The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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30 September, 2007

Banning Boyhood

Huck Finn must be spinning in his literary grave. Just recently a Colorado Springs, Co., elementary school banned tag during recess, joining other schools that have prohibited this childhood pastime. Upon hearing this, I thought about the movement to ban cops and robbers, musical chairs, steal the bacon, and the kill-joys' most frequent target and this writer's favorite childhood school game, dodge ball. Then there's the more inane still, such as the decision by the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association to prohibit keeping score in kids' tournament play.

There are many ways to describe this trend. One might say it's a result of the left's antipathy toward competition, the increasing litigiousness of the day, or the inordinate concern with self-esteem and hurt feelings. Then, if I am to speak only of my feelings, the word stupid comes to mind. Really, though, regardless of whether the motivations are good or ill or the reasoning sound or not, at the end of the day I find a conclusion inescapable. Slowly, incrementally, perversely, boyhood is being banned.

Make no mistake, the aforementioned examples are not isolated social accidents but part of a pattern. Recently I was talking to a friend who has two young sons, and he mentioned how he bought their toy machine-gun and revolver at a garage sale. He and his wife remarked about how it was the only way to find realistic-looking toy guns nowadays, the kind that were staples of Boydom when I was a lad. Oh, toy guns can still be seen -- that is, when they aren't prohibited by crime-ridden cities or crazy moms -- but they don't resemble anything John Wayne would have wielded. Often misshapen, more and more they come only in colors that, well, men aren't known for being acquainted with, ones that some would describe as "girly."

Getting back to the People's Republic of Massachusetts' soccer league, it was so concerned about the poor little eggs' feelings that it also decided no one should get trophies. This isn't unusual, as the practice of awarding trophies to all or none is now often adopted, lest a tear run down a cherubic face. Moreover, frowning upon competition - which boys thrive on --isn't limited to frivolous pursuits, as schools increasingly dispense with merit-based academic models in favor of schemes such as "Outcome Based Education" (it's nothing like what it sounds).

No doubt some will chide me for casting these preferences as being characteristically male. Sure, not every boy craves competition any more than every girl eschews it, but the sexes are different. Boys love games, sports and locking horns; they love hierarchies and high-fives; they love guns, soldiers and shoot-`em-up games. Namely, they love things that are slowly being taken away from them or curtailed.

As I indicated earlier, there are many reasons why we've departed from sanity. The threat of litigation is real, and this article cites the case of seven-year-old Heather Lindaman, whose parents are suing their school because she broke her elbow while playing a variation of dodge ball. The opponents of such games use cases like Lindaman's to buttress the assertion that they are too dangerous for children. I'll only say that this is hogwash -- as all activities entail risk -- because it's irrelevant to my main point. Regardless of why these prohibitions are instituted, the end result is the same: Boys' passions are being exiled. Dangerous? You may as well just say that boyhood is dangerous.

Of course, we could do what one school that banned dodge ball did: Switch to yogic exercises. Wow! And liberals say that conservatives are no fun? Why is it that the most childish understand childhood the least?

While leftists may be childish, they conjure up pseudo-intellectual reasons for their social engineering like seasoned psycho-babblers. Tag leads to "conflict on the playground" and some students being chased "against their will," said Cindy Fesgen, assistant principal of the Discovery Canyon Campus in Colorado Springs (my particular discovery is that the school is run by lunkheads). Dodge ball is emotionally damaging to less athletic children; it "hurts their self-esteem," is how it's usually put. David Limbaugh wrote about this attitude:
Diane Farr, a curriculum specialist in Austin, Texas, explained that her school district implemented the [dodge ball] ban to satisfy a panel of professors, students and parents who wanted to `preserve the rights and dignity' of all students in the district. So dodge ball is a dignity thief? Of course, claims Farr. `What we have seen is that it does not make students feel good about themselves.' There's more. According to one anti-dodge ball crusader, `at its base, the game encourages the strong to victimize the weak. ... Schools preach the values of harmony, community and cooperation. But then those same schools let the big kids loose to see if they can hit the skinny nerd in the head with a hard, red rubber ball.'
Call me crazy, but the people who disgorge these notions just must have been skinny nerds in school. That is, the variety without the brains or ambition to be Bill Gates. Limbaugh continues,
"Educators also fear that dodge ball is not only violent, but that it and other games convey `a message of violence.' `With Columbine and all the violence that we are having, we have to be careful with how we teach our children,' says Farr."
We certainly do, and that's why we should keep them far from Farr and her ilk. These crackpots are just a few degraded brain cells away from saying (about football) that "violent ground acquisition games are a neo-fascist metaphor for war." Just as outrageous as these prohibitions is the persecution of hapless lads who run afoul of them. Limbaugh wrote of this as well:
The Washington Times recently detailed a litany of examples, including: a threatened suspension in California of a 9-year-old for playing cops and robbers, two New York 2nd-graders suspended and criminally charged with making terrorist threats for pointing paper guns and saying, `I'm going to kill you,' and a 9-year-old New Jersey boy suspended and ordered to undergo psychological evaluation because he told another student that he planned to shoot a classmate with spitballs.
Could it be any clearer? They are diagnosing normal boyhood behavior as a psychological problem. After all, even if little boys don't have toy guns, how many won't point a stick or their finger at you and say "Bang, bang, you're dead!"? It's also interesting to note that the very same people who will lecture us for not subscribing to the notion that homosexual behavior is innate and healthy will swear that this normal boyish behavior is learned and destructive.

Then there is that which is truly destructive. It's something dark, a motivation that lurks in the hearts of many who advocate this insanity. To wit: There is an increasingly common antipathy for all things male, especially in academia. This attitude was highlighted by Christina Hoff Summers in her book The War Against Boys. Summers cites feminists such as Carol Gilligan, who believes that we should, as Summers puts it, "... civilize boys by diminishing their masculinity," and Gloria Steinem, who counsels us to "Raise boys like we raise girls." And in this category I would also put certain men such as Harvard psychologist William Pollock, who wrote the book Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood. Really, our children do need to be rescued from myths, but they're not of boyhood.

We should also realize that education has increasingly become a feminine domain. While in 1982 there were 1.4 female teachers for every male, now the figure is 2.1. This is not to imply that the fairer sex can't have a sound teaching philosophy, but the fact is that far too many young women today are in the grip of feminist dogma. Moreover, the type of women who become teachers is also an issue; for instance, let us consider graduates with degrees in Women's Studies. Such people are mostly women, and since there aren't many careers available to those with such illustrious qualifications, many of these ideologues decide to teach.

And the problem with such individuals is that -- just as an Afrocentrist views matters through the prism of race and a Jihadist through that of believers versus infidels -- they tend to see everything as a battle of the sexes. In their minds, the ever-present "patriarchy" will only be vanquished and women liberated (of course, they will never see this as having been achieved) once boys are sufficiently reprogrammed. Masculine traits that may enable boys to be dominant must be quashed, because otherwise they may dominate women. These are people like Swedish politician Gudrun Schyman, who said that Swedish men were like the Taliban. The truth is that the women in question are the Femiban.

Many will protest, of course, insisting that anti-male bias doesn't rule their minds. And perhaps it doesn't in some cases. But their hearts are a different matter, complex and containing biases that aren't always so conscious; rather, it may be more a matter of visceral dislike, a feeling. The liberals in question see masculine symbols and behavior and feel an aversion, in much the same way a person with a fear of heights may get a queasy feeling upon seeing airplanes or tall buildings. So, unwilling to confront their prejudices, they manufacture excuses. Dodge ball is dangerous, cops and robbers is violent, musical chairs is exclusive, tag terrorizes. If only they would be intellectually honest and reveal their true feelings: Boys are bad.

Perhaps this is why these social engineers will see a bevy of boisterous boys and want to douse their masculinity with Ritalin.


Delhi shows how to get tough with Islamist terrorists

I am less optimistic about the generalizability of the Indian experience than is the author below but he has some interesting points

IT is a wonderful thing to be in a big, raucous Asian city, to hear the loud, insistent crackling of unexpected, multiple explosions at night, and to know for sure that it is the exuberance of celebration, not the malevolence of terrorism, that has caused the racket. Such was New Delhi this week, after India won the nail-biting final of the Twenty20 cricket tournament against Pakistan.

The struggle for the soul of Indian Islam may be expressed at one level as a struggle between cricket and the caliphate. Cricket is the symbol of the good India. It is inclusive, non-sectarian, modern yet traditional, capable of change yet preserving its core identity, loved by rich and poor across the length and breadth of the nation. The Indian cricket team contains Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, mainly lower middle-class boys who cultivate film star looks as much as possible, and is dedicatedly non-sectarian.

Yet there is undoubtedly a struggle for the soul of Indian Islam. India is the second largest Muslim nation, after Indonesia, yet the fate of global Islam is always seen as primarily an Arab question.

But here are two notable paradoxes. Indonesia, with more Muslims than any other nation, is arguably the most successful country in combating Islamist terror. And India, with more than 150 million Muslims, has produced fewer international terrorists than almost any other substantial concentration of Muslims.

There are numbers of terrorist incidents inside India, many of them sponsored by Pakistan, but until recently not a single Indian Muslim had turned up in the ranks of international terrorism. None has been incarcerated in Guantanamo. None was discovered in Afghanistan or Iraq. This record was broken by the recent attack on Glasgow airport, which involved Indians. Still, Islam in India is a remarkable success story, notwithstanding a history of some communal conflict.

After a week talking to New Delhi's finest analysts on the subject, there are some contradictory trends at work. But there are some powerful automatic stabilisers. The Muslim identity in India is deeply attached to the secular state because the secular state has guaranteed the rights of minorities. If you are an Indian Muslim and you argue for religious rule you are really arguing for Hindu rule. Muslims in a minority often find themselves embracing secularism.

Moreover, Indian Muslims, with one or two minor regional exceptions, have avoided forming a specific Muslim political party. To do so would be to run the risk of uniting Hindus against them. Instead, in an act of historic wisdom, they force the other parties to bid for their support. They make calculated alliances with other minorities and with low-caste Hindu groups.

The one time there was a powerful Muslim League in India it led to the horrific slaughter and tragedy of partition, and the emergence of the basically unsuccessful state of Pakistan. No sane Muslim really wants to repeat that experience. Most important of all, of course, is the sense that as a democracy the Indian state can address the problems and reasonable aspirations of Muslims.

India is full of intelligence, expertise and important lessons in inter-communal affairs and especially in counterinsurgency. One of the most fascinating cases of all is the Sikh insurgency, which ran in the Punjab until the mid-1990s. Sikhism is one of the world's great religions, with tens of millions of adherents. It is a monotheistic, natural law sort of religion, founded a half millennium ago in northern India, specifically in the Punjab. Sikhs have a great military tradition and a proud bearing, and served in the British and Indian armies with great distinction.

In history there had been Sikh kingdoms and through the '70s to the early '90s a tough independence campaign was waged by various Sikh insurgent groups in the Punjab. But in one of the most successful counterinsurgency campaigns ever, legendary Sikh policeman K.P.S. Gill brought the insurgency to a more or less complete end. Punjab today is safe and sound, and has one of the highest per capita incomes in India. The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, is a Sikh.

How did this happen? This week I met one of India's foremost experts on extremism, Praveen Swami, the associate editor of Frontline magazine. He believes there are enduring lessons from the Punjab experience that should be applied to other counterinsurgent campaigns. Of course, one aspect of Gill's reign was that he was very tough on the bad guys and there were apparently excesses committed. But Swami identifies three positive elements of strategy that should be widely emulated.

"First, it was treated as primarily a police matter," Swami says. "The army was relegated to a secondary role, where it was necessary to use large numbers of troops to form a cordon or some such. The police tend to be so enmeshed with their local communities that they can respond subtly and effectively."

This is critical also in intelligence gathering. The police live among the community. There are countless reasons, from document certification to reporting a stolen car, that people go into police stations. It is much easier for an alert police force to gain critical local information and to gain it from a much wider range of sources than merely paid informers.

Second, Swami says, Gill was a master of psychological operations. The terrorists would boast that they owned the night, that the Indian state functioned during the day but could not work at night. So on one occasion Gill brought a Bollywood star to perform for the public at night. Even terrorism cannot defeat the power of Bollywood. On other occasions Gill ran a program called Operation Night Dominance. It involved people whizzing about town in armoured vehicles and helicopters buzzing overhead.

Swami says he, like most journalists at the time, regarded the operation as a complete flop as it did not result in the capture of a single terrorist. But in fact, as he found later from interviewing ex-terrorists, it greatly confused and constrained the terrorists. It stopped them from moving about at night, which made them much more prone to capture during the day, as they had not been able to change their location overnight.

Lesson No3, says Swami, was to get an effective political process going. This involved holding credible local elections, which gave the national Indian state a local administration to deal with and compromise with. To make this effective it was necessary to protect the lives of local political leaders so that the terrorists could not kill off an emerging local leadership. Eventually the population came overwhelmingly to trust its elected local political leaders much more than communal figures who supported any sort of violent path.

Instead of a lingering slow torture of sporadic violence, the Sikh terrorist movement is at an end and Sikhs are back rightfully in their place at the heart of Indian life.

On every issue facing the globe today, India is an important player. Its experience with its vast minorities, Muslims and others, is a telling case in point.


Empty-headed Australia-bashing from Leftists

It is so often asserted as a truism: Australians have become more selfish, narrower, more materialistic. In February we had the great pleasure of having an Englishman, Oliver James, visit to diagnose the Australian malady for us as "selfish capitalism".

While in Sydney visit to promote his book, Affluenza, he dropped into Bondi and instantly distilled the vibe for us: "This kind of 'f--- you, we're rich' type thing." Now we have Hugh Mackay's book, Advance Australia Where? The veteran social researcher tells us of the findings of his focus groups: "Australians typically offer three explanations for the belief that our society is 'degenerating': a lack of connectedness (People won't even look you in the eye in the big cities); a surrender to materialism (I actually think we have too much, it makes you want more); unbridled selfishness (It's all me, me, me)."

This idea becomes politically potent when blame is attributed. Some explicitly hold the Howard Government responsible. After the 2004 election, Clive Hamilton of the Australia Institute wrote that "the relentless promotion of self-interest and the rejection of the politics of social progress is no more than we should expect from the Liberal Party".

I have long been troubled by the idea that the Australian people have become so selfish. I have also been struck that all of these claims are impressionistic or anecdotal or ideological, unsupported by empirical evidence. This puts them on the level of assertion, not fact. So let's test the claim. On the level of anecdote, you can always find evidence of anything you seek. But there are always contrary anecdotes. The real question is this: What does the systemic evidence tell us? Consider two measures. One is the level of charitable giving. The other is the level of volunteering in the community. If the country has become more selfish, surely one or both of these indicators will show a decline.

The most comprehensive survey of overall Australian giving found that, from 1997 to the end of 2004, individuals increased their total donations to non-profit organisations by 88 per cent, or an annual average increase of 12.5 per cent. Giving for victims of the Asian tsunami is explicitly excluded - no one can claim that any extraordinary one-offs somehow distorted the picture. Want to take out the effects of inflation? After adjusting for inflation, growth was 58 per cent, an annual average of 8.3 per cent. Note that this does not just represent a passive "ride" on a growing economy or rising incomes. The growth in individual giving was more than twice the speed of GDP growth and more than double the rate of the average increase in personal incomes.

The annual cash value was $7.7 billion in 2004. Is this unrepresentative, though? Eighty-seven per cent of adult Australians, a total of 13.4 million people, donated, according to the report, Giving Australia, which was co-ordinated by the Australian Council of Social Service and initiated by the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership. If you're wondering about averages, the survey deducts $2 billion generated by charity events, and then figures out an average donation of $424 per adult per year. Incidentally, the numbers don't support the common assertion that Melburnians (average donation $485) are more generous than Sydneysiders ($524).

Companies gave a further $3.3 billion, contributed by 525,000 firms, which represents 67 per cent of all businesses in the country. The survey was unable, for methodological reasons, to measure the overall change in total business giving, but it did report that the proportion of businesses donating money - as distinct from goods or services - grew from 40 per cent to 58 per cent.

The increased generosity of Australian giving has implications at all levels. Last month, rich Australians gave donations worth $15 million to three competing art galleries, the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Australia. At the less glamorous end of the spectrum, Father Chris Riley's Youth Off the Streets charity is able to increase the scope of the services it offers. This year, it is expanding to Griffith and Walgett, and will need an extra $600,000. "We are going to be able to fund it through donations - we have never gone into overdraft," says Father Riley, whose organisation this year has budgeted for total outlays of $15.5 million. "Our fundraising with everyday people is rising all the time. Our greatest supporters are ordinary people, parents and grandparents and pensioners who send $5 cheques, rather than the big end of town. Our results in June with the 50,000 people on our mailing list was particularly good."

Australian gifts to good causes overseas have surged even more conspicuously than gifts at home. Figures collated by the umbrella group for non-government organisations which specialise in foreign aid, the Australian Council for International Development, show that private Australian giving abroad has risen at an annual average of 13 per cent from from $391 million in 2002 to $690 million in 2006. That's an annual average increase of 19 per cent, or 16 per cent after inflation. This is private giving only, nothing to do with government aid. (The trend of rising private generosity abroad has survived the tsunami. Last year's $690 million is far greater, by 35 per cent, than the $509 million for pre-tsunami 2004.) World Vision's Tim Costello sums it up: "Fundraising has been fantastic." He dates the surge to the terrorist attacks of September 2001: "I think Australians have redefined home. They know you can't be secure at home by pulling up the drawbridge. You can't win a war on terror without winning the war on poverty."

This ranks Australians as the second-most generous people, behind the Irish, in the developed world, according to the OECD measure of donations abroad as a proportion of the national economy.

And volunteering? There are two measures. According to the Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of people donating time to a non-profit organisation has grown from 24 per cent in 1995 to 41 per cent in 2005. The average number of hours donated had, however, fallen, from 160 per volunteer to 132. The second measure is a survey by Volunteering Australia, the peak body for the sector, which finds the same trend, with different specifics: the proportion of Australians volunteering time has grown from 24 per cent in 1996 to 34 per cent last year. The overall picture in volunteering "is one of growth", says its chief executive, Julie Pollard.

So an outfit like the NSW Cancer Council, which has 3000 volunteers, reports that it is has multiple applicants for each volunteer position it offers: "It's definitely increased over time; it's becoming a huge thing here," says a volunteer program co-ordinator, Nadine Constantini.

Far from being selfish, the hard evidence is that Australians are not only a generous people, but becoming more so. If there is no intensification of selfishness, it's hard to fit up the Howard Government, or anyone else, for the blame. There is no such phenomenon. The entire construct is a mirage, a furphy, a chimera. Messrs James, Mackay and Hamilton, begone. Australians are an increasingly generous people, and entitled to be acknowledged for it.


The N-word in Australia

If elected to office, Labor is committed to set up scores of inquiries and commissions into this or that. In view of such bureaucratic largesse, there must be room for at least one more such initiative - along the lines of an inquiry/commission into the use or misuse of historical parallels in the domestic political debate. This might be established by Labor's deputy leader Julia Gillard, who has committed a government headed by Kevin Rudd to establish a commission for social inclusion. As for the title for such an entity - how about the commission for historical exclusion?

In Parliament last Thursday, Gillard made the point that to compare someone to a Nazi is "one of the most repulsive allegations you can make against another human being". Quite so. She was referring to the clumsy attempt recently by the Coalition staffer Dr Peter Phelps to allege that Labor's candidate for Eden-Monaro, Colonel Mike Kelly, was attempting to use the Nuremberg defence to justify his past involvement with the Australian Defence Force in Iraq.

Phelps was trying to argue that Kelly now regards the invasion of Iraq as improper but that he willingly served with the Australian Defence Force in Iraq. A reasonable debating point - until Phelps went over the top by alleging that Kelly was acting "like the guards at Belsen, perhaps". The historical reference was to the fact that many Nazis, who took part in the murder of Jews and gypsies at Belsen and elsewhere, later pleaded that they were only obeying orders. This line of defence was not accepted by the war crimes tribunals which were held at Nuremberg, following the end of the Second World War.

Phelps's essential error was to attempt to equate service with the Defence Force in democratic Australia with the actions of those who implemented the genocidal policies of Adolf Hitler's Nazi totalitarian regime between 1933 and 1945. Following the intervention of the Prime Minister's Office, Phelps formally apologised to Kelly for his "clearly inappropriate" reference.

Phelps is not the first Coalition supporter to use the Nazi label when criticising political opponents. For example, some years ago senator Amanda Vanstone accused the Labor prime minister Paul Keating of behaving like the Nazi propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels. However, this tactic is much more common on the left side of the Australian political debate. Consequently, it is something that Gillard might see fit to resolve if she becomes deputy prime minister.

It will be quite a task. The fact is that large sections of the Australian left like to link their political opponents with Hitler's Nazi regime or Mussolini's Italian fascist regime. Now that the left has got over its one-time love affair with Bolshevism, some leftists also like to invoke the communism/Stalinism comparison as a term of abuse.

Writing in The Sunday Age on April 1 this year, Robert Richter, QC, went for the double. He claimed that the United States military commission which tried David Hicks at Guantanamo Bay could be compared to "Stalin's as well as the German show trials of the 1930s". In other words, the US military justice system - which was supported by the Howard Government - is a bit like the show trials that prevailed under communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes during the dictatorships of Stalin and Hitler respectively. Julian Burnside, QC, is another Melbourne barrister who has raised the spectre of Hitler's Germany when criticising the Howard Government.

If Phelps qualifies for some Gillard-style counselling, then so do Richter and Burnside. And so should the Victorian Greens which recently compared the ALP to "hardened SS troops". And so should NSW magistrate Pat O'Shane who last June criticised Rudd for supporting Howard's (alleged) "jackboot" policies concerning Aborigines in the Northern Territory. The term "jackboot" invariably equates with Nazism.

Then there are the journalists. In the current issue of Quarterly Essay, Peter Shergold (the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet) comments on his reaction when reading a Mike Carlton column that equated his views on the proper role of the Commonwealth Public Service with the position of "Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot". For good measure, Carlton threw in a reference to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Little wonder that Shergold maintains that such attempt at humour "is more offensive than incisive". Then there is the case of the journalist Mungo McCallum who claimed in November 2005 that, in a literal sense, the Howard Government is taking Australia on "the road to fascism". In April 2006, on this page, Alan Ramsey wrote seriously of contemporary Australia's "parallels with Hitler's Germany". And so on.

Within Australian universities there is a prevailing attitude in many a humanities department that Australia was in a pre-fascist condition in the early 1930s and on the eve of the civil war. The historian Andrew Moore has gone so far as to allege that in the 1950s, when Robert Menzies was prime minister, "it is not so very far from the truth" to suggest that the Lodge in Canberra was "Australian fascism's headquarters". Moore's approach to history was recently supported by the editorial writer in the leftist-inclined Canberra Times.

The linking of democratic Australia - under conservative or social democratic governments - with fascism or Nazism or communism not only indicates a superficial understanding of this nation. Perhaps more seriously, it demonstrates an appalling ignorance of the real totalitarian thing under Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin and Stalin. Gillard's critique of Phelps is to be welcomed. However, she should not forget her own comrades who share Phelps's historical confusion - albeit from a different ideological perspective.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


29 September, 2007

ACLU: Privacy for deviants only

Ladies have lots of things to do in front of restroom mirrors and would not at all like some weirdo leering at them while they do it. But too bad for them says the ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union has argued in recent years that the right to privacy is so expansive it extends even to partial-birth abortion, in which a doctor kills a fully formed, almost-born child with scissors. "The ACLU has a long history of vigorously defending the right to privacy -- including the right to reproductive freedom," the organization told the Supreme Court last year in a brief arguing that partial-birth abortion is a constitutional right.

But two recent court cases demonstrate there is at least one place where the ACLU rejects the right to privacy -- at least for certain classes of people. It is in the bathroom. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld a decision by U.S. District Judge David Sam, who spurned the ACLU's claim that an anatomical male had a right to use women's restrooms.

Krsytal Etsitty, the plaintiff, had described herself, according to Judge Sam's opinion, as a "pre-operative transsexual." In 1999, Etsitty changed his name from Michael to Krystal and the sex designation on his driver's license from male to female. He took hormones that altered his "outward appearance in some ways." But he did not change his anatomy.

In 2001, the Utah Transit Authority hired him to be a bus driver. Judge Sam, who referred to Etsitty by the female pronoun, said: "At the time she applied for her job with UTA and throughout the training period, plaintiff dressed as a man and used the men's restroom." After he was hired, however, Etsitty informed his supervisor that "she was transsexual and that she would be appearing more traditionally female at work." This posed a logistical problem for the bus company. It had arranged for its drivers to have access to the public restrooms at certain businesses along its routes. Would Etsitty use the male or female restrooms?

Etsitty informed her supervisors, according to the court, "that she had some kind of written direction that required that she use female restrooms." The supervisors told Etsitty "they were concerned about potential liability from co-workers, customers and the general public as a result of plaintiff, a biological male, using female restrooms." The company let her go, notifying her, as reported by Findlaw, that she would be eligible for rehiring "once she completed the surgery." Etsitty sued, citing a federal law that bans discrimination based on "sex."

In the ACLU's view, not only was Etsitty's anatomy irrelevant, so, too, was the right to privacy of anyone who happened to be in a women's room Etsitty might use. "(N)o court has ever held that there is any legal right to privacy that would be violated simply by permitting a transgender person to use a public bathroom that corresponds to his or her gender identity," said the ACLU.

Besides, even if privacy was an issue in public restrooms, the ACLU suggested, the architecture in such facilities protects it. As Etsitty had explained to his supervisors, according to the ACLU, his anatomy would be shielded from others using the women's rooms "because there are stalls for privacy."

Alas, the ACLU published this brief two years ago -- apparently failing to anticipate that Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho would someday seek to withdraw his guilty plea for engaging in "disorderly conduct" in a men's room stall. In a brief submitted this month supporting Craig's claim, the ACLU argued that what the senator is alleged to have done in an airport bathroom is free speech protected by the First Amendment -- no matter what some guy seeking a little privacy in the next stall might think about it. "The government does not have a constitutionally sufficient justification for making private sex a crime," said the ACLU. "It follows that an invitation to have private sex is constitutionally protected and may not be made a crime. This is so even where the proposition occurs in a public place, whether in a bar or a restroom."

But then the ACLU went a step further, arguing that there is not only a right to solicit sex, but also to engage in it, in a public restroom. "The Minnesota Supreme Court," said the ACLU, "has already ruled that two men engaged in sexual activity in a department store restroom with the stall door closed had a reasonable expectation of privacy. They were, the Court held, therefore acting in a private, not a public place."

The conflated logic of the ACLU's bathroom briefs seems to be that someone entering a public restroom intending to use it for traditional purposes has no protection either from the gender sign posted at the door or from the otherwise vaunted right to privacy. Someone entering a public restroom intending to solicit and engage in sex, on the other hand, is protected by both the First Amendment and the right to privacy.

What else would you expect from a group that embraces an ideology that holds that partially born babies have no right to keep their skulls intact?


Politics should trump quality in poetry prize

So say some:

The cloistered community of American poetry has, in recent months, become a little less like Yeats's Land of Faery, where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue, and a little more like Allen Ginsberg's "Howl." The board of the 97-year-old Poetry Society of America, whose members have included many of the most august names in verse, has been rocked by a string of resignations and accusations of McCarthyism, conservatism and simple bad management.

The recent turmoil was driven, partly, by fierce discussion among board members earlier this year after they voted to award the Frost Medal, an annual honor given by the society, to John Hollander, a prolific poet and critic. The concern was whether it was proper to take into consideration some past remarks made by Mr. Hollander - remarks that some felt were disturbing - in bestowing the medal. Of course, as with many a board squabble, personality disputes and misunderstandings also played their part in the fracas.

Last Friday, William Louis-Dreyfus, who had been president of the board for the last six years, officially stepped down and quit the board, becoming the fifth person on the 19-member board to resign this year. This spring Walter Mosley, the novelist, resigned, and he was later joined by Elizabeth Alexander, a poet and professor of African-American and American studies at Yale University; Rafael Campo, a poet and professor at Harvard Medical School; and Mary Jo Salter, a poet and a professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Mr. Louis-Dreyfus, who runs an international commodities trading and shipping firm and dabbles in writing poetry, said he resigned partly to protest what he regarded as an "exercise of gross reactionary thinking" among the other board members who left in the wake of the award to Mr. Hollander, a retired English professor at Yale.

When Mr. Hollander was considered for the award three years ago, some members raised comments he had made in interviews, reviews and elsewhere that they felt should be examined when judging his candidacy. In one example, Mr. Hollander, writing a rave review in The New York Times Book Review of the collected poems of Jay Wright, an African-American poet, referred to "cultures without literatures - West African, Mexican and Central American." And in an interview on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," a reporter paraphrased Mr. Hollander as contending "there isn't much quality work coming from nonwhite poets today."

Other board members said they felt that such comments were not characteristic of Mr. Hollander's views or had been misinterpreted. Mr. Louis-Dreyfus said that even if the comments were representative, they were irrelevant criteria for judging the Frost Medal, just as he would argue that Ezra Pound's anti-Semitism should not detract from the literary appreciation of his work.

In some ways the questions about Mr. Hollander's remarks reflect a broader debate over whether the evaluation of artistic merit should be affected by the sometimes unsavory opinions or actions of the artist. Last year, for example, Germany was stunned when Guenter Grass, the Nobel Prize winner, confessed that he had joined the Waffen SS, the military branch of the Nazis, when he was 17. At the time, some people argued that he should renounce his Nobel.

At the Poetry Society the stakes are much lower, and nobody has suggested that Mr. Hollander should be stripped of the Frost Medal, which is given for "distinguished lifetime service to American poetry." Late last year, at the hastily called and poorly attended meeting where the board again discussed him as a finalist for the award, his previous remarks did not come up again.

But when an e-mail message went out to the board announcing that Mr. Hollander had won the vote, Mr. Mosley replied with his own succinct message: "My reaction to this decision is to announce my resignation." Mr. Louis-Dreyfus, who immediately assumed that Mr. Mosley was quitting because of objections to Mr. Hollander's previous comments, wrote a reply to Mr. Mosley that he copied to all members of the board. In an interview, Mr. Louis-Dreyfus said he objected to Mr. Mosley's resignation because "it seemed to me to be based on an inappropriate reason that didn't have anything to do with the quality of Hollander's work, which is what the Frost Medal is given for."

In an interview Mr. Mosley declined to comment on whether Mr. Hollander's remarks had influenced his decision. He said he resigned from the Poetry Society because the decision to give the medal to Mr. Hollander "represents a conservative trend on the board that I don't think is at all inclusive to all the elements of poetry and all the people of poetry." Since 1941, out of 38 winners of the Frost medal, only three have been nonwhite.

Mr. Louis-Dreyfus, however, focused on what he believed were Mr. Mosley's motives - namely, protesting Mr. Hollander's extra-poetic remarks. "It's as if you have to approve of the man's politics before you can praise his poetry," Mr. Louis-Dreyfus said. "I am terrified of McCarthyism in whatever clothes it wears."

More here

Live free or die

Some people think they've got all the answers. These self-appointed guardians, modern-day puritans, and prohibitionists are rushing across America and the world to ban smoking and trans-fats from restaurants and tag from schoolyards. They propose mandatory visits to the doctor and a health system focused on "wellness." From every locality in America and beyond, frivolous laws are cropping up, which, taken as a whole, are undermining the liberty and independence of the American spirit.

The "infantilization of adults," as Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine puts it, has become such a common feature of modern politics that one often fails to recognize it as anything new or foreign to the American experience. The original understanding of our relationship to government was marked by a strong desire to maintain a firmly independent citizenry, which would be capable of making decisions without government interference. The role of government in this understanding of politics is to preserve and protect American liberty. The founding fathers, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, understood that there is an inverse proportion to government power and freedom.

Schools in Massachusetts and Colorado have banned schoolyard tag. An "Environmental Court" in Sweden has prohibited a woman from smoking in her own garden. In Britain, there is talk of creating a 17.5 percent "fat tax" on salty, sugary, and fatty foods. This year, Congress considered levying a $10 tax on cigars to pay for children's health insurance, while presidential candidate John Edwards would require mandatory visits to the doctor in his universal health care plan. The city of Chicago has done its part by banning foie gras.

Because of the proliferation of such laws, the American public is increasingly becoming fed up with what many people are dubbing "The Nanny State." A 2006 CNN poll found that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that the size and cost of government is intrusive. When asked about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of respondents said that "it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses." Only 37 percent believed that government should do more.

All these intrusions on our personal liberty have been made with our health in mind. The implication is that these paternalistic politicians know best and that they can run our lives for us better than we can run them ourselves. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal put it best when she declared, "Governments always start out saying they're going to help, and always wind up pushing you around. They cannot help it. They say they want to help us live healthily and they mean it, but it ends with a guy in Queens getting arrested for trying to have a Marlboro Light with his Bud at the neighborhood bar." The modern-day Puritans reduce all of us to the status of children, incapable of making informed choice for ourselves.

David Harsanyi recently published Nanny State, a book in which he chronicles the concentrated efforts of a few "teetotaling do-gooders" and "food fascists" since the 1980s. In his book, Harsanyi states, "Nannyism is a dogma. The nanny state is a collective that may not share a single driving political purpose, but its proponents do share a belief that sticking their nose into your business is that fastest way to build a superior society."

In 1801, Thomas Jefferson defined good government as follows: "a wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned." Jefferson's notion about the purpose of government is as right today as it was 200 years ago. The essence of the America can be borrowed from the New Hampshire license plate: live free or die.


A Muslim legal assault on free speech

By Rachel Ehrenfeld

Since March 2002, Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz has sued or threatened to sue in England at least 36 writers and publishers - including many Americans - who have documented his financial contributions to al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups, through his Muwafaq (Blessed Relief) foundation, and the Saudi National Commercial Bank he owned. Everyone settled with bin Mahfouz, - except me.

England's libel laws favor the individual's rights over the public. They allow bin Mahfouz and other terror financiers, known as "libel tourists," to veil in secrecy their funding of al Qaeda, other Islamic terror organizations and global propagation of radical Islam. British laws earned the U.K. the label-"libel capital of the Western world"-and rained wealth on Britain's libel bar.

Bin Mahfouz's legal "victories" in London had the desired effect he and other Saudi terror financiers sought - silencing of the media even in the U.S. where the First Amendment protects writers and publishers. But American book and newspaper publishers are not willing to risk expensive lawsuits in London. Many refuse to publish even the most comprehensively documented reports on alleged wealthy Middle Eastern funding terrorism.

Bin Mahfouz sued me in London in January 2004, shortly after the U.S. publication of my book Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed - and How to Stop It. I refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of a British court over a book published here; the court then ruled for bin Mahfouz by default, enjoined British publication of Funding Evil, awarded bin Mahfouz $225,900 in damages and expenses and ordered me to publicly apologize and destroy the book. I refuse to acknowledge the British Court or its ruling.

Bin Mahfouz would not enjoy success were he to sue me for libel in U.S. The facts in Funding Evil are well documented by the media and the U.S. Congress, courts and other official statements.

On October 12,2001 the Treasury Department designated as a terrorist, the director of bin Mahfouz's Muwafaq foundation, Yasin al-Qadi. The Treasury report described the direct support from Muwafaq to bin Laden, quoting the latter's statement that "The bin-Laden Establishment's aid.comes in particular from the Human Concern International Society [based, and operating in Gloucester, Ontario]. [and] includes Muwaffaq Society in Zagreb." The report continues, ."$3 million from the National Commercial Bank, which was run by Khalid bin Mahfouz, [were deposited] into the accounts of the Blessed Relief and other charities that serve as a front for bin Laden."

Further corroboration comes from the French General Directorate of External Security (DGSE), as reported last summer in the French daily, Le Monde. The DGSE reported that, in 1998, it knew bin Mahfouz to be an architect of the banking scheme built to benefit Osama bin Laden, and that both U.S. and British intelligence services knew it, too. Strangely, neither bin Mahfouz nor his foundation were designated by U.S. authorities as supporting terrorism.

Since British libel law favors suits such as bin Mahfouz's, and the First Amendment protects U.S. journalists reporting on public issues, I chose to fight his false claims in America. I sued in a New York federal court, for a declaration that bin Mahfouz' English default judgment is unenforceable in the United States, because it violates my First Amendment rights. Prominent civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate described it as "one of the most important First Amendment cases in the past 25 years." On June 8, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously declared my case is "ripe" for hearing in a U.S. court, noting that the case has implications for all U.S. authors and publishers, whose First Amendment rights are threatened by foreign libel rulings.

The ruling thus established that all U.S. writers and publishers sued for libel in other countries, can ask U.S. courts to rule the foreign decisions unenforceable here - provided they have jurisdiction over the person who sued for libel overseas. In my case, the New York Court of Appeals will hear arguments on November 15.

This important legal decision weakened bin Mahfouz' ability to threaten or sue U.S. authors and publishers. Shortly afterwards, bin Mahfouz threatened to sue Cambridge University Press (CUP), the publisher of Alms of Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World, but refrained from including the book's two American writers, J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins.

Facing the mere threat of a lawsuit from Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz, Cambridge University Press - the world's oldest publishing house - agreed in Britain's High Court on July 30, to pulp all the unsold copies. When the American authors rightfully refused to join, CUP issued a public apology, which in fact defamed the authors. CUP also paid substantial undisclosed damages, a huge "contribution" to a charity of bin Mahfouz' choice, and sent letters to more than 200 libraries worldwide, asking to pull the book off their shelves. CUP's capitulation handed an important victory to the Saudis' financial jihad against free speech.

Winning my case against bin Mahfouz will not change the British ruling against me. But judging by the impact my case has had already one can hope that U.K. writers and publishers would demand changing their libel laws, to allow the freedom of responsible publications without the fear of intimidating, expensive lawsuits.

If foreigners wish to sue Americans for exposing threats to our national security, they are welcome do so in the U.S., under the First Amendment laws. But Congress should terminate this form of Financial Jihad - silencing the media by intimidation - and costly foreign libel suits on matters governed by U.S. jurisdiction. To better protect our freedom of speech, Congress could reinforce the First Amendment with a new statute prohibiting enforcement of foreign libel judgments in the U.S., whenever American authors and publishers report responsibly on terror -related and other national security threats.

We are at war with enormously wealthy and determined enemies. We should prevent their use of their tremendous wealth to deprive American writers from exposing actions that threaten our safety and freedoms.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


28 September, 2007

Jena: Law Versus Mob Rule

By Thomas Sowell

It is painful -- and dangerous -- how little we learn from history, even when it is recent history. Just a year ago, "rape" charges spread lynch-mob hysteria on the campus of Duke University and in much of the liberal media, while professional race hustlers descended on the town of Durham, North Carolina, and mindless tribalism was stirred up by extremists in the local black community. This year, we have all learned what a total fraud that case was, from beginning to end. Yet now we see a similar outburst of mindless tribalism and another attempt at mob rule, promoted by such veterans of last year's hysteria as Jesse Jackson.

This time the scene is in Jena, Louisiana. The issue is the prosecution of a black high school student accused of stomping on an unconscious white student -- and the lack of criminal prosecution of white students who hung a noose on a tree, who were disciplined by the school. Liberals' skills at moral equivalence have been so finely honed during the long years of the Cold War that they have turned this into a case of "unequal treatment," based on race -- as if putting a noose on a tree is equivalent to stomping somebody who is unconscious.

The black student was found guilty but the verdict was overturned on appeal -- not on grounds that he was not guilty, but on grounds that the appellate court did not think he should have been tried as an adult. The usual legal procedure would be to try the student again, but this time not as an adult. However, the usual legal procedures are not good enough for those who have once again seized the opportunity to hype race -- and to hell with questions of guilt or innocence or legal procedures. The immediate demand of the mobs that have been mobilized around the country to descend on the small town of Jena is that the young man found guilty of a serious crime of violence should be free on bail pending a second trial.

The legal question is whether letting someone accused of such a crime go free on bail is likely to mean that he will not be around long enough for a second trial. But no one is seriously debating that. Racial hype has replaced all rational discussion. Moreover, the Jena episode has shown that two can play the racial hype game. Neo-Nazis have published the names and home addresses of all the young blacks involved in the school incident. The slogan "No justice, no peace" has been used to justify settling legal issues in the streets, instead of in courts of law. Neo-Nazis have now helped demonstrate what a dangerous slogan that is, since different people have opposite ideas of what "justice" is in a given situation.

Long after the imported demonstrators have left, and the national media have lost interest, the families of the black youngsters involved in the school altercation will have to live with the knowledge that their privacy and security have both been lost in a racially polarized community, with vengeful elements. The last thing the South needs is a return to lynch-mob justice, whatever the color of whoever is promoting it.

Back in the 1950s, when the federal courts began striking down the Jim Crow laws in the South, one of the rising demands across the country was that the discriminators and segregationists obey "the law of the land." But, somewhere along the way, the idea also arose and spread that not everybody was supposed to obey "the law of the land." Violations of law by people with approved victim status like minorities, or self-righteous crusaders like environmentalists, were to be met with minimal resistance -- if any resistance at all -- and any punishment of them beyond a wrist-slap was "over-reacting."

College campuses became bastions of the new and sanctified mob rule, provided that the mobs are from the list of groups approved as politically correct. Otherwise, even an injudicious remark could bring swift and certain punishment under "speech codes."

The politics of condoned law-breaking is part of the moral dry rot of our times. So is settling issues in the streets on the basis of race, instead of in courts on the basis of law.


Orwell lives: 'Rewrite British history to reflect other cultures'

Parts of British history need to be rewritten to emphasise the roles played by other races and religions like Muslims, a prominent race relations campaigner has said. Trevor Philips, the chairman of the new Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, said the history of Britain did not properly reflect the contribution of other cultures. Rewriting the country's history would demonstrate to Britons in the 21st century how other groups apart from Anglo Saxons shaped the nation.

He told a fringe meeting at the Labour conference: "We may need to revisit our national story - we want to rewrite that story to tell the whole story." The rewriting should start with the story of how the English fleet led by Sir Francis Drake fought off the Spanish Armada in 1588, he said. The important role played by the Muslim Turks, who delayed the sailing of the Spanish fleet so that the English ships were better prepared, had been airbrushed out of the story however. Mr Phillips said: "When we talk about the Armada, it was the Turks who saved us because they held up the Armada after a request from Elizabeth I. "Let's rewrite that, so we have an ideal that brings us together so that it can bind us together in stormy times ahead in the next century." [There is in fact no evidence that the Turks took any action to trouble Spain at the time concerned]

Mr Phillips, the former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, declined to offer any other examples of parts of British history that should be rewritten. He also said that he supported a campaign by the musician Billy Bragg for a new written constitution to define what it means to be British in the 21st century. "We have to have an expression that is native and right for us," he said. "We have to have a more explicit set of understandings under which we can all live together."

Mr Phillips, who was educated at Queen's College Boys School in Guyana, also suggested that there should be a set celebration for when people were given British nationality. Nationality lessons were necessary because people were moving around the country more than ever before, providing less opportunities to integrate. Last year 6.5 million people moved house, he said. Earlier this week Mr Phillips said that economic migrants could be forced to make a bigger contribution to the cost of public services. Mr Phillips said that some migrants who stay in the UK only for a short time should pay more for the use of schools and hospitals.


The Islamist Trojan Horse

"We're fighting them there, so we don't have to fight them here" has become a hymn for the American right and an abominable lie to the left. But drowned out by all the noise is the fact that "they" are here already, having landed a long time ago and gotten very busy indeed constructing the American wing of jihad.

Have you watched the Arabic Channel, also known as TAC, which serves the New York region? Probably not, as most New Yorkers neither understand nor speak Arabic. But if you are among the estimated 1 million viewers - legal and illegal, new and old Arabic-speaking immigrants to the tri-state area - who tune in daily to Channel 507 on Time Warner Cable, this is what you can get:

* A daily dose of Islamic jurisprudence from an Egyptian sheik, Amr Khaled, who comes direct from Cairo as TAC's prime advocate of "peaceful jihad," on how the duty of every Arab-American is to become first, second, and only a member of the Muslim Ummah.

* A nightly helping of Syria's CNN-style digest of the world, sent fresh from a Damascus studio where the Iraq war is nothing but an American butchery of Arabs, and the Zionist regime in Jerusalem is just biding its time until it gets what it deserves.

* A sprinkling of Egyptian and Syrian soap operas (though TAC completely avoids footage of "Oriental" dancing and other "infidel" joys of life).

On its Web site, TAC says it is now 14 years old and serves the "Greater New York City Metropolitan area, including Jersey City, Bergen County, N.J., and Mt. Vernon, N.Y." through cable and satellite transmission.

TAC's ownership and funding are, to put it mildly, ambiguous. What is clear is that someone is funding this Islamist Trojan Horse already anchored inside the American fortress.


A careful dissection of the Mearsheimer and Walt claims

They claim that the Jews have too much influence on American policy. All the 40-odd Jews in Congress are OK of course -- because they are nearly all Democrats

Mearsheimer and Walt live in the same foreign policy world I inhabit, and no one familiar with their extensive scholarship or their lives ever accused them of harboring anti-Semitic sentiments ... until the appearance of their article last year. And such charges are not unusual in this little world. But as my mother often said, "They asked for trouble" - by the way they make their arguments, by their puzzlingly shoddy scholarship, by what they emphasize and de-emphasize, by what they leave out and by writing on this sensitive topic without doing extensive interviews with the lobbyists and the lobbied.

Early on, they write that the Jewish lobby is "certainly not a cabal or conspiracy that `controls' U.S. foreign policy." They go on: "It is simply a powerful interest group, made up of both Jews and gentiles, whose acknowledged purpose is to press Israel's case within the United States. ... Like the efforts of other ethnic lobbies and interest groups, the activities of the Israel lobby's various elements are legitimate forms of democratic political participation, and they are for the most part consistent with America's long tradition of interest-group activity." No problem here.

But then they heat things up, declaring that no lobby has ever been more powerful. They start quoting others, like former Representative Lee Hamilton, who said in 1991 that "there's no lobby group that matches it." And they cite a number of staff members for the lobby bragging about their power. One said: "In 24 hours, we could have the signatures of 70 senators on this napkin." Publishing these one-liners as some kind of evidence is not the stuff of good scholarship.

Most tellingly, and contrary to their careful opening definitions, Mearsheimer and Walt move on to one story after another, premised on the lobby's domination of United States policy toward the Middle East. But they rarely back that premise up.

It's true, for instance, that the lobby has made America's longstanding $3 billion annual aid program to Israel untouchable and indiscussible. By the same token, there isn't much discussion about the $2 billion yearly aid package for Egypt. The United States regards this $5 billion as insurance against an Egyptian-Israeli war, and it's cheap at double the price.

The lobby also gives hives and hesitation to any administration thinking about criticizing Israel publicly. But instinctively and without being lobbied, American presidents don't want to gang up on Israel, since virtually every other state does so. While most countries hammer Israel for crackdowns on the Palestinians, they hardly ever criticize Palestinian terrorists or other Arab terrorists and say little about the misdeeds of Arab and Muslim dictators. As for the American government, the record clearly shows that when Israel crosses certain important lines, as when it expanded Jewish settlements into Palestinian areas like the West Bank and Gaza, Washington usually expresses its displeasure in public and, even more so, in private. Mearsheimer and Walt just don't mention that.

More troublingly, they don't seriously review the facts of the two most critical issues to Israel and the lobby - arms sales to Arab states and the question of a Palestinian state - matters on which the American position has consistently run counter to the so-called all-powerful Jewish lobby.

For several decades, administration after administration has sold Saudi Arabia and other Arab states first-rate modern weapons, against the all-out opposition of Israel and the lobby. And make no mistake, these arms have represented genuine security risks to Israel. (Interestingly, Israel does not oppose the new $20 billion proposed arms sale to the Saudis, on the grounds that the weapons are needed against Iran, the bigger threat; and not surprisingly, Israel is reportedly receiving substantial additional military aid as well.)

And on the policy issue that has counted most to Israel and the lobby - preventing the United States from accepting a Palestinian state prior to a negotiated deal between Israel and the Palestinians - it's fair to say Washington has quietly sided with the Palestinians for a long time. Every administration since 1967, when Israel won a war and occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, has privately favored returning almost all of that territory to the Palestinians for the purposes of creating a separate Palestinian state. President George W. Bush finally said this publicly in 2001, but Israeli leaders and lobbyists who weren't in total denial knew the unspoken reality all along. If the lobby and Israel called the shots the way Mearsheimer and Walt and so many other Middle East experts insist, the United States would not have sold all those arms to the Arabs and never would have leaned in private toward a Palestinian state.

Most unbiased students of the matter would probably agree that the lobby is the single most influential force on American policy toward Israel. But among lobbies in Washington, it is one among many strong players. It is almost certainly less powerful than the pro-Taiwan China lobby, which successfully blocked American contacts with China, or even talk of it, throughout most of the cold war. It doesn't touch the power of the gun lobby, or AARP when it presses for the interests of senior citizens. In fact, just to set all of this in a perspective that should be known to Mearsheimer and Walt, lobbying is how American democracy works. We have a democracy of "minorities rule," as the great Yale political scientist Robert Dahl once explained, writing of the endless array of special-interest groups that control their issues almost totally.

As part of their incomplete picture, the two authors also minimize the lobbying influence of the Saudis and the oil companies, the other major forces on Middle East policy. The Saudis, along with the Egyptians, have been significant voices in Washington, arguing for a Palestinian state. Moreover, if Mearsheimer and Walt had asked policy participants over the years, they would have been told that the Saudis are the single most potent regional voice in American policy toward the gulf. And Riyadh, at least as much as Jerusalem, has been urging Washington to confront Iran. As for the oil companies, Mearsheimer and Walt say it's obvious the firms want peace because peace is good for business. But it's hard to ignore the fact that the Iraq war has added tens of billions to their coffers.

In any event, the real issue is not whether the Israel lobby controls policy toward Israel and the Middle East. All strong lobbies aspire to exercise control. The real issue is whether the Jewish lobby's power seriously undermines or damages American interests.

Where Israel should stand in the hierarchy of American national interests has been one of the hot-button issues of American foreign policy since Israel's founding in 1948. The first big question was whether the United States should recognize Israel at the United Nations. The most memorable battle over this issue took place in front of President Harry Truman. The contenders were his young but formidable counsel, Clark Clifford, and Secretary of State George Marshall, the single most respected American foreign policy figure of his era.

Clifford argued for recognition on moral and historical grounds. The United States and the world had a moral obligation to support a Jewish state because everyone had stood by and done nothing during the Holocaust. Marshall retorted that recognition would distort America's true interests in the Arab world, mainly securing oil, to gain Jewish political backing at home. To Marshall, a few million Jews in their own state amid a sea of tens of millions of Arabs would cause nothing but grief for America, and in the end, the Arabs would drive the Jews into the sea anyway. Truman backed Clifford, but the battle never ended.

