The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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Postmodernism is fundamentally frivolous. Postmodernists routinely condemn racism and intolerance as wrong but then say that there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are clearly not being serious. Either they do not really believe in moral nihilism or they believe that racism cannot be condemned!

Postmodernism is in fact just a tantrum. Post-Soviet reality in particular suits Leftists so badly that their response is to deny that reality exists. That they can be so dishonest, however, simply shows how psychopathic they are.


31 August, 2012

Cosseted Americans have become soft and have lost the can-do spirit

Ancient Carthage became soft on the easy living provided by trade and ended up depending on mercenaries to defend it. As Cato said: "Delenda est Carthago" (Carthage is destroyed) --JR

P. J. O'Rourke

When did America quit bragging? When did we stop punching hardest, kicking highest, roaring loudest, beating the devil, and leaving everybody else in the dust?

We’re the richest country on earth—four and a half percent of the world’s people producing more than twenty percent of the world’s wealth. But you wouldn’t know from the cheapjack spending squabbles in Congress. We possess more military power than the rest of the planet combined. Though you couldn’t tell by the way we’re treated by everyone from the impotent Kremlin to the raggedy councils of the Taliban. The earth is ours. We have the might and means to achieve the spectacular—and no intention of doing so.

Witness our foreign policy deliberations, mired in snits about what kind of underachievement to pursue. Should we quit following North Korea’s Twitter feeds? Unfriend Iran on Facebook? Withdraw our troops from the nuclei of terrorism too soon or much too soon? Aid Bashar al-Assad or abet him? Appease China little by little or all at once?

Consider our domestic policy debates—a people once proverbial for our risk-taking, our biggest election-year issue is now health insurance.

And we fret ceaselessly over balancing the budget as if the first duty of nationhood is to be a thrifty parent trying to skimp on a country’s infrastructure with a box of “Highway Helper.”

The United States has set itself on a course of willful self-diminishment. Seventy-four years ago the perfect American was Superman, who happened to have been, like many of our forefathers, an undocumented alien. If Superman arrived today—assuming he could get past the INS and Homeland Security—he would be faster than the postal service, more powerful than a New York Times blogger, and able to ascend tall buildings in a single elevator.

But they wouldn’t be the tallest buildings, at least not if Superman stuck around Gotham. Nine out of ten of the tallest buildings in the world are now in Asia or the Middle East. Tallest is Burj Khalifa in Dubai. At 2,723 feet, it’s nearly twice as high as Chicago’s Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower. The last time America built the tallest building was when people were still ordering things by mail from the Sears catalog in 1974.

The fastest car you can buy is the French-built Bugatti Veyron, which, at 267 miles per hour, is quicker than a Dominique Strauss-Kahn seduction. The fastest train is the Shanghai Maglev, which goes 268 mph just to get from the airport to downtown.

The biggest passenger airplane is the EU’s Airbus A380. The biggest airplane of all is the Russian Antonov An-225, now based in that hotbed of progress, Ukraine.

The fastest commercial aircraft was the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic transport, which began scheduled flights in the disco era and went out of service in 2003. America helped kill it by banning flights over the US landmass for fear that the sonic booms would interrupt us while we were talking to our plants or something. And America helped kill a newer generation of longer-range, more fuel-efficient SSTs by cutting off government funding in 1971.

The US does hold the record for the fastest military aircraft, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, flying at just over 2,193 mph. But that record was set while Gerald Ford was president, in an airplane built when President Obama was still in pull-ups.

The fastest passenger ship is American too, the SS United States, with a top speed of 38 knots. On July 7, 1952, it won the Atlantic crossing “Blue Riband,” beating the fourteen-year-old record held by the RMS Queen Mary by ten hours and two minutes. Today the United States sits derelict and rusting at a dock in Philadelphia.

The largest passenger ships in service are Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class trips-to-nowhere cruise vessels, built in Finland. The largest container ships, floating testimonies to the decline in American manufacturing, are launched in Denmark. The largest supertankers, with their proclamation of continuing dependence on nineteenth-century energy technology, are made in South Korea.

But America has both the largest and the fastest warships, useful for getting numerous military personnel stateside quickly so that the next wars can be fought by the Afghan army, our NATO allies, African Union troops, Israel, and UN peacekeepers.

The list of our sub-marvels and un-wonders goes on. The Hoover Dam is by no means the world’s highest. It doesn’t even rank in the top twenty. Number one is the Nurek Dam in Tajikistan, a country that hardly has any water.

For fifty years, from 1931 to 1981, the US had the longest suspension bridge spans, first with the George Washington Bridge, then the Golden Gate, then the Verrazano-Narrows. Now even Hull, England, has a more spectacular place to make a bungee jump. Although we are in the lead with that. The elasticized drop from Colorado’s Royal Gorge Bridge is 1,053 feet long, showing that whatever America has lost in technological superiority we’ve made up for in sheer idiotic behavior.

Speaking of which, there’s our space program, which has basically ceased to exist. We have a NASA that might as well have been dreamed up by Alger Hiss. In order for Americans to get to the International Space Station, they have to go to Russia.

And in order for Americans to get to the bottom of how the universe works, they have to go to Switzerland. We were planning to build a high-energy particle collider in Texas that would have had a circumference of fifty-four miles—three times the size and power of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva. But Congress canceled the project in 1993.

America has had plenty of reasons to abdicate the crown of accomplishment and marry the Wallis Simpson of homely domestic concerns. Received wisdom tells us that, in the matter of great works and vast mechanisms, all is vanity. The Nurek Dam probably endangers some species of Nurek newt and will one day come crashing down in a manner that will make the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima tsunami look like an overwatered lawn. And we have better things to spend our country’s money on, like putting a Starbucks on every city block. But I suspect there’s a sadder reason for America’s post-eminence in things tremendous, overwhelming, and awesome.

My sad generation of baby boomers can be blamed. We were born into an America where material needs were fulfilled to a degree unprecedented in history. We were a demographic benison, cherished and taught to be self-cherishing. We were cosseted by a lush economy and spoiled by a society grown permissive in its fatigue with the strictures of depression and war. The child being father to the man, and necessity being the mother of invention, we wound up as the orphans of effort and ingenuity. And pleased to be so. Sixty-six years of us would be enough to take the starch out of any nation.

Much more HERE

Only conservatives can commit hate crimes

Last week, a man with a master's degree from George Mason University, a gun and 50 rounds of ammo walked into the Family Research Council. When a building manager named Leo Johnson blocked his entry, he shot Leo in the arm.

Leo Johnson wrestled the shooter to the ground, saving untold lives. The shooter then begged for mercy from the unarmed man, saying something like, "Don't shoot me. It was not about you. It was what this place stands for."

In the shooter's backpack were 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, which he apparently planned to drop on the bodies of the many people he wanted to kill. The shooter's parents later told police that he "has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner."

The shooter (whom I refuse to name) has been charged with assault with intent to kill and with bringing a firearm across state lines. But he has not been charged with violating D.C.'s hate crime laws.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has come under considerable just criticism for lumping in "anti-gay" groups like FRC with hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. But a more serious double standard has so far flown under the radar screen.

It's bad when a private group misuses its social capital fighting genuine civil rights abuses to label a mainstream Christian advocacy group a hate group. But it's far worse when the police fail to enforce the law equally. And that is what I believe is happening. Why has the D.C. police refused to prosecute as a potential hate crime what the FBI is investigating as an act of domestic terrorism?

The D.C. anti-bias statute is quite broad and its language clearly includes politically motivated crimes:

"'Bias-related crime' means a designated act that demonstrates an accused's prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibility, homelessness, physical disability, matriculation, or political affiliation of a victim of the subject designated act." D.C. Code 22-3701.

On Aug. 16 the Anti-Defamation League issued a press release and called on the Metropolitan Police to investigate the crime as a possible hate crime:

"We are confident that the Metropolitan Police Department will fully investigate this crime. If the facts reveal that the perpetrator was motivated by unlawful bias, law enforcement authorities should consider prosecution under the D.C. Bias Crime Statute."

So why hasn't the shooter been charged with a hate crime?

The Family Research Council opposes hate crimes laws, but that should have nothing to do with whether a law on the books gets enforced equally. Bias crimes are based on the theory that the victims of a bias crime are not just the individual harmed, but all others in the class intended to be terrorized by the crime.

Is political pressure in liberal D.C. keeping the police from enforcing the law?

I ask this question in part for a personal reason. The FRC shooting came a week after a package addressed to me personally showed up in the National Organization for Marriage offices filled with feces and hate and used condoms. (I have stepped down from the NOM board, but apparently the guy who dropped off the package isn't keeping up with the latest.)

According to NOM office workers who were there at the time, the police wanted to investigate it as a potential hate crime. The police LGBT hate crimes division was called to the scene (odd, because obviously the hatred thus expressed against me and NOM was not directed at LGBT people) and told the cops not to investigate it as a hate crime. The cops tried to argue with them, but no deal.

In at least two instances, to my direct knowledge, a crime directed at a person or organization who opposes gay marriage was not investigated by D.C. cops as a bias crime.

A nasty package is a minor event. A shooter who intended mass murder is deadly serious.

Together they make up a pattern.

Do we have to wait for a third incident before the police of the District of Columbia, which is ultimately controlled by Congress, act to make sure the laws are enforced equally for all?


Must not try to brighten up common areas of British welfare housing

Residents of a block of flats have been ordered to take pictures down from communal walls because they are dangerous and breach health and safety rules.

Housing bosses have warned the tenants of nine properties in Stockport, Greater Manchester, that any ‘non-compliant’ photos and portraits will be removed and eventually destroyed after an inspection tomorrow.

Even doormats are being outlawed by the killjoys who say they are too dangerous.

Those living there say they have put up their own pictures to brighten up the corridors and some photos belonged to a former neighbour who has died.

But to their dismay they were warned of the inspection in a letter from social landlord Stockport Homes, which runs their building.

It said ‘obstructive’ or ‘combustible’ items - including doormats as well as picture frames - were banned from communal areas because they could potentially pose a fire hazard.

The letter, signed by neighbourhood housing officer Abbie Booth, said Stockport Homes was prepared to allow just two pictures in the entire ground floor corridor - one on each side of the hallway.

The letter warns anyone who fails to do so will be in breach of their tenancy agreement.

Resident Stewart Edge, 64, said he and his neighbours had been ‘gobsmacked’ by the warning. Mr Edge, who has lived in the block for 12 years, said: 'It seems ridiculous. We were just trying to brighten up our home and we’re really hurt that we’re going to have to take them down.

'It’s very heavy-handed and I just can’t believe they see this as a priority and something they should be devoting time to enforcing.

'If a picture frame is a fire hazard then I don’t know where you draw the line. Surely sending out these pointless letters could be classed as a fire hazard as well?

'It’s just so over the top and bizarre it’s hard to know whether to laugh or actually get quite angry about it.'

Stockport Homes was not available for comment.

Joan Marshall, 68, told The Sun: 'It’s stupid — we all want to keep the pictures up. We all see the corridors as part of our homes.'


End of welfare culture as young Brits must work unpaid before claiming benefits

Young people will have to complete three months of work experience before they can claim unemployment benefits under Government plans to end the “something for nothing” welfare culture.

The plans are the first step toward establishing a “contributory” benefits system, where only those who have put something into society can expect payouts.

Chris Grayling, the work minister, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, announced a pilot scheme which will involve about 6,000 people who have not worked for six months being forced to gain job experience.

The scheme will be rolled out nationwide next year. Mr Grayling said: “Many other countries don’t allow young people to claim any benefits at all until they have made contributions through a job.

“This trial will give a clear idea of the impact of an approach that says, effectively, you can’t get something back until you have put something in.”

He added: “Its time to look at a different way in Britain. A 'something for nothing’ culture does no one any favours. It makes those who are doing the right thing cynical. And for those who head straight into the welfare state, it sets them out in life on precisely the wrong footing.”

Areas that were hit by riots last summer, including Croydon and Haringey, will be among the first where the scheme is tested. Currently, people can claim benefits for at least six months before being pushed into back-to-work programmes. Unemployment benefit is worth £56 a week but claimants also qualify for a range of other handouts.

The Conservatives are expected to make further toughening of the welfare system the centrepiece of their next election manifesto.

Ministers are studying foreign benefits payments which often limit how long people can claim state payouts, or which attach other onerous conditions.

Official figures are expected to show that there are still hundreds of thousands of British households where no one has ever worked.

Teenagers from these homes often sign on to benefits as soon as they leave school, with little prospect of ever entering the workplace.

Under the new pilot scheme, those aged between 18 and 24 with less than six months history of paid work will have to complete 30 hours a week of work experience for three months. They will also be given training on writing a CV and interview technique. They will not receive benefits unless they attend the placements.

Boris Johnson said: “It’s no secret that work experience can be the key that opens the door to a successful career and more young Londoners need to be given the opportunity to do it.

“Right now, it’s a tough labour market out there and we have to ensure that all young people get the skills they need to succeed and for which employers are crying out.”

The Government recently won a legal case after young unemployed people objected to being asked to complete voluntary work experience schemes. A judge dismissed claims that the schemes amounted to “slave labour”.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


30 August, 2012

A cry of rage at beauty ideals

The British lady writing below exudes rage very ably but I cannot see that she makes any argument against Western beauty ideals and those who are influenced by them. Anger and abuse is supposed to substitute for rational argument, apparently. Very Leftist. But it IS from "The Guardian" so most of its readers will simply enjoy the injection of rage, regardless of its intolerance

I don't actually see that she CAN make an argument against aesthetic preferences: "De gustibus non disputandum est". So perhaps rage is all that is left.

The author's facial skin (below) looks rather stretched. I wonder ..... Leftist hypocrisy would be nothing new

This weekend, I am off to interview a young Hollywood starlet. She is pale-skinned, blue-eyed, with golden hair falling lustrously about her shoulders. She resembles nothing less than a modern take on Botticelli's Venus, short merely of a clamshell. On closer inspection, this goddess is not actually that beautiful – charming certainly, but without the harmonious symmetry of planes and plumpness conventional notions demand. And, yet, she has The Package: the constituents that are perceived to win her leading roles and heartthrob boyfriends, and are a source of emulation for millions – punishingly so for some.

Meanwhile, on the cover of September's O, or Oprah magazine – Winfrey's influential "empowerment"-focused organ – our heroine is shown letting her hair down, or rather up and out. For, behold, she is sporting a lavish afro rather than the Wasp blow-dry she usually favours – as advocated by the $9bn black hair industry examined in Chris Rock's 2009 documentary, Good Hair. Winfrey, at 58, has never looked more beautiful.

Yet, even for a woman who has championed both black and feminist causes – and embodied Toni Morrison characters – this is clearly A Big Deal, requiring editorial explanation. The daytime diva reveals that she likes feeling "unencumbered" with natural hair: "But it's hard to manage daily … in order for me not to look, as Gayle says, 'like you put your finger in a light socket'." Gayle is Gayle King, a woman who appears similarly wedded to her straighteners.

One is uncomfortably reminded of postcolonial theorist Frantz Fanon's arguments in his seminal 1952 study Black Skin, White Masks, where black upward mobility is expressed via stringent, self-policing white imitation. Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (1970) also comes to mind, in which self-loathing Pecola Breedlove prays each night for whiteness. Meanwhile, its narrator, Claudia MacTeer, is presented with a succession of "blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned" baby dolls: "'Here,' they said, 'this is beautiful, and if you are on this day "worthy" you may have it'."

I bow to no one in my love of lipstick, powder and paint, and the jubilant creativity in their wielding. Ornamentation rituals are a defining feature of human society: first we get food and fire sorted, then we daub cave walls and ourselves. However, in too many parts of the world "because you're worth it" translates as Morrison's "'this is beautiful, and if you are on this day "worthy" you may have it'".

In India, an estimated 40% of the nation uses face whiteners, since pallor – like straightened black hair in America – is considered both professionally and sexually desirable. This year, its citizens are expected to spend half a billion dollars on such products, up 15% from 2011. Companies such as Unilever, L'Oréal and Garnier are reaping vast profits using Bollywood stars as role models. Yet, where 700 million Indians are living on less than $2 a day, perilous, unbranded chemical options are rife.

In China, similarly racial, indeed racist, reinventions abound, most obviously in the realm of plastic surgery. Chinese surgeons undertake 13% of global procedures, generating some 20,000 complaints about disfigurement a year. Typical interventions include eyelid modification to create an upper-lid crease, rhinoplasty to raise the nose, cheek implants and even sole implants in the feet to make patients taller.

Evidence also issues from traditionally wealthy nations. In Japan, breast enlargements are deployed to create a western "bon-kyu-bon" ("big-small-big", or hourglass) figure. In New York, where a century ago Jews were having nose jobs and the Irish ear-pinning to assimilate, Asians and Latinos are queuing up at surgeries in immigrant neighbourhoods.

Only in Britain, it seems, do surgeons balk at such metamorphoses. At a meeting last year of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, preserving ethnicity was a central theme. This was manifested, most minutely, in a cross-racial study of "What makes the perfect belly button?", concluding that surgeons need to be aware of the nuances of racial preferences for a vertical or round "innie". Still, better navel-gazing than eyelid-slicing.

Naomi Wolf's Beauty Myth of 1991 posited the thesis that the beauty industry promulgates a cultural, economic and ideological scam. However, it is no less than an empire: a form of stealth imperialism in which self-harm is weapon-in-chief. Perhaps, in time, as China and India consolidate their positions as the new global superpowers, the west will learn to crave eastern pulchritude, ridding itself of blondness and blue eyes accordingly.


Defeating the Islamo-‘Progressive’ Axis

There’s evidently a fine line between a “hate crime” and a BLT.

The Reuters headline screamed: “Bacon found at NY Muslim celebration probed as possible hate crime.” I was expecting the subtitle: “Cops bring lettuce & tomato, dispose of evidence,” but to no avail. (Pork, of course, is verboten in Islamic culture. Don’t knock it, I say.)

Condemnation was swift and judgment final: “It’s anti-Islamic sentiment – a sign they don’t want us to feel welcome,” charged Cyrus McGoldrick, spokesman for the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

Indeed, at the very least such a stupid, “Islamophobic” prank was, um, tasteless.

Except that it wasn’t. A caller to a local newspaper took credit for the crime: “This is-I was reading the article about the horrible incident of bacon and Muslims in the park and I wanted to let you know that is not my intention. I had put the bacon there. It was going bad in my trunk and I put it out for the scavengers like the opossums and the raccoons and sea gulls, and I did not intend for that to cause anybody any problems.”

So, apparently, knee-jerk liberals and mainstream media have egg on their face once again. (Add toast and you get a Denny’s Grand Slam.)

Let’s put aside for a moment that we live in a hyper-sensitive, politically correct culture wherein hurting someone’s feelings is, quite literally, a federal offense. I’m more interested in the blaring double standard.

Bacon at a Muslim picnic? “Hate crime.” A crucifix with the image of Christ submerged in urine? “Art.”

I know, there was that time a group of tea-partiers stormed the mosque in Lansing, Mich, threw Oscar Mayer ham slices on the children, mocked the women for their hijabs and screamed: “Mohammed slept with a nightlight!” but …

No, actually, it was a group of homosexual activists who stormed a Christian church in Lansing, Mich, threw condoms at people, committed gross displays of public perversion in front of children and screamed, “Jesus was gay!”

“Hate crime, right?” Not a chance. Not even a ticket. In fact, law enforcement knew about the “protest” in advance and refused to send police. They sent a reporter instead. You get the point.

Indeed, secular-“progressive” hostility toward Christianity is at an all-time high. But it’s not just “gay” activists and other “progressive” extremists. It’s systemic. It’s Democrat-tested and Obama-approved.

The Family Research Council, or FRC – no stranger to violent “hate crimes” that somehow aren’t “hate crimes” – has released a study cataloging a vast sampling of the left’s anti-Christian attacks. (The study can be found at ReligiousHostility.org. I highly recommend you review it before stepping into the voting booth this November.)

Yet the same “progressives” who find “homophobia” under every bed, and “Islamophobia” around each corner, have never imagined the cancerous “Christaphobia” that courses throughout their very own veins. Their narrow little minds won’t allow it. The poor sap with hateful halitosis is usually the last to know.

Still, what’s most remarkable is that secular-“progressives” and Islamists – such as the aforementioned CAIR and President Obama’s “Muslim Brotherhood” pals – have forged a bizarre and notably incongruous sociopolitical partnership.

Consider, for instance, that central to Muslim teaching is the mandate that homosexuals, when discovered, are to be summarily executed. Yet, homosexual activists and other liberals are usually the first to cry “Islamophobia” if anyone points out the bloody precepts central to mainstream Islamic dogma.

And how about women? Well, according to Islamic law – again, mainstream, not fringe – women are treated as chattel and can be beaten with impunity for any reason or no reason at all.

Yet liberal feminists – “tolerant” to a fault when it serves their agenda – will trip over themselves to ignore such “cultural diversity.”

The only explanation, as far as I can tell, is best illustrated by the maxim: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

But, who is this common enemy? Well, it too is signified by an alliance. This alliance, however, is most simpatico. It consists of Christians and Jews worldwide. It too is built around a shared cause.

But unlike that of the Islamo-“progressive” axis, this cause intends freedom, not tyranny – representative democracy, not control. Most importantly, this Judeo-Christian cause is built upon the rock of truth given us by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of the living, not the dead. The great “I Am.”

I’m currently reading the two-part work, “Democracy in America,” written by Alexis De Tocqueville in 1835. The French statesman and historian immersed himself in American society and was left stunned by the indissoluble synthesis of Christianity and American culture.

He observed at the time that in America, “Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts – the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.”

“There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.”

“The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds,” wrote De Tocqueville, “that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”

Impossible so it must have seemed. Regrettably, however, De Tocqueville could never have foreseen today’s Islamo-“progressive” machine. It relentlessly endeavors to stifle Christianity’s profound influence on America.

Indeed, that influence will surely continue to fade lest Christians – both individually and corporately – again shine bright as the morning sun.

The historical record is indisputable. For almost two-and-a-half centuries, biblical Christianity has been America’s moral compass. It was Christians who, as wrote De Tocqueville, made America “the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.”

We’ve lost that moral compass and, today, wander aimlessly in the wilderness as a result. It’s up to Christian America to again find the way.

We must. For if we don’t lead, who then will the world follow?


Must not laugh at Muslims

It was probably unlikely that a TV comedy series about a Muslim community leader would pass without comment. And so it was that in the region of 200 complaints were made to the BBC yesterday after it broadcast the first episode of Citizen Khan. It was claimed that the programme ‘takes the mickey out of Islam’, was guilty of ‘stereotypes about Asians’ and was ‘disrespectful to the Koran’.

One scene that particularly provoked anger was where a heavily-made up girl, Mr Khan’s daughter, rushed to put on a hijab and pretended to be reading the Koran when her father entered.

The six-part series, which aired for the first time on BBC1 on Monday at 10.35pm, has been created by British Muslim Adil Ray, who also plays the lead role.

One viewer wrote on the BBC’s messageboard: ‘This is terrible stereotyping, ignorant and just dreadful.’

Another said: ‘HIGHLY disappointed especially when her father walks in and she dis-respectfully opens the Koran!!’

But others defended the show. One said: ‘People are reading too much in to Citizen Khan, especially the hijab thing, it happens!’

The series stars former My Family actor Kris Marshall as the mosque manager and Shobu Kapoor, who is known for her work on EastEnders, who plays Mr Khan’s wife.

The comedy mocks Mr Khan’s self-importance, including his delusions about his position in the community and about his standing in the business world.

Critics have complained that it repeats many stereotypes about British Muslims, with the first episode all about the troubled wedding plans of one of Mr Khan’s daughters.

Some claimed while Goodness Gracious Me, the acclaimed BBC2 Asian sketch show, had challenged stereotypes, the new show reinforced them. The two other writers on the show, Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto, had both worked on Goodness Gracious Me.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Citizen Khan has made a very positive start, launching successfully with 3.6million viewers and a 21.5 per cent share in a late night slot.

‘New comedy always provokes differing reactions from the audience. The characters are comic creations and not meant to be representative of the community as a whole.’

In a recent interview with BBC Breakfast, Mr Ray said the show was allowing the Muslim community to laugh at itself. He said: ‘I think it is a great opportunity, with Mr Khan as a Pakistani Muslim and the character, to take that kind of really rich content and laugh at ourselves and I am a firm believer in that.’


The Left's Ferocious Wolves

The phrase “the so-called tolerant Left” has been used so many times that it is almost hackneyed.

The Left hasn’t been tolerant for years. And in episode after episode of instances that I thought I would never see in the United States, it is increasingly becoming not just passé’ to adhere to traditional values, but illegal and in some cases downright dangerous.

Christians take note: depending on your locale, you may be in violation of the law if you do something crazy and that is contrary to the new values of 21st Century America. And by “crazy” I mean stand by the values of your faith.

Take for example the case of Elane Photography v. Willock which is slated to be heard by the New Mexico Supreme Court. Bear in mind throughout this story that New Mexico, for now does not recognize same sex unions or civil marriages. Elane Photography is owned by Elaine Huguenin and her husband Jon, who are both Christians. Back in 2009, Vanessa Willock wanted to engage the Huguenin’s services in commitment ceremony between Willock and another woman.

Because of her faith Elaine Huguenin declined the job. The Huguenin’s did not try to prevent the civil ceremony, nor did they enlist others to do so and they did not organize any anti-gay demonstrations or publish any literature relating to the same. They simply followed the dictates of their beliefs and followed suit with signs in establishments across the United Stares: “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to anyone”. Now I have no idea of the Huguenins have such a sign, but it is not supposed to be a crime for a business such as Elane Photography not to take a job.

Bear I mind, the refusal was not based on the gender of the customer, or the customer’s race and not even because of the customer’s sexual orientation. It was because Elane Huguenin does not believe in same-sex marriage and because the message such a ceremony would convey is contrary to her beliefs.

Ms. Willock was free to take her business to any other photographer in town. She did and she also took her business to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. After a one day trial, Huguenin was found guilty of sexual orientation discrimination and slapped her with almost $7,000 in attorney’s fees. The state prosecuted Elaine and Jon Huguenin, not for preventing someone for doing what they wanted to do, but for refusing to participate in it due to religious beliefs.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has taken an interest in Ridgeland High School football team, so much so that it has sent a letter to the district superintendent demanding an investigation into Coach Mark Mariakis. His transgression?

He took his team to area churches for pre-game meals. Even though the team visits a different church before each game, the act is unconscionable to Freedom From Religion. I am sure that a vein burst in the FFRF’s collective head when it found that the coach had provided t-shirts with Bible verses, used said verses in motivational speeches, prays with the team, and *gasp* participates in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. According to the FFRF’s lawyer Andrew Seidel, these actions “shatters” the protections of the First Amendment.

Then there was the Great Prop 8 Debate in the Golden State. Supporters of traditional marriage there were treated to a whole laundry list of violent acts. Notable among those acts were death threats:

“In Fresno, the town mayor received a death threat for supporting Prop 8. The threat stated, "Hey Bubba, you really acted like a real idiot at the Yes of [sic] Prop 8 Rally this past weekend. Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter."

The threat also mentioned a "little surprise" for a local pastor who supported Prop 8 and "his congregation of lowlife's" [sic]. "Keep letting him preach hate and he'll be sorry," the perpetrator threatened. "He will be meeting his maker sooner than expected." The threat also stated that anyone in Fresno displaying a Yes on Prop 8 yard sign or bumper sticker was "in danger of being shot or firebombed." Police took the threat seriously, launching a criminal investigation and taking extra steps to protect the mayor and pastor.

So in 21st Century America, Christians should take great care in exercising their faith, lest they be sued, harassed and even threatened with death. Personal beliefs and free exercise of religion are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

“They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will know them.” Matthew 7:15-16


Australian Internet data tracking proposal seen as 'a police state'

PROPOSED laws that would allow the web and telecommunications data of all Australians to be stored for two years have been dubbed "characteristic of a police state".

The federal government has sent its contentious discussion paper on changes to the national security legislation to a parliamentary inquiry rather than introduce it as legislation. In July, the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, acknowledged the privacy and financial costs of the scheme, saying "the case has yet to be made" for the controversial plan.

In a heated submission to that inquiry, Victoria's Acting Privacy Commissioner, Anthony Bendall, dubbed the proposals "characteristic of a police state", arguing "it is premised on the assumption that all citizens should be monitored".

"Not only does this completely remove the presumption of innocence which all persons are afforded, it goes against one of the essential dimensions of human rights and privacy law: freedom from surveillance and arbitrary intrusions into a person's life," he said.

The government says its proposals are under consideration only, and it has sought the views of the multi-party inquiry on the plans in its discussion paper.

These include allowing authorities to access anyone's computer to get to a suspect's device, or to "enter a third-party premises for the purposes of installing a surveillance device".

It is also considering increasing the scope of search warrants from 90 days to six months and establishing an "authorised operations scheme" to protect ASIO officers from civil or criminal liability.

The government says telecommunications intercept laws, which date from 1979, have become hopelessly outdated.

But civil liberties groups and telcos have slammed the proposals in submissions to the inquiry.

The Law Council of Australia said if the wide range of proposals were adopted, they would "constitute a very significant expansion of the powers of Australia's law enforcement and intelligence agencies". It questioned whether this was necessary given the "extensive catalogue" of powers the agencies already had.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre said the legislation was unnecessary and posed a threat to privacy rights.

"Extension of these powers to people not suspected of any crime who, for example, happen to live in property adjoining that of a suspect, is disproportionate to the purpose that covert search warrants are intended to achieve and is an unjustifiable incursion of the right to privacy," the centre said.

The internet provider iiNet said the government had failed to demonstrate how current laws were failing or how criminals and terrorists posed a threat to networks, and said asking carriers to intercept and store customers' data for two years could make them "agents of the state" and increase costs.

A joint submission from telco industry groups said companies were "naturally predisposed to protecting [their] infrastructure" without government requiring them to do so. Further, it argued, it would cost between $500 million and $700 million to keep data for two years. It called for full compensation from the government's security agencies.

The Australian Federal Police and the Australian Taxation Office were among the few supporting the proposal to retain all telecommunications data.

The ATO said the proposal would be consistent with European practices and that being able to access real-time telecommunications data would allow it to "respond more effectively" to attempts to defraud the Commonwealth.

The AFP said interception capabilities were increasingly being "undermined" by fundamental changes to the telecommunications industry and communications technologies.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


29 August, 2012

The high rate of African insanity

I don't suppose I am allowed to mention that so let me reproduce what the do-gooders say. It is a promotion for a conference to be held in London:


There is increasing concern among service users, psychologists, social workers and some psychiatrists about the use of specific labels, especially ‘schizophrenia’, to describe complex problems of living; and the view is has growing that psychiatric labelling is damaging and promotes stigma. Black and some other ethnic minorities seem to suffer most, young African-Caribbean men in particular being much more likely to be labelled ‘schizophrenic’, admitted to hospital on section, and forced to receive neuroleptic drugs. As a result, psychiatry itself is being experienced as oppressive and racist and it is not clear why psychiatry still continues to give such importance to diagnosis.

This conferences will look critically at psychiatric labelling and its effects on BME communities.

The conference aims to bring together academics, researchers, practitioners including health and social care workers, and mental health clinicians who have researched in this field and/or have experience in providing medical, psychological and social care interventions across fields.


We must define the high rate of black insanity out of existence, in other words -- JR

Christian leader to sue Southern Poverty Law Center over 'Hate Group' Label

A prominent evangelist is threatening to sue the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) after it labeled his Internet-based ministry a "hate group." According to a press release, Bill Keller -- deemed "the world's leading Internet evangelist" and the founder of LivePrayer.com -- is planning a $100 million defamation lawsuit against the SPLC.

"The sad shooting the other day at the Family Research Council by a man who supports the radical homosexual agenda, was clearly fueled by the left wing group, the Southern Poverty Law Center," Keller is quoted by ThinkProgress as saying. "I receive at least 4-5 death threats a month for taking a Biblical stand on issues like homosexuality, the false religion of Islam and other cults, and the fact life begins at conception and choosing to end that life is nothing more than legalized infanticide."

He continued, "Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center give license to individuals who oppose a Biblical worldview to take whatever actions they deem fit, even acts of violence, to silence those they disagree with. Sadly, this intimidation has worked, because there are very few like myself who are willing to go into the mainstream media and promote Biblical truth that a large percentage of society now rejects."

Keller's nod to the Family Research Council (FRC) is particularly appropriate given that the organization's similar designation as a "hate group" has been the subject of recent debate, following this week's shooting of a security guard at the FRC's Washington, D.C.-based headquarters. Alleged shooter Floyd Lee Corkins was reportedly carrying a backpack full of Chick-fil-A sandwiches and had recently been been volunteering at a local community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, according to the Associated Press.

Keller has become notorious for his vehemently anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT stance. Following the suicide of gay teen Jamie Hubley last fall, Keller penned a statement blaming "the homosexual community and media who promote this lifestyle to society," naming Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow and Ellen Degeneres, according to Right Wing Watch.

"A 15-year-old has no real understanding of sexuality, and most are still trying to figure out life and how they fit in," Keller said in a statement at the time. "It is the homosexual community and media who promote this lifestyle to society, forcing it to validate legally and ethically this choice of sexual behavior and relationships to our children as normal, even desirable behavior!"


Leftist antisemitism resurgent

And Leftist Jews are collaborating with it

This week a German doctor in Bavaria filed a criminal complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg.

Rabbi Goldberg's "crime"? He performs ritual circumcisions on Jewish male infants in accordance with Jewish law. The doctor's complaint came shortly after a ruling by a court in Cologne outlawing the practice of male circumcision.

The Austrians and the Swiss also took the ruling to heart and have banned infant male circumcision in several hospitals in Switzerland as well as in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg. Denmark and Scandinavian governments are also considering limiting the practice of circumcision which has constituted one of the foundational rituals of Judaism for four thousand years.

Meanwhile, in Norway Dr. Anne Lindboe has come up with the perfect way out of the artificial crisis. Lindboe serves a Norway's ombudsman for children's rights. And she proposes that we Jews just change our religion to satisfy anti-Jewish sensitivities. She suggests we replace circumcision with "a symbolic, nonsurgical ritual."

It's worth mentioning that circumcision isn't the only Jewish ritual these enlightened Europeans find objectionable. Sweden, Norway and Switzerland have already banned kosher slaughter.

Attacking circumcision isn't just a European fetish. The urge to curb Jewish religious freedom has reached the US as well. Last year San Francisco's Jewish Community Relations Council had to sue the city to strike a measure from last November's ballot that would have banned circumcision if passed. The measure's sponsor gathered the requisite 12,000 signatures to enter the proposition on the ballot. Circumcising males under the age of 18 would have been classified as a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison. Sponsors of the measure distributed anti-Semitic materials depicting rabbis performing circumcisions as villains.

The people involved in banning or attempting to ban circumcision are not on the political fringe of their societies. They are part of a leftist establishment. They are doctors and lawyers, judges and politicians. This doesn't mean that all their fellow leftists are anti-Semites. But it does mean the political Left in the Western world feels comfortable keeping company with anti-Semites.

This state of affairs is even more striking in international affairs than in domestic politics. On the international level the Left's readiness to rub elbows with anti-Semites has reached critical levels.

While the Europeans have long been happy to cater to the anti-Semitic whims of the Islamic world, the escalation of the West's willingness to accept anti-Semitism as a governing axiom in international affairs is nowhere more apparent than in the Obama administration's foreign policy.

And the American Left's willingness - particularly the American Jewish Left's willingness - to cover up the administration's collusion with anti- Semitic regimes at Israel's expense is higher today than ever before.

A clear-cut example of both the Obama administration's willingness to adhere to anti- Semitic policies of anti-Semitic governments and the Left's willingness to defend this bigoted behavior is the Obama administration's decision not to invite Israel to participate in its new Global Counterterrorism Forum.

The GCTF was founded with the stated aim of fostering international cooperation in fighting terrorism. But for the Obama administration, it was more important to make Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who supports the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups, feel comfortable, than it was to invite Israel to participate.

Not only did the US exclude Israel, at the GCTF's meeting last month in Spain, Maria Otero, the State Department's under secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights, seemed to embrace the Muslim world's obscene claim that Israelis are not victims of terrorism because terrorism against Israel isn't terrorism.

In her speech, titled "Victims of Terrorism," Otero spoke of terror victims in Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Uganda, Colombia, Northern Ireland, Indonesia, India and the US. But she made no mention of Israeli terror victims.

Rather than criticize the administration for its decision to appease bigots at the expense of their victim, American Jewish leftists have defended the administration. Writing in The Atlantic, Zvika Kreiger, senior vice president of the far-left S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, wrote that allowing the Jewish state entry to the GCTF parley would have "undermined the whole endeavor."

Kreiger sympathetically quoted a State Department official who explained that actually, by ostracizing Israel the administration was helping Israel.

The source "reasoned the progress made by the organization would ultimately better serve Israel's interests (not to mention those of the United States) than would the symbolic benefits of including it in a group that likely wouldn't accomplish anything. [Moreover]... once the organization was up and running, and its agenda was established, they could find ways to include Israel that would not be disruptive."

So despite the fact that Israel is a major target of terrorism, and despite the fact that many of the states the US invited to its forum condone terrorism against Israel and support terrorist groups that murder Israeli Jews, Israel is better off being excluded, because the anti-Jewish governments invited by the Obama administration will somehow totally change their perspective on anti-Jewish terrorism as long as they don't have to suffer the irritation of sitting in the same room as real-live representatives of the Jewish state.


No room for Sharia in Australia, says senior judge

A FORMER High Court chief justice has used an address in Sydney to argue against incorporating parts of Islamic law into the Australian judicial system.

Sir Gerard Brennan, who served on the High Court from 1981 to 1998, and as chief justice from 1995 to 1998, told an audience at The University of New South Wales that there was no room for Sharia law in the Australian legal system.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard last year ruled out the prospect of Sharia law becoming part of the nation's justice system, saying the only law in the country was Australian law.

In the annual Hal Wootten lecture on Thursday night, Sir Gerard said there had been suggestions there was room for a "system in which at least some parts of Islamic Sharia law might operate as part of Australian law".

He said: "That suggestion seems to me to be misconceived." Muslims were free to adhere to the "beliefs, customs and practices prescribed by Sharia law", the former chief justice said, but only as long as they did not conflict with Australian law.

"That freedom must be respected and protected but that does not mean that Islamic Sharia should have the force of law."

All Australian citizens, irrespective of their religion, had common values that formed the basis of Australian law, he said. "Our citizens, including the Islamic community, share the basic Australian values of tolerance, egalitarianism, and individual freedom in thought and action," he said. [Muslims included? Wishful thinking]



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


28 August, 2012

Shock! Horror! Israeli soldiers shoot at legs of children who throw Molotov cocktails at them

It is the callous misuse of children by the Arabs that is the real problem -- and the use of unsubstantiated allegations by Western "human rights" organizations just inflames the situation -- which is exactly what it is meant to do

THE Israel Defence Force's arbitrary use of violence against Palestinian children, including forcing them to act as human shields in military operations, has been exposed by veteran soldiers in detailed statements chronicling dozens of brutal incidents.

The most disturbing trend that emerges from the soldiers' testimonies relates to the wounding and killing of children in the occupied West Bank and Gaza by either targeted shooting or by failing to protect minors during military operations, the report from veteran soldiers' group Breaking the Silence says.

"The commander gripped the kid, stuck his gun in his mouth . . . The kid was hardly able to walk. We dragged him further, and then he said again: 'One more time this kid lifts a stone, anything, I kill him. No mercy'," one former soldier states.

Another recalls: "There was an ambush where a kid coming up with a Molotov cocktail had his leg blown off. They laid ambush exactly at that spot. Kids came, the soldiers were there, the kids lit a bottle, and they were shot in the leg."

Israeli soldiers and Palestinian children come into regular conflict as Israel seeks to maintain its control over areas of the West Bank where 300,000 settlers live across the 1967 "Green Line" in contravention of international law.

Children throw stones to protest against the presence of soldiers and settlers, sometimes with deadly consequences, soldiers say.

But that does not excuse the use of excessive force against children or the military's consistent arbitrary invasion of villages and homes as part of a campaign to suppress the Palestinian population of the West Bank, Mr Shaul says.

But according to the Israeli government, Palestinian children pose a grave threat to the country's security.

"Over a period of years now we have seen Palestinian minors involved in violence against Israeli civilians, whether it is throwing rocks at cars, whether it is throwing petrol bombs or Molotov cocktails," says Mark Regev, the spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"We have established a parallel system to deal with minors because we recognise minors have special needs and . . . we are trying to do this in a manner that is as sensitive as possible in very difficult conditions."

It was unfortunate, Mr Regev said, that militant Palestinian organisations chose to put minors "on the front line".

He urged anyone with a complaint against the Israel Defence Forces to come forward. "We have a very strict code of behaviour under which our soldiers are allowed to act and if there are violations of that code of behaviour soldiers face discipline and they can go to jail.

"There is an independent part of the military that investigates all such allegations . . . I don't think it is the norm but in any large system there are aberrations and we have to stamp them out."

The most common offence children are accused of is throwing stones, says Gerard Horton, head of Defence of Children International in Palestine.

"But in many cases it is very difficult for the army to actually identify who was throwing the stones . . . so the modus operandi of the army appears to be that when an incident of stone-throwing does occur someone has to be punished for that even if you cannot identify who the perpetrator is.

"The army needs to maintain control in the West Bank and they need provide protection to 300,000 settlers who are living in the West Bank, contrary to international law. In order to do that they need to make sure that any form of resistance, no matter what form that takes, has to be crushed."

The IDF's spokesman, Major Arye Shalicar, said the security situation in the West Bank had improved significantly because of the army's work.

"In the end if you compare it to 10 years ago we have had a decline in suicide attacks," he said. "We had hundreds of suicide murders in 2002 and none in 2012. It shows that there is some kind of effectiveness in the actions of the security establishment and its coordination with the Palestinian security forces."

If there was maltreatment of Palestinian children it was important that the IDF investigate the claims, he said.

He expressed frustration that Breaking the Silence did not provide the IDF or other relevant bodies with the information necessary to launch an investigation.

But Mr Shaul said it was important that Breaking the Silence protected the identity of its sources, many of whom were breaching IDF policy to expose the system of abuse.


Priests attack gay marriage in strongly-worded letter read out across Scotland's 500 Catholic churches

The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland yesterday staged a day of protest over plans to legalise gay marriage.

A letter attacking proposals to give the go-ahead for same-sex marriages was read out by priests across the country’s 500 Catholic churches, demanding politicians ‘sustain rather than subvert marriage’.

