POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH: ARCHIVE
The creeping dictatorship of the Left...
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30 November, 2005
MORE SILENCE FROM THE SO-CALLED FEMINISTS
Feminists or hormonal bitches? Make up your mind when you try to think of any feminist who has protested at the mass murder of little girls in India. And note who IS concerned about the matter -- that horrible "patriarchal" Catholic Church
"The Indian government has publicly asked the Church for assistance in preventing abortions and reducing their number. The abortions that most concern the Indian authorities are the ones aimed at selecting the sex of the child to be born, eliminating the female children. Since 1994 there have been laws in place against that sort of selection. But they are widely circumvented. "The only way we can combat selective abortion is by changing the way the people think," health and family minister Anbumani Ramadoss said in a speech in mid-October. "And this change in mentality can take place only with the help of those who have the public's ear, the religious leaders. In November we will meet with all of the religious leaders in Delhi to plan a common effort that concerns all of India."....
In its State of World Population report for this year, the UN agency that deals with demographics estimates that there are 60 million "missing girls," the young women of Asia not reflected in the statistics, many of whom are attributed to India. Everywhere in the world, the natural average for conception is 103-107 females for every 100 males. But when you go to count the births, there are significantly fewer girls in India.
In 1981, there were 962 girls for every 1000 boys, under the age of 6. In 1991, there were 945. And in 2001, the year of the most recent census, there were 927. If you then look at where the decline has been the steepest, you find that the lowest ratio of girls is found in what are relatively the more affluent cities and states: Haryana, Gujarat, and Punjab. In these places, there is an average of 800 girls for every 1000 boys.
This unnatural imbalance is partly explained by the fact that, unlike the birth of a boy, the birth of a girl is experienced by many families as an unbearable burden, above all on account of the highly expensive dowry which, according to tradition, must accompany her marriage.
Until a few decades ago, the infanticide of girls was the most widespread means of getting rid of this burden. It is still practiced to this day. Furthermore, girls receive less care, so among them infant mortality is higher than it is among boys.
But since the 1980's, technology has been added to this traditional rejection of girls. Tests to determine the sex of the unborn child are ever more widespread and employed, with a very high rate of selective abortion. The law permits doctors to tell the parents only about the fetus's health condition, not its sex; but this prohibition is skirted everywhere in exchange for money..."
AUSTRALIA: "POVERTY" MAKES YOU FAT
Which shows how absurd conventional definitions of poverty are
Residents in Sydney's [poor] south-west are among the fattest in the state, with more than half the inhabitants of the Campbelltown and Camden area overweight or obese, new figures reveal.
Meanwhile, Sydney's affluent eastern suburbs and North Shore have the lowest percentage of overweight and obese residents, with just one in five women above the healthy weight range.
Figures from the NSW Health Department, compiled for The Sun-Herald from the 2002, 2003 and 2004 adult health surveys, highlight the correlation between weight and wealth. They come as doctors grapple with the nation's obesity crisis and experts call for the regulation of food outlets and subsidising of healthy, fresh food. Compiled from interviews with 32,877 people across the state over three years, the figures also draw attention to the disparity between obesity levels in rural and city regions.....
Social researcher Neer Korn, a director of research organisation Heartbeat Trends, said the figures showed the direct correlation between socio-economic status and obesity problems. "People from a lower socio-economic background eat more junk food and they have less time to care for themselves," Mr Korn said. [Another nitwit! Has she never heard of the long houres at work that many middle-income put in?] "If you have a nanny and you're not working, you have all day to go shopping for food to get something nice to cook for dinner which is healthy, and you can afford gym membership." Mr Korn said Australia's obesity problem was more pronounced in rural areas because fresh food was more expensive [What rubbish! He hasn't got a clue! He must never have lived in a country town and found out how much informal exchange of fresh fruit and vegetables there is] and the health message was a lower priority for residents there. "Try getting fruit and vegies in Wilcannia - it's so expensive there, it's much cheaper just to go to Maccas," he said.
Ian Caterson, Boden Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Sydney, said the availability of food was a major contributor to the increasing obesity problem. He told a WeightWatchers-hosted discussion forum on obesity last week that an American study found the abundance of food outlets accounted for 68 per cent of the increase in obesity levels. He recommended introducing legislation to police the number and type of food outlets [No disguising the Fascism there!] that could be built in any one area to ensure people could obtain, say, fresh fruit as easily as fast food....
That greater self-discipline might make you both richer and slimmer is not of course mentioned
29 November, 2005
I go into hospital for a rather large surgical procedure today. It is however day surgery so I hope to be back home by the evening and blogging away as usual. If that proves too optimistic, however, this blog may not be updated for a day or so.
TEACHING CHRISTIANITY IS "ABUSE" IN CANADA
There is talk of real physical abuse but no proof of that seems needed. Just being given a Christian upbringing seems to be taken as all the evidence of abuse that is needed
Canada will pay $C2 billion ($2.3 billion) to former pupils of government boarding schools that were set up to "Christianise" the children of native Indians, but which are now blamed for decades of physical and emotional abuse. About 80,000 indigenous Canadians will qualify for a share of the biggest payout in the country's history, which marks a fresh attempt by the Government to atone for systematically trying to strip native children of their language and culture over a period of 70 years.
Native leaders said the money should be just the first step towards redressing a national tragedy that had left generations spiritually bereft and fuelled deep and continuing social problems. Canada's 700,000-strong indigenous communities, known as the First Nations, suffer epidemic rates of alcoholism, drug addiction and sexual abuse [Which is all the fault of white Christians, of course]....
Most of the 130 schools were closed in the 1970s and many survivors are now of pensionable age, while others died without seeing any compensation for alleged beatings and rape...
Under the system set up at the start of the 20th century, native children were often sent hundreds of kilometres away to the remote residential schools. In an attempt to assimilate Canada's First Nations into mainstream society, they were forcibly separated from their families and forbidden from speaking their language. About 15,000 former pupils had brought legal claims against the Government and the United Church of Canada, Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian churches that ran the schools. These claims must be dropped as part of the deal.
It includes $C60million for a truth and reconciliation commission to promote awareness of what happened. The churches will contribute. Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada Andrew Hutchison said he hoped the package would bring a "just and lasting solution".....
Irish forum targets 'racist toddlers'
How disgusting can you get? Trying to suppress the natural honesty of toddlers! A good reason to keep your kids away from government-regulated pre-schools and kindergartens
Racism among Irish toddlers will be tackled at a conference for childcare providers in Dublin later this month. International research shows that children can form prejudices against other races even as babies and pre-schoolers. Workers in creches and childcare facilities will be shown how games and activities can prevent such discrimination forming. The anti-racism initiative is being organised by childcare committees in south Dublin and Fingal who hope it will provide a blueprint for child carers across the country.
Julia Hackett, a co-ordinator on the south Dublin committee, says it is important for children to acknowledge the differences between people at an early age and learn to accept them. "Children from a very early age acknowledge the difference between people. We want to bring together the childcare professionals that are working on the ground to develop practical anti-bias approaches that are active, indeed activist, so that we can challenge prejudice, stereotyping and bias," she said. "Childcare professionals want activities for the children to encourage them to feel comfortable with the differences and similarities between themselves and others. "By listening to the professionals we will be able to find the best way to integrate these activities and plans into the existing curriculum rather than just having them as an add-on." Hackett says the group hopes to be able to provide guidelines to childcare facilities about the inclusion of different nationalities - including providing halal meat on menus.
EUROPEAN ATTACKS ON FREE SPEECH
Censorship creates the impression that what is censored is important and probably true
"In a flurry of activity on both sides of the Atlantic, several so-called revisionists have been arrested on Holocaust denial charges in recent weeks. Three revisionists Germar Rudolph, Ernst Zundel and Siegfried Verbeke have been extradited to Germany. But the most visible case involves far-right British historian David Irving, who was arrested November 11 in Vienna, Austria, on 16-year-old charges that he publicly denied aspects of the Holocaust a crime in Austria.
Jewish communal leaders, including Shimon Samuels, international relations director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, praised the moves. Samuels said that they were part of an overall trend in Europe toward greater attempts to atone for the Holocaust. "There is a drive toward transparency that is very healthy in Europe," he said. "Unlike in America, there is not much difference in Europe between hate speech and hate crime. And there seems to be a new willingness to use those laws when it comes to Holocaust denial."
Holocaust revisionists, meanwhile, were slamming the crackdown efforts, saying they were part of a Jewish conspiracy to prevent open debate. "As the new owner of Germar Rudolf's publishing company, I wish to express my outrage that the Holocaust, unlike any other historical event, is not subject to critical revisionist investigation," said Michael Santomauro, who runs a Web site dedicated to Holocaust denial and to attacks against Jewish communal leaders and organizations. "Furthermore I deplore the fact that many so-called democratic states have laws that criminalize public doubting of the Holocaust. It is my position that the veracity of Holocaust assertions should be determined in the marketplace of scholarly discourse and not in our legislature's bodies and courthouses."
The charges against Irving, filed by Austrian prosecutors, were based on two 1989 speeches in which he denied the existence of the gas chambers. If convicted, Irving could face up to 20 years in prison. Irving is the author of nearly 30 books. One of them, "Hitler's War," challenges the fact that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. He once famously insisted that Adolf Hitler knew nothing about the systematic slaughter of the Jews, and he has been quoted as saying there is "not one shred of evidence" that the Nazis carried out their "final solution" on such a scale. In 2000, Irving lost a libel case he brought against historian Deborah E. Lipstadt for calling him a Holocaust denier. The British court ruled that Irving was antisemitic and racist and that he misrepresented historical information.
In addition to Irving's arrest, Rudolph, 41, was sent from Chicago this month to his native Germany, where he was wanted on a 1995 conviction of inciting racial hatred for disputing the deaths of thousands of Jews held captive at a concentration camp. Rudolph was sentenced to 14 months in prison for publishing a report disputing the deaths of thousands of Jews in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, according to a statement by the Department of Homeland Security. Rudolph, a former chemist, claimed in his report that since he had failed to find traces of Zyklon B on the bricks of gas chambers, mass gassings of Jews could not have occurred at Auschwitz. After his conviction, he fled Germany and lived in Spain, Great Britain, Mexico and the United States, according to the DHS press release. He was arrested in Chicago October 19 after a background check by immigration officials, and deported November 14 to Germany.
Earlier this year, Canada deported Ernst Zundel, 66, to Germany, where a state court is hearing charges of incitement, libel and disparaging the dead. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail if convicted. Also, in October a Dutch court agreed to extradite Siegfried Verbeke a co-founder of the Belgian extreme-right Vlaams Blok party, now called Vlaams Belang to Germany, where he faces charges of racism and xenophobia and publicly doubting the Holocaust. He is looking at 14 months in prison.
Verbeke was convicted on charges of Holocaust denial and racism in Belgium in 2003 and sentenced to a one-year jail term. However, Belgian authorities refused to extradite him to Germany. After his arrest in Amsterdam this past August, he faced similar charges in the Netherlands for having questioned the veracity of Anne Frank's diary. But the proceedings were suspended and Verbeke was sent to Germany in early October".
Above summary is from The Forward (a Left-leaning NYC Jewish periodical)
28 November, 2005
HOW TO DISCOURAGE BOSSES FROM HIRING WOMEN
If it's going to costs bosses millions just because of normal sexual responses and differences between employees, who would want to hire the whiners?
Your boss pats you on the bottom and a male colleague remarks on your breasts. An after-work drink is followed by a series of lewd text messages and, at a male-dominated meeting, jokes are made about explicit email images. For hundreds of Australian women each year, this kind of unwanted sexual attention is just part of the daily grind. Thousands more encounter a far subtler form of sexual discrimination - structural inequity in workplaces where men in dark suits still dominate.
In the past two years, in Britain and the United States, banking leaders and international law firms have been forced to pay millions of dollars to women workers treated differently because of their gender. In Sydney, a $10 million landmark sexual discrimination case due before the Federal Court in February for the first time alleges that a culture of systematic discrimination exists at the nation's largest accounting firm. Senior PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Christina Rich claims she was sexually harassed by several partners at the firm, and that her career and those of other women were stymied by a "culture of discrimination, bullying and harassment". The 41-year-old also says partners discouraged her from speaking out and victimised her when she made a formal complaint. Rich says she was labelled "scatty", "emotional" and "high maintenance" by a senior partner.
It may well be years before the case concludes, but it has prompted predictions that a flurry of lawsuits will ensue from senior women fed up with hitting their heads on the glass ceiling. University of Sydney academic Associate Professor Catharine Lumby believes that by demanding financial compensation for discrimination, women are finally talking the sharemarket's language.
"Money is what will make people listen," Lumby says. "It's not as simple as a whole lot of men walking around saying 'we hate women'. It's that the worlds of work and private lives are still absolutely separate and for many women that means that issues that matter to them, such as child care, are deemed irrelevant." That sexual discrimination still thrives is because women are seen as "sexual beings", Lumby says.
DOES OBESITY JUSTIFY BIG GOVERNMENT?
Last January, media outlets reported that cancer had overtaken heart disease as the number one killer in the United States. Sounds scary, no? Fear not. As is usually the case, beyond the scary headline, deep into the copy, came the real story. Both diseases are in steady decline. Cancer rates and deaths from cancer have fallen every year since the early 1990s. The thing is, incidence and mortality rates of heat disease and stroke have fallen even more over the same period (25 percent since 1990). So while it's true that cancer has "overtaken" heart disease, thats really not the story. The story is that both are in decline, heart disease remarkably so.
Late last February, another health story hit the wires: Americans are living longer than ever before. Life expectancy is up across the board, among both genders and all ethnicities. The gaps in life expectancy between men and women and between black and white are shrinking, too.
At the same time all of this good news has transpired, the number of Americans classified as "obese" and "overweight" has been on a steadily upward trajectory since about the mid-1970s. In 1985, 8 states reported that at least 10% of their populations were obese. By 1990, the number rose to 33. By 2001, it was all fifty.
Of course, as you might expect, the scariest numbers about the condition of America's waistline are overblown there are significant problems with the way the government measures obesity, which I'll discuss in a moment. But most researchers agree that the average American is carrying 10-15 more pounds than he was thirty years ago.
If you believe media, nutrition activists, and public officials, those extra 10-15 pounds portend a looming healthcare catastrophe. U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, for example, said in 2004 that childhood obesity is "every bit as threatening to us as the terrorist threat." A congressionally commissioned report from the Institute of Medicine published in the fall of 2004 called for massive government intervention to stave off the crisis. One author said we need "nothing short of a revolution." The World Health Organization warned "If immediate action is not taken, millions will suffer from an array of serious health disorders."
But if we've been getting fatter for 30 years, shouldn't we be seeing at least the front end of this coming crisis? Why are we getting healthier? In fact, a closer look at the statistics suggests that even some of the diseases most associated with obesity are in retreat.
Take cancer, for example. In 2002, the BBC reported researchers had found that "the more excess weight a person carries, the greater their risk of certain types of cancer." In 2004, USA Today echoed that claim. "The nation's current epidemic of overweight and obesity is likely to drive up cancer rates in coming years," the paper wrote. The Associated Press wrote that, "heart disease and diabetes get all the attention, but expanding waistlines increase the risk for at least nine types of cancer, too" (other sources put it at ten).
But of the ten types of cancer commonly associated with obesity, deaths from nine pancreatic, ovarian, gall bladder, stomach, prostate, kidney, colal-rectal, cervical-uteran, and breast have decreased since 1992, some of them significantly. Only one pancreatic cancer has seen an increase in mortality rates over that period.
And heart disease? Case Western Reserve University researcher and obesity skeptic Paul Ernsberger notes that "The greatest improvements are in cardiovascular disease deaths, which are most strongly linked to obesity."
As noted, the gap in life expectancy between black and white is shrinking. But at the same time, blacks as a group have put on more weight than whites......
America is at war with obesity. We could eventually come to find, however, that this war's origins are dubious as the sinking of the Maine. None of this is to say extreme or morbid obesity is healthy, or even benign (though again, there seems to be some modest protective effects to carrying some excess weight). The decline in incidence and deaths from heart disease and cancer are almost certainly due to advances in medical research and technology. We're getting better at uncovering these diseases early, and with pharmaceutical marvels like Statin drugs and chemotherapy, we're making huge leaps in treatment once we've diagnosed them. And it's of course likely that the gains we've made would be even more significant were the most obese among us a bit more svelte.
But the notion that our expanding waistlines have put us on the verge of a calamitous offensive against our health care system simply isn't borne out by the evidence. And so these incessant calls for immediate, large-scale government interference in how we grow, process, manufacture, market, prepare, sell, and eat our food ring hollow, hyperbolic, and needlessly invasive....
The bizarre thing about the obesity debate is that less than a decade ago, the very thought of it was often discussed only in parody, or in a reductio ad absurdum context. Opponents of the tobacco lawsuits often invoked the idea of trial lawyers suing fast food restaurants as one example of the "parade of horribles" that might follow should the tobacco suits be allowed to go forward.
Well, we're here now. This is post-reductio America. If the anti-obesity proposals currently up for debate become law, it's difficult to come up with any aspect of our lives that's out of the reach of the public health activists. Or, as one advocacy group that represents the food industry has put it, the question will no longer be "what's next?"...but "what's left?"
Much more here
A NICE BIT OF SATIRE:
The latest in the civilized worlds need to right old wrongs is the country of Turkeys objection to the use of the name turkey to describe a rather intellectually challenged bird with a snood. It casts us in an unflattering light, offends our ancestors and we are not getting any royalties! they stated fictitiously.
The objection is ironic considering they were embroiled in a similar argument with the foot stool industry when they started calling themselves The Ottoman Empire. The self-appointed quasi Federal Politically Correct Commission, (FPCC) is forcing the U.S. Turkey Taxonomic Team (TTT) to rename their beloved beast.
In response the team submitted the general sounding Big White Bird, but were immediately attacked by Sesame Street for copyright infringement and by the Color Discrimination League (CDL). The CDL is objecting to the use of colors for names, as insensitive to the Colorless. No longer can we paint the town beige, sing the blues or name citrus fruits after colors. Songs like Yellow Submarine, Red River Valley and Green Sleeves must be re-recorded as The Opaque Submarine, The Muddy River Valley and The Grass-Stained Sleeves. I personally have been asked to change my name to Baxter Dark.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, the FDCC continues to put pressure on the TTT.
TTT proffered the idea of using outdated or extinct names, thinking they would gain sympathy by recycling words. The Dodo, Ivory Billed Woodpecker, Pterodactyl and Tyrannosaurus Bigfoot were put up, then rejected. Moses, Mohammad, Billy Graham and NFL Football also got a thumbs down because of issues regarding separation of church and state.
Maybe, they thought, we could name the bird after an unsympathetic character that even the most sensitive PC commissioner could not help but enjoy demeaning: Hitler, Charles Manson, Newt Gingrich, or Sen. Edward Kennedy. But the ACLU objected to all except Newt Gingrich. Alas, the name newt was already taken by a hairless lizard!
Submissions were received by the TTT from its members; The Flightless Bird, The Feathered Stump, The Walking Wishbone, The Gobbling Dunce, The Winged Zucchini, The Pilgrims Gizzard on a Stick.
Finally, since no new name for the turkey had been deemed politically correct, talks were held with the United Nations Fresh Poultry Committee to see if the Turkish ambassador could convince his country to change its name.
Willie Nelson and Ross Perot served as negotiators and an agreement was reached in what will forever be known as the Turkey Texas Accords. The Snooded National symbol of Thanksgiving will still be called the turkey. And the big country, Americas ally in Asia Minor, will now go by the name of Hank and become the 52nd state of the Union, right after Israel.
27 November, 2005
"DISABLED" CORRECTNESS RUNS AMOK IN NEW ZEALAND
Plans for a walkway high in the forest of Westland National Park have stalled over a requirement to provide access for wheelchair users. South Island tribe Ngai Tahu is behind the $2 million treetop venture, a more than 300m-long looped walk, 14m high and against a backdrop of the Southern Alps' Franz Josef village.
Ngai Tahu Tourism acting general manager Rick Tau said providing electric or mechanical lifts to get disabled people up and over sets of steps built into the walkway would add more than $100,000 to the cost of the project. "It could put the kibosh it," he said.
More than $50,000 had already been spent on design and planning. Electric lifts would require a power supply, and self-operated mechanical lifts could be a problem if people were severely disabled, Mr Tau said. The tribe had asked the Department of Building and Housing for an exemption under the Building Act, but was turned down.
It's not the first time Ngai Tahu's tourism ventures had come up against disability laws, Mr Tau said. "Some of it is idiotic. We have lodges that take two days' walking to get to, yet we have to provide wheelchair access to toilets."
More here (Hat tip to Kiwi Pundit)
WHY SHOULD THE TRUTH EVER BE INCORRECT?
''This isn't politically correct,'' my wise friend said, ''but I'm going to say it, anyway.'' He proceeded to make a statement that was profoundly true. The idea of political correctness, or the absence thereof, has always annoyed me. Political correctness has always seemed to me to carry a certain baggage of manipulation and control. Political correctness seems to make people more concerned about image and persona than reality and truth.
Once my friend stood up to the tyranny of political correctness, I thought a lot about the issue we were discussing, as well as what it means for something to be politically correct or politically incorrect. I've thought about what we've lost in trusting each other since we got so concerned about political correctness, and what it does to human beings to make decisions and set policies based on political correctness.
Whenever there is a shadow of political correctness hovering over an issue, it seems to me that that shadow itself should be a giant red flag, calling people to do some soul-searching and deep reflection. Indeed, whatever is politically correct at the moment probably needs to be examined from stem to stern. The thing that is, supposedly, politically correct might be fashionable or popular, but it might be a deceiving or confusing mixture of what is false and what is true, a distortion of what is right and, quite possibly, containing elements that are harmful to certain parts of the human family.
Indeed, what is in for one generation may be out for the next. What wields pressure or influence for one group may be anathema for another. The forces that rattle and roll you one day may have no affect on you the next. What is real and right and true, however, remains the same through the shifting values and priorities of time.
When life gets complicated or problematic for me, there is a within the problem a clarion call that it is time for me to clear a space in my head and in my calendar and take some time to do some deep reflection. The more serious the issues I am facing, the more I need to draw apart from the clamoring voices in my outer world and separate the wheat from the chaff. The more there is at stake for me, the more I need to get calm and still, silence the cacophony of voices that chatter away in my own head and seek the still, small voice of wisdom and discernment. When life gets challenging, I must forget about what is politically correct, at least for the moment, and seek the truth that lies within the challenge.
No matter how exalted the position or how lowly the job, every person is vulnerable to getting caught in what other people are going to think about what you do, and there are those who will use almost anything to put pressure on others. Sometimes, master manipulators will even make religion and religious language politically correct ... just to get their way.
Regardless of how old or how young, how well-connected or unsupported a person is, all human beings can be influenced or swayed by forces that are sometimes conscious and sometimes hidden from one's own awareness. Given the right - or perhaps the ''wrong'' - circumstances, every one of us can be bought or sold. Any one of us is capable of being pushed around by what is, at the moment, ''politically correct.'' So we all must seek the truth with all diligence - all the time.
