life as a prostitute has received a suspended jail term for lying to police by telling them she was raped in her own home. Dawn Annandale, 39, who wrote the internationally-acclaimed book Call Me Elizabeth, admitted wasting police time after claiming she was sexually assaulted.

A seven-month inquiry costing 15,000 pounds was conducted as police spent 450 hours investigating her bogus claim that she was raped by an intruder in her former home village of Lyminge, near Folkestone, Kent, on March 14 last year. Forensic teams spent three days examining every room of the house, and police set up roadblocks, conducted house-to-house inquiries and handed out leaflets. Her deceit only surfaced after an acquaintance told police she was lying, and mother-of-six Annandale pleaded guilty at Folkestone Magistrates' Court last month to wasting police time. The court heard she had invented the false rape allegation in an effort to delay a County Court hearing three days later, on March 17, about money owed to a landlord.

Annandale, from Hawkinge, returned to the same court where magistrates handed her a 120-day prison sentence suspended for 18 months. In addition, she was ordered to do 200 hours' community service and to pay 5,000 pounds in compensation and 100 costs.

Presiding Magistrate Barry Linden told her: "You committed the offence deliberately and calculatingly. There was a risk of harm to everyone involved in such a case. "As detailed in the report, you failed to recognise the serious disservice to rape victims and potential perpetrators this behaviour could have effected." Dressed all in black, brunette Annandale declined to answer questions as she was led to a taxi outside court, but her literary agent, Rebecca Winfield, said she "apologised unreservedly" to police for her actions.

She said: "At the time of the incident, Dawn Annandale was feeling very insecure and depressed. "She fully understands the seriousness of the offence, to rape victims in particular and the public in general. "She would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Kent Police. I have nothing more to say."

First published in April 2005, Call Me Elizabeth charted her story of a legal secretary who decided to supplement her income by entering the world of vice. The book sold more than 100,000 copies and led to her appearance on programmes such as Newsnight and Richard & Judy. Following the case, a Kent Police spokesman said: "These allegations are extremely serious and were taken extremely seriously. You cannot get much worse than a woman alleging she has been raped in her own home."


Rape: The woman is always right (3)

Having spent eight of his 26 years behind bars, Carlos Jose Barrera is the first to admit he has a checkered past. But for the past two years, while locked up in the county jail without bail, he contends he has been wrongly accused of raping a woman more than 11 years ago. After a weeklong trial and one day of deliberation, a Sacramento Superior Court jury agreed with him. "I may have been a thief, but I am no rapist," Barrera said this week as he sat in his grandmother's Sacramento home.

Charged with three felony counts of forcible rape, Barrera faced 75 years to life in prison. Earlier, he turned down an offer of 34 years in a plea bargain. "I didn't trust the system, but I knew my innocence and I had to roll the dice," Barrera said afterward. When the verdict was read in court Jan. 19. Barrera broke down in tears. His mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago and given a 12 months to live, also sobbed uncontrollably in the audience. Later, the judge allowed Barrera to hug his mother. "That was the first time I touched her in over 22 months," Barrera said Thursday. "From here on I have to get my life on track. I have to get a job. I have to start from the ground up," said Barrera who borrowed $50,000 from his family to pay his lawyer.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Hill, who prosecuted Barrera, declined to comment on the verdict. However, during opening statements, Hill said Barrera - at the time 15 - used a butcher knife as he raped a 24-year-old woman. "You know you are going to die tonight," Hill quoted Barrera as telling the woman the night of the alleged rape. The prosecutor also told jurors Barrera's DNA was compared with DNA evidence from the crime scene and that the odds of Barrera not being the assailant were more than a trillion to one.

During the trial, defense lawyer Charles Bloodgood argued that the sex between the two was consensual. "Everyone assumed he was guilty and that she was telling the truth," Bloodgood said this week. "These assumptions were made in a vacuum." Bloodgood, who has been an attorney for roughly three decades, said Barrera's case is unusual because less than 2 percent of criminal trials end in acquittals. "She told four different versions of what happened, and he only told one version. The jury did the right thing," Bloodgood said.

Barrera's criminal history began at 12 when he was associating with gangs. He later was convicted of burglary, car theft and robbery. "The next bad decision I make is a third strike. I feel ashamed of my past," he said.

Barrera was charged with the rape when he was about to be paroled from the California Youth Authority in 2005. His DNA had been matched with DNA evidence collected by police on Nov. 14, 1995 when the woman reported her attack. During the trial, the woman testified she was raped three times in an empty North Sacramento lot and that she later picked Barrera out in a police lineup.

At the time, the woman, Dixie Mae Cascarella, was awaiting sentencing on a felony charge of child endangerment in the death of her 3-year-old son, Androse Tennessee. Her boyfriend and co-defendant, Brandshay Huntsinger, was convicted a month earlier of beating the boy to death.

Although Barrera lost some of his credibility when he had to admit in his testimony that he was a convicted felon, Judge Patrick Marlette ruled that the evidence code protected Cascarella from divulging her conviction.

Though thankful to the jury for believing his story, Barrera said he is bitter about the experience. "I want to get a job doing something that I can do anywhere in the country," said Barrera, who received training while in custody in driving forklifts and operating other large pieces of machinery. "I don't trust Sacramento," Barrera said. "I don't trust California. I want to write a book about this whole thing. I'm going to call it 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent.' "



Excerpt from Mark Steyn below:

The other day I was giving a speech in Washington and, in the questions afterwards, the subject of Little Mosque On The Prairie came up. "Muslim is the new gay," I said. Which got a laugh. "That's off the record," I added. "I want a sporting chance of getting home alive." And I went on to explain that back in the Nineties sitcoms and movies began introducing gay characters who were the most likeable and got all the best lines, and that Muslims were likely to be the lucky beneficiaries of a similar dispensation. In both cases, the intent is the same: to make Islam, like homosexuality, something only uptight squares are uncool with.

At the time I hadn't seen so much as a trailer for Little Mosque. But it seemed a reasonable enough assumption that nine times out of ten the joke would be on the "irrational" prejudices and drearily provincial ignorance of the Saskatchewan hicks. And sure enough, if you settled down to watch the first episode, it opened up with some stringy stump-toothed redneck stumbling on a bunch of Muslims praying and racing for the telephone. "Is this the Terrorist Attack Hotline? You want me to hold?"

Well, of course, the local Anglican vicar tries to explain that he's just rented the parish hall to a harmless group of local Mohammedans. "This is simply a pilot project," he says reassuringly. "Pilot?" gasps the redneck. "They're training pilots?" And off he goes to the talk-radio blowhard who is, naturally, a right-wing hatemonger.