It said: ‘The church’s teaching on marriage is unequivocal: It is uniquely the union of a man and a woman and it is wrong that governments, politicians or parliaments should seek to alter or destroy that reality.’

The Scottish government later issued a statement reiterating its intentions to legalise same sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships – because ‘it is the right thing to do’.

However it was quick to stress that no clergy would be forced to carry out the ceremonies in a church. The issue remains under consultation in England and Wales. A government spokesman said: ‘We are equally committed to protecting religious freedom and freedom of expression, and ensuring that religious celebrants opposed to same-sex marriage do not have to solemnise same-sex ceremonies.’

The Catholic Church’s letter also announced the launch of a ‘National Commission for Marriage and the Family’ to co-ordinate a campaign against gay marriage. It is expected to be supported by the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Last week Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, who has described gay marriage as a ‘grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right’, broke off discussions on the issue with First Minister Alex Salmond.

Other churches in Scotland have also voiced concern about the same sex marriage plans. The Church of Scotland feared the Scottish Government was ‘rushing ahead of something that affects all the people of Scotland without adequate debate and reflection.’

But the Equality Network, which is campaigning in support of same-sex marriage in Scotland, urged politicians to stand firm over the plans.

Tom French, the charity’s policy co-ordinator, said: ‘It is increasingly clear that the Church has an anti-gay agenda that it wants to impose on the rest of society.’

Throughout the UK, civil partnerships for same-sex couples have been legal since 2005. These confer the same rights as heterosexual civil marriage, but go by a different title and cannot be solemnised by a religious ceremony.

Scotland will be the first part of the UK to bring in new legalisation that will end all distinctions between the two types of union.

In Westminster, the Government’s consultation on allowing marriages for gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales closed in June. The results will be considered by the coalition before publishing its formal response ahead of the next election.

However, it is expected there will be similar opposition from the Catholic Church in this country if legalisation of same-sex marriage goes ahead.

Earlier this year, the Archbishop of Westminster warned that David Cameron’s pledge to legalise homosexual marriage would threaten the true meaning of a sacred union. In a letter read from pulpits across England and Wales in March, it was warned that plans to extend marriage to same-sex couples would be a ‘profoundly radical step’ that reduces it to a vague commitment between two people.

The consultation process carried out by the Scottish Government found just over 80 per cent of respondents in favour of same sex marriage.


Castro-lover idolized by the media

Apparently the most tragic event in the Florida straits over the past fifty years involves recreational swimmer Diana Nyad getting stung by a jellyfish.

From CNN to ABC, from NBC to CBS, from Reuters to the AP, from the Washington Post to the New York Times, it was “all Diana Nyad all the time” the past week. The swimmer failed on her fourth attempt to swim from Stalinist Cuba to Key West, was pulled from the water and has been featured and feted in print and on video practically non-stop ever since. If only Sir Edmund Hillary, Neil Armstrong and Ferdinand Magellan had gotten half the media laurels for their triumphs as Diana Nyad got for her flops.

Perhaps you will excuse the families of from 20-50 thousand Cubans who died horribly from dehydration, sunburn, drowning, machine-gunnings or were eaten alive by sharks on the exact (but NON-recreational) journey from issuing a hearty “Boo-hoo-hoo” for Diana Nyad’s little jellyfish bo-bo.

For over half a century tens of thousands of desperate Cubans have been crossing the storm-tossed, shark-infested, and Soviet machine-gunned Florida straits in everything and anything that floats—however precariously. Alas, no Shark cages and electronic shark shields have been available to people once richer than most Europeans who now consider toilet paper a luxury.

Many completed the hundred mile journey. Many more died horribly in the attempt. The horrifying estimates run from 20 to 50 thousand Cubans gone to rest in that watery “cemetery without crosses,” accompanied by utter silence from the media. In one day July 13th 1994 43 freedom-seeking Cubans drowned, 11 of them children. Carlos Anaya was 3 when he drowned, Yisel Alvarez 4. Helen Martinez was 6 months old.

For her showboating swims Diana Nyad proudly partnered with the regime responsible for this appalling economic and demographic disaster and those tens of thousands of horrible deaths. The woman actually flaunts her partnership with Cuba’s Stalinist regime. To wit:

“Millions of us worldwide, but especially here in the United States, have been fascinated by the mystique of this "forbidden" island so close to our shores,” wrote Nyad in the Huffington Post. “We are aware of the advanced level of medicine and general education on the island. We have installed proud posters of Che (Guevara) on our college room walls….as someone who grew up with many Cuban friends in South Florida, someone who has now visited Havana some 30 times…”

For the brain-dead: Castro’s KGB-trained apparatchiks don’t welcome you into their master’s totalitarian fiefdom 30 times if you're not blatantly helping the Communist regime.

Nyad claims she grew up in south Florida surrounded by Cuban exile friends. Can she be oblivious to why these Cubans showed up in such numbers so suddenly? Wouldn't her swim be a great way to focus some much-needed media attention on this "cemetery without crosses" and on the murderous oppression that drove so many to throw themselves into the sea on craft most of us wouldn't board outside a backyard swimming pool? (And I repeat: this unprecedented horror from a nation formerly deluged with immigrants.)

Prior to Castroism, Cuba, which enjoyed a higher standard of living than much of Europe and the 13th lowest infant-mortality on earth, was swamped with more immigrants per capita than the U.S. During the 1950s when all Cubans were perfectly free to emigrate with all family, and property and U.S. visas were issued to them for the asking, and flights and ferries ran daily from Cuba to Florida —during this entire period about the same number of Americans lived in Cuba as Cubans in the U.S. In 1953 more Cubans vacationed (then voluntarily went home) from the U.S. than Americans vacationed in Cuba. Alas, none of this features in The Godfather II. So it’s mostly unknown.

From this base Castro and Che created an island slum, sewer and prison ravaged by diseases unknown in Cuba since 1900, boasting the highest suicide rate in the hemisphere and repelling even Haitians. This after stealing $2 billion from U.S. businessmen, $25 billion from Cubans and being lavished with the equivalent of ten Marshall Plans by Soviet subsidies. This socialist economic feat defies not only the laws of economics but seemingly the very laws of physics.

Some U.S. officials very much in-the-know at the time of the Cuban Revolution do not blame the calamity exclusively on Cubans. “The U.S. owes the Cuban people a debt so tremendous that it can never be paid, even if some forthcoming administration wanted to.” This from rogue CIA right-winger E Howard Hunt, who worked in what came to be known as the Bay of Pigs invasion.

And yes, I wrote rogue right-winger deliberately. Far from the right-wing bunker of leftist lore, the CIA was always mistrusted by the Old Right as in fact a bunker of (mostly) Ivy League liberals. Recall the old Crossfire program, “From the Left Tom Braden and from the Right Pat Buchanan. Typically, Tom Braden was an ex-CIA officer.

“Me and my staff were all Fidelistas,” (Robert Reynolds, CIA’s Caribbean Desk Chief 1957-60)

"Everyone in the CIA and everyone at State were pro-Castro, except (Republican) ambassador Earl T. Smith. (Robert Weicha, CIA operative in Santiago de Cuba 1957-59)

"Without U.S. help Castro would never have gotten into power,” flatly testified former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, Earl T. Smith during Congressional testimony in 1960.

The overwhelming majority of the south Florida Cubans Nyad (claims she) grew up around are today solid Republicans. This probably explains the media black-out on any interviews with so many people so closely associated with a Cuba to Florida journey. “Please move along! Obviously no human-interest element here!”

The Berlin Wall, (who approximately 200 people died trying to cross) has no end of commemorations. Anyone doing absolutely anything newsworthy around it immediately calls up a commemoration to its victims.

But as usual the Left’s premier pin-up boys (Fidel Castro and Che Guevara) get another free pass from the media.

Ignoring the thousands of dead Cubans is bad enough. But leave it to the Media to actually ridicule them. "Why did she [Elizabet Brotons, Elian Gonzalez’ dead mother) do it?” sneered NBC’s Jim Avila on April 8, 2000 in a live report from Havana. “What was she escaping? By all accounts this quiet, serious young woman, who loved to dance the salsa, was living the good life…An extended family destroyed by a mother’s decision to start a new life."

You read the NBC man right: “The good life.”


Australia: To love and to submit: A new/old wedding ceremony in Sydney

This is good theology but it really cocks a snook at secularists and "modernizers". I note that the wishy-washy Primate refused to criticize. The Sydney diocese is the liveliest (and most fundamentalist by far) in Australia -- comprising one third of Australia's Anglicans -- so you can see his dilemma. The Sydney diocese is only one out of 23 Anglican dioceses in Australia but its following puts the other 22 to shame. It is close to being a church in and of itself

BRIDES will be promising to submit to their husbands under a new marriage vow the Anglican diocese of Sydney is expected to approve at its synod in October.

It requires the minister to ask of the bride: "Will you honour and submit to him, as the church submits to Christ?" and for her to pledge "to love and submit" to her husband.

The service is already being used in some Sydney parishes, under a diocese that opposes the full ordination of women and supports an exclusively male leadership doctrine.

The vows were written by the diocese's liturgical panel, which has the imprimatur of the Archbishop, Peter Jensen. The panel chairman, the Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, said "submit" was a deeply biblical word. "The Bible never said women must obey their husbands but Paul and Peter did say submit, which I think is a much more responsive, nuanced word."

The bishop said no one would be forced to use the new version, and an alternative would remain available to couples who did not want the woman to obey (which has been optional since 1928) or submit.

Kevin Giles, a New Testament scholar in Melbourne, said the subordination of women was exclusively related to "the fall" in the Bible and in 2012 made for bad theology.

"Jesus not once mentions the subordination of woman and says much in contradiction to this. Paul's comments over the subordination of women fit into the patriarchal culture of the day and are not the biblical ideal. The truth is that happy marriages today are fully equal, and unhappy marriages are ones where one or the other party is controlling."

Muriel Porter, a Melbourne academic and laywoman who writes on Anglican Church issues, said submit was a more derogatory word than obey and had connotations of slavery. "Frankly I'm horrified," she said. "It is a very dangerous concept, especially in terms of society's propensity for domestic violence."

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, declined to comment.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


27 August, 2012

In the home of Big Brother: Drones to watch over UK streets

Orwell knew his own country well

Unmanned police drones, comparable to those used in war zones such as Afghanistan, could soon be secretly watching over the streets of UK cities, according to a National Police Air Service director.

­The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being considered to monitor crowded events in Britain, such as concerts and festivals, as soon as the aerial units become cost-effective.

“I see unmanned systems as part of the future. There is an aircraft over London all the time — every day, giving images back. Why does it need to be a very expensive helicopter? If somebody gave me an unmanned system that I could use as I use a helicopter at half the cost, within the regulations, I would buy it tomorrow.” Superintendent Richard Watson said in a presentation to the defense industry, reports The Times.

Some police precincts have tried using the remote-controlled system to curb crime. Now the idea is to implement the drone policy nationwide.

Watson said that one manufacturer had proposed an 81-million-pound (around US$127 million) system in a deal that far exceeds the annual National Police Air Service budget of a little over 60 million pounds ($95 million), reports The Telegraph.

The UK already has a drone manufacturing industry and infrastructure. In August 2005, a contract was awarded to Thales UK, worth around 700 million pounds ($1.1 billion), to create the Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Program, to support the UK’s war effort in Afghanistan, reports Defense Industry Daily. The program was also designed to create around 2000 high-quality manufacturing jobs in the country.

Ultramodern drones will also be deployed for the first time in Northern Ireland on Friday in a missing person search, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Earlier this month, The Mail reported that UAVs will be used to scoop out terrorists, smugglers and illegal immigrants along Britain's shores as part of the EU wide project.

The European Commission has allocated 260 million pounds ($412 million) for the “Eurosur” project, which also includes a surveillance plan to patrol the Mediterranean coast.

Simultaneously, several schemes are underway in UK, aiming to develop civilian roles for systems based on the drones used to locate and destroy militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

British defense companies are testing the high-tech military-grade cameras on UAVs over the Irish Sea.

At the same time, The Mail has discovered that Kent Police are involved in a 3-million-pound ($5 millions) venture with partners in the UK, France and the Netherlands to study the use of drones to guard the English Channel.


Radical Islam revives an ancient hatred

Is a new and shocking wave of anti-Semitism engulfing the Middle East and the developing world? Consider the following:

More than half the Jews in Iraq have been driven out of the country; those that remain are forced to pay a fine or leave their homes. Some are forced to marry Muslims.

In Syria, towns and villages where Jews have lived for centuries are now almost entirely Muslim; these communities have fled to safer parts of the country, where they hope to escape an anti-Semitic massacre.

In Egypt, the new regime is surreptitiously encouraging attacks on synagogues; the Jews, despised for their supposed wealth, fear that the “Arab spring” is about to release centuries of pent-up anti-Semitic hatred.

In Nigeria, Jews have been attacked and killed while studying scripture. In Bangladesh, Jewish children are being forced into madrassas. In Pakistan, the body of an 11-year-old Jewish boy was discovered this week; he’d been tortured to death and his lips sliced off.

You won’t have heard about this atrocious persecution. That’s because – forgive me – I’ve played one of the oldest tricks in the journalist’s book. For Jews, read Christians. For anti-Semitic, read anti-Christian. For synagogues read churches.

I hope Jewish readers won’t take offence: I’m not denying that actual anti-Semitism is spreading like a virus throughout Arab societies. It’s just that, if these attacks against Christians were being directed against Jews, the precedent of the Holocaust would shock the world into action.

This new persecution is the result of the simultaneous revival of militant Islam in many countries. We can say that with confidence. What we can’t say, however, is that there is a co-ordinated Islamic plot to exterminate Christianity as a stepping stone to a universal caliphate.

Conspiracy theorists may derive emotional satisfaction from this idea, but it doesn’t correspond to the messy politics of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Also, it lets the “Christian” West off the hook.

We have to confront the awkward fact that, for decades, some of the world’s most despicable dictators have protected indigenous Christians from Islamic mobs. When the West withdraws its support from these rulers, Christian minorities are exposed as never before.

The removal of Saddam has eviscerated Iraqi Christian churches so ancient that they still worship in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The fall of Mubarak means that it’s open season on Copts. Those who can afford to do so may follow the example of Palestinian and Lebanese Christians and emigrate. A key statistic: 100 years ago, the Levant was 20 per cent Christian; now the figure is 5 per cent.

The British government, despite prodding by the heroic Lord Alton, is doing a good imitation of not giving a stuff about any of this. Maybe it’s guilt: Anglo-American policies helped liberate Islamism.

As for Western Christianity, some evangelical and Catholic campaigners are drawing attention to the persecution – but they’re undermined by colleagues. For many evangelicals, Iraqi or Syrian worshippers are not “real” Christians because they venerate icons. Lefty Catholics are too obsessed with climate change and benefit cuts to spare a thought for their martyred co-religionists.

Keep an eye on Syria after Assad goes. First they’ll come for the Alawites, then the Christians. There’s a real chance that all traces of Christianity will disappear from the very place where St Paul was knocked off his horse and blinded by a vision of the risen Christ. What a horrible piece of symmetry.


Religion Has Two Faces: Benevolent and Malevolent

Militant atheists believe that religion is entirely negative, stupid, and harmful to human beings. Religious historians believe that without religion, a civilization has no moral guidance and no sense of community. Some of today's extremist religious sects are growing because modernization has produced such existential pain for them. A key sticking point for many, of course, is the emancipation of women. With freedom for women, they ask, what will happen to families?

We have always been both "homo sapiens" (wise men) and "homo religiosus," (religious men). Religion stems from two sources: fear and awe. Our ancestors feared wild beasts, natural disasters, and, of course, death. Fear brings with it belief in evil spirits and gods who must be placated with sometimes human sacrifices.

Our other religious instinct is awe: awe at the beauty of the moon, sun, stars, fire, seeds that sprout into plants, and the birth process of animals and humans. From this instinct comes reverent rituals, music, drama, and dance.

Human beings ask: Who am I? Where do I come from? How should my community behave and where do I belong in it? Why do we suffer and die? And where do we go after death? Religions that attempt to answer these questions give adherents a modicum of comfort.

Benevolent Religions

Almost all religions have a benevolent side. Ritual provides a comforting rhythm in our lives. Marking the calendar year through special rituals has given shape to the year from ancient Stonehenge, which marked the summer and winter solstices, through Medieval Catholicism, with its cycle of holidays marking the agricultural year.

Almost every temperate-zone civilization celebrates harvests and planting festivals, even today (wine grape harvests, Thanksgiving). The benevolence of religion is found in these community activities, the rituals performed in common.

Malevolent Religions

All human religions have some aspect of malevolence as well. Executing or murdering those who do not believe "correctly" has been with us for a long time. Most egregious in this regard are the monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. With only one god, worshippers of many gods and goddesses had to be crushed. Both Medieval Catholicism and Islam held inquisitions to enforce orthodoxy. Polytheism, for all its ills, was more tolerant.

Christianity began as a pacifist sect spun off from Judaism. For its first several centuries, priests and monks had a horror of violence and bloodshed. This changed with the unification of Christianity under Roman Emperor Constantine. He wanted one empire with one religion, and Jews, Pagans, and Zoroastrians were persecuted in the hope of conversion. The violence of Christianity continued in its conflict with Islam in the 10th century, itself a very violent new religion that was bent upon conversion at any cost. The Crusades of the 10th-through 13th centuries brought out the worst in both Christianity and Islam.

The last official religious violence in Christianity occurred in the Catholic-Protestant religious wars of the 17th century. The destruction was so ugly that it spurred a temporary distaste for religion altogether in a movement called "the Enlightenment," which happily gave rise to the United States, a country with no established religion. This permits people to believe or not, change religions or not, without compulsion.

Today, Islam is in internal conflict. Extremists have reverted to Islam's original state of violence, warfare against "unbelievers," and the most benighted vision of what a divine power demands of them. They too will either have a reformation and enlightenment, or the religion will self-destruct. Many mainstream Muslims are already living by a secular standard.

However, when religious sects are no longer distinguishable from secular clubs and with decreasing connection to history, they lose members and are on the road to collapse. The sects enjoying growth are those with ritual and family-supporting values, the idea of community, which has always been the bedrock of religion. But they are also more intolerant of diversity, as monotheism has always been.

Human societies have never thrived without religion, but we appear to be in need of something better than is out there today.


Culture Challenge of the Week: Politically Correct Speech

Rebecca Hagelin

As our children head back to school, parents need to teach them this truth: Words matter.

Many public schools, whether purposely or not, promote the liberal agenda through curriculum choices, print and video materials, and guest speakers. As we head into election season, parents can expect to see the same thing happening on a magnified scale, as teachers and schools insist that students use only politically correct speech. The NEA and the leftist non-profits swarming around public schools will see to that.

The words chosen by teachers and administrators to describe sensitive cultural issues shape students' perceptions of those issues. Teachers know that. They have tremendous power to influence the children-your children-who are under their care.

Teachers who buy into the liberal agenda eagerly foist the liberal world view on their students by modeling politically correct language. When necessary, they will correct a student's choice of non-politically correct words, all in the name of sensitivity and tolerance. Even good teachers, who believe in Biblical morality or perhaps lean conservative, may fall into the politically palatable word trap. They've been persuaded that using certain words-and avoiding others-is the right thing to do. Deviation from the approved script might offend someone or appear culturally insensitive.

Free speech becomes "favored speech." Some words are preferable to others. And the use of "unfavored" spells social death.

Once the favored speech and word choices of liberal activists creep into a school and become part of the official lexicon, students feel enormous social pressures to conform. As a result, students from religious or conservative backgrounds will find themselves using the language of the left, whether purposely (to fit in and avoid ridicule) or unthinkingly.

How to Save Your Family: Take a Vocabulary Test!

Encourage your children to use charitable, respectful language in all circumstances. But urge them to be strong and clear about the truth. Use the language of reality-God's reality-to describe culturally sensitive issues. Provide a strong example yourself, too!

Ask your children to explain their understanding of politically correct words and phrases. Correct their perceptions as necessary. Consider the two examples below, but be alert for other phrases that demand explanations!

"Hate speech." For the liberal left, hate speech means language that suggests disapproval and non-acceptance of homosexuality, abortion, or other immoral behavior. Does your child understand that supporting traditional marriage is NOT hate speech? Neither is public disapproval of homosexual behavior. Speaking the truth about homosexual behavior-that it's a disordered inclination and a sin in God's eyes-is not hate speech. It is the truth, and must be spoken in love, as Scripture tells us, with compassion and sensitivity. Speech doesn't become "hateful" just because it makes others feel uncomfortable, sad, or troubled. However, sensitivity and prudence require us to consider when to speak the truth and to whom.

"Marriage Equality." This fall Maryland voters will face a referendum on whether to approve the legislature's attempts to create "marriage equality" for homosexuals. How teachers frame the issue matters greatly. Will they describe the referendum as a vote on whether to support "marriage equality" or to deny LGBTQ people equal rights? To impressionable students, the issue becomes simple: "equality" is a red, white, and blue American value. So gays should have it too. But "marriage equality" is not only misleading, it puts students who support marriage as traditionally defined (between one man and one woman) in the uncomfortable position of being against that great American value: "equality."

Does your child understand that attempts to re-define marriage to include homosexual relationships do not pivot on the question of "equality"? All of us are equal in dignity before God. All Americans possess equal human and civil rights. Marriage, however, has a history (and a meaning) that is ancient from the first days of creation. And the practical reality is that only men and women create babies together through sexual intercourse. (Homosexual sexual activity is inherently sterile-it cannot create babies.) Marriage is designed to create families that bond mothers to fathers, creating the optimal home for rearing the child they created together.

Politically correct language can't change reality, no matter how hard liberals try. Help your child distinguish "truth" from liberal talking points.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


26 August, 2012

A masked man on a motorbike and my chilling brush with Surveillance Britain

Official Britain criminalizes ordinary people rather than bother with real criminals

The man on the motorbike seemed to come from nowhere. One minute I was loading my car at the start of a bank holiday weekend, the next I was being photographed by a sinister figure in black who looked like a vigilante.

At first I thought he was wearing a balaclava beneath his motorcycle helmet, but it turned out that he had a scarf wrapped around his face, leaving just a slit for his eyes.

He didn’t engage in conversation. He simply took out a digital camera and snapped a photo of my car, which I had pulled out of its space further down the road, and — as there was a neighbour’s car outside my house — had parked half-overlapping her car and half-overlapping an empty motorcycle bay, so that I could load my suitcases.

Apparently this was an offence. The fine I received in the post a few days later was for ‘obstructing the street’, even though the street was deserted.

When I rang my local council to complain, a jobsworth told me that if someone had been taken ill and an ambulance had arrived at that moment it might not have been able to pass by at speed and they could have died.

I told them to get a grip. You could have got two buses through the space. They didn’t care. I had been caught double-parked outside my own house, in an empty street, on a bank holiday for a minute-and-a-half — and they were going to throw the book at me.

Welcome to Surveillance Britain.

Yesterday, a report revealed just how much our freedoms are being trampled on by local councils and their new-found love of covert methods.

Town halls have launched an astonishing 9,600 spying missions on the public in the past three years, using laws meant for investigating terror suspects.

A total of 345 councils have used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 9,607 times since 2009 — the equivalent of around nine spying missions a day.

Some 26 local authorities have used it to spy on dog owners suspected of letting their animals foul pavements. A further seven have used the powers to investigate suspected breaches of the smoking ban.

Suffolk County Council conducted a ‘test purchase of dating agency services’. Another council investigated a fraudulent escort agency.

Why? What business is it of the local council if men are losing money to shady pseudo-prostitution services who take their credit card details over the phone and then don’t send the girl? Surely that is their own look-out.

The report, A Legacy Of Surveillance: Calling Time On The Grim RIPA, is by the excellent think-tank Big Brother Watch. All those who are worried about the erosion of civil liberties in this country should read it. Look up your local council and see what they have been up to.

You might find that householders who put their bins out at the wrong time in your neighbourhood are being spied on.

This is a breathtaking outrage, not least because the Government has repeatedly made it clear to local authorities that they do not have the right to fine people for minor misdemeanours to do with household rubbish disposal.

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has even written to councils to tell them to refrain from imposing refuse fines for infringements such as putting wheelie bins in the wrong position, because the fines are not legal.

However, far from setting an example by upholding the law themselves, councils continue to try it on, hoping that we do not know our rights and that we will pay them their pettifogging fixed penalties.

Those putting out their rubbish too early are being caught by motion-activated cameras on lamp-posts and even hidden inside tin cans, if you please.

Were the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau writing today, his famous quote would read: ‘Man is born free, and everywhere he is on CCTV.’

A culture of snooping is developing that goes beyond even the use of RIPA, which the Government, to its credit, is trying to crack down on by requiring councils to apply for court orders before they can use it.

In Lambeth, south London, where I live, there were only two RIPA uses last year, for investigating the misuse of disabled blue badges. But an insidious atmosphere of surveillance prevails, aimed at petty offences.

Parking wardens no longer wear uniforms, but zoom around on little motorbikes wearing plain clothes so you can’t see them coming.

Meanwhile, the following is a list of the bylaws on a warning notice at my local park:

‘Keep your dog under control’; ‘Pick up your dog’s mess’ ‘Cycle only on marked cycle routes’; ‘Put your litter in a bin or take it home with you’; ‘Be courteous to other park users’; ‘Do not allow your dog to harm or disturb wildlife’ (This includes squirrels, which are technically vermin, but the council will still prosecute you if your dog catches one); ‘Do not allow your dog to enter the lake’; ‘Do not use barbecues’; ‘Do not pick flowers or damage trees or plants.’

A lot of these are pretty subjective. Walking on grassland invariably results in some sort of plant being damaged. And the faded cycle markings on the paths are virtually impossible to follow correctly.

Part of the reason for all this moralising from councils is a desire to control, of course. Catching a squirrel-botherer or sticking a tag saying ‘Contamination!’ on a garden waste sack when there is a small piece of cellophane inside it — as happened to me — no doubt gives the town hall bureaucrats immense job satisfaction.

But there is a deeper, more malevolent reason, too. One has to ask why, if the authorities can use this technology to patrol wheelie bin placement, they cannot use it to catch street gangs in the midst of burglaries, or dealing drugs on estates.

Could it be because householders pushing their bin out too early, or dog walkers in Hunter wellies who have allowed their spaniel to chase a water rat are sitting ducks to be tapped for money?

Gang members take months to put through the courts and, even if convicted, rarely cough up when served with a fine.

This would explain why even Tory councils are guilty of using RIPA, because it really isn’t about ideology — which would surely see Conservative-led authorities shun such Soviet measures — but about what the budgets require.

Hard-pressed local authorities know which side their bread is buttered. There is simply no money in chasing the real trouble-makers. And so, as the criminals go unpunished, the hapless, law-abiding folks who always pay are the subject of an increasingly merciless assault on their civil liberties.

While there are obvious exceptions — no one who complains about benefit fraud can object to JobCentre Plus making use of surveillance 34,093 times between 2009 and 2012 to catch out benefit cheats — most of these fines have nothing to do with maintaining safety and propriety.

If Lambeth was really concerned about me being dangerously double-parked, for example, then a parking warden should ask me to move on, not photograph my car before driving off, leaving me still ‘blocking’ the road.

Councils refer to their spies as ‘covert human intelligence sources’. In many cases they are council employees — dog wardens, parking attendants or trading standards officials — but they can also be schoolchildren, recruited to go undercover to test for the under-age sale of alcohol or cigarettes.

A few months ago, a leaflet came through my door asking me to be a neighbourhood warden. This turned out to involve snooping on my neighbours and reporting them for littering and other minor offences. No thank you.

Presumably, though, there are residents doing this, patrolling the streets, telling tales to the authorities about undesirable behaviour.

How long, therefore, before we start being fined by Big Brother not just for doing the wrong thing, but for saying the wrong thing?

For cracking what is deemed to be a bad taste joke, perhaps, as we walk down the street with a friend, or on our mobile phone, thinking we are having a private conversation?

Not very long, if we carry on like this.


Religion boosts mental health, research says

Religious people have better mental health than non-believers, new research has revealed. Those who follow a faith, regardless of which one, have enhanced well-being, which scientists attribute to their spirituality.

And doctors could take advantage of this relationship by tailoring treatments and rehabilitation programs that accommodate a patient's religious beliefs - especially among mental health sufferers.

Professor Dan Cohen, of the University of Missouri in the United States, said: 'Our prior research shows that the mental health of people recovering from different medical conditions, such as cancer, stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, appears to be related significantly to positive spiritual beliefs and especially congregational support and spiritual interventions.'

He said that those who seek spirituality may help them come to terms with mentally challenging situations, like stress or neuroticism. He said: 'Spiritual beliefs may be a coping device to help individuals deal emotionally with stress.'

The researchers used three surveys to determine if correlations exist among people's mental and physical health, personality factors, and spirituality in Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Catholics and Protestants.

Across all five faiths, results showed a higher level of spirituality was related to better mental health, particularly lower levels of neuroticism and greater extraversion despite how often the patients participated in religious activities.

The researchers believe spirituality may help people's mental health by reducing how self-centred they are and developing their sense of belonging to a larger whole.

Spiritual interventions - such as religious-based counselling, meditation, and forgiveness protocols - could enhance spiritually-based beliefs, practices, and coping strategies in positive ways.

Many different faiths encourage spirituality, even though they use different names for the process - a Christian monk would not say he had attained Nirvana - but they may be referring to similar phenomena.

The researchers say the selflessness that comes with spirituality enhances characteristics that are important for adopting a global society based on the virtues of peace and cooperation.

Professor Cohen said: 'In many ways, the results of our study support the idea that spirituality functions as a personality trait. 'With increased spirituality people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe.

'What was interesting was that frequency of participation in religious activities or the perceived degree of congregational support was not found to be significant in the relationships between personality, spirituality, religion and health.

'Health workers may also benefit from learning how to minimise the negative side of a patient's spirituality, which may manifest itself in the tendency to view misfortune as a divine curse.'


Christian Woman Fired from Burger King for Wearing Skirt Instead of Pants

More intolerance of Christians

A Grand Prairie, Texas, Burger King is being sued for religious discrimination after a Christian teen wasn't allowed …A Texas teenager is suing Burger King for religious discrimination, saying that the fast food giant fired her, a conservative Christian, for wearing a long skirt, rather than uniform pants, to work.

Ashanti McShan was a 17-year-old high school senior when she applied for a job as a cashier at the Grand Prairie Burger King in August 2010, according to the lawsuit filed on her behalf this week by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During her interview McShan, who is a Pentecostal Christian, said that her religious beliefs forbid women to wear men's clothing, so she would need to be able to wear a long black skirt rather than the standard-issue uniform pants. The Burger King employee interviewing her "assured her that she could wear a skirt to work," the lawsuit says.

But when she arrived for orientation, another store management told her that she could not wear a skirt "and that she had to leave the store," in spite of her explaining that there was a religious issue at stake, according to the lawsuit.

"The result of the foregoing practices has been to deprive Ashanti McShan of equal employment opportunities because of her religious beliefs and observances as a Christian Pentecostal," the lawsuit states. The incident could be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars religious discrimination in the workplace.

"I've seen cases where an employer has denied a religion accommodation, and it's something where you could see how it could cause a problem," Equal Employment Opportunity Commission trial attorney Meaghan Shepard, who is representing McShan, told The Dallas Morning News. "The legal standard is 'undue hardship,' and in this instance it was a very simple request -- to be able to wear a long black skirt and not black pants -- and it was initially granted. And then she shows up at orientation, on time, and is then told by the manager to leave and that she couldn't wear a skirt. She was responsible, tried to get in touch with someone higher in the franchise, and they never responded to her. In our eyes, it was so clear-cut. She's a very sweet, articulate young lady who was just trying to work her senior year in high school."

The lawsuit seeks "appropriate back pay with prejudgement interest" for McShan, even though she was asked to leave the store before she started her first shift, as well as punitive damages and an injunction.

"Accommodating Ms. McShan's religious beliefs would have been simple and cost the company nothing," Shepard said in a statement. "Management's failure to comply with federal law deprived this teenage girl of the opportunity to work during her senior year of high school."

Pentecostal Christians believe in a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible. Deuteronomy 22:5 specifically states: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God."

"We haven't come far enough in our respect of religious liberties at the workplace if we have employers saying that uniform policies trump a religious observance without articulation of any hardship posed by letting an employee 'hold the pickles' and 'hold the lettuce' while wearing a skirt," EEOC regional attorney Robert A. Canino said in a statement.


School Under Fire For Allowing Churches to Feed Football Team

A Wisconsin-based group has accused a Georgia high school football coach of violating the First Amendment by allowing local churches to prepare meals for his team.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the superintendent of Walker County Schools demanding an “immediate investigation” into Ridgeland High School football coach Mark Mariakis.

The FFRF is a Wisconsin-based group whose purpose is to “protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church.”

They are demanding the school system launch an investigation into allegations that Coach Mariakis allowed local churches to prepare pre-game meals for his football team. They also allege that the coach prayed with his team, used Bible verses in motivational speeches and on team shirts and participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“Taking public school football teams to church, even for a meal, is unconstitutional,” wrote FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel. “This program is an egregious violation of the Establishment Clause and must cease immediately.”

Seidel said taking school children to churches and having ministers “present the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and having the food blessed “shatters the protections the First Amendment put in place.”

The Walker County School system released a statement acknowledging they have received the letter and are reviewing its contents.

The FFRF said a local individual complained about a longstanding tradition of local churches providing meals to the teenage football players on game day. The complainant said a minister would typically deliver remarks “about the Christian religion.”

“The fact that Mariakis visits several churches instead of one does not mitigate the violation,” Seidel wrote.

The Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church is scheduled to provide a meal for the football team in late October.

Richie White, the church’s youth director, said he was quite surprised to hear that an outside group had issues with feeding children.

“It would be interesting to see what part of the Constitution we violated by simply offering a meal to fellow Americans,” he told Fox News. “These are kis from our area that we do love and we do care about.”

White said several members of the church youth group are on the football squad – and it’s been a tradition to show their support for school athletics.

“We as Christians don’t force our religion on anyone,” he said, suggesting that perhaps Christians are treated differently.

“We’re being persecuted because we believe there is a God who created us,” White said. “I don’t think there’s an equal playing field because we base our lives and our views on the Scripture.”

Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and a national commentator on social issues, said it’s time for Christians to stand up against the attacks from the FFRF.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation has dedicated itself to perverting the very real First Amendment freedom of religious expression for an imaginary freedom from religious expression,” he told Fox News. “It is time for all Christians to push back against the attempts of atheistic groups and judicial activists to erase our constitutional right of freedom of religious expression.”

Ken Klukowski, special counsel for the Family Research Council said the FFRF has a long history of going after public displays of religion. Their mission, he said is very clear.

“They believe all religious faith is inherently and irredeemably harmful to human society,” Klukowski told Fox News. “It’s not their mission to separate church and state. It’s their mission to eradicate religion from American culture altogether.”

He said the Wisconsin-based group wants a “purely secular environment.” “They pursue it with a militant zeal that is foreign to most people in this country,” he said.

That may be the case, but according to Klukowski – they may in fact have a case against Ridgeland High School.

“If they are suing on behalf of one of the students, even though they should not prevail, they could,” he said.

It’s unclear based on the letter sent to the school district whether the complainant is a student or member of the local community.

If, for example, the student was a member of the football team and objected to attending a local church, the FFRF could have a case – primarily because of the makeup of the Supreme Court, he said.

“If our law pertaining to religious liberty under the Constitution is anything resembling what it was for the first two centuries of our national life, then they wouldn’t have a prayer,” he added.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


24 August, 2012

Having it all? More like doing it all, say frazzled British mothers struggling to juggle career and children

If you’re a woman under 50, chances are you grew up being told you could 'have it all'. In reality, however, you’re more likely to be doing it all. Most mothers are struggling to juggle their careers and their families, leaving them stressed out at work and frazzled at home, a survey found.

On top of all that, many said they fretted about making sure they looked good.

They say their lives are tougher than their own mothers’ were 30 years ago, because they were allowed to stay at home and raise their children without the pressure to work.

Of those who worked, almost half said they felt guilty that their career had stopped them from spending enough quality time with their offspring. This was compounded by the fact that a quarter of working women said they were their household’s main breadwinner.

More than 5,000 mothers aged 20 to 70 were questioned on their work-life balance. Many of those surveyed called themselves the ‘doing it all, not having it all’ generation. While 54 per cent said it was important for them to have a good job, 73 per cent admitted feeling under pressure to keep their homes clean and tidy.

Seven out of ten said they still did all the cooking and cleaning, and eight of ten did the washing and ironing too.

Nearly three quarters believed they were responsible for making the household run smoothly, with 77 per cent saying they were left to manage the household finances.

More than 82 per cent said they were responsible for sending birthday cards and keeping in touch with relatives, while a third said they also took charge of the family’s health and cared for elderly relatives.

With all that to cope with, 83 per cent said having more help from their husband or partner would make their lives easier and almost a quarter (22 per cent) resented their other half’s lack of support.

They also said they fretted about their image, with 68 per cent saying they were expected to keep in shape and wear fashionable clothes.

Those who worked said they worried about devoting enough time to their children, with half saying they felt anxious that they were not getting it right and one in three saying they felt under pressure to be a perfect mother.

The survey, commissioned by Asda, also asked participants to rate how optimistic they felt about four areas on a scale of five to minus five: the outlook for the UK economy; their household finances; quality of life and local community. These ratings were added together for a total ‘optimism score.’

Most didn’t feel there was much to look forward to. The average score was minus 16, down eight since a similar survey was carried out in February.

Eight out of ten women were also pessimistic about their own daughters’ futures, with 87 per cent predicting women’s lives will only get worse.

Judith McKenna, of Asda, said: ‘There is an overall downward trend in mums’ optimism, driven by a downward trend in optimism in their household finances and their family’s quality of life.

‘Our research shows the average mum is no longer constrained by old-fashioned male or female stereotypes – either within the home or outside it. ‘But with these increased responsibilities comes increased pressure – the expectation that mums can “have it all” weighs heavy, and mums don’t see those pressures easing off for future generations.’

‘Mums are calling for a fairer future,’ she added. ‘They’d like to share domestic duties and fulfil their own career ambitions. They’d like employers to be more flexible.’

June O’Sullivan, of the London Early Years Foundation, said: ‘It would help if mums were allowed to feel less guilty about using childcare to support them to work. ‘We know that the better qualified the mother, the better chances of children doing well at school and in the future. ‘We also know that it is not the amount of time mothers spend with their children that makes the difference it is what they do with the time they have.’


Mayor Bloomberg Hates Bloggers

This morning I was at a Chicago Economic Club breakfast. The two panelists were Mayor Bloomberg from NYC, and Obama’s former chief of staff, Bill Daley. It was moderated by Andrea Mitchell. That’s about as middle of the road as we get in Chicago!

But the panel degenerated into the current political campaign and the statements made were telling. Especially some of the things said by Mayor Bloomberg. It reflected his deep distrust of the individual to make their own decisions. Given his recent policies, that point has been put into practice.

Bloomberg said that money in politics was corrupting the system. Not because of donations to individual politicians, but because of all the SuperPACs on each side of the aisle. He advocated for full disclosure of donations. I agree with him. Every dime anyone, or any company or organization gives ought to be searchable in an online data base.

However, Bloomberg said he though social media was terrible for politics. He said all the bloggers, all the tweeters and Facebookers were ruining politics worse than the money. He said it was much better when there was an editor at a newspaper, or an editor on a television news desk that filtered stories and “fact checked” them before they were run. On that point he and I disagree.

Bloggers and tweeters are the new media that brings transparency and truth to the political process. Would the Anthony Weiner story been broken twenty years ago? How about Jack Abramhoff? Politicians lie today and they are instantly accountable. For example, the left currently says Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan guts funding for everyone. The truth is that it doesn’t affect anyone over 55, and changes the way people get their medical insurance. Ryan’s plan bets that private industry can provide medical coverage cheaper than the government. It’s a good bet. Bloggers got that information out there.

The centralized planning that Bloomberg advocates goes against the grain of a market economy. There is wisdom in crowds. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets allow crowds to interact and come up with solutions. The more centralized the government is, the more it consolidates power. Eventually, it becomes so overbearing free people cease to be free. Individual rights and social justice go away, and the populace is left with a giant government to pay for.

This crucial point is the crux of the debate we are having today. Can government decide better for you and your family or are you the better arbiter of what’s good for you and what’s not? Should you have the freedom to choose, or should you be trapped in a government program that won’t let you out-but has exceptions for people that can get them?

Of course, we all know that it takes political clout to get those exemptions. That’s why it’s called crony capitalism. Bloomberg believes in centralization and crony capitalism. He came out in favor of it today. The solutions to our problems are letting individuals choose for themselves. We need a big gulp of freshwater economics.


An Open Letter to Mark Potok, Spokesman for the SPLC

By Michael Brown

Because your organization has not responded to my previous attempts to interact and because the SPLC is coming under increasing public scrutiny, I am writing this open letter with the hope that you will respond. You should be familiar with my name, since I am on your list of “30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right” and since I was profiled in the Spring 2012 Intelligence Report (more on that shortly).

My desire in writing to you is not to be contentious, nor is it to embarrass you. Rather, it is to pursue peace, to expose falsehood, to confront hateful misinformation, and to call on you and the SPLC to do what is right.

To be sure, I am hardly the only one questioning the credibility of the SPLC today. You have, no doubt, read the editorial in the Washington Post by columnist Dana Millbank, who stated, “I disagree with the Family Research Council’s views on gays and lesbians. But it’s absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church.” And Millbank is just one of an increasing number of Americans from diverse backgrounds who are pointing out the absurdity of your recent “hate group” listings.

Do you realize, Mr. Potok, that by placing mainstream, conservative Christian ministries like the American Family Association and the FRC side by side with legitimate hate groups that you call your whole work into question? Do you realize that millions of Americans, hearing about the SPLC for the first time in the wake of the FRC shooting, will now question the veracity of all your listings, thereby empowering genuine, dangerous hate groups?

You placed my name, along with that of a number of other conservative Christian leaders, on your list of “30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right.” This list included men like Malik Zulu Shabazz, leader of the New Black Panther Party. One of their recent radio shows featured this audio clip: “We give them [i.e., whites] 24 hours in South Africa to get out of town by sundown. I say, if they don’t get out of town, we kill the men, we kill the women, we kill the children, we kill the babies, we kill the blind, we kill the cripple, we kill the crazy, we kill the fa**ots, we kill the lesbians, I say god da**it we kill them all.”

Contrast those words with my statement in May 2006, addressing the gay and lesbian community of Charlotte: “We recognize that we have sometimes failed to reach out to you with grace and compassion, that we have often been insensitive to your struggles, that we have driven some of you away rather than drawn you in, that we have added to your sense of rejection. For these failings of ours, we ask you to forgive us. By God’s grace, we intend to be models of His love.