Israel and the lobby made, and for good reasons won, the case during the cold war that Israel was a strategic asset for the United States. During this period, many Arab leaders played games with Moscow and were not reliable allies. By contrast, Washington could count fully on Israel for intelligence and joint weapons development and as a base of military operations, if need be. But with the Soviet Union's demise and the rise of new threats, the argument reopened about how vital Israel really was to the United States.

And here we arrive at the heart of the thesis of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy":

"Many policies pursued on Israel's behalf now jeopardize U.S. national security. The combination of unstinting U.S. support for Israel and Israel's prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory has fueled anti-Americanism throughout the Arab and Islamic world, thereby increasing the threat from international terrorism and making it harder for Washington to deal with other problems, such as shutting down Iran's nuclear program. Because the United States is now so unpopular within the broader region, Arab leaders who might otherwise share U.S. goals are reluctant to help us openly, a predicament that cripples U.S. efforts to deal with a host of regional challenges."

At one level, this argument is obviously correct. Of course, America's close ties with Israel compound its problems with Arabs and Muslims. But at a deeper level, one ignored by Mearsheimer and Walt, these problems would not disappear or seriously lessen if Washington abandoned Israel. The main source of anti-Americanism and anti-American terrorism is America's deep ties with highly unpopular regimes in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, not to mention the war in Iraq.

Similarly, Mearsheimer and Walt mostly dodge the question of how to fix this problem. They don't want to abandon Israel, they say, but they do want the United States to distance itself from Israeli policies. Does that mean talking to the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists? These groups are relentlessly committed to violence and to the total destruction of Israel. What is there to talk about? As for pressing Israel to turn over the territories and accept Palestinian statehood now, there is the slight problem of which Palestinians to bargain with - the Hamas leaders, who genuinely have broad support, or the far less popular and far more corrupt Fatah party. Besides, what concessions do Mearsheimer and Walt want Israel to make beyond what it has made? In the closing days of the Clinton administration, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met almost all Palestinian demands for a negotiated solution and was effectively turned down.

To be sure, Washington's ties with Israel make things harder for United States policy, but historically, the prime effect of the relationship has been to provide Arab leaders and discontented Arabs with an excuse for not putting their own houses in order. I doubt Mearsheimer and Walt believe that if Washington stiff-armed Israel, this would induce Arab leaders to address their real problems or produce peace in the Middle East.

Then there is the issue of nuclear weapons and taming the proliferation genie. Yes, Israel's nuclear ability adds to the hurdles Washington faces. But Mearsheimer and Walt should know that the driving force behind Saddam Hussein's quest for these arms had much less to do with Israel's nuclear weapons than with the threats he saw from Iran and the United States. The same is true for Iran today. Like Hussein, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad knows that only the United States can topple him and the regime of the mullahs he represents, and he wants the bomb principally for deterrence.

America's central strategic problem in the region - the main reason to worry about future terrorists, nuclear proliferation and energy supplies - is that we need our corrupt, inept and unpopular Arab allies because the likely alternative to them is far worse. There is no reliable and strong Arab moderate force in the Middle East at present. Washington's long-term goal must be to help build one. Yet Mearsheimer and Walt offer us no counsel on how to do this.

It's important to remember that the shah of Iran was overthrown not because he enjoyed good relations with Israel, which he did, but because a majority of his own people came to hate his regime and also his ties to the United States. There was no sustainable moderate center between the shah and the fanatical mullahs. And the lack of such a center is precisely what Washington needs to worry about now in places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

As it happens, America's commitment to Israel rests far more on moral and historical grounds than on strict strategic ones. Israel does not harm American security interests to anywhere near the degree that Mearsheimer and Walt claim it does. And the major reality is that despite whatever difficulties the Israeli-American relationship might cause, the United States is helping to protect one of the few nations in the world that share American values and interests, a true democracy. This is the greatest strategic bond between the two countries. (And not to be overlooked is the fact that when push has come to shove, Israel has always defended itself.)

The inevitable last question is this: Why have two such serious students of United States foreign policy written so weak a book and added fuel, inadvertently, to the fires of anti-Semitism? The answer lies in their treatment of the Iraq war.

Mearsheimer and Walt should feel very proud, indeed, for their foresight in opposing the Iraq war. Their writings were more on target than anyone's, and they are justifiably mystified about how the United States could have been so stupid and self-destructive. They appear to have reasoned that a mistake of this magnitude could have been fostered only by some irresistible force. And the only such force they can conjure from the landscape of the powerful is the Israel lobby, as embodied by neoconservative gladiators like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. In the authors' words, "the lobby did not cause the war by itself. ... But absent the lobby's influence, there almost certainly would not have been a war. The lobby was a necessary but not sufficient condition for a war that is a strategic disaster for the United States and a boon for Iran, Israel's most serious regional adversary."

Their vitriol about the Iraq war - about being so right while others were so wrong - is so overwhelming that they minimize two key facts. First, America's foreign policy community, including many Democrats as well as Republicans, supported the war for the very same reasons that Wolfowitz and the lobby did - namely, the fact that Hussein seemed to pose a present or future threat to American national interests. Second, the real play-callers behind the war were President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. They hardly have a history of being in the pockets of the Jewish lobby (more like the oil lobby's), and they aren't remotely neoconservatives. The more we know, the clearer it is that the White House went to war primarily to erase the "blunder" of the elder Bush in not finishing off Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf war of 1991.

Now, Mearsheimer and Walt fear that Israel and the lobby will shove the United States into a new war with Iran: "They are the central forces today behind all the talk ... about using military force to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. Unfortunately, such rhetoric makes it harder, not easier, to stop Iran from going nuclear."

They are right again about why the United States should not be making counterproductive threats about war against Iran, let alone fighting another war. But they are wrong again about the prime movers behind the bombast. Wolfowitz and Perle and company surely favor another nice little war, but they are temporarily discredited. Meanwhile, plenty of foreign policy experts and politicians now call for "getting Iran." And by the way, so do the two most powerful men in America, who neither need nor heed lobbying - George Bush and Dick Cheney.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


27 September, 2007

U.S. Christian Camp Loses Tax-Exempt Status over Same-Sex Civil-Union Ceremony

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced on Monday that it was stripping the Methodist Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of its tax-exempt status for part of its property. The Methodist camp made the news earlier this year after it refused, for religious reasons, to allow a lesbian couple to hold a "civil-union" ceremony at a pavilion on the camp's property.

The pavilion, said Scott Hoffman, the camp's chief administrative officer to LifeSiteNews, "is a facility we have used exclusively for our camp meeting mission and worship celebrations since 1869."

Until recently the camp held tax-exempt status on its entire boardwalk property under a New Jersey program that gives tax-breaks to organizations that open up their property to the general public.

In June, however, Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Pester, a lesbian, filed a complaint with the state attorney general's office on the basis of sexual orientation discrimination, after Ocean Grove refused to allow them to hold their "civil-union" ceremony at the camp's pavilion. A second lesbian couple has also sued Ocean Grove. New Jersey's anti-discrimination laws currently forbid those who "offer goods, services, and facilities to the general public" from "directly or indirectly denying or withholding any accommodation, service, benefit, or privilege to an individual" on the basis of sexual orientation.

"It is clear that the pavilion is not open to all persons on an equal basis," DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson, wrote to the camp on Monday, in announcing the DEP's decision to revoke the camp's tax-exempt status.

"When people hear the words 'open space,' we want them to think not just of open air and land, but that it is open to all people," Jackson continued. "And when the public subsidizes it with tax breaks, it goes with the expectation that it is not going to be parsed out, whether it be by activity or any particular beliefs."

Currently, however, there is some confusion over just how much of the camp's property no longer has tax-exempt status. As such, one homosexual advocacy group is threatening to appeal the DEP's decision, saying that it doesn't go far enough, reports the AP. "We're looking for a bigger victory here," said Steve Goldstein, the chairman of Garden State Equality. "We have the symbolic victory of the state telling Ocean Grove they're wrong, but there is a bigger victory to be had by having the entire tax-exemption removed. We're happy, but there's a lot more happiness to be had."

According to the Neptune Township tax assessor, the revocation of the tax-exempt status on the pavilion will only cost Ocean Grove about $175/year, although Scott Hoffman has reportedly issued a statement claiming that the DEP's decision in fact appears to revoke tax-exempt status for "over 99 percent of the land." Hoffman said that Ocean Grove's lawyers are currently reviewing the decision.

In August, the Christian camp preempted the complaints currently pending against it by itself suing New Jersey state officials. According to the Alliance Defense fund, which is representing the camp, the attorney general's office is violating First Amendment protections by investigating Ocean Grove. "Religious groups have the right to make their own decisions without government interference," said Brian Raum, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. "The government can't force a private Christian organization to use its property in a way that would violate its own religious beliefs."


Politically Correct Anthropology

Political correctness which has been invading academia with a vengeance has a new target- Anthropology. An ad-hoc group calling themselves the Network of Concerned Anthropologists is now circulating a petition on the internet called the Pledge of Non-Participation in Counterinsurgency whose central theme says that "Anthropologists should not engage in research and other activities that contribute to counterinsurgency operations in Iraq or in related theaters in the 'war on terror.'"In other words it's an anti-war declaration for anthropologists.

The organizers, two of whom are at George Mason University, feel that anthropologists who cooperate with the military damage the relationship of openness and trust anthropologists have throughout the world and that the U.S. military's presence in Iraq is illegitimate. Sounds like something from a MoveOn.org brochure.

This action was spurred by an upcoming meeting on an ad-hoc group of the American Anthropological Association that will be proposing ethical guidelines for working with the military and intelligence agencies.

One person who disagrees with the new group is Marcus B. Griffin, a professor of anthropology at Christopher Newport University. Mr. Griffin is currently in Iraq supporting a military "Human Terrain System" project. If the AAA adopts a position closer to that of the dissident group then the military will be deprived of an expert in an area where it needs help and one that could help save lives.

Apparently any previous cooperation with the military is irrelevant because it is the vehement opposition to the current Iraq war that supersedes any gain in scientific knowledge. Scientists often claim that they are only interested in the science and not politics. The NCA has mixed both into a dangerous brew.



By Jeff Jacoby

When John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt embarked on The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, a 484-page elaboration of the theme that a mighty pro-Israel machine controls America's dealings in the Middle East and crushes those who get in its way, they expected to be condemned as anti-Semites. "The charge of anti-Semitism," the two academics write in their book (as they had in their notorious 2006 essay on the subject), is one of the "most powerful weapons" in the Israel lobby's arsenal. "Anyone who criticizes Israeli actions or says that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle East policy stands a good chance of getting labeled an anti-Semite. In fact, anyone who says that there is an Israel lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism."

This accusation they label the "Great Silencer," one that has proven "a potent way to make sure that criticisms of Israel or the lobby were rarely spoken and were either ignored or disparaged when they were." Accordingly, Mearsheimer and Walt weren't surprised when leading booksellers refused to carry the The Israel Lobby and when attendance at their public appearances was suppressed. As they predicted, media outlets either refused to review their book, or published reviews that tarred them as anti-Semites. Such censorship and defamation are the price paid by anyone foolhardy enough to challenge Israel and, to coin a phrase, its amen corner in the United States.

In another universe, that is. In this one, nothing could be further from the truth. The Israel Lobby, needless to say, is on sale everywhere. It debuted at Number 12 on The New York Times Best Sellers list, and Number 6 in the Los Angeles Times. As of Friday, it was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in Amazon.com's US History, Israel History, and International Relations categories. Far from being stifled or ignored, Mearsheimer and Walt have had invitations aplenty to air their views, in venues as varied as NPR's "Fresh Air" and "On Point," the Los Angeles Times editorial board, and a standing-room-only crowd at Politics & Prose, the noted Washington bookstore.

The media has neither cold-shouldered them nor deployed the "Great Silencer" to defame them. "Mearsheimer and Walt are not anti-Semites or racists," David Remnick declared flatly in The New Yorker. "They are serious scholars and there is no reason to doubt their sincerity." Newsday's Scott McLemee opened his review by noting that "The Israel Lobby" has something important in common with Israel itself: "It is necessary to affirm its right to exist." Tim Rutten, reviewing the book for the L.A. Times, recoiled from its "underlying malice" and pronounced its argument "sinister" -- but made no suggestion that the authors are bigots. Ditto the New York Times, whose reviewer found the book unconvincing and unpleasant -- "the general tone of hostility to Israel grates on the nerves," he wrote -- but had nothing unflattering to say about Mearsheimer and Walt themselves.

This does not mean that no one has read the Mearsheimer/Walt philippic and concluded that it is, in fact, anti-Jewish bigotry dressed up as academic analysis. Gabriel Schoenfeld, writing in Commentary, pronounced the original paper a "meretricious attempt to put a scholarly cap and gown on every hoary calumny ever devised about Jewish influence," and he wasn't the only one to think so. His argument can be debated on its own merits.

For their part, Mearsheimer and Walt declare for the record that they not only harbor no anti-Semitic animus, but are in fact philo-Semites. Does that square with the view, to quote their original treatise, that a largely Jewish "Israel Lobby" has a "stranglehold on Congress" -- one powerful enough to "divert US foreign policy" in ways that benefit Israel while harming America, in order to give Israel "a free hand with the Palestinians," while Americans "do most of the fighting, dying . . . rebuilding and paying"? That, too, can be debated on its own merits.

What is not debatable is that Mearsheimer and Walt have not been silenced in any way. Their views have been widely discussed. A leading publisher invited them to extend those views in a book. Their claim that anyone critical of Israel or its supporters is ruthlessly muzzled is simply a lie. From Jimmy Carter to Noam Chomsky to Pat Buchanan, from the media to academia to the blogosphere, from the corridors of the UN to the "realists" of the State Department, Israel's detractors are loud and legion, quite often profitably so.

So why the Big Lie about the "Great Silencer?" Perhaps to disguise the fact that hostility for Israel is simply not a flavor most Americans like. Yes, the Mearsheimer/Walt message can sell books and garner lecture bookings. But in the American marketplace of ideas, the viewpoint they embrace has proven singularly unpalatable. If America's policies are pro-Israel, it is because America's people are pro-Israel -- and they are pro-Israel not because of the machinations of a Zionist lobby, but because they see in Israel a liberal democracy and a beleaguered but loyal ally in the war against radical Islam. Mearsheimer and Walt are more than welcome to peddle their anti-Israel message. But when all is said and done, most Americans just don't buy it.

Multiculturalism becomes poison for social capital

Comment from Australia

WE have heard little in this year's political debate about immigration or multiculturalism, although immigration is running at record levels. Yet a change of government has the potential to bring with it a marked change in both these policy areas, and one that most Australians may not like much. Kevin Rudd has, as on other issues, kept a low profile and told his shadow immigration minister to do the same. It has been left to Paul Keating to remind us what things were like under the Hawke and Keating governments, with his attack on John Howard earlier this year.

Keating said then that when Howard disparaged elites over what he celebrated as the mainstream, he was in fact disparaging cosmopolitan attitudes vis-a-vis the certainties of the old monoculture. There was even a comparison drawn and then withdrawn between Howard's populist appeal to ordinary Australians and Hitler's to the German Volk.

In the Labor years it was the role of cosmopolitan elites to keep ordinary, red-necked Australians and their inherent racism on the straight and narrow. It was an era of stifling political correctness, where critics were howled down with cries of racist by the cosmopolitan internationalist elites of the progressive Left. It was also an era of corrupt immigration policies, with family stream migration rorted to provide branch-stacking fodder. It was a time when ordinary Australians had the cosmopolitans' virulent multiculturalism shoved down their throats, with the result that support for immigration plummeted. This is no right-wing Liberal fantasy. Former Labor finance minister Peter Walsh described immigration policy under Hawke as a process of blow-out and cave in. The immigration program numbers blew out above target, bloated by regular cave-ins to the ethnic lobbyists.

Another former Labor minister, Gary Johns, saw its immigration policy as part of vote buying and branch-stacking. But most telling of all was the findings of the FitzGerald committee inquiry into immigration policy set up by the Hawke government. The committee, headed by Stephen FitzGerald, found a key problem in maintaining support for immigration was a profound distrust by Australians of the policy of multiculturalism. Historian John Hirst wrote in 1994: "Mainstream Australian society was reduced to an ethnic group and given an ethnic name: Anglo-Celt. Its right to primacy was denied; indeed, it became the most suspect of all ethnic groups given its atrocious past."

The Howard years changed all this and Rudd is unlikely to revert to the excesses of the Hawke years; however, there are signs that are worrying nonetheless. For example, Labor's platform, where immigration is dealt with in the section on human rights, itself a worrying sign of a return of the Left to policy formulation, speaks of restoring a fairer and more balanced immigration program. At the moment the program is 70per cent skilled migrants, an economic focus that is very much in Australia's interest. Restoring balance suggest Labor will increase the role of family reunion, an ominous possibility given the record of the Hawke years.

However, the real worry, given Australia will want to continue to run a strong immigration program, is a Labor government's ability to retain a national consensus in favour of immigration. There is a substantial body of research that shows the ethnic diversity driven by immigration is destructive of social capital. The most comprehensive of these studies is by American political scientist Robert Putnam, best known as the author of Bowling Alone, a book on the breakdown of community in the US. Putnam defines social capital as "social networks and the associated norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness".

Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History, told an International Monetary Fund conference on social capital some years ago: "Social capital is important to the efficient functioning of modern economies and is the sine qua non of stable liberal democracy."

Putnam, himself from the progressive Left, is somewhat embarrassed by his findings that ethnic diversity leads to the breakdown of trust and community networks that are a vital part of any society's social fabric. While his study is of the US, he says it would apply to other countries such as Australia. Worried about the impact of his research given the increased sensitivity on immigration issues since September 11, he said nothing about it for four or five years, before delivering a paper in Sweden last year. While he is at pains to say that in the long run immigration and ethnic diversity are likely to have important cultural, economic, fiscal and development benefits, his own research doesn't establish this. What it does show is that over several decades immigration and ethnic diversity lead to mistrust, challenge social solidarity, break down community and are poison to social capital.

This isn't an argument for stopping immigration or for racial purity, since, as Putnam says, ethnic diversity will inevitably increase in all modern societies. But it is a powerful argument against multicultural policies that encourage ethnic separatism and discourage assimilation. The litmus test for a Rudd government will be what it does in response to the Howard Government's changes to Australian citizenship laws designed to increase the value immigrants place on citizenship and insist on competent English and an understanding of Australia's laws, history and culture.

Australian sociologist Katharine Betts and demographer Bob Birrell provide an excellent discussion of the changing approach to citizenship since the Whitlam government in 1973 in the March issue of People & Place. What they show is that under successive Labor governments the value of citizenship was reduced to little better than a certificate you could pull out of a corn flakes packet. They note two very different concepts of citizenship, which they label the procedural position and the patriotic view. The procedural view holds that migrants should have no other commitment to Australia beyond respect for the law and rights of others.

The patriotic position, which surveys show is held by a clear majority of Australians, attaches a strong value to citizenship as a national bond and expects immigrants to live like Australians. This is the position the Howard Government has moved to in recent years. Rudd has yet to declare his attitude to the Government's citizenship approach, but Labor emphatically rejects any suggestion of assimilation. Yet the strongly adverse effect of immigration and ethnic diversity on social capital suggests a policy that brings Australians together rather than encouraging cultural separation will be essential to sustaining immigration and its long-term benefits.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


26 September, 2007

Magical Thinking on I.Q.

Post below excerpted from John Derbyshire. See the original for links

Case in point: David Brooks's remarkably lame-brained piece in the New York Times the other day. I say "remarkably" because David is a very smart guy, and people that smart do not often sign their names to such unmitigated twaddle.

The wittiest comments on David's piece came from the Anglosphere's best living human-sciences journalist, Steve Sailer. Steve supplies the full text of the Brooks piece for good measure (with his comments at the end). Alex at the Gene Expression website conducted a point-by-point demolition of the Brooks piece, with linked bibliographical references - I counted 23. No doubt there have been other critiques around the web from people WHO ACTUALLY KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT PSYCHOMETRICS. [See e.g. here]

The Brooks piece caught my attention because I had just finished reading Michael Hart's book Understanding Human History. Hart's aim is to do for the history of our species what Lynn and Vanhanen did for economics: to bring forward intelligence - the different statistical profiles of different peoples on measures of cognitive function - as an important factor. Not the only factor, of course, but an important factor.

Different populations, descended from different small founder groups, and evolved through hundreds of generations in different homelands under different selection pressures, emerged from those homelands at the end of the Neolithic and began these historic exchanges - began to trade, fight, conquer, enslave, settle, convert. If it is the case that intelligence - the ability to comprehend and manipulate the world, including the social world (which includes the military and political worlds) - if it is the case that intelligence is differently distributed in different populations, that fact must have had great consequences for history. And if not, then obviously, not.

On the premise that it is the case, Hart works his way through history taking intelligence as one of the determinants for events. He tells the story of the earliest human migrations, paralleling the account in Nicholas Wade's fine book. He comes up with novel explanations for some puzzling facts - e.g. that successful north-to-south invasions are much more common than south-to-norths. He gives a good critique of Jared Diamond's thesis that, to put it in the smallest possible nutshell, natural selection came to a screeching halt 50,000 years ago - that the laws of biology were suspended back in the paleolithic in order that 21st-century Western liberals should not be plagued by thoughts that are unpleasant (Diamond's actual adjective is "loathsome") or unpopular.....

As interesting as all this population-genetics stuff is to us science geeks, what is just as interesting, though in a different way, is the tremendous resistance to it all on the part of non-science intellectuals like David Brooks.

IQ score either does, or does not, measure some real aspect of the human personality. Human populations who underwent the latest stages of their evolution in higher latitudes either do, or do not, have I.Q. distributions with higher means than those of lower-latitude groups. A people's I.Q. profile either is, or is not, a determinant of its economic or military success, or cultural prominence. Let's gather the data and crunch the numbers and see if we can get clear answers, shall we? (With the understanding, as always in the sciences, and most especially in the human sciences, that clear answers may not be forthcoming from the datasets we have been able to gather.)

No, say the Brookses, let's not. There was that book a dozen or so years ago, the one that created such a fuss in the political-literary magazines that I and all my friends read. Well, that's quite enough of that. Didn't those guys turn out to be some kind of racists? Euiw! Let's not think about it any more.

And so on... ending up with the highly peculiar spectacle of thoughtful, well-educated conservatives clinging fearfully to the skirts of the late Stephen Jay Gould and the extant Richard Lewontin - both declared Marxists! Anything, any place, any refuge, any companions, anything in the world but be forced to face unwelcome truths - be forced to abandon the warm comfort of wishful thinking and the smiling approval of our social peers.

Knowing that I lean to the nature side of most nature-nurture controversies, readers occasionally e-mail in with something from the newspapers offering evidence for nurturism. My stock response is: "All nurturist claims in the general press must be read with the understanding that there is terrific psychic & social pressure on any commentator or researcher who wants to keep his job and his friends to make as much as possible of any nurturist evidence, and as little as possible of any naturist evidence. You should apply an appropriate bias-correcting discount to all you read."

The ordinary modes of human thinking are magical, religious, and social. We want our wishes to come true; we want the universe to care about us; we want the esteem of our peers. For most people, wanting to know the truth about the world is way, way down the list. Scientific objectivity is a freakish, unnatural, and unpopular mode of thought, restricted to small cliques whom the generality of citizens regard with dislike and mistrust. There is probably a sizable segment in any population that believes scientists should be rounded up and killed.

When the magical (I wish this to be so: Therefore it is so!) and the religious (we are all one! brotherhood of man!) and the social (this is what all good citizens believe!) come together, the mighty psychic forces unleashed can unhinge even the best minds. David Brooks's embarrassing little venture into psychometry is only the latest illustration of this melancholy truth.

Digital tantrums on YouTube

From animal rights activists to worried teachers to pro-monarchist Thais: demands for censorship on the popular video-sharing site are getting louder

YouTube, the video-sharing metropolis where anyone can upload and view film clips, and which was acquired by Google last year for a rumoured œ900million, has been called on to remove `animal cruelty clips' from its pages. As the London Times recently reported (1), viewers were aghast and distressed at several videos showing pythons killing goats and chickens, live mice being attacked by piranha fishes and a kitten being lobbed off a building, mostly to soundtracks of upbeat Eighties dance music and delighted whooping from onlookers.

This is the latest in a long line of outraged calls for aspects of YouTube to be censored. British teachers have attempted to protect children from `cyber-bullying' by restricting access to the site (2); Japanese studios requested the removal of Hentai (the more violent strain of manga) episodes on grounds of copyright infringement (3); and there are restrictions in Thailand on what kind of videos can be posted about the monarchy there (4).

I ventured on to YouTube to see the latest headline-hogging cruel material for myself. A quick search for `python goat' threw up a promising video called, well, `snake vs goat'. Cut to shaky home footage of a giant python in a big glass cage, nose to nose with an innocuous-looking whiter-than-white goat. Darting suddenly to clamp its jaws around its lunch's neck, the snake slowly coils its giant body round the goat's torso, squeezing it to death. In the background, a group of what sounds like American men commentate. The cameraman - presumably the pet's owner - happily chirps in, `Even a human being couldn't get out of that', before accurately predicting the moment the goat will start kicking. His friends start chanting: `I can't breathe, I can't breathe.'

Searching further for `animal cruelty' returned a whole subgenre of pro- and anti American pit bull terrier videos. One showed images of dogs against a hip-hop soundtrack; another informed viewers that animals were not `put on earth' to fight.

It would be interesting to ask those who call for censorship of videos of animals eating other animals what they think keeps a 10-foot python alive. Surely starving a serpent to death by refusing to let it feed, regardless of how fluffy its meals are, would be more akin to animal cruelty? Demands that videos showing animal feeding should be censored smacks of a woolly-minded refusal to acknowledge that (shock!) some animals do indeed eat others. What about advertised feeding times at zoos? Are we supposed to feel sorry for the mice now? In fact, humans both kill and eat animals regularly, but nobody (except PETA perhaps) complains about sepia-tinted footage of people tucking into their Sunday roasts. Neither did people have a problem with David Attenborough's television series Planet Earth, where he marvelled at the incisiveness of dirty prairie dogs hacking up a graceful gazelle. But then, that was the BBC.

It's not so much the depiction of goat death or dog fighting itself that provokes groans - after all, some of the most gruesome images of animals appear in the material of animal-rights campaigners. Instead, it's the fact that these videos have no obvious higher, sufficiently noble purpose that makes them unpalatable for some people. The problem is not so much the depiction of bloody animal feeding but the fact that some people might enjoy it; not the representation of a snake-strangling but the fact that some might get off on it. This fear of viewer enjoyment is based on two ideas: first, that web surfers, largely unregulated and unrestricted, get up to all sorts of perverted things; and second, that if you like watching wicked videos on YouTube then you might also be tempted to carry out in the real world what you have watched on the web. Therefore, YouTube must be censored in order to protect us from our own worst instincts, and to ensure that no one decides to buy a snake or a wild dog and set it on a poor defenceless beast.

You may not care very much whether it's possible to view snakes eating goats on YouTube. But there is more at stake here than a few weird videos. A minority of egocentric moralisers should not have the power to decide what people can or cannot post on a video-sharing networking site. YouTube is built up through user-generated content, and it is supposedly user-managed. Whether a clip does well (that is, if it comes high on search returns) depends on how many stars users award it, and all potentially irksome clips carry a warning telling viewers to go away if they're likely to be adversely affected. It's hard to imagine a more fair and polite way of sharing videos.

However, if you thought the rise of file-sharing sites was a leap in the right direction for a model of self-governance on the web, think again. Sites such as YouTube may overtly espouse the ethos of the `politics of participation', but censorious rules are built into their structures so as to ensure certain sorts of material and viewpoints don't appear. YouTube, for instance, has a blanket ban on porn. If a video generates a lot of complaints, administrators will remove it; so there is user-generated censorship on YouTube as well as user-generated content. Filters are often built into search engines on content-sharing websites, and on many sites `admins' have the final say on what appears and what doesn't.

Today, many celebrate Web 2.0's participatory ethos, only to disparage users when they don't behave in the way that is expected. The unwieldy nature of the web triggers the cautious and censorious to panic about what harm unruly browsers might be doing to themselves, or to others - or even to cats, goats and snakes.

The Google search engine's modus operandi is a `moderate' filter, which bans material that might be pornographic - or simply nude. If you search for `Nicole Kidman' on Google images with first the moderate filter and then without a filter, you will find that the first blocks Lucien Freud's painting of Kidman while the second allows it. While having the option of filtering can be useful, and the role of the `admin' is often practical, having these as the necessary conditions for browsing smacks of covert authoritarianism. And it is crude: it blocks out not only pornographic imagery but also paintings by one of Britain's most respected living artists.

The World Wide Web has the potential to be an open space for the sharing and interrogation of ideas without any of the moralising and monitoring that is so commonplace in the offline world. It could be a place for the free flow of information between equals and a source of abundant information for whoever wants it. Sadly, it has quickly become prey to the sort of gentle centralised interventionism so prevalent in British politics and society today.

Too many web-users hit `complain' rather than having a discussion and working out rules and regulations for themselves. Instead of appealing to the user community, and devising some way of reaching a collective decision about what is acceptable in people's shared spaces, the easily upset have digital tantrums and expect the bouncers of cyberspace to come running. Which means that instead of being a radically alternative space for images and information free from the confines of conventions, YouTube and other sites are falling prey to the sensitivity-driven censorship that plagues the real world.


The 60s Left is now imposing its fantasies on us all

A lot of the loss of political sanity we see today reflects the death fears of the Boomer Left. The Baby Left was only a small percentage of the Boomer generation. But starting in the Sixties, they managed to place their indelible stamp on the media, and haven't let up since. "The Sixties" was itself a PR fantasy, whooped up by our objective media to flatter their younger audience, and to make converts for the Left. For Boomers themselves, swinging Left was a good career move: It got them noticed in the media, in colleges, in advertising, in the arts, in politics, and in the sexual meat market.

Europe had a slightly different version in the rebellious year of '68. It was all triggered by the biological clock of the post-war Baby Boom, of course, but the Left quickly took control of the generational narrative. A tiny minority of Boomers grabbed political and media power, and have exercised it with a vengeance, literally, over half a century. Today they are having majot anger control problems, precisely because their media monopoly is being threatened. The traditional American narrative is not yet stamped into extinction.

The rising Boomer Left openly conspired to conduct a "Long March through the institutions" -- to infiltrate and seize control over the American media, universities, and bureaucracies. Those institutions are stacked today with aging Lefties, enforcing Political Correctness in all its maddest manifestations. Black faces dominate Madison Avenue ads, as do white women and teenagers, while middle-aged white males are demonized and ridiculed on billboards and TV. This has a devastating effect on boys looking to their Dads to be role models, only to see Dad put down mercilessly in all the pop media. Kids are very confused as a result. But Politically Correct agit-prop satisfies the Boomer Left's need for psychic vengeance. PC is now the dominant style of our age.

When people confront their own mortality, their finiteness, they tend to project their personal fears onto the world. So we have Global Warming panic, Flesh-Eating Germs panic, Nuclear Power panic and scores of other imaginary fears. For anxious people the world is full of scary things, all because of their need to escape the prospect of personal end. The PC world is as full of superstitious phobias as the Mayan world of a thousand years ago; the Mayans controlled their fears by sacrificing children to ensure the sun would rise the next morning. We sacrifice conservatives: Newt Gingrich, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, two Attorneys General in a row.

Oddly enough, this omni-panic goes along with omni-denial, as liberal Boomers turn a blind eye to real dangers, like the looming nuclear proliferation threat coming from Ahmadi-Nejad, the Syrians and the NoKos. On any given day the Washington Post and the New York Times will fire yet another denial out to a skeptical world. What nuclear proliferation? Bush lied! Today, the French Foreign Minister is more serious about Iranian nukes than the leading Democrats running for president of the United States.

But it's not just nuclear proliferation. On the Gay Left there is denial of such immediate dangers as HIV transmission, with some men having "bug chasing" sex parties with infected carriers. Europe continues to import millions of militant Islamists into its multicultural fantasy land, and now faces demographic extinction; but the Euromedia still live in blissful ignorance. Major Euromedia like the BBC, the Guardian and Der Spiegel blame America and Israel for their own suicidal multicultural blunders; those scapegoats are making the peace-loving Muslims mad, you see. Such misdirected fears go hand-in-hand with misdirected denial and rage.

Just recently we saw yet another shameful display at the US Senate Armed Services Committee, as the Left united in publicly slandering a four-star General, a man who has seen combat on behalf of the United States, who has served us all his adult life, who literally wrote the manual on counter-insurgency, and who came back to report steady improvement in Iraq. General Petraeus drives the Left barking mad, in good part because he is so un-PC: Another middle aged white guy, super-competent, intelligent, honest, brave and modest, in uniform, telling us what we don't want to hear. Damn!

American victory in Iraq is a threat to the Left, which has always told us that "wars never solve anything." Google shows almost four million reptitions of that mantra. Fighting is said to be a universal evil, running right against the rock-hard facts that tell us that civilized -- yes, civilized -- warfare abolished slavery, established peace and freedom in half the world, liberated the oppressed, spread democratic forms of government, and created the basis for world-wide prosperity today. American military strength protects us every single day of our lives.

We forget that at our peril. No matter: The Left had to slander a victorious American commander in Iraq because he brought the unwelcome news that they were wrong --- again. They felt betrayed, giggling wildly to the sad pun of "General Betray-Us." But the American people did not feel betrayed. (Not by the General, anyway.)

The personal death fears of the Boomer Left are a key to contemporary politics. Death fear drives the lifelong quest for Hillary Clinton to be the First Woman President at any cost in personal destruction to her political enemies, the narcissistic need for John F. Kerry to see himself as his mythic hero JFK, and the grandiosity behind Al Gore's Global Prophecy of Doom, now playing to loud applause in Norway. (Where Al will no doubt receive the Nobel Peace Prize for peddling faux science to millions of dupes).

We can also see the Boomer Left's real fear in their constant need to shut out conservative voices, just like they shut out their parents' voices in the Sixties. Conservatives are too much in touch with reality. Conservatives are scary. The Left doesn't listen to conservatives as a matter of noble principle.

In the Sixties the Boomer Left discovered the answer to war and human conflict, and indeed the secret of eternal life. Then reality came along with one shocking blow after another: JFK was killed, RFK was, too, Dr. King went down, and Vietnam happened. The Left twisted all those events. You will not read in their memoirs that JFK was killed by a Communist loner, that RFK was murdered by a Palestinian militant, and that our retreat from Vietnam was followed by the biggest crashing domino in the horrific history of Communism: Pol Pot's genocide of his own people in Cambodia. None of those facts exist for the Boomer Left. They never happened.

The fear of death is a basic human obsession. It may be the basic human fear. Judging from the archeological record, modern humans arose between 40 and 70 thousand years ago, when our ancestors began to decorate graves with red ochre, buried personal weapons and jewelry with the bodies of the dead, and gave them food and servant companions for the journey. Symbolic objects arose 30-70 millenia ago, and were constantly employed to ward off the fear of dying. The symbolic undoing of death is a universal marker for Homo Sapiens Sapiens today.

The Boomer Left created its own fantasy world without death. Well, they were hardly the first. The Egyptians built their pyramids and funeral mastabas, generation after generation over three thousand years, culminating in the super-sized Great Pyramid at Giza. They were all dedicated to the immortality of whichever pharaoh died and was buried there. Ancient grave mounds can be found in Scandinavia and the Americas, as a kind of proto-pyramid. By the beginnings of intensive agriculture and settled cities, six to ten millenia ago, we find humans grasping for eternity by way of great monuments in India, South-East Asia, Sumeria (Iraq) and China.

Conservatives don't have the answer to the fear of death; it's not the sort of thing you can find settled answers to. But we respect the ways in which humans have learned to cope: By religious faith -- the constructive kind, not the suicide-murdering version -- by contributing positively to the world in any number of ways, by raising children, by passing on what wisdom we have learned. Conservatives don't believe in denial, by and large. Historically, Anglo-American conservatives have been skeptical about grandiose "solutions" to human frailties; but not closed-minded to reasoned progress. Balancing skepticism and open-mindedness is a conservative value.

The greatest flaw of the Boomer Left is to see life through plainly false ideas. Start with a false premise, and you'll end up with false conclusions. Begin with the conviction that we can turn all human conflicts into peace and love just by willing it, and you end up convinced that those who don't agree with you must be evil, or must be forced to obey. Start with the false certainty that youth is eternal, and you end up undermining responsible parenting and kids. Assume that cultures are easy to change -- and not the treasured heritage of a hundred generations -- and you end up importing millions of dangerously indoctrinated militants into your peaceful land. Or take it on faith that brain-altering drugs are harmless, and you end up with vulnerable people hooked on smack and crack, killing each other to feed their habit. Or fall for the idea that women are better than men, and you ignite a war between the sexes, and lead children astray.

The biggest error we tend to make is to confuse the Boomer Left with the Boomer Generation as a whole. The Left has managed to peddle that illusion. As usual, liberals fool themselves into believing that they are The People; But the conservative revival in the United States shows it isn't true. It's good to keep in mind that General Petraeus is also a Boomer.

Conservatives represent what Sigmund Freud called the "Reality Principle," the principle of sane adulthood. Starting in the Sixties, the Left began to deny the Reality Principle, leading to a kind of mass neurosis. Whole Leftist philosophies, like post-modernism, explicitly deny that reality is real. Terms like "Reality Principle" and "mass neurosis" have therefore lost popularity; but they capture the essence of the problem. To be sure, conservatives are vulnerable to all the usual human frailties. But to be "conservative" is a near-synonym for being grown-up. A big part of maturity is to come to terms with one's own limits -- without neurotic denial, without blaming and raging at others, and without undue fear.

General Petraeus, as a US combat leader, has come to terms with his own fear of death in a civilized and disciplined way. But last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee kept on swerving into black comedy when Democrats reminded him that people die in war. It was cringe-making, sink-through-the-floor embarassing. As a grown-up making thoughtful decisions under the most difficult circumstances, Petraeus is clearly the moral superior of all the neurotics who slandered him last week. We survive and thrive as a civilization only because of people like him. One of these days it would be nice for the grown-ups to take the culture back.


Australia: A heavily politicized "human rights" bureaucracy

Post lifted from Leon Bertrand. See the original for links

Last week we had two separate stories on the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission's left-wing political bias. These stories can be found here and here. We have since found another example of bias for your enjoyment. ADCQ's Submission to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission for consideration in its Pay Equity Inquiry in June of this year reveals that the Commission explicitly favours a Socialist industrial relations system, again breaching the Public Sector Code of Conduct. For instance, the Commission advocates that it, or the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, should set wages in private sector workplaces:

28. The QIRC discussion paper discusses possible amendments to the ADA to permit the Commission or Tribunal to make equal remuneration orders based on comparable worth. The discussion paper speculates whether it may be possible for an equal remuneration order based on comparable worth to direct that the specified employee or class of employees be reclassified.

Of course, recent thinking on industrial relations has come to the conclusion that employers, and not Government bodies, are best able to evaluate the worth of an employee's work. This coincides with the rise of economic rationalism and the decline of soft socialism. Nevertheless, the "fresh thinking" of the ADCQ essentially advocates a new form of centralised wage-fixing, as though Tribunal members are better judges of an employee's worth. As we have already shown, Tribunal members often know very little. In fact, the H.R. Nicholls society has pointed out that:

The inevitable problem which arises in every specialist tribunal, unstated by Justice Guidice, is the composition of these tribunals. The type of people who seek appointment to antidiscrimination tribunals, and often succeed in getting appointed, are often women, homosexual, and sometimes disabled (the former head of the Victorian tribunal was a blind woman). They tend to be steeped in student revolutionary culture of the 1970s and are living specimens of an undergraduate time warp. For them, employers, large and small, are the drivers of capitalist oppression. In this time warp, white, middle-aged males harass, intimidate, fail to promote, fail to hire and terminate employees as part of a conspiracy against non-Anglo-Saxons and women. Profoundly ignorant of how markets work in a free economy, and guided by chattering-class perceptions of how and why hiring and firing occurs, they are determined to bring light to the unenlightened and to expose the evils of the market economy. These tribunes are not judges at all-but social engineers sitting on the bench-inspired by the example of Sir William Deane, Sir Anthony Mason and Sir Gerard Brennan.

Being the left wing organisation that it is, the ADCQ couldn't resist a crack at Workchoices, the Australian left's second biggest obsession after climate change, the latter being a phenomenon which has occurred since the beginning of Earth's existence:

39. If there are no legislative constraints imposed by the WRA and Queensland does have power to adopt and implement legislative models similar to those implemented in Sweden or Quebec, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, France or Switzerland, the ADCQ submits that a strong mandatory model binding all employers should be passed in Queensland. Such a legislative model is likely to be one of the most effective means to have systemic outcomes, if combined with other measures to address the underlying causes of the gender pay gap. This type of measure becomes even more necessary, given that the individualisation and decentralisation of wage bargaining, and the removal of state based equal remuneration principles under WorkChoices eliminates some of the former means of reducing the gender pay gap.

The ADCQ goes on to express its strong support for Quebec's model which requires employers to "methodically report on their compliance" with bureaucratic regulations imposed by the state, including a "pay equity process" and a need to post results of such a process. Such a model might sound appealing to some, however from an economist's point of view there are hidden costs associated with over-regulation such as this. What ADCQ are proposing is that the compliance costs of business are increased, whilst their ability to run their businesses efficiency and flexibly are undermined. In short, it's a typical soft left proposition which, if implemented, would be detrimental to the Australian economy. On top of this authoritarian approach, ADCQ even proposes the following:

46. Preferred tenderer status should be conferred by the Government on those organisations that have undertaken an approved gender pay equity audit and have taken action to achieve pay equity at all levels of their organisation. The QIRC discussion paper notes that this measure has been introduced in Switzerland. Public procurement policies are increasingly being used internationally to further social goals including equality in employment. Procurement policies can attain these objectives by requesting contractors to modify the gender, racial or ability/disability make up of their workforce, or by encouraging contactors who are female or belong to racial or ethnic minorities to partake in public tenders. The USA, South Africa and Europe are all using procurement policies to promote equality in the workplace.

Whilst ADCQ is designed to fight against discrimination, it keenly wishes to implement AA, a form of discrimination that the left promotes. Again, there are hidden costs to the economy if you force employers to hire people for reasons other than merit. But of course, just like the rest of the soft left, ADCQ seems oblivious to this. Further mandatory regulations ADCQ wish to impose on the very businesses that generate the wealth that funds ADCQ include:

* Introduce a 14 week paid maternity leave scheme (recommendation 13).

* Phase in a more comprehensive scheme consisting of:

a) At a minimum, two weeks paid paternity leave to be taken at the birth of the child; and

b) A further 38 weeks of paid paternal leave that is available to either parent (recommendation 14).

Again, this clearly shows that ADCQ believes that businesses are generally bottomless pits of money that can be asked to fund virtually anything, even if they don't receive a cent in return. The irony of course is that compulsory paid maternal leave would actually result in discrimination to women: the very thing ADCQ seeks to avoid. It is quite apparent that the world ADCQ aims for is essentially a socialist utopia, completely divorced from economic realities which make it unworkable. It's the same dreamy utopianism which made Karl Marx pen that "religion is the people's opiate", not realising that he himself was befuddled with a rather similar narcotic.

This blog has already pointed out that women encounter few disadvantages, and are increasingly rising to the top. The only evidence that ADCQ is able to produce as evidence that Anti-Discrimination laws do not redress discrimination in the field of employment are the comments of another Tribunal leftist, namely Glynn J in the NSW Pay Equity Inquiry. It seems it has never occurred to the leftists at ADCQ that there are other reasons besides discrimination that are responsible for women generally earning less than men. For instance, women often choose to be the stay at home mothers for years, before they re-enter the workforce, thereby slowing their career development. Secondly evidence also suggests that in many cases men are more ambitious than women, and this is due to higher levels of pressure and expectation being imposed on men. ADCQ happily ignores all of these considerations, deciding to instead dogmatically assume that it is the best judge of the value of one's work. It is a push for socialism, under a new, post-Marxist guise.

In a previous post on the ADCQ, we pointed out some key principles enshrined in the Public Service Code of Conduct:

The Australian Public Service:is apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner; provides a workplace that is free from discrimination and recognises and utilises the diversity of the Australian community it serves; has the highest ethical standards; is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public;is responsive to the Government in providing frank, honest, comprehensive, accurate and timely advice and in implementing the Government's policies and programs; delivers services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public and is sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public;

Once again, with its push for obsolete left-wing policies, ADCQ has revealed that it is not a politically impartial organisation. Rather, it is an organisation whose political orientation can best be described as soft left, and which is quite apparently out of touch with the economic and social realities of the real world.


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


25 September, 2007

Race bias in the media again

Earlier this year, I wrote a column titled (Murder in Black and White), which detailed the torture, gang-rape and murder of a young couple, Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. Their five attackers—four men and a woman—dumped his battered body by a train track and threw her charred remains in a trash bin. The point of that grim essay was to highlight the mainstream media’s disparate treatment of interracial crimes.

Indeed, there are some 17,000 murders committed in the U.S. each year, but this double murder was clearly far more barbaric, far more monstrous than most. Yet it never made a headline more than 20 miles from the crime scene—not on NPR, not on CNN or the networks, not in The Washington Post, not in The New York Times. Was the MSM’s lack of interest in this case race related, given that the two victims were white and the five defendants are black?

Yes. How do I know? Consider this case in point: Last week, six white West Virginia lowlifes were charged with the kidnapping, torture and sexual assault of a 20-year-old black woman, Megan Williams. This was a brutal crime, to be sure, but Megan Williams is alive today, having been rescued by local sheriff’s deputies. Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, as we know, were not nearly so fortunate.

Within 24 hours of the arrests in the West Virginia case, stories were headlined on CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times—even the BBC—and numerous reports have been filed subsequently.

Was the MSM’s acute interest in this case race related? Yes. In fact, no sooner had Williams’s attackers been arrested than the FBI and federal prosecutors joined the investigation to determine if the victim’s civil rights were violated, or if her assault qualified as a “hate crime.”

To this day, however, searches of the massive news archives of CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times for the names “Channon Christian” and “Christopher Newsome” render exactly zero references to their names in any news story—that’s nil, naught, zip and zilch.

There is nothing unusual about the racial component of the Christian and Newsom murders. Indeed, while blacks represent just 12 percent of the U.S. population, black perpetrators are convicted by their peers in more than half of all murder and manslaughter cases. In other words, per capita, black-on-white crime is far more prevalent than the inverse. However, the contrast in how the MSM reported these two cases betrays a prevalent white-supremacist mindset among liberal journalistic scribes.

By discounting the newsworthiness of black-on-white crime such as the murders of Christian and Newsom, and at the same time trumpeting the newsworthiness of white-on-black crime such as the assault on Williams, the MSM is, in effect, insisting that white people should be held to a higher standard than black people. In doing so, the MSM is essentially saying, “It isn’t news when blacks prey on whites, because we expect them to behave like vicious animals, but it is headline news when whites prey on blacks, because we expect whites to be more civilized.”

Additional evidence of this underlying media hypocrisy is substantiated through the MSM’s coverage of race-baiting opportunists who inject themselves into racially charged criminal cases. For example, if a racially motivated hate group like the KKK showed up to protest on behalf of white defendants in a white-on-black crime, they would rightfully be skewered by the media. However, when racially motivated haters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson show up to protest on behalf of defendants in a black-on-white crime, they are canonized as civil rights saviors.

In fact, this week Sharpton and Jackson, with more than ten thousand of their ilk in tow, swamped the small town of Jena, Louisiana, to protest charges against six black youths (the so-called “Jena Six”) for brutally beating and stomping a white classmate—charges that were reduced from attempted murder to aggravated battery.

“You cannot have justice meted out based on who you are rather than what you did,” Sharpton argues, implying that because the defendants in Jena are black, and there was racial tension among the youths, the charges are unjust. “This is the most blatant example of disparity in the justice system that we’ve seen. You can’t have two standards of justice.” (Unless, of course, you consider Sharpton’s fabrication of the Tawana Brawley rape hoax a “blatant example of disparity in the justice system.”)

According to Jackson, “Across this country, there are two justice systems—one for blacks and one for whites. Black young men are not more likely to commit crimes than whites, but they are more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be arrested if stopped, more likely to be charged if arrested, more likely to be jailed if convicted, more likely to be charged with felonies and more likely to be tried and imprisoned as adults.”

Actually, black youth are far more likely to commit crimes than white youth, and for that reason they are more likely to be stopped by police (including black police officers), more likely to be arrested and, if charged, convicted (often by black-majority juries).

District Attorney Reed Walters refuted the claims of Sharpton and Jackson, saying, “This case has been portrayed by the news media (emphasis added) as being about race and the fact that it takes place in a small Southern town lends itself to that portrayal, but it is not and never has been about race. It is about finding justice for an innocent victim and holding people accountable for their actions.”

It is worth noting that neither Jackson nor Sharpton offered a word of sympathy for the actual assault victim.



Post below lifted from Dr Sanity. See the original for links

In an article from City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple makes a compelling case that Islam is fast becoming the Marxism of our time. I want to take Dalrymple's analysis one step further. Islam is not simply the alternative that today's angst-ridden, alienated youth turn to because Marxism is waning in intellectual circles; it's extremism and violence resonates harmonically with the socialist revolutionaries of the 20th century; and they have appropriated the jihad as an essential component of their political and intellectual strategy to revive Marxism in the 21st century.

Let us take a look at the strategy and how it has evolved to include the Islamic fanatics.

Multiculturalism and political correctness are two of the fundamental pseudo-intellectual, quasi-religious tenets that have been widely disseminated by intellectuals unable to abandon socialism even after its crushing failures in the 20th century. Along with a third component, radical environmentalism, they make up three key foundations of leftist dogma that have been slowly, but relentlessly, absorbed at all levels of Western culture in the last decade or so--but primarily since the end of the Cold War.

All three have been incorporated into most K-12 curricula as well as the academic curricula in Western university and colleges. In combination, they are the toxic by-products of postmodern relativism.

The neo-Marxist fascists who are leading the charge in the academic world have been at the forefront of attempts to rewrite most of history and undo thousands of years of Western cultural advancement.

And, as Western culture has become completely saturated with this toxic brew, any attempt to question the validity of the neo-Marxists' premises; or to contest their value is met with hysterical accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, imperialism, bigotry, or--worse of all --intolerance or insensitivity or hypocrisy.

The self-righteousness of the neo-Marxist fascists is such that they strongly believe they are justified (even in their "antiwar" personas) to violently attack and/or intimidate any who disagree with them.

It just so happens, that these tenets (multiculturalism, political correctness, and radical environmentalism) represent three of the four pillars that are the foundation of an evolving epistemological, ethical and political strategy that the socialist remnants in the world have conceptualized and implemented to prevent their ideology from entering the dustbin of history.

And, what is most interesting is that, even as they encourage and enable Islam with the first three pillars; the Islamofascists are aiding and abetting them by using the fourth pillar- Terrorism.