26 November, 2005
THE UNPREDICTABLE CORRECTNESS OF ASIAN EXECUTIONS
Australian politicians and pundits (See e.g. here and here and here) are jumping up and down about the planned execution in Singapore of an Australian-Vietrnamese drug runner Van Tuong Nguyen, but former pop star and alleged pedophile Gary Glitter, undoubtedly better known with the general public, now under threat of death in Vietnam, generates no such reaction. See e.g. here and here
Nestle under fire for 'sexist' TV ad
Humourless lesbians suspected again
Confectionaery giant Nestle is under fire in Britain over chocolate bar adverts suggesting football is "not for girls". The company is promoting a bar called Footie with wrapper slogans including: "It's definitely not for girls", "no passes to lasses" and "no wenches on the benches". Wrappers also contain an image of a woman holding a handbag framed in a no-entry road sign.
The Women's Sports Foundation said such advertising undermined attempts to encourage girls to play more sport and improve fitness levels in teenage girls. "We'd rather not see this kind of advertising," she said. "Research shows that 40 per cent of girls have dropped out of sport by the time they reach 18. It's a serious problem with implications for health and fitness. "There are all sorts of cultural barriers to women getting involved in sport. A campaign like this adds to the problem."
Privately, staff at the Equal Opportunities Commission said they were disturbed by the messages on Footie bar wrappers. A spokeswoman said she could make no official comment because confectionery advertising was not within the organisation's remit. The UK's Advertising Standards Authority said it had no powers to adjudicate on the wording of confectionery wrappers.
Nestle said the Footie bar was a version of the Yorkie bar and the slogans were "meant to be humorous". "The Yorkie 'Wenches on the Benches' pack is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and humorous and we apologise if (anyone) has taken offence," said a Nestle spokeswoman. "The 'Wenches on the Benches' Yorkie pack is part of the wider 'Not For Girls' Yorkie campaign. "The spirit of this is to reclaim chocolate for men, based on the consumer insight that there are not many things that men can look at and say that it's just for him. "This is especially true for the chocolate confectionery market, which is full of female-targeted brands. "Yorkie was launched 26 years ago as the chocolate for men and used a very popular 'Trucker' campaign. "We are building on this strong male heritage using a light-hearted and fun way of talking about the differences between men and women."
PC AS A RELIGION
When I was doing my Physics degree back in the 1980's, I had a room three doors down from a Sociologist. He was generally a cheery fellow, good sense of humour, played hockey (on grass) for the university, and liked to wear his face mask for fun. One day I got back from Quantum Mechanics, and saw him looking really sad. So I asked him why.
"I'm a racist," he said.
"Surely not you?" I frowned." What do you mean?"
He told me that he had just been in a lecture, and the lecturer had required every white student there to state publicly that they were a racist.
Basically he had been given a stark choice. He and all the other white students on that course could either state publicly that they were a racist, or they would be thrown off their degree, and have to go find another one. Further enquiry elucidated that this was not a requirement of anyone other than the white students. Somehow you could only be a racist if you were white, and if you were white you were inevitably racist. It didn't matter what your opinions were, just the colour of your skin. And so my friend had, with great distaste, decided that the lesser of two evils was that he would declare himself a racist. He didn't believe it for a minute, but you know what? For the rest of his career in Sociology, if this was standard practice at the time, how exactly was he ever going to live out what he truly believed without being attacked by everyone else who had been required to make similar statements?
Now the trouble with this is that it is the enforcement of a religious belief on someone, in order that they may have a career in a particular field. Why do I say it is a religious belief? Because it is an unproven, unprovable, statement of belief; it has about it every characteristic of religious belief that those who sneer at religious belief ascribe to it.
That is the nature of political correctness. Somewhere, whenever this belief system came into being, some cabal of intellectual dictators decided what everyone else would be required to believe in order that they may be considered politically correct, and then went on to require it of everyone who could enter into their little club. Now if you or I start a club, and say that everyone who comes to the meetings must wear a red hat, that's fine. No one has to come, and if we think it's fun, we can create endless variants on red hats until we get bored of the idea. But if someone manages to require of others that they adopt an unproven belief before they can have a job in a particular sphere, tell me what is the correct name for that?
I must say that having spent my education in science and technology, such considerations never came to haunt me personally. But when I married, and my wife got a career in social work, she went on courses. I'd ask her about what these courses, paid for by the local council, were about. Did they relate to the needs that she had for training? No - they were all about political correctness, whilst her genuine training needs (and those of others) went without regard.
At that time, both she and I remained what might be thought of as left-leaning people. We were and both remain very concerned about the poor, the oppressed, and so forth. In my time I've ruefully concluded that the very last thing these people need, is a liberal social policy, and left wing economics; simply because beyond a certain point, neither have ever done anyone any good. But I've never been politically correct, for one very simple reason; no one has ever explained to me why on earth I should be.
Who had the idea? What is it based on? Who gets to say what is and is not politically correct? Does anyone know? If they do, are they prepared to tell us where they got their ideas? And if no one knows, how are we to know what being politically correct is, in order that we may all obediently kowtow to its dictates? Or instead is it just something that college professors pluck out of the air, in order that they can oppress their students with it? But if as I suspect it has been a co-ordinated campaign by intellectuals to create a self-selecting theocracy with which to populate the desks of our bureaucracies, what do we call that? An insurrection?
Over the last two or three decades, an entire army of people, drafted - willingly or not - into a cadre that requires its members to publicly proclaim the unproven tenets of a mysteriously absent founder has been built; and in between the elected representatives of a country and the ability to implement their chosen policies, on which they were elected, stands the army of those who are paid to do their will. And every decision of public policy is filtered through these people. How many of them were trained with political correctness as a requirement? How does that affect the way in which the policies on which our elected representatives were elected, are implemented?
Perhaps the ACLU in its endless zest for litigation could consider whether the groundless assertion that a white man is a racist and anyone else is not, is actually an infringement of the civil liberties of the white. But perhaps instead it is more of an infringement for people to voluntarily pray in a public building, than it is for them to be forcibly excluded from a university degree for not adopting articles of the PC faith. If they had any decency they'd dig a pit, fill it with water, and at least baptise those persecuted into the PC faith and give them a nice little certificate.
It is the hypocrisy that really gets me. It is supposed that by having a belief that is not religious by name, it must inherently be credible, whereas if it is religious in name, then it is not; but the foundation of political correctness has not had to stand the test of time that ancient beliefs have had to face; it has not had the decency to argue its case, and seek willing converts; it has instead been used as a tool to change the nature of society in a way that is beyond the control of its elected leaders.
Beyond that, it has bogusly presented its unproven faith-based assertions as unchallengeable tenets that we must all agree to, and on which basis all further argument must be conducted. Instead of putting up with this, wouldn't it be better to ask the advocates of political correctness how it is that they justify their beliefs? But when you ask them, they think them self-evident; and that's for a simple reason. Those that require blind faith in ideas, never develop in the indoctrinated the ability to justify them, merely the ability to obey and parrot them through threat.
25 November, 2005
PLAY FROM THE SHAKESPEAREAN ERA CENSORED
It was the surprise hit of the autumn season, selling out for its entire run and inspiring rave reviews. But now the producers of Tamburlaine the Great have come under fire for censoring Christopher Marlowes 1580s masterpiece to avoid upsetting Muslims. Audiences at the Barbican in London did not see the Koran being burnt, as Marlowe intended, because David Farr, who directed and adapted the classic play, feared that it would inflame passions in the light of the London bombings.
Simon Reade, artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic, said that if they had not altered the original it would have unnecessarily raised the hackles of a significant proportion of one of the worlds great religions. The burning of the Koran was smoothed over, he said, so that it became just the destruction of a load of books relating to any culture or religion. That made it more powerful, they claimed.
Members of the audience also reported that key references to Muhammad had been dropped, particularly in the passage where Tamburlaine says that he is not worthy to be worshipped. In the original Marlowe writes that Muhammad remains in hell.
The censorship aroused condemnation yesterday from senior figures in the theatre and scholars, as well as religious leaders. Terry Hands, who directed Tamburlaine for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1992, said: I dont believe you should interfere with any classic for reasons of religious or political correctness. Charles Nicholl, the author of The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, said it was wrong to tamper with Marlowe because he asked uncomfortable and confrontational questions particularly aimed at those that held dogmatic, religious views. He added: Why should Islam be protected from the questioning gaze of Marlowe? Marlowe stands for provocative questions. This is a bit of an insult to him.
Marlowe rivalled Shakespeare as the most powerful dramatist of the Elizabethan period. He died aged 29 in a brawl over a tavern bill. Tamburlaine the Great was written not later than 1587. It tells the story of a shepherd-robber who defeats the king of Persia, the emperor of Turkey and, seeing himself as the scourge of God, burns the Koran....
Park Honan, Emeritus Professor at the School of English, University of Leeds, and author of Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy, said: It is wrong to tamper with the play, wrong to shorten it and wrong to leave out the burning of the Koran because that is involved with the exposition of Tamburlaines character. Hes a false prophet. This is meant to horrify the audience.
A REALIST BISHOP AT LAST
English urged to reclaim identity
Britain's first black Archbishop has made a powerful attack on multiculturalism, urging English people to reclaim their national identity. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said that too many people were embarrassed about being English. "Multiculturalism has seemed to imply, wrongly for me, let other cultures be allowed to express themselves but do not let the majority culture at all tell us its glories, its struggles, its joys, its pains," he said. The failure of England to rediscover its culture afresh would lead only to greater political extremism, he said.
Dr Sentamu, a former judge in Uganda, called for the English to rediscover their cultural identity by properly marking celebrations such as St George's Day on April 23. "I speak as a foreigner, really. The English are somehow embarrassed about some of the good things they have done," he said. "They have done some terrible things but not all the empire was a bad idea. "Because the empire has gone there is almost the sense in which there is not a big idea that drives this nation."
The archbishop, who fled Idi Amin's regime in 1974, said he would not be where he was today were it not for the British Empire and the English teachers and missionaries who worked in Africa. Dr Sentamu was speaking to The Times before his enthronement as the church's No2 at York Minster on November 30. As the most senior black churchman, who during his time as a bishop in London was an adviser to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry that found institutional racism in the police, he received racist and abusive letters, some covered in human excrement, after his appointment was announced earlier this year.
But as a direct product of the British Empire, he intends to make a mission of his passion for English culture, and the Christian roots of that culture, during the next decade or more that he will spend as primate of England's northern province. "What is it to be English? It is a very serious question," he said. "I think we have not engaged with English culture as it has developed. It is a culture that whether we like it or not, has given us parliamentary democracy. It is the mother of it. It is the mother of arguing that if you want a change of government, you vote them in or you vote them out," he said. "It is a place that has allowed reason to be at the heart of all these things, that has allowed genuine dissent without resort to violence."
He disliked the word "tolerance" when used in reference to different cultures. "It seems to be the word tolerance is bad because it just means putting up with it," he said. "I was raised in the spirit of magnanimity. That is a better word than tolerance. "If you are magnanimous in your judgments on other people, there is a chance that I will recognise that you will help me in my struggle."
He will work closely with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, whom he described as "my Moses". "I have chosen in that analogy to try and be a Jethro to him. Jethro was Moses's father-in-law who was always very practical, making suggestions. In the end it was Moses who had to put them out (into practice)." A spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed Dr Sentamu's comments. He said: "I'm only embarrassed about being English when we lose a cricket match in the way we've just lost one."
24 November, 2005
Shriek! Vegetables, fruits cause more US food illnesses
What will the food freaks eat now?
Contaminated fruits and vegetables are causing more food-borne illness among Americans than raw chicken or eggs, consumer advocates said a in report released on Monday. Common sources of food illnesses include various bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli that can infect humans and animals then make their way into manure used to fertilize plants. The practice of using manure fertilizer is more common in Latin America, which has become a growing source of fresh produce for the United States.
"Although poultry has historically been responsible for far more Salmonella infections, in the most recent years ... produce seems to be catching up," the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said, calling for tougher federal food safety standards.
In fact, vegetables and fruits triggered 31 outbreaks from 2002 to 2003, compared with 29 for chicken and other poultry, according to the report.
Overall, contaminated tomatoes, sprouts and other produce made 28,315 people sick during 554 outbreaks from 1990 to 2003 -- 20 percent of all cases CSPI analyzed.
Chicken made 14,729 people sick in 476 outbreaks, and eggs were responsible for 10,847 illnesses from 329 outbreaks, according to the group.
"Pathogens can adhere to the rough surfaces of fruits and vegetables, so consumers should take precautions, such as washing produce under running water," the report said, adding people should "still eat plenty of produce."
Food-related infections cause a range of problems from discomfort to severe dehydration and death, but most problematic organisms can be killed when food is cooked long enough at high enough temperatures.
Not all people exposed to an outbreak get sick, but those who do can experience vomiting, diarrhea and fever, among other problems for about a week. Some experience no symptoms but can infect others.
The report found seafood was the largest cause of outbreaks but led to fewer illnesses than other foods. There have been 899 such outbreaks between 1990 and 2003, leading to 9,312 illnesses.
CSPI officials urged federal regulators to do more to protect the nation's food supply -- a job currently divided among at least 10 U.S. agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture.
One large, independent agency would reduce coordination troubles, conflicting standards and other problems that make the government slow to act, the group said.
Other changes could be made in the meantime, it added.
"FDA should require growers to limit the use of manure to times and products where it poses no risk. And packers and shippers should mark packaging to ensure easy traceback when fruits and vegetables are implicated in an outbreak," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, CSPI's food safety director.
CSPI's database includes reports mostly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other sources, including state health departments and medical journals, make up 7 percent of the data.
THE LATEST TWIST ON ANTI-AMERICANISM
On October 20 the U.N.'s cultural wing, UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization), adopted an insidious treaty to preserve the world's "cultural security" - a locution concocted by U.N. Chinese delegates in support of the proposition that culturally weak nations should be able to protect against the influence of culturally powerful ones by barring cultural imports and subsidizing their own culture. The vote in Paris was 148-2, with only the United States and Israel opposed.
This latest French- and Canadian-instigated folie by UNESCO, with its history of corruption and anti-Americanism, could ignite the mother of all culture wars and shackle free cultural interchange. The agreement also presents yet another challenge to the sovereignty of democratic nation-states, insofar as it advances the illiberal principle that a collective of governments knows and may determine what is best for humanity at large.
The pact, disingenuously titled the "Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions," is larded with doublespeak, which columnist George F. Will has deciphered. Cutting to the quick, Will observes that the treaty in fact enables countries to " 'protect' their 'cultural expressions' against diversity arising from cultural imports that can be stigmatized as threats to social cohesion. . . ." Thus it gives the prestigious U.N. seal of approval to what Louise Oliver, the U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, cites as the "cultural exception" promoted in recent years by some nations: the notion that cultural goods can be exempted from free-trade agreements. To justify such protectionism, the treaty declares that "cultural activities, goods and services" must not be viewed "as solely having commercial value." On a loftier note sounded by France's culture minister, as quoted in the Oct. 14 Wall Street Journal, "Works of art and the spirit must not be considered to be goods."
Of course the cultural goods actually targeted for exclusion are those of the culturally prolific, exuberant, and contagious U.S., and the agreement gives standing to nations to restrict or thwart competition from American cultural imports, such as movies, TV programs, CDs, print publications - or even such products as California wines.
But trade decisions based on cultural insecurity, xenophobia, and opportunistic metaphysics can cut any number of ways. All cultural hell - a chain reaction of retaliation and counter-retaliation involving multiple nations - could break loose. August French "works of the spirit" might not be considered worthy of import by, say, China or Iran. And what if the films, for instance, of Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese were forbidden in French and Chinese theaters? Why would the U. S. not counter with a blackout, on the American screen and cable TV, of the work of Olivier Assayas and Eric Rohmer, or Zhang Yimou and Wei Yuming? Zut alors! The mind reels with the potential of a Planetary-Wide, Multi-Media Neo-"Book-Burning" to add fire to the flames of existing international conflict.
Historically viewed, cultural trade barriers could also cause civilizational anemia. "Trade," as the editors of the New York Sun noted zestily, "meant Plato wasn't restricted to Greece, Algebra to the Middle East . . . and . . . why Brazilian music, French wine, and African costumes can all be found in downtown Brooklyn." Moreover, freedom itself is spawned by unfettered trade, from which people learn about individual liberty and rule of law. This pact abets tyranny, for as the Sun warns, it gives cover "to the world's monarchs, theocrats, and dictators to ban access to materials speaking of freedom and rights in the name of protecting their culture."
The agreement also corrodes political process: That is, it furthers the long-range transformation of world governance favored by those whom Hudson Institute fellow John Fonte calls "transnational progressives" (U.N. and other NGO international bureaucrats, activist officials and academics within nation-states, global corporate heads, et al.). In his aptly named National Interest essay "Democracy's Trojan Horse," Fonte shows how these elites, neither elected by nor accountable to any self-governing citizens, work in tandem to establish a "transnational regime."
This brave new world order is being established via "global governance," the adoption by organizations such as the U.N. of a vast overlay of political arrangements that transcend national borders, such as international agreements, rules, and laws. (One such arrangement currently being promoted by the U.N. and EU, similar in thrust to the cultural diversity pact, could result in the regulation and censorship of the U.S.-created Internet by foreign powers.)
The grand transnational project is fundamentally coercive, for its modus operandi is to bypass and to constrain - gradually to devitalize entirely - the national sovereignty of liberal democratic states. Indeed, the advance of transnational rule, as embodied in the adoption of this cultural diversity convention, could give rise to a new totalitarianism of unfathomable scope. Free people everywhere must reject this duplicitous pact. UNESCO bureaucrats and their cohort have no right to decide which cultural goods are worthy of acceptance, and which are alien and invasive; nor may they be permitted surreptitiously to subvert freedom and to co-opt the democratic processes within nation-states that ensure individual liberty.
Although the U.S. delegation steadfastly opposed this convention, it should have walked away from the conference when the treaty was approved, as recommended by the Heritage Foundation. In addition, America should now withdraw altogether from UNESCO, as it did once before in 1984. It is perverse for this country to donate the noose to its hangmen. Far better uses can be found for the many millions of dollars the U.S., as UNESCO's largest benefactor, has been pouring into the organization since the Bush Administration led America to rejoin it.
Thought police stalk the World Wide Web
The people who gave you the corruption of the oil-for-food program want to run the internet. The organisation that routinely puts such stellar international citizens as China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Sudan on its Human Rights Commission wants to manage the information superhighway. The United Nations wants to operate the World Wide Web. No, this is not a joke. Last week, the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society convened in Tunis to advance this goal. The ostensible purpose of the summit is to make information and communication technologies accessible to all citizens of planet Earth. That noble effort, however, has morphed into a subsidiary struggle to wrest oversight of the web from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, the non-profit group that renders the critical decisions that make the virtual world turn. The grievance of some nations is that although ICANN has an international advisory body, the US Government retains veto power over its decisions.
A historical note about why that is so: Four decades ago, the Pentagon called for the creation of a decentralised communications network that would allow it to maintain command and control in case of Soviet attack. To be robust enough to withstand nuclear war, the network needed to contain multiple nodes and connections so that if some locations and databases were destroyed, surviving locations would retain the ability to communicate and still possess the knowledge of the entire network. The decentralisation of knowledge and research across the Defence Department's ARPANET became the technological and philosophical framework for the internet. That is to say, the internet is an American creation. The US Government, however, does not today "control" the internet. The unmistakable trajectory of internet oversight under US leadership has been towards privatisation, with the Government increasingly shedding its pre-eminent role from the days of ARPANET.
Private industry makes every essential decision affecting the web today, from providing service to individual users to running the servers and making the connections that form the backbone of the internet. And then there is ICANN, the internet equivalent of a central processing unit, which approves suffixes for web addresses, maps uniform resource locators, or URLs, across internet addresses and maintains a global directory of website owners. Among the 21 members of ICANN's board of directors are citizens of Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States - hardly a sign of US domination. Meanwhile, the US Government has committed itself to completing the process of fully privatising ICANN. So what's the problem? Resentment of the United States and fear of the free flow of information.
Some members of the WSIS Working Group on Internet Governance who want to halt progress towards internet privatisation and place the web under the control of UN bureaucrats: China, Cuba, Iran, Saudi Arabia. Knowledge is power. Totalitarian systems are based on the concentration of power. The internet disseminates knowledge and decentralises power. If ever there was a weapon that threatened the existence of authoritarian regimes, it is the internet. The World Summit on the Information Society is a digital Trojan horse. Under the guise of making the internet more accessible to more people, the leaders of some of the world's most repressive regimes want to limit access and control information.
The system of internet oversight is far from perfect. More can and should be done to enhance international co-operation and create measures of public accountability for ICANN. Politicising the internet's oversight and creating bureaucratic governance where none now exists is, however, a monumental step in the wrong direction.
23 November, 2005
U.K.: WOLVERHAMPTION CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES RESCUED BY AN INDIAN
For years, the city's Christmas lights have spelled out the decidedly unfestive message 'Welcome' (in several languages, of course). But this year is different in Wolverhampton - tradition has made a comeback and the decorations have been switched on to reveal the words 'Happy Christmas'. And the about-turn is all thanks to the efforts of one Asian councillor. Elias Mattu met council officers and argued for the true meaning of Christmas to be re-incorporated into the £150,000 display.
The 46-year-old, who is a Punjabi Christian, said: "Some officials seemed to think that it might offend some minorities. "I pointed out that in India we have more than 500 religions. We have no problem getting on with minorities. "I don't know of a single minority in Britain who is offended by the mention of Christmas. Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus I've spoken to here all join in with it. It is patronising to suggest they're offended. "Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and by removing the word Christmas from the the lights I think it erodes Christian values. "I believe it was easier for me, as an Asian, to argue this case. I believe in multiculturalism and think all faiths should be accepted equally -but not at the expense of Christianity."
Wolverhampton had been one of many councils to abandon traditional celebrations for fear of offending non-Christians. Yesterday the Mail reported how council chiefs in Havant, Hampshire, have replaced their Christmas lights with a Festival of Lights. Last month, it was revealed how Lambeth Council in South London had started referring to Christmas lights as winter lights.
Mr Mattu said he hoped the rethink in Wolverhampton, where nearly a quarter of the population in non-Christian, would encourage others to follow suit. "They should come to their senses and realise they are ignoring Christian values and destroying part of this country's history," he said. Mr Mattu, whose father served in the British Army, came to England 38 years ago and said his earliest memories of this country were of seeing snow and Christmas lights. "It was wonderful - very cold but wonderful. I still think it's great to celebrate Christmas in style," he said.
Wolverhampton City Council last night denied it had bowed to pressure to reinstate the word Christmas in its lights and said angels and stars had featured in the previous displays. Council leader Roger Lawrence said: "We are very pleased with the positive response we have had to this year's Christmas lights. "Here in Wolverhampton the festive lights have always had a traditional theme and we have made that clearer than ever this Christmas." Another councillor, Jim Carpenter, said the lights were "an excellent departure from what is happening in other parts of the country". He added: "We are perhaps seeing the end of extreme political correctness, with Wolverhampton leading the way. "I speak to people from all communities and they are often aghast at what is being done, supposedly in their name."
NEDERLAND TASTES THE FRUIT OF MULTICULTURALISM
("Nederland" is what people who live in The Netherlands call their country)
A year after his [van Gogh's] murder, The Netherlands is a country transformed. Previously, only the Queen and Prime Minister had police protection, and ministers cycled to their ministries. Now, many politicians, writers and artists are considered to be in such danger that they have permanent armed guards and are driven around in bomb-proof armoured cars. The Interior Ministry has set up a special unit assessing death threats from Islamic extremists and providing protection squads. "In a democracy, strong opinion-leaders must be able to say what they want to say. Therefore, the Government will take the responsibility to protect them," a spokesman from the ministry said, refusing to divulge the number of people receiving protection.
In the parliament in The Hague, inside the airport-style security, two besuited bodyguards stand erect outside the office of Geert Wilders, Ali's political rival, checking closely anyone who has permission to enter. "I have been deluged with death threats," said the maverick right-wing MP, who has called for the deportation of Islamic extremists. Across town, police are investigating the shot fired at the window of Rita Verdonk, the Immigration Minister, who has become a hate figure among Muslim communities for introducing some of the strictest immigration laws in Europe, and insisting that Muslims should integrate.
Amsterdam councillor Ahmed Aboutaleb, a Dutch-Moroccan who has said that Moroccans who do not like The Netherlands should leave, is also under permanent protection. "He never gives interviews on that issue," a spokeswoman said. Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen has tried to build bridges with the Muslim community but, as the country's highest-profile Jew, he also needs 24-hour protection.
At Leiden University law school, professor Afshin Ellian, an Iranian refugee who has called for reform of Islam and even suggested that comedians should make jokes about it, is hustled through the electronically locked doors to his office by two bodyguards. "In The Netherlands, terrorists want to threaten not only the public ... they also want to kill public figures, such as artists, academics and politicians," he said. "It is not special in terms of Islam -- in Iran, it is normal to kill people who criticise Islam, as in Egypt and Iraq. It is legitimised by Islamic political theology, which says it is all right to kill someone if they are an enemy of Allah. But this is happening in Europe."
Academics and authorities in The Netherlands are trying to understand why, in their country, Islamic extremism has gone down the path of assassination, while in Britain and Spain it has produced bombings. The rise in the death threats started in 2002 when Pim Fortuyn, a flamboyant, gay, right-wing maverick, called for a halt to Islamic immigration. He complained that police did not take the death threats against him seriously. He was killed not by a Muslim, but by a left-wing activist who said he did it "for the Muslims". It was the first political killing in The Netherlands for three centuries and was seen as a one-off. But the murder of van Gogh two years later convinced people that the threat of political killing had become permanent.
A study by Frank Bovenkerk of the University of Utrecht confirmed the rise in death threats across the country, and their seriousness. "They are under real threat -- they would be killed without protection," he said. "We have a type of provocateur which is unprecedented in The Netherlands. They claim it is about freedom of speech, but it is about freedom of cursing." Even if the would-be assassins are foiled by the intelligence services and the protection squads, the death threats are already having some success in silencing criticism. "People are very afraid of saying things now," Professor Ellian said. "There is self-censorship."
22 November, 2005
Australia: Schools told 'don't ban Christmas'
Good to hear. I hope other States follow suit. (An Australian State Premier is broadly akin to a U.S. State Governor)
Every Victorian school and kindergarten has been officially told: don't ban Christmas celebrations. Premier Steve Bracks [a Lebanese] yesterday gave his official encouragement for nativity scenes, carols and other Christian traditions. Jingle Bells can ring in classrooms around the state again after several schools banned nativity scenes and carol singing last year for fear of offending non-Christian children. Mr Bracks told the Herald Sun the Government would send a message to every primary and secondary school reminding them not to ban Christmas. "All schools and kindergartens should be able to have nativity plays and Christian celebrations," Mr Bracks said. "Those who don't wish to participate don't have to, and those who wish to celebrate in their own way can do so. "But even those from other faiths, of course, accept Christian celebrations and the Government is keen to ensure there are no bans on any of these sorts of activities." Mr Bracks said he wanted to encourage tolerance of all faiths.
His intervention comes after several schools last year refused to stage Christmas celebrations. Some kindergartens and childcare centres also banned nativity scenes in favour of end-of-year parties with no mention of Christmas.
Mr Bracks said census figures showed Victoria was essentially a Christian society and Christmas traditions should be celebrated. The latest census figures show Australia-wide there are about 10.9 million Christians, 357,000 Buddhists, 280,000 Muslims and 84,000 people of Jewish faith.
Mr Bracks said he would today ask Premier and Cabinet department secretary Terry Moran to write to the Education Department to pass on his message to Victorian schools.
Religious leaders yesterday welcomed the move. Among them was the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne's Vicar General, Monsignor Les Tomlinson, who said bans on nativity scenes and Christian themes were political correctness gone crazy. In a world living with the constant threat of terrorism, Monsignor Tomlinson said tolerance and respect were needed more than ever. "The Christian message is so important. The message of compassion for the suffering of others, of tolerance, of respect, of pursuing peace through justice - they only enhance human society," he said.
Rabbinical Council of Victoria Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant strongly supported the Premier's move. "I believe it is vital that we teach our children to respect each other's right to have, practise, freely express and celebrate our own different religions and particularly when it comes to expression of religious beliefs and celebrations that promote goodwill amongst all people," Rabbi Kluwgant said.
The Islamic Council of Victoria could not be contacted yesterday, but Muslim leaders have criticised the promotion of a secular Christmas instead of religious celebrations as political correctness gone mad.
While Mr Bracks wants to see more Christmas cheer in schools, many councils across the city are abandoning traditional yuletide celebrations. Port Phillip Council is happy to play the role of Scrooge. It will spend just $3000 for a cherry picker to decorate a tree with fairy lights outside St Kilda Town Hall. Bayside City Council will dress up two pine trees at Dendy Park for its annual Carols in the Park. But chief executive officer Catherine Dale said the council had not bought any Christmas decorations to display in its municipality. Other councils are restricting decorations to shopping strips in an attempt to boost trading over the festive season. But in Maribyrnong, the council has decided to display new star decorations in its shopping precincts at a cost of $60,000. Chief executive officer Kerry Thompson said the star design was chosen because it was "simple, affordable and can be used in a number of design options and is recognised as a festive image".
The spirit of Christmas is alive in regional centres with Bass Coast Shire Council backing celebrations in all main townships. It will spend about $20,000 on banners and lights and will provide additional decorations to Cowes and Wonthaggi to provide "maximum impact and unify townships". In the historic towns of Stawell and St Arnaud, the Northern Grampians Shire Council will launch new, bright Christmas banners and decorations with a distinct Australian flair, designed by a local graphic artist.
HOW DID WE EVER SURVIVE BEFORE FOOD LABELLING?
The bizarre excesses of certain food labelling exercises have been subject to ridicule for some time. A friend of mine recently bought some goats' cheese that carried the warning 'Contains goats' milk' - a case in point. But if the UK government's Food Standards Agency (FSA) gets its way, the fad for daft food labels has only just begun.
On 16 November, the FSA announced that it has just completed its research into the colour-coding of food according to its levels of fat, saturates, sugar and salt, and has concluded that a 'Multiple Traffic Light' system is the way to go (1). If this goes ahead, consumers picking out their pizzas and ready-meals in supermarkets will be confronted with a brightly-coloured label on the front of the packaging advising how their proposed dinner scores on the healthy-eating chart. So a pizza, for example, might have a green light for saturates and sugar (good), and amber light for fat (don't make a habit of it) and a red light for salt (stop right there! Are you trying to poison your children?). And you thought a trip to the supermarket was wearing enough already.
What is behind this complicated colour-coding system for everyday foods? The FSA says it is about helping consumers make the choices they want to make. 'Consumers have told us that they would like to make healthier choices but find the current information confusing', said Deirdre Hutton, chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency. 'After carrying out rigorous and comprehensive research, we now have the makings of a system that will make it quicker and easier for people to do so.' Well, fine - but it seems pretty damned complicated to me. And it is far from clear whether the 2,600 people upon whom the FSA conducted its research really think that food traffic lights would make all the difference to their diets.
The FSA consulted about four possible 'signposting' schemes, of which the Multiple Traffic Light system was one. Another was a 'simple' traffic light system, where green meant healthy, amber meant okay and red meant unhealthy. Further options were a Colour Guideline Daily Amount (CGDA), listing the amount of fat, saturates, sugar and salt per serving against the Guildeline Daily Amount of that ingredient; and a monochrome version of this CGDA.
The option 'none of the above' does not seem to have been given. And when it came to which of those four limited choices the guinea pigs actually preferred, the majority opted for the Colour Guideline Daily Amount. But the FSA, in its infinite wisdom, has rejected this choice because one third of respondents from lower socio-economic and ethnic minority groups were apparently unable to use it to identify whether a food had high, medium or low levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.
Given that it is the eating habits of the poor that most bother the government, it couldn't just go with what most people wanted, if this meant failing to capture the ignorant oiks in the all-pervasive healthy eating message. And as Deirdre Hutton explained, the FSA is, in fact, less interested in making it easier for people to make their choices than in encouraging them to make the right choices. 'What we choose to eat is a personal matter, but we want to help people make informed choices for themselves about the content of their food', she said - making sure people know that it's red for STOP, and that they jump the lights at their peril. Simplistic? Very. Patronising? Oh yes.
However, the biggest problem with the forward march of the food traffic-light system is the way it seeks to package food in terms of risk, rather than nutrition. We are used to the food industry's attempts to brand its products as 'good' for you - for your heart, your energy levels, your cholesterol intake - and we tend to take these with a pinch of salt (no pun intended). But the traffic-light system seeks to categorise food according to how bad it is for you. Red means danger, and the best that can be said for the green-light products is that they are not as bad for you as the red ones. This is an unhealthy, and rather miserable, approach to the food we eat on an everyday level. In reality, food does not kill us, but keeps us alive. The FSA should remember that, before it starts plastering everything with warning labels and treating fat, salt and sugar like some kind of toxin.
And we should remember that the premise of this entire government-sponsored healthy eating crusade is founded on nothing more than prejudice. For all the authorities' simplistic prescriptions about eating five fruit and veg a day or banning chips in schools, there is no evidence supporting the contention that the precise foods we eat make a major difference to our health. It is telling that one of the FSA's proposed colour-coding schemes, the 'simple traffic lights' that coded foods as simply healthy, okay or unhealthy, was rejected as 'too basic' - whereas in fact, as any nutritionist or person with basic common sense could tell you, it's just wrong. The fact that a food is low in salt, sugar, and fat does not automatically make it 'healthy', and the consumption of foods high in fat, sugar or salt as part of a normal diet will not make you ill. (NB: 'Normal' does not mean eating a super-size burger and chips every day.) To encourage people to speculate increasingly about whether this or that particular food is good or bad for you, particularly when it comes to children, is a recipe for increasing our neurotic obsession with food.
The FSA has now launched a 12-week public consultation about exactly which foods should be signposted, and where on the packet this signposting should appear. It would be more useful if such a consultation asked people whether it is useful for a government to promote a widespread fear of food, and to cajole people into filling their shopping trolleys according to the inflexible orthodoxy of 'healthy eating'.
21 November, 2005
A WORLD WAR 2 VET SPEAKS ON THE LOSSES CAUSED BY PC TYRANNY
Political correctness is not easily definable except by one's own morality, common sense and love of country. It is a nebulous, ethereal, slippery, unsubstantial commodity attacking the very core of the American existence. It has everything to do with disrupting the American culture and value system and constantly moving against the grain. You can no longer do the "right thing." The moral and proper lessons of our history have become perverted and no longer prevail. The Socialist/Communist crowd, the Democratists, have made the dose much more palatable for the masses by altering the main thrust of educative Marxism from economics into cultural terms.
Throughout our history we have mainly operated with two main parties. There has always been political differences with each party feeling that it is the best one for running the country...and when the battle ended, they shook hands and went back to determining which were the fastest ways to fleece the proletariat. It is now different and much more serious. The present differences stem not from political motivation but from ideological idolatry. How best to turn this nation into one led by a strong federal, centralized government and call it what you will. In our history we have never had so much venom and hate spewing from the mouths of these leftists. There is no longer fear of repercussion from an apathetic, now well conditioned, civically ignorant and apathetic populace.
We see American tradition and values being flouted and trampled on in our lives and in the courts on a daily basis. The incremental repression of our values, freedoms, rights and liberties are ever in motion. To wit: Political correctness is political corruptness legalized. When the aid bill for the victims of Katrina was passed there were billions added as pork for all the congressmen. No morality, no contrition, no remorse, just money to be taken over the heads of victims. When one Senator was asked as to why this was being done he stated with a laugh, "It has to be for this is the one sure way we have for getting re-elected. He is representative of the same group which normally is lifeless, colorless, listless, clueless and usually paralyzed by fear of doing the wrong thing which might hurt its re-election possibilities. However, when it comes to a question of money they wheel and deal with unaccustomed alacrity.
Political correctness has legitimized tyrannical behavior. The Leftists used the college campuses as breeding ground by indoctrinating idealistic and hapless youth. No one other than a Liberal was allowed to speak without disruption. With the University's blessings, of course.
One leftist organization in Michigan did everything in its power to keep from the state ballot a proposal which would allow any person regardless of race, gender, creed or whatever to have equal treatment in the University Admissions process. Its best efforts did nothing more than delay the ballot proposal one year. Its tyrannical behavior, of which it boasted, was nothing more than a symptom of the political correctness in which we are presently enveloped and condoned in every facet of our lives including the Halls of Higher Learning. On the other side of the coin we have teachers and professors who cannot speak freely out of fear of reprisal. Thus inadvertently committing themselves to the sin of omission. A form of communicative suppression, so to speak.
In the courts, the politically correct judiciary who have infiltrated the system over the years have not been without shame in destroying the very core of our being as a nation. They did take Constitution 101 in Law School but only for the opportunity of shredding it. Teachers and Professors are unabashedly indoctrinating our youth without fear of reprisal. In the name of freedom of speech. Why would we allow a Ward Churchill to vomit hatred of America in the classroom and a Kamau Kambon to address college students with the colloquy that white people want to kill us but at the same time not allow an individual to yell fire in a crowded theater? This is political correctness in its finest hour.
The Islamic schools are growing like topsy throughout the country. Some fear that they are teaching hatred of our country. Why worry -- this has been and is being done in American schools already. We're not doing anything about it so why be concerned about the Islamic schools? It is not politically correct or fashionable to confront, attack or be too concerned with enemies of our country. I would call this the tyranny of the minority. Some just call it unmitigated idiocy.
The herd syndrome has conditioned us. Once a nation of fiercely independent people we have now been conditioned to dependency. Our defense against political correctness is as inept as the still used useless prevent defense in football. We loosen our defenses near the end of the game and wonder why all of a sudden the quarterback is able to gobble up so much yardage.
Political correctness has infiltrated our military to a debilitating dimension. We must give thanks to a defense department now fossilized which puts our troopers at risk since it has inculcated the fear of court martial if any soldier shoots first. When our men and women are faced with savages who hide behind women and children and who dress themselves in garb other than that of a warrior we must give them first crack at us. Bringing a political agenda unto the battlefield where the main concern is how others view us instead of allowing our soldiers the maximum protection is the acme of depravity in the utilization of proper military tactics and strategy in warfare.
At the close of the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, Ben Franklin was asked if the representatives present had formed a Republic or a Monarchy. He replied, "A Republic if we can keep it."
TWO FOOD PANICS DEBUNKED
Bad diets costing the British taxpayer billions?
Panic: 'NHS picks up 6 billion pounds a year bill for our bad diet', reports today's Daily Telegraph. Researchers working in the British Heart Foundation (BHF)'s Health Promotion Group at Oxford University brought together figures on NHS costs broken down by disease, and compared them with figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which attribute percentages of each disease by cause. The main claim is that 'food-related ill health is responsible for about 10 per cent of morbidity and mortality in the UK and costs the NHS about 6 billion pounds annually'.
Don't panic: Even the researchers accept that their results are 'crude estimates', although they think they are probably reasonable. They are, nonetheless, estimates based on other estimates.
The headline figure sounds incredible until you realise that the NHS spent around 70 billion pounds in 2002, increasing to around 88 billion pounds in the current financial year. So while 6 billion pounds seems like a lot of money, it actually reflects the huge sums now spent on healthcare as much as it might be an indictment of our diets.
The figures still need to be treated with caution. They are based on WHO figures suggesting that diet contributes about 15 per cent of all life-years lost to death and disability. However, such estimates are prone to re-evaluation, as the embarrassingly massive downward revision in US obesity-related deaths earlier this year demonstrated. US health authorities produced a figure of 400,000 obesity-related deaths in 2004, but now the accepted figure is in the region of 75,000.
It's also worth noting that the category of '15 per cent' who die of 'bad diet' includes not just those who are overweight and obese (6.9 per cent) but also those who have a low fruit and vegetable intake (2.3 per cent) and consume a lot of saturated fats (6.4 per cent). Yet the links between ill-health and all three of these factors is much more controversial than is suggested by such bald estimates. All estimates of deaths from any lifestyle cause (smoking, eating, alcohol and so on) are produced by extrapolating risk factors from small studies, each with their own methodological problems, to whole populations. There is plenty of room for error in such an exercise.
Above all, it is laughable to suggest that all this death and illness would disappear if we all just switched to eating fruit and salads and avoided burger bars. But such news reports help groups like the British Heart Foundation to bang the drum in favour of greater levels of spending on their particular concerns.
The wickedness of salt
Panic: A report published this week suggests that people in Britain consume too much salt, and that reductions in salt intake could cause a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease. Why 6g? A Summary of the Scientific Evidence for the Salt Intake Target, produced by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), argues that a reduction in salt intake from current average levels of about 9.5g per day to the government's 6g per day target would lead to a predicted 13 per cent reduction in stroke and a 10 per cent reduction in coronary heart disease.
One of the report's authors, Dr Susan Jebb of the MRC, said: 'It is important for people to understand the links between salt and high blood pressure and to recognise the importance of reducing salt intake as part of broader lifestyle changes to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.'
Don't panic: While a link between salt intake and cardiovascular disease seems plausible, there is little direct evidence to support this report's assertion. High blood pressure is a well-known risk factor for heart disease and strokes. Reducing salt intake seems to lower blood pressure for many people, although for some people it has no effect whatsoever - and for a few, leads to an increase in blood pressure.
However, little research has been done into the direct effect of salt intake on the risk of ill health. What we do know is that the human body is very adept at regulating salt levels in the blood so that excess salt is excreted. This capacity to adjust salt levels has been crucial to our ability to cope with changes in temperature and diet, and our ability to adapt to living in a very wide range of different climates. It seems that the government and medical researchers would prefer to downplay this sophisticated mechanism in favour of salt regulation by guideline.
Moreover, blanket advice to cut salt intake may even cause harm. Sudden changes in temperature, due to a heatwave, exercise or travel to a hot country, can cause those accustomed to milder temperatures to suffer sodium deficiency. The current obsession with cutting salt intake may increase this risk.
The data linking salt intake with health is contradictory - and if there is a positive benefit, it is likely to be small. Reducing salt may help the seriously hypertense, for whom any means of reducing blood pressure is beneficial. For the rest of us, reducing salt in our diet is more likely to lead to bland food than better health.
20 November, 2005
THE DANGEROUS SCARE ABOUT CHOLESTEROL
"If you eat too much cholesterol, or saturated fat, your blood cholesterol will rise to dangerous levels. Excess cholesterol will then seep through your artery walls causing thickenings (plaques), which will eventually block blood flow in vital arteries, resulting in heart attacks and strokes.... Scientific hypotheses don't get much simpler than this: the cholesterol, or diet-heart, hypothesis, which has broken free from the ivory towers of academia to impact with massive force on society. It has driven a widespread change in the type of food we are told to eat, and consequently the food that lines the supermarket shelves. Many people view bacon and eggs as a dangerous killer, butter is shunned, and a multi-billion pound industry has sprung up providing 'healthy' low-fat alternatives.
However, all is not what it seems. The cholesterol hypothesis can be likened to a cathedral built on a bog. Rather than admit they made a horrible mistake and let it sink, the builders decided to try and keep the cathedral afloat at all costs. Each time a crack appeared, a new buttress was built. Then further buttresses were built to support the original buttresses. Although direct contradictions to the cholesterol hypothesis repeatedly appear, nobody dares to say 'okay, this isn't working, time to build again from scratch'. That decision has become just too painful, especially now that massive industries, Nobel prizes, and glittering scientific careers, have grown on the back of the cholesterol hypothesis. The statin market alone is worth more than 20 billion pounds each year.
In reality, cracks in the hypothesis appeared right from the very start. The first of these was the stark observation that cholesterol in the diet has no effect on cholesterol levels in the bloodstream: 'There's no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. And we've known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn't matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.' Ancel Keys PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota 1997.
A bit of a blow to a cholesterol hypothesis, you might think, to find that dietary cholesterol has no effect on blood cholesterol levels. However, as everyone was by then fully convinced that something rich and 'fatty' in the diet was the primary cause of heart disease, nobody was willing to let go.
So the hypothesis quietly altered, from cholesterol in the diet to saturated fat in the diet - or a bit of both. As if cholesterol and saturated fat are similar things. In reality, this could hardly be further from the truth. Saturated fat and cholesterol have completely different functions in the body, and they have very different chemical structures....
It is true that Ancel Keys appeared to have proven the link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease, but when it came to the major interventional trials, confirmation proved elusive. The MR-FIT trial in the USA was the most determined effort to prove the case. This was a massive study in which over 350,000 men at high risk of heart disease were recruited. In one set of participants, cholesterol consumption was cut by 42 percent, saturated fat consumption by 28 percent and total calories by 21 percent. This should have made a noticeable dent in heart disease rates.
But nothing happened. The originators of the MR-FIT trials refer to the results as 'disappointing', and say in their conclusions: 'The overall results do not show a beneficial effect on Coronary Heart Disease or total mortality from this multifactor intervention.'
In fact, no clinical trial on reducing saturated fat intake has ever shown a reduction in heart disease. Some have shown the exact opposite: 'As multiple interventions against risk factors for coronary heart disease in middle aged men at only moderate risk seem to have failed to reduce both morbidity and mortality such interventions become increasingly difficult to justify. This runs counter to the recommendations of many national and international advisory bodies which must now take the recent findings from Finland into consideration. Not to do so may be ethically unacceptable.' Professor Michael Oliver, British Medical Journal 1991
This quote followed a disturbing trial involving Finnish businessmen. In a 10-year follow-up to the original five-year trial, it was found that those men who continued to follow a low saturated fat diet were twice as likely to die of heart disease as those who didn't.
It is not as if this was one negative to set against a whole series of positive trials. In 1998, the Danish doctor Uffe Ravnskov looked at a broader selection of trials: 'The crucial test is the controlled, randomised trial. Eight such trials using diet as the only treatment has been performed but neither the number of fatal or non-fatal heart attacks was reduced.' As Ravnskov makes clear, no trial has ever demonstrated benefits from reducing dietary saturated fat.
Much more here
It seems almost on a weekly basis that there is another event in the news that shows America is getting more and more politically correct to the point that nobody can say or do anything without offending someone. The latest example of this has been the pink locker room debate from the University of Iowa.
Since 1980, Iowa has painted their visiting football locker rooms pink at the request of Head Coach Hayden Fry, a psychology major, who read that pink has a pacifying effect. A mood that is less than ideal for a group of men preparing to play the highly emotional and aggressive sport of football.
Two Iowa law professors, Erin Buzuvis and Jill Gaulding, of course see it differently. Buzuvis and Gaulding have made it their personal vendetta to defend the well being of women and gays by declaring the color pink officially theirs.
This of course is news to the manufactures of Pepto-Bismol, who had no idea that they were saying that only women, gays and "sissy girlie men" use their medicine for stomach aches. I guess real men, like myself, tough out our stomach aches.
"The pink locker room is a subtle way of painting the words 'sissy,' 'girlie man' . . . on the walls," Buzuvis claims. From what I have read about her and seen on TV, it is a safe assumption that Buzuvis knows as much about football, specifically football in the state of Iowa, as I do about nanotechnology. So she obviously doesn't realize that even if the whole purpose of putting the pink walls up were to call the visitors "girls" or "queer," it still doesn't matter because the whole purpose is to create a distraction.
There are two ways to go about this issue as a visiting team, ignore it or allow it to bother you; it's really a win-win situation for Iowa. If a team, such as the University of Colorado, takes time to put construction paper over the walls, then that is time they are not spending developing a game plan. Either way, advantage Iowa or advantage nobody.
Buzuvis and Gaulding, who appear to be on the look out for anything that could possibly be offensive, don't even think of this, instead they jump off the handle and scream about political correctness. This is a situation that is becoming more and more prevalent in America. Groups of people, be it by gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any number of distinguishing characteristics are so concerned about being offended that they disregard common sense. Bottom line, the word pink does not equal gay or women oppression.
In this case, Buzuvis and Gaulding want the locker room repainted to stop sending messages that perpetuate offensive stereotypes about women and homosexuality, all from a color. The second grade equivalent of this would be a little boy running home to their mom crying "mommy, mommy, Johnny made fun of me by giving me a pink shirt. He thinks I'm a girl."
It's ridiculous that grown educated individuals are reverting to this childish thought structure. Colors are not owned by anyone or any group, it is just a color. These individuals need to just grow up and stop worrying so much about what everyone else is thinking. Not everybody is out trying to poke fun at someone. And if something is said that could be offensive, have a little backbone and just move on. It isn't the end of the world if somebody is having fun by painting a locker room pink; their motivation is simply to get a psychological edge. Buzuvis and Gaulding need to grow up and stop worrying about it. I would be tickled gay if they did.
19 November, 2005
SWISS IDIOCY ABOUT SANTA CLAUS
Swiss Santa Clauses have been banned from sitting children on their laps because of the risk that they might be accused of paedophilia. The Society of St Nicholases issued the ruling to its 100 professional members after parents expressed concern about close contact between their children and the men. In Switzerland, as in much of mainland Europe, it is St Nicholas, rather than Father Christmas, who delivers presents to children's homes.
"Samiklaus," as he is known in Swiss German, turns up on Dec 6 rather than the night of the 24th. Large groups of St Nicholases parade through the streets that day before visiting children. They traditionally sit them on their laps before asking if they have been well-behaved. "We want to counteract any possible accusations of paedophilia involving our members," the Society of St Nicholas said in a statement. "We regret having to do this, but the public has become very sensitive about child abuse."
Walter Furrer, president of Zurich's Society of Nicholases, said the rule had been introduced after a flurry of calls to the society from parents. "This measure is above all to protect our Nicholases," he said, adding that the decision had provoked heated debate in the usually sedate world of Swiss Santa Clauses.
ANGLICANS REVOLT AGAINST HOMOSEXUAL CLERGY
Some Anglicans still take Bible teachings seriously
Nearly half of the Church of England's top bishops have strongly criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for his views on gay clergy. Seventeen archbishops signed a letter urging him to act against "unrepented sexual immorality" in the Church.
It was published hours after Dr Rowan Williams called for reconciliation in a speech to the General Synod in London. Dr Williams had warned against tensions in the Church over homosexuality and the ordination of women priests.
The Times newspaper reported that the opposition came from "Global South" primates headed by the ultra-conservative Nigerian archbishop, Dr Peter Akinola. The letter, published on the Global South Anglican website on Wednesday night, urged Dr Williams to rethink his personal liberal views on homosexuality, it reported. The letter said his "personal dissent" from the consensus of the wider Church that "same-sex sex is unacceptable" had stopped him from taking necessary steps to confront the US and Canadian churches. The archbishops wrote: "The essence of libertinism is the severing of the grace of Christ from His moral commandments", it said. They said they believed this "was at the heart of our present divisions".
They also said they were troubled by Dr William's reluctance to challenge the US Episcopal Church and the Canadian Anglican Church to call for the cessation of ordinations of active homosexuals and of same-sex blessings. The archbishops demanded he should issue these churches with a warning and threaten them with exclusion from the bishops' 10-yearly gathering, the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Times reported. The letter also said the Church of England should have sought exemption from the Civil Partnership Act, which comes into force next month and will allow gay couples to legally register their relationships.
Dr Williams had told synod members they should beware of "poisoning the wells" and should conduct their debates without hostility. He had urged opponents in the gay debate to communicate and pray with each other to resolve divisions.
18 November, 2005
NUTTY BRITISH TOWN DOWNGRADES CHRISTMAS
As the festive season approaches, towns dust off the Christmas lights and prepare to twinkle. In Havant, they haven't. They've decided to have a Festival of Lights [which is a Hindu festival -- "Diwali"] instead, to avoid offending non-Christians. And they're getting rid of Father Christmas and his grotto while they're at it. After a decade in the Hampshire town's Meridian shopping centre, bosses there have evicted him for being too 'tired' and a fire hazard to boot.
Yesterday, the decision to drop Christmas lights was greeted with amazement in a borough where 99.1 per cent of residents are white. Even the leader of Tory-run Havant Borough Council branded it ridiculous. Council leader David Gillett said: "It's Christmas and these are Christmas lights. I don't see any sense in denying this. I can't for the life of me see why people would be offended by this and, to be honest, I don't think anyone is. "It's just a case of political correctness gone absolutely barmy."
The lights cost more than 5,000 pounds and have been paid for by the council and the Havant Business Group, who between them have decided to drop Christmas from the title. The festival will begin on December 2 with a torch-lit procession of schoolchildren through the town centre and a fireworks display.
A Christmas tree will be on display with shoppers invited to join carol singing and visit a Christmas market. Russell Crocker, manager at Boots and deputy chairman of the Havant Business Group, said: "There is an issue about overdoing political correctness here but we are not trying to cancel Christmas. "We want this to be a big boost for the town that will include as many people as possible."
But resident Pushpar Sanderscorr, 47, a Hindu, said there was nothing wrong with Christmas lights in the town. "It is not offensive, quite the opposite. We should celebrate all cultures, including Christian." John Willis, who runs a fruit and vegetable shop in Havant, said the town had failed its customers. "Banning Santa's grotto and dropping the word Christmas is ludicrous. It will make for a miserable Christmas in Havant," he said.
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: "This sounds like a case of a local council taking it upon itself to decide what is offensive, rather than consult the community it serves. "If the council took the trouble to ask local people what they thought, they would find that people of all faiths do not have a problem with this."
A council spokesman said the festival was the first part of an initiative to "promote the town centre in winter and summer months". He added: "The title Festival of Light reflects the fact that the event will provide a spectacular illuminated display".
ANOTHER DENIAL OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
You crash your car and it's your fault, right? Not if you are an Hispanic in California! Then it always the fault of someone else or something someone else is responsible for -- or so we are led to believe here:
"Forest workers endure miserable working conditions and wage exploitation. They return to their native countries with hopes of riches dashed. And too often, they return in coffins. The leading killer: Van crashes. The No. 1 cause of death among pineros is van accidents, the destructive byproducts of fatigue, poorly maintained vehicles, lax regulations and workers hungry for jobs".
We're All Victims Now
Critics have noticed that nobody is responsible for anything anymore, since almost everyone is a victim. Here are the top 10 victim stories of 2005:
Children of witches are victimized by Halloween.
Coming to class dressed as a witch on Halloween is a violation of "equitable schools policies," according to the Toronto district school board. The board said it feared "traumatic shock" if children treat "the Christian sexist demonization of pagan religious beliefs as 'fun.' "
British Muslims are victimized by Piglet and piggy banks.
Novelty pig calendars, toys, and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet have been banned in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, out of deference to Muslim sensibilities.
Students are victimized by the disappearance of low weekend prices in bars.
Pressured by the University of Wisconsin and a federal campaign against binge drinking, 24 bars near the Madison campus agreed to end cut-rate weekend prices. Three students and a Minneapolis law firm failed to convince a Wisconsin circuit judge that this represented conspiracy and price fixing. But they are suing again in federal court. Legal costs to the bar owners so far: $250,000.
Hit-and-run victim offends police.
A woman struck by a car while standing on a sidewalk in northern England ran afoul of police when she described the errant driver as "fat." "I was given a frosty look and told . . . I could have said lardy, porky, or podgy," said Mary Magilton, 54. "I don't think she was severely reprimanded," said a police spokesman, citing a firm policy of "appropriate language" in police reports.
Fired CBS employee is victimized by Viacom, CBS, vicious bloggers, the panel that investigated her, and a "McCarthyite" panel member who asked if she is a liberal.
Mary Mapes complained last week that people were saying mean things about her and the discredited 60 Minutes II segment she produced about President Bush's military service. She felt "extremely battered" by "having my head kicked around a soccer stadium by much of the western world." No apology, though. For unknown reasons, Mapes's new book is titled Truth and Duty rather than I Messed Up Big Time and I'm Sorry.
Atheists are victimized by religious people.
"The McCarthy era is the last time this climate existed," said beleaguered California atheist Stuart Bechman. The Los Angeles Times said nonbelievers feel stress when a major leaguer points skyward after a hit or when an actor thanks God after winning an Oscar. Some join atheist groups anonymously to avoid harassment. Still, atheist organizations are lobbying in Washington and hope to have at least one presidential candidate court their votes in 2008. Thank God.
Redheads are victimized by cruel jokes and slurs.
New Zealanders with red or ginger hair have organized against hair-color bigotry, founding groups such as the Ginger Revolution and Redheads United. Casual slurs like "gingernuts" cause a lot of hurt, so carrot-topped liberationists want to see a "Love Your Ginger Neighbor" campaign and perhaps a "Be Kind to Gingas Week." Who knows? Maybe even a Redheaded History Month. Chris Irwin, who filed an official complaint last year against a TV ad that made fun of redheads, says red hair color is "part of who I am, and I'm proud of it--as hard as that is in today's society."
Antihooker prejudice fought in Europe.
"Sex workers," the current euphemism for prostitutes, strippers, and lap-dancers, are organizing to end discrimination against their profession. Camille Cabral spoke in Brussels on behalf of the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe. Wearing pink stickers reading "Sluts Unite" and "Whore Power," she called for an end to the stigma associated with paid sexual service.
New Orleans school-bus failure was Bush's fault--maybe Clinton's too.
Why didn't the city use all those empty buses to drive poor people to safety as Hurricane Katrina approached? Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu explained on Fox News: "Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane . . . it's because this administration and administrations before them do not understand the difficulties . . . In other words, [the Bush] administration did not believe in mass transit."
Public victimized by kitchen-utensil violence.
Doctors writing in the British Medical Journal called for a ban on the sale of long, pointed kitchen knives. Some say the knives are not necessary in food preparation and cited 10 chefs who agreed. Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is unimpressed. "Can sharp-stick control be far behind?" he asked.
17 November, 2005
British Labour party Member of Parliament hits back in race crime row
Report from here
An Oldham MP has defended his claims that racist attacks by Asians on white victims were being "ignored". Phil Woolas, a government whip, also angrily denied he was trying to attract votes from British National Party supporters in a town that has been troubled by race problems. But one senior Labour Party member, Shahid Malik, slammed the remarks as "irresponsible and disturbing". Mr Woolas, whose Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency was the scene of race riots in the summer of 2001, has written to the Commission for Racial Equality claiming that race relations and community confidence are being damaged by the refusal of politicians to condemn black and Asian racism towards white people.
In a letter to Trevor Phillips, the new chairman of the CRE, Mr Woolas says: "Politicians across the party divide have failed to be seen to condemn violent racist attacks against white people as strongly or forcibly as such attacks against Asian and black people."
Mr Malik, the only ethnic minority member of Labour's National Executive Committee and a former commissioner on the CRE, said the comments were "absolute nonsense" and would allow organisations such as the BNP to hijack them. "All right-minded people condemn racism, be it black on white, Asian on black or white on Asian. Mr Woolas has no basis for his view and is clearly out of line with Labour Party thinking," said Mr Malik.
But Mr Woolas today hit back, saying it was "cynical" to suggest he was talking tough to attract BNP votes. He said: "I'm trying to have a serious debate about how we ensure our multi-cultural society works. I believe the BNP is a threat. "If we can show there is an even-handed approach, recognising, of course, that the bulk of attacks are against ethnic minorities, everybody will benefit and the BNP will be the losers." He said there had been a series of "nasty and sinister" attacks against white people in Oldham where the motive was racial. "I'm not saying that racist attacks on whites are being ignored but that it is perceived they are not being taken seriously enough. "We're well aware of the problems in Oldham and I'm trying to build consent for a multi-cultural society and community. To do that we have to be seen to be even-handed - at the moment we're not."
MORE RACIST ASSUMPTIONS FROM THE LEFT
Apparently it is only blacks who object to homosexual marriage on religious grounds -- or so implies the Leftist Houston Chronicle:
"The hopes of gay rights advocates to stop the addition of a ban on same-sex marriage to the Texas Constitution ended last Tuesday. Texas voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 2, the constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Among Harris County residents who cast a vote on the issue, 72 percent favored the ban. Across Texas, 76 percent of voters approved......
Inner city black voters in Harris County, many of whom have long experience with the denial of civil rights, favored the marriage amendment by an even higher majority than the general Harris County voting population. Black discomfort with homosexual marriage is rooted less in conscious discrimination than in religious belief, but support for the amendment brought blacks into incongruous accord with members of the Ku Klux Klan, whose members rallied in Austin in support of Proposition 2".
Shut up and look pretty
Are women making themselves sex objects because they're desperate to be housewives? Deborah Hope looks at a new book that argues feminism is dead
"The feminist movement was a cruel hoax that has left successful women undesirable, unloved and in the lurch. The result is a return to 1950s values and dating rituals with a younger generation of women aspiring to a place in the kitchen rather than in the cabinet. This is the contentious message of Are Men Necessary?, a new book by caustic New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, due for release in Australia in February, which has provoked ferocious debate on whether feminism is dead.
According to the Pulitzer prize-winner known as the flame-haired flamethrower, the triumph of feminism lasted "a nanosecond" while the backlash has lasted four decades. "Narcissism has trumped feminism. Women used to demand equality. Now they demand Botox," she wrote in reply to questions from readers after The New York Times Magazine published extracts of her book, which is subtitled When Sexes Collide. In what one female critic scathingly declared the world's biggest personal ad, the single, never-married, fiftysomething Dowd takes stock of the battle of the sexes 40 years after the launch of women's liberation and concludes that whether you're talking about the situation room or the bedroom, powerful women scare off men.
Coming from a family of Irish domestics and proud of succeeding in a high-powered job, Dowd describes as odd her discovery that in a mating zoo in which men tend to dumb down when it comes to choosing a partner, being a maid would have enhanced her chances of marriage. "If there's one thing men fear," she writes, "it is women who use their critical faculties." A Broadway producer's confession at a party that he had wanted to ask her out but was too intimidated by her high-profile job, a colleague phoning after winning a Pulitzer to complain that now she would never get a date; it's all evidence, according to Dowd, that everything women are doing to advance themselves in the boardroom may be "sabotaging their chances in the bedroom". More convincingly, she cites research finding that nearly half of US female executives earning $US100,000 ($137,000) or more are childless, compared with less than one-fifth of male executives.
She fears the unhealthy new ethos in the retro world of 2005 is "a woman needs a career like a fish needs a bicycle". "I knew things were changing," Dowd says, "because a succession of my girlfriends had called, sounding sheepish, to ask if they could borrow my out-of-print copy of How to Catch and Hold a Man."
Some time in the '60s, flirting had gone out of fashion along with "ironing boards, make-up and the idea that men needed to be trapped or landed". Unfortunately, history has shown this to be "a misguided notion". Now women desperate to get into the marriage market are brushing up on how to play hard to get and other "venerable tricks of the trade" laid down in the 1995 dating etiquette bible The Rules. "Even if you are the head of your own company, when you are with a man you like, be quiet and mysterious, act ladylike, cross your legs and smile," it advises.
Forget going Dutch and using the title Ms, Dowd says. Among women in their 20s these are "archaic feminist relics" with the same status as Birkenstocks and Betty Friedan, whose 1963 tome The Feminine Mystique portrayed domestic life as a "comfortable concentration camp" in which women lose their identities and turn into "anonymous biological robots in a docile mass". Nowadays young women "want to be Mrs Anonymous Biological Robot in a Docile Mass", Dowd claims. "They dream of being rescued; to flirt, to shop, to stay home and be taken care of. They shop for 'Stepford Fashions' [a reference to the influence of the movie remake The Stepford Wives] and spend their days in the gym trying for 'Wisteria Lane waistlines'."
Dowd had assumed feminism would deliver a more "flexible and capacious notion of beauty". Instead, the ideal of feminine beauty has become even more rigid and unnatural, "as more and more women embrace Botox and implants and stretch and protrude to extreme proportions to satisfy male desires". Feminism's message was don't be a sex object. Today's message is diametrically opposite: "Be a sex object."
The fur was already flying when Are Men Necessary? hit US shelves on Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal's "A stinker" verdict set the tone for the phalanx of outraged columnists and bloggers who lined up to accuse Dowd of hypocrisy, bitterness, elitism, shallowness, contempt for men, dubious research, faux social science, inaccurate analysis of feminism's success, being menopausal and needing to get out more. American author Katie Roiphe spits out her response in the online journal Slate in an article headed "Is Maureen Dowd necessary?". Dowd's alarmist portrayal of younger women such as Roiphe as wannabe housewives and yummy mummies obsessed with beauty and ensnaring a man, "renders us unrecognisable", she writes. Rather than describing generation Y, she says, sticking in the knife, "Dowd's most compelling example of this rarefied, lonely demographic of woman too successful for love is herself".
"Yes, Maureen Dowd is necessary," Rebecca Traister jumps in on Salon.com this week. Far from being a feminism denier, "Dowd, the only female [opinion] columnist at the most powerful newspaper in the world, is the embodiment of its triumphs, and she knows it." Are Men Necessary? may be intermittently sloppy, crass and narrow, but she has nonetheless kicked off a conversation "we are desperate to have" on unpleasant questions such as "Is feminism dead? Do men have trouble with powerful women? Why, decades after a feminist movement that was supposed to liberate us from constrictive physical ideals, are women hacking up their faces and inflating their breasts?""
In her embittered way, Dowd is right. Relationships between the sexes remain important to both sexes and, in their hate and fury, feminists often seem to have completely overlooked that. So both men and women continue to go to great lengths to please one-another. And that IS a failure of feminism -- in that feminism has always condemned efforts by women to please men (but not vice versa, strangely enough). As far as men not liking materially successful women goes, Dowd also has a point to a degree. Sex roles are NOT completely chosen. They are to a considerable degree hard-wired -- genetically inherited from our prehistoric past -- and what we have inherited is the unconscious expectation that men provide most of the food and protection while the women stay at home to care for children. The career woman just does not fit that inherited mental mould -- so sadly for her she is unlikely to be seen as the "right" partner.
16 November, 2005
INCORRECT TO PICK BALES OF COTTON?
"China Montgomery simply wants to sing. It is her first love, not including math and Barbie dolls. But when the Anderson Middle School student showed her parents the lyrics to a song her school choir is scheduled to sing in a concert Wednesday, they were appalled. The title: "Pick a Bale of Cotton." To China's parents, the song glorifies slavery in a shameful era of U.S. history. It is called an "American folk song" on the music sheet the children are learning. Greg Montgomery, China's father, is African-American. He appealed to everyone from the school's principal to the superintendent of the Berkley School District to pull the song from the concert. The school is mostly white.
There are several versions of the song, including at least one with a racial slur repeated twice in one verse. The slur does not appear in the version the 30 choir students -- six of them African-American -- were asked to sing. When Montgomery's pleas to pull the song from the concert were met with what he described as resistance, he decided to remove his daughter, 11, from the concert. "We just buried Mother Parks, and this is happening only a few weeks later," he said. "It's mind-boggling that people don't understand sensitive issues. "When I told my 81-year-old Aunt Minnie Ridout, she told me to tell the school administrators to come see her back," Montgomery said. Her back is still affected by the countless hours she spent bending to pick cotton as a girl, he said. "She said she was not jumping around and singing while she was picking cotton in Alabama and the Mississippi Delta as a young girl."
The school principal, Steve Frank, was not available to comment. The vice principal, Jim Cowdry, said he only knew "bits and pieces" of the issue and deferred to Superintendent Nancy Campbell, who deferred to Gwen Ahern, communications supervisor for the Berkley School District. "We used to sing that song when I was in school during the '50s," she said. "It's like a Southern type of folk song. I remember it being perky. It was more of a song that people just sang for fun." Ahern then proceeded to sing the song over the telephone. "This is going to be a folk music concert, and children will be performing songs from Germany, England, Mexico and other places."
Asked if she knew about the Montgomerys' concerns, Ahern said yes. "As far as I know, they're going ahead with the concert," she said. She added that district officials will study the origins of the song.
The children will be singing, in part, "Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton. Gotta jump down, turn around, Oh Lordie, pick a bale a day." Dr. Eugene Rogers, president of the North Oakland County NAACP, called the situation unbelievable. "Some people think they should be able to do anything, and we should be able to adjust and not take it personally," he said. "But I've lived through all of this, and I'm still living through it." Rogers said it is insensitive to proceed with the song. "People shouldn't have to be subjected to this, especially our children.""
I would have thought that the very lively and enjoyable song concerned would most accurately be seen as showing the triumph of the human spirit over the adversity of slavery. Two of my ancestors came to my country chained up in the holds of sailing ships and I have never felt the least bit humiliated to hear sung the many songs written about what they and their ilk experienced. I feel proud of the strength and endurance that enabled them to flourish under very adverse circumstances. Below is one of the songs I have in mind. It is one I sing myself from time to time:
1: One Sunday morning as I went walking
By Brisbane waters I chanced to stray
I heard a convict his fate bewailing As on the sunny river bank I lay
I am a native from Erin's island
But banished now from my native shore
They stole me from my aged parents
And from the maiden I do adore
2: I've been a prisoner at Port Macquarie
At Norfolk Island and Emu Plains
At Castle Hill and at cursed Toongabbie
At all these settlements I've been in chains
But of all places of condemnation
And penal stations in New South Wales
To Moreton Bay I have found no equal
Excessive tyranny each day prevails
3: For three long years I was beastly treated
And heavy irons on my legs I wore
My back from flogging was lacerated
And oft times painted with my crimson gore
And many a man from downright starvation
Lies mouldering now underneath the clay
And Captain Logan he had us mangled
All at the triangles of Moreton Bay
4: Like the Egyptians and ancient Hebrews
We were oppressed under Logan's yoke
Till a native black lying there in ambush
Did deal this tyrant his mortal stroke
My fellow prisoners be exhilarated
That all such monsters such a death may find
And when from bondage we are liberated
Our former sufferings will fade from mind
The music is accessible here
The school has now dropped the song and a reader writes: "The weirdest thing of this is that the song was made famous in US by Harry Belafonte. The screaming ultra liberal himself."
LOUDMOUTHED WESTERN FEMINISTS DON'T CARE ABOUT WOMEN AT ALL
Each time Germaine Greer visits Australia - such as last week when she turned up at the University of Sydney to receive her honorary doctorate - one is reminded how Western feminists have dropped the ball on what really matters on the feminist front.
Greer's feminism is the worst example of Western indulgence. It's not so much what she says that matters - for it's all rather farcical these days - but what she and other so-called feminists do not say that betrays how feminism has lost its way. On Friday Greer told her audience: "The intellect is a little bit like sexual ability: use it or you lose it." True enough and nice work if you can get it. But hardly cutting-edge feminism at work there.
Back in late 2002, Greer was back on the soapbox in Australia lambasting the medical profession for imposing unnecessary medical tests on women, such as pap smears and mammograms. When asked about the impending war in Iraq, Greer suggested that women protest by dressing up in burkas. Go girl! Don the preferred garb of Islamic oppression to protest against what exactly? The continued oppression of women in countries such as Iraq?
Last Friday while Greer was preaching about the importance of knowledge for knowledge's sake, in New York another feminist was delivering a more sobering message. Last week Mukhtaran Mai, a 33-year-old Pakistani woman, collected an award for "her incredible courage and optimism in the face of terrible violence".
Mai was gang-raped by five men on the order of a Pakistani tribal council in 2002 as punishment for her brother's alleged love affair with a woman from another tribe. This illiterate and working-class young woman then did the unthinkable. She took her grievance to court. A near impossible task in Pakistan where Hudood laws - a series of Islamic decrees applied in conjunction with the country's secular laws - mean that if a woman is raped, a conviction requires four adult male witnesses or the rapist confessing. If sex is held to be consensual, the woman can be charged with zina - extramarital sex - illegal under Hudood laws. In Mai's case, the five rapists were duly acquitted. While the Pakistan Supreme Court has suspended those acquittals, it remains to be seen whether the perpetrators will be punished.
When Mai received $US2500 ($3400) in compensation from the Government for her ordeal, she immediately used that money to build a school for young girls. Through a translator this shy young woman, dressed in a headscarf and flowing robes, told her glittering New York audience that her goal was to end oppression through education. Spot the feminist. Mai or Greer?
Women such as Uzma Saeed, a legal activist in Lahore, are campaigning for a repeal of the Hudood laws in Pakistan. Saeed told BBC News: "About 60 per cent of women in our jails have been imprisoned as a result of Hudood laws. I know many cases where a husband has wanted to marry again and so accused his wife of illicit relations with another man." Spot the feminist. Saeed or Greer?
Back in Australia, the silence of the feminists and others on egregious cultural issues is having devastating consequences for women. Australian feminism has been hijacked by a soft Left loathing of Western culture, a romanticisation of other (especially indigenous) cultures and a trend towards cultural relativism where it is just fine to use culture as an excuse. But criticise another culture? No way.
Indeed, the "culture made me do it" defence is now an essential part of any defence lawyer's armoury. Recently, the lawyer for one of three Pakistani brothers convicted of gang-raping two teenage girls in Sydney in 2002 argued that his client's sentence should be reduced because this 27-year-old man was a "cultural time bomb". The lawyer pointed to the defendant's "cultural conditioning"; he grew up in Pakistan, "a society with very traditional views about women".
Where was the feminist outcry? At least the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, to its credit, treated that defence with the contempt it deserved. Last Friday Justice Michael Grove said those comments were inappropriate and the court refused to reduce the sentence given to the three Pakistani brothers. But you can hardly blame a bloke for trying it on. After all, our persisting cultural cringe about imposing our values on those who do not share them is such that these claims are often successful. Who can forget the footage of the Chief Justice from the Northern Territory descending on the Yarralin community. He took his courtroom to the indigenous community to sentence a 55-year-old Yarralin man for bashing and raping a 14-year-old girl.
The anal rape of a crying, screaming child saw the man go to prison for just one month because the girl was promised to the man under customary indigenous law. And who were the leading critics of this case? Chris Ellison (a white man), Warren Mundine (a black man) and a few indigenous women. But where was the white feminist outcry?
These are just the most recent examples of how liberal loathing of Western culture has become an instrument of oppression. And while feminists such as Greer are harping about the irrelevant, a new wave of real feminists is emerging where it counts. In places where it is most dangerous to speak out. Such as Pakistan. Elsewhere, Islamic feminists from countries such as Malaysia, Mali, Egypt and Iran are marching to launch a "gender jihad" in support of women's rights. This is real-life feminism at work.
If we think Western feminists had it tough, being shut out of the workplace in the 1950s, spare a thought for those women in Islamic countries who are victims of "honour killings" for bringing shame on their families, or the millions of women across western and southern Asia, the Middle East and large swaths of Africa who are mutilated by female circumcision. These women need our support, not our silence.
SOME REAL FEMINISTS AT LAST?
"Abercrombie & Fitch has agreed to stop selling T-shirts that some groups have found objectionable, including an Allegheny County girls group that launched a "girlcott" last Sunday that triggered a national firestorm against the Ohio company. The edgy apparel store reached an amicable agreement with the Women's & Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania, according to a joint statement announced late today, to stop selling the T-shirts. "We recognize that the shirts in question, while meant to be humorous, might be troubling to some,'' according to the statement by Abercrombie & Fitch. "We are pleased with this resolution.''
Among the "attitude T-shirts" assailed by the group of two dozen girls were those that read: "Who needs brains when you have these?" and "Blondes Are Adored, Brunettes are Ignored."
According to the foundation's part of the statement: "We look forward to meeting with Abercrombie & Fitch to discuss ways we could collaborate on more empowering messages their products could be sending to their customers.''"
As Abercrombie & Fitch for some addled reason refuse to sell any product made with Australian wool, I have no brief for them at all. I would be delighted if EVERYONE boycotted them. But, as a libertarian, I think they should have the right to sell any T-shirts they like to anyone who wants to buy them. Nonetheless it is pleasing to see an apparently "liberal" group of feminists recognizing that the breakdown of standards fostered by earlier generations of feminists is in the end -- as conservatives have always said -- disrespectful and damaging towards women. One only hopes that the young women concerned have sufficient depth of character to concern themselves with the plight of women in the Muslim world as well as worrying about what is on sale in their local shops. At the moment the only major force doing much good for women in the Islamic world is the U.S. Army.
15 November, 2005
PREOCCUPATION WITH "ETHICS" KILLS PEOPLE
In the USA, institutional review boards (IRBs) must meet federally mandated requirements. In Pittsburgh University, where I worked until recently, my last IRB submission ran over 60 pages, included two consent forms, one of which was 13 pages long, and I was required to submit 26 copies. The 24 members of the IRB would meet to discuss applications at regular intervals. After review, the board would require resubmission of the entire application, including a memo describing amendments addressing the board's concerns. The board could then reconvene to reconsider the application or the chairman could be empowered to approve the application directly. This process can take as little as two months but typically takes between six and 12 months.
Ethics applications in the UK are starting to look more like those in the USA, especially applications that pass through the NHS. Ask any medical researcher in the UK about their experiences with NHS ethics and you are unlikely to hear any positive words. The introduction of a patient leaflet, for example, designed to improve older patients' involvement in GP consultations, was reviewed by an NHS committee with an estimated five days of preparatory work .
For a more involved multicenter clinical trial, an investigator must submit copies of the study protocol to each of the participating centres ethics committees. For one trial, this resulted in up to 21 copies of the protocol being submitted to 125 local research ethics committees. Eighty-four of these committees withheld approval until the researchers had made amendments. This process can take years to complete. Another clinical trial involving 51 centres needed over 25,000 pieces of paper, 62 hours of photocopying and 170 hours of investigator time. This is an entirely different matter to basic peer review to ensure subject care and safety. Ethics review within the USA and the British NHS has become completely irrational.
But the problem is not just that ethics committees provide formidable technical barriers for researchers. It's also that they undermine medical ethics. There are three main problems with these committees: they place barriers between patients and potentially beneficial treatment; they distance the researcher from thinking about ethics; and they offset responsibility for the conduct of the research on to the patient. As such, they are a danger to both patient and investigator and should be abolished.
Let me illustrate the first point. If you are unfortunate enough to enter hospital with a recent onset heart attack, you are likely to receive a combination treatment of streptokinase and aspirin. Patients who received this combination treatment in a trial of 17,187 patients had a mortality rate of eight percent. Patients who received placebo had a mortality rate of 13 percent. The treatment therefore provides for significant improvements in survival. Relative to the USA, recruitment into the trial was quicker in the UK and thus the benefits were seen earlier and the treatment adopted earlier. Whatever it was that slowed recruitment into the American trial has been estimated to have caused 10,000 unnecessary deaths. Erecting barriers to the progress of research, in the absence of any benefit and with evidence of harm, is surely unethical.
The second problem is that ethics committees distance medical professionals from their ethical responsibilities. Partly this is just a natural response to the burgeoning amount of paperwork that an investigator has to submit before embarking on a study or change in practice. No one person is likely to be able to have the time and expertise necessary to submit multiple protocols to multiple committees. Consequently, increasing numbers of senior investigators are employing administration staff or students to complete the necessary paperwork. Rather than being something the investigator thinks about and addresses, ethics becomes a technical exercise that is placed, as much as possible, into the hands of junior colleagues.
Alternatively, investigators simply avoid ethics applications through technical dodges, such as claiming the research to be an audit that is exempt from review (5), or through an avoidance of research altogether.
Investigators are also becoming ideologically distanced from the process of ethical review. The purpose of ethical review is to ensure that the investigators, particularly the senior members of any research team, consider how their proposed procedures might impact upon the wellbeing of their volunteers and patients. Whether or not a particular procedure should be performed or a particular treatment tested can turn on many quirky factors that can only ever be fully known by those directly involved. The expert judgment of medical professionals should not be replaced by mouthing answers to committees' formulaic questions.
Many years ago I was involved in a trial investigating the effects of pain following the extraction of wisdom teeth. We were particularly interested in the performance deficits that the pain caused during a simple card sorting task and the effects of morphine on their task performance.
The extraction procedure was always completed in the morning and the patients were then taken to an overnight ward to recuperate. The intention was to wait until the anaesthetic was no longer effective and then begin the card-sorting task. All procedures had to be completed before 5pm when our medical collaborator left for the day, which meant that we had to begin the testing by 4pm. It soon became clear that some patients were waiting us out. A patient would steadfastly deny any pain, despite fairly obvious signs to the contrary, but would promptly announce their pain at 4:05pm. (I suspect that they either did not want to actively withdraw from the study, or they falsely believed they would not get pain relief if they did actively withdraw from the study.) We resolved the problem by offering the patients pain relief at regular intervals after they arrived on the ward and by regularly reminding them that they were under no obligation to complete the study.
Importantly, at no point were we in violation of our ethics approval. We had no objective evidence that patients were in excessive pain and no proof that they had misunderstood their access to pain medication. Had our concern for our patients stopped at the point of receiving ethical approval we may never have introduced any changes to our procedures. As the difficulty of receiving ethics approval increases and as the physical and mental distance between investigators and ethics committees widens, a lack of concern for patients is likely to increase.
The final problem is that responsibility is being offset on to volunteers through consent forms. Sometimes the displacement is so crude and obvious that it boggles the mind. When my wife went into labour last year, we arrived at the hospital at around 1am. Before she was allowed into triage she had to sign three separate consent forms. Neither of us read a single word. This mocks the term 'informed consent'. This is a bureaucratic exercise designed to ensure that the hospital avoids liability in the event of anything going wrong.
The Disuniting of Europe -- and America
Americans might be forgiven for experiencing a sense of schadenfreude -satisfaction in the misery of others - at the rioting in France. The jihad is coming home, it would appear, to a corrupt French political elite that thought it could appease Muslim extremists by snubbing the United States in Iraq.
America, by contrast, is suffering no such anger in the streets. Around metropolitan Detroit, for example, home to one of the largest concentrations of ethnic Arabs and Muslims outside the Middle East, all is peaceful, despite strongly-held beliefs among community leaders and local imams that U.S. policy in the Middle East is badly misguided.
The reason is fairly clear: Detroit's Arab-American population, usually estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000, is a model of upward mobility, thanks to auto industry employment in the early days and, more recently, ability to capitalize on its own entrepreneurial energy. Americans of Arab descent have a strong stake in society. In France, by contrast, where overall unemployment has long hovered in the 10 percent range -and at least twice that for the ethnic Arab population -- despair and anger are rampant.
To this economic disorder has been added a severe moral disorder: an ideology of multiculturalism that is even more deeply entrenched in Europe than in America. It invites disaffected communities to dwell on their grievances and reject the common values that allow people of differing backgrounds to work together. The multicultural message: somebody else is responsible for your problems.
Before Americans wax too self-congratulatory, however, they should remember that similar forces are afoot here that, if unchecked, could unleash the same social toxins. Stubbornly high taxes and job-killing regulations - including union-backed minimum wage, prevailing wage and "living wage" schemes aimed at preventing willing workers from undercutting union wage levels -- make it difficult to sustain the economic growth that mutes social tensions.
And multiculturalism already is the official ideology among American elites: witness the fanatical allegiance to "diversity" within the education, political and business establishments. Virtually every establishment group in Michigan, for example, has already come out against a pending 2006 referendum that would outlaw racial preferences in university admissions and state hiring. Even businessman Dick DeVos, the odds-on favorite to be the Republican candidate for governor, has rushed to distance himself from the measure.
Affirmative action was invented mainly to help African Americans in the wake of the Jim Crow era. But now that official segregation is long behind us, it's being replaced by the more amorphous goal of "diversity." Almost any group with a grievance is being invited to join the racial spoils game. Talk about a perfect formula for producing what liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger, in a book attacking the separatism implicit in multiculturalism, termed "the disuniting of America."
Just as deadly are the taxes and regulations that suppress job formation - or drive it underground, where the jobs can only be filled with continuing streams of illegal immigrants, creating a potentially dangerous underclass like that in Europe. Many on the left and right want to deal with this by enacting tough new measures to seal the southern borders and send the estimated 10 million illegal immigrants already inside the United States packing. It's likely to be a dominant issue in 2006 and 2008.
But good luck trying to build and effectively patrol a wall along a 2,000-mile border, much less apprehending and expelling millions of Mexicans and others for the sin of taking jobs that in effect are created by government's burden on the economy. A more cogent immigration policy may be long overdue. But if we don't also learn the right lessons from Europe's experience, we may be doomed to repeat it.
14 November, 2005
Liberal racism on display in Maryland
Comment by Ruben Navarrette. I have previously referred to the Steele case on 8th but Navarette makes some further good points
Who's afraid of a black Republican? Well, if that Republican's name is Michael Steele and he's seeking to become Maryland's first black senator, the answer is: just about everyone. Let's start with Democratic officials such as Thomas V. "Mike" Miller Jr., the president of the state Senate. In 2001, Miller called Steele - then head of the state Republican Party - an "Uncle Tom." Miller later apologized for the slur. Then there are Democratic Party activists such as the ones who, when Steele was running for lieutenant governor in 2002, gave him a rude reception at a gubernatorial debate at a predominantly black university. The activists pelted Steele with Oreo cookies.
And then there are black liberals, including some who don't even live in Maryland but have made it their mission to try to torpedo Steele's Senate bid. They include a left-wing blogger in New York who posted a doctored photo of Steele depicting him as a minstrel in blackface. Amid criticism, the photo was pulled. What remains, however, is a photo of Steele with an equally offensive caption calling him "Simple Sambo."
And finally, there are those liberals and Democratic operatives who, while claiming not to defend such blatantly vulgar and distasteful tactics, go on to, well, defend them. Maryland state Sen. Lisa A. Gladden says Steele should accept whatever personal attacks come his way. She also says that black voters are likely to be Steele's harshest critics because, as she puts it, "party trumps race."
Wow. Someone finally said it out loud. And I'm sure Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean and other Democrats will be delighted to hear it. Imagine all the outreach dollars earmarked for the black community that might now be spent pursuing white suburban soccer moms.
Party trumps race - not to mention, common sense. Some African-American leaders complain that black people aren't getting anywhere politically. They're right. That's because they've perfected the recipe for how to become politically irrelevant - allow yourself to be taken for granted by one party and written off by another.
Steele is a threat to the social order of things because he challenges all that. Because he stands with the GOP, he gives black Americans something that Democrats don't want them to have: options. And so, for those who prefer the status quo, the mission is clear: Steele must be discredited and his candidacy destroyed. He has to be painted as an aberration, or better yet, a sellout. That way, no self-respecting African American will follow him to the GOP.
There's another part of this that is interesting. It used to be that African Americans turned to the Democratic Party to protect them from discrimination and disenfranchisement. But when a black Republican comes along, African Americans - like that guy with the blog - often return the favor and defend the Democratic Party as a major engine for black progress. Democrats should be grateful for that. They can't afford too many of these kinds of firsts. Breakthroughs such as the Steele candidacy threaten the party's monopoly by showing black voters that they don't need to fall in line with the Democratic Party to be successful in politics or life.
Liberals want none of that. They're all for people making history - as long those people are on their side of the aisle. They're all for minorities succeeding - as long as they can claim credit for the success. And they're all for minorities becoming involved politically and voting - as long as they continue to vote Democratic in perpetuity. And if any of this doesn't go according to plan, then it's open season on anyone who gums up the works. Liberals think nothing of portraying blacks and other minorities who defect to the Republican Party as defective in some way.
A reader recently wrote that he was shocked that I, as a Mexican American, would have anything nice to say about Republicans or the Bush administration because they had done so much harm to "your people." What a condescending remark - but what a useful example of liberal racism. Mention the words "liberal" and "racism" in one sentence in a classroom at one of the nation's most elite universities, and you'll get blank stares. For a lot of people on the left, the phrase is an oxymoron. They really don't seem to know what it means. How can liberals be racist? How can people dedicated to promoting tolerance be guilty of intolerance? Ask Michael Steele. I bet he has a good grasp of the concept.
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS HAS KILLED OFF BRITISH BALLET
Political correctness, dumbing down and teachers' worries about being charged with sexual harassment are crippling young British ballet dancers' chances of reaching the top, according to a senior figure in the ballet world. Jeffery Taylor, the founder of the National Dance Awards - the Oscars of British ballet - claimed yesterday that home-grown dancers were being prevented from competing against the world's best because training, whether in specialist schools or at Saturday classes, was severely restricted by health and safety laws and a modern education system that discriminated against excellence.
For the first time in the history of the awards, the shortlists, which are to be announced this week, will not contain a single Briton in contention for either of the top two prizes, best male and female dancer. The lists point up the paucity of home-grown talent in Britain's top ballet companies. Russians, other East Europeans, Spaniards and Cubans have taken the majority of the plum principal dancer roles in British companies in the last decade. Only one of the six principals at Northern Ballet Theatre, for example, is British. When Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope, who won the best male dancer prize at last year's National Dance Awards, retire from full-time dancing next year, the Royal Ballet will be able to boast just one British principal, Edward Watson. The Royal Ballet, though it has its own prestigious Royal Ballet School, has increasingly looked abroad and has hired stars such as the Cuban Carlos Acosta, Tamara Rojo from Spain, the Romanian Alina Cojocaru and the Dane Johann Kobborg at the expense of British dancers.
Mr Taylor, a former dancer and now a critic and the co-chairman of the awards, said yesterday that British ballet training had become "a disgrace". One of his most serious charges is that teachers are no longer allowed to touch or manipulate young dancers' bodies into the correct positions - to straighten their backs, legs or arms - because of fears that they could be accused of sexual harassment. He said: "A teacher has got to be able to push a dancer's bottom in or put a hand on their leg. You are asking students to get into the most unnatural and often painful position and teaching them how to hold it for a long time. "There is no way that you can describe to them what it's like to have a straight back and expect them to do it on their own. "You have to push their bottom forward, pull their stomach in and push the shoulders down and back. But you're not allowed to now, so they're being disadvantaged right from the start. "When I trained 30 years ago, the teachers would be on their hands and knees forever pushing your feet out and moving your legs. It's not like that in British schools now. It seems OK in other countries, but not here."
Mr Taylor claimed that "dumbing down and political correctness" were hurting British students. "They are afraid of failing you. Teachers won't criticise you. They say all the students are as good as each other, that they are equally wonderful. It's obviously not true. "But they are frightened that parents will take a child away from the school if they dare criticise them and say they must try harder. And they have to keep the numbers up to keep their funding."
Mr Taylor also claimed that full-time schools required girls to do only pointe work - exercises up on their toes - once a week instead of every day "because they think it's too hard". He said: "There is no shortage of raw talent among the very young in this country. But it is being wasted because they are not trained rigorously enough. "Natural talent may survive but it is the Miss Average, standing behind Miss Bussell, who ends up feeling a failure. All along she has been told that she is wonderful, but she hasn't been pushed and when she doesn't make the grade she ends up feeling worthless.
"The contrast with what goes on elsewhere is very marked. Three years ago I watched a class of boys at the Vaganova Academy [St Petersburg's top school]. "They were being worked into the ground. They were crippled, sweating wrecks. And then their teacher turned to me and said, 'When the physical gives out, that is when the artist appears."
Wayne Eagling, the American former Royal Ballet star who becomes artistic director of English National Ballet next week, agreed yesterday that British dance students found it difficult to make the top. "I am aware that people talk about training but I think more of the problem is to do with the incredibly fierce international competition. "Just look at how many dancers Russia or Cuba are turning out to see what British students are up against. It means that they have to be as good as the best in the world." Mr Eagling said he would press for international research on the subject when he attended a meeting of the world's leading ballet directors in Switzerland in January.
No individual responsibility in France either: "What have the French ever done for 'les beurs,' now rioting in 300 French cities and towns, having destroyed more than 6,000 cars, burned busses, businesses, shops, schools, police stations, libraries; beaten bystanders, and snuffed out at least one life? They've replaced the mud huts of their ancestors with subsidized housing and modern plumbing, given them schools, job-training institutes, cradle-to-crypt welfare, and, my personal favorite, the Musee du Louvre. To listen to their moronic enablers among the media, not much, however. Whether the mediacrats are applying their cerebral sinew to individual or group-orchestrated crime; to psychological or sociological 'causal factors,' bad deeds are invariably caused -- never committed. And they are caused by factors outside the perpetrators."
13 November, 2005
The London bombers' pedigree owes more to Western culture than the Koran
Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto
The Roman playwright Terence observed that nothing human was foreign to him. According to this principle, the actions of suicide bombers in London, however terrible, are nonetheless explicable in terms of our common humanity.
In the aftermath of the suicide bombings in London on 7 July 2005, many ascribed the actions of the perpetrators to an indecipherable alien culture which has taken root within the geographical boundaries of the UK while remaining foreign to the British way of life and to the human condition in general. Senior Tory Lord Tebbit, with his comments about alienated Muslims failing the 'cricket test', was only a case in point.
As the bells of St Paul's cathedral toll for the victims of 7/7, instead of Tebbit's cricket test, I will take the Terence test. I will attempt to show that underlying London's suicide bombers is a sensibility that is in substantial part patterned by Western culture - that it was rooted more in 'Creative Britain' and its domestic discontents than in the distant Arabian deserts of a foreign, Oriental past. Furthermore, even as their actions were exceptional and in all likelihood extremely isolated, the sensibility of London's suicide bombers is in accordance with the general characteristics of Western culture in its alienation from itself. Those elements in their thought and action with formal origins in the East, can only be accorded secondary status.
According to my reading, precedents for London's bombers were set by the likes of the Unabomber - the lone, American terrorist who sent mail bombs to prominent technologists in a deranged 'revolution' against both industry and politics. The London suicide bombings are further from nineteenth-century Russia or late twentieth-century Palestine than from the Columbine High School killings in the USA on 20 April 1999, when, after the bombs they had planted failed to explode, two teenagers shot dead 13 people before committing suicide.
The events of 7/7 are explicable in terms of a Western psyche which is informed as much by icons of self-alienation such as Joy Division's Ian Curtis, who hanged himself, and Kurt Cobain, who shot himself, as by the prophet Mohammed; or, rather, insofar as the prophet appears as a necessary element in the attempt to understand this horrific story, he does so as an icon within self-alienated popular culture, just as Marilyn Manson may have figured in the Goth subculture which informed the Columbine High School killings. By the same token, if I focus on what might be described as the 'soul' of the suicide bombers, in doing so I show that this 'soul' is not a spectral phenomenon but an attribute derived from the specific, historical conditions of Western capitalism early in the twenty-first century. Others have commented on the political economy of recent terrorism, locating it in 'the network society' and comparing it to the operations of a 'virtual corporation'. On spiked, Brendan O'Neill has established the social composition of those identified with al-Qaeda, identifying the privileged, metropolitan background which many experienced and only subsequently spurned (see British-born bombers: not so shocking).
UK prime minister Tony Blair, on the other hand, in describing suicide bombing as a product of 'evil ideology', has attempted to locate it in 'another country' of times past, alien to the post-ideological, anti-political, multicultural nation of Britain today. He wants us to distinguish between politics (bad) and culture, which is sometimes expressed as religious faith (good). But the London bombs of 7/7 were themselves anti-political; and, as in the ethos of Blair's own government, 'culture' is the key idea in the sensibility informing such actions. As with New Labour so in the terrorist mindset, the cultural becomes the only mode of thinking available. And if life is reducible to meaning, as in today's orthodoxy, then it is reasonable that for some - thankfully, only a few - it can only acquire meaning through death and destruction.
In my drawing of it, there is a line of cultural logic, though neither straight nor inevitable, linking the Absolute Beginners of Colin MacInnes eponymous novel (1959) of the emerging metropolitan teenager in his alienation from Western adulthood, with the Absolutist Beginners of 7/7 in their dual alienation both from 'Western civilisation' and the established - with 'Cool Britannia' it became establishment - teenage rejection of it.
The essential connection between them is the status which both accord to 'the outsider': in Soho on the cusp of the 1960s, the sacred texts were Colin Wilson's The Outsider, and The Outsider by Albert Camus, which offered, respectively, biographical and fictional role models of alienation; half a century later, in the same sort of way the Koran is worn as a badge of alienation from, to paraphrase Blur, the rubbish that is modern life.
All these texts are articles of faithlessness in 'the modern world' and its associated values. Each offers a fantastic form of alienation, which is nonetheless rooted in real circumstances: among Islamists, the performance of reverence for the virtuous life and teachings of Mohammed offers a virtual reality comparable to that of coffee-bar 'existentialism' nearly 50 years ago.
The cult status of the outsider is common to both. There are also differences between them, however, and some of these are prompted by the growing difficulty of achieving the nirvana of alienation. Half a century ago, gyrating Elvis Presley was hip enough to alienate Mum and Dad and thereby identify his fans as 'alienated youth'. Nowadays, when even the prime minister identifies himself as 'of the rock'n'roll generation', in this role rock and all related music is dead.
Then and now, the mistake is to take protestations of alienation at face value. Here, theorists of youth culture have made the same kind of error as Norman Tebbit. Of course, if someone says they are rebelling against 'waddya got?', as Marlon Brando said in The Wild One and as is being said by young Britons in their adoption of Islam, then they clearly see themselves as being outside the society in which we all necessarily participate. What remains unclear both to 'rebellious youth', whether in leather jackets or religious garb, and to most of those observing them, is that the desire to be an outsider is not itself external to society but immanent within contradictory social relations. Moreover, this contradiction and the increasing difficulty of managing it, has been discernible not only in domestic teenage culture throughout the second half of the twentieth century but, well before that, in the culture of the Western elite since the First World War.
Much more here
The Homosexual Propaganda Machine
In a blatant violation of journalistic ethics, Time magazine assigned a homosexual reporter, John Cloud, to write the recent Time cover story on homosexual teenagers but did not disclose his conflict of interest to its readers. The story, The Battle Over Gay Teens, was the cover story in the October 10 issue.
The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality has denounced Cloud for having "a long history of promoting the gay political agenda while disguised as a mainstream reporter." It says that he used to work for the Washington City Paper, an alternative newsweekly, and authored a sympathetic look at gay bathhouses, where homosexuals have anonymous sex. Cloud has been given awards by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
It's no surprise, therefore, that the 2004 GLAAD annual report reveals that the organization's corporate sponsors include Time, Inc. and Time Magazine, in addition to Time Warner, People Magazine, ABC News, Fox Entertainment Group, HBO, and MTV Networks.
Meanwhile, Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, has brought to our attention the fact that last February the NewsHour on PBS featured essayist Richard Rodriguez favorably commenting on a book by C.A. Tripp that argued that "Lincoln was predominantly homosexual."
LaBarbera responded: "The sad truth is that homosexual historians like C.A. Tripp are now applying Alfred Kinsey's shoddy research methods to history-against heroes and national figures who cannot defend themselves from the grave. Every reputable Lincoln scholar dismisses the 'gay Lincoln' thesis as baseless; much of it arises from the application of decadent present-day values to a past age when homosexual behavior was universally regarded as taboo and an egregious sin. For example, every Lincoln historian without a "gay" agenda dismisses the notion that just because Lincoln bunked with his friend Joshua Speed (as many men did, due to a shortage of beds), it is evidence he was homosexual.
"Now, homosexual activists are routinely asserting as fact that 'Lincoln was gay,' just as they once lied about the 'fact' that 10 percent of the population was 'gay.' It is the duty of all reputable Lincoln historians to aggressively repudiate this lie and not to give in to current political correctness by treating it seriously. What a pity it will be if schoolchildren across the country are to be taught this falsehood-or even that Lincoln 'might have been gay'-in their studies of the 16th President."
Panic: 'What's on your plate?' asks the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in a new campaign to encourage children to eat heathily. The campaign is accompanied by gruesome pictures, emblazoned with 'CENSORED', of what really goes into burgers, hot dogs and chicken nuggets. (Those children fascinated to know what got censored can easily view the pictures on the BHF website, clearly appealing to those kids who enjoy being grossed out.)
The BHF argues that obesity levels in children are rising, and it quotes figures suggesting that a further 440,000 children will be overweight or obese within two years. Children can't eat well, say the BHF, if they don't know what goes into their food, noting that a third of the children they asked didn't know what chips were made of.
Don't panic: While there is evidence that the very overweight have an increased relative risk of heart disease, the precise causes of both heart disease and obesity remain elusive. Simplistic campaigns like this one only increase anxiety while doing little to improve health outcomes.
While the BHF feverishly campaigns against 'junk' food, it is worth noting the BHF's own report on cardiovascular disease (CVD), which notes that 'Death rates from CVD have been falling in the UK since the early 1970's. For people under 75 years, they have fallen by 36 per cent in the last 10 years'. Heart disease is the main cause of death in the UK but it overwhelmingly kills in old age.
As for our diets, there is no such thing as 'junk' food. All the foods mentioned by the BHF are perfectly nutritious. It is not healthy to eat one kind of food to the exclusion of others, but as long as there is some variety in the diet, children will generally thrive perfectly well on what some might consider 'crap'.
While many of the ingredients in 'junk food' may not look particularly appetising in their unprocessed state, this does not mean that they aren't nutritious. In a country not blessed historically with a wide range of foodstuffs, the imaginative use of the 'unattractive bits' has been central to British cooking. Much of what the BHF turns its nose up at, is served as haute cuisine at restaurants like St John in London.
12 November, 2005
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS DAMAGING BRITISH ARMY
Senior army doctors have warned that troops in Iraq are suffering levels of battle stress not experienced since the second world war because of fears that if they shoot an insurgent, they will end up in court. The two senior Royal Army Medical Corps officers, one of whom is a psychologist, have recently returned from Basra, where they said they counselled young soldiers who feared a military police investigation as much as they did the insurgents.
The revelations follow the collapse last week of the court martial of seven paratroopers accused of murdering an Iraqi who died near al- Amarah just after the war and amid signs of a dramatic drop in morale among frontline infantry soldiers. The doctors' warnings came in post-operational reports submitted by senior officers to their formation commanders after serving in a battle zone. They are exceptional because of their content. One source said: "There doesn't appear to be any overt consideration or understanding of the pressures that our soldiers are under. "The unpopularity of the war at home and a belief that firing their rifles in virtually any circumstances is likely to see them end up in court are sapping morale."
One corporal said that troops arriving in Basra were confronted by warnings from the Royal Military Police. "They make it clear that any and every incident will be investigated. It is also made clear that if you shoot someone, you will face an inquiry that could take up to a year. "The faces of the young lads straight out of training drop as the fear of being investigated strikes home and many ask whose side the RMP are on."
Although the levels of fighting in Iraq are nowhere near those of some of the bloodiest battles of the second world war, such as the battle of the bulge or Kohima, the much more complex situation that the British troops face is pushing up stress levels just as far. The combination of knowing that death might come at any time from a roadside bomb and that shooting back at Iraqis who attack them might result in their being court-martialled is putting immense pressure on young soldiers. The doctors described morale in some units as very low with soldiers cynically suggesting they needed a solicitor with them before they shot back at any Iraqi who attacked them. Many frontline infantry soldiers were in survival mode and had the impression that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is not supporting them and nobody in the UK cares about what is happening in Iraq, the officers said.
This weekend senior MoD officials sought to counter the damage done to morale after the collapse of the court martial by revealing that John Reid, the defence secretary, had ordered an urgent review of whether the MoD is fulfilling its duty of care to soldiers facing legal action. There are signs that it is already too late, with more than 5,370 infantry soldiers buying themselves out of the army in the past three years rather than be posted back to Iraq or Afghanistan.....
Not least among the concerns within the army is the fact that cases are taking so long to come to court martial. Three members of the Irish Guards and a Coldstream Guard who stand accused of the manslaughter of an Iraqi who allegedly drowned in a canal in May 2003 will not stand trial until May next year.
Corporal Scott Evans, 32, the most senior of the paratroopers acquitted last week, said that they felt betrayed by the army: "We've been badly hung out to dry. "The army is your family, isn't it? You expect your family to look after you through thick and thin, but they betrayed us. It seems that in the army's eyes you are guilty until proven innocent." One army officer said Evans was "just summing up what everybody feels. No one seems to care. We feel like we've lost public sympathy because of all these allegations"
FREE SPEECH MEANS NOTHING IF IT IS ONLY POPULAR SPEECH THAT IS PROTECTED
Ernst Zuendel, 66, a leading Holocaust denier who wrote a book entitled The Hitler We Loved and Why, went on trial in Germany yesterday. He was deported from Canada eight months ago after being pursued by German authorities for several years. He is charged with inciting racial hatred, libel and disparaging the dead.
Herr Zuendel, who runs the biggest neo-Nazi mail-order company in Europe and publishes pamphlets denying that the Holocaust happened, sat between his lawyers at the court in Mannheim while supporters packed the viewing gallery. The trial will be a test of the limits of state action against anti-Semitic internet sites. If found guilty Herr Zndel faces up to five years in jail and the authorities would be able to shut down his publishing empire.
The German authorities have been seeking his extradition since 2003, and police believe that he is part of an international network that includes Russian ultra-nationalists and Dutch and French neo-Nazis. The trial is expected to continue until the end of this month.
Note that I have myself recently had harsh words to say about holocaust deniers but that does not mean that I think that discussion of ANYTHING should be forbidden
The Haka is a sort of war dance originating with the Maoris. It is of course intentionally intimidating. The national New Zealand Rugby football team perform it before matches. The team is called the "All Blacks" because of the colour of their uniforms. The team has both Maori and white players. The following report is from Wales
What is it with the haka? Nothing, it would appear, will please the New Zealand players. Once again, after Saturday's match against Wales, it is regrettable that Tana Umaga, the All Blacks captain, should find cause for complaint. The All Blacks were asked to perform the haka immediately after their own national anthem and not, as has been the recent tradition, after both national anthems have been sung. Wales were accused of being disrespectful to the war chant. Not again, Umaga says. There should be pause for thought.
New Zealand ought to be reminded that this was the order that took place when they first played against each other, at Cardiff Arms Park in 1905. "It is not very musical but it is very impressive," was the conclusion of the Western Mail, which was aware even then of the psychological advantage the chant might allow and went on: "The Welsh players should sing the Welsh national anthem after the New Zealanders have given their war cry."
Perhaps New Zealand should ponder that there are occasions when other countries, on their own acre of turf especially, might like to honour their own traditions and to ask for similar respects to be paid. If the whingeing [whining] goes on, perhaps it is time to give the haka a miss.
This is not the first time that New Zealand have moaned. During the summer, Brian O'Driscoll, the Lions captain, also got it wrong, apparently. The Irishman had consulted a Maori elder as to the appropriate protocol in accepting the Maori challenge. O'Driscoll followed the elder's instructions but was accused afterwards of "insulting" the All Blacks' haka.
New Zealand, I fancy, protest too much. If the haka and its correctness arouses so much sensitivity and acrimony, perhaps it is time, sadly, to disregard it altogether. If New Zealand players seek respect for its performance, they must recognise that to be allowed to perform the haka is a privilege bestowed and conversely, I assume, it can be taken away.
It would be sad if it were so. The haka has been part of the tradition for a century. The first time it was performed, the Europeans found it strange and fascinating. It inspired a sense of wonder and was universally appreciated. The ritual was maintained on subsequent tours.
11 November, 2005
WELL DONE YOUR GRACE!
Or more colloquially: "Onya Bish!"
The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday attacked the 'nonsense' of banning Christian symbols in the drive for political correctness. The Right Reverend Rowan Williams said he is worried about "well-meaning secularists" seeing offence in traditional images of the faith. Asked what he thought of some councils prohibiting traditional Christian festive symbols, he said: "I don't worry that our heritage has been sacrificed, but I do worry about the ill-instructed way that opponents of religious traditions are offended in one way or another. "They don't, by and large, come from among Muslims or Hindus, but from well-meaning secularists who are panicked by religious plurality. I don't think moves that we read about do anything at all for community relations - not a sausage."
He spoke during a visit to Brussels days after it was revealed that Waveney Council in Suffolk could stop grants for Christmas lights in towns and villages because of fears they might offend non-Christians. Earlier, Lambeth Council in South London had started referring to Christmas lights as winter lights and Inland Revenue managers had banned staff from helping the Operation Christmas Child charity because of its Christian links. Other such moves in recent years include Birmingham Council renaming Christmas 'Winterval' and Jobcentres and the Red Cross banning trees and decorations....
In Brussels, where he has been on a three-day visit to European Union institutions, the Anglican leader delivered a landmark speech warning society to listen to the Church or risk the "tyranny" of "wholesale secularism". Before returning to London, he said he wants to better understand the EU and its role and moral purpose. He said no one was suggesting a return to the dominance of the Church in public life, but it was good for the "political language" of Europe to recognise the traditional religious role. The EU draft constitutional treaty ran into trouble in a row in which references to God were ruled out of its preamble.
That, said the archbishop, had not greatly concerned the Church of England. But a more general reference remains to EU respect for "churches and religious associations or communities in the member states" and to the need for "regular dialogue" with them. Dr Williams said any reference to "Christian heritage" did not have to be exclusive or threatening, and he still hopes any constitution will include "honest recognition" of the Church's role.
STANDING UP FOR FREE SPEECH IN DENMARK
When Flemming Rose heard last month that Danish cartoonists were too afraid of Muslim militants to illustrate a new children's biography of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, he decided to put his nation's famous tolerance to the test. The cultural editor of Denmark's largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, then recruited cartoonists to depict Islam's Prophet Muhammad and published them in the paper.
Since then, thousands of Danish Muslims, whose religion strictly prohibits depictions of the prophet, have demonstrated in protest, though some have rallied in support of the paper, too. Ambassadors from 11 Islamic countries including Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey signed a letter demanding that the Danish prime minister "punish" the newspaper. In contrast, a young Iranian woman started a petition in favor of the move. "This issue goes back to Salman Rushdie. It's about freedom of speech and Islam," says an unrepentant Rose, who feels a culture of fear and self-censorship has taken hold across Europe since Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered for criticizing traditional Islam's treatment of women.
As accusations of racism and discrimination fly amid the ongoing unrest in France, European countries are being pushed to pinpoint the causes of - and solution to - the social exclusion of their significant Muslim populations. A key ingredient to the dialogue, Rose says, is making room for a frank discussion of the compatibility of democratic principles such as free speech, and traditional Islam. "Some Muslims are asking for an apology pointing to a lack of respect," he says. "They're not asking for respect; they're asking for subordination - for us as non-Muslims to follow Muslim taboos in the public domain."
Although Rose expected some complaints, he was unprepared for the deluge of criticism. Among those who attacked the newspaper's lack of sensitivity was prominent Copenhagen imam Raed Hlayhel, saying "I will not tolerate this. If this is democracy, we disagree with democracy."
But despite the barrage of criticism, Rose defends his decision, which coincided with the arrest of seven Danish Muslims two weeks ago for planning a terrorist attack - the first evidence of Islamic militancy among Denmark's 200,000 Muslims. As evidence of the Islamic pressure for censorship, he points to several events in the last month. The individual who translated a new book by Van Gogh's collaborator, Dutch MP Aayan Hirsi Ali, has requested anonymity. A London art gallery removed a modern art exhibit "God is Great," which featured a Koran, for fear of retaliation. While in Copenhagen, a delegation of Danish imams asked the prime minister to force Denmark's media to supply "more positive coverage" of Islam.
For its part, the newspaper has found Muslim allies. When the controversy first broke, hundreds of Danish Muslims demonstrated in Copenhagen in support of the newspaper. Among them were refugees that right-wing, anti-immigration parties would like to see turned away at Denmark's borders. "People have a right to say what they want without being killed," says Nasim Rahnama, the 20-year-old Iranian woman who started a petition in support of the newspaper. "These Islamic groups have to be stopped. I just can't sit down and do nothing." So far Ms. Rahnama, who moved here from Tehran four years ago, has collected over 150 signatures from Danish Muslims who support the paper's stance but says that she would have got many more if it weren't for people's fear that Islamic groups would find out. "I am so happy here," she says. "I have learnt the language. I have a lot of friends. I live in freedom; I love it."
But some warn that the newspaper's actions might push other young Muslims in the opposite direction by fueling their sense of persecution and obliging them to defend even the most anachronistic aspects of their religion. "The cartoons seem to have been a deliberate move by the newspaper to provoke Muslim sentiment in a totally legal manner," says Bjorn Moller, a senior research fellow at the Danish Institute of International Studies, who says that public expressions of racism are increasing, citing one right-wing member of parliament who compared Denmark's Muslim community to cancer. "Things which people wouldn't have been allowed to say a couple of years ago are now being said openly," says Mr. Moller. "It's becoming more socially acceptable to use that kind of language and that's bound to alienate Muslims and create fanaticism."
But already Danish voters are flocking to the right-wing Danish People's Party, which has pointed out that crime in general and the rape of Danish girls in particular are disproportionately committed by Muslim immigrants. The party's provocative slogan "Dit Land, Dit Valg" (One land, one people) for many people conjures up unwelcome reminders of Denmark's ambiguous role in the Nazi occupation. "A growing number of people see being a Dane and being a Muslim as incompatible," says Moller, adding that the Danish Peoples' Party, the country's third largest, is behind controversial government attempts to stabilize Denmark's growing Muslim community at no more than 10 percent of the total 5.5 million population. Right now, Muslims make up nearly 4 percent of the population. "The emphasis is rapidly becoming to keep out as many people as possible, regardless of whether they've been tortured or persecuted," says Moller.
But many Danish Muslims attempt to strike a conciliatory tone - aware that in contrast to France's rapidly increasing Muslim population of about five million - they remain a small and vulnerable minority. "The parliament is dominated by right-wing parties," says Naveed Baig, who promotes the peaceful Sufi strain of Islam through the group Muslims In Dialogue. "They are trying to control immigrants, not facilitate them. And at the same time Muslim extremists are making things hard for the majority of Muslims who fully accept secularism and democracy."
Rose meanwhile says he is happy that he has sparked a debate about how traditional Islamic ideas often clash with Western secular and democratic ideals. He also says that the controversy has helped bring native Danes and Muslim immigrants together. "Usually we speak about them and us, Muslim immigrants and the local population, but in this case many Danes criticized the paper while many Muslims supported the paper," says Rose. "This is actually the first time Muslims participated on a public platform alongside Danes."
10 November, 2005
LOSS OF VALUES COMES HOME TO ROOST IN FRANCE
An excerpt from Frank Furedi
Although the spread of unrest from Parisian suburbs to other parts of France can be seen as a result of spontaneous emulation, its main driver has been the response of the authorities themselves. The French elite lacks purpose and is politically exhausted. As I argue in greater detail in my new book Politics of Fear, for the first time in the modern era the European political elites lack a project. They no longer have a mission to perform, and do not possess a distinct outlook that can inform their policies and day-to-day actions.
In recent decades, these elites have embraced the EU and sought to cobble together a European identity that might render public life with some meaning. However, this elitist managerial project lacks the capacity to inspire the public. The rejection of the EU Constitution in France and Holland earlier this year clearly demonstrated this technocratic institution's lack of legitimacy.
The current state of political exhaustion shows that public life lacks a sense of purpose, perspective and meaning. Most government policies try to get around this problem by avoiding it. The celebration of diversity is probably the clearest example of such an evasive strategy. Celebrating the many is a meaningless act that simply recognises the reality that we are not all the same. It is as vacuous as the worship of one or a few. Diversity is a statement of fact - and to turn a fact into an ideal is to avoid having real ideals altogether. More specifically, it spares the authorities from spelling out what defines their society. That is why the French policy of assimilation and the British pursuit of multiculturalism have such similar outcomes: these policies are about avoiding the hard task of saying what it means to be British or French, and therefore implicitly raise the question of meaning in an acute form.
What the events in France demonstrate is that power means very little without purpose. Power and authority gain definition through a sense of direction. Without meaning, even the power of the military and the police loses much of its force. And the more this powerlessness becomes exposed, the more it encourages those who are estranged from society to have a go. This is not simply a case of official incompetence, but rather points to an elite that no longer believes in the legitimacy of its own authority and way of life. The way in which this crisis of belief has been intensely amplified through the French media has been one of the main drivers of the recent unrest. But don't blame the media: their cynical criticism of French authority is quietly shared by those who wield power. By letting the cat out of the bag, the French media simply transmit the message that politics lacks meaning.....
Somewhere between De Gaulle's aggressive nationalism and the silent, spineless and confused politics of today, France has lost its identity. When I talked to political activists earlier this year, I was told that the French are different to the Anglo-Saxons because they embrace the 'social' model. Now that the myth of the 'social' model has been exploded by the outbursts in the ghettoes, it is difficult to point to any values that are distinctly French. That is why all the recent speeches that refer to France sound so hollow. It is not surprising that people who originate from Africa or North Africa are not particularly inspired by the French flag. The emperor wears no clothes, and it is difficult to be impressed by non-existent garments.
The cumulative effect of the loss of meaning in France, and the undermining of the elite's authority, is the intensification of conflicts and divisions. The people that live in the immigrant suburbs of Paris not only lack access to resources - they are also profoundly estranged from the values and way of life associated with France. The youngsters torching cars and burning down their schools have no distinct political project or objective. They are not driven by social perspective or an Islamist ideology - at least not yet. They simply desire the kind of French prosperity that they see on the other side of the tracks, but without wanting to be associated with any idea of France.
To put it bluntly: there are no French values to share. In the absence of a common web of meaning, even small differences can turn into a major conflict. In such circumstances, there is every incentive to inflate suspicion and magnify difference. That is the politics of today, and probably of tomorrow.
One last point: the Anglo-American media have been quick to preach to the French about the enlightened ways of doing race relations, and call on them to learn from America and Britain. Maybe this learning should be the other way around. The problems that afflict France are not the result of unimaginative Gallic policymaking. They are ultimately the product of a political exhaustion that is no less prevalent in Britain or Belgium than it is in France. The solution lies not in dreaming up clever ways of managing community conflict, but in demanding that societies stop evading the fundamental questions posed in our times: what is the purpose of politics; who are we as a society; and what defines our humanity?
Silly old me! I always thought "Lady" was a term of respect!
Women are no longer ladies and older people are never senior citizens, according to equality officials at Hull City Council. Council workers were stunned, and many offended, when they received an email warning them to mind their language. In a list of unacceptable terms, girls, elderly, pet and love appeared next to words already widely recognised as being offensive, racist or homophobic.
The council has since said it should not have banded the terms together. The guide to 'professionally appropriate language' was issued on behalf of the corporate equalities manager Julie Thomson. It advises that traditional northern greetings such as duck, flower, dear or sweetheart are unacceptable and women should only ever be referred to as women. Likewise, older people are never senior citizens or wrinklies and disabled people should not be called wheelchair bound or infirm.
Liberal Democrat leader Carl Minns said the guide was a classic example of political correctness gone mad. "My initial reaction was a mixture of being quite offended and quite amused," he said. "I was offended because it was a blanket email and the implication was that I'm using inappropriate language and amused because it's a typical silly season story. "But I think that by putting really offensive language next to words like ladies and elderly it cheapens the effect. "Any public organisation has to have a set of standards where it treats people courteously and efficiently but the way to do that is to treat people as individuals and be sensible about it," he said.
The council said the guide was based on a manual published by the TUC and Unison, entitled Diversity in Diction, Equality in Action. "The guide highlighted older descriptions that have been, or are being, phased out of common use, as well as derogatory terms that are wholly unacceptable," a spokeswoman said. "There is obviously a world of difference between these terms and the council accepts that these should not have been banded together under one 'catch all' heading of 'unacceptable'."
The acting head of equalities Alan McKenzie has since written to everyone who received the email to apologise "unreservedly". "Clearly it caused offence to many people and for that I can only apologise
9 November, 2005
BIG BREASTS INCORRECT
The following article appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on Nov. 6th., 2005
A beer advertisement championing females with large breasts and a small behind has been slammed as portraying Australians as "a bunch of crude, sexist yobbos". The Foster's beer ad has been seen extensively throughout the Russian Federation. It depicts a bikini with a small top and a large bottom above the caption "the law of life". Below that is a bikini with a large top and a small bottom captioned "the law of Foster's".
The ad has prompted an angry response from Australian women. Women's Electoral Lobby Australia chairwoman Eva Cox said: "It is bloody stupid. "Why would they bother antagonising a whole pile of women who could drink Foster's? "Companies have got to get a bit smarter about this sort of stuff."
Federal Liberal MP Jackie Kelly had the offending ad translated to English after seeing it during a recent trip to Russia. Tabling a copy in Parliament, she also slammed Foster's. "This is our major internationally recognised brand name - and this ad was absolutely everywhere in Moscow," she said. I do not think Fosters would get away with an ad like that in Australia."
Complaints about advertisements in Australia are referred to the Advertising Standards Bureau. But the bureau has no jurisdiction to assess Australian ads running overseas. Australian Association of National Advertisers executive director Collin Segelov said the industry generally acted in good faith. He said complaints about overseas ads were only received "once every couple of years".
"Sometimes the target market requires a little bit of tweaking but the executions are generally those that they believe would pass the Advertising Standards Bureau," he said. Mr Segelov said complaints about Australian ads running overseas could be forwarded to advertising standards authorities in the host country. Foster's did not return calls.
BRITISH FIVE YEAR OLDS TO BE TAUGHT ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY AT SCHOOL
Children as young as five could be taught about gay families and divorce under new Government guidance. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority says primary schools need to cover a wider range of relationships than the traditional nuclear family of a mother, father and 2.4 children. This could include same-sex families, single parents and children who are looked after in local authority care. But the guidelines, published today, were criticised for undermining the importance of conventional relationships for the sake of political correctness.
They relate to the teaching of personal, social and health education classes. Primary and secondary schools do not have to follow the set curriculum for the subject under an optional framework which also gives parents the right to withdraw their children from sex education classes. The new guidance sets out what pupils are expected to achieve by the end of each Key Stage age group.
At Key Stage One - ages five to seven - the document says children are required to 'describe their own family circumstances, recognising that family patterns are different for everyone'. Suggested teaching activities include talking to children about what a family means. Teachers could 'discuss different family arrangements with them, stressing that there are many different kinds of family - eg both parents present, one step parent, lone parent families, children living with foster parents, children living with grandparents'.
The guidance warns teachers: "Be aware of the diversity of family circumstances in the class and ensure that all types of family are talked about and valued. "This could include children who are looked after in local authority care and children with same-sex parents." The QCA suggests that children produce collages using photographs and magazine pictures to celebrate the 'diversity of family patterns'. This should show "that not all families have a mother, a father and children and that family members are not always of the same religious, cultural or ethnic background".
Family campaigners condemned the QCA's rejection of the traditional definition of a family. Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute, said: "Parents will be up in arms. It's really up to them how they deal with such incredibly controversial issues. "Children at this age are so young and still only just learning to get to grips with a view of the world. "I think that parents will be shocked to think that the Government believes their children should be indoctrinated into this politically correct view of the world. "A lot of parents will tend to think that trying to force five-year-old children to value homosexual relationships is almost a form of brain-washing."
Hugh McKinney, of the National Family Campaign, said: "This is entirely the wrong message the Government should send to society but also to immature young children. "All right-thinking parents will be appalled by this casual, wanton disregard for any type of value in society. Where does this leave the family? "Yet again the Government has sold it down the river."
Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, added: "This is obviously going to undermine traditional families. It must be intended to do that. "There's no real reason why they should be discussing these sorts of things in school at that age. I think that most parents and sensible teachers will think it's entirely inappropriate."
8 November, 2005
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS INCORRECT IN BRITAIN
A council is planning to scrap grants for festive lights because Christmas does not fit in with its core values of equality and diversity. A report drawn up by the council in Suffolk concedes that the move could lead to officials being accused of not supporting the spirit of Christmas. The move is the latest in a string of decisions by organisations to downplay the celebration of the birth of Christ ostensibly to prevent offence being caused to non-Christian religions. Last week it emerged that Lambeth council in south London had insisted on renaming its Christmas lighting displays as winter or celebrity lights.
The latest is Conservative-controlled Waveney council in Lowestoft which provides grants totalling £10,000 for festive lights. Its report states that because Christmas focuses only on the Christian faith, continuing the funding would not fit well with the councils core values of equality and diversity. Officials are proposing to cut the lights grants to £5,000 next year and to stop them altogether by 2007. The report is due to go before councillors on Thursday. This is just another example of political correctness gone mad, said Sue Allen, chairman of the local lights committee. I was a bit surprised about the wording of the report. However, I can understand why the council is doing this and I believe there are more worthy causes in the district who deserve the money. It will just mean that we will have to work harder to raise funds for the Christmas lights in the future.
Mark Bee, the council leader, yesterday insisted that the wording of the proposal had been drawn up by officials and said the change was being proposed solely on economic grounds. I consider the wording of the document unfortunate and I will be taking it up with the officer on Monday, said Bee. I do not see the reason for this as one of equality and diversity. It is one of economics. I am a practising Christian and attend church and feel that religion of all forms is something that should be embraced. We do not live in an area of great cultural diversity in this part of Suffolk, but if there were any communities that particularly came forward for funding we would deal with them in an equal way.
Previous examples of Christmas being sidelined by officialdom include Birmingham council renaming the festival Winterval and job centres and Red Cross offices banning trees and decorations
LEFTIST RACISM CONTINUES IN THE USA
In light of the racial indignities being foisted upon Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, a black Republican who recently announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, members of the black leadership group Project 21 call on all candidates and political parties to shun both the use of such tactics and individuals who employ them.
Steele most recently was portrayed as a white minstrel in blackface on a left-wing blog, but has suffered other racial indignities, such as being pelted with Oreo cookies at the historically-black Morgan State University in Baltimore and being called "Uncle Tom," among other epithets.
Project 21 members say all electoral candidates should be open to criticism about their records, credentials and policy positions, but candidates should not be subjected to race-based abuse. The way to end this, says Project 21, is for all political parties and candidates to repudiate and pledge to refrain from engaging in any activity that demeans on the basis of race, gender and/or other birth characteristics in favor of a robust debate on real issues affecting the public.
Some politicians appear to be making an effort to meet this standard. Former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, who is running for the same Senate seat as Steele, condemned racialist attacks. As reported by the Washington Times, Mfume said: "Racially-tinged attacks have no place in this campaign for U.S. Senate. If they did, I could very well be the object of public racial humiliation, based on my skin color, by people who don't like my politics. Black bigotry can be just as cruel and evil as white bigotry. There are too many bigots in too many places."
Democratic Congressman Albert Wynn (MD), who is black, echoed Mfume's sentiment, saying he "emphatically repudiates [and] condemns the racist and stereotypical attacks on Mr. Steele." Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a white Democrat and gubernatorial candidate, did so as well, calling attacks "disgusting and offensive" with "no place in politics." The Maryland Democratic Party and several other Democratic elected officials in Maryland also condemned the race-based attacks, as did the GOP.
Some, however, seem unoffended -- in one case, even enthusiastic about -- the racial attacks on Steele. According to the Washington Times, white political consultant Joe Trippi said calling Steele an "Uncle Tom" is "pointing out the obvious." Trippi is a spokesman for Mfume and is best known for his leadership of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's presidential campaign.
State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat, told the Times that party loyalties make racial attacks fair game: "Party trumps race, especially on the national level. It's democracy, perhaps at its worst, but it is democracy."
State Delegate Salima Siler Marriott (D) told The Washington Times that, because Steele is conservative, "he is different than most public blacks." When questioned about Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D) -- who is white -- calling Steele an "Uncle Tom" in 2001, Marriott said, "that's not racial."
"If we are going to get ahead politically, blacks must be active in all major political parties. This intimidation to keep us away the party currently controlling the White House, Congress and many state and local governments - including the governorship of Maryland - is counterproductive," said Project 21's Donald Scoggins. "Opportunities are being lost for meaningful discussions of policies affecting the black community."
"Slandering Steele is contemptible on its face," said Project 21 member Mychal Massie. "It proves two things: Liberals fully support flagrant racism for their own purposes and that their insults expose them as representative of the most baneful and cancerous elements of their community. One would wonder about their shame, but it's assumed that's the purpose of their Sundays."
Project 21's Kevin Martin added: "I was there in 2002 when they threw Oreo cookies at Lieutenant Governor Steele. It happened at a historically black college, and it brought shame upon that institution. It's horrible that, as our nation buried civil rights icon Rosa Parks, those who lay claim the mantle of civil rights movement are continuing to engage in such despicable acts."
7 November, 2005
I personally love all the great old Protestant hymns that I grew up with -- despite my now being an unbeliever. So I felt that the cartoon below (backup here) really hit home:
Maybe I am a sentimental old fool but, as a tribute to the wonderful original, I am going to reprint the whole of it below. You can hear one rendition of the music here. If certain unhappy souls in Paris at the moment had grown up with this hymn, the world would be a better place:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, Who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.
When weve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
Weve no less days to sing Gods praise
Than when wed first begun.
NO "FRESHMEN" ANY MORE
Another example of just how laughable and useless our public education system has become just occurred in the state of New Hampshire. Amherst Regional High School has banned the term "freshman" from the school's lexicon. Apparently, the so-called educators at the school are more concerned with politically correct lunacy than with preparing their students for an increasingly competitive job market...But what else is new?
The reason behind outlawing the term "freshman" is it contains the word "man." This is the same reason policemen and policewomen are now referred to as "police officers" and firemen have become "fire fighters, and the mailman has become a "mail carrier." Of course, none of those name changes actually mean anything, they simply make liberals feel as though they have accomplished something with their useless pursuits.
Effective immediately, freshmen students at Amherst Regional High School will be referred to as "ninth-graders." Amherst social studies teacher Samantha Camera said of the change: "This is 2005 and the word 'man' or 'men' no longer refers to all people." Evidently Ms. Camera has never opened a Webster's dictionary, which defines the word "man" as: "a human being; person" and "the human race; mankind." However, it is 2005 and expecting a public school teacher to refer to a dictionary is apparently asking too much!
The movement to ban the word "freshman" from the high school was begun by Assistant Principal Marta Guevara. She credits inspiration for the action to her experience with a production of The Vagina Monologues two years ago...Not kidding!
Guevara said: "We want conversation, we want for kids to bring forward their thinking. It's a great conversation to make them aware of the possible misogynistic, oppressive or non-inclusive language."
The assistant principal who seems to have difficulty stringing together a proper sentence, has also eluded to her to desire to ban the words "junior," "senior," and "upperclassmen."
This example of left wing insanity is only the latest in a long string of efforts by teachers' unions (which are controlled by the Democratic Party) to politically indoctrinate U.S. children. Unfortunately, too many public school teachers are more concerned with creating more Democratic voters, than with teaching basic math and language skills. After all, more Democratic voters mean a continuation of low standards for students and lazy teachers.
The feminization of America is largely contributing to the destruction of this country. How unfortunate it is that most of our men are too pre-occupied with pornography and video games to care.
One of my female readers emailed me the following comment on the article above:
I was completely on-board with this guy's article until the last sentence. HUH? Sure, as a society we're not often as willing to stand up and speak out as we probably "ought" to be. But that comment seemed harsh to me..... and almost as if this man (I checked the source to see who wrote it, because that line caught me so off-guard) ironically shows clearly what a "victim" of liberal/public school/feminist indoctrination HE is.... to automatically blame men only for this being allowed.
The men I know are mostly what I'd consider "good men".... hard-working, responsible "regular guys" (although "regular guys" doesn't seem to be as "regular" as it once was.) They are not unaware of what feminism has robbed from BOTH sexes, but if they have "done nothing" about the situation, I'd have to say it was more because they've been busy trying to BE hard-working, responsible, regular guys-- trying to have strong marriages and raise intelligent and insightful sons and daughters DESPITE the indoctrination of school, media, politics, etc. THAT's where they have their only "soapbox".... they don't get six hours a day of their kids' and neighbor kids' time in the schools or all-day-long on the TV to make their voices heard.
Porno and video games? Seemed like a pretty cliched and "feminist" slap at American manhood to me.
A PATHETIC EXCUSE TO ELIMINATE CHRISTIAN HOLIDAYS
There was no reason to start a holy war in Hillsborough County over school holidays. For that reason alone, the school board should reconsider its misdirected decision, which has evoked some ugly outbursts and is pitting one religion against another. That's not what local Muslims wanted when they sought a school holiday that would coincide with Eid Al-Fitr. The board's decision in attempting not to offend anyone has offended most everyone and created an unnecessary backlash against Muslims.
Here's what happened: Muslims raised the holiday issue because they wanted to make sure their children weren't penalized for missing school to mark the end of Ramadan. The district already had a policy of allowing students to miss school for religious observances. And principals and teachers were properly reminded of it.
But the school board, at the urging of a committee, voted to move holidays that had coincided with Good Friday, Easter Monday and Yom Kippur, an overreaction. The outbursts and the histrionics began.... Still, the board needs to admit its mistake. Plenty of reasonable people feel the board went too far in disregarding family traditions.
Chairwoman Candy Olson acknowledges the board should have been aware that its move would be seen as a further breakdown of society's traditions. The board intends to study attendance patterns under the 2006-07 calendar, which has no religious holidays, but those numbers will now be skewed by those who believe they have to defend their faiths by keeping their children out of school. The only way to fix this mess is to restore the holidays that were taken away and then study which religious holidays unduly affect school attendance.
If in coming years the school district and the local Muslim community can document large-scale absences that keep schools from functioning, there would be no harm in considering a holiday for Eid Al-Fitr. If anything good has come out of this fight, it is that it has highlighted many residents' passion about raising children of faith and tradition. That is something to be encouraged, not undermined by politically correct policies or grandstanding.
6 November 2005
BONFIRES NOW INCORRECT IN BRITAIN
I remember how much I enjoyed the fireworks and bonfires of Guy Fawkes night during my long-past Australian childhood but the fireworks have now been banned in Australia for many years
What is Guy Fawkes Night without the bonfire and Snow White minus the seven dwarfs? Or Pinocchio banned for mocking people with long noses and the Lord of the Rings dwarf removed for being offensive? If you didnt laugh, youd cry, it is often said. Especially when right is wrong and wrong deemed politically correct. And one will never cease to be amazed by the British style of seeing the funny side of adversity. But the latest pantomime where the traditional Nov 5 bonfire is banned and Snow Whites dwarfs replaced with gnomes beggars belief.
Instead of lighting a bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night, the residents were told to spend the evening more constructively, that is, quietly composting their garden waste! In its leaflet, the Test Valley Council in Hampshire claimed smoke from bonfires annoyed neighbours, made people ill and drifted over roads. Among others, the council cautioned that smoke, ash and smell polluted the environment and damaged peoples health, especially those suffering from asthma, bronchitis or heart conditions. It also warned of the dangers posed by bonfires spreading to surrounding fences and shrubs as well as smoke causing traffic hazards.
Against this health and safety backdrop, however, critics argued the ruling would turn the traditional exciting occasion into a damp squib. Better call it Garden Forks Night, screamed one British tabloid, while another labelled the event Compost Night. For centuries, Bonfire Night had gone off with a bang across Britain, with people burning wood for donkeys years. Young and old have thrilled to the sight of a roaring blaze, colourful fireworks, baked potatoes and sausages and of course, the effigy of Guy Fawkes on top of the burning pile.
Needless to say, not everyone cherishes the idea of attending big organised bonfires and fireworks displays at designated areas. Instead, they prefer a small bonfire with family members and friends gathered around to enjoy fireworks parties in their gardens. In truth, watching compost decompose may be safe, educational and environmental-friendly. But it certainly is not half as exciting as bonfires and fireworks displays.
Some even chided that Guy Fawkes did not put a compost heap under the Houses of Parliament, in an apparent reference to the failed plot by Fawkes and 12 conspirators some 400 years ago.
But the tradition is celebrated in some places in Britain, as the following excerpt notes:
"On Saturday, residents of Lewes, a hilly town of 16,000 near England's south coast, will parade through the streets dressed as smugglers, popes and Mongols, then set the night sky alight with bonfires and fireworks. They will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which a group of Catholic radicals are alleged to have tried to blow up Parliament and kill King James I.
Lewes's Bonfire Night will attract as many as 150,000 people, making it the biggest event on the day in England. What began as a sectarian celebration of freedom from the rule of Rome has evolved into one of independence and anti-authoritarianism, said organizers. The Lewes bonfires continued even as government officials sought to suppress them in 1847".
LEFTIST RACISM AGAIN
Race must govern all, in the Leftist anti-individual worldview
"Members of the black leadership network Project 21 are condemning a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial in which United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is said to need as "asterisk" next to his name with regard to his race because he "does not represent the views of mainstream black America."
In an editorial written by Greg Stanford that appeared in the October 31 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that was largely critical of the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, Stanford also chose to take issue with Justice Thomas's racial allegiance. The editorial stated: "In losing a woman, the court with Alito would feature seven white men, one white woman and a black man, who deserves an asterisk because he arguably does not represent the views of mainstream black America."
The notion that there is a black way of thinking that is expressly liberal in nature is strongly denounced by Project 21 members. "Agree or disagree with Justice Thomas, his personal journey from poverty in Pinpoint, Georgia to academic achievement at Yale Law School to high-level service in several federal positions and on the nation's highest court is an admirable example of personal dedication and success, not an asterisk," said Project 21 member Deroy Murdock.
Murdock added: "Justice Thomas is not on the Court to represent 'mainstream black America' any more than Justice Antonin Scalia is supposed to stick up for Americans of Italian descent or Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is supposed to be the Court's voice of American Jewry. Is there a mainstream black view on so-called 'right to die' cases? What is the proper Jewish position on the Endangered Species Act's impact on property rights? Who knows? Justice Thomas represents the conservative judicial philosophy of the president who appointed him. So far, he is doing that quite well. If liberals want to affect the philosophical tone of the Supreme Court, they should consider winning the White House."
"It is apparent that Greg Stanford's attempt at sarcastic cute humor failed. He is representative of the left's unambiguous contempt for decency, said Project 21 member Mychal Massie. "It gives one cause to question the depth of moral turpitude liberals will plumb to case dispersions on blacks and women who do not ascribe to their perversion of reality."
THE UNMENTIONABLE RELIGION
In Paris, MUSLIM immigrants go berserk, destroying Paris. Islamic rioting and destruction goes on for eight days and continues to spread to cities beyond Paris. The Western media does everything its power to deny that Muslims are responsible for their own behavior. For example, the BBC article uses any word except the word 'Muslims' to describe who the rioters are. The absence of truth leaves great confusion about why this riot is happening. Never called 'Muslims', the rioters are instead called ...
"teenagers of African origin" (= Muslims from Algeria)
"gangs of youths"
"poor, largely immigrant communities"
The truth is, two Muslims electrocuted themselves (perhaps while fleeing from the French police). The Muslims are declaring war on France, opening fire and shooting at police, burning buildings, destroying cars, and rioting for the eight days in a row. Violence spreads to other Muslim communities all over France.
Amazingly, France is to blame! "Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has pledged to restore order following criticism of the government's failure to end violence." The French government is guilty of "failure to end violence." Meanwhile Muslim religious leaders, who are made to seem as if unrelated to the violence, have beneficently "urged politicians to show respect for immigrant communities." Muslims are innocent. Black is white. White is black. Truth collapses. Dishonesty, corruption, lies, and coverups infect all news medias in the Western world on behalf of Islam. A conspiracy involving almost all journalists in existence strives to hide reality.
5 November, 2005
TRUTH ON TRIAL
Excerpt from an article by former feminist agitator turned realist, Phyllis Chesler:
Are we winning the war against terror or more precisely, against the death-cult ideology of extreme hate that employs terror as one of its weapons? America, Britain and Israel have all committed significant sums of money to fight back militarily and to ensure civilian safety. However, we must fight another very hot war, one which will ultimately decide whether Western Civilization lives or dies. This is a war we are not winning and some argue that it is a war we have not yet even begun to fight.
I am talking about The Culture War, the war that must be fought to oppose the campaign of lies and propaganda that Islamists and western Stalinists launched against the West, beginning with Israel, arguably anywhere from forty to seventy years ago. The Culture War is a very hot war: no prisoners are taken, no mercy is shown. And there are now penalties for trying to tell the truth about the danger of jihad or about the barbaric and pathological nature of militant Islam today. Indeed, if you try to discuss the Islamic religious and gender apartheid and its dangerous proliferation into Europe and North America (i.e. there have been honor killings in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, Jersey City, Toronto, as well as all over Europe and in the Muslim world), this is what will happen to you:
If you tell these truths in the Arab and Muslim world, you'll be beheaded, probably tortured, certainly jailed, exiled if you are lucky. Many Muslim and Christian dissidents have suffered precisely this fate. There are no more Jews there, the Islamist Caliphate has rendered the entire Middle East Judenrein long ago. Try to say this in Europe and you might be butchered, as Theo Von Gogh was, or simply imprisoned in purdah, veiled, or threatened, forced to go into hiding, or honor-murdered as so many Muslim girls and women are.
Try to tell the moral tragedy that the United Nations represents, or the even greater tragedy that the word "Palestine" has come to represent objectively, and therefore in a non-politically correct way, on European and on North American campuses, or on the increasingly left-dominated liberal media airwaves, and you may not be shot on the spot, but you will be slandered and called a "racist" and a "fascist." I have been called both.
If you are a North American intellectual, you may not be imprisoned or be-headed but you will be heckled, mocked, and shunned. You might need security in order to speak. If you're a feminist, you will no longer be taken seriously as an intellectual, nor will you be "heard." ....
Anti-American and anti-Israel demonstrators, who are clearly and visibly filled with hate and rage, are described as "peace activists." Anti-Semitism is legitimized, while the slightest criticism of Islam is banned because of the disallowance of "Islamophobia." Telling the truth has become an offense which is unprotected by free speech doctrines, which instead protect the telling of lies.
Feminism's devolution from hoaxers to whores
(By Kathleen Parker)
"So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax? Do women get less desirable as they get more successful?"
Columnist Maureen Dowd posed those questions in Sunday's New York Times Magazine in an essay adapted from her forthcoming book: "Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide." Entertaining as usual, Dowd explored her premise that many women end up unmarried and childless because they're successful by reviewing women's evolution since her college days, which happen to have coincided with my own. We both came of age as women's lib was being midwifed into the culture by a generation of women who felt enslaved by homemaking and childbearing. Now, in the span of a generation, all that business about equality apparently isn't so appealing to a younger generation of women, who are ever inventive as they seek old ways to attract new men. Dowd writes:
"Today, women have gone back to hunting their quarry, with elaborate schemes designed to allow the deluded creatures (men) to think they are the hunters."
Dowd, herself unmarried and childless, wonders whether being smart and successful explains her status. She observes that men would rather marry women who are younger and more malleable, i.e. less successful and perhaps not so very bright.
No one vets the culture with a keener eye than Dowd. Her identification of trends - especially the perverse evolution of liberated women from Birkenstock-wearing intellectuals into pole-dancing sluts - is dead on. But while she sees women clearly as they search for identity in a gender-shifting culture, she doesn't seem to know much about men. Men haven't turned away from smart, successful women because they're smart and successful. More likely they've turned away because the feminist movement that encouraged women to be smart and successful also encouraged them to be hostile and demeaning to men.
Whatever was wrong, men did it. During the past 30 years, they've been variously characterized as male chauvinist pigs, deadbeat dads or knuckle-dragging abusers who beat their wives on Super Bowl Sunday. At the same time women wanted men to be wage earners, they also wanted them to act like girlfriends: to time their contractions, feed and diaper the baby, and go antiquing.
And then, when whatshisname inevitably lapsed into guy-ness, women wanted him to disappear. If children were involved, women got custody and men got an invoice. The eradication of men and fathers from children's lives has been feminism's most despicable accomplishment. Half of all children will sleep tonight in a home where their father does not live. Did we really think men wouldn't mind?
Meanwhile, when we're not bashing men, we're diminishing manhood. Look around at entertainment and other cultural signposts and you see a feminized culture that prefers sanitized men - hairless, coiffed, buffed and, if possible, gay. Men don't know whether to be "metrosexuals" getting pedicures, or "groomzillas" obsessing about wedding favors, or the latest, "ubersexuals" - yes to the coif, no to androgyny.
As far as I can tell, real men don't have a problem with smart, successful women. But they do mind being castrated. It's a guy thing. They do mind being told in so many ways that they are superfluous.
Even now, the latest book to fuel the feminist flames of male alienation is Peggy Drexler's lesbian guide to guilt-free narcissism, "Raising Boys Without Men." Is it possible to raise boys without men? Sure. Is it right? You may find your answer by imagining a male-authored book titled: "Raising Girls Without Women."
Returning to Dowd's original question, yes, the feminist movement was a hoax inasmuch as it told only half the story. As even feminist matriarch Betty Friedan eventually noted, feminism failed to recognize that even smart, successful women also want to be mothers. It's called Nature. Social engineering can no more change that fact than mechanical engineering can change the laws of physics. Many of those women who declined to join the modern feminist movement learned the rest of the story by becoming mothers themselves and, in many cases, by raising boys who were born innocent and undeserving of women's hostilities.
I would never insist that women have to have children to be fully female. Some women aren't mother material - and some men don't deserve the children they sire. But something vital and poignant happens when one's own interests become secondary to the more compelling needs of children. You grow up. In the process of sacrificing your infant-self for the real baby, you stop obsessing and fixating on the looking glass. Instead, you focus your energies on trying to raise healthy boys and girls to become smart, successful men and women. In the jungle, one hopes, they will find each other
4 November, 2005
FATHERS VERY INCORRECT
The Public Broadcasting System is being accused of launching a direct assault on fathers and fatherhood. A men's issues columnist says a documentary recently aired by PBS gives a distorted view of family law. Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories was shown on many PBS affiliates last Thursday (October 20). Subsequently, more than 3,500 people reportedly have contacted the network to protest airing of the film which, according to news reports, features "poignant interviews of children, [battered] mothers and adult survivors of childhood domestic violence."
Columnist Glenn Sacks takes issue, however, with how the film portrays fathers. He contends it depicts fathers as batterers and child molesters who steal children from their mothers. "[The film] said that only fathers commit child abuse, when the vast majority of child abuse is committed by mothers not by fathers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services," Sacks observes. "And it gives a very distorted view of what happens in family law. For example, the film claims that the vast majority of men who seek joint custody of their children after divorce are abusers."
The columnist is calling on PBS to allow advocates of fatherhood a chance to respond to the film's one-sided presentation. "What we are asking for is time on PBS to make a meaningful response to the film," he explains. According to Sacks, the documentary "cherry-picked a few highly unusual cases and pretended that they represent a widespread problem," resulting in unfair treatment of the issue. That, he asserts, contradicts PBS's mission statement. "PBS [is] funded by tax dollars," Sacks says. "They have a responsibility for [airing] balanced programming. This program is extremely unbalanced. And so what we want is PBS to give us the chance to come on and to give our perspective on these issues." So far, says Sacks, he has yet to receive a meaningful response from the taxpayer-supported broadcasting network.
Breaking the Silence, which is scheduled to air on additional PBS affiliates in coming weeks, was underwritten by a half-million-dollar grant from the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, which is associated with Mary Kay beauty products. The Foundation reports that since 1996 it has provided more than $13 million in grants to two specific causes: research of cancers affecting women, and prevention of violence against women.
HOW ANTI-CHRISTIAN CAN YOU GET?
It is the normal spelling rule in English that all proper names -- such as the names of persons -- are spelt with an initial capital letter. But in the EU there is one insulting exception. You will never guess what it is:
"It must be getting a little too close for Christmas for the chi-chi crystal palace of the pretentious European Union. Pooh-bahs in Brussels have come up with a new grammar rule for themselves and the Netherlands--making it official that the name "Christ" will soon be written with a lower-case "c". That was the stipulation in an orthography reform published earlier this month in Brussels. According to the Kath.net agency, the new spelling legislation will also stipulate that the Dutch word for "jews" (joden) be spelled with a capital "J" when referring to nationality [Catch 22: There IS no Jewish nationality, though there is an Israeli one] and with a lower-case "j" when referring to the religion. The changes will be mandatory in August of 2006. There is no description of the fines offenders will face if they keep right on spelling "Christ" with a capital "C".
The new spelling regulations are coming from the same folk, who include as one of their seat numbers in the august and austere chamber in which they gather to prevaricate on all things politically correct, the number 666 [The Devil's number]. The European Union hierarchy may have numbered the seat 666, but at last count no one has had the courage to actually claim the seat as their own.
At the European Union, the name of the humble carpenter from Nazareth may be diminished by lower-case spelling, but Javier Solana, The Great will continue to have his name spelled in capital letters. Solana, a sort of Kofi Annan, European style, is High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Secretary General of both the European Union and the Western European Union. Note to the media, all of his titles are to be spelled in capital letters.
EU politically correct lockstep seems to be as infectious as bird flu. Across the ocean in faraway Florida, schools are banning Christmas and Easter holidays in response to Muslim demands. "Demands from the terrorist-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for an official school recognition of a Muslim Holy Day has resulted in the Hillsborough County School Board banning all religious holidays-Christmas, Good Friday and Easter are off the calendar. Any parent, whose little angel has been traumatized with nowhere to show off her Christmas pageant wings, will have to perform for the neighbourhood kids out in the garage this year.
The Hillsborugh County School Board and its trustees should be reminded of author Mark Twain's take on school boards: "In the first place God created idiots. This was just for practice. Then he created school boards."
Meanwhile caving in to the march of the politically correct army will someday lead to the banning of the words "hi" and "hello" on the very likely basis that it may offend somebody who prefers to be greeted with the words, "Assalaam Alaikum"."
3 November, 2005
"INTELLIGENT DESIGN": AN AUSTRALIAN COMPROMISE
I am an atheist but I think it is for the good of science for the holes in evolution theory to be pointed out. So the push by the Australian Feds to allow ID to be taught in the schools -- but in religion rather than in science classes -- seems a reasonable compromise to me
Christian schools have defended their right to teach intelligent design in science classes to explain the origin of life, accusing sceptical scientists and teachers of "ideological conservatism". In the latest salvo over the theory emanating from the United States, Christian educators said no approach to science was "value-neutral" and that both Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and intelligent design "have their own strong ideological foundations". Intelligent design says that some forms of life are so complex they can be explained only by the actions of an "intelligent designer".
Carolyn Kelshaw, chief executive officer of Christian parent-controlled schools, and Richard Edlin, principal of the National Institute for Christian Education, said "intolerant" opponents of intelligent design were holding back "the genuine exploration of alternative approaches within science teaching in Australian schools". "We are dismayed that some science educators appear to be committed to their own ideological conservatism," they said in a statement. There are 24 parent-controlled Christian schools in NSW and another 56 schools represented by Christian Schools Australia.
More than 70,000 Australian scientists and science teachers this month criticised the infiltration into schools of intelligent design, saying that it was a belief, not a scientific theory. Nobel prize-winning scientist Peter Doherty said it was "a ridiculous idea and has no place in science teaching". The Dean of Sciences at the University of NSW, Mike Archer, told ABC Radio that equating intelligent design with science could lead to teaching "astrology instead of astronomy" and "flat earth [theory] and fork bending".
But the chief executive of Christian Schools Australia, Stephen O'Doherty, said he was happy to "take on" the scientists and teachers, who were "dogmatic and close-minded". He said intelligent design was "a debate among scientists" using the scientific record and complexity of biological systems "as evidence of an intelligent designer". "But there is no such thing in Australia as an intelligent design curriculum that takes Darwin off the shelf," he said.
In the past two months, Australian schools have snapped up a US-funded intelligent design DVD called Unlocking the Mystery of Life after the federal Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson, said he supported intelligent design being taught in religion or philosophy classes.
Stanley Renshon speaks on immigration and the importance of a sense of common citizenship
As an American professor, what Renshon can say is limited but he does have some criticisms of politically correct American immigration and citizenship policy. A few excerpts:
The core issue of immigration is not one of dollars or cents; the core issue in my view is national attachment and identity, emotional attachment to this country and developing an identity as an American. This is what I call the hidden core of the immigration debate. It doesn't matter if immigrants contribute more than they cost if they are not emotionally attached to the country and identify as Americans.
So too illegal immigrants are not only damaging to the United States because they begin their association with us by breaking the law and spawning a host of illegal activities from document fraud and human smuggling to government corruption. They are damaging as well because their enormous presence underscores and undermines citizen's confidence that the government can do or perform its most basic function, which is preserving the integrity of the American national community and its physical boundaries....
Now, I recently had the honor of testifying before the congressional House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration where, aside from a contentious exchange with Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee about whether the concerns I expressed here were anti-immigrant - she repeatedly pressed for examples of real and immediate damage done by dual citizenship.
Well, in that regard, consider the Pew Hispanic Center's 2002 survey of 3,000 persons of Hispanic and Latino background. I recommend it to you; it's a very interesting set of data, which you can get online. Among the many useful questions the survey asked were those concerning national and ethnic identity. The survey asked respondents about the terms they use to describe themselves and found that a large majority of Latinos, that is 88 percent, indicate that they identify themselves by the country where they or their parent's ancestors were born, for example, a Mexican or a Cuban. They were almost as likely to use the term Latino or Hispanic - much less likely to use the term American, which didn't show up very often.
We are talking about a lot of people here. There are 14.5 million people from Latin America living in the United States by some estimates. So to say that 88 percent of that sample refers to themselves primarily in terms of their country of origin is to say that we have almost 13 million immigrants with no "American" in their cognitive structure.
The data on what is happening to some immigrant children is no less troubling. A 1992 study found that 25 percent of the second-generation immigrant children identified themselves as a non-hyphenated Latin nationality, country of origin, despite the fact that they had been born in the United States and grown up here. A more recent survey of over 5,000 children - it is the major study of Hispanic assimilation in the United States - found that among the U.S. born, just four percent of American - of Mexican-American - youth identified themselves in any way as American, the lowest proportion of any group.
And I think there is also an issue, which has not been looked at carefully, which is just how much emotional attachment is represented by contemporary hyphenization. We assume that every group is like the Irish, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that this historical parallel is misplaced. Now, it's hardly surprising that other countries try to maximize their self-interests here through their immigrants.
The question before us is whether we should encourage their success at the cost of our own civic and cultural institutions. I believe obviously the answer to that is no. No country and no democracy certainly can afford to have large groups, members of its citizens, with shallow national and civic attachments. No country facing dangerous enemies, as America now does, benefits from taking a laissez faire attitude towards truly integrating its citizens into our national community. And no country striving to reconnect its citizens to their civic and national identity can afford to encourage its citizens to look to other countries for their most basic and profound national attachments. Thank you.
LOOKS LIKE THE REAL STORY OF ROSA PARKS IS INDEED DIFFERENT
Confirmation from a Leftist source follows:
Before refusing to give up her bus seat, Parks had been active for twelve years in the local NAACP chapter, serving as its secretary. The summer before her arrest, shed had attended a ten-day training session at Tennessees labor and civil rights organizing school, the Highlander Center, where shed met an older generation of civil rights activists, like South Carolina teacher Septima Clark, and discussed the recent Supreme Court decision banning separate-but-equal schools. During this period of involvement and education, Parks had become familiar with previous challenges to segregation: Another Montgomery bus boycott, fifty years earlier, successfully eased some restrictions; a bus boycott in Baton Rouge won limited gains two years before Parks was arrested; and the previous spring, a young Montgomery woman had also refused to move to the back of the bus, causing the NAACP to consider a legal challenge until it turned out that she was unmarried and pregnant, and therefore a poor symbol for a campaign.
In short, Rosa Parks didnt make a spur-of-the-moment decision. She didnt single-handedly give birth to the civil rights efforts, but she was part of an existing movement for change, at a time when success was far from certain. We all know Parkss name, but few of us know about Montgomery NAACP head E.D. Nixon, who served as one of her mentors and first got Martin Luther King involved. Nixon carried peoples suitcases on the trains, and was active in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the union founded by legendary civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph. He played a key role in the campaign. No one talks of him, any more than they talk of JoAnn Robinson, who taught nearby at an underfunded and segregated Black college and whose Womens Political Council distributed the initial leaflets following Parkss arrest. Without the often lonely work of people like Nixon, Randolph, and Robinson, Parks would likely have never taken her stand, and if she had, it would never have had the same impact.
2 November, 2005
WAS ROSA PARKS A COMMUNIST AGITATOR?
The following was published as a Letter to the Editor. I have no means of checking it but others might
Regarding the story of the passing of Rosa Parks, I noticed a few glaring omissions about her life. Although it was a courageous act to refuse to sit in the back of the bus as she was ordered to do, this was not a spontaneous act on her part, and a closer look at history will tell the full story, which unfortunately does not meet the "politically correct" criteria for today's news.
Rosa Parks was the secretary of the local NAACP. In August of 1955, (four months before the bus incident) Parks attended the Highlander Folk School in Mounteagle, Tennessee. This school was started in 1932 by Myles Horton and James Dombrowski, both members of the Communist Party. The schools' original purpose was to train Communists activists on how to promote textile strikes, hold protest marches, and march in picket.
The Textile Workers Union then was completely controlled by the Communist Party. Parks attended summer training at the Highlander Folk school in 1955, 1956 and 1957. She is pictured with Martin Luther King sitting on the front row in a Highlander training class on September 2, 1957, making the story that she was just a "poor tired black seamstress" when she sat in the front of the bus is a complete lie.
An old city bus, like the one Parks rode on, is on display in the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery AL. Children are regularly brought to the bus on field trips to hear a harsh recorded voice telling all blacks to move to the back. This is deliberately designed to instill feelings of guilt and self-hate in white children. In reality, Rosa Parks, the "Civil Rights Heroine" was a Communist agitator.
WHAT A FARCE!
Foreigners who apply to become British citizens will have to swot up on British regional accents, the Church of England and a wide range of cultural information - but not British history. Details of the new "Britishness test" were revealed by ministers on the day before the examination becomes compulsory to people who apply for naturalisation.
However, candidates will not be tested on British history. To become British, applicants will have to pay 34 pounds to sit the 45-minute multiple choice exam. They will have to answer 24 questions in the "Life in the UK" test and answer about 75 per cent correctly to pass, a Home Office spokeswoman said. Examples of areas which will be tested include:
* Where are the Geordie, Cockney, and Scouse dialects spoken?
* What are MPs?
* What is the Church of England and who is its head?
* What is the Queen's official role and what ceremonial duties does she have?
* Do many children live in single parent families or step-families?
Candidates who fail the exam will be able to re-take it as many times as they wish. From tomorrow, the computer-based examination will be available at 90 test centres around the country. Candidates will not be allowed to refer to the source book for the exam, the Life in the UK Handbook, during the test.
Immigration minister Tony McNulty said: "Becoming a British citizen is a milestone event in an individual's life. "The measures we are introducing today will help new citizens to gain a greater appreciation of the civic and political dimension of British citizenship and, in particular to understanding the rights and responsibilities that come with the acquisition of British citizenship."
1 November, 2005
AUSTRALIAN POLICE TOLD: MUSLIM WIFE-BEATING IS A "TRADITION" TO BE RESPECTED
Police are being advised to treat Muslim domestic violence cases differently out of respect for Islamic traditions and habits. Officers are also being urged to work with Muslim leaders, who will try to keep the families together.
Women's groups are concerned the politically correct policing could give comfort to wife bashers and keep their victims in a cycle of violence.
The instructions come in a religious diversity handbook given to Victorian police officers that also recommends special treatment for suspects of Aboriginal, Hindu and Buddhist background. Some police officers have claimed the directives hinder enforcing the law equally. Police are told: "In incidents such as domestic violence, police need to have an understanding of the traditions, ways of life and habits of Muslims." They are told it would be appreciated in cases of domestic violence if police consult the local Muslim religious leader who will work against "fragmenting the family unit".
Islamic Women's Welfare Council head Joumanah El Matrah called the guidelines appalling and dangerous. "The implication is one needs to be more tolerant of violence against Muslim women but they should be entitled to the same protection," Ms El Matrah said. "Police should not be advising other officers to follow those sorts of protocols. "It can only lead to harm." Ms El Matrah said Muslim leaders should be brought into domestic violence investigations only if requested by the abused woman.
FEMINISM IS LOSING
I have a friend who jokes that she has become, at 40, everything that her ambitious 20-year-old self would have considered her worst nightmare. She is married with three children, lives in a big house in the suburbs of Washington DC, and drives an SUV. She's no Martha Stewart, however. Stop by on a weekday afternoon and you won't see her brandishing a glue gun or rearranging her furniture. More likely, she's lounging in her garden with a book and a glass of Chardonnay while her youngest climbs a play set. Not so long ago, this woman's life would have provoked shudders among her friends.
Today, she is on the cutting edge. Almost four decades after Betty Friedan helped to launch the modern women's movement with The Feminine Mystique, a strange reversal is taking place. Everywhere you turn, the old-fashioned, full-time mother at home is being celebrated - as fashion icon, as status symbol, as sex symbol. Those luscious mums of Wisteria Lane in the television show Desperate Housewives may be desperate, but they are also the most recent and glamorous examples of a trend among American women that has been taking place over the past few years. The percentage of mothers in the workforce with children under one fell for the first time in 25 years in 2000, and those whose participation in the labour force dropped fastest were well-educated, well-paid women.
This trend has provoked the usual amount of media handwringing. A reporter recently called me to discuss the "serious problem" of women "not getting enough 'me-time' ". In her book, Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, Judith Warner catalogued the grim lives of affluent women who had quit their careers. Even with domestic help, it was still a struggle to keep up with the children's ballet lessons and the immense social pressure they felt to be domestic goddesses. But the dirty secret is, for all the noise about the stress of being "trapped" with children, more women are choosing to be at home and are happier for it. Perhaps that's why Darla Shine's new book, Happy Housewives, is so refreshing. She gives voice to the secretly growing consensus that being a housewife is a potentially fulfilling and satisfying lifestyle.
It is bracing reading and the serious message that underlies Shine's heckling may be exactly the sort of snap-out-of-it advice many women need to hear. It is amazing that our generation of women can complain so much about stress. "If you are a married mother who feels overwhelmed, ask yourself this: is your life really more stressful than that of a mother in, say, 1901? Or 1943? Or even 1965?" As Shine puts it: "I wish this for every desperate mother: to realise how lucky you are . we have it pretty good, girls."
To be fair, every generation of women faces its own set of issues, and the modern-day ones relate more to peculiar, psychological stresses than, say, the physical stress of a woman beating her own laundry and living in a cabin. The laundry beater was not plagued with worry about whether she was a "good" mother. She was yelling at her kids to churn the butter faster, and praying that they would not drop dead from catching cold. Women my age, however, were raised for professional careers, not the home. We did not seek degrees in biology and corporate management to better understand the nutritional composition of mashed bananas. The competitive spirit has to find an outlet, too: "It's about aggressive social climbing. It's about chairing an event at their child's school," observed a mother I know. "It's about who has the best decorator or personal trainer."
Shine writes that she was miserable when she quit her job as a television producer after her first child was born. She grew miserable. She resented that her husband kept going to the office while she put in hours at the playground or the manicure salon. "Looking back now I can see how much time I spent whining about being a mom, and trying to keep myself superbusy so I wouldn't have to face the dreary monotony of everyday mummy/housewife life. I left my career to be with my children because I thought I had no other choice, and I was full of resentment." It was only after Shine had a cancer scare that she began to take her blessings less for granted. In embracing the tasks she had rejected, she began to embrace the life she had chosen. This brought order to the house, a renewed closeness with her (now) two small children, greater intimacy with her husband, and that elusive peace within herself.
Whether other women will find such bliss through housework is debatable. But the truth that Shine captures is this: a home is made by the mother regardless of whether she works. Women decorate the house physically and spiritually; they set the pace and rhythm of a family's daily life. They are the ones, too, constantly taking the temperature of their domestic surroundings. "Is everything going OK or is there trouble? Have we eaten too much prepared food this week? Should we all do something together this weekend? Are the kids watching too much television?" This maternal crawl line, constantly scanning below the main programming, is what keeps a home balanced. It may seem unfair but, as Shine writes: "Let's be proud that we put our families first. Be proud that we're holding it all together, making it all work . it's the women who are smart, raising babies, taking care of their husbands, creating beautiful homes, who cook, clean, pull it all together, and do it every day... who really are the women with power."
And if that's not palatable, Shine offers a number of recipes - Mexican Layer Dip, Zucchini Boats, Peppered Flank Steak - to help her strong medicine go down.