“We understand, of course, that in your eyes, our biblical convictions constitute hate, and it is hurtful to us that you feel that way. The fact is that we really do love you – more than you realize or understand – and because we love you, we will continue to speak the truth, convinced that it is the truth that sets us free. Love does what is right, even when it is scorned and mocked and ridiculed.”

Does this constitute hate in your book? Is this comparable to the language of the KKK? Neo-Nazis? New Black Panther Party? Yet it is in this spirit that we have carried out our work for the last 8 years, all to find a place one of your lists.

The SPLC actually acknowledges in the “30 New Activists” article that, “Unlike many other voices on the religious right, Brown generally has avoided the kind of slashing rhetoric that often devolves into rank defamation. His work is heavily footnoted and avoids the blanket pronouncements that have gotten others in trouble.” Yet I am listed side by side with Shabbaz, whom the SPLC cites as saying, “Kill every god**mn Zionist in Israel! God**mn little babies, god**mn old ladies! Blow up Zionist supermarkets!” Surely listing me (and other Christian leaders) alongside of him discredits the SPLC, not me (and the other Christian leaders).

You define a hate group as one which knowingly disseminates false information and demonizing propaganda about other people and groups, yet I have noted where the SPLC is guilty of this very thing . (You will claim that you never do so knowingly; certainly, the Christian groups you are attacking would say the very same thing about themselves.)

Mr. Potok, does it trouble you that your Intelligence Report focusing on NARTH (the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) was so riddled with errors that anyone in possession of a program to the conference would recognize that the report was utterly unreliable, not to mention patently biased? What hope does the average reader have of accurately separating fact from fiction in reports like this?


Therapy dog owner roughed up by police at anti-Israel rally

A Jewish man says he's contemplating legal action, claiming to have been arrested for bringing his dog to an Islamic group's anti-Israel demonstration on Saturday. But police say he actually was arrested for fighting.

Allan Einstoss, 47, was handcuffed and detained by police during a controversial Al-Quds Day rally at Queen's Park.

Al-Quds Day is a yearly international event created in 1979 by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini to mark the end of Ramadan and to call for the destruction of Israel and the creation a Palestinian state.

Several other groups, including the hard-line Jewish Defence League, also attended the rally to counter the Al-Quds message, which they say spreads anti-Semitism.

Einstoss, who has no group affiliation but went to oppose the Al-Quds' doctrine, said he'd spent over an hour "mingling" among members of the crowd with Cupcake, his 165-pound English mastiff.

Cupcake, a trained therapy dog that will begin visiting patients at a local hospital this fall, was on a leash during the rally, and wore an Israeli flag around its neck.

Some devout Muslims consider dogs to be unclean and make efforts to avoid them.

Einstoss said after two young Muslim women asked about Cupcake, he was told by a male Al-Quds demonstrator he was "not allowed to go near our women" with the dog.

Einstoss said that after exclaiming his right to go where he pleased, he walked away with Cupcake, but was "punched in the chest" by another demonstrator.

Einstoss shoved back, and within seconds was grabbed by several officers, he said.

He claimed that while in custody, one officer called him "insensitive" for attending an Islamic rally with a dog.

Einstoss said his assailant wasn't even questioned by police.

The officer allegedly threatened Einstoss with charges of incitement to riot and assault. After around 30 minutes, Einstoss was let go after agreeing to leave Queen's Park.

Toronto police spokesman Victor Kwong said that while officers at the rally first noticed Einstoss because of his "large" dog, his arrest was because of the subsequent scuffle.

"Officers took notice of (Einstoss) because they did see an extremely large dog with an Israeli flag around its neck," Kwong said.

He added that Einstoss was the only person arrested at the rally and refused to discuss specifics about the incident.

If he pursues legal action, Einstoss said he'll seek a public inquiry into his arrest instead of money.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


23 August, 2012

Canada's largest Protestant church decides where Israel's borders should be drawn

The UCC started out as mostly former Methodists but has a Presbyterian form of government. It ignores Bible principles and, like most liberal churches, its membership is declining. Their view of Israel's borders is not of course Biblical.

In reflecting on their pretensions, one is reminded of the words of Jesus: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.... Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"

You can see one of the Pharisees concerned here -- fittingly dressed in an all-white robe. Jesus knew their type well

Canada's largest Protestant church has approved a boycott of products made in Israeli settlements.

Meeting in Ottawa, the governing General Council of the United Church of Canada's General Council on Friday supported a resolution calling for a boycott of goods produced in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.

Details of how the boycott will be applied will be determined in the coming weeks and months, officials told the National Post.

The resolution calls on church members "to avoid any and all products produced in the settlements"; requests that the Canadian government ensure that "all products produced in the settlements be labeled clearly and differently from products of Israel"; and requests that products produced in the settlements not be given preferential treatment under the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.

The boycott does not extend to products produced inside Israel's pre-1967 borders.

Prior to the final vote, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said it was "outraged" at the bid to boycott settlement products, saying the "decision represents a radical shift in the United Church's policies, betrays the views of the vast majority of its members and flies in the face of decades of constructive interfaith dialogue."

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies also criticized the bid at the time, with president and CEO, Avi Benlolo saying in a statement that "I don't know if church members truly understand how utterly offensive and imbalanced this proposal is, or whether a latent anti-Semitism within the church is slowly coming back to life."


California law barring parents from 'curing' homosexual children moves through legislature

A first-of-its-kind state law that would restrict parents from trying to "cure" their minor children's same-sex attractions seems headed to the governor's desk.

If both state houses can agree on the final language, the legislation, which would ban all sexual orientation change effort (SOCE) treatment for minors, will be sent to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature sometime in September. But, so far, there has been no indication from his office on whether he will sign the bill into law.

Whatever the governor does, he's sure to face criticism. Backers see it as a civil rights issue, while critics say lawmakers are infringing on not only parents' rights but also on the mission of mental health professionals.

"[The law] unconstitutionally prohibits speech…violates privacy and personal autonomy rights, intermeddles in theological disputes, clashes with other laws and creates significant unintended consequences," Matt McReynolds,, a staff attorney with Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute, said.

"As long as this bill threatens to shame patients and silence counselors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, we will vigorously oppose it," McReynolds told Fox News. "We cannot afford to let the state invade the counseling room or doctor's office to dictate what views on sexuality are acceptable and unacceptable."

Sponsored by a coalition of gay rights groups led by California Equality the bill was introduced by State Sen. Ted W. Lieu (D-Redondo Beach). Lieu told Fox News his interest in the issue was sparked by a news report he saw on television in 2011.

"The story detailed the harmful impact on vulnerable minors of this kind of supposed reparative therapy," Lieu said. "So when California Equality approached me about introducing a bill to ban that kind of therapy for minors, I jumped at the chance."

Lieu also cited studies like the American Psychological Association (APA) 2009 Task Force, which reported SOCE therapy could lead to depression, feelings of shame, self-loathing, drug abuse, high-risk sexual behavior, anger, withdrawal and in some cases, even attempted suicide in minor children, if those same-sex attractions continue to persist.

Libertarian and conservative political and legal groups including McReynolds' group and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a nationwide group of conservative mental health providers based in Salt Lake City have blasted the bill.

David Pickup, a Glendale, Calif. therapist said he's been a member of NARTH for more than eight years. He told Fox News that he went through his own SOCE treatment and uses it to treat his patients.

Pickup said that although he's had thousands of sexual interactions with men, he never identified himself as being gay.

"I describe myself as being a heterosexual man with a homosexual challenge," Pickup said, adding that after his own SOCE treatment he had feelings for women and now only experienced attractions towards men "once in a blue moon."

Pickup claims that SOCE treatments work to varying degrees on "95 percent" of his patients and he vehemently opposes SB 1172 as a "violation of parental rights," and said the law would have a "chilling effect" on the ability of therapists to treat their patients.

Pickup also claims mainstream mental health groups like the APA 2009 Task Force report labeling SOCE change efforts as "posing critical health risks" to lesbian, gay and bisexual people was based solely on "anecdotal evidence."

Brad Dacus, president of PJI told Fox News that whether or not the therapy is viable isn't for lawmakers to decide. Parents, patients and therapists should not be dictated to, he said.

"This is really a serious violation of the constitutional rights of patients and counselors, a violation of privacy and an outright attack on the rights of parents to decide what is best for their children," Dacus said.

Lieu responded to the criticism by pointing out this was a health issue and his bill was written to protect the health, welfare and rights of minors who were experiencing same-sex attractions.

"We (the government) intervene all the time to restrict the rights of individuals and parents regarding health issues," Lieu told Fox News.

"We pass laws saying minors can't buy tobacco products; anyone under 21 can't legally drink alcohol and we force parents to put their very young children into car seats while they're driving," Lieu said.

While public opposition to the bill has been loud and long, it was actually opposition to portions of the legislation from mainstream mental health associations that forced Lieu and the bill's sponsors to amend it.

That opposition, which included several smaller mental health groups, was led by a coalition of the state's four largest mental health associations: the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT), California Psychiatric Association, California Psychological Association and the California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (CALPCC).

Today, the bill only bans SOCE treatments for minors, regardless of their parents' desires. Initially, the bill's sponsors had wanted a total ban on SOCE in the state. Also cut was a provision that subjected mental health providers to damage claims and civil suits by their former patients and immediate family members if they violated the law.

But one major sticking point remained. Randall Hagar, Government Affairs director of the California Psychiatric Association told Fox News the coalition remained opposed because the bill's definition of SOCE was "overly broad and could have inhibited minors from discussing even legitimate issues, fears and concerns about their sexual identity with their therapists."

Dr. Jo Linder-Crow, executive director of the California Psychological Association echoed Hagar's concerns. "It would have been too easy to misinterpret," she said. "Our concern was that proverbial law of unintended consequences and what could happen to our patients."

A compromise was finally brokered that enabled the coalition to move to a neutral position on the bill, Hagar said. In laymen's terms, Hagar said, SOCE was defined as any therapy whose sole purpose or aim was to change a person's sexual orientation from same-sex to opposite sex attraction.

Banned SOCE treatments would exclude psychotherapies that provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients' coping, social support and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices and do not seek to change sexual orientation.


No nanny no more

Britons do not like nanny. Despite decades of her telling us what foods we should eat, how much we should drink, and what lifestyles are safe, a majority of us wish she'd stop. This is the finding of a new poll commissioned by the ASI. Its full findings are well worth a look, but here's a snapshot.

71% agree that "It's up to me, rather than the government, to secure myself a job," and only 7% disagree.

51% agree that "I think most of my retirement pension will probably come from a pension fund I have saved myself," compared with the 22% who disagree.

Housing divides on party lines, with a majority of Labour voters agreeing that government has a duty to provide it, and a majority of Tory voters disagreeing.

Should government provide advice on what foods people like me should eat and how much to drink? 48% disagree and 22% agree.

The statement that "Politicians and Civil servants are well-equipped to make personal decisions on my behalf" finds only 9% in agreement, versus 65%who disagree.

Would young people like to run their own business? Of the Of the 18-24 age- group, 49% agreed, versus 27% who did not. Among 25- 39 year-olds some 44% agreed that they would like to do this, versus 30% who disagreed.

It seems that despite all the nannying, the British prefer to make their own decisions, and young people might well be out there creating the new businesses for our future prosperity.


British welfare housing and social cleansing: try to keep a straight face while the Lefties tie themselves in knots

Sometimes inequality is a good thing, apparently

By Tim Worstall

There are times when I find it difficult to suppress the giggles at the contortions that Lefty philosophy can entail. Take the stories about flogging off the expensive council houses to build cheap ones. Apparently this would mean that poor people would no longer live right next door to rich people and this would be a very bad idea. As the Telegraph reports:

"Senior Liberal Democrats and council leaders raised concerns that the policy could force hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged families out of desirable neighbourhoods and into “ghettos”."

Sounds bad, doesn't it?

"Critics said the plan could result in social “cleansing” as council tenants disappear from expensive postcodes, especially in parts of London and the South East."

Horrors. According to Gabrielle Omar, director of architect firm Lolli & Square:

"Another worry is that we would be creating new ghettos, reversing some of the work that has been done to integrate communities."

Just appalling!

"Critics warned that it would lead to “social cleansing”, with low-paid workers progressively moved out of more expensive areas."

How could they?

But there's something that confuses me here. The argument being put forward here is that rich and poor should live side by side. That this engenders a feeling of community, that we all become as one by living next door to each other. This could be true, of course; I'm certainly willing to give the belief a try.

My confusion comes though from the other thing we are regularly told by assorted Lefties: that inequality kills. That just by having rich and poor in the same country, let alone the same neighbourhood, suicides rise, jealousy rises, heart attacks climb, cancer rates inflate. I'm sure that somewhere or other Wilkinson and Pickett, perhaps in The Spirit Level, insist that it is the very knowledge that others have so very much more that produces these results. I'm also willing to consider this belief, give people an opportunity to prove it.

But think how much angels-on-pinheads philosophising is require to believe, let alone assert, that national inequality kills people while local inequality is a desirable thing. That a pay differential of 50 to one between two people who will never meet, are in fact entirely unaware of each other's existence, causes the ruin of society while the same two people living next door to each other is a wondrous joy to behold.

Further, given the campaign against pay inequality within companies, this idea that the top should not get more than 20 times the bottom, how twisted does logic have to get to then insist that pay inequality within geographic communities must be maintained rather than reduced?

As I say, I don't really mind either argument: they may or may not be true but I'm happy to consider either. It's just that the same people advancing both does give me the giggles.

And as for this:

"Critics of the idea said it would simply open up the expensive London housing market to more rich foreigners. Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, said it would add to the capital's "inflated, overseas, money-driven housing bubble"."

In what possible universe can this be true? We aim to increase the number of (possibly expensive) houses which are available for people to purchase. It's a perverted view of the world that says that an increase in supply is going to raise prices and inflation. In fact, it's laughable.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


22 August, 2012

It isn’t only Russia that punishes iconoclasm

Western observers have been thrilled by Pussy Riot’s sacrilegious antics in Moscow but are just as sanctimonious when their own idols are criticized: Global warming, homosexuality, feminism etc.

In February this year, a bunch of balaclava-clad women, complete with garish tights, entered Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. Given their get-up, it will come as little surprise to learn they weren’t there to pray. Instead, they were there to stick a punkish two fingers up at the then Russian president-to-be, Vladimir Putin, and his perceived partner in state crime, the Russian Orthodox Church. Their protest consisted of playing a song called ‘Holy Shit’, which called for ‘the Virgin Mary [to] put Putin away’, while dancing and mock-praying at the altar.

The jollity didn’t last long. In March, with Putin just days away from winning the presidential election, several members of Pussy Riot were arrested and three were charged with ‘a gross violation of public order, including inciting religious hatred as part of a planned conspiracy’. And last week, with the world’s media glare now firmly focused upon a sweaty courtroom in Moscow, the judgement was issued. The three accused - Maria Alyokhina, aged 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 - were sentenced to two years’ corrective labour in a prison colony. Handing down the sentence, Judge Marina Syrova stated:

‘Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich and Alyokhina committed an act of hooliganism, a gross violation of public order showing obvious disrespect for society. The girls’ actions were sacrilegious, blasphemous and broke the church’s rules.’

In Russia, the whole Pussy Riot brouhaha seems to have prompted a response quite heavily split down class lines. For the slim strata that is Russia’s cosmopolitan liberal set, well-travelled people for whom, as commentator John Kampfner noted, Putin is ‘uncouth’, the judgement was an embarrassment, an indictment of Russian backwardness. Yet while Muscovite and St Petersburg ‘creatives’, as Putin has been calling this upwardly mobile constituency, were outraged, the vast majority of ordinary Russians were less than sympathetic to Pussy Riot.

According to independent research group Levada, only six per cent of Russians polled sympathised with the women and 51 per cent felt ‘indifference, irritation or hostility’. It seems that like the British punk of the 1970s, indeed like its Dadaist, avant-garde precursors in the 1920s, Pussy Riot - itself formerly a performance-art collective called Voina - was premised upon an opposition to the conventions and tastes of the masses. The objective: to scandalise the stupid audience. Little wonder support has been muted.

Yet whichever way the Pussy Riot arrest, trial and conviction are spun, there’s no getting away from the principles at stake. Three women have been sent to a penal colony for playing sweary music in a cathedral; they have been punished for expressing themselves. And if you support freedom of speech, as we do at spiked, then the Pussy Riot trial can only appear as an affront to that principle.

Not that anyone in Western circles is saying otherwise. As the Pussy Riot trial started gaining media traction internationally (the BBC and CNN both broadcast the trial live), there has been a veritable deluge of seeming support for free speech. Pop royalty, from Paul McCartney to the Sex Pistols, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to Madonna, have stood alongside the likes of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to condemn the punishment. Politicians, current and former, have joined in, too. Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt announced that he was ‘deeply concerned by the sentencing… which can only be considered a disproportionate response to an expression of political belief’.

The commentariat was similarly staggered by, as Michael Idov of GQ Russia put it, the ‘depths of vengeful backwardness… teased out of the Russian soil’ by the case. In fact, so riled was Britain’s bible of the liberal elite, the Guardian, that on the day of the verdict, its website exclusively released Pussy Riot’s new single, ‘Putin Lights Up the Fires’. Elsewhere, a Telegraph columnist was content to contrast the draconian punishment meted out to Pussy Riot with that served up by the British judiciary to activist Peter Tatchell for interrupting the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter sermon in 1998: he was fined £18.60.

Russia, it seems, with Putin’s quasi-autocracy to the fore, is providing the perfect stage for commentators, NGOs, politicians and tired old pop stars to demonstrate their liberal credentials. In doing so, they can implicitly celebrate the liberal virtues of the West - even if such virtues come in the form of an £18.60 fine. One columnist almost seemed nostalgic for a time when British or American pop culture felt radical. ’ In the West’, he wrote, ‘we seem to have forgotten that popular culture once produced people who thought it was their duty to decry some of the most ingrained aspects of their societies, and thereby become lightning rods for dissent’.

And here we come to one of the problems with the Western liberal riot over Russia. Its protagonists seem incapable of grasping the extent to which the blasphemy Pussy Riot were punished for has acquired a secular form in the West. Because that’s the thing about blasphemy, indeed about heresy, heterodoxy or dissent - their content changes with the times. So, yes, in the UK for instance, actual blasphemy laws have been abolished. The church is not authoritative, the sphere of the sacred is not demarcated on religious or theological ground. So you can take the Lord’s name in vain, and you can, as the Archbishop of Canterbury often does, criticise politicians in a church.

But if Christian pieties no longer rule national life, liberal pieties most definitely do. The ‘ingrained aspects’ of our society that need challenging are no longer those of old-fashioned religious conservatism; they are the contemporary pieties, from environmentalism to official ‘anti-racism’. Around such ideas, a new sacred forcefield has been drawn. To spout wrongheaded Social Darwinist ideas, as a Cambridge University economics supervisor did recently, won’t land you in a gulag, but it will win you the antipathy of large sections of the respectable press, not to mention the prospect of losing your job should you persist in saying what you think.

So yes, anyone who dissents from, or decries ‘some of the most ingrained aspects of their societies’ in the West is certainly not subject to the draconian legal sanctions of Putin’s Russia - there is quite enough shrillness in the Pussy Riot furore as it is without adding to it. But such Western heretics are subject to a subtler, less severe, but no less constraining form of external pressure: informal censure usually from self-styled progressives.

Over recent years, there have been countless examples of the ‘you can’t say that’ sentiment which inhibits and informs so much of public life today. Ironically, one of the things you can’t express in public, without feeling the soft hand of liberal censure on your shoulder, is religious dogma. Think, for instance, of the fury vented a couple of years ago both at the guest-house owners who refused homosexuals entry to their lodgings and the then Tory shadow home secretary Chris Grayling who defended them. Or think also of the wacky Christian campaign group, the Core Issues Trust, which, a few months ago, was forced by the London mayor Boris Johnson to remove posters promoting its belief that homosexuality is curable through therapy and religious teaching.

And when it comes to environmentalism, criticism or dissent isn’t just collectively frowned upon by the right-thinking set, many of whom were to be found last week wearing tights and balaclavas in support of Pussy Riot; it is also seen as a sign of mental derangement, of ‘being in denial’. Whereas old-fashioned religious dissenters were accused of being in league with the devil, contemporary dissenters from the creed of global warming are accused of being in league with big corporations.

What is orthodox and, consequently, what is effectively blasphemous in the West is not decided by the church any more - it is decided by those self-same illiberal liberals currently clamouring for Pussy Riot’s release. No wonder they cannot identify, let alone defend, instances of parallel blasphemy in the West. As I say, shrillness is to be avoided here. While some, such as ranting Twitter tool Liam Stacey, received a prison sentence for ‘racially aggravated abuse’, many contemporary heretics do not suffer legal punishment. Invariably they are sent to Coventry, not a penal colony. But make no mistake: the informal straitjacket in which free speech is constrained, in which certain issues are deemed de facto sacred, is at work in the West. While I have no desire to defend daft or racist sentiment, for instance, the ‘you can’t say that’ attitude is just as offensive, suggesting as it does that we, the masses, will be incapable of hearing a statement without either unthinkingly acting upon it or becoming incredibly upset by it.

So if Pussy Riot’s freedom of speech deserves support, so too does free speech for those dissenting from Western orthodoxies, be they so-called environmental sceptics or devout, old-fashioned Christians.


More than 20,000 spared jail in Britain reoffend: Alarming figures 'prove community service isn't working'

Nearly 400 criminals a week commit another crime while they are supposed to be doing community service.

Shocking figures show more than 20,000 reoffended last year after being given ‘soft’ sentences instead of being sent to jail.

A similar number failed to comply with the terms of their punishments and had to be hauled back before the courts.

In total, this means one in four offenders fail to complete their community sentences because they break the rules.

The revelations will raise further doubts about the effectiveness of the punishments – which ministers want the courts to use more often.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has ordered a major overhaul of community service to toughen it up. However, he has criticised the alternative – short prison terms – as ineffective in rehabilitating criminals.

The latest figures will raise concerns the public are not being properly protected.

Conservative MP Priti Patel said: ‘The public will be alarmed to see the large number of criminals breaching their community sentences and committing more crimes. ‘The courts must start sending these criminals to jail and handing down stronger punishments to keep the public safe.’

Jonathan Isaby of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘When only two thirds of these community punishment orders are being carried out, how can taxpayers feel that the system is delivering justice?

‘When the criminals subject to these orders who re-offend or fail to comply with their conditions return to court again, they must be handed tough sentences if the public are going to have any confidence in the system.’

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that last year 20,121 convicts who were placed on a community punishment order committed another crime.

Another 22,817 orders were stopped because the subject was failing to follow the rules set down by the court – such as unpaid work, meeting their probation officer or attending drug treatment.

It means that almost 43,000 community orders or suspended sentence orders – more than 800 every week – are being stopped because of criminals’ wayward behaviour. That is one in four of the 172,910 orders for last year.

Just two thirds were carried out, while another nine per cent were stopped because the criminal fell ill or died.

Last year it emerged some 50 people a day endure a violent or sexual attack by a convict who was spared jail.

Every year more than 18,000 criminals given a community punishment commit a sexual or violent crime within 12 months of being sentenced.

A report by the Policy Exchange think-tank revealed that robbers and burglars were working in charity shops or making costumes for the Notting Hill Carnival, instead of doing hard work.

Other ‘work’ projects included helping to look after animals on farms or serving lunch at old people’s clubs.

The Justice Secretary wants to send fewer criminals to prison and has criticised the ‘warehousing’ of inmates in jails.

He has set new rules to ensure community orders include a minimum work requirement of 28 hours a week, including ‘hard manual labour’.

Current rules allow offenders to do as little as six hours each week spread over 12 months.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘The majority of offenders successfully complete their community sentences and do not go on to commit further crimes.

‘However, reoffending rates are too high which is why we are reforming the criminal justice system so offenders are properly punished and the root causes of their behaviour addressed.

‘We have completed a consultation on the future shape of community sentences to make them tougher and will set out our approach in due course.’

The Justice Ministry spokesman added: ‘Our plans to restore public confidence in community sentences include prohibiting foreign travel and imposing longer, more restrictive curfews.

‘We will also be making Community Payback more intensive and demanding with unemployed offenders serving longer hours, carrying out purposeful, unpaid activity which benefits their local community.’


Hatred's Strange Bedfellows

Muslims and the Left

Last week’s near-massacre at the Family Research Council (FRC) put into sharp relief a curious fact: The people most aggressively denouncing others for their “hatemongering” sure are engaging in a lot of it themselves – with dangerous, and potentially lethal, repercussions.

Take, for example, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Back in the heyday of the civil rights movement, the SPLC helped counter the Ku Klux Klan and other racists and anti-Semites. At the moment, though, the SPLC is hanging out with today’s counterpart to the KKK and the preeminent threat to civil rights – especially those of women – in America: Islamists bent on insinuating here their anti-constitutional, misogynistic and supremacist doctrine known as shariah.

A case in point occurred last Wednesday night, just hours after a gunman named Floyd Lee Corkins entered the headquarters of the FRC. Corkins apparently was bent on killing as many of the Center’s employees as possible, perhaps because of the social conservative group’s listing (along with this columnist and a number of others) earlier this year by the SPLC as among the worst hate groups and bigots in America.

It turns out that, as with the Family Research Council, what seems to qualify one for smearing by the Southern Poverty Law Center is disagreement with its political agenda. If you lawfully object to, say, the erosion of traditional marriage or open borders, you stand to be condemned by the SPLC as a hater. It seems that if you are militantly in favor of the radical homosexual agenda or racist groups like La Raza, however, you get a pass from that organization.

Particularly striking in this regard is the utter blindness of the SPLC to the hatemongering in which Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist organizations in this country regularly engage. If you warn, on the basis of abundant evidence – including such Islamist groups’ own statements – that they are seeking to subvert our freedoms and form of government by insinuating shariah into this country then, boom, the self-appointed arbiters of hate will brand you a monger of it. But those whose Islamic creed promotes hatred of other religions, man-made laws and people who embrace them are never mentioned as a problem.

On Wednesday, August 15th, the director of the SPLC’s “intelligence project,” Heidi Beirich, participated in an open conference call organized by one such Islamist group, the Muslim Public Affairs Council. She used the occasion to inveigh against anti-Muslim hate groups and to declare that her group was “very, very concerned” about their proliferation.

What makes this performance absolutely bizarre is the fact that MPAC is not simply a Muslim Brotherhood-associated organization that, by definition, is in the business of promoting shariah’s virulently intolerant code. The organization also has a documented history of anti-Semitism, including such hatemongering as: the contention on 9/11 by its executive director, Salam Al- Marayati, that the Jews should be viewed as possible perpetrators of the attacks of that day; repeated claims that Zionists and Jews “own” the Congress, its staff and the American media; and vitriolic support for the designated terrorist organization, Hamas, whose explicit goal is destroying Israel.

So egregious is Muslim Public Affairs Council’s record of hatemongering that an ecumenical group of seven leaders of national faith-based and civil rights organizations wrote the leadership of the Southern Poverty Law Center last week urging the SPLC not to associate with those Islamists. An attachment noted that an MPAC-sponsored event in December 2000 featured an exhortation from Imam Mohammed Al-Asi, a supporter of the quintessential Islamist hate group, Hezbollah, and director of the Islamic Education Center in Potomac. He declared on that occasion:

“Now, all our khatibs (speakers), our imams, our public speakers, should be concentrating on militarizing the Muslim public.…Rhetoric is not going to liberate Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and Al-Aqsa [the mosque on the Temple Mount]. Only carrying arms will do this task. And it’s not going to be someone else who is going to carry arms for you and for me. It is you and me who are going to have to carry these arms.”

It is deeply regrettable that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been reduced to a propaganda arm of enemies of freedom. It should be embarrassed about its evident refusal to hold accountable any of the myriad Islamist entities that are authentic promoters of hatred – apart from Louis Farakhan’s Nation of Islam, a group so racist, so anti-Semitic, so hateful that even the SPLC evidently could not overlook its record. And the SPLC should abandon its odious practice of listing as hate groups those – like the Family Research Council – with whom it simply disagrees politically, and seeks to silence.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is quick to allege ties between people it calls haters and people who use violence against the object of the purported hatred. If the SPLC is genuinely interested in preventing such behavior, then the organization and its leaders should stop what amounts to encouragement of it.


Australia: Opposition to multiculturalism emerges in in local elections

NICK FOLKES doesn't object to people learning a foreign language, or even dabbling in ethnic cooking. But call other cultures equal? That's "madness", he says.

"Our culture is better than the Muslim culture, it is better than the African culture," he said. "At the end of the day, why did they come here? There must be something wrong with their culture.

The Australian Protectionist Party firebrand joins a growing number of controversial far-right candidates chasing the xenophobic vote at next month's council elections.

Australia First, the anti-immigration party hoping to fill the political void left by One Nation, is running 23 candidates across western and south Sydney and the Blue Mountains, up from 15 at the last council poll.

The party's website takes aim at the Channel Ten program The Shire and its sprinkling of ethnic characters, labelling it "media contrived assimilation". Several candidates attempt to link urban sprawl and rate increases to immigration.

The artist Sergio Redegalli, who painted the controversial "Say no to burqas" sign outside his Newtown workshop, is making a first-time bid for Marrickville Council as an independent.

Mr Folkes, 42, an industrial painter from Rozelle, wants Leichhardt council declared a "sharia-free zone" and would scrap council grants to multicultural groups.

"There is a vacuum in politics at the moment. We believe that a lot of people, in time, will definitely vote for us," he said.

History indicates that day is a long way off. Mr Folkes attracted 289 votes, or 0.6 per cent of the vote, when he ran as an independent for the seat of Balmain last year.

A University of Western Sydney immigration expert, Kevin Dunn, said only 12 per cent of Australians held negative views towards cultural diversity and that anti-immigration candidates typically polled badly.

But their agendas could influence council decisions on issues such as building mosques or religious schools, especially during times of national unrest over boat arrivals.

"The general nature of debate at the national level has a direct effect locally in terms of community relations, attitudes and local politics," Professor Dunn said, and racist attitudes "fade or flourish" depending on public discourse.

Ready to counter the racial supremacists is the Unity Party, a multiculturalist group that has shifted its gaze to local government since its federal and state ambitions faded five years ago.

The party, which has two elected councillors, promotes cultural diversity and respect for religion and has fielded 40 candidates across NSW, the party's founder, Peter Wong, said.

"I think Australia is a lot more broad-minded since Pauline Hanson's time," Mr Wong said. "I don't really think those candidates will make great headway."



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


21 August, 2012

A decade after Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate, why is human nature still taboo?

The idea that “gender” is a “social construct”, is about as factual as creationism

It is hard to know whether Julian Savulescu’s suggestion that we have a “moral obligation” to engineer babies will help push the overton window towards a new and more frightening era of eugenics, or will arouse enough revulsion to make people take the threat seriously.

But one thing is for certain – it’s a good thing we live in a society where Savulescu can make such comments, and though I find the idea morally reprehensible, there is nothing reprehensible in itself in suggesting ways of tackling societal problems such as violence, nor of testing a moral taboo.

The issue of taboos is a central aspect of perhaps the most important book to be published in this still young century, Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, which came out ten years ago next month.

In it Pinker mentions a study that “asked about a hospital administrator who had to decide whether to spend a million dollars on a liver transplant for a child or use it on other hospital needs”, and which found that “not only did respondents want to punish an administrator who chose to spend the money on the hospital, they wanted to punish an administrator who chose to save the child but thought for a long time before making the decision”.

That’s why people don’t touch taboos; yet as Pinker argued in the book, the great taboo of today is that of human nature and the blank slate is a sacred doctrine. Despite the book's impact, 10 years later the blank-slate model of human nature is still routinely discussed as fact, rather than fantasy, and continues to have serious implications for society (one of which may be that we are rushing towards the sort of projects suggested by Saveluscu).

The blank slate doctrine affects almost every area of our lives. Take, for example, recent moves in Ireland to set quotas on women in politics, a move that is moderate compared to quota systems already implemented in Scandinavia. Whether one thinks this is right or not, what is wrong is that the starting premise is a totally pseudoscientific view of human nature – gender feminism.

As Pinker wrote, there are two types of feminism: “Equity feminism is a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology or biology. Gender feminism is an empirical doctrine committed to three claims about human nature. The first is that the differences between men and women have nothing to do with biology but are socially constructed in their entirety. The second is that humans possess a single social motive – power – and that social life can be understood only in terms of how it is exercised. The third is that human interactions arise not from the motives of people dealing with each other as individuals but from the motives of groups dealing with other groups – in this case, the male gender dominating the female gender.

“In embracing these doctrines, the genderists are handcuffing feminism to railroad tracks on which a train is bearing down.”

Gender feminism is no more scientific than astrology, yet the idea of total equality of outcomes is still some sort of vague official goal among the European elite, largely because “people’s unwillingness to think in statistical terms has led to pointless false dichotomies", between "women are unqualified" and "fifty-fifty absolutely".

The end result of gender feminism has been the blackening of the name feminist, which many women and men deny because they associate it with radical, unscientific ideas about “gender” being a “social construct”, ideas which are still taught as fact in British universities despite being as factual as creationism.

Then there is the false dichotomy about nature and nurture in child-raising. In education, for instance, public debate still revolves around the idea that intelligence is environmental, when all available evidence suggests that it is between 50 and 80 per cent nature. So when Chris Woodhead made the point that children from higher socio-economic backgrounds are, on average, cleverer, his views were considered outrageous.

Of course there are environmental factors that disadvantage poorer children, and these should be addressed, just as there are ways in which women can be given more choice in their careers, but that is the point of Pinker’s book – accepting human nature does not necessary mean embracing any ideology. The Harvard professor is no polemicist and he leaves readers to draw their own conclusions. Being a conservative, liberal or socialist are all legitimate stances, depending on what priorities one favours (stability, freedom or equality). But what is not legitimate is forcing debate to revolve around false facts.

I don’t agree with Pinker about everything; I find it unlikely that the home environment really has such a small influence on children’s outcomes, but I don’t pretend this is based on anything but my own experiences and prejudices. His belief that there is no soul – “the ghost in the machine” – I find too awful to contemplate. I have the right to choose not to believe those things; what I don’t have the right to do is force others to accept my premises, and to damn them as sinners or thought criminals if they don’t.

And that is exactly how advocates of the blank slate have come to dominate the public sphere for so long, and why terrible decisions have been made by public officials, based on faulty data.

As Pinker recalls: “Research on human nature would be controversial in any era, but the new science picked a particularly bad decade in which to attract the spotlight. In the 1970s many intellectuals had become political radicals. Marxism was correct, liberalism was for wimps, and Marx had pronounced that ‘the ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class’. The traditional misgivings about human nature were folded into a hard-left ideology, and scientists who examined the human mind in a biological context were now considered tools of a reactionary establishment.”

So Richard Herrnstein was called a racist for arguing, in 1971, that “since differences in intelligence are partly inherited, and since intelligent people tend to marry other intelligent people, when a society becomes more just it will also become more stratified along genetic lines”, even though he was not even discussing race. He received death threats and his lecture halls were filled with chanting mobs.

Then there was EO Wilson, whose Sociobiology concluded that some universals, including the moral sense, may come from a human nature shaped by natural selection. The aim of the book was to describe things such as violence and altruism through evolution, yet a widely-read article by a group of academics accused him of promoting theories that “led to the establishment of gas chambers in Nazi Germany”.

As Pinker says: “The accusation that Wilson (a lifelong liberal Democrat) was led by personal prejudice to defend racism, sexism, inequality, slavery and genocide was especially unfair – and irresponsible, because Wilson became a target of vilification and harassment by people who read the manifesto but not the book.”

Other controversies down the years included the unmasking of the myth of the noble savage, with scientists who found murder rates in pre-agriculture societies were astonishingly high accused of justifying genocide; and rape, which gender feminists believed was not about sex, despite clearly being about sex.

The latter has been especially tragic because of the moral imperative behind the study of rape – to reduce its occurrence. As Pinker wrote: “Any scientist who illuminates the causes of rape deserves our admiration, like a medical researcher who illuminates the cause of a disease, because understanding an affliction is the first step towards eliminating it. And since no one acquires the truth by divine revelation, we must also respect those who explore theories that may turn out to be incorrect. Moral criticism would seen to be in order only for those who would enforce dogmas, ignore evidence, or shut down research, because they would be protecting their reputations at the expense of victims of rape that might not have occurred if we understood the phenomenon better.”

That, unfortunately, is how orthodoxies are enforced across a range of subjects, despite being incredibly weak. On the idea that intelligence is entirely environment, Pinker wrote that “even in the 1970s the argument was tortuous, but by the 1980s it was desperate and today it is a historical curiosity”. And yet now, in the second decade of the 21st century, it is still not considered decent to question the taboo about human nature when it comes to policy.

But just as the good name of feminism has been stigmatised by its radical wing, the whole of the social sciences have been damaged by the blank-slate orthodoxy, which has led to widespread anti-intellectualism, since the public at large come to view academia as a font of convenient untruths and agenda-driven nonsense (or to use the popular phrase, political correctness). Worst of all it has actually made it harder to help the most vulnerable, because we fail to take account of the fact that some people are less smart than others or, as Savulescu pointed out, more prone to vice or violence; and it has even made society less sympathetic to people who, because they have been less blessed by nature, lose out in the rat race.

A decade after The Blank Slate, why is human nature still taboo?


British Police won’t return an innocent girl’s laptop computer

A further illustration of the police's heavy-handed collaboration with social workers

A recurring theme of this column for three years has been the heavy-handed readiness of the police to obey the orders of social workers bent on seizing children from their parents, too often for no good reason.

It is now exactly a year since one bright 13-year-old got into a fight with her semi-autistic younger brother, leaving a bruise on his arm. Asked by a teacher next day how it happened, he replied – to protect his sister – that his father had done it. The school called the social workers and the father was arrested and given police bail – despite the boy admitting to the police that he had lied and that the fight was between him and his sister. Three police then searched the family home, confiscating the girl’s mobile phone and laptop and snatching an iPod from her three-year-old sister, claiming that these were needed as “evidence”.

Before any court order could be given, the family escaped to Ireland, where they settled happily to start a new life. The Irish social workers and police reported that they had no concerns about the family, who are now Irish citizens. The older girl is a star pupil at school, and when the English social workers called her head teacher, trying to find some excuse to have the children deported, they were given short shrift. But still, a year later, the girl has not been given back her mobile and laptop, despite written authorisation to her grandmother to collect them on her behalf.

When I asked the West Mercia police why the children’s property has not been returned, I was told that the “evidence” could not be given back because “police investigations are still continuing”. Having talked to the girl – as I have to several other articulate teenagers who have experienced the kind of “support” the police give to social workers – I’m afraid such behaviour does not inspire in them quite the respect the police might wish for.


British social workers are scum

Social workers took a newborn baby girl into care within hours of her birth while the mother was still dosed up on morphine. The mother, 26, had been given the powerful opiate to recover from life-saving surgery after a difficult labour.

Coventry City Council social workers, who hours earlier been told by the mother she wanted to keep the baby girl, then asked her to consent to have the child taken away while she was still under the influence of the drug.

A judge at London's High Court has now ruled that the state officials violated the human right of the mother and baby, which is now seven months old.

The court heard that the troubled mother, from Coventry, West Midlands, was still feeling the effects of the powerful pain-killing drug when she agreed to have the baby removed.

In a ruling which set out guidelines for the future, Mr Justice Hedley said he 'seriously doubted' whether the woman - who feared she would have an allergic reaction to the morphine - was legally capable of giving her consent at the time.

The judge said the council had conceded that social workers should not have sought the mum's agreement when they did and that the baby's removal from the post-natal ward 'was not a proportionate response' to any risk to the child's welfare.

He added that the council - which has started an internal investigation into what happened - accepted that it breached the mother and baby's rights to respect for family life, enshrined in Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention.

Coventry had agreed to pay damages to the mother, as 'just satisfaction' for the breach of her rights, and she has asked that the undisclosed sum be spent on giving her therapy.

The judge said the mother had endured a harrowing childhood and adolescence which left her not only vulnerable but 'devoid of parenting instinct or intuition'.

She has three other children, who have also been taken into care and placed for adoption. The court heard that she had 'previous unhappy relationships with men'. She is seeing another man at the minute, which she 'believes promises better things'. However, he is a drug addict.

The judge ruled there was an 'overwhelming' case that the welfare of the baby girl also demanded that she be placed with an adoptive family. But that social workers need to be more careful when asking parents to have their child removed.

Giving guidance for the future, Mr Justice Hedley said local authorities 'may want to approach with great care' the obtaining of consent from mothers in the aftermath of giving birth, especially where there is no immediate danger to the child.


Australia: Bosses' rights to sack workers for drug and alcohol use go up in smoke

BOSSES are being warned they may breach anti-discrimination laws if they sack workers for alcohol or drug use - and this may include smokers.

The latest legal advice to Queensland and NSW small business has raised concerns that the warnings may also apply to smokers.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland president David Goodwin accused smokers of costing the state "millions and millions" of dollars in lost productivity each year, and questioned why industrial relations laws defied common sense.

"They (smokers) can't always make it up in their own time," he said. "If you miss that sales call because you're outside smoking, you've cost your organisation."

Cancer Council Victoria recently cited research that found smokers who took four 15-minute breaks daily spent 1.2 years smoking on the job over an average working life.

Mr Goodwin said he believed business could dismiss an employee for ignoring smoking policies after verbal and written warnings, although the legal advice had raised some questions.

The Australian Business Lawyers and Advisors, which provides in-house counsel for Queensland and NSW's chambers of commerce and industry, urged firms to introduce smoking guidelines that were well explained.

However, it flagged the potential for discrimination.

"A decision to dismiss an employee on the basis of alcohol or drug use may infringe various pieces of federal and state legislation that prohibit discrimination on the ground of impairment and/or disability," it said. "Recent case law has established that drug and alcohol dependency can be characterised as an impairment ... (and) the use of drug and alcohol policies against an employee must be carefully considered to ensure that discrimination laws are not breached."

Australian Council on Smoking and Health professor Mike Daube said smokers had no entitlement to special consideration in the workplace. "They can manage without cigarettes on aircraft, in cinemas, churches and in a whole host of circumstances," he said. "Work is no different. Staff are employed to work."



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


20 August, 2012

Lawyers Carve Out 'Divorce for Men' Niche: They Target Husbands Who Fear Being Underdog in Battles Over Child Custody, Property, Money

Amicable or at least negotiated settlements in divorce are obviously the best option but the system is so biased against men (as seen, for instance, in the Violence Against Women Act) that one can understand the emergence of the kind of service that is described below

Divorce lawyers seeking an edge in a crowded legal marketplace have found a niche they say pays off in good times and bad: appealing to men who fear getting a bad deal.