We can think of the four pillars as the reason why we are witnessing a socialist revival (e.g., Hugo in the western hemisphere recently) and the rapid advancement of the Islamic Jihad all around the world.

Dalrymple's article suggests that Islam has inherited the mantle of Marxism; but I am suggesting that the two have united in a marriage-of-convenience; and that this union is the 21st century reincarnation of the failed, anti-human, anti-progress ideology formerly known as Marxism.

Osama Bin Laden in his most recent diatribe against the West delivered on the anniversary of 9/11 represents the seamless integration of all the above socialist/Marxist talking points into his justification for jihad and mindless violence.

Convert or Die is not only Al Qaeda's favorite ultimatum, it is the motto adopted by our friends the neo-Marxists.

Craven response to Hispanic gangs creates problems for patriotic Americans

Sampson County hit the news in early September with a prominent story about the banning of flag T-shirts at the 600-student, Hobbton High School in Newton Grove. When high school senior Jessica Langston and a few other students wore American flag T-shirts to school to commemorate 9/11 victims, the school principal, Wesley Johnson, informed Jessica and her fellow students that they must change or wear their shirts inside out to comply with a recently enacted, flag clothing ban. No exceptions were to be made for 9/11 or any other observances or circumstances.

The ban arose after schoolyard fights occurred last year when students from rival Hispanic gangs wore soccer jerseys depicting flags of Latin American countries representative of their respective gangs. Not unlike farming communities across America where agriculture is the lifeblood, Sampson County relies on a significant number of Hispanic migrant workers, many of whom have questionable immigration status. The current population is 59% white, 29% black and 12% Hispanic.

To prevent an escalation of gang warfare and to maintain "a safe and orderly environment," Johnson implemented the flag ban. County school superintendent, Dr. L. Stewart Hobbs reasoned that, "If you allow one group to display that material, you have to let all groups."

Faced with criticism, Hobbs asserted that he is a patriotic American but added that the necessity to ban flags on clothing was due to the unwelcome presence of gangs in the Sampson County School District. Flags themselves are displayed prominently in the school under a district-wide policy requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily and American flags to be hung in each classroom and in front of the school building.

Predictably, when the flag ban made national news, the superintendent was contacted by the American Civil Liberties Union which issued a warning that the school's policy violates the First Amendment. The ACLU gave the school district until September 17th to rescind the ban on clothing with flags or risk a lawsuit. At a subsequent Sampson County school board meeting, Hobbs first suggested school uniforms as a workable solution and alternative to the existing ban. He later lifted the school ban entirely, explaining that a dress code exists at the county level and that individual schools are prohibited form instituting their own dress codes. "From this point on, all dress code changes will be made at the school board level," Hobbs said, adding that the board will meet with school attorneys to discuss the issue further.

The gang problem is one that Sampson County has been fighting against for the past two years. The county sheriff's office noticed burgeoning Hispanic gang activity, particularly that of a gang known as Mara Salvatrucha-13 or MS-13. The gang's graffiti began appearing on abandoned buildings and equipment and tattooed youths bore the gang name. Further, break-ins and thefts of firearms increased, as did drug arrests, including an interception of 200 kilos of cocaine. Law enforcement personnel became aware that the middle schools are the prime target for gang recruitment. Gang murders have occurred in the surrounding area, including the Sept. 8 shooting of a 19-year-old alleged gang member killed by rivals wielding an AK-47.

Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton noted that the county was geographically well positioned for drug traffic because of its central location; its proximity to Raleigh-Durham, military bases and the port of Wilmington; and its site halfway between New York City and Miami. With no specially designated task force or gang experts or database, law enforcement has been stymied by this new development in their midst. Further, they have been hesitant to pursue aggressive investigations, fearing the perception that police are targeting local farmers who depend on immigrant laborers for their livelihood.

It is not surprising that this formerly peaceful rural community has fallen victim to gang intimidation. What is shocking, however, is that the political correctness that has infected the rest of the country now holds sway here. Rather than deal head-on with the very real and dangerous problem of gang violence at school and in the community, Sampson County officials have dithered with dress code regulations and hesitated to conduct thorough criminal investigations. They have chosen, instead, to shield those that have broken laws by entering the United States illegally and to downplay their criminal activity. Instead of identifying and suspending gang members for fighting in school, all students are punished by a ban designed to "protect" them.

Further, all flags are viewed as equivalent in the face of tolerance dictated by political correctness. Instead of prominently displaying the national flag and punishing illegal behavior, students are denied an opportunity to express patriotism in their very own country on a day that threatened the existence of their nation and precipitated a war against the greatest threat to America since the Cold War. Rescinding the ban against flag T-shirts is just one small step in the right direction. It now remains for Sampson County to aggressively take action and focus on the real problems confronting their community.


Why the Left Must Deny 9/11

In the endless Summer of Love there is no 9/11. And to tens of millions of dreamy folk on the Left, the Summer of Love never stopped. For those people there is no dangerous Ahmadi-Nejad in Tehran, threatening a fiery new holocaust for Tel Aviv and Washington, DC. There is no nuclear proliferation by mad little mass-murdering Kim Jong Il. There is no Osama Bin Laden stirring up terror cells around the world -- just a poor, confused man somewhere in the mysterious, deeply spiritual East, whom we have offended in some terrible way.

For the Dreamy Left there is no history, and no fundamental human conflict. There was no Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor half a century ago -- except as a terrible misunderstanding, because our parents and grandparents were just so ignorant and racist in that benighted time. There was never a Cold War, there is no necessary war ever, there is no human value worth fighting for. We have transcended all that by our saintly morality and good will. History was mostly a big misunderstanding. Reality is only an agreement. Peace and Love are forever and ever, and nobody has to do anything to make it so, except to wish for it hard enough. If everybody wants it, it will be so.

For decades I've seen the bumper stickers: "Visualize World Peace," "If you think it, it will happen." What I never really grasped is that millions of reality-impaired people actually believe that. Last summer, the good people at "World Jump Day" "plan to shift the orbit of planet Earth in order to 'stop global warming, extend daytime hours and create a more homogenous climate.' They were going to achieve this by having 600 million people jump up in the air at the same time."

I blush to say this, but I think I know those people. They're my liberal friends. They think wars happen because Americans are evil -- not because we were attacked by the Emperor cult of bushido Japan, or war was declared on us by the Hitler fanatics of Nazi Germany. Or, least of all, by Soviet imperialism, the greatest peace-loving movement on earth. Or by Osama Bin Laden. They are the people who are convinced today that if only the United States left Iraq, there would be peace, and that Saddam Hussein wasn't such a bad guy after all.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin got it exactly right: "The West are wishful thinkers. We will give them what they want to think." It worked like a charm for the Soviets for more than seven decades, in spite of all the known horrors. The Left simply extends an open invitation to con artists and sociopaths everywhere, and guess what? They come buzzing around like fat flies to horse droppings. Where are you, Charlie Trie, and Norman Hsu? Where are you Bill Clinton and the Reverend Jim Jones? Come and get it!

So when the world turns out to be different from dreamland and 9/11 happens in front of our eyes, somebody else has to be blamed. Because God is Love and Love is Love and Reality is Love. If that's not true, it's because of the evil people. (Like Republicans and neocons, and fat white middle-aged men with Southern accents and cruel faces, and mean people in military uniforms like in the Hollywood movies ... and you know what they're really like. Kluxers in sheets, every single one of 'em. You can tell just by looking at them.)

I've never understood why the Left hates Republican presidents so much, though I've heard them say it for decades. The Democrats didn't just oppose Eisenhower politically, they feverishly hated and despised him. The same for Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and so on until George W. Bush. (The next Republican president will also be hated and slandered. It's totally predictable.)

Oddly enough, LBJ was also fervently hated by the Left, even though he was a liberal Democrat who transformed the grief over Kennedy's assassination into the trillion-dollar War on Poverty. Yet he was still hated by the Left, with real, eye-popping, carpet-biting hatred.

I never understood it. Until 9/11 happened -- and the Left went right along believing what they did before. Life changed right in front of all of our eyes, with the dark, smoking Twin Towers. And on the Left, nothing changed. Then I think the saner folks in the country started to get it.

I had a dark, heavy-hearted feeling during the Clinton years that we were in for some terrible blow, because the country was pretending that the Summer of Love was back, Bill Clinton was President and nothing bad would ever, ever happen again. To me it looked like we were just asking for it. When 9/11 happened, half the political world woke up. But not the other half, on the Left. The Left can't be wrong. If the facts on the ground contradict what's in their heads, the facts must be wrong.

That's not just true for the Mooney Left, but even for the Hard Noam Chomsky Left. Because the Chomsky Left is only the Mooney Left grown more verbose. Like Chomsky, the Hard Left believes that ordinary people are easily suckered by the Big War-Mongering Corporations, just like the ad campaigns for Coke and Pepsi. Chomsky calls it "manufactured consent". That just means that normal people can't be trusted to think for themselves. They are constantly suckered by the Big Evil Corps.

Reality is too painful for these folks. It's too scary. They protect themselves by a powerful, invisible shield of psychic Saran Wrap. It's just like the miracle of plastics.

I never really understood that, because, frankly, it would mean that half of my contemporaries were mad. Or -- let's use a nice word -- they are "in denial." But not just the normal, everyday denial, the kind that doctors see when their patients are dying in the hospital. Rather, the Left denies entire categories of shared physical danger that are plainly visible to all us, every single day. They just turn those facts upside-down, or shift the responsibility to the wrong side. In Winston Churchill's perspicacious phrase, they blame the fire brigade, not the fire. It's like blocking out an oncoming ten-wheeler truck even as it bears down on you, hooting its ear-splitting powerhorn. What truck? I don't see any truck!

Well, get across the street, you fool, I feel like shouting. But of course that doesn't do any good either. They are shielded. They are impenetrable.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


24 September, 2007

Self-righteous Swedes again

With typical socialist authoritarianism, their idea of equality must be IMPOSED. What the couple concerned want does not matter

BRIDES in Stockholm who want their fathers to walk them down the aisle are likely to be told it can't be done, as some pastors are refusing to allow the practice they say is sexist, a pastor said today. "In Sweden we have worked hard in many different ways to eliminate everything that is unequal," a Lutheran Church vicar in the Stockholm region, Yvonne Hallin, told AFP. She said she would not allow the custom in her parish, and noted that Stockholm's bishop issued a recommendation in 2003 that pastors discourage it.

Couples who marry "are equal when it comes to finances, politics, values ... but when they come to the church ... the woman suddenly turns into a man's property", she said. Hallin said she has informed a father who was to walk his daughter down the aisle tomorrow that he will not be doing so.

The mother of the bride, who was shocked by the news, told Swedish news agency TT that the ceremony will go ahead as planned but the couple has had to give in to the pastor's wishes. "In this case it wasn't the couple who became angry but the parents," Hallin said, adding that most people "don't find it strange".

She noted that the custom of fathers walking their daughters down the aisle "is not a Swedish tradition - it has been imported from American and British films".


Binge drinking is good for you

I think that the inimitable Jeremy Clarkson has a good and serious point after the mockery below

Who are they? The people who decide how we should run our lives. The busybodies who say that we can't smoke foxes or smack our children. The nitwits who say that we should have a new bank holiday to celebrate traffic wardens and social workers. Where do they meet? Who pays their wages? And how do they get their harebrained schemes into the statute books? Honestly? I haven't a clue. But I do know this. It's very obvious that their new target is people who drink alcohol - ie, everyone over the age of eight.

Over the years we've been told that we can't drive a car if we've had a wine and that we should avoid alcohol if we're pregnant. But now they seem to be saying that all people must steer clear of all drinks always. Having told young people that they must stop drinking while on a night out, in case they are stabbed or end up having sex with a pretty girl, they now say that older people, who think it's acceptable to enjoy a bottle of wine with their supper, are clogging up hospital wards that could otherwise be used to treat injured foxes. We are told that alcohol rots your liver, makes you impotent, gives you stomach ulcers and turns your skin into something that looks like a used condom's handbag.

Only last week we were shown photographs of a stick-thin man with a massive stomach who had died at the age of 36 because he'd had too many sherry trifles. The BBC says that if you drink too much your brain stem will break and you will die. The British government tells us that if a man drinks more than two small glasses of white wine a day he will catch chlamydia from the barmaid in the pub garden after closing time. Rubbish. If a man drinks two small glasses of white wine every day it's the barman he needs to worry about.

Me? Well, what I love most of all is binge drinking. Really getting stuck in. Hosing back the cocktails until the room begins to swim and my legs seem to be on backwards. It's not just the recklessness and freedom that result when massive quantities of alcohol unlock the shackles. It's the promise that in the morning you can share your pain with a bunch of other similarly afflicted friends. Normal pain, such as an eye disease or toothache, is a lonely and solitary pursuit, but a group hangover is a problem shared and that seems to bring out the best in us. Like the blitz. Like when you've just stepped off a terrifying rollercoaster ride. Everyone's in it together. And a problem shared is a problem pared.

Of course, the trouble these days is that the binge drinking that is necessary to produce collective hardship is a complete nono. They say that if you go out and get blasted you'll die in a puddle of blood and vomit down a back alley long before you get the chance to catch chlamydia from the barman, and that no one will come to your funeral.

Happily this is rubbish. I've just done a calculation and on holiday this year I drank 55 units of alcohol a day. I would start at 11 o'clock with a beer which, because it was hot, was like trying to irrigate East Anglia with a syringe. So I would have three more. Then I would guzzle wine and mojitos throughout the afternoon, the evening and the night until I fell over somewhere and slept. Am I now dead? No. In fact, because I drank so much I was more relaxed, which means that I'm back at home now feeling fresher and more rested. So there you have it. Serious binge drinking is not only a nice thing to do and jolly good fun, but also - and here's something that you won't get from the mongers of doom - it's good for you, too.

The point of binge drinking is that you drink and then you stop drinking. And this is the key. The real problem is when you drink - and you keep on drinking. This is known as alcoholism and that, so far as I can tell, is the worst thing in the world. There is nothing quite so pitiable and wretched as an alcoholic. I know plenty of people who take drugs, drive too fast and kill foxes. And they're all good company. But honestly, I would rather do time in a Turkish prison than spend time with a drinker. They ramble, they fall over, they think they are 10 times more interesting than is actually the case - and if they get the slightest inkling that you disapprove or are bored a great many become aggressive. These are the people whom the busybodies should be concentrating on. Not with stern words and dire warnings, neither of which will make the slightest bit of difference, but with help and understanding and patience.

Seriously, by telling me that I'm an alcoholic because I binge drink on holiday and share a bottle of wine with my wife over supper every night is the same as persecuting everyone who breaks the speed limit. We need to make a distinction between someone doing 32mph and someone doing 175mph. And it's the same story with child abuse. By telling me that I'm breaking the law every time I smack my children's bottoms, you are taking the pressure off those who lock their kids in a broom cupboard and only let them out to go thieving. My handy hint this morning, then, is simple. Leave the normal people who do normal things alone. Forget about the people who drink for fun and worry only about those who drink to live.


Deliberately Dividing America

Some 40 years ago when the civil rights movement eliminated legally enforced segregation (Jim Crow), we were told repeatedly that this would end ethnic and racial divisions in America. We were all Americans, and we would all share in the benefits of our unique society. There are some who did not get that message. For years, they have perpetrated and relished the politics of "ethnic identity."

When Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959, there were those who warned that Hawaii's multiple ethnic makeup would make it difficult, if not impossible, for that territory to assimilate into American society. They were wrong -- at least for the first 41 years of Hawaii's statehood. Every year, Hawaiians would mark the anniversary of statehood with parades, fireworks, speeches, and American flags flying high. In 2000, then-Governor Ben Cayetano put an abrupt halt to all that.

In more recent times, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal visited the Hawaiian Islands and found a totally different attitude. Instead of a celebration of the islands' Americanism, the streets there have been taken over by demonstrators crusading for "Native Hawaiian rights," and for the Akaka bill (more on that below).

Anyone visiting the beautiful island of Hawaii until recently would have marveled at the harmony and color-blind mentality that has existed there. Obviously, the multiculturalist busybodies were not about to allow that to stand. No way. They can't have a multiracial society living in harmony. That's not the kind of thing that generates angry voting blocs. Just as politicians desire to have as many poor people out there amongst the populace as possible -- the better to keep them angry and vulnerable to the siren songs of the class-hatred mongers -- so too are they desirous of having an angry agitating racial minority well-organized so as to enable politicians to play on their fears of injustices, real and imagined. Never mind that polls show Hawaii's opposition to the Native Hawaiian Bill, including among the Native Hawaiians, themselves.

As this column noted on Sept. 5, 2005, and June 5, 2006, there is legislation pending on Capitol Hill that would lead to the creation of a race-based government -- the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity (NHGE) for the estimated 400,000 Native Hawaiians -- not just in Hawaii itself -- but living throughout all 50 states of the USA. The Akaka Bill -- so named after Hawaii's junior Senator Daniel Akaka -- would empower that separate nation's government to negotiate with the U.S. government on a broad range of issues -- including criminal and civil justice jurisdiction, civil rights matters, and delegation of powers from the U.S. to the NHGE -- as well as transfer of land, natural resources, and other properties.

And what defines a "Native Hawaiian"? Anyone who is a direct descendent of the "indigenous people who resided on the islands on or before Jan. 1, 1893," or one of the "native peoples of Hawaii who was eligible in 1921 for programs authorized by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act or is a direct lineal descendent" of such a person. When you consider all the inter-marriages over the years and the fact -- again -- that these people are scattered hither and yon all over America, one can imagine that this would -- if enacted -- lead to more racial conflict and of course, the enrichment of the trial lawyers (might have known they were involved somehow) as a result of legal confusion that would surely follow.

Advocates of the Akaka Bill argue that all they're doing is providing the same rights to Native Hawaiians as those accorded the American Indians (or "Native Americans") and Alaska Natives.

A memo written last year by Heritage Foundation scholars Edwin Meese (a former U.S. Attorney General) and Todd Gaziano argues that the analogy does not work. "Hawaiians [regardless of blood purity] are not and cannot be an American Indian tribe," they write. "The term `Indian tribes' mentioned in the Constitution has a fixed constitutional meaning that cannot be changed by a simple act of Congress. They are limited to the pre-existing tribes of North America, or their offshoots, that were thought to be `dependent nations' at the time of the framing of the Constitution. Such American Indian tribes must have an independent existence and predominately separate `community' apart from the rest of American society, and their government structure must have a continuous history for at least the past century." "By these standards," Meese and Gaziano conclude, "Hawaiians could never qualify as an Indian tribe."

On May 2, a House Committee approved the 2007 version of the Native Hawaiian Bill. On May 10, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs did likewise. The Bush administration, which had held back from taking any position in public up until then, surprised the Senators at the last minute with a position strongly and openly opposing it. This fall, it is likely the full Congress will take it up for a vote. The question is whether it will pass both houses with a veto-proof majority. If it does not, then a presidential veto would probably kill it, unless enough arms could be twisted to provide the two-thirds majority required to override.

If this is allowed to sail through -- to the total disregard of our Constitution and Bill of Rights -- then what will follow? An African-American nation, a Hispanic-American nation? (The latter would feed into the movement in some quarters to take back the southwest U.S. for Mexico.) Chinese American? German American? Our Congressmen and Senators need to hear from you. Is the United States of America to be torn asunder?



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


23 September, 2007

Disgusting British pseudo-police

They followed their rules even though it meant letting a little boy drown. It is hard to believe that some bureaucrats are human beings -- but no doubt they will be rewarded for their "correct" behaviour

Two police support officers looked on as a boy of ten drowned because they had not been trained to deal with such an emergency. Jordon Lyon had jumped into a pond after his step-sister Bethany Ganderton, eight, got into difficulties while swimming. Emergency services were called and two police community support officers - nicknamed "Blunkett's bobbies" - were the first on the scene on their bikes. But instead of wading in, they stood on the side of the pond and waited for trained officers to turn up.

When Sergeant Craig Lippitt, a regular police officer, arrived minutes later, he stripped off his body armour and jumped into the pond in Wigan. Jordon was pulled from the water but, despite attempts to resuscitate him, was pronouced dead in hospital.

The incident is likely to raise further questions over the effectiveness of support officers who have been described as "plastic police" - under-trained and ill-equipped.

Jordon's parents, Tracy and Anthony Ganderton, yesterday condemned the pair for failing to help in the crucial minutes in which their son's life could have been saved. At an inquest into Jordon's death, Mr Ganderton said: "When we got there, the PCSOs just stood there watching. I can't understand it. If I had been walking along and seen a child drowning I would have jumped in."

Detective Chief Inspector Philip Owen of Greater Manchester Police told the inquest: "PCSOs are not trained to the same extent as police officers, so wouldn't have been taught how to deal with a situation like this." But Mr Ganderton retorted: "You don't have to be trained to jump in after a drowning child." He and his wife are demanding to know why the PCSOs did not try to rescue Jordon the second they arrived on the scene, why the officers did not give evidence at the inquest and why their identities were concealed.

The inquest was told Jordon had gone to play in area of open land with his brothers Haydon, eight, Brandon, nine, his stepbrother Anthony, nine, and Bethany on the afternoon of May 3. Fishermen had seen the children collecting tadpoles at the edge of a pond. But moments later Bert Wright, 66, and John Collinson, 63, saw that Bethany had her arms around her stepbrother's neck and he was holding her up, even though his head was under the water. Both men waded in and managed to get hold of the girl, but Jordon had disappeared.

Mr Ganderton had been alerted and he and a friend raced to scene. After seeing the two PCSOs standing at the water's edge, they jumped in, to be joined moments later by Sergeant Lippitt.

In a statement issued after the inquest, Mr Owen said there was initially confusion over the location of the incident. When the support officers arrived, there was no sign of the boy in the water. "Having made an assessment, one of the PCSOs called the Greater Manchester Police control room and an officer was at the scene within five minutes of this. "It would have been inappropriate for PCSOs, who are not trained in water rescue, to enter the pond."

Recording a verdict of accidental death, deputy coroner Alan Walsh said: "This is an inquest of utmost tragedy." There are 14,000 PCSOs who have the power to issue fines for anti-social behaviour, public disorder and motoring offences. They are cheaper to train and to employ than regular officers and were introduced by the then Home Secretary David Blunkett in 2002.


Jena: Black thuggery being swept under the carpet

Now we love Mychal Bell, the star of the 2006 Jena (La.) High School football team, the teenage boy who has sat in jail since December for his role in a six-on-one beatdown of a fellow student. Thursday, thousands of us, proud African-Americans, expressed our devotion to and desire to see justice for the “Jena Six,” the half-dozen black students who knocked unconscious, kicked and stomped a white classmate.

Jesse Jackson compared Thursday’s rallies in Jena to the protests and marches that used to take place in cities like Selma, Ala., in the 1960s. Al Sharpton claimed Thursday’s peaceful demonstrations were to highlight racial inequities in the criminal justice system.

Jesse and Al, as they’re prone to do, served a kernel of truth stacked on a mountain of lies. There are undeniable racial and economic inequities in our criminal justice system, and from afar the “Jena Six” rallies certainly looked and felt like the righteous protests of the 1960s. ut the reality is Thursday’s protests are just another sign that we remain deeply locked in denial about the path we need to travel today for true American liberation, equality and power in the new millennium.

The fact that we waited to love Mychal Bell until after he’d thrown away a Division I football scholarship and nine months of his life is just as heinous as the grossly excessive attempted-murder charges that originally landed him in jail. Reed Walters, the Jena district attorney, is being accused of racism because he didn’t show Bell compassion when the teenager was brought before the court for the third time on assault charges in a two-year span.

Where was our compassion long before Bell got into this kind of trouble? That’s the question that needed to be asked in Jena and across the country on Thursday. But it wasn’t asked because everyone has been lied to about what really transpired in the small southern town.

There was no “schoolyard fight” as a result of nooses being hung on a whites-only tree. Justin Barker, the white victim, was cold-cocked from behind, knocked unconscious and stomped by six black athletes. Barker, luckily, sustained no life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital three hours after the attack.

A black U.S. attorney, Don Washington, investigated the “Jena Six” case and concluded that the attack on Barker had absolutely nothing to do with the noose-hanging incident three months before. The nooses and two off-campus incidents were tied to Barker’s assault by people wanting to gain sympathy for the “Jena Six” in reaction to Walters’ extreme charges of attempted murder.

Much has been written about Bell’s trial, the six-person all-white jury that convicted him of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery and the clueless public defender who called no witnesses and offered no defense. It is rarely mentioned that no black people responded to the jury summonses and that Bell’s public defender was black.

It’s almost never mentioned that Bell’s absentee father returned from Dallas and re-entered his son’s life only after Bell faced attempted-murder charges. At a bond hearing in August, Bell’s father and a parade of local ministers promised a judge that they would supervise Bell if he was released from prison. Where were the promises and supervision before any of this?

It’s rarely mentioned that Bell was already on probation for assault when he was accused of participating in Barker’s attack. And it’s never mentioned that white people in the “racist” town of Jena provided Bell support and protected his football career long before Jesse, Al, Bell’s father and all the others took a sincere interest in Mychal Bell.


Pre-emptive Appeasement: Europe's new strategy for the war on terror

by Daniel Mandel

TWO WEEKS AGO, Judge Simon Cardon de Lichtbuer of the Brussels civil court ruled that he lacked authority to overturn a decision by the city's mayor, Freddy Thielemans, to ban a demonstration planned for September 11 under the slogan of 'Stop the Islamization of Europe.' The rally had been called to protest what its British, Danish and German organizers call the "creeping" Islamization of European society.

Provocative in their assertion of Islam's incompatibility with democracy, the rally organizers nonetheless would have been violating no known law. Yet Thielemans (who had approved a September 9 rally by a group of conspiracy theorists who claim that the September 11 attacks were orchestrated by the Bush administration) neither liked them nor the possibility of a violent reaction from what he termed "Muslims," "peace activists" and "democrats."

This is but the latest manifestation of a disturbing European malaise--preemptive cringe before the threat of violence from Muslim extremists. It is no secret that Muslim extremists in Europe are very much likely to offer violence in response to conduct deemed hostile to Islam. Three key examples:

* November 2004: Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by an Islamist in broad daylight in the streets of Amsterdam after making a short film dealing with the travails of Muslim women in traditional Islamic communities. Pinned to his chest by a dagger was a note threatening Western governments, Jews, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born feminist and former Dutch parliamentarian who wrote the film script and who has since left Holland for America.

* September 2005: 12 cartoons depicting Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten resulted in the torching of Danish embassies, boycotts against Danish goods and weeks of protest in Muslim countries.

* September 2006: Pope Benedikt, in the course of an academic address, quoted harsh criticism of Islam by a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, leading to the gutting of six Middle East churches, the murder of a nun and her bodyguard in Somalia, and countless furious protests and calls for the murder of the pontiff.

The effect of violence and its threat can now be seen in unprecedented acts of self-censorship by the European majority populations and their governing authorities, with Britain in particular affording several examples:

September 2005: The fast-food chain Burger King withdrew its ice-cream cones after the design on the lid of the dessert offended a Muslim in England's High Wycombe.

September 2005: London's Tate Gallery removed sculptor John Latham's work "God is Great," which included a Bible and a Koran torn in half, citing the "sensitive climate" in the days after the July 2005 subway bombings by young radical Muslims.

October 2005: The U.K.'s Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, banned the wearing of St George tie pins after observing prison officers wearing them at Wakefield jail, Yorkshire, apparently in support of a cancer charity, because they might be "misinterpreted," presumably by Muslim inmates.

February 2006: The owner of the magazine France-Soir , fired his editor, Jacques Lefranc, for republishing the Danish cartoons.

February 2006: The EU Commissioner for Freedom and Security, Franco Frattini, proposed a voluntary code of conduct to be "facilitated" by EU officials committing journalists to exercising "prudence" in reporting on Islam. September 2006: Berlin's Deutsche Oper cancelled a production of Mozart's Idomeneo after police warned of an "incalculable risk" to the performers and the audience because it was to have included a scene involving the severed head of Muhammad.

This month, the BBC is considering axing a 1 million pound episode of its hit drama Spooks in which an al Qaeda terrorist is shot dead, because the actor Shaun Dingwall, who plays the terrorist's killer, fears for his life if it is screened.

Add to this the news this year that an English vicar has advocated abolishing St George as England's patron saint in deference to Muslim opinion; that the Blackpool city council threatened to rescind licenses from taxi drivers for flying Union Jacks during last year's World Cup soccer tournament; that a history course on the Holocaust has been dropped by at least one British school in deference to their Muslim students learning a very different lesson in their homes and mosques (variously--denial, minimization, justification); and it is clear that the specter of violence has had its effect.

Undoubtedly, the reactions to these events are not uniform: publications in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain also re-ran the Danish cartoons to register their support for free speech; the German interior minister defended the Pope's remarks; and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, some of her ministers, and the Berlin mayor criticized Deutsche Oper's decision to drop the Idomeneo production. But it isn't at all clear that Europeans appreciate the implicit long-term threat to their liberties stemming from a growing population of Muslim supremacists



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


22 September, 2007


Except to Leftists -- where it is these days "racist"

Where do moral rules come from? From reason, some philosophers say. From God, say believers. Seldom considered is a source now being advocated by some biologists, that of evolution. At first glance, natural selection and the survival of the fittest may seem to reward only the most selfish values. But for animals that live in groups, selfishness must be strictly curbed or there will be no advantage to social living. Could the behaviors evolved by social animals to make societies work be the foundation from which human morality evolved?

In a series of recent articles and a book, “The Happiness Hypothesis,” Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist at the University of Virginia, has been constructing a broad evolutionary view of morality that traces its connections both to religion and to politics. Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) began his research career by probing the emotion of disgust. Testing people’s reactions to situations like that of a hungry family that cooked and ate its pet dog after it had become roadkill, he explored the phenomenon of moral dumbfounding — when people feel strongly that something is wrong but cannot explain why.

Dumbfounding led him to view morality as driven by two separate mental systems, one ancient and one modern, though the mind is scarcely aware of the difference. The ancient system, which he calls moral intuition, is based on the emotion-laden moral behaviors that evolved before the development of language. The modern system — he calls it moral judgment — came after language, when people became able to articulate why something was right or wrong. The emotional responses of moral intuition occur instantaneously — they are primitive gut reactions that evolved to generate split-second decisions and enhance survival in a dangerous world. Moral judgment, on the other hand, comes later, as the conscious mind develops a plausible rationalization for the decision already arrived at through moral intuition. Moral dumbfounding, in Dr. Haidt’s view, occurs when moral judgment fails to come up with a convincing explanation for what moral intuition has decided.

So why has evolution equipped the brain with two moral systems when just one might seem plenty? “We have a complex animal mind that only recently evolved language and language-based reasoning,” Dr. Haidt said. “No way was control of the organism going to be handed over to this novel faculty.” He likens the mind’s subterranean moral machinery to an elephant, and conscious moral reasoning to a small rider on the elephant’s back. Psychologists and philosophers have long taken a far too narrow view of morality, he believes, because they have focused on the rider and largely ignored the elephant.

Dr. Haidt developed a better sense of the elephant after visiting India at the suggestion of an anthropologist, Richard Shweder. In Bhubaneswar, in the Indian state of Orissa, Dr. Haidt saw that people recognized a much wider moral domain than the issues of harm and justice that are central to Western morality. Indians were concerned with integrating the community through rituals and committed to concepts of religious purity as a way to restrain behavior. On his return from India, Dr. Haidt combed the literature of anthropology and psychology for ideas about morality throughout the world. He identified five components of morality that were common to most cultures. Some concerned the protection of individuals, others the ties that bind a group together.

Of the moral systems that protect individuals, one is concerned with preventing harm to the person and the other with reciprocity and fairness. Less familiar are the three systems that promote behaviors developed for strengthening the group. These are loyalty to the in-group, respect for authority and hierarchy, and a sense of purity or sanctity. The five moral systems, in Dr. Haidt’s view, are innate psychological mechanisms that predispose children to absorb certain virtues. Because these virtues are learned, morality may vary widely from culture to culture, while maintaining its central role of restraining selfishness. In Western societies, the focus is on protecting individuals by insisting that everyone be treated fairly. Creativity is high, but society is less orderly. In many other societies, selfishness is suppressed “through practices, rituals and stories that help a person play a cooperative role in a larger social entity,” Dr. Haidt said.

He is aware that many people — including “the politically homogeneous [Leftist] discipline of psychology” — equate morality with justice, rights and the welfare of the individual, and dismiss everything else as mere social convention. But many societies around the world do in fact behave as if loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity are moral concepts, Dr. Haidt notes, and this justifies taking a wider view of the moral domain. The idea that morality and sacredness are intertwined, he said, may now be out of fashion but has a venerable pedigree, tracing back to Emile Durkheim, a founder of sociology.

Dr. Haidt believes that religion has played an important role in human evolution by strengthening and extending the cohesion provided by the moral systems. “If we didn’t have religious minds we would not have stepped through the transition to groupishness,” he said. “We’d still be just small bands roving around.” Religious behavior may be the result of natural selection, in his view, shaped at a time when early human groups were competing with one another. “Those who found ways to bind themselves together were more successful,” he said.

Dr. Haidt came to recognize the importance of religion by a roundabout route. “I first found divinity in disgust,” he writes in his book “The Happiness Hypothesis". The emotion of disgust probably evolved when people became meat eaters and had to learn which foods might be contaminated with bacteria, a problem not presented by plant foods. Disgust was then extended to many other categories, he argues, to people who were unclean, to unacceptable sexual practices and to a wide class of bodily functions and behaviors that were seen as separating humans from animals. “Imagine visiting a town,” Dr. Haidt writes, “where people wear no clothes, never bathe, have sex ‘doggie style’ in public, and eat raw meat by biting off pieces directly from the carcass.” He sees the disgust evoked by such a scene as allied to notions of physical and religious purity. Purity is, in his view, a moral system that promotes the goals of controlling selfish desires and acting in a religiously approved way. Notions of disgust and purity are widespread outside Western cultures. “Educated liberals are the only group to say, ‘I find that disgusting but that doesn’t make it wrong,’ ” Dr. Haidt said.

Working with a graduate student, Jesse Graham, Dr. Haidt has detected a striking political dimension to morality. He and Mr. Graham asked people to identify their position on a liberal-conservative spectrum and then complete a questionnaire that assessed the importance attached to each of the five moral systems. (The test, called the moral foundations questionnaire, can be taken online, at www.YourMorals.org.). They found that people who identified themselves as liberals attached great weight to the two moral systems protective of individuals — those of not harming others and of doing as you would be done by. But liberals assigned much less importance to the three moral systems that protect the group, those of loyalty, respect for authority and purity. Conservatives placed value on all five moral systems but they assigned less weight than liberals to the moralities protective of individuals.

Dr. Haidt believes that many political disagreements between liberals and conservatives may reflect the different emphasis each places on the five moral categories. Take attitudes to contemporary art and music. Conservatives fear that subversive art will undermine authority, violate the in-group’s traditions and offend canons of purity and sanctity. Liberals, on the other hand, see contemporary art as protecting equality by assailing the establishment, especially if the art is by oppressed groups. Extreme liberals, Dr. Haidt argues, attach almost no importance to the moral systems that protect the group. Because conservatives do give some weight to individual protections, they often have a better understanding of liberal views than liberals do of conservative attitudes, in his view.

Dr. Haidt, who describes himself as a moderate liberal, says that societies need people with both types of personality. “A liberal morality will encourage much greater creativity but will weaken social structure and deplete social capital,” he said. “I am really glad we have New York and San Francisco — most of our creativity comes out of cities like these. But a nation that was just New York and San Francisco could not survive very long. Conservatives give more to charity and tend to be more supportive of essential institutions like the military and law enforcement.”

Other psychologists have mixed views about Dr. Haidt’s ideas. Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, said, “I’m a big fan of Haidt’s work.” He added that the idea of including purity in the moral domain could make psychological sense even if purity had no place in moral reasoning. But Frans B. M. de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University, said he disagreed with Dr. Haidt’s view that the task of morality is to suppress selfishness. Many animals show empathy and altruistic tendencies but do not have moral systems. “For me, the moral system is one that resolves the tension between individual and group interests in a way that seems best for the most members of the group, hence promotes a give and take,” Dr. de Waal said.

He said that he also disagreed with Dr. Haidt’s alignment of liberals with individual rights and conservatives with social cohesiveness. “It is obvious that liberals emphasize the common good — safety laws for coal mines, health care for all, support for the poor — that are not nearly as well recognized by conservatives,” Dr. de Waal said.

That alignment also bothers John T. Jost, a political psychologist at New York University. Dr. Jost said he admired Dr. Haidt as a “very interesting and creative social psychologist” and found his work useful in drawing attention to the strong moral element in political beliefs. But the fact that liberals and conservatives agree on the first two of Dr. Haidt’s principles — do no harm and do unto others as you would have them do unto you — means that those are good candidates to be moral virtues. The fact that liberals and conservatives disagree on the other three principles “suggests to me that they are not general moral virtues but specific ideological commitments or values,” Dr. Jost said.

In defense of his views, Dr. Haidt said that moral claims could be valid even if not universally acknowledged. “It is at least possible,” he said, “that conservatives and traditional societies have some moral or sociological insights that secular liberals do not understand.”


The Beeb finally fires a liar

Post below lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

Well, you gotta hand it to the BBC -- they have high standards about telling the truth. While that may not be obvious from their endless slanders about the United States, their puff pieces for the fraudulent European Union, their bootlicking of Islamic fascists, their ceaseless promotion of Global Warming superstition, their blind promotion of the UN corruptocracy... Oops! ... where was I? Oh, yes ... the BBC has finally fired a producer for peddling lies on its august airwaves.

The Times Online has the story, headlined in large letters "Socks, the Blue Peter cat who could cost BBC staff their jobs."
"The television programme Blue Peter was accused yesterday of deceiving children for the second time in a year as the BBC removed staff blamed for a series of phone-in scandals that have damaged its credibility with the public."

"A former producer on the children's show, Britain's longest-running, has been suspended after it emerged that production staff had ignored the result of a viewer poll to choose a name for the Blue Peter cat last year."

"The suspension was disclosed a day after the BBC dismissed Leona McCambridge, a producer on Liz Kershaw's 6 Music programme, for gross misconduct. One of her bosses, Ric Blaxill, 6 Music head of programmes, is also believed to be under threat."
But -- this is not the first time the Beeb has admitted to being less than truthful.
"In July, the BBC admitted that Liz Kershaw's show ran a fake phone-in using production staff posing as members of the public in a recorded programme that pretended to be live. The fake phone-ins, supposedly featuring listeners competing for prizes, ran from 2005 until December 2006."
The Biased BBC website quotes a BBC insider as explaining,
" The feeling has always been that when alleged deception involves children it is a bit more serious."
I'm speechless.

What the Muslim Brotherhood means for the U.S.

"Our strategy is this," President Bush said last month. "We will fight them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America." He was talking about jihadists, of course. And Mr. Bush is behind the curve. The president apparently missed the smoking-gun 1991 document his own Justice Department introduced into evidence at the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas. The FBI captured it in a raid on a Muslim suspect's home in Virginia.

This "explanatory memorandum," as it's titled, outlines the "strategic goal" for the North American operation of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan). Here's the key paragraph:

The process of settlement [of Islam in the United States] is a "Civilization-Jihadist" process with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that all their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" their miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who choose to slack.

The entire 18-page platform outlines a plan for the long haul. It prescribes the Muslim Brotherhood's comprehensive plan to set down roots in civil society. It begins by both founding and taking control of American Muslim organizations, for the sake of unifying and educating the U.S. Muslim community - this to prepare it for the establishment of a global Islamic state governed by sharia.

It sounds like a conspiracy theory out of a bad Hollywood movie - but it's real. Husain Haqqani, head of Boston University's Center for International Relations and a former Islamic radical, confirms that the Brotherhood "has run most significant Muslim organizations in the U.S." as part of the plan outlined in the strategy paper.

The HLF trial is exposing for the first time how the international Muslim Brotherhood - whose Palestinian division is Hamas - operates as a self-conscious revolutionary vanguard in the United States. The court documents indicate that many leading Muslim-American organizations - including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim American Society - are an integral part of the Brotherhood's efforts to wage jihad against America by nonviolent means.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an affiliation of at least 70 Islamist organizations around the world, all tracing their heritage to the original cell, founded in Egypt in 1928. Its credo: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Quran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Sayyid Qutb, hanged by the Egyptian government in 1966 as a revolutionary, remains its ideological godfather. His best-known work, Milestones, calls for Muslims to wage violent holy war until Islamic law governs the entire world.

According to a 2004 Chicago Tribune investigation, establishing the Brotherhood in the United States has been a 40-year project that has worked mostly underground - even beneath the notice of many Muslims. Richard Clarke, the former top U.S. national security official, told the Senate in 2003 that the Muslim Brotherhood is the common thread linking terrorist fundraising schemes in the United States - which likely explains why so many mainstream American Muslim organizations were named by the feds as "unindicted co-conspirators" in the HLF trial.

Is this just alarmist paranoia? Not at all.

This matters because high-profile organizations with roots explicitly in the Muslim Brotherhood have successfully established themselves in a paramount position to define Islam in America according to a radical politicized model. And they've done so without the American public having the slightest idea about their real agenda. Indeed, the Bush administration is unwittingly helping the Islamist cause by including their leaders in public events, thus conferring them legitimacy. On Labor Day weekend, the same Department of Justice that's presenting evidence of the ISNA's involvement with radical Islam at the Dallas trial sponsored a booth at - wait for it - ISNA's national convention in suburban Chicago.

Look, no rational person believes America is going to exchange the Constitution for a caliphate.

Rational people aren't the point. As the London subway bombings showed, even a tiny cell of committed radicals can kill a lot of people. Mustafa Saied, an American Muslim who left the Brotherhood, told the Tribune that he worried about the radicalism the Brotherhood inculcated in its membership here. "With the extreme element," he said, "you never know when that ticking time bomb will go off."

As long as they commit no crimes, CAIR, ISNA and the other Brotherhood-related groups have the right to advocate for their beliefs. But they don't have the right to escape critical scrutiny, and they deserve informed opposition. Courageous Muslims like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy are sounding the alarm about radical Islam's stealth takeover of U.S. Muslim institutions. Why are the news media ignoring this? Fear of being called Islamophobic?

This has got to stop. Six years after 9/11, we're still asleep. Islamic radicals have declared war on us - and some are fighting here in what looks like a fifth column. Read their strategy document. It's there in black and white, for those with eyes to see.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


21 September, 2007

WaPo ties itself in knots to avoid the obvious

In "5 Myths About Terrorism" in the Washington Post (thanks to Steve), Alan B. Krueger provides a sterling example of the politically correct myopia that prevents an accurate analysis of the global jihad and Islamic supremacism. And he does so in such a clumsy way that it is remarkable that no one at the paper caught this before it was printed:
4. Terrorism is mainly perpetrated by Muslims.

Wrong. No religion has a monopoly on terrorism. Every major religious faith has had followers involved in terrorism. (Sri Lanka, for instance, has grappled for decades with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a separatist group that pioneered suicide bombing as a terrorist tactic and hopes to create a homeland for the country's mostly Tamil minority, who are largely Hindu.) Although radical Islamic terrorists are the worry du jour because of 9/11 and Iraq, the data show pretty clearly that the predominant religion of a country is not a good predictor of whether its people will become involved in terrorism.

After all, it was not long ago that homegrown villains such as Timothy McVeigh and the so-called Unabomber were the most notorious terrorists. That makes sense; the vast majority of terrorist incidents are local, motivated by local concerns and carried out by natives. Even international terrorist events tend to be local affairs, most frequently carried out by local militants who target foreigners who happen to be in their country. (Just think of last week's foiled plot to attack U.S. targets in Germany.) This suggests that the likelihood of attack by homegrown terrorists is far greater than the threat of another 9/11-style attack by foreigners.
Did you catch that? Terrorism isn't "mainly perpetrated by Muslims" because "no religion has a monopoly on terrorism." This doesn't even establish what Krueger wants it to establish, because the fact that people of all religions have committed terrorist acts doesn't disprove the contention that terrorism is mainly perpetrated by Muslims. If one group is responsible for something, say, 80% of the time, it is mainly responsible for it: you can't point to the existence of the other 20% as if it were proof that the 80% group is not mainly responsible.

Also, it should be obviously absurd to everyone at this point, but of course it isn't, to drag out poor old McVeigh, and the Unabomber to boot, and stack them up as equivalent to the plethora of armed Islamic organizations that can be found all over the planet, and the more the 9,000 terror attacks committed in the name of Islam since 9/11. But of course since the overwhelming majority of those have not been reported by Krueger's friends with any significant mention or exploration of the Islamic texts and teachings that the perpetrators used to justify them, most Americans don't realize that they have anything to do with Islam in the first place -- while every schoolchild knows that McVeigh was a Christian (he wasn't).

Finally, it is in no way relevant to a discussion of terrorism in general, much less Islamic jihad terrorism in particular, to assert that "every major religious faith has had followers involved in terrorism." It's a shame that such superficial analysis is so dominant these days. While the statement may be broadly true, it brushes by the central question: does Islamic theology and tradition contain any elements that encourage its followers to be involved in terrorism? Do other religions? This is a central consideration of my book Religion of Peace?, and it is a question media and policymakers should be asking. They don't, of course, because CAIR and others have mau-maued them into thinking that even to ask such questions promotes "bigotry" and "intolerance," as well as that trumped-up concept "Islamophobia." It never occurs to them that such discussions would actually aid the moderate Muslims they profess to support, being a necessary step toward the self-criticism that would have to be an essential component of any genuine Islamic reform.


Quebec shows some backbone -- so far

As religious prescriptions for living lately have come to be infused into daily life in novel and provocative ways, the question is often posed: Has the presence of Islam changed the face of social relations in the West? The question has especially animated Canada's bilingual Quebec province - a political entity that seeks to apply the rule of law to all its residents, without exception. This is a debate we'd do well to consider, as voices raised to implement and to protest exceptions to the law become more frequent, more strident, and more divisive.

In the beginning was the town of Herouxville (motto: Carpe Diem), whose municipal council unanimously adopted a code (in English and in French) of "societal norms" in January. These applied to the town's 1,300 residents, but concerned future resident immigrants, especially. Most noted was language condemning public stoning of women and genital excision. The point? The fact that "men and women have the same value." And that from this derives
"a woman's right to drive an automobile, vote her conscience, sign checks, dance, and decide for herself."
The town's normative code also remarks that Quebeckers are wont to decorate Christmas trees and patronize physicians of either gender, that cuts of pork and beef may very well mingle on the butcher's table, and that girls and boys do swim together. This being, the charter continues,
"we consider it unacceptable to stone women to death in the public square, or to burn them alive, disfigure them with acid, or subject them to genital mutilation."
It also requires residents to expose their faces, at all times, in public, for purposes of identification (All Hallow's Eve excepted).

The Herouxville code was inflammatory by design, and resembles the resolution, passed unanimously by Quebec's National Assembly in May 2005, that opposed the creation of Islamic tribunals in the province (and across the nation, they hoped). This resolution was the product of disputes that had gripped Ontario over the reasonableness of Islamic arbitration, and made Quebec the first province to expressly forbid Islamic (sharia) law. After the vote, the Premier noted:
"It's important to send a very clear message that there's one rule of law in Quebec." "In our case, we are very much an inclusive society, but a society that will govern itself by one set of rules."
Quebeckers largely agreed, and 80% of those surveyed in February claimed to support the elimination of religious accommodations across the province.

Finally, the Herouxville "norms" raised such a chahut (ruckus) across the province that Quebec Premier Jean Charest felt impelled to charter a special commission to examine the lengths to which the province ought to "accommodate" religious minorities. And in a surprising turnaround two weeks later -- on the heels of a visit from a Muslim women's delegation, and threats of action by the Canadian Islamic Congress and the Canadian Muslim Forum -- "genital excision" and "public stoning of women" were dropped from the code for reason of perceived anti-Muslim bias.

And yet, Quebeckers did not abandon the discussion of religious concessions; the Herouxville code served to ferment the debate, which has exploded into view since the Premier's commission began its work this month. Since January-and in the last weeks, expecially-the number of articles published on the subject of "reasonable accommodations," and the commission's own charter, has become difficult to ignore.

Montreal's La Presse recently complained of "reasonable accommodations" throughout the province, including prenatal courses forbidden to men (for purposes of gender segregation), and steps taken to respect the "cultural and religious specificity" of hospital guests. These include allowing male relations to supervise medical examinations of women. Concessions like these were conceived to satisfy a number of Quebec's Muslims, who objected to unsupervised, intimate contact between a woman and her physician. Complaints against concessions made to Quebec's Jewish and Sikh communities also feature prominently, but it's clear by the language employed by the Herouxville councilors, media types, and members of the political establishment, that demands from within and about Quebec's Muslims are driving the agenda.

Reflecting on Quebec's present discussion, I wonder what it will take to provoke a debate on "reasonable accommodations" in the United States. And when will we conclude that accommodation of religious practice cannot come without conditions? H,rouxville represents a symbolic (if Quixotic) gesture by an almost entirely homogeneous provincial settlement, which hopes to denounce offences presumably covered by Canada's criminal code. The point for these Quebeckers was not to break ground for new law, but to make clear that the ideas that contribute to certain religious practice are in and of themselves reprehensible. "Appalling," not "different."

Quebeckers don't want to argue with God; and they have taken steps to guarantee that refusal to debate God's mind does not require one to endorse others' eccentric or cruel customs for harmony's sake -- or to keep the peace. Quebec, the "most godless province in the West," by one count or another, nonetheless seeks to impose a single legal framework within her boundaries. She will not be a province under God, but she will demand liberty and (a single) justice for all-whether one is of mass or minority opinion.

Whatever occurs, Quebec's public hearings on "reasonable accommodations" for religious minorities have now begun, and will continue throughout November, in 17 communities across the province. Recommendations will be read to the provincial government and the public in March 2008.

I hope that Quebec will shrug off allegations of "Islamophobia," and choose instead to endorse equality before the law. In so doing, the province will have presented a model for public discussion, and may suggest answers to our own, whispered questions. Quebec will be well worth watching in the coming year.

How the commission's recommendations will square with Quebeckers' ideas on the subject of accommodation-and whether the commission's position will be taken as evidence of dread aplatventrisme (prostrate surrender), we can't be sure. Aplatventrisme or "reasonable accommodation"? For many Quebeckers, it's become a tomayto/tomahto sort of thing.


The Unbound West

Some thoughts from the very incorrect Fred Reed -- who lives in Mexico these days

Today, thunderous matters of cosmic import: why has the West dominated scientific and technological advance practically forever? This has certainly been the truth for many years. From—take your pick: 1500 on?—the West has produced both the scientific giants and the fields in which they flourished. Many of the towering figures are unknown today, but they towered. The modern world is almost totally a Western invention. This is not a politically correct view, but it is undeniable. Name any field of note—genetics, electronics, computers, anything. The West invented it.

