POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH: ARCHIVE
The creeping dictatorship of the Left...
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31 January, 2006
PROMINENT FEMINIST FINDS JESUS -- SORT OF
Anything for attention. Post lifted from The American Thinker
In an article called "Naomi Wolf: I had a vision of Jesus", the Glasgow, Scotland Sunday Herald reported that feminist heroine Naomi Wolf has turned to spirituality.
This will outrage the feminist Left, but it may actually mark a new trend, since Madonna last year revealed her conversion to Kabbalah mysticism. Whether Madonna ever bothered to convert to Judaism before becoming a Kabbalist is doubtful. But those distinctions mean little to the Beautiful People as they grow older and get bored with their younger persona. Madonna began her fabulous career as a Material Girl, but that's so retro by now. So she is gunning for sainthood, with other aging Boomers hot on her heels.
Wolf's conversion experience, however, is bizarrely homoerotic:
"I actually had this vision of Jesus, and I'm sure it was Jesus," said Wolf. "But it wasn't this crazy theological thing; it was just this figure who was the most perfected human being that there could be - full of light and full of love." More bizarrely, she experienced this as a teenage boy. "I was a 13-year-old boy sitting next to him and feeling feelings I'd never felt in my lifetime," said Wolf. "[Feelings] of a boy being with an older male who he really loves and admires and loves to be in the presence of. It was probably the most profound experience of my life. I haven't talked about it publicly."
Well, it is certainly good to know this wasn't any "crazy theological thing."
One trouble with these spectacular conversions is that the sheer seductiveness of fame taints whatever may be sincere. It is impossible to know whether Wolf or Madonna mean anything they say. In traditional religion, self-proclaimed saints are treated skeptically. That is one reason why humbleness and privacy plays such a great role in traditional faith. Neither Madonna nor Wolf seem humbled by their new spiritual feelings.
There is such a thing as spiritual arrogance, and it lives right next door to the moral arrogance that marks so much of the Boomer Left.
THE WAR ON PHOTOS CONTINUES
Australian parents now need permission to photograph their own kids!
Parents are being banned from taking photos of their children at sporting events in response to growing fears about pedophiles. Queensland's junior sports clubs are demanding parents get permission from other parents and team officials before photographing children. And some sporting codes now require professional photographers to hold blue cards before allowing them to work at grand finals. Many clubs said the crackdown was in response to reports about men photographing children swimming at South Bank in inner Brisbane and posting the images on websites.
South Bank and pool operators such as Belgravia Leisure, which runs a chain of water parks including the Albany Creek Leisure Centre on Brisbane's northside, said they had a policy of asking people not to take photographs without permission. They also banned mobile phones with camera functions in their change rooms.
A similar situation now applied at most of the state's patrolled beaches, where lifesavers have been given guidelines on camera use. "Sadly in this day and age we have had to be more vigilant," a Surf Life Saving Queensland spokeswoman said. "We don't want to stop the mums and dads taking photos, and nor is that our place, but it's all part of our duty of care."
Queensland Netball affiliates such as the Downey Park Netball Association in Brisbane have a total ban on photography unless it has approval from team officials. Netball Queensland also has an official policy of employing only photographers with blue cards. "We ask parents who want to take pictures of their children to go to the manager of both teams which will be playing," Downey Park president Jane Seawright said. "The policy has been in place for over two years because sometimes we have undesirables hanging around."
AFL Brisbane juniors administration manager Cherie Brockwell said that from the start of the season in April the league would make parents check with ground marshals before taking pictures. "It was only a recommendation last season," she said. "We haven't had any incidents but we decided to be proactive because of what happened at South Bank." ....
A Grandparents and Grandchildren Society spokeswoman said the changes removed a simple pleasure for families. "These photos are what grandparents live for," she said. "You take that away and you're taking away a lot of enjoyment of life for a lot of people."
30 January, 2006
Why being a mum is tops
A normal woman answers the bitter and twisted Maureen Dowd back and tells her what she is missing
Are women necessary? Yes, they are, at least for breeding, and changing the sheets. But what about women who aren't married and don't have children? Could we get rid of them? No, I'm kidding, just as New York Times writer Maureen Dowd was kidding when she called her new book Are Men Necessary? Dowd is only woman at the Times to have her own, permanent space on the Opinion page and she is a single, childless feminist. So, without reading her book, people have assumed men aren't relevant to her life. They assume she's going to say: "Let's get rid of the lot of them and use a sperm farm to reproduce!" But in interviews to promote her book, Dowd says yes, men are necessary - if only for "heavy lifting" (boom, boom!).
No, that's one of Dowd's jokes, too. She really does like men and has actually dated quite a few of them. Trouble is, none were willing to commit. She suspects it might be because she's so smart, funny and successful. In her book, she says she might have had more luck with romance if she'd been a maid like her mother. She recounts a tale in which a powerful man explained he wanted to ask her out but was too intimidated by her brilliance. Such claims - made in jest, with the aim of ruffling a few feathers - have sparked outrage in the US, especially from married women, who reject the implication that they must be stupid, otherwise how else did they find somebody willing to marry them, and from men who don't think their wives are thick.
The controversy has startled Dowd, who says she wrote Are Men Necessary? in a "fun, breezy" way, hoping to start "cool, sexy conversations" between men and women about what she calls "sexual politics" and "modern relationships". I have read Dowd's book and she's right, it does have a breezy feel. It isn't argumentative and often it's quite fun. I'm not offended if she thinks my husband chose me because I'm dumber than him. It may well be true.
However - and maybe this is because Dowd is about the same age as my mum (in their 50s) - some of her ideas about women's lives do seem a bit old fashioned. For example, Dowd laments the fact - and it's true - that many young women no longer want to move into positions of political power and are "losing interest in scampering up the corporate ladder". She says the corporate culture still "reeks of testosterone". She notes that only 7 per cent of men in the top tier of the Bush administration are single, compared with 33 per cent of women. Women who do get "to the top" - like the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice - tend not to have children.
Dowd seems dismayed by all of this and I suspect that's because, despite putting herself forward as a fun commentator on sexual politics, she doesn't really understand women. She lives alone in a big old mansion decorated with nude statues. Every night, if she likes, she can pop out for a martini. She has good friends, lots of money and prestige, and she's won a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. Most women don't live like that. They go to school, then get a job and date a bit. They find a fellow they like, get married and have children. After those children arrive, most women either stop working or start working part-time, at least for a while.
That's because most women believe it's important to be home for the children. Sure, they can see how pleasant it might be to be able to shop at leisure for leopard-skin boots, but it's not as important as raising good citizens. They don't want to spend long hours in the office while the little ones are raised by strangers. I know it's not polite to say this, but it's difficult for women who are not mothers to understand the depth of commitment required to get married, have babies and then raise a child. It's not like having a boyfriend. The emotions involved are extremely powerful, too. When my children are away - such as this week, when they spent a night at Grandpa's - I sometimes crawl into their empty beds at night, stick my face into their pillows and try to drink up the smell of them. I'm sure that sounds pathetic, but every mother I know has done it. Or else they've opened their children's wardrobes and sunk their faces into their clothes, or walked around patting all their stuffed toys on the head. Spending time with the child is vastly more satisfying - and takes more skill - than spending the longest night in the coolest bar in New York, or the most satisfying day in the office.
Dowd laments the quality of conversation between men and women, too. What she can't know is that when mums and dads go to bed at night they often spend a few minutes nose to nose in the dark, chattering in whispers, about their children. It's an exquisitely tender part of the day. It's hard to explain to a woman whose interests are world politics and US oil consumption, because it sounds so daggy, but the joy of having these conversations - and of putting Band-Aids on scraped knees, of singing lullabies, of feeling one's chest burst with pride as the child puts on his first school uniform and marches proudly into class - is, for many women, more important than scrambling madly up the career ladder.
Dowd talks often about her singleness, both in her books and her interviews. It helped her get to "the top". I'm sure she's trying to be helpful when she says other women, including mums, should be able to join her there. But maybe they don't want to.
PBS ARE STILL MAN-HATERS
Last November, I wrote about the controversy about the Public Broadcasting Service documentary, ''Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories," which claimed that male batterers and child abusers frequently gain custody of their children in divorce cases after the mothers' claims of abuse are disbelieved by the courts. The film caused an outcry from fathers' rights groups. In response to these protests, PBS announced a 30-day review to determine whether the film met the editorial guidelines for fairness and accuracy. Unfortunately, it seems that the review amounted to little more than a whitewash.
On Dec. 21, PBS issued a statement acknowledging that the film ''would have benefited from more in-depth treatment of the complex issues," but also concluded that ''the producers approached the topic with the open-mindedness and commitment to fairness that we require of our journalists" and that the program's claims were supported by ''extensive" research. Those claims included some highly inflammatory assertions: for instance, that three-quarters of contested custody cases involve a history of domestic violence, and that wife and child abusers who seek child custody after divorce win two-thirds of the time.
Connecticut Public Television, which co-produced ''Breaking the Silence," has supplied me with two detailed reports -- one from producer Dominique Lasseur, the other from Lasseur and George Washington University law professor Joan Meier, the film's lead expert -- on which PBS drew to support its conclusion. To call these reports shoddy and self-serving would be an understatement.
Thus, the reports cite the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's Gender Bias Study of 1989 as proof that fathers who seek custody receive it at least 70 percent of the time -- even though this study does not distinguish custody disputes from cases in which the father got custody by mutual agreement. Other sources used to support the claim of male advantage are even weaker: They include the Battered Mothers' Testimony Project from the Wellesley Center for Women, which used a sample of 40 women with grievances about the family courts. No mention is made of much larger, representative studies of divorcing couples (such as the one reported by Stanford University psychologist Eleanor Maccoby and Harvard law professor Robert Mnookin in the 1992 book ''Dividing the Child") showing that far fewer fathers than mothers get the custodial arrangements they want.
Assertions that abusive men are especially likely to seek custody of children and are likely to prevail in court are backed by similarly slipshod evidence. Defending the claim made in ''Breaking the Silence" that children are in greater danger of abuse from fathers than from mothers, Lasseur and Meier point to several limited studies that often lump together biological fathers with stepfathers and mothers' boyfriends (who, statistically, pose a far higher risk). Yet even these cherry-picked statistics show that a significant proportion of perpetrators of severe child abuse are mothers -- which makes the film's exclusive focus on abusive fathers difficult to defend.
The producer's account of how he went about researching the film reinforces the impression of bias. Battered women's advocates are presumed to be disinterested champions of victims, even though many of them have an ideological agenda of equating family violence with male oppression of women and children; advocates for divorced fathers or abused men are seen as tainted with ''antiwoman bias." In the same vein, Lasseur's report is supplemented by a letter signed by ''98 professionals" who support the film's conclusions -- but a number of those ''professionals" are feminist activists, including National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy.
Lasseur and Meier profess to be shocked that anyone could see the film as collectively maligning divorced fathers when it focuses only on abusive fathers in contested custody cases. Yet the film clearly suggests that if a divorcing father decides to fight for custody, chances are he's a batterer who's using the custody suit as an abuse tactic -- and that if he's accused of abuse, he's most probably guilty. And that's not prejudicial?
Notably, PBS ombudsman Michael Getler and especially Corporation for Public Broadcasting ombudsman Ken Bode have taken a far more negative view of the film than did the PBS review. On Jan. 4, Bode wrote, ''After close review including discussions and e-mail exchanges with those involved with the program or closely affected by it, I found the program to be so totally unbalanced as to fall outside the boundaries of PBS editorial standards on fairness and balance." The one silver lining in this mess is that PBS has decided to commission another, more in-depth film on the subject of abuse and child custody. Let's hope that this time, it tackles the subject with real ''open-mindedness and commitment to fairness."
29 January, 2006
ANOTHER LITTLE SPEW OF HATE AND DISTORTION DIRECTED AT CHRISTIANS
(Post lifted from "The Corner")
Another hateful attack on Narnia and its admirers, this time courtesy of Alison Lurie in the New York Review of Books. Did you know that C.S. Lewis is part of a conspiracy to make poor people vote against their economic interests? Or that Aslan is the moral equivalent of Donald Trump? Or that evangelical Christianity is all about keepin' people down? Let Alison Lurie enlighten you!
It is no surprise that conservative Christians admire these books. They teach us to accept authority; to love and follow our leaders instinctively, as the children in the Narnia books love and follow Aslan. By implication, they suggest that we should and will admire and fear and obey whatever impressive-looking and powerful male authority figures we come in contact with. They also suggest that without the help of Aslan (that is, of such powerful figures, or their representatives on earth) we are bound to fail. Alone, we are weak and ignorant and helpless. Individual initiative is limited-almost everything has already been planned out for us in advance, and we cannot know anything or achieve anything without the help of God.
This is, of course, the kind of mindset that evangelical churches prefer and cultivate: the kind that makes people vote against their own economic and social interests, that makes successful, attractive, and apparently intelligent young men and women want to become the apprentices of Donald Trump, or of much worse rich and powerful figures. This mindset could even be called deluded, since in this world a giant lion does not usually appear to see that the right side wins and all the good people are happy. In Narnia faith in Aslan, who comes among his followers and speaks to them, may make sense: but here on earth, as the classic folk tales have told us for generations, it is better to depend on your own courage and wit and skill, and the good advice of less than omnipotent beings
A reader wrote to me concerning the above as follows:
In Alison Lune's attack on Narnia, the opening salvo, "They teach us to accept authority; to love and follow our leaders instinctively," certainly rang differently from what I read. I found C S Lewis rather distrustful of bureaucracy, authority etc. A perfect example is this text from the end of The Silver Chair.
"After that, the Head's friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an inspector to interfere with other Heads.And when they found out she wasn't much good even at that, they got her into Parliament, where she lived happily ever after."
Typical liberals with a terminal case of "I know better" hate the characters in Narnia, who basically muddle through mostly on their own, with a little help from Aslan. The triumph of the individual over the collective is an anathema to them.
FOOD FASCISTS ATTACK ADVERTISING VIA THE COURTS
"Look!" exclaims my 3-year-old daughter, pointing excitedly at a box of cookies in the supermarket. "It's Dora! And Boots!" I nod and smile. "Yes, it is," I say, and we move on. I do not feel injured by this exchange. But according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a D.C.-based health nanny group, if I lived in Massachusetts the incident would be worth at least $25 in statutory damages.
Using that sort of reasoning, CSPI, the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and two Massachusetts parents who would rather sue multinational corporations than stand up to their own children are seeking billions of dollars in damages from Viacom (which owns Nickelodeon, home of "Dora the Explorer" and Kellogg, maker of sugary breakfast cereals and other food products CSPI thinks your kids shouldn't eat. The plaintiffs say it's not about the money.
I believe them. This lawsuit, which CSPI and its allies plan to file under a Massachusetts consumer protection statute prohibiting "unfair or deceptive acts or practices," is really about censorship. By threatening onerous damages, CSPI aims to achieve through the courts what it has unsuccessfully demanded from legislators and regulators for decades: a ban on food advertising aimed at children.
The lawsuit argues that Viacom is on the hook for $25 "at a minimum" every time a kid in Massachusetts sees one of its characters attached to a "nutritionally poor" food product or sees an ad for such a product on Nickelodeon or in another Viacom outlet. By CSPI's reckoning, Kellogg owes $25 whenever a child sees one of its ads, so an Apple Jacks commercial on Nickelodeon is worth $50 per viewer every time it airs. "The injury continues ... each time a parent purchases one of these items," says CSPI in a letter announcing its intent to sue. So if a parent, helpless to resist a preschooler's demands, actually buys the Dora cookies or the Apple Jacks, that's another $25 in damages. You can see how the bill starts to add up.
But all the talk of injuries and damages is a charade. As obesity litigation advocate Richard Daynard notes in this month's American Journal of Preventive Medicine, one advantage of suing food companies under state consumer protection statutes is that it "avoids complicated causation issues." Most of these laws "do not require a showing that the defendant's misbehavior caused a specific illness," writes Daynard, a Northeastern University law professor who plans to join CSPI in using such statutes to stop soda manufacturers from selling their products in schools. Indeed, "many state consumer protection statutes do not require a showing that individual plaintiffs relied on the [defendant's] misrepresentations."
Under the theory pressed by CSPI in its suit against Viacom and Kellogg, you don't even have to show that the companies misrepresented anything. CSPI argues that children "are intrinsically deceived and abused by encouragement to eat unhealthy junk foods," and it's seeking an injunction to stop all such encouragement.
While I have no doubt that advertising encourages children to request certain products, what happens after that is up to their parents. Neither Viacom nor Kellogg has the power to dictate whether SpongeBob SquarePants Wild Bubble Berry Pop-Tarts are purchased, how often and in what quantities they're eaten, what else children eat or how much exercise they get.
"Nickelodeon and Kellogg engage in business practices that literally sicken our children," says CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson. Given the difficulty of demonstrating a causal connection between seeing Dora the Explorer on a box of cookies at age 3 and dying from obesity-related heart disease half a century later -- precisely the difficulty CSPI is trying to avoid by filing this kind of suit -- it would be more accurate to say these business practices figuratively sicken people like Michael Jacobson. The question is how much weight the law should give to Jacobson's queasy gut.
28 January, 2006
AUSTRALIAN MULTICULTURALISTS KNOW THEY HAVE A PROBLEM BUT IGNORE HISTORY IN LOOKING FOR THE SOLUTION
They are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Community relations were better before they came along
Miranda Devine has an interesting article pointing out that even Australian left liberals are now airing doubts about multiculturalism's ugly side. She points out how recently Philip Adams interviewed Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki, the man often credited with being the intellectual architect of Australia's multiculturalism policy.
"Zubrzycki told Adams the Cronulla riots were a "wake-up call" for multiculturalism. They illustrated the folly of dumping poor, unskilled migrants from Lebanon in the outer suburbs of Sydney in the 1980s, "on the understanding they would be looked after by their families . We left them to their own devices, with no specific settlement policy, traumatised [by civil war], unable to speak the language, unable to come to grips with Australian culture and also largely of the Islamic faith" ."
So the answer to multiculturalism's failures is even more multicultural bureaucracy. Isn't this like a losing General demanding he be sent more troops? My guess is that both Adams and Zubrzycki would (as I do) regard Australia's post WW2 immigration as successful. Yet the hundreds of thousands who came to our shores in the two decades after WW2, many of whom experienced devastation and wartime traumas, at least as bad as anything seen in Lebanon, had far fewer government provided services than immigrants and refugees who have arrived in recent decades. Many post-WW2 refugee immigrants to Australia ended up in Displaced Persons camps and had to spend two years living in amenity poor tent cities, with dozens of nationalities thrown together, more or less at random, working with pick and shovel before being released into the general community. Once released they had no translator services, no high profile community advocates on TV every night, and anti-discrimination laws were decades away. Hard work was really their only option. Still they survived and thrived. The immigrant groups who have come since the 1990s have, comparatively speaking, had it easy.
The pundits also ignore the comparative add-on costs between the two generations of immigrants and it's impact in promoting anti-immigration sentiment in the wider community. In the 1940s-1960s immigrants had a much lower government spending price tag per capita, even in relative terms, than in the 1990s-2000s. As such it shouldn't be surprising to learn that polls show popular opposition to the immigration program was much lower in the earlier period. Despite Australian society in the 1990s being considered much more diverse and 'tolerant' than the "White Australia" of the 1950s.
Trickle down arguments about modern immigrants 'paying their own way' may be correct in a textbook economics sense but are irrelevant in this particular case. If modern immigrants manage to 'pay their own way', the earlier generation must have been a bargain. The pundits also fail to explain why there were no "anti-immigrant" riots among the former generation of anglophile-educated Australians. No liberal pundits have even noticed that the participants in the Cronulla riot were actually from the first generation of Australians with pro-multicultural schooling from their first day of kindergaten. We know that three generations of Communist propaganda failed to turn the Russians into true believer marxists. Even though in the Soviet era all learned to mouth the phrases as required. Perhaps a similar situation impacts the doctrine of multiculturalism. Zubrzycki's solution would undoubtedly exacerbate tensions not relieve them.
GOOD NEWS IN LOUISIANA
"Affirmative action" under legal challenge. It looks like the fire service is the ham in the sandwich, though
A federal appellate court changed its stance and ruled Wednesday in favor of plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit against the city of Shreveport and its Fire Department, overturning a lower court's decision to dismiss the case. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the heart of the five-year-old case to U.S. District Court in Shreveport. The petition was brought against the city in 2000 by Todd Dean, who was not hired by the department and felt its hiring practices discriminated against him because he is white. Dean earned a higher test score than some blacks hired then, his lawsuit alleges. Other men joined the lawsuit soon after.
The 5th Circuit's ruling "should compel the city not only to cease race-based hiring procedures in all departments, but also to re-evaluate the continued validity of all city programs that incorporate race as a criteria for participation," said local attorney Pamela R. Jones, who represented Dean, Shawn Sanders and Jason Matthews. Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran said he was unaware of the decision and withheld comment until he reviews and discusses it with the city attorney. The department ended race-based hiring 11 months before a federal magistrate dismissed Dean's case in December 2004 hoping to avoid more lawsuits, officials said. Now the department relies on a pass/fail civil service exam, educational background and technical training of each candidate and psychological and physical ability exams.
The city has maintained that the department's hiring practices are based on a complaint brought by the U.S. Justice Department in 1980 that said the department had discriminated against blacks and women. Up to that point, the department had hired only three black men in its history, according to court records. Then the 5th Circuit ruled that the department had to fill "at least 50 percent of all vacancies with qualified black applicants" and put qualified women in at least 15 percent of all vacancies. The department was ordered to divide job candidates into two categories, white and black. The most qualified from each received job offers -- even if the most qualified candidates were all in one category -- so that jobs were equally distributed to both whites and blacks.
A consent decree was agreed to with a long-term goal of the department staff reflecting the available work force of the city. In its ruling Wednesday, the appellate court notes its change in view of the decree: "We reviewed the decree at that time under a rational basis standard of review. This standard of review no longer applies. ... Thus, as we re-evaluate the decree under strict scrutiny, we are not bound by our prior approval of it under the rational basis standard."
27 January, 2006
"MEN" AND "WOMEN" NOW INCORRECT
A university Christian Union has been suspended and had its bank account frozen after refusing to open its membership to people of all religions. The Christian Union, an evangelical student organisation, has instructed lawyers and is threatening court proceedings against the Birmingham Guild of Students. The Birmingham Christian Union has more than 100 members who attend meetings regularly and has been functioning at the university for 76 years.
Members claim the actions have been taken against them after they refused on religious grounds to make “politically correct” changes to their charitable constitution, including explicitly mentioning people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. The Christian Union was advised that the use of the words “men” and “women” in the constitution were causing concern because they could be seen as excluding transsexual and transgendered people.
Difficulties arose after the organisation Christians in Sport, whose supporters include Jonathan Edwards, the Olympic gold medallist, attempted to book a room in the name of the Christian Union. After checking the union’s constitution, the Guild of Students objected to a number of clauses. Andy Weatherley, Christian Union staff worker in Birmingham, said: “The guild insists the Christian Union constitution must be amended to include mandatory clauses, insisting on more control by the guild and open membership to those who would not call themselves Christians.”
At a recent guild meeting Matthew Crouch, of the Christian Union, appealed against derecognition. He said: “All guild members can attend our meeting but only members can vote,” but Stuart Mathers, a guild vice-president, said that all student groups have to follow guild council policy. Birmingham University Christian Union is affiliated to the University and Colleges’ Christian Fellowship. Pod Bhogal, its communications director, said: “We support the Birmingham Christian Union. We would not dream of telling a Muslim group or a political society how to elect their leaders or who could or could not become a member. The same applies to a Christian Union
ALL SPEECH SHOULD BE FREE
(An article by Ilana Mercer)
Writer Robert Locke recently warned that “free speech may become illegal in England.” He focused specifically on the case of Nick Griffin, “chairman of a small opposition party called the British National Party.” Griffin is apparently facing trial for saying, “at a private political meeting,” that “Islam is an evil and wicked faith. Unfortunately for him,” Locke reported, “government thought police were watching, and recorded him on video tape… Such things really do happen in Britain today. Let us pray they do not happen in America tomorrow, and draw the line now,” Locke excoriated:
“Most Americans know that America’s precious civil liberties were born in England, out of English common law, English ideas of individual rights, and British parliamentary democracy.
Most Americans don’t know that this glorious tradition, in defense of which Americans and Britons fought two world wars and a Cold War together, is dying where it was born.
Today, believe it or not, civil liberty is under attack in the UK as it has not been since the dark days of 1940.
Then, as now, it is threatened by a would-be United Europe, and by those at home who lack the courage to defend it.
Today, European Union laws have snuffed out many of the cherished rights in Britain— rights Americans still take for granted, like the presumption of innocence and the right to elect their own government—and they threaten to snuff out more, from freedom of speech to the right to trial by jury. British liberty is in danger of being swallowed whole by the alliance between Political Correctness and an alien and Napoleonic legal tradition from the Continent, where freedom is nothing more than a loan from the state, revocable at its convenience. [More on the European “superstate” in Adieu to the Evil EU]
Make no mistake: the unelected masters of the European Union know full-well that British liberty is one of the biggest roadblocks on their drive to create a superstate that will rival and displace the USA. They cannot allow the virus of freedom to infect any part of their bureaucratic despotism, and they mean to eradicate it. Tony Blair is their enthusiastic collaborator.
The present British government—just like in the 1930’s—has responded to the aggression of a diabolical foreign ideology by deciding to appease it. Then it was major newspapers hushing up the truth about Hitler. Today it is the fact that in Britain, a man can be thrown in jail for telling the truth about Islam’s agenda of world conquest [my emphasis].
If you know that Islam has waged holy war from Arabia to Lower Manhattan for 1,400 years, aiming at the forcible conversion of the world, you will know this is the simple truth. If you know its holy book, the Koran, explicitly commands every Moslem to wage jihad, you will understand why the world needs to know. If you remember 9/11, you will understand why this is the crucial issue of our time.
…You understand how important free speech is. Without it, all other liberties are moot, as no-one can tell the truth about threats to them [my emphasis]. Islamic radicals are hoping to exploit the British courts – using rights Islam would abolish – to silence criticism of their jihad agenda. If they win this case, they will have acquired enormous powers of intimidation.”
I share Locke’s outrage. England has stooped as low as Turkey, which is prosecuting novelist Orhan Pamuk for “denigrating Turkishness.” That’s Orwellian for daring to acknowledge and decry the Armenian genocide during the First World War and the mass slaughter of the Kurds, also vital truths that should not be forgotten. Locke and I, however, would agree that Turkey has no legacy of free-speech to lament.
In 2002, France prosecuted the brilliant author, Michel Houellebecq. He was dragged before a French Revolutionary Assembly (English for a Parisian court) for calling Islam “a stupid religion.” And there’s Oriana Fallaci, forced to flee her native Italy, because of the persecution of that government, acting as a proxy for Muslim groups. Although Locke would not be surprised by these events, I’m sure he’d condemn the assaults on these people.
However, it is not entirely clear whether Locke would defend Holocaust denier David Irving’s right to speak his misguided mind. Unless I have misunderstood him, Locke appears to decry the state’s assault on Griffin because he happened to speak the truth. What of liars? Is their speech a legitimate target of state aggression? Do the British “Rights of Englishmen”—the inspiration for the American Founding Fathers—protect only speech that is true?
American jurisprudence allows the regulation of speech only under very limited circumstances. If speech poses a “Clear and Present Danger,” it can be censored. While the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment doesn’t protect words that are likely to cause violence, the required threshold is extremely high. And so it should be. In fact, the preferred course of action against imams who publicly preach and incite violence against Americans on American soil is deportation, not censorship.
Locke ought to have emphasized the imperative of protecting all speech, truthful and untruthful. That’s the American way—and the right way—although it is clearly no longer cool in Cool Britannia.
26 January, 2006
THE FOOD FASCISTS HAVE GONE TOO FAR THIS TIME
I enjoyed the haggis I had on my Burns Night. Attacking a central part of the Scottish heritage is certainly not wise. The Scots are very proud of their heritage
Scotland's national dish, haggis, has become the latest foodstuff to be targeted as part of a drive to combat growing levels of obesity among British children, prompting outrage among producers. According to health officials in Scotland, the delicacy -- a sheep's stomach lining stuffed with offal, oatmeal, onions and seasoning -- contains too much fat and salt and should only be given to youngsters once a week.
But the guidance has angered makers of the "love it or hate it" foodstuff, which is traditionally eaten with a tot of whisky on Burn's Night, the annual January 25 celebration of the life of the legendary Scots poet Robert Burns. "With good neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), there's nothing more nutritious than haggis," said Alan Pirie, of butchers James Pirie and Son, the current holders of the sought-after title "Scottish Haggis Master". "It's made of all natural ingredients -- there's no rubbish in it at all. To compare it with processed meat like chicken nuggets or hot dogs is just ridiculous. It's a big knock for us for it to be compared to those."
Haggis was placed on a "restricted" list of foods issued to nurseries, playgroups and childminders as part of a drive by the Scottish Executive in Edinburgh to improve the health of pre-school children under five. The numbers of obese children in Scotland is twice the British average; 20 percent of three-and-a-half-year-olds were overweight, 8.6 percent obese and four percent severely obese in the 2004-05 school year, official statistics show. Mortality rates among adults, particularly in the densely populated "Central Belt" between Glasgow, in the west, and Edinburgh, in the east, are also among the highest in Europe, mainly through alcohol, smoking and a high-fat diet.
The Scottish Executive, which has made a number of moves to improve the nation's health, including an imminent ban on smoking in public places, insisted haggis was not being outlawed but should be eaten in moderation. "The nutritional guidelines are intended to give advice on how to provide a balanced diet over a week," said a spokeswoman. Preventing an obesity epidemic in Britain has been the subject of a number of government initiatives in recent years, including improving school dinners in England and Wales with the help of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
A FEMINIST UPBRINGING FAILS
When I was a little girl, and all my friends were little girls, none of us thought we'd grow up to be housewives. We might have played dollies in pretend houses and made pretend cakes and poured invisible tea from plastic pots, but no one ever considered that being a housewife, a home-maker, would be something that we would choose to be. For many years, that was not even an option. But now, at 40, I wonder why not?
My mother stayed at home. She baked cakes - terrible ones - and dusted and cleaned and darned names on knickers and obviously hated it. She would tell me how dull she thought stay-at-home mothers were. She would tell me how she'd wanted to be an artist, but that her father, my grandfather, wouldn't let her.gcause nice girls did not go to art school. She worked for a while as a physiotherapist and then, after she married my father, stopped working altogether, as so many women did.
But, during my childhood, my mother provided me with a steady stream of literature by women such as Germaine Greer, Betty Friedan. Kate Millett. Simone de Beauvoir and Susie Orbach. My mother was intent that we were educated properly. She took us overseas and showed us art, history and architecture. She helped me learn the joy of having an inquiring mind, of not just accepting everything I was told. She congratulated me when I confronted my teachers, even though she was hauled in to see the principal of my school regularly.
So did my mother expect me and my sister to stay at home, have children and turn into housewives? No, she did not. And yet, what has happened to us? In Susan Faludi's 1993 book Backlash, she predicted the tide would turn, that feminism would start becoming a dirty word, that men would march against women and that women would return, mentally beaten and bereaved. back to the home.
Now we have Darla Shine, who says in her book Happy Housewives that women should be allowed to embrace the mother, the housewife within and should no longer feel they have to go to work and break through the glass ceiling to be a proper, functioning person. "Why wasn't being a mum offered to me as a career?" Shine says.
What has changed? Staying at home - or even saying you want to stay at home -is breaking the last taboo. When, aged 29, I had my first child, all my friends thought I was mad. They thought I was even crazier when I moved out of city life and re-emerged in the bush complete with boots, basket, fresh fruit from the garden and an apron. They baulked when I got a dog. They nearly cried when I went on to have two more children and spent all my earnings on small shoes and baby outfits.
But now I know my friends love to come to see me. They love the atmosphere of the house, the freshly-cooked food, the salad picked from the garden, the grubby, muddy tearaway children and the over-friendly dog.
And yet I still work. I ask myself why: is it too much part of my past, part of what my mother instilled in me, for me to totally embrace my domestic goddess within?
But I am not the only woman who secretly likes baking an apple pie. Many seem to have quietly turned away from work. Everyone is "down-sizing" and searching for "quality of life". Why have it all when you only want a little bit? I think part of the problem is that women never really thought about what "work" meant. It's no fun being a woman holding down a full time job and also trying to run a house, children and a marriage. Where's the joy in trudging to and from work, to home, to the shops, and back again on a daily basis? (I am sure men feel just the same way, but we are talking housewives here, not house-husbands).
It's exhausting. I tried it. It was a disaster. I barely saw my children. I had no idea what they were up to. The cupboard was bare, the house was cold and unloved. I felt more tired than I ever have been. I resorted to checking my eldest son's homework when he was in bed. I made packed lunches at llpm. I barely spoke to my partner. At work, I sneakily called plumbers and electricians. Yet I seemed to achieve nothing, either at work or at home.
When I recently suggested to a friend that I give up work and stay at home with my children full-time, she gasped in horror: "But work is so much a part of who you are!" But work used to be part of who she was. Now she has two children, a husband who works from home, a serious tennis addiction and the best-baked cakes. Doesn't she miss her working life? She says not. When I press her on it, she says that she had always told herself that, if she had children, it would be her job to look after them. "I feel I owe that to them," she says. Her children, it has to be said, are happy.
And now I'm surrounded by these stay-at-home women - my sister, my sisters-in-law, my friends; none of them work. Elizabeth used to be a doctor, but now stays at home with her three girls. Emma was in films as a producer, but now spends her life videoing her twins, and Kate was a lawyer in Hong Kong, but was paid off. She's used her money to buy a run-down pile and, whenever you go round, there she is, paintbrush in hand, surrounded by children having fun renovating the place. They all seem happy. They all seem fulfilled. They are intelligent women and these are their choices.
Something has shifted. I find myself increasingly drawn to making cakes and staring wistfully at ingredients in the fridge. My friend calls up to tell me of a new lentil recipe her kids like. The correct feminist response would be: "Why are you calling me up with cooking tips? Burn your bra, baby! "Instead, I hurry to the shop to prepare for cooking it myself the next night. The truth is, I feel better when the house is clean and organised and the kids' clothes are folded and in their drawers. I LIKE to put a meal on the table for my partner when he comes home from work.
When I'm not working and the kids are at kindy, I go for a pushbike ride, walk the dog, or pop round for coffee at a friend's house. I find I rather like wearing an apron. I have a "baking" cupboard, although I am still not very good on cakes. But the kids like making them, so some afternoons we get floury and pour everything into a mixing bowl and then eat it.
The children are happier. My partner is happier. The dog is happier and I am happier. If I'm feeling particularly daring, I might even open a bottle of wine at lunchtime and invite people round. And who decreed we should all work so hard that we forget how to enjoy life? I think women are redefining things. Working hard, being successful and beating men at their own game now seems tiring and boring and, at the end of the day, not necessarily fulfilling.
It's much more fun to have freedom to be at home, to play with the kids, to walk a dog, to make my own decisions about my life. Being a housewife is no longer the dead-end job it was, and it's also not for ever. As their children get older, many women I know intend to start up some sort of small business. The internet has made this perfectly possible. Others intend to re-train as family therapists, teachers and such like. Some are doing extra-curricular courses in art, ceramics, philosophy.
If I had daughters, I'd give them the books to read that my mother gave me. I would encourage them to seethat they have choices, and that those choices are not between a man's world or a woman's world, or between going to work or staying at home, but the chance to do whatever it is they feel they want to do. And if it's a dishcloth that does it for them, hey, so be it.
An article by Lucy Cavendish from the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of 22 Jan., 05
25 January, 2006
The curious rise of anti-religious hysteria
Ex-Marxist Frank Furedi says that it is the Anglo-American cultural elites' insecurity about their own values that encourages their frenzied attacks on religion. He also highlights the contempt for ordinary working people that the Left once claimed to represent
The verdict of my son's 10-year-old mates was that it was 'not bad', but a little bit 'boring'. Maddie, a sassy nine-year-old, said it was 'okay for young kids' but it was not in the same league as King Kong. In a few years' time, these kids will recall the unexceptional film that was Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and wonder why it attracted so much adult controversy.
The intense and venomous attacks on the Disney-produced Narnia film are truly puzzling. The novelist Phillip Pullman has described CS Lewis' original book as 'one of the most ugly, poisonous things I have ever read'. With the zeal of a veteran cultural crusader Polly Toynbee of the UK Guardian cut straight to the chase: 'Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion.'
What Toynbee seems to find most hateful about religion is that it is able to express a powerful sense of faith. 'US born-agains are using the movie', she warned. Many critics seem especially outraged by this prospect of religious organisations 'using' the film to promote their faith. The advocacy group Media Transparency warns that the film is based on a book that has a 'frankly religious element' - which is not really surprising when you consider that the author was a well-known publicist for Christianity. What is surprising, however, is that Christians promoting Christian propaganda should invite such bitter condemnation.
First there was the controversy provoked by Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ in 2004, and now there is this censorious dismissal of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Both are testaments to a potent mood of intolerance towards expressions of religious faith in popular culture today. The artistic representation of religious conviction is frequently stigmatised with terms such as 'fundamentalist', 'intolerant', 'dogmatic', 'exclusive', 'irrational' or 'right-wing'. As a secular humanist who is instinctively uncomfortable with zealot-like moralism, I am suspicious of the motives behind these doctrinaire denunciations of films with a religious message. Such fervour reminds me of the way that reactionaries in the past policed Hollywood for hints of blasphemy or expressions of 'Un-American values'. Replacing the zealotry of religious intolerance with a secular version is hardly an enlightened alternative.
I wonder how today's anti-religious crusaders would respond to The Nun's Story, the 1959 film about a woman who gives up everything to become a nun? Would it be denounced as a subversive plot to manipulate the emotions of vulnerable girls? Or a conspiracy to give fundamentalism a human face? Might it be described as a sick film with a subliminal plot that promoted the 'Just Say No' campaign?
There is little doubt that if Ben Hur (1959, starring Charlton Heston) was released today it would be denounced as a shameless attempt to promote 'muscular Christianity'. As for the wretched 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street! Its privileging of Christmas would be crucified as a crude example of the politics of exclusion. Instead of enjoying the acclaim of the cultural elites of old, films like The Robe, Quo Vadis or The Ten Commandments are today likely to be dismissed as insidious and disturbing religious propaganda.
Until recently, cultural expressions of religious faith were simply considered old-fashioned and gauche. But over the past decade, scorn has turned into bigotry and hatred.
It is a sign of the times that even some of the people associated with the making of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe self-consciously deny that the film has a Christian agenda. 'We believe we have not made a religious movie', said Dennis Rice, Disney's senior vice president of publicity. Andrew Adamson, the film's director, says the story's obvious Christian message is 'open to the audience to interpret'. 'Faith is in the eyes of the beholder', said actress Tilda Swinton, who plays the White Witch. This defensive response suggests that the alleged 'muscular Christianity' behind the film is in fact rather flabby. According to Stanley Mattson, president of the CS Lewis Foundation in Redlands, California, such defensiveness is understandable since today's cultural elites tend to discredit anything judged 'Christian'.
The attempts to dissociate the film from any explicit Christian project are not only motivated by commercial thinking. Despite the claims of the anti-religious crusaders - especially in the US - that the Christian right is on the rise, in fact in cultural terms it is increasingly marginalised. Films with a Christian message find it difficult to convey a powerful sense of faith and meaning. Instead, religious values and beliefs tend to be transmitted through non-human anthropomorphic forms. The attempt to endow even the behaviour of penguins with transcendental meaning - in the widely acclaimed March of the Penguins - is symptomatic of this theological illiteracy. The enthusiasm with which Christian organisations embraced March of the Penguins showed up their disorientation, if not desperation, rather than their aggressive confidence. After the penguin it is the turn of another animal - Aslan, the lion in the Narnia film - to serve as a symbol of innocence, sacrifice and resurrection. What beast will Christian filmmakers pick next?
Even when films depict religiosity in human terms, such as in the figure of Christ in Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, it tends to be in a degraded fashion. In Gibson's vision Jesus is reduced to little more than a lump of meat, the victim of whippings and abuse whose physical suffering is shown in gruesome detail. It is far from uplifting.
So preoccupied are the critics of religious activism with the alleged threat posed by their enemies that they fail to notice that many Christian groups lack the courage of their convictions today, and seem to doubt the authority of their own faith. This is particularly striking in relation to the controversy surrounding Intelligent Design. This theory holds that certain features of the universe, and of animal and human life, are 'best explained' as having an 'intelligent cause' rather than being the product of natural selection. Many see only the danger of superstition in Intelligent Design, describing it as a new form of Creationism on the march. They overlook the remarkable concession that Intelligent Design makes to the authority of science.
Unable to justify creationism as a matter of faith based on divine revelation, advocates of Intelligent Design are forced to adopt the language of science to legitimate their arguments and the existence of some kind of God. This highlights their theological opportunism and inability to justify religion in its own terms. Of course Intelligent Design isn't science; but its appeal to faith in science exposes the limits of the authority of religious faith today.
Superstition and prejudice should continually be countered by rational argument. But the vitriolic invective hurled at Christian believers today is symptomatic of the passions normally associated with a fanatical Inquisitor. Like the old Spanish Inquisition, anti-religious fanatics are constantly on the look out for fundamentalist plots. Richard Dawkins' recent two-part TV rant against religion on Channel 4 demonstrated the fanatical intolerance of critics of religion. The language and tone adopted by the anti-religious crusade - especially in the US - frequently acquires pathological dimensions. So, many anti-religious warriors repeat Dawkins' assertion that St Paul's idea of atonement for original sin is 'essentially, psychological and emotional child abuse'.
Others continue to attack religious organisations for trying to exploit films with a religious message or motif. There is a double standard at work here. After all, films and propaganda are inextricably linked. AIDS campaigners, for example, embraced films such as Philadelphia - in which Tom Hanks played a dignified man dying from AIDS - for the positive way they promote their cause. Currently gay organisations are celebrating Ang Lee's gay cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain for its affirmation of gay love and identity. 'Using' films to promote a cause is hardly the prerogative of religious movements.
So what is the liberal elite so worried about? The liberal elite's obsession with the insidious threat posed by faith-based films is paralleled by its paranoia about the religious right. Anti-religious crusaders, in particular in the US, continually exaggerate the influence of Christianity in culture and politics. Every time I visit America, this fear seems to have worsened. Raising the alarm about Christian fundamentalists has become a taken-for-granted affectation among those who define themselves as liberal or left-wing, who are forever telling horror stories about the power of the religious right.
It is now commonplace to attribute the re-election of President George W Bush in 2004 to his army of religious supporters. 'The fundamentalists and evangelicals who came out in such great numbers in this election are driven, and have always been driven, by fear', argues one critic of creeping theocracy. Instead of asking the harder question of why some of their own arguments fail to resonate with significant sections of the public, many prefer to point the finger at the religious right and blame them for using 'fear' and unfair arguments.
The idea that religious fundamentalism is on the offensive and threatening to dominate public life is widely held on both sides of the Atlantic. It is fuelled by the belief that recent developments in the world of politics point to a revival of moralism. Many liberal commentators argue, for example, that the re-election of Bush was made possible by the ability of the religious right to connect with the search for meaning among everyday folk. According to this now-standard interpretation, much of the public 'found a "politics of meaning" in the political Right'. Why? Because 'in the right-wing churches and synagogues these voters are presented with a coherent worldview that speaks to their "meaning needs"'.
The religious right is often said to be mobilising and gaining support around values that appeal to a primitive and simplistic electorate. That is why even a kids' film like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe can provoke such hostility. The liberal elite's unease with religion is often motivated by the fear that it will become even more isolated from the public unless it can engage with the 'big questions' they are apparently asking. It is also concerned that unless it can project a positive vision on to society, people will become influenced by value-driven 'extremists', by religious and political organisations that are hostile to the status quo. In short, religion is seen as a powerful force that appeals to those apparently simple people whom sophisticated members of the elite cannot reach.
Such beliefs are underpinned by the patronising assumption that, unlike educated urbane people, ordinary members of the public need simplistic black-and-white answers about the meaning of life. In private conversation, some in the liberal elite discuss the masses - or 'rednecks', Nascar dads, tabloid readers, etc - as being crass, materialistic, simplistic, racist, sexist, homophobic.
New theories are doing the rounds to account for the kind of audience that flocks to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and other feelgood films and who respond to the appeals of the religious right. George Lakoff - whose book Don't Think of An Elephant has become a kind of bible that explains their electoral demise for many liberal Democrats in the US - describes those who tend to vote for Bush as the products of authoritarian 'strict father families' who are motivated by self-interest, greed and competitiveness. These people hate 'nurturance and care', apparently, are religious bigots and lack the therapeutic sensibilities of their liberal cousins.
In the guise of a political theory, Lakoff offers a diagnosis of human inferiority. You can almost hear him murmur: 'They actually take their children to see The Passion of the Christ..' In previous times, such contempt for people was the trademark of the authoritarian right. In today's 'inclusive' society, it is okay to denigrate sections of the electorate as simpletons if they are still gripped by the power of faith.
Lakoff and others argue that many people who vote for Bush, or who are influenced by the religious right, simply do not know what is in their best interests. Instead of acknowledging the failure of its own political projects, the liberal elite prefers to indict sections of the public for being thick and gullible.
This trend for blaming the rise of theocracy on ordinary folks' apparent penchant for simplistic black-and-white solutions shifts the focus from the elite's failure to promote and uphold a positive vision of the future on to the alleged political illiteracy of the masses. That is why discussions of so-called fundamentalist movements often contain an implicit condemnation of the people who support them - and why the alleged creations of fundamentalist culture are implicitly condemned as immoral. It is the insecurity of the Anglo-American cultural elites about their own values and moral vision of the world that encourages their frenzied attacks on religion. There is a powerful element of bad faith here: many leftists and liberals denounce those who appeal to moral values as being inferior, but they are also envious of them. So when the 'progressive' Rabbi Michael Lerner criticises his fellow liberals for their 'long-standing disdain for religion' and for being 'tone-deaf to the spiritual needs that underline the move to the Right', he is implicitly paying homage to the power of persuasion among his fundamentalist opponents.....
NOW THE FOOD FASCISTS ARE CLAIMING THAT A MODERN DIET IS SENDING US MAD
Panic: 'Why what we eat has led to rise in mental problems', says the Daily Telegraph, reporting a new study prepared by the food campaign group Sustain and the Mental Health Foundation (MHF). The report surveys research on the effect of various nutrients and foods on mental development and illness. The report suggests that industrialised farming and changing patterns of eating may be leading to the loss of vital nutrients and imbalances which can effect brain formation, concentration and memory. The suggestion is that rising levels of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia and Alzheimer's may all be related, in part, to diet.
Don't panic: Coverage of the Sustain/MHF report has been much more definitive about the conclusions drawn than the report itself. At the very start, the author notes that it is not a systematic review of the literature and that there is a distinct bias towards studies that show a link between diet and mental health. So, the author suggests the report should not be read as a definitive statement on the science, but as an awareness-building exercise. 'Advocacy research' might be nearer the mark.
Even some of the basic assumptions need to be called into question. It is far from clear that there has been a real increase in mental health problems over the last few years. In a society increasingly obsessed with health and the inability to find a wider meaning to life, many behaviours previously regarded as normal variations of personality are being redefined as mental illness. Moreover, if there has been any increase in mental health problems, those same navel-gazing trends must be a prime candidate as an explanation. Increasing levels of drinking, drug-use and the decline of traditional patterns of family and working life could all represent a stronger explanation than our failure to eat enough oily fish.
In the foreword, Professor Tim Lang of City University makes the analogy with heart disease and diet. The heart disease-diet link is well-established now, he suggests, and the mental health-diet link must surely follow. In reality, while our diets are allegedly getting worse, death rates from coronary heart disease for those under 75 have tumbled in the past 30 years. Far from confirming his case, the analogy only illustrates how 'common sense' explanations of ill-health need to be treated with caution.
Still, the provisional nature of the research hasn't stopped Sustain from packing the report's recommendations with their own particular hobby-horses. For example, 'All prison facilities should instigate sustainable food policies and practices so that all residents and staff are encouraged to choose culturally diverse and appropriate meals, snacks and drinks that promote their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.' What have cultural diversity and sustainability got to do with whether we getting enough selenium or iodine in our food?
It is true that at a fundamental level, 'we are what we eat' - but we are much more than the sum of the nutrients that make up our bodies, and our minds are much more than the chemical make-up of our brains.
24 January, 2006
A lesson in conformity for parents
Forget 'respect': the UK government's National Parenting Academy is based on contempt for mums and dads everywhere
The most disconcerting thing about babies, someone once told me, is that they don't come with an instruction manual. They cry, they giggle, they get sick and they become fascinated with random things like rain and washing machines, and you often have no idea why.
You can follow your Contented Little Baby Book, you can monitor the thermometer, you can swot up on child development theory - but pretty damn soon you realise that babies are contrary little buggers who are developing their own will as fast as they are absorbing the myriad contradictions of the world around them. You can't turn them on or off, and there is no guarantee that, if you just follow the rules, everything will be okay. And that's before they even start walking and talking.
But whatever else might be taught at the UK government's new National Parenting Academy, the message that 'children are people too' will not be included. In setting up children as a subject to be studied and parenting as a skill to be taught, such an institution assumes not only that children should come with an instruction manual, but that it is the government's job to write it.
Furthermore, through instructing new parents in officially sanctioned methods of parenting, the government hopes to achieve its key policy goal of reducing anti-social behaviour and fostering a new culture of 'respect'. Just like that? Backed up with a few more laws and sanctions - but otherwise, yes, just like that.
Commenting on the new 'respect' measures, a leader article in The Sunday Times (London) says resignedly: 'None is bad in itself, although some smack of the nanny state at its worst. Students of New Labour are familiar with these barrages of initiatives, most of which tend to go nowhere.' (1) Indeed, from parenting classes to therapeutic childcare initiatives such as Sure Start, we are no strangers to official new attempts that teach parents how to parent, and push the philosophy 'expert knows best'.
But just because New Labour's authoritarian agenda is familiar doesn't mean that we should stop objecting to it. In pinpointing parents both as the cause of today's 'culture of disrespect' and the solution, the government is abdicating its own core responsibilities, and doing so at a heavy cost to families' privacy and autonomy. The upshot will not be a new culture of respect, but a more deeply entrenched culture of mistrust.
The Sunday Times goes on to berate the government for fiddling with policy while Rome burns - in this case, while other government initiatives have caused secondary schools to collapse, public drunkenness to spiral out of control, and marriage to be further undermined. To blame specific policies of this government for the worldwide decline in traditional social institutions and solidarities is a bit of a stretch, to say the least. But the newspaper is on to something in its argument that parents are being made responsible for factors way beyond their control - and as such the government is attempting to pass the buck.
It was former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher who famously said: 'There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.' New Labour's obsession with parenting as the root of all evil and the panacea for all problems takes this individualised philosophy another stage on. There is no such thing as Society, implies New Labour, as it 'puts the individual at the heart' of education, healthcare and other public services, with the result that children are taught self-esteem while parents have to teach them to read, and people who get sick are taught that they only have themselves and their lifestyles to blame.
But while there is no such thing as Society, there is, apparently, such a thing as Anti-social Behaviour - which seems to amount to individuals putting themselves at the heart of decisions about the volume of music they play or the street corners on which they hang out, to the detriment of other people's peace and quiet and peace of mind. In this way, the government seeks to abdicate responsibility for the big picture - the fabric of society, its values and core institutions - and put the onus on individuals to choose which education, values, relationships they want. At the same time, individuals are threatened with moral sanctions and legal penalties, from fines to eviction, if they do not choose to behave in the fashion that least offends anybody (otherwise known as exhibiting 'respect').
The aggressive promotion of conformity at the heart of the government's 'respect' agenda is bad enough in its own terms. It offers no sense of even trying to work out what we are as a society, and where we want to go; there is no notion that political leaders have a role to play in fostering common values or shared goals. All Blair's culture of respect really means can be summed up in the grim philosophy: 'Be whoever you want to be - but behave, or else'. When it comes to using parents as a means to push this agenda on to children, the message is even more bleak.
The National Parenting Academy, one senior government source told The Sunday Times, 'is about nipping [anti-social behaviour] in the bud, before these kids start getting Asbos' (2). A parent's role is redefined as simply controlling their children's behaviour before their children fall foul of an offence of the government's own making, thereby receiving an Anti-Social Behaviour Order. It is hard to imagine a more circular argument, or a more impoverished justification for state intervention into family life.
As I have argued before on spiked, the role of a parent is quite distinct from that of a law enforcement official - and trying to make parents into an extension of the police and truancy agency can only end in tears all round. It robs parents of the privacy and autonomy necessary to do the really important stuff for their kids - loving them, caring for them, disciplining them in the most effective way they choose (see Parents: We are not the law) And while the government is screwing up the family in this way, it lets itself off the hook. Atomisation, crap education, the lack of inspiration or opportunities for young people - none of this, apparently, has anything to do with bad behaviour, and the government can do nothing about it anyway. Just blame the parents, and meddle even further with family life.
'There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.' At least Thatcher conceded that much. For New Labour, there are individual men and women, there are parents and there are children - all of whom have conflicting interests and negative motivations which need monitoring and mediating by the state. This is a deeply anti-social philosophy, and it needs nipping in the bud.
Ridiculous Comments: Only the Far Left Gets Away With Them
Racial over toned remarks are not acceptable, whether they coming from the mouths of Senator Hillary Clinton or New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. However, that does not seem to stop the far-left from making them. They say whatever they please when speaking to a mostly black audience such as Hillary Clinton did at the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem.
On Monday, the Senator tossed out the word plantation without batting an eye. She blasted the Bush administration as "one of the worst" in U.S. history and compared the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to a plantation where dissenting voices are squelched. Her remarks were met with applause during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event. She further went on to make egregious remarks that were totally one-sided, unbalanced, and not factual.
Senator Clinton and her ilk are good for speaking double talk that only leftists understand. They have a lot of hate and scurrilous accusations to talk about amongst themselves. It's a requirement these days to have all those attributes of a lying snake while running for office as a Democrat, ask Senator Joseph Lieberman. He is a marked man who is being shunned by his own party for being a rational thinker.
Democrat Mayor Ray Nagin suggested on Monday, during a Martin Luther King Day celebration, that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that "God is mad at America" for "being in Iraq under false pretenses." He also said that God was angry at black communities for tearing themselves apart with violence.
Nagin has nothing on Reverend Pat Robertson. Robertson's remarks cornering God and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were also looked upon as being presumptuous. However, Nagin will get a pass from the far-left for his racist remarks concerning "a chocolate New Orleans" and "You can't have New Orleans no other way." What's with that?
For the far-left, perception is everything, and lies go hand in hand. The far-left media gives their favored pets a free pass for every outlandish word they speak. The headlines that we see today will be a mere blip in days to come. If these contemptuous words were spoken by a conservative, a whole year's worth of damnation would be made of them, enough to run a campaign on. One could dare say that a by George Clooney produced movie would follow on it's heels. We will no doubt witness the back peddling of these odious remarks by the newspapers and media; i.e., ABC, CBS, and all the other alphabetical affiliates.
It is sad to say that we have a serious to communications problem in America. The media, that was supposed to serve this country, has lost it's way and gone so far astray. It blatantly panders to the left propaganda. One now has to depend on the new media called the internet and talk radio for the truth. The shrill words we have heard from those in the Democrat Party for over four years are just what they are, ridiculous comments: Only the far-left gets away with them.
23 January, 2006
TROUBLES AT TONGUE-TIED
Tongue Tied is down at the time of writing -- probably because of a hiccup with the new system. So I repeat below my four posts that I put up there over the weekend:
Of a recently televised Leftist conference we read:
"At one point, a speaker spoke about the need "to save democracy" from the "Christian Right," to which the audience broke out in applause. An associate professor of comparative studies equated the zeal of the "Christian Right" with that of "suicide bombers."
That the historical fountainhead of democracy as we know it today was an intensely Protestant Britain and that the great bulwark of democracy now is the overwhelmingly Christian USA, completely escapes these emptyheads. Such fact-free fantasies are bordering on insanity. And I wonder where all those Christian suicide bombers are? If the speaker had, on the other hand, talked of saving democracy from the atheist Left, he would have had VERY good examples to mention: Soviet Russia, Communist China etc. It must be sad for the Left that they cannot live in the real world.
Offending ordinary people is the Real Aim of Political Correctness
How else can we explain this?
"I moved out of Seattle for many reasons, one being that I was disgusted at how the gay population received enormous preferential treatment... I will give you an example. I worked for the Parks Department for many years. I was told that the City Council has given orders to NOT arrest or charge any of these individuals doing lewd acts, etc., because it would seem like the city were targeting a special group of people. On the other hand, if a straight person or couple was engaged in activities of such nature, they would be fined, arrested, charged".
The old saying, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander" implies that you should be consistent in what you allow. But consistency of principle is a rarity on the Left.
Bratton Tells it Like it is
There is a refreshingly frank interview with L.A. police chief Bratton here. A Canadian journalist is asking how he would fix the spiralling rate of violent crime in Toronto. I am just going to reproduce a few pointed excerpts below:
"Bratton: Tell me, the gang violence that you are experiencing, what is the racial or ethnic background of the gangs?
Journalist: That's a refreshingly blunt question. Some say it may be as high as 80 per cent Jamaican. But no one knows for sure, because people here don't like to talk about that.
Bratton: You need to talk about it. It's all part of the issue. If it's Jamaican gangs that are committing the crimes, well then, go after the Jamaican gangs. And don't be afraid to go after them because they're black. That's the last thing you need to be concerned with.
Journalist: Oh boy, I can see the complaints coming in already. You have to understand the climate here. The major local daily in Toronto, the Toronto Star, says it doesn't believe in "gratuitously" labelling people by ethnic origin.
Bratton: Well, that really helps identify who they are, doesn't it? The next step will be to refuse to allow the police to identify people by their race or ethnic origin. That type of societal consciousness really goes to extremes.
Journalist: I'm sure you heard that Toronto's mayor and our prime minister blame the Boxing Day shooting on you Americans....
Bratton: Mm-hmm, yes. They talked about the problem of guns coming in from the United States. But whose hands are the guns in? You have to look at all sources of the problem. It is a combination of lax gun laws, which certainly contributes to our problem here in the United States, but ultimately the responsibility is on the individual who pulls the trigger....
Journalist: NDP Leader Jack Layton has pointed to "despair" and "poverty" as the root causes of crime.
Bratton: When you put too much emphasis on the idea of poverty being the cause of crime, you're as much as saying that just because you are poor or disadvantaged, you are going to resort to crime to get by. And that's a phenomenally racist and insensitive attitude. The vast majority of people who are poor do not resort to crime".
Germans Ban Wikipedia Site
Access to the German version of Wikipedia has been banned by a German court. But there are of course still ways of gaining access. See here for details. This is of course an intolerable attack on free speech which I am sure all libertarians will do their best to defeat. You can see that the forbidden information which caused the site to be taken down -- the information that the real name of a German/Yugoslav hacker known as "Tron" was in fact Boris Floricic -- cannot be found via a search of the German site but the information IS still freely available on the U.S. site. To do my bit towards spreading the forbidden information, I will repeat the core of it here in my rough German: Hacker Tron heisst im Tatsache Boris Floricic. "Tron" is ein Beiname. Weiter hier. And my comment to the German court concerned: "Heil Hitler"!
The Passion of the Left: Hating Christians
If viewers happened to be tuned into CSPAN several weeks ago, they were in for quite a spectacle. CSPAN was re-airing a conference that took place in May of 2005 with the ominous title, “Examining the Real Agenda of the Far Religious Right.” Sponsored by the New York Open Center, the conference was anything but open-minded. Instead, participants launched into a litany of complaints against the so-called Christian Right that bordered on bigotry. I half expected it to end with a pitchfork armed mob breaking down the doors of a local church.
Perusing the Open Center’s website, one will find the sort of New Age psychobabble melded with eastern mysticism and apocalyptic environmentalism that is common on the left these days. Having been taught by multiculturalism to hate their own western religious background, they turn instead to the east. It just goes to show you that people need to believe in something. Those who run the Open Center obviously believed they were enlightened in holding their anti-Christian confab, but elitist would be more like it. Every time a speaker referred to a particular Christian belief or quoted a remark they found particularly inflammatory, the audience snickered knowingly, as if to say, “what a fool.” Obviously, the secular fundamentalists of the Open Center consider themselves far more reasonable than those nutty Christians. But judging by the level of paranoia expressed at the conference, I wouldn’t bet on it.
At one point, a speaker spoke about the need “to save democracy” from the “Christian Right,” to which the audience broke out in applause. An associate professor of comparative studies equated the zeal of the “Christian Right” with that of “suicide bombers.” A former Pentecostal minister gave a presentation titled, “Christian Jihad,” while someone claimed to unveil, “The Real Hidden Religious Agenda: The Theocratic States of America.” For those suffering under such delusions, evangelical Christians are indeed the biggest threat to America and the entire world for that matter. Meanwhile, actual threats from a different religion go unnoticed.
Not once during the conference was it mentioned that the real suicide bombers are Islamists who have been killing innocent civilians all over the world. Call me crazy, but isn’t the zealot who’s actually acting on his beliefs just a tad scarier than the one who’s simply talking about it? Anyway, in a democratic society, belief does not equal theocracy. Islamists on the other hand, are actively pushing a system that hearkens back to the 7th Century and they’re not taking no for an answer. To compare this approach to that of American citizens simply exercising their democratic rights is beyond ludicrous.
The conference attendees seemed particularly concerned with Christians who believe literally in the Book of Revelations, The End Days, The Rapture, Armageddon and so on. They labeled such beliefs Dominionism and decried its real or imagined influence. They spoke menacingly about Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series and referred to its “surprising popularity.” The fact that 82% of the country is Christian seems not to have come under consideration. Much like those who lament the popularity of conservative talk radio as if it weren’t simply a case of supply and demand, the Left is simply in denial about the nature of their country.
Lest it be thought that Christians were the sole objects of wrath, “Neoconservatives” or in other words Jews, were also reviled. Apparently, it’s the Christians and the Jews that are the problem. The funny thing is that’s exactly what the Islamists are always saying.
And that’s exactly why some of us are so concerned with maintaining that bulwark of Western civilization, the Judeo-Christian alliance. At precisely the time that Jews, Christians and all those interested in advancing democracy should be banding together in the face of a fascistic and totalitarian threat, the Left would have us hasten our demise.
It’s no coincidence that as Christianity has declined in the West, Islam has been ascendant. Whether through demographics in Europe or ideological sway in America, Islam is clearly on the rise. In an ironic twist you couldn’t make up if you tried, the attacks of 9/11 seem actually to have helped this along. The number of Muslim converts is growing, with disaffected secularists being ripe for the picking. Meanwhile, Saudi money continues to pour into the coffers of U.S. institutions and to taint future generations with the stain of Wahhabism.
The left flank in the battle against Christianity certainly hasn’t been neglected. The fact that President Bush is a man of faith has upped the ante for the left and they’ve been in anti-Christian overdrive ever since his election. While organizations such as the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State were doing damage long before Bush’s presidency, the campaign to erase Christianity from American public life has reached new heights in the past six years. This combined with the encroachments of Islamism has led to an ideological battle in which Christianity finds itself on the defensive.
Although almost a year ago, the attitudes expressed by leftist attendees at the Open Center conference have if anything magnified in the time since. A recent article by Bill Moyers demonstrated the same anti-Christian fervor, complete with references to the “rapture index.” Moyers’ main bone of contention is that evangelical Christians somehow threaten environmentalism. Never mind terrorism, it’s the specter of global warming we should be worried about.
Then there’s the new television show, The Book of Daniel, which portrays an Episcopal priest and his family as a collection of druggies, perverts and sociopaths. When NBC’s Nashville affiliate chose not to run the show due to the large number of complaints from viewers, those on the left immediately cried, “censorship.” To them, not publicizing one of their pet projects is tantamount to banning it.
Yet Christians are not taking the abuse lying down. Groups such as the American Center for Law and Justice, The Alliance Defense Fund and others have had great success tackling the legal front. The recent hoopla over the “war on Christmas” was really generated by the Left, which is simply outraged that Christians are now fighting back. Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation have jumped into the fray as well, demonstrating that Christians are not alone in this struggle. The secularists’ attempts at bullying are in fact starting to have the opposite effect and Christianity in America is now stronger than ever. I certainly hope so, for in civilizational battles, those that cease to believe in anything tend to fall by the wayside. And if people aren’t willing to fight for their civilization, there’s always someone waiting in the wings that is.
"PROFILING" IS USEFUL AND UNIVERSAL
This echoes what the academic literature of psychology has long shown
My friend Luis is studying to be a sommelier. He knows more about Spanish wines than most people ever will. He describes a corked bottle as tasting “like wet cardboard.” Luis has amassed a small but important wine collection. He can tell you about the soil in Graves and he can tell you what the bacteria that yields Sauternes is called.
Luis was born in Mexico. He is twenty-three and large and he wears t-shirts with pictures of dead rappers on them. He lives with his parents in Coney Island and he once told me that the only time he left New York after moving here was to go on a day trip to Boston. Looking at him, you wouldn’t expect Luis to know all that much about wine. You wouldn’t expect his palate to be as refined as it is and you certainly wouldn’t expect his eyes to light up at the mere mention of a first growth Bordeaux, which he would probably call “bad ass.”
The other night, Luis left his job at the restaurant where we both work, was picked up by the police, and spent the remainder of the evening in jail. He had done nothing wrong, but he fit the profile of someone who had. Mostly, Luis was the type of person the police expected to catch in some act of defiance.
He told me this on Wednesday, as we stocked the wine cellar. He was teaching me about the Super Tuscans and he was talking about varietals when he launched into a story about racial profiling. “I fit the description,” he told me, as he gingerly handled a bottle of wine. He was—is—massive and hulking and he certainly could have passed for a criminal in some other person’s eyes.
Obviously it seemed unfair, especially since I will likely never fit any description the way Luis does. But the funny thing is that the industry in which we work requires the same kind of snap judgment that was used against Luis on Tuesday night. On weekends, before service begins, our managers remind us to beware the “B and Ts,” Manhattanites’ not-so-affectionate term for weekend visitors from New Jersey and Long Island—the Bridge and Tunnel Crowd. We are reminded that non-New Yorkers require a different kind of attention and we are told to gauge our tables accordingly.
Weekends are no exception. In the service industry, we are taught to assume. Assume the customer knows nothing. Assume that the elderly will split entrees. Assume that foreigners will not tip well. Assume that people who order pinot grigio by the glass do not know very much about wine. Assume that people who order their steaks well-done have no culinary mind.
But we are offended when the act is reversed. I found Luis’ story deeply disturbing because it proved how much image mattered and because it proved that racial profiling is not, regrettably, a thing of the past. But when I started to think about ways to remedy the situation, I was at a loss. Wasn’t I, too, responsible for the same kind of unfairness? Didn’t Luis and I both secretly roll our eyes at people who came in and ordered ice with their merlot? Weren’t we basing our sales pitches, our speed with a table, our attitudes, on assumptions we made at the very beginning of a table’s experience?
When you’re a professional and, more importantly, when part of your job requires you to make fast decisions about other people, being a good person is hard. All of the stereotypes that people like me rage against in everyday life are precisely what we use to help us on the job.
But recognizing the conundrum is half the battle. Richard Pryor, the venerable comedian who died Saturday from a heart attack, made light of these problems. He saw racial inequity everywhere, but his way of dealing with it infused humor into an otherwise dire situation. That said, Mr. Pryor capably brought to the surface issues that no one was willing to talk about. After a near-death experience some years ago, Mr. Pryor said, “I woke up in the ambulance, right? And there was nothin’ but white people starin’ at me. I say … I done died and wound up in the wrong heaven. Now I gotta listen to Lawrence Welk the rest of my days.”
Pryor was desperately funny and his humor allowed such categorically racial differences to enter American discourse sans anger. He was aware of the stereotypes and, in fact, used them to his benefit. It is likely that we are all better for it.
22 January, 2006
Letterman case shows the sheer evil of Restraining Orders
A Santa Fe, New Mexico judge recently granted a temporary restraining order against TV talk show host David Letterman for a woman who alleges that Letterman-who works in New York City and whom she has never met--has mentally harassed her through his TV broadcasts. According to Colleen Nestler, Letterman has caused her "mental cruelty" and "sleep deprivation" for over a decade, and has used code words and gestures during his broadcasts to show her that he wanted to marry her and train her as his co-host.
The woman, who also claims that Letterman and fellow celebrities Regis Philbin and Kelsey Grammer have been conspiring against her, requested that Letterman stay away from her, not "think" of her, and "release [her] from his mental harassment and hammering."
Letterman's attorneys were able to get the order dropped, and the judge--who apparently never thought to suggest to Nestler that she use the "off" button on her TV--has made good fodder for gossip columns and news of the bizarre. However, the case also demonstrates a much larger though rarely discussed problem-it is far too easy to get a restraining order based on a false allegation.
Beginning in the 1970s, restraining orders became a tool to help protect battered women. This is as it should be. However, in the rush to protect the abused, the rights of the accused are being violated on an arguably unprecedented scale. Many if not most domestic violence restraining orders are simply tactical maneuvers designed to gain advantage in high stakes family law proceedings. The Illinois Bar Journal calls the orders "part of the gamesmanship of divorce."
A recent article in the Family Law News, the official publication of the State Bar of California Family Law Section, explains that the bar is concerned that "protective orders are increasingly being used in family law cases to help one side jockey for an advantage in child custody." The authors note that protective orders are "almost routinely issued by the court in family law proceedings even when there is relatively meager evidence and usually without notice to the restrained person....it is troubling that they appear to be sought more and more frequently for retaliation and litigation purposes."
According to the Justice Department, two million restraining orders are issued each year in the United States. The vast majority of these are related to domestic violence allegations. For example, according to California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, 243,401 of the 274,482 restraining orders currently active in California are related to domestic violence.
Such orders are generally done ex parte, without the accused's knowledge and with no opportunity afforded for him to defend himself. When an order is issued, the man is booted out of his own home and can even be jailed if he tries to contact his own children. This helps women position themselves as their children's sole caretakers, which aids them in winning sole (or de facto sole) custody of their children in their divorce settlements. In California and other states, the order itself can be considered a finding of domestic abuse, making the restrained person ineligible for joint custody.
Despite these grave effects, many courts grant restraining orders to practically any woman who applies. District Judge Daniel Sanchez, who issued the restraining order against Letterman, explained "If [applicants] make a proper pleading, then I grant it."
Research shows that these orders often do not even involve an allegation of violence. Usually all that's needed is a claim that the person to be restrained "acted in a way that scared me" or was "verbally abusive"-what's known as "shout at your spouse, lose your house."
A restrained person does have the opportunity to contest the orders at a hearing a couple of weeks later. However, these proceedings are often just a formality for which no more than 15 minutes are generally allotted. In fact, the State of California's website gives the following advice for men who are contesting restraining orders: "Practice saying why you disagree with the charges. Do not take more than three minutes to say what you disagree with. You can bring witnesses or documents that support your case, but the judge may not have enough time to talk to the witnesses."
One study of restraining orders published in the Journal of Family Violence found that 94% of those brought by women in one Massachusetts district were extended.
Restraining orders turn ordinary men into criminals by forbidding many routine behaviors. Men are being arrested for violating their orders by such acts as: returning their children's phone calls; going to their children's school or athletic events; sending their kids birthday cards; or accidentally running into them at the park or the mall.
Cathy Young, author of Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality, documented one case where a father of three was arrested for getting out of his car to pet his kids' dogs when he picked them up for a visit. Later, he was fined $600 for returning a phone call from his son.
In another case, a divorced dad with no police record was convicted of a crime because he opened the door to the lobby of his ex-wife's apartment building when dropping his then-five-year-old son off after a visit. When he refused to go to batterers' treatment for this "crime," he was sent to prison for six months.
Restraining orders generally only limit the restrained person's contact with the protected person but not vice versa. As a result, husbands who have reconciled with their wives are being arrested during routine traffic stops for being in the same car with them. In one case, a father was arrested and jailed for three days for breaching a domestic violence order by taking his son to the hospital. The mother had called the father, said their son had been injured in a bike accident, and asked him to take the boy to the hospital. The conviction stays on his record and hurts his job prospects but he can't get it undone.
Some men have been arrested and jailed after being tricked into violating their restraining orders. In one Seattle case, a man was jailed for three months after returning phone calls from his ex-wife, who showed the police the phone screen with the man's number on it. The man explained that when he received the messages he worried that something might have happened to his kids. He asks "what kind of parent would I be if I didn't return those calls?"
Restraining orders have a particularly devastating impact upon law enforcement and military personnel. Under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, individuals, including police officers and armed forces personnel, are prohibited from possessing a firearm if they are subject to a restraining order issued at the behest of a spouse or an intimate partner. The 1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban expanded this prohibition to bar officers and service personnel from carrying weapons as part of their jobs. As a result, many police officers who are hit with restraining orders lose their careers.
The judicial system must devote far more time and resources to investigating abuse claims that are made in order to obtain restraining orders. Divorce proceedings should not be prejudiced by restraining orders, either as indications of guilt or for the purpose of setting custody precedents. And real punishments are needed for those who employ false claims. Restraining orders are a legitimate tool to help fight domestic violence. Their use should not be permitted to turn our judicial system into a series of Kangaroo Courts.
Secularists Once Again Call For The Suppression Of Knowledge
Post lifted from Fred Meekins
Since the 1920's or thereabouts, secularists have invoked the imagery of the Scopes Monkey Trial as evidence that conservative Evangelicals are bent on suppressing knowledge in the realms of science and literature.
Most following the news are no doubt aware of the ongoing angst on the part of unbelievers and Modernists regarding the propriety of introducing Intelligent Design into the Biology classroom since in their eyes suggesting anything but the materialist hypothesis (itself a faith-based assumption) diminishes the rigor of so-called scientific education. Instead, they suggest such ideas should be considered as part of the Social Studies or Humanities curriculum.
Yet such gestures of enlightened magnanimous compromise are little more than a canard. For when it becomes time to examine the metaphysical issues within what liberals previously promoted as the appropriate venue for such a discussion, they then cry Separation of Church and State. Thus, what they really want is a monopoly on the perspective taught across all of public education.
As could be expected, Americans United For The Separation Of Church And State has demanded that the State of Florida alter an essay contest that encourages students to submit their reaction to The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. The Humanist front group contends some students might be offended by a work that has often been interpreted as a Christian allegory. The agitators suggest alternative titles should be made available for students to select from.
One wonders if the Lynnites would be as prompt about coming to the defense of students that did not want to read Harry Potter or other works of literature even more salacious in their content. Interesting when it comes to the boy wizard the important thing is that Miss Rowling gets the kids to read; shouldn't this be the same attitude towards Professor Lewis among those that insist we have nothing to fear from books?
No doubt had the White Witch been the hero of the story rather than the villain, those sympathetic to Wicca and the Dark Arts would have no problem with the novel. The thing about contemporary liberals is not so much that they oppose spirituality in the classroom but rather merely traditional forms of it.
Neither do these liberals support the principles of individual mental autonomy to the extent that they claim. Where were they when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals essentially ruled parents have no constitutional right to protect their elementary-age children from perverts masquerading as educators asking these little ones all kinds of questions even an adult would be embarrassed to answer and to which no agent of the government has a right to know their answers.
These sensitive liberals whine students not wanting to read the book do not have an alternative to choose from if they still want to participate in the contest. Any other time these advocates of radical tolerance and inclusion insist that in a pluralistic society the upstanding member of the community has an obligation to subject oneself to ideas one might otherwise find objectionable.
So if students have to be subjected to putting condoms on cucumbers for their own good, then how are they going to be harmed by a novel about a talking lion? Makes you wonder what they are so afraid of.
All the fuss causes the critically minded to speculate if it's for the sake of the children or rather about something else the hypertolerant malcontents themselves do not want to confront. A child not belonging to the Christian faith is not going to necessarily pick up on any Christian motifs Lewis might have incorporated into the text.
To pick up on any parallels, one would already have to be familiar with Christian doctrine. Thus to be offended by Aslan as a perceived Christ-figure is to have a problem with an intellect more formidable than even that of C.S. Lewis, namely God Himself.
Adherents of absolutist relativism will contend it is not the place of educators to convert students to any particular set of religious ideas. Funny, public educators don't mind using the persuasive powers of the classroom as to influence the choices pupils make regarding viewpoints on issues such as homosexuality, abortion, and the origins of the universe. If no set of ideas is better than any other and parents are usually seen as being too stupid to decide what is in the best interests of their children, what's the big deal if a child switches to Christianity if all paths to God or whatever else you happen to see as the supreme universal truth or lack there of really are equal?
In Lewis' novel, it is revealed that the White Witch has placed a curse on the Land Of Narnia so it is always winter but never Christmas. With the lust of liberals to remove all vestiges of Christianity from Western culture, my guess is that they hate this book because Lewis just hit too close to home
21 January, 2006
A FEMINIST WHO NEARLY GETS IT RIGHT
Post lifted from Mark Richardson
There was yet another article in The Age yesterday by a feminist academic writing about family and fertility.
This one, though, turned out to be a bit different. Usually, feminists argue that the reason there aren't enough babies is that women want to do paid work and they won't have babies unless governments provide more childcare places and paid maternity leave.
Dr Ceridwen Spark, though, took a different line. She wants it to be possible for women to care for their own children at home. She confesses that she feels ill when it comes time for her daughter to go to childcare and she admits also that her career is not the most important thing in her life. She herself puts this as follows:"Despite being a feminist who loves working part-time, it is not my career that concerns me primarily. Like more and more people in Australia, I am part of the slow-turning tide against the idea that work provides answers to the meaning of life."
What solutions does Dr Spark propose? In part, she wants better funded and therefore higher quality childcare, which is hardly a radical proposal for a feminist to make.
However, she does go beyond this to suggest that parents be given "a real choice between working full-time and not working at all". She proposes that parents be allowed to choose between "a decent parenting allowance and a child-care place".
Now, it's encouraging to find a feminist who really does believe that women should have the option of staying home to look after their children. However, there is a major flaw in Dr Spark's arguments.
Throughout her article, Dr Spark refers to France and Sweden in glowing terms. She calls them "our enlightened friends across the globe" and she asserts that,"In Sweden and France they don't just profess to care about families and fertility. They actually legislate to improve family life and, as Leslie Cannold and Anne Manne have pointed out in their recent books, women have voted with their ovaries and begun to have more children."
It should be said that it's not surprising for an Australian academic to build up the image of France and Sweden in this way. These are the leading social democratic (left-liberal) countries, and academics generally support the left.
But there are two major problems with Dr Spark's claims about Sweden and France. First, what she writes about the birth rates in these countries is factually wrong. The US has a birth rate of 14.5 per 1000 women. France has only 12.8 (only slightly higher than Australia on 12.3) and Sweden has only 10.3, well below the Australian birth rate.
As it happens, the French and Swedish birth rates have fallen over the last 25 years. The birth rate for France between 1975-1980 was 14 compared to 12.8 between 2000-2005, and Sweden's was 11.7 compared to 10.3. So we should not be seeking to follow French and Swedish family policies in the hopes of increasing our birth rate.
Furthermore, the family policies enacted in France and Sweden make it more difficult, not less, for women to opt out of the workforce. The high levels of taxation necessary to pay for Sweden's social programmes means that two incomes are necessary to support a family. So while it's true that women get a period of paid maternity leave, few women are wealthy enough to stay home after the period of leave is over.
It should also be said that the social democratic model, by making the state a provider rather than the family, has led to a faster and more extensive breakdown in family life in Sweden than elsewhere (low rates of marriage and high rates of divorce). How can you praise Swedish family policies when Sweden has managed in some years to suffer a 60% divorce rate?
So whilst it's encouraging that Dr Spark wants women to have the choice to be full-time mothers, she is wrong to place her faith in the family policies of the European social democratic countries, especially those of Sweden, which has such a dismal record for low birth rates, poor family formation, high levels of divorce and excessive taxation.
We can't deny the deniers: Austria's action in locking up David Irving, the extremist historian, is offensive to free speech
An article from The Times showing that the traditional English respect for free speech is not dead yet
Irving's views are repulsive and wrong. He is a deeply offensive crank, and a litigious one, who has tried to use the libel laws to silence his critics. Five years ago, he sued the American historian, Deborah Lipstadt, after she described him as a Holocaust denier, and lost. In a withering 333-page judgment, Mr Justice Charles Gray described him as an anti-Semite, a racist and a neo-Nazi sympathiser who had "persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence".
Irving's opinions are indefensible; his right to hold them, however, must be defended. For reasons of both principle and expediency, he should go free. Freedom of speech includes the right to be hopelessly, demonstrably and repeatedly wrong. It is not to be applied selectively, depending on the nature of the speech in question, but universally and consistently. The UN Declaration of Human Rights is unequivocal: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression."
To defend free speech when we happen to share the speaker's opinion is an easy task. Take Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish writer who is facing trial for saying, in defiance of the official Turkish view of history, that his compatriots carried out the genocide of Armenians during the First World War. Many writers (including this one) have defended his right to do so. Far harder, but just as essential, is the defence of speech that we find morally disgusting and intellectually bankrupt. When a conference in Turkey on the Armenian question was cancelled under state pressure, the liberal West was outraged; when Iran recently announced a conference to question the authenticity of the Holocaust, the West was, once again, outraged. But in the case of both Irving and Pamuk, the issue should be settled in the court of public discussion, not the law courts; so long as speech does not directly incite racial hatred, it must remain free.
In 1947, when the Austrian law against minimising Third Reich atrocities was promulgated the fear of resurgent Nazism was real. But should it still apply today, when Holocaust denial has been so thoroughly exposed for the malicious nonsense it is? There should never be an official version of history that cannot be questioned. History will often fall into the wrong hands, where it may be twisted to suit a preconceived prejudice, but that is a lesser evil than undermining freedom of speech.
Lipstadt herself, after a career spent destroying the arguments of Nazi apologists, believes that Holocaust denial should not be a crime, and that keeping Irving in Josefstadt prison is counter-productive. The trial of Irving, due to start next month, risks saving him from the intellectual oblivion he and his views so richly deserve. Before the Austrian police arrested him, he was a fringe academic addressing a group of loopy far-right radicals wearing silly hats in a basement in Vienna. Now there is a real danger that he will become a martyr for the extreme Right. After his humiliation in the High Court, Irving all but vanished from the world's attention; his arrest has generated headlines around the world, and by putting his views on trial, they will gain a credibility that they simply do not merit.
For Austria, beset by the rise of the far Right in the unpleasant shape of Joerg Haider, Irving has appeared at a politically opportune moment. Sticking the "revisionist" in prison for something that he said 16 years ago, based on a law nearly 60 years old, is a neat way for Austria to demonstrate its liberal bona fides. Of the nine countries with laws banning Holocaust denial, Austria is the strictest. Yet the country has too often shied away from admitting its Nazi past. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre estimates that some 40 Nazi suspects are still living in Austria, and accuses Austria of a lamentable record in apprehending war criminals.
Irving is in prison for writing about the Holocaust, in a country where people who took part in the Holocaust are still at liberty. Irving would be able to argue that the people who operated the gas chambers should be prosecuted before people who make speeches about them, except that he is on record as saying that the gas chambers never existed. Ironies don't come much more savoury than that.
Irving and his like have caused deep anguish to survivors of the genocide and their families. But the vast majority of people know that the Holocaust happened, that Hitler caused it, and that those who argue otherwise are not interested in the truth. We should not need laws to enforce that knowledge. The way to arrest the pernicious myth of Holocaust denial is not through the police, but with rigorous analysis, followed by disdain. When the deniers assemble in Tehran for their "scientific" conference on the Holocaust, their claims should be listened to attentively, demolished scientifically, and then laughed off the stage and forgotten. They should not be arrested.
Let Irving go. In Lipstadt's words, "let him fade from everyone's radar screens". He is a blip, a tiny spot beyond the outer edges of rational debate that has attracted unwarranted attention. He has a right to be wrong; and once he is at liberty, we can all exercise our own inalienable right to ignore him.
20 January, 2006
"A PROPHET HATH NO HONOUR IN HIS OWN COUNTRY" (John 4:44)
The leader of the British National Party (BNP) predicted that Muslim extremists would attack a British city in a speech made 14 months before the July 7 London bombings, a court was told yesterday. Nick Griffin told a BNP rally in May 2004 that “sooner or later there’s going to be Islamic terrorists letting off bombs in major cities”. He said that the perpetrators would be “asylum-seekers or second-generation Pakistanis living in somewhere like Bradford”.
Mr Griffin, 45, and Mark Collett, 24, a senior BNP member, are on trial at Leeds Crown Court accused of conduct intended or likely to stir up racial hatred. The charges are linked to speeches that the two men gave in West Yorkshire between January and May 2004 and which were secretly recorded by an undercover BBC journalist.
Footage of a speech made by Mr Griffin at Morley Town Hall, Leeds, was played to the jury yesterday. In it, standing on a stage before a desk draped with the Union Jack, the BNP chairman was greeted with applause and cheers. He attacked the three main political parties, the police and the press, claiming that they were all part of a conspiracy to cover up the murder of whites by Asians. Mr Griffin contrasted the extensive coverage given to the fatal stabbing of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager, with the alleged silence over “the forgotten white victims” of racist murders. He listed incidents in Oldham, Colne, near Burnley, Manchester, Glasgow and Sunderland, where he claimed that “young Asians of the Muslim persuasion” had escaped justice after murdering white people. “They’re free, they’re laughing and joking and telling their mates that you can kill a white boy and the papers won’t talk about it, the police won’t do anything about it, the courts won’t convict you.”
Mr Griffin said the Establishment knew that the country was “a tinderbox” but were “hoping against hope that if they shut up about it it will go away”. The mainstream parties, he said, could either “allow us to express the anger and the concern and the fear of the British people”, or they could “try and bottle it all up so it all bloody well goes bang”, in which case “there is going to be blood all over our streets”.
Later in the speech, Mr Griffin appeared to predict his own arrest and trial. “They will take our national and our local leadership and they will throw us into prison on the pretext that, ‘We’re having to arrest radical Muslims who are blowing things up, and if we only arrest them it’s going to upset their community and further radicalise their youth. So we’ve got to show we’re even-handed, so while we’re arresting Islamic terrorist bombers we’ll also arrest elected councillors of the British National Party’. ” Also shown was a filmed speech by Mr Collett, at a Keighley pub in March 2004, during which he said that the BNP was engaged in a “battle for Britain”.
The jury has been told that it is not being asked to pass judgment on the politics of the BNP or of the defendants, but to decide whether the speeches went so far “beyond robust comment” that they revealed an intent to stir up racial hatred. Mr Griffin, of Llanerfyl, Wales, denies two counts of using words or behaviour intending to stir up racial hatred and two alternative charges of using words or behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred. Mr Collett, of Rothley, Leicestershire, denies four counts of the first offence and four of the alternative charge.
FOOD CORRECTNESS AND "WICKED THOUGHTS"
As regular readers will know, I try to monitor here the way the obesity warriors and "healthy eating" evangelists are constantly trying to dictate what we eat. If we don't have the right to decide what food we put into our own mouths, what liberty do we have left?
The thing which most exposes the sheer arrogance of the food fascists is that they generally have not a blind clue what they are talking about. For instance, they ban fizzy drinks in the name of obesity-prevention while at the same time allowing fruit and milk drinks which are equally calorific, if not more so!
And even if they were well-informed, that would not help either -- because what is supposedly good and bad for you is constantly changing. Almost any recommendation that a food-fascist makes today is likely to be undermined tomorrow by a new twist in the scientific research. That is where "Wicked Thoughts" comes in. "Wicked Thoughts" is primarily a humour blog but one of the things the blogger there finds amusing is the constant ups and downs in what is supposed to be good and bad for you. So readers of this blog could well take in "Wicked Thoughts" from time to time in order to see what the latest food antics are. Just to give you an idea of the latest "wisdom" about food, I reproduce below some of the most recent posts from "Wicked Thoughts":
Apple a day not so healthy, say new food advertising rules: "The natural goodness of fruit could prove its downfall under draft rules that govern how food can be advertised. The proposals by trans-Tasman food regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand have upset nutritionists and growers, who say they will prevent certain fruits from being legally classified as healthy. Under the draft rules, the amount of sugar will be taken into account, meaning apples, pears and most stonefruit will be disqualified from health claims because their natural sugar levels exceed 16g per serving. The draft standard aims to help people choose better food, but nutritionists say it could harm healthy-eating campaigns such as 5+ a Day, which encourages people to have five or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily".
Now margarine is bad for you: "Since butter was fingered as the route to a heart attack in the 1970s, many health-conscious consumers have switched to margarine or, increasingly, one of the low-fat alternatives on the market.... Take the latest breed of spreads that promise to lower levels of low-density lipoprotein, the so-called "bad" cholesterol or LDL, thereby cutting your risk of heart attack. These spreads contain plant sterols, also known as phytosterols, which are naturally occurring parts of all plants and have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels by an average of 10 per cent. Plant sterols block the body's ability to absorb cholesterol, reducing the level of it in the blood. But as with most good things, there is a hitch. "While they certainly lower LDL cholesterol levels, they deplete the levels of beta carotene and other carotenoids in the body," says nutritionist Rosemary Stanton. Beta carotene is the major source of vitamin A in the western diet and there is growing evidence that carotenoids protect the eyes and have anti-cancer properties"
Now softdrinks are good for you: "Fizzy soft drinks may rot your teeth but new research suggests the sugary refreshments also boost the memory. Contrary to conventional health messages, which have branded the high-sugar drinks as unhealthy, researchers in Scotland found that people who consumed 50g of sugar - just over the amount in one can of soft drink - could boost memory retention by almost one-fifth. Neuroscientists from Glasgow Caledonian University said the effects might also help combat dementia in the elderly - and might eventually lead to better ways of treating memory problems in old age".
Dripping drops out of popularity: "Britons have long had a passion for Chiantishire. Now consumers are turning to olive oil as a wonder food said to help to prevent heart disease and some forms of cancer. According to analysis by Mintel, sales of olive oil have risen by almost 40 per cent in five years, and for the first time the value of standard cooking oils has been overtaken by olive oils. The market is now worth 104 million pounds a year and within five years is predicted to reach 230 million pounds."
Booze in space: "The ban on astronauts drinking alcohol aboard the International Space Station could be about to be lifted. It follows pressure from Russian authorities to allow 'overworked cosmonauts a chance to restore their strength.' A source from the Russian medical team for manned space programmes told the Russian Interfax agency: 'They spend over half a year in the orbit with a heavy workload, especially during exhausting space walks when they can loose several kilos in weight over a few hours. Many people think a small ration of alcohol would help restore their strength.' Moderate alcohol consumption was tolerated on Russia's former orbital station MIR until it was taken out of service, but a strict ban has been in force on the ISS ever since Russia and the US sent the first joint crew."
Diet pills fail health test: Dieters could risk high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and even DNA and thyroid problems by taking some over-the-counter slimming pills, the Australian Consumers Association has warned. The ACA has completed a study of literature on active ingredients in slimming pills in time for the thousands of Australians who have made a new year's resolution to lose those extra kilos. The study showed the ingredients could be dangerous, while the benefits were nothing more than marginal. ACA senior food policy officer Clare Hughes said many slimming pill products did not have to be registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration and, therefore, went on the market without government evaluation. Pills containing the chemical capsaicin in hot chillies and red peppers or the rind of Seville oranges might increase metabolism, but there was no compelling evidence that they assisted weight loss, according to the ACA study".
Coffee good for women: "Women with BRCA1 gene mutations, which confer a high risk of developing breast cancer, might decrease their risk by drinking a lot of coffee, according to a multicentre team of investigators. Dr. Steven A Narod, of the University of Toronto, Ontario, and colleagues examined the association between coffee consumption and the risk of breast cancer among 1690 high-risk women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. The study included women from 40 clinical centres in four countries. A self-administered questionnaire was used to assess the average lifetime coffee consumption. The likelihood of developing breast cancer among BRCA mutation carriers who drank 1 to 3 cups of coffee daily, 4 to 5 cups, or 6 or more cups was reduced by 10 per cent, 25 per cent and 69 per cent, respectively, compared to those who drank no coffee, according to the report in the International Journal of Cancer. When the investigators classified the women by mutation status, they found significant protection from coffee for women with a BRCA1 mutation, but not for carriers of a BRCA2 mutation.
Detox diets are a waste of time and money, say scientists: New year detox products that purport to rid the body of harmful chemicals accumulated through seasonal over-indulgence are a waste of time and money, leading scientists said yesterday. Most of the pills, juices, teas and oils that are sold for their detoxifying effects on the body have no scientific foundation for their claims, according to toxicologists and dieticians. They will not influence the rate at which the body rids itself of toxins, and any beneficial effects would be matched at much lower cost by drinking plenty of tap water, eating fruit and vegetables and getting a few early nights. The entire market for detox products, which is worth tens of millions of pounds a year, rests on myths about the human body that are hitting consumers in the wallet, the experts' report has found".
You get the idea.
AN INCORRECT AIRFORCE
A military flyover planned for San Antonio's annual march to honor Martin Luther King Jr. has caused a rift among participants and prompted some to call for a boycott of the event. Two fighter jets from Randolph Air Force Base are scheduled to pass over a section of the three-mile march Monday. Organizers said the display is meant to be patriotic and an honor to King in a city with a strong military presence. But opponents of the flyover said the gesture represents support for the war in Iraq and runs counter to the beliefs of King and his work. The Rev. Herman Price, chairman of the city's MLK commission, said he is dismayed by the divisiveness caused by the flyover. "They say the planes represent war and bombs and death, but at the same time those planes can also represent our freedom and peace," Price said.
"I think that the military plays too significant of a role in our community for us to ignore them and not include them in this march," said City Councilwoman Sheila McNeil. "They are the reason why we have peace, and this is MLK's peace march." Critics of the flyover tried unsuccessfully at an MLK Commission meeting this week to scrap the jets from the march plans. Some said they will stay home this year, while others plan to wear bandanas or yellow ribbons as a show of protest.
19 January, 2006
ANOTHER LESSON IN TOLERANCE FROM THE LEFT
Post lifted from Betsy Newmark
Pro-abortion supporters in San Francisco have demonstrated that they have little respect for the First Amendment. A pro-life group has bought advertising space on the public transportation system and the abortion groups are appalled and their acolytes are defacing the posters.Bay Area abortion-rights activists say a Roman Catholic group's advertisements on hundreds of BART trains and in scores of stations -- attacking the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision and asking "Abortion: Have we gone too far?" -- have gone too far in a region known for its progressive politics.Well, perhaps it is because they have a First Amendment requirement to do so. Are the pro-abortion groups so unsure of the power of their beliefs that they fear some posters in the buses? And given that abortion is perfectly legal in San Francisco and wouldn't be outlawed even if the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade - the issue would return to the states and do you really think that California would vote to stop abortion - why are these pro-abortion supporters so upset about posters that have this message?
Many of the ads have been torn down or defaced since the campaign began three weeks ago.
"I think every woman has noticed them,'' said Suzanne "Sam" Joi, a member of Code Pink, a social justice and anti-war group. "I couldn't believe BART would allow something like this. Why are they doing this?''The campaign features two ads, each slickly produced and featuring a blurry photograph of a woman against a turquoise background. One ad, headlined "9 months" in large letters, features nine months of a calendar and reads: "Because of Roe vs. Wade, this is the amount of time the Supreme Court says it's legal to have an abortion."Is it because they despise the idea that a woman may choose NOT to have an abortion? Shows how fake the formula of making abortion safe, legal, and rare is. They are not truly interested in that last adjective.
The other contains the message: "The Supreme Court says you can choose: after the heart starts beating, after its arms and legs appear, after all organs are present, after the sex is apparent, after it sucks its thumb, after it responds to sounds, after it could survive outside the womb.''
Both ads conclude with the tagline "Abortion: Have we gone too far?'' and the name and Web site address (www.secondlookproject.org) for the Second Look Project, an effort sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which created the campaign and unveiled it on Washington's Metro subway system a year ago.
'PC policing' row in Australia
A brawl has broken out over suggestions the NSW Government has been too politically correct to arrest the people responsible for revenge attacks in the wake of the Cronulla riot. NSW Opposition Leader Peter Debnam yesterday repeated his attack on the Iemma Government for being soft on ethnic crime and criticised police for failing to arrest people of Middle Eastern descent. Premier Morris Iemma denied telling police to go soft on people of Middle Eastern descent and responded angrily to the comments.
Inspecting the state's new anti-riot squad, Mr Iemma promised a crackdown on antisocial and riotous behaviour. "We're on the side of the police in this, he's (Mr Debnam) not. The hooligans and thugs have got no respect. No wonder, when the example is being set by the Leader of the Opposition," Mr Iemma said.
Mr Debnam's comments last week that the NSW Government had been soft on ethnic crime for the past 10 years prompted Mr Iemma's outburst and criticism from police Commissioner Ken Moroney.
"The statistics would suggest the Government is simply not putting the resources into rounding up these Middle Eastern criminals and thugs. The Labor Party seems to be indebted to certain ethnic groups," Mr Debnam said last week. Yesterday, he refused to back down. "Thugs on the streets of Sydney that should be in jail. That's the issue." Mr Debnam said the Government was too "politically correct" to act against ethnic gangs. "The community wants these people locked up and I'm going to keep raising this issue every day until those couple of hundred Middle Eastern thugs are behind bars."
Police attack on civil liberties in Australia
Police directives about what could and could not be photographed were an abuse of power and should be ignored, Liberty Victoria said today. The civil liberties body made the statement after a report in a Melbourne newspaper today said a member of the Geelong Camera Club received a visit from police after he photographed gas storage cylinders at the city's Shell oil refinery. Club member Hans Kawitski was told not to photograph industrial installations and was ordered to inform members of the camera club to follow his lead.
Liberty Victoria said its advice to photographers would be to ignore the directive. "The police have got no place making such warnings," president Brian Walters SC said. "Merely to threaten is exceeding police powers and is an abuse of power. "If you were a serious terrorist you wouldn't be openly taking photographs. Taking photos of public objects is a normal and quite understandable part of a modern society." Mr Walters said police had been spooked by politicians and had acquired "an inflated fear of terrorism". "We currently have thousands of cameras set up to watch citizens, but if citizens themselves take photos, the authorities take that as some sort of risk," he said.
Geelong Camera Club vice-president Frank Sady said the club was having its first meeting tonight after a summer recess. He said he would be advising them against following the police orders. "Until such time as there's a law (we won't be doing anything differently)," he said. "We're not doing any harm and we're not hurting anybody." Mr Sady said the directive reminded him of visiting Poland when the secret police were stopping photography. "No terrorist is going to hang around the front gate (of Shell's refinery) taking photos," he said. "It's just the freedom to do what's reasonable in our pursuit of photography. We take photos for aesthetic purposes, not for ulterior motives."
The Australian Photographic Society said the incident was sad but not surprising. Senior vice-president Bert Hoveling said he had been taking a series of photos at Eastland Shopping Centre when he was "hauled off by security to management". "They said, this is company policy that you can't take photos inside Eastland shopping centre," he said. "We have to run this fine line now between getting the photos we want for enjoying our photography or entering competition and not transgressing local policies or laws."
18 January, 2006
OBESE GOVERNMENT WATCH
Post lifted from The Corner
The Nurse, it seems, is becoming a Chef. From the New York Times:
"Last summer, [New York City's] health department launched a campaign against trans-fats. Often used by restaurants and in packaged foods, trans-fats are thought to cause cholesterol problems and increase the risk of heart disease. After restaurant inspectors found that 30 percent of the city's 30,000 eateries were using oils that contain trans-fats, the department began urging a citywide ''oil change.'' Officials sent letters to food service operators and started teaching workers about trans-fats along with their required food safety training. The city plans another survey this spring to measure the results of the project. Officials next want to tackle portion sizes. Towering pastrami sandwiches, bagels with gooey schmears of cream cheese and pizza slices that spill over paper plates may be the city's culinary landmarks, but the health department says the Big Apple is out of control."
The only thing that is "out of control" is Bloomberg's determination to boss everyone else around. And as to where this is all going to lead, look no further than Elk Grove, Illinois:
"Worried that measures to limit smoking don't go far enough, Elk Grove Village officials are considering banning the sale of cigarettes, apparently the first time that has been seriously proposed in Illinois, experts said. Mayor Craig Johnson said the village would be hypocritical to consider a current proposal to restrict smoking in bars and restaurants without going after cigarettes themselves."If we think smoking is so detrimental to the community that we should ban it, then we should think about a ban on selling cigarettes," Johnson said Wednesday after formally proposing the idea Tuesday to the Village Board."
Words fail me.
POLYGAMY SUDDENLY OK
Old-style Mormons who still practice polygamy have been legally persecuted for decades. But now polygamy is suddenly becoming correct. Why? Could it be that Mohammed authorized polygamy? Do we now take our orders from the Koran? It seems that the Canadian elite do:
A new study for the federal Justice Department says Canada should get rid of its law banning polygamy, and change other legislation to help women and children living in such multiple-spouse relationships. "Criminalization does not address the harms associated with valid foreign polygamous marriages and plural unions, in particular the harms to women," says the report, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. "The report therefore recommends that this provision be repealed."
The research paper is part of a controversial $150,000 polygamy project, launched a year ago and paid for by the Justice Department and Status of Women Canada. The paper by three law professors at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., argues that Sec. 293 of the Criminal Code banning polygamy serves no useful purpose and in any case is rarely prosecuted. Instead, Canadian laws should be changed to better accommodate the problems of women in polygamous marriages, providing them clearer spousal support and inheritance rights. Currently, there's a hodgepodge of legislation across the provinces, some of which - Ontario, for example - give limited recognition to foreign polygamous marriages for the purposes of spousal support. Some jurisdictions provide no relief at all.
Chief author Martha Bailey says criminalizing polygamy, typically a marriage involving one man and several wives, serves no good purpose and prosecutions could do damage to the women and children in such relationships. "Why criminalize the behaviour?" she said in an interview. "We don't criminalize adultery. "In light of the fact that we have a fairly permissive society ... why are we singling out that particular form of behaviour for criminalization?"
Instead, there are other laws available to deal with problems often associated with polygamous unions, which are not legally recognized as marriages in Canada. "If there are problems such as child abuse, or spousal abuse, there are other criminal provisions or other laws dealing with those problems that certainly should be enforced," Ms. Bailey said.
The Justice Department project was prompted in part by an RCMP investigation into the religious community of Bountiful in Creston, B.C., where polygamy is practised openly. The British Columbia government has long been considering whether to lay charges under Section 293. But the project was also intended to provide the Liberal government with ammunition to help defend its same-sex marriage bill last spring.
Opponents claimed the bill, now law, was a slippery slope that would open the door to polygamy and even bestiality. Another report for the project, also led by two Queen's University professors, dismisses the slippery-slope argument, saying that allowing same-sex marriages promotes equality while polygamous marriages are generally harmful to women's interests and would therefore promote inequality.
Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said he has seen only a summary of the research reports, but already rejects lifting the criminal ban on polygamy. "At this point, the practice of polygamy, bigamy and incest are criminal offences in Canada and will continue to be," he said from Montreal. "These reports will become part of the knowledge base on this issue and will be taken into account."
The Bailey report, consistent with other research for the project, also concludes the courts might well rule that Canada's law banning polygamy is a violation of Canada's constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.
Although the Bountiful case raises immediate issues, Canada is also faced with a rising tide of immigration from Africa and the Middle East, where polygamy is legally and religiously sanctioned. Immigration officers can refuse entry to individuals practising polygamy.
Ms. Bailey said Canada should nevertheless offer some recognition to polygamous marriages that are legally valid in foreign countries to help protect women's rights here. Another paper for the project, by the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, urges British Columbia to proceed immediately with a prosecution in Bountiful. "Based on the harms associated with polygamy as it is practised in Bountiful, there do not appear to be any alternatives to prosecution, however difficult it may be."
UPDATE ON BRITAIN'S FREE SPEECH TRIAL
Lifted from Majority Rights
The BBC - which was, via its Secret Agent programme, deeply complicit in the bringing of a prosecution against the BNP pair - plainly and unequivocally declared for the Crown in its coverage today. The propaganda tone is all there in the headline, "BNP boss race case sparks protest". The BNP does not have a leader, like a normal political party, but "a boss". A political gangster, no doubt.
The protest which was "sparked" wasn't sparked in any genuine, spontaneous way at all. It was organised by the vilely dishonest Marxist front, Unite Against Fascism. How many race industry workers, union activists and far left students they managed to attract we cannot know because the BBC under-reported the BNP demonstration by about 50%.
Most disgustingly of all, the UAF people were handing out propaganda leaftlets to potyential jurors, bearing the headline, "Guilty as Charged". The judge expressed rather mild dissatisfaction, requesting the UAF to cease this interference. The BBC records the fact neutrally, not mentioning who handed out the leaflets and who, therefore, occurred the judge's opprobrium. Likewise the arrests - reported by the BBC at 5, the BNP at 7 - were of UAF rowdies. This fact the BBC also manages not to mention.
17 January, 2006
TRIAL OF FREE SPEECH IN BRITAIN BEGINS
The trial in Britain of Nick Griffin and Mark Collett for giving, in private conversations, warnings about the dangers of Islam has just begun. For background, I reproduce below two post from "Pub Philosopher". There is a comment on the probable outcome of the trial here
Post of 14th January, 2006:
The final stage of Nick Griffin's trial gets underway on Monday. Media savvy Griffin and his co-accused, Mark Collett, have set up a blog to record their thoughts and experiences as the trial progresses. They intend to update "Free Speech on Trial" every day.
I'm not going to get into an argument about whether the BNP is a fascist organisation, or whether Nick Griffin is a total bastard. As far as I'm concerned, that's beside the point. This trial is about free speech and if we have free speech, that means even Nick Griffin must be allowed to make his point. If he is found guilty and his condemnation of Islam is ruled illegal, then that would effectively restrict everyone else's right to criticise Islam openly. For that reason alone, I hope he gets off. I will be reading the "Free Speech on Trial" blog regularly.
Post of 22 October, 2005:
The Crown Prosecution Service has shown some bad judgement over the trial of Nick Griffin. In June, they opened the case by quoting from Griffin's speech, in which he said that Britain would sooner or later be struck by Islamic bombers, who would "probably turn out to be second generation Pakistanis from somewhere like Bradford" and that they would probably "blast the hell out of London tube trains and buses." A few weeks later, second generation Pakistanis attacked the tube.
It got worse. The bombers were found to have come from Leeds, the city chosen for Griffin's trail. The local Lib Dem MP called for the trail to be moved, as tension in the city was so high.
Now, the CPS has chosen 2 November as the date for the next stage of the trail. Anyone who has been paying attention will know that this is the first anniversary of the murder of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film director killed for saying nasty things about Islam. I'm glad that the CPS are showing such ineptitude. For the sake of free speech, I hope that they continue to screw up and that the whole trial crashes and burns.
The Sisterhood, Defrocked
Kate O'Beirne provides a reality check for anyone who thinks "feminist" means "pro-woman."
Mrs. O'Beirne's book is a serious examination of 30-plus years of feminist folly and the conservative counter-approach. And while the National Review columnist and TV commentator is not shy about saying what she thinks, the only rants that appear in her pages here are those she quotes from some well-known feminist icons.
In fact, one of the most striking features of "Women Who Make the World Worse" is its "I can't believe she said that" quality. Mrs. O'Beirne informs her chapters on the family, day care, education, politics, the military and sports with a review of the radical feminist dogma on her subject. Anyone still operating under the delusion that "feminist" is synonymous with "pro-woman" should find this a useful reality check.
Where to begin? There's Robin Morgan, one of the founders of Ms. magazine, saying in 1970 that marriage is "a slavery-like practice" and arguing that "we can't destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage." Or move forward a couple of decades to the 1990s, when University of Texas professor Gretchen Ritter, who favored then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's plan to "liberate" women by putting children in federally funded day care, expresses the view that stay-at-home mothers are shirking their duty "to contribute as professionals and community activists."
Also from the Clinton era is Duke University law professor Marilyn Morris, who in her role as an adviser to the secretary of the Army urges the elimination of the "masculinist attitudes" of the military, such as "dominance, assertiveness, aggressiveness, independence, self-sufficiency, and willingness to take risks." Another Clinton adviser complains that the Little League encourages "aggressive violent behavior."
A line that should go down in political history comes courtesy of the late Democratic Rep. Bella Abzug, who in 1984 confidently predicted the victory of the Walter Mondale-Geraldine Ferraro ticket as "women . . . join across all racial, social, and regional lines in stark opposition to President Reagan and his policies." Women went for Reagan by a margin of 56% to 44%.
One of the contributions of Mrs. O'Beirne's book is that she marshals data that effectively shatter the demeaning liberal myth that women vote on "women's issues." She notes, for instance, that when the Gallup organization polled voters monthly during the 2004 presidential election year about the subjects they cared most deeply about, "not even 1% mentioned issues like pay equity, child care, or discrimination and violence against women." Men and women polled equally in their concern about race relations, health care, military strength and so forth.
Also in the realm of politics, Mrs. O'Beirne recounts the hypocrisy of feminist leaders during the Clinton years, comparing them to battered spouses willing to endure any humiliation so long as they don't lose their man. "As long as Bill Clinton supported abortion rights, affirmative action, and federal child care," she writes, "it didn't matter that he was a sexual predator."
Then there's the feminist myth that women are denied equal pay for equal work. No one doubts that this was the case several decades ago--and isolated cases persist--but today women's pay overall is on a par with men's. Discrepancies are generally explained by the personal-employment choices that many women make, such as flexible hours, part-time work or other family-friendly options. She lists 39 occupations--aerospace engineer, speech pathologist, financial analyst--where women earn at least 5% more than men.
Mrs. O'Beirne's assessment of the effect of the feminist agenda on women in the military is especially relevant. There are 213,000 women on active duty, including more than 24,000 single mothers and 29,000 married women with children. The first female casualty in Iraq was Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, a 24-year-old single mother of a 4-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.
The Pentagon's "risk rule," which used to prohibit assigning women to units that were at risk of attack or capture, was repealed in 1994. Mrs. O'Beirne believes that women in the military--especially mothers--belong well behind the front lines. I'm not sure I agree, but I know her analysis has made me think harder about what's at stake not just for the military or women but for our society.
One of the values of this volume is that it reviews the antifeminist research on the family, education, abortion and more. Mrs. O'Beirne is generous in citing the work of scholars such as Mary Ann Glendon, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Elaine Donnelly, Karlyn Bowman and others. Radical feminists may have the loudest megaphones, but they aren't the only voices. "Women Who Make the World Worse" is a brief history of how wrong the gender warriors have been about virtually every aspect of American life. But it offers hope for the future in highlighting the scholarship of many women who have made the world better.
More news from the Department of Psychobabble
A sarcastic post about the British "obesity" campaign from a British doctor
"Greetings comrades and good news from the Health Commissariat. Comrade Flint has been made a Hero of the Soviet Union (third class) for designing and instituting the new five-year plan to help comrade doctors advise patients about obesity".
Meanwhile, back at the coalface, Dr Crippen is looking for his chocolate digestive biscuits that the reception staff have hidden to assist him with his flagging New Year’s Resolution.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) is working day and night, on your behalf and at your expense, to formulate a national strategy to help family doctors advise patients who are overweight.
In the House of Commons earlier this month, Comrade Flint, an under secretary of state for health said:
"The Department is developing an obesity care pathway as an interim tool to assist the frontline health professionals in managing overweight and/or obese patients, until the availability of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's definitive guidance in 2007. As part of the process of developing this tool, early drafts were shared with some potential users to ascertain their views on how it might best be applied."
“An interim obesity care pathway”. That sounds good! And in another year or so, we will have the “definitive tool”. Wonderful! Hang the expense. This is better than “getting a picture of the night” from Sue and Dave.
Dr Crippen will struggle on with the soon to be out-moded equipment he has used to diagnose obesity for the last twenty years. This is a complex photo-electric receptor apparatus which has integral bionic micro-electronic circuitry calibrated automatically to orientate and binocularly co-ordinate the three-dimensional spatial presentation of the propositus in relationship to a complex wooden matrix specially designed by skilled craftsman to admit and contain all members of the population with guaranteed confidence levels up to and including the mean and three standard deviations of the population norm.
In other words, he glances at the patient as they enter the door, and knows instantly if they are overweight.
Then, in the absence of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s definitive guidance, he says:
“Gosh, you are bit over weight. Why don’t you eat less?”
Is this why we cannot afford to treat breast cancer?
My thanks to Comrade Wat Tyler for drawing my attention to the existence of Caroline Flint.
16 January, 2006
BRITISH LAW ENFORCEMENT CHANGED TO PROTECT MUSLIMS FROM "HOMOPHOBIA" CHARGES
The British police now make the law, apparently. What would happen if a Christian pastor defended on TV the Old Testament teaching (Leviticus 20:13) that homosexuals should be put to death? It will be interesting to see
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has moved to end pointless and costly investigations into commentators who voice politically incorrect opinions on radio and television. Sir Ian launched a review of how his force responds to complaints about allegedly homophobic and racist statements broadcast on radio and television. Under current rules police are duty bound to investigate any such complaints from viewers and listeners but officers are understood to be exasperated that they have to look into all of them as potential "hate" crimes. Inquiries can tie up resources and cost thousands of pounds before establishing that people are only exercising their right to freedom of speech and have not committed offences under either the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act or the Public Order Act.
The announcement of the review comes just days after the Met began investigating Sir Iqbal Sacranie, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, over a BBC Radio 4 interview in which he voiced his view that homosexuality was "not acceptable". A listener made a formal complaint to police suggesting his comments were homophobic. However, the Met made clear that the investigation into Sir Iqbal's comments will continue and will not be affected by the review.
In another controversial case last month family campaigner Lynette Burrows was spoken to by Met officers after she aired her opinion that homosexuals should not be allowed to adopt in a discussion programme on BBC Radio Five Live. A listener called police.
Sir Ian has in the past faced criticism for his own perceived adherence to political correctness but appears keen to end frivolous investigations. His review raises the prospect of an increasing role for police in deciding what constitutes free speech and could lead to officers being able to immediately disregard complaints they deem absurd or trivial.
NEW BOOK: The Retreat of Reason - Political Correctness and the Corruption of Public Debate in Modern Britain by Anthony Browne
Summary of the book:
For centuries Britain has been a beacon of liberty of thought, belief and speech, but now the freedom of its intellectual and political life is being subjected to a subtle form of 'censorship', according to a new study of political correctness published by the independent think-tank Civitas.
Anthony Browne argues in The Retreat of Reason that political correctness, which classifies certain groups of people as victims in need of protection from criticism and allows no dissent to be expressed, is poisoning the wells of debate in modern Britain.
'Members of the public, academics, journalists and politicians are afraid of thinking certain thoughts' (p.xii). Political correctness started in academia, but it now dominates schools, hospitals, local authorities, the civil service, the media, companies, the police and the army. Since 1997 Britain has been ruled by political correctness for the first time. 'The Labour government was the first UK government not to stand up to political correctness, but to try and enact its dictates when they are not too electorally unpopular or seriously mugged by reality, and even sometimes when they are' (p.34).
Anthony Browne describes political correctness as a 'heresy of liberalism' (p.2) under which 'a reliance on reason has been replaced with a reliance on the emotional appeal of an argument' (p.6). Adopting certain positions makes the politically correct feel virtuous, even more so when they are preventing the expression of an opinion that conflicts with their own: 'political correctness is the dictatorship of virtue'.
Whether an argument is true or not is a secondary consideration to whether it fits with the PC view of the world: 'In the topsy-turvy politically correct world, truth comes in two forms: the politically correct, and the factually correct. The politically correct truth is publicly proclaimed correct by politicians, celebrities and the BBC even if it is wrong, while the factually correct truth is publicly condemned as wrong even when it is right. Factually correct truths suffer the disadvantage that they don't have to be shown to be wrong, merely stated that they are politically incorrect. To the politically correct, truth is no defence; to the politically incorrect, truth is the ultimate defence. (p.7)'
He argues that PC is much more than just a dispute about words, or the hope of avoiding hurtful expressions: it leads to an incorrect analysis of real problems, which means that the wrong solutions are attempted. People suffer as a result:
'Black communities are encouraged to blame racist teachers for the failings of their boys at school, rather than re-examine their own culture and attitudes to education that may be the prime reasons. The poor sick have ended up having worse healthcare in Britain than they would in mainland Europe because PC for long closed down debate on fundamental NHS reform. Women's employment opportunities can be harmed by giving them ever more rights that are not given to men. The unemployed are encouraged to languish on benefits blaming others for their fate. Poor Africans are condemned to live in poverty so long as they and their governments are encouraged to blame the West for all their problems, rather than confronting the real causes of poor governance, corruption and poor education'. (p.xiv) The end of political correctness?
Political correctness is the invention of Western intellectuals who feel guilty about the universal triumph of Western values and economic prosperity. However, threats to the influence of the West may bring political correctness to an end:
'Political correctness is essentially the product of a powerful but decadent civilisation which feels secure enough to forego reasoning for emoting, and to subjugate truth to goodness. However, the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, and those that followed in Bali, Madrid and Beslan, have led to a sense of vulnerability that have made people far more hard-headed about the real benefits and drawbacks of Western civilisation'. (p.84)
Even the long-unrivalled economic dominance of the West will come under challenge from the newly flourishing economies of India and China. Westerners will stop feeling guilty about their position when it has to be defended against rival cultures and ideologies. Anthony Browne lists several steps that could be taken to limit the malign influence of political correctness before it does further damage:
Free speech should be protected with an equivalent of the first amendment to the US constitution. A binding referendum should be called on any proposal if supported by a certain percentage of the population. Such 'citizens' initiatives' return power to the people, encouraging ordinary citizens to re-engage with the political process. Un-PC groups should be formed and promoted to oppose PC flag-wavers like left-wing charities. A taxpayers' alliance could argue for lower taxes; a homeowners association could campaign on issues affecting homeowners, like council tax and crime. There should be more objective teaching of the history of the West. Foundations should be set up to preserve and promote the Western heritage and values (pp. 86-7).
'In the long run of history, political correctness will be seen as an aberration in Western thought. The product of the uniquely unchallenged position of the West and unrivalled affluence, the comparative decline of the West compared to the East is likely to spell its demise. Finally, Western minds may be free again to reason rather than just emote, to pursue objective truth rather than subjective virtue'.
THE INCORRECTNESS OF PARENTS
A BBC documentary broadcast last night (11 January) served as a reminder of the disastrous consequences of the theory of 'Satanic ritual abuse' that gripped many British social services departments in the late 1980s and early 1990s (1). Following similar stories in the USA, allegations were made across the country, from Nottingham to Orkney, of devil-worshipping, sexual abuse of children and even human sacrifice.
All of the cases, in the USA as well as the UK, turned out to be unfounded, but not before generating a media frenzy, and putting the families concerned through hell. Children were taken from their parents, in many cases for several years, while those parents stood accused of acts that would have seemed absurd were the consequences not so serious. Not only rape and incest but all manner of outlandish occult rituals were said to have been performed by ordinary-seeming families across the land. Sacrificing animals, locking children in 'caves', drinking human blood, even making girls pregnant so the fetuses could be torn out and sacrificed: the social workers at the centre of these cases claimed to have uncovered the bestial underside of apparently civilised, secular societies.
It ought to be said that even at the time not everyone was convinced. Notably, regular spiked contributor Dr Michael Fitzpatrick challenged the myth of Satanic ritual abuse in the pages of Living Marxism. In many ways, 'Satanic abuse' was a classic moral panic, and transparently so, but it was given special impetus by the peculiar political character of the child abuse issue. While concerns about the occult might seem more in keeping with religious conservatism, especially coming from the USA, in fact the uncovering of child abuse had become a feminist, even left-wing cause, and the idea that sinister things were going on behind the closed doors of the family had a certain resonance even beyond the lunatic fringe. The former Communist and noted feminist Beatrix Campbell wrote a series of articles and made a Channel 4 Dispatches programme promoting the myth more enthusiastically than any American evangelist group or salacious tabloid.
The Rochdale case revisited in the BBC documentary began in June 1990 when a quiet young boy who liked to hide under tables at school was referred to social services. A series of conferences and training videos had convinced many in the profession that Satanic ritual abuse was widespread. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) published so-called 'Satanic indicators', a shameful endorsement of irrational panic that has not prevented the organisation retaining respect and patronage for its ongoing promotion of the idea that more mundane child abuse is routine today.
Having read up on the hot topic in the profession, social workers in Rochdale were excited to come across a case that met the promiscuous indicators of abuse. These included such innocuous things as a child's obsession with urine and faeces, fear of ghosts and monsters, and reluctance to be left with babysitters.
A total of 12 children were taken from their homes for investigation, and the documentary revealed some of the mechanics of how the panic took off. The BBC took Rochdale Council to court to gain access to tapes of interviews with the children taken at the time, which make for fascinating viewing. It is clear that the children were led by the social workers. They were encouraged to talk about 'ghosts', indulging what they thought of as fantasies but which the social workers interpreted as revelations about their abuse at the hands of various adults. Even when one child insisted that these were 'nice ghosts', the skewed interpretation was maintained, while in many cases their statements were simply distorted.
Following similar practices in America, the children were asked to play with anatomically-correct dolls, and again, the social workers led the children and interpreted their play according to their own preconceptions. The children are now suing the council for compensation and an apology for their ordeal.
As in other similar cases, it is clear that the social workers were utterly convinced that the ritual abuse was going on before they began collecting 'evidence'. In another case, in Nottingham in 1997, the outlandish claims made by children in such circumstances included the following: babies being stabbed in a balloon and cooked in the oven; Jesus being chopped up and eaten off a silver pad; an uncle killing a man, cutting him up and putting him in a bag after going to a fantastic castle in a boat with Mr Pooh Pants and the local vicar; the family witches killing a big sheep brought in a plastic box with their finger nails and taking it to the hospital to get better and bringing it back; a swimming pool with crocodiles, sharks and dragons that kill the children.
It seems incredible now that such charges could ever have been taken seriously, but once the theory had taken hold, it became a point of principle that there must be truth even in the most absurd accusations, and above all that children must be believed no matter what.
It would be a mistake to dismiss the Satanic panic as a freakish aberrance, however. The generally unhealthy suspicion of social workers towards families is revealed by the fact that the family at the centre of the Rochdale case had been on the radar of social services even before the false allegations were made; they were judged not be looking after their kids very well and were criticised for having financial problems. (Certainly they come across in the documentary as unsophisticated, which no doubt made it difficult for them to defend themselves against the false allegations.)
While the Satanic panic is generally seen as a thing of the past, the misanthropic assumptions underlying it have only been strengthened since the early 1990s. Organisations like the NSPCC are more rather than less influential, and the idea that child abuse is going on in countless apparently normal homes is absolutely mainstream. It is this institutionalised suspicion that means the apparently irrational Satanic ritual abuse panic can be explained, and also that it has never completely disappeared. It is still important to challenge the myth wherever it flares up, but more than that to question the more mainstream misanthropy that feeds it.
Moreover, at a time when it is increasingly fashionable to cast doubt on the ability of parents in general to feed, discipline and socialise their own children, it is worth remembering what the professionals are capable of, especially when they are convinced they are on the side of the angels.
15 January, 2006
HOMOPHOBIC MUSLIMS ARE OK OF COURSE
Though it might be slightly amusing to see what verbal gymnastics the Brits use to let this guy off the hook. Contrast what is related below with how the university student mentioned yesterday was treated. I quote: "Mr Brown was sobered by the appearance of two squad cars. A posse of unmounted officers arrested him and charged him under Section 5 of the Public Order Act for making homophobic remarks... Mr Brown spent a night in the cells". Will Sir Iqbal spend a night in police cells? Not likely!
A British Muslim leader is being investigated by the police for allegedly homophobic remarks made during a radio interview. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that homosexual practices were "harmful" and civil partnerships "not acceptable" last week. Interviewed on BBC Radio Four's PM programme on Jan 3, Sir Iqbal said: "If you look into the scientific evidence that has been available in terms of the various forms of other illnesses and diseases that are there, surely it points out that, where homosexuality is practised, there is a greater concern in that area." Asked if homosexuality was harmful to society, he said: "Certainly it is a practice that doesn't, in terms of health, in terms of the moral issues that comes along in a society - it is. It is not acceptable."
Peter Rippon, the programme's editor, was telephoned by an officer at West End Central police station in London yesterday, who said that he was investigating a homophobic incident under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. This makes it an offence for a person to use "threatening, abusive or insulting words" within the hearing of "a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress" as a result. The prosecution must also establish that the defendant intended his words to be threatening, abusive or insulting or that he was aware that they may be. It is a defence for the accused to prove that his conduct was reasonable. The maximum penalty is a fine of 1,000 pounds.
There is no suggestion that the BBC is facing prosecution and it rebroadcast Sir Iqbal's remarks in full on yesterday's PM programme. Sir Iqbal declined to comment further, saying he had not yet been contacted by the police. The investigation follows a letter in The Daily Telegraph on Jan 6, pointing out that Christians who expressed negative views of homosexuality had previously been contacted by the police and warned against their behaviour. Neil Addison, who wrote the letter, argued that if the police took no action against Sir Iqbal the Churches would be entitled to ask why Muslims were being treated differently from Christians.
Sir Iqbal defended his comments in a statement on his website last week. "What I said was only to reiterate the well-known Islamic position that the practice of homosexuality is not acceptable," he wrote. "It is a sin. This view is shared in other scriptures, such as those of Christianity and Judaism."
British airline bans Bibles aboard planes to avoid offending Muslims
As far as I can see, the airline is doing what it has to do to protect its employees from the Saudi religious police but it is deplorable that we pander to the ignorance concerned.
A British airline has prohibited its employees from carrying Bibles, using crucifixes or St. Christopher Medals, on flights to Saudi Arabia in order "not to offend" Muslims in that country. British Midland International has also established that female flight attendants should walk two steps behind their male colleagues and should cover themselves from head to toe with an abaya, a traditional Muslim overgarment, the Mirror newspaper of London reported. BMI officials explained the decision saying the Islamic kingdom's strict laws - enforced by religious police - prohibit public practice of Christianity and figures of animals.
An airline employee who asked not to be named told the Mirror: "It's outrageous that we must respect their beliefs but they're not prepared to respect ours." The employee said his grandmother gave him a crucifix shortly before she died that he wears at all times. "It's got massive sentimental value and I don't see why I have to remove it," he said.
The employees' union has proposed staff members be able to opt out of the flights, but the airline says the only option is to transfer from overseas staff to domestic flights, which could mean a loss of about $30,000 a year in wages. About 40 staff members have filed complaints since the route began in September.
14 January, 2006
ORGASM FOR BRITAIN'S POLITICALLY CORRECT POLICE: A REAL LIVE "HOMOPHOBE" FOUND
You've got schoolkids carrying machine pistols there and this is what they waste their time on
Common sense has, for once, reined in the lunatic fringe of homophobia. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided not to pursue a case against an Oxford University student who went up to a mounted policeman and suggested that his horse was gay. The horse did not complain, but the police did.
Sam Brown, 21, from Belfast, was out on the town with friends last May celebrating the end of his finals. As is common among the young in such circumstances of euphoric relief, a drink or two had been taken. Mr Brown, then of Balliol College and now a graduate in English literature, decided to exercise his skill in the English language when he and a group of carousing friends encountered a mounted patrol of the Thames Valley Police in the city's High Street. "Excuse me," Mr Brown ventured to the officer towering above him, "do you realise your horse is gay?". It seemed a harmless enough, if not rivetingly witty, remark. Moments later, however, Mr Brown was sobered by the appearance of two squad cars. A posse of unmounted officers arrested him and charged him under Section 5 of the Public Order Act for making homophobic remarks.
His remark, it was alleged, was deemed likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. The Act, however, does not make clear whether equine alarm and distress are covered by its provisions, or whether only human beings are likely to be offended. The police took the view that it was the human beings who could have been harassed. Mr Brown spent a night in the cells and was fined 80 pounds, which he refused to pay. So the police took the case to the CPS.
But at Oxford Magistrates' Court yesterday the Crown prosecutors threw in the towel. Cariad Eveson-Webb, for the CPS, told the court: "In their opinion there is not enough evidence to prove [Mr Brown's behaviour] was disorderly." Thames Valley Police yesterday defended its decision to take the case to court. "We present the case to the CPS, and they make the decision to proceed or not," a spokesman said. "He made homophobic comments that were deemed offensive to people passing by."
Intelligent Design is Not About Religion
Where's that famous "tolerance" the Left are always preaching about?
If Kansas can be considered Ground Zero in the debate between Darwinists vs. Intelligent Design proponents, a recent explosion rocking the battle zone took place last month at the University of Kansas in its religious studies department. A course titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies," was to be offered. I suspected, despite the closed-mindedness of the department chairman-Paul Mirecki-and his approach to relegating ID to "mythology," there would have been lively debates in the classroom. And had this been the case, hopefully more light than heat would have been shed on a debate that simply won't go away between Darwinists, who base their theory more on naturalism-a philosophy-than science, and the proponents of Intelligent Design.
Intelligent Design is a systematic evaluation of observed biological phenomena resulting in the logical conclusion that design is inherent in living systems. The inescapable implication-and I guess the thing that drives its critics hysterical-is that design implies A Designer. Why this never presents a problem when we admire a work of art by Van Gogh or a musical composition by Claude Debussy escapes me. But logic and common sense dissipates when Darwinists are confronted by an alternate theory to their most hallowed orthodoxy. And instead of dealing with the substance of the arguments for ID, they skewer its proponents, labeling them as "stealth creationists;" a charge that is not altogether fair.
While many Young Earth Creationists and Old Earth Creationists support Intelligent Design as a rational answer to Darwinism, Intelligent Design itself stands apart from biblical creationism as a non-religious approach to origins. William Dembski, one of its chief proponents describes it as "the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence.".........
In order to understand the crux of the issue, one must first understand that the debate between Darwinists and the proponents of Intelligent Design is not about science but a world-view. Science is that which can be demonstrated in a laboratory by a process involving an idea or hypothesis followed by experiments to verify the hypothesis. When sufficient evidence has been accumulated, a theory can be proposed. There have been no such experiments providing the evidence in support of evolution as a testable, scientific theory.
The evidence, if we can call it that, is contained in a fossil record filled with gaps and lacking a single, indisputable, multi-cellular transition form demonstrating one species evolving into another. One would conjecture that if evolution were true, there would have been millions of years of the fossilized remains of species evolving into other species. None have been found.
Steven J. Gould, an ardent evolutionist, admits the evidence does not show gradual change, but sudden appearance and stability: Most fossils species appear all at once, fully formed, and exhibit no directional change throughout their stay in the rocks.....
Klaus Dose, a prominent worker in the field of origin-of-life research comments, "More than 30 years in the field of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life here on Earth rather than its solution. At present, all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in confession of ignorance." ....
As it turns out, there will be no debate in Professor Mirecki's classroom even though twenty-five students had signed up for the class. In a follow-up story, the Associated Press reported Mirecki had sent an e-mail to members of a student organization in which he referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said that his course would be a "nice slap in their big fat face."
The class was cancelled and Mirecki was forced to apologize, saying, "I made a mistake in not leading by example, in this student organization e-mail forum, the importance of discussing differing viewpoints in a civil and respectful manner." The university's chancellor, Robert Hemenway said Mirecki's comments were "repugnant and vile [and] .misrepresent[ed] everything the university is to stand for."
None of this comes as a surprise. The debate between Darwinism and Intelligent Design is almost always inimical. Instead of addressing both theories in an atmosphere conducive to learning, Darwinists prefer to avoid the substance of the issue and instead, resort to name calling. By denigrating its proponents as "Bible-thumping, knuckle draggers," they quash any open-minded investigation into an alternate theory of the origin of the species; an approach that is, quite frankly, hardly intelligent.
13 January, 2006
SCOUTS IN THE FIRING LINE AGAIN
On one side of the case, there's Berkeley - bastion of diversity and, some would argue, political correctness. On the other side, there's the Boy Scouts - champion of many good values but not the inclusion of gay or atheist members. The two squared off Tuesday before the California Supreme Court on the narrow issue of Berkeley's withdrawal of free berthing for Scouting ships at the city marina. But there's also a broader debate under way, and it's being argued in courts across the country: Can the Scouts' restrictive, though legal, membership rules be used to disqualify the organization from receiving government subsidies?
The financial stakes for the Boy Scouts are high as a variety of government benefits they've traditionally enjoyed are put to the test - free use of school facilities, payroll deduction contributions from government employees, sponsorship of the Boy Scout Jamboree and Scout troops on military bases. California Justice Marvin Baxter put the issue this way during Tuesday's oral arguments: If the Scouts had to be treated the same as all other organizations competing for Berkeley's subsidies, wouldn't the Ku Klux Klan have to be placed on equal footing?
"That's unfortunate, but it's correct," answered Jonathan Gordon, who argued the case for the Sea Scouts, a Boy Scouts of America program that had free berthing privileges at the Berkeley marina for six decades, until 1998. Other nonprofit groups continue to use the marina without charge.
Several justices had tough questions for City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque. Was Berkeley's real motive to punish the Scouts for winning an earlier case, they asked, rather than to implement the city's nondiscrimination policies? In 1998, the California Supreme Court ruled that the organization had a right under the First Amendment to bar a gay Scout leader - who happened to be from Berkeley. Albuquerque answered that the city wasn't trying to regulate the Boy Scouts, but merely was refusing to fund the group's activities. In other words, said Chief Justice Ronald George, attempting to restate Albuquerque's position, "getting on a boat" is not an exercise of the First Amendment. George wrote the unanimous opinion in 1998.
Direct legal attacks on the Boy Scouts' anti-gay and anti-atheist membership policies suffered a decisive defeat two years later. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled then that the First Amendment would be violated by forcing the New Jersey Boy Scouts to accept a gay leader. The new round of cases is complicated by other precedents, though, and they stand for conflicting principles. They include a 1984 decision in which the high court ruled that government financial aid could be made contingent on a nondiscrimination pledge - in that case a college's pledge to comply with the federal ban on sex discrimination in education.
In the new round of Boy Scout cases, federal courts have split over whether diversity or freedom of association is the main issue. The U.S. Supreme Court turned down a chance to rule in 2004, declining to review a decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Connecticut could exclude the Boy Scouts from a state employee charitable giving campaign. In another case, a federal judge in San Diego ruled in 2003 that leasing city park space to the Boy Scouts amounted to unconstitutional support for a religious organization, citing the Scouts' anti-atheist membership policy. That case will be heard by the 9th Circuit next month. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a brief supporting the Scouts in San Diego. So have the states of Texas, Alabama, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Virginia. The states note that allowing the organization to build and operate facilities on public land has been an inexpensive way for governments to provide recreation for their youth.
Those on the other side of the San Diego case include California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who also filed a brief in the Berkeley dispute. Several California statutes make the receipt of state funds conditional upon agreement not to discriminate, Lockyer notes. His brief warns that those laws could be subject to legal attacks if Berkeley loses.
INTELLIGENT DESIGN UNDER LEGAL ATTACK
Atheists take a position on religious issues. How come the other side of the debate is banned?
A rural high school teaching a religion-based alternative to evolution was sued by a group of parents who said the class should be stopped because it violates the U.S. Constitution. Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec violated the separation of church and state while attempting to legitimize the theory of "intelligent design" in a philosophy course taught by a minister's wife, according to the U.S. District Court suit filed by parents of 13 students. "The course was designed to advance religious theories on the origins of life, including creationism and its offshoot, 'intelligent design,'" the suit said. "Because the teacher has no scientific training, students are not provided with any critical analysis of this presentation."
The suit was filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which successfully blocked Dover, Pa., schools last month from using science courses to advance the theory that living things are so complex they must have been designed by a higher being. Similar battles are being fought in Georgia and Kansas over the controversial subject.
The suit filed on behalf of 11 parents against the El Tejon Unified School District names its superintendent, the course teacher and school board members as defendants. Superintendent John Wight, who did not return a phone call for comment, said last week that the class, "Philosophy of Design," was not being taught as science and was an opportunity for students to debate the controversial issue.
Defendant Kitty Jo Nelson, one of two school board trustees who opposed the class, said the costs of the lawsuit would ultimately deprive students. The regional school draws about 500 students from tiny communities to Lebec, a town of 1,285 straddling the Tehachapi mountains between the agricultural Central Valley and Los Angeles 75 miles to the south. "I'm extremely disappointed and saddened," she said. Phone messages left at district offices for other trustees were not returned.
The five-member school board was divided when it learned about the class last month and discovered three guest lecturers were scheduled to speak in support of intelligent design, but none in favor of evolution. One pro-evolution speaker listed on the syllabus declined to participate because he disagreed with the class topic, and another - Nobel laureate Francis Crick, who co-discovered the structure of DNA - had died more than a year earlier. An initial description sent to parents in December said the course would examine "evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological, and Biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid."
Teacher Sharon Lemburg, who is married to an Assembly of God pastor, could not be reached by phone for comment. The El Tejon district's Board of Trustees approved the course 3-2 with a revised syllabus in a Jan. 1 special session, during which board members had to vote up or down on the entire winter session curriculum. Fifteen students were enrolled when classes started two days later, with a less scientific and more philosophical class plan that relied solely on videos, not guest speakers.
Still, the Washington, D.C.-based group said that with only one exception the course "relies exclusively on videos that advocate religious perspectives and present religious theories as scientific ones." "This is clearly intended to introduce religion into a public school," said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order to halt the four-week class in its second week.
12 January, 2006
Don't Jail Domestic Violence Victims
The feminist-driven pursuit of men has sunk to the point of being maniacal -- It is pursued even if it hurts women
Katina Britt claims to have been savagely beaten by an ex-boyfriend against whom she refuses to testify. Accordingly, a California judge has ordered her to be jailed on contempt of court charges this week. Britt's attorney is filing an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco on the grounds that state law permits Britt, as a domestic violence (DV) victim, to decline to testify in at least one trial with impunity; the testimony in question would constitute her first court appearance. The appeal may hinge on a technicality but Britt's case illustrates a fundamental change in the legal system's stance toward DV victims. Critics of the change, like me, argue that there is something wrong with a system when those it purports to protect refuse to co-operate and risk imprisonment instead.
The specific argument in the case of Britt revolves around the idea of "coerced testimony." In past decades, prosecution rarely proceeded if a DV victim refused to testify. This was especially true in cases like Britt's which authorities have called "weak" without her testimony. How has the issue of DV drifted from its early roots of empowering 'victims' and encouraging their voices toward imprisoning them and coercing their testimony?
The possible imprisonment of Britt results from a specific bureaucratic and ideological approach to DV that has dominated the legal system in recent years. The bureaucracy consists of the lawyers, counselors, politicians, 'experts', and other professionals who derive income or advancement from the prosecution of DV; to a large extent, the choice to prosecute has been taken from alleged victims and placed in the hands of bureaucrats.
The ideology is gender feminism that views DV as violence against all women; this makes obstruction of prosecution an act of harm against all women. Victims who object are often dismissed as being too confused or intimidated to perceive their own best interests.
According to the experience of Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe -- the prosecutor in Britt's case -- approximately 75 percent of DV victims are reluctant to testify. With Britt's refusal, the court followed California law by 'providing' her with court-ordered counseling. Since victims who persist in their refusal face imprisonment, Wagstaffe explains that most co-operate after the mandatory counseling. Thus, the threatened imprisonment of Britt may be uncommon only because earlier and more subtle forms of coercing testimony are usually effective.
Certainly the intention of coercing testimony from DV victims is clear. Nothing else explains the Spousal Privilege Exception statutes currently in effect for DV in almost every state. The well-established legal principle of Spousal Privilege requires that a wife or husband be able to refuse with impunity to testify in court on private matters. The DV exception allows prosecutors across North America to compel the testimony of one spouse against another in matters of DV. Advocates of spousal privilege view it as a limitation upon government's reach into the home, as a barrier separating the public and private spheres in order to protect the latter. Advocates of an exception for DV consider spousal privilege to be a remnant of the legal opinion that wives are a husband's property.
Exception advocate Shery F. Colb adds the argument, "[A] woman who decides not to testify against her husband might simply have forgiven him. Notwithstanding...it is still reasonable for the state to prosecute him. After all, criminal assault violates the laws of the state and should not be considered a private affair to be addressed or not, depending on a private party's wishes." In short, DV is not a crime against an individual but a crime against society and, so, choice rests not with the individual but with society; in practice, this means it rests with the legal bureaucracy.
Colb's article is entitled "Helping Battered Women Without Holding Them in Contempt" but that title begs the main question: will battered women (or men) who do not wish to press charges or provide testimony be held in contempt? The answer is becoming "yes." DV advocates are ceasing to push for empowering victims with choice. They now argue for empowering bureaucracy to achieve social goals, even over the objection of victims.
How did DV come to the sad pass where its advocates defend the practice of imprisoning victims? In fairness, one reason is the extreme complexity of DV. Consider the Britt case. Her resistance to testifying is said to come from being intimidated by the alleged abuser. Even if this is true, however, how does her imprisonment constitute a solution? How can an imprisoned Britt distinguish the court system from her abusive ex-boyfriend, both of whom claim control of her life against her will? DV is a Gordian Knot -- a difficult, intractable and sometimes unsolvable problem. Alexander the Great 'solved' the legendary Gordian Knot by simply cutting through it with his sword. He achieved a bottomline with the knot by slicing through it.
As the survivor of severe DV, I know on a visceral level the complexity of DV. I also know there is a bottomline: DV is a crime committed by one individual against another. The way to empower victims is to restore and respect their choices, not to coerce them further. No one should be put in jail for being beaten up and, then, refusing to talk about it. Any system that imposes this punishment upon a victim is wrong on its face. And in its heart.
THE GUN-BAN FAILURE IN BRAZIL INDICATES A FAILURE OF BRAZILIAN PC GENERALLY
The Portuguese original of the article below is here. The translation below is adapted from here
"New Year, New life", is one of the popular Brazilian sayings this time of the year, but it could well turn out to be true in this year of 2006.
Many analyses have been made of the possible meaning of the political events of the year in Brazil - the destruction "from the inside" of what used to be known as the "historical principles" of President Lula's ruling Workers' Party (ethics, truthfulness, struggle against corruption and poverty) and the surprising defeat of the referendum that aimed to ban gun sales in Brazil. Some of the analyses identified the latter as some kind of a plebiscite on the government, as showing the rejection of the program of the winning party, the very program with which they won the 2002 elections. But that indicates a rejection in party-political terms only.
In reality, the defeat of the "Yes" option in the gun-ban referendum was a sign that a much bigger entity - bigger than political-partisan choices - was defeated. This entity is 'politically correct' thought.
The "politically correct" can be defined as a type of 'wishful-thinking' that is imposed on people through the mantric repetition of certain words. These words are carefully chosen to define reality in a certain manner, thus having the power of modifying the way people think about it, and ending by modifying reality itself. The basic premise is that 'reality' is subjective in essence, therefore being an exclusively personal good. By modifying this personal vision of reality through the Pavlovian conditioning of repetition, reality will be finally modified. Therefore reality is just a set of personal realities.
Initially received as a pseudo-intellectualized extravagance, it went further – by the means of a very careful dissemination plan by the 'cultural elite' – finally contaminating all environments it got in touch with. Its emergence in political campaign speeches and in the country's largest newspaper leads was the sign of the victory of political correctness in the market of ideas 'that sell'. From this point on - beginning in the 90's – there could be no political speeches or political news remaining without incorporating the flavor of political correctness; if not political correctness itself being directly incorporated in the speeches.
All political parties were misled by 'political correctness'. They all started to sound and to act as 'pc'. From right-wing to leftist parties, they all missed the point on the real nature of 'pc'. The result was that we came to a point that all parties lost their identity, as far as the public is concerned.
The lack of parties with electoral "persona" had its pinnacle in the presidential election of 2002, where all options seemed absolutely the same, and leaving it up to the electorate to choose between neckties, suits and hairdos. The apparent convergence of thought was so evident that all the 'adversaries' of 2002 ended up forming the support base of the new government in 2003. This lack of political identity caused by the overwhelming success of politically correct thought is a threat to Brazilian democracy. The lack of a broad range of political-partisan options is a mistake that has to be corrected. When I mention political-partisan options, I do not refer to the number of parties - which I consider excessive in Brazil - but to their political colors.
The conclusion is that, by means of politically correct speech, political parties in Brazil were transformed into a colourless, odorless jelly of slogans totally detached from the voters' real world. The defeat of the referendum that aimed to ban gun sales was a clear signal to the political class to avoid the excess of politically correct speech and pay more attention to the real world.
In spite of the apparent popular support for political correctness, the formula seems worn out. The high-flown speech, full of good intentions, disclosed its major victim after all: the political class. The witchcraft struck back against the wizard. The public perceived that, behind the good intentions, the real intention could be very diverse -- a new Brazilian edition of Orwell's doublethink. The overwhelming victory of the 'NO' vote in the gun referendum was a good expression of the exhaustion of "PC". Never have emotional appeals got so little attention. And never have words like 'individual rights' and 'freedom of choice' been so much debated in this country.
I hope this is the symbol of a new stage of Brazilian democracy. I anxiously look forward to the next chapters.
11 January, 2006
FAILURE HAS MADE SOME FEMINISTS MORE ARROGANT, AGGRESSIVE AND JUDGMENTAL THAN EVER
The idea that motherhood might be the most rewarding career of all is not even considered, of course
First, there were the ''mommy wars" -- the much-ballyhooed antagonism between working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Then, there was the ''opt-out revolution" -- the much-ballyhooed phenomenon of high-powered career women scaling down or giving up careers to raise children. All this is causing intense debate among feminists, who increasingly recognize that gender inequality today has more to do with sex roles in the family than sex discrimination in the workplace. As former Brandeis visiting professor Linda Hirshman puts it in a controversial article in this month's American Prospect magazine: ''The real glass ceiling is at home."
For years, most feminists have stressed respect for women's choices. Now comes Hirshman, saying that ''choice feminism" was a mistake. Feminism, she argues, needs to become more judgmental and tell traditional women that their choices are bad for society (women won't achieve full parity with men when so many voluntarily leave the track that leads to power [the idea that there could be any other goal than power is inconceivable to Leftists]), and bad for them because the lives they're leading allow too few opportunities for ''full human flourishing." With views like that, no wonder Hirshman made conservative pundit Bernard Goldberg's list of ''100 people who are screwing up America." Actually, I doubt that she's having much effect on America; but her prescription for feminism is screwed up all right.
Hirshman does make some valid points. First, the opt-out trend is real, despite a recent attempt to debunk it by Heather Boushey of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Economic Policy Research. Boushey notes that the small decline in mothers' labor force participation has been paralleled among women without children, and is due largely to the recession; but her analysis lumps together full-time and part-time jobs. A woman lawyer who leaves a partnership-track job to work part time as counsel to a community organization still counts as employed.
Second, ''choice feminism" does gloss over some real conflicts in the ''mommy wars." Companies will be warier of investing in female employees when there is a high risk of women quitting. Former career women who put their energy into motherhood may set impossible standards of maternal perfection (you're a bad mom if you don't spend two days hand-making a Halloween costume), and may justify their choice by implicitly denigrating working mothers.
But Hirshman's solution is no solution at all. For one, the feminist movement is not a totalitarian regime. It has no power to mobilize women to follow the party line in their personal lives, as Hirshman wants. (Her script includes choosing a husband whose career is least likely to eclipse yours, and having no more than one child until the government coughs up day care.) And, if feminists start disparaging women's ''incorrect" choices, women will likely tell them to buzz off. Hirshman's tone is insufferably patronizing: women, she laments, think they're making free choices and never realize that their lives are shaped by traditional sex roles and by feminism's failure to revolutionize the family. Are there really many Ivy League-educated women who aren't aware of challenges and alternatives to traditional roles?
Besides, many intelligent people may not share Hirshman's notion that life as a high-priced lawyer or Fortune 500 executive is the best pathway to ''human flourishing." Yes, life with no significant activities outside one's intimate circle is incomplete. But Hirshman's disapproval extends even to part-time workers. And what about women (and, increasingly, men) who don't work for pay but are active in community work? Don't many of them meet Hirshman's standards for good living: making use of one's mind, having autonomy in one's life, doing good in the world?
In her simplistic analysis, Hirshman ignores the social impact of working women who don't follow a rigid model of success -- those who leave corporate jobs to start businesses or who work in social service jobs. She also ignores the flexibility of the modern marketplace. In 1998, Brenda Barnes stepped down as CEO of a PepsiCo division to spend more time with her family; six years later, she went back to work and now heads the Sara Lee corporation.
Should feminism strive for more flexible roles and more sharing of family responsibilities? Of course. But the way to do it is to expand options for both men and women, not to narrow women's options. And, by the way, to deride parenting as a demeaning task unworthy of an intelligent adult is not a good way to encourage men to become more involved fathers.
THIS IS BEYOND COMMENT
A black police bodyguard who protected the Duchess of Cornwall has won $70,000 compensation after suing Scotland Yard for "over-promoting" him because of political correctness.
Sgt Leslie Turner -- the first black personal protection officer to guard the royal family -- will receive the "racial discrimination" payout after reaching an out-of-court settlement with London's Metropolitan Police. His representatives argued he landed the prestigious job as Camilla's bodyguard only because he was black. It was claimed that as a result of being over-promoted and not receiving proper training and support, Sgt Turner made mistakes which led to him being re-assigned.
He launched legal proceedings against the force in October and Scotland Yard chiefs have agreed to pay "substantial" compensation -- understood to be about $70,000 -- to the married father of two. Colleagues of Sgt Turner, who was born in Britain, say he is a "model professional"' who had a good relationship with Prince Charles and Camilla. He began guarding Charles in August, 2004 and was re-assigned to Camilla in February last year when the royal couple were engaged.
But in June, it emerged he had suddenly been replaced. Royal insiders stress that the decision to move him was not taken directly by Clarence House.
10 January, 2006
UK: POLITICAL CORRECTNESS FAVOURS CRIMINALS
The Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence has led to a politically correct backlash with police afraid to investigate black and Asian crime for fear of being accused of racism, according to one of Britain’s most prominent Muslim MPs. Mohammad Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Central, said some communities are being terrorised by black and Asian gangs, but, in many cases, police have failed to act. The reluctance of police to tackle ethnic criminals has allowed gangs to operate with impunity in areas of Scotland, the north of England and parts of London. Sarwar claims that black and Asian communities are as much the victims of this criminal activity as white people and he wants police forces to use a zero-tolerance approach to smash the gangs.
The Macpherson report, published almost seven years ago, followed a year-long inquiry into the Metropolitan police’s mishandling of the murder of Lawrence, a black teenager, in Eltham, southeast London, in 1993. Sir William Macpherson, a retired judge, concluded that there was a culture of institutional racism within the police service and recommended that officers undergo courses in racism awareness and valuing cultural diversity. It also said the Home Office, police forces and local authorities should establish databases to record and report racially motivated incidents and crimes.
However, according to Sarwar, the pendulum has now swung too far the other way and the reluctance by some police officers to stop and arrest black and Asian youths is benefiting criminals. “After Stephen Lawrence, there were a lot of problems,” said Sarwar. “There has definitely been a perception that the police haven’t tackled crime hard enough in Asian communities. I think that is beginning to change, but it’s very early days. “A lot of people come to me and say the police are not doing much for fear of being accused of racism. “Gang culture is a problem, it is a big challenge for us all and the police should not have any fear that if they (arrest) people from Asian communities they will be accused of racism. “I can understand the reasons police have been reluctant, but it worries me, because people from white communities may feel that someone is not treated the same way by the police because of their colour and we need to do everything possible to dispel that.”
Sarwar, whose constituency includes Pollokshields, which houses Scotland’s biggest Pakistani community, has raised the issue with Strathclyde police. “I have made it absolutely clear to the police that criminals are criminals, I don’t want the police arresting people just because they are black, but at the same time police should not be afraid of arresting black people if they suspect they are involved in criminal activities.” Last year one Asian man was convicted of the racist murder of 15-year-old Kriss Donald in Pollokshields. A further three men are awaiting trial for their alleged part in the killing
Australian diet author rejects red meat cancer link
How awful for the food Fascists: Eating lots of steak will not give you cancer
The CSIRO yesterday stood by its Total Wellbeing Diet book, saying scientific evidence shows there is no link between red meat and colo-rectal cancer. Veteran nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton has asked Prime Minister John Howard to review the government-sanctioned diet which recommends a high intake of red meat. The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet recommends a red meat intake more than double the Government's own Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. The CSIRO's book sets down 800g of red meat a week or an average of 114g a day and at least 400g of fish a week or 57g a day.
Dr Stanton said the diet was better than the Atkins diet because it included carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables. But it still raised serious health issues - including the increased risk of bowel cancer. But co-author of the diet Manny Noakes said she stood by both the research and the diet. "The scientific evidence indicates that colo-rectal cancer is not related to fresh lean red meat intake," she said. "What is often overlooked is that abdominal obesity and lack of exercise contributes significantly to the risk of colo-rectal cancer as well as diabetes and heart disease. "The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet promotes exercise as well as an eating pattern which includes protective foods such as fish, wholegrains, fruit and vegetables." More than 550,000 copies of the book have been sold in Australia.
9 January, 2006
Looking away when the target is Jesus
Even Australian Left wing columnist and media pundit Terry Lane thinks Victoria's anti-vilification laws are biased against Christians
Christmas seemed like a good time to catch up on Dick Gross' revisionist gospel Jesus, Judas and Mordy Ben Ruben and to contemplate the selective application of anti-vilification laws in Victoria. The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act of 2001 makes it an offence to "engage in conduct that incites serious contempt for or severe ridicule of" another person's religious beliefs. The law has already fallen on a couple of Christians who mocked Muslims and their beliefs. I am waiting to see what happens to Mr Gross, Jew, atheist, "loudmouth" (his word) and good bloke who worries away at the phenomenon of religion.
Gross has imagined what the real story behind the fiction of the Gospels might be and it goes like this. Jesus was a vain narcissist whose charisma consisted in the fact that he was tall, handsome and blonde, standing out in a nation of the short, dark and plain. (This is Dick's hypothesis and racial stereotyping). Jesus is also a manic depressive whose periods of black despair are the famous 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. He is definitely mortal and no Son of God. As a miracle worker Jesus specialised in exorcisms because he didn't have to stick around to see if they were really a lasting cure for wacky behaviour. Lazarus wasn't raised from the dead; he was in an alcoholic coma and Jesus arrived just as he was coming round. Jesus is bad-tempered, manipulative and proves that he is the Messiah by self-consciously re-enacting the more theatrical messianic prophecies of Zechariah. Jesus gets angry when the disciples can't find the right sort of donkey for a triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
In Jesus, Judas and Mordy Ben Ruben, Mordy is the Sadducee narrator and the husband of the Mary of Bethany who anoints Jesus' feet with expensive perfume and then wipes them with her hair. Sitting astride the Messiah facing his feet. Read what happens for yourself. Jesus is obsessed with and deluded about the imminent end of the world, so when he goes to Jerusalem he is reckless, if not suicidal, because he thinks that the world is going to end in a week or two. In the Gospel of St Dick there is no resurrection. The idea that Jesus had risen from the dead arose from misunderstanding a garbled conversation in the tomb. In fact Mordy is the person who removes Jesus' body from the borrowed tomb and buries him alongside the only disciple who is smart, loyal and brave, Judas Iscariot, who was killed, inadvertently, by Peter. The story of betrayal, the 30 pieces of silver and suicide is concocted to give Peter a chance to flee from the scene of the manslaughter.
This book is offensive to Christians but it also has a sting in its tail for Jews. In Dick's version, the Jews could have spared themselves a lot of misery over the centuries if they had only been prepared to give up their exclusive Chosen-ness and been evangelical monotheists and racially inclusive, as Jesus urged them to be. Only a Jew could get away with writing that in the state of Victoria.
The law, of course, will look the other way in Dick's case, because he is Jewish and the novel is a privileged work of art and the target is tolerant Christians. So I am breathless for a sequel: Mohammed and Mordy go to Mecca.
HO HUM! MORE DISAGREEMENT ABOUT FOOD CORRECTNESS
Not that the food fascists will care. As long as they are dictating to people, what they dictate does not interest them. But, for the rest of us, skepticism about the whole thing is the only rational response to what we read below. Enjoy a juicy steak tonight!
It might be a best-seller, but a leading nutritionist says a popular [Australian] Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) diet is baffling those battling the bulge.
Prime Minister John Howard has been asked to review the book The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, on concerns from Rosemary Stanton and medico John Tickell that the diet recommends high amounts of red meat. The pair wrote to Mr Howard, saying the high meat content in the diet contravenes the government's own dietary advice. The Government's Australian Guide to Health Eating recommends consumption of 65 to 100g of lean red meat three to four times per week, but the new book advocates up to 300g of meat daily.
Ms Stanton said today the popular diet from the government-related agency, which has sold more than 500,000 copies in Australia so far, was better than the Atkins diet because it did allow a small amount of grains-based food. But she said it was confusing those desperate to shed the kilos. "They're (dieters) saying why do our dietary guidelines tell us to eat 65 to 100g of lean red meat three to four times a week," Ms Stanton told Macquarie Radio. "And yet the CSIRO diet says 200g of meat at night and then another 100g of meat, chicken or fish at lunch. What do I do? Which one do I follow?"
She said the diet was based on a CSIRO study of 100 women. Half the women were put on a red meat diet while half were put on a diet equally low in calories and equally low in fat, but with much less meat. Both groups achieved a relatively similar weight loss.
8 January, 2006
Abolish Anti-Discrimination Laws
Feminists cannot have it both ways
"Last week, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against the Santa Rosa health club Body Central. According to the agency, which enforces California's civil rights and anti-discrimination laws, the club's women-only policy violates the civil rights of men.
Is the suit just payback for feminist intrusions into male-only groups? Or does the suit merely extend an unjust law and embed it further into society? Body Central is poised to become a test case. At issue is whether an owner has the right to control the customer policies of his or her private business. If so, then the state cannot properly dictate whom that owner must serve or allow onto the premises. A decision to discriminate among customers would be an expression of the owner's freedom of association and of the same property rights that protect his or her home from unwelcome 'guests.'
California law denies the existence of such private rights for businesses. It asserts, instead, that the public has a civil right to access an owner's property and services even over his or her objection. The Unruh Civil Rights Act, Civil Code section 51(b), stipulates that business establishments must provide "full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services" and not discriminate on the basis of "sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition." The businesses in question include, but are not limited to, hotels, non-profit organizations, restaurants, theaters, retail establishments, and beauty shops.
Arguably, California claims control over the customer policies of every business in the state. In 1995, the California Supreme Court decided a case in which a woman demanded entry into an exclusive men-only golf club. The court ruled that private clubs operating as businesses were required to follow state laws against discrimination. That's the law in California. But is it just, or does the law itself constitute a violation of individual rights?
The facts confronting the Body Central conflict are not in question. In 2003, Phillip Kottle was refused membership at the women-only gym in Santa Rosa on the basis of his sex. A few months earlier, Kottle had attempted to gain full membership at the Elan Fitness Center in nearby Petaluma, which offered only restricted access to men. (Acting on his complaint, the DFEH also filed a suit against Elan, which was settled in January 2005 on the condition that men have full access to classes and facilities, with the exception of lockers and showers.)
The DFEH concluded that Body Central was in violation of the Unruh Act and, in 2004, the owner signed a settlement agreement by which the club was opened to men. Separate shower facilities were to be provided; a monetary settlement was offered to Kottle; women-only advertisements were withdrawn; the club's staff received anti-discrimination training. In return, the DFEH ceased its enforcement action against Body Central.
The DFEH's renewed action against the club alleges violations of the 2004 agreement and points to such transgressions as language on the club's website. For example, Body Central states, "We specialize in fitness for women, with a women only policy you get the privacy of the entire gym."
The owner may have gambled on the possibility that California would ultimately ignore a cause as unpopular as a man forcing his way into a woman's gym. After all, the cost of compliance is high. Body Central's equipment and facilities are geared exclusively for women's specific needs, and other gyms have gone bankrupt under the financial strain of expanding to accommodate both sexes. If so, the gamble lost. A "status conference" on the DFEH lawsuit is set to be heard in April before the Superior Court.
The facts may be clear but the appropriateness of involving law in the customer policies of a private business is in dispute. An ideological conflict underlies the attempt by either sex to force open the doors of 'exclusive' businesses: individual rights versus egalitarianism. Under individual rights, every human being has control over the peaceful use of his or her own body and property. Under egalitarianism, access to and use of property is equally distributed across society, with or without the consent of owners.
I come down on the side of individual rights. In terms of Body Central, I don't believe any man or woman has a legal 'right' to exercise on someone else's private property. I do not believe anyone has a moral obligation to provide another person with exercise. Freedom of association means that individuals, including property owners, have a right to say 'yes' or 'no' at their own front door.
Unfortunately, an emotional element also underlies the conflict. Some men applaud the turn-around as an opportunity to give feminists a taste of their own medicine. In doing so, they adopt the very principles they allegedly decry: egalitarianism, the legal imposition of gender policy, the use of collective 'gender-think.' In short, they become feminists.
Body Central may become not only a test case but also a trial of conscience. Women who believe in egalitarianism will either apply that principle to men or be confronted by their own hypocrisy. Men who believe feminism's door-busting has been wrong will have to decide whether they value revenge more highly than justice. As for me, I just hope an unjust law will be extinguished rather than extended.
SOME EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH AN OLDER AND WISER FEMINIST
Phyllis Chesler comments on the matters raised in her new book "The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom"
I had been saddened for a long time by the failure of academics, including feminists, to celebrate, not merely tolerate, "difference." I am not talking about class, gender, race, or sexual preference diversity but about intellectual and ideological diversity which is sorely lacking in the western academy--which has been thoroughly Palestinianized.
I have also been wrestling with anti-Semitism on the left since the late 1960s. What compelled me to write this book at this time was the western intelligentsia's refusal to acknowledge the dangers of anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing even post the 2000 Intifada; and their refusal to re-evaluate their own obsessive hatred for America, post 9/11.
Finally, based on my own captivity in Afghanistan long ago, I understood that the lessons I learned at such perilous cost to myself were lessons that I now needed to share with others. Primarily, neither America nor Israel, not even Europe, are responsible for Islamic or Third World barbarism--especially Islamic gender Apartheid; that we cannot abandon women and dissidents living under Islamist tyrannies because we cherish our ideas about cultural relativity more than we cherish our obligation to try and bring more justice and freedom into the world.
In the beginning, feminists were not anti-activist isolationists. We saw the plight of women world-wide as a common plight. As feminists became more colonized by left and postcolonial ways of thinking, they revised their original vision of universal rights for all to a culturally relativist and mea culpa way of thinking. Who are we to judge others, there is CIA blood on our hands, we, who believe in the rights of victims everywhere must therefore support the victims rising everywhere.
Thus, left feminists came to support, romanticize, or not think clearly about Third World tyrants whom they sometimes confused with liberators. They also had one very high standard for America and Israel and another much lower standard for Muslim countries. I view this as both racist and sexist but in turn, saying so has rendered me vulnerable to charges of my being a racist. Many left feminists confuse my stand against multi-cultural relativity and its attendant isolationism with a stand against multi-cultural diversity. Often, in the battle of ideas, one's great opponents include groupthink, rigidity, stupidity, as well as evil.
To be fair, feminists did rail against the Taliban, female genital mutilation, honor killings, etc. but they did not manage to forge a feminist foreign policy that would incorporate these concerns--mainly because they refused to work with a Republican administration. I hope this can change. I begin to spell out what a feminist foreign policy might be like in the last chapter of the book.....
From a psychological point of view, perhaps the kind of person most attracted to both Left ideology and Islamism is someone who needs their ideology to function as a Total Institution, as a way of life which will provide community, employment, and answers to the most perplexing questions, even if the answers are wrong or do not work. Also, many leftists, like Islamists, view themselves as "good" people who are trying to help others. Even if it means slandering, ostracizing, exiling, or killing others it is "for their own good," and for the good of the world.
Many extremists exist on both the right and left--designations and polarities which may no longer serve us well. Academic leftists simply cannot stop blaming America as an evil empire and demonizing President Bush as more dangerous that Al-Qeda. How is one to reason with those who are not acting rationally but emotionally and in a very primitive way? .....
It is important to note that some feminists have strongly and courageously supported what I am saying in The Death of Feminism. They have interviewed me on radio shows knowing that they would come under friendly fire themselves for having done so. Most recently, Marcia Pappas, the President of NOW-New York State stood up to the bullying and intimidation that Katha Pollitt of Nation magazine and her ally, Pam Martens visited upon her for having invited me (someone who voted for President Bush and who supported the war in Afghanistan and Iraq) to speak. Since then, Pappas has written a good review of Death which I believe she has been circulating among NOW officials. Pollitt et al persuaded WBAI to tape my lecture which they then spliced-and-diced for a one hour program in which they denounced me on-air as a "racist." They described me as "the Christopher Hitchens of the women's movement"--and then proceeded to denounce me....
Like everyone who has dared tell the truth about Israel, who is an American patriot, and who opposes the hypocrisy and double standards of the political correckniks, one must endure very strange looks, unexpected and ferocious confrontations, turned backs, heavy silences, and the ending of political friendships.
So far, my books about anti-Semitism and about Islamic gender Apartheid, in both Muslim countries and in the West, which is what Death is about, has not been reviewed nor have I been interviewed in most mainstream media venues where once I was more than warmly welcomed, nor have I been invited to speak by Women’s Studies programs on campuses.
However, both books have been praised in important conservative venues. But such mainstream/liberal/left censoring or silencing is a small price to pay for telling the truth. It is also a measure of one's power. One makes new friends and allies. One keeps learning and evolving. For me, it is very important and sustaining that my feminist beliefs are respected in conservative libertarian circles where I now share other overriding beliefs about national security and jihad....
Feminists understand that you have to call the police when a man is beating his wife to death or when a rape is in process; it is contradictory for feminists to resist the use of military force when women are being stoned to death, hung, jailed and tortured--repeatedly gang-raped both in Iran and Sudan (and of course, in the past in Bosnia and Rwanda). Terrorists, jihadists, torturers, and tyrants are not open to reasonable "dialogue."
7 January, 2006
Chief Among the Silliness
George Will surveys some of the current tyranny over the names of sporting teams
The University of Illinois must soon decide whether, and if so how, to fight an exceedingly silly edict from the NCAA. That organization's primary function is to require college athletics to be no more crassly exploitative and commercial than is absolutely necessary. But now the NCAA is going to police cultural sensitivity, as it understands that. Hence the decision to declare Chief Illiniwek ``hostile and abusive'' to Native Americans.
Censorship -- e.g., campus speech codes -- often are academic liberalism's preferred instrument of social improvement, and now the NCAA's censors say: The Chief must go, as must the university's logo of a Native American in feathered headdress. Otherwise the NCAA will not allow the university to host any postseason tournaments or events.
This story of progress, as progressives understand that, began during halftime of a football game in 1926, when an undergraduate studying Indian culture performed a dance dressed as a chief. Since then, a student has always served as Chief Illiniwek, who has become the symbol of the university that serves a state named after the Illini confederation of about a half-dozen tribes that were virtually annihilated in the 1760s by rival tribes.
In 1930, the student then portraying Chief Illiniwek traveled to South Dakota to receive authentic raiment from the Oglala Sioux. In 1967 and 1982, representatives of the Sioux, who had not yet discovered that they were supposed to feel abused, came to the Champaign-Urbana campus to augment the outfits Chief Illiniwek wears at football and basketball games.
But grievance groups have multiplied, seeking reparations for historic wrongs, and regulations to assuage current injuries inflicted by ``insensitivity.'' One of America's booming businesses is the indignation industry that manufactures the synthetic outrage needed to fuel identity politics.
The NCAA is allowing Florida State University and the University of Utah to continue calling their teams Seminoles and Utes, respectively, because those two tribes approve of the tradition. The Saginaw Chippewa tribe starchily denounces any ``outside entity'' -- that would be you, NCAA -- that would disrupt the tribe's ``rich relationship'' with Central Michigan University and its teams, the Chippewas. The University of North Carolina at Pembroke can continue calling its teams the Braves. Bravery is a virtue, so perhaps the 21 percent of the school's students who are Native Americans consider the name a compliment.
The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux may have to find another nickname because the various Sioux tribes cannot agree about whether they are insulted. But the only remnant of the Illini confederation, the Peoria tribe, is now in Oklahoma. Under its chief, John Froman, the tribe is too busy running a casino and golf course to care about Chief Illiniwek. The NCAA ethicists probably reason that the Chief must go because no portion of the Illini confederation remains to defend him. Or to be offended by him, but never mind that, or this: In 1995, the Office of Civil Rights in President Clinton's Education Department, a nest of sensitivity-mongers, rejected the claim that the Chief and the name Fighting Illini created for anyone a ``hostile environment'' on campus.
In 2002, Sports Illustrated published a poll of 351 Native Americans, 217 living on reservations, 134 living off. Eighty-one percent said high school and college teams should not stop using Indian nicknames.
But in any case, why should anyone's disapproval of a nickname doom it? When, in the multiplication of entitlements, did we produce an entitlement for everyone to go through life without being annoyed by anything, even a team's nickname? If some Irish or Scots were to take offense at Notre Dame's Fighting Irish or the Fighting Scots of Monmouth College, what rule of morality would require the rest of us to care? Civilization depends on, and civility often requires, the willingness to say, ``What you are doing is none of my business'' and ``What I am doing is none of your business.''
But this is an age when being an offended busybody is considered evidence of advanced thinking and an exquisite sensibility. So, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has demanded that the University of South Carolina's teams not be called Gamecocks because cock fighting is cruel. It also is illegal in South Carolina.
In 1972, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst replaced the nickname Redmen with Minutemen. White men carrying guns? If some advanced thinkers are made miserable by this, will the NCAA's censors offer relief? Scottsdale Community College in Arizona was wise to adopt the nickname ``Fighting Artichokes.'' There is no grievance group representing the lacerated feelings of artichokes. Yet.
THE PERENNIAL INCORRECTNESS OF ISRAEL
Post Lifted from "Chefen" on Sir Humphrey. Chefen is an expatriate New Zealander living in Sweden who understands Swedish (no mean feat) and apparently Norwegian too! Though I gather that the two languages are closely related. Below is a picture of the Israel-hater mentioned, an obvious Solon
"In the spirit of not wanting to recognise certain terrorist groups as terrorists, for fear that it might damage the peace-process work they like up in Norway... Norway's Finance Minister wants to declare a boycott of Israeli goods.
My goal and SV's goal is that Norwegian consumers choose products and services from countries other than Israel, says Halvorsen to Dagbladet. At the end of the month her party starts a Palestine solidarity campaign. A campaign that gets the Finance Minister's full support.
SV is the Sosialistisk Venstreparti or Socialist Left Party. Not surprising that the crazed bint supports the campaign, since she is also party leader. Curiously she favoured military action in Kosovo, so she is not a shrinking violet on the violence. She seems to have much in common with this compatriot of hers. Here is what the party says in the article:
SV says that the goal of the campaign is to create understanding for the Palestinian cause and to work on the government to press for international sanctions against Israel.
Yesterday the Foreign Minister wanted a terrorist list that omitted, among others, Palestinian groups because it "hampers the peace work" and today the Finance Minister wants to boycott Israel. Who do they think they're kidding??? Fortunately the government still has enough testicular fortitude to carry on dealing with Israel despite the loonies they have among them, with official policy being "dialog".
Out of curiousity I sifted round the SV web site. Here is what they say about Cuban sanctions, in the "Peace and solidarity" section of their manifesto...
SV wants to take the initiative to oppose the [American] blockade to reduce the damaging effects on Cuban society.
How about removing the crazed old fool running the place? Or is he ideologically sound enough, despite being a murderous thug? Commies, they're just a bunch of Joo haters when you scratch the surface".
6 January, 2006
BRITISH PRIORITIES -- THE USUAL LEFTIST LOVE OF CRIMINALS
Convicted pedophile Robert Excell will reportedly receive tens of thousands of dollars in benefits from the British Government, angering his victims and anti-child abuse campaigners. The 67-year-old, who was deported to the UK from Perth last year, will be paid STG8,000 ($A18,894.66) in backdated benefits, the British newspaper The Sunday Mirror reports. Under British law Excell, who has spent 37 of the past 39 years of his life in prison for rape against young boys, is entitled to STG262 ($A618.80) a week in benefits, the newspaper said. The wheelchair-bound Excell who suffers from asthma, diabetes and a heart condition, will also be handed STG9000 ($A21,256) to refurbish his house, a grant for a new disability car and disabled parking badge.
His victims in Australia have blasted the decision. "The only money that should be spent on Excell should be on barbed wire fences and prison guards," said a 42-year-old man who was a teenager when Excell targeted him. "It makes me feel sick that money is being spent to make his life more comfortable."
The mother of another victim, who was 13 when Excell molested him, said: "We hoped the British Government would keep the heat on him. I am just staggered that money would be wasted this way." Shy Keenan, chief executive of Phoenix Survivors which helps child abuse victims in Britain, said: "The Government always tells us they are short of funds yet they give a very dangerous sex offender all this money so that he can do God knows what with it."
Excell, whose convictions date back to 1965 when he attacked a seven-year-old boy, was born in Britain but moved to Australia at the age of 10 and never took up citizenship. Excell also raped a boy of nine in 1973 when he was on parole. He was sent back to prison and won his freedom in 1977 when again he raped a 13-year-old. In 1981 he molested a boy under 14, again while on parole.
MIKE ADAMS ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Thank you for writing to express your views on affirmative action. Although the article to which you responded is one I wrote nearly three years ago, your argument is timeless. You are black. I am white. Therefore, I “owe it to you” to support race-based affirmative action.
I want to thank you for saving me from being the token affirmative action opponent in the “forums” my university occasionally holds on the subject. Recently, I was asked to join one such “forum” to discuss the subject with five affirmative action supporters. A “forum” with five supporters and one opponent was my university’s first attempt at viewpoint diversity in nearly a decade. That was because a student organized the event. If the administration organized the event, I would have received no such invitation.
But I declined the invitation for the same reason I once declined a philosophy professor’s kind invitation to share my opposition to affirmative action with his class. The reason is that I simply don’t have enough material to “support” my position. I’m just opposed to racial discrimination. I cannot muster more than that one sentence. I’m just opposed to racial discrimination.
And so I have always considered it the duty of proponents of affirmative action to convince me that I am wrong. Today, Owen, you have done just that. You are black. I am white. Therefore, I “owe it to you” to support race-based affirmative action.
In your missive you also indicated that there is nothing I can do to fully erase the debt incurred by what “my people” did to “your people” before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Correct me if the following misrepresents, in any way, the crux of your position:
Regardless of whether he is guilty of racism, a person is to be punished for racism carried out by other members of his racial group. Regardless of whether he is a victim of racism, a person is entitled to benefits for racism carried out against other members of his racial group.
The implications of your position are potentially far reaching, especially when I consider that my mother’s side of the family is German. Does your logic apply to nationality, Owen? Does it apply to ethnicity? What precisely do we German-Americans owe to American Jews? The questions are troubling but, for now, I’ll just accept your strong feelings on the subject. You are black. I am white. Therefore, I “owe it to you” to support race-based affirmative action. And so today I am your ally, Owen. I support extra points on the SAT for blacks. I support higher salaries for black employees. I support all of the things that constitute affirmative action in both the public and private sector. Owen, your statement that there is nothing I can do to erase the debt incurred by what “my people” did to “your people” motivates me to do far more than what is currently considered affirmative action. For example:
I plan to take affirmative action to new heights by allowing blacks to cut in front of me in the line at the grocery store.
I will do the same at Barnes and Noble or in the line to buy movie tickets.
I will let blacks merge into traffic in front of me, never allowing whites the same privilege.
The possibilities are endless, Owen. If a black man ever asks why I’m letting him cut in line, I’ll just tell him I’m making up for 400 years of oppression. If a white man gets offended, I’ll remind him of your position: “We” owe it to “them.” I guess this means that I now support my university’s practice of having special “minority achievement awards.” I guess that I must also applaud those medals the university puts around the necks of black graduates – all for the simple achievement of being black and still managing to graduate.
I guess that by now you are pretty mad that I have responded to your angry email with a publicly disseminated satire. And I guess that few have missed my point about the condescension and racism inherent in 21st century affirmative action. Despite your anger, you still have a point, Owen. I do owe you something. That something is emancipation from a new form of slavery called affirmative action. But, more importantly, you owe it to yourself.
5 January, 2006
JAIL IS THE BEST DETERRENT
A heartening letter from a reformed criminal:
Somewhere in Toronto is an elderly man (or, if deceased, his offspring) who carries with him in his deepest memories of three decades past, an encounter with this wicked teenage street punk who crossed the line from being a cowardly purse snatcher, car thief and B&E artist, to a gun-toting robber. Thank God, just thank God. Oh, I had every reason to hate and steal and assault, according to the book. A product of a violent birth father, dumped into the Neil McNeil Orphanage in downtown Toronto shortly after birth and adopted five years later by an alcoholic couple, I committed my first house burglary when I was 7. I committed my last crime shortly after my 18th birthday and in between I spent exactly two days in jail.
When I was 17, a friend showed me where his police officer father stored his service revolver. The next weekend when they were at their cottage, I broke into this friend's home, "borrowed" the gun and found myself sticking it in the face of this absolutely stunned gentleman at Yonge St. and Bowood Ave. in North Toronto. He had no money, and I had no bullets -- thank God -- so I took off. I broke back into the policeman's home and returned the gun.
So here's the point of my story. I grew up with social workers "counselling" me ad nauseam. I had basketball courts and baseball diamonds and floor hockey. I chose drugs and alcohol and truancy. I didn't get my gun from U.S. gun smugglers.
What stopped me from my criminal path was a total abject fear of the law and jail -- and a streetwise older copper who picked me up on "suspicion" of house burglary. He looked this punk straight in the eye and said I was going to spend the rest of my life in jail or dead. Neither appealed to me. And so, after three years repeating, I got my Grade 12 diploma and set out on a straight path, without bleeding heart liberals trying to love me to death and without politicians trying to engineer my life. Since then, I have spent more than 30 years trying to make amends by living straight, serving others and obeying the law. And I've succeeded. Do you get it, folks?
The limits of "transgressive" art
Salvatore Scuotto is an Italian artist from Naples who is famous for the nativity scenes he creates. His latest masterpiece is a nativity scene featuring naked women and transvestites standing near the baby Jesus. This highly respectful work, evidence of Scuotto’s great sensitivity towards Christians, is currently on display at Rome’s San Giacomo church where it has outraged church members who, strangely enough, view the work as blasphemous. In defending the nativity scene, Scuotto says,
“Such scenes are a part of reality. The real scandal is when figures such as Bin Laden or George Bush are used in nativity scenes.”
So Salvatore Scuotto has scored a leftist “two-fer” with his latest work by bashing Bush and defecating on Christianity – how original! How cutting edge! How transgressive! In his mind he probably justifies the action by reasoning that real artists “push the envelope” by rattling conventional sensibilities. Fair enough—I suggest to him a religious topic that will really rattle some sensibilities and “push the envelope” to its very limits: Mohammed’s marriage to a nine-year-old girl. Here’s how the Koran describes that event:
[Scriptural Evidence] Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64: Sahih Bukhari [the most venerated and authentic Islamic source] Narrated ‘Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years.
So how about it, Sal? Care to exercise your artistic powers by creating and displaying a graphic work of art based on Mohammed having sex with his pre-pubescent wife? (You can even play it safe by leaving gratuitous transvestites out of the depiction.)
Oh, wait-I forgot! If Salvatore Scuotto produced and displayed a work of art depicting Mohammed having sex with his child-bride, a realityat least within the context of the Koran- it’s quite likely that the Italian authorities would cave in to the resulting Muslim outrage by arresting him for “hate speech.” Either that or, for his own good, he’d be placed in protective custody. Those are the best case scenarios. A fatwa-based religious assasination would be the real downside. Just ask Theo Van Gogh, Sal.
It’s so easy for artists to garner attention by desecrating things that are sacred to Christians. Christians usually protest such desecrations mildly, or not at all. And the Left is always there to cheer on and, if necessary, defend the act of desecration. Salvatore Scuotto—iconoclast, trend-setter, art hero, and ultimately a disrespectful coward, knows those things well.
4 January, 2006
CHRISTIANITY STILL INCORRECT IN CALIFORNIA
A new Christian club at California State University--San Bernardino was recently denied official recognition by the university because it required its members to adhere to Biblical principles of morality. Some of these principles, as explained by the student organizer, Ryan Sorba, include abstaining from premarital sex and homosexual relations. Sorba says that in order to join his Christian group, a student must adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ and strive to avoid sinful behavior.
According to Cal-State San Bernardino President Albert Karnig, these membership restrictions violate Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations. This law states, “No campus shall recognize a student organization which discriminates on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, gender, martial status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or disability.” Ostensibly, this law prevents discrimination and creates a more inclusive campus community. Students are prevented from hurting each others’ feelings since they cannot exclude each other from groups on a myriad of personal characteristics. While it is unfair for someone to be discriminated against because of something they cannot control, like a disability, it is ludicrous that the same anti-discrimination law should apply when it comes to personal beliefs and behavior, which students can control. Students choose their religious convictions with their own free will, and can decide to convert if they change their mind.
However, the state of California does not share this reasoning. Apparently California believes that it would be unfair for a student to be excluded from an ideological organization, even if that student does not agree with the teachings of the ideology. The effect of this law is that it would prevent a Catholic student organization from denying membership to a Southern Baptist. It would prevent a Muslim student association from denying membership to a Hindu.
What, then, would be the point of joining a religious organization? Would you pray with people in your club who believe in a different deity? Just as Catholics do not attend Synagogues and Buddhists do not frequent mosques, there would be no point for non-Christians to join a Christian student group. If students are forced to allow people who have fundamental disagreements about existence and morality into their club, how could the members ever accomplish their goals of praying together and promoting their beliefs?
Religious freedom is vital to a free society, and college campuses are supposed to be beacons of academic inquiry and philosophical discourse. How can universities serve this purpose when governments make it illegal for universities to recognize religious groups that expect their members to adhere to the basic tenets of their religion? The simple answer is that universities cannot achieve this purpose when they must enforce such an appalling and unconstitutional law, which is overtly hostile to religious freedom.
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO BE CRUEL TO BE KIND
After last week's outburst of unexplained gunfire on Toronto's Yonge St., which saw six bystanders wounded and a 15-year-old girl killed, I have to wonder what's become of my native city. When I was a child, it was known as "Toronto the Good." Now it is known for mayhem, murder and carnage. What happened? Some people blame the police, some massive uncontrolled immigration, some poverty, some the educational system, some the media.
I think they're all wrong. I blame what might be called "kindliness." I think, sometime after the Second World War, Canada became too kindly. And since Toronto is our biggest city, it became, in a sense, the kindliest of all. We were told all the problems of the world could be solved by kindliness. Just be nice to people, and everything will be fine. Make love, not war.
Now we knew old Toronto the Good was not always kindly. Canada of that day had massive numbers of immigrants, too. Hundreds of thousands arrived just before the First World War, most from cultures very "foreign" to the English, Scots and Irish who populated Toronto. But, truth to tell, they were never really accepted when they arrived. They were not told they were doing us a favour by coming here. They were not offered instant welfare. Most were given farmlands cheap, and told to make a living from them. In other words, to be really accepted, they were expected "to prove themselves." And it's a matter of record they certainly did, and in the course of doing so, they made the Canada we know -- or used to know.
But then the kindliness set in. How harsh and condescending it was, we were told, to treat these poor incoming people with brutal demands that they earn a living. We must help and assist them, make them feel at home, make them feel wanted. We were kindly in other ways. We were much kindlier to school children, for instance. In the bad old days, we actually strapped kids if they misbehaved. We made them write really crucial exams; and we actually made them repeat the year if they failed them. We were particularly unkind to convicted criminals. Prisons were unpleasant places. Sensible people were somewhat frightened by the police. To most children, the huge constable, with his ramrod back, riding his bicycle and looking coldly on everything around him, was an object for terror.
Our language was unkind in other ways. People who wouldn't work were called "bums." People who drank too much were called "drunks." People who promised and didn't deliver were called "scumbags." People who shaded the truth were called "liars," and people who took things that didn't belong to them were called "thieves." In sum, we had a pessimistic view of human nature, based upon our inborn prejudice that's the way the world is.
"Exactly," said the reformers. "And the only way to change the world is to change the way we treat people. If you're nice to people, then people will be nice to you." Well, we knew this was often true. But it was also often untrue, and we also knew that, to depend on an unfailing reciprocal "niceness" was dangerous, because those who are prepared to exploit our "kindliness" could very soon render the whole community uninhabitable. Anyway, the reformers prevailed, and that explains what's going on in Toronto. It also explains what's going on in our school system, and in our court system, and it's one of the things going wrong with our economic system.
Behind it lies a fundamental misunderstanding of what is called "moral theology." Traditionally, our culture recognizes a distinction between two ancient virtues. One is called "mercy" and the other "love." But there are several kinds of "love," and the one the ancients most respected they called agape and pronounced agapay. The goal of mercy was simple. It always sought to relieve pain, whether mental pain or physical, in the other person. It was consistently kindly. But agape was much harder. It sought what would be in the best interest of the other. That might be painful in the short term, but vastly beneficial in the long. Our problem today is that we've got too much mercy, and not enough agape.
3 January, 2006
MONKEYS ARE VICTIMS OF THE PATRIARCHY TOO?
Male monkeys prefer toy cars, females like dolls
Just like human boys and girls, male monkeys like to play with toy cars while female monkeys prefer dolls, a research project has shown. This intriguing discovery is one of many signs of deep-rooted behavioral differences between the sexes that scientists are exploring with the latest tools of genetics and neuroscience. Researchers report significant differences in the structure and functioning of male and female brains — in humans and in animals — that show up in different behaviors.
The differences apparently date far back in evolutionary history to the time before humans and monkeys separated from their common ancestor some 25 million years ago, according to Gerianne Alexander, a psychologist at Texas A&M University in College Station, who led the experiment. "Human evolution has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior," Richard Haier, a neuroscientist at the University of California-Irvine, wrote in the journal NeuroImage.
In the monkey experiment, researchers put a variety of toys in front of 44 male and 44 female vervets, a breed of small African monkeys, and measured the amount of time they spent with each object. Like little boys, some male monkeys moved a toy car along the ground. Like little girls, female monkeys closely inspected a doll's bottom. Males also played with balls while females fancied cooking pots. Both were equally interested in neutral objects such as a picture book and a stuffed dog.
People used to think that boys and girls played differently because of the way they were brought up. Now scientists such as Alexander say a creature's genetic inheritance also plays an important role. "Vervet monkeys, like human beings, show sex differences in toy preferences," Alexander wrote in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. "Sex-related object preference appeared early in human evolution," she said. Alexander speculated that females of both species prefer dolls because evolution programmed them to care for infants. Males may have evolved toy preferences that involve throwing and moving, skills useful for hunting and finding a mate.
Besides observing behavior from the outside, scientists are using the latest brain-scanning techniques to examine what happens inside people's heads when they're thinking or acting. PET (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imagery) scans light up in regions of the brain that are most active while performing certain tasks. They've become a key tool of modern brain research.
Many studies have shown that men tend to be better at mathematics and spatial reasoning while women outdo men in verbal and language skills. For example, in a computerized maze-searching experiment, it took females five minutes longer than males to find their way to a goal, according to Scott Mowatt, a psychologist at Wayne State University in Detroit. But women outperformed men in a test of verbal fluency conducted by Wei-li Chang and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md.
Haier, the University of California-Irvine neuroscientist, reported a striking difference in the structure of male and female brains. Men, he said, have much more gray matter in areas dedicated to general intelligence. Women, on the other hand, have far more white matter in those areas. Gray matter consists of the clusters of brain cells, or neurons, that process information. White matter refers to the network of specialized cells that support and connect the processing centers. Both are necessary for intelligence. "Men and women apparently achieve similar IQ results with different brain regions," Haier said.
Abuse of Temporary Restraining Orders Endangers Real Victims
On Dec. 15, Santa Fe District Court Judge Daniel Sanchez signed a temporary restraining order against CBS late-night host David Letterman, requiring him to keep his distance from Colleen Nestler. According to Nestler, for more than 10 years Letterman has been sending coded messages over the airwaves that communicated his desire to marry her. (Nestler has also accused TV personalities Regis Philbin and Kelsey Grammer of communicating with her through televised code.) Letterman says he doesn't know the woman.
Nestler's TRO may be ludicrous, but it highlights a no-nonsense debate on the possible misuse of restraining orders. A restraining order is a court order "directing one person not to do something, such as make contact with another person, enter the family home or remove a child from the state." They are usually issued to women in regard to domestic violence, stalking and divorces in which violence is alleged. TROs are "often granted without notice ... until a hearing can be held to determine the propriety of any injunctive relief." Nestler's TRO was granted ex parte, meaning only one party was heard by the judge.
The purpose of a restraining order is to protect someone from a credible threat. But the Nestler case raises questions about whether restraining orders have drifted from their original intent. That permanent restraining orders require a hearing does not reassure skeptics. The judges and courts that issue TROs are the same ones deciding on whether to validate their prior decisions.
Judge Sanchez's reaction to unflattering press coverage is not reassuring, either. According to the newspaper Santa Fe New Mexican, "When asked if he might have made a mistake, Sanchez said 'no.' He also said he had read Nestler's application."
The application accused Letterman of causing mental cruelty, sleep deprivation and bankruptcy. Nestler requested that Letterman not "think of me, and release me from his mental harassment." Sanchez emphasized reading the application because lawyers in his district have alleged he "often doesn't read legal documents submitted." Since issuing a TRO is within a judge's discretion, it is difficult to say which scenario is more disturbing: an informed judge validating Nestler's delusions or a negligent judge not bothering to read what he signs.
Even more disturbing is whether frivolous or unfounded TROs are commonplace. Women's groups maintain that abuse of TROs is rare; they believe the issuance and enforcement of restraining orders must be strengthened to save women's lives. There have been heartbreaking cases. Jessica Gonzales obtained a restraining order limiting her estranged husband's access to their three children. Nevertheless, he murdered the children before being killed by police. In early 2005 Gonzales became a cause célèbre of organizations such as the National Association of Women Lawyers. She attempted to sue the police department for not taking her restraining order seriously. The Supreme Court ruled against her.
By contrast, men's and father's rights groups contend that restraining orders and TROs in particular have become standard paperwork in contentious divorces or cases alleging abuse. They consider many TROs to be merely a strategic move by which one adversary harasses the other or acquires leverage in matters such as child custody.
A litmus test of how vulnerable TROs are to abuse is how easy they are to obtain. Procedures vary from state to state, but the Superior Court of California in Sacramento is typical. The court advises "no filing fees are required. ... [Y]ou must present the application to the clerk no later than 2:45 p.m." The judge will make a decision on a TRO. Then, "you must personally appear at Window 3 of the Family Law filing counter at 4:00 p.m. [a little over an hour later] ... on the same day." The court's Web page advertises a regular, free class on filling out the application offered by the group "Women Escaping a Violent Environment," which advocates for female victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In Oregon, DivorceNet provides advice on TROs. As in most states, an applicant need only assert a "fear" of violence even if none has occurred. Some applications can be made by telephone.
The seeming ease with which TROs are issued constitutes a problem for those who wish all restraining orders to be taken seriously. Any court order that can be obtained over the phone by stating a fear, or picked up at Window 3 in a little over an hour, trivializes the process. But a TRO is not trivial. It is a legal constraint upon another human being's freedom. It should be issued only in the presence of a real threat. False or frivolous applications should be viewed in the same manner as are false police reports.
The order against Letterman was lifted on Tuesday when a New Mexico judge ruled in his favor, but his prominence has placed him in a unique position to stir debate on the use and abuse of restraining orders. In the '90s he was stalked by a schizophrenic fan who committed suicide after spending years in prison for breaking into Letterman's home. Earlier this year, his baby son was targeted in an unsuccessful kidnapping-for-ransom scheme. It is unconscionable that an obsessed fan has obtained court approval to harass him further.
Nevertheless, I hope Letterman's legal vindication is not based on the technicalities advanced so far by his lawyers, technicalities such as the contention that the New Mexico court lacks jurisdiction. I hope his victory is based on the principle that all restraining orders must meet legal standards of fairness and evidence if they are to demand respect.
2 January, 2006
THE INCORRECTNESS OF COKE
If it's big and successful, the Left will hate it. That's all you need to know. But they will always dream up some pretext to cover the hatred that is their real motivation, of course. For an institution that practices racial disrimination against whites, however, the claim by U Mich. to care about human rights does ring very hollow
The University of Michigan suspended sales of Coca-Cola products on its three campuses over allegations that the company permits human rights and environmental abuses abroad. The suspension, which begins Jan. 1, will affect vending machines, residence halls, cafeterias and campus restaurants. Coke's contracts with the university are worth about $1.4 million.
The university and the company say they will continue to negotiate. "The University of Michigan is an important school, and I respect the way they worked with us on this issue," said Kari Bjorhus, a spokeswoman for The Coca-Cola Co., told The Detroit News. "We are continuing to try hard to work with the university to address concerns and assure them about our business practices."
Michigan's decision was prompted by a complaint last year from Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality. The student group accused Coke of draining local groundwater in India and conspiring with paramilitary groups in Colombia to harass and harm union members. The company has repeatedly denied the allegations.
The university, which has more than 50,000 students, decided not to renew its contracts when Coke said it was unable to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to cooperate in an investigation of circumstances in Colombia. The university and several other colleges had offered to fund the investigation. Bjorhus said Thursday that a pending civil lawsuit prevented the company from participating. In a statement on the company Web site, the company said allegations involving its operations in Colombia are false and the company has been "an exemplary member of the business community" there.
At least nine schools have stopped selling Coke products, citing Colombia as one of the reasons, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
POLITICALLY CORRECT "SCIENCE"
More darts than laurels should be distributed in 2005 in the fields of public health and health journalism. Here are the year's Top Ten health absurdities:
1. Harvard's School of Public Health bestowed its highest award for public-health achievement on Erin Brockovich. Brockovich claimed trace levels of the chemical chromium-6 caused diseases in a California community. She orchestrated a $330 million settlement from a utility company — pocketing a couple million herself. There was no evidence that the chemical traces made anyone sick, but that didn't deter Dean Barry Bloom from honoring her for "efforts on behalf of all of us."
2. Iowa banned the use of the preservative thimerosal in childhood vaccines (over 20 states are considering similar laws), though the mainstream medical community is unanimous in its conclusion that the additive is safe. The restriction makes it more difficult to protect children and adults from diseases — such as a possible avian-flu pandemic.
3. Environmentalists claimed that toothpaste, antiperspirant, lipstick, and eyeliner cause cancer. As usual, there was no human data to back up the claims, but some cosmetic companies yielded to the chemo-terrorists and reformulated their products, passing the costs — but no benefits — on to consumers.
4. When McDonald's announced that it would put nutrition information, including caloric content, on its wrappers, the Ralph Nader inspired "food police" were outraged. Instead of serving up compliments, they issued stinging criticisms — insisting the nutrition data belonged on the menu boards as well.
5. The EPA, claiming PCBs cause cancer, prevailed in its case against General Electric, forcing GE to begin removing traces of the chemicals from the Hudson River. The National Cancer Institute says there is no evidence that exposure to PCBs causes human cancer. The cost of the cleanup — an estimated $750 million — will be passed on to consumers and shareholders.
6. To fight obesity, schools around the U.S. banned vending machines dispensing soda, even diet soda — replacing it with calorie-laden apple juice.
7. Having won major settlements against Big Tobacco, the same attorneys plotted lawsuits against Big Food — claiming food companies are legally accountable for the nation's obesity epidemic. Plaintiff lawyers dismiss individual responsibility for nutrition decisions, saying soft-drink companies use caffeine to addict children to "empty calories."
8. The news this year about preventing deaths from breast cancer was apparently too good to report: The media gave short shrift to this spring's Lancet article noting that breast-cancer death rates were plummeting. There was scant coverage of the fact that new pharmaceuticals, in conjunction with standard treatments, now prevent almost all recurrences of breast cancer in women with early-stage disease.
9. Kevin Trudeau's book on Natural Cures which argues that "medical science has absolutely, 100 percent failed in the curing and prevention of disease," and says that tap water can kill you and that organic food is our only hope — is one of 2005's best-selling advice books.
10. Republican and Democratic lawmakers urged "drug importation" from price-controlled countries (like Canada) to lower U.S. drug prices. They didn't tell consumers that a) drug-importation plans are a Trojan horse that is sneaking price controls into the United States and b) countries with price controls do not generate new blockbuster drugs. If such policies were in place here, restricting financial incentives, the current pace of drug innovation and development would be a thing of the past.
1 January, 2006
Rural school accused of racism: Indian students get punished more than white peers, and far fewer of them graduate
Where they can get away with it, the heavyhandedness of Left-dominated teachers towards students for the most minor infractions is well known. And that heavyhandedness certainly seems evident in what the story below relates. What is rather amusing however is that this time the ACLU is invoving itself -- because some of the affected students are Amerindians. Two lots of Leftists at odds with one-another! I add a feisty comment from a reader immediately below the story:
Casey Chasing Hawk once loved school so much that he would arrive at his bus stop 30 minutes early. That all changed when Casey was pulled out of his seventh-grade class by the Winner school superintendent, turned over to the police and thrown into jail for telling a teacher he was so angry at a classmate who beat him that he wanted to kill him. He spent 63 days in a juvenile-detention facility 60 miles from home before the South Dakota Supreme Court determined that his misbehavior didn't even amount to disorderly conduct. "They claimed he was a monster, so they had to make him look like a monster," said his father, Nelson Chasing Hawk. "They did all these evaluations on him, and they found out that his only problem was what they had done to him at that school."
What happened to Casey more than four years ago is still resonating today in this tiny town near a sprawling Lakota Sioux reservation. It has landed this rural district in southern South Dakota squarely in the middle of a wider debate over how schools discipline minority children. Civil rights advocates want to make a national example of this 900-student district over the "school-to-prison pipeline" - the practice of arresting children and teens for routine school misconduct such as fighting and disobedience. It's an issue that has garnered attention in largely minority urban districts such as Chicago but is practically ignored in Indian country.
Winner district leaders argue that Indian children are treated fairly in the district's three schools and that it enforces its discipline code without bias. Yet this isn't the first time Winner schools have faced federal scrutiny. The Office for Civil Rights in the Education Department ordered the Winner district in 2000 to eradicate racial harassment and to stop disciplining Native Americans more severely than their white peers, and after four years of scrutiny the case was closed in 2004.
But the district's own statistics from 2001 to 2004 demonstrate that Indian children continue to be punished at disproportionate rates and are leaving the district in droves. In Winner Middle School, Indian children represent less than 20 percent of the pupil population but 100 percent of the pupils suspended for insubordination in the 2002-03 school year. Last year, Indian pupils made up 70 percent of all out-of-school suspensions and 79 percent of police referrals. At the grade school, about 90 Indian children are enrolled in pre-kindergarten to fourth grade - almost one-third of the school's population of 293. But at Winner High School, only about 2 percent of the graduates are Indian in a typical year.
Where do they go? Some drop out. Others go to prison. Most flee to reservation schools that are so far away from their families that they must live in dormitories during the school week. The Winner students who live in dorms 45 miles from home do so, they say, because they are convinced that Winner's schools are hostile places. Sometimes this belief is born of personal experience with a racist child or an insensitive teacher. More often, it's the perception gleaned from stories passed down from parents and cousins and siblings. "They made my brother go to jail. They said he stabbed someone with a pencil," said 11-year-old Alysia Peneaux, who lives in the tribal dormitory and attends sixth grade in Mission, S.D. She misses her family during the week, but she was afraid of trouble at Winner Middle. "I know they would be mean to me, so I didn't want to go to school there." Glen Old Lodge, a high school junior, said he left in eighth grade because he was always blamed for disagreements he had with white classmates. "They almost sent me off, too. It's mostly racism. You just get treated differently," he said.
The discipline and enrollment numbers - provided by the district under terms of the federal lawsuit - prompted the American Civil Liberties Union and Lakota Sioux tribal officials to file a complaint this year demanding that the case be reopened by the civil rights office. Bernardine Dohrn, a Northwestern University law professor and a national expert on the school-to-prison pipeline, said it's important to identify this issue in rural areas because help for these alienated students is hard to find. "At least in Chicago, the school board can say everyone has access to an alternative school," Dohrn said. "Most of the time in rural districts, there is no alternative. When kids are pushed out . it's a desperate situation. And they don't have the access to lawyers and advocates who are going to fight on their behalf."
But New York City lawyers from the ACLU decided to advocate for a few dozen families in this town. The ACLU argued in its complaint that the school district was able to get the federal case closed in 2004 by presenting "a grossly distorted" picture of race relations in the district. "It's shocking to see the statistics coming out of this district - they are off the chart in terms of egregiousness," said Catherine Kim, an ACLU lawyer handling the case. "But I also think Winner makes it clear that these issues are not confined to urban schools perceived to be dangerous. Winner is an ordinary American town but in terms of race relations, Winner is very far behind a lot of other places."
Winner School District officials acknowledged that the region suffered from a history of discrimination, but argued in its response to the ACLU complaint that it now "takes pride in its efforts to stamp out discrimination through education (and) sound policy." Superintendent Mary Fisher, a former elementary principal who took over the district after the superintendent named in the Chasing Hawk case left the Winner district, said she's upset about the lies that have been spread about her schools. She said national advocates are making a major case out of isolated complaints from disgruntled families. "We have great kids here, and very little trouble," Fisher said during a tour of the middle school this fall, when she boasted of school offerings that ranged from high-tech distance learning to a new golf team. "I'm a strong believer that you can always improve. But if you discipline kids, you're going to have parents who are upset."
A review of disciplinary reports from 2002-2004 submitted as part of the 2000 civil rights case complaint revealed that an Indian boy in middle school was suspended for two days for walking through an alley rather than using a crosswalk; an Indian girl got the same punishment for chewing gum. An eighth-grader drew a 90-day suspension for disrupting class and "insubordination" - an infraction that calls for a maximum punishment of four days suspension. Another eighth-grader drew a four-day suspension for gang-related activity - drawing a medicine wheel and writing "Native Pride" on his notebook.
The Winner district's lawyer challenged some of the conclusions presented in the ACLU complaint, particularly the assertion that school leaders ignore racial harassment of Native American students. "It is easy to play the race card when children of different racial or ethnic backgrounds have problems with each other. But very often the truth is that such difficulties arise from . human nature, not from racial prejudices," wrote district lawyer Paul Jensen in his August 2005 response to the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights. He did not dispute statistics that show Indian kids get in trouble more often than their Caucasian peers - or that the number of Indian students who leave Winner schools is high. "The lack of parental involvement and sponsorship of their kids' education, high rates of alcoholism and chemical abuse, and many other factors play a role in the unfortunate figures that are reported," Jensen wrote, adding that "teen pregnancies appear to be increasing in some of these cultural groups."
A reader comments:
Basically, what's happening here is that Indian kids get into more trouble than other kids and drop out of high-school a lot more than other kids. School officials say that it's because of the lack of parental involvement and concern for their kids education, high rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, as well as teen pregnancy. The Indians say it's because of racism.
The boy named at the beginning of this article, Casey Chasing Hawk, apparently lost interest in school, dropped out, left home, was abusing alcohol and is now getting in trouble with the law. "He was raised in a traditional Lakota home and hoped he would be a leader in the tribal community", his parents said.
Right. Well, here we go again. The Indians can't have a decent life because of other people holding them down. I guess they've been attending NAACP meetings, because it sure sounds like the same garbage that the blacks are pulling. They try to learn, they try to be good people, they try try try, but they just can't do it. Guess who's fault it is? Well, of course, it must be white people. After all, white people are the cause of everything negative that has ever happened to Blacks, Indians, women and every other ethnic group you can think of.
Lets try to dissect the situation, mentioned in the news article above. First thing, the woman from Chicago's Northwestern University. She's a lawyer and a professor. She teaches at Northwestern, which is a top university in this country. If you're not from Chicago, you may not be aware of who she is. Let me explain. Her name is Bernardine Dohrn. Does that name ring a bell with anyone? Don't remember her name? Let me tell you about ol' Bernardine. She had another career before becoming an expert in the "school-to-prison-pipeline".
Bernardine Dohrn, was part of "The Weather Underground", an anti-government cell of social activists who declared war on the U.S. government in the 1970's, vowing to attack symbols of "American injustice". The group bombed targets across the country, evaded a massive FBI manhunt and lived to tell their tale as heroes of the extreme left-wing. A couple of more tid-bits for you: She was one of the leaders of the Weathermen. She participated in the bombings of a New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972. Referring to the Tate-LaBianca murders, committed by Charles Manson, she stated, "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim's stomach! Wild!"
Bernardine Dohrn, along with her husband Bill Ayers summed up the Weathermen's ideology as follows: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, Kill your parents." Ayers always took care not to dwell on his own establishment credentials (His father was chairman of the energy company Commonwealth Edison, a fact Ayers conveys only by saying, "My dad worked for Edison").
Dohrn was, in fact, complicit in a number of terrorist bombings intended to destroy key parts of America's defense and security infrastructure, and to cause mass chaos among the population at large. Dohrn and her husband, Bill Ayers were on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List." In 1980 she and Ayers surrendered, but all charges against them were dropped due to "improper surveillance", as if that should keep a terrorist out of prison. Bill Ayers is now, alarmingly, employed as a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
So Dohrn, a scumbag of the first order, is not only teaching collage kids to hate everything she can think of, but is also helping these Indians become even bigger losers then they already are. Thanks a lot Bernardine, you're a big help.
Well, I'm getting off track so lets return to the Indians. This is the fact of the matter: there is no way to help these people. None. If you were trying to think of a way, stop, there isn't one. You can't help people that won't help themselves and you can't live in a "traditional Lakota" home and then be amazed that your kids are messed up. It's the 21st century. The traditional Indian culture didn't work when it was faced with outside influences; their culture crumbled. You cannot live in a closed society and expect to advance. It doesn't work. They didn't advance enough to compete. You know what happens when a species can't compete in nature, it dies out.
The Indian way of life stayed the same over centuries because there were no outside influences. As soon as another culture showed up, their culture became immediately obsolete. It's not anyone's fault, like it or not, it just isn't. That's just the way nature made it. This world is only so big. There is only so much land on this planet. You have to face the fact that people migrate, that's what they do. That's what's in our DNA. You can't stop it.
The only reason that the Indian culture is still here, is because European Americans allowed it to remain, which was a mistake. It would have been better for the Indians if their entire culture was left in the past and they were forced to assimilate into the new culture. People of all cultures became Americans, but by allowing the Indians to have their own land, (reservations), and not assimilate, they stayed in their outdated, closed world. They can't compete as long as they try to remain Indians. They have to become part of America. That means becoming Americans of Indian decent (or however they'd like it termed), just like Americans of German decent and Americans of Italian decent, etc.
They are falling apart because they are still trying to be Indians. I don't care about the fact that they were here first. Somebody had to be here first. Congratulations, do you want a cookie and a pat on the back for being the first? You're now in last place; how did that happen? It happened because they didn't see the writing on the wall. They didn't see the writing because they were living in a closed off place and they didn't understand nature as well as they thought they did. Indians understood the small parts of nature that surrounded them, hunting, fishing, etc. They didn't get the larger part of nature, about having to change and progress. To all of the Indians out there, stop it. Become Americans. If you don't, you will die off. It will be your own fault, nobody else's.
American Indians migrated here just like everybody else. They got here, they formed tribes, just like everybody else in the world. Then they had no outside influences, so they stagnated. They stagnated in the Stone age and never went beyond it. Europeans didn't live in a closed society the way the Indians did. They had outside influences and they advanced. You have to have other influences in life, whether it be your personal life or life as a society.
Indians get more money thrown at them then you could ever imagine, but that doesn't work. That's because money never ever solves these kinds of problems. It can't. It's like trying to fix your cars broken radio by throwing money in your backseat, it won't do any good; that's not how the universe works.
So, where does all this get us? Absolutely nowhere. Nothing is going to change, the Indians will stay the same. That's because nobody is actually holding them down. No matter what Bernardine Dohrn says or what the Hippies say, there isn't anyone trying to hold them down. Nobody. Nobody cares enough about Indians to waste their time holding them down. There's nothing to gain by holding them down, that's why nobody is doing it.
But, to face that fact, you have to face the fact that it's you who are holding yourself down. The real problem is that If nobody is holding you down, then there isn't anyone to push off of you so that you can stand up. They're fighting a ghost. A ghost that they can't touch, can't see and can't ever conquer. It's there own ghost. It's the ghost of how things used to be for them. Sorry, but no matter how much you try, you can't go back because it isn't there anymore. You can only be in touch with your ancestors to a certain degree. You can't be them. The "great Indian nation", is no more. It's gone and it isn't coming back, no matter how hard you try, It's still not going to be there. You can only go forward. If they don't change and start moving forward, they will lose their entire history because they will all eventually just die off.
They will die off the minute this country gets in a serious problem and can't afford to keep them alive. All of the professors in the world, fighting for the Indian cause, won't be able to stop it. All of the tree hugging Hippies, all of the do-gooders and anybody else that wants to help; they won't be able to do a thing. They better realize, in a hurry, that there isn't anyone to point a finger at. All they're doing is just pointing it at the most convenient place. And that's White people. They point at White people and say "you are holding us down" (and of course, white people believe them half the time).
They claim white people are screwing them, but they can't figure out how they're being screwed. So they just pick out anything that goes wrong that has anything to do with a white person and go, "SEE, SEE, THIS WHITE PERSON IS HOLDING ME BACK, AAAAAHHHHH.
All of this is why Indians are idiots. They're idiots because the people who conquered them are the same people that are pretending to try and save them. These idiots are going to remain drunk, drugged up, uneducated and poor because the Hippies treat them like they are some kind of Barbie Doll. They tell the Indians how great they are, that they're such a proud people, they have a connection to the earth that others don't have, they were great warriors, etc. Problem is, they're no more proud than any other race is. They don't have any better connection to the earth or anything else, than any other culture had. They're not magic. But people want to believe that there is magic, it makes them feel better and the Indians are the magic of choice. The Indians have bought into the whole thing. Some do it because they know a good thing when they see it, "If white man want to throw heap big wampum at me, I take it, ugh". Others are so lost that they believe the hype. They don't have anything to grab onto because their own culture makes no real sense anymore, so they buy into the "fantasy Indian culture" that other people have made it into. Others just get lost in the shuffle and do drugs, get drunk, have babies that they can't afford and die in the gutter.
When you think about it, they're just kind of pathetic. They're just totally screwed up and they're never going to get better. The ones that own the casinos aren't even Indians anymore, they're businessmen. They'll play along for what it's worth, but after that, they're just rich guys, not poor destitute Indians. The poor messed up Indians are going to die after having lived a worthless life.
DESTRUCTIVE POLITICALLY CORRECT PSYCHOLOGY
A recent book edited by eminent psychologists Rogers Wright and Nicholas Cummings delivers a stunning indictment of the mental health professions. Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm documents and critiques the ascent of social activism over open-minded scientific inquiry and quality mental health care in the current mental health establishment. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about mental health care in this country.
The book casts a critical eye on much of the social activism of the psychological and psychiatric professional associations over the past thirty years. However, Drs. Wright and Cummings cannot be dismissed as disgruntled conservatives. Their deeds validate their claim to be "lifelong liberal activists." For instance, while president of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Cummings supported the development of the first task force championing the mental health needs of gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
In addition to being personally involved in social activism, the authors have been keen and pragmatic observers of the mental health professions over the past 40 years. My own contact with Nick Cummings made a lasting impact on me. I first met Dr. Cummings in 1986 when American Biodyne, the first real managed behavioral health care company in America, came to Ohio as a manager of the state employee behavioral health care program. I just started my counseling private practice in Portsmouth, Ohio, and wanted to get on board the managed care train. Biodyne did something very novel for a managed care company: all therapists in the preferred network were required to be trained by the company leaders, including the president and founder, Nick Cummings. In all my years of education, both in school and post-grad, I have never listened to a better trainer than Nick Cummings. He believed mental health therapy could be a powerful influence in a person's life but it was never to be used to gratify the therapist or to promote a political agenda. That same theme permeates this book. Drs. Cummings and Wright believe that modern psychology has been overthrown by forces of social activism and as a consequence faces irrelevance.
As one example, Cummings and Wright demonstrate how political support for gay activism has led to stifling of client self-determination. Consider this quote from the book regarding sexual identity therapy: "In the current climate, it is inevitable that conflict arises among the various subgroups in the marketplace. For example, gay groups within the APA [American Psychological Association] have repeatedly tried to persuade the association to adopt ethical standards that prohibit therapists from offering psychotherapeutic services designed to ameliorate "gayness" on the basis that such efforts are unsuccessful and harmful to the consumer. Psychologists who do not agree are termed homophobic. Such efforts are especially troubling because they abrogate the patient's right tochoose the therapistand determine therapeutic goals. They also deny the reality of data demonstrating that psychotherapy can be effective in changing sexual preferences in patients who have a desire to do so." (From the introduction, page xxx).
Sexual identity therapy is not the only political hot potato tackled by theauthors. They demonstrate how politically correct posturing can serve to obscure research findings. For instance, co-editor Wright cites research by Cummings suggesting that positive male figures in the lives of children are significantly related to a decrease in the number of children requiring medication for behavior problems. However, he laments that such research results are frequently stifled or even dismissed because they offend feminist sensibilities.
Drs. Wright and Cummings express concern over the professional consequences of psychology's misadventures into social activism. They paint a picture of psychologists being unable to support themselves as psychologists because the profession has become enamored with producing position statements about social change. Mental health care in America is adequate but barely so. Any practicing counselor knows how difficult it is to find quality services anywhere outside of the metropolitan areas of this country. Cummings and Wright predict that psychology's preoccupation with social activism threatens to make it irrelevant as a force for quality and affordable health care for all people.
So how is the current leadership of the APA reacting to the critique of Cummings and Wright? Not well. It appears the former APA luminaries are getting a cold shoulder from the current leadership. At a recent meeting of National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, Dr. Wright noted that the APA adopted a "strategic decision not to respond" to their book to avoid giving it undue attention. Furthermore, the APA initially prohibited its member-publications from even reviewing the book. Observed Dr. Wright: "So much for diversity and open-mindedness."
In my opinion, the current APA leadership will ignore these warnings at their peril. When it comes to trends in mental health care, Nick Cummings has rarely been wrong in his predictions. I don't think he is wrong this time.