With sports magazines in the waiting room and radio and TV spots that promise to put men first, "divorce for men" law firms position themselves as the best defense a soon-to-be-ex-husband could have in the struggle to keep his kids, his house and his money.

They say their expertise lends firepower in situations where other lawyers might cave, and they coach men on how to avoid certain snares. For instance, if you want to stay in your house, steer clear of confrontations—especially in front of witnesses—that could provide fodder for a restraining order.

"We have experience swimming upstream," said Bill Goldberg, co-founder of Goldberg Jones, a Seattle-based men's divorce firm with offices in Portland and San Diego. "We don't pretend that we are going to pull miracles for men. But we are very, very familiar with the biases and challenges."

Such firms charge about the same hourly rates as other family-law practices—generally in the range of $200 to $350 an hour, plus a retainer.

'From the first time I heard their ad—that they cater to men and put them first—that's how I felt through the whole process,' says Taylor Myers of his divorce lawyers.

Getting divorced isn't cheap. An amicable separation that doesn't end up in court could run in the low thousands of dollars, while custody disputes or battles over property can cost many more thousands, or even millions, by the time a divorce is final.

The "divorce for men" pitch has proved a durable one. Some lawyers have been working this angle for decades, since men's rights groups began pushing back in the 1970s and 1980s against divorce and custody laws that they said favored women at the expense of their former spouses.

Now it's easier than ever before to find such lawyers as firms expand their online profiles with Web sites and blogs laden with keywords designed to boost them to the top of Internet search results.

When Mark Faulkner of Round Rock, Texas, was looking for a divorce lawyer last year, his sister emailed him a link to the website of Cordell & Cordell, which says it is ne of the country's largest family-law firms specializing in male clients.

The firm maintains three separate sites: one promoting the law firm, one for divorced dads, and a third focused on men's rights that features headlines such as "Child Support When Paternity Is in Doubt" and "Are There Laws to Protect a Man From an Ex-Wife's False Report?"

They struck a chord, said Mr. Faulkner, who runs a repair shop that fixes parts for high-end private airplanes. "Even the marriage counselor said, 'Make sure you get a good attorney because the system is prejudiced'" against men.

Not everyone is convinced of the need for such specialists. Some family-law practitioners say the outcome of a divorce depends largely on state law, what judge you get, and whether you have competent representation.

"Look at the marketing for men saying, 'We're going to help you keep the dollars you've earned.' Wait a minute—you can't change Missouri law," said Ann Bauer, a St. Louis family-law practitioner and past chair of the Missouri Bar's family-law section. "Pretty much we're going to divide the property down the middle."

To be sure, some men do get the short end of the stick in divorce proceedings. But attitudes—and divorce statutes—have shifted in recent decades.

"In this day and age, fathers have lots of rights," said Ken Altshuler, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. "We have shared custody, and the law in most states is really gender neutral."

Some states are moving to cap spousal support so that recipients, who are often but not always women, no longer get lifetime alimony. Mothers are increasingly paying child support, according to a recent survey of members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. And as women's earnings equal or, in some cases, outpace those of their partners, some ex-wives even end up paying alimony.

"I always see judges wincing when they order women to pay alimony," said Mr. Altshuler. "But it's a trend.... Now we have so many families where both parents are working, the whole 'man takes care of the woman' syndrome has diminished."

Despite those changes, some lawyers who specialize in representing men say their clients still encounter discrimination from judges who are reluctant to view men as equally capable parents or deserving of spousal support. Joseph Cordell, the co-founder of Cordell & Cordell, said women may also resort to a tactic few men employ: accusations of domestic violence. "It could be as little as a shove or a raised voice," said Mr. Cordell. "The cascade of events triggered by that affect property distribution, custody, attorney fees."

Other firms focus on educating clients on the rights they already have but may not be exercising.

"Men don't know what they need to know," said Santa Monica divorce lawyer David Pisarra, who said his firm, Men's Family Law, "is about empowering men, not bashing women." He and his partner focus on making sure their male clients don't unwittingly sabotage their own goals—for instance, by moving 35 miles from their children's school, then seeking joint custody.

Mr. Goldberg started his firm in the mid-1990s after his father, who worked in advertising, devised a campaign for a Detroit men's divorce firm known as ADAM, or American Divorce Association for Men. "He had always thought that as a business-opportunity concept, this is something that would work well on the West Coast, in Seattle," Mr. Goldberg said.

The angle has also been fruitful for Mr. Pisarra's firm. "In the giant ocean of data on the Internet, you've got to become as niche-focused as possible," he said.

Marketing seems to be key. When Cordell & Cordell decided to focus on a male clientele in 1996, the firm invested heavily in its websites—a bet that Mr. Cordell said paid off a few years later and helped fuel the firm's expansion to more than 60 offices across 24 states. The firm also runs radio spots and tasteful, high-end TV ads.

The pitch certainly resonated with Taylor Myers, an electrical technician who lives in Memphis, Tenn. When Mr. Myers's wife served him with divorce papers last year, he opted for a Cordell & Cordell attorney after hearing one of the firm's radio spots.

"From the first time I heard their ad—that they cater to men and put them first—that's how I felt through the whole process," said Mr. Myers, 36 years old. "I don't think it's a ploy. He's hit on something right."


Racist symphony orchestra director judges choristers by the color of their skin

He is a Leftist Jew so one does rather wonder what it takes to get Jews to abhor race-consciousness

Two high school choruses will not be performing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) this year because they’re not “racially-diverse enough,” Fox News reports.

Apparently, it’s more important that you look like you just came from the set of Glee than it is to, you know, have actual talent.

“This year, the schools were informed by symphony officials that their choruses are not diverse enough, and that the symphony would be inviting a third, more diverse chorus [emphasis added],” said Cobb County Schools spokesman Jay Dillon.

Unsurprisingly, some Marietta, Ga., residents believe the symphony’s decision to turn away both Walton and Lassiter High School is discriminatory.

“I think it’s sad,” one resident, Shar Nicholson, told WSBTV.com. “I think if they have the talent and the desire they should be given the opportunity.”

Atlantic Symphony Orchestra President Stanley Romanstein argues that it’s one of the goals of the organization to “reflect the diversity of Atlanta,” adding that he is surprised by the reaction to the decision. “It’s an interesting misunderstanding,” he said.

According to Romanstein, he informed chorus directors at both Walton and Lassiter of the symphony’s decision two years ago, adding that, at the the time, they were very “understanding.”

Still, the fact that the symphony based its decision on physical appearance rather than merit has rubbed more than a few people the wrong way.

“It’s not necessarily fair to the students at all,” Cobb County resident Vashon Ramsey told WSBTV.com. “They should be allowed to perform regardless.”

But Romanstein stands by the ASO’s decision. “There are at least 12 very talented high school choirs in Atlanta,” Romanstein said. “We gave Lassiter and Walton choirs an opportunity to perform for four consecutive years, and they were marvelous. We think it’s time to give other Atlanta high school choirs, who are very skilled and deserving, their chance to perform with the ASO as well.”

Both high schools were offered a chance to bring a select group of their choruses to perform with the symphony but both turned down the offer.

“Because the full choruses would not be able to perform with the symphony, both Lassiter and Walton have declined to participate this year,” said Dillon.


British Tories facing loss of support from millions of churchgoers over gay marriage

The Conservative party risk the support of millions of churchgoers by supporting same-sex marriages, a poll suggests.

David Cameron’s plans to legalise gay marriages does not sit well with six out of ten regular churchgoers who said they are less likely to vote Conservative in the next election as a result of the Prime Minister’s stance on the matter.

As religious groups estimate that 7.6 million people attend church once a month this could mean a loss of millions of votes.

A poll by ComRes found that 58 per cent of regular service attendees were less likely to vote Conservative after plans of the new policy were made public.

A mere two per cent of those who went to church once a month or more said the introduction of same-sex marriage made it more likely that they would vote Tory with ten per cent saying they would stand by the party regardless.

The Conservatives were not the only political party at loss. Nearly half of those polled said they were deterred from voting Lib Dem and 27 per cent would not vote Labour due to their policies on same-sex marriage.

Last week the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke out in support of religious organisations and churches being allowed to conduct same-sex marriage if they wish to do so.

Research by The Independent showed that a majority of Britons want the government to go ahead with their plans to legalise gay marriage even if research concludes that the general consensus is negative.

A survey asked if gay marriage should be legalised in England and Wales following the Scottish announcement to do so even if most people responding to the UK government’s consultation are opposed to it and 54 per cent agreed.

Only 37 per cent were opposed to the proposition whilst nine per cent said they did not know.

Although a majority of Liberal Democrat and Labour voters support a legalisation of same-sex marriage only 49 per cent of Conservative voters do so.

A legalisation is fiercely opposed by the Church of England and more than 50 Conservative MPs have pledged to vote against the proposal. The Home Office has received more than 100,000 responses, a majority of which oppose the idea.

This is a revelation which comes just over a month after the Scottish Government said they will go ahead with plans of a legalisation even though a public consultation had negative results.


The antisemitism of the British elite shows its face once again

Great Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has resigned as a supporter of an interfaith charity after it circulated an anti-Israel campaign.

Sacks said he was unable to continue working with the Wyndham Place Charlemagne Trust after it sent supporters details of an initiative organized by the Quaker Council for European Affairs that attacks European Union trade links with Israel, according to the London Jewish Chronicle.

The WPCT’s newsletter encouraged the signing of a petition set up by the European Coordination of Associations and Committees for Palestine, a non-profit group that works with Palestinian NGOs.

In last Thursday’s message to supporters, WPCT included the suggested wording of a letter for campaigners to send to MEPs.

The thrust of the “action alert” concerns the EU’s proposed adoption of an agreement with Israel on pharmaceutical products.

The Palestinian pharmaceutical industry, the alert reportedly said, is “a prisoner of the Israeli system” and Palestinian West Bank companies suffer from Israeli occupation.

The Jewish Chronicle quoted an unnamed spokesman for Sacks as saying, “When the Chief Rabbi became patron of the Trust, its objectives were a commitment to world peace, and its aim to bring together people of diverse backgrounds in order to find common ground. Sadly in this instance, the Trust has failed to fulfill these objectives, and it is with regret that the Chief Rabbi can no longer remain a patron.”



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


19 August, 2012

Some graphic political correctness

I have hesitated for a while before putting up the above -- as the right-hand panel of the diptych rather turned my stomach -- but in the end I thought I might risk my readers' stomachs with it

Employee's lawsuit accuses Napolitano’s DHS of humiliating men, favoring women

A longtime special agent in the Department of Homeland Security has filed a salacious discrimination lawsuit, saying he was shoved aside in favor of a woman with ties to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano -- who the suit claims presided over a female "frat-house"-style department that routinely humiliated male staffers.

The lawsuit, filed in May by James T. Hayes Jr., focuses on two Napolitano appointees, Suzanne Barr and Dora Schriro, who joined DHS in February 2009, five months after Hayes was promoted to director of ICE Detention and Removal Operations.

Hayes claims Schriro, who was brought on as a special adviser to Napolitano, was not qualified for the job because she lacked law enforcement experience. Hayes maintained Schriro enjoyed a “long-standing relationship” with Napolitano and soon began assuming his duties.

Hayes was pushed aside "because of this relationship (with Napolitano) and because he was not female," the suit says.

Schriro previously led the Arizona and Missouri corrections departments. She has since left DHS and now serves as commissioner for the New York City Department of Correction.

The lawsuit also alleges that Barr cultivated a "frat-house type atmosphere" at DHS that "is targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees."

In one instance, the suit alleges, Barr "moved the entire contents of the offices of three male employees" to the men's bathroom. It also claims she repeatedly used "sexually offensive behavior" -- like "screaming" about an explicit sexual act at a male employee in his hotel room and "covertly" taking a male agent's Blackberry and sending a message to his female supervisor that he "had a crush" on her and "fantasized about her."

The suit also claims Barr held conference calls to discuss excuses for firing Hayes, after Schriro assumed some of his responsibilities. Hayes was later removed from his Washington ICE job and assigned to the New York office. Subsequently, Hayes filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office -- the suit alleges the department then retaliated against him. This alleged retaliation is the crux of the lawsuit.

After the suit was first reported by blogger Debbie Schlussel, DHS issued a statement knocking down the claims.

"ICE doesn't comment on unfounded claims and will respond to Mr. Hayes' allegations as appropriate through the judicial system," a DHS spokesman said.

A representative for Schriro also issued a statement saying her "selection and service at DHS were based on the merits. Any suggestion to the contrary is false."

Hayes has held a number of high-ranking assignments at DHS, including his current post as special agent in charge of New York City ICE.

But Hayes lawyer Morris Fischer told FoxNews.com his client considered the transfer to New York to be a demotion. He also called the department's public response Friday to the allegations "offensive."

"The only thing unfounded in this case were the six unfounded misconduct investigations the secretary's staff subjected my client to after he first complained about the discriminatory work environment at ICE," Fischer said.

The suit says that in late 2009, DHS launched or re-opened at least six different misconduct probes against him. Those probes were concluded with a finding they were "without merit," the suit said. "On information and belief, these investigations were initiated by the agency in order to intimidate the plaintiff," the suit said.

Hayes is seeking more than $330,000 in damages. Barr is still Napolitano's chief of staff for ICE.


Newswoman’s Analysis Betrays Bias … or is it Ignorance?

Marybeth Hicks

It must be said: What NBC newswoman Andrea Mitchell knows about suburban moms would fit on the back of a postage stamp.

Ms. Mitchell, reporting from Virginia at the Saturday rally where Mitt Romney introduced Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate, announced with authority that Mr. Ryan was “not a pick for suburban moms. This was not a pick for women. This was a pick for the base.”

Forgive a blunt observation when I say that merely having a vagina does not make you an expert on the opinions of other women. I submit that Ms. Mitchell, neither a suburban resident nor a mom, and certainly not a coupon clipper, has zero inside information on the likely response of women like me to Mr. Ryan’s inclusion on the Republican ticket.

Of course, Ms. Mitchell’s well-established liberal bias renders her analysis meaningless anyway. Still, we gals out here in the Target-red flyover are annoyed that radical feminists keep trying to speak for us.

Women like Ms. Mitchell — leftists who still swoon over Barack Obama like schoolgirls crushing on the high school quarterback — are working hard to keep alive the bogus “war on women” meme, in which American females, presumably obsessed with having lots and lots of sex, are under attack by old, white men (and the Catholic Church) intent on taking away their birth control.

It’s a notion so ridiculous (and by the way, so insulting to all women) that it feels absurd to even type that sentence.

In reality, suburban moms and women generally care most about the same thing that concerns suburban dads and men: our pathetic economy and the lack of good jobs available for our husbands, our teens and young adult children, and us.

Yes, we’re concerned about health care. But feminists would have us believe that we’re threatened because college girls must pay for their own birth-control pills (as if having premarital sex during college is a civil right). We could not care less.

We’re too busy scrounging around our wallets for the $20 needed for sports physicals so our kids can join a team this fall. And to be sure, we care about the $70 we’re spending to fill the gas tank so we can drive our sons and daughters to campus in the first place.

Perhaps Ms. Mitchell’s feminist demagoguery is a reflection of a certain ignorance that is no fault of her own. I mean, does she really sit down and balance the Greenspan family checkbook? What could she possibly know about the concerns of real suburban moms?

Not much, to be sure, but being a partisan hack, she certainly knows this: Research shows it is so-called “Wal-Mart moms” who are likely to decide this very close and crucial election.

I’m not talking about “the people of Wal-Mart” — the uneducated, mullet-sporting, NASCAR fans that the left believes them to be — but the college-educated, married, religious, moderate and conservative women who literally shop at Wal-Mart about once a week.

“Wal-Mart moms” don’t like political labels. They don’t really care about partisan politics and they certainly aren’t radical, “repro rights” feminists.

Rather, they are the wives and mothers and grandmothers who are holding their families together, mending clothes that don’t really fit, outfitting the kids for school at second-hand stores, recycling last year’s school supplies, and serving meatless meals not because it’s the cool, vegan thing to do, but because the ground beef is not on sale.

Ms. Mitchell’s “insights” about us to the contrary, the “women’s issue” that matters to suburban moms and women in this election year is our stagnant economy and the uncertain future it is carving out for our children and for us.

The women who could make or break this election will not be pigeonholed into the media’s liberal narrative. They’re going to take a long, fair look at Paul Ryan and they may just conclude, as I did, that this is a pick that says Mr. Romney is serious about fixing what is wrong.


British police 'are too worried about political correctness to prevent abuse linked to witchcraft'

Political correctness is preventing police from stopping child abuse in communities that believe in witchcraft, a minister said yesterday.

Tim Loughton warned that a ‘wall of silence’ surrounded the problem.

Police and social workers are to receive additional training amid fears of a rise in witchcraft-related murders and attacks on children.

In the high-profile cases of Kristy Bamu and Victoria Climbie, both victims were murdered because family members believed they were possessed.

Ministers are concerned that faith-based abuse is under-reported and misunderstood, and the Metropolitan Police admits that its officers are rarely able to spot the signs that a youngster is in danger of such abuse, despite dealing with 83 faith-based cases in the past decade.

Mr Loughton, the children’s minister, said: ‘It’s clear we need to make a stand.

There has been only very gradual progress in understanding the issues over the last few years – either because community leaders have been reluctant to challenge beliefs which risk leading to real abuse in their midst, or because authorities misunderstand the causes or are cowed by political correctness.’

He added: ‘Child abuse is appalling and unacceptable wherever it occurs and whatever form it takes.

'Abuse linked to faith or belief in spirits, witchcraft or possession is a horrific crime, condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths – but there has been a wall of silence around its scale and extent.’

Yesterday a Nigerian couple who claimed their children were possessed by evil spirits were jailed for seven years, following a decade-long campaign of abuse that came to light only after their eldest daughter threw a note out of her bedroom window pleading for help.

The case follows that of Magalie Bamu, who was jailed for life in March after torturing her 15-year-old brother Kristy to death because she thought he was practising witchcraft.

She and boyfriend Eric Bikubi, who was also jailed for life, inflicted more than 130 injuries over the course of four horrific days in Newham, east London.

The death echoed that of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie, who was tortured and starved to death in 2000 after her carers became convinced that she was possessed.

The National Action Plan to Tackle Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief, drawn up after Kristy Bamu’s murder, urges closer engagement with communities, while other measures include better support for victims so that more prosecutions can be secured.

Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe, who led the Bamu case, said: ‘It may be very difficult for the children themselves to come forward or, if it is a rogue pastor scenario, for people to report their religious leaders.

'Our big push has been to empower the professionals to raise awareness of the signs.’

Bishop Joe Aldred, part of the Churches Together in England group, said people should not ‘turn a blind eye’ to the possibility that children are in danger in religious settings. ‘Everybody has to be aware,’ he stressed.

Andrew Flanagan, head of the NSPCC, added: ‘The vast majority of people in communities where witchcraft is practised are horrified by these acts. 'We must not be afraid to raise this issue so the offenders can be exposed.’


Police Captain and Devout Christian Sues Department after being Punished for Refusing to go to a Mosque for a Mandatory Cultural Event

A Tulsa police officer and devout Christian is suing his department after being punished for refusing to go to a mosque for a mandatory cultural event.

Police Capt. Paul Campbell Fields, a 17-year veteran, was docked two weeks' pay, transferred, reduced to the graveyard shift and made ineligible for promotions for at least a year, after he told his chief his faith made it impossible for him to attend a "Law Enforcement Appreciation Day" at the Islamic Cultural Society of Tulsa, according to the lawsuit.

Fields, 43, is a non-denominational Christian, who quoted Scripture in legal explanation of his insubordination.

"This event is compelling me to go to a venue where a group of individuals is prepared to discuss their (Islamic) faith," Fields said during a May 2012 deposition, the transcript of which was obtained by FoxNews.com. "And in my faith, I have a duty to proselytize my faith to people (who) don't subscribe to my faith. I can't do that in uniform. And so therein lies the conflict or moral dilemma I face."

Fields' attorney, Robert Muise of The American Freedom Law Center, elaborated, "He was going to be in a place where people were going to refer to Jesus Christ as merely a prophet and not his Lord and Savior.

"And he wouldn't be able to respond to them in any way," Muise added. "That was very troubling to him."

Fields is seeking his docked pay, attorney's fees, as well as compensatory damages for the "humiliation" -- and damage to his reputation -- he suffered as a result of the affair.

The donnybrook has its origins in a Jan. 25, 2011, Tulsa Police Department staff meeting, in which Deputy Police Chief Alvin Webster informed fellow officers of the March 4 event at the Islamic center.

At that point, attendance was voluntary, according to the lawsuit.

The Islamic Cultural Center of Tulsa did not return calls or emails from FoxNews.com, but a promotional flier for the event cited in the suit states the event would include meetings with Muslim community leaders, a tour of the center's mosque, talks on Islam, as well as a 45-minute prayer service.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


17 August, 2012

British Christian B&B owners who refused gay couple win right to Supreme Court appeal

A couple who refused to let a gay couple share a bedroom at their seaside guest house have won permission to take their case to the Supreme Court.

A Christian couple who refused to let a gay couple share a bedroom at their seaside guest house have won permission to take their case to the Supreme Court.

Earlier this year Court of Appeal judges dismissed a challenge brought by Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who run Chymorvah House in Marazion, Cornwall, against a ruling that they breached equality legislation when they turned away Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy in September 2008.

Today it was revealed that the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, has now decided to hear their case and could rule in their favour after all.

The appeal court had upheld the January 2011 verdict of Judge Andrew Rutherford at Bristol County Court that the Bulls had directly discriminated against the couple, who were awarded a total of £3,600 damages.

Mr Bull, 72, and Mrs Bull, who is in her late 60s, are Christians who regard any sex outside marriage as a "sin" and they would not let the two men have a double-bedded room.

They denied either direct or indirect discrimination, arguing that their policy of restricting double beds to married couples, in accordance with their religious beliefs, was not directed to sexual orientation, but sexual practice.

Dismissing the Bulls' appeal in February this year, Sir Andrew Morritt, Chancellor of the High Court, sitting in London with Lord Justice Hooper and Lady Justice Rafferty, said that the restriction was "absolute" in relation to homosexuals but not in the case of heterosexuals.

"In those circumstances it must constitute discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Such discrimination is direct" he said.

Lady Justice Rafferty said a homosexual couple "cannot comply with the restriction because each party is of the same sex and therefore cannot marry". Now that ruling is to be tested in the Supreme Court.

The Bulls had accepted an £80-a-night double room booking, thinking Steven Preddy, 38, would be staying with his wife.

When Mr Preddy arrived with his 46-year-old civil partner Martyn Hall, the men, from Bristol, were told that they could have two rooms, but not share one.

In January last year Judge Andrew Rutherford ruled at Bristol County Court that the Bulls had breached equality legislation and ordered them to pay the couple a total of £3,600 damages.

The Bulls denied that they had discriminated against Mr Hall and Mr Preddy, saying they had also barred unmarried heterosexual couples from sharing double rooms since they opened for business 25 years ago.

In the Apperal Court ruling earlier this year, Lady Justice Rafferty said "Whilst the appellants' beliefs about sexual practice may not find the acceptance that once they did, nevertheless a democratic society must ensure that their espousal and expression remain open to those who hold them.

"However, in a pluralist society it is inevitable that from time to time, as here, views, beliefs and rights of some are not compatible with those of others.

"As I have made plain, I do not consider that the appellants face any difficulty in manifesting their religious beliefs, they are merely prohibited from so doing in the commercial context they have chosen."

The taxpayer-funded state equality body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, had backed Mr Preddy and Mr Hall in their action.

John Wadham of the EHRC said "We believe that this case will help people to better understand the law around freedom of religion. "When offering a service, people cannot use their beliefs, religious or otherwise, to discriminate against others.£"

But Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute, which funded Mr and Mrs Bull's appeal, said "Something has gone badly wrong with our equality laws when good, decent people like Peter and Hazelmary are penalised but extremist hate preachers are protected."


British Appeal judges are forced to REDUCE jail sentence of 'dangerous' paedophile to just 18 months

Judges have expressed 'great concern' after being forced to overturn the indefinite sentence imposed on a dangerous paedophile who will now serve just 18 months behind bars.

Simon Crisp twice tried to convince a 15-year-old boy to perform a sex act online and shared sickening images of children with other perverts, London’s Appeal Court heard.

He was jailed indefinitely for public protection - which is almost identical to a life sentence - at Preston Crown Court in March, after computer equipment was seized by police from his home in Fleetwood, Lancashire.

The 36-year-old admitted three counts of trying to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, six of making, nine of distributing and five of possessing indecent images of children, and one of having an extreme pornographic image.

But his open-ended sentence has now been quashed at London’s Criminal Appeal Court and replaced with a conventional jail term of three years.

Judges said that, while they were deeply anxious about the outcome, the law on indeterminate sentences laid down by Parliament left them with ‘no alternative’ but to quash Crisp’s IPP.

The decision means that, instead of remaining behind bars until the Parole Board concludes it is safe to release him, Crisp will now be automatically released after serving half of the three-year term.

Judge Anthony Morris QC, sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Mr Justice Treacy, said a sexual offences prevention order handed to Crisp should be ‘vigorously enforced’ by the probation service to ensure he doesn’t re-offend after his release.

The judge told the court Crisp’s computer equipment, including a laptop, webcam and four discs, were seized from his home in September last year.

Before the equipment was analysed, he admitted to police he had downloaded pornographic images of children and had spoken to other paedophiles on Skype - but claimed he had no sexual interest in children.

Analysis of the machine revealed over 200 indecent images of children - including five in the most obscene category - and it was discovered these had been sent to other people via the internet.

A probation report concluded Crisp was a danger to the public and there was a real threat that his ‘fantasies’ about children would result in him reoffending. The court heard he had a previous conviction for sexually assaulting a three-year-old 20 years earlier, when he was aged 15.

Sentencing him, the crown court judge said a five-year sentence would have been appropriate for the offences, but that he was ‘dangerous’ and should therefore be locked up indefinitely.

Crisp’s lawyers argued the five-year ‘notional term’ was too long, saying the crown court judge didn’t take enough account of the overall sentence or the level of his offending.

Allowing the appeal, Judge Morris agreed the term was ‘excessive’ and that the IPP must be quashed - as indefinite sentences can only be imposed where the offences would justify a conventional sentence of at least four years.

He told the court: 'We consider that the judge’s finding of dangerousness was fully justified on the evidence before him.

'But, by reason of this court’s decision to reduce the notional determinate term, a sentence of imprisonment for public protection was not available.

'We have great concern as to the outcome. But, as Parliament has laid down that the notional term must be at least four years for an indeterminate sentence to be imposed, we have no alternative but to quash the IPP.'


Evil British social workers again

Social workers failed to tell a couple who adopted a seven-year-old girl that she may have suffered serious sexual abuse.

Then they blamed the child’s new parents for her uncontrollable behaviour as the pair struggled for six years to bring her up.

When the parents tried to persuade their adopted daughter to follow the family’s rules, they were accused of ‘torturing’ her and being ‘high risk abusive parents’.

But the Christian couple’s ordeal came to a head when the girl falsely accused her adoptive father of assaulting her.

Both parents were arrested and the adoptive mother, a teacher of 20 years’ standing, was briefly banned from having any contact with children.

Yesterday a High Court judge called the behaviour of social workers towards the parents ‘cruel’.

Judge Clifford Bellamy found they had made a series of unfounded allegations against the Roman Catholic parents, including charges that they locked the girl in her room to stop her stealing, violently pinned her to the floor, and strip-searched her for stolen items.

Social workers also pretended the girl had few problems when she was away from the parents at school. ‘That was not the case at all,’ the judge said.

He further criticised the attempt by social workers to blame the parents for the failure of the adoption, condemning the workers for failing to give information to the couple or to take account of the girl’s deep psychological troubles.

The case comes at a time of growing pressure on local authorities to find more families to adopt children.

Last year just over 3,000 children in care were permanently adopted by new families, the lowest number in a decade.

Social workers have been accused of bias against adoption and inventing barriers like rules on race or age to stop couples taking on youngsters.

In the case of the Catholic couple Judge Bellamy, sitting in Coventry, heard that the girl was born in 1997 to a family where children had been sexually abused.

She was known at least to have witnessed the abuse of one of her sisters. However she was not taken from her mother until she was four years old, when she was found to have head lice, rotten teeth and no idea of a daily routine.

The girl was not adopted until she was seven. Her new parents had told social workers they could not take a child who had been sexually abused.

But soon after the adoption they caught the girl downloading pornography from the internet to show to children at her school.

Social workers told the court that information about suspected abuse ‘was given to the adopters at the time of the placement but in general rather than specific terms’.

Judge Bellamy said: ‘The parents have said that if they had known in 2003 what they know now they would not have proceeded with the adoption. But they did not know. And they did adopt.

‘It is to the immense credit of these parents that despite the challenges their daughter has presented, and despite the difficulties they have had to contend with in engaging with the local authority, they still care about her, and they still love her and want what is best for her.’

The court heard from psychologist Dr John Richer, former head of child psychology at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. He said that the treatment of the girl in her early life meant that her new parents would ‘get caught in a vicious circle where their normal behaviour, which works with most children, only serves further to alienate a child like this.

‘To call these not uncommon parental reactions emotionally abusive is not only inappropriate and wrong, but cruel,’ he said.

The court heard that the girl frequently went missing and stole from the parents’ two older daughters.

The judge said that the girl went back into council care in December 2010. Since then she had been sexually assaulted, arrested for a serious assault on a care home staff member, had a contraceptive implant fitted without permission from her Roman Catholic legal parents, and had been provided with no therapy, despite a deep need for help to overcome her psychological disorder.

He said he had no choice but to make a legal order transferring care of the girl to the local authority. ‘I regret to say that I am in no doubt that there is a likelihood that if I make a care order the parents will be marginalised and largely ignored,’ he said.

The judge ordered that the adults and children involved in the case should not be identified by name or location.


The age of egotism

by Jeff Jacoby

HUMILITY, IT IS SOMETIMES SAID, doesn't mean thinking less of yourself. It means thinking of yourself less.

For Carli Lloyd I'd guess that's a distinction without a difference. After Lloyd scored the goals that lifted the US Olympic women's soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Japan in the gold medal match at London's Wembley Stadium last week, thinking of herself less was decidedly not on her agenda.

"When someone tells me I can't do something, I'm going to always prove them wrong," Lloyd bragged to an NBC interviewer. "That's what a champion is all about and that's what I am -- a champion!"

Once upon a time it was considered low-class for athletes to be so smug and self-adoring. Winners of championships and gold medals were expected to be gracious, to show a little modesty -- to enjoy the acclaim their splendid achievements had earned, without becoming boastful jerks in the process. At times the taboo extended even to the impression of arrogance: For merely failing to tip his cap to fans at Fenway Park, Ted Williams was thought by many to be haughty and too full of himself.

Of course many gifted athletes are still models of grace and good manners. But as viewers of the recent Olympics were too often reminded, the egotists who aren't not only pay no penalty, they are showered with attention and air time.

"I'm now a legend," crowed Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who won gold medals in the men's 100- and 200-meter races at the London Games. "I'm also the greatest athlete to live." Humility? What's that? Well before the Olympics opened, Bolt was swaggering for the press, telling reporters in June that the London Games would make him a "living legend."

Michael Phelps steered clear of Bolt's spotlight-seeking antics, but he too reached for singularly immodest language after winning his 22nd Olympic swimming medal. "You know what, I've been able to become the best swimmer of all time," he said, describing his successful drive to become the Michael Jordan of swimming. "I did everything I wanted to." Team USA basketball star Kobe Bryan, meanwhile, publicly insisted not only that he was "the best post player on this team, period," but that there was nothing he could learn from his teammates.

In some quarters, this flood of self-worship is applauded as healthy and honest. "The most satisfying part of Bolt—even more than his brilliant runs—is how much he demolishes the myth that the world wants humble athletes," writes sports columnist Jason Gay in The Wall Street Journal. Those who object to Bolt's strutting braggadocio, Gay suggests, are "the kind of people who hate pizza and scream at dogs."

But even in a society fixated on fame and self-esteem, there is nothing admirable about anyone whose first instinct is to sing his own praises. To be sure, showboating narcissists can go far in the world. They may amass money or power or star in their own reality show. Yet an exaggerated sense of self-importance is not the same as greatness. No one can be great who can't be humble, and humility begins with the understanding that it's not all about you.

It is often remarked that recipients of the nation's highest military decoration invariably insist that they don't deserve any glory. Sergeant 1st Class Leroy Petry, a US Army Ranger, last summer became only the second living soldier since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor. During a harrowing firefight in Afghanistan, he had saved the lives of at least two men in his unit by lunging for a grenade before it could kill them. It exploded in his hand, catastrophically amputating it.

Yet Petry doesn't trumpet his heroism or brag about his courage. "It's not courage," he says. "It was love. I looked at the two men next to me that day and they were no different than my own children or my wife. I did what anyone would have done." Usain Bolt and Carli Lloyd flaunt their Olympic gold and tell the world how great they are. Sgt. Petry, humbly deflecting the spotlight, comes closer to greatness than they ever will.

An old Jewish tradition teaches that God chose to reveal the Ten Commandments on lowly Mount Sinai, not a soaring peak, in order to link greatness with humility. None of us is so amazing that he couldn't stand to be more humble. Self-esteem has its place, but it also has its limits. Even in the age of Facebook – even on the Olympic medal podium -- swelled heads aren't very attractive.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


16 August, 2012

Another false rape claim from Britain

A mother-of-two has been jailed for making two false rape claims against men she was dating after one, who she had met online, failed to show up for a liaison. Emma Saxon, 23, from Sheffield, was jailed for eight months after telling police she had been raped in a BMW car in a supermarket car park.

The victim of her slur Martin Blood spent 14 hours in a police cell and suffered the indignity of an intimate medical examination while the police spent 90 hours investigating before finally concluding it was a hoax.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Saxon, 23, was given a community penalty in 2007 after a similar false allegation against a former boyfriend.

Jailing her Judge Michael Murphy said: 'Rape is such a terrible, diabolical offence that it is always treated very seriously in these courts. It is a dreadful thing for a person to be raped. It is a most serious allegation for one person to make against another. It is truly awful if it is untrue.'

Saxon, of Westfield, Sheffield admitted perverting the course of justice by making a false rape allegation.

Bev Tait, prosecuting, said a man rang the police saying Saxon had been raped in the car at a Sheffield supermarket ten minutes beforehand by a man called Martin.

An incident team swung into action and police traced the car driver within 20 minutes. Officers went to his address but found the car engine cold in the driveway and a dry patch where the car was standing although it had been raining heavily.

Despite their suspicions about the allegation police arrested Mr Blood and as well as being kept in a cell for 14 hours and being examined by a doctor his car was thoroughly searched.

Saxon was taken to the police station and also examined by a doctor but refused to take part in a video interview.

Ms Tait said it took a month for six police officers and a detective inspector to finally ascertain that the allegation was groundless.

Mr Blood told police he met Saxon on a dating site and for him it was a purely sexual relationship but she wanted something more and they would often exchange texts and arrange to meet up.

On July 16, 2010 they exchanged texts about 9pm. He walked his dog an hour later and swapped more texts with her. She wanted to meet him and he said he would but had no intention of doing so. He went to bed and the next thing he knew was when officers arrived at his home.

He said in a victim impact statement read in court that he was 'terrified' of the medical examination but went through with it because he was innocent. When he asked for a glass of water in his prison cell an officer gave him a look as of he was 'scum' which he said would haunt him for the rest of his life. He had been forced to take time off work as a school caretaker with stress and it was as if 'his entire life had fallen apart.'

Saxon was then arrested. She admitted she had an affair with Mr Blood but on the night in question she was pressurised by other people she was with to report him to the police.

In the previous allegation which was made in 2006 her ex-boyfriend was arrested and interviewed by police but Saxon then undertook a video interview before police concluded she was lying.

Rebecca Stevens, for Saxon, said she lived in supported council rented accommodation and had suffered with learning difficulties. 'The offence was unsophisticated and it was obvious to the police from the outset that there were suspicions about the allegation,' she said. She was a 'vulnerable young woman' in the company of 'less desirable' people who bullied her into making the allegation and it was not her who initially reported the complaint.

Given her lack of co-operation with the police it was hard for her to admit she had lied and her refusal to give a video interview was an acceptance that 'what she was doing was wrong and she no longer wished to pursue the matter.'

By June last year she freely admitted the matter. She had difficulty in managing her everyday life and her two sons aged one and three lived with her mother. There was a real likelihood she would lose her home and children if jailed.

But Judge Murphy said the false allegation, the 'shame and degradation' suffered by Mr Blood through his false arrest and her previous conviction for a similar offence made jail inevitable. 'It is important that people understand that a false allegation of rape is a wicked thing to do,' he told her.


Council refuses to name and shame traders who sell bootleg alcohol because it would 'breach their human rights'

Illegal traders caught selling dangerous bootleg alcohol and tobacco are avoiding being named and shamed because of council fears over breaching their human rights.

Half of all the businesses visited during a crackdown on counterfeit goods by Derby City Council were found to have illicit products - including alcohol containing dangerous levels of lead and chemicals - on their premises.

Councillors who wanted to publicise the shops found selling dodgy products say they were advised that doing so would breach human rights laws.

'It's frustrating that we cannot go ahead with this because we cannot fall foul of any laws,' said Councillor Hardyal Dhindsa. 'My approach was that we wanted to try and bring businesses on board with us to change their lifestyle and behaviour so we have a better city. 'It was a new approach and that was the main reason for doing it and not prosecuting.'

Of 22 businesses visited by the authority 11 were found to have illicit goods on the shelves.

Analysis revealed that some alcohol samples contained seven times the permitted levels of cadmium, which can cause kidney damage, and six times the permitted levels of lead, which can harm the nervous and reproductive systems.

The operation followed the discovery of fake Drop vodka being sold in the city last year. It was found to contain isopropryl alcohol - normally used as a cleaning fluid.

Councillor Dhindsa said: 'There are two major issues, the first being the significant health risks of these illicit goods, and the other is an estimated £2 billion being lost in legitimate tax revenue at a time when we can least afford it.

'The money is instead lining the pockets of organised criminal gangs rather than funding public services and the NHS. 'I want the public to realise how serious this situation is and why we are working hard to tackle it.

'This not a victimless crime and in most cases it’s likely that you’ll be buying counterfeit or illicit products that can serious damage your health. Ultimately, the public are left picking up the bill for the impact of that along with directly funding organised criminal gangs.'

Douglas Walkman, team leader for trading standards, said: 'We are not surprised by our findings on the week of action and will look to continue disrupting the trade in illicit alcohol and tobacco.

'In Derby alone we know that the sale of counterfeit alcohol and tobacco is widespread.'


A boring Leftist rant (about boys) that masquerades as social science

Comment on "The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It", by Philip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan. Another installent of the usual Leftist kneejerk response that anything popular (e.g. computer games) is bad

The Demise of Guys is based on a talk that Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo gave at the 2011 TED (Technology, Education, Design) conference in Long Beach, California. The talk was tendentious and unpersuasive at four minutes, and it only suffers from being expanded into an ebook of 20,000 or so words, because you keep asking: Is this really all there is? A series of sweeping generalizations, backed up by little more than anecdotes and other people’s sweeping generalizations, capped by suggested solutions to an undocumented problem that range from banal to silly? Yes, that is all you will get for your $2.99 (for the Kindle edition), along with a rising sense of irritation that culminates in a resolution never to waste your time on a TED book again.

Zimbardo’s thesis is that “boys are struggling” in school and in love because they play video games too much and watch too much porn. But he and his co-author, a recent University of Colorado graduate named Nikita Duncan, never establish that boys are struggling any more nowadays than they were when porn was harder to find and video games were limited to variations on Pong. The data they cite mostly show that girls are doing better than boys, not that boys are doing worse than they did before xvideos.com and Grand Theft Auto. Such an association would by no means be conclusive, but it’s the least you’d expect from a respected social scientist like Zimbardo, who oversaw the famous Stanford “prison experiment” that we all read about in Psych 101.

The fact that boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, more likely to drop out of high school, and less likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree does not mean their abilities are weaker than they used to be, let alone that that too much Tour Call of Duty has rendered them unfit for academics. The closest Zimbardo comes to a prima facie case linking rising dysfunction among boys to excessive electronic stimulation is his own research on shyness, which finds that 60 percent of Americans (not just men) describe themselves as shy today, compared to 40 percent in the 1980s. “That rise,” Zimbardo and Duncan write, “has been correlated with increased use of technology, which minimizes direct, face-to-face social interaction.”

That rise has been correlated with many things, of course, but this is the best the authors can do by way of identifying Internet-assisted masturbation and the killing of virtual zombies as the culprits. A closer look at Zimbardo’s data might have been helpful at this point. How do we know that an increase in self-reported shyness indicates an actual change in social aptitude, as opposed to a greater willingness to admit feelings that most humans experience? Did the increase in reported shyness occur disproportionately among men? Were heavy porn consumers and video game players especially likely to call themselves shy? If so, how do we know in which direction the causality runs?

Zimbardo and Duncan do not have time for such questions, because the shyness research is just a pretext for launching into a series of empirically untethered claims: “At least guys used to know how to dance. Now they don’t even know where to look for common ground, and they wander about the social landscape like tourists in a foreign land unable to ask for directions. They don’t know the language of face contact, the nonverbal and verbal set of rules that enable you to comfortably talk with and listen to somebody else and get them to respond back in kind. This lack of social interaction skills surfaces most especially with desirable girls and women. The absence of such critical social skills, essential to navigating intimate social situations, encourages a strategy of retreat, going fail-safe. Girls equal likely failure; safe equals the retreat into online and fantasy worlds that, with regular practice, become ever more familiar, predictable and, in the case of video gaming, more controllable.”

You might question the relevance of lost waltzing and fox trotting abilities, although “learn how to dance” appears on Zimbardo and Duncan’s list of suggested solutions. You might even wonder whether male awkwardness around pretty women is a newly discovered phenomenon. But as with most of the book’s debatable assertions, no citation is given for the claim that guys’ social skills have markedly deteriorated in the last couple of decades.