Meanwhile, the mosque's dishy new imam is waiting to board his flight and yakking into his cell phone about how taking the gig in Mercy, Saskatchewan is going to be career suicide. Another passenger overhears that last word and the cops pull the guy out of line and give him the third degree: "You lived for over a year in Afghanistan?"

"I was volunteering for a development agency," says the metrosexual cappuccino-swilling imam, who's very droll about his predicament: if my story doesn't hold up, he cracks, "you can deport me to Syria." "Hey," warns the bozo flatfoot sternly, "you do not get to choose which country we deport you to."

Fair enough. Never mind that, in the real Canada, the talk-radio guy would be off the air and hounded into oblivion by the Saskatchewan Humans Rights Commission; and that, instead of looking like Rick Mercer after 20 minutes on a sunbed and being wry and self-deprecating and Toronto-born, your typical western imam is fiercely bearded, trained in Saudi Arabia and such linguistic dexterity as he has is confined to Arabic; and that airline officials who bounce suspicious Muslims from the flight wind up making public apologies and undergoing sensitivity training; and that, in the event they do bust up a terrorist plot, the Mounties inevitably issue statements saying this in no way reflects on any particular community in our glorious Canadian mosaic, particularly any community beginning with "Is-" and ending with "-lam"; and that the most prominent Canadians "volunteering" for good works in Afghanistan were the Khadr family, whose pa was sprung from the slammer in Pakistan by Prime Minister Chretien in order that he could resume his "charity work" and, for his pains, he had to suffer vicious Islamophobic headlines like "Caught In A Muddle: An Arrested Aid Worker Appeals For Chretien's Help" (Maclean's).

Never mind all that. There is after all no more heartwarming tradition in Canadian popular culture - well, okay, unpopular culture: it's the CBC, after all - than the pleasant frisson induced by the routine portrayal of rural Canadians as halfwit rednecks. One would characterize it as Canadophobic were it not for the fact that the CBC's enthusiasm for portraying us as a nation of knuckle-dragging sister-shaggers reinforces our smug conviction that we're the most progressive people on the planet: we celebrate diversity through the ruthless homogeneity of CBC programming; we're so boundlessly tolerant we tolerate an endless parade of dreary sitcoms and dramas about how intolerant we are. In that sense, the relentlessly cardboard stereotypes are a way of flattering the audience. In the second episode of Little Mosque, for example, the non-Muslim gals of Mercy, Sask stage a protest against the mosque: every single woman in the march is large and plain and simple-minded. The only white folks who aren't condescended to are the convert wife of the Muslim patriarch and the impeccably ecumenical Anglican minister (though his church, unlike the mosque, is dying).

But in this cross-cultural gagfest what of the jokes on the other side? Well, these are the cuddliest Muslims you've ever met. They're not just moderate Muslims, they're moderately funny! Not screamingly funny like, say, Omar Brooks, the British Muslim comic whose boffo Islamostand-up routine was reported in The Times of London last year:

At one point he announces dramatically that the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center `changed many people's lives'. After a pause, he brings the house down by adding: `Especially those inside.'

He didn't bring the house down literally. He leaves that to Mohammed Atta. By contrast, Little Mosque's creator, Zarqa Nawaz, opts for Ozzie and Harriet in a chador. The nearest thing to an Islamist firebreathing mullah in the cast warns sternly about how Canadian society lures Muslims into decadent ways: "Wine gums. Rye bread. Liquor-ish. Western traps designed to seduce Muslims to drink alcohol. The enemy," he warns, "is in the kitchen."

And, eavesdropping outside, the Muslim women joke that, if the enemy's in the kitchen, perhaps he could do the washing up. Boy, I loved that gag when Samantha did it to Darren on the second season of Bewitched, and it's just as funny in a hijab. This is the point, of course: the Muslims on the show are scaled down, from a global security threat to warm low-key domesticity, to all the same generation-gap and battle-of-the-sexes japes as every other hi-honey-I'm-home sitcom. Miss Nawaz is certainly capable of a sharp line - "`Good-looking terrorist'? Isn't that an oxymoron?" - but for the most part she holds off: for a cross-cultural comedy, it's striking that both groups operate to white stereotypes - it's just that the Muslims have been handed the blandly benign stereotypes of Life With Father. The synopses of upcoming episodes - "Yasir's overbearing mother wants him to try something new - a second wife", "Rayyan and her mother end up on opposite sides of the fence over co-ed swimming" - suggest the familiar issue-of-the-week format of long forgotten, worthily controversial sitcoms like Maude, the ones that won all the awards and are never in reruns. But here controversies are painless: when gender-segregating barriers are proposed for the mosque, the savvy quasi-feminist women have no problem running rings round the menfolk; the stern dad determined to put his adolescent daughter into her veil crumples without a fight. "Next week confusion abounds when Rayyan has a pronounced bulge in her belly and her brother arranges an honour killing. But it turns out she's just hiding the latest huge edition of The Oxford Anthology of Islamofeminist Writing!"


5 February, 2007


First the media coverup that facilitated it. Post lifted from Ace


Last Halloween in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach, where neighbors put on a lavish fright fest each year, three young women left a haunted house and found themselves caught in a street brawl with a crowd of teenagers. By melee's end, one woman's face was fractured in 12 spots, her teeth were broken and she'd suffered partial loss of sight in one eye. Two of the women suffered brain concussions and assorted broken bones after being kicked, punched and even struck by a skateboard wielded as a weapon.

The story broke on November 3, when local Web site editor William Pearl scooped other media on LBReport.com, quoting Long Beach police spokeswoman Jacqueline Bezart as saying a crowd of black attackers hurled racial taunts ("White bitches!" "We hate whites!") at the young women, and the police were pursuing it as a hate crime.

At the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, reporter Tracy Manzer quickly landed an exclusive interview with the victims, introducing awkward issues of race and culture rarely seen in California media. Said one victim, identified as Laura: "They asked us, `Are you down with it?' We had no idea what that meant so we didn't say anything and just walked by them up to the haunted house. They were grabbing their crotches - we didn't know if it was a gang thing or what."

Suddenly, newspaper editors, TV-news directors and other media faced an unsettling prospect of their own: If white-on-black hate crime is covered with an apologetic tone and references to the legacy of slavery, what's the tone for covering black-on-white hate crime? Can a minority be a racist? And how can we, the media, get out of this?

They've gotten out of it, by and large, by their preferred method: burying the story, sanitizing it, failing to cover the trial. Even while many black writers rail against the disturbing double-standard at work here...

The piece prompted a fiery response by David Mills, a black former Washington Post reporter turned Emmy-winning screenwriter. In a letter to the popular Romenesko media blog, the Glendale-based Mills wrote: "You don't have to be a card-carrying Klansman to point out that the L.A. Times surely would be treating this story differently if three black women had been attacked by 30 white teenagers hurling words like `F--- black people.' "

... the media has seemed blithely unconcerned about this particularly vicious example of one of their favorite subjects -- racial hatred.

Even the fact that a good samaritan witness who attempted to rescue the girls from the savage beating has been intimidated by gang members and no longer is willing to identify the thugs can't quite provoke the media into any particular interest in the story.

Borrowing from Matthew McConnaughey in A Time To Kill: Now imagine that good samaritan forced to flee his home by black gang members is black -- which he is. Still, even that isn't enough of an angle to interest the media.

I do to some extent sympathize with the media's self-made plight here. It's hard to write about racially charged issues without 1) riling up racists who just need an excuse to sound off or 2) failing to "balance" onself to the point of bloodlessness in order to avoid any possible charge of racism. ("Defensive writing," just as doctors are often prompted to perform "defensive medicine" due to the ominipresent threat of malpractice lawsuits. And like OBGYN's who bail out of the high-risk profession of delivering babies, more often than not one finds it's simply easier and less risky to avoid writing about racially-charged issues altogether.)

But if the media so worries that reporting on this story will inflame white thugs into an orgy of counter-thuggery, why is it they seem so eager to sensationalize white-on-black racial violence? Do they not have similar fears that their wholly unbalanced coverage -- portraying racial violence is a nearly uniquely white phenomenon -- won't have the effect of provoking monsters such as these?

It would be facile to claim "the media" caused these clearly dysfunctional monsters to engage in this repellent mayhem. And it it would be equally facile to suggest that negative portrayals of blacks in the media caused the dragging death of James Byrd. And yet the media does seem to buy into one of these theories and not the other.

If the media is so worried that portraying black -- or Muslim -- violence will set off thousands of white racists into racial marauding, why so little concern when the roles are reversed? And why no worry at all that constantly sending out the message that whites like to beat and stomp minorities might -- just might -- give some blacks the idea that maybe stomping in the faces of "white bitches" is a perfectly valid form of racial payback?

I always credit liberals for pushing, for forty some years, the virtue of racial tolerance, while also pushing for social scorn for those who are not racially tolerant. True enough, liberals have frequently gone too far, attempting to use charges of "racial insensitivity" to shut up their opponents in legitimiate political discussions in which race is an issue; but still, on the whole, they should be lauded for their efforts.

And true enough-- many conservatives are heroes in this cause, but I think it would be hackery of the highest order to claim that conservatives, as they've identified themselves through the decades, have been the primary proponents of racial tolerance. Yes, it was Northeastern Republicans who passed the Civil Rights Act and such over the strenuous objections of Southern Dixiecrat Democrats; but it seems to me the Republicans were on the "liberal" side of things in this respect, and the Dixiecrats on the "conservative" side. (Again-- as the labels were applied at the time.)

But liberals shy away from using the same tactics of moral suasion and social scorn to preach tolerance to minorities -- which is why black racism (and Muslim corelgionist soldiarity bordering on KKK-level xenophobia) remains more or less tolerated in this country.

Is it hate liberals oppose, or merely white hate? And if they're proud of their legacy of greatly reducing white racism in this country -- something I will unstintingly credit them for -- why are they so damnably cowardly in calling out racism when it comes from anyone who's not safely pale?

I do buy into a very soft version of racist-apologist blacks' claims that blacks simply can't be racist, because Racism = Power. True enough, white racism can cause a great deal more misery for blacks than black racism can cause for whites; there are a lot more whites, after all, and whites disproportionately control the levers of economic power.

But just because black racism has less potential for widespread harm does not mean it's not also evil. And it's hardly a victimless crime. Just ask those three women who had the "power" that night as they were pummeled to the point of maiming for committing the greivous sin of Walking While White.

Via Kaus, who wonders wheter hate-crime laws ameliorate racial tensions, as is usually claimed, or exacerbate them, by turning simple, vicious evil into competitive sport of racial greivance "can you top this."

I'm not terribly curious about the question, because I think hate-crime laws are jackass on a fundamental level. I think those poor women are rather more traumatized that they were beaten to the point of permanent physical disability than the fact the crowd shouted "We hate white bitches." And the monsters who did this evil should be severely punished for their actions, not their motivations.

Bonus! Four of the Perpetrators Given Merely Probation: ...and sentenced to time served (95 days), probation, and "anger management and racial tolerance programs."

Jesus. When I read they were up on hate-crimes charges, I imagined those charges would be used to increase their sentencing, not reduce their sentences to a few dozen hours of Racial Tolerance Puppet Theater.

Beating victim Laura Schneider, 19, cried at the judge's decision.

When the young man's twin sister was to be sentenced, Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bouas returned to court wiping tears from her eyes and argued for a stronger penalty on grounds that the young woman was responsible for causing an injury that forced a victim to have surgery.

"Punishment is part of rehabilitation," the prosecutor said. "To allow a human being to do that and go home is an abomination to the justice system."


The prosecution had asked that the three siblings get nine months of detention in a youth camp. Instead they were credited with 95 days already spent in custody.

Justice is served, huh? Well at least we can take solace in the fact that our liberal judges are very concerned about black-on-white racial violence, even if our liberal media aren't.

Thanks to the Feisty One.


Australia is set to drastically reduce its Sudanese refugee program this year. With growing community concern about the behaviour of the refugees, Federal Cabinet will soon consider a proposal from Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews to reduce the intake from Horn of Africa nations. Australia's humanitarian program has allowed thousands of Sudanese refugees to come to Australia in recent years. But there are growing doubts about the wisdom of the decision, especially with the rise of gangs of Sudanese youths and drunk drivers.

There are about 18,000 Sudanese in Victoria, with many traumatised by their experience of civil war -- and the challenge of living in a Western society. A Sunday Herald Sun survey of 400 cases at magistrates' courts across Melbourne found 14 per cent of offenders came from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East -- many of them refugees -- about 20 times the representative proportion of the population.

"Australia has one of the most generous humanitarian resettlement programs in the world at 13,000 a year," Mr Andrews said yesterday. "But immigration is a process, not an event. "Successful immigration requires integration into the broader community."

A high-profile court case this week highlighted the crime spree of a Sudanese man, Hakeem Hakeem, 21, who raped two teenage girls and an elderly women in a drunken, drug-fuelled episode. He was sentenced to 24 years in jail. Hakeem had been in Australia for only one month before committing the crimes.

The proposed new policy would focus on settling refugees from the Asia Pacific region.

Sudanese elders believe their community is being unjustly targeted. The elders yesterday blamed failures in Australian welfare and education systems for crimes in the community. Jago Adongjak, an educator at the South Eastern Region Migrant Resource Centre and an elder of Melbourne's 7000-strong Sudanese community, said many fellow migrants who had escaped the war-torn nation were facing a different conflict in Australia. "I came here because there was a war in Sudan and I was a target for the junta," Mr Adongjak said. "I was expecting a peaceful land of opportunity -- and there are opportunities -- but we are also facing a battle here, to survive." Mr Adongjak dismissed claims the community did not respect or trust authorities as much as other cultures and had drink-drive issues.

"The Sudanese are not as bad as we are portrayed," he said. "We know because we have just had a meeting with the police and they told us according to their statistics the Sudanese are not anywhere near the worst community for crime in Victoria. "And I know because I live in the community. "On the issue of drink-driving, I would not say the Sudanese are exceptional either." The major cause of crime and restlessness in the community was disadvantage, he said. Large families did not receive adequate housing, with several children sharing small rooms. [And back in Sudan??]

Children struggled at school because they only had nine months to learn English before being put in classes based on their age, rather than ability. Parents also found it hard to provide because their professional qualifications were not recognised, so they had to settle for lower-paid jobs, Mr Adongjak said. [And what were they paid back in Sudan??]


4 February, 2007

Freedom should not be for sale

Liberty is far too precious to sacrifice in the name of tackling hoodies, ASBO kids and cranky Islamists. Comment from Britain

According to the British Social Attitudes Survey, 81 per cent of British people now think that having the authorities follow terror suspects, tap their phones and open their mail is ‘a price worth paying’. A similar proportion endorses electronic tagging of suspects, and extended detention without charge, while 71 per cent think compulsory identity cards for all adults will be ‘a price worth paying’. The survey paints a picture of a society that does not hold personal freedom to be all that important in the face of the terror threat.

The study’s authors write that there has been a decline in the ‘British public’s traditionally strong commitment to civil liberties’. But it is questionable whether this commitment has ever been especially strong in Britain, except in the context of particular political movements the like of which are conspicuous by their absence today. Certainly, freedom is part of the national narrative. From Magna Carta to the Glorious Revolution and latterly the fight against Nazi Germany and then communism, there is a powerful mythology around the notion that the good yeomen of England are jealous of their ‘ancient liberties’. The fact that, unlike most Europeans, we have traditionally had neither identity cards nor routinely armed police to inspect them, does suggest a certain ingrained respect for individual liberty.

But of course, these are the very things that are now changing, and the indecent haste with which this is happening – without dramatic social change – must call into question the depth of the putative British love of liberty. Rather than showing a shift in deeply held convictions, the survey perhaps shows the fickleness of received opinion today. Indeed, the survey authors dismiss the idea that the public’s weakened attachment to civil liberties is simply a response to the threat of terrorism since 9/11 – the change of attitude predates 2001. They suggest instead that changes in political rhetoric are responsible.

The proportion of Labour supporters opposed to identity cards fell from 45 per cent in 1990 to just 15 per cent in 2005, a period during which Labour developed increasingly authoritarian policies on crime and disorder. Whereas identity cards still seemed sinister at the end of the Cold War, they fit far more comfortably into today’s political rhetoric, which is all about practical fixes to whatever new threat to society happens to be exercising the headline writers, be it hoodies, illegal immigrants, or bona fide terrorists. There is no mention in the survey of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) or other less glamorous threats to civil liberties, but these are surely as much part of the picture as is terrorism.

One of the study’s authors is Professor Conor Gearty, also the author of several books on human rights. He argues that, ‘It is as though society is in the process of forgetting why past generations thought those freedoms to be so very important.’ This is a familiar point, but there is a danger here, as often in this discussion, that civil liberties begin to be valued as a kind of heritage rather than as urgent political priorities in their own right. Past generations in Britain and elsewhere fought for freedom from overbearing state power when they wanted more control over their own lives, and saw that without civil liberties the authorities could simply ride roughshod over them. Freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention – like a free press, freedom of association and the right to strike – was a practical necessity, not an airy-fairy principle dreamt up by some long-haired human rights lawyer.

It still is a practical necessity if we want to control our own lives. It is not civil liberties that are unworldly, but the notion that we can do without them and stay a democracy. The fact that politicians are able to get away with presenting civil liberties as expendable is testament to the extent of popular disengagement from politics. Instead of the ‘us and them’ of political struggle, we have the much vaguer ‘them and them’ of the benevolent authorities versus those frightening and mysterious individuals who might be out to get us. This is very different even from the patriotic idea of uniting to fight a common enemy. The idea that sacrificing civil liberties is ‘a price worth paying’ expresses a desire just to let the authorities get on with it. What we are paying for is not security, but rather the illusion that everything is under control. We can ‘do our bit’ simply by cheerfully complying with bizarre rituals involving plastic bags as we queue at the airport. None of this has anything to do with hardheaded political realism; it is a product of political exhaustion.

It is telling that the survey also shows ‘overwhelming public support’ for euthanasia for the terminally ill, with 80 per cent agreeing that a doctor should end a life at that person’s request. Whatever the merits or otherwise of this position, it is clearly not motivated by libertarian sentiment, a belief in every individual’s inalienable right to self-determination even unto death. Rather, it perhaps expresses a diminished lust for life, a weary ambivalence about the whole business. The British public is not up for it, it seems.

Love of liberty has never been entrenched in the British ‘national character’, but it is an essential component in any political movement worth the name. There is no reason to believe that the British public is dead set against liberty; it just doesn’t see the point. If civil liberties are to survive, what is desperately needed is an injection of political imagination.



Islam could soon be the dominant force in a Europe which, in the name of political correctness, has abdicated the battle for cultural and religious control, Prof. Bernard Lewis, the world-renowned Middle Eastern and Islamic scholar, said on Sunday.

The Muslims "seem to be about to take over Europe," Lewis said at a special briefing with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post. Asked what this meant for the continent's Jews, he responded, "The outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim." Soon, he warned, the only pertinent question regarding Europe's future would be, "Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?" The growing sway of Islam in Europe was of particular concern given the rising support within the Islamic world for extremist and terrorist movements, said Lewis.

Lewis, whose numerous books include the recent What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, and The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, would set no timetable for this drastic shift in Europe, instead focusing on the process, which he said would be assisted by "immigration and democracy." Instead of fighting the threat, he elaborated, Europeans had given up.

"Europeans are losing their own loyalties and their own self-confidence," he said. "They have no respect for their own culture." Europeans had "surrendered" on every issue with regard to Islam in a mood of "self-abasement," "political correctness" and "multi-culturalism," said Lewis, who was born in London to middle-class Jewish parents but has long lived in the United States.

More here

3 February, 2007

Suppose roles had been reversed in Clara Harris case

Police squad cars all across America bear the slogan, "There's no excuse for domestic violence." Yet there is one situation in which the media and the public seem to feel that domestic violence is sometimes excusable - when the perpetrator is a woman, and the victim is a man

Imagine a woman trapped in a loveless marriage with a jealous, potentially violent husband whom she believes may be cheating on her. She stays in the marriage because she fears she could be separated from her children should they divorce, and finds understanding, companionship and passion in a relationship with a coworker. Her husband finds out about the affair and goes on a violent, jealous rampage, slaughtering her in front of her daughter as the daughter begs him not to kill her mother. There would be no tears or excuses for the killer, and nobody would dare to proffer the fact that his wife had been cheating on him as a justification for the murder.

These are the facts of the Clara Harris case, with the genders reversed. Yet the reaction has been quite different. The media on both the left and the right have poured derision upon the murder victim, referring to David Harris as a "rat," a "lying, cheating scumbag" and Clara Harris' "unfaithful dog of a husband." Commentator Susan Estrich asked, "Who could blame [Clara] for getting into her Mercedes and running him over?" and seemed a little sad that the Harris County criminal trial jury did. Conservative talk show host Joseph Farah penned a column entitled "Free Clara Harris!" in which he wrote, "I'd give her a medal. . She did the right thing. That creep deserved what he got."

Even the prosecutor in the murder trial, Mia Magness, expressed her disgust, saying that Clara, instead of killing David by her own hand, should have "[done] like every other woman . get his house, car, kids - make him wish he were dead." Lorna Mullens, the jury forewoman in the recently concluded wrongful death trial, expressed sympathy for Clara but said she decided that Clara was responsible for David's death because, after all, "She kept running over him. She could have stopped after she hit him the first time."

CBS portrayed Clara as a pitiable, betrayed wife in the 2004 movie Suburban Madness, and Oprah Winfrey sympathetically interviewed the sobbing Clara from prison in 2005. Of the 354 news stories covering the wrongful death trial that are indexed on Google News, 233 refer to David Harris as Clara Harris' "cheating husband." Not one mentions the phrase "domestic violence."

The truth behind the Clara Harris case has come from the mouth of a child - David's daughter, Lindsey. Only 16 years old at the time of the murder, Lindsey rode in the front seat with Clara and begged her not to kill her father. Lindsey has denounced the widespread media sympathy for Clara, saying: "[Clara has appeared] in print and on television to persuade the viewers that she is actually the victim, but she is no victim. What she did was the ultimate act of selfishness, caring only about obtaining revenge and thinking not one bit about how her horrible act was going to affect me or my brothers, Brian and Bradley. Anyone who shared my ride in the car that evening, seeing my dad's face as he was about to be hit, and experiencing the horrible feel of the car bumping over his body would understand that this murderess deserves no sympathy."

Bobbi Bacha, vice president of Blue Moon Investigations, the private detective agency Clara had hired to spy on David, also conducted an investigation of Clara. Though the media have largely ignored it, in November 2002 Bacha presented the criminal court with several audio tapes on which witnesses claim that Clara was also having an affair before she killed David.

Lindsey says that Clara mistreated and neglected David, and that her father often confided in her how lonely he felt. Coupled with Clara's temper and evident capacity for violence, David had ample reason to want to get out of the relationship. Instead of letting him go, Clara killed him. While many see the Clara Harris case as one of love and betrayal, it is in fact a garden-variety domestic homicide. Clara Harris is no better than high-profile wife-killer Scott Peterson. Perhaps Clara is even worse - at least Peterson spared us the crocodile tears.


The Left is onside with hate

As their response to David Hicks and militant Islam shows, progressives are losing their moral compass -- if they ever had one (David Hicks is an Australian terrorist held at Guantanamo Bay -- whom Australian Leftists are agitating to have released)

Why is it, asks British journalist Nick Cohen, that apologies for a militant Islam, which stands for everything the liberal Left is against, come from the liberal Left? Why are you as likely to read about the alleged conspiracy of Jews controlling American foreign policy in a literary journal as in a neo-Nazi hate sheet? Why, after the bomb attacks in the London underground, did left-leaning British newspapers run pieces excusing the suicide bombers, these same young men who were motivated by "a psychopathic theology from the ultra-Right"?

Why, in short, have Left and Right changed places? Nick Cohen is not the first to write about the unholy alliance between Western liberals and extreme right Islamic fundamentalists, but he does it in a particular and powerful way in his new book What's Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way.

The book is not available yet in Australia (there are extracts of it on The Observer's website), but in Britain it is already one of the most discussed books of the new year. "At the very least it forces, or ought to force, anyone on the Left to think carefully about where their movement has ended up in the modern world," wrote Martin Kettle in The Guardian.

Cohen is firmly of the Left. When he was 13, he was shocked to find out that his English teacher, who "gave every appearance of being a kind and thoughtful man", voted Conservative. "I must have understood at some level that real Conservatives lived in Britain - there was a Conservative government at the time, so logic dictated that there had to be Conservative voters. But it was incredible to learn that my teacher was one of them," he wrote. "To be good you had to be on the Left."

The Left still claims the moral high ground, but it is rather harder these days to see that it still holds it. Yes, those who opposed the Iraq war are entitled to feel vindicated. But wouldn't you think leftist commentators could put aside their self-righteousness long enough to support the Iraqis who are trying to build a free and democratic society? The anti-war movement disgraced itself not because it was against the war in Iraq, but because it could not oppose the counter-revolution once the war was over, wrote Cohen. "A principled Left that still had life in it and a liberalism that meant what it said might have remained ferociously critical of the American and British (and I could add, Australian) governments while offering support to Iraqis who wanted the freedoms they enjoyed," he said.

When there is - rightly - condemnation of America's many mistakes in Iraq but no condemnation of the terrorist outrages carried out by Islamic extremists; when there is - justified - criticism of Israel but no equal criticism of those whose stated aim is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth; when letters to the editor pour out compassion for one Australian held too long in custody, but there is nary a mention of the victims of a genocide that is going on right now in the Darfur region of Sudan, one suspects at best selective compassion, at worst, bad faith. One suspects that indignation over human rights abuses depends less on the extent of the abuse and more on who is doing the abusing.

I too pity David Hicks. I wish the US would either properly charge and try him or release him. If he is being chained to the floor, as his lawyer says (a US military lawyer says he is not), this is disgraceful. But to compare an American prison - in which there is reportedly a problem with prisoners becoming overweight - to a "Nazi death camp"?

There is something strange going on in the attempts to diminish the unique horror of the Holocaust. There is something strange in attempts to establish a sinister connection between Jews and American power. There is something very murky going on when in certain left-wing circles it is quite safe to compare Jews to Nazis.

Why is scarcely a word spoken by liberal commentators about the treatment of women under the Taliban rule - child marriages, stonings, absolute exclusion from public life - that Hicks wanted to fight to uphold? Why are Muslim feminists derided as apologists for imperialism, or "neocons"? How in the world did the Left allow feminism to be hijacked by the Right, when it was always the Left that fought for women's liberation and the Right that resisted it?

Of course what it means to be part of the Left is much less clear these days. Most people are left on some issues and right on others. But it is not valid either to say these attitudes belong to only an extreme fringe. To greater or lesser degrees they are prevalent in mainstream liberal thinking.

The Left used to be about the future and improving the lot of mankind. The problem for it today, as Cohen points out, is that it has got most of what it wanted. Although there is still a way to go, the Left of a century ago would see the prosperity of today's workers, the equal opportunity laws, the intellectual freedoms, as a paradise. It is harder today to see yourself as a victim of a pernicious system.

So the Left now is about resistance to material progress, to globalisation, and most of all to American power. There is plenty to criticise about Western lifestyles. Still, it should be obvious to all but the most blinkered that the system the US wants to impose on the Middle East is far better than the system the Islamists want to impose on us. Democracy is at least self-correcting. I hope the wearers of the "George Bush, World's No.1 terrorist" T-shirts, never have to find that out.


2 February, 2007


Judge halts trial of the chip shop owners who seized tearaway in a citizen's arrest. The politically correct British police love to prosecute anybody but the real offender

A chip-shop owner thought he was doing his public duty when he carried out a citizen’s arrest on a 12-year-old delinquent who spat at his customers and smashed a window. But overzealous police officers turned the tables on Nicholas Tyers, 46, and his son Lee, 20, treating them as criminals and taking their fingerprints after the boy complained. Mr Tyers and his Royal Marine son were charged with kidnap for holding the boy for up to six minutes and told the maximum sentence was life in prison. During the six months that followed, Mr Tyers was forced to sell his shop and lost his faith in justice.

His nightmare ended yesterday when a judge halted the trial, which has cost taxpayers £60,000, and derided the police and the Crown Prosecution Service for bringing the case. Judge John Dowse told the men at Hull Crown Court: “I began this case asking whether it was in the public interest, whether it should have been pressed, and the result is it has not been in the public interest. I raise the question of whether or not there are far more serious cases to bring.”

The judge told the court the men had reasonable grounds to make a citizen’s arrest and there were doubts over the reliability of the boy’s evidence.

Mr Tyers, the former owner of Queensgate Fisheries, in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, said later that the case had led him to give up the business that he had run for ten years. “I have faced six months of hell waiting to prove my innocence,” he said. “The case should never have been brought. I am now looking for a full-time job. This lad spat at a customer. We had a look around for him, that night, but he ran away. I didn’t see him again until the next day.” He said that after his window was smashed his wife saw the boy and, with his son, they went looking for him. They found him with two other boys.

“We went back to the house, rather than the police station, to call the police from there. Nine times out of ten, Bridlington police station is unmanned and you have to speak to someone on the telephone.” said Mr Tyers. “When we got to the shop a police car was passing so I flagged him down and told him we had got the lad.”

The court that heard the boy regularly played truant from school. The judge said that evidence had been heard of how the boy made obscene gestures after spitting and that there was talk of his brothers fire-bombing the shop. Mr Tyers’ son, who is part of a Royal Marines unit deployed to Afghanistan, had been held back until the trial ended.

After the case, Nigel Cowgill, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Humberside, said: “This was a difficult case which the CPS considered very carefully in accordance with the code for Crown prosecutors.” A spokesman for Humberside Police said: “The arresting officer was faced with a situation in which a distressed boy alleged he had been forced into a car. It was right for that officer to act and for a police investigation to commence.” [Pathetic comment. The issue is whether the "investigation" should have CONTINUED!]


So Britain is weak on rape? Think again

Rape is not something that any of us likes to think about. It is a vile crime. But this week’s headlines have been hard to ignore. They tell us that only 1 in 20 rape victims will see their attacker convicted. That 30 years ago it was 1 in 3. That the number of reported rapes has soared, from 5,136 in 1995 to 14,002 in 2005. That we are living in a world in which huge numbers of evil men get away with violating women because the police are useless and juries think that women are “asking for it” by wearing short skirts. But it is not so simple. I first started looking at this issue because something jarred with me. The figures were shocking, and getting worse despite a decade of effort by police and prosecutors. And the Government was using them to justify a steady dismantling of defendants’ freedoms.

The first thing I found was that the “conviction rate” of one in twenty, the rate cited by every authority on the issue, is not the conviction rate at all. It is the number of convictions secured out of the total allegations made, not the number of convictions secured out of the cases tried. I can think of no other crime where conviction is so routinely confused with attrition. The attrition rate in rape cases is very high: only about 12 per cent of allegations reach court. The true conviction rate in rape cases is closer to 50 per cent than 5 per cent. That does not suggest that juries are weak: quite the opposite.

The next thing I found was that more people are being found guilty of rape: up from 655 in 2002 to 728 in 2005. Conviction rates are falling only because allegations have jumped by 40 per cent in that period.

What explains this staggering increase in allegations? Women seem more willing to report, now that many police forces have become more sensitive. Much good work has been done, with purpose-built sexual assault referral centres, the option of prerecording testimony and the end of cross-examination by the defendant. But there are two other factors. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 changed the definiton of rape to include oral sex, something that the Criminal Bar Association says has greatly boosted allegations. And the culture of binge drinking has blurred boundaries. More than four out of five rape allegations are made against friends or acquaintances; more than half of those are fuelled by alcohol and/or drugs.

Two years ago a judge threw out the case of a woman who admitted that she had been too drunk to remember whether she had consented to sex or not. She then claimed that her consent would have been meaningless anyway, because she was so inebriated. This case created waves of outrage among victim groups. But instead of treating it as a watershed, one that demonstrated the law could go no further, the Government ran scared. It had already redefined consent, to mean agreement rather than the absence of a refusal. Now it wants to ensure that no agreement can be taken as consent if it is given under the influence of alcohol. In our zeal to protect women, are we going to legislate so that a drunken man is accountable for his deeds, but a drunken woman is not? Why do we encourage women to see themselves as victims? This week I met a mother whose teenage daughter and friend had gone out on the razzle. The friend went to bed with a man and the next day was full of regret. She called: would her friend go with her to the police? The mother was horrified. “They were drinking to lower their sexual inhibitions,” she said. “The girls have to take responsibility too, for abdicating their responsibility to stay sober.” The girl was genuinely distressed. But the mother had a point.

I do not wish to trivialise acquaintance rape. There is no doubt that it can be just as traumatic as stranger rape, the cold-blooded and cold-sober attack that many people imagine, but which accounts for relatively few cases. But there is a good reason why acquaintance rapes are much harder to prosecute. With no witnesses and no circumstantial evidence, only one person’s word against another, the law must navigate tricky territory. Juries are the best people to do so — and they do convict, contrary to what we keep being told. The Government’s new definition of consent would skew the law out of their hands; and that would be quite wrong.

It is important to ask why so few of these cases come to court. Yesterday’s report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate makes clear that there are still huge variations in the way that different police forces deal with rape. And some women are still having to endure outrageously long delays and incompetent legal and medical advice. The report shows that more can be done with forensic doctors and specialist prosecutors. But it also states that no new policies are needed.

I wonder whether the unquestionable horror of rape has simply clouded people’s minds. In rape cases a dramatic growth in allegations, of which very few lead to convictions, is taken as proof that justice system has failed. In cases of alleged teacher assault, it is taken as proof of the opposite. There has been an enormous growth in allegations made against teachers, and fewer than 1 in 200 lead to a conviction. Yet the consensus is that most of those allegations are groundless.

I am the last person to claim that all men are blameless victims of predatory women. I have no doubt that some are still getting away with horrendous crimes. I merely ask that we go back to the data before rushing to dismantle defendants’ rights further. And that we stop portraying juries as weak when they seem to be precisely the opposite.


Britain: Homosexual tourist hotels fear equality law

They want right to refuse heterosexuals. Rules change will hit the 'pink' market

Hoteliers chasing the pink tourist pound have joined criticism of a law outlawing discrimination against homosexuals. The hotels, which cater for the thriving “exclusively gay” tourism market, say that they should be exempt from the Sexual Orientation Regulations as they will be forced to accept heterosexual guests.

Some say that a ban on “gay only” advertising could put them out of business. There were also concerns that some heterosexual couples might be unhappy if they unwittingly booked into a gay hotel.

John Bellamy, who runs Hamilton Hall, in Bournemouth, described the new laws as “discrimination against gays”. He said: “We are a unique venue and we only admit gay and bisexual men. Under this law, we would go out of business. This so-called anti-discrimination law is actually discriminatory as it discriminates against gays.”

Another hotelier, Mark Hurst, co-owner of the exclusively gay Guyz hotel, in Blackpool, said that his gay clientele would feel uncomfortable mixing with straight customers. The hotel had been catering for the gay market for the past 20 years, but only went “exclusive” last year because of customer demand. He said: “It’s not all good news at all. I don’t welcome it one little bit. We intend to stay ‘men only’ exclusively for as long as we can.

“When we had a mixed environment, with gay, bi and heterosexual customers, people didn’t behave as they naturally would.

“Here in the hotel now we have gays who cuddle up when they’re watching a film but that never happened before. If this law is introduced it will deprive gays of a place where they can be themselves.”

Mr Hurst added that if the law was passed, he would apply for an exemption. He said: “At the end of the day, this is our home and as a landlord we have the right to refuse entry to anyone without giving a reason.”

According to figures from Visit Britain and Out Now Consulting, the gay market is now worth £3.5 billion a year and represents a significant slice of the tourist industry.

In 2005, about 146,000 gay and lesbian visitors came to Britain from the United States alone, and internationally it is a top ten tourist destination for gays. A survey by Visit Britain states: “The brand-loyal gay and lesbian market is a key niche. Traditionally gays and lesbians are well-educated, have an above-average income and a high propensity to travel off-season as well as during the peak holiday months.”

The concerns have been dismissed by the gay rights group Stonewall, which says that equality is more important than the right to be exclusive. A spokeswoman said: “What gay people gain through having an equality law is much more than whether we can just run gay hotels.”


1 February, 2007


It has now become more and more obvious, even to some people who initially believed the "rape" charges against Duke University students, that there was never a speck of evidence to support the charges and a growing amount of evidence to the contrary.

However reprehensible District Attorney Nifong's words and actions have been throughout this case, it would be a serious mistake to see in this tawdry episode just the vileness of one man. The larger tragedy is what this case revealed about the degeneration of our times and the hollowness of so many people in "responsible" positions in the media, in academia, and among those blacks so consumed by racial resentments and thirst for revenge that they are prepared to lash out at individuals who have done nothing to them and are guilty of no crime against anybody. The haste and vehemence with which scores of Duke University professors publicly took sides against the students in this case is just one sign of how deep the moral dry rot goes, in even our most prestigious institutions.

The January 29th issue of The Weekly Standard has a devastating article about the lynch mob atmosphere created, not only by the Duke University faculty and administration, but also by writers for such "respectable" publications as the New York Times and the Washington Post, not to mention a professor of law at the University of Southern California and a former president of Princeton.

We have become a society easily stampeded, even by the unsubstantiated, inconsistent and mutually contradictory statements of a woman with a criminal record. All it takes is something that invokes the new holy trinity of the intelligentsia -- "race, class and gender." The story of a black woman gang-raped by white men fit the theme so compellingly that much of the media had no time to waste trying to find out if it was true before going ballistic.

The biggest losers from the current Duke "rape" case include not only the three students accused but also the black community, which has once more followed a demagogue who knew how to exploit their emotions for his own benefit. Some of these demagogues are white like Nifong but there are also homegrown black demagogues like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who have prospered greatly, and basked in the limelight, by leading other blacks into a blind alley of futile resentments and counterproductive self-dramatization.

The unraveling Duke "rape" case should be a wake-up call, both for blacks and for liberals, on how easy it is for their emotions to be manipulated by even a third-rate demagogue with a flimsy fraud. The time is long overdue for some of those who consider themselves "thinking people" to start doing some thinking.

Many liberals can at least afford their mindless crusades. They may end up looking silly, but that has never stopped them before. The biggest losers from getting sucked into these frauds are blacks, especially young blacks who go off on an emotional tangent that leads nowhere, at a time when there are so many opportunities in other directions, if they will direct their time and efforts in those directions through education and other serious interests.

The current self-destructive misdirection of energies in black ghettoes cannot be explained by a "legacy of slavery" or "racism." For one thing, this level of self-destruction in black communities did not exist half a century ago, when racism was worse and the black population was generations closer to the era of slavery. Moreover, a virtually identical pattern of self-destructive attitudes and behavior has been found among British lower-class whites, where none of this can be blamed on racism or a legacy of slavery. (See "Life at the Bottom" by Theodore Dalrymple.)

What the two self-destructive communities on opposite sides of the Atlantic have in common is hearing a steady diet of propaganda blaming all their problems on others, and depicting "society" as determined to keep them down, regardless of anything they might do to try to lift themselves up. That same deadly message has produced the same tragic results among very different people. The Duke "rape" fraud is yet another sign that the time is long overdue for all of us to start thinking.


The Offensiveness of Taking Offense

"The voicing of the unpopular being the very soul of free speech, the right to give and take offense shall not be infringed."

Sometimes I think it is time to insert the above into our First Amendment. Whether it's an off-color joke or colorful commentary, it's now hard to make anything but the most plain vanilla statements without offending somebody. In fact, so ingrained is the notion of being offended that it's become a topic of TV commercial satire. Just think about GEICO's commercials with stone-age characters taking umbrage at the slogan, "So easy a caveman can do it."

Ironically, associating cavemen with being thin-skinned is quite apropos, since it is a frailty born of the more ignoble aspects of man's nature. As to this, I think about documentarian Alby Mangels who, while visiting primitives in Papua New Guinea, warned against "knocking back their hospitality." Prudence dictated he be wary, as those less spiritually and morally evolved are ruled by pride, the worst of the Seven Deadly Sins. And, lest we entertain the fancy that it is the superior person who doesn't give offense, know that it is actually the superior one who doesn't take it. It's hard to offend the humble.

In truth, though, our civilization is not as overcome by pride as by duplicity. And this is what is truly offensive (in the way an odor is so) about this offensiveness business: Screaming "That's offensive!" is nothing but a ploy. Yes, you heard it here first, few who emit that utterance are actually offended. They just don't happen to like what you're saying.

I'll explain precisely what is going on. Liberals trade on this ploy, using it as a standard response whenever their sacred cows come under scrutiny. If they were tolerant, they would simply accept that some will espouse what we despise. If they were honest, they would simply say what they mean. But tolerance is just another ploy, and honesty, well, it has never served the ends of the left, and never less so than here. A translation of what they really mean to say will illustrate why:

"I hate what you're saying, it makes me angry and you should shut your mouth! [expletives omitted]"

Of course, to exhibit such petulance would reveal their vaunted tolerance for the facade it is and demonstrate their moral inferiority. And telling others to shut-up is the stuff of neither polite society nor effective debate, so a different strategy is in order. And the "Offensiveness Ploy" (OP) is ideal, as it shifts the onus from them to you. A direct command to still your tongue would make them appear the villains, intolerant, immature, imperious clods, incapable of brooking dissent. It would be offensive. But the OP makes you seem the offensive one. When told to shut-up, we feel transgressed against and know we occupy the moral high ground, a place from which taking the offense is justified. The OP, however, casts us as the transgressors, cowing us as we look up from our valley of disgrace. It works: Accusing others of giving offense is the best offense, as it places them on the defense.

But you don't have to read Sun Tzu's The Art of War to know strategies change with the situation. And this is why, when the bounds of propriety are loosed and the power is all theirs, liberals often show their true colors, resorting to a tactic blunter and less sophisticated but even more effective: Force.

Just think about the "students" - they don't deserve the designation - who attacked Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist at that institution of lower learning, Columbia University. Think about incidents where other conservative speakers were given the same treatment on other campuses, a phenomenon that prompted pundit Ann Coulter to retain bodyguards. You may think I'm painting the left with too broad a brush but, I can assure you, the very same spoiled brats would use the OP in any situation wherein the balance of power didn't favor them. But in a bastion of liberalism, where accountability is as absent as sensibility, they don't have to. And here's their message:

"I hate what you're saying, it makes me angry and you should shut your mouth! And you're going to shut your mouth whether you like it or not. We don't have to take it anymore [expletives omitted]."

I suppose it's the one situation where you could say that honesty is definitely not refreshing.

Would that anyone claim I'm wrong, he has much to explain. Like, for instance, why these tolerant, inoffensive liberals, upon achieving institutional power, become similarly heavy-handed and use the principles of tolerance and offensiveness to squelch ideas they dislike. They have given us speech codes at universities and in corporations and hate speech laws in foreign countries. And the sanctimony, oh, the sanctimony. As they ostracize, penalize, terminate and arrest those who sin against political correctness, they tell us they're just protecting others from hateful feelings when they really just feel hateful.

Can there be doubt of this? This oh-so-sensitive set is the very one that defends the immersion of a crucifix in a jar of urine as artistic expression and the equation of 9/11 victims with Nazis as academic freedom.

If the truth about the OP hasn't raised your ire yet, understand that it is nothing less than part of the groundwork necessary for social engineering. If you want to effect social and legislative change, you must win the social and political debates so as to garner support for it. But if you can't defeat your adversaries in the arena of ideas, you have to keep them out of the competition; if you can't refute what's argued, you must stop it from being spoken.

So, first you demonize speech refutative of your agenda by labeling it "offensive," which cultivates social codes and attendant social pressure facilitative of the change you desire. Then, as these social codes become more widely accepted and entrenched, expressing them through rules and laws becomes more acceptable. This leads to the next stage, the organizational expression of them - the speech codes in various private institutions. And once sufficiently inured to these, it's time for the last stage of this imprisoning of ideas: The legislative expression of these social codes known as hate speech laws.

Case in point: It becomes harder for traditionalists to argue against homosexual marriage if they're scorned and ostracized for saying homosexual behavior is sinful, destructive or disordered. It becomes harder still if those who do so are punished within the context of our schools and businesses. And it becomes impossible if the government arrests you for such expression. Tyrants agree: the easiest way to win a debate is to prevent the other side from debating. Thus, there is a lesson here we ignore at our own peril. You can have freedom from being offended or you can have freedom of speech, but you cannot have both.

This is why I have no tolerance for the Offensiveness Ploy. It is manipulation by the mediocre, victory for the vacuous, derision by the dull. It is the protestation of a child, one with neither the brute force to be a Brownshirt nor the executive force to be a Blackshirt. If someone is offended by truth, the problem lies not with it being uttered. If someone doesn't want it uttered, he has a problem with truth.

The great victory of the left is that it has made us apologize for being right. A few may be truly offended, being in the grip of primitive pride. But, mostly, we are in the grip of a primitive ploy. We need more offensiveness, not less. We must offend the liars, the degraded, the darkness, the destroyers of civilization. So my answer to the offended is, you have every right to be offended. Now, grow up. If you can't sit at the table of reasoned debate, go back to your bread and circuses. Let the adults figure out the problems of the world.