Now, we—I am assuming a mostly white European readership—could think that, well, we pale folk are just smarter than those mere wogs—though of course we are too kind to say so. The problem is that, on the evidence, the wogs often seem to be smarter than we are. On a great thicket of IQ tests, East Asians come in with IQs ahead of those of whites. At Harvard, roughly a quarter of the students are Asian.

Then why has the West regularly out-invented them? It isn’t an inability to handle technology. Spend an afternoon in downtown Bangkok, and you will see a city that seems as modern as any. The Skytrain (the elevated subway) is efficient, clean, and in no way inferior to Washington’s Metro. Phones work, broadband is taken for granted. But it was all invented by Euro-civilization. Other places just borrow it well or, often, not very well.

Ponder the Chinese. Hong Kong is New York City with slanted eyes—as smart, hard-nosed, and go-for-the-throat as Manhattan. The Chinese can play in that league. Taiwan is a major high-tech power for its almost nonexistent size. Ask a round-eye kid at Berkeley what it is like to compete with the Asian students. But the engineering, math, and so on were developed in the West. The Japanese are geniuses at engineering. I don’t drive a Toyota or shoot with a Canon SLR because they don’t work. The Japanese can take a Western invention, improve on it, and manufacture it cheaper than Westerners can. No, it isn’t a matter of lower wages. My Corolla was built in California. The Japanese are just plain good.

But cars and cameras, the Internet, integrated circuitry, radar, the double-helix, and so on for five times the length of this magazine were invented or discovered in the West. Read the history of mathematics. It is littered with massively gifted men of a type who seldom appeared elsewhere: Galois, Gauss, Newton, Lagrange, Euclid, Archimedes, and so on for pages. Only in the West. Why?

I can only guess, but I suspect that folk wisdom explains it well. There is an Asian saying, “The nail that stands up is beaten down.” Then there is the Johnny Paycheck song “Take this Job and Shove It.” Which culture will produce the student who drops out of college because he would rather wing it and try to start a business? (For example, a fellow named Gates. Or Dell.) Western culture appears to embrace a salubrious anarchy. Westerners do not seem as bound by tradition or as acquiescent to society’s expectations. A powerful individualism keeps breaking out. It may change, but so far it hasn’t.

When I lived in the alleys of Taiwan, children sat on wooden boxes in front of dirt-poor houses and studied. (This was in 1976. Today Taiwan is no longer poor.) They were bright and disciplined and in any competition would have eaten American kids alive. But it was rote. The orderliness and discipline were, I thought, a sort of prison. Recently, my wife Violeta taught Spanish to foreigners. Her Asian students, she says, were smart and studious, but would never question the teacher. My ex-wife, a harpsichordist out of the Indiana School of Music, studied for a while at Peabody Institute in Baltimore with Asian students. She described them as technically perfect and practiced to death but … it wasn’t quite musical. (Her standards are high, granted.)

In Taipei, I used to go to the national museum, which housed priceless art that Chiang Kai-shek, thank God, rescued from the communists. It was lovely, subtle, just plain wonderful. But, but… Take the painting. Generation after generation, artists treated the same themes in the same manner. Compare this static quality to the progression in Western painting from Neoclassicism through Impressionism, Cubism, Modigliani, Hopper, what have you. All good, but stylistically from different planets. The difference is between “this is how you are supposed to do it” and “this is how I am going to do it.”

Call it bullheadedness, self-indulgence, disdain for authority, or independence of mind. Westerners seem disposed to try anything they can think of and see whether it works. Often it does. A salubrious anarchy.


Australian Leftist commentators bubbling over with deluded hatred

LIKE those inexperienced footballers who attempt to dispose of the ball before they have it, Australia's standing army of Howard-haters has gone beyond predicting a Labor victory at the forthcoming federal election. They are now explaining, and claiming ownership of, that victory. Writing on this page last month, Phillip Adams put John Howard's looming defeat down to the fact the Prime Minister's "wedging, vote-buying and sundry pork-barrelling has confirmed the electorate's worst suspicions about his deviousness". Any evidence those suspicions are widespread outside the echo-chamber of Late Night Live, Phil?

Adams continued: "Honest John is now seen to be as tricky as Dicky. Our increasingly Nixonian PM is focusing on his worst attributes and sinking into deeper do-do and disrepute." Apparently, after years of ignoring the prophets of the cultural Left, the electorate has woken up to the truth of what they have been saying all along: that Howard is evil incarnate.

Reading Adams, I was reminded of a comment made to me recently by a Left-leaning friend who works in one of the arts industries: that Australians are about to ditch the Government because of its abandonment of the anti-Semitic terrorism-supporter David Hicks.

But if a kind of Rip Van Winkle theory of the electorate was merely hinted at by Adams, it was outlined in great detail last weekend by Hugh Mackay, the social researcher and Fairfax columnist whom Tim Blair recently dubbed "Australia's most boring human". The key point about the election, wrote Mackay, will be its "retrospective character". This will be an election "about the past - the Government's and ours - catching up with us".

The poll will demonstrate the electorate awakening from a "dreamy period" during which it has disgracefully prioritised material satisfactions over principled politics. And can you guess whose pet peeves will be legitimised in this catch-up? "Many Australians who have felt powerless will want to punish this Government for sins long past," Mackay says. "Those who once marched in support of Aboriginal reconciliation, for instance, will decide it was not good enough, after all, to simply push that idea off the agenda. "Those who were ashamed of our treatment of asylum-seekers, but let themselves become anaesthetised by propaganda, will decide it was wrong to capitulate. Those who took the easy path of prejudice against ethnic or religious groups will decide they are capable of nobler responses than that. "Those who were too dozy to react to their gut instinct that told them the anti-terrorism laws went too far will think again."

But why, Hugh? Why would voters who rejected the reasons put forward by the cultural Left to ditch Howard in 1998, 2001 and 2004 suddenly accept those as the best reasons to ditch him now?

Similar threads were apparent in an extraordinary opinion article by Catherine Deveny in The Age yesterday. "If I were John Howard, I'd be praying for a terrorist attack," wrote Deveny, revealing a level of bloody-mindedness I wouldn't have expected even from the worst of the Howard and Bush-haters. Deveny looks forward to an election-night party that will deliver her and her crowd their long-delayed revenge. "The angry and disillusioned (I take it she means the green and the Left) are hoping for a grudge match come election night," she writes. "It's not enough for the Howard administration to be voted out. People want to see blood. They want to see Howard cockily strutting into the election claiming smugly, 'We are the underdog' ... only for it to go horribly wrong as the votes come in. "It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it."

And I bet it gives Howard goose bumps just reading about it. Do Mackay and Deveny even realise what utter poison it is to Labor's cause if voters in outer-suburban seats get a sniff of the looming triumphalism of those who seek to turn politics into either a moral crusade ("nobler responses") or a blood sport?

Anyway, do we really need such abstruse and self-serving theories as these to explain the predicament of the Howard Government? Here's a simpler account, based on the universal logic of the use-by date. The electorate is considering a change of government for the same reason I just traded in my old Commodore: as any unit ages, it becomes less reliable. While voters have, in fact, been toying with a political upgrade for some time, Labor has previously failed to satisfy one of the basic criteria: sound leadership. Voters thought Mark Latham was too volatile, Kim Beazley too soft. But in Rudd they are prepared to embrace a leader every bit as conservative, temperamentally cautious and safe-handed as Howard.

A disclaimer: the above theory is not original. It was unrolled before me by Rudd himself, five months ago, in the bookshop at Sydney Airport, as we stood leafing through Anne Applebaum's superb new study of the Soviet gulag and pondering whether to buy it. (I did; he didn't.)

Let me say that, as a swinging voter, I don't invest anything like Deveny's emotional energy in the outcome of the election. Rather, I celebrate the convergence of the main parties, which testifies to the contemporary Australian settlement in favour of markets as the fairest mechanism for distributing scarce resources, and the US alliance as the foundation of our foreign relations.

That said, if the Government falls, will I be discomfited by the crowing of the Howard-haters, against whom I have spent most of the past 15 years at war? Well, OK, yes. But even as I cringe under that cacophonous onslaught, I will be anticipating a more familiar and comforting sound: their howls of disappointment, as Rudd reveals he is no more a victim of their prejudices than Howard.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


20 September, 2007

The sex revolution prevents childbirth even among many who want children

The comments by Angela Shanahan below on resistance to marriage among men are reasonable but she overlooks one large factor: The way skewed divorce laws have made many men see women as little better than prostitutes and marriage as a particularly expensive form of prostitution. In some jurisdictions a man would have to be either a hero or a fool to marry -- so heavy are the penalties for a marriage breakup. So feminism generally is a major factor in the birth dearth. Men need encouragement to marry -- not abuse, condemnation, suspicion and discrimination. So the outcome of feminism is that many women who have normal desires for marriage will never find a man insane enough to "commit". But I guess that the Lesbian "sisters" will rejoice at that

I myself have been married and divorced four times and have no ill to report about any of it -- perhaps in part because Australia is a notably relaxed place and perhaps in part because I choose very fine women. But many men have had much worse experiences than I. In some U.S. States, it is not uncommon for men to end up in prison because of their inability to pay court-ordered sums of money to ex-wives. Glenn Sacks has all the details

OVER 13 years as a columnist for The Australian and other publications I have received many letters. But I have never received one like this. It was written in response to a column I wrote a few weeks ago on sexual imagery in advertising. But coincidentally it arrived just after the Pope's remarks this month about the seemingly obvious link between selfishness and our inability to produce children. The thirty something writer cut through the demographic babble about the fertility crisis and heartbreakingly encapsulated something that is staring us in the face.
"The media coverage of the fertility debate has been extremely disappointing. For some reason, the emphasis has been on how women are choosing career over children ... And yet the fertility debate seems to have carefully excluded any discussion of men's involvement in the postponement of commitment, marriage and children.

Why is this? I feel that I am in some ways a survivor of the current cultural sexual practice ... Of course, in many ways it seems useless to discuss it publicly ... I was educated ... to be feminist in my outlook, but I also knew I wanted to marry and experience sexual life as a married woman.

And yet I spent my 20s waiting, often very, painfully, and with some real costs, for the 'other shoe 'to drop! I embarked on all of my sexual relationships in a serious manner, and was not looking for promiscuous sex. I had assumed that beginning a sexual relationship meant a man was considering me for marriage. But... the mass public culture seems cynical and almost hysterically anti-marriage.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that the desire to truly pair, to form a marriage bond, is part of the biological sexual response of women. . . if I can find a sensitive way to broach the subject, I will be relaying some of my experiences to my own daughter. To sit at a table, at age 29, and hear your significant other discuss your ageing with his friends, and his (lack of interest) in going further (after buying property together), is an experience I have no wish for her to emulate. I wonder how many other women have had these kinds of experiences and are left involuntarily childless?"
Despite the media's discomfort, the fertility crisis in the West is a moral problem and, of course, only moral leaders such as Pope BenedictXVI have the guts and authority to enunciate it. The truth about declining fertility is not all that complicated. It is the inevitable result of a so-called sexual revolution that broke the nexus between sex and having children, and has skewed our relationships, particularly marriage, forever.

What the media coyly refer to as private morality - also known as sexual morality - is having all too public social consequences. On average, women in Europe will now only bear 1.5 children each, and in some places it is down to 1.2. The enlightened West can't produce enough children to fuel its economy or maintain its culture. In western Europe nothing will change this short of some great and terrible upheaval, such as another war. No amount of economic fiddling with family tax rates, no amount of child care or incentives for women to work, not even the threat of cultural extinction as a result of mass migration from Africa and the Middle East, will change it.

In fact, despite its tragic cultural effects, mass migration is probably the only thing that will demographically save Europe, as it has saved the US: the only country in the developed world that fully reproduces itself, courtesy of its Latino population. The Mexican American birthrate of about 3.3 is higher than the birthrate in Mexico, despite Mexican Americans being a poor group in every way.

This proves something that sociologists know but don't say: cultural factors are much more important for fertility than economics. And in sociologist-speak, culture is code for things such as religion and our sexual mores, including our marriage patterns, or what the aridly secular West will timidly go as far as calling our values.

So what are these values that are a prerequisite for stable societies that can at least reproduce themselves? The most important factor in fertility is marriage. Late marriage and failure to marry is the biggest single factor affecting fertility in the West. Where people don't marry and marriage as an institution is devalued, with serial relationships replacing marriage (not to mention weird permutations such as gay marriage), societies suffer declining fertility.

Even if women want children, because women's fertility is finite as my correspondent points out, the emotional stress of serial non-marriage plays havoc with the possibility of partnering for life. It is a terrible catch 22. But as my correspondent also rightly bemoans, so far almost all the discussion about fertility and marriage has been about women, as if their desires and motivations were the only factor. However, studies done in the late 1990s in Scandinavia, where almost 60per cent of births are ex-nuptial, discovered a much stronger connection between the attitude of the man in a cohabiting relationship, as to whether a formal marriage eventuated, than the attitude of the woman. Cohabiting men were found to be far more hesitant than women to formalise the relationship. Furthermore, this pattern holds true even in relationships that have already produced children.

Among the childless, men seem to fear that marriage will push them into more of a provider role. They harbour strong doubts about the ultimate value of a relationship - whether it will be lifelong - and are less likely than women to yield to normative pressure from parents. What exactly was the word the Pope used: selfish? This is much more a picture of reluctant youthful grooms being dragged to the altar than of reluctant New Age feminist brides not wanting to be tied down with an uneven share of the household chores and child care, which is what feminist academics claim is the motivator for the new non-marriage relationship.

In fact, it emphasises how little our sexual expectations have changed - because women still want stability, marriage and children - but, at the same time, how badly the new sexual norms are treating women. Who now quotes with approval the original shallow feminist rhetoric, when women thought that armed with the pill they would hold all the cards, that they would not be tied down and would be free to act just like men? The experiences of women such as the one who sent me that letter belie all that propaganda. Instead, many women are fooled into a series of unfulfilling relationships, becoming empty vessels for sex. Says my correspondent of these relationships: "I thought I was offering myself for marriage." Instead, having given away their most precious asset, their fertility, many women have played right into the hands of men.

The contraceptive pill was the greatest gift ever invented for men, by men. More than 30 years ago it looked like a lovely package of sexual freedom. But for so many women experiencing a series of partners from their 20s into their 30s and then staring into the infertile 40s, it was like opening a series of empty boxes one inside the other. And there was nothing at the end except an empty box.



Definition: Leftist Sharia - the dynamic body of leftist quasi-religious dogma that dictates suitable behavior for everyone...or else.

Betsy has an example of the "new feminism" of the political left. It's rather ironic that it is pretty much indistinguishable from the behavior of the old sexist 'pigs' of the 60's and 70's--but in this new and improved version, women of the left unashamedly exploit their sexual connections and obtain power through their association with a male.

Along the same lines, this and this exemplify the left's "new civil rights" philosophy. They have the right to ridicule, trash and denigrate any black person who dares to stray from the approved party line.

Furthermore, this and this represent the "new gay rights" agenda of the left, where it's OK to be gay as long as you follow their rules, believe as they believe, and behave as they dictate you should.

Funny, isn't it, how much all this resembles the most pernicious sort of tyranny?

Three examples of what the Democrats REALLY think of their "rainbow" base of support.

Do you imagine these attitudes now displayed by the political left show respect for "diversity"?

Think back. Do you entertain the idea that John Edwards and John Kerry compassionately brought up Mary Cheney's sexual orientation in 2004 in order to show their "respect" for Vice President Cheney and his family? Or that Ted Rall and Jeff Danziger are proud of black achievement?

Ann Coulter wrote about this aspect of the left's intellectual and moral bankruptcy in a FrontPageMag.com article some time back:

...So now liberals are lashing out at the gays. Two weeks ago, the New York Times turned over half of its op-ed page to outing gays with some connection to Republicans. There is no principled or intellectual basis for these outings. Conservatives don't want gays to die; we just don't want to transform the Pentagon into the Office of Gay Studies.

By contrast, liberals say: "We love gay people! Gay people are awesome! Being gay is awesome! Gay marriage is awesome! Gay cartoon characters are awesome! And if you don't agree with us, we'll punish you by telling everyone that you're gay!"

In addition to an attack on a website reporter for supposedly operating a gay escort service and thereby cutting into the business of the Village Voice, another Times op-ed article the same day gratuitously outed the children of prominent conservatives.

These are not public figures. No one knows who they are apart from their famous parents. I didn't even know most of these conservatives

Do you think that a Black woman in one of the highest political offices in the land deserves to be ridiculed for her achievements because she is Black and a Republican? Or because she is possibly gay and Republican? Do you think she'd get some respect if she were a Democrat?

In the left's obsession with "diversity", it is interesting, is it not, that they have completely omitted the concept of diversity of thought as being worthy of inclusion into their little multiculti religion?

That is because when there is a tolerance for diversity of thought, it is much harder to claim that you have been "victimized" by others. They are free to mock you, just as you are free to mock them.

All this is evidence that the left has become a party promoting political sharia; and as such, they reserve a special punishment --or 'fatwa"--for any member of their "protected" victim groups who dare to escape from their "protection."

The left is capable of thinking about these issues only in terms of the 'Marxist dialectic', where everyone is either "oppressed" ,or else they must be an "oppressor" (except, of course, for the leaders of the left who consider themselves "champions of the oppressed").

This framework allows them to continually fan the fires of class warfare and thus continue a self-fulfilling prophecy. And the left's victimhood scam has become a remarkably convenient intellectual and moral tool to keep that rainbow base of support in line with the dogma.

In fact, this strategy is precisely at the heart of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Left today.

The faux concerns regularly expresesed by the left about the "erosion of democracy and free speech" are striking--particularly when you consider that their own ideological constructs (e.g., "multiculturalism" and "political correctness") are the most serious threats to free speech and intellectual freedom.

This is the leftist sharia that has been imposed upon all of us. If you are female, black or gay and dare to reject their religion, they will brand you apostate and issue one of their fatwas, intent on exposing your "hypocrisy" (the worse kind of sin in their eyes is if you go against the one, true, religion).

Is it any wonder they feel a mystical kinship with a certain medieval and fanatical religion?


BOOK REVIEW OF: "The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion," by Bernard Harrison

This time last year, when one million Israelis were spending their days in bomb shelters, when the north of the country was being bombarded with rockets and Israel was pounding to a pulp considerable parts of southern Lebanon and Beirut, many among us expressed a longing for what is known in Hebrew as hasbara, a state-organized PR campaign explaining Israel's situation to the world. A vague wave of yearning for hasbara, that elusive goddess, swept through the country. To the outside observer, it seemed as though Israelis were gazing up at the media heavens and muttering: If only they understood us, if only they knew the truth, then they wouldn't be saying such terrible things about us. In their despair, they might then well add: they're all anti-Semites, anyway.

In "The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism," the American philosopher Bernard Harrison offers a foreigner's perspective on the sense, which haunts many Jews and non-Jews, in Israel and abroad, that anti-Semitism has increased, its two-millennia-old essence unchanged despite the different exterior. Being an analytical philosopher, Harrison approaches the subject as a reader of texts. The subtitle of his book attests to the focus of his reading: "Jews, Israel and Liberal Opinion." That is, Harrison explores neither the murky waters of the radical right in Europe, nor the distinctly anti-Semitic hues with which certain extremist Islamic group have colored some of their messages.

What interests Harrison, rather, is the anti-Semitism he identifies in the left, among those who hold liberal opinions. Indeed, that is the most problematic area for the northern Israeli being bombarded in the summer of 2006, and for any Israeli or Jew with sensibilities, opinions and a conscience. After all, it is no wonder that the radical right continues to embrace racist positions and rhetoric toward Jews as individuals, as a group, as a people and as a race. Nor is it very surprising that some of the Arab anti-Semites use racist and even Nazi imagery and propaganda as a tool in their struggle against their perceived enemy. Harrison's wonder increases when he encounters distinctly anti-Semitic images, the most crude and offensive kind of prejudice, in, of all things, the discourse of his own natural habitat, the American and European liberal left.

Harrison's book asks "Why?," but the answers are not easily found. He presents contemporary cross-sections of politics, morality and culture in the West, especially in the left, and uses them to understand attitudes toward Israel, Zionism and Jews in general. For example, if in the past the left focused on questions of history, society and culture, today it emphasizes the moral dimension. Obviously, the political and international reality of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict presents that left with ample opportunities for moral judgment. Harrison shows that in more than a few cases, when criticism is directed at the Israeli side, the imagery, concepts and underlying assumptions are derived from the "old" anti-Semitism. In an interesting confluence of factors, the moralizing discourse is only intensified by the American right led by President George W. Bush, with his claims about an "axis of evil."

According to Harrison, the very emphasis on evil as a genuine presence in international affairs is not only simplistic. It also leaves greater room for this evil to be linked to one side or another. At the other end of the continuum of approaches to political-cultural reality lies the relativism that has become pervasive in so many circles, and certainly in those of the left. This way of thinking, which might have been used for a well-reasoned judgment of either side, is often employed to dim the criticism of phenomena such as the Palestinian suicide bombings, or even to justify them; it is not, however, enlisted to justify the radical measures concocted by the Israeli defense establishment.

Bernard Harrison is a philosopher, not a historian, sociologist or political scientist. He does not seek to explain the Arab-Israeli conflict, attitudes toward Israel, or anti-Semitism itself. His descriptive approach leads him to identify fundamental problems in how the objects of critique - Jews, Israel, Zionism - are handled. To him, the main problem is that in their dogmatic, didactic, political zeal, many leftists choose to apply existing categories and longstanding concepts to aspects of reality that involve Jews and Israel. Essential fallacies then emerge. Say "apartheid," and you must immediately present a detailed comparison between the characteristics of the old South African state and the one that you are now accusing of apartheid. Say "Nazis," and you must debate issues such as the comparison between besieged Ramallah and Auschwitz. Say "racism," "evil," "colonialism," and you find yourself in a narrow intellectual corridor: If you cannot define, describe in detail and prove, point by point, that the analogy and the application of the concept are legitimate, then you will find yourself on shaky ground indeed.

Harrison believes that speakers and writers often take the easy way out: They make analogies but do not prove them, draw crude lines and take shortcuts to their unequivocal conclusions. This is certainly the case in a media culture that demands sound bytes, clearcut headlines and a crisp distinction between "good guys" and "bad guys." Along the way, people tend to forget that analogies have a limited value. They have the power to underscore questions, but not to provide answers.

Bernard Harrison knows that the questions are much more complex than any Manichean portrayal. Many acts perpetrated by Israel are reprehensible. Quite a bit of what the Palestinians do is abhorrent. One of the book's most lucid and frustrating moments comes courtesy of a line Harrison quotes from a piece by Linda Grant in the Guardian, in which she explained to her readers: "The most important word in Hebrew is balagan (mess)." The balagan of the Middle East gives those who discuss it endless opportunities to slip instinctively into laziness, despair and the dark terrain of the old anti-Semitism. This slippage, especially when it comes up against the backdrop of justified accusations mixed with poorly substantiated slander, provides many Israelis with the familiar refuge: to tell themselves that the world hates them, "it just does," so that even the goddess of hasbara can offer no salvation. Nevertheless, Israelis face a vital and difficult intellectual and moral task: to make their own lucid distinctions between good and evil.


Leftist racism on the march among the Australian Left

LIKE most of you, I'm indigenous. I was born here and have nowhere else to go, Andrew Bolt writes

This is my home, and where my heart is. If I'm not indigenous to Australia, I'm indigenous to nowhere. So you might think I'd cheer at Labor's promise last week to ratify - should it win government - the United Nations' new Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Except, of course, we know Labor is infected with the New Racism, and still plays off one tribe against another.

In the case of we indigenous Australians, Labor now wants to ratify a bizarre document that doesn't just stop at saying some indigenous people are more indigenous than others. It also says the most indigenous of us - people born here, like me, but with some Aboriginal ancestry - can be excused the laws and obligations that apply to the rest of us. And get extra rights all of their own.

Here's proof that Kevin Rudd's new Labor isn't so new, after all, exploiting the ethnic differences which divide us rather than celebrating what unites. Incidentally, for more proof, see star Labor candidate Maxine McKew, now fighting Prime Minister John Howard for his seat of Bennelong. She's just promised to recognise the "Armenian genocide", hoping to thrill Bennelong's 4000 ethnic Armenians. The nation's many Turks, however, will be enraged, rightly arguing that the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the wars, famines and inter-ethnic slaughter of the Ottoman Empire's last years was a tragedy, but no state-ordered genocide. McKew's promise can bring only strife, but harvesting votes by preaching old divisions rather than a new unity is an old Labor ploy.

And so we see again with this UN Declaration on indigenous rights. The wretched thing is actually the work of the UN's discredited Human Rights Council, which includes representatives from such beacons of humans rights as Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia. Already you'll have figured this is a document full of empty sentiments that even its authors don't believe or most certainly will never implement. That helps to explain why the four countries that refused to ratify it last week are ones that take their word more seriously: Australia, Canada, the United States and New Zealand, each of which objects that this declaration puts ethnic laws above national ones. But Labor's spokesman for indigenous affairs, Jenny Macklin, can't wait to sign, promising "a federal Labor Government would endorse Australia becoming a signatory".

So what is in this UN declaration, that Macklin later stressed was "non-binding", that Labor wants to sign us up to? Read closely, because it's actually a blueprint for an Aboriginal nation within Australia, with rights to its own schools, own government, own treaties and own laws, even if as barbaric as payback: "Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation . . . "(States must give) due recognition to indigenous peoples' laws . . . "Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their education systems . . . "States shall consult and co-operate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions . . . "Indigenous peoples . . . have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and co-operation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes with . . . other peoples across borders . . . "Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the responsibilities of individuals to their communities." That last one is oppressive. It says tribal strongmen can tell Aborigines who want to join the mainstream to stick with the tribe instead.

Macklin is now insisting she won't let tribal law overrule the general law. But why sign a protocol that implies the very opposite? That supports an Aboriginal nation within Australia? That supports separate rights and separate development for Aborigines, instead of urging them to seek a future with the rest of us? What divisive and racist foolishness. Already we can assume Labor in office will kill the federal intervention in the Northern Territory launched by this Government to save Aboriginal communities now drowning in booze, violence, truancy and unemployment.

It isn't right, a Macklin will say after the election, that "we" trample on Aborigines' rights to their own ways. And once again the weak will pay for this Noble Savage myth that Labor still worships: this insistence that Aborigines be a race apart. They'll be like the boy of this news story last week: "A magistrate seeking to preserve an Aboriginal toddler's cultural identity ignored warnings from child protection workers and put him into the care of his violent uncle, who four weeks later tortured and bashed the boy almost to death . . ." Preserve the tribe! Never mind the individual. And pit one race against another. Pit one group of indigenous people against the rest who were born here, and want brothers, not rivals.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


19 September, 2007


Who recently said: "These Jews started 19 Crusades. The 19th was World War (1). Why? Only to build Israel." Some holdover Nazi? Hardly. It was former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan of Turkey, a NATO ally. He went on to claim that the Jews - whom he refers to as "bacteria" - controlled China, India and Japan, and ran the United States.

Who alleged: "The Arabs who were involved in 9/11 cooperated with the Zionists, actually. It was a cooperation. They gave them the perfect excuse to denounce all Arabs." A conspiracy nut? Actually, it was former Democratic U.S. Sen. James Abourezk of South Dakota. He denounced Israel on a Hezbollah-owned television station, adding: "I marveled at the Hezbollah resistance to Israel... It was a marvel of organization, of courage and bravery."

And finally, who claimed at a United Nations-sponsored conference that democratic Israel was "much worse" than the former apartheid South Africa, and that it "undermines the international community's reaction to global warming"? A radical environmentalist wacko? Again, no. It was Clare Short, a member of the British parliament. She was a secretary for international development under Prime Minister Tony Blair.

A new virulent strain of the old anti-Semitism is spreading worldwide. This hate - of a magnitude not seen in over 70 years - is not just espoused by Iran's loony president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or radical jihadists.

The latest anti-Semitism is also now mouthed by world leaders and sophisticated politicians and academics. Their loathing often masquerades as "anti-Zionism" or "legitimate" criticism of Israel. But the venom exclusively reserved for the Jewish state betrays their existential hatred.

Israel is always lambasted for entering homes in the West Bank to look for Hamas terrorists and using too much force. But last week the world snoozed when the Lebanese army bombarded and then crushed the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, which harbored Islamic terrorists. The world has long objected to Jewish settlers buying up land in the West Bank. Yet Hezbollah, flush with Iranian money, is now purchasing large tracts in southern Lebanon for military purposes and purging them of non-Shiites.

Here at home, "neoconservative" has become synonymous with a supposed Jewish cabal of Washington insiders who hijacked U.S. policy to take us to war for Israel's interest. That our state department is at the mercy of a Jewish lobby is the theme of a recent high-profile book by professors at Harvard University and the University of Chicago.

Yet when the United States bombed European and Christian Serbia to help Balkan Muslims, few critics alleged that American Muslims had unduly swayed President Clinton. And such charges of improper ethnic influence are rarely leveled to explain the billions in American aid given to non-democratic Egypt, Jordan or the Palestinians - or the Saudi oil money that pours into American universities.

The world likewise displays such a double standard. It seems to care little about the principle of so-called occupied land - whether in Cyprus or Tibet - unless Israel is the accused. Mass murdering in Cambodia, the Congo, Rwanda and Darfur has earned far fewer United Nations' resolutions of condemnation than supposed atrocities committed by Israel. A number of British academics are sponsoring a boycott of Israeli scholars but leave alone those from autocratic Iran, China and Cuba.

There are various explanations for the new anti-Semitism. For many abroad, attacking Jews and Israel is an indirect way of damning its main ally, the United States - by implying that Americans are not entirely evil, just hoodwinked by those sneaky and far more evil Jews.

At home, there are obvious pragmatic considerations. Some Americans may find it makes more sense to damn a few million Israelis without oil than it does to offend Israel's adversaries in the Middle East, who number in the hundreds of millions and control nearly half the world's petroleum reserves. Cowardice explains a lot. Libeling Israel won't earn someone a fatwa or a death sentence in the manner comparable criticism of Islam might. There are no Jewish suicide bombers in London, Madrid or Bali.

This new face of anti-Semitism is so insidious because it is so well disguised, advanced by self-proclaimed diplomats and academics - and now embraced by the supposedly sophisticated left on university campuses.

When national, collective or personal aspirations are not met, it is far easier to blame someone or something rather than to look within for the source of the failure and frustration. More recently, someone must be blamed for getting terrorists (with oil and its profits behind them) mad at us. That someone is - no surprise - once again Jews.


Neo-Nazi Germany

A few days before the sixth anniversary of 9/11, a young man ranting in Arabic accosted a rabbi walking home from his synagogue in an upscale neighborhood of Frankfurt, and stabbed him. As he shoved the blade of his pocketknife into the rabbi's stomach, he switched from Arabic to German and told the man: "You sh---- Jew, I'm going to kill you." The rabbi survived, and Jewish leaders in Germany were outraged and condemned the barbarism, but moderated their criticism.

"We oppose leveling blanket accusations at the Muslim community because the majority of Muslims in Germany condemn acts of violence in the name of Islam," Dieter Graumann, the vice president of the German Jewish Council, said. But he observed that Islamist hate preachers regularly exhort young Muslims to carry out jihad against Jews, and asked why so few leaders of the Islamic community in Germany speak out against violence in the name of Mohammed.

This attack on the rabbi coincided with a visit to Washington by my daughter's family from Berlin. They brought rave reviews of Germany's largest synagogue, just now reopened in their neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg in East Berlin. The Nazis set the synagogue afire on Kristallnacht and, adding insult to injury, used the ruined synagogue as a stable for horses. The renovation is hailed as a symbol of regeneration and revival of German Jewish life annihilated by the Holocaust. Like all synagogues in Germany, 24-hour police protection is required to prevent violence from Neo-Nazis and Islamist terrorists.

While the Germans have made enormous efforts to atone for the Holocaust, the attempted murder of the rabbi invites attention to a contemporary problem. Radical Islamists who go undercover in Germany fuse anti-Semitism with hatred for America, and the antecedents of this hatred are rooted in the Germany of Adolf Hitler.

Matthias Kuntzel, a Hamburg-based political scientist, writes of this in the current Weekly Standard. In "Jew-Hatred and Jihad: The Nazi Roots of the 9/11 Attack," he traces the connection to Arab and Muslim hatred of the Jews that fed the fantasies of der Fuehrer. He suggests it's no coincidence that assaults on the World Trade Center were orchestrated by an al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, where five of the conspirators -- from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Yemen and Morocco -- met with sympathizers for regular meetings of a "Koran circle."

He, like a growing numbers of Germans, is astonished that reporters and commentators along with policy-makers have made so little of the Islamist rhetoric that links Islamism with Nazism in both ideology and strategy. "After World War II, it became apparent that the center of global Jew-hatred was shifting from Nazi Germany to the Arab World," he writes. The Muslim Brotherhood, which may have begun as a rebellious group against British colonialism before the war, aimed violence directly against Jews and Zionism when the war was over. They took the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories as their own, drawing on "Mein Kampf" and the infamous czarist fiction, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." They borrowed rhetoric from the German and Italian radio broadcasts that inflamed Arab anti-Semitism during the war.

A major figure connecting Nazi and Islamist ideologies was Amin al-Husseini, a self-styled "grand mufti" of Jerusalem who fomented riots against the Jews in the 1920s and ordered the murder of any Muslim who traded with Jewish settlers. Adolf Eichmann visited him in Palestine in the 1930s; he was a friend of Heinrich Himmler. He was a guest of Hitler in Berlin from 1941 until the end of the war in 1945 and directed the Muslim SS in the Balkans. He was responsible for stopping the Bulgarian government from releasing thousands of Bulgarian Jewish children to travel to Palestine. "It was he," says historian Paul Johnson, "who first recruited Wahabi fanatics from Saudi Arabia, transforming them into killers of Jews -- another tradition that continues to this day."

What's important about the Nazi-Islamist connection is the way it inspires terrorists today. It's fashionable to say that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, but that's misleading. In its charter, the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, which has morphed into the terrorist organization Hamas, lists conspiracy theories blaming the Jews for everything from the French Revolution to the communist revolution.

Hitler dreamed of building a huge warplane able to fly from Berlin to Manhattan and back to launch a small, light suicide-like bomber into the skyscrapers of Wall Street, which he believed was the "center of Jewry." Mohammed Atta, the 20th conspirator of 9/11, regarded Wall Street as a nest of Jews as well. Matthias Kuntzel describes Hitler's obsession as the fantasy foreshadowing 9/11. Hitler's fantasy bomber, meant to be shoved into the belly of Wall Street, foreshadowed the knife shoved into the belly of a rabbi in Frankfurt.


Louisiana town law makes "annoying" someone a crime

ADF attorneys file lawsuit to help Christian denied his constitutional rights due to oppressive ordinance that bans offending another person

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund have filed a lawsuit and a motion for preliminary injunction on behalf of a Christian man whom a policeman prohibited from sharing a religious message on a public street outside of a bar in the city of Zachary. The officer cited a city ordinance prohibiting speech that is "annoying" or "offensive" to another person.

"Christian expression is not second-class speech and should not be treated as such," said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. "Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened when a policeman for the city of Zachary threatened a Christian with arrest and prosecution simply because the expression was religious and some people might not like it. The Constitution prohibits government officials from singling out religious speech for censorship."

On the evening of Nov. 18, John Todd Netherland stood outside on a public easement to speak about his Christian faith about 75-100 feet from the entrance of a local bar. Even though Netherland stood on public ground and not on private property, a police officer told Netherland he could not preach there and instructed Netherland to move instead to the far side of the public easement, closer to the street. The officer then warned Netherland that if he stepped back to the place he'd been standing, he'd be arrested and sent to jail.

Netherland assured the officer that he would comply. Nevertheless, the officer told Netherland that if he continued to preach, even in the new location, he would arrest him anyway, for "disturbing the peace." Netherland yielded to the officer's demand and left the area. Soon after, he called ADF for legal help, and on June 11, ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit on Netherland's behalf. On Tuesday, ADF attorneys also filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the court to keep city police from stifling Netherland's speech at that location while the case moves forward.

The City of Zachary Code of Ordinances includes a section on "disturbing the peace," which prohibits "addressing any offensive, derisive, or annoying words to any other person.or call[ing] him by any offensive or derisive name, or mak[ing] any noise or exclamation in his presence and hearing with the intent to deride, offend, or annoy him.." The city ordinance does not, however, define any of the terms used, including "disturb," "offensive," "annoying," and "noise." A copy of the ordinance can be read at www.telladf.org/UserDocs/ZacharyOrdinance.pdf.

"Both the city ordinance and the policeman's application of the ordinance are blatantly unconstitutional. There is no right for government to harass and threaten citizens exercising their First Amendment rights in public," said Theriot. "We hope the court will grant our motion for preliminary injunction so that Mr. Netherland can freely speak at his desired location on public property while this case moves forward."


A very cranky major Australian newspaper

The Age used to bill itself as one of the world's great newspapers, and there was a time when that was probably true. The paper no longer uses that slogan, and just as well. These days, the Canberra bureau apart, its standards fall far short of those set by the world's best newspapers. Things have become much worse since Andrew Jaspan, a left-wing Englishman, took over as editor in October 2004.

Jaspan, the former editor of the obscure The Sunday Herald in Scotland, has always been a puzzling choice for a self-confident Australian city such as Melbourne. His singular notoriety emerges from the astonishing story he commissioned after al-Qa'ida murdered 3000 Americans and others on September 11, 2001. Jaspan's reporter was given extensive space to make the following extraordinary claims:
"Who do you think they were? Palestinians? Saudis? Iraqis, even? Al-Qa'ida, surely? Wrong on all counts. They were Israelis; and at least two of them were Israeli intelligence agents, working for Mossad, the equivalent of MI6 or the CIA. Their discovery and arrest that morning is a matter of indisputable fact. "To those who have investigated just what the Israelis were up to that day, the case raises one dreadful possibility: that Israeli intelligence had been shadowing the al-Qa'ida hijackers as they moved from the Middle East through Europe and into America, where they trained as pilots and prepared to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the US. And the motive? To bind America in blood and mutual suffering to the Israeli cause." (The Sunday Herald, November 2, 2003)
In the 1960s, under Graham Perkin, The Age threw off its staid conservative image and became a crusading liberal newspaper in the true sense of the word. For instance, it campaigned against White Australia and the death penalty. Under Jaspan, however, The Age's liberalism has morphed into a peculiar sort of bitter and twisted extremism, borrowed from Britain's The Guardian.

Nowhere is the corruption of The Age clearer than in its coverage of foreign affairs, characterised by systematic anti-Americanism, symbolised by horrible Michael Leunig cartoons showing Americans and Israelis as Nazis. It is to The Age's eternal shame that Leunig was welcomed by the mad bigots in Iran for their competition denigrating the Holocaust.

I am no great fan of the Bush administration, but there is a difference between criticising a particular president and the reflexive hostility to everything American that now pulsates from the columns of The Age. Australians whom I know do not have that visceral hatred of all things American. These are alien views. These views are being shoved down the throats of Age readers, mainly interested to read Epicure and know what is happening in Melbourne.

Even worse is The Age's news coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Since 2002 The Age's correspondent in Jerusalem has been O'Loughlin. Like many people, I have given up subscribing to The Age because of its primitive coverage of the Middle East. Getting angry over breakfast spoils my day. Fortunately, other people make it their business to monitor O'Loughlin's writing and expose his errors of fact and interpretation.

One of these is Tzvi Fleischer of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, who writes the Media Watch column for the Jewish News. Fleischer has documented literally dozens of cases in which O'Loughlin has got basic facts wrong, or else placed his own anti-Israel spin on stories. As Fleischer says: "O'Loughlin's bent is clearest in his longer features, which have generally been simply attempts to make and sell the Palestinian case to his readers." According to O'Loughlin:

* Palestinian suicide bombers are militants whose murder of Israeli civilians is an understandable reaction to Israel's brutalisation of their families.

* Israel's security barrier, which has saved hundreds of Israeli (and Palestinian) lives, is a wall, imposing apartheid on innocent Palestinians.

* Israel's withdrawal from Gaza was all part of a cynical Israeli scheme to occupy the West Bank forever.

* Israel and Hamas are morally no different, since neither wants peace and both are dominated by rejectionists.

The Age and O'Loughlin are, of course, entitled to their opinions. If their anti-Israel polemics were confined to editorials and signed opinion articles, I could just ignore them. But anti-Israel bias seeps into The Age's news columns as well, and that is another matter. The Age was an influential paper, and its systematic anti-Israel bias has a real effect on public opinion.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


18 September, 2007

What Kind of Person Calls Himself 'Progressive'?

We all want progress. We may disagree whether gay marriage or drug legalization constitutes progress or not. But we all want better things for the world -- better food, better health and well-being, scientific and technical advances, wiser political systems, more peace and freedom, more happy children, more humane treatment of animals, more tolerance, more prosperity for the world, you name it. That's called being a decent person.

So what kind of person has to label himself "Progressive?" Obviously somebody who believes he (or she) understands real progress better than the rest of us. Because if you are a Progressive it implies that everybody else, let's face it, is a Regressive, or maybe just a Stagnant. It's a smirky, self-flattering way of saying you're a lot better than the rest.

So what kind of ego needs do you have to have to call yourself that? And what do you believe about others? In fact, Progressives must believe that other people are worse than they are; that only they can Save the Planet, or create Peace on Earth, or Solve Inequality, or whatever sin bedevils mankind. Like the preacher who is focused on nothing but sin, Progressives must emphasize the alleged flaws of other people. They need to pinpoint those flaws, to feel important. Because Progressives make it clear that the real obstacle to Progress is Other People. In fact, if you really ask a "Progressive" what other people are like, you're likely to hear that much of humanity is either ignorant or evil.

The word Progressive first became popular in the late 19th century, but has now been adopted as a popular synonym for "socialism." Americans tend not to like socialism, associating it with the Soviet Union and other bad characters. But "Progressivism" sounds fine. So it is a euphemism for something people fear; a cover-up label.

The odd thing, of course, is that real progress in the world is almost never achieved by self-proclaimed "Progressives." They generally make things worse rather than better. (See all the mad utopian schemers from Bin Laden to Stalin and Ahmadi-Nejad.) As a group, they are strikingly ill-equipped to even understand the world in any depth. Rather, it's farmers, business people, engineers, teachers, laborers, scientists, soldiers, cops, doctors, writers, inventors, all of whom create real progress --- or who keep the world from sliding back into barbarism. All the radicals in the world together have not created as much economic progress as the inventor of Diet Coke or the Post-It Note. I'm sorry, but it's plainly true. So the "Progressive" ego trip is really only an ego trip.

The same thing goes for "post-modernism," and so many other labels on the Left. If you're a "post-modernist," you plainly imply that everybody else is past it: dead and gone. The Progressive part of the world has moved beyond modernism, or whatever ism is to be surpassed. Well, why would you believe something as obviously false as that? Basically, to flatter yourself and your fellow deludees. The "in" thing is to be "post." Various Left movements love to call themselves "post-industrial," "post-structural," post this, post that. It all means, "you're a dead White male, and your time is past and buried."

So what kind of person needs to believe that? What kind of shriveled self-respect makes you want to feel that nobody is as Progressive and "post" as you are? What school curriculum has taught you to have such contempt for others?

Or take "anti-racism." If you define yourself as an "anti-racist," it means that a lot of others must be a racists, right? But how do you know that? Not many people go around wearing Kluxer sheets. You have to want to believe it, or to be more ready than the rest of us to point your finger at suspects. You're a racist! You're a homophobe! Ultimately, in many cases, being a white middle aged male is enough to make one suspect. Since the Archie Bunker series All in the Family, Hollywood and television have adopted a visual code for evil (white, fat, middle-aged, male) and good (non-white, slim, young, and/or female). Watch CSI and you'll see the code working. And with that little piece of "Progress," the Left has created its own racism, judging people purely by their appearance. The new racism is just as invidious as the old kind, and it is much more pervasive, being propagated by high-tech media.

It's all very childish, with very pernicious effects. It cultivates an accusatory, suspicious sense of victimhood and rage at the rest of humanity. And being based on mere appearances, it is incredibly superficial.

All of Political Correctness, the dominant cultural theme of the Left, depends upon such allegations and accusations. It is incredibly shallow and superficial - but it is also very effective as a power-play. If you can put the world at a disadvantage by implicitly accusing them of sin, you can also manipulate and oppress others, conscious of your own moral superiority. Evidence is not required. It is the pervasive McCarthyism of the Left. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. If they don't talk like haters, I'm happy to believe they're not haters. Most people want the best for humanity, and appealing to their goodness seems kinder than accusing them of evil.


BBC bias again

It was Matt Frei that put me right. On Monday afternoon I watched General David Petraeus testify before Congress. I listened as he went through the facts of the military action in Iraq. I learnt as he outlined the improvements brought about in recent months.

But it wasn't until I heard Frei's take on General Petraeus's words that I realised what had really been going on. The BBC Washington correspondent told us that he had listened "very carefully" - as opposed to his usual half-cocked approach, perhaps? - and gleaned what was actually being said: "Having tried to resist the fragmentation, the creeping partition, ethnic cleansing, the White House now seems to have bowed to that." Forget the reams of pages and the hours of testimony about military strategy and dealing with terrorists. The real story of the general's report is that the White House is to start ethnically cleansing Iraqis.

Frei is also possessed of an astonishing ability to look into the future and canvas an entire nation's views. At 5pm Washington time - just a few hours after Gen Petraeus's report was available - he felt able to report that the US public had a negative reaction to it. One can only marvel at his capacity to discern from his perch in DC what countrywide polling agencies will take days to discover.

One should not be surprised by Frei's warped take. His reports from Washington drip with condescension towards Americans and, most of all, Republicans. He recently called the contest for the Republican nomination - a race that is rather more intriguing than usual - a "panic-stricken hunt". Given his penchant for such creative contempt for the people among whom he lives, it's no wonder that he has been nicknamed Stir Frei.

Awful as Frei may be, he fits the BBC's editorial agenda perfectly. The lead report on Monday's Ten O'Clock News, by the corporation's world affairs editor, John Simpson, went two minutes without mentioning anything said by General Petraeus, offering instead clips of opponents of the war attacking the report. Simpson then sneered that President Bush cares not a jot what is actually happening in Iraq, caring only how US voters perceive it. Only at the end were we permitted a tantalising glimpse of what the general said.

So yesterday's Victoria Derbyshire phone-in on BBC 5 Live was par for the course. The question of the day was: "Do you believe the Americans? Are things improving in Iraq?" For the first half-hour, every single caller informed us that Petraeus was lying about military progress. And don't think the airing of such biased calls was anything other than an editorial decision. I called in to suggest that it was unlikely that the entire US military high command was engaged in a conspiracy to lie to the world. And was I put on air? Of course not.


Sometimes 'Peace' is a Four-Letter Word

Back in the 1950s, a southern journalist named Harry Golden became famous by turning out a series of best-selling books, the first of which he called Only in America. The title was a reference to a popular expression that reflected the feeling of most of his countrymen that America was special, a unique place that offered millions of people unlimited freedom to express themselves and to achieve dreams that were unimaginable anywhere else on earth.

In the half century since Mr. Golden wrote his book, things have undergone a sea change in this country. Partly the change has come about because of Viet Nam and Watergate. But mainly because the Baby Boomers, surely the most selfish and infantile generation in our history, have achieved positions of power and influence; partly because the Fourth Estate came to be infested with Fifth Columnists, reporters and commentators who believe they are fulfilling their destinies only when they are tearing down the country, its traditional values and symbols; partly because Communism, which should have been left to die and be buried in the Soviet Union, took root and flourished on America's college campuses; and partly because Jimmy Carter, a sanctimonious phony who never met a despot he didn't adore, and Bill Clinton, an amoral opportunist who somehow went from being a punk in England bad-mouthing America during a time of war, to being a military-hating commander-in-chief, were elected to the highest office in the land.

The end result of all this is that we have wound up with a society, not of useful idiots, but of useless ones. We have so badly confused ourselves that the people who most despise America regard themselves as our greatest patriots. They call America an imperialistic power even though we haven't claimed an acre of foreign turf in my lifetime. They insist that we only go to war over oil, although we have made no move to confiscate the oil fields in Kuwait or Iraq. While condemning anything and everything that George W. Bush has done in the past six years, accusing him of trampling on our civil rights without being able to point to a single one, and equating him with Hitler, they sing the praises of such dictators as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

The one thing all of these blithering fatheads can agree about is that war must be avoided at all costs. In order to promote this cockeyed notion, they even pretend to be concerned about the safety of America's warriors, even though we know only too well that they despise America's military.

Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, recently wrote a terrific article titled "All Aboard the Peace Racket," in which he eviscerated the peaceniks. He starts out by quoting the Roman general Flavius Vegetius Renatus, who observed in the fifth century that "If you want peace, prepare for war." These days, that bit of sage advice has been turned on its head by the likes of Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, who is quietly campaigning to create a Cabinet-level Peace Department.

An honest peace, as Mr. Bawer points out, is a good thing. Pacifism, however, is not. Instead, "it promotes a mentality that plays directly into the hands of despots." How could it not? The reason, after all, that Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., were able to be relatively successful in their missions was because England and the United States were civilized nations. Is there anybody who actually believes that Stalin, Hitler, the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, would have been equally reasonable?

According to Bawer, the founding father of the global peace movement is a 77-year-old Norwegian professor named Johan Galtung, who, in 1959, established the International Peace Research Institute. If that sounds as much like the name of a Communist front group to you as it does to me, it shouldn't surprise you that Galtung calls America a "killer country" that indulges in "neo-fascist state terrorism." On the other hand, he's not always such a big grouch. Back in the 1970s, he wrote glowingly about Mao Tse-tung's China, and even as he approaches the age of 80, he's still shooting from the hip. Not too long ago, he called for the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee in Iraq, not to address the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist butchers, but, predictably, those he attributes to the U.S.

Unfortunately, Prof. Galtung isn't the only left-wing chowderhead in the upper reaches of academia. The peace studies chairman at Brandeis said, on behalf of suicide bombings, that they provide "ways of inflicting revenge on an enemy that seems unable or unwilling to respond to rational pleas for discussion and justice."

Similar asinine remarks have been made by professors involved in the peace movement at Purdue, Notre Dame and the University of Maine. What is taught in so-called peace studies departments all over this country is quite simply that America is the root cause of all evil.

One of the favorite lines bandied about by tenured leftists is George Santayana's oft-misquoted "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And yet that is exactly what they do, and with a stubbornness that would leave even the dumbest of mules duly impressed. Like the most fearful school child, they are only too happy to comply with the bully's demand for their lunch money. Compounding their cowardly sin of appeasement, they then applaud themselves for their maturity and cool judgment.

Less than 70 years ago, Neville Chamberlain, the umbrella-toting poster boy for pacifism, returned to England after selling out Czechoslovakia to Hitler, and vowed there would be peace in our time. What bears remembering is that he barely had time to unpack from his misguided trip to Munich when Germany marched into Poland.


Real--and unreal--threats to the First Amendment

The newspapers are full of a fair amount of hand-wringing over a First Amendment Center poll finding that almost two-thirds of Americans "believe that the nation's founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation and 55% believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation." That the belief is ill-founded should be apparent to anybody who knows American history. Many of the founders were deists, who believed in the concept of a "creator," but didn't believe that the creator involved itself in human life and generally rejected the trappings of organized religion--including those of Christianity. There's no evidence that the founders sought to mold their new country along the lines of religious views that they didn't share.

But even though I think that a majority of Americans are wrong about their country's religious identity, I'm not convinced that I should fret more about their theological failings than I do about their overall historical ignorance. For starters, the term "Christian nation" is vague as hell. It could mean anything from a general adherence to Judaeo-Christian values (a position that wouldn't offend even my atheistic heart) to outright endorsement of theocracy and subjugation of non-believers--that covers a lot of ground. A better idea of how many poll respondents actually want to lock church and state in a close embrace lies in the 28% that want to deny religious liberty to those deemed "extreme or on the fringe."

The folks who make up that 28% are scary, but they're a far cry from two-thirds of the population. More troubling to me--though less ballyhooed in the media--are the large numbers of Americans in the poll who apparently favor choking off private support of political campaigns.

The survey also found that 71% of Americans would limit the amount a corporation or union could contribute to a political campaign, with 64% favoring such a limit on individual contributions. Sixty-two percent would limit the amount a person could contribute to his or her own campaign.

Solid majorities of Americans apparently have no problem with letting politicians throttle off the flow of money from Americans to the activists and candidates who represent their views. That's a lot of power to hand to officials who have a personal interest in wielding such authority. We've had experience with so-called "campaign finance reform" in recent years, and the result has been to increasingly turn politicking into a specialized field reserved to well-connected experts.

It's become legally perilous to advocate for or against candidates and ballot initiatives. Spend the wrong money, in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, and you may face crippling fines. It's safer to just keep your mouth shut--and let the politicians slip just a little further out of control. I certainly don't want to live in the worst-case version of a "Christian nation," but in the modern world, state-controlled political speech is more of a threat than the specter of theocracy.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


17 September, 2007

Lefty homophobia

Post below lifted from Don Surber. See the original for links

Once again the left shows it is more homophobic than the right. Raw Story "outs" Dr. Condoleezza Rice as gay. I don't know if she is. Don't care. But once again we see the hypocrisy of the sex-is-private crowd. What's the excuse this time?

"Condi Rice works for an administration that uses attacks on gay rights to win votes," Humm told RAW STORY. "She has stood by silently while the President has proposed writing anti-gay discrimination into the Constitution of the United States. Whenever she is given the opportunity to distance herself from their anti-gay polices she punts." "Silence," he added, "gives consent."

How about the silence from the left on the atrocities of Saddam Hussein?

The left is filled with vile little gossips who waste their time with personal attacks rather than arguing points. How can this guy make any pretense of caring for gay rights when he denies them to others?

Well, how can the left be for any civil liberties when it worked against civil liberties for 300 million people behind the Iron Curtain and oppose the liberation of 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iran?

I'm reminded that when Chastity Bono told her dad, he accepted it, while his liberal mother freaked out.

The religion of peace in Germany

A 22-year-old German man of Afghan origin has been arrested in connection with the stabbing of a rabbi in Frankfurt. According to reports, he has confessed, but said that he didn't want to kill his victim. Police said that they found the man, who was born in Germany to Afghan parents, after he bragged about the incident in an Internet forum.

The attack occurred on Friday, Sept. 7, as Rabbi Zalman G. was walking home from his synagogue. According to witnesses, the suspect pestered the Jewish clergyman before yelling "Dirty Jew -- I'll kill you" in German and attacking the rabbi with a knife.

"He felt physically inferior to the rabbi and so reached for his knife," a Frankfurt prosecutor was quoted as saying by AP news service. The man now faces charges of attempted manslaughter and dangerous bodily harm, according to prosecutors, who said they would give more information at a press conference later on Friday.

Zalman G. is still recovering from his wounds at a hospital. Leaders of the city's Jewish community said the attack had especially shocked older Jews, who "felt old wounds and scars," as community leader Salomon Korn told AP.

Korn, who is also the vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said that he didn't believe that additional security for Jewish buildings was needed. According to a government report, 1,024 anti-Semitic criminal acts, 2 percent of which were violent, were committed in 2006.

Source. More details here (Caution: Violent fonts)

'Groundbreaking' study shows 'gays' can change

Contradicts belief altering orientation causes depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior

In the first longitudinal, peer-reviewed, scientific study of its kind, researchers have concluded some homosexuals can change their "orientation" through religiously mediated guidance. Researchers Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse released the results Thursday of a three-year study during an address at the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference. Their conclusions contradict the claims of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, which contend such change in sexual orientation is impossible and attempting to pursue it likely will cause depression, anxiety or self-destructive behavior. The new study concluded such changes do not cause psychological harm to the patient.

Nicholas A. Cummings, former American Psychological Association president, praised the research. "This study has broken new ground in its adherence to objectivity and a scientific precision that can be replicated and expanded, and it opens new horizons for investigation," he said.

Exodus International, the world's largest Christian ministry to homosexuals, said it funded the research because of the absence of any scientific, peer-reviewed research on the topic. The major findings are reported in a book to be released by the evangelical Christian publisher InterVarsity Press, "Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation."

A homosexual-activist group called Truth Wins Out warned news organizations "to be highly skeptical of a biased 'ex-gay' sham study." The homosexual group said, "Caution should be taken in prematurely critiquing the study until the full methodology is available. However, based on unconfirmed reports there is great concern that these notorious anti-gay researchers did little more than telephone professional ex-gay lobbyists and ministers from Exodus International and ask them if they had 'changed.'"

Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International and a former homosexual, said, "Finally, there is now scientific evidence to prove what we as former homosexuals have known all along - that those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction can experience freedom from it." "For years, opponents of choice have said otherwise, and this body of research is critical in advancing the national dialogue on this issue," he said. Chambers said "the life-changing process of leaving homosexuality behind" is not easy, but, "for thousands of us, the journey has been well worth it, and we are grateful that these study findings give credence to our existence as men and women whose lives have been transformed by Jesus Christ."

Jones, a provost and professor at Wheaton College, an evangelical school in Wheaton, Ill., told CitizenLink magazine in an interview he was prompted to do the study because of the "ever-increasing pessimism expressed in the professional world that sexual orientation could ever be changed." "This was in contrast to the fact that I occasionally met individuals in Christian circles who claim to have experienced precisely such change," he said. "When the mental-health field actually began to say that change is impossible - that sexual orientation cannot be changed - it formed the perfect scientific hypothesis to be able to conduct a study." Jones noted there have been dozens of studies conducted suggesting change is possible for some people, but "the research is not of the highest quality and has been deeply and highly criticized."

After studying the criticisms of those studies, Jones and Yarhouse concluded the proper methodology would need to be both "prospective and longitudinal." "Prospective means that you catch people before they begin the change process and follow them through the process, while longitudinal means that you're actually following people over time to see if the change is stable," Jones explained to CitizenLink. "The scientific characteristics of the study are unique, in that no one has ever started early and then followed people over a long period of time like we did."

Jones said they found that by following the subjects over time "not everyone is successful, not even a majority is successful, but a very substantial group of people report fairly dramatic change." "We found that 15 percent of our sample of about 100 claimed to actually have changed from homosexuality to heterosexuality," he said. "These people experienced significant enough change that they really felt like they had left one sexual orientation to shift into another."

He acknowledged "life is still complicated for these people, and some still have some residuals of their homosexual attractions." "However, they are people who report being able to function as heterosexuals, they're happy with their marriages and they feel that their lives have changed dramatically," he said.

The other type of success he found - in almost a quarter of the subjects - was "people who left the homosexual lifestyle and experienced very substantial reductions in homosexual attraction by embracing the Christian discipline of chastity, not acting on their sexual impulses." "These were people who felt like they were free now to orient their lives not on their sexual, erotic desires and needs, but on their relationship with God and on healthy, nonsexual intimacy with other people," Jones said. The two groups together, those who converted and those who experienced chastity, made up about 38 percent of the sample.

"We feel these changes observed over this substantial period of time provide clear indication that the opinions of the secular mental-health field that change is impossible are simply wrong," Jones said.

The second area of the research focused on the secular mental-health community's claims that the attempt to change is harmful. Jones and Yarhouse administered a standard psychological inventory that measures psychological distress to subjects at every point along the way. "We found that there was essentially no change in their psychological distress over time," Jones said. "On that basis, we feel that there is no evidence that the change attempt is harmful, and we found evidence that change is possible for some people." He added, however, the research does not prove anybody can change or that no one has ever been harmed from the attempt to change. "It just suggests that the forceful way in which the secular mental-health community is saying change is impossible and harmful is just not well-advised," he said.

Jones pointed out the American Psychological Association has a blue-ribbon panel right now examining the question of how it should formulate its policies on the subject of attempts to change sexual orientation. Certain members, Jones noted, have already said publicly change is impossible and harmful. Jones said he hopes "there will be enough of an open mind on the part of the secular mental-health community that they will not continue the movement towards banning these kinds of attempts to change sexual orientation, harassing them out of existence and labeling as unethical any professional person who cooperates with them."

"There is a need to respect the autonomy of individuals who are distressed about what they have experienced sexually and for religious or moral reasons want to try the attempt to change," Jones told CitizenLink. "Those people first need to be fully informed about just how complex and difficult that process is and then they should have the right as individuals, as an exercise of personal and religious freedom, to seek support in their attempt to change sexual orientation."


Major Australian newspapers' Israel coverage panned

THE Australian Jewish News has attacked Fairfax newspapers, accusing them and their Middle East correspondent of anti-Israeli bias. The newspaper yesterday ran a news story, an opinion piece by Labor's Member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, and two cartoons all lambasting Fairfax titles.

"The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are highly influential newspapers, and their systematic anti-Israel bias has a real effect on public opinion in Australia," Mr Danby writes in AJN. Mr Danby is particularly critical of The Age's editor-in-chief, Briton Andrew Jaspan. "Under its current editor, The Age's liberalism has morphed into a peculiar sort of bitter and twisted extremism, borrowed from UK paper The Guardian."

Mr Danby, who is the only Jewish federal MP, attacks Middle East correspondent Ed O'Loughlin. "There's nothing funny about O'Loughlin's systematic bias against Israel," he says. Jason Koutsoukis, The Sunday Age's Canberra bureau chief, is quoted in the Jewish News pledging to introduce "balanced" coverage when he takes over as Fairfax Media's Middle East correspondent. "There's two sides to every story and I think we've got to tell both sides. Perhaps we've only been telling one side. That's been some of the concerns expressed to me by Jewish community leaders," he is quoted as saying. Koutsoukis last night denied attacking O'Loughlin. "I was not quoted accurately ... and it does not reflect my views."

The editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, Alan Oakley, Jaspan and O'Loughlin did not return calls or emails.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


16 September, 2007

Fox News Special Details Planned Parenthood Abortion Mill Deception, Concealing Rape etc.

No write-up can adequately describe this Fox News segment from "Hannity's America". It accurately depicts Planned Parenthood as money hungry abortion peddlers. It follows the controversy of the largest abortion mill opening in Aurora, Illinois after having constructed the premises under false pretenses. The video plays audio recordings of Planned Parenthood employees caught on tape covering up statutory rape.

See the video here


Liberal Interpretation: Rigging a study to make conservatives look stupid

Article below by William Saletan. I have already pointed out some of the illogicalities in the "study" concerned here (Scroll down) but Saletan goes into more detail. See the original article for links

Are liberals smarter than conservatives? It looks that way, according to a study published this week in Nature Neuroscience. In a rapid response test-you press a button if you're given one signal, but not if you're given a different signal-the authors found that conservatives were "more likely to make errors of commission," whereas "stronger liberalism was correlated with greater accuracy." They concluded that "a more conservative orientation is related to greater persistence in a habitual response pattern, despite signals that this response pattern should change."

Does this mean liberal brains are fitter? Apparently. "Liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty," the authors wrote. New York University, which helped fund the study, concluded, "Liberals are more likely than are conservatives to respond to cues signaling the need to change habitual responses." The study's lead author, NYU professor David Amodio, told London's Daily Telegraph that "liberals tended to be more sensitive and responsive to information that might conflict with their habitual way of thinking."

Habitual way of thinking. Informational complexity. Need to change. Those are sweeping terms. They imply that conservatives, on average, are adaptively weaker at thinking, not just button-pushing. And that implication has permeated the press. The Los Angeles Times told readers that the study "suggests that liberals are more adaptable than conservatives" and "might be better judges of the facts." Agence France Presse reported that conservatives in the study "were less flexible, refusing to deviate from old habits 'despite signals that this ... should be changed.' " The Guardian asserted, "Scientists have found that the brains of people calling themselves liberals are more able to handle conflicting and unexpected information."

These reports convey four interwoven claims. First, conservatives cling more inflexibly to old ways of thinking. Second, they're less responsive to information. Third, they're more obtuse to complexity and ambiguity. Fourth, they're less likely to change when the evidence says they should. Let's take the claims one by one.

1. Habitual ways of thinking. Here's what the experiment actually entailed, according to the authors' supplementary document:

[E]ither the letter "M" or "W" was presented in the center of a computer monitor screen. . Half of the participants were instructed to make a "Go" response when they saw "M" but to make no response when they saw "W"; the remaining participants completed a version in which "W" was the Go stimulus and "M" was the No-Go stimulus. . Responses were registered on a computer keyboard placed in the participants' laps. . Participants received a two-minute break halfway through the task, which took approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Fifteen minutes is a habit? Tapping a keyboard is a way of thinking? Come on. You can make a case for conservative inflexibility, but not with this study.

2. Responsiveness to information. Again, let's consult the supplementary document:

Each trial began with a fixation point, presented for 500 ms. The target then appeared for 100 ms, followed by a blank screen. Participants were instructed to respond within 500 ms of target onset. A "Too slow!" warning message appeared after responses that exceeded this deadline, and "Incorrect" feedback was given after erroneous responses.

An "ms"-millisecond-is one-thousandth of a second. That means participants had one-tenth of a second to look at the letter and another four-tenths of a second to hit the button. One letter, one-tenth of a second. This is "information"?

3. Complexity and ambiguity. Go back and look at the first word of the excerpt from the supplementary document. The word is either. Participants were shown an M or a W. No complexity, no ambiguity. You could argue that showing them a series of M's and then surprising them with a W injects some complexity and ambiguity. But that complexity is crushed by the simplicity of the letter choice and the split-second deadline. As Amodio explained to the Sacramento Bee, "It's too quick for you to think consciously about what you're doing." So, why did he impose such a brutal deadline? "It needs to be hard enough that people make a lot of errors," he argued, since-in the Bee's paraphrase of his remarks-"the errors are the most interesting thing to study."

In other words, complexity and ambiguity weren't tested; they were excluded. The study was designed to prevent them-and conscious thought in general-because, for the authors' purposes, such lifelike complications would have made the results less interesting. Personally, I'd be more interested in a study that invited such complications-examining, for instance, whether conservatives, having resisted doubts about the wisdom of the status quo, are more likely than liberals to doubt the wisdom of change.

4. Maladaptiveness. The scientific core of the study is a hypothesized brain function called "conflict monitoring." The reason why liberals scored better than conservatives, the authors argued, is that the brain area responsible for this function was, by electrical measurement, more active in them than in conservatives.

The authors described CM as "a general mechanism for detecting when one's habitual response tendency is mismatched with responses required by the current situation." NYU's press release called it "a mechanism for detecting when a habitual response is not appropriate for a new situation." Amodio told the press that CM was "the process of detecting conflict between an ongoing pattern of behavior and a signal that says that something's wrong with that behavior and you need to change it."

The indictment sounds scientific: CM spots errors; conservatives are less sensitive to CM; therefore, conservatives make more errors. But the original definition of CM, written six years ago by the researchers who hypothesized it, didn't presume that the habitual response was wrong, inappropriate, or objectively mismatched with current requirements. It presumed only that a stimulus had challenged the habit. According to the original definition, CM is "a system that monitors for the occurrence of conflicts in information processing." It "evaluates current levels of conflict, then passes this information on to centers responsible for control, triggering them to adjust the strength of their influence on processing."

In experiments such as Amodio's, the habit is objectively wrong: You tapped the button, and the researcher knows that what you saw was a W. But real life is seldom that simple. Maybe what you saw-what you think you saw-will turn out to require a different response from the one that has hitherto served you well. Maybe it won't. Maybe, on average, extra sensitivity to such conflicting cues will lead to better decisions. Maybe it won't. Extra CM sensitivity does make you more likely to depart from your habit. But that doesn't prove it's more adaptive.

Frank Sulloway, a Berkeley professor who co-authored a damning psychological analysis of conservatism four years ago, illustrates the problem. Appearing in the Times as a researcher "not connected to the study"-despite having co-written his similar 2003 analysis with one of its authors-Sulloway endorsed the study and pointed out, "There is ample data from the history of science showing that social and political liberals indeed do tend to support major revolutions in science." That's true: When new ideas turn out to be right, liberals are vindicated. But when new ideas turn out to be wrong, they cease to be "revolutions in science," so it's hard to keep score of liberalism's net results. And that's in science, where errors, being relatively factual, are easiest to prove and correct. In culture and politics, errors can be unrecoverable.

The conservative case against this study is easy to make. Sure, we're fonder of old ways than you are. That's in our definition. Some of our people are obtuse; so are some of yours. If you studied the rest of us in real life, you'd find that while we second-guess the status quo less than you do, we second-guess putative reforms more than you do, so in terms of complexity, ambiguity, and critical thinking, it's probably a wash. Also, our standard of "information" is a bit tougher than the blips and fads you fall for. Sometimes, these inclinations lead us astray. But over the long run, they've served us and society pretty well. It's just that you notice all the times we were wrong and ignore all the times we were right.

In fact, that's exactly what you've done in this study: You've manufactured a tiny world of letters, half-seconds, and button-pushing, so you can catch us in clear errors and keep out the part of life where our tendencies correct yours. And now you feel great about yourselves. Congratulations. You haven't told us much about our way of thinking. But you've told us a lot about yours.


Polish Women Resent EU-Pushed Gov't Program Discouraging Stay-at-Home Mothers

Polish women are expressing their indignation at a new EU-funded government campaign that discriminates against stay-at-home moms by pressuring women to be self-sufficient wage earners outside the home, Polish Radio (PR) reports. Financed by the EU Structural Funds, the Polish government is launching a massive campaign to encourage women to work outside the home. Beginning in September, the "Woman Fulfilled in Business" campaign will launch TV ads, documentaries, billboards and a website. One of the posters to be put up around cities compares a self-satisfied, independent workingwoman to one who is futilely "waiting for a fairy tale prince".

Women's rights activist Inga Kaluzynska is disturbed by the heavily biased message that the government is pushing. Reminded of the communist era, she noted that the campaign slaps stay-at-home mothers with a negative image. "This ideological project reminds me of socialist times," said Kaluzynska, as quoted in PR. "Communists also wanted to send women on tractors. Women are free to choose a lifestyle but this program will only deepen negative stereotypes of women who stay at home and it will undermine the value of family life."

The campaign is "simply harmful to womanhood," she continued. In addition, "it is symptomatic that this project is welcome by leftist ideologues and abortion enthusiasts who are by definition prejudiced against natural role models." "As a mother and a feminist, I don't find this project women-friendly."

Similarly, lawyer Joanna Potocka of the Adam Smith Center described the government campaign as "discriminatory" and "unfair" towards stay-at-home mothers whose hard work should be "acknowledge and respected". They should not be portrayed as "sitting in the kitchen" all day. Indicating that the campaign is agenda-driven, Potocka summed up the situation, saying, "Women in Poland have the highest participation in self-employment in the whole of European Union. Therefore it seems that this campaign is badly targeted, as it is addressing a non-existent problem." "Polish women are not helpless," she declared. "The campaign discriminates against one lifestyle and therefore limits the freedom of women," Potocka concluded, "Working outside of home, staying at home, or combining the two should be treated equally by the government."


The medicalization of misery

By Tanveer Ahmed

As a doctor working in mental health and within the public hospital system, I am a regular witness to those living on the bottom rungs of our society. They are the homeless, the drug addicts and those suffering from severe mental illness. More often than not, they are all three at once. I am struck by their amazing uptake of mental health language. They skilfully weave technical psychiatric language into their reporting of symptoms. As a result, comments such as "I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with a depressive disorder" or "I think I'm developing a personality defect" are not uncommon, even from people with minimal education.

This is in part a reflection of wider society and how the language of human distress has been overtaken by psychological terminology. I hear very few people tell me they are unhappy. They are almost always depressed, even if their life choices or circumstances would be perfectly consistent with them being miserable.

Increasingly they no longer suggest they feel depressed, but that they are getting depression, in the same way we may catch a cold. The consultation then moves to the awkward dance modern therapists play. I become the healer attempting to cure their condition, pretending somehow their malaise is one of biology and not of meaning. The result is that it can blind them to the possibility their actions may have played a role in their problems.

Barely a week goes by when we don't hear of the crisis in mental health. Rising depression, worsening drug and alcohol problems and a strained social sector make us think that despite our stupendous prosperity, we remain in some kind of existential abyss. It is a symptom of the market society and individualism that our grievances must be turned on to the self.

This is in spite of psychiatry remaining a hazy field, an arena where diagnosis and treatment are poorly correlated and where clinical energies focus on symptom relief. It is reflected further in the tremendous amount written about happiness studies. If being dissatisfied with life is pathological and health is a right, the implication is that happiness is also our birthright.

The use of psychiatric terminology is also more and more colloquial. During the Andrew Johns saga and his eventual secular confession, bipolar disorder was used widely in the press as a synonym for erratic behaviour. The former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, a tireless campaigner in raising awareness for depression, openly admits he uses the term not in its medical context, but as a synonym for emotional distress.

But just like fashion and baby names, language eventually filters down the social ladder. The dominance of mental health language in projecting our distress is of dubious value when applied to the most disadvantaged groups. Indeed, it may be complicit in helping them to maintain lives of dependence and misery, the sick role curing them only of their autonomy and personal responsibility.

Bureau of Statistics figures from 2005 show about a third of the 700,000 people receiving the disability pension have been diagnosed with a mental illness. This is a critical group because the vast majority are young and otherwise physically able. Many could be in the prime of their lives. Forty years ago, fewer than in one in 30 working-age adults relied on welfare payments as the main source of income. The figure today is one in six. In particular, the proportion of the population on the disability support pension has doubled since 1981.

An important player in this debate is the doctor, for they determine if someone meets the criteria for disability. Patients who are on the margin of receiving the pension or Newstart will often ask to receive the pension. The disability pension is more generous than the unemployment benefit and there is little mutual obligation.

The sick role, however, comes with an obligation to seek and comply with treatment. The patient's compliance with treatment is the priority for a doctor. There are many times when giving in to a patient's wishes elsewhere can ensure their compliance with medication. The pension is often one such compromise. The flipside is that 90 per cent of those receiving disability pensions never return to the workforce. This is not a fact well known to professionals determining disability. Colleagues working in mental health were flabbergasted when they heard the figure.

For many on the margins of eligibility, there is an incentive to remain sick. The welfare market operates like any other - a better price will increase demand. This lack of incentive to take a more active role in society can strip them of meaning in their lives and perpetuate what may have started as mild mental illness. A feedback loop of disability, welfare and worsening mental health is created. This is a hidden factor straining both Australia's mental health and welfare systems. They are operating in a kind of pathological symbiosis.

This cycle describes many people who are said to be in a state of deep poverty. They are hardly poor in a historical sense, for they have enough money to eat and are housed, educated and medically treated by the state. In formulating their situation, poverty in this sense is more like a psychological condition than one determined by socioeconomics.

While the middle classes debate their happiness and psychiatry acquires a cultural prestige well beyond its powers, the poor inherit the new straitjacket of psychological language. It not only costs the taxpayer billions of dollars, but encourages recipients to wallow as victims of passive circumstance, stripping their lives of meaning and purpose.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


15 September, 2007


This is satire today but is so in line with current Leftist thinking that something like it could happen in the not-too-distant future

Congress is considering sweeping legislation, which provides new benefits for many Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislation by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition. "Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society," said Barbara Boxer. "We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they do a better job, or have some idea of what they are doing."

In a Capital Hill press conference, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid pointed to the success of the US Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack job skills, making this agency the single largest US employer of Persons of Inability.

Private sector industries with good records of nondiscrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement "warehouse" stores (65%) The DMV also has a great record of hiring Persons of Inability. (63%)

Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million "middle man" positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given, to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations which maintain a significant level of Persons of Inability in middle positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the AWNA ACT contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Nonabled, banning discriminatory interview questions such as "Do you have any goals for the future?" or "Do you have any skills or experience which relate to this job?"

"As a Nonabled person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them," said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, MI due to her lack of notable job skills. "This new law should really help people like me." With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Senator Ted Kennedy, "As a Senator With No Abilities, I believe it is that the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American and immigrant with no abilities. There should be no distinction made between legal and undocumented immigrants. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen and who reside on these shores, regardless of his or her adequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation. This idea is not unprecedented in America. Even lesser experienced drivers have a right to be on the roads of this great nation."


How To Hate The Non-Existent

by Theodore Dalrymple

By nature and inclination I am an aesthete: I can hardly think of Venice or Siena, for example, without an access of emotion. And yet I have spent a great deal of my life among the utmost ugliness, both physical and moral. Moreover, I must confess that the problem of evil has preoccupied me.

One of the reasons for this, perhaps, has been literary ambition. It is far easier to make evil interesting than good. Depictions of good people are inclined very soon to decline into mawkishness, and make their objects as dull as they are unbelievable. Too much good repels us; we long for the feet of clay to be revealed. As Oscar Wilde said, only a man with a heart of stone could read of the death of Little Nell without laughing.

A fascination with evil is pretty widespread. When, at social gatherings, I tell people what I once did for a living, namely that I was a doctor in a large prison, it isn't usually very long before someone asks me, slightly shamefacedly, who the worst, most evil man I ever met was. They also want to know what he did in as much detail as possible, of course. No story is so horrifying that it ever bores people; and even the most demure cannot for long entirely resist the thrill of the barbarous.

More recently, perhaps on account of my advancing age, the problem of good has begun to preoccupy me. How is extraordinary goodness possible? Where does it come from? Is it innate? And if it is innate, is it real goodness? For there cannot be real goodness where the possibility and temptation to its reverse is not present.

Suffice it to say that I have met in my life a few people who are the very opposite of those men whom I met in the course of my work who gave off a powerful aura, that seemed to me almost physical, of evil. I don't believe in Satanic possession, because I don't believe in Satan, but these men gave me an insight into how someone not completely stupid might come to believe in such a thing.

One of the formative experiences in my life was working for a British surgeon in Africa who for me all that a doctor should be. In those days, and in that place, there were very few aids to diagnosis; observation, logic, experience and instinct were all. The surgeon was such a brilliant diagnostician that his opinion was like a final court of appeal for all other doctors in the hospital ( to say nothing of the patients). I never knew him to be wrong. He was a meticulous technician and seemed capable of operating with equal skill and facility on all parts of the human body. The knowledge and intellect necessary for this is insufficiently appreciated by those who have never seen it up close. In these days of ever greater specialisation, such surgeons are rare.

But his technical accomplishment was, if anything, less impressive than his moral character. He was a man of perfect temper: I never knew him to be other than calm, even when in the middle of an operative crisis, or be less than polite to anyone; called up from his bed in the middle of the night, he was as equable and self-contained as by day, and this despite the fact that he must have had at least two nights' disturbed sleep a week for many years. His patients - mostly poor Africans - trusted him utterly, and were right to do so.

I do not know what religious belief he had, if any; he was too much of the old school to obtrude such matters where they might have caused offence. Although highly respected in his hospital, he gained no wider renown through his work; the satisfaction for him was in doing good. I never knew a better man.

And yet I found his example intimidating to me: not, of course, because of anything he said or did, but because I knew, indubitably and at once, that I should never be as good a man as he. My problem was ego: I wanted to make a mild stir in the world, and doing good for others was not enough for me, not that I was bad enough to wish them any harm (and in the event, I did my fair share of getting up in the middle of the night on their behalf). But the good of others could never be my sole motive, or entirely satisfying to me. I could never be wholly benevolent, as he was. And now I feel guilty that I, not as good a man as he, am somewhat better known than he. The judgement of the world is not infallible.

Oddly enough, I have something in common in the above respect with a man whom I do not in general find congenial, that is to say Michel Foucault. Foucault's father was a surgeon of local renown, who gave the young Michel an example of practical compassion for others (namely, getting up in the middle of the night to save their lives) which he, Michel, knew that he would never be able to live up to because he did not care enough about their lives to do so. There was one recourse left to him, if as an egotist he was to equal or surpass his father, namely to adopt the Nietzschean position that such compassion as his father showed is really disguised weakness, contempt or drive for power, but not real compassion. Thus, everything is the opposite of what it seems, and progress, so called, is really regress, or at best sideways movement.

It was in Africa also that I met my other examples of extraordinary goodness. For a time I gave my services one afternoon a week to a Catholic mission station about fifty miles from where I myself was working. The hospital was run by an elderly Swiss nun, neither a doctor nor a nurse, who managed a large hospital on her own with a staff of nurses. The hospital was spotless, astonishingly so, and the number of patients seen there prodigious. The hospital was much preferred to any government-run facility, with their accretions of squashed mosquitoes and smeared blood on every wall.

The nun had an almost physical air of invulnerable serenity about her, and she had an aura that struck me, of course in the opposite sense, in the way that the aura of evil later struck me. She was not a plaster saint, however, and had a good sense of humour; nor was she any kind of fanatic, for she gave me the contraceptive injection to give to the women with heart disease already exhausted by repeated childbirth, which I administered under a portrait of the Pope. I never tackled her on the subject of the apparent contradiction, because it has often seemed to me that no purpose is served by ideological confrontation in the service of complete intellectual consistency, where concrete good might be endangered by it.

I met other nuns in remote parts of Africa who seemed completely happy in humbly serving the local people: a community of Spanish nuns whose cheerful and selfless dedication to the ill, the handicapped and the young caused them, rightly, to be loved and revered. In Nigeria, I met an Irish nun, in her mid-seventies, who was responsible for the feeding of hundreds of prisoners who would almost certainly have starved had she not brought food to them every day. In the prison, a lunatic had been chained for years to a post; many of the prisoners had been detained without trial for a decade, the files of their cases having been lost, and they would never leave the prison, even when a judge ordered their release, unless they paid a bribe to the gaolers which they could not afford. They believed they would spend the rest of their lives in detention, seventy to a floor-space no larger than that of my sitting room.

The nun moderated the behaviour of the prison guards by the sheer force of her goodness, It was not a demonstrative or self-satisfied virtue; one simply would have felt ashamed to behave badly or selfishly in her presence. She is almost certainly dead now, forgotten by the world (not that she craved remembrance or memorialisation). I sometimes find it difficult, when immersed in the day to day flux of my existence, to credit that I have witnessed such selflessness.

I recognise that there must be ways of being good that do not involve such total self-abnegation. After all, even in the poorest and worst-off countries, there are only a certain number of disabled, despised and dispossessed who need to be looked after; we cannot, therefore, all be good in the way of the Irish nun. Indeed, the world needs other types of people at least as much as it needs people like her; and I am sure that there are cynics who will assert that immersing oneself in the kind of work she did is simply a way of overcoming one's personal psychological problems, and is therefore ultimately selfish. But this is a metaphysical, not empirical, statement about all human behaviour, because any behaviour whatever could be explained in precisely the same way. It is simply a way of saying that altruism is logically impossible, and that all human actions must be selfish.

I once made the mistake of writing an article in a left-wing publication saying that, in my experience, the best people were usually religious and on the whole religious people behaved better in their day to day lives than non-religious once: and I wrote this, as I made clear, as a man without any religious belief.

As a frequent contributor to the public prints, I am accustomed to a certain amount of hate-mail, and can even recognise the envelopes that contain it with a fair, though not total, degree of accuracy. Of course, e-mail has made it far easier for those consumed with bile to communicate it, and on the whole it exceeds in vileness what most bilious people are prepared to commit to paper. I don't think I have ever hated anyone as much as some of my correspondents have hated me.

Suffice it to say that I have never received such hate mail as when I suggested that religious people were better than non-religious in their conduct. It seemed that many of the people who responded to me were not content merely not to believe, but had to hate. Although I had not denied that religious motivation could motivate very bad behaviour, something which indeed can hardly be denied, I was treated to a summary of the historical crimes of religion such as many adolescents could provide who had recently discovered to their fury that they had been made to attend boring religious services when the arguments for the existence of God had never been irrefutable.

Not long ago, while I was in France, the centenary of the final separation of church and state was celebrated. It was presented as the triumph of reason over reaction, of humanity over inhumanity, and I am not entirely out of sympathy for that viewpoint: I certainly don't want to live myself in a state in which a single religion has a predominant or even strong say in the running of it. And yet the story was far more nuanced that that triumphantly presented.

For example, a fascinating book was published on the occasion of the centenary reproducing the iconography of the anticlerical propaganda that preceded the separation by thirty years; and on looking in to it I saw at once that it was exactly the same in tone as anti-semitic propaganda. There was the wickedly sybaritic hook-nosed cardinal in diabolical scarlet, the thin hairy spider, representing the economic interests of the church, whose sinister legs straddled the whole globe, and the priest who welcomed innocent little children into the fold of his black cloak. One has to remember that almost the first consequence of secularism in France, as in Russia, was unprecedented slaughter.

Perhaps one of the reasons that contemporary secularists do not simply reject religion but hate it is that they know that, while they can easily rise to the levels of hatred that religion has sometimes encouraged, they will always find it difficult to rise to the levels of love that it has sometimes encouraged.


With the Bench Cozied Up To The Bar, The Lawyers Can't Lose

Dennis G. Jacobs, the chief judge of the federal appeals court in New York, is a candid man, and in a speech last year he admitted that he and his colleagues had ''a serious and secret bias.'' Perhaps unthinkingly but quite consistently, he said, judges can be counted on to rule in favor of anything that protects and empowers lawyers.

Once you start thinking about it, the examples are everywhere. The lawyer-client privilege is more closely guarded than any other. It is easier to sue for medical malpractice than for legal malpractice. People who try to make a living helping people fill out straightforward forms are punished for the unauthorized practice of law.

But Judge Jacobs's main point is a deeper one. Judges favor complexity and legalism over efficient solutions, and they have no appreciation for what economists call transaction costs. They are aided in this by lawyers who bill by the hour and like nothing more than tasks that take a lot of time and cost their clients a lot of money. And there is, of course, the pleasure of power, particularly in cases involving the great issues of the day.

''Judges love these kinds of cases,'' said Judge Jacobs, whose speech was published in The Fordham Law Review in May. ''Public interest cases afford a judge more sway over public policy, enhance the judicial role, make judges more conspicuous and keep the law clerks happy.''

There are costs here, too, he said, including ''the displacement of legislative and executive power'' and ''the subordination of other disciplines and professions.'' Yet, at the conclusion of a big public-policy case, the bar and bench rejoice. ''We smugly congratulate ourselves,'' Judge Jacobs said, ''on expanding what we are pleased to call the rule of law.''

Benjamin H. Barton, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, examined some of the same issues in an article to be published next year in The Alabama Law Review titled ''Do Judges Systematically Favor the Interests of the Legal Profession?'' That question mark notwithstanding, there is little doubt about where Professor Barton comes out. He noted, for instance, that the legal profession is the only one that is completely self-regulated. ''As a general rule,'' Professor Barton wrote, ''foxes make poor custodians of henhouses.'' Professor Barton explored a long list of examples, including the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona. Miranda, as everyone with a television set knows, protected the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer.

Over the years, though, courts have approved all sorts of police strategies that have eroded the right to remain silent. At the same time, Professor Barton wrote, the courts ''chose to retain quite robust protections for accused who clearly expressed a desire for a lawyer.'' ''The advantages to the legal profession are clear,'' he added. ''Whatever else an accused should know, she should know to request a lawyer first and foremost.''

And the cases keep coming. This month, a New Jersey appeals court basically immunized lawyers from malicious prosecution suits in civil cases. Even lawyers who know their clients are pushing baseless claims solely to harass the other side are in the clear, the court said, unless the lawyers themselves have an improper motive.

Lester Brickman, who teaches legal ethics at Cardozo Law School, said the decision was just one instance of a broad phenomenon. ''The New Jersey courts have determined to protect the legal profession in a way that no other professions enjoy,'' Professor Brickman said. ''It's regulation by lawyers for lawyers.''

Other professions look for elegant solutions. It is the rare engineer, software designer or plumber who chooses an elaborate fix when a simple one will do. The legal system, by contrast, insists on years of discovery, motion practice, hearings, trials and appeals that culminate in obscure rulings providing no guidance to the next litigant.

Last month, Judge Jacobs put his views into practice, dissenting from a decision in a tangled lawsuit about something a college newspaper published in 1997. The judges in the majority said important First Amendment principles were at stake, though they acknowledged that the case involved, at most, trivial sums of money. Judge Jacobs's dissent started with an unusual and not especially collegial disclaimer. He said he would not engage the arguments in the majority decision because ''I have not read it.''

He was, he said, incredulous that ''after years of litigation over $2, the majority will impose on a busy judge to conduct a trial on this silly thing, and require a panel of jurors to set aside their more important duties of family and business in order to decide it.'' Writing with the kind of verve and sense of proportion entirely absent in most legal work, Judge Jacobs concluded that ''this is not a case that should occupy the mind of a person who has anything consequential to do.''



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


14 September, 2007

Court Forces Michigan High School to Give Bible Club Same Benefits as homosexual Club

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm today announced that United States District Judge Victoria A. Roberts has entered a permanent injunction granting equal rights to a Bible club and its members at Farmington High School in Farmington, Michigan.

The Law Center represents ALIVE, a voluntary student Bible club, its president and co-founder, Aaron Grider, and his parents. In 2006, Grider had requested that ALIVE be recognized by the school as a noncurriculum-related student group and receive the same treatment and benefits that other noncurriculum-related student groups receive at Farmington High School. In the past, Farmington High School has recognized several noncurriculum-related student groups, including the Gay Straight Alliance, R.E.A.C.H. (a diversity club), and S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Driving).

School officials denied Aaron's request. Unlike recognized noncurriculum-related student clubs, school officials allowed ALIVE to meet informally before school, but did not allow ALIVE to advertise over the school's public address system, on the school's bulletin boards, on the school's website, in the school's yearbook, or over the school's internal television network, and they did not allow the club to use the school's photocopying machines.

The Law Center filed a lawsuit in federal court in Detroit, Michigan, and raised claims that school officials had violated plaintiffs' rights under the Federal Equal Access Act, the Michigan Equal Access Act, and the federal constitution.

Before the start of the school year, which began on September 4, 2007, plaintiffs filed motions seeking a court injunction to ensure that ALIVE and its members would be treated the same as other noncurriculum-related groups are treated at Farmington High School. Last week, Judge Roberts issued a permanent injunction in favor of plaintiffs and required school officials to provide ALIVE the same benefits, treatment, and privileges enjoyed by other noncurriculum-related student clubs.

According to Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, "The judge's order should highlight to all school officials in Michigan and in other states that once a public high school allows one noncurriculum-related student club to meet on campus, they cannot discriminate against a Bible club. A Bible club must be permitted the same rights as other student clubs."

Judge Roberts determined that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims under the Federal and Michigan Equal Access Acts, and, therefore, she did not need to consider the constitutional claims. Judge Roberts stated that "it appears clear that ALIVE has been treated differently than other student groups 'on the basis of' the religious content of their speech."

Judge Roberts also determined that because plaintiffs have been denied equal access to the school in violation of the Federal Equal Access Act, based on plaintiffs' religious viewpoint since at least October 2006, that the plaintiffs would be irreparably harmed this school year without an injunction to ensure that their rights as a club are protected.

Commented Edward L. White III, trial counsel for the Thomas More Law Center handling the case: "Judge Roberts's permanent injunction will protect the rights of ALIVE and its members this school year and thereafter. These students will be able to enjoy all the benefits that other noncurriculum-related student clubs enjoy at Farmington High School."


British Broadcast Cowardice

And the article below omits the most recent disgrace, where the BBC explained the 9/11 events entirely from Bin Laden's viewpoint -- a page now taken down under pressure but reproduced in whole or in part on many blogs -- e.g. here

Once upon a war, the British Broadcasting Corporation aired the likes of George Orwell, T. S. Eliot, and Winston Churchill, proudly hailed the valor of the RAF, and extolled the virtues of the Western world. That was then; this is 2007, the epoch of the Beeb, a synonym for mendacity, spinelessness, and political correctness.

Recently, the BBC allowed a blatantly anti-Semitic posting to remain on its website for days. The message from someone using the alias "Iron Naz" read: "Zionism is a racist ideology where jews are given supremacy over all other races and faiths." Only after complaints from Jewish organizations was the item removed. Then a popular BBC children's show held a faked phone-in competition. The show led its viewers to believe that the competition was open to the public and that members of the television audience were making the calls. In fact, the winning caller was a member of the production team.

To complete the picture, the BBC presented footage suggesting that Queen Elizabeth II had stormed out of a sitting with celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. (Actually, the queen was filmed complaining about her crowded schedule before the two women ever met.) When the gaffe was exposed, the Beeb issued an official statement: "In this trailer there is a sequence that implies that the Queen left a sitting prematurely. This was not the case and the actual sequence of events was misrepresented. The BBC would like to apologize to both the Queen and Annie Leibovitz for any upset this may have caused."

But wait--there's more! Under pressure from BBC suits, a drama called Casualty recently made a chilling alteration to one of its scripts. According to reports, the show's stars "won't be dealing with an explosion caused by Islamic extremists in case it offends Muslims. Now the bomb will be set off by animal rights campaigners instead."

Translation: folks like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals may be notorious for offensive demonstrations and statements. They famously dumped a dead raccoon on the table of Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor in chief, for promoting the use of fur in fashion, and threw pies at her on various occasions. But they don't detonate bombs in subways, behead those whose beliefs are different, instigate riots and murders because of some impudent cartoons, demand special schools to preach hatred to the young, or condemn those outside their orbit as infidels. Thus, in a strange judo move, the Beeb turned the annoying but nonviolent into murderous villains, and gave the real enemy of Western civilization a pass.

It should come as no surprise, though, to see the BBC in its present state of disgrace. This is, after all, the corporation whose newsreader Anna Ford has just quit because of the Beeb's "atmosphere of fear"; whose Newsnight presenter, Jeremy Paxman, states that his employer suffers from a "catastrophic, collective loss of nerve"; and whose editor, Peter Barron, complains about the BBC's incessant harping on unproved global warming. It is "not the corporation's job to save the planet," he says. The Beeb's future appears to be as bleak as November in London.


Christians fighting back

The lady would have been put right off the air if she had made obscene and derogatory comments about blacks or homosexuals, but it is good to see some consistency creeping in

Before Kathy Griffin won a creative arts Emmy last weekend for her reality show, "My Life on the D-List," she joked that an award would move her to the C-list. She was right: "C" as in censored. The TV academy said her raucous acceptance speech will be edited when the event, which was taped, is shown Saturday on the E! channel. The main prime-time Emmy Awards air the next night on Fox.

"Kathy Griffin's offensive remarks will not be part of the E! telecast on Saturday night," the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said in a statement Monday. In her speech, Griffin said that "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus." She went on to hold up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and proclaim, "This award is my god now!" The comedian's remarks were condemned Monday by Catholic League President Bill Donohue, who called them a "vulgar, in-your-face brand of hate speech."

According to the TV academy and E!, when the four hour-plus ceremony is edited into a two-hour program, Griffin's remarks will be shown in "an abbreviated version" in which some language may be bleeped. The program was in production and unfinished, an E! spokeswoman said Monday. Requests for comment were left Monday evening by phone and e-mail with Griffin's publicist. They were not immediately returned.

The Catholic League, an anti-defamation group, called on the TV academy to "denounce Griffin's obscene and blasphemous comment" at Sunday's ceremony. The academy said Monday it had no plans to address the issue in the prime-time broadcast.

The organization may have another delicate issue to consider, this one involving an off-color fake music video that aired last December on "Saturday Night Live" and won a creative arts Emmy for best song. Andy Samberg of "SNL" said Saturday that he had yet to be asked by the TV academy to perform the tune with Timberlake on the Fox broadcast, but he was willing. Timberlake, on a concert tour, is scheduled to be in Los Angeles next weekend. The subject of their "(Blank) in a Box" video: wrapping a certain part of the male anatomy and presenting it to a loved one as a holiday present. The academy has said that "show elements are in the process of being worked out."


There is no conspiracy

Comment from Australia by Andrew Bolt

MATTHEW Ricketson until last year headed RMIT University's school of journalism, teaching tomorrow's reporters how the media "really" works. Now The Age's media writer, Ricketson is flogging his views to a wider audience of the Left that's always up for conspiracy theories. Last weekend they got fed a ripe one, with Ricketson warning "something is afoot among columnists on Rupert Murdoch's Australian newspapers: "Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun and, yesterday, Janet Albrechtsen of The Australian, have abandoned their longstanding support for John Howard's prime ministership." Ricketson said: "Other News Limited columnists, such as Paul Kelly, editor-at-large of The Australian, and Steve Lewis of the Herald Sun have already jumped ship".

True enough, several News Ltd columnists - and not a single Fairfax one, strangely - have indeed seen the resignation of John Howard as inevitable and have said so. So, how does Ricketson interpret all this? He suggests only two options, both of which assume Murdoch gave his columnists orders to ditch Howard: "Is Murdoch creating public opinion, as is often alleged, or trying to catch the horse as it bolts from the PM?"

There is, of course, a third and obvious explanation, which Ricketson fails to mention: that Murdoch columnists simply write what they really think, reacting to events that are obvious to anyone with eyes to see and the courage to report. But Ricketson's preference for a conspiracy over reason is rampant among the Left and is even taking hold in the Right, too, as Howard's future now sinks with his polls.

Take Richard Farmer, Labor strategist and writer for an internet gossip site of former Fairfax editor Eric Beecher, who claims: "Murdoch tabloids (are) becoming friendlier to Labor" because "continuing with an anti-Labor campaign dominated by columnists Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt, only for Labor to still win, would put an end to the illusion of power, which Rupert Murdoch uses to his advantage so ruthlessly".

This theory that Murdoch orders his writers to speak his own mind is peddled by many of the usual suspects, from radical propagandist John Pilger to RMIT's journalism graduates. But here's the hitch: if Murdoch has dictated an anti-Howard line to his columnists, why did two of them, The Australian's Dennis Shanahan and Christopher Pearson, persist this past week in saying Howard should stay? Why was the Daily Telegraph's Piers Akerman - another Murdoch man - on the radio just yesterday, backing Howard and whacking me? Why was his colleague Malcolm Farr counselling Howard to stay? And why did it take until last week for Albrechtsen to argue what I've said for months? Boy, some conspiracy, when half the plotters are attacking the other half.

I know you can't change Ricketson's mind with facts, but I'd love to hear him explain why Murdoch's columnists, allegedly all singing in their master's voice, include such loud Leftists as Jill Singer, Phillip Adams, Paul Syvret, Jim Soorley and NEWS.com.au's Tim Dunlop. Or have him try to work out why I keep fighting our global warming hysteria, when Murdoch says we must give the planet "the benefit of the doubt".

Sorry, Matthew, but Murdoch figured long ago that debate sold papers - and readers were adults with the brains to hear both sides of an argument and decide for themselves. That's why there are more Left-wing columnists on Murdoch's Australian papers than there are Right-wing presenters on the ABC. If Ricketson really has a nose for conspiracy, why won't he sniff at Aunty instead?



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


13 September, 2007

Local prostitutes must be protected!

Only in Britain. Where has the oft-proclaimed Leftist respect for the privacy of the bedroom gone? Is it only homosexuals who are entitled to such privacy?

Men who pay for sex could be prosecuted under new government plans to cut down on prostitution. Ministers are debating whether to make the purchase of sex illegal instead of the sale of sex as is currently the case. Individuals caught kerb-crawling would also be named and shamed as part of the proposals currently under discussion.

The government is trying to stop the growing problem of sex trafficking in the UK with increasing numbers immigrants coming here to work as prostitutes. According to the latest statistics, 85 per cent of women in brothels are from overseas. Senior government figures believe that the only way to reduce these figures is to criminalise clients thereby sending out a message that paying for sex is unacceptable.

A number of female ministers are said to have supported the reforms including Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, Patrica Scotland, the Attorney General, Vera Baird, the Solicitor General and Harriet Harman, Leader of the House. Fiona Mactaggart MP, who used to be in charge of tackling prostitution as a Home Office minister, said: "The price of prostitution is enormously high for women. "The more vulnerable the woman is, the cheaper the price is for men.

"The criminal justice bill that comes back on the first day includes changes to the prostitution strategy. "It would be possible to put into it some amendment which deals with this issue of men who pay for sex," A spokesman for the Home Office said: "There are no current plans to change the law and criminalise paying for sex." "We carefully considered that option as part of a public consultation on prostitution in 2004 but decided not to introduce a new offence."

Under the current laws, it is not illegal to pay for sex even though many of the activities surrounding prostitution are illegal. Men can be prosecuted for using prostitutes in certain circumstances such as kerb-crawling and it is against the law to run a brothel and to solicit or advertise for the purpose of prostitution.

The reforms would follow a law introduced in Sweden eight years ago which made it illegal to pay for sex but legal to sell it. The scheme is said to have reduced the number of brothels and clients in the country as well as cutting-down on the levels of sex trafficking.


Legislating Intolerance: Is Marriage a Dying Institution in England?

There’s a problem at the moment in Britain with our sense of national identity. The problem is a compound of many things, of course: an all-pervasive culture of pop music and TV soaps, muddle about the way history is (or isn’t) taught in schools, a substantial and growing Islamic presence, confusion about our role in the world, an obsession with denouncing the (real and imagined) mistakes and evils of our past. But probably the single most important component is the one that most debates and discussions on the subject overlook: the collapse of marriage and family structures. And new laws that took effect in April this year are going to have a marked impact on all of this.

First, some background. New textbooks on “citizenship” for use in our schools—very much a project of the moment—emphasize sexual options as a fundamental part of “Britishness.” We are meant to assume that having various sexual leanings—heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual—is all part of the culture of “choice” that is our birthright. The idea that a nation is built on families, and that the passing on of family names, along with traditions and history, culture and folklore, is central to the concept of nationhood would be regarded as anathema. I say “would be” because, as far as I know, no one has actually dared to announce it even as a suggestion. Sexual relationships are, in the current parlance, “all about choices,” and it seems now to be regarded as quite wrong to suggest otherwise.

Now for the new laws: Under the new Sexual Orientation Regulations just passed by Parliament, anyone who challenges this notion of “choices” and appears in any way whatsoever to criticize the homosexual lifestyle will be criminalized. And I do mean criminalized: There are to be fines and possibly even custodial sentences for anyone who fails to deliver “goods and services” to people who are actively homosexual—“goods and services” in this instance including, for example, children who must be offered to homosexual couples for adoption from now on. “Britishness,” you see, is all about freedom to choose—not freedom for the child, of course, or for the natural mother giving up her baby for adoption, who might have wanted to specify a male/female married couple. No, “freedom” today is defined by political correctness.

There are many horrible aspects to all of this, one of the saddest being that the secretary of state who steered the legislation through Parliament is a Catholic, Ruth Kelly, whose membership in Opus Dei is much paraded (she’s a supernumerary). Kelly has said that she is proud to have gotten this legislation onto the statute book. She presumably hasn’t read Sacramentum Caritatis, the recent papal exhortation on the Eucharist, which states:

Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptised, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children, and the promotion of the common good in all its forms. These values are not negotiable

But irrespective of how Kelly copes with her conscience, Britain now has a problem with its marriage laws. The law establishes the basis of the social relationship of marriage, sets its tone, and confirms its status in the community. I became aware of this in a very particular way. When I married more than 25 years ago, it was in a Catholic Church, but due to a falling-out between the local registration authority and our parish priest, it was necessary for brides from our parish to go to the local register office and arrange personally for someone to attend the ceremony as a legal witness and sign the relevant papers. I expected this to be a quick matter of a phone call, but soon discovered this was not the case. Marriage was taken seriously. On arrival at the registrar’s I was ushered into a rather grand office and asked to take a seat.

The kindly, rather serious official in front of me began: “Now. Marriage under the law of England and Wales is the union of a man and a woman, exclusive of others, for life. Can you confirm that you understand that?” And with a seriousness that I had not known I would feel, and a sense of solemnity about what I was considering to undertake, I answered, “Yes.”

I appreciated then—and appreciate now—the solemnity with which the matter was approached. As he proceeded to explain to me what I needed to know (including the information that, when making my vows, I must speak loudly enough for the registrar, sitting in the front pew, to hear me), I was very much aware that I was embarking on something that was of huge legal and social, as well as personal and spiritual, significance. I have never forgotten it, and that spring day in 1980 at the register office is as etched in my mind as the later September day when Jamie and I made our vows together before God, with all the glory of a Mozart Mass and bridal finery and hugs and tears and fun and joy of a family wedding.

So where’s the problem? It is simply this: Today, by reiterating what I was told by that registrar, let alone what was stated in church and what I know and believe as a Catholic concerning marriage, I could, under certain circumstances, be in legal trouble. As a Catholic journalist and commentator on these issues, I am—or have been up until now—sometimes invited into schools and colleges to take part in conferences and seminars on marriage and related issues. And up until now I have welcomed all such opportunities, indeed relished them.

“Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims. “In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament” (2360). In explaining the Christian understanding of marriage—and the fact that it echoes the natural law written into the very fabric of our being, which undergirds the law of our country that governs how we are to live—I have been privileged to be part of some excellent classroom discussions, hear some forthright views, and be touched by young people’s statements of their beliefs, hopes, and aspirations.

But under the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which were passed with minimal parliamentary debate (despite a valiant attempt in the House of Lords to tackle them properly), it is going to be difficult for me to talk about marriage in schools anymore, or even be of much use as a visiting Catholic journalist. The new regulations expressly ban my doing anything that might make pupils of homosexual inclinations uncomfortable. Suggesting—let alone firmly stating—that marriage is, by definition, a bond between a man and a woman is going to be rather too antagonistic. Affirming the Catholic Church’s position on other sexual relationships, including the homosexual one, is going to be trickier still unless I am prepared (which I’m not) to state that it is possible that the Church is wrong, or that other opinions on homosexual activity are of equal moral worth and validity, or that I recognize that everyone has the right to affirm his or her own sexual desires in his or her own way.

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, Tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved (CCC 2357).

I have never actually quoted that in a school, and I have no particular desire to do so. In general, I steer well away from the subject. I’m concerned with communicating the facts about the Church’s message on marriage, or my own involvement with this as a Catholic journalist. But if the issue comes up, I am certainly prepared to quote the Catechism and explain that I support its teaching—and I’d probably link the section just quoted with the next, which says, among other things: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition: for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC 2358). I might go on to add that such people are not just a “they”—for among such people are personal friends, people I enormously like and whose company I enjoy.

So what am I to do? I’m probably not going to be asked to speak about marriage or relationships much anymore. I have benefited from some—though not many—schools’ attempts to present “both sides” of the debate on relationships, which does offer a little more than the usual school-nurse-with-contraceptives deal. But it now seems likely that this will slowly dry up or cease altogether.

Will there be a test case to get the legislation examined in the courts? When details of the Sexual Orientation Regulations were announced, the Catholic bishops publicly expressed worry about the position of Church adoption agencies that cannot, while remaining true to the Church, offer children to homosexual couples who, by their lifestyle, openly oppose Catholic teaching. It simply makes the whole idea of having a Catholic adoption agency pointless. It remains to be seen what, if any, legal steps the bishops decide to take. But there are other, much wider implications of the regulations.

The stated idea is that people of various “sexual orientations” should not be denied “goods or services.” It was made clear to the bishops that adoptive children are, in this instance, to be regarded as “good and services” and must be offered to practicing homosexuals under the law. And denial of goods and services is linked to the notion that people must be free from any sort of harassment—which could include being told, in a classroom, that certain activities are “intrinsically disordered,” or that a “marriage” with a person of the same sex is simply not recognized by the Catholic Church. And what about, for example, a retirement home run by a Christian group that does not want to treat lesbian and homosexual couples as married?

Speaking in schools is only a small part of my work, and journalistic talents can be flexible. I might decide to open up a new area of work by producing materials for weddings—helping with Orders of Service, choosing nice quotes for wedding programs or menus. If I am then approached by a lesbian couple and politely decline to do business with them, I could be prosecuted, even if I simply find some polite excuse and express it in a pleasant and friendly way, designed not to give offense. If I were helping to run a publication, and we chose not to have an advertisement from some organization promoting homosexual marriage, there could be similar legal consequences. And so on.

A few bishops have already expressed their concerns. Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster, protested the denial of democracy: “My fear is that, under the guise of legislating for what is said to be tolerance, we are legislating for intolerance. Once this begins, it is hard to see where it ends. The question is whether the threads holding together pluralist democracy have begun to unravel.” And Scotland’s Keith Cardinal O’Brien said, “The role of the state is overreached when it tramples legitimate moral freedoms and when it imposes values which are without rational and sociological merit.”

The plain fact is that the law now clashes directly with religious freedom, and no exemptions have been granted for Church schools, or for independent ones, so the denial of good and wholesome debate on a crucial subject is being imposed on all.

What do I do? What do any of us do? Shrug, I suppose, and admit that male/female marriage is now a personal thing. Something to be spoken of with confidence only within the confines of our churches (they are protected under the law—an echo of the old Soviet legislation that confined all religious activity to church buildings, with penalties for anyone who took part in Christian activities beyond those walls); something to be affirmed as a private belief, for those who like that sort of thing. Technically, for the time being at least, the law of England and Wales will continue to affirm that marriage is a lifelong bond between a man and a woman—but will a registrar have quite the same confidence in uttering those words as that nice chap had in saying them to me a quarter of a century ago? He has presumably long since retired, and I expect his successor has been fully trained in officiating at civil unions—homosexual marriage in all but name. (Incidentally, a Catholic, according to a detailed and useful statement issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, should not officiate at such a ceremony. But is it likely that any Catholic in modern Britain who tried to affirm his conscientious objection to such duty would get very far?)

In teaching children about “Britishness,” I suppose schools will emphasize freedom, rights, the idea that ours is a country where we can make choices and live by them. I am not at all sure that this is an adequate summary of what being British is all about, but even if it were, it is not the case. The most profoundly important decisions are, and always have been, about things that matter not only to us but to others, and therefore include community responsibilities and obligations that sometimes (and correctly) involve the law of the land.

But that law no longer affirms marriage between a man and a woman as the fundamental and irreplaceable basis for our society, and hence for our nation. There can be no “Britishness” now that this has occurred, and none will return until it is corrected. Only then will we be able to face our very considerable social problems—our sense of isolation from our own history, our loss of community and neighborly spirit, the recent and rapidly growing presence of Islam in what was once a Christian nation, and more—and regain some sort of confidence in our future.


Scottish Archbishop Urges Faithful to Resist Threat of Secularism

Says "Things abhorred a generation ago are now inscribed in the statute books of society"

This past Sunday, the Catholic faithful in Scotland was called upon to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first ever papal visit to Scotland. Archbishop Conti of Glasgow seized upon the opportunity to deliver a heartfelt sermon to encourage the faithful of his diocese to defy the mounting trend of secularism in Scotland.

Conti gave the sermon at Carfin Grotto in Lanarkshire, Scotland on the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's visit in 1982. The message of Conti's sermon was very similar to the themes addressed in the talks given by John Paul II so many years ago.

The Herald quoted Conti's sermon, "At a distance of 25 years, we need to reflect on the Holy Father's words: In so many areas of life the most fundamental principles of our Christian life are not only questioned, but ridiculed and threatened with sanction. Individualism has come to predominate. The growth in the quest for individual rights has taken precedence over what is right."

Conti referred to abortion, euthanasia, same-sex unions and "repeated attacks on our Catholic schools, unjustly accusing them of fostering sectarianism" as some of the dangers that must be faced by the faithful in today's society.

According to The Herald, Conti reiterated many of the same warnings first given in John Paul II's 1982 sermons, "We find it harder to follow Christ today than appears to have been the case before. Witnessing to him in modern life means a daily contest. As believers we are constantly exposed to pressures by modern society, which would compel us to conform to the standards of this secular age, substitute new priorities, restrict our aspirations at the risk of compromising our Christian conscience."

"Things abhorred a generation ago are now inscribed in the statute books of society. These are issues of the utmost gravity to which a simple answer cannot be given; neither are they answered by being ignored."

Similar to John Paul II, Archbishop Conti addressed his sermon to all the faithful but in a special way to the youth of the land. Such an outreach goes hand in hand with last week's nation-wide Christian effort to ensure that Christian values were recognized and included in the new curriculum being designed for Scottish schools. This effort was enacted to combat a bitter campaign by secularists to eliminate faith-based education on the grounds that it is divisive.

This is not the first time that Archbishop Conti has taken a public stand for orthodoxy over the secular forces of his country. Just last year the Archbishop openly defended the Scottish firefighters who were penalized for refusing to hand out pamphlets at a Pride event.

In 2003, the Archbishop wrote a newspaper column on Remembrance Day commemorating the heroic sacrifice of the men and women who gave their life for their country in war. He also wrote, "However, I cannot refrain from pointing out that another loss continues, every day of the week in our land, a sacrifice of silent victims. The victims of abortion."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


12 September, 2007

U.S. Prisons Purging Books on Faith From Libraries

Behind the walls of federal prisons nationwide, chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries. The chaplains were directed by the Bureau of Prisons to clear the shelves of any books, tapes, CDs and videos that are not on a list of approved resources. In some prisons, the chaplains have recently dismantled libraries that had thousands of texts collected over decades, bought by the prisons, or donated by churches and religious groups.

Some inmates are outraged. Two of them, a Christian and an Orthodox Jew, in a federal prison camp in upstate New York, filed a class-action lawsuit last month claiming the bureau's actions violate their rights to the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons, said the agency was acting in response to a 2004 report by the Office of the Inspector General in the Justice Department. The report recommended steps that prisons should take, in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, to avoid becoming recruiting grounds for militant Islamic and other religious groups. The bureau, an agency of the Justice Department, defended its effort, which it calls the Standardized Chapel Library Project, as a way of barring access to materials that could, in its words, "discriminate, disparage, advocate violence or radicalize."

Ms. Billingsley said, "We really wanted consistently available information for all religious groups to assure reliable teachings as determined by reliable subject experts."

But prison chaplains, and groups that minister to prisoners, say that an administration that put stock in religion-based approaches to social problems has effectively blocked prisoners' access to religious and spiritual materials - all in the name of preventing terrorism. "It's swatting a fly with a sledgehammer," said Mark Earley, president of Prison Fellowship, a Christian group. "There's no need to get rid of literally hundreds of thousands of books that are fine simply because you have a problem with an isolated book or piece of literature that presents extremism."

The Bureau of Prisons said it relied on experts to produce lists of up to 150 book titles and 150 multimedia resources for each of 20 religions or religious categories - everything from Bahaism to Yoruba. The lists will be expanded in October, and there will be occasional updates, Ms. Billingsley said. Prayer books and other worship materials are not affected by this process.

The lists are broad, but reveal eccentricities and omissions. There are nine titles by C. S. Lewis, for example, and none from the theologians Reinhold Niebuhr, Karl Barth and Cardinal Avery Dulles, and the influential pastor Robert H. Schuller.

The identities of the bureau's experts have not been made public, Ms. Billingsley said, but they include chaplains and scholars in seminaries and at the American Academy of Religion. Academy staff members said their organization had met with prison chaplains in the past but was not consulted on this effort, though it is possible that scholars who are academy members were involved.

The bureau has not provided additional money to prisons to buy the books on the lists, so in some prisons, after the shelves were cleared of books not on the lists, few remained.

A chaplain who has worked more than 15 years in the prison system, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is a bureau employee, said: "At some of the penitentiaries, guys have been studying and reading for 20 years, and now they are told that this material doesn't meet some kind of criteria. It doesn't make sense to them. They're asking, `Why are our tapes being taken, why our books being taken?' " Of the lists, he said, "Many of the chaplains I've spoken to say these are not the things they would have picked."

The effort is unnecessary, the chaplain said, because chaplains routinely reject any materials that incite violence or disparage, and donated materials already had to be approved by prison officials. Prisoners can buy religious books, he added, but few have much money to spend.

Religious groups that work with prisoners have privately been writing letters about their concerns to bureau officials. Would it not be simpler, they asked the bureau, to produce a list of forbidden titles? But the bureau did that last year, when it instructed the prisons to remove all materials by nine publishers - some Muslim, some Christian.

The plan to standardize the libraries first became public in May when several inmates, including a Muslim convert, at the Federal Prison Camp in Otisville, N.Y., about 75 miles northwest of Manhattan, filed a lawsuit acting as their own lawyers. Later, lawyers at the New York firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison took on the case pro bono. They refiled it on Aug. 21 in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York.

"Otisville had a very extensive library of Jewish religious books, many of them donated," said David Zwiebel, executive vice president for government and public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox Jewish group. "It was decimated. Three-quarters of the Jewish books were taken off the shelves."

Mr. Zwiebel asked, "Since when does the government, even with the assistance of chaplains, decide which are the most basic books in terms of religious study and practice?"

The lawsuit raises serious First Amendment concerns, said Douglas Laycock, a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, but he added that it was not a slam-dunk case.

"Government does have a legitimate interest to screen out things that tend to incite violence in prisons," Mr. Laycock said. "But once they say, `We're going to pick 150 good books for your religion, and that's all you get,' the criteria has become more than just inciting violence. They're picking out what is accessible religious teaching for prisoners, and the government can't do that without a compelling justification. Here the justification is, the government is too busy to look at all the books, so they're going to make their own preferred list to save a little time, a little money."

The lists have not been made public by the bureau, but were made available to The Times by a critic of the bureau's project. In some cases, the lists belie their authors' preferences. For example, more than 80 of the 120 titles on the list for Judaism are from the same Orthodox publishing house. A Catholic scholar and an evangelical Christian scholar who looked over some of the lists were baffled at the selections.

Timothy Larsen, who holds the Carolyn and Fred McManis Chair of Christian Thought at Wheaton College, an evangelical school, looked over lists for "Other Christian" and "General Spirituality."

"There are some well-chosen things in here," Professor Larsen said. "I'm particularly glad that Dietrich Bonhoeffer is there. If I was in prison I would want to read Dietrich Bonhoeffer." But he continued, "There's a lot about it that's weird." The lists "show a bias toward evangelical popularism and Calvinism," he said, and lacked materials from early church fathers, liberal theologians and major Protestant denominations.

The Rev. Richard P. McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame (who edited "The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism," which did make the list), said the Catholic list had some glaring omissions, few spiritual classics and many authors he had never heard of.

"I would be completely sympathetic with Catholic chaplains in federal prisons if they're complaining that this list is inhibiting," he said, "because I know they have useful books that are not on this list."


Queen may be scrapped from UK passports

Anything to undermine a British identity

References to the Queen could be taken out of British passports in a bid to make them more European, it has emerged. The new documents, which could be in place as early as 2010, would bear reference to the EU constitution in order to remind UK citizens that they are part of Europe.

The first page of the British passport has historically featured the royal coat of arms with a message from the Queen beginning: "Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State". The words go on to outline that the citizen has a right to travel freely and has the right to protection and assistance.

Under new changes, however, it has been suggested that the coat of arms are scrapped and replaced by the EU emblem of 12 stars with the message underneath reading: "Every citizen of the Union".

The new version has been taken from Article 20 of the EU Constitution, the treaty that was discredited two years ago after it was rejected by member states including France and the Netherlands. This particular section of the treaty reminded citizens that they were part of Europe and had rights as an EU citizen.

A spokesman from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "The changes relate to Article 20 of the EU Treaty which proposes EU language to be inserted into British passports. "It's still under consideration and no decision has been taken yet."

The proposals were criticised by the Tories as yet another example of the EU gaining more power over British citizens. William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, said: "People want to be proud to be British and their passports should have a clear association with that. There is no good reason to change the traditional presentation of our passports. "These proposals are yet another illustration of how the British people must be given their say in a referendum before any new powers are signed over to the EU under a proposed new treaty."

The British passports have born reference to the monarch since 1915 when the first blue hardback booklets were handed out to citizens. They remained the same until 20 years ago when they were replaced by smaller burgundy booklets with the words European Union printed across the cover.

Now, the new versions of the passport would state that Britain is obliged to look after the citizens of other EU countries on the same basis as its own nationals. Article 20 of the treaty, on which the revised wording would be based, states that if an EU citizen does not have his own government to look after him he can expect assistance from any other EU state he chooses.


A modern-day coathanger episode

This woman will have BIG lifetime regrets

As pro-lifers protested on Saturday at the Omaha home of Planned Parenthood abortionist Meryl Severson, news broke that Severson is being sued by a 40-year old woman whose abortion he botched.

The woman, who filed the suit Friday under the pseudonym "Jane Roe," alleges that Severson so severely botched her abortion that she lost 80% of her total blood volume and required an emergency hysterectomy to save her life.

According to the complaint, the woman reported to the Lincoln Planned Parenthood office on August 17, 2007, for an abortion in the 8th week of pregnancy. During the suction abortion, she felt a sharp, excruciating pain and asked abortionist Severson to stop. Three employees then held the woman down while he completed the suction process in spite of her pleas.

In the recovery area, a friend who accompanied her to the abortion clinic attempted to help her to the bathroom, but the woman, who was in intense pain and bleeding, passed out and suffered the first of three seizures.

The woman was transported by ambulance to the local hospital where doctors treated her for "catastrophic perforation" of the uterus, which would have resulted in her death if treatment had been delayed any longer.

"This is yet another horror story from a Planned Parenthood abortion mill," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. "How many women has this happened to that have not filed lawsuits? When we see stories like this, we know it is just the tip of the iceberg."

Severson lives in Omaha, but splits his time between three abortion mills in Lincoln, Nebraska; Council Bluffs and Sioux City, Iowa.

Larry Donlan of Rescue the Heartland led the protest at Severson's home that included one of Operation Rescue's Truth Trucks, which circled through the neighborhood showing the consequences of abortion.

"People need to be aware that when they walk into a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, they may not walk out," said Newman.


Proposed Chilean Law Threatens Religious Freedom

Would destroy the legal right to oppose homosexual behavior

The Chilean Senate will vote today on a proposed law to extend "non-discrimination" protection to homosexuals, which opponents warn would destroy the legal right to oppose homosexual behavior.

The bill, which is called the Law to Establish Measures against Discrimination, has been working its way through the Chilean congress since 2006, and is strongly supported by Chile's socialist president, Michelle Bachelet. It defines "discrimination" as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction based on...sexual orientation". It also lists numerous other protected categories, including "sex, gender" as two distinct types, implying privileges also for "transgender people" who believe they are really the opposite sex.

The Chilean youth organization Muevete Chile! (Go Chile!) is urging citizens to contact their Senators to oppose the measure, offering a pre-written email that can be sent after adding one's name and email address.

Go Chile! warns that if the bill is passed, Chileans will no longer be able to oppose homosexual sexual acts, stating that the bill "approves sexual deviations, punishing whomever dares to speak against such tendencies with both economic and criminal penalties."

The measure is also opposed by the Chilean pro-family group Family Action, which has sent letters to all Senators asking them to reject it. "If you want Chile to have freedom of expression for the Christians who are opposed to this conduct, within the proper limits of respect for persons, vote against the bill," they urged.

Although the bill could have far-reaching effects on Chilean society and is unlikely to have the support of the strongly conservative Chilean population, the major media have hardly mentioned the bill's impending vote. However, homosexual websites in Chile have given it extensive coverage.

"This bill hasn't been promoted by the citizenry, but rather by the gay lobby, and so much so that it calls attention to the fact that the bill doesn't penalize, for example, arbitrary discrimination such as that which is practiced against the unborn" states Go Chile!.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


11 September, 2007

Canada wises up to potential for voting fraud in concession to Muslims

Press Release from Canadian Coalition for Democracies:

The Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) applauds Prime Minister Stephen Harper for taking a stand against exempting one religious group from the requirement of photo identification when voting.

"Prime Minister Harper is right to demand that all voters, regardless of their religion, be equal before the ballot box," said Alastair Gordon, CCD President. "Permitting or accommodating the anonymity of a full Muslim veil or burqa at a polling station undermines the integrity of our electoral system."

On April 19, Sun media reported that "Elections Canada has begun to contact Muslim organizations to gauge their feelings on how to accommodate veiled women if photo identification becomes necessary to cast a federal ballot... Sameer Zuberi, with the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he spent 30 minutes on the telephone with an Elections Canada representative on Tuesday." Following this consultation, Elections Canada appears to have bowed to sharia standards, agreeing to exempt women with face coverings, including full burqas, from the accepted practice of photo identification to which all other voters are, and should be, subjected.

"The risk is that once such a principle is accepted, we will face radical demands for its consistent application in other areas of our lives," added Gordon. "Having said that photo ID is not required for one religious group for a transaction as important as voting, the same demand for sharia privileging can be made for driver's licenses, passports, airport security passes, and other accepted mechanisms of personal accountability and public safety."

A bedrock principle of our successful democracy is that people are open and identifiable. That openness has helped create the relatively safe, tolerant, pluralistic society that we enjoy today. Cloaked voting clearly breaches this principle.

"By agreeing to bend our electoral system to sharia demands, we not only undermine our democratic system, but create a precedent that will have potentially deadly consequences if extended into areas of public safety and national security," added Gordon.

The Canadian Coalition for Democracies expresses special concern about reports that some public officials' might favour a "solution" calling for fully-veiled voters to raise their veils exclusively to female electoral officials for identification purposes. Any such approach would constitute a grossly unacceptable enforcement of sharia gender sensibilities and inequalities by government personnel and processes. It would undermine gender equality and electoral integrity, and represent a constitutionally unacceptable affront to the human rights of male officials barred from the performance of their duties on this account.

A wonderful miracle

Maybe I am just a sentimental old fool who loves kids but this story moved me deeply. I am certainly thankful for the Christ-filled people below

It was a cold Saturday morning last December when I arrived at the local abortion facility that I have been going to for years. I was late and most of the other regular sidewalk counselors and prayer ministry people were already there. George was standing at the north driveway across the side street from the 7-11 store. For the first time, we decided to trade cell phone numbers. I walked up the street and stood at the south driveway praying for the opportunity to offer hope and help to the hopeless who would be entering the abortion facility.

My cell phone rang. It was George. He said "Quick, I need someone who speaks Spanish." Normally there is a Spanish speaking sidewalk counselor available, but not on this particular morning. What could we do? I asked the small groups of people who were praying the rosary if anyone spoke Spanish. No one did. I was wearing a small poster of Our Lady of Guadalupe which had been touched to the Tilma of Juan Diego in Mexico. I prayed and put the situation in her loving hands.

George directed me across the side street to the couple who were looking at the Spanish pro-life literature which he had given them. The fact that they had possession of the literature itself was a small miracle. It has been said that "the battle lines are drawn" in front of the abortion facilities. This is the truth. Good confronts evil there, and we pray that it is always with prayer, love and compassion.

Besides the pro-lifers there is a group of pro-abortion "escorts" always present. They escort the women from their cars into the facility in order to make sure the women go through with their abortions and avoid us. Usually the escorts tell the women that we are not telling the truth, want to harass them, and that they should ignore us. When someone who has come for an abortion takes our informative literature, the "escorts" take it from them with a variety of unholy explanations. Some of these escorts are trying to justify their own abortions, some are there because of disordered logic and misplaced charity, and some ... only God knows.

As I approached, the young couple was deeply engrossed in the literature. I smiled and said "no habla espanol." I was feeling anxious because I knew that it was only a matter of time before one of the "escorts" crossed the street to take the literature and them . to the abortionist. "Cafe?" The word came out of my mouth. "That's a good idea, I thought. Where did it come from?" Buying a cup of coffee at the 7-11 would remove them from "escort" territory.

As we walked toward the 7-11, it occurred to me that there might be someone inside who spoke Spanish and English and who would be willing to at least translate for us. Just then the door opened and out came a nicely dressed man with black hair who looked like he was in his mid-30's. I asked this complete stranger, not knowing anything about his views on abortion, if he would be willing to translate. I explained as discretely as I could that this frightened young couple was seeking an abortion, and that I wanted them to know that our church was ready to help with material, spiritual and emotional support. We would do everything we could to help them.

Enrico (the stranger) paused at this totally unexpected request, looked at me and then said, "This is a very good thing that you are doing. Let me talk to them." I was able to understand a little of what Enrico was saying as he offered support on behalf of the church in a very normal tone of voice. Suddenly, his voice became passionate and louder. Tears welled in his eyes. At that moment I knew that Enrico himself had been personally involved in an abortion, another father who suffers silently.

He then began to tell me in English what he was telling Tomaso and Rosa in Spanish. He told them that seventeen years ago he lost his son to abortion, and that he has thought of him every day since. He said that he was deeply in love with the very beautiful mother of his son. After the abortion, they were unable to look at each other without thinking of the dead baby, and as a result they separated.

Enrico continued to talk to the couple for over 20 minutes; he was heaven sent. Never could we have found a better sidewalk counselor. He even told Tomaso that he would help him find work. Tomaso and Rosa, who had a two year old child at home, were deeply affected by Enrico's counsel. They confided that they were seeking the abortion because they had no money or resources for another child.

It was now around 8:15 a.m. Enrico had to continue on to work, so another sidewalk counselor, Rich, and I invited Tomaso and Rosa to the 8:30 Mass with the idea that we would speak with the priests afterwards and make an appointment at the crisis pregnancy center. The priests at our parish were compassionate and helpful. The Spanish speaking priest spoke to them for quite awhile. Tomaso wasn't sure if he ever had been baptized, but he was already talking about the Baptism of his child. I pointed out to him that God must have a very special job for his child because HE certainly went to a lot of trouble to protect her.

Candy happened to be praying in Church when we arrived with Tomaso and Rosa. From that day until now she has taken on the role of "abuelita" . Grandmother. She has been an angel to all of us as translator, driver, encourager, prayer support, and more. Rich also has been ever so helpful to this struggling and brave couple who chose life. Our parish pro-life groups, Project Gabrielle, Catholics United for Life, and St. Anne's Helpers for Life have delivered on the promises that we made that December morning.

Little Maria was born on July 27th. Truly she is the most beautiful little one I have ever seen in my life. Maybe it's because I know how close she came to being destroyed. murdered in the womb. When you hold her, the reality of abortion seems impossible. How could it be? This precious little bundle of life is the answer to every abortion debate.

Rosa and Tomaso are filled with joy. It is beautiful to see them lovingly care for their little one. Now each year they will celebrate the birthday of their child in July instead of dreading the anniversary of her death in December. It's a tragedy that the country that offered them a better life gave them the choice of destroying it.

I hope and pray that some who read this story might consider joining the groups who pray in front of abortion facilities. We Christians should be there with compassion and love for the unborn in their final hours and to intercede for their parents. Once a woman stopped to tell us that her daughter had made an appointment for an abortion the previous week. When she arrived and saw people praying the rosary, she found the strength to leave and to tell her parents of the life in her womb. The grandmother returned to thank us for being there and for giving her grandchild a birth day in the future.

All Christians have a responsibility to stand against this destroyer that our society calls "choice." When we face Our Lord someday, will we be able to say that we defended these victims . mothers, fathers, babies ..? That we worked for the truth? We are all accountable at some level, and there are many ways to stand for life.


Australia: A thug "protester"

The Stalin types are ever with us

AN APEC protester threw a dart into a police officer's skull before attacking other officers with a metal pole, a court heard yesterday. Gavin George Begbie, 40, is facing 12 charges over the alleged attack on police in Sydney during Saturday's demonstrations. Mr Begbie was one of the five people arrested and kept in custody following 18 arrests. The group yesterday faced Sydney's Parramatta Bail Court via audio visual link from the Sydney Police Centre in Surry Hills.

Two of the protesters, including Marcelea Fabiola Olea, 31, from Victoria, were granted bail. Police allege Ms Olea, who was filming the rally, punched a policeman in the face. Three others, including Mr Begbie, were remanded in custody by Magistrate Kevin Flack.

Mr Begbie, a part-time farmhand from Pimlico in northern NSW, allegedly threw a dart at Chief Insp Mark Death about 11.30am on Saturday. It is alleged the metal-tipped dart pierced the officer's baseball cap and the point lodged in his skull. According to police documents tendered to the court, when other officers tried to arrest Mr Begbie, he swung a metal pole covered in newspaper at them and then struck Constable Michael Nolan in the forehead, causing him to bleed profusely.

Police allege Mr Begbie lashed out at two other officers, allegedly striking one in the thigh and arm and the other in the nose and back, before he was restrained and taken into custody. Police allege he said: "I didn't even get the guy in the eye. What's the big deal?"

Police prosecutor Andrea Rodriguez strongly opposed bail. "There are multiple assaults on multiple police officers ... throwing of a metal dart, embedding someone's skull and hitting a police officer with a metal pole requiring four stitches," Sgt Rodriguez told the court. Mr Begbie faces four counts of assaulting police, five of resisting arrest and one count of throwing a missile.

The five accused were not arrested in restricted APEC areas and face charges including assaulting police, resisting arrest and hindering police.

Mr Begbie, Andrew Edward Pearson, 37, of the Sydney suburb of Balmain and Stephen Martin, 25, of Queensland, were refused bail and were remanded in custody to appear before Sydney's Central Local Court today. Daniella Olea said she was with her sister Marcelea at the protests and that they were both independent filmmakers. She said she witnessed the entire incident with police and said her sister did not assault police. "We were filming and they (the police) basically wanted the camera. That's what they wanted and that's what they were trying to get," the 25-year-old said.


Prominent UK Tory Politician Says Support for Civil Unions "Insults Intelligence" of British

Critical of Tory leader Cameron's attempt to shift party to left and re-brand it as "heirs to Blair"

One of the most senior MP's in the UK's Tory party, Michael Ancram, Member of Parliament for Devizes, has criticized the government's policy of treating homosexual partnerings as the equivalent to marriage. In a pamphlet published by the Daily Telegraph, Ancram calls on the party to remember its "conservative soul."

With the possibility of a snap general election still being discussed, the Conservatives have been putting forth policy statements. Cameron has laid out Tory plans to curb uncontrolled immigration and overcome Britain's rising rate of violent crime among "feral" youths. He has said that the problem of youth crime stems from the erosion of the family.

In his 36-page pamphlet, "Still a Conservative", Ancram said, "For instance it does not wash for politicians to say at one moment that they are for marriage and the family and will financially support them, and then with the next breath pledge the same support to civil unions. It insults the intelligence of the British people."

Citing the public perception that the Conservatives are "lacking an overall sense of vision and direction", Ancram said, "Change for change's sake is a vacuous process, swiftly seen through by the electorate." The document amounts to an alternative policy manifesto and could serve as a rallying point for Tory traditionalists who have been strongly critical of what is seen as Cameron's attempt to shift the party to the left and re-brand it as the "heirs to Blair".

Ancram calls for a return to "values-based politics", insisting that no matter what policies Cameron adopts for the party, they must be presented within "the solid and unalterable foundations of Conservatism which have historically been the key to our electoral success."

Ancram, a Catholic who is the 13th Marquess of Lothian and has served as Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, said it is a mistake for the party to abandon the deep principles of conservatism that won the party the government under Margaret Thatcher.

When David Cameron won the leadership of the Tory party in 2005, Ancram stepped down from his position as Shadow Cabinet Secretary of Defence in order to allow himself greater freedom to express his own views and to give "advice without strings" to his party leadership. He has been a sitting MP since 1970.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


10 September, 2007

Why government shouldn't police TV violence and "indecency"

I often disagree with the ACLU but I applaud their stance below. Good to see that they really do believe in liberty sometimes (when it suits a Leftist agenda). They certainly don't believe in freedom of religion

When is a cuss word broadcast over television or radio indecent? At a live awards show where an award recipient uses a profanity? During a war movie? In a blues documentary where expletives fly? If you said all three were indecent, you would be wrong. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is America's indecency police, but its vague and confusing criteria for what constitutes "indecency" leave everyone in the dark.

At the 2003 Golden Globe Awards, where rock star Bono exuberantly received his award, the FCC initially said it wasn't indecent, then, under pressure from Congress, said it was. Shortly thereafter, several stations refused to air the war movie "Saving Private Ryan" because of its multiple usage of the same expletive Bono used. When a complaint was made to the FCC, it declared the drama was not indecent. At about the same time, PBS aired "The Blues: Godfathers and Sons," a documentary whose real-life blues players used some profanity. The FCC decided it was indecent.

Confused? So are the broadcasters. The government should not be making these decisions in the first place. Parents should. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) of West Virginia introduced legislation in late July that has already passed the Senate Energy and Commerce committee to regulate indecency on television. And there is talk of a similar bill coming soon to regulate television violence. Congress should reject any proposals that would allow the FCC to regulate what the public sees on television.

Members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) strongly believe that the government should not replace parents as decisionmakers in America's living rooms. There are some things the government does well, but deciding what is aired on television, and when, is not one of them. Parents already have many tools to protect their children, including blocking programs and channels, changing the channel, or (my personal favorite) turning off the television.

The ACLU is not blind to the issue at hand. We can see why some parents are upset about what they see on television. But the answer lies in teaching those parents how they can limit what their children watch - not censorship. Congress may choose to play a role in educating parents on the dangers of overexposure to media. But government focus should then be on providing those educational opportunities - not on replacing parents as the primary decisionmakers in their own homes. Government should not parent the parents.

Our concern is that imposing standards for television programming would be unconstitutional and damage important values that define America: the right to a free and open media, the right to free speech, and the right of parents to decide the upbringing of their children. Parents today have unprecedented control over what comes into their homes and what media their children consume. The most basic and user-friendly tool every parent has against unwanted media content is the ability to turn the television off, or to establish rules about where and when children may watch TV. Recent technology in digital boxes permits blocking by rating, channel, title, and even, in some systems, program description. Cable subscribers who do not have set-top boxes can simply ask their cable companies to block specific channels.

Additionally, a multitude of websites rate television shows, permitting parents to choose ones that suit their taste and to determine what their children watch. Both the Parents Television Council and Common Sense Media have easy-to-use websites.

The ACLU is not opposed to solutions that parents and industry come up with. What concerns us is when Uncle Sam gets involved. There is a long history of using the media as a scapegoat for society's problems. At one time or another, books, movies, opera, jazz, blues, rock 'n' roll, heavy metal and rap music, comic books, and video games have all been accused of causing antisocial or violent behavior among minors and adults. Since not all portrayals of violence are bad, the government would have insurmountable difficulty defining what is "good" violence and "bad" violence. Even those who research this issue use inconsistent definitions of violence. If the researchers cannot concur on an objective definition, then will any regulations provide truly objective results?

Parents have the tools they need to protect their children. If the government steps in and regulates the content of television shows or relegates certain shows to a late-night or early-morning hour, it steps over the line and becomes the Federal Babysitting Agency - replacing parents as the ultimate decisionmakers. The power to control the upbringing of children, including what they watch, should remain in the most capable, effective, and constitutional hands possible: the parents.


Amazing: Neo-Nazis in Israel!

Transplanted Russian Fascists, it seems. Russia's transition from Communism to Fascism is not a large one in that most things in Nazism can be traced back to Marx (including the antisemitism) but it is rather amazing after what Russia suffered at the hands of the Nazis

Police have cracked a neo-Nazi ring composed of immigrants from the former Soviet Union operating in the Petah Tikva area, police announced Saturday night, following the arrests of alleged gang members and the lifting of a gag order on the case. The arrests followed a more than yearlong investigation by the youth crimes division of the Central District Central Investigative Unit.

Police described the affair as "complex and sensitive," revealing that a group of youths acted on the basis of Nazi ideology. Police emphasized that all of the youths - except for one - were Israeli citizens who had made aliya under the Law of Return. The majority, police said, were immigrants who lived in the center of the country and identified religiously as Christians. Police have thus far arrested nine members of the group, who, according to suspicions, worked to propagate Hitler's ideology in the streets of Israel, while establishing relations with neo-Nazi groups overseas and attempting to imitate their activities.

Eli Boanitov, a 19-year-old Petah Tikva resident, allegedly headed the group, which police said displayed "cult-like characteristics." As the group's leader, Boanitov allegedly selected people for membership and served as the group's instructor and main propagator of Nazi ideology both on an ideological and operational level. Police said Boanitov "led them to attack, in a cruel and brutal manner, citizens and innocent people belonging to various groups including Asians, drug addicts, gays, punks and kippa-wearing Jews." In the police report, Boanitov was quoted as saying, "I'll never give up. I was a Nazi and I'll stay a Nazi. Until we kill all of them, I won't relax."

The group was uncovered during the investigation into two 2006 incidents in Petah Tikva in which synagogues were desecrated by swastikas and other graffiti. Police spokesmen said Saturday night that "because of the severity of the incidents, the great public interest and the importance of apprehending these suspects, then-Central District Commander (now police chief) Insp.-Gen. David Cohen assigned the investigation to the elite CIU's youth crimes team, led by Ch.-Supt. Revital Almog."

Police said that their big break came in June 2007. Information received by police directed them to the group of suspects. Initial checks on two of the youths - Boanitov (nicknamed Eli the Nazi), and 20-year-old Ilya Bondranenko - detectives said, increased their suspicions, and the two were taken in for questioning. Under questioning, Boanitov and Bondranenko denied all of the allegations against them, but following searches of their houses, police recovered Nazi materials including journals with sketches of swastikas, Web sites with Nazi content and neo-Nazi movies, including a German-language film about Nazism in America. On the suspects' cell phones, police discovered pictures in which the suspects were engaging in Nazi salutes and, in one picture, one of the suspects was seen holding a torn Israeli flag. The suspects were also sporting numerous Nazi-associated tattoos including "White Power" accompanied by Celtic crosses and a barbed-wire fence. The number 88 were tattooed on members' fingers, with police explaining that "8" represents the ordinal place of the letter "H," thus standing for "HH" or Heil Hitler.

The suspects were first arrested on July 23, and were released to house arrest on July 31. Police said that the more advanced stages of the investigation were largely successful due to the "professional and determined work" of the Central District Fraud Squad's Computer Crimes Unit, which labored to reconstruct deleted files that the suspects allegedly concealed and deleted from their computers. "The evidence spoke for itself and strengthened the need for investigation because of suspicions of racism," said police, describing the computer material as pictures and movies that were "difficult to view." The evidence documents members of the gang attacking what police describe as "helpless people" belonging to minority groups. "In the movies, one can see gang members punching and kicking, using broken bottles and everything at hand, attacking innocent victims without any prior contact or instigation," said police spokesmen.

In the movies, the faces of the suspects are frequently hidden by superimposed swastikas and at times, the suspects are seen wearing Nazi-style uniforms and delivering Nazi salutes, as well as delivering statements calling for the burning and destruction of the Jewish people. Police documented computer conversations allegedly carried out between Boanitov and others in which he both confirms and takes pride in his participation in neo-Nazi activity, as well as inspiring others to join though explaining racial-purity theory and justifying assaults on Jews and minorities.

In the course of the conversations, Boanitov allegedly goes so far as to express his desire to continue to attack, injure and even murder. In an unusual move, police called for immediate legislation to "prevent individuals and groups from adopting or acting according to Nazi ideology in the State of Israel."


Poland Demands EU Make Day for "Right to Life" Not Just Day Against Death Penalty

In the person of Jan Sobieski, Poland once before rode to the rescue of Europe. Increasingly, they are doing it again today -- but this time in the field of moral consciousness-raising rather than in the field of military force

The European Commission's proposal to establish a European Day Against the Death Penalty has come under sharp criticism from Poland, which says the European Union (EU) instead needs to promote a day dedicated to the protection of all human life. In the proposed declaration, the EU and the Council of Europe "stress the importance of persevering in the pursuit of actions aimed at abolishing the death penalty in the world" and "invite European citizens to support the abolition of the death penalty in the world and thereby contribute to the development of fundamental rights and human dignity."

However Poland has objected to the notion that "development of fundamental rights and human dignity" can take place without being placed in the context of the "right to life." "We think that when anybody wants to discuss a problem of death in the context of the law it is also worth to discuss on euthanasia and abortion in this context," declared a spokesman for the Polish delegation. The spokesman added, "We are not sure whether it is worth establishing a special day" for only the death penalty, especially since all EU nations had already abolished the death penalty.

The Polish maneuver anticipates the September 18 meeting of EU justice ministers, which would formally give the go-ahead for the death penalty day. The day would coincide with the October 10 "World Day Against the Death Penalty" held since 2003.

Ambassadors of EU member states are expected to discuss the declaration further today. Since the declaration is subject to unanimous agreement in the EU Council, Poland's continuing rejection of the death penalty day would effectively make the proposal dead on arrival.


Legal Tips for US Parents to Protect Family Values from School Tampering

With the school year getting underway, the law firm of Mauck & Baker has prepared a list of opportunities and rights to inform parents how to help reinforce the values taught in their homes in the public schools.

The news has reported irresponsible behavior by public school educators such as the Montana school district which required fifth and sixth grade students to participate in a psychological study where they were shown drawings of male and female genitalia and asked to circle the ones which most closely resembled their own genitalia. In Illinois, children were stopped from celebrating their particular religious holiday during the month of December."

According to John Mauck, a partner at Mauck & Baker, these ten simple preventative measures can prevent legal clashes between parents and administrators:

- Participate in school committees. Parents have strategic opportunities to serve as "gatekeepers" to reform or enrich curricula in family supportive ways.

- Find out what will be taught to your child before it is taught. Be vigilant about movies in class, since some districts allow vulgar, even R-rated films to be shown in class without parental notification.

- Insist that faith expression be respected in homework assignments. Students can use many types of assignments to discuss their faith, for example, writing a book report from the Bible, Torah, or Koran.

- Work with -not against- educators. Developing a relationship with your child's teacher will make it easier for your concerns to be heard.

- Encourage involvement in extra-curricular clubs. Student groups centered on faith, race, or other particular interests can make a tremendous difference in a student's maturation and school experience and can be more openly expressed in that context.

- Teach about sex at home. Ask for copies of all sex- education materials and assignments. Object if you feel they are offensive or undermine values taught at home. Help your child understand how differing views of sexuality derive from the divergent social and spiritual ideas about the value of a human being.

- Examine teachings on homosexuality carefully. Make sure students at age appropriate levels are allowed to fully and fairly consider all view points and explain your views to your child particularly if the public school presentation is unbalanced.

- Review textbooks and Assignments. For example, if you feel they omit or distort important aspects of American history or give an unbalanced view of life through assigned reading, raise questions.

- Never tolerate Discrimination. Ask your child what occurs in class. Not only racial discrimination but discrimination based upon faith, disability, gender, obesity or income should not be permitted in the classroom or curriculum.

- Know where to get help. Talk to the principal if you think your child's teacher is distorting values you wish your child to have. If the principal is unresponsive contact members of the school board with your concerns. If you need further help contact the Illinois Family Institute, the Family Research Council or a private Attorney.

"Both parents and teachers are often confused about the boundaries between home values and school curriculum. In order to help our children achieve their potential, parents and teachers must first understand that parents have the primary privilege and ultimate responsibility for the moral and spiritual instruction of the child," said John Mauck, a partner at Mauck & Baker.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


9 September, 2007

Women's rights now far exceed "equality"

I'm more than happy to hold the door open for a lady or tote a doddering grandma's bag. And last I checked, no one is talking about dispatching a squadron of rosy-cheeked G.I. Janes to root out the Iraqi insurgents. So let's take that off the table.

Some will recall that back in October 1971, the House of Representatives approved the Equal Rights Amendment, which passed by an overwhelming 354-24 margin. Everyone knew it was just a matter of months until the necessary 38 states came on board.

But four months later, Phyllis Schlafly penned her history-altering essay, "What's Wrong with Equal Rights for Women?" Schlafly pointed out that American women are the most privileged of all classes of people that ever lived: "We have the most rights and rewards, and the fewest duties." Abundant rights and rewards, with fewer duties - that's the pedestal.

Schlafly then posed the question, "Why should we lower ourselves to 'equal rights' when we already have the status of special privilege?" That one sentence spelled the demise of the ERA. In the end, it was wrath of millions of American women who, fearing the loss of that special privilege, brought down the Equal Rights Amendment.

After the ERA heaved its last breath in 1979, feminists bitterly accused Mrs. Schlafly of "hating" women. But in truth the bra-burners took their next cue from the conservative icon. This was their ploy: Instead of striving for mere equality, why not seek to expand women's special privileges - all the while claiming to be working for equality? And that proved to be the winning formula.

Over the next 25 years, the fems engineered the passage of a series of laws and programs that afforded ever-expanding legal rights and services to women. Those laws included the Violence Against Women Act, the Women's Educational Equity Act, women's health programs, the 1996 welfare reform, and many more.

How did the Girls of Guile get away with their equality ruse, when in fact they were duplicitously scheming behind the scenes to foist a hierarchical society on the rest of us? First, they relentlessly shaded the truth - consider Hillary Clinton's laughable canards that women suffer from wage discrimination, were routinely excluded from medical research, are more likely to be the victims of war, and so on. Before long the liberal media, beholden to the mantra of victim-journalism, became a shill for feminist ideology. And the conservative media, reflexively bound to the chivalrous ideal and emasculated by the ideological assault, never arose to challenge the falsehoods.

The real target of this blitz, though, was the traditional family. Women were hectored into thinking motherhood is unfulfilling and were rooted out of their homes to ascend the corporate ladder. Babes still in diapers were shunted off to day care. Fathers were told they were superfluous and made to feel guilty for wanting to protect and provide for their families.

Then a stunning series of legal developments steadily eroded men's roles in their families. In 1992 the U.S. Supreme Court decreed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that a wife didn't need to inform her husband of an impending abortion. Domestic violence laws allowed women to send men packing without any proof of abuse. And divorced dads were reduced to mere visitors in their children's lives.

No surprise, word soon leaked out and young men began to lose interest. Three years ago Rutgers University conducted a national survey of our nation's most eligible bachelors -- single, heterosexual men ages 24-35. The researchers were in for a shock: 53% of men said they were not interested in getting married anytime soon, and 22% declared they had no intention of ever tying the knot. Marriage rates began to plummet. For the first time in our nation's history, single-adult households now outnumber traditional dad-and-mom families.

So let's revisit our modest proposal -- is it time to scale back the formidable pedestal that the rad-fems have foisted on us in recent years? Chivalry certainly has its place, and yes, women sometimes need special protections. But taken too far, chivalry can weaken the bedrock institutions of free societies and leave supposedly "liberated" women dependent on the neo-paternalism of the Nanny State. Men and women need to band together in common defense of the family. Time is running short.


Canada: 'Burqa voting' decision undermines electoral integrity & ballot box equality

The Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) regards as unconscionable Elections Canada's reported new policy of allowing Muslim women to wear identity-concealing face veils, including full burqas, when voting in upcoming federal by-elections in Quebec and Ontario. Canada's federal elections' regulator says Muslim women can "vote veiled" merely by identifying themselves with a driver's licence and second piece of identification. As an alternative, "covered" women need only swear an oath and have another voter vouch for them.

Outbursts of public condemnation overturned a similar initiative earlier this year by Quebec's Election Commission. The Commission was forced to reverse its consent to "burqa voting" when offended Quebec citizens and public interest groups threatened civil disobedience at election time. Highlighting the problem of double standards and arbitrariness, voters promised to attend polls with their faces covered by paper bags, sheets, hockey masks and other head coverings, and to assert "sensitivity" and special religious privilege as their justification for doing so.

"Elections Canada's initiative violates the basic premise of public voting in Canada and the principle of equality of all Canadians before the ballot box. It is an invitation to fraud, misrepresentation and the debasing of our democratic electoral system," said David Harris, CCD Senior Fellow for National Security.

Beyond the ballot box, religious face coverings have at times been misused in Canada and around the world to facilitate fraud and other criminal acts. Veiling has been used abroad to advance terrorist operations, including suicide bombings. Such risks compelled France to ban the burqa in certain public spheres, and the Netherlands' government among others is considering doing the same. And last fall in Quebec, ADQ leader Mario Dumont went beyond the ballot box issue, stating that he did not "rule out the possibility of laws to make illegal the wearing of the burqa." Yet some of Canada's elites, apparently unfazed by the threat to electoral integrity and public safety, appear helpless in the face of radical lobbying in the name of "accommodation".

"Canadians call upon Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Opposition leaders Stephane Dion, Gilles Duceppe, and Jack Layton, to demand an end to Elections Canada's ill-considered policy of diminished electoral scrutiny for one religious group," said Harris.

"Government must promote one secular law for all, and an end to the appeasing of radical fundamentalism in whatever guise or disguise."


Loosen curbs on our liberty

Comment from the publisher of "The Australian"

DAVID Marr's essay "His Master's Voice: The Corruption of Public Debate Under Howard", weaves such a tapestry of alleged lies, deception, censorship, intimidation and persecution that, if we believed it all, Australians should be in a state of despair. While I agree with Marr some of the time, I can't accept much of his reasoning (in his article, published in Quarterly Essay Issue 26). Debate in Australia is vibrant and intense at all levels of society and through all media: newspapers, radio, television, at public meetings, through the internet and in journals like this.

The problem I see is the degree to which the flow of information that generates or fuels informed debate has been stifled. When information is suppressed, our right to know how we are governed and how our courts dispense justice is diminished. Our democracy loses some of its spark. Unlike Marr, I think there are many underlying causes and I am optimistic (they) can befixed.

Marr's passionate analysis of life during John Howard's 11 years as Prime Minister is undermined by the zeal and doggedness of his ideology and jaundiced by his dislike of the man. The problems we now face have occurred at the hands of Australian governments of all political stripes and at federal, state and local levels. Many hundreds of statutes, some federal, some unique to different states, have cumulatively created a wall of prohibitions (that hampers) what Australians can know about how our governments and courts function. It is, quite frankly, unhelpful to lay all the blame at the gates of the Lodge.

Some of the worst examples of the erosion of free speech can be seen in the adoption of spin at all levels of government and business. Debates on issues as important as this should be conducted with a view to achieving change rather than polarising positions so that problems simply become entrenched. Government decision-makers are unlikely to be swayed by rhetoric describing Howard as an evil object of derision. For example, Marr's statement: "After being belittled for most of his political career, Howard came to power determined public debate would be conducted on his terms." Belittled for most of his political career? Really? Only by his political opponents.

Marr applauds actor Terry Servio's "devastating" portrait (of Howard) in the stage show Keating! The Musical that made him "a figure of fun, but strangely unfunny". Do these observations advance the cause of free speech? Marr accuses the Government of discrediting its critics to undermine their arguments. Isn't Marr guilty of the same? Howard may well have come to power determined public debate would be conducted on his terms, but show me the politician who doesn't. There is no doubt he has deliberately built a public relations machine that ensures the "correct" spin is applied to stories affecting his Government. It rivals the propaganda machines of previous governments.

But it is disingenuous to suggest the erosion of free speech has come about as a result of a Machiavellian blueprint carefully implemented over just the past decade and by just one man. The erosion has been gradual, over at least three decades, and has occurred at the hands of commonwealth and state governments of all colours. Still, an event that happened halfway through Howard's tenure significantly compounded the problem: the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Marr contends that 9/11 was just one of a string of events, including the internet, that "changed everything". I believe 9/11 differed immensely because it was an attack on democracy and capitalism and on innocent human life that until then was inconceivable. The 9/11 attack created the climate of public acceptance that strong measures had to be introduced to counter the terrorist threat, and this was heightened in Australia by the Bali bombing and our participation in the coalition of the willing in Iraq.

These events led to a string of anti-terrorism laws that gave rise to intrusive surveillance, holding of suspects without charge and curbs on the security matters that journalists could report. While the Government regards this as a practical approach to extraordinary events and the public generally (sees) it as a necessary evil, there must be balance between security and preservation of civil liberties and the public's right to know. The recent Haneef saga is proof enough that even in times of heightened security, there must be an open process.

If citizens are to effectively participate in a democracy, form opinions freely and to protect their rights and interests, they need access to information directly or via the media on theirbehalf. But across all levels of government, this balance has shifted away from the people to governments, which makes today's freedom of information laws unworkable.

The incidents are numerous. Just recently in NSW, despite repeated attempts, access was denied to an Education Department report on violence in schools. We were also not allowed to know which pubs have the highest levels of alcohol-related incidents of assault and robbery. These surely are things that the public should be allowed to know.

At the commonwealth level, News Limited is still smarting from our costly two-year battle between The Australian and the Treasurer, Peter Costello, for the release of details of the effect on taxpayers of bracket creep, and the first home buyers scheme. Costello believed release of this information was not in the public interest. The High Court agreed his decision should be final, but I believe the media's role is to lift the veil on exactly this kind of information.

Over the 25 years the commonwealth's Freedom of Information Act has been in place, decisions like this have chipped away at the integrity of the act. An entrenched culture of resistance to disclosure of information has developed and technological changes render it at odds with the way the modern media operates. It's time for a wholesale overhaul of the act.

Another way in which debate is stifled can be seen in the recent conviction of Herald Sun reporters Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey for refusing to divulge the identity of someone who embarrassed the Government by leaking information about the workings of Veterans Affairs policy. It has become commonplace for federal police to investigate journalists to identify leaks and to relentlessly pursue public servants suspected of being informants, even when the information they have leaked is patently in the public interest. The man charged in the Harvey-McManus case was convicted and later freed through lack of evidence, but he lost his job. This could be perceived as deliberate intimidation to demonstrate the consequences for any other public servant who might consider leaking.

Perhaps the worst case of trying to gag an issue followed The Australian's disclosure of lax security and organised crime at Sydney airport, which was found by an inquiry to be chillingly accurate. But rather than fix the problems, the Government unleashed the federal police to seek and destroy the whistleblower. It's my view that in a healthy democracy there would be no need for whistleblowers because governments would be transparent when it came to matters of genuine public interest. Unfortunately, there are times when governments get things very wrong and exposure is necessary. The security issues at Sydney airport were serious and exposure of them led to an inquiry and a $200 million upgrade. Was the decision by the whistleblower to expose the problems, or the work by The Australian to publish them, in the public interest or not?

Across all Australian jurisdictions, there must be a process and protection for public servants to make public interest disclosures. But given that, even with sound protection, some public servants will not use the process, it needs to be accompanied by laws that allow journalists to protect the identity of their sources in cases of public interest.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock's recent tinkering with the Evidence Act to give judges the discretion to decide whether to force journalists to give up their sources is inadequate. The new act does not provide real protection for journalists as the burden of proof remains on the journalist to show why they should not be compelled to reveal their source. It should be the other way around, where the prosecution must show why disclosure is necessary.

Judges must also take some responsibility for the lack of transparency. An important issue overlooked by Marr is the propensity for judges in all jurisdictions to close access to courts and suppress details of cases, often with scant reason. Our media is buckling under more than a thousand court suppression orders preventing publication of certain facts from court cases. Some of these, for example protecting the identity of an undercover police operative, are clearly justified, but many are not. For example, is it fair that a public figure may be protected from embarrassment by having his identity in a court case suppressed? And should an entire anti-terrorism trial be closed even though not all the information is related to national security?

It seems our courts increasingly view the media as a nuisance. No doubt we are sometimes, but shoving us away and denying us access to the workings of our justice system is dangerously short-sighted. Democracy relies on the fact justice is not only done but is seen to be done.

Recently the mishmash of Australia's defamation laws were made uniform. While not perfect, the defamation laws have improved vastly, and this leads me to be a much more optimistic man than Marr is. The significant progress made shows how, with leadership at the commonwealth level, improvement and consistency could also be achieved in areas such as suppression orders.

So how did the erosion of public debate happen? Marr believes it happened because Howard in 1996 set out on a deliberate campaign to cower his critics, intimidate the ABC, gag scientists, silence non-government organisations by threatening their finances, neuter Canberra's mandarins, curtail parliamentary scrutiny, censor the arts, ban books, criminalise protest and prosecute whistleblowers. I'm less paranoid.

I also have trouble accepting Marr's analysis of the Australian character. He believes Australians project themselves as easygoing larrikins with contempt for authority, when in reality he says they passively accept it. He traces this to the mood of the British settlers from whom most of us descend. He says those who settled America did so to secure freedom in a time of repression, hence their preoccupation with freedom. Meanwhile, those who settled Australia were content with British law and customs and compliance with authority. But then he makes the extraordinary claim that Australian children are taught not to speak. "It's a big part of our upbringing, learning to shut up, to listen, to wait until we're spoken to," he says. "Somehow the habit of holding back has been drilled into the character of the nation." He continues: "Perhaps at some obscure level we still think keeping quiet will do us good when Canberra tells us what we can say, what we can know, when we can speak."

I grew up in a different Australia. The one I see encourages children to think and talk and develop self-confidence and be part of a vibrant open multicultural and prosperous society. And the evidence of this is everywhere. In Australia we talk, we question, we read, we listen to dissenting views and we work for change. We're doing it now: three months ago, an unprecedented coalition of Australia's major media organisations formed to work for improvements to free speech. I'm proud that News Limited is part of that coalition and I'm confident that we really can effect change.

Of course, freedom comes with responsibility and we must continually strive to ensure that our media deserves to represent the public in its right to know. I accept that we haven't always been as careful and responsible as we should be in our reporting. But errors by the media should not allow us to lose sight of the far bigger issues at stake and we should all accept that a healthy democracy is also a place where people argue, disagree, criticise and speak out fearlessly when they believe it's important to do so.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


8 September, 2007


By Jeff Jacoby

Debating capital punishment at an Ivy League university a few years ago, I was confronted with the claim that since death sentences are more often meted out in cases where the victim is white, the death penalty must be racially biased. It's a spurious argument, I replied. Whites commit fewer than half of all murders in the United States, yet more whites than blacks are sentenced to death and more whites than blacks are executed each year. (56 percent of death row inmates are white, and of the 53 murderers executed last year, 32 were white.) If there is racial bias in the system, it clearly doesn't operate in favor of whites.

But if you do choose to focus on the race of victims, I added, remember that nearly all black homicide is intraracial -- more than nine out of 10 black murder victims in the United States are killed by black murderers. So applying the death penalty in more cases where the victim is black would mean sending more black men to death row.

After the debate, a young black woman accosted me indignantly. Ninety-plus percent of black blood is shed by black hands? What about all the victims of white supremacists? Hadn't I heard of lynching? Hadn't I heard of James Byrd, who died so horribly in Jasper, Texas? When I assured her that Byrd's murder by whites was utterly untypical of most black homicide, she was dubious. So I asked for an e-mail address, and promised to send her a link to the FBI's violent-crime statistics.

I thought of that young woman when I read recently about James Ford Seale, the former Mississippi Klansman sentenced last month to three life terms in prison for his role in murdering two black teenagers 43 years ago. The killing of Charles Moore and Henry Dee in 1964 was one of several unsolved civil-rights-era crimes that prosecutors in the South have reopened in recent years. Seale's trial was a vivid reminder of the days when racial contempt was a deadly fact of life in much of the country. His sentence proclaims even more vividly the transformation of America since then. White racism, once such a murderous force, is now associated mostly with feeble has-beens.

Yet many Americans, like the woman at my debate, still seem to view racial questions through an antediluvian lens. To them, it is always the 1960s: White bigotry remains a clear and present danger, and the reason so many black Americans die before their time.

But the data aren't in dispute. Though outrage over "racism" is ever fashionable, African-Americans have long had far less to fear from the violence of racist whites than from the mayhem of the black underclass. "Do you realize that the leading killer of young black males is young black males?" asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan 16 years ago. "As a black man and a father of three, this really shakes me to the core of my being." From Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement, came a similar cry of anguish. "Nothing in the long history of blacks in America," he lamented in 1994, "suggests the terrible destruction blacks are visiting upon each other today." Happily, crime rates have declined from their 1990s peak. But it remains the case that the worst destruction in black America is self-inflicted.

In a new study, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics confirms once again that almost half the people murdered in the United States each year are black, and 93 percent of black homicide victims are killed by someone of their own race. (For white homicide victims, the figure is 85 percent.) In other words, of the estimated 8,000 African-Americans murdered in 2005, more than 7,400 were cut down by other African-Americans. Though blacks account for just one-eighth of the US population, the BJS reports, they are six times more likely than whites to be victimized by homicide -- and seven times more likely to commit homicide.

Such huge disproportions don't just happen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously warned 40 years ago that the collapse of black family life would mean rising chaos and crime in the black community. Today, as many as 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock or raised in fatherless households. And as reams of research confirm, children raised without married parents and intact, stable families are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior.

High rates of black violent crime are a national tragedy, but it is the law-abiding black majority that suffers from them most. "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life," Jesse Jackson said in 1993, "than to walk down the street and hear footsteps . . . then turn around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

It isn't an insoluble problem. Americans overcame white racism; they can overcome black crime, too. But the first step, as always, is to face the facts.

No glamour allowed on planes

Sounds like Southwest airlines is one to avoid

As the mercury climbed over 100 on Labor Day, I called Southwest Airlines with a not entirely hypothetical question: Could a young woman board a flight to Tucson today wearing a bikini top? Angelique, the agent who took my call, assured me that a young woman could. "We don't have a problem with it if she's covered up in all the right spots," she said. "We don't have a dress code."

Tell that to Kyla Ebbert, who was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight two months ago for wearing an outfit far less revealing than a bikini top. Ebbert, a Mesa College student and Hooters waitress, was allowed to stay on the plane, but only after she put up a fight and, she says, was lectured on how to dress properly. I don't know about you, but one of my big gripes with the airlines is that they just don't take the time to dispense fashion advice any more.

Southwest explained its treatment of Ebbert in a letter to her mother, saying it could remove any passenger "whose clothing is lewd, obscene or patently offensive" to ensure the comfort of children and "adults with heightened sensitivities."

Ebbert, 23, says she was judged unfairly by the airline and humiliated by the experience. Who wouldn't be? She had a doctor's appointment that afternoon in Tucson, where temperatures had topped 106 all week. She arrived at Lindbergh Field wearing a white denim miniskirt, high-heel sandals, and a turquoise summer sweater over a tank top over a bra. After the plane filled, and the flight attendants began their safety spiel, Ebbert was asked to step off the plane by a customer service supervisor, identified by the airline only as "Keith."

They walked out onto the jet bridge, where Keith told Ebbert her clothing was inappropriate and asked her to change. She explained she was flying to Tucson for only a few hours and had brought no luggage. "I asked him what part of my outfit was offensive," she said. "The shirt? The skirt? And he said, 'The whole thing.' Keith asked her to go home, change and take a later flight. She refused, citing her appointment. The plane was ready to leave, so Keith relented. He had her pull up her tank top a bit, pull down her skirt a bit, and return to her seat.

Ebbert says several flight attendants overheard the conversation and, after an embarrassing walk down the aisle, she took her seat and spread a blanket over her lap. She kept her composure until the plane landed, when she called her mother and broke down. She took a photo of herself with her cell phone so her mother could see her clothes. That's when mom became livid. "My daughter is young, tall, blond and beautiful," Michele Ebbert told me, "and she is both envied and complimented on her appearance. She dresses provocatively, as do 99 percent of 23-year-old girls who can. But they were out of line."

Who knows where the lines are drawn these days, particularly when it comes to dress? If you watch television, or visit the mall, or take in a game at Petco Park, you'll see women dressed in ways that, 50 years ago, were pornographic. Today they are stylish. A Supreme Court justice famously could not define "obscene," and declaring a thing "lewd" imputes motive. Did Kyla Ebbert intend to excite sexual desire on that flight to Tucson? I doubt it, just as I doubt that flight attendants are proper judges of such matters. But neither am I. So when I arranged to see Ebbert in the notorious outfit, I brought along my fashion advisers, writer Nina Garin and photojournalist Crissy Pascual, who for years collaborated on a feature in this newspaper called "Seen on the Street."

The three of us met Ebbert and her mother for lunch at Nordstrom Cafe. Ebbert, who is 5-foot-5 and has green eyes, is pretty enough to be a model. Yet even wearing the clothes that scandalized Southwest, she did not attract attention beyond some lingering glances. My fashion advisers were baffled, saying they saw nothing you don't see on a college campus or in Pacific Beach. "I was expecting to be shocked, and I was shocked the other way," Pascual told me.

"It wasn't a big deal," Garin said. "Her skirt was a bit short, which was only accented by her heels. If she had been wearing flip-flops it wouldn't have mattered." Garin wondered if a jealous woman may have complained about Ebbert's outfit. I asked her what she would have said had she been on the plane. " 'I hope she's not sitting next to my husband,' " Garin replied. "She's pretty. She wears her clothes well. But I wouldn't complain about it." Pascual detected sexism in the way Ebbert was treated, wondering if a man would have been asked to change clothes. Do men dress inappropriately? "I see butt cracks, a lot of butt cracks," she said.

In its letter, Southwest said "there were concerns about the revealing nature of her outfit." I called Hollye Chacon, the Southwest customer relations representative who wrote the letter, to see if we were talking about the same outfit. "What exactly was being revealed?" I asked. She said yesterday she'd call back, but never did. That's pretty revealing in itself.


Totally dishonest "protesters" in Sydney

ARE these shouty protesters - and their sock puppets in the media - sure they've got the right guy in their sights? Let me check again what tomorrow's big Stop Bush 2007 rally outside Sydney's APEC meeting is demanding. Hmm. Foreign troops out. Defend workers' rights. Stop global warming.

And, indeed, at the APEC meeting is a president who really does occupy a foreign country, really does trample workers' rights and really does lead a country that now belches more greenhouse gases than any other. What's more, this president also runs a gulag, bans free speech, stacks courts, jails dissidents, executes crooks and leads a government even he admits is too corrupt. That's surely enough to tick the box of every protester in Sydney.

So here's the puzzle: why isn't tomorrow's protest called Stop Hu Jintao 2007 instead? Why do the protesters shout abuse at Bush, the elected president of democratic United States, but not boo Hu, the unelected president of communist China? Why did students this week stage a Walk Out on Bush, but stay at school for Hu? And why is the big-city media so savage against Bush, while writing headlines yesterday declaring "Hu is Australia's main man" and "Big welcome for China's leader"? None of it makes sense. What's Bush done that Hu hasn't done worse?

Under Bush, the US last year actually cut its greenhouse gases. Hu's China, though, is now the world leader, belching out more carbon dioxide every year, with no sign of slowing. Under Bush, US troops have liberated Iraq from a tyranny and are staying temporarily on the invitation of that country's elected government to keep that democracy safe.

Under Hu, China has just tightened its grip on occupied Tibet, this week demanding Beijing now approve all of Tibet's spiritual leaders. It has meanwhile propped up mad Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe and the genocidal one in Sudan and has threatened democratic Taiwan with war.

Bush isn't even a starter in any spot-the-tyrant game that includes Hu, whose country runs as many as 1000 forced labour camps, refuses to let even the Catholic Church operate openly, and last month even sent blogger He Weihua to a mental hospital for criticising local officials. So tough is Hu's regime on even foreign reporters that CNN's Beijing staff were last month stopped from reporting on media freedom in China. You'd think the media, at least, might conclude from this which of the two governments is its better friend.

Yet it's Bush, not Hu, who gets the mockery and open contempt of journalists and who is made out by protesters to be the Hitler of our times. Here's how weird is this cognitive dissonance. The Sydney Morning Herald, in its campaign to make Bush seem the nuisance who on his own whim forced a security shutdown of central Sydney, last week sought out the views even of the Communist Party of Australia. The CPA naturally obliged, huffing: "The APEC security fence that stretches through Sydney's CBD is a 'wall of shame' and undemocratic." That's brazen. You'd think anyone so upset by walls and keen on democracy would actually never have been a communist in the first place.

And you might also wonder why the Herald didn't at least note that this temporary fence to lock out violent protesters was being attacked by a party that once endorsed the Berlin Wall, built by a communist despot to lock up an entire population. But it's unfashionable even to mention "communism" as though it was a bad thing, or to note America was right to resist it then as it is right to resist Islamist fascism today.

That is a history that's erased from polite talk, and rarely taught to the children now wearing the bandannas of the Marxist Resistance group and chanting fierce slogans against capitalism and Bush. ("I pretty much disagree with everything that George Bush, like, represents," babbled one student on the ABC's PM show.)

Instead of holding old communists to account, our institutions honour them. Sydney University last year gave the CPA president, Hannah Middleton, a "community peace award" for working so hard to stop Australia from defending itself. Hu, too, is getting the warmest of welcomes. On his last visit, you'll recall, he got to address our Parliament in respectful silence, while Bush, in his own address the day before, was heckled by Greens leader Bob Brown. This time he has enjoyed a lavish dinner thrown for him by NSW Premier Morris Iemma and attended by every former Labor prime minister still alive. How grateful he was at being so honoured by the Left, saying: "I want to thank in particular Mr Whitlam, Mr Hawke and Mr Keating for attending tonight's dinner."

And how grateful he must be that journalists didn't feel such an aching desire to ridicule him that they inspected even his plate for something they could throw at his head. Contrast that with Bush having to watch his every mouthful at a barbecue held by the Prime Minister. The Sydney Morning Herald not only sent a snarky writer to check how he loaded his plate -- "I'll help you out, he told the reporter, "Here's your first sentence: 'The President takes a spoon. . .' " -- but got a health expert to whack him for eating so much meat. At a barbecue. Of all things.... so much of the rage against Bush is fundamentally insincere -- an affected hatred of much that the protesters actually would hate to go without. Like a teenager's rage against his parents.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


7 September, 2007

Sir Edward Elgar now politically incorrect but still great

The one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Edward Elgar's birth fell on June 2, 2007. This anniversary has been the spur for some strange commentaries in Britain: Elgar's music isn't modern enough; its tub-thumping pomp and circumstance state music doesn't reflect contemporary, multicultural Britain. How symbolic, some say, that Elgar's face has just disappeared from the twenty pound note to be replaced by that of sensible Scottish economist Adam Smith.

This is political correctness gone barking. It is sobering to see that true greatness of spirit can still be blithely consigned, by some, to an imaginary junk heap of artistic detritus. Sensibly, the general public won't have a bar of these musings, and no doubt Elgar's music will continue to be comprehensively celebrated and performed.

Australian artists, for many years on the receiving end of condescension from points north, can relate to Elgar's long struggle to establish himself as composer and artist in a hostile cultural environment. Anyone who tries this face-to-face on Australians these days is in for a rude surprise, though there really isn't any cure for parochialism and snobbery, which are without end. However, in some parts hereabouts, there is now, somewhat inevitably, an Australia-first campaign whereby anything English is hammered-they think-into the ground-psychic punishment for past colonial sins of omission. Percy Grainger, for example, is held up a preferable alternative to Elgar.

As a republican, I have no desire to linger in antique realms, but I'm not going to be bludgeoned into rejecting greatness when it is there before me. English critics are partly to blame for Elgar's reputation abroad with their endless references to Elgar's Englishness. Elgar's music belongs to the world, not just to England. (There is a specific Australian connection in Elgar's music. He sets Adam Lindsay Gordon's poem `The Swimmer' as the last song in Sea Pictures-`O brave white horses! you gather and gallop, / The storm sprite loosens the gusty reins . . .') If I stand on Bondi beach on a wild afternoon, hearing the surge of Alassio in my head, or, in mourning, recall that last restatement of the `Spirit of Delight' theme at the end of the Second Symphony (`the passionate pilgrimage of a soul'), this is not reflux nostalgia. Here is the music equal to the depth of life. If you want, there are certainly plenty of alternatives to choose from.

Grandeur of spirit, and passion, in art, will never be consigned to a use-by date. Elgar's story is a remarkable one of persistence through the awfulness of the English class system to the creation of great music, the first Britain had experienced since the time of Purcell. Elgar had a large chip on his shoulder because he, and his wife Alice, had to pay heavy dues in getting to this position of eminence. If, as I read, Elgar tried to wangle a peerage for himself, it would have been only what he deserved. Such splendour in the Malvern grass-the symphonies, the Violin Concerto, the Cello Concerto, the Enigma Variations, The Dream of Gerontius, Falstaff, the mass of ceremonial, occasional and salon music: all this music speaks of the seriousness and loveliness of the world, often with nobility, sometimes with wistfulness and melancholy.

You don't have to be Roman Catholic to enjoy The Dream of Gerontius. What sort of mindset is it that can't enjoy music of this kind because it doesn't fit the listener's prescriptive personal agenda. There are people who claim to be living, mentally, always in the present moment. The radical, the cutting edge, are what they crave. When you have the pile of bicycle parts waiting for you at the Whitney Biennial, why go mooning over some Degas? How tedious to sit through hours of Tristan when some hipster rap group is about to let loose at the latest in venue. But what if Elgar or Degas or Wagner are, emotionally and creatively, more radical and cutting edge, than they they have ever begun to conceive. I live only in, and for, the present moment. Too bad if the present moment is dullness enbalmed and then overhyped by the usual organs of capitalist increase.

Thus do some go their weary way, unaware of the marvels about them, forever out of reach because of ideological posturing or just plain ignorance. Well, I'm not forsaking Elgar for any whim of contemporary fashion and, if you don't know the music of this composer, do yourself a favour that will repay you in kind one hundredfold.

Knowing he had composed a masterpiece, Elgar wrote at the end of the score of Gerontius the following words of Ruskin: `This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another; my life was as a vapour, and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.' However much these words apply to Gerontius, they also apply to the whole. The grocer's daughter who became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom once told the nation, in very different circumstances, to rejoice; and we may well say of the piano tuner's son who became a composer of world renown: rejoice that such a person may triumph, and that such music can be.


It's feminism, not "paternalism", that is behind the decline in breastfeeding

THERE is an always predictable gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands when Australia's poor breastfeeding rates are released. Latest figures show that only 10 per cent of Australian mothers are complying with the World Health Organisation recommendation that newborns be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. A whopping 70 per cent are not breastfeeding at all by this time. Breastfeeding advocates have wasted little time in demanding extra funding as well as calling for changes in community attitudes, particularly to breastfeeding in public.

At the risk of sounding incredibly crass, may I suggest such calls are about as useful as tits on a bull. Women's rights advocates are not beyond engaging in misinformation about the reasons behind unacceptably low breastfeeding figures. Left-leaning feminists say the failure of mothers to do what should come naturally is the fault of an unsympathetic male-dominated society. Of course, this is as misguided as it is mischievous and will ultimately do little to improve what is a serious health issue for the country's newest generation.

The endless rationalising by feminists of why women do not breastfeed is more to do with a political agenda than providing real answers. The unpalatable truth they do not want to acknowledge is that despite society being supportive of breastfeeding, many smart, educated women simply choose convenience over giving their child the optimal start in life.

It's not chauvinistic male attitudes, but female prerogative that is behind Australia's poor breastfeeding record. We have to accept that although breast is best for the baby, it may not be best for the mother. Bottle-feeding facilitates a great many freedoms that an exclusively breastfeeding mother is simply unable to enjoy. Bottle feeding allows a mother to leave a child with another carer, for longer than a couple of hours at a time, without the onerous task of expressing sufficient milk. It allows them to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner without a stern lecture from their GP. It allows them to take the contraceptive pill. It allows them to wear a sheer blouse without the fear they will leak halfway through the day and look as if they're entering a one-woman wet T-shirt contest. They can also share all-important night-time feeding duties with their partner, while they get some much needed sleep. Simply put, bottle feeding has many charms that can be very tempting to an exhausted mother.

There needs to be a balance between what is in the best interest of a baby and offering support to mothers. There should be a heavier burden on women to breastfeed if they are able to. It's a woman's choice what she does with her own body, but when she is entrusted with the care of another life, whether in her womb or as a newborn, she has an added responsibility. The importance of this should be far greater than her own needs.

It wasn't so long ago that we thought it was paternalistic to lecture women against smoking while pregnant. Such attitudes have given way to a more sensible approach. Some woman continue to smoke during a pregnancy, but the truth is no longer sugar coated and they are left in no doubt about the harm they are causing their unborn child.

In the US, advertising campaigns encouraging breastfeeding are starting to resemble anti-smoking ads. They employ similar tactics by adopting guilt and shame strategies to make it socially unacceptable for mothers to bottle feed. A recent commercial featured syringes and inhalers designed to look like bottles. While such campaigns are bound to be successful, Australia should chose a different path in its efforts to increase breastfeeding rates.

It should be recognised that some women try to breastfeed and fail due to a variety of reasons beyond their control. A bout of sickness can have a severe impact on a mother's capacity to produce sufficient milk for a hungry child and some women find that breastfeeding does not come naturally. In my own case, I persevered through tears and tantrums for weeks until I was finally able to breastfeed as nature intended, with ease and grace. It can still be a challenge that at times requires precision planning, but it's a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing you have given your child the best start in life.

As a community we must determine what we deem of greater value, a child receiving the optimal nutrition, or a mother's right to choose an option that is more convenient to her lifestyle?


Australian etiquette queen less than impressed

Men are misunderstood, women treat men badly, Germaine Greer is old and sad and we eat like animals. That's the word from etiquette queen June Dally-Watkins who told The Daily Telegraph basic manners were in "total, total decline".

Miss Dally-Watkins, who has four children and seven grandchildren, started her deportment school in 1950 after a successful modelling career took her from the state's northwest to mixing with the Hollywood A-list, including a romance with Gregory Peck in Rome. More than 300,000 Aussies have passed through her doors and undergone gruelling lessons in how to be a lady or a gentleman, including Channel 9's Catriona Rowntree and Seven's Sonia Kruger.

But Miss Dally-Watkins, aged in her early 80s, was yesterday scathing in her assessment of where we are heading. "There is a total, total decline in manners," she said. "It is a great sadness, we are back to the barbarian age. It is the 'me generation' which interestingly, is across all age groups." She said the rise of the working parent had contributed to the decline, with schools being left to pick up the slack and teach children the basic do's and don'ts in surviving elegantly in a modern world.

Acid-tongued feminist author Germaine Greer also copped a serve for giving women the idea they don't need a man to change a lightbulb or open the car door. "Women don't understand men are very sensitive and very deep," Miss Dally-Watkins said. "Women need to show more understanding to their men.


Britain: Politically correct attitude betrays little kids: "Council chiefs let gay foster parents sexually abuse children in their care because they were scared of being seen to discriminate against them, a report has concluded. Managers and social workers at Wakefield Council, West Yorkshire, were reluctant to investigate Craig Faunch and Ian Wathey despite concerns about their behaviour, the inquiry report by the former Surrey social services chief, Brian Parrott, said. Faunch and Wathey, of Pontefract, were jailed for six and five years respectively in June 2006 for sexual offences against four boys in their care. The report said that the children were let down by “failures in performance”. Faunch and Wathey had 18 children placed with them in 18 months. Suspicions were raised when Faunch photographed one of the victims urinating. But social workers decided that the men had been simply “naive and silly”, a trial at Leeds Crown Court had heard. “The fear of being discriminatory led them to fail to discriminate between the appropriate and the abusive,” concluded the report."


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


6 September, 2007

Prejudiced Alabama council to consider revoking business license of Asian

The store owner is Asian, the woman complaining is black. He's had dozens of complaints against Black gang members hanging out on his property over the years - all ignored, but on the word of one (black) woman he's going to lose a business he's owned for 17 years.

Birmingham City Council members will investigate revoking the business license of an East Lake convenience store owner accused of assaulting a customer. Kathleen Bullard of East Lake told council members Tuesday that Ty Nyugen and his son, Hieu Nyugen, assaulted her on Aug. 17 after they thought she stole a bag of ice from the Texaco station at 421 Oporto-Madrid Boulevard. Bullard, 45, has filed assault charges against the 51-year-old father and the 18-year-old son. "I want justice," Bullard said. "He needs to be closed down."

Ty Nyugen did not attend the meeting, but in a later interview Tuesday said Bullard attacked him and he was trying to defend himself. Neighborhood leaders and residents from Gate City, Wahouma and North East Lake joined Bullard to complain about Nyugen, saying he treats patrons rudely and hurls racial insults at them. "I don't want him there," said Exie Bridges, North East Lake Neighborhood Association president. "I want him gone."

Pat Johnson, president of the Wahouma Neighborhood Association, said the store is in an area where gang members hang out. Nyugen said he does not hurl racial insults at customers and has to endure them himself. "This store has almost 2,000 customers a day," he said. "If I act that way, how would I get so much customers?" He also said he has called police about gang members loitering, but they keep coming back.

Council members said they were troubled by Bullard's account and the reports of neighborhood leaders. "It sounds like a scary place to even buy a soda," said Councilwoman Valerie Abbott. Councilman William Bell said if the accusations are true, the council should look into revoking other business licenses Nyugen owns. He has owned the Texaco station in North East Lake for 17 years, Nyugen said.

Council members said they would seek to revoke Nyugen's license. They set a public hearing for Sept. 11. Councilman Roderick Royal said residents can do more to show their immediate dissatisfaction. "Y'all need to stop going," he said.


Finding said to show "race isn't real" scrapped

A renowned scientist has backed off a finding that he, joined by others, long touted as evidence for what they called a proven fact: that racial differences among people are imaginary. That view -- entrenched today in academia, and often used to castigate scholars who study race -- has drawn much of its scientific backing from a finding that all people are 99.9 percent genetically alike. But geneticist Craig Venter, head of a research team that reported that figure in 2001, backed off it in an announcement this week. He said human variation now turns out to be seven times greater than was thought, though he's not changing his position on race. [It would be fatal to his business if he did]

Some other scientists have disputed the earlier figure for years as underestimating human variation. Venter, instead, has cited the number as key evidence that race is imaginary. He once declared that "no serious scholar" disputes that, though again, some recent studies have contradicted it.

Geneticist Armand Marie Leroi of Imperial College London wrote recently that a recognition of race could in the future help society protect endangered races. The more common past practice was for societies to oppress other races, which is largely what led some to try to banish any recognition of race altogether.

Thus, views like Leroi's have been largely marginalized. The race isn't real doctrine prevails, typically portrayed by backers as settled fact that only racists or their dupes could question. It "can be something close to professional suicide" for researchers to even suggest race exists, psychiatrist Sally Satel wrote in the Dec. 2001 Jan. 2002 issue of the magazine Policy Review.

Venter didn't originate the notion that race isn't real. But his support of it has carried great weight because he is something of a star, thanks to his key role in the highprofile Human Genome Project, completed in 2003. In a teleconference on Monday, Venter and colleagues announced their revised assessment of human diversity, based on a study of Venter's own DNA. It was the first "diploid" genome published to date, said Venter and members of his research team at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md. This means it was the first listing of the sequence of letters of genetic code from both of a person's chromosomes, the genes inherited from the mother and the father.

The findings reveal "human-to-human variation is more than sevenfold greater than earlier estimates, proving that we are in fact very unique individuals at the genetic level," Venter said. The findings are to appear in the October issue of the online research journal PLoS Biology. Venter added that the cost of sequencing an individual person's genome is rapidly dropping, and that a decade from now, "thousands or tens of thousands" will have their DNA code written out. He said the new findings were a pleasant surprise, as they show we're not all "clones" as the previous results suggested.

The original estimate showing near-zero variability in the genome, a product of the Human Genome Project, was a result of the different technology used for that work, said a colleague of Venter's, Stephen Scherer of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The technique originally used, Scherer said, could read the sequence of letters of a genetic code. But it couldn't detect repetitions of some parts of the code, which also occur. Differences in the number of these repetitions, called copy number variants, have since turned out to account for much of the variation in a species' DNA. Another type of variation recently found to be important is called insertion-deletion variants, snippets of code that are either extra or missing in some genomes compared to others.

Some researchers said that now that Venter has dropped the 99.9 percent claim, he should also admit race might exist. Denial of that "obvious" fact is "an extreme manifestation of political correctness," wrote Richard Lynn, a psychologist who has proposed links between race and intelligence, in an email. Lynn, of the University of Ulster in Ireland, added that he thinks Venter has unfairly maligned scientists who believe race exists.

Venter stuck to his guns. Race-isn't-real proponents have other arguments beside the 99.9 percentage, though these are debated also. Venter remarked that even though variability is much greater than once thought, human populations and traits blend together everywhere. That means each person could arbitrarily divide humanity into a different group of races, if he so chose. Thus "race is a social concept, not a scientific one," Venter said, repeating a common dictum.

Neil Risch of the University of California at San Francisco -- who has led research challenging that view -- said he doesn't feel maligned by Venter's statements on race and researchers of it. But the data behind those claims really gave little new insight into population differences, and "I have always felt it is best to avoid entangling genetics with politics," Risch wrote in an email.


Of Prophets, Priests, and Pansies

Last week, I reported that a number of newspapers had decided not to run a two-part storyline appearing in Berkeley Breathed's comic-strip Opus (the reincarnation of his once wildly popular Bloom County). In the comic, the main female character, Lola Granola (a name redolent with meaning), had decided to convert to radical Islam and had begun to wear a burqa. According to Editor & Publisher, some newspapers "won't publish any Muslim-related humor, whether pro or con." But, as I explained (both in my post and repeatedly in the comments), this strip wasn't making fun of Islam, but of Western "converts" who, a few years ago, might have followed Madonna into Kabbalism or Richard Gere into Buddhism.

That fact made the media's cowardice all the more telling. Now the second installment has appeared, and the story has moved from the ridiculous to the bizarre. According to Salon.com, the Washington Post Writers Group, which distributes Opus and had originally defended the two-part series (while offering an alternative selection to newspapers that wanted to opt out), would not approve the second installment until Breathed made a slight (but significant) change to the text. To push the event beyond the heights of absurdity, the Washington Post then refused to publish even the bowdlerized version.

So, what's so horribly offensive to Muslims about part two of the storyline? Again, as far as I can tell, nothing. Lola's initial enthusiasm for Islam is waning, and she's abandoned her veil. Breathed still pokes a little fun at her character, but the joke could apply equally to some conservative Christians who are perhaps a bit too hypersensitive on questions of female modesty.

Breathed reserves his main stab at humor for his lead male character, Steve Dallas. Realizing that Lola's "conversion" is just a passing phase, Steve slips into stereotypical male chauvinism, telling her that "You love that I'm so damned smart about what's best for you" and then demanding that, "In 30 seconds, you will come back out wearing that steamy little polka dot [bikini]." Just to drive the point home, Steve exclaims, "America rocks!"

Clearly, Breathed is satirizing those "conservatives" who believe that the way to combat Islam is to export our "values"--values such as, in the words of one Iraqi in the heady days after the overthrow of Saddam, "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" In fact, in the very next panel, he drives the point home, as Steve turns to his son and declares, "And that, little dude, is how we're gonna straighten out the Middle East."

Except that he doesn't. At least, not in the version approved by the Washington Post Writers Group. Only Salon.com ran the original text. All of the other papers that ran the second part of the storyline had Steve saying, "And that, little dude, is how we're gonna straighten out the world." (The final little twist in the strip makes it clear that, world or Middle East, Steve's not going to succeed in straightening out anything.)

This is political correctness at its worst. Again, Islam is not the butt of Breathed's joke. As he did last week, he deftly satirizes a certain group of contemporary Americans. What's even more strange about the decision of the Washington Post and others not to run this installment is that it's hard to hide behind the "no Muslim-related humor of any kind" justification. In fact, Islam has taken such a low-level supporting role in this installment that I have to wonder whether the concern about Steve's declaration that he's going to straighten out the Middle East has to do with another lobbying group.

In any case, it's just a cartoon, right? Of course--except that it tells us a little something about the willingness of the American media to engage in honest discussion of controversial issues. No wonder the Chicago Tribune and the Rockford Register Star both ran glowing articles about the local Muslim school in Rockford, Illinois, without ever once mentioning the many red flags that I noticed in the course of one day at the school. It's bad enough to be blind; it's even worse to poke your own eyes out.


The infantilization of public life

A few days ago my wife and I visited the Meadowbrook concert venue in lovely Gilford, New Hampshire. One of our favorite bands, the North Mississippi Allstars, was there opening up for the Allman Brothers Band, and we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

We entered the Meadowbrook grounds through a large iron gate after being lectured - twice - by a staff member that we would all be searched; that absolutely no "weapons" - including even a small pocket knife or Leatherman tool - would be permitted; that all concert-goers wishing to purchase alcoholic beverages would have to provide adequate identification to prove their age; that re-entry to the grounds is forbidden. (Before we even left home, we'd received an email from the venue which stated that no alcohol would be permitted in the parking area.)

Inside, the first thing I noticed was the police presence. They were everywhere. I've been to several concert venues in the last few years, yet I had never seen so many cops. Typically they've stayed on the periphery. At least, if there were more mingling around with us subjects they'd had the decency to be out of uniform. Here, I felt like I was in disaster area or an occupation zone.

We were instantly assailed by a variety of vendors giving away free stuff like backpacks, newspapers, and lottery tickets. United Way was there, asking for donations. I wasn't interested in any of that; I grabbed the first official looking person I saw and asked where the beer was. He sent me to the wrong place. When I got there they sent me to the "beer tent" at the back of the venue, near the lawn-seating. This was perfect - we had lawn seats. When we walked up there, however, we were told that it wasn't open yet; we'd have to use the bar back near the entrance. Without noticing, we'd walked right past this bar when we entered. Naturally, we had to show our I.D. to get past the policeman "guarding" the entrance-way to a fenced off area around the bar.

Finally, I had beer. Content, I was now ready to walk up to the lawn and find a spot to hang out and dance when the show started. Turning from the bar and heading back out of this bar area, I was stopped by the same large, militaristic-looking young policeman who'd stopped me when I was coming in. "No alcohol beyond this point," he said. So we sat down at a table and sipped our beer.

"Let's finish these and see if the beer tent is open yet," I said to my wife a few minutes later. After walking back to the lawn, we found - to our great pleasure - that the beer tent was open. Again we had to show our I.D.'s to enter a fenced-off area. Thinking that finally we'd grab a drink and find that spot on the lawn, our illusions were quickly shattered: we were not allowed to leave with our drinks.

Though our beers had been put in plastic cups, we couldn't be trusted to walk twenty-five yards and sit down on the grass; we had to stay near the bar (and the six-dollar cups of beer). At least they had good beer. Again, cops were everywhere. If you lingered too long without a drink in your hand, some conscientious staff member would encourage you step up to one of the many bartenders ready to serve you. Of course, you'd have to drink the entire cup before leaving the bar area. I couldn't help but notice how all of this encouraged quick and heavy drinking. This would keep the many police officers watching the roads around Meadowbrook in work.

We finished another drink and found our spot on the lawn, where loudspeakers blared a local radio station broadcast. Before the show started, an instantly-irritating host announced the winner of the lottery, plugged future Meadowbrook events, and informed the pavilion audience that a select and favored few of them, if they were to look under their seats, might find some "artist's" new CD, theirs to have for free. The North Mississippi Allstars played for about an hour. After they'd left the stage, the same irritating host returned to announce another lottery winner.

Knowing the place would quickly start to fill up for the Allman Brothers Band, we decided grab a quick bite to eat. There's one decent and expensive (and this is a relative term!) restaurant at Meadowbrook. There were countless vendors selling bland burgers, cold chicken tenders, cheese-covered French fries and pizza. We bought some of the crappy food and walked around. Other than a few picnic tables - which were already being used - there was nowhere in this massive place to sit down. So we kept moving.

Before heading back to the lawn we decided to answer nature's call, and waded through a sea of policeman thuggishly glaring at anyone approaching the restrooms. No doubt some malcontent had just smoked a joint in the Men's Room, elevating our protectors to Threat Level Orange or whatever.

My wife and I have a long-standing policy in large public places: if one or both of us wishes to use the restroom, we establish a meeting point where we can rendezvous when we're finished. Whoever gets there first waits right in that spot until the other returns. This prevents us from getting split up in a crowd. Unwittingly, the spot we picked was next to a predictable vendor at any place where hippies converge: the banner across the front of their stand read "Saving the World One Beat at a Time." Apparently, music doesn't require fossil fuels.

Waiting for my wife, I overhead a conversation between two nearby people. A young man was trying to hand something to a young girl. I could see them out of the corner of my eye; I'd have needed to wrap duct tape around my head to not hear them. He was pushing something towards her, and she kept pushing it away. After a minute or so of this, the item - which turned out to be a t-shirt - fell to the ground. Instantly, the young man howled at the top of his voice, "Litterer! This girl hates the Earth!" It wasn't said maliciously. Obviously he was goofing off. Yet the high volume startled me from my slumber, and I reflexively looked in their direction. At this point I made eye contact with the girl, who looked to be somewhere between 18-22 years old. I would guess her companion was the same age. Key voters a healthy democracy needs, we're constantly told.

Do you remember what it was like to be, say, 8 or 9? Elementary school days? Invariably, a friend on the playground would try to embarrass you by making a loud and scandalous allegation. "He plays with himself!" some kid might shout at you. "He's gay!" was a favorite when I was in school. "He likes girls!" was almost as bad. The point is, the instant reaction of the now-mortified victim of this verbal assault was to deflect any and all attention away from himself - preferably back on the accuser. The standard response was to point back and say, childishly, "No I don't - he does!"

Well, back to Meadowbrook. I was staring into the eyes of a now-mortified young woman who had been accused of littering and "hating the Earth." Doubtless she thought I was looking at her in reaction to the accusation. Pausing only long enough to swallow hard, she stared back at me fearfully. "No I don't," she said, hastily, pointing back at her friend, "He does!" I didn't care. I didn't say anything, just walked far enough away that I could see my wife when she returned. Blissfully, this happened within moments, sparing me any further contact with the Earth-hating couple.

It was getting dark. The Allman Brothers started to play. The first thing I noticed when the sun went down was the aroma of marijuana all around me. With lots of people now on the lawn, the police and security guards were hard pressed to identify individual offenders. Safe in relative anonymity, the kids smoked away. Another lesson from another flawed policy: prohibit something peaceful and you merely drive it, literally, into the shadows.

We got bored after about half an hour. We'd seen what we came to see, so we decided to drive around a few of the nearby towns surrounding beautiful Lake Winnipesauke before heading back home. Walking out, we were scrutinized by staff members who were probably instructed to report anyone appearing intoxicated to the police. They also reminded us - again - that re-entry was prohibited. That was fine with me; I didn't want to come back.

Reflecting on this experience the next day, I thought how much it served as an example of life in general. Police everywhere, watching our every move; approved "areas" for particular activities (like "Free Speech Zones"); the arbitrary limitation of choices (and the accompanying artificially high prices); fast food; constantly being shuffled around; mis-information; always having to show identification; endless visual, verbal, and commercial stimulation; irrational fear of everyone and what they might be doing; generally being treated like a small, irresponsible child. It would be foolish to blame all of this, as many are so tempted, on the excesses of capitalism. Meadowbrook is controlled and regulated to every last detail by government. Unsurprisingly, it resembles a public school more than a bustling marketplace. "I feel like a kid again," I said to one of the staffers that night. He smiled at me, probably thinking I'd meant it as a good thing.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


5 September, 2007



The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold


The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed.

A social worker finds the shivering grasshopper, calls a press conference and demands to know why the squirrel should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like the grasshopper, are cold and starving. The BBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper; with cuts to a video of the squirrel in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food. The British press inform people that they should be ashamed that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so, while others have plenty.

The Labour Party, Greenpeace, Animal Rights and The Grasshopper Council of GB demonstrate in front of the squirrel's house. The BBC, interrupting a cultural festival special from Notting Hill with breaking news, broadcasts a multi cultural choir singing "We Shall Overcome". Ken Livingstone rants in an interview with Trevor McDonald that the squirrel got rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the squirrel to make him pay his "fair share" and increases the charge or squirrels to enter inner London.

In response to pressure from the media, the Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The squirrel's taxes are reassessed. He is taken to court and fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as builders for the work he was doing on his home and an additional fine for contempt when he told the court the grasshopper did not want to work.

The grasshopper is provided with a council house, financial aid to furnish it and an account with a local taxi firm to ensure he can be socially mobile. The squirrel's food is seized and redistributed to the more needy members of society, in this case the grasshopper. Without enough money to buy more food, to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, the squirrel has to downsize and start building a new home.

The local authority takes over his old home and utilises it as a temporary home for asylum seeking cats who had hijacked a plane to get to Britain as they had to share their country of origin with mice. On arrival they tried to blow up the airport because of Britain's apparent love of dogs. The cats had been arrested for the international offence of hijacking and attempted bombing but were immediately released because the police fed them pilchards instead of salmon whilst in custody.

Initial moves to then return them to their own country were abandoned because it was feared they would face death by the mice. The cats devise and start a scam to obtain money from people's credit cards.

A Panorama special shows the grasshopper finishing up the last of the squirrel's food, though spring is still months away, while the council house he is in, crumbles around him because he hasn't bothered to maintain the house. He is shown to be taking drugs. Inadequate government funding is blamed for the grasshopper's drug 'illness'.

The cats seek recompense in the British courts for their treatment since arrival in UK.

The grasshopper gets arrested for stabbing an old dog during a burglary to get money for his drugs habit. He is imprisoned but released immediately because he has been in custody for a few weeks. He is placed in the care of the probation service to monitor and supervise him. Within a few weeks he has killed a guinea pig in a botched robbery. A commission of enquiry, that will eventually cost 10,000,000 and state the obvious, is set up. Additional money is put into funding a drug rehabilitation scheme for grasshoppers and legal aid for lawyers representing asylum seekers is increased.

The asylum-seeking cats are praised by the government for enriching Britain's multicultural diversity and dogs are criticised by the government for failing to befriend the cats. The grasshopper dies of a drug overdose.

The usual sections of the press blame it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity and his traumatic experience of prison. They call for the resignation of a minister.

The cats are paid a million pounds each because their rights were infringed when the government failed to inform them there were mice in the United Kingdom. The squirrel, the dogs and the victims of the hijacking, the bombing, the burglaries and robberies have to pay an additional percentage on their credit cards to cover losses, their taxes are increased to pay for law and order and they are told that they will have to work beyond 65 because of a shortfall in government funds.

Another British "social work" horror

Threat by secret court to take new-born. Big Brother knows best

A pregnant woman has been told that her baby will be taken from her at birth because she is deemed capable of "emotional abuse", even though psychiatrists treating her say there is no evidence to suggest that she will harm her child in any way.

Social services' recommendation that the baby should be taken from Fran Lyon, a 22-year-old charity worker who has five A-levels and a degree in neuroscience, was based in part on a letter from a paediatrician she has never met.

Hexham children's services, part of Northumberland County Council, said the decision had been made because Miss Lyon was likely to suffer from Munchausen's Syndrome by proxy, a condition unproven by science in which a mother will make up an illness in her child, or harm it, to draw attention to herself. Under the plan, a doctor will hand the newborn to a social worker, provided there are no medical complications. Social services' request for an emergency protection order - these are usually granted - will be heard in secret in the family court at Hexham magistrates on the same day. From then on, anyone discussing the case, including Miss Lyon, will be deemed to be in contempt of the court.

Miss Lyon, from Hexham, who is five months pregnant, is seeking a judicial review of the decision about Molly, as she calls her baby. She described it as "barbaric and draconian", and said it was "scandalous" that social services had not accepted submissions supporting her case. "The paediatrician has never met me," she said. "He is not a psychiatrist and cannot possibly make assertions about my current or future mental health. Yet his letter was the only one considered in the case conference on August 16 which lasted just 10 minutes." Northumberland County Council insists that two highly experienced doctors - another consultant paediatrician and a medical consultant - attended the case conference.

The case adds to growing concern, highlighted in a series of articles in The Sunday Telegraph, over a huge rise in the number of babies under a year old being taken from parents. The figure was 2,000 last year, three times the number 10 years ago. Critics say councils are taking more babies from parents to help them meet adoption "targets".

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP and chairman of the Justice for Families campaign group, said the case showed "exactly what is wrong with public family law". He added: "There is absolutely no evidence that Fran would harm her child. However, a vague letter from a paediatrician who has never met her has been used in a decision to remove her baby at birth, while evidence from professionals treating her, that she would have no problems has been ignored." Mr Hemming was concerned that "vague assertions" of Munchausen's Syndrome by proxy - now known as "fabricated and invented illness" - had been used to remove a number of children from parents in the North-East.

Miss Lyon came under scrutiny because she had a mental health problem when she was 16 after being physically and emotionally abused by her father and raped by a stranger. She suffered eating disorders and self-harm but, after therapy, graduated from Edinburgh University and now works for two mental health charities, Borderline and Personality Plus.

Dr Stella Newrith, a consultant psychiatrist, who treated Miss Lyon for her childhood trauma for a year, wrote to Northumberland social services stating: "There has never been any clinical evidence to suggest that Fran would put herself or others at risk, and there is certainly no evidence to suggest that she would put a child at risk of emotional, physical or sexual harm."

Despite this support, endorsed by other psychiatrists and Miss Lyon's GP, social services based their recommendation partly on a letter from Dr Martin Ward Platt, a consultant paediatrician, who was unable to attend the meeting. He wrote: "Even in the absence of a psychological assessment, if the professionals were concerned on the evidence available that Miss Holton (as Miss Lyon was briefly known), probably does fabricate or induce illness, there would be no option but the precautionary principle of taking the baby into foster care at birth, pending a post-natal forensic psychological assessment."

Miss Lyon said she was determined to fight the decision. "I know I can be a good mother to Molly. I just want the chance to prove it," she said. The council said the recommendation would be subject to further assessment and review. "When making such difficult decisions, safeguarding children is our foremost priority," a spokesman said.

* A recording of social workers threatening to take a newborn into care has been removed from the YouTube website after Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire started legal action, claiming the Data Protection Act was breached. Vanessa Brookes, 34, taped social workers telling her and her husband that they would seek to place the baby, due next month, in care, while admitting there was "no immediate risk to the child."


Democrat dumbness

Is there a major political party more stupefyingly brain-dead than the Democrats? That's the ultimate takeaway from "The Argument," Matt Bai's sharply written, exhaustively reported and thoroughly depressing account of "billionaires, bloggers, and the battle to remake Democratic politics" along unabashedly "progressive" (read: New Deal and Great Society) lines. Well-financed and influential groups ranging from the Democracy Alliance to the New Democrat Network to MoveOn.org may be taking over the Democratic Party, he says, but they are not doing the heavy thinking that will fundamentally transform politics - unlike the free-market, small-government groups formed in the wake of Barry Goldwater's historic loss in the 1964 presidential race.

Bai has the grim job of covering national politics for The New York Times Magazine, which means his livelihood depends on following closely whether the Tennessee actor-turned-politician-turned-actor-again Fred Thompson will actually run for president (a decision reportedly put off until after Labor Day, allowing an anxious nation to savor the last days of summer) and taking seriously the White House fantasies of Senator Joseph Biden (at least in Biden's presence). While sympathetic to the new progressives, Bai describes a movement long on anger and short on thought.

In detailing the machinations of superrich Democratic activists like George Soros, who blew through close to $30 million of his wealth in an unsuccessful attempt to unelect George W. Bush in 2004, and barricade-bashing cyberpunks like Markos Moulitsas Zœniga, founder of the popular Daily Kos Web site, whose participant-readers attack all things Republican with the same fervor they showed when championing the already forgotten Ned Lamont in his unsuccessful attempt to unseat Senator Joseph Lieberman in 2006, Bai reluctantly and repeatedly owns up to a hard truth: "There's not much reason to think that the Democratic Party has suddenly overcome its confusion about the passing of the industrial economy and the cold war, events that left the party, over the last few decades, groping for some new philosophical framework."

To be sure, these are giddy times for the Dems. Since last year's elections, they're back in control of the Congress they've dominated most of the time since Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term. According to a July 27-30 poll conducted for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, the general public thinks Democrats will do a much better job than Republicans not just on global warming, health care and education but also on traditional Republican bailiwicks like controlling federal spending, dealing with taxes and protecting America's interest in trade. The front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Rodham Clinton, continues to lead her Republican counterpart, Rudy Giuliani, in most polls, and a generic Democrat beats a generic Republican in 2008 too.

But as John Kerry might tell you, never write off the Democrats' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The recent farm bill passed by the House - and pushed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi - maintains subsidies to already prospering farmers, angering not just conservative budget cutters but liberal environmentalists. House and Senate Democrats allowed a revision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that broadens the scope of warrantless wiretaps just after holding hearings denouncing the man who would issue them, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for routinely abusing his power. Although the misconceived and misprosecuted war in Iraq was the issue most responsible for their return to power, Congressional Democrats have yet to put forth a coherent or convincing program to end American military involvement there.

Little wonder, then, that the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that only 24 percent of American adults approve of the job the Democratic Congress is doing. That's a decline of seven points from March. There are longer-lived trends that should worry the Democrats. In 1970, according to the Harris Poll, 49 percent of Americans considered themselves Democrats (31 percent considered themselves Republicans). In 2006, the last year for which full data are available, affiliation with the Democrats stood at 36 percent (the silver lining is that the Republicans pulled just 27 percent). If the Democrats are in fact the party of Great Society liberals, the problems run even deeper. The percentage of Americans who define their political philosophy as "liberal" has been consistently stuck around 18 percent since the 1970s, and the Democratic presidential candidate has failed to crack 50 percent of the popular vote in each of the past seven elections.

"The Argument" provides plenty of reasons to think that the Democrats, owing to an off-putting mix of elitism toward the little people and glibness toward actual policy ideas, are unlikely to go over the top anytime soon. Or, almost the same thing, to make the most of any majority they hold. The book describes Soros, after Bush's victory in 2004, coming to the realization that (in Bai's words) "it was the American people, and not their figurehead, who were misguided. ... Decadence ... had led to a society that seemed incapable of conjuring up any outrage at deceptive policies that made the rich richer and the world less safe." Rob Reiner, the Hollywood heavyweight who has contributed significantly to progressive causes and who pushed a hugely expensive universal preschool ballot initiative in California that lost by a resounding 3-to-2 ratio, interrupts a discussion by announcing: "I've got to take a leak. Talk amongst yourselves." Bai never stints on such telling and unattractive details, whether describing a poorly attended and heavily scripted MoveOn.org house party or a celebrity-soaked soiree in which the host, the billionaire Lynda Resnick, declared from the top of her Sunset Boulevard mansion's spiral staircase, "We are so tired of being disenfranchised!"

Moulitsas, the Prince Hal of the left-liberal blogosphere, comes off as an intellectual lightweight, boasting to Bai that his next book will be called "The Libertarian Democrat" but admitting that he has never read Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and social theorist, who is arguably most responsible for the contemporary libertarian movement. Moulitsas' co-author (of "Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics"), Jerome Armstrong, talks a grand game about revolutionary change, but signed on as a paid consultant to former Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, an archetypal centrist Democrat whose vapid presidential campaign ended almost as quickly as it began. When MoveOn - the Web-based "colossus" whose e-mail appeals, Bai says, have always centered on the same message: "Republicans were evil, arrogant and corrupt" - devised its member-generated agenda, it came up with a low-calorie three-point plan: "health care for all"; "energy independence through clean, renewable sources"; and "democracy restored."

Recalling a meeting of leading progressives - including Armstrong, Representative Adam Smith of Washington and Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network - just after the 2006 midterm elections, Bai writes: "Seventy years ago ... visionary Democrats had distinguished their party with the force of their intellect. Now the inheritors of that party stood on the threshold of a new economic moment, when the nation seemed likely to rise or fall on the strength of its intellectual capital, and the only thing that seemed to interest them was the machinery of politics." The argument at the heart of "The Argument" is less about vision and more about strategy.

That's bad news, even or especially for those of us who don't see large differences between Republicans and Democrats. Our political system works best - or is at least more interesting - when big ideas are being bandied about, both within parties and between them. The lack of depth among the Democrats may not hurt them in the 2008 elections - the Republicans, whose would-be presidential candidates have mostly publicly rejected evolution, are not exactly bursting with new ideas either. But it remains profoundly disappointing.


"Protests" as hot air

The APEC juggernaut has finally hit Sydney. 21 world leaders and their entourages will descend on the harbour city, while protesters from various groups are determined to make their voices heard during the week-long summit. But is there a point to all these protests?

Sydneysiders are gearing up for traffic chaos and restricted movement as security measures such as a 5km fence, public transport shutdowns and clearways are implemented in the city for the conference.

According to Prime Minister John Howard, it is the potential for violent protests rather than the visiting world leaders that has led to these severe security actions. He has stepped up his rhetoric against the potential protesters, calling them hypocrites who undermine the very values they campaign for.

So what's it all for? Protest groups say that these demonstrations help to raise awareness for issues on climate change, the war in Iraq, the rights of workers - issues that they say APEC does not support. APEC delegates however, argue that these protests are pointless and do not make a real difference. Mr Howard called on protesters to "stop for a moment and consider that if they really are worried about issues such as poverty, security and climate change, then they should support APEC and not attack it".

The protesters undoubtedly add colour to these economic and political summits. Remember the 1999 protests in Seattle during the WTO summit, or the S11 demonstrations in Melbourne in 2000 when the World Economic Forum was held? What do you remember them for - the trade issues discussed or the demonstrations? Is it fair to make such a comparison when APEC comes across as a dour multilateral organisation that sets long-term aspirational targets rather than deadlines.

So the question remains - did these protests really make a difference? Did they at least create awareness among the general public on issues such as globalisation, war, poverty, climate change and the rights of workers? Or like the international summits that they campaign against, more a symbolic talking shop, all hot air and no real action?



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


4 September, 2007

Toronto Catholic School Board Pro-Gay Harassment Policy Threatens Priests

The new "Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace" policy, recently released by the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), bans discrimination due to "same-sex partner status" and "sexual orientation". The document, a copy of which has been obtained by LifeSiteNews.com, also indicates that teachers and even parish priests could potentially be penalized for what would normally be considered remaining faithful to Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

The policy preface states, "The harassment and discrimination policy of the Toronto Catholic District School Board is deeply rooted in Catholic teaching." Nevertheless, the policy protects "same sex partner status", defining discrimination as "unfair treatment" based on "race, sex, color, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, marital status, same sex partner status, sexual orientation, age, disability, citizenship, family status, record of offences or religion (creed)."

Harassment is defined as "any vexatious behavior that threatens, intimidates, demeans, humiliates, or embarrasses a person or a group, and that a reasonable person should have known would be unwelcome. It includes actions, comments, or displays. It normally involves a course of conduct but a single act of a serious nature may constitute harassment." The long list of offenses includes, "suggestive remarks" and "the use of stereotypical images or language."

The document indicates that a staff member could use the ambiguity of many of these examples, such as behavior that "embarrasses a person," to push a pro-homosexual or other agenda that contradicts Catholic teaching.

Other examples of harassment are listed as, "differential treatment, and the avoidance or exclusion of any group or individual, for example the refusal to converse or work with an employee because of his/her racial or ethnic background." These examples also suggest that a school principal could be convicted for not hiring an active homosexual who wanted to be a youth counselor or kindergarten teacher.

The policy also indicates that the regulations apply to everyone involved in the Catholic schools, including the "parish priest". It states, "Every member of this community, student, parent/guardian, employee, contracted service provider, trustee, parish priest or others while on Board property and at Board sponsored events shares in the responsibility for creating an environment that is safe and respectful."

The policy will be enforced "within offices, staff rooms, classrooms, cafeterias/lunch rooms and other Board property events associated with and including co-instructional and extra-curricular activities situations outside of Board operated premises e.g. field trips, external work assignments, work-related conferences, training sessions, travel or social gathering."

The penalties for committing an offense are swift and severe and could lead to the offender being fired. The policy states, "Any employee found to have engaged in any type of harassment will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal." The Director of Education will "ensure that corrective measures are taken and disciplinary measures are imposed quickly and without undue delay when a complaint is substantiated, regardless of the seniority of the offender."


Methodists Sue New Jersey over Attempt to Force Gay "Marriage" at Church Owned Camp

In another case of a clash between Christian traditional values and the new secular sexual morality, the United Methodist Church group that owns a private campground retreat are suing the New Jersey government, saying its rights of religious freedom are being violated. The state is investigating a discrimination charge brought against the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association by a pair of lesbians who wanted to use the private retreat campground for a "civil union" ceremony.

The federal suit accuses the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights of "causing a substantial burden on, and chilling of," the group's "rights to unfettered religious expression, association and free exercise of religion."

New Jersey's anti-discrimination laws require those offering "goods, services, and facilities to the general public" to allow "any accommodation, service, benefit, or privilege to an individual" without "discrimination" on the basis of sexual orientation. The state of New Jersey granted legal status to homosexual civil unions in February.

But now the Methodist group is counter-suing, saying that the state of New Jersey has no right to dictate to a religious group how they use their own privately-owned facilities. The United Methodists founded the campground in the 19th century as a place for spiritual revival for the church's members. The Methodist church's guiding document, the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, specifically prohibits the denomination's clergy and churches from participating in same-sex rites.

Mark Tooley, Executive Director of UMAction, a group attempting to preserve traditional Christian teaching in the Methodist Church, said the suit is an effort to defend the church and the campground "against a potentially intrusive arm of a state government that may try to override church policies in the name of `tolerance'."

"This matter is not just about same-sex unions," said Tooley. "It is about the freedom of a religious organization to uphold its own beliefs and establish policies for its own property."

Scott Hoffman, chief administrative officer of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association told LifeSiteNews.com on July 10, that the particular part of the grounds the two women wanted to use, "is a facility we have used exclusively for our camp mission meeting and worship celebrations since 1869."

The Alliance Defense Fund is representing the Camp Meeting Association and says the state has subjected this "patently religious entity to an illegal investigation and threat of prosecution under the law."


Oppressive Leftist contempt for the morality of mainstream people

Post below lifted from David Thompson. See the original for links

Further to this and the comments following this post, I mentioned the mismatch of certain leftist moral markers with aspects of traditional working class / bourgeois morality:
"When seen in context, Thatcher's `society' quote actually chimes quite strongly with traditional working class / bourgeois morality regarding personal and familial responsibility. A similar moral aspect becomes apparent in discussions of immigration, where many working class people take the view that a person should generally pay into a benefit system before taking from it. This tends to conflict with the view, most common among middle-class leftists, that a newcomer from country X can arrive and immediately make several claims without having contributed via taxation, etc. I've read more than one Guardian commentator dismiss the former view as `typical of racist little Englanders', which rather misses the point of contention. Wherever you stand on the issue, and whatever exceptions one might imagine, my point is that quite a few middle-class leftwing commentators have casually dismissed as `racist' a moral argument based on reciprocity and a sense of community."
There's another illustration in today's Observer, in John Lloyd's review of Andrew Anthony's book, "The Fall-Out: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence":
"Anthony uses an account of his early years as a vivid, emotively charged account of a working class-born, council house-raised and comprehensive school-educated boy who came to question his parents' outlook. In one instance cited, his mother asked her local councillor why it was that she, a model tenant for many years, had become a much lower priority for rehousing than a newly arrived immigrant family. The councillor to whom Mrs Anthony complained was Tessa Jowell, until recently Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; she gave her complaining constituent `a brusque lecture on racism'.

This vignette recalls progressive, especially London, politics of the Seventies and Eighties. with an overlay of moralising political correctness which assumed prejudice on the part of a white working class and innocence on the part of those with darker skins. In a comment which must be a painful memory, Anthony observes that at university, his `enlightened concern was that [his mother] didn't do or say anything that could be construed as racist ... I was now outside, like an anthropologist, looking in'."
What's interesting here, and illustrative of a much wider phenomenon, is Jowell's apparent readiness to frame the issue in terms of racism, and Anthony's own apprehension regarding how a person might seem in certain kinds of company. And, again, there's something grimly amusing about those who most loudly profess to care for "the proletariat" showing sneery disregard for the views and moral values of that same group of people.

BOOK REVIEW of "The Fall-Out: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence" by Andrew Anthony

This is the book of an angry man who, in early middle age, has discovered that much of what he wrote, spoke about and believed that he believed has become hollow. Andrew Anthony's belief was in that set of instincts, reactions and responses that is usually described as left-liberalism, held, with varying degrees of tenacity, by a very large proportion of the British population, especially the educated middle class.

This belief is amorphous: it does not have the relatively sharp lineaments of a definite ideology, such as the various forms of revolutionary socialism. Marxism, and the regimes that ruled in its name, were by the Eighties clearly failing and often horrific, at least in their unacknowledged pasts. They were also easy to define, with fairly precise contours.

Liberal leftism, by contrast, is a state of mind, a social marker, a moral attitude. It is thus more difficult to hold up to the light, to examine what should be retained, what jettisoned. Former communists could and often did embrace a robust form of liberalism as a relief from excusing actual dictatorships or endorsing future ones. Because they had been communists, they had been constrained to accept at least a proxy responsibility for the actions of tyrannies and most of them, at least by the Eighties, when even general secretaries of the Communist party of the Soviet Union were pointing out past atrocities, wanted out.

But liberal leftism has no gulags, corrective psychiatric wards or re-education centres on its conscience: indeed, it recoils from such things. It has no party, no country, nothing that can tie it down and nothing for which it can be blamed. Until the last few years, it was not challenged from within. Now, with such recent works as Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism, Nick Cohen's What's Left? and Christopher Hitchens passim, it has some accounting to make of itself. Andrew Anthony's book takes its place with these, on their level for intelligence and intensity.

Left liberals are not now, for the most part, socialists in any organisational sense, but they at least admire those who still call themselves so, and are prepared to extend understanding to the former Soviet Union as to the present regimes in China, Cuba and Venezuela (North Korea is going a bit far). In one of the many vivid passages in this coruscating book, Anthony describes an idealistic working holiday in Nicaragua in 1988, some years after the Marxist-led Sandinistas took power. By now a fully fledged left liberal, he was nevertheless uneasily aware of problems which were not merely ascribable to poverty and the brutality of the former Somoza dictatorship, but were those of a new government which had made the peasants' economic lot in some ways worse through collectivisation, which encouraged mob justice and which committed and denied many atrocities.

At the same time, the Sandinistas had defeated a foul dictatorship, given ordinary people dignity and purpose and defied an America supporting its local bastard in the shape of Somoza. What Anthony dimly recognised, and what was to finally be driven home to him by 9/11 and its aftermath, was that here was a contradictory experience: the Sandinistas were in some ways better, in some ways worse, in some ways the same as the old regime. But that observable common sense was and is, for his former brand of politics, a forbidden conclusion. 'To question your friends was by definition to aid the enemy,' he writes.

Anthony uses an account of his early years as a vivid, emotively charged account of a working class-born, council house-raised and comprehensive school-educated boy who came to question his parents' outlook. In one instance cited, his mother asked her local councillor why it was that she, a model tenant for many years, had become a much lower priority for rehousing than a newly arrived immigrant family. The councillor to whom Mrs Anthony complained was Tessa Jowell, until recently Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; she gave her complaining constituent 'a brusque lecture on racism'.

This vignette recalls progressive, especially London, politics of the Seventies and Eighties, where largely middle-class politicians of the left did do good, did keep the local machines going, but with an overlay of moralising political correctness which assumed prejudice on the part of a white working class and innocence on the part of those with darker skins. In a comment which must be a painful memory, Anthony observes that at university, his 'enlightened concern was that she [his mother] didn't do or say anything that could be construed as racist ... I was now outside, like an anthropologist, looking in'.

With a similar, if rural, experience of growing up, getting out and looking back with contempt, I was hugely impressed and moved by the sad delicacy of his recreation of his mother, the regret that she should have been a victim of his newly adopted radical disapproval.

Two issues loom large. One is the Evil Empire. For the liberal left, America has become the 'prejudice of choice for those who pride themselves on their lack of prejudice'. He gets at Americanophobia through an Americanophobic who is American: film-maker and writer Michael Moore, whose depressingly manipulative Fahrenheit 9/11 was lauded all over Europe. Moore, whom he has interviewed, emerges as a boastful, bloated and hypocritical figure, who excuses every contradiction by the formula: 'I'm from the working class.'

Like Chomsky, Moore plays to and helps to organise world opinion against his country, on the basis of cartoon-like pastiches of its nature and actions. Anthony asks liberals to pose themselves this (the correct) question: 'What would the world look like with a different superpower?' And gives his answer: 'If we look at the real world alternatives the 20th century threw up - the British and French empires, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union [and now, he might have added, the growing power of China] - then the US begins to look quite benign'.

The second large issue is Islam. Anthony has interviewed a range of Islamic figures, including Yusuf Islam, the former pop singer Cat Stevens, who has poured some of his wealth into a Muslim school whose stated aim is to give its pupils an all-enveloping Islamic education, so that its pupils will be Muslim first and last.

For Anthony, this sealing off of the Muslim experience, the at best ambiguous, sometimes joyous, reactions to 9/11 and 7/7, the insistence of many Muslims of seeing themselves as victims - all point to a leadership of European Islam which is not, or too little, concerned with integration, understanding and the genuine multiculturalism which includes frank examination and discussion of differing cultures.

He keeps his anger level high by reminding himself and us of the attitudes of the clan from which he has defected: the guilty liberals. His constant argument, running through the book, is with other liberal-leftist journalists, especially on the Guardian, such as Madeleine Bunting, Seumas Milne and Gary Younge, writers who still believe what he once did. Guilt, he says, has eviscerated their liberalism - and turned it into a permanent form of appeasement of ideologies, personalities and actions which are, by true liberals' own lights, insupportable.

'European liberalism,' he concludes, 'is again confronted with the threat of religious censorship and, moreover, violence. Sometimes, it seems as if the struggle for the Enlightenment will have to be fought all over again, but that's only because too many liberals appear too cowed or constrained by the diktats of post-colonial discourse [translation: guilt] to assert the importance of reason and robust intellectual debate.'

Anthony came to feel, quite properly, a different kind of guilt: the guilt of one who, in turning his back on his upbringing, had closed off what was of value in it for himself or, at least, what should have excited sympathetic understanding, if not always agreement. The guilty liberalism he excoriates, in a book that retains a force and a passion and an insistence that you examine the thoughts you think that you think through some 300 finely written pages, is not a definition of the contemporary left, but a barrier to its development.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


3 September, 2007

Appeals Court Asked To Hold State Responsible for Illegally Strip Searching Children

Today Liberty Counsel filed a brief at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving a state worker who made two elementary children undress without parental consent. The case is Michael C. v. Gresbach. The eight-year-old boy, his nine-year-old sister and their parents are represented by Stephen Crampton, Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, and Wisconsin attorney Michael D. Dean.

The case involves Dana Gresbach, a social worker from the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, who, acting on a tip that Michael C. had spanked one of the children with a plastic stick, decided to examine the children at a Christian school. Gresbach entered Good Hope Christian Academy and had the principal bring the children to a private room for questioning. She instructed the principal not to call their parents and would not allow the principal to observe the investigation. Gresbach then interrogated both students, forcing the boy to raise his shirt and the girl to lift her jumper and pull down her tights for a bodily examination. After the parents found out about the incident, they were furious. Gresbach closed her investigation after finding no evidence of abuse.

The trial court ruled that there was an obvious violation of the students' Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Now, Gresbach has appealed that ruling to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case involves the fundamental issue of the constitutional right of families to be free from unwarranted intrusions by government social workers who, as here, without any parental knowledge or consent, subject children to humiliating and degrading activities. The case also raises concerns about the defiance of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare to respect basic restraints on the exercise of its enormous power. In another federal lawsuit against the same Bureau, Doe v. Heck, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that it is "patently unconstitutional" for government officials to seize a child on private school premises without a warrant or an emergency.

Stephen Crampton, Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, commented: "Government social workers cannot simply barge into a private school whenever they feel like it and strip search innocent children. Just like police officers, they must obtain a warrant, consent, or be acting in an emergency, before performing physical searches or other intrusive investigations."


Britain To Expand Police State Apparatus and ID All Subjects by 2009

The United Kingdom is now selecting companies to develop a compulsory multi-billion pound national identity card programme to complement the massive surveillance system monitoring the movements of British subjects.

The Labour government called the œ5.7 billion ID programme "another milestone" in the fight against terrorism, organised crime, and illegal immigration, while opposition parties and civil liberties groups argue the programme smacks of the police state and is another milestone in eroding the freedoms and the privacy once enjoyed by Britons.

Under this scheme Britons would be compelled to take up biometric national ID cards containing all ten fingerprints, which at some later date would also incorporate iris and face-recognition technology. Starting in 2009, all Britons applying for passports or renewing their passports would also have to apply for the ID cards. Britons have not had mandatory national ID cards since World War II, when the island kingdom was in a national crisis fighting for its survival against Nazi Germany.

"It has become increasingly clear that the methods we have traditionally relied on to prove ID are outdated, inefficient, and increasingly open to abuse," stated Home Office Minister Meg Hillier. "That has to end, and that is why we are taking the scheme forward." The government issued a notice (published in the Official Journal of the European Union) inviting firms to bid for contracts, worth between œ50 million and œ500 million, to build and run the national ID programme.

However, the Conservatives pledged Thursday to "scrap the costly white elephant" if Britons vote them back into power. "This project will do nothing to improve our security," said David Davis, the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary. "In fact independent experts like Microsoft and the LSE (London School of Economics) have pointed out that it could well make our security worse while costing the taxpayer 20 billion pounds in the process."

The Home Office's claims, that the biometric cards will add to Britain's security problems are supported by a 2006 investigation by the UK's Guardian newspaper. The Guardian proved that the new UK biometric passport - another scheme of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) - could be hacked easily by their computer expert and even more easily by those with the resources to do it - those terrorists and crime lords the system is supposed to thwart. (See here) The ID cards will use similar technology, which the EU-funded Future of Identity in the Information Society (Fidis) called "poorly conceived" and a threat to the privacy, security, and identity of EU citizens.

If Britain continues with its plan to ID all subjects biometrically and place them under surveillance, the democratic nation will have adopted major hallmarks of the police state nearly indistinguishable from communist China. The 12.4 million citizens in Shenzen City, for example, will soon have to carry new biometric ID cards containing home address, work history, background, ethnicity, religion and medical insurance. The government plans to place them under watch with a network of 20,000 cameras, in addition to 180,000 existing private security cameras in the workplace that are also monitored by the government. This programme is meant to identify criminals and social or political dissidents. About four million Britons a year are expected to get the biometric cards when they renew their passports once the scheme is off the ground.


European Commission Threatens Charitable Status of Catholic Hospitals and Schools

The European Union has threatened to open a formal investigation following complaints about the charitable tax status of schools and hospitals owned by the Catholic Church in Italy. The European Commission is questioning a 2006 law that exempts Church property form real-estate taxes, saying the benefits may by breaking EU regulations on state subsidies. The Commission confirmed that the process was begun following complaints made by "third parties."

The Catholic Church is the world's single largest and oldest charitable organisation with a two thousand year history of organised care of the poor, sick and vulnerable. The notion of state-supported charitable institutions was invented and protected by the Church throughout the development of western European societies beginning at the end of the Roman Empire.

The far left Guardian newspaper in Britain ran a story Tuesday claiming that the Church was thinking of giving up the charitable status of some of its institutions due to pressure from the government and the EU.

Without citing sources, the Guardian claimed the Church has tax exemptions amounting to _1bn a year. The Guardian cited an interview in La Stampa with a senior Vatican official, Monsignor Karel Kasteel, who is quoted saying, "The Holy See is ready to sit down at a table with the government to update the Concordat and revisit the tax issue."

Many of the Church's charitable institutions are owned and operated by legally independent religious orders, some of which began their charitable works in the earliest centuries of the post-Roman period, making them technically "private" businesses. Nevertheless, these still pay half the normal corporate tax levied on businesses in Italy.

"Once a body has economic activities attached to it, then there can be a distortion of competition and it wouldn't be the first time we look at advantages given to the Church in various member states," EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said.

EU commissioner Neelie Kroes said there was no formal investigation at the moment, but that the Commission has "addressed the Italian authorities and asked them for information about this."

In recent years, Catholic leaders in Rome have warned of increasing attacks on the freedom of the Church by European Union secularists and the extreme left. Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, warned against the "ideological prejudice" behind the Commission's move.

"To those who put into discussion the agreement between the Holy See and Italy, it's worth taking into consideration that this has produced social peace and collaborative benefits to all the Italian people," said Giuseppe Betori, secretary of the Conference.

Today government ministers and other politicians have come to the defence of the Church against the EU pressure tactics. Justice Minister Clemente Mastella "expressed concerns" while the minister in charge of infrastructure, Antonio Di Pietro, denounced the investigation, calling it "a political tool to put a wrinkle in the plans of those who do good works."

"This offensive is incredible," said Maurizio Gasparri, of the centre-right National Alliance political party. He called the threat "intolerable" interference and accused the EU of siding itself with an "anti-Catholic left" in Europe.

Rocco Buttiglione, a former government minister, said the European Commission should not feed "the suspicions of an anti-Christian European Union".

The EU has been increasing pressure on the Church, especially through its tax status. In September 2005, the EU ordered the government of Spain to start charging the Catholic Church sales tax on goods it buys such as candles, pews and land for building churches. The Commission threatened to take the Spanish government to court if it did not agree.


Even Thinking about God Boosts Positive Social Behaviour Says New Study

Thoughts related to God cultivate cooperative behaviour and generosity, according to University of British Columbia psychology researchers. In a study to be published in the September issue of Psychological Science journal, researchers investigated how thinking about God and notions of a higher power influenced positive social behaviour, specifically cooperation with others and generosity to strangers.

UBC PhD graduate Azim Shariff and UBC Assoc. Prof. Ara Norenzayan found that priming people with 'god concepts' - by activating subconscious thoughts through word games - promoted altruism. In addition, the researchers found that this effect was consistent in behaviour whether people declared themselves believers or not. The researchers also found that secular notions of civic responsibility promote cooperation and generosity. "This is a twist on an age old question - does a belief in God influence moral behaviour"" says Shariff. "We asked, does the concept of god influence cooperative behaviour" Previous attempts to answer this question have been driven by speculation and anecdote."

The research, conducted between September 2005 and July 2006 with 125 participants, is the first of its kind in North America. According to the researchers, there is little replicable empirical data using moral behaviour and religion as measures. As Shariff notes, UBC is the first to apply an implicit priming technique to capture and assess subconscious motives or goals, and their associated behavioural outcomes, to this area of concern.

Priming is an experimental procedure used by cognitive and social scientists, mainly in psychology and economics, to obtain indicators of social tendencies by implicitly inducing relevant thoughts. As priming operates largely outside explicit awareness, subjects are unlikely to consciously revise their behaviours or beliefs, the researchers say.

The researchers undertook two related studies. In both studies, groups were randomly assigned to the religious prime or to the control group. Participants in the religious prime group were given a word game and had to unscramble sentences (using spirit, divine, God, sacred and prophet). Those in the control group were given the same task with non-spiritual words. After this task, all participants played an anonymous dictator game, whereby subjects were given 10 one-dollar coins and asked to make a decision of what to keep and what to share with an anonymous recipient.

The researchers were surprised by the magnitude of the positive results for the religious prime in both studies. Sixty-eight per cent of subjects from the religious prime groups allocated $5 or more to anonymous strangers, compared to 22 per cent from groups where neutral or no concepts were activated.

In the second study the researchers also investigated the strength of the religious prime relative to a secular prime. They used concepts of civic responsibility and social justice to prime subjects (with target words civic, jury, court, police and contract) and obtained almost identical results.

"We did not anticipate such a subtle prime, simply getting participants to unscramble sentences with a few key words, having such a large effect on people's willingness to give money to strangers," said Shariff. "These are compelling findings that have substantial impact on the study of social behaviour because they draw a causal relationship between religion and acting morally - a topic of some debate. They by no means indicate that religion is necessary for moral behaviour, but it can make a substantial contribution."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


2 September, 2007

Another BBC sneer at patriotism

A BBC series on British cinema which has been criticised for its “sneery” and “witless” commentary is accused of reaching a new low tonight with an insult to the memory of Douglas Bader.

Group Captain Bader performed heroics as a fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, despite having both his legs amputated after a 1931 flying crash. An instalment of British Film Forever dedicated to war movies discusses Reach for the Sky, the 1956 Bader biopic starring Kenneth More. The voiceover, read by the comedy actress Jessica Hynes, says: “Viewers of this film might’ve thought they were having their legs pulled.”

Alison Graham, TV editor of Radio Times, said: “It purports to be a serious look at British war films, yet only British Film Forever would come up with that throwaway remark. I wonder who exactly this witless commentary is aimed at?”

The critics hope that the BBC will reedit tonight’s episode to remove the Bader remark, which appears designed to offend the audience most likely to tune in for a 95-minute special on British war films.


Multiculturalism trumps feminism

Academia's fixation on cultural sensitivity is changing the debate around female genital mutilation, with a growing number of professors and women's rights activists becoming hesitant to condemn the practice. Where feminists rallied against the operation from the pages of Ms. magazine in the 1970s, today's critics are infinitely more cautious, with most suggesting that the Western world butt out until Muslim African communities are ready to reconsider what they are doing to their daughters.

The shift in attitudes about the practice-- which in the worst of cases involves the carving out of a woman's clitoris and inner labia and can cause lifelong urinary tract infections, sterility and even death -- comes at a time when high-profile victims of the operation such as writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali and model Waris Dirie, both Somalis, have launched very public campaigns against the practice.

The issue is so explosive, it has two names -- female genital mutilation, or FGM, to those most vociferously opposed to the practice; and female genital cutting, or FGC, to those in the less-condemning camp. The latter includes the chair of anthropology at the University of Toronto, who has written a new book on the subject. Although not prepared to defend what she calls FGC, Janice Boddy defends women who undergo the operation and want the practice to continue in future generations. "There are good reasons within the society for the operation to continue, but these are cultural reasons. They are not scientific ones," says Prof. Boddy, author of Civilizing Women: British Crusades in Colonial Sudan.

Working through British and Sudanese archives, she looks at the history of FGC in that country, particularly European colonial interactions with the practice, from British nurses attempting to re-educate Sudanese midwives in the 1920s, to the country's outlawing of the practice in 1946 amid Western pressure. "It isn't a happy situation by any means. I wouldn't want it to continue. But I think that up until this point, the West has not been particularly helpful in the way that it's gone about trying to assist in the eradication," Prof. Boddy says. [Look in the mirror, Prof. Boddy]


A Strange Way to Woo Religious Voters

The Democratic Party has undertaken an ostentatious outreach to religious voters, creating a Faith Advisory Council and cultivating clergy around the country. But these efforts might be more credible if Democrats were not simultaneously trying to incite conflict between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Louisiana -- and managing to offend both groups in the process. According to a recent television ad run by the Louisiana Democratic Party, the leading Republican candidate for governor, Bobby Jindal, has "insulted thousands of Louisiana Protestants" by describing their beliefs as "scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical." Jindal, the attack goes on, "doubts the morals and questions the beliefs of Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals and other Protestant religions."

The ad is theologically ignorant -- Methodism and the others are not "religions," they are denominations. The main problem, however, is that the ad stretches the truth so phyllo-thin it can only be called a smear. Jindal -- a convert to Christianity from a Hindu background -- has none of the politician's typical reticence on religion. "I'm proud of my faith," he told me in a phone interview. "I believe in God, that Jesus died and rose. I can't divide my public and private conscience. I can't stop being a Christian, and wouldn't want to for a moment of the day."

And Jindal's chosen tradition is a muscular Roman Catholicism. In an article published in the 1990s, he argued, "The same Catholic Church which infallibly determined the canon of the Bible must be trusted to interpret her handiwork; the alternative is to trust individual Christians, burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their 'utterly depraved' minds, to overcome their tendency to rationalize, their selfish desires, and other effects of original sin." And elsewhere: "The choice is between Catholicism's authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy."

This is the whole basis for the Democratic attack -- that Jindal holds an orthodox view of his own faith and rejects the Protestant Reformation. He has asserted, in short, that Roman Catholicism is correct -- and that other religious traditions, by implication, are prone to error. This is presumably the main reason to convert to Catholicism: because it most closely approximates the truth. And speaking for a moment as a Protestant: How does it insult us that Roman Catholics believe in . . . Roman Catholicism? We had gathered that much.

This Democratic ad is not merely a tin-eared political blunder; it reveals a secular, liberal attitude: that strong religious beliefs are themselves a kind of scandal; that a vigorous defense of Roman Catholicism is somehow a gaffe. This is a strange, distorted view of pluralism, which once meant civility, respect and common enterprise among people with strongly held and differing convictions. In the liberal view, pluralism means a public square purged of intolerance -- defined as the belief in exclusive truth-claims and absolute right and wrong. And this view of pluralism can easily become oppressive, as the "intolerant" are expected to be silent.

On the receiving end of those expectations, Jindal has given these issues considerable thought. "This would be a poorer society," he told me, "if pluralism meant the least common denominator, if we couldn't hold a passionate, well-articulated belief system. If you enforce a liberalism devoid of content, you end up with the very violations of freedom you were trying to prevent in the first place."

On the evidence of the Louisiana ad, Democrats have learned little about the religious and political trends of the last few decades. For all its faults, the religious right built strong ties between conservative Catholics and conservative Protestants on issues such as abortion and family values, after centuries of mutual suspicion. Evangelicals gained a deep affection for Pope John Paul II and respect for Catholic conservatives such as Justice Antonin Scalia. And conservative Protestants recognize that secularist attacks on Catholic convictions are really attacks on all religious convictions and could easily be turned their way.

"The most passionate defenders of my beliefs," says Jindal, "have come from people who don't share my beliefs." In one account in the Times-Picayune, the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans, David E. Crosby, gave this reaction to Jindal's writings: "Anybody who reads this whole article and ends up angry just needs to grow up." That is a good definition of genuine pluralism -- an adult respect for the strong convictions of others.

"Bigotry," said Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton, "may be roughly defined as the anger of men who have no opinions . . . the appalling frenzy of the indifferent." And religious bigotry is offensive everywhere, including on the bayou.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 September, 2007

Home Depot employee fired for stopping thief

Dustin Chester is job hunting this week, after The Home Depot fired him and the general manager for thwarting a thief from running away with a pocket full of stolen cash. Last week, the 24-year-old department manager confronted a man who was standing by a soda machine in front of the Murfreesboro store off Old Fort Parkway holding a crowbar and a wad of cash. When the suspect started running, Chester said his instincts took over. He was fired Monday for violations of company policy in the incident.

"When he ran, I ran after him," he said. Chester caught the thief and restrained him in the parking lot until police arrived. Chester was shocked to find out that for managers and most employees, catching and detaining thieves is against company policy. "The district manager told me that we are supposed to let thieves walk away; it blew my mind," said Chester, a one-time employee of the year.

The Home Depot said its policy, which directs workers to notify loss prevention specialists or police to handle criminal situations, is in place to protect its employees and customers. "The associates involved were not following company policy, resulting in this disciplinary action," said Don Harrison, spokesman for the Atlanta-based company. "Safety is a primary focus for our company." The former general manager could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Chester said there was no loss prevention officer on duty during the Aug. 20 incident and that in his seven years, he'd never heard of the company's policy. But even if he had known how the company wanted him to act, it wouldn't have made a difference. "He had a crowbar, and what if he had come inside and gone after customers or the employees working at the registers?" Chester asked. "I'd rather have him coming at me than going after any of the customers."

The suspect was taken into custody and transported to Middle Tennessee Medical Center for treatment. It was unknown Tuesday if he was charged. So for protecting his "work family" and loyal customers, Chester, an MTSU graduate, finds himself unemployed. Chester said he wouldn't pursue any legal recourse. Considering how the corporate managers handled the situation, he doesn't want his job back. "I'm probably better off not working for a company like that," Chester said. "It seems like the company is being run by lawyers, who are worried more about lawsuits than employees. "A situation like this really shows what this corporation believes in — it's sad that they would do this to two people who were just trying to help out."


Cal Thomas: Vanishing England

Perhaps there will not always be an England. An exodus unprecedented in modern times, coupled with a record influx of foreigners, is threatening to erode the character of the land of William Shakespeare and overpowering monarchs, a land that served as the cradle for much of American thought, law and culture. The figures, making headlines in London newspapers, tell only part of the story. Between June 2005 and June 2006 nearly 200,000 British citizens chose to leave the country for a new life elsewhere. During the same period, at least 574,000 immigrants came to Britain. This number does not include the people who broke the law to get there, or the thousands unknown to the government.

Britain's Office of National Statistics reports that middle-class Britons are beginning to move out of towns in southern England that have become home to large numbers of immigrants, thereby altering the character of neighborhoods that have remained unchanged for generations.

Britons give many reasons for leaving, but their stories share one commonality: Life in Britain has become unbearable for them. They fear lawlessness and the threat of more terrorism from a growing Muslim population and the loss of a sense of Britishness, exacerbated by the growing refusal of public schools to teach the history and culture of the nation to the next generation. What it means to be British has been watered down in a plague of political correctness that has swept the country. Officials say they do not wish to "offend" others.

Hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers are about to be granted "amnesty" to stay in Britain. The government's approach is similar to that pursued by President Bush, who failed to win congressional approval for his amnesty plan. In Britain it appears likely to succeed. Migrants will be granted immediate access to many benefits, including top priority for council housing. Taxpayers will foot the bill.

The Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, called the policy a "stealth amnesty." Again, in a comment reminiscent of the debate in America, Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said: "This is yet another example of the Alice in Wonderland world of human rights. If you break British law for long enough, you acquire rights, not penalties."

British media have carried stories about an Italian immigrant who murdered a schoolteacher and was sentenced to life in prison. He is about to be released after serving just 12 years. The government wants to deport him to Italy, but a combination of British human rights legislation and European Union law are making it impossible to do so. This does not bode well for deporting Islamic terrorists who call for the overthrow of the government and incite young people to acts of violence.

Abraham Lincoln said no nation can exist half slave and half free. Neither can a nation be sustained if it allows conditions that result in mass emigration, while importing huge numbers of foreigners who come from backgrounds that do not practice assimilation or tolerance of other beliefs.

When one factors in the high number of abortions (one in five pregnancies are aborted in England and Wales), the high birth rates of immigrants (15 times those of white Britons), it doesn't take a population expert to predict that the days of the England we have known may be numbered.

The problem for Britain and the United States isn't just the change in demographics. It is the reluctance of both countries to inculcate the beliefs, history and, yes, religious ideals, which made our nations so successful that others wanted to come and be a part of them. The difference between many of the current immigrants and those of the past is that the previous ones wanted to become fully American or fully British. The current ones, in too many cases, would destroy what makes our countries unique. And the "leaders" of Britain and America refuse to stop it. The greater tragedy is that the people of Britain have little say in any of this, so they are taking the road of last resort. They are leaving.


The Delaware News Journal: A supercilious, politically correct organ

Post below lifted from Colossus

A few days ago I e-mailed the News Journal asking why this article failed to mention the race of the assailants who have been victimizing Hispanics recently. They responded with their editorial policy regarding such matters, established by an asst. managing editor. Note that in its first paragraph, it says it's "not about being politically correct." You be the judge:
Our policy is not about being politically correct, it's about being accurate. Race is such an unreliable descriptor. What race is Halle Berry or Tiger Woods or Jennifer Lopez? They are extreme examples, but project them onto everyday people and you see the problem.

Or what real information is conveyed in a description that says: She is a 5-foot-6-inch white woman with brown hair? How many women fit that description? Who is that of use to? By the way, that description is of me -- and I haven't committed any crimes.

I offer you these excerpts from Keith M. Woods, a noted journalism scholar, in an essay called "The Language of Race": "What, for example, does a Hispanic man look like? Is his skin dark brown? Reddish brown? Pale? Is his hair straight? Curly? Course? Fine? Does he have a flat, curved nose or is it narrow and straight? Telling the public that he's 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, with a blue shirt and blue jeans says something about the person's appearance. But what do you add to that picture when you say Latino?

"And what is black? It's the color of pitch. Yet, the word is used to describe people whose skin tones can cover just about every racial and ethnic group in the world, including white people. What does the word "black" add to the mental picture the public draws? How do you draw the lips? The eyes? The nose? What sort of hair does a black person have? What color skin does a black person have? The combinations are infinite.

"All racial and ethnic groups do share some common physical characteristics. Still, we don't see the phrase "Irish-looking man" in the newspaper, though red hair and pale skin are common Irish characteristics. Would a picture come to mind if a TV anchor said, "The suspect appeared to be Italian"? Couldn't many of us conjure an image if the police said they were looking for a middle-aged man described as "Jewish-looking."

"There are good reasons those descriptions never see the light of day. They generalize. They stereotype. And they require that everyone who hears the description has the same idea of what those folks look like. All Irish-Americans don't look alike. Why, then, accept a description that says a suspect was African-American?

When police have a surveillance photo of a suspect or a sketch -- by far the best way to help citizens identify someone sought by the police -- we are happy to run that.
Personally, I am struck by the absolute arrogance of this. Keep in mind that the police report and local radio all included the race of the attackers in their reports of the incidents against local Hispanics. (Note, too, the irony that "Hispanic" was used in the NJ to describe the victims ... OK, I know I know ... they or the police probably told the NJ themselves their ethnic background, but you get the point.) I mean, consider:

If there was a killer out there, wouldn't you want this information -- to narrow down the number of potential suspects just a little??

A LOT! You've now excluded a TON of potential suspects! And doesn't the editor realize that this 5-foot-8, 180 lb. man can actually change his "blue shirt" and "blue jeans" -- but not his race? Are you kidding me??

That's right, we don't see the phrase "Irish-looking man." We do see -- and should see -- the phrase "white man with pale complexion and red hair." "Irish" is not a race, after all. Nor is "Jewish."

See response above. "Irish" is not a race much like "Nigerian" is not. White is a race as is "black." In the US, "black" is synonymous with "African-American" (due to, I might add, the insistence of [some] black leaders). This is why the public would be best informed if the race of police suspects was revealed along with other pertinent info.

But here you have it -- to the News Journal, valuable information for the public isn't as paramount as being fearful of "stereotyping" a group of people. Despite what the NJ says to the contrary, this is the epitome of political correctness, folks.

Life among Australia's "noble savages"

It was nine in the morning when the teacher set out by car to round up the usual suspects, children hopeful of spending their day playing in the dust of their Cape York community rather than endure hours confined to a classroom. Something caught his eye. Stepping out of his car, the teacher walked slowly into the yard of a property where debris from a drunken party held the previous night radiated from a large, deep pit of ashes. And on the edge of the ashes was a naked baby girl, about six months old.

"It was the most traumatic thing I have ever seen," the teacher told The Weekend Australian yesterday. "She was not able to crawl, and she was past crying. She was all grey from the ashes of the fire -- just the moisture of her mouth and eyes were different. She was near death. "I picked her up and screamed out, who's baby was she, and people were walking past and just turning their heads away. They didn't want to know. "I ran to the car and put the bub on the front seat and drove to the hospital where they immediately cleaned the ash from her mouth, nose and ears, and put a drip into her arm. "She lived. It was not until about 10 that night that her parents turned up at the hospital and said they understood their baby was there," the teacher said. "It was reported to the Department of Child Safety and they spoke to the parents, but the child stayed with the family.

"This is all about grog and showed me once and for all just how stupid it is. How could a mother, or other family members for that matter, just forget they put a baby down in the ashes of a fire and leave her there?"

The incident, which occurred several months ago, speaks volumes on the task facing the teams spearheading the federal Government's intervention into indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. It also brings into question their tactics, as they prepare to impose restrictions on alcohol. John Howard is likely to get a first-hand look at the problem of alcohol abuse this week when he tours several communities in the Territory that will be affected by his emergency intervention package.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has been critical of the federal Government's approach of applying blanket alcohol bans, arguing that Queensland's alcohol management plan was a much better approach. "We will look at the Prime Minister's plan," Mr Beattie said in June, "but banning alcohol won't work. "You have to progressively bring in change. We need (alcohol management) plans that are stable and sensible, not a gimmick for a federal election."

Such restrictions have been in place in Cape York for years yet they did nothing to prevent a six-month-old baby being abandoned in the ashes of a fire. Many in Cape York doubt the effectiveness of such measures and are demanding a complete ban on grog. For the Cape York teacher confronted with the reality of a community's spiral into hopelessness, there is no debate: "The alcohol restrictions on these communities don't go far enough -- there should be no grog allowed at all until people learn to handle it with some responsibility."

Yet in Brisbane yesterday, Communities Minister Warren Pitt revealed that alcohol management plans in all Cape York communities were under review. The state's clampdown on grog followed a report -- commissioned by the Beattie Government in 2001 -- by Tony Fitzgerald QC. He was tasked with investigating justice issues in remote indigenous communities and making recommendations to curb violence and child abuse.

In 2002, the state Government introduced the first AMP in Aurukun, on western Cape York. The community is the home of the powerful Wik people of native title fame. If reforms were to succeed in Cape York, it was imperative that Aurukun be a partner, not an enemy. Trading hours at the community's hotel were restricted to between 3pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday, with only light and mid-strength beer allowed, and no takeaways. Yet the restrictions have begun to slip. Saturday trading between 10am and 2pm has been allowed on occasion, sparking anger among some who say it destroys any hope of a decent weekend spent with parents and children.

Restrictions in other communities are even tighter, with no wet canteen in Doomadgee in the Gulf, and Hopevale, on eastern Cape York. In an echo of the policy about to be imposed in the Territory, locals are each allowed to bring in a carton of low- or mid-strength beer, but there are certain public places where it cannot be consumed. No wine or spirits are allowed. Fines apply if the rules are broken, with the most severe penalties being $75,000 and-or 18 months' imprisonment. But in many instances, locals view the rules as a challenge to be overcome. Sly-grogging is rife, particularly at night when the over-worked police are not on duty.

At a time when locals are busy beating the restrictions, Mr Pitt yesterday said that aspects of the alcohol management policy were wrong. "For instance, I intend to address the issue of the provision of rehabilitation and detoxification centres for people from the communities." He said he would look, on a case-by-case basis, at each community to see how the AMP should be altered -- with enormous pressure being applied for relaxation of the takeaway policy. The Government is also under pressure from public servants in the communities to allow them to have alcohol for private consumption. With the approval of the locals, Mr Pitt released a 66-page evaluation of an AMP from an unnamed Cape community, where children in one in five households were at risk of abuse.

The report tells a different story from what is normally presented -- the review team was told the alcohol restrictions had done little to reduce crime and violence, although the assaults that occurred were not as serious as previously. "The director of nursing estimates that around 20 per cent of households in the community present an environment where there is a significant risk of child abuse and-or neglect," the report states. "The director confirmed reports that the majority of the notifications for child abuse and neglect made last year derived from a relatively small section of the community. Significantly, among these notifications were a small but critical number for suspected sexual abuse of children under six years of age."

Yet statistics compiled for the community appear to give lie to what was told to the review team. According to the statistics, reports of serious assaults fell 12.3per cent in the first year of the AMP, from 81 to 71, and in the second year, there was a further reduction to 58 -- a 28.4per cent drop over the two years. The report also raises doubts about the reduction in alcohol consumption: "The review team was told underage drinking has increased, particularly among young women and girls."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.