Perhaps that’s just as well. One source of evidence that Zimbardo and Duncan rely on heavily, an eight-question survey of people who watched Zimbardo’s TED talk online, is so dubious that anyone with a bachelor’s degree in psychology (such as Duncan), let alone a Ph.D. (such as Zimbardo), should be embarrassed to cite it without a litany of caveats. The most important one: It seems probable that people who are attracted to Zimbardo’s talk, watch it all the way through, and then take the time to fill out his online survey are especially likely to agree with his thesis and especially likely to report problems related to electronic diversions. This is not just a nonrepresentative sample; it’s a sample bound to confirm what Zimbardo thinks he already knows. “We wanted our personal views to be challenged or validated by others interested in the topic,” the authors claim. Mostly validated, to judge by their survey design.

I am more inclined to believe the results of another research project undertaken for the book, but only because its results are so unsurprising. Duncan, who turned her senior thesis into the 2009 book Orgasms: Art & Psyche, shifted her attention to less elevated portrayals of fornication by “immersing herself in Internet porn for three days and nights.” Among her findings: “In the most-viewed videos...it is an average of 33 percent of the way through the video before there is vaginal or anal penetration. In only a quarter of the videos is there a discernable [sic] female orgasm, whereas in 81 percent of the videos there is a discernable [sic] male orgasm—the male orgasm typically is the highlight of the final scene. Not once in any of the most-viewed videos is there a discussion of safer sex practices, or of physical or emotional expectations or boundaries.” This research apparently formed the basis for Zimbardo and Duncan’s recommendation that pornographers include an “education” category on their websites and incorporate safe-sex PSAs into their movies. (No, I’m not kidding.)

But at least surveying Zimbardo’s fans and counting cum shots produce data, albeit data of limited usefulness. Other sources of evidence cited by Zimbardo and Duncan are so weak that they have the paradoxical effect of undermining their argument rather than reinforcing it. How do Zimbardo and Duncan know about “the sense of total entitlement that some middle-aged guys feel within their relationships”? Because “a highly educated female colleague alerted us” to this “new phenomenon.” How do they know that “one consequence of teenage boys watching many hours of Internet pornography...is they are beginning to treat their girlfriends like sex objects”? Because of a theory propounded by Daily Mail columnist Penny Marshall. How do they know that “men are as good as their women require them to be”? Because that’s what “one 27-year-old guy we interviewed” said.

Even when more rigorous research is available, Zimbardo and Duncan do not necessarily bother to look it up. How do they know that teenagers “who spend their nights playing video games or texting their friends instead of sleeping are putting themselves at greater risk for gaining unhealthy amounts of weight and becoming obese”? Because an NPR correspondent said so. Likewise, the authors get their information about the drawbacks of the No Child Left Behind Act from a gloss of a RAND Corporation study in a San Francisco Chronicle editorial. This is the level of documentation you’d expect from a mediocre high school student, not a college graduate, let alone a tenured social scientist at a leading university.

To their credit, Zimbardo and Duncan do not bash porn or video games indiscriminately, acknowledging life-enhancing functions for both. And no doubt they are right that too much of either is bad, which is true by definition. But as for the rest—that addiction to cinematic sex and virtual violence is rampant, that it is leaving large and growing numbers of young men mentally and emotionally crippled, and that the answer lies in better male role models, porn with a stronger educational component, and the teaching of “critical thinking” (!) as well as “nonspecific principals” (sic)—the book left me less convinced than I was when I started it.


Pervasive anti-man attitudes

Comment from Australia

NEWS that Virgin Airlines asked Sydney fireman Johnny McGirr, 33, to change seats on a flight because it was company policy that men not be seated next to unaccompanied minors, prompted a public backlash that has forced Virgin to review their stance.

A number of child abuse experts have come forward and denounced the policy, claiming it's an over-reaction and potentially discriminatory.

That Jetstar, Qantas and Air New Zealand share these guidelines was something Virgin was quick to point out last week.

What is significant about this entire situation is not that it's a reflection on these companies so much as it is on a society that persists in demonising men.

We live in a world where "stranger danger" is a catch phrase, but it's become a gendered/sexed term that constructs men almost exclusively as potential predators or, as McGirr bluntly stated in relation to the Virgin fiasco, potential paedophile(s). In other words: guilty until proven innocent.

We've allowed fear to govern common sense and now inform policy - and at the expense of men.

Don't think for a moment this type of unfair reckoning is only happening in our skies. The notion that men can cause sexual and physical harm to children anywhere, anytime, is firmly grounded in our culture. You've only to talk to male schoolteachers (a vanishing breed) to discover how much aspects of their professionalism, for example, is curtailed on a daily basis purely because of their sex.

Men (and some women) of my acquaintance often express how uneasy they feel that they can no longer offer comfort to a child in distress, start conversations, coach, play with, be alone in a room or, God forbid, enjoy a light tussle, for fear of how their actions will be read.

The prevailing attitude that men are predators needing to be policed and leashed is affecting relationships everywhere - from the classroom to the family room.

The Virgin policy is simply a manifestation of this invidious creep in attitude towards men, one that has some women and mothers able to declare quite openly and without risk of being called to account, that they feel comfortable with Virgin's stance.

How can anyone be comfortable that an entire sex is basically maligned for the actions of a few depraved brutes? How can we accept that we're altering our behaviours and perceptions of others because of this?

Would these same women be comfortable if their intentions regarding their own and others children were called into question?

As McGirr stated, this kind of approach ignores the good that any male does regardless of his standing in society.

Sadly, no matter what measures we put in place, there will always be monsters who abuse children. I know, because I survived the sick attentions of one. Every day between the ages of nine and 11, my mother's then male partner sexually abused me.

In many ways, what happened to me reflects the statistics of abuse and that is, overwhelmingly, it's someone close to the child and the family (usually a man) who is the abuser - not a stranger.

Regardless of this awful statistic, abuse is not the norm. Yet, as a society, we allow the minority of sick and perverted people to govern our lives and, lately, the opportunity to form new connections as well.

Children need positive male role models. But if we keep construing men as potentially unsafe, how are children to discover them? How are good men to be given the chance to be these role models?

And let's face it, there are some evil women too - you can't let an entire sex off the hook here.

We make rules and laws to protect our children (and ourselves) from something that most likely will never happen. We regard men and strangers with suspicion, second-guess their intentions; look askance at their professional and personal conduct. Consequently, we develop a toxic and unhealthy relationship with each other.

We suffer the little children and turn them and those we silently accuse into victims of crimes that have never been committed, thus giving us all life sentences.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


15 August, 2012

MI: Boy Whose Hot Dog Cart Was Shut Down by the City of Holland Now Homeless

Mayor says city took action after restaurants asked for "protection" from 13-year-old entrepreneur with disabled parents

Several weeks after a city zoning officer shut down his hot dog business, 13-year-old Nathan Duszynski and his parents are homeless.

The family was hoping Nathan’s hot dog cart could help them through a difficult time. Nathan’s mother, Lynette Johnson, suffers from epilepsy and his stepfather, Doug Johnson, has multiple sclerosis. Their illnesses have restricted them from finding permanent, full-time work.

The family receives about $1,300 a month in disability payments, Medicaid and food assistance. The three are having a hard time staying together. MLive confirms what the Mackinac Center learned Thursday — Nathan and his mother are staying at the Holland Rescue Mission.

"Nate and I are now in a shelter," Lynette Johnson said. "Doug can't stay with us because he takes prescription narcotics to deal with his pain and the shelter does not allow him with those kinds of drugs."

She said the situation has been stressful on the family. Lynette is afraid to be away from her husband in case she has a seizure.

Nathan wanted to help out his family by selling hot dogs from a cart he bought with money he saved. He worked out an arrangement with the owner of a local sporting goods store to sell hot dogs in the parking lot. The owner of the store thought it would be a great way to attract customers and even offered Nathan a sales commission if he got people to rent his motorized bicycles.

The city of Holland, however, shut down the business 10 minutes after it opened, informing Nathan it was in the city’s commercial district where food carts not connected to downtown brick-and-motor restaurants are prohibited. The Mackinac Center’s coverage of the issue has drawn national attention.

Last week, Nathan and his family made an appeal to the Holland City Council. Mayor Kurt Dykstra defended the city’s ordinance, saying it was to protect downtown restaurant owners, who asked that the "success of the downtown district not be infringed upon by those who don't share in the costs of maintaining the attractiveness of that space."


Gay rights come to Toy Town as Chick-fil-A battle continues

Publishers of children's series The Berenstain Bears are facing pressure to make a stand against homophobia in the latest episode of a controversy over the Chick-fil-A fast food chain, and its president's stance on gay marriage.

In the 50 years since they made their literary debut, The Berenstain Bears have taught generations of children valuable lessons about acceptance and the rejection of bigotry.

Now, publishers of the beloved children's series are facing pressure to make a stand against homophobia in the latest episode of a controversy over the Chick-fil-A fast food chain and its president's stance on gay marriage.

Gay rights groups want the bears to pull out of a marketing partnership with Chick-fil-A, which plans to hand out some of their titles as part of a forthcoming children's meal promotion.

Campaigners say that Chick-fil-A's conservative Christian president, Dan Cathy, has exhibited exactly the kind of social intolerance that Papa, Mama, Brother, Sister and Honey Bear educate young readers to avoid, with his public declaration that his 1,000-restauarant chain supported "the biblical definition of the family unit" and that same-sex marriage was "inviting God's judgment on our nation.'

"I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about," he stated in a radio interview.

His stance – and the company's history of donating millions of dollars to aggressively anti-gay Christian groups such as Exodus International – has brought both a backlash from social advocacy groups, politicians and customers on the Left, and a wave of support from conservatives.

The Jim Henson Company – creator of the Muppets, who have championed diversity and inclusiveness for half a century – severed a promotional deal with Chick-fil-A in protest and donated the profits it had raised so far to a gay rights charity. Mayors in Boston, Chicago and New York pledged to keep Chick-fil-A out of their cities.

Now campaigners want a similar rebuttal from The Berenstain Bears. Three social change groups – CREDO Action, SumofUs.org and Faithful America have handed in petitions bearing 80,000 signatures to the books' publishing house, HarperCollins, and demanded that it also cut ties with Chick-fil-A.

They included with their petitions a copy of The Berenstain Bears New Neighbors, one of the 300-plus titles in the series, in which Papa Bear's nose is put out of joint by the arrival across the street of a family of pandas, with whom he takes issue because of their different colouring and bamboo patch.

After his cubs make friends with the panda children regardless, he learns the error of his ways and the families celebrate the virtues of inclusivity and non-discrimination.

"By partnering with Chick-fil-A, a company that actively bankrolls hatred and discrimination against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, HarperCollins is undermining the lessons of the beloved Bear family," said Taren Steinbrickner-Kauffman, founder of SumofUs.org

"The Berenstains should follow the Muppets' lead and cut ties with Chick-fil-A. HarperCollins has a chance here to make a stand for equality and strike a blow against bigotry."

The Berenstain Bears books have sold more than 260 million copies in 23 languages since their launch in 1962. Their authors, husband and wife team Stan and Jan Berenstain, have since passed away. Their family still owns the copyright but, in a statement on their website, said that they were powerless to halt the Chick-fil-A promotion.

"This programme was in development for over a year. We were unaware of any controversy involving Chick-fil-A until July 25. The Berenstain family does not at this time have control over whether this programme proceeds or not. We hope those concerned about this issue will direct their comments toward HarperCollins and Chick-fil-A," the statement reads.

HarperCollins issued a statement saying that it is "committed to free speech."

"We have a long history of diversity and inclusiveness and work tirelessly to protect the freedom of expression. It is not our practice to cancel a contract with an author, or any other party, for exercising their first amendment rights."


Hey, young people: stop your sobbing

The British left’s championing of the underdog has morphed into promoting that most unpleasant of traits: self-pity

Last week, a High Court judge, Mr Justice Foskett, dismissed a claim by a 23-year-old unemployed geology graduate from Birmingham, Cait Reilly, that working at Poundland for nothing - or rather for benefits [work for the dole]– was a breach of her human rights. Instead the judge sensibly declared that it was mad to compare being made to work in the shop to ‘slavery or forced labour’.

It’s hard to believe that such indulgences reached the High Court in the first place. How could anyone seriously compare a workfare scheme to enforced, back-breaking toil on a cotton plantation? Even more bizarre is that such embarrassing self-pity is often considered to be a raised middle finger to The Man or, at the very least, Tory chancellor George Osborne. Far from Reilly’s actions flowing from leftist radicalism, it’s the outcome of a statist culture that encourages blubbering self-pity in the young.

As Brendan O’Neill recently argued, such a narrative of self-pity has been provided by an education system that obsessively protects young people’s self-esteem. It’s fair to say that the children of the New Labour era have been more flattered, mollycoddled and shielded from adult responsibilities than any other generation. They have grown up to believe that having illegible handwriting, the attention span of a gnat or ending up with disappointing exam grades is never their fault. Almost anything can be excused away by medical or therapeutic sick notes; these young people are encouraged to blame parents, peers and teachers for any difficulties. The cultivation of vulnerability among the young, to see any pressure they may face as potentially ‘damaging’, has amplified that most unappealing aspect of being a teenager: self-pity.

Whereas in the past adults would encourage teenagers to toughen up, they are now socialised into a culture that endorses this woe-is-me outlook. Protecting a young person’s self-esteem is considered a top priority these days. This is why the type of work young people may be required to do, such as working in shops alongside plebs, is considered far more troubling than youth unemployment. For liberal leftists, it would be far better to provide young people with the material resources through which they can survive free from any nasty pressures from the outside world. In fact, much of the discussion on ‘vulnerable young people’ – always vulnerable, never ambitious - is about devising ways that their fragile self-esteem can be protected from parents, peers, teachers, relationships, internet trolls, ‘slave based’ work experience or ‘exploitative’ paid employment. The emphasis is always on protection, not on encouraging freedom or independence.

Traditionally, the youthful drive to escape, from claustrophobic family life and mind-numbing small towns, meant that young people would be prepared to rough it, to take risks and to make opportunities for themselves. It would also mean that such youngsters were more likely to be open to the politics of change and transformation. Now they are likelier to demand state protection from life itself. As increasing numbers of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings live at home with their folks, that burning desire to escape and make a mark on the outside world is mostly absent. Instead, self-respecting ambition, drive and chutzpah have been replaced by the politicisation of pity. Alongside weeping buckets for yourself, leftist radicalism now consists of seeing others as objects of pity in need of government munificence or state protection from individual prejudices or nasty comments on Twitter.

Obsessive pity for the underdog has long been an ignoble feature of British radicalism and in recent years that retrograde tendency has intensified. In the late Eighties, the less that welfare socialism could relate to working-class aspirations, the more that radicalism became an arena for the well-off to showboat their concern for the poor. Left-wing politics simply spoke less and less to working people with aspirations. And increasingly, such free, aspiring individuals were viewed with suspicion; being free, it seems, simply means being free to harm others, yourself and your children. The state became an arbiter to limit the mental ‘damage’ caused by unchecked individuals. Such psychologising of everyday life means that some people have internalised a sense of helplessness. In turn, these people view others, not as active agents capable of making their own lives, but as other diminished souls in need of constant support. The politics of pity has therefore become a powerful way to legitimise the therapeutic state. To question it now runs the risk of being labelled callous and uncaring.

The original vision of social democracy at least recognised that individuals were capable of making their way in the world. The goal of social democracy was to alleviate objective barriers and enable people to be judged on their talents and abilities. Now social democrats view individuals as generally incapable without financial support and extensive state monitoring. This isn’t the same as a safety-net in times of hardship, but rather an instinctive awareness that, in the absence of civic society or cohering political beliefs, the state must hold individuals together.

Pitying concern for the poor, young people on work schemes or victims of harassment sounds very benign. In reality it’s an authoritarian impulse to ensure that individuals remain accounted for and that a political relationship between citizens and the state exists. For all their Big Society rhetoric of freeing up the individual, even the Conservative Party cannot let go of initiatives designed to tighten state control over individual autonomy. In the absence of beliefs and ideas, what else is there to bind people together?

And this is ultimately what pity politics justifies: high levels of state intrusion and snooping throughout society. Pity for ‘vulnerable youth’ involved with the riots only paves the way for yet more state meddling and autonomy-sapping ‘support’. Grandstanding pity for supposedly vulnerable minorities in society often leads to restrictions on free speech, free assembly and free thought. The effect is also the encouragement of self-pity and the demand for protection from psychological harm and dented self-esteem. It leads to grievance-struck individuals who demand that the state recognises their particular identity, censor opinions that hurt their feelings or, in the case of Reilly, protects them from doing work experience. To be radical these days means to demonstrate screeching self-pity (‘you don’t understand me, how dare you say that’) or patronising pity for those ‘less fortunate than ourselves’.

All of this isn’t the same as expressing social solidarity or having compassion towards somebody else’s suffering. Solidarity and compassion seek active agency in alleviating problems, a cornerstone of a humanistic outlook, whereas pity frees an individual of guilt and flatters their ego. The writer Faisal Devji pointed out that pity is one of the worst emotions because the fact that it is vicarious and detached means that anything can be justified in its name. Pity is not grounded in real situations so it can become shrill and hyperbolic. This is why pity lends itself to narcissism; it’s an emotion designed to encourage individuals to help themselves rather than others. Consequently, it inflames an infantile, often nihilistic and destructive, reaction to a person’s surroundings. This is why the politics of pity is the script that radical Islamists, lumpenised rioters and the Occupy protesters have all rehearsed from.

The new politics of pity is the unfortunate but logical outcome of both identity politics and therapy culture. It is where self esteem and recognition for ‘hurts’ are paramount and personal responsibility is an offensive imposition. On either side of the pity coin, the conclusion is always the same: a complete rejection of autonomy and demands for the state to play an enlarged role in diminishing our lives. It’s surely time young people stopped being so enslaved to the therapeutic state.


Atheists oppose church discount

UPDATE: The owners of Willow Springs Water Park wrote today in an e-mail to TheBlaze that they will not be backing down from their church group discount and that they plan to continue honoring it. Stay tuned for more updates on this story.

Over the years, atheists activists have targeted nativities, crosses on public property, prayer and other related symbols and expressions of faith. Now, secularist activists are setting their sights on the discounts that private businesses offer to religious people. TheBlaze already told you about a restaurant in Columbia, Pennsylvania, that is facing atheistic wrath over a church bulletin discount. Now, an amusement park in Little Rock, Arkansas, is facing similar threats — and has already buckled under the pressure.

At issue is a discount that the Willow Springs Water Park has been offering to church groups. Following a non-religious organization’s complaint over being declined the same rate that religious groups enjoy, park owner David Ratliff, purportedly feeling pressure, discontinued the faith-based discount. This decision to bend to the demands of a secular organization wasn’t enough, though. Atheists fear that Willow Springs will, once again, begin offering faith-based discounts next season.

So, in a threatening letter sent by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a secular non-profit, the business was discouraged from offering the deal to faith groups next season. In its own words, the FFRF describes how the drama unfolded between the business and the non-faith-related charity — and the fears it has that Willow Springs will begin offering the discount again:
Leifel Jackson, executive director of the charitable Reaching Our Children and Neighborhoods (ROCAN), asked the water park if the discount would extend to his non-profit. Jackson was told that ROCAN could not receive the discount because it is not a church group.

ROCAN Director Jeff Poleet — a new FFRF Lifetime Member — explained to Ratliff that ROCAN is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, just like a church and should not be denied the promotion.

Arkansas Matters reported that without the discount, Jackson said he couldn‘t afford the admission and ROCAN’s planned trip was canceled, crushing some kids’ hopes.

As a result of his conversation with Poleet, Ratliff chose to discontinue all discounts for the remainder of this season.

In a charge led by FFRF staff attorney Stephanie Schmitt, the group is claiming that the discount is illegal both at the state and the federal level (read the complaint letter that was sent to the business on August 2). The allegation at the basis of this claim? That religious groups are being charged less than secular groups, a form of discrimination in the minds of the FFRF’s leaders that is simply not to be tolerated.

The letter went on to highlight the organization’s views about the purportedly illegal practice in an effort to dissuade Ratliff from granting religious groups the discount come next season.

“We understand that you are discontinuing these discounts altogether at least for the duration of the year,” the letter reads. “We are concerned that the discriminatory discounts will be continued at a later time or will be covertly offered.”

Schmitt went on to ask the amusement park to respond with a letter outlining the steps the business is taking “to ensure this violation of federal and state law does not occur again.”

While the FFRF complains that the deal was discriminatory against secularists, the Willow Springs Water Park, like many other businesses, offers military discounts, among others. Are these deals equally “illegal” — or does the litmus test only apply to faith groups? That’s certainly a question worth pondering.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


14 August, 2012

Homosexual parenting is bad for kids

Children are being stolen away from the two most important people they will ever know – their own biological mother and father. When this happens by accident we rightly show pity for them and seek to get them into the closest thing to that situation.

Yet when we do it deliberately we call it “a lifestyle choice” and “diversity” and “tolerance”. The homosexual war against children may be one of the greatest outrages of this militant movement which cares for no one and nothing, but simply wants its own adult desires fulfilled – at any cost. Who gives a rip about the welfare of the child?

Nature designed the rearing and raising of children just one way: through a mum and dad. Yet those in sterile homosexual unions think they can ignore nature and the wellbeing of the child in order to fulfil their own selfish wants. And the children suffer big time in such situations.

In my recent book I discuss many such tragic cases and offer plenty of documentation on this. Consider these two stories from my book: One woman who was raised by lesbians now runs a support and recovery program for those coming out of the homosexual lifestyle and their families. She put it this way: “I realise that homosexuals feel they can give a child love and support that even many straight families can’t provide, but I’ve been there. I know the finger-pointing and the shame one carries. For years, you struggle with the thought that you might be a homosexual. People say ‘like mother, like daughter.’ Most of us become promiscuous to prove we’re straight.”

Another woman says this of her upbringing by two homosexuals: “From 40 years of experience, I can tell you that, even though my father loved me, his homosexual orientation handicapped my ability to learn to relate to life in a healthy way. My homosexual home stunted my growth as a person and as a woman, not to mention the damaging effect of 16 years of drugs and alcohol abuse on my early childhood development. I spent the first 20 years of my life in a family that nearly destroyed me and the last 20 years analyzing and being analyzed in order to make sense of it.

“The bottom line is: I was dearly loved by my father. His love alone was not enough to give me the foundation that I needed to grow into a secure young woman…. My father and I have looked back through the past and discussed the issue of homosexual parenting. With great remorse, he agrees the homosexual lifestyle, no matter how conservative, is not healthy for children. My father and I agree: homosexuality and raising healthy children exclude each other.”

One woman has written an entire book about her life of abuse, confusion, turmoil and despair being raised in such a household. I have reviewed her important book here.

And there are plenty more such stories which you will never hear in the mainstream media, but these are stories which nonetheless must be told far and wide. The militants and their cronies in the MSM will not dare to tell these truths, so I and others must do it instead.

Consider this heart-wrenching tale by Robert Oscar Lopez, “Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View”. You really must read this entire article, but let me offer a few snippets from it. He laments being raised in such an environment:

“I had no male figure at all to follow, and my mother and her partner were both unlike traditional fathers or traditional mothers. As a result, I had very few recognizable social cues to offer potential male or female friends, since I was neither confident nor sensitive to others. Thus I befriended people rarely and alienated others easily. Gay people who grew up in straight parents’ households may have struggled with their sexual orientation; but when it came to the vast social universe of adaptations not dealing with sexuality—how to act, how to speak, how to behave—they had the advantage of learning at home. Many gays don’t realize what a blessing it was to be reared in a traditional home.”

His journey was a rough one, especially because of how the militants operate: “In terms of sexuality, gays who grew up in traditional households benefited from at least seeing some kind of functional courtship rituals around them. I had no clue how to make myself attractive to girls. When I stepped outside of my mothers’ trailer, I was immediately tagged as an outcast because of my girlish mannerisms, funny clothes, lisp, and outlandishness. Not surprisingly, I left high school as a virgin, never having had a girlfriend, instead having gone to four proms as a wisecracking sidekick to girls who just wanted someone to chip in for a limousine.

“When I got to college, I set off everyone’s ‘gaydar’ and the campus LGBT group quickly descended upon me to tell me it was 100-percent certain I must be a homosexual. When I came out as bisexual, they told everyone I was lying and just wasn’t ready to come out of the closet as gay yet. Frightened and traumatized by my mother’s death, I dropped out of college in 1990 and fell in with what can only be called the gay underworld. Terrible things happened to me there.

“It was not until I was twenty-eight that I suddenly found myself in a relationship with a woman, through coincidences that shocked everyone who knew me and surprised even myself. I call myself bisexual because it would take several novels to explain how I ended up “straight” after almost thirty years as a gay man. I don’t feel like dealing with gay activists skewering me the way they go on search-and-destroy missions against ex-gays, ‘closet cases,’ or ‘homocons’.”

He is also well placed to discuss the recent war of words over the research conducted by Mark Regnerus, showing how children do indeed need a mother and a father. I discussed that story here:

And for daring to publish his research, the thought police immediately sought to discredit him and hound him out of his job. I discuss the ugly backlash he received from the militants here.

Says Lopez: “Regnerus’s study identified 248 adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships. Offered a chance to provide frank responses with the hindsight of adulthood, they gave reports unfavorable to the gay marriage equality agenda. Yet the results are backed up by an important thing in life called common sense: Growing up different from other people is difficult and the difficulties raise the risk that children will develop maladjustments or self-medicate with alcohol and other dangerous behaviors. Each of those 248 is a human story, no doubt with many complexities.

“Like my story, these 248 people’s stories deserve to be told. The gay movement is doing everything it can to make sure that nobody hears them. But I care more about the stories than the numbers (especially as an English professor), and Regnerus stumbled unwittingly on a narrative treasure chest.

“So why the code of silence from LGBT leaders? I can only speculate from where I’m sitting. I cherish my mother’s memory, but I don’t mince words when talking about how hard it was to grow up in a gay household. Earlier studies examined children still living with their gay parents, so the kids were not at liberty to speak, governed as all children are by filial piety, guilt, and fear of losing their allowances. For trying to speak honestly, I’ve been squelched, literally, for decades.”

He concludes, “The children of same-sex couples have a tough road ahead of them—I know, because I have been there. The last thing we should do is make them feel guilty if the strain gets to them and they feel strange. We owe them, at the least, a dose of honesty. Thank you, Mark Regnerus, for taking the time to listen.”

And thank you Mr Lopez for taking the time to tell your story, and being willing to face the wrath and the hatred of the militant homosexual lobby. But truth must be told, and children must be protected. Both these things are not at all priorities for the militants, but for us, they rank very high indeed.


Skegness seaside resort: Health and safety officials ban Jolly Fisherman statue's 'dangerous' arms...

Given the excesses of Britain's "no win no fee" lawyers and the unpredictable British courts, it's actually a reasonably well-founded precaution

He has been an icon of the British seaside for more than a century – but now Skegness’s carefree Jolly Fisherman has run into a storm of trouble with health-and-safety officials.

The gambolling seaman famously appeared with arms joyously outstretched on classic posters above the slogan: ‘Skegness is SO bracing.’ But now council officials have decreed that a new statue of the much-loved character must have his arms reined in.

‘Unfortunately, we can’t have the fisherman with his arms outstretched because there is an issue with health and safety,’ explained Lincolnshire County Council’s ward member for Skegness, Ken Miller.

‘People would try to clamber all over it and if someone fell off or if one of the statue’s arms broke, then we would be the ones to take the blame and that is too big a risk.’

And to complete their health and safety vigilance, the council has removed the Jolly Fisherman’s pipe, for fear it would encourage smoking.

The statue, due to be built next spring, will be located outside Skegness railway station as part of a £750,000 refurbishment.

But outraged locals say the county council’s design – depicting the stationary fisherman holding a beachball, with his other arm by his side patting a seal pup – looks more like a garden gnome than the iconic figure on posters fondly hung in thousands of homes.

‘When a photograph of the proposal was passed around at a council meeting, people were in hysterics laughing at how bad it is,’ said Skegness Civic Society chairman Steve Kirk. ‘The design looks horrific and does not resemble the fabled Jolly Fisherman at all. I have received more than 100 emails and comments about it from people who are desperate to have it changed. ‘The Jolly Fisherman is a symbol of the town and people are proud of it. But this image looks like a gargoyle and will become a laughing stock.’

And Skegness mayor Mark Anderson added: ‘The statue looks like a garden gnome. We are known for a being a jolly seaside town but we are being dictated to by health-and-safety rules. ‘The fisherman is an icon and we are mightily upset that he’s being changed in case some drunk idiot decides to hang from his arms and falls off or hurts themselves.

‘We have told the county council to go back to the drawing board. The town council holds copyright of the image so nothing will go ahead without our approval.’

But the county council remains unmoved. ‘Nowadays, people will sue at the drop of a hat and the council cannot afford to be fighting legal claims for negligence,’ said Mr Miller. ‘We are aware that some people are unhappy with its appearance so we may have to refine it but even then it will not have outstretched arms.’

Celebrated poster artist John Hassall drew the picture in 1908 after being commissioned by Great Northern Railways to promote travelling to Skegness by rail. He was paid 12 guineas for his work. In 2008, the Queen sent a letter to the resort to mark the 100th anniversary of the town’s mascot.

Mr Hassall’s original hangs in Skegness town hall and was formally given to the town by British Railways, along with the copyright, in 1966. Mr Hassall died in 1948, 80 years old and penniless.

The new statue has been commissioned by Lincolnshire County Council and funded jointly by the European Regional Development Fund, Network Rail’s National Stations Improvement Programme, East Midlands Trains and Lincolnshire County Council.


Obama and feminism

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has an old story that she likes to tell about her days as Speaker of the House: My chair was getting crowded, it begins. She was at her first White House meeting as the first woman Speaker when she found Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul and Sojourner Truth, among others, all sitting in her chair. I could hear them say: 'At last we have a seat at the table.' And then they were gone.

It's too bad Anthony wasn't able to stick around long enough to have a conversation about the trajectory of modern feminism and Pelosi's role as a leading advocate of legal abortion. Anthony and other suffragettes, after all, recognized the rights of the vulnerable unborn as clearly as they did their own rights as women.

At about the same time as there was buzz about Pelosi's sisterhood seance, President Obama was in Denver, being introduced by Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law activist who has become the poster gal for the controversial health-care mandate. Obama made the point, that this mandate is both equivalent to and at the core of women's health, but insisted that he had reached a reasonable compromise with Catholic schools and hospitals. The truth of the matter is quite different, however. Even the University of Notre Dame, which once honored Obama, is now suing him to protect its religious rights, and a former key ally, Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association, is rejecting administration claims that an acceptable accommodation has been drawn up.

The primary women's health claim that is at the heart of this drive -- in which managing fertility has become a preventative service as part of Obamacare's regulatory scheme -- is one that would be foreign to the women who crowded Pelosi's chair.

Let's look at Charlotte Lozier, a 19-century physician whose life Chuck Donovan is currently honoring, having just established the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an educational outgrowth of the pro-life political group the Susan B. Anthony List.

Lozier secured a medical degree, against the staunch resistance of the scientific establishment of her day, served as a vice president of the National Working Women's Association, bore three children of her own, stood for women's suffrage alongside Susan B. Anthony and other contemporaries, and was profoundly pro-life, is how Donovan makes the introduction. Lozier viewed abortion as an assault on the healing profession and clearly did not see it as a pathway to women's equality or freedom, Donovan explains.

Dr. Lozier, Donovan, emphasizes, fought against a tide that told her she could not be a mother and pro-life feminist and still win a degree in medicine. We have something of the opposite problem now; we are told ... that women cannot realize their ambitions in the world of work without having abortion available. Charlotte Lozier and her allies rejected that idea -- in an era where women's options for dealing with sexual behavior, pregnancy and career opportunities were far narrower than they are now.

Donovan cautions against the perils of leaving these issues entirely to politics. The goal must be to make progress no matter who is in power. If consciences are dulled, we have to sharpen the instruments we're poking with. But consciences are not political property.

Of course, this necessitates well-formed consciences in the first place, in order to address these issues with moral honesty and scientific truth.

Which brings us right back to the presidential election this year, which Obama has made a battle over conscience rights, forcing a fight over the definition of religious liberty.

Has this become a fundamental American value? Insisting that women are only free when we've all been forced to embrace abortion, sterilization, and contraception as basic health care? A value so fundamental that religious liberty can be cast aside, redefined, and subject to punitive fines?

Pelosi's spiritual visitors can offer some guidance here, if we're up for a longer reflection. And one trailblazing doctor in particular, who was known to demonstrate as much compassion as conviction in her work to protect the lives of children and mothers and the integrity of her medical profession, may have a winning prescription. Free& contraception propaganda obscures what we really face today: choices about matters of basic freedom, cultural conscience, and the very soul of our nation.


There is something good in the Anglosphere

Comment from Australia

Our Foreign Minister can be very emphatic. Bob Carr told an audience last month it is "too risky" for Australia "even to glance in the direction of talk of an Anglosphere".

That is, to even think about talking about the deep relationship we have with the English-speaking world would be international relations suicide - we would offend our neighbours and lose our friends.

It was clear who Carr was criticising. His speech didn't mention the Opposition Leader, but Tony Abbott is a big fan of the Anglosphere. Earlier this year, Carr's predecessor Kevin Rudd was explicit: Abbott's belief in the Anglosphere is one reason he must be kept out of government.

But Abbott is right. Our heritage is not something to be ashamed of. It is not a coincidence the oldest surviving democracies are in the Anglosphere. Or that a tradition of liberty, stretching back to the Magna Carta, has given English-speaking nations a greater protection of human rights and private property. We ought to be proud, not bashful. Sure, it's more fashionable to talk of the "Asian century". But the Anglosphere will shape Australia's cultural and political views for a century. It's a shame only conservatives feel comfortable talking about it.

To accept that old relationships should endure isn't to close us off from the Asian century. Instead, the acceptance will allow us to engage that future more confidently.

Because the Anglosphere is not about the language. It is about a collection of values - individual liberty, the common law, parliamentary democracy and open markets - we share with Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the US. It recognises that different nations are joined by a common political culture. Carr and Rudd can protest all they want: the existence of that common culture is beyond question.

Yet in his speech, Carr threw every barb he could at the Anglosphere, dragging up the spectre of Pauline Hanson. This is a standard trope when anybody raises our English-speaking heritage - a suggestion that conservatives are not so much interested in the Anglosphere, per se, but the Anglo-Saxon race.

That charge is total nonsense. The English-speaking world includes the most successful multicultural nations. All but Britain and Ireland are built almost entirely on immigration. And their success is entirely due to their institutional heritage - a liberalism that says all people, regardless of background, can peacefully coexist under a legal system that treats them neutrally. It is thanks to our inheritance that Australia's multiculturalism functions as well as it does. We must not forget the former while we pursue the latter.

And spruikers of the Asian century ought to be cautious. A highly praised book was published in 2005 titled Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century. That didn't work out. Likewise, the Asian century may turn out very different from what our best and brightest predict.

For instance, if China's economy takes a dive, the region may well be led by India - a country almost as big, certainly more free, and more closely integrated with Australia.

Geography is less important than ever. And regions are less important than ever. Globalisation, technology, and near-zero shipping costs have taken care of that. The 21st century will be about relationships and ideas, not proximity.

The Labor Party's intellectuals have said for decades Australia must assert its independence. You know the drill. We must not play deputy sheriff for the US. We ought to pursue a strong, self-sufficient foreign policy. We must be confident in our identity.

So it's bizarre to hear our Foreign Minister claim that Australia should downplay its historical relationship with the English-speaking world - not because that relationship doesn't exist, but because simply stating it might offend our neighbours.

You would think that was the opposite of what a confident nation should 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


13 August, 2012

Child's tennis rackets destroyed by British airport security for being 'lethal weapons'

A furious holidaymaker has condemned airport security staff after his child's tennis rackets were confiscated and destroyed for being potentially 'lethal weapons'. Richard Chew was flying to the holiday island of Majorca with his nine-year-old stepson Will when they were forced to hand over the rackets.

Mr Chew, a 46-year-old PR, was stopped at Leeds Bradford Airport because of the alleged threat to other passengers as he travelled to see Will's mother, Vicky Locklin, in Spain.

Bemused Richard said: 'I appreciate that we live in a security-conscious age but this is ridiculous and I think they should allow the security services to exercise some common sense. 'All I had was two kids' tennis rackets but they said I couldn't take them through.

'When I asked why they said it was because they were potentially lethal weapons. He actually said that I would be able to take it out of the bag and hit a steward or stewardess on the head with them rendering them unconscious.

'I mean it's possible but it takes a bit of a leap of imagination. You don't hear many people sleeping next to a kid's tennis racket just in case of a burglary, it's really silly. 'He even told me that you can take small scissors on board and knitting needles. You could do more damage with them than a tennis racket.'

Richard added: 'As a parting comment I asked him to make sure the rackets went to a good home, they're not particularly good but could make a child who has just watched Murray win the gold very happy.

'He replied by telling me they would be destroyed just like everything else that they confiscate. Apparently that's what they have to do. It seems really stupid. Conversationally he told me that he had binned a 99 pound bottle of Gucci perfume that he had confiscated earlier.

'It's madness. If this is happening across the country then millions of pounds worth of perfectly good products are being thrown away when they could be given to those less fortunate or sold.

'The Yorkshire Air Ambulance is actually based at the airport. Why not sell off the confiscated items and donate the money to them. I'm sure they would be very grateful.'

A spokeswoman for Leeds Bradford Airport said: 'Government legislation dictates what can and cannot be used as hand luggage. 'All UK airports are mandated to adhere to government legislation, compliance in this matter is frequently audited.'


Barbarity that shames Britain

One title this country most definitely does not want to win is European Capital of Female Genital Mutilation. Alas, that is the appalling situation we find ourselves in, thanks to the “cultural sensitivity” of the authorities. According to a recent shocking report for BBC Two’s Newsnight, at least 20,000 girls a year are at risk from this barbaric practice, with parents of African backgrounds actually bringing their small daughters to Britain because it has such a relaxed approach to child mutilation. In Bristol they are holding “FGM parties”, if you please.

A Scotland Yard inspector explained, in all seriousness, that pursuing such cases could be “akin to child abuse”. In other words, if parents decide to maim their daughter, the police are not going to examine that child for fear of causing trauma – or being considered racist. Weep at the perverse, politically correct logic.

It was “cultural sensitivity” and the cowardice of politicians that killed Shafilea Ahmed. Shafilea’s father and mother, both sentenced to life imprisonment at Chester Crown Court last Friday, may have held the plastic bag which suffocated the 17-year-old, but other hands are implicated in her wholly avoidable and desperately sad death.

Back in June, the Home Secretary finally announced plans to criminalise forced marriages. It should have happened under New Labour, but the same people who made calling a police horse “gay” a hate crime were reluctant to legislate to protect girls like Shafilea from rape by a stranger called “husband”. They dropped plans to make forced marriage a crime before the 2005 election, fearing that it would be resented by ethnic voters as an intrusion into minority cultures. I’m sure the idea that it would damage their majorities in predominantly Muslim Labour-voting constituencies didn’t enter into it, aren’t you?

It is damnable that it is possible for a young woman like Shafilea Ahmed to be beaten by her parents and for her cries for help to be ignored. It is outrageous that a British citizen can be taken to Pakistan against her will and has to swallow bleach to avoid a forced marriage.

The problem is Shafilea didn’t live in Britain. She lived in a country within a country, where the law of the land does not apply. As Mr Justice Evans said when he was sentencing Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed for their daughter’s murder: “You chose to bring up your family in Warrington, but your social and cultural attitudes were those of rural Pakistan. Shafilea was a determined, able and ambitious girl who wanted to live a life which was normal in the country in which you had chosen to live and bring up your children. However, you could not tolerate the life that Shafilea wanted to live. You wanted your family to live in Pakistan in Warrington.”

Has there ever been a more furiously eloquent denunciation of the repressive country which has been allowed to flourish within our free nation? If so, I haven’t heard it. Mr Justice Evans was speaking up for Shafilea Ahmed and all those like her whose only crime is to want to participate fully in the society they were born into.

You only have to look at the story of Olympic champion Mo Farah to see what can happen when a family embraces their new country. Mo came to Britain from Somalia at the age of eight. With the encouragement of his PE teacher, Alan Wilkinson, he turned his talent for mischief into a gift for running. Mohammed Farah is a devout Muslim and a passionate Briton who wrapped his exhausted body in the Union flag on Saturday night and beamed for Britain. Now, that’s what I call cultural sensitivity.


Australian airline's insulting and discriminatory seating policy causes storm

The guy below should lodge a formal complaint. This was patently illegal. Queensland has anti-discrimination legislation that explicitly forbids discrimination on the basis of sex. See Section 7(1)a of the ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT of 1991. No-one deserves to be publicly humiliated for no reason the way this guy was

In his inimitable way, Boris Johnson (now Mayor of London) had a story about this some years back. He was harassed on a British Airways flight for sitting next to HIS OWN SONS. British Airways ended the policy concerned a couple of years ago so Virgin are prehistoric about this

Virgin Australia has promised a review after facing a firestorm of criticism from men outraged at its policy of barring males from sitting next to unaccompanied children.

The company was today widely criticised after a Sydney fireman reported his experience of being asked to swap seats because he was sat beside two unaccompanied boys.

After this morning defending its policy, the airline this afternoon announced via Twitter it was reviewing its stance. "We understand the concerns raised around our policy for children travelling alone, a long-standing policy initially based on customer feedback," @VirginAustralia said. "In light of recent feedback, we're now reviewing this policy. Our intention is certainly not to discriminate in any way." [Except that they do]

A Virgin spokeswoman said the policy was shared by Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand.

Earlier today Fairfax Media reported the story of Johnny McGirr, 33, who said he was flying home from Brisbane in April when he took his seat next to two boys he estimated to be aged between eight and 10.

He was assigned the window seat but sat in the aisle seat so the two boys could look out the window. However, a flight attendant approached him just as passengers were asked to put on their seatbelts, asking him to move. Mr McGirr said when he asked why, he was told, "Well you can't sit next to two unaccompanied minors."

"She said it was the policy and I said, 'Well, that's pretty sexist and discriminatory. You can't just say because I'm a man I can't sit there,' and she just apologised and said that was the policy.

"By this stage everyone around me had started looking." Mr McGirr said the attendant then asked a fellow female passenger, "Can you please sit in this seat because he is not allowed to sit next to minors."

"After that I got really embarrassed because she didn't even explain. I just got up and shook my head a little, trying to get some dignity out of the situation," he said. "And that was it. I pretty much sat through the flight getting angrier."

Mr McGirr pointed out that he works as a fireman in Newtown in Sydney and was trusted in his job to look out for the welfare of children. "[The attitude of the airline] is 'we respect you but as soon as you board a Virgin airline you are a potential paedophile', and that strips away all the good that any male does regardless of his standing in society, his profession or his moral attitudes," he said.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Australia this morning confirmed the policy and said while the airline did not want to offend male passengers, its priority was the safety of children. [So all men are unsafe near children? What an insult!] "In our experience, most guests thoroughly understand that the welfare of the child is our priority," she said.

The spokeswoman said staff usually tried to keep the seat empty but, when that was not possible, a woman was seated next to the child. "Virgin Australia takes the safety of all guests very seriously and, in the case of unaccompanied minors, we take additional steps to ensure their flight is safe and trouble free in every respect."

Mr McGirr, who wrote to Virgin to complain, said the policy was flawed.

"[It's] blatant discrimination that just because I'm a male I can't sit there," he said. "They apologised that it happened on the flight and said it shouldn't have happened then but my issue is not with the mistakes made there; my issue is with the policy in general.

"The majority of sexual assaults are [also] committed by men. Does that mean that we can't sit next to women? Should we just have a seat by ourselves and that way women and children will be protected?"

Mr McGirr said he understood the children were vulnerable when not with an adult but said that fears about crimes committed by a small minority of people should not rule society.

Mr McGirr said Virgin should either allocate a chaperone for children to sit with them for the entire flight, have staff do regular checks on the children to see if they were all right or ask parents to purchase the seat that is vacant so it is always left empty.

Among other Australian airlines, budget carriers Jetstar and Tiger Airways do not accept unaccompanied minors on their flights, though the two airlines have different definitions of what constitutes a minor.

Qantas, which does allow unaccompanied minors over the age of five to travel on its flights, has not returned calls requesting information on its policy on seating male passengers next to unaccompanied children.

Online outcry

Criticism of the airline swelled online today, with the story attracting more than 700 comments across Fairfax Media news sites by 4pm.

More than 44,000 readers nationwide responded to an online poll asking whether the airline’s policy was fair, with 87 per cent agreeing the rule was "sexist and suggests all men are potential pedophiles".

Twitter users were quick to voice their poor opinion of the policy under the hashtag #VirginDiscrimination, while Facebook users also responded with criticism.

One person wrote on Virgin Australia's Facebook page: "As a male school teacher, it saddens me that men are turned away from being a positive role model for children, because people have the attitude ‘male = potential molester’."

Another Facebook user wrote the policy was "disgracefully discriminatory", while another user said it was a "stupid load of nonsense" that insulted half the country’s population.

However, some on Facebook jumped to the airline’s defence, with one mother saying she appreciated the policy. "I do recall once at check-in the seats being changed around so that my children were not seated beside a man. But it was done very discretely [sic] and you know what, as a mum I was comfortable with the decision," she wrote.

While Virgin Australia was adamant that it was not alone in implementing such a policy, Qantas has not responded to repeated attempts to clarify its position from Fairfax Media today.

However, the BBC reported Qantas and Air New Zealand had a similar policy in 2005, after a businessman successfully sued British Airways on the grounds of sex discrimination after he was moved away from an unaccompanied child on a flight.


Scandinavia and the Jews

Scandinavia is boring. People living there apparently have little to do. And as European history teaches, when there is nothing much to do you may as well amuse yourself by attacking the Jews.

It was bad enough when a judge in Germany barred circumcision, and that decision was followed by similar moves in Austria and Switzerland (and then widely attacked in Germany, by everyone from Chancellor Merkel on down). Now comes a suggestion from a Norwegian official called the “Ombudsman for Children in Norway” proposing that the ancient procedure be replaced by a “symbolic, nonsurgical ritual.” Apparently in Norway it is possible to create religiously meaningful rituals overnight, which is an insight into the understanding of religion in Norwegian public life. And Norway’s “Centre Party,” which is a member of the governing coalition, has just proposed that circumcision be outlawed entirely. One gets some inkling into local politics when that’s the view of the Centre Party—not the fringes. In this context we might recall that, as the news story puts it, “Norway is among a handful of European countries where the kosher slaughter of animals is prohibited.”

But that kind of assault on Jewish practice isn’t sufficient for Scandinavians, because the anti-Israel element is missing or merely implicit. So on Tuesday we found that “Scandinavian activist groups are launching an aid ship destined for Gaza… hoping to challenge the Israeli blockade.” Their ship is “backed mainly by Swedish and Norwegian groups.”

“We have the same goal as the previous flotillas, to put an end to the blockade of Gaza by challenging the Israeli navy,” said Torstein Dahle, the leader of the Norwegian section of the activist group “Ship to Gaza.”

This action is perfectly timed. This week the new Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt has closed the main Gaza/Egypt border crossing at Rafah indefinitely and sent bulldozers to seal off the many smuggling tunnels after several terrorist attacks on Egyptian police and military personnel in Sinai. The Egyptians believe jihadists were able to meet, organize, and cross into Egypt from Gaza. Hamas has complained that this is collective punishment of Gazans by Egypt. There is even a religious element: “The shutdown at Rafah has so far prevented 3,000 Gazans from heading to Saudi Arabia for ‘umrah,’ the minor pilgrimage believed to bring greater merit if carried out during Ramadan.”

I have yet to see the news that the Scandinavians are turning their boat around or sailing it to Alexandria to “put an end to the blockade of Gaza,” but obviously that would be no fun. The fun comes in attacking Jews: their rituals, their religion, and the Jewish state. It is particularly disappointing to see how Norway has fallen into this pattern, because for many years it followed a balanced Middle East policy that avoided anti-Israel attacks. No longer; for example, in 2010 Norway “informed German shipbuilding company Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) that it will no longer be allowed to test Israel-bound submarines in its territorial waters as part of the country's ban on security exports to Israel.” It’s less surprising to see this from Swedes, whose antipathy to Jews is not so new. There are so many attacks on Jews in Malmo these days that the city is considered unsafe for Jewish life, and the city’s mayor commented in 2010—apparently thinking he was defending the city—that “We accept neither anti-Semitism nor Zionism in Malmö.” Nor Judaism, it seems: Sweden too has outlawed Jewish ritual slaughter, as has Denmark.

Perhaps the “Ombudsman for Children in Norway” and the mayor of Malmo could join the “Ship To Gaza,” bringing together all the various forms of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activity. After all, it’s summer in Scandinavia.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


12 August, 2012

Sexism row as Muslim children's play centre in Britain bans fathers and all boys aged over nine

But it sounds like they will get a pass over it

A children's play centre has barred fathers from attending with their children and is now facing an investigation by equality watchdogs.

Kids Go Wild is believed to be the first such play centre in the country to introduce a ‘women only’ policy – which also bans boys over the age of nine.

Bosses at the centre, which opened less than a fortnight ago, claim the policy was instigated for ‘cultural reasons’ and was in the interests of the ‘predominantly Asian’ local community.

Even so, yesterday Muslims in the Sparkhill suburb of Birmingham were among those who condemned the restrictions, which were advertised on a poster outside the centre. It reads: ‘Ladies and children only. No boys over nine allowed.’

Councillor Habib Rehman, a Muslim father-of-four, said it was a ‘worrying situation’. He added: ‘There’s something wrong when a dad can’t take his kids to a play centre.’

Ruksana Ayub, a Muslim mother-of-one, said while Muslim women may feel ‘more able to relax’ in a setting where they don’t ‘feel they have to cover up’, she thought it ‘quite shocking in this day and age that men aren’t allowed in’.

Another resident, who only gave her name as Gemma, said: ‘I have four boys, luckily all under the age of nine, but if one of them was older, I wouldn’t be able to take any of them.

According to the 2001 census, Muslims make up 54 per cent of the 30,000 population of Sparkhill – more than double the number of Christians.

The manager of Kids Go Wild, who would not give her name, said: ‘It’s a predominantly Asian community here and we’re catering for that.

'It’s not that men are an issue, ladies are more comfortable around women. Ladies have not questioned [the ban]. They’ve been asking for it.’

Emma Cross, of Manchester-based law firm Pannone and a specialist in discrimination law, said: ‘Under the Equality Act it can be lawful to limit your services to one gender or religious group, but you must be able to “objectively justify” what you have done.

‘To my mind it would be difficult for the centre to show it has met this test when it could have offered women-only sessions or days of the week instead.’

An Equality and Human Rights Commission spokesman said: ‘The Equality Act does allow for some services to be just for women or men-only, but this is the exception not the norm and must pass a strict test to be justifiable.

‘We will look into why Kids Go Wild is a women-only service.’ If the commission’s lawyer considered the play centre’s policy to be discriminatory, it would ask Kids Go Wild to change it, the spokesman added.


The man who dared to tell the truth about the charlatans of modern art

Pretentious pedlars of junk masquerading as art can breathe a little easier today, for the voice of one of their greatest foes has been stilled.

To the very end, the writer Robert Hughes argued brilliantly that, where much modern art was concerned, the emperor had no clothes.

The Australian, who has died at 74 after a long illness, saw the Damien Hirsts and Tracey Emins of the modern art world as fly-by-night con artists, unencumbered by skill, who floated to the top of their profession on a sea of money supported by a cabal of critics, curators and art investors.

‘Hirst is basically a pirate,’ Hughes wrote of our richest living artist before a record-setting £111?million auction of the artist’s work at Sotheby’s in 2008.

‘His skill is shown by the way in which he has managed to bluff so many art-related people (from museum personnel to billionaires in the New York real-estate trade) into giving credence to his originality and the importance of his “ideas”.’

Hughes — a burly mountain of a man, said by one fellow countryman to resemble a ‘brick dunny’, or outhouse — held no truck with the nebulous realm of ‘concept art’. He believed artists should make things, should draw, paint, build and carve, and do those things well.

Sadly, it seemed to Hughes as if, all too often, those people dominating the powerful positions in the art world, and pulling the strings of the art market, had been deluded into thinking otherwise.

It is a favourite trick of such fools to dismiss someone like Hughes as an old fogey — as they also do to the brilliant Brian Sewell of the London Evening Standard, one of the last surviving critics in Hughes’s mould, who really knows his stuff and is not prepared to yield to the passing idiocies of fashion.

Hughes knew the difference between good modern art and rubbish modern art, and he really let rip — in glorious, beautiful, thundering prose — when it came to pointing out the vast difference between the two.

He made his name with the book and TV series The Shock Of The New, which described the progress of modern art from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th.

Hughes explained why Picasso mattered and translated the alien dreamscapes of the Surrealists into language everyone could understand.

He was a tremendous fan of much modern art of the last century or so, but he diagnosed a sudden and steep falling-off in quality in the 1970s, with the emerging fashion for avant-garde works of minimal skill.

He believed that something had gone horrifically wrong in the last 40 years, as a result of what he called ‘the appalling commercialisation of the art world’. Money had become the driving force — and those with too much of it often have too little taste.

‘Most of the time they [the rich art investors] buy what other people buy,’ Hughes wrote. ‘They move in great schools, like bluefish, all identical. There is safety in numbers.’

Not surprisingly he triggered a backlash. For the power brokers of modern art are a notoriously touchy, defensive bunch. But Hughes couldn’t have cared less. He dismissed personal attacks by saying: ‘As far as I can make out, when an artist says that I am conservative, it means I haven’t praised him recently.’

Damien Hirst was his bête noire. Hughes damned the Briton’s work as ‘both simple-minded and sensationalist’, remarking acidly of Hirst’s infamous dead shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde: ‘One might as well get excited about seeing a dead halibut on a slab in Harrods food hall.’
The acid wit of a very critical critic:

On Damien Hirst
‘His presence in a collection is a sure sign of dullness of taste.’

On Andy Warhol
‘He was one of the stupidest people I’d ever met in my life. He had nothing to say.’

And on Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe...
‘Can you imagine what it would be like getting up in the morning and the first thing you see is the by now unspeakably tedious cliche of Marilyn’s face staring at you?’

On elitism
‘I don’t think stupid or ill-read people are as good to be with as wise and fully literate ones.’

On greedy art collectors
‘The new job of art is to sit on the wall and get more expensive.’

On rich philistines
‘So much of art — not all of it thank God, but a lot of it — has just become a kind of cruddy game for the self-aggrandisement of the rich and the ignorant.’

On second-rate exhibitions
‘An ideal museum show would be a mating of Brideshead Revisited with House & Garden, provoking intense and pleasurable nostalgia for a past that none of its audience has had.’

On money
‘On the whole, money does artists much more good than harm. The idea that one benefits from cold water, crusts and debt collectors is now almost extinct, like belief in the reformatory power of flogging.’

On self-doubt
‘The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is given to the less talented as a consolation prize.’

On being a critic
‘It’s like being the piano player in a whorehouse; you don’t have any control over the action going on upstairs.’

As for Hirst’s equally notorious diamond-encrusted skull — sold for £50 million in 2007 — Hughes bluntly dismissed it as ‘mere bling’.

Staring at the artist’s sculpture The Virgin Mother — a bronze monstrosity showing the Madonna half with skin and half without — Hughes declared: ‘Isn’t it a miracle what so much money and so little talent can produce?’

Nor was Hirst’s partner-in-crime Tracey Emin spared the vitriol. Her 1998 ‘masterpiece’ My Bed — a stained, unmade bed surrounded by knickers and condoms — was, Hughes scoffed, nothing more than ‘a stale icon of sluttish housekeeping’.

Whatever the fashionable art world thought of him, ordinary art lovers adored him. A true rebel, he became more of a revolutionary as he got older.

In his memoir, Things I Didn’t Know, Hughes admitted to being an unashamed elitist: ‘I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive, and full to partial consciousness.

‘I love the spectacle of skill, whether it’s an expert gardener at work or a good carpenter chopping dovetails..... My main job is to distinguish the good from the second-rate, pretentious, sentimental, and boring stuff that saturates culture today, more (perhaps) than it ever has.’

Although an exile in New York, he continued to care deeply about his native Australia. His 1987 book The Fatal Shore, on the history of the British penal colonies and the first European settlers in Australia, became an international best-seller. He wrote monographs on the Spanish artist Goya, Lucian Freud and the city of Rome.

For the true giants of art, Hughes was an unstinting champion. In his eyes, ‘a string of brushmarks on a lace collar in a Velasquez’ were far ‘more radical’ than Hirst’s shark ‘murkily disintegrating in its tank’.


PC rampant in Ireland

Here’s a trenchant headline for you: “Transgender community celebrates 'great diversity of gender identity’ in new book.” And another: “President tells youth groups to be vigilant against racist attitudes and to value diversity in society.” Care to guess which venerable organ published them? Here’s a clue: “Multicultural awards take place in Dublin following three-year break.”

Actually, that last one is a bit of a scoop. To anyone who knows modern Ireland, the notion that Dublin went a whole three years without multicultural awards is frankly incredible. Somebody really screwed up. They’re supposed to happen every month at least. The newspaper is the Irish Times, which these days makes the Guardian look like the bulletin of the Prayer Book Society. Rumour has it that it employs a special nurse to soothe joints sprained by marathon sessions of finger-wagging.

This week was a good one for the finger-waggers. The Irish parliament passed a law stripping political parties of state funding unless 30 per cent of their candidates are women; in later elections the quota will rise to 40 per cent. This means that bright men will be dissuaded from entering politics because the system will fill the Dáil with dim hectoring feminists with DIY Sinéad O’Connor haircuts. (Incidentally, did you know that eight out of the past 10 World Hectoring Champions have been lady members of the Irish Green party? It’s called Comhaontas Glas. Don’t ask me how it’s pronounced: the bizarre vagaries of Gaelic pronunciation were designed to trip up the English.)

Anyway, my point is not that rigged elections will destroy the democratic mandate of the Dáil, though they will. It’s that an especially toxic strain of political correctness has infected almost the entire Irish intelligentsia. Small-government conservatives are treated like lepers – something that, the Guardian/BBC axis notwithstanding, isn’t true of British public life. Meanwhile, the sucking up to minorities is beyond parody: a recent Irish Times profile of the travellers made them sound like latter-day Athenians. How long before there’s a transvestite traveller quota in the Dáil?

Admittedly, the programme of thought reform is not complete: the Irish working class is still instinctively socially conservative. But it is, unsurprisingly, increasingly anti-clerical, and that takes us to the heart of the matter. Churchgoing in Ireland has fallen off a cliff, thanks to the clergy’s dreadful record of committing and covering up paedophile crimes. The moral vacuum at the top of a hierarchical society has been filled by political correctness, much of it imported from the European Union at the height of Ireland’s Brussels-worship.

PC ideology flowers on the ruins of religion. It’s not just Ireland: in Australia, Canada and metropolitan America, the Catholic Church is paralysed by scandal and the old Protestant denominations have turned into gibbering pantheists or angry sects. Secularism is spreading incredibly fast.

And Britain? Here the Church of England is finally losing its grip on public affection. As I say, bien pensant ideas don’t have quite the learnt-by-rote quality that they have in Ireland, but the colonisation of institutions by secular campaigners has gathered pace. The Government’s tired green doctrines don’t resonate with voters; nor does the redefinition of marriage. But political correctness isn’t about voters. These top-down initiatives may be post-religious, but they nevertheless perform a historic function of religion: to make our rulers feel good about themselves.


Boy Scouts, Chick-fil-A Prosper Despite Left’s Hateful Attacks

Robert Knight

Twelve years ago, Bryant Gumbel called me an (expletive) idiot on CBS’s “The Early Show” for defending the Boy Scouts after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed their right to uphold moral standards for leaders and members.

Whether or not you agree with his unvarnished assessment, I’d like to think that most people would think he crossed a line. Though he was caught on camera saying it, CBS denied it. Years later, Mr. Gumbel himself smugly confirmed it. This is what liberals mean when they lecture us about keeping a civil tone.

A couple of weeks ago, on July 17, the Scouts released a two-year study whose conclusion was that it’s still not a good idea to put males who sexually desire other males into the Scouts as either role models or members. The report followed the dismissal in April of an out lesbian Cub Scout leader.

As in June 2000, liberals exploded in outrage, with the media leading the charge. “Once again CNN is cheerleading the fight for gay rights, this time within the Boy Scouts,” Media Research Center’s Matt Hadro reported on July 18. “An effusive Starting Point panel welcomed gay activist Zach Wahls on Wednesday and celebrated his cause of pushing the Boy Scouts towards acceptance of openly-gay scouts and leaders.

“Wahls is no stranger to CNN, as back in May he was lauded as a ‘very powerful’ activist during a soft interview. On Wednesday, the CNN panel oozed admiration for him. ‘I'm a big fan. I've followed you for a little while,’ Starting Point regular Margaret Hoover told him. ‘You're a wonderful spokesman for the effort for equality.’” Ms. Hoover is the media’s idea of a “conservative.”

Later that day, as Mr. Hadro reported, “anchor Don Lemon gave the sappiest of interviews to former Cub Scout den leader and lesbian Jennifer Tyrell, booted from the organization because she is openly-gay. Lemon asked saccharine questions like ‘You doing okay?’ and ‘do you feel disrespected?’ and ‘You sound a little sort of downtrodden.’ … Unsurprisingly, no guest was brought on to defend the Boy Scouts.”

Over on NBClatino.com, blogger Esther J. Cepeda opined that, “It’s obvious that the decision to treat gays as unfit for membership in an organization that seeks to instill loyalty, friendliness and bravery in their young charges is far from, in the words of the Scout oath, morally straight. But it’s their rope, and it’s up to the Boy Scouts to decide whether to use it as a lifeline or a noose.”

I don’t think it’s hard to figure out which sort of knot that many in the media would like to use on the Boy Scouts.

America got another taste of liberal intolerance and insanity this past couple of weeks when homosexual activists and Democrat mayors of several big cities erupted over Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s support of marriage. Mr. Cathy said in an interview published by the Baptist Press that he and his company believe that God created marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The company donates to pro-family organizations that progressives reflexively label as “hate groups.”

Led by CNN, the media portrayed Mr. Cathy’s remarks as an attack on gay marriage, even though Mr. Cathy discussed what marriage is, not what it isn’t.

The good news is that Mike Huckabee’s call for pro-family Americans and free speech lovers to observe Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on August 1 was a smash, with long lines around the fast-food stores. Since Chick-fil-A is privately owned, sales figures are unavailable, but they went to the moon and back. That should more than offset any boycott or in-your-face “Kiss-In.”

It would be nice if Americans similarly rose somehow to the defense of the Boy Scouts. In a July 31 Wall Street Journal column, “A Century of Eagle Scouts,” Michael S. Malone, author of the new book Four Percent, provides a wonderful reminder of how much the Scouts, founded in 1910, have accomplished and given back.

Of “more than 115 million boys who have passed through the Boy Scouts of America in the last 102 years,” about “two million have become Eagle Scouts,” Malone writes.

“Since the mid-1960s, all Eagle candidates are required, beyond earning the traditional 21 merit badges, to devise, plan, execute and manage a community-service project. … it was only recently that the National Eagle Scout Association decided to look beyond the anecdotal and tally up all of the Eagle service projects ever done. It came to the jaw-dropping total of more than 100 million hours of service. Eagle Scouts are adding more than three million more hours each year.”

Let’s recap: Chick-fil-A serves millions of delicious, nutritious chicken meals, unabashedly embraces Christianity and gives back to communities in numerous ways through its Winshape Foundation. The Boy Scouts train millions of boys in practical skills and the more important value of what it means to be a man.

No wonder the Left has declared war on them. They know the enemy when they see it.


Australia: Queensland Attorney-General to try and overturn legal decision on motels having to host prostitution services

THE Queensland Government will try to overturn a legal decision in favour of a sex worker who claimed a ban on her operating out of a regional motel was discriminatory.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the operators of a Moranbah motel had breached the Anti-Discrimination Act by denying a sex worker a room.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the government had concerns about the decision and had requested Crown Law advice.

"The Government stands on the side of business owners and supports their ability to make decisions about what does or does not occur on their premises," said Mr Bleijie.

"If a conflict exists between the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 and the Liquor Act 1992, the Government will change the laws to ensure this inconsistency is resolved. "This will also give certainty to our business owners that they are in control of their establishments."

He said he was seeking legal advice on whether the government could intervene in any appeal the motel owner may wish to make, or appeal the decision directly.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


10 August, 2012

Father disowns homosexual son

Family disputes where people don't speak to one-another for years are sadly common. And fathers disowning sons goes back thousands of years. And homosexuality was illegal until recent decades so it should be no surprise that some people are strongly revolted by it. I wouldn't do as the father below did but it is well within the norm for human behaviour. Homosexuals need to grow up and get used to the fact that not everyone approves of them and many most likely never will.

Not everyone approves of me either but I weep no tears over it. My father was rather hostile to me for many years because I was so bookish but he had a big rethink when he heard what my university salary was

A sickening and heartbreaking letter from a father telling his gay son, James, their relationship is over has surfaced online.

The scanned version of the handwritten note was posted to the social news website Reddit under the title 'This is how hate sounds'.

His father begins with: "I hope your telephone call was not to receive my blessing for the degrading of your lifestyle. I have fond memories of our times together, but that is all in the past."

He then requests his son cease communication, tells him he is not welcome home and makes it clear he would not be missed at his funeral.

"You’ve made your choice though wrong it may be. God did not intend for this unnatural lifestyle," the letter reads.


Man arrested in Britain for not smiling

I doubt that even Orwell envisaged this

A father with Parkinson’s disease was arrested as he watched the Olympic cycling road race because he ‘failed to smile or look like he was enjoying himself’.

Mark Worsfold, a martial arts trainer and former soldier, claims that he was thrown to the floor and handcuffed just as cyclists passed by.

His worried wife Nicola only found out he was being held after she reported him missing when he did not turn up for their daughter’s ninth birthday party.

The 54-year-old had his fingerprints, DNA and mugshot taken before being questioned about why he did not appear to be enjoying the event on July 28.

Police said Mr Worsfold, who was held for over five hours, was arrested because of ‘his manner, his state of dress and his proximity to the course’.

A spokesman added that the arrest was necessary to avoid a breach of the peace because he was standing near a group of protesters.

But Mr Worsfold, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010, said that one of the symptoms of the disease is muscle rigidity, which can cause his face to become expressionless and mask-like.

Mr Worsfold, who had stopped to watch the men’s road race in Leatherhead, Surrey, after holding a Taekwondo demonstration nearby, said officers told him he was being arrested and taken to Reigate police station because he was not smiling.

'The police grabbed me off this seven-foot wall, threw me to the floor and cuffed me.' ‘I was sitting minding my own business,’ he told a local newspaper. ‘Before I knew anything the police grabbed me off this seven-foot wall, threw me to the floor and cuffed me so all I saw of the cycle race was between the feet of people from the pavement.

‘It could have been done better. I was arrested for not smiling. I have Parkinson’s.’

Mr Worsfold, who lives in an £800,000 three-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Ockham near Woking, has since asked for a letter of exoneration from police.

Surrey Police said he was initially arrested on suspicion of a public order offence but was ‘given words of advice’ before being ‘released with no further action’.

The officers who made the arrest have apologised to him.

In a statement, the spokesman added: ‘He was positioned close to a group of protesters and based on his manner, his state of dress and his proximity to the course, officers made an arrest to prevent a possible breach of the peace.

‘There were a number of factors which led officers to make this arrest, including the fact the race was approaching, the heightened level of security due to the high profile nature of the event and the sheer number of spectators.’


Expel Brice Horton

Mike Adams

Note: This column contains language that may be unsuitable for some readers, especially thin-skinned homosexual activists and hypocritical bigots.

The faux outrage over Chick-fil-a's stance on gay marriage has moved to my little campus of UNCW, which stands for the University of North Carolina – We Teach Students to be B*tchy Little Bigots. And no student has elevated bitchiness to a Zen art quite like Brice Horton. He recently decided to take action to get Chick-fil-a removed from the university food court because he has to have all of his meals prepared by people who approve of homosexual sodomy. And apparently, he can’t just choose to eat elsewhere.

Horton has confessed to his bigotry - admitting he's contacted Aramark, the company that handles all of the food choices at UNCW. For the record, I am assuming that food preferences, like sexual practices, are determined by choice, not by genetics.

UNCW released a statement just a couple of days after Horton waged his jihad against freedom of religion and diversity of food choice. UNCW announced that Chick-fil-a will remain on campus. It must have been gut-wrenching for UNCW to make a correct common-sense decision. But even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Although correct, the reason UNCW gave for the decision, as quoted by local television station WECT, is disturbing. They were quoted as saying that the management and employees at the Chick-fil-a location at UNCW are Aramark employees who "fully adhere to the diversity and inclusion principles specified by Aramark and UNCW."

In other words, the university appears to have taken the time to investigate the Aramark employees in order to see whether they had the right (that means left) values needed to remain on campus. What happened to our commitment to diversity of opinion? It is worth noting that there is no indication that UNCW investigated Brice Horton to see whether he “adheres to the diversity and inclusion principles” needed to remain on campus. Obviously, he does not.

The entire incident shows that UNCW is willing to investigate people to determine whether they should be excluded in order to promote inclusion. This could not get more Orwellian, could it? Yes it could. The entire statement issued by UNCW is worth reading:

UNCW is an institution that values diversity and inclusion. As part of the university experience, we recognize the right of all people to speak freely – even if that speech goes against our values. We also recognize the right of individuals to make their own choices as consumers. The management and employees at the Chick-fil-A location on campus are Aramark employees who fully adhere to the diversity and inclusion principles specified by Aramark and UNCW. This means they respect the diverse backgrounds, styles, values and beliefs of their customers and employees, and they strive to offer choice and variety to the UNCW community. UNCW does not have plans to alter this food service option that Aramark provides to our campus.

Did everyone catch that? UNCW will respect speech even if “that speech goes against our values.” What are UNCW’s collective values? More specifically, what speech did Chick-fil-a express that goes against UNCW’s collective values? Is UNCW saying that it supports same-sex marriage? If not, why do they seem to be distancing themselves from Chick-fil-a while “allowing” them to remain on campus?

If I were UNCW Chancellor Gary Miller, I would do three things immediately. First, I would clarify UNCW’s stance on same-sex marriage, which had better be one of neutrality. Second, I would fire the incompetent who wrote the Chick-fil-a press release. Finally, I would expel Brice Horton immediately.

Of course, the moral case for expelling Brice Horton has nothing to do with his beliefs about same-sex marriage. It has everything to do with his lack of emotional maturity. If we don’t get this kid off campus, he might encounter other ideas that might cause him to lose his composure. He might throw another hissy fit, which would lead others to say that gay activists are nothing more than emotionally inferior lunatics. Such speech would promote stereotypes. And that’s the kind of speech that goes against our collective values.

Wherever you stand on this issue, it is clear that we need to exclude non-conformists who do not share our collective values. How else are we going to promote diversity and inclusion?


Australia: Motels not allowed to keep out prostitutes

No right to say whom you will have on your own private property?

SEX workers were last night celebrating a stunning victory in their battle against motel owners in the booming mining towns, after the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled in favour of a prostitute who complained of discrimination after being told she could not rent a room.

The decision is likely to have ramifications for hotel and motel operators across Australia, who could now find themselves in breach of the anti-discrimination laws that exist in every state if they try to turn away prostitutes.

Prostitutes have descended upon small towns near the large mines in record numbers over the past few years, determined to take a slice of the mining boom.

They advertise their arrival in town in the local newspaper and see up to 10 clients a night. Motel owners claim they deter other customers.

But when the owners of the Drover's Rest Motel in the mining town of Moranbah, which services the Peak Downs mine in Queensland, tried to turn away a sex worker known as "Karlaa" she sued in the tribunal, using the Anti-Discrimination Act, which bans discrimination on the basis of lawful sexual activity.

She argued her use of the bed was no different from somebody who checked into a motel and used the phone or internet for business. Prostitution is legal in Queensland.

Karlaa told The Australian yesterday: "At the end of the day, it's not acceptable to discriminate against people. What I do might not be to everyone's taste but it's legal, and it's how I make my living.

"Not everyone would choose to do the job I do, but it's not right that they can treat me like a second-class citizen. They wanted me to go away, but I am a tenacious little terrier and I would not give up."

The full judgment has not yet been released, but QCAT confirmed Karlaa's victory. She is seeking $30,000 compensation.

Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive Richard Munro said the industry would have to examine the judgment before deciding whether to appeal "but in general terms, we say that it should be up to the owner, the proprietor, the licensee, to protect the amenity of their business".

"People go to motels to sleep, to enjoy the premises, and if they can't do that because of the activities of another guest, the motel owner should be allowed to protect their business."



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


9 August, 2012

Homosexuals Picket Cake Shop Owned by Christian Baker?

Why do these protestors insist this man has to make gay wedding cakes? It is his business. Why does he have to change his beliefs to conform to someone elses' ideas? They are doing to him what they wanted to do to Chick-fil-a. Hopefully it will backfire again

he owner of a Colorado bakery said in spite of picket lines and online petitions he will not change a store policy against baking wedding cakes for homosexual couples – a policy that critics call hateful and bigoted.

More than 4,200 people have signed an online petition calling on the Masterpiece Cake Shop to ends its policy banning gay wedding cakes. Over the weekend, several dozen people picketed the privately-owned store in Lakewood, Colo.

“Everyone has the same rights,” one protestor told television station KDVR. “A gay wedding cake, a straight wedding cake – it’s the same thing.”

Jack Phillips, the owner of the cake shop, said his ban on making cakes for gay weddings is a result of his religious beliefs.

“I’m not going to change my business because of a petition,” he told the Denver Post. “I’m just going to do the best I can do to honor Jesus Christ.”

“By denying service to gay couples, they are essentially slapping us all in the face, and I simply cannot stand idly by while such shameful behavior is allowed to continue,” said Macklin MacKenzie, a Denver resident who started the petition.

“I am not sure how the cakes taste, but I know bigotry and hate tastes disgusting,” MacKenzie said.

Phillips found himself in the middle of a controversy several weeks ago when David Mullins and Charlie Craig asked the bakery to make a rainbow cake for their wedding reception.

“He quickly informed us that his business did not provide cakes for gay weddings,” Craig said in a statement. “This moment was offensive, dehumanizing, awkward and quite painful.”

Mullins then cursed the owner, “f*** you and your homophobic cake shop.”

The couple then posted the encounter on Facebook which spread across the nation.

“This was the first time that either of us had ever been turned away from a business because of our sexuality,” Craig said. “The venality of a cake shop denying a loving couple a wedding cake is symbolic of the small thinking that permeates American society.”

But the protests have not hurt business. Phillips told local media that a number of people have either called or dropped by to show their support for his ban on gay wedding cakes.

“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and you could say it’s a religious belief but I believe the Bible teaches that’s not an okay thing,” he told television station KDVR.


"Britain is full of single mothers and muggers -- and over-taxed"

I have just asked the creator of the phenomenally successful 1973 album Tubular Bells if performing in front of worldwide audience of a billion people at the Olympics Opening Ceremony has tempted him to end his self-imposed exile and return to Britain.

The answer is ‘no’. It seems the Reading-born father of nine is blissfully happy on his little tax-free island in the Bahamas.

‘I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Britain — I can’t stand being cold,’ he says. ‘I’m very comfortable with the local people here. They’re so very genuine and friendly. They don’t seem to have an agenda.’

Having lived in the Bahamas for three years, Oldfield and his family — wife Fanny and sons Jake, eight, and Eugene, four — flew to London four weeks before the ceremony.

We are sitting in the grounds of an expensive hotel on Paradise Island, which featured in the Bond film Casino Royale. Oldfield chose it as our meeting place for its link with Bond actor Daniel Craig, his opening ceremony ‘co-star’.

For all his reputation as a bit of an anti-social curmudgeon, the shaggy-haired Oldfield makes for congenial company.

Yes, everyone loved Tubular Bells (its global sales stand at 17 million) but its then 19-year-old boy wonder composer — a self-taught musician who played more than 20 instruments on the album — says he was soon caught in the backlash that faces anyone who is too successful.

‘There’s a British thing about hating people who are too clever,’ he says. ‘It’s uncool to be too clever. It’s a great shame, and it’s not the same in America.’

Oldfield says he has sorted out his women issues now, along with his psychological hang-ups. He feels he has never been happier and has been with his French-born wife, Fanny, since they met in 1999 while he was living in Ibiza.

The island was just one of the exotic places he ran away to after he decided to leave Britain.

Oldfield says he was advised in the 1970s to emigrate in order to escape the then Labour government’s 86 per cent taxes on his Tubular Bells royalties. He spent time living in Switzerland, Monaco, Ibiza (where the hedonistic and ‘poisonous’ lifestyle of drink, drugs and going days without sleep almost overwhelmed him) and Majorca.

The Bahamas may be a country increasingly full of gated communities and millionaire tax exiles, but Oldfield stresses that he lives in the cheaper end of Nassau and is still doing up the run-down five-bedroom 1950s house he bought when he and his wife moved there in 2009.

He has grumbled about his home country being like ‘prep school’ with all its restrictive laws, health and safety rules, smoking bans and CCTV cameras everywhere.

He complains about the Big Brother culture and says Britain’s ‘brutish police in those weird jackets’ are nothing like the kindly bobby in the helmet he remembers from his youth.

By comparison, he says, he’s found the values of that old Britain in the Bahamas.

‘You go inland here and it’s just like Reading was in the 1950s. You see the kids going to school in their uniforms —they take their education very seriously here.

‘People don’t have a lot of money, but you can talk to anybody. In London, you’d be worried you were going to get mugged.’

Despite his peripatetic life in Switzerland, Monaco, Ibiza and Majorca, he said none were warm enough in the winter. That’s why he came to the Bahamas.

He accepts the islands are also attractive because they have no personal income tax — but then claims he’s not as rich as he was.


Britain's absurd prison system

Serious criminals are repeately released after short periods. Apparently the "habitual criminal" has disappeared from the notice of the British justice system

The police mugshots of career criminal Stephen Bosanko cover a decade, but the defiant, contemptuous stare is virtually unchanged.

Bosanko, 31, has killed two people and committed a host of other crimes over a 13-year period of mayhem but has served only a series of short spells in prison.

He was accused of 'laughing at the law' by the father of one of his victims after he was jailed again at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday – for three years for burglary – and told he could be free in just 18 months.

In 2002 Bosanko had caused the death of Nicola Shalloe, 20, by dangerous driving four months after he was freed from a prison term for manslaughter. Yesterday Nicola’s father Michael said Bosanko was 'bad to the bone'.

Mr Shalloe, 63, a plumber, added: 'This bloke must be laughing at the law. He’s a complete lunatic who shouldn’t be out of jail – he should be locked up for life for what he’s done. He has ruined so many people’s lives. What is it going to take to throw away the key?

'Three years is not good enough for the likes of him – it’s like a slap on the wrist.

'The court system is skewed and this latest stretch is obviously no deterrent for him. He thinks he can do whatever he wants.'

Bosanko’s first major entanglement with the law came in 1998 when he was accused of disposing of a knife and gloves used in the murder of a drug dealer. He was acquitted of perverting justice but six months later killed father-of-three Sajad Ahmed.

Bosanko, of Ribbleton, Preston, was out celebrating his 18th birthday and had bragged that he was 'going to do someone' as he wanted to 'do life and be a big name'. Minutes later he punched Mr Ahmed, 22, to the ground outside a pub. The victim’s head hit the pavement and he died from a fractured skull.

Bosanko was initially charged with murder but in June 1999 his guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted and he was jailed for six years.

The sentence was later reduced on appeal to four and a half years and with good behaviour he was freed on licence in February 2002.

In June of that year Nicola Shalloe, who had beaten cancer, met Bosanko after she and some friends left a nightclub in Preston and accepted a lift from him. The Escort was driven at speeds of up to 80mph before smashing into a lamppost, fatally injuring Nicola.

Bosanko was jailed for three and a half years yet freed after serving less than two years.

After several minor matters he was hauled back before the courts for driving while disqualified but absconded before being arrested on a warrant. He was jailed again in July 2008 and has since served a further term for theft.

In his latest crime, Lancashire Police said Bosanko and three friends were involved in various break-ins in which £7,000 worth of cigarettes were stolen from supermarkets across Preston, Blackpool and Lancaster from October 2011 to February 2012.

Golf clubs and other equipment valued at around £9,000 were also stolen in Knott End, Lancashire.

Bosanko and Nicholas Maxwell, 26, of Fulwood, Jamie Maxwell, 21, of Preston and John Horn, 21, all admitted burglary and attempted burglary. Nicholas Maxwell and Horn were sentenced to three years, as was Bosanko, while Jamie Maxwell was jailed for two years.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


8 August, 2012

Taxpayers funding a campaign to get homosexuals onto Amtrak trains (!)

Maybe they have better taste than to go on Amtrak trains

While instances of outrage — and support– continue to rage for the fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, Amtrak is also capturing some attention for its ”Ride With Pride” initiative, a new campaign aimed at gay customers. While homosexual rights groups are already praising the targeted efforts, some conservatives will likely express disdain and concern, seeing as the company is tax-payer funded and clearly taking a stance on the issue.

To fully push the efforts, special ads that show same-sex couples riding the train system have been released by Amtrak, as has a gay-friendly web-site encouraging individuals to head to popular vacation destinations. So far, two ads have been released — one showcasing two mothers and the other featuring two fathers (each featuring a child).

The purpose of the ads is to promote the company’s half-price campaign for kids between the ages of two and 15, The Huffington Post reports (this deal is free for all children, not only those of same-sex couples).

In a section of Amtrak’s “Ride With Pride” web site, a “diversity” tab brings readers to an explanation of the special campaign — and of the company’s views on inclusiveness. In summation: Amtrak wants to create a discrimination-free environment.

Below, watch a fascinating CNN debate about the appropriateness of a government-owned company taking such pointed action on a controversial social issue:

“At Amtrak, diversity is not just a corporate buzzword, it’s a priority. It‘s vital and it’s a commitment we make to our customers, our suppliers, our employees, and the communities we serve,” the diversity statement reads, in part. “We understand that valuing diversity is not only a good thing to do, but a business necessity beyond compliance that plays a vital role in customer service delivery and ultimately the success of our operations.”

Naturally, because Amtrak is a publicly-funded company (in fact, it’s fully owned by the U.S. government), it’s likely that these ads — and the overarching campaign — will create some controversy.

Also, it should be noted that, at the top left of the site, a news feed featuring Huffington Post articles is featured, causing one to wonder why this was chosen as the most viable news choice on the government-owned site.


The Inequality Fetish

There is little evidence that unequal income causes economic ills

There must be something in the water in Scandinavia: Nobel laureates, from our president to Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, all agree that high levels of inequality are a serious problem, if not the problem, facing our weak economy.

According to this liberal thesis, either the 2008 financial crisis and its attendant recession, or the sluggish recovery — and maybe both — can be attributed in large part to the high level of economic inequality in the United States. Further, in this view, inequality is an economic malady on its own, even in times of prosperity. Liberal commentators, of course, assert this as if it were a truism, but worse, economists of real distinction trumpet it like scientific fact.

Joseph Stiglitz, who claims that “there is broad consensus that one of the reasons for the weakness in the economy is the huge level of inequality,” further contends that the plight of the 99 percent is of such dire economic consequence that the 1 percent can’t afford to ignore the chasm. Sounding even more empirically minded, President Obama asserts that “research has shown that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.”

But if there is a broad consensus in economics and social science on anything, it is certainly not this. For those who claim otherwise, ideology has taken the place of empiricism.

There are two elements of the ubiquitous thesis: Increased inequality generally slows economic growth, and it contributes to financial crises such as our current one. But there’s never been much good evidence to support either assertion. The best evidence for a causal link between inequality and economic growth, alluded to in the president’s cryptic claim above, is an IMF paper that suggests economic booms last longer and are steadier in countries with less income inequality. But this link relies on countries such as Cameroon and Colombia (two of the cases examined) — dysfunctional nations with extreme inequality that often leads to pervasive rent-seeking or political instability, causing uneven economic growth. For the question of inequality in the U.S., the most relevant study on the topic, which considers industrialized nations over the course of the 20th century, finds no meaningful link between inequality and income growth.

There is also almost no evidence that economic inequality causes financial crises. As a recent paper by Michael Bordo and Christopher Meissner argues, there is no “general relationship” between inequality and credit booms and crises — it isn’t hard to find a correlation between the two, but these two dynamics are also correlated with a huge number of other economic factors. Mark Thoma, a liberal professor of economics at the University of Oregon, has admitted, “I am not saying that the evidence stacks up against the idea that inequality contributed to the recession, it could very well be true . . . [but] the evidence I’m aware of doesn’t tell us much one way or the other.”

Scott Winship, of the Brookings Institute, explains that he finds it “amazing how willing some of the biggest names in economics are to assert that the growth in inequality has had deleterious consequences,” when “there’s little good evidence it has had important effects on opportunity, growth, stability, or politics.”


Only Israel can do wrong in the Middle East?

Imagine your local council directing bulldozers to demolish your home. You’d have something to say about that.

I expect you’d have even more to say if bumptious officials said it was because your house was built on council land and they wanted the land back.

We expect the state to uphold the lawful rights of property owners. That’s why the forcible demolition by the state of inhabited private dwellings is always an affront.

For some years, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has been demolishing Palestinian homes in the disputed, or occupied, territories. The IDF says the demolition targets are families of terror suspects.

Commentators such as the jurist Alan Dershowitz defend the IDF’s practice of what he calls ‘calibrated and collective punishment.’ Many other commentators around the world condemn the practice vigorously. Debate about the legitimacy of such collective punishment continues.

But the recent decision by Hamas, which rules Gaza with apparent indifference to the well-being of its citizenry, to demolish Palestinian homes in Gaza has been met with a deafening silence.

Middle East media analyst Tom Gross reports that 120 families are to lose their homes in the latest round of demolitions.

According to Gross, this is ‘a far greater number than the number of illegally built Palestinian homes Israel has demolished in recent years – and unlike Israeli authorities, Hamas doesn’t even claim these homes were built illegally or with dangerous structures.’

Hamas simply wants the land on which the homes stand. And most news agencies and commentators have turned a blind eye.

The story was picked up by The Australian’s Middle East correspondence, John Lyons, who asked the United Nations whether it condemned house demolitions by Hamas the way it did demolitions by Israel.

Richard Miron, from the UN Special Coordinator’s Office, said the United Nations would not be making a condemnation. ‘We appear to be dealing with a civil dispute about land,’ Miron said.

The IDF policy of demolishing homes has been extremely controversial. Critics have accused Israel of gross violations of international law.

Many of those same critics are now silent in the face of the Hamas demolitions. If they say anything at all, it is only to make the specious claim that the land grab is nothing more than a domestic legal dispute.

Self-styled beacons of moral authority such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Desmond Tutu claim to be serious about upholding human rights. Yet their lamps burn dimly when it comes to the activities of Hamas.

Meanwhile, 120 Palestinian families in Gaza are waiting for somebody to speak out and condemn Hamas for its cruel and greedy land grabs.


The Pope Strikes a Blow for San Francisco

Terry Jeffrey

To find the heart of San Francisco, you need to head south of Market Street, not to the Castro District teeming with people who very publicly define themselves by the perverse acts in which they engage, but to the Mission District.

Here is where the most beautiful of American cities was founded -- not by 49ers, beatniks, hippies or homosexuals, but by devout and dedicated Spanish Franciscans who crossed half the world to bring their faith to a new land.

Mission Dolores is not just the heart of San Francisco, she symbolizes its soul. The Franciscans founded the mission on June 29, 1776, just as American patriots on the other side of the continent were preparing to declare their independence from England with a document that said all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

Unlike some of the European settlers on the Eastern side of the continent, the priests who founded San Francisco did not bring slaves or try to rationalize human bondage. What they did bring was the best of European civilization -- teaching the indigenous people how to farm and raise livestock and what the priests deeply believed was the one true faith.

Even though these priests named their mission for St. Francis, the church building itself popularly took on the name of Our Lady of Sorrows, which the missionaries had bestowed on a nearby stream.

These pioneers completed the permanent structure of Dolores in 1791. For more than 220 years, what they built has stood strong and intact, the oldest surviving structure in a city where earthquakes and fires and changing fashions have been the ruin of virtually every other venerable thing capable of destruction by man or nature.

Though Mission Dolores itself will surely someday crumble, the truth it represents has not, will not and cannot die.

To those who did not know 20th century San Francisco, the city must have seemed a place in constant cultural flux, where in each passing generation the latest fad in lifestyles briefly took hold and was then swept away.

But under the flotsam and jetsam of the pop cultural trends that moved in and out of the city on decadal tides, the deeper culture of San Francisco remained a solid rock. Like most other American cities of the past century, it was mostly populated by working- and middle-class people dedicated to raising their children to believe in the things that made America great -- hard work, traditional morality, faith in God.

But that underlying bedrock began eroding in the late 1970s, when the homosexual movement arrived in the city.

The truth: Traditional family life cannot survive in a culture seeking to force normalization and moral approbation of homosexual behavior.

The reason: Homosexual behavior is wrong. It violates the natural law. To say two men or two women can marry one another is like saying two plus two is five: It is not the way God made things. To tell people, including children, that they must assent to the government claiming that two men or two women can marry one another is like telling them they must assent to the government telling them two plus two is five.

When a society insists that everyone must assent to the proposition that homosexual behavior is right and good and that everyone must recognize same-sex marriages are right and good, and everyone must assent to the right of same-sex couples to take custody of children who they could never, by nature, conceive, that society has declared war on the natural moral law that the Founding Fathers of this country and the founding fathers of San Francisco correctly understood to be the foundation of true human freedom.

This is not to say homosexuals should not be treated with charity. But their freedom, too, depends on society's fidelity to the truth.

Mission Dolores still stands today, but the church that built her stands forever.

And last week, Pope Benedict XVI sent a new pioneer to that frontier to stand in her defense.

His name is Salvatore J. Cordileone. He is a native Californian and a doctor of canon law, who now serves as bishop of Oakland and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee on the Defense and Promotion of Marriage. On Oct. 4, he will become the new archbishop of San Francisco.

Cordileone's record shows him to be man of compassion, conviction and courage.

"In places where marriage's core meaning has been altered through legal action, officials are beginning to target for punishment those believers and churches that refuse to adapt," he said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last November. "Any nonconforming conduct and even expressions of disagreement, based simply on support for marriage as understood since time immemorial, are wrongly being treated as if they harmed society, and somehow constituted a form of evil equal to racism."

Involvement in the marriage issue, he said in a speech in May, led him to see "the erosion of the rights of religious institutions to serve the broader community in accord with their moral principles precisely because of this issue, as well the rights of individuals to have their freedom of conscience respected.

"When I saw what was happening and my eyes were opened," he said, "it made me fear that we could be starting to move in the direction of license and despotism."

The pope has struck a blow for freedom by sending this man to San Francisco.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


7 August, 2012

'Fears of being branded racist stops British police investigating crimes by ethnic minorities'

Police are failing to investigate crimes committed by ethnic minorities because they fear being branded racist, a report claims.

A pamphlet by think-tank Civitas, released today, says pressure to show racial sensitivity may have been behind the initial failure to properly investigate Asian street grooming gangs in the North of England.

Jon Gower Davies, a former academic, links the failure to police being branded ‘institutionally racist’ by the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, which he says left police ‘shackled’ by bureaucracy.

The pamphlet, which is entitled’ Mind-Forg’d Manacles: Murder, Macpherson and the Police’ finds Macpherson lacked evidence for the charge of institutional racism which he says ‘lacks substance’.

This year a gang from Rochdale were jailed for plying teenage girls with alcohol before raping them.  All but one gang member was of an Asian Pakistani background.

The court heard up to 47 vulnerable girls were passed around the group and forced to have sex several times a week, but two years before action was finally taken, police missed an opportunity to stop the gang when a 15-year-old girl told them she had been raped.

A former Labour MP, Ann Cryer, said the police failed to investigate properly because they were ‘petrified’ of being branded racist.

Mr Davies, a former Labour councillor, describes the lack of investigation into sex crimes as a case of ‘reverse’ institutional racism in which the views of victims, vulnerable white girls, were not taken seriously.

The report states: ‘When in February 2012, the trial of a number of Pakistani men finally came to court, it seems that allegations of abuse by one (white) girl had been just ignored by the police’.

The pamphlet, which is published by the Civitas think tank, concludes Macpherson failed to address genuine weaknesses in police practice at the time.

It states: ‘Macpherson... not only obviated the need to make a realistic if less flamboyant analysis of the limitations of the policing of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, but also led to an over-anxious police leadership to make a fool of itself by adopting policies which are neither operationally nor socially nor ethically sound and proper’.

Writing the foreword to the pamphlet, Dr David Green, director of Civitas said Macpherson’s ‘poisonous’ legacy included failures to investigate crimes by ethnic minorities including so-called ‘honour crimes’.

Following Lord Macpherson’s use of the phrase, it became a central tenet of discrimination rules in Whitehall and among police and politicians.

In 2009, on the tenth anniversary of the Macpherson report, Trevor Phillips, the head of the country’s equalities watchdog said he had abandoned the phrase.  He said the label of institutional racism became a ‘badge of shame that has hung over’ the police

Stephen Lawrence died in an unprovoked attack while waiting for a bus in Eltham, South East London.  In January of this year Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of Stephen’s murder.


British villagers face jail after setting up protest camp against gypsies... while travellers stay there illegally

Despite their high nuisance value, Gypsies in Britain are treated with kid gloves because of their "minority" status

Villagers refusing to leave a protest camp set up after gypsies moved on to greenbelt land could face a £20,000 fine or jail if they do not leave.

The campaigners, including many infirm and elderly, were told that Solihull Borough Council has rejected their request to stay at the site in Meriden until the travellers go.  Instead, the council has voted for legal action against Residents Against Inappropriate Development (Raid) - despite giving gypsies until March next year to move on.

The authority could also look into a Dale Farm-style ‘direct action’ demolition of their 824-day camp.

Around 250 protesters have kept up a 24-hour vigil at the site since travellers arrived during the May Bank Holiday in 2010.

Neither the locals or the gypsies have planning permission for their camps, but the travellers were told they could remain until next March after a High Court battle with Solihull Council.

The West Midlands villagers set up their makeshift shelter on a builders' yard so as not to damage the land, as they believe the gypsies are.

But following a private planning meeting, councillors have voted to prosecute locals who have defied an enforcement notice issued in April to leave their site, although the authority says it will consult lawyers before taking action.

Yet protesters remained defiant last night - with many stating they are prepared to go to jail for their cause.  Raid chairman David McGrath said: 'The council could have given us the same extra time deal as they gave to the travellers who don’t live at the site at night but are causing daytime harm to the greenbelt.

'Instead they have gone for an option which will waste taxpayers’ money, even though we have stated that we will leave in March 2013 if the travellers keep to their agreement to go.  'We will not stop protesting until they go, even if that risks imprisonment.'

Wheelchair-bound grandad Russ Thomas, 72, said: 'I’m prepared to go to jail. It’s disgraceful the council can behave in such a manner.'

Retired welfare officer Jean Greenfield, 80, said: 'I wonder where our equal rights are?  'It’s not feasible at my age to go to prison.'

Euro MEP Nikki Sinclaire, who supports the campaigners, said: 'If protesting was an Olympic event, these people would get the gold medal.

'Solihull Council is wrong and should use its own judgement to dismiss the thought of action against this temporary presence.'

It stated: 'Following a debate of the issues, the Committee resolved that the Solicitor to the Council be authorised to issue legal proceedings if an advice is obtained from Counsel confirming that such action would be both proportionate and expedient.

'We discussed the three options available to the Council to ensure compliance with an Enforcement Notice, those being, Prosecution, Injunction and Direct Action. 

'For the avoidance of doubt, the Council will be advised by Counsel, what, if any, action is the most expedient and proportional response. No decision has yet been made.'

The council refused to comment on the jail claims last night.   Council leader Ken Meeson said: 'We are currently awaiting legal advice on this matter and therefore cannot comment further.'


Romney’s Right: Brits & Americans Are Joint Heirs to Anglo-Saxon Liberties


Americans take justified pride in their successful assimilation of newcomers. Millions have been drawn to their country, from every continent and archipelago, determined to become American.

What do we mean by becoming American? When we break it down, there are three irreducible elements. First, accepting the values encoded in the US Constitution: free speech, the division of powers, religious toleration and so on. Second, understanding the unwritten codes bound up with those values: civic engagement, open competition, private contract. Third, speaking English.

And where do these characteristics have their roots? In Anglo-Saxon civilization. When a Romney aide told this newspaper that the US and Britain shared an ‘Anglo-Saxon heritage', he or she was stating the obvious. Those Lefties pretending to be upset - the Obama campaign called the remark ‘stunningly offensive' - know perfectly well that the reference was cultural rather than racial. When the French talk of ‘les anglo-saxons' or the Spanish of ‘los anglosajones', they don't mean Cerdic and Oswine and Æthelstan. They mean people who speak English and believe in small government.

It hardly needs saying that the United States is not genetically Anglo-Saxon. Nor is the United Kingdom: it's full of people with non-Saxon surnames such as Hannan. And nor, for that matter, is England. Recent DNA tests have confirmed what place-name studies have been insisting with increasing stridency for the past century, namely that the English are descended as much from the pre-fifth century population as from the settlers who came after the departure of Rome's legions. The notion of mass population displacement comes largely from one later and tendentious source: Gildas's De Excidio Brittonum. It's odd, in retrospect, that historians ever took it seriously.

If Anglo-Saxon is of limited value as an ethnic category, though, it is of huge value as a cultural denominator. Until the mid-twentieth century, most historians traced the notions of personal freedom, the rule of law and representative government to the Anglo-Saxon period. A free people, ran the story, governed by a folkright of common law, and ordering their affairs increasingly through popular assemblies - folkmoots - found themselves subjected to feudalism by the Normans.

Nor was the idea confined to historians. Six centuries after the Conquest, during English civil war, parliamentary soldiers told themselves that that they were fighting to ‘throw off the Norman yoke'. The idea of recovering the native liberty of the Anglo-Saxons, suppressed by an alien aristocracy, was very real to them.

During the second half of the twentieth century, some historians, sneering at what they saw as Victorian jingoism, challenged this narrative. But, as Professor James Campbell, arguably our foremost authority on the period, has shown, the Victorians were onto something: Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism was real enough.

It was certainly real to America's founders. The histories most widely read in the colonies - Nathaniel Bacon's Historical Discourse of the Uniformity of the Government of England; Henry Care's English Liberties; Lord Kames's British Antiquities - all told the same story: in 1066, a free people had lost their liberties to a Continental invader. Even in those days, of course, there were Americans who were aware of having non-English ancestry, yet they cheerfully bought into a self-consciously Anglo-Saxon political identity.

When the first shots were fired in 1775, it didn't occur to Americans that they were fighting a foreign power. The idea of the American Revolution as a war between two nations - a War of Independence - came much later. Paul Revere never shouted ‘The British are coming!' - an absurd thing, if you think about it, to shout at a wholly British population. What he actually yelled, during his famous ride, was ‘The regulars are out!'

Indeed, when Americans called themselves patriots, they meant that they were British patriots, fighting for their ancestral freedoms against a German king and his Hessian hirelings. How else are we to understand their complaint in the Declaration of Independence about ‘abolishing the free System of English Laws' and ‘transporting large Armies of foreign [ie not British] Mercenaries'?

Mitt Romney - or, rather, his staffer - is on absolutely solid ground. The US is built on values which have become so uncontroversial that they are considered almost universal: representative government, the rule of law, private property, religious liberty, free speech, habeas corpus, trial by jury. It's easy to forget that these precepts, at least in the form that the founders recognized, were products of a specifically British political culture.

Even the dimmest Romney aide must be aware that non-Anglo-Saxons form the vast majority of the US electorate. It is surely fair game, though, to draw attention to Obama's anti-British prejudices (see here for the full charge-sheet). It is fair game, too, to posit a connection between Obama's dislike of Britain and his contempt for those US institutions - the common law, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights - that were inherited from Britain.

One thing that Britain and the US have in common is that they define nationhood in civic rather than ethnic terms. A hundred years ago, 80 per cent of British subjects were neither white nor Christian. You become British, as you become American, by signing up to a set of values.

And a pretty decent set of values they are. In two world wars, hundreds of millions of men crossed half the world in order to take up arms in their defense. Whether they were from Jamaica or Australia, India or Canada, they understood that they were fighting for freedom against tyranny. Not every country got the big calls of the last century - the two world wars and the Cold War - right. The Anglosphere peoples, by and large, did.

During the first half of 2012, I toured the main English-speaking democracies to make the case for the Anglosphere. I was struck by the warmth with which people of non-British backgrounds, especially in Australia and Canada, endorsed the concept.

If (as I hope) Mitt Romney becomes president, and if (as I hope) Tony Abbott wins in Australia then, for the first time, there will be a conservative and Anglospherist full house. It would be a pity if the opportunity to move towards an Anglosphere free trade area were lost because of Britain's outdated membership of a European customs union. In the mean time, though, let's at least show that we can accept a compliment graciously.


Australia:  Conservative leader flags changes to discrimination law

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has recommitted a coalition government to removing parts of the Racial Discrimination Act that make it illegal to make statements that offend based on race or ethnicity.

Mr Abbott said the coalition, if elected, will repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits statements that offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people on grounds of race or ethnicity.

This section of the act was a "threat" to freedom of speech in Australia, Mr Abbott wrote in The Australian on Monday.  "Expression or advocacy should never be unlawful merely because it is offensive," he wrote.  "It ought to be inconceivable that a commentator offering an opinion should fall foul of the law just because offence was taken or might be expected to be taken."

The coalition would be prepared to maintain a prohibition on inciting hatred against or intimidation of particular racial groups, Mr Abbott said.

He again defended News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt, who was ruled to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act in articles he wrote on fair-skinned Aborigines.  The articles, published in 2009, were headlined "It's so hip to be black" and "White fellas in the black".

Mr Abbott said while the articles were not Mr Bolt's finest, the commentator should have been afforded the right of freedom of speech.  "Speech that has to be inoffensive is not free, just unerringly politically correct," he said.

"If it's all right for (former Fairfax journalist) David Marr to upset conservative Christians, why is it not all right for Bolt to upset activist Aborigines?"

Labor MP Ed Husic said there wasn't any room in public debate for inciting of hate.  "I think there's a place for reasoned argument ... but not one that seeks to marginalise one section of the community from the other," he told Sky News.


Australia: Ramadan riot in Sydney

RAMADAN festivities turned nasty last night when two men were arrested for offensive language toward police in south west Sydney.

More than a dozen men of Middle Eastern appearance gathered on Waterloo Rd, Greenacre for a barbecue setup on the street for what is believed to have been Ramadan.

Police arrived at the scene about 1am following reports of loud and offensive language coming from the area.

Two males were arrested for allegedly yelling obscene language at officers.

Riot police and the dog squad also attended the incident.

Some members of the crowd were wearing 'Brothers 4 Life' jackets.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


6 August, 2012

Chick-fil-A CEO's First Amendment rights violated by New York official's threat


New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn seeks to kick Chick-fil-A out of New York because its CEO said he opposed gay marriage. She sent the head of New York University, which leases space to the one Chick-fil-A restaurant in New York City, a letter stating, “Chick-fil-A is not welcome in New York City as long as the company’s president continues to uphold and promote his discriminatory views [...] I urge you to sever your relationship with the Chick-fil-A establishment that exists on your campus.”

The university will regard this letter more as an unstated threat than as a mere statement of the Speaker’s opinion, both because Quinn began her letter with the words, “I write as the Speaker of the NYC Council,” and because universities are pervasively subject to ad hoc government regulations and ordinances, making it imperative to cultivate municipal officials’ goodwill. (For example, a university that annoys municipal officials can end up with an enrollment cap, or lose lucrative eminent domain prerogatives. Business owners are often subject to municipal predation that can potentially drive them out of business, forcing them to ingratiate themselves with city officials.)

Government pressure on a university to terminate a contract due to someone’s speech violates the First Amendment rights of that person and their company. For example, if a government official pressures a private institution to take action against someone (such as firing an employee) for his speech, that violates the First Amendment, see Korb v. Lehman, 919 F.2d 243 (4th Cir. 1990) (pressure on defense contractor to fire employee for speech); Dossett v. First State Bank, 399 F.3d 940 (8th Cir. 2005); Reuber v. U.S., 750 F.2d 1039 (D.C. Cir. 1985).

Government retaliation for speech does not necessarily need to include explicit threats or pressure to violate the First Amendment. For example, if the Government merely reprimands a public employee for his speech, or censures a private citizen for his speech, some courts find that to be a violation of the First Amendment. See Columbus Education Association v. Columbus Board of Education, 623 F.2d 1155 (6th Cir. 1980) (reprimand); Little v. N. Miami, 805 F.2d 962 (11th Cir. 1986) (censure resolution by city council); White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214 (9th Cir. 2000) (investigation by civil-rights officials over speech with a discriminatory viewpoint so clearly violated the First Amendment that the civil-rights officials were liable for damages under the First Amendment).

Quinn’s pressure comes in the wake of similar government assaults on Chick-fil-A by other politicians. As I noted in The Washington Examiner,

[Boston's] mayor said he would block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant there because its CEO opposes gay marriage. [He has since retreated from this position]

Similarly, an alderman in Chicago has said he will block a zoning permit needed for a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Chicago because of its CEO’s views.

Under the Supreme Court’s Umbehr decision, cities cannot punish firms or withhold even discretionary benefits like zoning permits over their speech. The Supreme Court long ago ruled that firms have free speech rights in its rulings in favor of Consolidated Edison and the First National Bank.

Chick-fil-A has faced unusually few discrimination claims of any kind for a restaurant chain. There is no evidence that Chick-fil-A discriminates against gay patrons, and it has restaurants in many cities than ban anti-gay discrimination.

Actually, Chick-fil-A’s case against Chicago is even stronger than the business whose free-speech rights were recognized in the Supreme Court’s Umbehr decision, which involved retaliation against a business for its speech through denial of government contracts. The First Amendment applies with even greater force when the speech restriction is imposed through regulatory decisions, like a zoning decision, rather than tied to a government contract. See, e.g., CarePartners, LLC v. Lashway, 545 F.3d 867, 872 (9th Cir. 2008). Withholding regulatory approval is even less permissible, since it doesn’t involve the government’s power of the purse.

Nor is there any civil-rights rationale for trying to banish Chick-fil-A, even assuming a city official could just ban a supposedly discriminatory restaurant chain without any due process. Chick-fil-A has had far fewer discrimination claims filed against it than most restaurant chains of its size, and I cannot find any reported case of it being sued for discrimination against gay customers, even though it operates in many cities that have ordinances banning sexual-orientation discrimination in employment and public accommodations.


British PM risks  backlash from Liberals as he gives in to Tory rebels and kills off plans to reform House of Lords

A major coalition row erupted last night after it emerged that David Cameron will kill off plans to reform the House of Lords within days.

Senior Liberal Democrats warned there would be ‘serious consequences’ if the Tories fail to deliver on the ‘non-negotiable’ coalition policy – a cherished plan of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Mr Cameron is expected to next week announce that plans for an elected second chamber have been abandoned after failing to persuade Tory backbenchers to support them.

The Liberal Democrats are now expected to retaliate by blocking constituency boundary changes, which had been expected to give the Tories a significant electoral boost. One party grandee even said the flagship NHS reforms should be wrecked in retaliation.

But senior Tory backbenchers said last night that the coalition would be ‘finished’ if this happened.

Earlier this year, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg outlined plans to reform the House of Lords by electing 80 per cent of peers and almost halving the total number of members to 450.

But more than 90 Conservatives rebelled against the government in a vote in July - the largest such act of defiance since the coalition was formed in 2010.

Mr Cameron told Tory MPs last month he would make ‘one more try’ to push Lords reform through in September when the Commons returned from its summer recess.  But he is understood to have concluded he was ‘flogging a dead horse’.

The Prime Minister wants to fill the gap in the Government’s legislative programme with plans to boost jobs and growth.

But the move is set to plunge the coalition into crisis with bitter recriminations flying between the parties.

Sources close to Mr Clegg warned that the Liberal Democrats could not be ‘bought off’ with concessions such as political party reform or more support for green energy.
The House of Lords Reform Bill 2012

The source said: ‘We have made our position clear the whole way along. A deal is a deal and there will be consequences if that deal is not delivered.’

Dr Evan Harris, a Vice of Chair of the Party’s powerful Federal Policy Committee, said that the Liberal Democrats should now withdraw support on a range of Tory policies.

He said: ‘If the Tories cannot deliver on a fundamental part of the coalition contract like Lord’s reform, then the fate of boundary changes is just a side show.

‘Liberal Democrats - in the event of the Conservatives failing to deliver basic coalition policies - should start looking again at things the Tories had in their manifesto and which - regardless of whether they are in the coalition programme - should now have support withdrawn.

‘There is no reason why secondary legislation necessary to implement aspects of Bills already passed - such as the Health Bill - should not now be blocked.’

Mr Clegg is understood to have been enraged that the Liberal Democrats have kept their side by backing deeply unpopular measures such as NHS reforms, tuition fees and welfare reforms.

It would be the latest humiliation for the Deputy Prime Minister who last year suffered defeat in the AV referendum - another of his keystone policies.

Senior Lib Dem figures have publicly warned they would block constituency boundary changes wanted by the Tories if Lords reform was abandoned.

While the issue is not directly linked to Lords reform in the Coalition agreement, senior Lib Dems have made clear that they see it as part of the same ‘contract’

Lib Dem Party President Tim Farron said in April: ‘The Conservatives need to remember that if they don’t keep their part of the bargain then, of course, boundary change should not happen.’

But Tory backbenchers counter that boundary reform was always linked to the AV referendum which was delivered last year.

The boundary review is being carried out as part of proposals to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 but is expected to benefit the Conservatives.

Some experts believe the new-look map could give the party an additional 20 seats at the next general election and put several senior Lib Dems at risk.

Tory MP Stewart Jackson, who joined the rebellion over House of Lords reform, warned that the coalition would be ‘finished’ if the Liberal Democrats voted down boundary changes.

He said: ‘It would be unconscionable for David Cameron to give ground to the Liberal Democrats on boundary changes. Tory MPs voted on a three line whip for the AV referendum that could have put us out of power. We were prepared to do that on the that basis that we got boundary changes.

‘If the Liberal Democrats vote against this, it would be an egregious breach of faith. Boundary changes are non-negotiable.

‘The coalition is not over yet. But if the Liberal Democrats vote against boundary changes, the coalition will be finished and David Cameron’s own position will be much weakened.’

But David Hall-Matthews, chair of the Social Liberal Forum, said it was ‘inevitable’ that the Liberal Democrats would now try to kill off boundary changes.

He said: ‘They are part of the same package. You can’t have one without the other. This reflects very badly on David Cameron’s leadership and shows he cannot control his own party.’

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: ‘Nick Clegg marched his MPs through the voting lobbies in support of the harsh and unfair policies of this Tory-led Government in anticipation of receiving Lords reform in return. But now Nick Clegg may end up with nothing, ruthlessly exposing his naivety.’

Electoral Reform Society chief executive Katie Ghose said: ‘This reform is vital for Britain to hold its head up as a modern democracy but it is being sabotaged by MPs who think it will work against their own interests.’

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘Discussions on Lords reform are ongoing and we will make an announcement when they are completed.’


Almost half of those held in Britain's 2011 riots have been re-arrested for crimes including rape, threats to kill and robbery

Which shows how little of a deterrent Britain's prisons are
Days before the anniversary of the disorder, official figures show that 44 per cent of riot suspects have been arrested on suspicion of committing fresh offences within the last 12 months.

The statistics, released under the Freedom of Information Act, have raised serious questions over the penalties handed out to offenders.

More than half of those locked up over the riots are already free and thousands more have evaded justice. Police in Nottingham made 143 arrests following the disorder in August last year. Of these, 86 were charged.

But in the last 12 months, 72 suspects – half of those arrested – have been held again for crimes including rape, arson, robbery, threats to kill and breaching bail or parole conditions.
The force said some of these offenders had been arrested for multiple crimes since their release.

They are accused of carrying out 20 thefts and robberies, two rapes, nine assaults, 16 drugs offences and 14 of them have skipped bail, gone on the run or failed to comply with community orders, said Avon and Somerset Police.

It appears almost half of the rioters got a taste for breaking the law and have gone on to further break the law

A similar pattern has emerged outside the major cities, despite the much lower numbers of rioters involved. Gloucestershire Police made 40 arrests and prosecuted 19 offenders.

One in six of those arrested are alleged to have carried out subsequent robberies, burglaries, grievous bodily harm, criminal damage and public order offences. In Cheshire, 110 of the 250 people arrested over the riots have faced further police action.

 But the true number of rioters who have committed other crimes could be even higher.  Some of the largest police forces, such as the Metropolitan Police, have been unable to calculate the proportion of reoffending due to the sheer number of cases it had to deal with.

Yesterday, Dr David Green, of think-tank Civitas, said: ‘This is a reaffirmation that nothing has changed after the rhetoric.  ‘I think the picture is that a lot of people who were arrested and charged and found guilty were already serious criminals.  ‘This is a reminder that in this country we do not punish our career criminals properly.

‘They are allowed to go in and out of jail and this just reaffirms that we are continuing the same bad practice. If you punish them lightly you will get more crime.’

The figures come days before the anniversary of the riots, which started in London on August 6 last year and quickly spread around the country over four days of violence and looting. Official figures show that 1,968 people were sentenced for their involvement in the riots.

As of last month, 1,292 of them had been jailed but some 700 – including burglars, thieves and violent thugs – have already been released.

And 676 were let off with community punishments, suspended sentences, fines or saw their crimes ‘discharged’ by the courts.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Nearly 1,300 people were sentenced to immediate custody with an average prison term of more than 16 months each and a high number receiving far longer sentences.  ‘If people go on to commit further offences their previous crimes will be taken into account, and they could find themselves facing even longer prison sentences.’


Australia: Law protects early-term fetus, judge says

A JUDGE has rejected a man's last-ditch attempt to have his trial for killing an unborn baby thrown out, ruling the legislation was wide enough to protect the early-term fetus.  The man was accused of causing a miscarriage after he assaulted his wife, who was 15 to 18 weeks pregnant.

He pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court in Cairns last month to killing an unborn child in December 2004 at Saibai Island in the Torres Strait.

The man was acquitted at the end of the trial, but not before his lawyer tried to have the charge thrown out after the crown closed its case.

His lawyer argued there was no case to answer as the fetus was not a child within the meaning of the law because it was too young to survive outside its mother's womb.

Justice Jim Henry rejected the argument and published his reasons for doing so on Thursday.  Justice Henry found the law did not qualify the age of unborn children covered under the piece of legislation used to prosecute the charge.

He acknowledged the matter attracted significant philosophical debate but said that had no relevance to the interpretation of this section of law.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


5 August, 2012

Of Free Speech and Chick-Fil-A

Dan Cathy could have saved his company, Chick-Fil-A, a lot of trouble. All he had to do was keep his views about family to himself.

Instead, he answered a question honestly. In a recent media interview, the company’s president and COO said what he believes and why he believes it. But his politically incorrect views are intolerable, judging from the anger of many on the left, including several big-city officials who are dead-set against his views.

In the interview, Cathy said he is “very much supportive of the family, the biblical definition of the family unit.” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel took exception: “What the COO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe. But more importantly, it’s not what the people of the city of Chicago believe.”

Now, spirited debates about controversial topics are an American tradition. But it didn’t stop there. The politicians began threatening to block Chick-Fil-A’s plans to expand in their cities.

In a letter to Chick-Fil-A, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote: “I was angry to learn, on the heels of your prejudiced statements, about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail, and no place for your company alongside it.”

Joe Moreno, a Chicago alderman, told Chick-Fil-A to forget about its plans to build a second store in the Windy City: “I’m not gonna sit on the sidelines and allow them to come in when I know in my heart that they believe in discriminating against gay people.”

In Philadelphia, meanwhile, city councilman James Kenney told Dan Cathy to “take a hike and take your intolerance with you.” He also said he plans to introduce a resolution condemning Chick-Fil-A at the next council meeting.

At this point, we’ve moved well beyond debate. It’s a free-speech issue now.

These officials did not merely express an opposite point of view. They threatened to use their political power to punish a man, and those who work for him, for saying something they disagree with. The message this sent is crystal-clear -- and chilling: Conform to the “accepted” view, or else.

Emmanuel and company spoke in breathless tones about how offensive Cathy’s beliefs are. Yet what could be more offensive than what they’re trying to do? What could be more, yes, discriminatory than using the power of the state to punish private viewpoints under the guise of standing up against “discrimination”?

“You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population,” Menino said. But the company does no such thing. Chick-Fil-A hires employees and serves customers without regard to sexual orientation. The head of the company simply expressed his privately held view on the issue of family.

And it’s not just talk. The Cathy family has been a model of corporate responsibility, helping tackle social problems and strengthen civil society. For years, they’ve taken concrete steps to strengthen families through the programs of its WinShape Foundation. Founded in 1984 by S. Truett Cathy, WinShape supports college scholarships, foster care and international ministries. It works hard to strengthen marriage, offering counseling and help for couples in crisis, saving marriages that had been on the brink of divorce.

WinShape also works with other like-minded groups that seek to strengthen marriage in America. “It’s the kind of work that will take decades -- even generations,” writes Jennifer Marshall, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation. “And it’s not the stuff of headlines, which is why many Americans probably have no idea this critical effort is under way.”

What does make the headlines? False and outrageous charges of discrimination from opportunistic politicians with little respect for free-speech rights.

“We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles,” Cathy added in the interview that led to the controversy.

After hearing the way he’s been treated since then, you have to wonder: Do we, in fact, live in such a country anymore?


Faith triumphant

So you thought God didn't have a sense of humor? You had to listen closely before NBC flipped its coverage at the mere mention of the G-word, but the moment was unforgettable - beautiful young Gabby Douglas acknowledging her faith in her moment of triumph. Her job, she said quietly while acknowledging her Gold Medal, was giving God praise while His blessings flowed down on her. That inner confidence had been characteristic throughout her Olympic performances, a faith that steadied her while the other billion of us held our collective breaths as she negotiated the balance beam.

One look at her Momma in the stands, wiping away the tears, and you knew where the strength of that heroic single parent had come from and how diligently she passed it on to her daughter. If you knew what to look for, then you understood instinctively that young Gabby had learned those priceless lessons on her mother's knees. To paraphrase Proverbs, train up a child in the way she should go; and when she is old, she will remember - even on the uneven parallel bars. Of course, you can argue with every bit of that, which simply makes faith even stronger.

And maybe, in times like these, all the more necessary. The ancient Greeks traditionally observed a truce during the Games, wondering how long afterwards the full range of human conflict might be postponed. Now the countdowns include the ongoing tragedy of Syria as well as the gathering of forces - diplomatic, military and naval - in and around the Persian Gulf, a confrontation that has built steadily for a generation. The resulting bonfire of those ambiguities might conceivably include the side-lobes of terrorism, cyber-war and energy sabotage aimed directly at an already shaky economy, from Europe to points west. But especially with summer's end already approaching, we instinctively prefer to turn our eyes from such unpleasantness, much less an election barely a hundred days distant.

Trouble is, those nasty questions about values just don't fade away, no matter how hard we try. Just look around! Now you can't even dig into a sandwich with waffle fries and a lemonade down at Chick-fil-A without somehow taking a position on gay marriage - all because the president of that company voiced his personal opinion favoring family values. Now the last time anyone checked, hatred or intolerance were not included among Christian values and, to its credit, Chick-fil-A is scrupulously fair both to its employees and its customers. Basically, you only have to be hungry and have five bucks handy to get a tasty meal served by neatly pressed young people who seem genuinely glad to see you.

However, the combination of faith with uncompromising behavioral standards is something so out of phase with the moral relativism of modern life that it just drives people crazy, particularly politicians who instinctively split every difference. Before his staff could talk some sense into him, the mayor of Boston was even talking about denying business permits to Chick-fil-A, as though he had never heard of John Adams, American history or CON Law 101.

Stupid and even bigoted but don't feel so smug until after asking yourself how you really feel about Mitt Romney's Mormonism. Just yesterday, Jeremy Mayer argued in Jewish World Review that Romney's best pick for a Vice Presidential candidate might be Congressman Eric Cantor: a brilliant budget hawk, a Virginian and best of all, Jewish. But the real reason: to shore up a conservative Christian base deeply suspicious of Mormons. "The truth is, conservative Christians are currently gaga for conservative Jews. The most fundamentalist Christians see strong support for Jewish Israel as a Biblical pact that America must uphold."

It's all just a little bit nuts-making - combining prejudices as off-setting antibodies - especially if you thought those questions had been asked and answered way back in 1960 with the election of Catholic John Kennedy. The answer might be that every generation has to make its own discoveries - or re-discoveries given the state of American education on many subjects including history. It is almost eerie how those breakthroughs occur during our most difficult times when, as Lincoln said, we must look to the better angels of our nature.

So maybe that is the gift that Gabby Douglas gave us during that summer evening of the Olympic Games, a timely reminder evident in her smile, her character and in her simple but profound faith. In the end, those simple things sustain us most in the hardest of times: family, courage and, most startling of all, that a belief in God might just be the most transcendent of all human experiences.


Single-parent families so common in today's Britain that couples are now a minority

There are close to 2million single-parent families in the UK and we have the highest proportion of children brought up in one-parent families of any major European country.

The seven areas where single-parent families are the majority are in the urban hearts of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.  In one constituency, Lewisham Deptford, 58 per cent of households with children are headed by lone parents.

At the other end of the spectrum, in the rural district of South Northamptonshire just one in every 20 family units is headed by a single parent.

The figures, from a Freedom of Information request to the Office for National Statistics, were greeted with concern yesterday.

Jill Kirby, a social policy expert and former director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: ‘Children need input from both parents in order to thrive.

‘Research shows children growing up in fatherless homes are much less likely to do well at school and are at twice the risk of getting into problems with drink or drugs, or involved in crime. The UK welfare system has been partly to blame, by providing a substitute breadwinner rather than encouraging parents to stick together.’

Two years ago a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents industrialised nations, exposed Britain’s shocking record on broken homes.

It found we have more children living in one-parent families than any other European country and more of our single mothers are unemployed and on benefit than anywhere else on the Continent.

The study revealed 23 per cent of British children up to the age of 14 live in single-parent families, behind the US on 26 per cent. And 48 per cent of single mothers in Britain are unemployed, the highest rate in the OECD apart from Turkey.

The Parliamentary constituency with the highest proportion of lone-parent families is Lewisham Deptford in South East London, which includes such places as New Cross, Brockley and Honor Oak.

There are around 8,000 lone-parent families in the seat – represented by hard-left Labour MP Joan Ruddock – making up 58 per cent of the total.

Next comes Lewisham East and Liverpool Riverside, both on 56 per cent. Manchester Central and Vauxhall are on 54 per cent, while Birmingham Ladywood and Leeds Central are on 53 per cent.

The area where children are most likely to live with two parents is South Northamptonshire, which covers small towns such as Brackley and Towcester.

Just 5 per cent of families in the seat, represented by the Tory Andrea Leadsom, are headed by a lone parent. North East Hampshire and Wycombe are next on 7 per cent, while Devizes and South Norfolk are on 8 per cent.


Unwanted mosques in Australia:


A MUSLIM prayer room in use in a house in South Hurstville for more than 20 years is facing closure because neighbours have complained about parking and noise. But Anthony Mundine, the former footballer and world boxing champion who used the prayer room, believes the problem is prejudice, not parking.

Mr Mundine's mother, Lyn, lives next door to the home he considers his local mosque, which belongs to the El Maneh family. He stays at his mother's when he is in training for fights and lives at nearby Blakehurst. He said the street was big and wide, and every house had off-street parking, so was "baffled" by the objections. "I think it is just an excuse to shut the mosque down".

Mr Mundine said Muslims have "the worst rap on a Western scale than anybody. All that is shown is negativity; all that is shown is terrorism. I am sure if there was a church there, there would not be any petitions".

Alex Psarras, one of those who complained to Kogarah Council about the prayer room, has lived next door for 35 years. He said the El Maneh family were "very, very good neighbours" and it was nothing personal, but he was concerned the number of people attending was growing.

Kogarah Council's director of planning and environmental services, Rod Logan, said the council cautioned against further use of the site for public worship after temporary consent lapsed in March. A new development application has been lodged but will not be determined until after council elections in September, Mr Logan said.

The earlier consent restricted the number of attendees to 40. Prayer times were confined to 90 minutes at Friday lunchtimes and an hour each night during Ramadan.

Mr Logan said the council had received petitions with 16 households for and 23 against the application, but this was not reliable because many signatures appeared both for and against.

Amin Nasser of Hurstville, representing the El Maneh family, said he had never counted more than 46 people attending at a time, and all were local residents or employees. He said the family was content to accept the earlier restrictions permanently. He said they didn't want any trouble.

Mr Mundine said the closure of the prayer room made it more difficult for him to practise his faith. But it was worse for the elderly who "relied on this mosque and can't get to other mosques". There were typically 50 to 80 people at the prayer sessions he had attended, Mr Mundine said.



A controversial anti-mosque flyer distributed in Gungahlin has probably not breached the ACT’s Discrimination Act, but has prompted the Human Rights Commissioner to again call for stronger anti-discrimination laws in the territory in a report on the matter released today.

The flyer, distributed in Gungahlin by a group calling themselves the Concerned Citizens of Canberra, urged residents to oppose the construction of a mosque on The Valley Avenue because of its "social impact" on the "Australian neighbours" in the northern Canberra region.

The flyer also raised concerns about traffic and noise, "public interest" and the proposed size of the development.

ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner Dr Helen Watchirs, who was asked to investigate concerns the flyer constituted racist material, released her advice on the matter today.

Dr Watchirs said that while the flyer was "undoubtedly offensive", the ACT’s current discrimination laws had too high a test for racial vilification for the flyer to be considered in breach of the Discrimination Act.

"It is unlikely that the flyer regarding a proposed  development of a Mosque circulated in Gungahlin would breach s.66 of the ACT Discrimination Act because it is entirely concerned with religious issues, rather than race. It is also unclear if the flyer would satisfy the high test for vilification in the Discrimination Act, which has an ‘incitement’ requirement," the advice said.

However, Dr Watchirs said complainants would likely have more success under Federal discrimination laws.

"An ACT complainant of the Muslim faith who received this flyer may have more success in the Federal jurisdiction, with the advantage of a lower threshold to establish racial hatred, as well as relying on the Explanatory Statement which explicitly envisages that Muslim people represent a racial group."

In the advice, Dr Watchirs pointed towards a review of the ACT's current discrimination laws, and recommended the Act be reformed to include better provisions for discrimination against religious groups.

"I would recommend that the ground of religious conviction be added to the current vilification protection in the Discrimination Act as a matter of priority, given the increasing incidents of this kind being reported in the media."



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


3 August, 2012

The Rise of the Intolerance Brigade

When you accuse Leftists of intolerance they say.  "I'm not intolerant.  The only thing I won't tolerate is intolerance".  An easy reply to that is:  "Well, I shouldn't tolerate you, then, since you are intolerant of Christians" (or whatever group the Leftist  is being intolerant about)  -- JR

In recent days, the extreme intolerance, bigotry, and exclusivity of some gay activists and their straight allies has been on prominent display in their attacks against Chick-fil-A. What makes this all the more ironic, not to mention Orwellian, is that their campaign is being carried out in the name of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity. As expressed by jurist Marvin Frankel (in his book Faith and Freedom: Religious Liberty in America), “The powerless call out for tolerance. Achieving power, they may soon forget.”

Today, words like “diversity” and “inclusion,” which have been on the lips of gay activists for years, have taken on an ominous tone that would make Orwell proud.

Since March, students at New York University have been circulating a petition calling for Chick-fil-A to be removed from their campus for “human rights violations” (I kid you not). In classic doublespeak, the petition states that the fast food company doesn’t belong there because “NYU prides itself on being a diverse, open and inclusive campus community. . . . Unfortunately, maintaining a contract with an anti-gay vendor like Chick-fil-A undermines what makes this university so great.” So, Chick-fil-A should be banned because NYU “prides itself on being a diverse, open and inclusive campus community.”

In the same vein, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, stated, “As the country moves toward inclusion, Chick-fil-A has staked out a decidedly stuck-in-the-past mentality.” He further stated, apparently with a straight face, that “fair-minded consumers” can now “make up their own minds whether they want to support an openly discriminatory company.” It appears, then, that Griffin’s version of an “inclusive” America means that it’s either the gay way or the highway.

But it gets worse. In the now infamous words of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population.”

It appears, however, that you can have a mayor in the city of Boston who discriminates against a population (namely, the scores of millions of Americans who do not want to redefine marriage) and against a business (namely Chick-fil-A, an exemplary company that has broken no laws, including laws of discrimination).

Mayor Menino continued (and with Orwellian eloquence at that), “We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” a stunning example of unintended irony if ever there was one.

In a similar example of unconscious doublespeak, New York City council speaker Christine Quinn, herself in a same-sex “marriage,” explained why she too wanted Chick-fil-A kicked off the NYU campus: “We are a city that believes our diversity is our greatest strength and we will fight anything and anyone that runs counter to that.”

That’s right, Chick-fil-A. We are so diverse that we will run you out of our city. And we are so open and inclusive that we have no room for a business like yours.

Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno also attributed his attack on Chick-fil-A to “diversity,” explaining to ABCNews.com that his district is “a very diverse ward--economically, racially, and diverse in sexual orientation” – but not so diverse that it can welcome a Christian-based company. (The comments of the magnanimous mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel, require little commentary: “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents.” Perhaps he should have added, “No disrespect intended to my fellow neighbors and residents who oppose same-sex ‘marriage,’ and certainly, no disrespect intended to Minister Farrakhan, whose business is always welcome in our city.”)

Not to be left out in this remarkable display of tolerance, equality, and diversity, the Philadelphia City Council was considering “a resolution condemning Chick-fil-A for what one city leader called ‘anti-American’ attitudes that promote ‘hatred, bigotry and discrimination.’ City Councilman Jim Kenney sent a letter to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy telling him to ‘take a hike and take your intolerance with you.’” (I am not making this up.)

Does Councilman Kenney not realize that he should be directing his statement to the face looking at him in the mirror? (To repeat: “take a hike and take your intolerance with you.”) Does the Philadelphia City Council not recognize that 31 states have so far voted to uphold marriage as the union of one man and woman? Are all these states, most recently North Carolina, with an overwhelming vote of 61-39%, “anti-American”? And isn’t it the Philadelphia City Council resolution that is actually an example of “hatred, bigotry and discrimination”? Yes, Chick-fil-A, we will discriminate against you because we oppose discrimination.

Already in 1994, Camille Paglia wrote in her book Vamps and Tramps, “One reason I so dislike recent gay activism is that my self-identification as a lesbian preceded Stonewall: I was the only openly gay person at the Yale Graduate School (1968-72), a candor that was professionally costly. That anyone with my aggressive and scandalous history could be called ‘homophobic,’ as has repeatedly been done, shows just how insanely Stalinist gay activism has become.” And Orwellian too.

So be on guard: The intolerance brigade is coming for you.


The San Francisco view:  Free speech for Leftists only

"When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."

Those words, penned by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, were core to the court's 5-4 Citizens United ruling in 2010, which overturned the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. That decision set off a firestorm in liberal land.

As the storm raged this year, the California Legislature passed a resolution calling on Congress and states to ratify a constitutional amendment to overturn the big bench decision. Five other states have passed similar measures.

This week, San Francisco joined in by placing an anti-Citizens United advisory measure on the city ballot.

It is instructive to note that though Citizens United ended restrictions on independent political spending by corporations and labor unions, the San Francisco and California measures seek to curb only corporate speech. No mention of labor.

The San Francisco measure, authored by Supervisor John Avalos, declares it city policy to repeal "corporate personhood" and "opposes artificial corporate rights and giving corporations the same rights entitled to human beings." (By the way, corporations don't have the same rights as people; they can't vote, and they can't run for office.)

Speaking to the board before it unanimously passed the measure Tuesday, Avalos explained that the ruling allowed independent expenditure campaigns to air "commercials that can say just about anything on our televisions about candidates and about issues."

That's right, supervisor; it's called free speech.

When speech is inaccurate, the proper response is not to try to ban it but to argue against it -- that is, to trust voters to decide for themselves.

Campaign finance attorney Allison Hayward is appalled that California's progressive movement, which allegedly is premised on pushing back against power, has chosen to oppose a court decision that is "the most simplistic extension of free speech." As she sees it, "the whole notion of liberty as expression has just blown up."

Be it noted that political organizations qualify as corporations under the ruling. As the American Civil Liberties Union likes to point out, Citizens United applies not only to General Motors and Microsoft but also to nonprofit corporations, such as Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association.

"Our system of free expression is built on the premise that the people get to decide what speech they want to hear," an ACLU paper argued in March. "It is not the role of the government to make that decision for them."

The worst part: Once again, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is oblivious to its tendency to censor unwanted opinion. Sure, the supes love free speech -- right up until they realize that moderates or conservatives also get to use it.


How Times Have Changed

 Walter E. Williams

Having been born in 1936 has allowed me to witness both societal progress and retrogression. High on the list of things made better in our society are the great gains in civil liberties and economic opportunities, especially for racial minorities and women. People who are now deemed poor have a level of material wealth that would have been a pipe dream to yesteryear's poor. But despite the fact that today's Americans have achieved an unprecedented level of prosperity, we have become spiritually and morally impoverished compared with our ancestors.

Years ago, spending beyond one's means was considered a character defect. Today not only do people spend beyond their means but also there are companies that advertise on radio and TV to eliminate or reduce your credit card and mortgage debt. Students saddled with college loans have called for student loan forgiveness. Yesterday's Americans would have viewed it as morally corrupt and reprehensible to accumulate debt and then seek to avoid paying it. It's nothing less than theft. What's worse is there's little condemnation of it by the rest of us.

Earlier this year, as a result of a budget crunch, the Philadelphia School District had to lay off 91 school police officers. During the 1940s and '50s, I attended Philadelphia schools in poor neighborhoods. The only time we saw a policeman in school was during an assembly period when we had to listen to a boring lecture about safety. Because teacher assaults are tolerated -- 4,000 over the past five years in Philadelphia -- school police are needed. Prior to the '60s, few students would have thought of talking back to a teacher, and no one would have cursed, much less assaulted, a teacher.

I couldn't have been more than 8, 9 or 10 years old when one time, on the way home from school, my cousin and I were having a stone fight with some other youngsters. An elderly black lady walked up to my cousin and me and asked, "Does your mother know you're out here throwing stones?" We replied, "No, ma'am," praying that the matter rested there. Today an adult doing the same thing risks being cursed and possibly assaulted. Fearing retaliation, adults sit in silence as young people use vile language to one another on public conveyances, in school corridors and on the streets.

Yesteryear there was little tolerance for the kinds of crude behavior and language that are accepted today. To see a man sitting on a bus or trolley car while a woman is standing used to be unthinkable. Children didn't address adults by their first name. By the way, over the course of my nearly 45 years of teaching, on several occasions, students have addressed me by my first name. I have told them that I don't mind their addressing me by my first name but that my first name is Professor.

Much of what's accepted today would have been seen as bizarre and lowdown yesteryear. Out-of-wedlock childbirth was a disgrace and surely wouldn't have occasioned a baby shower. Popular TV shows such as "The Jerry Springer Show" and "Maury" feature guests who openly discuss despicable acts in their personal lives, often to the applause of the audience. Shame is going the way of the dinosaur.

You say, "Williams, you're just old-fashioned and out of touch with modern society." Maybe so, but I think that a society's first line of defense is not the law but customs, traditions and moral values. These behavioral norms -- transmitted by example, word of mouth, religious teachings, rules of etiquette and manners -- represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. They include important legal thou-shalt-nots -- such as shalt not murder, steal, lie or cheat -- but they also include all those civilities one might call ladylike or gentlemanly behavior. Police officers and courts can never replace these social restraints on personal conduct. At best, laws, police and the criminal justice system are a society's last desperate line of defense.


This trend for older parents is, I fear, creating unhappy, stressed and spoiled children

When my first child was born, I was young and, like most of my friends who were also having families in their early 20s, I took having children in my stride.

My husband and I achieved this by taking no more notice of them than we could possibly help.

This sounds flippant, but I mean it relatively — compared with the mollycoddling and indulgence that passes for parenting these days.

My two sons, Will and Tom, went to bed when they were sent and did not sneak downstairs during the night because they did not dare.

They ate what was put in front of them — or didn’t, as the case may have been — and weren’t allowed to interrupt adult conversations.

We, the adults, came first — which meant no school runs or endless ferrying them around to ballet, music, sport or sleepovers like modern parents.

I went to only one school sports day and vowed I would never waste time going to another to watch my children come last in the egg-and-spoon race.

Tiger mothers we most emphatically were not. Our child-rearing methods may have been a leftover from the days when children were supposed to be seen and not heard, but at least this approach ensured we parents had time for ourselves.

Back then, the children fitted round us rather than the other way round.

How different things are today, when 34 — not 24, the age I was when I had my first — is the average age for an educated woman to start thinking about having a family.

Recent news that the singer Adele is pregnant at the age of 24 caused astonished gasps from many quarters. Why should a talented woman with the world at her feet want to have a baby so young, people asked? Isn’t there plenty of time later for that sort of thing?

Yet in my day, a pregnancy at 24 would not have provoked a single raised eyebrow because that was the standard age for a professional woman to start a family.

It seems that even the Royal Family is following the trend towards later parenthood. The Queen was 22 when Prince Charles was born and Princess Diana only 20 when she had William. Kate and Wills, both 30, seem in no hurry as yet to produce the next scion of the Windsors.

'In many ways, it may seem sensible to wait until careers, finances and homes have been properly established before bringing babies into the world.'

The Queen’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips, and her husband Mike Tindall, aged 31 and 33, have stated that they still have much work to do in their sporting careers before they think about a family.

Clearly, having children is not the urgent priority it once was. Today’s young women want to live independently and have fun, making inroads in their careers and savouring their freedom before taking on the onerous responsibilities of motherhood.

In many ways, it may seem sensible to wait until careers, finances and homes have been properly established before bringing babies into the world.

But I think, broadly speaking, that the older the mother, the less discipline she employs. The move towards later parenting is causing a disturbing new trend which has come to be known as over-parenting, or helicopter parenting. Helicopter parents hover constantly over their children, scrutinising their every move, chauffeuring them everywhere and indulging their every whim.

These parents allow their children to choose their own bedtimes and their own menus at mealtimes, all the time complaining that they are permanently deprived of sleep. Well of course they are if their small children are allowed, even encouraged, to stay up late and then race around and bounce on their parents’ bed at 5am.

I blush to relate now that my husband and I used to lock our bedroom door so that the children couldn’t come in. It sounds outrageous, perhaps, but it worked: they soon got the message that they were not welcome in our room. Selfish, maybe, but at least we got some sleep.

For older parents, it seems that everything revolves around the children in the most intense of ways — something which does not happen with younger, more laid-back parents.

As I observe it, these older mothers and fathers run themselves ragged and become exhausted and unhappy trying to be perfect parents, when any sensible person knows there is no such thing.

Indeed, so worrying and widespread has  over-parenting become that a conference on  the subject was held recently in Sydney, Australia.

My son, Tom, was one of the speakers because he’s written a book called The Idle Parent. Addressing the conference, he urged today’s parents to put down their car keys, say ‘no’ to Saturday morning sport, sleep in and let the children entertain themselves.

'A perfect illustration of over-parenting is the ‘baby blog’, a ghastly new trend where every tiny milestone in a child’s life is  recorded and posted on a specially produced website.'

He also paid us, his own parents, a rare compliment, when he said: ‘I think my parents did it well. They were so busy with their jobs that my brother and myself were ignored.’ He is referring to the fact my husband and I both worked long hours  as journalists.

Yet Tom, 44, and Will, 42, the offspring of what would now be perceived as young, irresponsible parents, became helicopter parents themselves, along with all their friends and contemporaries.

They say they were having too much fun in their 20s to want to become parents, and when they eventually succumbed as thirtysomethings, were concerned about not doing a good enough job.

Tom is now addressing this, and feels that today’s older parents do too much for their children. By their constant hovering, modern parents are in danger of stifling their children’s freedom, creativity and independence, turning them into unhappy, stressed and spoilt individuals.

A perfect illustration of over-parenting is the ‘baby blog’, a ghastly new trend where every tiny milestone in a child’s life is  recorded and posted on a specially produced website.

As well as everything else, they are on permanent alert, terrified that they might fail to record a new tooth or a first attempt to crawl.

Of course, we all took photographs of our babies and children, but we didn’t obsess over every mouthful they ate and whatever came out at the other end.

Yet today even the food a child eats is faithfully photographed, as are messy hands and mouths. These parents even post pictures of their young children performing on the potty — images which will probably cause acute embarrassment in  years to come.

It seems having waited so long to start a family, modern parents behave as though they are the first people in the world to give birth.

There is another worrying aspect to all this. Today’s young women have become so used to having everything their way that they are unprepared for babies in their lives.  So they start to panic, and then compensate by over-parenting.

My goddaughter, Charlotte, is a case in point.  A clever and beautiful woman, she has a first from Cambridge in modern languages. Armed with her language skills, she embarked on a highly successful and well-paid international business career which she adored.

Charlotte married an equally successful, very nice man, and they bought a lovely house together which they kept in immaculate condition. As time went on, only one thing was missing from their perfect lives: a baby.

So, two months ago, aged 33, Charlotte had her first child — and has been in a state of terror ever since. ‘I haven’t a clue what I’m supposed to be doing,’ she told me, voicing a fear that will strike a chord with many career women.

Some older mothers have written hand-wringing books about the shock of motherhood, asking:  ‘Why did nobody tell us what it would be like?’

The answer is that we tried to but you didn’t listen; you were not remotely interested.

Maternity nurse Celia Williams, most of whose clients tend to be successful career women in their 30s, says: ‘These women have probably never picked up a baby before in their lives and have never taken the slightest interest in babies.

‘They’ve been so used to everything going smoothly and successfully that they are completely unprepared for the endless demands of this helpless little person they have produced. That makes them resentful and miserable, as well as terrified.

‘I’ve even had new mothers complaining that because of the baby, they can’t go to the theatre or out to dinner. They are totally shocked at the upheaval and re-adjustment required after many years of professional life.’

Older parents are hit hard by the reality of bringing up children in a way that simply doesn’t happen when you are younger.

When you are a young parent, there hasn’t usually been the  time to become a high-earner, to establish a beautiful home or an exciting social life. You’ve never had these things, so you don’t miss or yearn for them.

Because our generation hadn’t known years of hedonism and pleasing ourselves, we buckled down to parenthood more easily.

Yes, we were probably more selfish, and possibly took less interest in our children than today’s parents, but a little bit of healthy neglect is not always a bad thing as it often leads to discipline and structure.

The other bonus of early parenthood is that when your children reach adulthood, you  are still young and vigorous  enough to truly enjoy your new-found freedom.

So perhaps Adele has the right idea after all. Maybe she heralds a new trend and younger parenthood will become fashionable again.

Given that she has the resilience and energy of youth on her side, I doubt that her having a baby will cause even a blip in her phenomenally successful music career.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


2 August, 2012

Twitter Tyranny in Britain

It was hailed as a medium for speaking your mind. Yet now we're seeing draconian censorship of free speech, with people being arrested for sending insults

We appear to be in the middle of a raging freedom of speech firestorm — and no one seems to have a clue what to do about it.

In the past few days, there has been a series of examples of offensive comments posted on the internet that upset other people — and then the writers found the world falling in on them.

The most recent example involves the Olympic diver Tom Daley.  After failing to win a medal on Monday, someone sent him a vile tweet saying: ‘You let your dad down i hope you know that’ [sic]. Daley’s father, who his son described as his ‘inspiration’, died last year from brain cancer.

After complaints to the police, a 17-year-old boy suspected of being responsible was arrested by the Dorset constabulary and later bailed.

It was subsequently revealed that, after Daley had tweeted his own disgusted response to the comment, the original tweeter was targeted by tens of thousands of Twitter users, who turned on him in fury with crude abuse and threats.

It then transpired that the tweeter had also posted that he wanted to ‘drown’ Daley and went on to tweet more threats, obscenities and abuse.

It is not clear if the alleged tweeter was arrested for that disgusting taunt about Daley’s father or for his other threats. But regardless of the specifics of this case, it raises wider and deeper concerns about freedom of speech. The boy was arrested under the Malicious Communications Act 1988. Did you know we had such an Act? No, neither did I. Nor did I have any idea that its provisions are so wide.

For this law makes it an offence to send an electronic communication that conveys a grossly offensive message intended to cause distress or anxiety.

Well, as a newspaper columnist, I get those kind of messages all the time from people whose purpose is undoubtedly to cause me distress or anxiety. So do many others in the public eye.

So should all these senders be prosecuted? Of course not; that would be as unenforceable as it would be draconian. So on what basis should anyone be prosecuted?  Is it not alarming to have such a law that is as potentially invidious as it is oppressive?

Undoubtedly, being the target of such messages is a truly horrible experience.

Not surprisingly, Olympic athlete Jessica Ennis has said she is switching off Twitter for two weeks during the Games because she didn’t want such distraction, whether good or bad.

But are such Twitter spats really a proper matter for the police? Even threats of violence posted on the net are often merely rhetorical outbursts from people too inarticulate to express anger any other way.

Indeed, death threats on Twitter are two a penny. For example, British boxer Paul Smith found himself subjected to such threats when he suggested on Twitter that Tom Daley’s tormenter deserved ‘a hiding’, adding: ‘But what’s he done to be arrested. It’s wrong.’

It’s not surprising that the police are complaining they are ‘having to make it up as they go along’ when it comes to policing the internet.

Meanwhile, Twitter has been on the back foot over suspending the account of a British journalist, Guy Adams, after he tweeted the corporate email address of Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, while criticising the American TV company for being ‘utter b******s’ for failing to air the opening ceremony live to viewers on the U.S west coast.

Twitter says the British writer broke its rule against publishing someone’s personal details. But Adams pointed out that Zenkel’s corporate email address was publicly available. Now Adams’s account has been reinstated.

In all this bedlam, one welcome voice of sanity has been heard from an English courtroom.

Just a few days ago, another Twitter user, Paul Chambers, was cleared of sending a menacing communication under the Communications Act.

Two years ago, unable to fly from his local airport in Yorkshire to Northern Ireland to see his girlfriend due to bad weather, he tweeted: ‘Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s*** together otherwise I am blowing the airport sky high!!’

His message caused no security alert; indeed, it was only five days later that the airport noticed it.

Overturning his conviction, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and two other judges ruled that this tweet, sent in frustration, was not intended to be menacing and was therefore not a criminal offence.

Lord Judge declared: ‘Satirical, or iconoclastic, or rude comment, the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, banter or humour, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it should, and no doubt will, continue at their customary level, quite undiminished by this legislation.’

Hallelujah! Common sense at last — at a time when Britain seems to have lost all sense of proportion, not to mention its marbles, over how to deal with insults.

For earlier this year, a student was jailed under the sinister Racially Aggravated Public Order Act for sending offensive tweets about Premier League footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a heart attack during a match.

His messages were undoubtedly appalling — but to jail someone for extreme bad manners is simply oppressive.

But then, certain issues have been elevated to a kind of religion. To express heretical thoughts is to invite the attention of a secular inquisition.

When the Tory MP Aidan Burley tweeted that the Olympic opening ceremony was ‘Leftie multicultural crap’, David Cameron denounced him as ‘idiotic’ and Burley was made to grovel.

In the Guardian, historian Tristram Hunt claimed that the criticism of that ceremony made by Burley and the ‘cultural right’ ‘speaks volumes about their incompatibility with modern Britain’.

So express the wrong opinion these days and you are no longer part of British society at all — and just for criticising the (undoubted) Left-wing bias of a theatrical show!

Even before Left-wing commentators started attacking Danny Boyle dissenters, the Twittersphere was denouncing them. The hapless Burley became an un-person on Twitter barely before the Olympic cauldron was even lit.

What on earth has happened to freedom of speech in Britain?

Of course, it has always been understood that the line should be drawn at real threats of violence or intimidation.

But insult should never be criminalised because it is highly subjective. All kinds of speech or writing are vile, insulting or offensive to someone or other.

The right response is to use freedom of speech to object — but not to make the giving of offence into a crime.

Nevertheless, there is a problem with social media.  By providing a platform for everyone, with none of the usual media gatekeepers to police it, social media has created an electronic mob. It has given a megaphone to every misfit with a grudge and social inadequate in the land.

One way of tackling that is for Twitter and other electronic outlets to require all users to post messages using their real names.

But while anarchy rages on the net, Britain is steadily shutting down dissent.

The Twittersphere has created the electronic equivalent of the Roman Colosseum, with millions of computer cursors poised to tweet the electronic thumbs down to destroy their victims’ reputation.

Social media is thus helping enforce the menacing codes of a society which, in the name of diversity and inclusiveness, arrests, suspends and even jails dissenters while the mob savagely tweets their social demise.


Playing Chicken with Freedom of Speech

Each day brings new evidence of the Left’s hatred for Christians and other traditionalists, but the smear campaign against Christian-owned Chick-fil-A sets a new low.

The Atlanta-based, 1,600-restaurant chain that’s famous for its misspelling-prone cows who urge consumers to “eat mor chikin,” is under a full-scale, fascistic assault, complete with obscene celebrity tweets and government bullying.

Acting more like Benito Mussolini than Paul Revere, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said he will block Chick-fil-A from opening a facility in his city. Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno said he will stop Chick-fil-A from building its second Chicago store. In Philadelphia, Councilman Jim Kenney sent a letter to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy advising his company to “take a hike and take your intolerance with you.” Meanwhile, the Jim Henson Company, owner of The Muppets, has canceled a deal to provide toys for Chick-fil-A kids’ meals. This is just the beginning.

What has the dastardly company done? Chick-fil-A’s management, while not political, is an unapologetic defender of traditional values. Like the Boy Scouts, the company has enraged progressives who are at war with Nature and Nature’s God.

This isn’t the first time Chick-fil-A has been singled out. In February 2011, homosexual activists launched an unsuccessful boycott when they found out that the company donated food to the Pennsylvania Family Institute’s marriage retreat. Seriously, it doesn’t take much to tick them off.

The current hysteria began after Dan Cathy, son of the chain’s founder, gave an interview that ran in the Baptist Press on July 16. Mr. Cathy noted that Chick-fil-A’s management is “based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us.” When asked about the company’s positions in support of marriage and family, Mr. Cathy went on to say, “Well, guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. …”

This was too juicy to ignore. CNN ran a July 19 religion blog post, “Chick-fil-A’s marriage stance causing a social storm.” Casually striking a match while pouring the gasoline, writer Brad Lendon wrote that “the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social media wildfire.”

It doesn’t matter that Mr. Cathy never brought up “gay marriage,” as noted by The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway. All Mr. Cathy did was defend the company’s stance that families are paramount and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

That’s what marriage laws do, too – they define the institution. It’s no accident that the media routinely describe marriage laws as “gay marriage bans,” as if marriage didn’t exist until recently, when it was invented solely to vex homosexuals. You think I’m joking? That’s what openly gay U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker essentially said in his bizarre ruling striking down

California’s voter-approved constitutional marriage amendment.
This madness has gone so far that simply defending marriage is enough to get you banned in Boston. There may be room, however, for a legal challenge, as UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh notes:

    “Denying a private business permits because of such speech by its owner is a blatant First Amendment violation. Even when it comes to government contracting — where the government is choosing how to spend government money — the government generally may not discriminate based on the contractor’s speech, see Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr (1996).”

Perhaps the ACLU will step forward to represent Chick-fil-A. Perhaps the Chicago River will freeze in August.

Comic and Green Party favorite Roseanne Barr joined the Chick-fil-A bashing on Wednesday, tweeting, “anyone who eats (expletive) -- Fil-A deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4Christ.”

As reported by the Media Research Center’s Newsbusters, she sent another Christian-themed, obscene tweet that I won’t repeat, followed by this sarcastic offering: “off to grab a (expletive)- fil-A sandwich on my way to worshipping Christ, supporting Aipac and war in Iran.” (Aipac stands for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.)

On July 25, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank accused Mike Huckabee of pushing “obesity” because Mr. Huckabee has called for people who honor “Godly values” to fight back by eating at Chick-fil-A on August 1. Huckabee’s “defense of the fast-food restaurant will make Chick-fil-A a fat target in the culture wars and will further divide Americans,” Milbank asserted.

Right. Huckabee’s the divisive one for helping the mugging victim. If he were a Good American (like Mr. Milbank), he’d just stay silent (unlike Mr. Milbank).

Up in Boston, where consistency is not necessarily a virtue, Mayor Menino didn’t mind giving a taxpayer-subsidized, sweetheart land deal in 2002 to the Islamic Society of Boston, which has been linked to terrorist groups. But on the “Freedom Trail,” where the American Revolution began, Menino says Chick-fil-A “doesn’t send the right message to the country. We’re a leader when it comes to social justice and opportunities for all.” Except for Christians, who are about as welcome in Boston as the New York Yankees.

Stand for natural marriage and you’ll get the Left’s version of “social justice:” an iron fist in a lavender glove. The end-game is to criminalize Christianity and replace it with a state-approved, false religion that retains enough trappings to fool the unwary.

Chicago’s notoriously foul-mouthed Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who donned brass knuckles to assist Alderman Moreno, put it this way: “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values.”

No, perhaps not in a town where Al Capone’s spirit animates its politics. Psalm 12:8 says, “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.”

As for Mr. Cathy, “We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

I know where I’m having breakfast, lunch and dinner on August 1, do you?


Activists Call for Boycott on Cake Shop After Owner Refuses to Bake Gay Wedding Cake‏

Move over Chick-fil-A. There’s a new business getting heat for its stance on gay marriage. Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, Colorado, is facing critics who are calling for a boycott after it refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple.

Dave Mullin and Charlie Craig, who went to the shop earlier this month to ask about having a cake made for their wedding, say they dated for two years before getting engaged. After only seconds of entering Masterpiece, they claim that owner Jack Phillips turned them away.

“My first comment was, ‘we’re getting married.’ And he kind of just shut that down immediately,” Craig explained:

According to CBS Denver, the couple left the shop feeling downtrodden, so they went on Facebook to make their voices heard. The response to their story has since sparked protests. The outlet also notes that this isn’t the first time that Phillips has turned gay customers away.

But while his views on the matter may seem discriminatory to some, Phillips stands by them. In an interview with CBS, he noted that he has no problem making birthday, graduation or other event cakes for homosexuals, but that wedding cakes are a different story.

“If gays come in and want to order birthday cakes or any cakes for any occasion, graduations, or whatever, I have no prejudice against that whatsoever, he said. “It’s just the wedding cake, not the people, not their lifestyle.”

This past weekend, protesters started lining up outside of the establishment in an attempt to convince Phillips to reverse course. But — he’s not planning on changing his mind.

“If it came to that point, then we‘d close down the bakery before we’d compromise our beliefs,” Phillips proclaimed. “And so that may be what it comes to, but we’ll have to see.”

This story comes following the case of Victoria Childress, a baker from Des Moines, Iowa, who, earlier this year, refused to sell a cake to a lesbian couple. That incident, too, sparked outrage.


Catholic business owners score win against ObamaCare mandate

The Catholic family that owns a Colorado-based company won a court victory in their battle to stop the Obama administration from requiring them to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception, a mandate they say violates their religious beliefs and First Amendment rights.

Hercules Industries, a Denver-based heating ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer that employs nearly 300 full-time workers, got an injunction in federal court which stops enforcement of the controversial ObamaCare mandate. The company's lawyers said they needed the injunction immediately because if the mandate is enforced, it must begin immediately making changes to its health plan, which renews on Nov. 1.

The case is similar to ones brought by Catholic-based colleges that have refused to provide employee insurance with such coverage, except this time, it is a secular corporation.

In his order, Colorado District Judge John Kane said that the government's arguments "are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion."

The case still must be aired out in court, but lawyers representing Hercules savored the  temporary victory.

"Every American, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith. For the time being, Hercules Industries will be able to do just that," said Matt Bowman, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the Arizona-based organization representing the Newlands. "The bottom line is that Congress and the Constitution explicitly protect all religious freedom. They don't exclude family businesses."

House Speaker John Boehner heralded the court's ruling.

"I join millions of my fellow Americans in welcoming this ruling, which is a major victory in the effort to restore the religious liberty that has been demolished by the Obama administration's actions this year," Boehner said.

In a brief responding to the Justice Department's filing, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys disputed that claim that the First Amendment does not apply to corporations.

"Nothing in the Constitution, the Supreme Court's decisions, or federal law requires - or even suggests - that families forfeit their religious liberty protection when they try to earn a living, such as by operating a corporate business," the document reads. The idea that "a corporation has no constitutional right to free exercise of religion" is ‘unsupported,' the brief stated.

Bowman said the federal government isn't allowed to tell family businesses that they are "second-class citizens" regarding religious freedom.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


1 August, 2012

A World Without Failure is a World Without Success

As the first cool winds blow down from across the Canadian border, a hint of NFL football is definitely in the air.

There’s always great anticipation associated with a new season.   Many of the same faces will be back to try and repeat past glories or improve on previous defeats.   The most interesting situation, however, may be the development of the star college quarterback.

Some NFL teams want to throw them into the mix immediately, such as the Ryan Leaf disaster (1998 San Diego Chargers), while others prefer to have them learn and study for a few years behind a more experienced veteran quarterback, like Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) riding the bench for three seasons behind Brett Favre.

No matter which process is used, all teams know that there will be a learning curve and accept the fact that before success is achieved, there will be some degree of failure.  However, in order to achieve greatness, a quarterback must pay his dues.

The same concept can be applied to our current economy.

As the business cycle has evolved from boom to bust, the most natural next move is contraction.  That means that banks, businesses, municipalities, countries, and people must be allowed to fail in order to be able to succeed.

As financial programs, procedures, and processes are tested and continually come up short, other plans will be developed and implemented.

Consider this example:.  A Chinese restaurant located in a Mexican neighborhood might be successful.  Then again, it could fail.  If it fails, it could be directly related to the service, or maybe the menu pricing was all wrong. Then again, perhaps the Mexican populace has no interest in Chinese food.

Regardless, the next restaurant that occupies that same space will likely not repeat the same mistake.

We learn not only from our mistakes, but also from the mistakes of others and restaurateurs certainly understand the normal business cycle.

Unfortunately, the worldwide powers-to-be do not understand this concept and have tried to jump-start growth without first passing through contraction, and, keep in mind, contraction brings consolidation which then leads directly to growth.

NFL owners, coaches, and players all understand that without a certain degree of failure, the building blocks would not be in place for that next championship run.

It’s just the natural order of things.  And likewise, worldwide leaders must also learn this plain and simple fact.


When Universalism Threatens National Loyalty


As I stood at a public meeting hand over my chest pledging my loyalty to this republic, I asked myself how many going through this ritual actually care or appreciate the unique character of the United States. So far down a universalist slope have we gone that few objected when a former Mets first baseman, Carlos Delgado, refused to stand for the Star Spangled Banner. Even Superman, the distinctly American comic book character, whose motto was "truth, justice and the American way" has been transmogrified in a 2006 film, mouthing the words "truth, justice and ‘all that stuff'."

The American character, embracing idiosyncratic national virtues, is under siege through a global dream of common "humanitus." After all, we are all the same moving inexorably to citizenship of the world. Or are we? Should Superman wear a U.N. badge as he engages his mortal enemy Lex Luther?

Transnationalists from Ann Marie Slaughter to Dean Coe decry nationalism and, by extension, the need for patriotic sacrifice. What they are saying is join the global party by renouncing your American identification. It is not surprising that several Supreme Court justices used foreign precedents to substantiate opinions on national cases. One wonders what a Zimbabwean court can possibly suggest to American justices.

Citizenship, if it has any meaning, cannot be an appeal to abstractions like worldwide camaraderie. It exists in a particularistic phenomenon related to tradition, the Constitution, language, creed, and custom. "We the people" the first three words in the Constitution, do not refer to any people; they refer specifically to the citizens of the United States. The union in the word "united" applies specifically to our history. We transformed the "United States are..." to the "United States is" through the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution and the Civil War. That is not world history; it is American history and it is woven into the fabric of national identification.

For some, patriotism is antediluvian, an idea that holds Americans back from international cooperation. I see it differently. Patriotism allows us to understand who we are and what our mission may be. I believe in America and what it stands for, but even if I didn't it is apparent, as the World Football matches demonstrate, that most people are attached to local institutions and national loyalties are embedded in a web of customs and culture that define who people are.

This is not the first moment when universalistis tried to dethrone national sentiments. Antonio Gramsci, one of the founders of the Italian Communist party in 1922, asked plaintively why Italy did not have a revolution comparable to the Russian revolution in 1917. His answer was found in the Italian fervor for nationalism in a state which had been unified only a half century earlier. Undermine nationalism, he thought, and the communist revolution would unfold. But despite repeated efforts "to march through the institutions" denouncing national fervor, Gramsci did not, perhaps could not, succeed.

Admittedly in some American quarters, particularly in the intellectual community, Gramsci has succeeded. What he could not do in 1922, many of his acolytes have achieved in 2012. But despite sporadic success in Foggy Bottom and the Academy, most Americans sing the national anthem with conviction. Our military men and women willingly sacrifice their lives for the defense of country. And patriotic associations still flourish in small town America.

As an idea universalism has its appeal. After all, there are the common threads of family, passion, disappointment, government, love, employment that unite people everywhere. But these ideas do not account for the idiosyncratic cultural backdrop that gives them meaning. Family in Stockholm is not the same as family in Marakesh. The difference not only counts, it is what contributes to allegiance and devotion. T.S. Eliot noted, "Culture is not enough, even though nothing is enough without culture." Culture is in the air we breathe and that air has a national scent. If I may modify Edmund Burke's position slightly that "Manners are more important than law," to suggest that manners, culture, and custom are more important than law and these characteristics in the aggregate account for how we define ourselves.


Can it be un-American to be a Christian?

 Star Parker

The current hate campaign being waged by homosexual activists against fast food chain Chick-fil-A, because of the firm’s Christian values, may well turn out to be a bridge too far. The effort may prove to be a setback for homosexual activism.

The vile attacks on the firm and its owners, the Cathy family, should make clear, finally, that the “gay rights” movement is not about refining and advancing American freedom, but about rewriting American values and advancing, not freedom, but the homosexual political agenda.

Recently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at a flag raising ceremony in Alexandria, Egypt, noting the re-opening of the American consulate there. Given the current political climate in Egypt, the Secretary of State felt behooved in her remarks to highlight principles of freedom as understood by Americans.

“….to us, real democracy means that every citizen has the right to live, work, and worship as they choose, whether they are man or woman, Muslim or Christian, or from any other background.”

Perhaps Secretary Clinton should be lecturing Americans instead of Egyptians.

Can it really be that in America today a businessman can be labeled a bigot, boycotted, and cut off by suppliers because of the crime of being a Christian?

When Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made his now famous incendiary admission that “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit,” he was not pontificating. He was responding to a question in an interview done in a paper I expect not read by many homosexuals – the Baptist Press.

Never mind. It was sufficient provocation that Cathy publicly admitted that the Bible defines his understanding of marriage – the unique bond of man and woman – which also happens to be the standard definition in dictionaries on the shelves of every American home and library.

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values,” said Chicago Mayor, and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, Rahm Emmanuel. Emmanuel defended Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno’s threat to deny Chick-fil-A permitting in Chicago because its owner supports traditional marriage and family.

But UCLA law professor and constitutional scholar Eugene Volokh points out in his blog that “denying a private business permits because of such speech by its owner is a blatant First Amendment violation.”

The Constitution? The First Amendment? Religious liberty? Do these apply to Christians?

Volokh goes on to point out that a permit might be denied, “…if Chick-fil-A actually discriminated in their serving or hiring decisions in Chicago in a way forbidden by Chicago or Illinois law….But the stories give no evidence of such actions…”

The fact that there is no evidence that Chick-fil-A discriminates in its business practices did not deter Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank from writing that Dan Cathy’s support of traditional marriage “…implied that gay people (not to mention divorced people) had no business eating at Chick-fil-A.”

One court decision after another over the last fifty years has, step by step, purged any hint of religion and traditional values from our schools and public spaces.

Has it made this a fairer, better, freer nation? If you think breakdown of family, forty percent out-of-wedlock births, a million abortions a year, $16 trillion in national debt, and government dependence is better and freer, yes.

Of course society must embrace civility, respect and tolerance. But this doesn’t mean that the sexual proclivities of some should provide license to rewrite our language and the traditions that define our faith and virtue.

Hopefully many will respond to Mike Huckabee’s appeal to patronize Chick-fil-A on August 1 as a display of support for traditional Christian values and as a reminder that our Constitution protects religious freedom.

Have we really gotten to the point where being a Christian is considered un-American?


Islam in Africa

The name Timbuktu has come to evoke the most remote, mysterious, and inaccessible corner of the earth. Five hundred years ago, Timbuktu was a great center of Islamic scholarship and the southern terminus of the principal trans-Saharan route to the western Mediterranean, a cosmopolitan outpost where camel caravans brought buyers and sellers of salt, gold, ivory, and slaves.

As for contemporary Timbuktu, it is an impoverished provincial capital in the West African nation of Mali — a dateline seldom seen on the front pages. But a little news was made there in April when rebel forces, including members of Ansar Dine, a fundamentalist and revolutionary Islamic group, came and conquered.

Ansar Dine’s leaders immediately announced the imposition of their interpretation of sharia law, including mandatory veiling of women, a ban on music, the closing of non-religious schools, and hudud punishments — amputations for thieves and stoning for adulterers, for example. Next, they began to destroy Timbuktu’s religious sites, including the 15th-century Sidi Yahya mosque and the 14th-century Djinguereber mosque — even though these sites were Muslim.

By now, it is apparent to all but the determinedly deluded — a club never short of members — that those who call themselves Islamists and jihadis range from intolerant to bellicose and regard Jews, Christians, Hindus, the Baha’, and other “infidels” as both inferiors and enemies with whom reconciliation is unthinkable. Destroying their religious symbols is seen as a pious act.

This is why, in March of 2001, the Taliban dynamited the sixth-century stone Buddhas of Bamiyan. It mattered not at all that the Buddhists of Bamiyan and surrounding regions had been converted or killed ages ago. To the Taliban’s political and religious leaders the statues were “un-Islamic,” and there could be no justification for their preservation. Today in Egypt, some clerics are already discussing the demolition of the pyramids. Muslim Brotherhood leaders are among those not expressing outrage.

Again, this is widely understood. What isn’t: Islamic-fundamentalist revolutionaries despise with no less vehemence Muslims whose reading of Islam differs from theirs. Timbuktu has been a center of Sufi Islam. The most revered religious figures in Sufism are regarded as saints; some have been laid to rest in Timbuktu’s tombs and mausoleums. To members of Ansar Dine, “Defenders of Faith,” this is heresy.

A reporter asked a member of Ansar Dine if the destruction of Muslim religious sites in Timbuktu would continue. “Of course,” he replied. “What doesn’t correspond to Islam we are going to correct.” A retired Timbuktu tour guide told another reporter: “They say they’re going to destroy it all, and what we don’t know is when.” In neighboring Niger, a refugee who had sold food in the market said the Islamists had prevented her from working. “I could not make money to feed my child. This is against our traditions. This is against the Islam we know.”

Precisely. Islamism comes in a variety of forms, but it is always and everywhere a theological and cultural bulldozer. How ironic that those who claim the most fervid commitment to diversity are often the first to rise to Islamism’s defense.

Ansar Dine’s reading of Islam is close to that of al-Qaeda, which, in turn, springs from Wahhabism. A small and obscure desert sect just a century ago, Wahhabism has since spread globally thanks to the West’s willingness to pay handsomely for the oil that Saudi warriors seized by force of arms from other Arabian tribes and clans. Across the Gulf, Iran has been dominated for more than 30 years by a regime that promotes a rival theology/ideology. Based on Shia rather than Sunni Islam, it is no less fundamentalist, supremacist, and intolerant.

Mali is not the only country in Africa under attack. When I was an Africa correspondent for the New York Times in the 1980s, I often visited Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country. Its north is predominantly Muslim, the south mainly Christian. For generations, the two groups enjoyed a reasonable modus vivendi. I actually felt safer in the Muslim north. In such southern cities as Lagos, violent crime was rampant.

Over time, however, a growing number of Nigerian Muslims have been indoctrinated and radicalized — Wahhabized. Earlier this month, Islamist gunmen, reportedly numbering in the hundreds, killed more than 60 Christians in and around the city of Jos in central Plateau State, while displacing hundreds more by setting fire to their homes. Then, at a funeral for the victims, gunmen attacked again, killing more.

Responsibility for the carnage has been claimed by Boko Haram, a sect whose name means “Western education is forbidden.” Blamed for more than 1,000 killings over the last two years, Boko Haram is strongly suspected of having close ties with two Africa-based branches of al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Shabab, which is in Somalia.

Recently, a new Islamic group announced its existence: Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina fi Biladin Sudan (Supporters of Islam in the Land of Sudan), which is dedicated to fighting “any group or religion that attacks Islam and Muslims.” Its emir, Abu Usamatul Ansar, has accused the Nigerian government, currently headed by a Christian, of “massacring” Muslims.

“There is always something new out of Africa,” the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder observed more than 2,000 years ago. What’s new now, however, is what is going into Africa — thugs and menacing strains of Islamic extremism. No good can come out of that.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

Postmodernism is fundamentally frivolous. Postmodernists routinely condemn racism and intolerance as wrong but then say that there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are clearly not being serious. Either they do not really believe in moral nihilism or they believe that racism cannot be condemned!

Postmodernism is in fact just a tantrum. Post-Soviet reality in particular suits Leftists so badly that their response is to deny that reality exists. That they can be so dishonest, however, simply shows how psychopathic they are.

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds