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 December, 2012

An intolerant British feminist -- perhaps a Lesbian -- gets a reply

The president of the Girls' Schools Association, Hilary French, has fired another broadside in the battle of the sexes. "We are still creating a generation of girls who think that the whole idea of looking after children is really the most important thing," she complained to the Press Association. "We do still expect women to be at the core of the relationship, the homemaker, the person who brings up children."

She cited a meeting between business leaders and schoolchildren. "One of the young entrepreneurs," she said, "a lady, dared to say that she had probably put her business ahead of her son, and the sharp intake of breath from all of the girls was audible."

It should be unnecessary to state that women absolutely deserve absolute equality. To every reasonable person, this is self-evident, as is the fact that gender equality is woefully lacking in certain areas of British life, especially in places like the boardroom and Parliament. The difficult question, however, is what having equality really means.

Many people feel that the rush to redress the gender imbalance has bankrupted traditional women's roles. This is no new concern. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph in 1972, the eminent author and psychiatrist Ann Dally put it very well: "The happiest women I know don't go around wondering what sort of women they ought to be. They don't worry about whether they ought or ought not to leave the children and they don't feel guilty if they prefer a life of total domesticity to the excitement of the big wide world. They're all very different, but they have one thing in common. They all understand what sort of people they are and make use of the opportunities that suit them. And they do not allow themselves to be influenced by people who say what women should and should not do."

Mrs French is the headmistress of Central Newcastle High School, an independent girls' day school. One of the school's stated aims is to allow every girl "the opportunity to become a confident, self-assured young woman". Herein lies the challenge: a young woman - and, for that matter, a young man - must separate the weight of social expectation and prejudice from her true sense of what will fulfil her. This will certainly require a great deal of "confidence" and "self-assurance".

Although women must of course have full access to traditional male roles, to see that as the only possible means of equality constitutes merely an inverted form of oppression. Ultimately, it deprives women - as well as men - of their ability to be equal and different; or to put at another way, to be equal on their own terms. The fact that women are prevented from pursuing highflying careers by society's loaded dice is completely unacceptable in modern Britain. At the same time, however, it must be recognised that real freedom entails the ability to choose one's way of life without stigma. If a woman wants to be a mother and homemaker, there should be no pressure against that, either.


Battle of the professors: Richard Dawkins branded a fundamentalist by expert behind the 'God particle'

Athiest campaigner Richard Dawkins was yesterday branded a 'fundamentalist' by one of his most eminent scientific colleagues.

The militancy of Professor Dawkins's attacks on religious belief mean he is 'almost a fundamentalist himself', scientist Peter Higgs said.

Professor Higgs, whose theory on the sub-atomic 'God particle' was recently supported by experiments at the Cern research centre near Geneva, is considered one of the world's leading scientists and is widely tipped for a Nobel prize.

Professor Higgs is an atheist and has said he doesn't like that the particle is nicknamed the 'God particle', as he believes the term 'might offend people who are religious'.

Dawkins' criticism of the teaching of creationism in schools has earned him the moniker 'Darwin's rottweiler', a reference to biologist T. H. Huxley, known as 'Darwin's Bulldog' for his advocacy of evolutionary ideas.

Professor Higgs has used his new status to pour scorn on 71-year-old Professor Dawkins, a champion of evolution and author of The God Delusion which argues that belief in God is irrational.

Professor Dawkins's contempt for religion has recently led him to suggest that being raised as a Roman Catholic is worse for a child than physical abuse.

But Professor Higgs said that Professor Dawkins has caricatured religious believers as extremists and ignored those who try to reconcile their beliefs with science.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Professor Higgs, who is 83, said: 'What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are not just fundamentalists.

'Fundamentalism is another  problem. I mean, Dawkins in a way is almost a kind of fundamentalist himself.'

Professor Higgs also told the newspaper: 'The growth of our understanding of the world through science weakens some of the  motivation which makes people believers.

'But that's not the same thing as saying they are incompatible. It is just that I think some of the traditional reasons for belief, going back thousands of years, are rather undermined.

Roman Catholic former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: `Dawkins doesn't know what to say next to get attention. No sane person would believe that being brought up in a force for good, in the Ten Commandments, in the Beatitudes, and in the Gospels can be worse than child abuse.'

'But that doesn't end the  whole thing. Anybody who is a convinced but not a dogmatic believer can continue to hold his belief. It means I think you have to be rather more careful about the whole debate between science and religion than some people have been in the past.'

Professor Higgs added that a lot of scientists were also religious believers. I don't happen to be one myself, but maybe that's just more a matter of my family background than that there is any fundamental difficulty about reconciling the two,' he added.

The criticism of Professor Dawkins - who was Oxford University's Professor of the Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008 - ends a year in which his determination to condemn religion has led to a number of abrasive arguments.


Christians have no right to refuse to work on Sundays, rules British judge

Judges have been accused of diluting the rights of Christians after a key judgment on whether they can refuse to work on Sundays.

A new ruling by a High Court judge - the first on the issue in nearly a decade - says that Christians have no right to decline working on Sunday as it is not a "core component" of their beliefs.

The judgment - which upholds an earlier decision - means that individual Christians do not have any protection from being fired for not working on Sundays.

Campaigners said the decision puts Christians at a disadvantage to other religions and means the judiciary are deciding what the core beliefs of Christians can be, which they say is an interference in the right to practise religion.

The judgment was issued by Mr Justice Langstaff as he ruled on an appeal brought by a Christian woman who was sacked after she refused to work on Sundays at a care home.

Celestina Mba claimed the council she worked for pressured her to work on Sundays and threatened her with disciplinary measures - even though other workers were willing to take the shifts.

The 57 year-old, from Streatham Vale, south London, worships every Sunday at her Baptist church, where she is also part of the ministry team offering pastoral care and support to the congregation.

She said that when she took the position in 2007 providing respite care for children with severe learning difficulties at the Brightwell children's home in Morden, south-west London managers initially agreed to accommodate the requirements of her faith.

But within a few months of starting the job, Miss Mba said managers began pressuring her to work on Sundays.

She found herself repeatedly allocated Sunday shifts and threatened with disciplinary measures unless she agreed to compromise her church commitments, meaning she had no alternative but to resign from the job she loved, she said.

The care worker launched an unsuccessful legal claim in February this year and this month lost her appeal in the High Court.

Her constructive dismissal case was funded by the Christian Legal Centre which instructed Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister.

Mr Justice Langstaff, who as president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal is the most senior judge in England and Wales in this type of case, upheld the lower tribunal's ruling which said it was relevant that other Christians did not ask for Sundays off.

The fact that some Christians were prepared to work on Sundays meant it was not protected, the court said.

The senior judge said that a rule imposed by an employer which affected nearly every Christian would have a greater discriminatory impact than one which only affected a few.

There was evidence that many Christians work on Sundays and this was relevant in "weighing" the impact of the employers' rule, and the earlier decision did not involve an error of law, he added.

Campaigners said the ruling showed that Christians are being treated less favourably than people from other religions, such as Muslims, Jews and Sikhs. They pointed to cases where the courts offered protection to other religions even when only a minority of adherents were affected.

In 2008 Sarika Watkins-Singh, then 14, successfully claimed she was a victim of unlawful discrimination because she had been excluded from school in Aberdare, south Wales, for breaking a jewellery ban by refusing to remove a "kara" bangle which she said was central to her faith.

But in her case the court did not examine how many Sikhs wanted to wear similar items of jewellery.

The judgment in Miss Mba's case will fuel concerns that judges are promoting secularism. A report from the cross-party Christians in Parliament group warned earlier this year that there was a lack of religious literacy among judges, politicians and officials.

Andrea Williams, director of Christian Concern, said of the latest ruling: "The court in this case created an unrealistic test which means that people like Celestina who wish to respect the Sabbath will be forced out of the workplace.

"The court seems to be requiring a significant number of adherents of the Christian faith to observe a particular practice before the court is willing to accept and protect the practice.

"In the past year we have seen mandatory tests of faith in relation to the wearing of crosses by Christians, belief about marriage between a man and a woman and now observing the Sabbath when in all cases reasonable accommodation could have been made.

"Such tests do not appear to be similarly applied to Muslims who are permitted to wear the hijab and observe prayers and Sikhs with the kara bracelet."

In 1994, when Sunday trading in England was liberalised shopworkers were given a guarantee that working would be strictly voluntary, but the guarantee did not apply to people in other sectors.

The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations, published in 2003, say employers must justify Sunday working as a "legitimate business need" and does not give a blanket right to Christians not to work.

If employers fail to treat staff fairly and proportionately, the employee may be able to claim discrimination, the rules add.

The last ruling by judges was when a quarry worker claimed his Christian beliefs had been treated with "contempt" by employers who tried to force him to work on Sundays in 2003.

Stephen Copsey lost his case at the Court of Appeal in 2005, with judges ruling his employer had "compelling economic reasons" for insisting that he worked on Sundays.

Yvette Stanley of Merton council, Miss Mba's former employers, said it did its best to allow religious practice but also had a duty to meet the needs of the disabled children for whom it cares and added: "We are pleased with the outcome of this second tribunal. Staff recruited in the respite care service are advised that it is by its nature a weekend service."


In a Crisis, Humanists Seem Absent

The NYT tries to make the best out of a bad job below

Since the Newtown massacre on Dec. 14, the tableau of grief and mourning has provided a vivid lesson in the religious variety of America. An interfaith service featuring President Obama, held two days after Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, included clergy members from Bahai, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and both mainline and evangelical Protestant congregations.

The funerals and burials over the past two weeks have taken place in Catholic, Congregational, Mormon and United Methodist houses of worship, among others. They have been held in Protestant megachurches and in a Jewish cemetery. A black Christian youth group traveled from Alabama to perform "Amazing Grace" at several of the services.

This illustration of religious belief in action, of faith expressed in extremis, an example at once so heart-rending and so affirming, has left behind one prickly question: Where were the humanists? At a time when the percentage of Americans without religious affiliation is growing rapidly, why did the "nones," as they are colloquially known, seem so absent?

To raise these queries is not to play gotcha, or to be judgmental in a dire time. In fact, some leaders within the humanist movement - an umbrella term for those who call themselves atheists, agnostics, secularists and freethinkers, among other terms - are ruefully and self-critically saying the same thing themselves.

"It is a failure of community, and that's where the answer for the future has to lie," said Greg M. Epstein, 35, the humanist chaplain at Harvard and author of the book "Good Without God." "What religion has to offer to people at moments like this - more than theology, more than divine presence - is community. And we need to provide an alternative form of community if we're going to matter for the increasing number of people who say they are not believers."

Darrel W. Ray, a psychologist in the Kansas City area who runs the Web site The Secular Therapist Project, made a similar point in a recent interview. As someone who was raised as a believing Christian and who holds a master's degree in theology, he was uniquely able to identify what humanism needs to provide in a time of crisis.

"When people are in a terrible kind of pain - a death that is unexpected, the natural order is taken out of order - you would do anything to take away the pain," Dr. Ray, 62, said. "And I'm not going to deny that religion does help deal with that first week or two of pain.

"The best we can do as humanists," he continued, "is to talk about that pain in rational terms with the people who are suffering. We have humanist celebrants, as we call them, but they're focused on doing weddings. It takes a lot more training to learn how to deal with grief and loss. I don't see celebrants working in hospice or in hospitals, for example. There are secular people who need pastoral care, but we abdicate it to clergy."

In fairness, it should be pointed out that the families of each Newtown victim chose religious funerals. The interfaith service, by its very definition, precluded the involvement of leaders from non-faith organizations like the Ethical Culture Society or the American Humanist Association. At the most divisive, the former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee asserted that violence like the Newtown shootings occurs because "we've systematically removed God from our schools."

The net effect can be to leave humanists feeling frozen out and defensive. "We send out letters, we send out press releases, we're on Meetup," said Anne Klaeysen, 61, leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. "But we feel people don't pick us up. We're not proselytizers. But the religious landscape has changed so that we have to market ourselves."

While tacitly excluded from religious coalitions, humanist groups did respond to the Newtown killings. The Ethical Culture Society chapter in Teaneck, N.J., helped organize a gun-control rally there. The Connecticut branch of the American Humanist Association contributed about $370 to Newtown families from a winter solstice fund-raiser. The organization American Atheists reports on its Web site that it has collected more than $11,000 in online donations toward funeral expenses in Newtown. A secular support group called Grief Beyond Belief operates on Facebook.

Still, when it comes to the pastoral version of "boots on the ground" - a continuing presence in communities, a commitment to tactile rather than virtual engagement with people who are hurting - the example of Newtown shows how humanists continue to lag.

That lag persists despite significant growth in the number of nonbelievers. A recent national study by the Pew Research Center found the share of "nones" had risen to about 20 percent of Americans from 15 percent in just five years. The humanist movement of the last decade has had eloquent public intellectuals in Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens.

Yet, in the view of internal critics like Mr. Epstein and Dr. Ray, humanism suffers in certain ways for its valorization of the individual. The inside joke is that creating a humanist group is like "herding cats."

"You can't just be talking about cowboy individualists anymore," Dr. Ray said. "We have to get out of this mentality we've been in over the past 50 years of just saying how stupid religion is. We have to create our own infrastructure."

Mr. Epstein is currently involved in a three-year, $2.5-million project to study, develop and spread the concept of nonreligious community. But he believes that better organizing must be accompanied by better messaging.

"A lot of humanist rhetoric of previous generations revolved around reason," he said. "We'd say, `We're people of reason rather than people of faith.' But I've always been uncomfortable with that as the banner under which we march. We need to think of reason in the service of compassion - caring, being cared-about, a life of meaningful connection. Reason itself is the tool. When we see it as the end-product we miss the point."



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


29 December, 2012

More "child protection" evil in Britain

The latest unbalanced proposals are more likely to hurt rather than help  children.  Both innocent and guilty parents will now avoid taking hurt children to hospital for fear of legal attack and losing their children

Many parents feel their blood freeze at the memory of something awful happening to their children.

And reading this week about the Government's plan to introduce a register of children treated in accident and emergency departments evoked one such chilling recollection for my wife and me - and its deeply worrying aftermath. One evening 14 years ago, in the winter of 1998, I was at home reading when I heard my wife call out from upstairs, where she was getting the children to bed.

Our elder son was four, and the younger, Johnnie, 18 months. I went upstairs and found Johnnie standing in his cot, beaming and bouncing on his mattress while holding on to the bars. He had only just learned to walk and was still unsteady on his feet. My wife asked me to feel the left side of his head. It was sponge-like, though appeared to be giving him no pain or discomfort.

We agreed that she must at once take him to hospital, which was, luckily, less than ten minutes' drive away: this was just after 7.30pm. I stayed at home with our elder son and put him to bed.

I knew the rule at casualty departments was that small children jumped the queue, so I wasn't expecting to have to wait long before hearing how things were. It was a nerve-wracking time and, as the hours passed, I became more and more concerned.

It never occurred to me that Johnnie had a physical injury. I feared he had some sort of brain disease, and was deeply worried.

It was nearly 1am when my wife rang. Johnnie was going to be kept in for observation overnight - and she was staying with him - but would be released the next day. 

We were horrified to hear he had a three-and-a-half-inch hairline fracture of the skull, running from about the middle of the back of his head round over his left ear almost to his temple.  And my wife, completely innocent, found herself under suspicion.

Once the nature of Johnnie's injury had been established, the tone of the medical staff changed dramatically.

She was regarded as, if not the perpetrator of the injury, then an accomplice to whoever was. She was kept at a distance from the child, except when asked to undress him completely - so doctors could examine him for wider signs of abuse - of which, of course, there were none.

To this day she remembers the coldness of the doctor and medical staff towards her, as if a decision had already been made about her guilt in the matter. Alarmingly for her, they would at first tell her nothing about Johnnie's condition.

Only when she became distressed and insistent and asked them straight out `Is he going to die?' did they eventually admit that he wasn't. Neither was she informed about the procedures in place to alert social services.

Sure enough, the next thing she knew, social workers had been alerted. Having obviously debriefed the hospital medical staff about Johnnie's condition and the nature of his mother, they set a condition for his being allowed home with his parents: the family's GP had to agree that, in his opinion, we were not a pair of child beaters. That was the final indignity.

My wife came home to get an overnight bag and, in a shared state of shock, we discussed this revolting inference the medical staff had drawn about Johnnie's injury. We also discussed how it might have happened.

That morning, while my wife had been out, Johnnie had been left with my mother at her house. She was then in her early 70s and, like my wife, as far from being one of nature's Myra Hindleys as it is possible to imagine.

Johnnie, as I have said, was only just becoming independently mobile - like many second children, he had relied on his older sibling to fetch and carry for him.

But suddenly he had acquired the adventurous spirit, and was wandering, climbing and tumbling all over the place.

My mother had various pieces of heavy furniture that he could have banged his head on - but why had she not heard him cry out?

A doctor answered this: if a child is absorbed in some activity when sustaining such a knock, it can pass almost unnoticed - and Johnnie  was always busy with something, whether a toy, a picture book or (as we suspected in this case) watching  the Teletubbies.

This seemed to be the most likely explanation, but for all that it was not until our GP had been found and questioned - presumably by social services - the next day, that we were allowed to bring Johnnie home. Two weeks later he was right as rain.

I am, I repeat, very keen for people who do abuse their children to be detected swiftly, and to face the full force of the law when and if they are convicted. But how would we, as the parents of young children, have reacted if the proposed register had been in place when our boys were small?

Happily, we never had to take Johnnie to A&E again. But what if we had?

What if, being an adventurous sort of lad, he had come off his bike and hit his head again, or fallen off the swing we put up for him in the garden, or tumbled out of one of our many trees or from his climbing frame?

We are always being told, quite rightly, that the development of children is being stunted by their being over-protected, and by their not being allowed to take risks.

But I must admit I would have brought Johnnie up differently if I had been told his name had been placed on a register, and that another visit by him to any other A&E would result in suspicions being raised about his mother and me. For those suspicions would, quite possibly, lead to us being questioning by the police or social workers.

Anything that might possibly have led to him ending up in A&E would have been contemplated only very, very reluctantly.

Of course, if a child is hurt you take him to A&E. But how many parents would hesitate, after a second innocent and genuine accident, if suddenly they were going to come to the attention of the social services?

The Government may mean well in trying to prevent child abuse by stopping `devious' parents taking abused children to several different A&E departments to avoid alerting the authorities.

However, this treats a symptom of the cancer of abuse rather than its cause - and carries with it a danger of incriminating parents who are loving and decent towards their children.

I can't help feeling this proposal is a sticking-plaster for the inadequacy of so many of our social services departments. Ideally, they would spot problem families long before a second or third visit to A&E - and their intelligence gathering should start at antenatal classes.

The new register is supposed to make the jobs of social workers easier. However, it is just as likely to make ruthless child abusers forget A&E altogether, so serious injuries go untreated, with possibly terrible consequences.

And it will cause decent families to live in dread of a visit to A&E and - as my wife felt she was when Johnnie was hurt - to be treated as guilty until proven innocent.

The Government has a role in protecting our children from cruelty.   But this register will, in my view, harm decent families - fuelling the distrust and loathing that law-abiding Britons feel towards an ever-more intrusive and unaccountable state, while the guilty go on getting away with their crimes.


The RSPCA has lost the plot

By Ruth Dudley Edwards

Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment, regrets that there's no chance of repealing the hunting ban in this parliament. So do I, although nothing would persuade me to hunt, and, like him, I'm an animal-lover.

As I child, I hated hunting and hunters. As a young woman, I agreed with my fianc‚ that we would become rich in order to buy up key pieces of land to wreck hunts. (We became neither rich nor stayed married.) Yet as an adult, I set one of my crime novels in the hunting world (Ten Lords A-Leaping) and had my protagonists passionately opposing a ban.

What happened? I grew up, I read the arguments, I became better informed about rural life and I realised that most of those excited about banning fox-hunting were bigots, class warriors or too sentimental to look properly at the evidence. And the evidence was that the fox population has to be controlled, that on balance, shooting them is less humane than hunting, and that those involved in hunting tend to be keen conservationists.

In A Journey, Tony Blair recalls that having committed himself to banning hunting, he began, too late, to educate himself about it. "The more I learned, the more uneasy I became. I started to realise this wasn't a small clique of weirdo inbreeds delighting in cruelty, but a tradition, embedded by history and profound community and social liens, that was integral to a way of life."  Unfortunately, by then it was too late and all he could hope was that the flawed legislation would not be enthusiastically policed.

In fact on the whole the cops have been reasonably sensible, but the zealots are again massing and they don't seem much interested in the issue of cruelty. For the RSPCA to waste œ326,000 on bringing a private prosecution against members of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire is an obscenity and I hope the Charity Commission penalises them for breaching their `duty of prudence'.

Gavin Grant, the RSPCA Chief Executive, seems to have it in for country people. He's now threatening to name and shame those involved in legal badger-culling. And the League Against Cruel Sports has spent œ1,000,000 spying on Boxing Day hunts.

Over the past decade, under an ex-MP, the Lib Dem Jackie Ballard, and now Grant, the RSPCA seems to have forgotten that its job is to work in the interests of the greatest happiness of the greatest number of animals. I'd recommend anyone anxious to help animals to donate to Compassion in World Farming or Blue Cross or other charities focused on combating cruelty rather than to those obsessed with the fate of a few furry vermin


Should it be mandatory to employ attractive women in the workplace?

What rights does an employer have over whom he employs and whom he doesn't employ? What classes should be protected from discrimination? There are many interesting questions tied up in the case of Dr. James Knight, who fired his assistant, Melissa Nelson, because he found himself tempted by her.

But my thoughts on this issue regarded the moral matters tied up with Dr. Knight's behavior towards Nelson in the workplace, and then his decision to fire her. Thankfully, Jonathan Turley brings the moral issues into focus by being 180 degrees from correct.

Turley writes:

"Knight is described as a deeply religious man, though his communications to Nelson do not speak of religiosity or restraint in a pious man. Indeed, he comes across as pretty creepy. I always thought that religion taught the pious to resist temptation not eradicate its sources. Yet, Knight actually fired Nelson with a pastor present.."

Yes, Knight behaved inappropriately, even creepy. What religion does is not to make us magically uncreepy and always appropriate, but to teach us more reasons why it's bad when we are creepy and inappropriate. Also, my faith - Catholicism - and most of Christianity, as far as I know, teaches the opposite of what Turley has always thought it teaches.

Man is a fallen creature, born in sin. Throughout our lives, we continue to sin, whether we are Christians or not - whether we are Saints or not.

When a Catholic goes to confession, he confesses his sins, and then, after receiving absolution, resolves to "sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin." Often, when we do bad things, if we examine our conscience, we find that moment of greatest culpability was not when we gave into temptation, but when we entered into the circumstance where we knew there would be temptation that might overwhelm us.

Dr. Knight behaved badly. He wanted to stop behaving badly. Jonathan Turley thinks that Knight's faith should have been sufficient to cure him of being attracted to this other woman. That's silly. Knight, his wife, and pastor concluded that the best thing to do was to let her go. That seems prudent.

It also is completely unfair to Nelson. She is being "punished" for her boss's sins and weaknesses. She should be angry. But would it be fair for the state government to tell Knight that he must remain in this near occasion of sin?


The Myth That Kills

Some comments by a woman who is impatient of feminism

I'm very afraid this is another of those posts that will get me accused of being a "gender traitor."

That's just fine.  If you think a gender - the fact that you were born with one piece of physical equipment - demands your loyalty and forces your opinions to be the same as those people with the same piece of equipment, call me a traitor.  Guilty as charged.

You see, I tend to think of people as people.  This has largely been a handicap in writing fiction in the current age, because I'm expected to view women as saints-and-martyrs and men as oppressors-and-satyrs.

Have I met some examples of those?  Oh, heck yes.  Hasn't everyone?  But I've met the opposite too.  Hasn't everyone?  So why is only one of those the "correct" thing to put in a novel?

Ah, but you're going to tell me that pushing women as victims, as saints, as nurturers is the way to go, so we can carry on with the feminist victory and equality of the sexes.

(Looks across the computer at you)  I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Equality means, in this as in anything else, equality before the law not equality of results.  This is something that we keep forgetting.  Look, that was the ultimate difference between the American and the French revolutions.  Americans wanted equality before the law.  The French wanted equality of results.

They had justifications, too. They were dealing with an historically beaten-down peasantry, starved, uneducated (though not nearly so much - the revolution happened because education had started to spread.  Never mind. We're going with how they viewed themselves) used to being deferential.  They needed more than just equality before the law, they said.  They needed to redistribute some of those advantages, to enforce equality of results for a while.

We all know how that ended up, right?

It always ends up that way.  Humans are individuals, not groups.  When you empower the groups, you empower the worst in any group. The power-thirsty, the aggrieved, those who want to manipulate group-outrage for their own purposes.

It is the same with women.  It's lots of fun to read the more sentimental writers of centuries past (and the not so sentimental and totally un-ironic feminists of the last century) go on until your eyes bleed about women being kinder, gentler, softer, nicer.

Poppycock.  Poppycock with powdered speciousness.  Yes, women presented that way.  This was the result of centuries where women had the subservient position.

The first one of you to open her mouth about how this is the injustice feminism needed to correct is going to go to the corner with the dunce cap, so help me bog.

The reason women were "oppressed" for six thousand years (longer, for certain values of women) had NOTHING to do with men dethroning the goddess myth and destroying the perfect matriarchal society because they're evil or any other re-writings of the Judeo-Christian myth of Eden.  Marija Gymbutas was - yes, I'm crossing Godwin, and I have a reason - as much of a fabulist as Hitler, and about as good a scientist.  She didn't have armies at her disposal, but those who believe in her might in the end bring down civilization as effectively as the Nazis would have done, so I do not apologize for using the analogy.  (If you don't think convincing women that all men are their enemies, handicapping boys in school, running men out of the teaching profession, and generally making men guilty-until-proven-innocent is a civilization-killing meme, you need to go out and meet some real men and some real women.)

Women were subservient in society due to that horrible oppressor: biology.  When you were going to have to be a celibate or spend half of your life pregnant, you missed out on other aspects of life.  Yes, I love those of you who had no problems in pregnancy.  I had to diametrically opposite experiences: the first pregnancy would have killed me without strict bed rest, for the second I kept forgetting I was pregnant.  HOWEVER in both of them in retrospect, not at the time, I missed vast chunks of intellectual function.  There is an hormone cocktail that is supposed to make you fat, happy and dumb during pregnancy.  It is what it is.

Worse, even for women who never get pregnant, until modern hormonal treatment, we women were prisoners of our hormones.  Even now I have more than a friend who hit menopause and. became someone else.  In very rare instances, the change is for the best.  Most of the time it's a "What on Earth happened to your brain?"

I thought I had dementia for a long while - I literally couldn't remember the names of my characters or what had happened from a chapter to the next.  And if I wrote it down, I'd have to go look at the notes, and then when I came back to the book I'd forgotten what I'd looked up.  For a while (most notably the last Musketeers mystery) I had to have a friend check my work because I'd forget what I was doing and had tons of internal inconsistencies.

Turned out it was an hormonal problem, not dementia and not menopause, as I thought.

Now, that's an extreme case, mind you.  But it's not unusual.  And though men, too, can have this type of issue, it is considerably more common in women.  What makes us women - the ability to generate new life - also makes us cyclical creatures, both in the monthly sense and in the life-cycle sense.  And if you think your hormones don't affect the way you think, let me tell you the only reason you think that is that you're inside your skull and being affected.  Until my experiences with hormonal insanity I too thought I was impervious.

Anyway, the point is until modern medicine with contraception and hormonal supplements, women were swimming with an iron vest strapped on.  Add to that that only women can be sure that their children are theirs.  This made men - of course - wish to make sure women were controlled, to make sure the kids they were providing for were their own.  It made for a society where women were somewhere between children and chattels and men had all the responsible positions. (Though even then some women managed to break through.  Individuals are. individual.  It's one of their characteristics.)

Does any of that still apply?  No.  Thanks to modern medicine, we even can figure out whose daddy is whose without keeping women in purdah.

And though it took a little while, society changed. Women started taking the place of equals in society.  Like the French peasantry, which would have come along once barriers to their equality under the law were removed, we have started taking intellectual callings and sometimes physically intensive callings.

We are now, if we want to be, equals.

The problem is that most of us don't want to be equals.  And the reason for that is that most of us have been sold on the feminist creation myth of the great mother and the perfect society with men as the spoiler of paradise and the villain.  And most of us are stupid enough to buy it.  (Yes, I know men worshipped goddesses.  If you think that made the society feminist, you have birds in your brain and you probably also believe there's some magical herbs that are as effective as the pill and have no bad side effects.  (No.  There aren't.  There was a bush that had similar properties, but it went extinct in Roman times).  Societies that worshipped goddesses often demanded the most control over women and engaged in temple prostitution.  They also had a marked tendency to child sacrifice.  On the other hand, most societies worshipped both.)

Also, most men are of course bigger than us.  Stronger. And there's the whole historical inequity.  Just like the French peasants.  So we demand laws that favor us and more importantly we demand the blood of our enemies.  And we demand to be treated with a respect and a care that would have scared Victorian maidens.  We use the slightest thing as a weapon.  Because only when the oppressors are gone, will we be free.

This was bad enough when it was the French peasantry.  But men are not some aliens dropped on the Earth from afar - they're our fathers, brothers, sons and husbands.  They're an integral part of what makes humans humans.  They're not a monolithic group, just like women aren't, but statistically they're better abstract-and-visual thinkers and the people who are more likely to think outside the box, just like statistically we're the socially-oriented people, more detail-specialized and better at cooperating.

Society - a civilized society - needs both to survive and go forward.

But women have been sold on males-as-the-boogeyman and therefore they see evil intention and coordination and conspiracy behind males' being people.  Meet one abusive male, and you'll go through life convinced that all men are like that.  Does anyone do the same when meeting an abusive woman?  I don't know about you, but I've had bosses from hell in both genders.  So, why is only one accused of being "oppressive"?

Because it's the myth.  And it's a myth the power-hungry people who took charge of the feminist movement (one that initially only wanted equality under the law) are happy to perpetuate.  It's a myth every college, every entertainment gatekeeper cherishes.

It's a poisonous myth.  It's also a stupid one.  No one in their right mind would talk about "War on women" for instance.  Are you insane?  Why would normal men - yes, your husband, your brother, your son - want to make war on women?  And yes, that means you, your sister, your mother.  Hell, even my gay male friends like women and have mothers and women friends.  And yes, for those of you about to be stupid, even males on the opposite side in politics have all of those, and no, none of them hate women.  (Except perhaps the occasional pathological case.)

(If you bought that wanting to not pay for contraceptives out of the public purse and at the expense of other people's religious conscience is a "War on women" you might want to inform yourself.  Not giving you something for free is NOT restricting access.  Otherwise, people are restricting your access to food, housing and entertainment.  Is that a war on humans?)

I've watched the rise of this myth with slack-jawed amazement.  HOW can you even think that.  Guys, my men - and I live with three of them, husband and two sons - couldn't "conspire" to keep chocolate hidden from me (they've tried.) And they're all three of them brighter than the average bear.  WHY would you think men in general would want to conspire to keep you in submission?  Most modern guys wouldn't know what to do with a truly submissive woman.

Oh, I know.  It's the myth you heard, from Gimbutas and her sisters in school all the way to the latest movie you watched.  Males want power over you.

Well, some males maybe.  Those who belong to a religion that dresses women like upholstered furniture.  But it's just one culture and there's reasons for that (including but not limited to a culture of scarcity and a tradition of bride kidnapping.)  It's not all men, and it's certainly not MOST men men of the western world.

Like the women who no longer remember why women were "historically oppressed" the men alive now were never in a society where men had the upper hand.

I have a friend who believes that it's a pendulum.  Men had the upper hand, now women do, then it will swing back.

Unless science has some sort of pendulum too, I don't see where she's right.

What I see is women who were freed by tech advances and who THINK they were freed by marching shoulder to shoulder and taking permanent offense.  These women live in a state of paranoia, dreaming up male privilege that is invisible to anyone but them, and taking offense at ever more ridiculous things - even things that have nothing to do with gender - because they're so terrified of men taking the upper hand again.

I look at them going to war with spelling: Womyn, Herstory.  I look at them dancing around dressed as vaginas (!) because apparently the most important thing in these women's lives is their sexual organs. I look at them acting as a pack and attacking whoever they're told to attack because "so and so is anti-woman" and I think. these are humans?  These are civilized people?  Don't they see they're being tools of the Marxist divide-and-conquer strategy?  Don't they see the end of this is either societal destruction or TRUE backlash for the sake of saving civilization?

Apparently not.  So. carry on.  Dance around in your little fabric vaginas.  Think that all men are out to get you.  Refuse to have children, because some of them might be male.  And scream, scream, scream about made-up outrage.

That's the way to bring civilization down and destroy the technological advances that brought us equality.  If that's what you want, DO carry on.

Apres nous, le deluge.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


28 December, 2012

A satirical comment on Eurabia from Israel


A miracle of political correctness

Tally ho! Let the hunt remind us who we are

Hound, horse and human come together today in an activity as vital as our heartbeats, says Roger Scruton

 This morning hundreds of hunts across the Kingdom will be assembling for the Boxing Day meet. My family and I will appear in our polished uniforms on polished horses to stand ceremonially among our neighbours in Cirencester Park. With us will be a crowd of thousands who have come to enjoy the spectacle. For an hour, three species - hound, horse and human; carnivore, herbivore and omnivore - will stand peacefully side by side in a little patch of meadowland, radiating tranquillity. One of the local bands will be playing. The Royal Agricultural College Beagles will be there, along with people from every walk of life, who have come to gladden their eyes on the spectacle before going for lunch in the town.

 Hunting with hounds is ostensibly a crime. It continues, not because hunting people wish to defy the law, but because an activity so central to their lives can no more be stopped than their heartbeats. They have had to adjust. But they cannot live in the countryside without also sharing it with their animals.

 I first encountered hunting in my early forties. It was quite by chance that I should be trotting down a Cotswold lane on a friend's old pony when the uniformed centaurs came galloping past. One minute I was lost in solitary thoughts, the next I was in a world transfigured by collective energy. Imagine opening your front door one morning to put out the milk bottles, and finding yourself in a vast cathedral in ancient Byzantium, the voices of the choir resounding in the dome above you and the congregation gorgeous in their holiday robes. My experience was comparable. The energy that swept me away was neither human nor canine nor equine, but a peculiar synthesis of the three: a tribute to centuries of mutual dependence, revived for this moment in ritual form.

 There is a singular and indescribable joy that comes from the co-operation between species. We go out together, a tribe, a herd and a pack, and move together in mutual understanding. We share dangers and triumphs, we are exhilarated and downcast simultaneously, and there grows between us a kind of unsentimental attachment that is stronger and deeper than any day-to-day companionship. This experience has been celebrated since ancient times. From the boar hunt that begins at line 428 of Homer's Odyssey to the fox hunt that forms the climax of Trollope's The Eustace Diamonds, hunting has been used to lift characters from their daily circumstances, and to place them in another predicament, which rouses their animal spirits and puts them to a very special kind of test. The wall of domesticity has been broken down, and we cross it to "the other side of Eden", as the anthropologist Hugh Brody describes the world of the hunter-gatherer.

 In that world, animals are not the tamed and subservient creatures of the farmyard or the family house; they are our equals, with whom we are joined in a contest that may prove as dangerous to the hunter as it is to his quarry. In the paintings that adorn the caves of Lascaux, we see the beasts of the wilderness portrayed by people who lived in awe of them, who conjured them into their own human dwelling place. The aura that emanates from these images emanates also from our hunting literature, reminding us that we too are animals, and we live with an unpaid debt towards the creatures from whom we have stolen the Earth.

 In a sense we know much about the experience of the hunter-gatherer, since it is the experience that shaped us, and which lies interred like an archaeological stratum beneath the polished consciousness of civilised man. At its greatest, the art and literature of hunting aims to retrieve that experience, to re-acquaint us with mysterious and sacred things which are the true balm to our suburban anxieties, but which can be recuperated now only by returning, in imagination, to a world that we have lost.

 In hunting you are following, and the thing you follow is a pack of hounds, which in turn follows a scent. Some follow on horseback and are part of the action; others follow by foot, bicycle or car. All are returning, to a certain extent, to a pre-agrarian condition. The landscape is being "thrown open" to its pre-historical use, and although the freedom taken by the hunt is at the same time a freedom offered by those with the power to forbid it, both parties to the deal are recapturing freedom of another and more deeply implanted kind. Hunting, which dissolves the boundaries between species, dissolves the boundaries between people too.

 The thrill of jumping comes from this: you are abolishing the boundary that had vainly tried to exclude you. For a brief moment you are laying aside the demands of farming, and the man-centred individualism that farming engenders, and roaming across a landscape that has not yet been parcelled out and owned. The fields that I see from my window do not, for me, end at my boundary but stretch beyond it, to the place where the hounds of the Vale of White Horse hunt must be called off from the territory of the Old Berkshire, where "ours" becomes "theirs", and the riot of followers must turn back.

 That feeling of "ours" is expressed in many social events besides hunting: in fun rides, farmers' breakfasts, hunt balls and point-to-points. Those events form part of an intricate web of social relations through which we join in the collective possession of our whole locality, and override our separate private claims. It is this sense of community that will bring us all together today, in order to renew our commitment to the place where we are.


Mother wins apology after council tries to take her disabled children away

A mother who spent a year fighting to stop social services taking her disabled twins into care after she was accused of making up a condition which made them unable to walk has won an apology from her local council.

Thomas and Daniel Bristow, both now three, are unable to walk because of a rare muscle disorder called hypotonia.   But their mother Victoria Bristow said the council had never provided the help that she needed to look after them and after she asked for it repeatedly they tried to take the children away.

She said she was accused of making up their condition in order to obtain help with looking after them, and it was only after a year-long legal battle that the local authority backed down, in October this year.

Mrs Bristow said doctors had confirmed the boys were "permanently functionally disabled" but the council believed they would get better with a course of physiotherapy.

The 36-year-old, from Norwich, has now received an apology from Norfolk County Council but she said it was still failing to provide enough help for them.  The former care worker said she was struggling after the birth of the boys in 2009, being poorly after suffering two major haemorrhages, and that the council were unable to provide any help.

When the twins were 14 months old and unable to stand up or even bear weight on their legs, Mrs Bristow and her husband Paul, who works in Norfolk council's HR department, became concerned and saw doctors about their condition.   "They have got low muscle tone which kind of means they are a bit like rag dolls," she said. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital said it was "a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy".

She and her husband, 34, who suffers from arthritis, were struggling increasingly to carry them up and down the stairs. But she said the council had doubts about the condition.

"There was the thought that the boys' disability was down to our parenting style somehow," she said, explaining that they had been criticised for withdrawing the children from physiotherapy which was not helping.

Mrs Bristow said when an assessment finally took place social workers expressed concern that the children might be at risk, partly due to her mental health. She said she suffers from a mild form of depression.   "The assessment concluded that due to my mental health and because they didn't understand why the boys were disabled, they felt they were at risk of neglect, and needed to be taken into immediate foster care, with no plans for reuniting with us."

The Bristows learnt of the conclusion in a letter delivered in October last year, and for a year lived with the fear that the boys would be taken away if the council obtained a court order.   Mrs Bristow said she "was accused of trying to use their disabilities to gain services' attention".

"The idea is the parent makes up an injury to gain attention. They were accusing me of making up the boys' disabilities. Actually, we hadn't recognised the extent of their disabilities. They are very disabled little boys."

She added: "I couldn't bear the thought of losing my children so I researched the law and I fought like crazy."

After months of delay, the case was concluded in her favour.

Mrs Bristow said: "We have never ever deliberately harmed them in any way at all."

She said she now planned to support other families in similar situations.

Lisa Christensen, director of children's services at Norfolk County Council, said it was not possible to "comment in detail" on cases involving children as the information was confidential.   But she added: "I can say in general terms that social workers have a very difficult job to do and can justifiably be criticised if they fail to respond in cases where concerns have been raised."

She also said that the council provided a "range of support" to disabled children but that in some cases there was a "difference of opinion between the parents and the agencies involved about the level and nature of services provided".   "In this case we have acknowledged and apologised for mistakes made and are anxious to work with the family in the interests of the children."


Prof Dawkins should have a little faith in my guardian angel

Bringing up a child Catholic is worse than abusing it, according to Richard Dawkins - but where's his evidence, asks Mary Kenny

A man is entitled to hold any opinion he chooses, and when Richard Dawkins states that being raised a Catholic is worse than child abuse he is free to say so. "Horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was," he said the other day, "the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place."

But atheistic scientists such as Prof Dawkins are usually keen on asking for "evidence-based" data to back up opinions. There are more than a billion Roman Catholics globally, but Prof Dawkins rested his thesis on the experience of one person: a Protestant friend was told she would "roast in Hell" by some daft priest in America.

I dare say several events inflicted psychological damage in my childhood - being made to give away my doll's house by an insistent aunt, not being able to afford a pony, not being sent to ballet school after reading Noel Streatfeild - all linger in the memory as childhood scars. Yet the form of Catholicism in which I was raised was basically warm-hearted; and I adored the rituals of our lovely Maytime processions, the sweet hymns to Our Lady and the general reassurance that my guardian angel would watch over me and I shouldn't do anything to shame him.

Far from thinking Protestants would roast in Hell, we believed Protestants were often better than we were. They had a reputation for being honest in business and were charitable. We did pity them for one thing: Irish Protestants weren't allowed to go to the pictures on Sunday.

There were abiding rules, based on the Ten Commandments, but there was also tolerance for "the sinner", as the just man falls 77 times a day. You were told "judge not, that ye be not judged"; but if you steal, you must make restitution. You should never let the sun go down on your anger and if you're having a rotten time, Offer it Up. None of this had a psychologically damaging effect on me, and I trust that Prof Dawkins will factor my witness, too, into any "evidence-based" future pronouncements.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


27 December, 2012

Britain's 'crazy' health and safety rulings attacked

 "Jobsworth" officials are wrongly applying health and safety rules to prevent people undertaking everyday activities, a minister says today.

 Mark Hoban, the minister for employment, said that the "crazy" interpretation of health and safety rules must stop.  "It's time for authorities, businesses and other organisations to stop hiding behind the catch-all, cop-out term "health and safety" and come clean on the real reasons for these crazy decisions," he said.

 "The jobsworths can't be allowed to get away with it."

 Writing for telegraph.co.uk, the minister recalled a recent incident when he went to buy a Christmas tree and was told that health and safety rules meant that the sellers could not trim the trunk for him.

 He also described an employer in his constituency who refused to let work placement students make tea and coffee in case they injured themselves.   "That's just nonsense - and it drives me mad," Mr Hoban said.

 Mr Hoban's remarks come after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the rules are often being wrongly applied or used an excuse.

 The HSE looked at 100 cases, and found that in 38, health and safety rules were simply being used as an excuse for unpopular decisions. In more than a quarter of cases, the rules had simply been wrongly applied.

 To highlight mistaken uses of the rules, the HSE has published a list of the worst misuses.   Among the worst examples:

 <> A bus driver refused to allow a customer to board while carrying a hot drink in case it spilled.

 <>A Bar refused to let a customer carry tray of drinks because they had not been 'health and safety trained'

 <>A charity shop said that it cannot sell knitting needles because they could be dangerous.

 <>A school banned yo-yos because children might injure themselves with the toys.

 Judith Hackitt of the HSE said that such "stupid" decisions are undermining rules that, properly enforced, can prevent death and injury.

 She said: "It's really important that we are all ready to challenge stupid decisions made in the name of health and safety, and that we as the regulator give the public the confidence to do so.

 "Not only do the jobsworths who make these ridiculous edicts waste time and money, and interfere needlessly with harmless activities, they also undermine our efforts to reduce the number of people made ill, injured or killed by their work."


Forget the sympathy and counselling. Just lock up my burglar!

Rachel Johnson encounters the useless British police

The last time I wrote about a crime in the family - after my younger son was relieved of his BlackBerry in London's Holland Park in broad daylight - a certain local politician complained of me putting it about that the capital's streets were in the grip of a `middle-class mugging epidemic' ahead of an important election.

Well, even as Plebgate turns to Plodgate, I have another crime to report. On the heartbreak scale, nothing like Robert Peston's recent loss of jewellery belonging to his late wife, Sian Busby. But unpleasant enough.

I got home after a festive gathering and my older son rushed to greet me at the front door, his face stricken. He'd been sitting watching TV downstairs and heard a noise. He thought nothing of it, but when he went into the kitchen he discovered we'd been burgled.
Cut the sympathy: The Johnson family have received a house call and phone call from victim support offering counselling as well as two letters from the police since the MacBook was stolen

Cut the sympathy: The Johnson family have received a house call and phone call from victim support offering counselling as well as two letters from the police since the MacBook was stolen

I admit, officer, that the back door to the house was unlocked at the time. Unlocked by me. We'd been burgled, and my son's new MacBook stolen.

Now the MacBook was replaceable, of course, unlike treasured family jewels, let alone a beloved wife. But still: it was a laptop a teenager had worked for weeks in a restaurant kitchen over his summer to buy.

`Did you insure it, like I said?' I asked. `No,' he said shortly, working away on my laptop. `But I've got tracking.' `Oh good,' I said, not knowing what he meant.

The police turned up, then left, saying they'd be in touch, which they most certainly were. Since the `incident', we've had a house call from Victim Support, a call asking us whether we needed counselling, a letter expressing sympathy, and a letter asking if we wanted more counselling.

Something astonishing happened three days later. While nothing seemed to be occurring on the crime-solving front, the tracking was working like something out of Spooks. Prey Project software sent us a three-pronged report, generated from the nicked laptop. And very interesting it was, too.

The first part was a photo taken by the stolen MacBook of the first person who'd gone online since the theft. It showed the large face of a bald gentleman.

he second showed the home screen of the missing laptop, where our gent was logged into Facebook. The third was a map, which zoomed in on the current location of the missing item, to a radius of 110 yards.

Now, you would have thought that when we excitedly told our detective constable that we had a visual, the Facebook profile, and almost exact location of the current `owner' of the stolen item on the mean streets of Ealing, as well as the laptop's serial number and IP address, he would have hopped in a panda car, and gone all Life On Mars. But he didn't.

Explaining why would take ages: essentially, all the information generated and given was still insufficient to execute a search warrant. So this is where we are. Nowhere.

Now, I presume that the local constabulary feel it's `job done' because they turned up, fingerprinted, gave us a crime number, and offered counselling. But it's not. The one important box remains unticked: they have not solved the crime or, in my view, really tried to. There has been no - in the jargon - `justice outcome'.

After we'd stopped even getting letters offering tea and sympathy,  I called them. `How about I go to Ealing and do a Mummy Stakeout followed by a citizen's arrest myself?'  I suggested. There was a pause. `I advise against attending an unknown location due to obvious risk,' the DC replied.

Then he said, as if I'd be pleased: `The image of the man in possession of the computer has been fed through the Met's facial-recognition software without result and has been circulated to Ealing's safer neighbourhood team.'

I can't help feeling we're on our own here, and this is also why a desperate Peston, I presume, has taken to Twitter, and published photographs of the missing rings, and appealed for their return.

It's as if Plod is now devoting more resources to aftercare than investigation when it comes to theft.

As I've learnt, while apps and spy software may reveal where your electronic babies are, they won't help you get them back. Even if the cops had kicked down doors in Ealing, they say my son would only get into a protracted civil dispute over who had legal claim on the item, which had doubtless been fenced on within hours for œ50 or so on the Uxbridge Road.

So if you have splashed out on anything expensive and electronic, do remember: if you don't buy insurance (and check your household insurance, too - it turned out we didn't have any, which was happily my husband's fault), Father Christmas will be giving the present to some light-fingered footpad, who will flog it on within hours, making it virtually irrecoverable.

Not that insurance, of course, would help when it comes to Sian Busby's rings, or the necklace  saying `Mum', given to her by their teenage son, Max.

No tracking can ever find them;  no amount of compensation can  ever replace them. When the police appear to care as little for our possessions as those who have stolen them do, then we are all robbed - of our faith in the force.


British judge criticises Government for focus on 'minority issue' of gay marriage

A High Court judge has criticised the Government for focusing on the "minority issue" of gay marriage during a time in which society was facing a "crisis of family breakdown".

Sir Paul Coleridge questioned the decision to concentrate on an issue that affects "0.1%" of the population at a time when break-ups were leaving millions of children caught up in the famiy justice system.

The comments by the judge - who started a charity to try to stem the "destructive scourge" of divorce - come after plans for gay marriage were criticised by the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales as undemocratic and totalitarian.

Sir Paul said that his charity, the Marriage Foundation, did not take a stance on same-sex marriage.

But he told a newspaper: "So much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1 per cent of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown.

"It's gratifying that marriage in any context is centre stage... but it [gay marriage] is a minority issue. We need a much more focused position by the Government on the importance of marriage."

Sir Paul added: "The breakdown of marriage and its impact on society affects 99.9% of the population. That is where the investment of time and money should be, where we really do need resources."

The overall divorce rate remained "miles too high", he said, resulting in 3.8 million children in the family justice system.   "This is an obscene level of family breakdown," said the judge.

It comes after Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, used his sermon at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve to accuse ministers of acting to legalise same-sex marriage in defiance of public opinion.

The Coalition has said it will change the law to allow homosexual couples to marry. It says churches that do not wish to hold same sex marriages will not have to, and the Church of England will be excluded from the legislation.

The plans have been criticised by dozens of Conservative MPs, and campaigners opposed to the new law say there is no public support for the change. Roman Catholic leaders have been among the fiercest critics if the plan.


Capitalism With a Human Face: A Golden Age

Ralph Benko

There's an urban legend besetting the urbane that capitalism is a system of privilege designed for the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world. Not so. Capitalism works at least as well for us Bob Cratchits as it does for misers, probably better. Capitalism is the only proven mechanism by which the workers of the world may unite to lose their chains.

The big picture is set out in a recent article in the UK's The Spectator:  "It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age."

This world scoop lays out paragraph after paragraph of impressive evidence for its thesis. One of the most compelling points:

"In 1990, the UN announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. It emerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism. Buying cheap plastic toys made in China really is helping to make poverty history. And global inequality? This, too, is lower now than any point in modern times. Globalisation means the world's not just getting richer, but fairer too."

As this columnist has pointed out here before, in The End of Politics, World Peace is breaking out. This is obscured by media reportage focusing on carnage. And yet the peace, which is real, represents a brisk tailwind for the forces of small "l" liberal small "r" republican governance - and a headwind for the Big Government/Dark Side of the Force crowd. As The Spectator puts it, bringing billions of souls out of extreme poverty "did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism." World Prosperity, as well as Peace, is emerging: "a golden age."

Real capitalism is a humanitarian force. Making capitalism synonymous with miserliness is what Marxists call false consciousness. A great example of capitalism with a human face - with a beard, even! - is Garry Kvistad, founder and proprietor of Woodstock Chimesr.

Whenever you hear a wind chime, or see one in a gift shop, chances are that it's a Woodstock Chime. Woodstock is - by far - the market leader. It earned its market leadership by providing a superb quality product at a competitive price, reliable service, and good management. It began, as so many companies do, with its founder's passion. From Chimes.com:

"Being a recent college graduate, Garry found the materials for his metallophone at the local landfill - it was made from the aluminum tubes of discarded lawn chairs! Garry was fascinated by the Scales of Olympos, a 7th century Greek pentatonic scale that can't be played on a modern piano. His metallophone experiment was so successful that he had the idea to cut and tune lawn chair tubes to the exact frequency of the scale and create a windchime from the tubes. . The Chime of Olymposr was the first Woodstock Chime.."

Kvistad, a Grammyr Award winning musician, also is a founder and participant of the most highly regarded percussion ensemble working today, NEXUS. And as he said, over craft beer, to this columnist, "It's clear that if you wish to pursue a career in New Music - performing works by extraordinary composers such as Steve Reich and John Cage - you'd better have a supplementary source of income."

In addition to freeing Garry to play the music that delights him (and audiences worldwide) the Kvistads have distributed millions of dollars of profits philanthropically. Many who have earned wealth are generous givers. (Actually. Republicans, very well advertised as, to a man, rich, mean, and miserly, have a well-documented track record, as noted by George Will, of charitableness consistently far in excess of that of the equally well advertised sweet, generous, wealthy Democrats. Go figure. No implication intended that the Kvistads might be sinister Republicans. Perish the thought.)

Let it not be thought, however, that the laws governing Hippie Capitalism are somehow kinder, gentler, or more renewable, than that of Republican Square Capitalism. To most everyone's surprise it turns out that the laws of economics, being laws of nature, apply to all equally. The law of supply and demand, like the law of gravity, applies to Progressives as well as conservatives. (This is a fact mostly unnoticed, or at least unforgiven, by Progressive policy makers.)

Some years ago, Kvistad noticed that international suppliers were beginning to sell chimes almost as good as Woodstock's, and more cheaply. The necessary response, as it turned out, did not involve redeploying to the city dump in search of more discarded lawn chairs. "We had always manufactured our chimes right here, near Woodstock," Kvistad told me. "It was very gratifying to be able to provide work to skilled artisans here in my home town. Yet it was clear to me that if we continued to make them here we soon would be out of business and providing no jobs at all. So I sought out and found reliable, high quality, ethical suppliers - in China and Indonesia - and. between natural workforce attrition, people moving on or moving away, and retraining my team to handle the complexities of managing an inventory built abroad, I was able not only to keep jobs here in America but to generate more highly skilled, better paying, jobs right here. It was a positive, not a negative, sum game.  We also sell in Europe, Canada, and are opening up a distribution center in the UK. All of that goes to create more American jobs."

Kvistad's action provides empirical proof, as if more were needed, of Tamny's Law (named for the editor of Forbes.com Opinion who has reiterated this observation ad infinitum, and, one hopes, will continue to do so until the policy elites come to grips with reality): "Technology erases unnecessary work so that we can constantly migrate toward more productive pursuits. We destroy jobs to create better ones."

It begins to appear that the world is entering, as The Spectator noted in emulation of this columnist, "a golden age." ("A Golden Age" has been this column's categorical title for over two years. Memo to The Spectator: Forbes scooped you.) A golden age may prove precursor, rather than the predicate, of a return to the classical gold standard. As the rest of the world honors, rather than attempts to override, the natural laws governing the production of goods and services the rest of the world becomes more prosperous . and fair. Will the political elites of the developed world continue to adopt policies calculated to induce "economic doldrums"? Perhaps the sight of equitable prosperity blossoming all around us will inspire our own policy makers toward capitalism.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


26 December, 2012

Bentley axes its company chaplain in case he upsets non-Christian workers: Employees start campaign to have him reinstated

Any chaplain worth his salt is well used to dealing with people who are not committed Christians.  This is an appalling way to treat an elderly vicar.  It is just anti-Christian bigotry

Every week for ten years the Rev Francis Cooke visited the shop floor at Bentley, offering counselling and advice to the luxury car maker's workers.  But only days before Christmas he has been made redundant because the company says he might offend non-Christians.

It said there were too many religions represented among the 4,000-strong workforce at its factory to warrant a Christian chaplain.

Mr Cooke called the decision 'ridiculous' and said he spoke to workers of all faiths.

Staff have started a campaign to reinstate the vicar, who they said was an 'important figure' who had even helped one employee who had been on the brink of suicide.

Mr Cooke was directly employed by Bentley - it would pay the Diocese of Chester, which would then transfer the funds to the chaplain.  He had outside roles, but this was his only paid work.

He said: 'It is just beyond belief. The reason I have been given is that there are too many people of different faiths to warrant a Christian chaplain. Everyone thinks it is quite ridiculous. There have been no complaints against me and my position is to help people and not just those who are Christians.'

He said he had been told to leave immediately after bosses said they needed to take a 'multi-faith outlook'.

He would visit the factory in Crewe, Cheshire, once a week for six hours, and also ran Christian courses and wrote a message in the firm's newsletters.

'It is not just about offering religious services,' he said. 'I provide counselling to workers who have stresses at home such as broken marriages. I would spend a few minutes with each person which would be enough to help them feel better.

'I feel that there is something else behind this.'

Mr Cooke said there had been a change since the appointment of new personnel by German firm Volkswagen, which took over the British brand in 1998.

'There have been many new faces around recently and I noticed I was being watched when I was talking to some of the staff even if it was just for a matter of seconds or minutes. I knew something was going on and that there was trouble ahead.'

Yesterday one worker said: 'We have started a petition as we want him back. Everyone is really angry about it.'

Retired employee John Austin, 67, said: 'He was there for a lot of people. I know one individual who was feeling suicidal, but Francis turned him around.  He was a very important man at the factory.'

A Bentley Motors spokesman said: 'We have a wide range of faiths and want to take a multi-faith outlook. It would be very difficult to have somebody from each faith.

'This now gives us the opportunity to look at this and recognise the range of faiths we have here.'


Britain spending more on welfare payments than Scandinavians with 7 out of 10 children living in a home receiving handouts

Britain pays out more on welfare than high spending social democratic nations in Scandinavia, according to a think-tank.

Nearly seven out of ten children now live in a home that receives at least one cash handout other than child benefit, says the hard-hitting study by the Institute for Economic Affairs.

And some 17 per cent of children - around 2.1 million - live in a home where no adult is working `easily the highest rate in Europe'.

The think-tank's report, Redefining the Poverty Debate, spells out how a generation of the less well-off have become enslaved to state benefits that have done little to cure the problem of poverty.  It says: `Social expenditure in the UK stands at one of the highest levels in the world.

`In terms of overall social spending, the UK has overtaken traditionally social democratic nations such as the Netherlands, Norway and Finland.

`In terms of family benefits (spending on items such as child tax credit, child benefit, childcare subsidies) the UK has overtaken all of the Nordic countries.'

Figures published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development last year show that Britain spends 3.6 per cent of national income on benefits for families.

That compares with 3.4 per cent in Sweden, 3.3 per cent in Denmark, 2.9 per cent in Norway and 2.8 per cent in the Netherlands.

Kristian Niemietz of the IEA writes: `The conventional textbook distinction between a high-spending Nordic model and a lowspending Anglo-Saxon model has become completely obsolete.

`The state has become a major income provider for well over half the population.'

For households in the bottom 20 per cent of the income scale `the government is the main breadwinner, with cash benefits representing by far the most important income source'.

Mr Niemietz added: `What is more remarkable is that, in the second quintile, cash transfers also contribute almost as much to total income as market earnings.

Even households in the middle quintile receive a quarter of their income directly from the state.'

The report also calls for radical reforms to welfare spending to end penalties in the system that makes families `financially better off' to split up.

The report found that a couple with two children both working 16 hours a week would receive œ11,545 in tax credits and child benefit, while a single parent with one child working would receive œ8,160, meaning the same couple could earn more than œ16,000 if they separated.

The report warns that even the government's new universal credit system will do little to iron out the problems.

It argues that the average family could be œ745 better off if ministers backed more planning reforms to reduce house prices, reformed the Common Agricultural Policy to slash food costs, reduced sin taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, removed subsidies for green energy and deregulated childcare services.

Calling for a radical rethink of how to tackle poverty, the report found that sin taxes eat up 10 per cent of the disposable income of the poorest families.


Free Speech, The Disfavored Stepchild Of U.S. Law

In a recent column, George Will discussed how college students have been disciplined for racial or discriminatory "harassment" for constitutionally protected expression, such as reading a history book about ugly past racial events, or discussing unpleasant truths about racial or religious matters:
In 2007, Keith John Sampson, a middle-aged student working his way through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a janitor, was declared guilty of racial harassment. Without granting Sampson a hearing, the university administration - acting as prosecutor, judge and jury - convicted him of "openly reading (a) book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject." . . .

The book, "Notre Dame vs. the Klan," celebrated the 1924 defeat of the Ku Klux Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But some of Sampson's co-workers disliked the book's cover, which featured a black-and-white photograph of a Klan rally. Someone was offended, therefore someone else must be guilty of harassment. . .

At Tufts, a conservative newspaper committed "harassment" by printing accurate quotations from the Quran and a verified fact about the status of women in Saudi Arabia. . . .

In 2007, Donald Hindley, a politics professor at Brandeis, was found guilty of harassment because when teaching Latin American politics he explained the origin of the word "wetbacks," which refers to immigrants crossing the Rio Grande. Without a hearing, the university provost sent Hindley a letter stating that the university "will not tolerate inappropriate, racial and discriminatory conduct." The assistant provost was assigned to monitor Hindley's classes "to ensure that you do not engage in further violations of the nondiscrimination and harassment policy." Hindley was required to attend "anti-discrimination training."

Why does this sort of nonsense persist? One reason is that college administrators don't fear First Amendment lawsuits very much. If a state university violates the First Amendment, often it pays nothing for the violation. The Eleventh Amendment protects a state university from having to pay any monetary damages for such a violation. (The Supreme Court has said that Congress can waive Eleventh Amendment immunities to protect civil rights, but Congress has only done so for discrimination cases, not First Amendment cases.) State university officials - as opposed to the university itself - can be individually sued for First Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. 1983, but they are protected by the defense of qualified immunity from having to pay any monetary damages at all, unless the court finds that they not only violated the First Amendment, but did so in a very clear way that was obviously unconstitutional under an appeals court's own past rulings, or past rulings by the Supreme Court - any legal ambiguity, and they are protected against damages. (See, e.g., Reichle v. Howards, 132 S.Ct. 2088, 2094 (2012) (the right "violated must be established, not as a general proposition, but in a particularized sense"); Harrell v. Southern Oregon University, 474 Fed. Appx. 665 (9th Cir. July 20, 2012) (circuit court of appeals granted qualified immunity because "the appropriate speech standard for college and graduate students' speech remains an open question in this circuit"; First Amendment violation must be "sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood" that it was illegal)(emphasis added).)

And the university sometimes manages to avoid any injunction or attorneys fees being awarded against it by dropping the challenged speech restriction or discipline at the last minute, before trial, thus mooting out the lawsuit on the eve of what would otherwise be a defeat for the school. Free speech may be priceless, but for a school's bottom line, First Amendment violations are cheap.

Colleges fear many other kinds of lawsuits much more. For example, colleges live in fear of even the remote possibility of a discrimination or harassment suit, which can lead to lottery-sized damage awards against the college - and in some cases, individual college administrators - even if the harassment was by a student, not school staff, and the school itself tried (imperfectly) to stop it. Neither qualified immunity nor the Eleventh Amendment shield against suits brought under laws like the Rehabilitation Act, Title VI, or Title IX. Recently, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a million-dollar damage award against a school district under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, for racial harassment committed against a student by his classmates, since it said the school district's efforts to stop the harassment were "half-hearted" and thus insufficient to avoid liability. The school district in Zeno v. Pine Plains Central School District should have prevailed under the governing legal standard laid down by the Supreme Court - which requires the plaintiff to show "deliberate indifference," not mere negligence, by school officials, in order to qualify for monetary damages - but the appeals court ignored the obvious difference between indifference and negligence, and upheld the massive damage award after finding the school district failed to respond as required by Education Department guidance and court rulings - even though that guidance and those court rulings predated the Supreme Court's Gebser and Davis decisions requiring a showing of deliberate indifference, rather than mere negligence, and thus could not justify holding the school district liable. (Universities' liability for harassment is sometimes even broader under state law, since state sexual- and racial-harassment laws in states like New Jersey only require a showing of negligence by the school district for liability, unlike the federal laws, Title VI and Title IX, which require a showing of "deliberate indifference"; and since punitive damages against a school are sometimes available under state law, unlike their federal counterparts, Title VI and Title IX.) Damages in other types of discrimination cases can also be massive, such as the case discussed at this link, in which a dental student obtained a $1.7 million award over  her disabilities-rights claim, including a $1 million punitive damages award against an individual associate dean who allegedly failed to accommodate her attention-deficit disorder.

Partly to avoid potentially massive liability for harassment and discrimination under state and federal law, colleges have created intricate civil-rights and human resource bureaucracies. For example, in 2011, the University of California at San Diego created a new full-time "vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion." As Heather Mac Donald notes, this position augmented "UC San Diego's already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor's Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women's Center."

By contrast, there is no institutional apparatus on campus designed to protect free speech or avoid First Amendment violations. Thus, perhaps it should not be too surprising when a college's racial harassment bureaucracy convicts a student of racial harassment for First Amendment activity like "openly reading a book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject." Colleges have created a large, overzealous, hair-trigger bureaucracy to deal with allegations of real or imagined harassment, which inevitably results in some cases of non-harassing speech or innocent activity being erroneously treated as harassment. Colleges view it as better to avoid any risk of a racial-harassment lawsuit that could cost a college a bundle (even at the risk of some false convictions), rather than guarding against a First Amendment violation that will cost a college very little. Thus, students have been disciplined for racial or sexual harassment for expressing commonplace views on subjects such as affirmative action, feminism, and the death penalty. See Brief Amici Curiae of Students for Individual Liberty et al., in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 1998 WL 847365 (filed Dec. 8, 1998) (No. 97-843). A costly racial-harassment lawsuit was brought against a college and a professor over the professor's emails on racially charged immigration topics; a federal trial judge in Arizona refused to dismiss the lawsuit against them, saying that the emails constituted illegal racial harassment; the harassment lawsuit was later dismissed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on First Amendment grounds; the appeals court cited the fact that the emails were not aimed at any of the specific Hispanic plaintiffs who sued over them, and thus were protected even if they were viewed as a "racially hostile work environment." (See Rodriguez v. Maricopa Community College, 605 F.3d 703 (9th Cir. 2010).)

Once upon a time, the Supreme Court spoke of free speech as having a preferred position among legal rights, saying that "freedom of speech" and "freedom of religion are in a preferred position," and that a "preferred place" and "priority" are "given in our" constitutional "scheme to the great, the indispensable democratic freedoms secured by the First Amendment." (See Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 115 (1943), West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 639 (1943), and Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 516, 529 -30 (1945).)

Sadly, the legal community no longer feels the same way today. Free speech is the disfavored stepchild of the law.


Leftist bias at Australia's main public broadcaster

THE response by the managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corp, Mark Scott, to Janet Albrechtsen's piece on ABC bias, almost defies belief. It is not the first time he has argued this case, even as he presented figures to a senate inquiry on the biased make-up of the panellists on Insiders.

Somehow, Scott trusts his "outstanding" commentators, by claiming that they are "carrying no ideological badge and pushing no line". Well that settles it, doesn't it?

There has been a very long tradition of accusations of bias in our national broadcaster. In 1981, the Dix report, a committee of review of the ABC, strongly recommended that current affairs programs would be "most arresting, informative and effective, and attract wider audience patronage, if more efforts were made to open the programs to a wider range of viewpoints".

Following the Dix report, the Institute of Public Affairs published a first attempt at media analysis. It looked "at the range of ideas being discussed in selected ABC programs over a period of time to see whether they appear to favour any particular political philosophy".

To his credit, author Ken Baker understood the "range of issues" should be related to "the views of the community". Thirty years on, the ABC is still resisting accusations it is completely out of touch with the community.

That the managing director doesn't see this defies well established perceptions from journalists themselves. In groundbreaking research in 1995 and 1998, John Henningham, a professor at Queensland University published a couple of papers on journalists' perceptions of bias and the ideological differences between them and their public.

What is striking about the research is that the journalists clearly rated the ABC as pro-Labor, indeed as the most pro-Labor of the major media outlets. In this light, indignant protests that the ABC is balanced become plain silly.

Similarly, to deny that there is a large gap between ABC presenters and their audience is simply unsustainable after Henningham surveyed 173 journalists and 262 members of the public in metropolitan Australia. He found an enormous difference between these two groups, with journalists consistently having a much more "progressive" views than the general public. The denial in the ABC has reached a point it does even bother to attempt balance. Albrechtsen has clearly outlined the major offenders. With the polls suggesting a Gillard wipeout, there is a feeling of "end of days" denial in the ABC and they, like Gillard, are going for broke.

A timely book by Californian academic Tim Groseclose, Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind is at pains to point out that political bias "does not mean not being truthful, or reporting facts honestly or even objectively". If there is one lesson to be learned and many of us in Australia have been saying it for years it is about the selectivity of issues, the bias that is formed by the things that are not reported, and in interviews, by the people who are not interviewed.

This is an exquisitely refined technique on the ABC. Presenters tend to interview only those experts who agree with their own opinions, thus transforming news from factual content into a point of view without appearing to express the view of the presenter. On a panel on Insiders or Q&A, one simply gets the false impression that there is a consensus.

Given this reality, Groseclose's most innovative and remarkable analysis comes from asking the question: what would the public really think if we could magically get rid of the biased media?

Left Turn's rigorous, objective methodology was able to measure the filtering that distorts the way we see the world and shows that it does indeed change the way we think. In particular, Groseclose has scrupulously used measures based on criteria selected by the Left itself as a hedge against potential criticism. His research indicates the views we hear expressed by people are not their natural views, but are distorted views of what they really think. Worse, he warns, "media bias feeds on itself".

As a result, in the US the population would, without the omnipresent media bias, score fully 20 percentage points further to the Right. If correct, this is very troubling and begs the intriguing question about the effects of the slant bias in Australia.

It also would explain why so many educated, generally mildly apolitical, well thinking middle class people with a regular diet of the ABC and Fairfax, simply are not aware that, for instance, the world has stopped warming for the past 16 years, that hurricanes and extreme weather events have declined and are not related to global warming, that Doha was a dismal failure, that the NBN has never had a cost benefit analysis, that Green jobs cost money ... and jobs, that growing the economic pie is not the same as redistributing tax revenue Bravo Tony Jones or that the Great Barrier Reef is not being destroyed.

As I explained 10 years ago on a panel at an ABC national staff conference in Melbourne; there is nothing more boring than a one-sided football match. Why doesn't the ABC be brave and challenge itself with controversial, mainstream ideas? It would be "most arresting, informative and effective", as the Dix report concluded more than 30 years ago.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


25 December, 2012

Raising a child as Christian worse than sex abuse? Oh, do put a sock in it, you atheist Scrooge

By Melanie Phillips

You really would need to have a heart harder than the five-pence piece in the Christmas pud not to feel sorry at present for Professor Richard Dawkins.

Christmas must be such a terrible trial for the planet's most celebrated - and angriest - atheist. All that cheerfulness and pleasure associated with Christianity's main celebration seems to drive him simply nuts.

Indeed, just a few days ago he lunged into yet another wild denunciation of religious faith. This time, the Chief Inquisitor of Unbelief declared that raising a child as a Catholic was worse than subjecting it to sexual abuse.

His view of religion is as cheerless as it is unbalanced. As countless others prepare for an enjoyable and - dare one say it - even spiritually uplifting holiday, Professor Dawkins seems to become all the more miserable. If Charles Dickens were writing A Christmas Carol today, surely he would have replaced Ebenezer Scrooge with the figure of the joyless, rage-fuelled Dawkins spitting out `Bah, humbug!' at families sitting down to the Christmas turkey.

After last week's census details which showed that Christianity in Britain is in decline, Dawkins rejoiced that it was `on the way out in this country'.

Well, this is tantamount to rejoicing that Britain and western civilisation are on the way out. For Christianity underpins their most fundamental moral values - ones that both believers and non-believers hold dear, such as the difference between right and wrong, respect for other people and doing good things rather than bad.

It is also woven into Britain's literature, art, music, history and national identity.

What's more, despite the decline in believers, nearly two-thirds of the population still describe themselves as Christian. If Britain stops being a mainly Christian country, then it will stop being recognisably Britain.

It is not just Dawkins and his followers, however, who are dancing prematurely on Christianity's grave.

In the eyes of just about the entire governing class, cultural milieu and intelligentsia, belief in Christianity is viewed at best as an embarrassment, and at worst as proof positive of imbecility.

Indeed, Christianity has long been the target of sneering comedians, blasphemous artists and the entire human rights industry - all determined to turn it into a despised activity to be pursued only by consenting adults in private.

As it happens, I myself am not a Christian; I am a Jew. And Jews have suffered terribly under Christianity in the past.

Yet I passionately believe that if Britain and the West are to continue to be civilised places, it is imperative that the decline in Christianity be reversed.

For it is the Judeo-Christian ethic which gave us belief in the innate equality of all human beings, the need to put others' welfare before your own and the understanding of absolute truth. Without this particular religious underpinning, our society will lose the moral bonds that instil respect and care for other human beings. Without a belief in absolute truth, it will succumb to the dominance of lies.

And it will also lose the understanding, embodied in both Judaism and Christianity, that government should be distinct from religious rule - a belief which eventually helped pave the way for democracy.

Lose Christianity, and what remains will be a vacuum which will result in religious, secular and ethnic groups fighting each other - and with the most brutal and ruthless filling the void.

Of course, non-believers can be good people, and believers can behave atrociously.

But non-believers who subscribe to the basic moral tenets of western society are subscribing - whether they like it or not - to the values given to the world by Judaism and Christianity.

Such people may not believe in God, but they were not born with these moral values encoded in their DNA. They are inescapably shaped by the Judeo-Christian culture in which such unbelievers have grown up.

Without that culture, our society would be a savage and uncivilised place, governed by selfishness, self-centredness and narcissism.

Indeed, I would go even further. Rather than religion and reason being diametrically opposed to each other - as non-believers contend - it was, in fact, the Hebrew Bible which gave us reason in the first place, by introducing the then revolutionary idea that the world had been created by a rational intelligence in linear time.

It was this belief that gave us the idea that the universe was governed by natural laws, which in turn gave rise to science and modernity.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the alarming slide in Christian belief has gone hand in hand with both the relentless coarsening and brutalisation of our culture and the progressive flight from rationality - as demonstrated by the prevalence of conspiracy theories, resistance to factual evidence, and belief in the occult. In other words, people who stop believing in God start making religions of other things. For the religious instinct seems to be hard-wired in us. Some 70 per cent believe in a soul, and more than half in life after death, and these numbers are rising.

Although many no longer go regularly to church, some 85 per cent go at least once a year - perhaps to the Christmas carol service. Despite its regrettable over-commercialisation, Christmas may be the one time when some people are exposed to the Christian message.

Many would like that message to be stronger; and not just at Christmas. But for religion to thrive, there has to be strong leadership. And both in the political and religious spheres, that has been sorely lacking.

Christmas is quintessentially the time when people get together with their families. And families are at the very heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

But for years, political leaders have done everything in their power to undermine the family by promoting nihilistic sexual licence. Even David Cameron's supposedly `family-friendly', but in fact socially liberal policies hardly correspond to Judeo-Christian principles.

Of course, we don't expect our politicians to be religious leaders. But if society is to adhere to basic moral principles, politicians have to uphold them. Yet so much of the political class is now governed by the desire for power for its own sake, rather than to make a better world.

The leadership of the Church itself has hardly been any better.

But there are high hopes of the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who appears to have a more robust and muscular understanding of Christianity than did his predecessor.

The challenge he faces, however, is much more profound than the divisions over women or gays in the clergy. These are but symptoms of the real malaise afflicting the Church of England - which is nothing less than a loss of belief in its own Scriptural doctrines.

This deep demoralisation can be traced all the way back to the birth of modernity itself, in the 18th century.

In contemporary times, it is why the Church has grovelled on the one hand to godless liberalism, and on the other to Islam. Desperately trying to appease both to stave off its own demise, the Church has succeeded instead in creating a vacuum which has only hastened it.

The single most urgent task for Bishop Welby is surely to find a language with which the Church can reach out to all those millions who are searching for something outside themselves in which to believe but who no longer find it in Christianity.

This is not just about saving the Church of England. It is about saving the culture, identity and civilisation of Britain and the West.

Happy Christmas.


Senior Roman Catholic Bishop links push for gay marriage to Nazi attack on religion in controversial Christmas sermon

A senior Roman Catholic will today use his Christmas sermon to liken plans for the legalisation of gay marriage to the way the Nazis and Communists tried to undermine religion.

The Bishop of Shrewsbury will launch a vociferous attack on the Coalition's decision to fast track a vote on same-sex marriage in the New Year.

The Right Reverend Mark Davies will use his midnight Mass to say marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

And he will accuse the Prime Minister of attempting to redefine the institution of marriage for `generations to come' without any mandate from the electorate.

Most controversially, he will equate the support for same-sex marriage with the way totalitarian regimes acted in the twentieth century.

The bishop will say that both  Hitler and Stalin challenged Christianity with the notion that what they were doing was `progress'.

He will argue that, in a similar fashion, the supporters of same-sex marriage also use the idea of `progress' to support the `redefinition' of marriage.

The bishop will conclude: `The British people have reason to ask on this night where is such progress leading?'

And he will tell the faithful that a moment has arrived for them to `stand up for what is right and true as previous generations have done before us: to give witness to the value of every human life, to the truth of marriage as the lasting union of man and woman... the foundation of family.'

In his sermon, Bishop Davies will say: `Past generations have gathered in this cathedral on Christmas night amid many shadows which seemed to obscure the future for them.

We think of the ideologies of the past century, Communism and Nazism, which in living memory threatened to shape and distort the whole future of humanity.

`These inhuman ideologies would each challenge in the name of progress the received Christian understanding of the sanctity of human life and the family. Winston Churchill, Britain's wartime Prime Minister, a man without clear, religious belief, saw in this deadly struggle nothing less than the defence of Christian civilisation.

`Few of our political leaders today appear to glimpse the deeper issues when the sanctity of human life and the very identity of marriage, the foundation of the family, are threatened.'

He will add: `This Christmas we are also conscious of new shadows cast by a Government that was pledged at its election to support the institution of marriage.

`The Prime Minister has decided without mandate, without any serious consideration, to redefine the identity of marriage itself, the foundation of the family for all generations to come.

`This is again done in the name of progress. The British people have reason to ask on this night where is such progress leading?' In another part of his sermon, the bishop calls this country's treatment of the elderly and sky-high abortion rates `the darkest shadows of our time'.

He will say: `The widespread neglect and ill-treatment of the frailest, elderly people in our society: concerns highlighted in the Care Quality Commission's recent report. The growing concerns about end-of-life care and what is happening to the most vulnerable in our hospitals.

`This dark side to our society is surely connected to the discarding of human life from the beginning in legalised abortion on an industrial scale, in reproductive technologies, in embryo experimentation which our laws have sanctioned.'

The bishop's comments come despite the fact that polls repeatedly show the public is largely in favour of allowing gay marriage.

Ruth Hunt, of gay rights group Stonewall, said: `Gay people are all too aware of the horrific results of Nazi ideology due to the countless casualties of the Holocaust.

`Bishop Davies's comments are both deeply offensive to gay people and their families.'

The Coalition has tried to defuse Church of England opposition to its plans by specifically saying it would be illegal for any Anglican vicar to marry a gay couple.


British PM's Christmas bid to calm Christian anger at gay marriage: David Cameron quotes Gospel of St John in annual message

David Cameron offered an olive branch to Christians last night, issuing the most overtly religious Christmas message by a prime minister in recent times.

He quoted from the Gospel of St John in an apparent attempt to parade his religious credentials while controversy rages about his government's plans to introduce gay marriage.

Ministers have come under fire from churchmen and MPs over the plans, on which the Commons will vote in the New Year.

Mr Cameron has regularly ignored advice that politicians in the modern age should not `do God'. But the Prime Minister went further than ever last night when he quoted from the Bible, referring to Jesus as `the light of all mankind' and the `Prince of Peace'.

He spoke about the `extraordinary year' featuring the `spectacular' Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, when `we cheered our Queen to the rafters and praised the efforts of the Armed Forces'.

But the most striking passage of his message came when he turned to the meaning of Christmas.

`Christmas gives us the opportunity to remember the Christmas story - the story about the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope that he brings to the countless millions who follow him,' he said. `The Gospel of John tells us that in this man was life, and that his life was the light of all mankind, and that he came with grace, truth and love. Indeed, God's word reminds us that Jesus was the Prince of Peace.'

He concluded: `So however you celebrate this time of year, it is my hope and prayer that you have a happy and peaceful Christmas.'

Mr Cameron's message appeared designed to defuse anger at his decision to push forward plans for gay marriage despite heavy criticism.

The Bishop of Leicester has accused him of being out of touch with the `vast majority of practising religious people' despite assurances that no churches will be forced to carry out such ceremonies.

In a speech last year Mr Cameron said the values of the Bible `go to the heart' of what it means to be British, although he admitted he was no more than a `vaguely practising' Christian `full of doubts' about theological issues.

He also used his Christmas message, to be published today, `to pay particular tribute to our brave servicemen and women who are overseas helping bring safety and security to all of us at home; their families who cannot be with them over the holidays; and to all the dedicated men and women in the emergency services who are working hard to support those in need'.

He added: `When we are celebrating with family and friends, they and many others are all working on our behalf and deserve our thoughts and appreciation.'


First Christmas with his girls for father wrongly jailed for child cruelty

Evil British social workers again

With their two smiling daughters cuddled up on his knee and his loving partner by his side, Ben Butler looks every inch the contented father.

But such scenes of simple domestic bliss are a new experience for all of them - after the family was ripped apart when he was wrongly jailed for child cruelty.

It took three years to clear his name and two more for he and the girls' mother Jennie Gray to win back Ellie and Isabella after a series of legal battles.

The four had never all lived together - and the two beautiful little girls had not even met each other until a few weeks ago after each being put into separate foster care as babies.

Now the sisters are joined at the hip, excitedly rushing up to 'daddy' and 'mummy' to ask if they can have another chocolate from their advent calendars or to show them their festive drawings of angels, stars and candles.

As the happily reunited family look forward to their first Christmas together - just one of the many milestones they were previously denied by their unjust ordeal - Mr Butler and Miss Gray, both 33, say it is 'like suddenly having grown-up twins'.

And the doting parents are delighted Ellie, five, and three-year-old Isabella are settling in so well after their return to the family home.

Mr Butler said: 'I worked out I've spent more than six months of my life in criminal and family courts over this. All we ever wanted was to be a family, but it was all so draining, there were times I thought it would never happen.

'But we knew we had to keep fighting, fighting and at last here we are back together - just like it should have been all along. We are trying to catch up on the lost years but are Ellie and Izzy are a joy.'

The ordeal began in February 2007 when Mr Butler, a removals man, saved then seven-weeks-old Ellie's life when she stopped breathing while he was looking after her - only to be accused of harming her.  He cleared her airway after she collapsed and rushed her to hospital. But doctors found head injuries similar to those caused when a baby is deliberately hurt by being shaken.

Mr Butler, of Sutton, South West London, insisted he had not harmed Ellie. Miss Gray, who was not living with him then, supported him.

But the couple were arrested and he was charged with grievous bodily harm and cruelty. Ellie, despite going on to make a full recovery, was taken in to foster care.

While awaiting trial the Family Court ruled Mr Butler could see Ellie twice a year for four hours.  Miss Gray, a graphic designer, was allowed contact with her baby six times a year for two hours at a time.

Miss Gray said: 'I was told at one point that if I went against Ben it would be to my advantage and I'd have more chance of getting my daughter back. It's outrageous.'

At his Croydon Crown Court trial in March 2009 Mr Butler was convicted. Given an 18-month sentence, he was forced to share a prison cell with a convicted child abuser.

He said: 'I was put with sex offenders. I never spoke to the guy I shared a cell with - it's like being put in a mental hospital when you're not mental. It was just a horrible, dirty feeling where everyone is on a different wavelength.' After three and a half months behind bars,  Mr Butler was released pending appeal.

Brought together by the nightmare engulfing their lives, he and Miss Gray started seeing each other again.

She became pregnant with Isabella and, by now 'terrified' of the social workers, tried to keep her birth secret. But Isabella too was also taken into foster care aged six months - and social workers wanted her to be adopted.

Mr Butler's conviction was quashed in 2010 after fresh medical evidence showed Ellie's injuries were caused by a traumatic birth and it was also highlighted how if they had been caused by shaking her full recovery 'would not have been expected'.

It further turned out that Ellie had a cyst in her throat which Mr Butler had pushed out of the way when he cleared her airway after she collapsed. The cyst is clearly visible on a scan taken in hospital, but it was not shown to the original jury.

It then took another two years of battling in the Family Court for the parents to persuade judges and social workers that Ellie, who had been allowed to live with her grandparents, Miss Gray's parents, and Isabella, should be returned to them.

Finally, in October this year, High Court judge Mrs Justice Hogg praised the couple as she ruled the two girls should be allowed to go home. She said: 'The last five and a half years must have been an extraordinarily difficult time for the parents ... [They] have weathered the storm. They have each been resilient and determined, and shown tenacity and courage... I wish the parents well: they too deserve joy and happiness.'

The couple had at last achieved their dream, but were understandably anxious how their daughters would cope. Isabella came home first, then Ellie a short while later on November 11, to their new matching pink bedrooms.

Ellie is so attached to her grandparents and had been away so long they were worried if she would settle - or be jealous of the little sister she had never met.

Miss Gray said: 'We started building them up about each other and put a picture of each other next to their beds. Their first meeting came when we took them bowling, one of Ellie's favourite things.

'We thought it would be difficult and they wouldn't be able to connect quickly. But they gave each other a kiss and they were very good with each other.  'The bond has grown between them. They play so well together and do everything together. It's so cute. Ellie helps put Izzy's shoes on and tries to do her hair for her.

'We're learning so much so fast about them, things like what their favourite colours and toys are - Ellie loves Minnie Mouse and Izzy Tinker Bell - that it's like suddenly having grown up twins.'

Mr Butler said: 'I hadn't seen Izzy for two and a half years but she was calling me 'daddy' from the first time we met again. Now you wouldn't know she'd been away. Her foster carers are lovely people and we thank them for all they did.

'But what happened to us was all so wrong. My trial came down to medical opinion only and the medical evidence just didn't add up.

'We've not had a normal life for nearly six years and the pressure has been immense. We've missed out on so many things, like seeing our daughters' first steps and some birthdays.

'Now we're just looking forward to seeing them grow up with us, taking them places and enjoying normal, everyday things. That's all we ever wanted - to be a proper family.'



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


24 December, 2012

Atheism as a religion

They  sound like pretty uncertain atheists.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  One wonders why they don't just attend their local Anglican church (e.g. the U.S. Episcopalians).  They are nice people and you don't have to believe anything to belong there.  And they have neat buildings too.  I usually go along to the Christmas day sung Eucharist at the local Anglican cathedral myself.  They put on a very good show

It isn't often that one hears of atheists attending church, however a new movement seems to be gearing up, as non-believers search for ways to create secular community groups. A Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., is holding weekly services for atheists and humanists. And, now, in London, stand-up comics are launching their own house of worship - a secular project that is sparking international attention.

The Islington Gazette is reporting that comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans are preparing for what the outlet dubs "a godless congregation," which will be located in Canonbury (a residential district in the north of London). The atheist church, called "The Sunday Assembly," will provide secular weddings, funerals and monthly services (the first Sunday of every month).

Jones and Evans, a musical impov duo, will launch the church on Jan. 6 (on the Feast of Epiphany). According to the Gazette, the two decided to create the house of worship when they realized that, while they enjoy some aspects of religion, they do not believe in a higher power.

"We thought it would be a shame not to enjoy the good stuff about religion, like the sense of community, just because of a theological disagreement," Jones told the outlet.

Rather than in-house reverends, the church will include speakers who will come in to talk about a variety of issues each month. And, much like deity-driven churches, the house of worship will include a house band led by Evans.

"We all should be ludicrously excited every single moment to be alive in one of the best countries in the world," Jones noted. "If the church becomes a useful place for others, that would be a good thing. We just want people to feel encouraged and excited when they leave."

While Jones' and Evans' new project is certainly curious, they aren't the first non-believers to share an appreciation of church culture. Author Alain de Button, too, has noted that atheists can learn quite a bit from believers.


This Is Atheists' Alternative Christmas `Holiday' That Rejects `Supernatural Religious Beliefs'?

When it comes to holiday celebrations, December is a busy time. Christians celebrate Christmas, Jews observe Hanukkah and many African descendants participate in Kwanzaa celebrations. While the month is already chock-full of cheer, it seems atheists have traditionally felt left out of the mix, so they've created "HumanLight," their own holiday to commemorate secularism.

Generally celebrated on or around Dec. 23, HumanLight is meant to tout human potential and "peace." Contrary to other holidays, this secular observance was founded as an alternative to "supernatural religious beliefs," as non-believers search for a way that they, too, can take part in the winter holiday season.

An official web site setup to describe the endeavor reads:
HumanLight illuminates Humanism's positive secular vision. In Western societies, late December is a season of good cheer and a time for gatherings of friends and families. During the winter holiday season, where the word "holiday" has taken on a more secular meaning, many events are observed. This tradition of celebrations, however, is grounded in supernatural religious beliefs that many people in modern society cannot accept. HumanLight presents an alternative reason to celebrate: a Humanist's vision of a good future. It is a future in which all people can identify with each other, behave with the highest moral standards, and work together toward a happy, just and peaceful world.

While the non-theist celebration may seem odd to those hearing about it for the first time, Religion News Service (RNS) reports that it has been around for just over a decade and is gaining traction among non-believers in some areas of the country:
This year, at least 18 groups, from New Jersey to Florida and Pennsylvania to Colorado, have ceremonies planned. And at least one government building that displays holiday scenes has added HumanLight to the roster: the county courthouse in Wabash, Ind., displays a yellow, white and red HumanLight banner on the same lawn as the Christian creche.

The holiday, which was born in the late 1990s, developed after members of the New Jersey Humanist Network began asking themselves how they, as non-believers, could commemorate the holiday season. Eventually, HumanLight became the answer everyone was apparently searching for.

In an interview with RNS, Patrick Colucci, a non-theist who helped create HumanLight, explained that, rather than focusing upon a deity, HumanLight celebrates humanity and the ability for everyone to come together to build "a more just, more peaceful and a better quality of life for all."

"The December holiday period is always a discussion for those of us who are nontheistic," Colucci told RNS News. "What are we going to do if our families want us to go to church? Should we celebrate Christmas even though we don't want to? The question came up: How come there is no holiday for the nonreligious?"

While HumanLight will certainly be new to many, it is in its 12th year of observance. Some atheists began celebrating back in 2001. It was at that time that a communal meal was held. Today, just a little over a decade after the atheist holiday commenced, new practices are included, as those who celebrate it light three candles to represent reason, compassion and hope. A fourth candle, as RNS notes, represents HumanLight itself.

Despite originating in New Jersey, other non-theist groups have adopted the holiday across America. Some hold book exchanges and charity endeavors, while others provide entertainment for children. Taking a direct page from Christmas, some celebrants even create HumanLight cards, holiday carols and ornaments.

But while some non-believers are hankering for their own reason to celebrate the season, not all atheists, agnostics and humanists are on board. In fact, Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, believes that these non-theists should simply shun all December holidays.

"Nonreligious people make themselves disappear when they cling to a `me too' holiday so as not to be seen with nothing special to do towards the end of December," he said. "We'd further increase our visibility by ignoring the holiday and pressing our employers to leave the office open on December 25."


Why atheist scientists bring their children to church

The formula seems simple: parents pass down what they believe to their children. Atheist parents don't believe in God or go to church, therefore.. Yet, a surprisingly large number of atheist scientists from elite universities raise their children in a religious community such as a church. Sociologists Elaine Ecklund (Rice University) and Kristen Lee (University of Buffalo, SUNY) found that these atheist scientists do so because they want to give their children religious choice, have a religious spouse, or think that religious communities will give their children moral bearings and community.

Unfortunately, very little research has been done concerning how atheists (and agnostics) treat religion when raising their children. Consequently, the researchers used data ready at hand-Ecklund's Religion among Academic Scientists study (RAAS). This study surveyed over 2,000 randomly-selected scientists from the top universities in the United States. It then followed up the survey with over 500 personal interviews (also randomly selected).

While the main intent of the survey had nothing to do raising children, it still collected that data and enables, arguably for the first time, an in-depth look at how atheists negotiate religion for the sake of their children. For example, interview questions included: "In what ways was religion a part of your life as a child? How was religion talked about in your family setting? If you have a family now, are there ways in which religion/spirituality come up, if they do at all? What religious or spiritual beliefs do you hold? For example, to what extent is believing in God or a god important to you?"

The researchers found that agnostics attend religious services (e.g., church) at about the same rate regardless of whether they have any children. By contrast, the attendance rate of atheists with children jumps 70% compared to those without. Children constitute a statistically significant factor in atheists attending religious services and joining religious communities. It should be noted that the atheists and agnostics in this study are all top-tier scientists, so these findings may not hold for atheists in general.

Looked at another way, contrary to popular expectation, atheist scientists show a proclivity to join a religious community when raising children. Unlike many atheists who feel isolated in a region of heavy religiosity, scientists have ready access to a community of fellow, morally minded atheists, and yet choose to raise their children in a religious community. Several reasons account for this.

First, scientists feel that having a scientific mindset means being able to make choices for oneself. Even if the scientist parent does not believe in God, this does not mean that the parent should impose that decision on his or her children-the children should think for themselves. Many scientists interviewed explicitly stated that they did not want to indoctrinate their children into atheism and so exposed their children to a diversity of religious communities.

Second - the most dominant reason - many of the scientists had a religious spouse who had a strong influence on how to raise their children. While this naturally required some negotiation, most of the scientists came from religious upbringings themselves and did not oppose a religious upbringing for their children.

In many circumstances they favored a religious upbringing because, third, they believed it would provide children with moral orientation. One scientist, who does not have children, said he would raise his children in the Catholic Church because he was raised Catholic and believes Catholicism teaches children important values.

Finally, atheist scientists raise their children in a religious setting because of the community it provides. Religious communities have a strong moral outlook and allow for intimate relationships.

Perhaps surprisingly, very few scientists listed spirituality as a reason for having their children go to church. One couple stressed that they sought a religious community that practiced their own personal form of spirituality, but for the most part, the scientists interviewed did not stress spirituality or giving their children spiritual community as a reason for joining religious communities.

Some may view these scientists in a negative light, seeing them as "free-loaders" who take advantage of the resources of a religious community without giving anything back or genuinely holding to that community's beliefs. While they certainly do not believe the religious doctrines, the study did not go into detail as to whether the scientists gave back to the religious community in terms of time or money. In short, it is not known either way, but one would hope that those seeking a moral community for their children would lead by example.


A Fatwa on Christmas

AN IMAM at Australia's biggest mosque has issued a fatwa against Christmas, warning followers it is a "sin" to even wish people a Merry Christmas.

The ruling, which followed a similar lecture during Friday prayers at Lakemba Mosque, was posted on its Facebook site on Saturday, according to media reports.

It appears the post is no longer on the page.

The head imam at Lakemba, Sheikh Yahya Safi, told the congregation during prayers they should not have anything to do with Christmas.

The fatwa reportedly warns: "Disbelievers are trying to draw Muslims away from the straight path."

It says Christmas Day and associated celebrations are among the "falsehoods" for a Muslim to avoid.

"Therefore a Muslim is neither allowed to celebrate the Christmas Day nor is he allowed to congratulate them," it says.

The fatwa has been condemned by other Muslim leaders. The Grand Mufti of Australia,  Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, was quoted by Fairfax media as saying the foundations of Islam were peace, co-operation, respect and holding others in esteem.

"Anyone who says otherwise is speaking irresponsibly," it quoted him as saying.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


23 December, 2012

Christianity being 'airbrushed' out of Christmas cards in Britain

I have found even worse  in Australia.  My local supermarket has had only cards with non-religious themes for some years now.  I have to go to the el-cheapo Indian shop next door  -- run by a Hindu -- to get cards with Christian themes

High Street retailers have been accused of "airbrushing" Christianity out of Christmas after market researchers found just over one per cent of cards feature the birth of Jesus.

Out of almost 6,000 types of Christmas card on sale in supermarkets, card shops and convenience stores sampled, only 34 featured nativity scenes.

Even when cards with other vaguely religious images, such as choirs or church pews, on the front were included, the total amounted to only two per cent.

Some shops had no Christian-themed cards at all on sale while others had only a handful, with the rest dominated by images of Father Christmas, snowmen or Christmas trees.

A team of mystery shoppers from Nielsen brand auditors visited the card aisles in branches of supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and Morrison, as well as smaller card shops for a study commissioned by The Bible Society.   Overall they sampled 5,706 designs, of which only 34 had nativity scenes on the front. Overall there were just 66 designs which could be classed as religious, including in boxed sets.

The report concluded that cards depicting the Christmas story appeared to be disappearing from the High Street.

It comes after a poll earlier this week found that most people do not know the all words to well known Christmas carols.

And a test involving 2,000 adults and children found that while basic knowledge of the Christmas story is still strong, some people mixed up the Shepherds and Wise men with Father Christmas.

Official census figures published last week showed that the number of people describing themselves as nominally Christian plunged from almost 72 per cent 10 years ago to less than 60 per cent.

Ann Holt, a director at the Bible Society, said: "Do we really want to see Christ being airbrushed out of Christmas, the festival of his own birth.  "People love the Christmas story - it stays with us precisely because it is visible and popular. So how come it's so hard to find a picture of it in the shops?'

"If you've got a home where you have pictures of the nativity around for three or four weeks of the year - particularly if you've got a home with children, its gives you a fantastic opportunity to tell that story and so pass it on - and people do."

Danny Webster from the Evangelical Alliance said: "Taking Christ out of Christmas is becoming all too commonplace.   "Cards that ignore the basis of the Christmas story encourage us to have peace without the prince of peace and joy without the giver of joy.

"The relentless pursuit of profit means the true meaning of Christmas is lost beneath whatever sells best.

"For most people in the UK the Christian faith still has meaning, and that should encourage us to put the commercialism aside and reflect on how and why God came to earth."

Out of 24 stores visited by the mystery shoppers, all of them in Birmingham, one - a Sainsbury's Convenience Store - had no visibly Christian cards on sale at all.  Two other larger branches of Sainsbury's in the city had a handful of nativity or Christian-themed Christmas card designs on offer.

Waitrose had seven Christian themed cards on offer, out of 88 in the store visited, a much higher rate than average.

Tesco also had larger than average numbers of Christian cards on sale. Two years ago the company said it had doubled its range after letters from shoppers.   A spokeswoman said: "We listened to what our customers were telling us, and have brought in some new card designs to make sure we're offering lots of variety at Christmas time."

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said: "We offer a wide range of Christmas cards - they offer a choice and reflect what our customers want to buy from us.

"Ten per cent of the retail price is donated to our charity partners Comic Relief and FareShare".


Another bungling British regulator rapped

Why can't they get it right in the first place? Shades of the Tschenguiz bros. and Mohammed Taranissi, to name two disastrous failed prosecutions that shook the British prosecutors concerned to their foundations.  And the Jubilee Line prosecution is a collapsed fraud trial that SHOULD have sunk the British prosecution service involved (See also here)

The Office of Fair Trading has suffered fresh embarrassment over one of its most high-profile investigations after Tesco overturned a ruling that it fixed the price of cheese with other retailers and suppliers.

The supermarket group was fined œ10m last year for price fixing in 2002 and 2003 following an OFT investigation that began in 2004 and has cost millions of pounds. However, the Competition Appeal Tribunal on Wednesday rejected more than half of the OFT's findings. It said there was "insufficient evidence" to conclude that Tesco was part of concerted effort to fix the price of cheese in 2003.

It concluded that Tesco was guilty of communicating its pricing to rival retailers via a supplier three times in 2002. But five other allegations were rejected and the CAT said it would need further evidence to determine whether these were isolated incidents or a concerted price-fixing effort in 2002. The ruling means that Tesco's fine is likely to be significantly reduced in a hearing next year. Since launching the investigation, the OFT has already been forced to scrap investigations into milk and butter pricing and make a œ100,000 libel payout to Wm Morrison.

In a statement, Tesco said: "It is common ground that the industry faced unprecedented public pressure to increase the price received by farmers for their milk. We have noted the CAT's findings about three isolated communications in 2002. We have of course updated our compliance practices since that date."

The OFT said it "welcomes" the CAT findings that Tesco "infringed competition law in relation to certain anti-competitive exchanges of its pricing intentions".


Scottish racism

Scots have hated the English since at least the 14th century

By James MacMillan

I read in the Scottish press recently of the outgoing director of the National Theatre of Scotland, Vicky Featherstone, disclosing that she has endured anti-English bullying to such an extent that it briefly left her unable to do her job. I also read that this bullying had "really, really upset" her and left her "paralysed" artistically. At a time when Scottish police figures are showing record racist attacks against "white Britons", politicians are warning about anti-English rhetoric "creeping" into Scottish society, and leading voices of our parochial chateratti are railing against artistic colleagues from down south as "colonists," I would like to take the opportunity at this time of goodwill to offer a hearty Scottish welcoming embrace to the new director of the NTS, Laurie Sansom, who is also English.

The writer Alasdair Gray sparked a furore at the weekend with an essay for a book on Scottish independence, describing English people living and working in Scotland as "settlers" or "colonists". He also asked why so few Scots were given senior arts administration jobs in Scotland.

Another independence supporter, writer Kevin Williamson - who famously published Irvine Welsh's first novel, Trainspotting - has demanded a "social audit" of senior administrators and mounted a staunch defence of Gray.

I think people, north and south, will be astonished that these comments have come from intelligent people, let alone prominent artists. This is now beyond politics. Personally I would rather not get involved in the political debate as I have friends and family on both sides of the "independence" issue, and the whole thing has become quite toxic.

I have written about anti-Englishness before, for Scottish and English readerships. There is always argy-bargy about it up here, because Scots are, rightly, embarrassed about this development in our society and having it explored under an English microscope. Although partisan voices will disagree with me, I know that this problem is now significant. Artists should not be fanning the flames, and politicians, of whatever stripe, owe it to their electorates to calm these troubled waters.

The fact that Mr Sansom is also English will no doubt be a source of annoyance to the usual incoherent bar-room Scrooges in these parts. Some might want to use this Christmas period as a time for examination of conscience, to feel the appropriate shame for their lack of hospitality to Ms Featherstone and others, and move on in a more generous spirit in the New Year.


Plebgate: the blindness of the posh bashers in class-obsessed Britain

Thanks to anti-posh prejudice, too many were willing to believe that Tory ex-minister Andew Mitchell called police officers plebs

On 19 October, the UK government chief whip and Cabinet member Andrew Mitchell, resigned. At the time, it was hardly a surprise.

A month prior, Mitchell had reacted badly to being told to walk out of Downing Street, rather than cycle, by two members of the Diplomatic Protection Unit. (That's the police to you and me.) It wasn't just Mitchell's intemperate response that did for him. It was the language he used, a testament, or so it seemed at the time, to upper-class entitlement. `Best you learn your f*cking place', he was said to have barked at the two officers. `You don't run this f*cking government', he continued, before uttering the killer line, `you're f*cking plebs'.

Sadly for Mitchell, the officers, frightened by Mitchell's parting line - `you haven't heard the last of this' - logged the explosion of poshness in their notebooks (which were quickly passed up the chain of command), presumably to protect themselves against the wrath of the Tory scorned. Not that they needed to, given the fact that a member of the public was there to witness the flare-up. He subsequently emailed his account of what happened, which almost exactly corroborated the police officers' version, to John Randall, the deputy chief whip and no friend of Mitchell's. He then eagerly passed it on to the prime minister, David Cameron, who was annoyed.

If Mitchell's name was turning to mud within parliament, he was faring even worse without. First, the Sun had the story leaked to them by persons unknown, and then, incredibly, a few days after the altercation the Telegraph revealed details from the police log of the incident. For the following four weeks, Mitchell was lambasted for being a rude arrogant posho in the press, and attacked for being a rude arrogant liability by his own party. The police, through its de facto trade union, the Police Federation, also got in on the act, issuing offended press releases and parading around the Tory Party conference in Birmingham wearing `PC Pleb' t-shirts. As well they might: having been at loggerheads with the government over pay and conditions for the best part of two years, this was payback time.

Cameron tried to stick by Mitchell, who always acknowledged he'd sworn at the officers but denied using the word pleb. To no avail; the interminable focus on Mitchell was too much. So, after clinging to Mitchell for weeks, Cameron finally let him go. As I wrote at the time: `So, in short, a minister resigns because no one believes he didn't use a rather dated pejorative. What on earth is going on?'

The revelations of the last few days have made that question a little easier to answer. Thanks to the work of Channel 4's Dispatches team, it is now alleged that the witness, the person who corroborated the police officers' account with uncanny accuracy, was not actually a witness. He wasn't even there. He was in fact an off-duty policeman (who has since been arrested over the incident). Also, CCTV footage of the incident throws a bucketload of doubt upon the police version of the events, especially the contention that passers-by were shocked. There were no passers-by.

In fact, the more details that eke their way out, the more it looks like Mitchell might well have been telling the truth. The police, who are now investigating the matter, claim there is nothing to make them doubt the story of the officers Mitchell allegedly insulted. Yet with it now effectively being a case of one person's word against another, Mitchell's own account gains in plausibility. A few of Mitchell's parliamentary allies have even gone so far as to call him the victim of police stitch-up.

What is slowly emerging, then, from this turbid pile of political excreta is a snapshot of the state in something of, well, a state. That's because driving this weird palaver over Mitchell's police persiflage is a set of competing vested interests within the state itself. On the one hand, the Police Federation clearly saw an opportunity to win public support in its own fight with its governmental paymasters. This it did by positioning itself as every bit the victim of Tory poshos' arrogance as those at the sharp end of welfare cuts. So we have the strange sight of the state's armed body of men turning against one of those in whose name they act.

But the fracturing and subsequent backstabbing doesn't stop there. It is eating into the Tory party itself. What became clear from the start of Mitchell's travails was that many in his own party were quite happy to hang him out to dry, including his deputy chief whip, John Randall. Seen as one of the Cameron clique, Mitchell simply didn't have the support of other Tories. Hence the endless off-the-record stories in the press about how abrasive Mitchell was, how much of the public-school prefect he was. Mitchell's problem at the gate became an opportunity for office politics to get nasty.

There's more to the unfolding Mitchell scandal, however, than the fissiparous nature of the contemporary state. The successful removal of Mitchell didn't just depend on those actively, albeit allegedly, conspiring against him. It relied on the determination of other, both colleagues and commentators, to believe the story. For this constituency of the credulous, from opportunist opposition politicians to leftish journos, Mitchell's faux pas was perfect. That is, it fitted the tedious anti-Tory narrative of the past few years, in which posh Bullingdon bullies wage war against the poor and the needy. This wasn't and isn't true, of course. The trouble with the Tories is not that they are some nineteenth-century caricature, but that they exhibit all the incompetence and lack of purpose of contemporary politics. Today's Tories are clueless, not callous.

But the prejudice against the Tories, based on the fact that some went to public schools, was too strong. It was just obvious that Mitchell called the officers plebs; he's posh. So, according to one Guardian commentator, when Mitchell called the two police officers plebs, he revealed the `class-based bigotry' still lurking beneath the new Tory brand. Or as John Prescott wrote in the Mirror, `this incident is typical of this government's out-of-touch and stuck-up attitude towards working people'. In the words of a columnist sympathetic to Mitchell, the allegation `confirmed every ghastly suspicion that the Tory Party is led by people who really do believe themselves born to rule and therefore regard the police as no more than proletarian shock-troops at their beck and call'.

And it is that shallow, anti-posh sentiment which sustained the story for so long, and prevented anyone until now from questioning its veracity. Following in the wake of other explosions of inverse-snobbery masquerading as class war, such as the fuss around whether Cameron or chancellor George Osborne had ever eaten a Cornish pasty, Plebgate was too good not to be true. Which, as looks increasingly likely, it was not.


ODD NOTE:  This is the only *gate scandal that actually concerns a gate!


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, AUSTRALIAN 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


21 December, 2012

Politically incorrect childcare did the trick

A good and happy little boy now.  The father was wised up by his  own mother

If someone had told me before my son was born that I would find myself bolting him in his room at night, let alone issuing an ultimatum to my partner that I would move out if she didn't agree, I never would have believed them. I would have found it abhorrent.

I am aware that admitting to this is breaking a major parenting taboo and I fully expect to be vilified. But, before anyone judges me, perhaps they should read my story.

For the previous six exhausting months, Sonny, then three, had refused to stay in bed for more than a few minutes at a time, even in the middle of the night. We'd been to doctor, read endless books, and taken counsel from parents and friends.

Everything had failed. We had failed. Truly, we were at breaking point. It's no exaggeration to say we were on the brink of losing our relationship, health and sanity.  A child refusing to stay put at night sounds so harmless, until you've experienced it. Take the night that precipitated my ultimatum.  Diana had got up and put Sonny back to bed 37 times, but every  single time he got up, opened his bedroom door and came out.

'I spent hours visiting parenting websites and discovered that the topic is one of the most contentious and emotive in all of parenting'

Finally, Diana collapsed on the landing floor, holding Sonny's door handle shut as he screamed and pulled and twisted at it from inside.

I knelt beside her and held her as we both sobbed. It was by far the lowest point in our experience of parenthood. If I could have pressed a button and made Sonny go away, at that moment I would have. I hated myself for thinking it, but it was the truth.

Desperate, the next morning I gave Diana a choice: `I cannot live like this any more. Either we put a lock on his door, or I am moving out into a hotel.'

Reluctantly, she agreed. Exhausted from months of fractured sleep and on the verge of separation, we had reached rock bottom. We were constantly ill with flu, and a few days previously I'd fallen asleep in a meeting as I tried to close a œ1 million deal to launch a website.

It was worse than when Sonny was a newborn and woke every couple of hours. At least then a feed, change or comfort achieved something positive.

Sonny was two-and-a-half when his desire to escape his cot became a serious issue. He is tall and strong for his age, and mastered the art of climbing over the bars.

At first, zipping him into a toddler's sleeping bag acted as a humane restraint, as it meant he couldn't get his leg on to the top rung. But he soon worked out how to unzip the bag and extricate himself. Then, one morning shortly before his third birthday, we were woken by the sound of him crashing to the floor. In an attempt to get out, he'd fallen over the side - and we knew it was time for his first proper bed.

But that's when the trouble really started. At bedtime, Sonny would charge out of bed as we tried to leave his room, yanking the rattly door handle and opening the door.

At first, when we heard the rattling sound one of us would patiently lead him back to bed, then kiss and cuddle him back to sleep.

But he became clingy, and would go berserk when we tried to leave, waking at the tiniest movement. He'd scream until we came back, or wander downstairs to find us.

This would happen five or six times before he fell asleep. It made evening relaxation time impossible.

When we crept past his room to bed, our nerves already frazzled, Sonny would wake at the tiniest squeak of a floorboard, and the agonising process would start again.

After maybe another hour of repeatedly putting him back to bed he would fall asleep, only to wake in the night and repeat the entire performance.

Then, in June this year, my mum came straight out with it. `Take his door handle off and put a lock on the outside of his door,' she said. `He'll soon learn he can't get out and stay in bed.

`I locked you in your room. You wouldn't stop wandering into our room. Everybody did it back then. And it worked.'

This was the first I'd heard of it, yet, amazingly, when I asked around I discovered other family members had done it with their children, too. I was shocked, but I could see the logic. Diana, however, was resolutely against. `It's cruel and might traumatise him,' she said. `It's not fair.'  `Not fair?' I replied. `On who? We haven't slept in months. We're ill and argue all the time. Besides, he won't even remember it.'

Other parents we know were effectively locking their children in their rooms anyway, because higher door handles were out of their child's reach. Yet even they smarted at the suggestion I bolt Sonny's door from the outside.

Even among professionals, the technique prompts strong feelings. Clinical child psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin is vehemently against the practice.

Three months later, however, came the night when Diana and I broke down. It took me threatening to move out before she agreed to a trial period of locking his door for one week.

Removing the handle and drilling the holes in Sonny's doorframe to fit the small sliding bolt I'd removed from our loo door was a dark moment. The noise it made as it clunked shut ran against every positive sense of nurturing.

The first night was an utter nightmare. We put him to bed as usual, but as we hurried out and I bolted the door, his cry of `No, no!' was followed by him thundering across the room and hammering his fists on the inside of the door.

We'd left a blanket and pillow just inside, as people had recommended. He was fed, watered, warm and had a fresh nappy. There was nothing more we could do; comforting him would only prolong the agony. Yet still we felt like prison wardens.

Sonny cried his lungs out for three solid hours, a hideous, guttural sound that haunts  me to this day. In the morning, he was curled up asleep by  the door.

When I dropped him at nursery, Sonny was like a zombie, and when I collected him that evening, a concerned carer took me to one side and asked if everything was ok at home. Apparently Sonny had fallen asleep face-first in his lunch. His voice was hoarse.

`Oh, he just had a bad night,' I stammered, but was filled was a terrible sense of shame. I felt cruel and heartless - but I also felt that we had to hold our nerve. After all, this was our last hope.

Things improved slightly on the second night. Sonny cried for an hour, but didn't batter at the door, nor did he wake in the night. And, on the third night, he finally stayed in bed and slept through. The message had got through: there was no point trying to escape.

Miraculously, it had worked. Six months of misery had ended in three nights.

We had our first full night's sleep in half a year, and immediately felt energised and happier. Sonny was brighter and more alert.

The bolt stayed on. Five months later and Sonny is now three-and-a-half. He still occasionally wakes at 5am, but has everything he wants in his room to entertain him, plus a potty, so he merrily plays away until we go in at 7am.

The whole painful process has transformed our lives. All three of us are well rested, and we all get on better.

I still feel uncomfortable about what I did, but really my only regret is that we didn't do it six months earlier. It could have saved so much heartache.


Bonfire of red tape to liberate small firms in fresh crackdown on council and quango jobsworths

Council and quango jobsworths who regulate small businesses face a `bonfire of excessive red tape' in a fresh crackdown on their box-ticking culture.

Ministers want to prevent regulators from needlessly burdening businesses and stifling economic growth.

They will tell the `men with clipboards' to use common sense before intervening, and are planning a dramatic overhaul of their guidelines.

In the future, regulators will be forced to consider whether their actions will impinge on a business's ability to grow and be productive.

The move, ordered by Business Minister Michael Fallon, may be viewed with some scepticism among business leaders, as it is the latest in a long line of desperate attempts to get heavy-handed overseers off the backs of small and medium-sized enterprises.

But Mr Fallon is determined to  make a difference.  He said: `We have started a  bonfire of excessive red tape, but I know that it is just as important that we look at the way that  regulations are enforced.

`There is room for far more effective enforcement which reduces the burden on businesses which stick to the rules.'

Last week Chancellor George Osborne set out a `package of measures' to tackle systemic problems in the way that regulations are enforced by over-zealous officials. These included forcing regulators to take into account the potential economic impact of their actions before intervening.

In one example, the owner of a factory producing blue cheese was told by his council that he could not have mould on his produce.

Yesterday the Government also promised to overhaul the appeals process.

At the moment, if a decision is made against a business or company by its local authority, it has to appeal to the same body that made the judgment in the first place. On top of this, companies have to accept the initial judgment that they were in the wrong before they can appeal, meaning they are forced to appeal against a decision they have accepted.

Businesses also say that they cannot complain openly about their local authority, for fear they will be targeted. Because they have the power to spring surprise inspections, businesses say, local regulators will `make their lives hell' if they are publicly criticised.

Ministers will spend a month reviewing the flaws in the system before proposing changes.

Mr Fallon added that non-financial regulators, such as the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, will face a much tougher regime to cut out `crazy' rulings.

About 60 non-financial regulators, as well as local councils across England and Wales, will be hit by Mr Fallon's changes.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has previously said that the Government's `bonfire of the quangos' - designed to cut down on state-backed organisations which sprung up during New Labour's period in office - would save taxpayers œ2.6billion by 2016.

But the figures have been called into question by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee, who say shutting down government organisations incurs massive costs.

Dr Adam Marshall, from the British Chambers of Commerce, said: `The Government does deserve some credit for slowing down the flow of new regulation.'

He added: `But only now are they starting to tackle the mountain of existing regulation that many businesses face.'


Women still can't have it all

Nicolle Flint comments from Australia:

It is a decade since Virginia Haussegger's pivotal "The sins of our feminist mothers" was published on this page. Haussegger's opinion piece articulated the anger and frustration of a generation of women left childless as a result of their feminist mothers promoting the myth of "having it all": the career, the husband and the babies. The article hit a collective nerve. A book followed recording Haussegger's personal account of feminism, career, relationships, health, and, ultimately biological childlessness.

The messages resonated with women of Haussegger's generation and with mine. Wonder Woman: The Myth of Having It All was the talk of every woman in town.

Thanks to brave women like Haussegger, my generation received the message loud and clear to look after their reproductive health; to not delay pregnancy too long. We have been successfully reprogrammed to hear the biological clock ticking. Unfortunately, this is not a gentle while-away-the-hours-type ticking. Rather, it is a nuclear-bomb-is-about-to-explode-so-PANIC-NOW-style ticking. I sometimes wonder if this has done more harm than good; if, in fact, it would be better not to know.

But we are, of course, the generation who does know. We know our fertility drops markedly after 35 years of age, that when you hit 40 the chances of natural conception and a healthy pregnancy are so slim as to be negligible, that 40-plus Hollywood celebrity mothers use donor eggs. Our GPs gently, but regularly, remind us of these facts.

Yet all the education, awareness and warnings in the world won't guarantee you'll find a partner to father your children. Contemporary records of this dilemma abound: Sushi Das' Deranged Marriage: A Memoir touches upon it, recent articles by The Advertiser's Amber Petty and Rebekah Devlin discuss it, and Martha Wainwright and Lily Allen have sung about it.

The prevailing advice for those hitting the 35-year-old "single no children" danger zone is to freeze our eggs. This sounds like a neat future-proofing insurance policy but at this stage unfortunately it is not. The procedure is expensive ($10,000 plus) and the statistical success of eventually achieving pregnancy is far from encouraging. But at least we have an option, limited though it may be, and more information than was accessible to Haussegger and her contemporaries.

But did Haussegger's message about the myth of having it all generate other less positive ramifications? Has her warning, in fact, caused a generation of women to regress in the workplace just when women were gaining a collective foothold? Did educated young women heed her warning so thoroughly their careers have been sacrificed for children?

Debates over women's representation in the workforce, and in the realm of literature and theatre abound. According to reports on the arts and theatre for example, more women than men feel caring for children has affected their artistic careers. Women are working "flexibly" or part-time, consciously or unconsciously enabling their partner's career to prosper over their own. Are women and men still incapable of privately negotiating their family commitments to the mutual benefit of both their careers?

It seems so. In an article titled "Desperate Gillard's War has Failed her Own Gender", Henry Ergas wrote in The Australian on Monday "the share of women in full-time employment has increased only 3 percentage points since the 1960s". According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) women represent just 35 per cent of all full-time employees (a figure that was 34 per cent in 2002).

The 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership reports women represent just 9.2 per cent of both executives and directors of ASX 500 companies, and that in the "pipeline" to senior ASX 500 management positions men hold 2148 line positions and women just 141. WGEA director Helen Conway said "we've been conducting the census for 10 years and, frankly, you'd expect to see more progress . companies have failed to develop and maintain a strong pipeline of female talent, and you can see this in the negligible growth in female executive management".

If my generation has embraced babies over the target of the boardroom, this is a predictable outcome. As with the debate in the arts, if women are not half the playing field in the first place then how can they expect half the positions? How can workplace gender imbalances be addressed if women are not in the workplace full-time to address them, when the stark reality is that businesses operate on a full-time work week, especially in the ranks of senior management?

The great post-feminist challenge is for women and men to reconcile the myth of having it all with reality, and this is a private matter, not one for the state. Suffocating business with further regulation and reporting requirements is counterproductive and ultimately pointless if couples are making private decisions that result in workplace gender imbalances. Men and women must reflect on the private choices they make and what this means for women's careers.

In a decade from now I hope women in their 30s won't be facing the same difficult circumstances and choices. I hope women and men can privately negotiate to improve women's full-time presence in the workforce, that reproductive technology may have improved further still, that we can have a more substantive and informed debate about other options such as American-style egg donation and surrogacy, and that the conversation started by Virginia Haussegger in 2002 and continued by others like Das, Petty and Devlin might assist the women who follow next.

A decade on from Haussegger's article women know more, panic more, yet are not presented with more conceivable solutions to our problems of procreation, partnership and profession. We should be able to have it all. But this time it's up to women - and men - to make it happen.


Alien nation: The new census reveals a Britain that would be unrecognisable even to our grandparents

The future will be another country. They will do things differently there

The Census is not just a description of the state of things on a day in 2011, it is a prophetic document telling us where we are going, whether we like it or not. I don't.

For the past 60 years or so, we have lived in a nation that was more or less familiar to anyone who had grown up in the pre-war Britain of 1939.  Even the devastation of conflict had not transformed it out of recognition.

People behaved, thought, worked, laughed and enjoyed themselves much as they had done for decades.  They lived in the same sorts of families in the same kind of houses. Their children went to the same kinds of schools.  And they had grown up in a land that was still identifiably the same as their grandparents had known.

And so it went back for centuries.

As recently as 1949, the prices of most goods were roughly the same, and expressed in the same money, as the prices of 1649.

A short-distance time-traveller between 1912 and 2012 might be perplexed and astonished, but he would not be lost.

That period is now coming to an end. I suspect that anyone in Britain, travelling between 2012 and 2112 would be unable to believe that he was in the same place.

What is the most significant single fact in the Census? I do not think there is one. Several are shocking or disturbing, if you are not fond of change, and delightful if you are.

But there are some, which taken together, prophesy a transformation to come.

Look at these - manufacturing is now only the fourth-biggest employer, after supplying and selling goods and services, health and social work and education.

So, in the nation that was once the `Workshop of the World', we now have more teachers than industrial workers.

London is rapidly becoming a separate nation, as different from England as Scotland or Wales are, with indigenous British people now in a minority, in some areas a very small minority indeed, and incidentally with extremes of wealth and poverty not known since Edwardian times.

Then of course there is the decline in Christianity, down by four million, from 72 per cent to 59 per cent; the growth in indifference to religion, with non-believers almost doubling to 14.1 million; and also of Islam, rising so fast that one British resident in 20 is now a Muslim.

The Muslim population is young, and keen on large families, while the Christian population tends to be older and less likely to have children.

This is very much a work in progress, far from complete. A lot of nominal Christians are no longer bothering to pretend to a faith they have never cared much about.  

Do not be surprised if, in ten years, the gap between the number of professing Christians and the number of Muslims has grown much smaller.

The secularists, who have so enthusiastically sought to drive Christianity out of British life, may realise with a gulp of apprehension that they have only created a vacancy for Islam - a faith that is not at all troubled by Richard Dawkins.

Perhaps most significant of all is the accelerating disappearance of marriage as the normal state of life for grown-up people.

For the first time, fewer than half of adults are married.

This means many things - a greater number of fatherless households, a greater number of cohabiting couples, the rapid disappearance of what was once a strong social force.

Since the stable married family is a fortress of private life and individuality, its retreat will mean the opposite of that: more state interference and surveillance, more conformism - and more conformists - and mass culture. Its main effect will be on the children.

Many of them will grow up outside what used to be normal, a lifelong two-parent home.

They will, as a result, be different sorts of people. Already, almost half of Britain's 15-year-olds do not live with their `birth parents'; 300,000 sets of parents split each year.

I cannot believe this is not part of the reason for the so-called `riots' of 2011, in which young men brought  up without male authority ran wild.

These were equal-opportunity events, and their causes were home-grown, not imported. This will get much, much worse.

Again, conservatives will find this worrying and ill-omened. Liberal `progressives', who have never had much time for the married family, seeing it as a sort of prison, will view it as a liberation.

Edmund Leach, giving his influential Reith Lectures in 1967, put it this way: `Far from being the basis of the good society, the family, with its narrow privacy and tawdry secrets, is the source of all our discontents.'

It is striking that just as homosexuals seem to be most enthusiastic about getting married, heterosexuals are tiring of the whole thing.

But now compare the giant political fuss over same-sex marriage with the numbers of people affected. See just what a tiny proportion of the country is involved.

While the decline of conventional marriage involves many millions, there are 105,000 people in civil partnerships, one-fifth of one per cent of the population, one person in 500.

And that is seven years after they first became available.

I have deliberately left migration to the end. The figures are astonishing, with one in ten people in England and Wales now born abroad, and the rate of increase over the past few years equally astounding - almost half of these new citizens have arrived here since 2001.

And, in a figure that has not attracted the attention it should have, almost three million people live in households where no adults speak English as their first language.

The main significance of this is the speed of it. Even now, official immigration still stands at 180,000 a year. Probably these totals are an underestimate, as illegal migrants tend not to fill in forms.

But the really important fact is that this revolution is the result of a deliberate, planned attempt to change this country for ever, and we have the evidence of this.

On October 23, 2009, a former New Labour official called Andrew Neather wrote an article in the London Evening Standard which was that very rare thing - a genuine revelation of a political secret.

The crucial passage described `a major shift from the policy of previous governments'. 

It disclosed that a `big immigration report was surrounded by an unusual air of both anticipation and secrecy ..... there was a paranoia about it reaching the media ..... Earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.

`I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended - even if this wasn't its main purpose - to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date. That seemed to me to be a manoeuvre too far.

`Ministers were very nervous about the whole thing .?.?. There was a reluctance elsewhere in Government to discuss what increased immigration would mean, above all for Labour's core white working-class vote .....

`Part by accident, part by design, the Government had created its longed-for immigration boom. But Ministers wouldn't talk about it.' Why not? Because Labour voters wouldn't have liked it.

`While Ministers might have been passionately in favour of a more diverse society, it wasn't necessarily a debate they wanted to have in working-men's clubs in Sheffield  or Sunderland.'

On Friday the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, was still trying to appeal to working-class voters whose views his metropolitan fat-cat party secretly despises.

While praising immigration to his London audience, he pretended to be concerned about it by admitting there is `anxiety' about the pace of change.

He promised (absurdly, since the EU has controlled our frontiers for many years) that `Britain must always control its borders'.

But he then swiftly dismissed the idea - which would be the only hope of future harmony - that migrants should assimilate, saying this was `wrong for our country'.

He proclaimed: `One Nation doesn't mean one identity. People can be proudly, patriotically British without abandoning their cultural roots.'

Is this true? In the days when the USA still sought to assimilate its migrants, it certainly didn't think so. It insisted that they became Americans in every way, and as soon as they could.

Half the point of American state schools was the creation of new young Americans.

Since that policy was abandoned 30 years ago, the USA has in reality ceased to be one country, with large areas speaking Spanish and retaining the customs and cultures of their homes, hostile or chilly to their American fellow citizens, who return the favour.

Any observant person in Britain can see the same process in such cities as Bradford, where multiculturalism has created two solitudes with their backs turned on each other.

Bit by bit, the people of this country are ceasing to have key things in common. They don't share a religion, or a culture, or a history.  Many don't even share a language.

They don't eat the same food or watch the same TV stations or have a common sense of humour.  They sometimes even disagree about whether to drive on the left.  They come from completely different legal and political traditions.

In a strange paradox, many of the new Britons are more socially and morally conservative than their indigenous British neighbours, though their presence here is a sort of revolution in flesh and blood.

Many of the new migrants also have a completely different work ethic, not having grown up in our entitlement-based welfare state - which is why one of their main unspoken functions in Labour's plan has been to keep wages down by providing a huge pool of cheap and willing unskilled labour.

Without mass immigration, the minimum wage would long ago have had to rise sharply, creating the crisis that all economists predicted when it was introduced.

As it is, we are fast becoming a low-wage, unskilled economy, with overcrowded cities, multi-occupied housing and hopelessly strained medical services, transport and schools.

There is also a widening gap between the rich, who can afford servants again for the first time since the era of Downton Abbey, and the poor, who have to be those servants.

The only way we will be able to sustain this is by becoming steadily cheaper, devaluing our currency through inflation and incidentally destroying the savings and pensions of the thrifty.

That will also kill off the welfare state, whose provisions and payouts will gradually shrink to the point where they are valueless.

We are also becoming a more violent, noisy and unrestrained culture, more drunk, more drugged, more indebted, more rootless and less particular. 

There is no sign that any of these developments are stopping, or even slowing. Far from it. They are accelerating. They were meant to.

The secret thinkers at the core of the Blair Government wanted to begin the world over again, at home and abroad, though they never dared to tell us how.

As their mighty, unstoppable project unfolds, Britain as we knew it will disappear, as they hoped it would. At least we know who to blame.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


20 December, 2012

Lord Ashcroft: British voters defecting to UKIP because they are fed up with political correctness

Voters are defecting from the Conservatives to Ukip because they are fed up with political correctness, not because of Europe, Lord Ashcroft said today.

The major Tory donor and Number 10 adviser said Ukip is stealing voters because many are uneasy about "the way life is changing in Britain today", fuelled by unhappiness about immigration and a benefits culture.

Amid polls showing a surge of support for Ukip, Lord Ashcroft commissioned new research showing 12 per cent of Conservative voters would side with Ukip at the next election. Half of those turning to Ukip are former Tories, he found.

It also showed that just seven per cent of Ukip voters say Europe is the single most important issue for them. It ranks behind economic growth, welfare, immigration and the deficit.

However, he said Ukip's general outlook, rather than policies, is driving support.

"Certainly, those who are attracted to UKIP are more preoccupied than most with immigration, and will occasionally complain about Britain's contribution to the EU or the international aid budge," Lord Ashcroft wrote on his ConservativeHome blog.

"But these are often part of a greater dissatisfaction with the way they see things going in Britain: schools, they say, can't hold nativity plays or harvest festivals any more; you can't fly a flag of St George any more; you can't call Christmas Christmas any more; you won't be promoted in the police force unless you're from a minority; you can't wear an England shirt on the bus; you won't get social housing unless you're an immigrant; you can't speak up about these things because you'll be called a racist; you can't even smack your children.

"All of these examples, real and imagined, were mentioned in focus groups by UKIP voters and considerers to make the point that the mainstream political parties are so in thrall to the prevailing culture of political correctness that they have ceased to represent the silent majority."

He identified the typical Ukip voters thinking "Britain is changing for the worse".

"They are pessimistic, even fearful, and they want someone and something to blame," he said. "They do not think mainstream politicians are willing or able to keep their promises or change things for the better. UKIP, with its single unifying theory of what is wrong and how to put it right, has obvious attractions for them."

However, the peer said David Cameron can win round dissaffected voters by "delivering our promises on immigration, that welfare reform is both firm and fair, and evidence that the right decisions are being made on the economy".

His comments come after Ukip had a strong showing in the recent by-elections, coming second in Rotherham and in Middlesbrough and third in Croydon North.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, said the party "should be taken seriously" given its growing support.

Polls have recently shown Ukip getting between seven per cent and 14 per cent of the vote, taking their support to a record high. According to a new Populus poll for The Times, the Tories have dropped six points, leaving them with 29 per cent of the vote, with Labour remaining at 40 per cent and Ukip rising six points to gain 10 per cent of support.


Britain's drift into becoming a new East Germany derailed in the House of Lords

The House of Lords is one of the few constitutional safeguards in Britain but it can only do so much against a determined government

Cabinet minister Ken Clarke gave ground on the Justice and Security Bill after a series of defeats in the Lords. He told MPs that judges, not ministers, will have the right to decide what is heard in secret, even in cases of national security.

But he admitted that secret hearings could be used when families of dead servicemen sue the Government for negligence.  Mr Clarke also insisted that closed proceedings are necessary in cases where suspected terrorists claim mistreatment, to allow evidence from the security services to be submitted.

Ministers have agreed that plaintiffs in civil trials should also have the right to request a secret hearing, not just the Government. They have already ditched plans to hold inquests behind closed doors, following a campaign by the Daily Mail.

At the second reading of the Bill yesterday Mr Clarke told MPs: 'The Bill leaves it to the judge to decide what is necessary in any particular case, rather than seeking to impose disclosure requirements or fetter the discretion of the judge in deciding whether to have a closed process.'

The government has previously had to pay out millions to suspects because they cannot defend the charges without compromising the intelligence services.

But critics reacted with fury after Mr Clarke also revealed further details of the circumstances in which secret courts might be used. In such cases the government's evidence is not even disclosed to their opponents lawyers.

Asked whether legal cases brought by the families of service personnel over the death of a loved one as a result of MoD failures could see the use of secret courts - known as Closed Material Procedures (CMPs) - by the Government, Mr Clarke responded, 'This could actually arise' in cases where a soldier dies in a 'highly secret operation'.

He said: 'I can't rule out that a CMP application would be made.' Mr Clarke also refused to rule out that the Government could make use of secret hearings in claims where they might face embarrassment over arms deals, in response to a question from Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Clare Algar, Executive Director of human rights pressure group Reprieve, said: 'At last the Government has admitted the wide range of circumstances in which these dangerous plans could be used.

Ken Clarke has accepted that secret courts could be used in cases where the MoD has neglected its own soldiers, or the government has been involved in dubious arms deals.

'Once these plans have passed, ministers will find irresistible the prospect of using a secret court to avoid embarrassing disclosures over negligence or wrongdoing. Parliament must vote against plans for secret courts, or risk putting government above the law.'

Isabella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty, said: 'Our politicians continue to tinker around the edges of a Bill that would change our justice system forever.

'These concessions are minor nips and tucks, and leave the chilling prospect of secret justice intact. Even the architect of the draft Bill now admits secret courts could apply to many more cases than the Government was originally prepared to admit."

Tory MP David Davis condemned the proposals as threatening centuries old liberties.

'What part of this Bill does today is create the power to take parts of the civil judicial system not only out of the public domain but completely out of the normal judicial testing procedure.

'Evidence can be presented by the Government which the other side cannot see and even the defence lawyers cannot see, that evidence cannot be tested and therefore may be wholly wrong and misleading. This undermines the very thing that makes the system work.'


Denmark Jews advised to keep faith symbols hidden

Jews in Denmark are advised to avoid wearing the Star of David or the religious headpiece, the kippah, in public according to advice given out by the Israeli Embassy and Jewish faith groups.

Israel's ambassador, Arthur Avon, speaking to Jyllands-Posten newspaper for their report on anti-semitism, said that wearing these symbols in public increased the risk of harassment.

"We advise Israelis who travel here and want to go to the synagogue that they should only put their kippah on once they are inside," Avon told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. "They shouldn't wear them on the street, even in areas that are considered safe."

Avon and the Jewish faith group, Mosaisk Troessamfund, also advise Jews not to visibly wear the Star of David in public.

The Mosaisk Troessamfund has been informed of 37 cases of possible anti-Semitism this year, including an incident in November in which an elderly Israeli man had a necklace bearing a Star of David ripped from his neck while he was eating at a shawarma restaurant.

This incident took place in Norrebro, a district of Copenhagen that has a large Middle-Eastern and Arab population, which according to the victims accounted for the majority of the physical and verbal attacks.

But Imran Shah, a spokesperson for the Muslim faith group Islamisk Trossamfund, denied that there was widespread anti-Jewish sentiment within Denmark's Muslim population.

"Some of our rituals are almost identical, such as the slaughter of animals and other religious rituals such as circumcision," Shah told Jyllands-Posten.

Despite this, both the police and the City Council have urged Jews to be particularly cautious in Norrebro. In September, the council advised Jewish participants of an international food fair that was being held in Norrebro not to bring Israeli flags as a safety precaution.

While Copenhagen's deputy mayor for employment and integration, Anna Mee Allerslev (Radikale), faced accusations of discrimination over the flag saga, police have also suggested that Jews need to take precautions while in Norrebro.

"In areas where it is known that there is conflict and a risk of confrontation and harassment, it's best to stay away," police commissioner Lars-Christian Borg told Jyllands-Posten. "It's sad to have to say, but it is some of the advice we give."

While Allerslev argued that the advice to not bring flags was given to protect public safety, she acknowledged that it was disappointing that Jews in Denmark are harassed because of their faith.

"I don't think we have given sufficient attention to anti-Semitism. The 37 cases reported this year is far too many," Allerslev told Jyllands-Posten. "Minorities should never have to shoulder the burden of harassment alone."

Politicians from across the political spectrum have expressed sadness and disappointment following the release of yesterday's report by Jyllands-Posten about the problems faced by Jews in Denmark.

City councillor Lars Aslan Rasmussen (Socialdemokrater) said that it was "grotesque" and that more needed to be done to tackle anti-Semitism.

"We often see racism as an issue of the majority against a minority. But we need to direct our efforts tackling anti-Semitism toward the Muslim communities," Aslan told Jyllands-Posten.

Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, the spokesperson for the far-left party Enhedslisten, framed the problems facing Jews in terms of a larger problem: the persecution of minorities in Denmark

"It's completely unacceptable that Jews in Denmark feel the need to hide their religion," Schmidt-Nielsen wrote on Facebook. "It's not okay that Jews have to hide their kippahs, that homosexuals can't hold hands, or that women wearing headscarves are spat at. Attacks against the Palestinian population by the Israeli government are no justification for anti-Semitism."


`Benevolent Sexism' is bad too, apparently

Beware! It's far more insidious than old-fashioned misogyny

By Katherine Connell

Katy Perry recently joined Taylor Swift, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and French former first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in the ranks of prominent women who declined to identify themselves as feminists when prompted by reporters. Internet responses to this trend ranged from outrage over their false consciousness to snarky derision of their stupidity to concerned introspection about the failures of feminist branding.

Another possibility that should be considered is that feminism seems largely irrelevant to an increasing number of Western women because it often appears to be at odds with their experience of reality and their desires. Bruni-Sarkozy explained, "I'm not at all an active feminist. On the contrary, I'm a bourgeoise. I love family life, I love doing the same thing every day." Her remark is an indication of the gap that often exists between the concerns of feminism and the concerns of women, as was Mayer's insistence in an interview that she remained unaware throughout high school that girls were supposed to be bad at math and science.

This gap shouldn't be that surprising, since feminists aren't particularly interested in empiricism. This is revealed every time the media write up academic research with findings that feminists deem objectionable. CNN a couple of months ago reported on a study in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science about the effects of ovulation on women's voting preferences. This study was denounced as patently offensive - more offensive than, say, the Obama campaign's telling women they should "vote like your lady parts depend on it." In response to the backlash, CNN yanked the piece from its website, explaining that "some elements of the story did not meet the editorial standards of CNN."

Meanwhile, last week on Slate, Amanda Marcotte began a piece decrying a study whose results she didn't like by noting that at least it was unlike other studies whose results she didn't like in that it avoided "theorizing that women are hard-wired to like shiny things in velvet boxes because something something caveman days." In the study, researchers surveyed 277 students at UC Santa Cruz and found that two-thirds of them "definitely" thought that men should propose marriage to women. Only 2.8 percent of the women felt that they would "kind of" want to propose to their boyfriends, and zero men felt that they would like to receive such a proposal. Marcotte worried that "this benevolent sexism  . . . leeches women of much of their autonomy" and predicted that this pernicious state of affairs will persist until we "dramatically restructure our cultural understanding of gender and romance."

If you're wondering what "benevolent sexism" is and why it's a problem, don't worry - there are reams of social-science literature dedicated to addressing those questions. Here's a definition from an article by Juliet Wakefield et al. in the November issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly entitled, "Thanks, but No Thanks: Women's Avoidance of Help-Seeking in the Context of a Dependency-Related Stereotype": "Whereas some forms of sexism are explicitly misogynistic, others are less so, and it is common to distinguish between hostile (old-fashioned) sexism and benevolent (modern) sexism."

Rachael Robnett, the graduate student who surveyed the students at UC Santa Cruz, is also on the case. She explained to Live Science that people who hold traditional notions about romance and marriage tend also to believe that women should be cherished and protected, which sounds nice but actually is not: It's benevolent sexism. "The flip side, which is more insidious, is that it is robbing women of some agency," she said.

Charles Murray recently highlighted another Psychology of Women Quarterly study on benevolent sexism in a blog post he titled, "The Bad News Is That Gentlemanly Behavior Makes People Happy." Kathleen Connelly and Martin Heesacker found that the phenomenon was "associated with life satisfaction for both women and men" and concluded: "The results imply that although benevolent sexism perpetuates inequality at the structural level, it might offer some benefits at the personal level. Thus, our findings reinforce the dangerous nature of benevolent sexism and emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence." Murray wondered, "When social scientists discover something that increases life satisfaction for both sexes, shouldn't they at least consider the possibility that they have come across something that is positive? Healthy? Something that might even conceivably be grounded in the nature of Homo sapiens?" That, however, would require them to accept the idea that there is such a thing as human nature, and that it is fixed.

Because benevolent sexism is so much more insidious than old-fashioned "hostile sexism," social scientists are forced to be creative in their attempts to measure it and analyze the negative effects they know it has on women. Consider the scenario constructed by Juliet Wakefield and her colleagues in their study of how women avoid seeking help in the context of "a dependency-related stereotype." The university women selected for the experiment are individually allowed to "overhear" a fake phone call the female researcher supposedly receives from Joe the plumber, who is working in her apartment and has moved some of her furniture around without asking. After she hangs up, she says to some of the participants in the study, "Sorry about that - my plumber is such a typical man - he thinks that women are incapable of doing anything on their own!" To the others she says, "Sorry about that, my plumber is the most impatient person in the world." It turns out that the young women exposed to the former statement - which sounds as if it is describing something a bit more hostile than benevolent - were subsequently less likely to ask for help with solving some anagrams, and they felt bad about themselves when they did ask for help. Conclusion: "All in all, our findings underline the point that the benevolent sexism in everyday banal interactions can be consequential for women's emotions and behavior, and is, therefore, anything but banal."

I tried to reflect a little on whether my banal interactions with benevolently sexist men have been undermining my emotional health and affecting my behavior without my realizing it. The other day, I asked a male co-worker for assistance with a technical issue. It's hard to know if he was subtly robbing me of my agency, because he didn't reply, "Oh, the network server, that's so difficult and frustrating for a woman to grapple with. Let me do it for you," as did the man in a script presented to students in the 2011 study "Damned if She Does, Damned if She Doesn't: Consequences of Accepting versus Confronting Patronizing Help for the Female Target and Male Actor." Instead, he just sent me the relevant link and went back to work.

I don't think most women actually want to live in a world where men don't offer to help them lug heavy suitcases up staircases or hold doors for them or propose marriage - never mind going down with the Titanic. If feminists find these things deplorable and in need of eradication, they can hardly be surprised when women fail to identify with their cause.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


19 December, 2012

Fewer than one in ten British women now stay at home to look after their children

A huge change in a relatively short time and a sad one for  both the mothers and their children

The stay-at-home mother is fast becoming consigned to history, according to the latest census figures.  Returns showed there are 300,000 fewer than officials  had previously estimated, with those who devote their lives to bringing up families now reduced to a tiny minority.  Fewer than one in ten women of working age are stay-at-home mothers.

The collapse follows a decade in which governments urged mothers to take jobs on the grounds that working is the route to fulfilment for women and that families with two incomes are much less likely to fall into poverty.

Critics, however, are concerned for the well-being of mothers who might prefer to be with their families, and the impact on increasing numbers of toddlers who spend long hours in day care.

The 2011 census results found there are 1,598,000 women who do not work because they are looking after their home and family - 298,000 fewer than estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

In the 1970s, when the term `housewife' was still popular to describe the lives of millions of mothers, the great majority of women with young families stayed at home.

Two decades ago, at a time when higher career expectations combined with fast-rising house prices to push increasing numbers of mothers into the labour market, 17 per cent of women were estimated to be stay-at-home mothers.

That fell to 12 per cent by 2002 and has now dropped below 10 per cent. The census results also showed there are 538,000 more women who have jobs than official estimates calculated.

The additional numbers mean there are now just under 13million women in England and Wales who work or who are looking for work - a figure growing close to the 14.6million men who are reckoned to be `economically active'.

The decline in numbers of stay-at-home mothers will be welcomed by ministers as the Labour drive to push mothers into work has continued under the Coalition.

Childcare minister Elizabeth Truss has made a priority of providing cheaper day care to help mothers into jobs.

In an article earlier this year  she said it was `vital' for mothers  to work, adding: `To power ahead Britain needs to look at best practice from overseas to discover how to increase women's participation, especially for those who are parents.'

But critics say the sky-high level of house prices and the lack of help for two-parent families in the tax and benefit systems means most mothers have to work, whether they like it or not.

Family researcher Patricia Morgan said: `There is an assumption that all mothers are desperate to work.  `But the evidence that is available says they would mostly rather be at home looking after their children, and go back to work when the children are older.'

Critics of Coalition policy say  benefits such as tax credits are skewed towards helping single mothers and there is no assistance for couples.

A report last year from the CARE charity found that married couples where the mother stays at home face a tax burden 42 per cent higher than the average tax level in developed countries.


Human rights no defence for criminals and terrorists, says Britain's Justice Secretary

Criminals and terrorists should no longer be able to cite "human rights" as a defence for their behaviour, the Justice Secretary warns today as an official commission prepares to set out plans for a British Bill of Rights.

Chris Grayling says that an "absolutely clear balance between rights and responsibilities" now needs to be set out in British law in the wake of controversial European legal judgements.

In an article for today's Daily Telegraph, the Justice Secretary indicates he may call for Britain to leave the European Court of Human Rights if the Tories win the next election.

The Commission on a Bill of Rights will today set out how a new Bill could be introduced by Parliament which would set out the fundamental rights for British citizens in a single piece of legislation. It will recommend such legislation be delayed until after the referendum on Scottish independence in autumn 2014.

It will demonstrate how similar legislation used in other countries can be considered by European courts. The UK Bill of Rights "could also help address certain rights that had arguably been eroded by successive legislative measures".

But the commission was not asked to study whether Britain should now leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) so its recommendations are being seen as "short-term" solutions by ministers.

The Justice Secretary said: "As a Conservative minister, I believe that it is time to examine how to curtail the involvement of the European Court of Human Rights in UK domestic matters.

"I also think that in future there needs to be absolutely clear balance between rights and responsibilities in law. 'I know my rights' has to stop being a defence against unacceptable behaviour."

He added: "As Conservatives, we remain absolutely committed to the importance of human rights around the world. But we do not believe that people should be able to claim the right to family life as an excuse for operating outside the norms that apply to most people in our society. We believe that with rights come responsibilities."

Controversy over human rights laws has risen up the political agenda over the past few years following legal judgments demanding that prisoners be allowed to vote - and blocking the extradition of terrorism suspects. Kenneth Clarke, Mr Grayling's predecessor as Justice Secretary, and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, established the commission to draw up plans for new legislation. Mr Grayling now believes that the commission's recommendations can only provide a temporary solution.

In today's article, he hopes the work of the commission "will allow us to take further steps to improve the situation.

"But we also have to accept that there are limitations to what we can do as part of a Coalition. Whether we like it or not, both Labour and the Lib Dems disagree with us about the scale of change which is needed."

The commission comprises nine of the country's most senior legal experts. They include Anthony Speight QC, a Conservative lawyer, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, a Liberal Democrat peer, and Baroness Kennedy, a Labour peer.

Earlier this year a cache of emails and internal papers leaked to The Daily Telegraph showed the commission was riven by division. The leaks came after the academic Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, one of the original members, resigned, claiming the commission was rigged by Europhiles such as Mr Clegg.


We want exemption on gay marriage too: Angry Muslims demand government treats them the same as Church of England

Muslim leaders yesterday criticised controversial plans to allow gay marriages - and demanded they should have the same legal exemption as the Church of England.

The Muslim Council of Britain, which represents 500 mosques and community organisations, claimed the law was `utterly discriminatory' and said they were `appalled' by it.

Farooq Murad, secretary general of the MCB, said his organisation had also `explicitly' stated its strong opposition to the proposals, and he was seeking an urgent meeting with Culture Secretary Maria Miller to discuss amending it.

The legislation, announced by Mrs Miller last week, would allow same-sex couples to marry as early as 2014.

However, she made it expressly illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to conduct same-sex weddings.

Mrs Miller added that any religious group was allowed to `opt in' and perform ceremonies if they wish.

She made the unexpected exemption for the Church saying it was a `special case' because it has its own laws, the Canon laws, which compel vicars to marry any couples who live in the parish, regardless of denomination.

The compromise left both sides unhappy, with traditionalists saying it undermined marriage and human rights campaigners saying it could be open to legal challenge.

Gay marriage has been fast-tracked by David Cameron despite strong opposition within his party and from some religious groups.

Mr Murad said: `We find it incredible that while introducing the Bill in the House, Mrs Miller could keep a straight face when offering exemption for the established Church while in the same breath claiming "fairness to be at the heart" of her proposals.

`The Muslim Council of Britain along with most other faith groups also made equally strong representation.  `No one in their right mind should accept such a discriminatory law.  'It should be amended to give exactly the same exemption to all the religions.'

There was further confusion over the plans yesterday as Mrs Miller wrote a blog on her department's website claiming the Church of England was not banned from carrying out gay marriages and could opt in.

Appearing to contradict her previous announcement, she wrote: `Are we "banning" the Church of England from holding same-sex weddings? No, of course not - they can opt in too.'

Her spokesman said yesterday that last week's announcement was `poorly worded' and that the Church of England and Church in Wales can opt in if they wish by changing Canon law.

She added: `All religions who do not wish to carry out same-sex unions have the same protection, but the Churches must have it in law because of their legal obligation to marry couples.'

Ministers expect the legislation to take up to 12 months to get through Parliament.

Tory MPs, including ministers, will get a free vote. Privately ministers believe at least 40 per cent of Tory MPs oppose the plans. In a surprise move, Labour has also granted its backbenchers a free vote.

Britain's first gay fathers hope to mount a legal challenge to the CoE's gay marriage ban.

Millionaire couple Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, who have five children, are committed Christians in a civil partnership and  want to get married at their local church in Danbury, Essex.

They said the proposed changes would `enshrine discrimination in law' against gay people.


After Connecticut: The myth of America's "gun culture"

The obsession with the guns used in school shootings overlooks the cultural factors behind these modern outbursts of nihilistic violence.  Could the problem be modern-day moral relativism and the loss of Christian values?

Following the horrific massacre of 26 people, including 20 children, at a school in Connecticut, there has been more heated debate about America's so-called gun culture. In the eyes of most observers, it is a given that it is the availability of guns in the US that leads to these mass shootings in schools. Apparently, the ease with which guns can be sourced - thanks to the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees Americans the right to bear arms - makes it inevitable that American kids will run the risk of being slain by gun-toters.

Is this true? Really? Even a fleeting glance at some of the statistics on school shootings - especially the fact that multiple-victim shootings were extremely rare before the 1980s - should reveal there is more to these outbursts than the availability of guns. After all, guns have been around in the US for a very long time, but it is only over the past 30 years that mass shootings in schools have become relatively common (`relative' being a crucial word here). The fetishisation of the means through which school-killers carry out their acts is really a way of avoiding confronting the cultural factors that might shape such acts. The obsessive focus on the technical execution, the guns used, looks like a massive displacement activity, brought about by an unwillingness to examine the potential cultural underpinnings of the school-massacre trend. The `gun culture' is the wrong culture to be talking about.

The post-Connecticut commentary gives the impression that America is in thrall to The Gun. A writer for the New York Review of Books summed up the rather elitist East Coast view of the problem when he described the gun as `our Moloch' - a modern-day version of the pagan god to whom children are sacrificed. Strikingly, he depicts the gun almost as a sentient force, godlike indeed. `Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned', he says. Here, the shooter's moral agency, or the broader cultural influences he may have been subjected to, are downplayed in favour of depicting the gun itself as the determiner of events and judge over life and death. In a desperate effort to get around the inconvenient fact that guns are mere tools, no more responsible for evil in our societies than knives are, the writer goes into denial. `The gun is not a mere tool [or] bit of technology', he insists. `It is an object of reverence.'

The idea that America reveres `the great god Gun' has been widely expressed post-Connecticut. You can see it in the very phrase `gun culture', which suggests guns, inanimate objects, have somehow conquered America. You can also see it in the childlike claims that greater gun control would solve many of America's problems. As a British writer says, `I am so sick of listening to even liberal Americans being apologists for their nation's absurd gun laws. No guns = no gun killings. Simple.'

That s-word gives the game away. It is what the ostentatious head-shakers over backward Americans' alleged worship of guns continually strive for: simplicity. Or, as some of us might prefer to describe it, naivety. Because in truth, it is not obvious at all that the shooting in Connecticut was the inevitable byproduct of the availability of guns. And to argue this is to ignore some complex and profoundly important cultural factors.

Firstly, there's the fact that shootings in America's elementary schools, like the one in Connecticut, are, in the words of Slate, `very, very rare'. Of the 191 school shootings that took place in America between 1979 and 2011, just 18 - nine per cent - happened at elementary schools. In a 17-year period - July 1999 to June 2006 - 116 people were killed in `school-associated homicides', and just 25 of them were elementary- or middle-school students. For older students, too, getting killed at school is extraordinarily rare. A 2004 US Department of Education report looked at trends in the mid-1990s, a high point in school shootings, and found that where students aged 15 to 18 had a one-in-14 chance of being threatened with a weapon at school, and a one-in-seven chance of getting into a physical fight, their chances of dying in school, whether by homicide or suicide, was one in one million, a statistical insignificance. The shrill critics of America's `gun culture' depict US schools as Moloch-ruled hotbeds of violence, but such perverse fantasies do not accord with reality.

Secondly, and even more importantly, the argument that gun availability leads inevitably to mass school shootings overlooks the fact that these bloody spectacles are a modern phenomenon. If you look at a long, comprehensive list of shootings in American schools from July 1764, when four American Indians entered a school in Pennsylvania and shot and killed the schoolmaster and 10 children, right through to Friday, when the horrors unfolded in Connecticut, what is striking is how, for the great part of US history, shootings in schools were just an extension of crime in general. They largely involved the killing of one or two or three people, as part of gang-related skirmishes, or acts of revenge against presumably ruthless teachers, or crimes of passion by one young person against another. It isn't really until the 1960s and 70s, and more notably the 1980s and 90s, that mass school shootings, where the aim is simply to kill a lot of young people for no discernible reason, become more common.

Clearly, there's something other than `gun culture' going on here. There must be other `cultures' at play, ones which have their roots in something newer than the Second Amendment. Those cultures, to my mind, are today's profound culture of atomisation, which can have the effect of wrenching individuals from the communities they live in and from the social and moral norms that once governed everyday life, and the destabilising culture of fear, whose treatment of every school shooting as an epoch-defining event which destroys American values does nothing to quell such acts of violence, and in fact could act as an unwitting invitation to other loners who want to make a massive impact and hold the modern world to ransom.

No one knows what was going on in the mind of the Connecticut shooter. But what was striking about his shooting spree, like that which occurred in Columbine High School in 1999 or at the West Nickel Mines Amish School in 2006, was the utter lack of restraint, the absence of any moral code saying `It is wrong to violate a school' or simply `It is wrong to shoot a six-year-old child in the head'. Such a dearth of restraining morality is something new, springing more from today's culture of estrangement, and the individual nihilism it can nurture, than from the 200-year-old Second Amendment.

School shootings are better understood, not as the end product of American revolutionaries' insistence on the populace's right to bear arms, but as part of today's trend for highly anti-social, super-individuated acts of nihilistic, narcissistic violence - from so-called `Islamist attacks' carried out by British men on the London Tube to Anders Behring Breivik's massacre of 77 of his fellow Norwegians last year.

What such assaults share in common is a profound sense of cultural disconnection. They are, in many ways, the most extreme expression of the narcissism of our age, in which there is the constant promotion of self-obsession over socialisation, and individual identity over collective citizenship, giving rise to a sometimes volatile atmosphere - through both removing individuals from any sense of a meaningful social fabric and imbuing them with a powerful sense of entitlement, where one's self-esteem counts for everything, and thus any undermining of it is a slight of the most dire order. To try to explain mass school shootings through the fact that guns exist is like trying to explain the al-Qaeda phenomenon through the fact that aeroplanes exist: it fetishises the technical means as a way of avoiding grappling with cultural factors.

Then there is the culture of fear, the tendency to inflate every threat facing society. Largely courtesy of anti-gun liberal observers, there has been a palpable moral panic about school shootings in recent years. This was particularly the case following the Columbine massacre of 1999, when two students shot and killed 12 of their fellow students and a teacher. As one author puts it, the mass media overlooked the rareness of what occurred - they `emptied out the social and historical complexity of what was taking place' - in favour of depicting `youth as pathological aliens' and the Columbine killers as indicative of `The Monsters Next Door': white, middle-class kids who at any minute might massacre your children.

The problem with such coverage is not only that it exaggerates the problem of school shootings, but worse that it has the effect of amplifying the actions of one or two attention-seeking individuals. In recent years, a warped symbiotic relationship has developed between mass school shooters and the mass media. Indeed, from the Columbine killers to the Virginia Tech shooter (who murdered 32 of his fellow students in 2007), shooters have started to make their own videos or to write their own manifestos, sending them to media outlets before they carry out their violent acts.

They seem to recognise that, courtesy of a fear-fuelled media, they will become stars, legends, symbols of the rot at the heart of America, as soon as they start firing their guns. They recognise that bringing a gun to school is all you need to do to hold American values and the whole modern world to ransom. In short, they're aided and abetted by the culture of fear, by the media itself, which in effect completes these shooters' acts by dutifully transforming them into terrifying symbols we must all bow before and search our souls in response to. This can act as an unwitting invitation to other glory-hunting individuals likewise to bring America, and the world, to a standstill simply by shooting some kids.

The post-Connecticut blaming of The Gun is shot through with elitism, with `gun culture' seen as springing from those communities which also cleave to `religious fundamentalism' and `deny global warming or evolution'. You know who this means: Them, rednecks, whose gun lust is apparently poisoning even decent, middle-class America, places like Connecticut. Yet a closer look at the school-shooting phenomenon might reveal that it is more a product of the very modern, even liberal-promoted cultures of individual identity and fear-stoking, than it is the fault of Texans or Moloch.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


18 December, 2012

British MPs and Peers launch gay marriage rebellion saying Cameron has 'no mandate'

Almost 60 members of the Commons and Lords have signed a letter to The Daily Telegraph accusing the Coalition of acting without a mandate.  In a strongly-worded statement, they pour scorn on the Government's consultation process which they say is mired in doubts over its legitimacy.

And they accuse the Coalition of "ploughing on regardless" in the face of what they describe as an "overwhelming public response" opposition to the change.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, announced plans to allow same-sex couples to marry last week. A bill is expected at the end of January and David Cameron hopes to get the redefinition of marriage through parliament by the summer.

The letter which carries the names of Conservative, Labour and independent members as well as those from smaller parties, marks the launch of a campaign in Parliament to oppose the measure.

Supporters say those who have publicly signed so far represent only a proportion of those likely to vote against when a bill comes before Parliament in the New Year.

Some 137 Conservative MPs, almost half the parliamentary party, are now expected to vote against, based on letters written privately to constituents.  But this is the first time a large number of parliamentarians have publicly signed up to oppose the change.

"At the last election, none of the three main parties stood on a platform to redefine marriage," they write.  "It was not contained in any of their manifestos, nor did it feature in the Coalition's Programme for Government.  "These facts alone should have led to extreme caution on the part of those calling for this change to be made.

"Instead the Government is ignoring the overwhelming public response against the plans.  "The consultation has ignored the views of 500,000 British residents in favour of anonymous submissions from anyone anywhere in the world.  "We believe that the Government does not have a mandate to redefine marriage."

The group includes former ministers such as Sir Gerald Howarth, Tim Loughton and David Davis as well as rising stars of the party such as Rehman Chishti, the Pakistan-born former Benazir Bhutto who once ran as a Labour candidate before defecting to the Tories.

The campaign is being orchestrated by David Burrowes, the Tory MP for Enfield in north London, who once received death threats because of his stance on same-sex marriage.

Supporters in the Lords include Labour's Lord Anderson and the crossbencher Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The group insist that they value "loving and committed" gay relationships and support civil partnerships but see marriage as "distinctive" and insist the move is "divisive and unnecessary".

"We understand some parliamentarians support freedom for same sex couples to marry, but we support a freedom from the state being able to redefine the meaning of marriage," they write.

In a commentary on telegraph.co.uk Mr Burrowes speaks of opponents of same-sex marriage already facing "Orwellian" treatment, such as that meted out to Adrian Smith, the housing trust official from Trafford who lost his managerial position after expressing his view in a personal Facebook posting.

"Last week the Coalition Government announced the beginning of the end of the traditional meaning of marriage," he writes.  "It also marked the beginning of the Parliamentary campaign which I am leading and supported by a coalition of Parliamentarians across the political spectrum."

He claims that once gay marriage becomes "state orthodoxy" those who oppose could find themselves "persecuted".

One of the biggest challenges Mr Cameron faces over this issue is outside Parliament.

Last week Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, warned the row over marriage could "rip apart" the Tories and said he was planning to put the issue at the heart of his party's 2014 European parliamentary elections campaign.


Only one side of the story about killing of black man

They're off and running! Members of America's "we need only one side of a story" posse have saddled up and are riding roughshod again.

What's their cause this time? The death of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old youth who was fatally shot on Nov. 23.

The incident happened in Jacksonville, Fla. According to news reports, Davis was in an SUV with several other young men. They would later admit to police that there was music coming from the SUV and that the music was loud.

Enter Michael Dunn, who, at 45, should have known that if you hear loud music coming from any vehicle, then the most appropriate -- not to mention most prudent and safest -- thing to do would be to call the police and make a disturbing-the-peace-complaint.

Both Dunn and the SUV's driver were parked at a gas station. Dunn, armed with a handgun, decided to walk up to the SUV and either ask or demand that the music be turned down.

Young people being what they are -- which is to say hopelessly stupid at times -- Dunn's request went over like flatulence at a Sunday church service. But we do have to wonder if Dunn was much brighter than the youngsters.

It was probably at this point that what I've called in the past "macho stupidity" took over. Apparently a testy exchange took place.

Dunn says the youths threatened to kill him; one of them, Dunn said, according to news reports, pointed what looked like a shotgun out of the SUV's window.

It was then and only then, Dunn and his attorney contend, that he pulled out his own handgun and fired into the SUV. Eight or nine times.

Two of the bullets hit Davis. Dunn drove from the scene and was charged with Davis' murder and the attempted murder of the other occupants of the SUV.

Davis was black; Dunn is white. (Oh come on, do you really think you'd be reading about this story if the shooter and the victims were of the same race?) It didn't take long for those committed to hearing only one side of a story to go into their act. There is now a "Justice for Jordan Davis" Facebook page. And the story is being repeated that Dunn shot Davis because of some loud music. Dunn's allegation of his being threatened and a gun being wielded are never mentioned.

Police found no weapon of any kind in the SUV, according to news reports. But those who cling to the notion that they'd like to hear as many sides of a story as possible will at least concede that, if the youths in the SUV did have a shotgun, then they might have had time to ditch it before police arrived.

That, of course, is speculation, and it doesn't help Dunn's case one iota. He'll be tried on the facts, and right now the facts don't look too good for him.

But that doesn't mean we should be convicting the man in the media, which is what seems to be happening. The biggest culprit in this might be Michael Baisden, the host of a nationally syndicated radio show.

Last week Baisden took to the airwaves to decry Davis' slaying, even telling his listeners at one point what he thought the exchange between the black youths and Dunn might have sounded like.

Then he urged his listeners to turn up the volume on their radios the next day, in memory of Davis.

So a tragedy that occurred as a result of obnoxious conduct is commemorated with more obnoxious conduct? Way to enlighten the public, Baisden. I wonder what this guy wants to be when he grows up.


Outrage over homosexual couple's nativity scene with two Josephs and no Mary

What they do in their own homes would normally be beyond question but they have publicized it and got the attacks that they no doubt expected

A gay couple has sparked outrage for displaying a 'homosexual nativity scene' in their Colombian home.  Andr‚s V squez and Felipe C rdenas have come under fire for their all-male manger - where the baby Jesus has two father Josephs and the Virgin Mary is nowhere to be seen.

The country's Catholic Church has labelled the display, in the northern city of Cartagena, as 'sacrilege'.

And thousands of Colombians have taken to social networking sites to slam the pair, with many saying they show 'a lack of respect to God and all Christians'.

A Facebook user added: 'As much as I support gay rights, this is just stupid on so many levels. If you are a Catholic you have to accept Jesus' parents were Mary and Joseph.'

Political analyst V squez and entrepreneur Felipe have been together for four years and were united by a civil union, the closest thing to marriage for homosexuals in Colombia, three months ago.

The gay rights activists told the Diario Veloz website that they set up the scene, a picture of which was then posted on Facebook, in the hope that it would help in bringing about reform in the country's gay marriage laws.

A bill to legalise gay marriage is currently being looked at by the country's politicians and has passed the first of four debates. But it has been dubbed as 'unconstitutional' by the nation's conservative lawmakers.

V squez told the website: 'We did it because we believe in Colombia. We have lived in different cities in the world and we prefer to return to our country.  'We are beginning to build [a better country] through our new union.'


No price on free speech

Comments by LOUIS NOWRA, a prominent Australian playwright.  He is referring below to the particularly obnoxious Human Rights Commission in the State of Victoria, which has been very repressive of free speech in some well-known cases (Nalliah; Bolt)

AT first I thought it was a joke, but it turned out to be true. Two women decided to take me to the Human Rights Commission, complaining about a play I had written. Set in Sarajevo, it was based on a beauty pageant held during the siege in the Balkan conflict. I wrote it because I was tired of films and plays that depicted the misery of the events, always portraying the besieged as victims. I was more interested in the beauty contestants symbolising the resilience of the human spirit.

The two women had no connection to the siege or the ethnic groups involved. However, they had decided that I was pro-Serbian and the clincher was that one of the actresses in the Melbourne production had a Serb background. The women wanted royalties from previous productions confiscated and demanded the play be banned because it was a piece of Serbian propaganda.

Their interpretation of the play couldn't have been more wrong, so much so that I wondered just how bright they were. But if I thought the ludicrous nature of the complaint would be laughed off by the HRC, then I didn't understand its bureaucratic mission. For a year I had to deal with hundreds of pages pouring out of the commission and had to engage a lawyer. The complaint eventually was thrown out but, not to be denied, these two dolts found a loophole in the law and appealed again. It was nearly another year before this appeal was dismissed.

During this time I didn't write a play. I found I was censoring myself. Just what could I write that wouldn't offend anybody, even if they took offence from a total misinterpretation of the play? What subjects would cause other people to take me to the HRC? What disturbed me above all was that there was no attempt to understand my side of the story. If the two women intended to creatively paralyse me then they couldn't have found a better bureaucratic vehicle.

During my career a Christian family tried for several years to have my play Summer of the Aliens banned from the school curriculum using newspapers and television to promote their cause. Film reviewer David Stratton considered a film I wrote to be racist and I found myself tabloid fodder. (He made the classic mistake of believing that if a character is racist then the writer and director must be.)

You'd think that left-wingers would defend freedom of speech but, as I was to discover, they may espouse liberal views but not when it concerns themselves. I wrote pieces on Germaine Greer, Bob Ellis and mentioned in passing the humourless Richard Flanagan, all with progressive attitudes, but the first response of all three was to threaten to sue. Not that academics are much better. Two female academics withdrew their subscriptions from the magazine that published the Greer article; the frightening thing was that they were proud of the fact they refused to even read the piece.

What truly bothered me was that some people said it was brave of me to have written the article and it confirmed just how conformist and insular are most of those who would describe themselves as liberal or left-leaning. It is not as if authors are any different. It seems many subscribe to the idea that novels must be of educational and moral value.

Writer and teacher Christopher Bantick recently wrote that Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera should not be taught to final-year high school students because it "says repeatedly that screwing a child for art's sake is excusable". In the novel the main character, an amoral Lothario, Florentino Ariza, has an affair with a 14-year-old girl when he is 76. Bantick doesn't see a complicated character and ambiguous morality working here; all he sees is child abuse.

I was once talking to some of Australia's best women writers and all loathed Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita, summing up the beautiful, morally complex story as "a pedophile's charter". In other words, these writers treat literature as a form of moral instruction and therefore their sensibilities are easily offended by authors such as Marquez and Nabokov.

But just what is offensive? Twitter's billions of tweets carry some of the most vile remarks one could read. Take, for example, Aboriginal academic and lawyer Larissa Behrendt. In one tweet she described watching bestiality on television as "less offensive than Bess Price", an Aboriginal woman in favour of the Northern Territory intervention. Behrendt blamed the comment on the TV show Deadwood which, she said, "seemed pretty offensive". The logic seemed simple: she was offended, so she was careless about offending someone whose views she didn't agree with. All it did was offend Price and reveal Behrendt's real thoughts, and they're not pretty (though the tweet did have a vividness missing from her banal novels).

Cartoonist Michael Leunig has been frequently criticised for his supposed anti-Semitic attitudes. Recently a cartoon of his in The Age equated the actions of Israel in Gaza to those of the Nazis, and for many Jews it seemed that Leunig was saying that the Jews were committing genocide against the Palestinians. The cartoonist justified his position as "all nations that throw their military weight around, occupying neighbouring lands and treating the residents with callous and humiliating disregard, are already sliding towards the dark possibilities in human nature." Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, criticised the cartoonist and wondered "how a survivor of the Holocaust would react when they came upon his cartoon". If one did, I am sure that he or she would be offended, but is offending one person a reason to ban a cartoon?

There are many cartoonists who view it as their job to take unpopular stances that many may judge as offensive. Frankly I found Bob Carr forcing the Prime Minister to change her support for Israel in the recent UN vote on Palestine more offensive than any cartoon. Carr took the action because NSW Right Labor MPs feared a no vote could offend Middle Eastern and Muslim communities in marginal southwestern Sydney seats before next year's federal election. Never mind that many Muslims, especially those of the Middle East, are anti-Semitic.

I may be offended by anti-Semitic comments but I believe that even Holocaust deniers have a right to free speech. Of course it's always nice when a denier such as historian David Irving gets his comeuppance, as happened when he brought an unsuccessful case against another historian, with the judge finding Irving was an anti-Semite, racist and associated with neo-Nazis.

Louis Theroux's recent documentary on a fundamentalist church in the US whose members turn up at the funerals of American servicemen with placards calling the dead men and their families "Fags" and "Dirty Jews" was shocking, yet I respect a nation that allows even these crazies the right to offend.

Australia is less tolerant because we are a very conformist society that dislikes whistleblowers, eccentrics and the unusual. We put up with the Defence Force and government treating us like dummies. The war in Afghanistan is reported to us through spin doctors. We see VC winners and rescued dogs but not the true nature of the conflict. If we want to know what is really happening then we must read the huge library of American and English journalists in the field. Julia Gillard talks as if we're winning there, even though the Pentagon has realised that the withdrawal of US forces will be a disaster for Afghanistan. The equation is easy in Australia: if you criticise the war then you must be criticising our brave troops. Few nations would put up with this codswallop.

If we allow anyone behavioural latitude, then it's towards the larrikin. Two such larrikins, DJs working for 2Day FM radio, made a hoax call to an English hospital where they tricked ward nurses into giving details about Kate Middleton, who was in the hospital at the time. The prank allegedly so devastated one of the nurses that she committed suicide. The result was that the two DJs were vilified by the media and those on the net, and their protective status as larrikins vanished in the media hysteria. Columnist Miranda Devine said of the prank that "we are witnessing the Boratisation of our culture, where decent people are deliberately offended".

But just who are the decent people? Devine herself? Quite simply, it's becoming very easy to offend.

Shock jock Alan Jones made a callous comment about Gillard's recently deceased father. The result was an uproar where those thousands who were offended ganged up on him and forced advertisers to withdraw from his talkback show. It was an example of what is becoming common - cyber lynching. Like those mindless mobs in the Wild West, they are driven by self-righteousness and lust for revenge. One has to ask where were these thousands of offended people when Jones called Sydney's Lebanese Muslims "vermin" who "infest our shores" and "rape" and "pillage" our nation. Jones's incitement was more than offensive; it was despicable.

Some people are easily offended, others are not; yet we have the Racial Discrimination Act that makes it unlawful to "offend" people. Attorney-General Nicola Roxon is preparing to consolidate present anti-discrimination laws from five acts into one planned overhaul of anti-discrimination laws. Her view of the Australian people is that of a private school headmistress announcing to her pupils that the new laws will "help everyone understand what behaviour is expected".

Exactly what behaviour is expected? Probably it will be based on her own middle-class, middlebrow values and attitudes.

This is part of an ongoing project by the Labor government to impose its morality and values on our culture. Part of its mission is to tame what it sees as an unruly populace and media. It used the British phone-hacking scandal to hold an inquiry into the Australian media. Really, this was the government wanting to get back at their critics, especially News Limited. The Finkelstein report proposed a News Media Council, which would have the legally enforceable power to adjudicate on journalist fairness and make the media answerable to the courts. A deadly and expensive combination of lawyers and academics would make up the panel.

The trouble with that is that many academics are not interested in free speech and are captives of groupthink. They may make token comments about liberal values but universities, as I found out as a student and later a teacher at Queensland University and Yale, are anything but bastions of free speech. They promote a culture where if you do not agree with the prevailing ideological orthodoxy then it's death to your career. The attitude is summed up by Wendy Bacon, who heads the journalism school at the University of Technology, Sydney. She saw the Finkelstein report as it really was - an attack on News Limited - and given she considered that organisation a threat to free speech, chose not to defend the concept. Like many of her ilk, she appears to loathe the tabloids and any organisation that disagrees with her left-wing values. The idea of competing ideas and diversity of opinions seems to be anathema to her.

After Ray Finkelstein handed in his report, Lord Justice Brian Leveson, head of Britain's media ethics inquiry, delivered his 2000-page report into what was morally reprehensible behaviour by some British journalists and editors. But it was interesting that only five paragraphs in the report were about the net and the issues it raises for media regulation. Like Finkelstein, Leveson viewed his job as neutering the press by the subtle threat of an independent board. What he didn't realise was that compared with the internet even the most feral tabloids are models of restraint. Rumours, gossip and hatred are part of the DNA of cyberspace. Newspapers obey court injunctions, but the embargo is broken by the net. It has been all too common to see on the net the news that someone has died, who hasn't, people named as pedophiles when they're not, and private photographs plastered on websites.

Some people point to WikiLeaks as something that could happen only on the internet. But Julian Assange is no journalist. He was able to funnel a huge amount of information given to him and release it on the net. He was just a facilitator. But it required newspapers to print the material for it to really matter in the wider world.

The net may provide photographs and information that journalists can't cover but newspapers are more essential than ever. It requires time, money and resources to undertake thorough investigations. If it weren't for journalists we wouldn't know the extent of corruption in NSW Labor politics and there wouldn't be the present Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation of the Obeid family and disgraced politician Ian Macdonald.

The net cannot offer anything like that. It's a medium that celebrates a short attention span. It glories in cyber-lynchings as if the foaming indignation is a sign that those taking part in it - and all you have to do is push a button - are morally right. Much of its vitriol is delivered by anonymous people; it's a medium for cowards.

What is of concern in the real world is that a small group of like-minded elites are determined to restrict free speech unless the speech agrees with their outlook on life and values. Instead of diversity and inclusiveness, these people want to determine our proper "behaviour", to use Roxon's term.

It's a sign that Australia is losing its larrikin personality and that those cultural and political elites want a tame society in their image. It's not unlike middle-class professionals shifting into the red-light district of Kings Cross and afterwards sanitising it, excluding and deriding everyone except clones of themselves.

An integral part of this push is the notion of offence. But really offence is hard to define. Yes, comments such as Behrendt's are offensive, but do they do deep harm? She suffered justified criticism and repented. Leunig's cartoon may offend a Holocaust survivor but it may have forced many readers to rethink their attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The notion of offensiveness is one that changes through the years. We once banned offensive novels such as Lolita and Ulysses; now they are studied. As we discover in the playground, sticks and stones do not hurt as much as words. But that is the nature of human beings; we can taunt and hurt with what we say. If there is one thing that shouldn't be condoned it is comments that go beyond offensive abuse to the incitement of hatred and physical violence.

There has been a slow and sinister attempt to control the old media and to modify our words and thoughts through legislation. The problem is that free speech is coming under attack from those who think it's their duty to morally correct us. Any time a government does that then it becomes certain that the laws they bring in will be used in the future to control us even more



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


17 December, 2012

Nigel Farage, Britain's most "incorrect" politician

For most of the time since he became UKIP leader six years ago, Farage has been treated by mainstream party leaders as a cross between a saloon bar bore and a clown.  Not any more. The former City trader's aim of getting the UK out of the EU, once derided as fantasy, now looks feasible. His party has knocked the Lib Dems into fourth place in polls.

And unashamed Thatcherite Farage has seized on the gay marriage row to woo more disaffected Conservatives.

Some Tory MPs say UKIP's growing popularity makes it impossible for David Cameron to win the next Election.  Any idea of a Tory/UKIP pact to stop Conservative votes bleeding to Farage was killed off last month when Cameron repeated his claim that UKIP is full of `loonies, closet racists and fruitcakes'.

`If he wants to give us back-handed insults like that let him do it,' barks Farage. `We will not be doing business with that man while he is leader under any circumstances. End of.

`There isn't a Tory Party any more, it's gone. Cameron's got rid of it.  It's now just another brand of  social democracy.'

Farage left the Conservative Party 20 years ago, predictably, over Europe. When I suggest he is an  old-fashioned Tory at heart, he objects: `I'm not old fashioned.'

He admits that `in its early days, UKIP attracted all sorts, religious fanatics and others' who were seen as `homophobic, the BNP in blazers'. But the racists and bigots are  gone, he claims. And, buoyed by the rising anti-EU sentiment and disaffection with the three main parties, terrier Farage is yapping at the heels of the big beasts, Cameron, Clegg and Miliband.

He has shrewdly cashed in on their united support for gay marriage and claims he is in talks with unnamed Tory MPs about defecting to UKIP.

`All this talk of equality and fairness goes in one direction. Gay marriage is illiberal because we are forcing millions of people to do something that is anathema to them. Tolerance is a two-way street.'

Has he ever been to a civil partnership celebration? `No, but I wouldn't have a problem in doing so.'

Does he agree with the Tory MP who said parents wanted their children to be straight not gay? Farage, who has two sons and two daughters by his two marriages, replies cheerily: `I don't think I'd rush to the whisky bottle and revolver. It wouldn't be a problem!'

Does it worry him that if he took more Tory votes, he could help socialist Miliband win power?

Farage replies with his trademark bluster and bravado. `What power?  I spent 20 years working in the City and understand power.  `As I always say to people, I worked damned hard right up until lunchtime every day!

`It doesn't matter a damn whether Cameron or Miliband is in Downing Street, we have given away the ability to run our own country.  `Would I have a guilty conscience if the UKIP vote kept Cameron and his SDP Tory Party out and put Miliband and his SDP Labour Party in? None whatsoever.'

He is scathing about last week's EU summit -when Germany and France speeded up moves towards an economic union, with Britain and non-euro nations on the sidelines. He denounces Cameron for acting as `cheerleader in an attempt to snuff out European democracy' by not objecting to it. And in near apocalyptic tones, Farage suggests it could lead to a repeat of the events that sparked the Second World War. `We are heading down a road which will end in violence on a huge scale.'

With a German-run EU? `Yes. What we learn from modern history is that if you attempt to impose on people a new nationality, new flag, new anthem without their consent and impose an economic project doomed to failure, desperate people do desperate things. You create the very nationalism you were trying to stop in the first place.'

Farage says he saw a glimpse of it at the European Parliament last week when the EU's anthem, Beethoven's Ode To Joy, was played. `I looked around that room and I saw them standing ramrod straight to attention and I thought, "Bloody hell, that is scary."'

He denies comparing it to the rise of Hitler, but adds: `This is the new nationalism. For German politicians in the European Parliament it is acceptable to be deeply patriotic about the European flag and not their own. Germany, Italy - there are many countries who feel they are rubbish and they rather like a flag they can be proud of and an anthem they can stand up to. The European project is now a project of nationalism - and it is very dangerous.'

Farage's talk of European turmoil has baffled and enraged the EU's po-faced ruling class, and he adds: `I think political extremism will grow everywhere, I really do.'


US, UK, Australia refuse to sign internet treaty

An attempt by governments to establish a worldwide policy for oversight of the internet collapsed after many Western countries said a compromise plan gave too much power to United Nations and other officials.

Delegates from Australia, the US, UK and other countries took the floor on the second-last day of a UN conference in Dubai to reject revisions to a treaty governing international phone calls and data traffic.

"It's with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that the US must communicate that it's not able to sign the agreement in the current form," said Terry Kramer, the US ambassador to the gathering of the UN's International Telecommunication Union.

"It is greatly disappointing that a consensus could not be reached," Australia's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in a statement. "Australia worked hard to develop suitable text for the International Telecommunications Regulations that would have been acceptable to every member state. Unfortunately, this was not achieved."

While other countries will sign the treaty on Friday, the absence of so many of the largest economies means the document, already watered down to suit much of the West, will have little practical force.

Though technologists who had raised alarms about the proceedings preferred no deal to one that would have legitimised more government censorship and surveillance, the failure to reach an accord could increase the chance that the internet will work very differently in different regions.

"Maybe in the future we could come to a fragmented internet," said delegate Andrey Mukhanov, a top international official at Russia's Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications. "That would be negative for all, and I hope our American, European colleagues come to a constructive position."

Delegates from the US and other holdout countries said they would continue to press at other international gatherings for unified support of what they call a "multi-stakeholder model," in which private industry groups set standards and play a large role in the development of the medium.

Countries that had been seeking an expansion of the ITU role reacted with bitterness to the failure to reach a consensus.

Tariq al-Awadhi of the United Arab Emirates, head of the Arab States' delegation, said his group had been "double-crossed" by the US bloc after it had agreed to a compromise deal that moved internet issues out of the main treaty and into a non-binding resolution that said the ITU should be part of the multi-stakeholder model.

"Unfortunately, those countries breached the compromise package and destroyed it totally," said Awadhi. "We have given everything and are not getting anything."

Awadhi said the treaty should cover all forms of telecommunications, including voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and internet-based instant messaging services. "They are using telecom network and using telecom services," he said.

Kramer said the US had negotiated in good faith but that there were several issues that made agreement impossible, including the resolution's recognition of an ITU role.

He said a section on reducing unwanted emails known as spam, for example, opened the door toward government monitoring and blocking of political or religious messages.

The turnabout was a defeat for ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure, who had previously predicted "light-touch" internet regulation would emerge from the conference.

But he said the 12-day meeting "has succeeded in bringing unprecedented public attention to the different and important perspectives that govern global communications."

The treaty is scheduled to be signed at 1.30pm GMT on Friday (12.30am Saturday AEDT).



All Americans at Risk from Anti-Terrorism Law


While Americans were going about their lives Wednesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), said to provide the government with great means to fight terrorism.

One of its provisions would permit government law enforcement authorities to detain terror suspects without trial and thus eviscerate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution that protect citizens "against unreasonable searches and seizures" and to ensure that "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a grand jury..." with some exceptions.

On December 14th, Politico.com reported that "the measure split Democrats right down the middle, with 93 voting in favor and 93 against legislation that President Barack Obama tactily endorsed earlier in the day be retreating from a veto threat." Civil liberties and human rights groups "were in a furor Wednesday night over Obama's decision to drop his veto threat following changes made to the detainee-related sections of the bill."

Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch said, "By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law."

In Michigan, its House of Representatives unanimously voted to oppose NDAA 107-0. Its bill asserts that no state employee or agency would assist the federal government-in any way-in the detainment of people under the 2012 NDAA. The Obama administration has reportedly aggressively argued in court that the executive branch has this power. It does not. NDAA not only is unconstitutional, it poses the greatest threat to individual freedom every proposed by the government.

A law suit was instituted in March against NDAA and it was initiated by leading members of the nation's left. They include Michael Moore, Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Noam Chromski, Naomi Wolf, and Cornell West. The suit was brought against President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, House Speakers, and Department of Defense representatives for "injunctive relief barring the implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act's `homeland battlefield' provisions for indefinite detention and suspension of Habeus Corpus.

Chris Hedges, a New York Times reporter, said at the time that "I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists. But does not make me one," warning that "if there is no rolling back of the NDAA law we cease to be a constitutional democracy. Totalitarian systems always begin by rewriting the law. They make legal what was once illegal."

"Crimes become patriotic acts," warned Hedges. "The defense of freedom and truth becomes a crime. Foreign and domestic subjugation merges into the same brutal mechanism. Citizens are colonized. And it is always done in the name of national security. We obey the new laws as we obeyed the old laws, as if there was no difference. And we spend our energy and our lives appealing to a dead system."

The lead attorney, Carl Mayer, said, "The Homeland Battlefield Law is as Orwellian as its name implies. America is not a `battlefield'; it is a democratic republic. This law is unconstitutional because it violates the free speech and due process rights of American citizens."

The issue of lost rights and protections is beginning to manifest itself in the public forum. In a column published in the Washington Post in January, JonathanTurley, the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University, identified the many ways the civil liberties we take for granted have been rolled back in the wake of 9/11. They include the assertion under both President Bush and Obama to assassinate any citizen deemed a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Both assert indefinite detention and the president may now order warrantless searches, the use of secret evidence, and secret courts, as well as immunity from judicial review. This is not just unconstitutional, it is totalitarianism in bold letters.

A former member of the National Security Agency, William Binney, recently warned that all Americans are under virtual surveillance. Binney said that "the FBI can access the emails of virtually everybody in the nation." The former director of the CIA, Gen. David Patreaus, discovered that to his dismay.

On May 16th, an Obama-appointed judge, Katherine B. Forrest, blocked the section of last year's NDAA that purported to `reaffirm' the 2001 authorization to use military force against al Qaeda. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs that the relevant section of the law was "not merely an `affirmation." Judge Forrest pointed out that a variety of other statutes permit the detention of those engaged in terrorism or its support.

The wording of the law passed by the House reinstates the provision to detain anyone the federal government deems a terrorist threat for any reason, including as Hedges pointed out, having dinner with a suspected terrorist.

Does it come as any surprise that, on December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trail into law for the first time in American history?

Sad to say, the Bush administration asserted similar claims of worldwide detention authority to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody. The ACLU, a liberal organization, is on record saying that "any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA" adding that "the breadth of the NDAA's detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war."

When those on the far left line up against such a law, you have to know it is noxious, unconstitutional, and a threat to the life and liberty of every American. It is nothing less than a form of Nazism.


Something might be rude but it shouldn't be a crime

David Penberthy comments from Australia about anti-discrimination laws.  Australia's Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has proposed changes to the country's Racial Discrimination Act.  Under the proposed amendments, the list of offensive actions is greatly expanded by expanding the jurisdiction into shops, workplaces and sporting clubs.  Discrimination is proposed to include "political opinion" as a ground on which people can be discriminated against.  This change makes even innocent political expressions potentially offensive

In the movie The People Versus Larry Flynt, the American pornographer and founder of Hustler magazine argued that anyone who believed in free speech should support his cause because "I'm the worst", and that as someone at the squalid outer limits of taste, he needed to win in the Supreme Court to affirm the sanctity of the First Amendment.

The weird thing about Australia right now is the types of laws which are being canvassed won't affect the most extreme, offensive and inflammatory sentiments or forms of behaviour, such as Larry Flynt's repellent concept of satire, but could actually snare behaviour which is quite mundane.

You could go through the once chart-topping LP by a largely harmless nut such as Rodney Rude and draw up a handy checklist of aggrieved groups who could have a humourless moan in a court of law under Canberra's beefed-up anti-discrimination laws.

The immediate past chief justice of NSW, Jim Spigelman, is such a level-headed and reasonable person that he is known in legal circles as Gentleman Jim.

Spigelman is now the ABC chairman and he gave a terrific speech this week looking at how, under the proposed changes, it will become unlawful to offend people.

"We would be pretty much on our own in declaring conduct which does no more than offend to be unlawful. The freedom to offend is an integral component of freedom of speech," Mr Spigelman said. "There is no right not to be offended.

"I am not aware of any international human rights instrument or national anti-discrimination statute in another liberal democracy that extends to conduct which is merely offensive."

If you think back over the life of this toxic and dysfunctional Parliament, where minority government has flushed out conduct on both sides which is way out of step with the way most people behave, the language of politics has become more heated than usual.

JULIA Gillard has been labelled JuLiar, called a witch, a crook, a feminazi; Tony Abbott has been labelled a misogynist, a negative, policy-free fraud, the Liberals accused of dealing with scumbags to pursue the AWU story, and so on.

I am not sure whether any of this language is desirable.

But I am convinced that none if it should be actionable, as all of it has the capacity to offend someone.

And the moment we start letting people try their luck in court because they have their precious feelings hurt, we are heading down a pretty disturbing path towards state-sanctioned limits on what passes for conversation.

There are already limits to what we can and cannot say through the common law, with defamation being a very popular and often lucrative way to take action if you feel you have been hard done by and can convince a judge or a jury of your peers of that fact.

One of the most inflammatory moments of this year was the absurd and violent protest by the ratty minority within Sydney's Lebanese Muslim community, who thought that belting cops was a reasonable response to the screening of a film overseas ridiculing their prophet. These blokes were clearly deeply offended. So much so that it was offensive to the rest of us.

We don't need our government treating us like those nuts in Martin Place, who clearly devote much of their time to being offended.

The long-standing advice to calm down, keep things in perspective, or lighten up should hold more value than any government-mandated attempts to make sure no one ever says anything offensive, ever.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


16 December, 2012

BBC told to put more homosexual presenters on children's TV to 'familiarise' youngsters with different sexualities

BBC children's programmes should include more lesbian, gay and bisexual people, a report of the corporation recommends.

A panel of nine experts said youngsters should be introduced to sexual diversity in their early years.

While there has been a gradual increased in the representation of these people, they remain 'still relatively invisible' in the media, they said.

The experts added that the BBC should be 'more creative and bolder in its depiction of such groups of people, taking care to steer clear of stereotypes.'

The report concluded: 'The LGB [lesbian, gay and bisexual] experts feel that the BBC should seek to incorporate the portrayal of LGB people within programming targeted at children, to familiarise audiences through incidental portrayal from an early age.'

The report commissioned by the broadcaster, which drew on audience surveys and nine 'LGB experts', concluded that all genres of programming should regularly feature non-heterosexual people, with news and drama currently the biggest problem areas.

Of BBC News, the study claimed that too much time was given to 'homophobic' viewpoints.

'As a public service broadcaster and a standard bearer on moral issues, the BBC is asked to reconsider the way in which it is perceived to set up these debates with two extreme perspectives and to be more creative and nuanced in its presentation,' wrote Clare Luke of Solitaire Consulting, who produced the report.

For dramas and soaps, she recommended bolder storylines featuring gay characters, while documentaries were deemed to need more LGB presenters and portrayal of gay people in history.

As for comedy, the report concluded that the 'biggest risk' was LGB people being the focus of a joke.  This was judged as only truly acceptable when the comedians themselves were gay.

The report drew on a survey of around 3,000 viewers, in which one in five heterosexual men said they thought there were too many LGB people on BBC television.

More than one in ten people said there were uncomfortable with the portrayal of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the broadcast media.

Acting director general Tim Davie, chair of the BBC Working Group which commissioned the review, said: 'The BBC has a fundamental obligation to serve all its audiences. In fact, it's one of the BBC's public purposes to reflect the diversity of UK life. 

Reacting to the report, Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said: `I would object to my children being subjected to any sexualisation on a BBC television programme, whether homosexual or heterosexual. That is not the purpose of children's TV.'

But Peter Tatchell, a gay rights campaigner for OutRage!, said: `This is a really positive proposal which can help increase understanding and combat prejudice. Every child deserves to grow up to be tolerant, kind, and supportive of other people who are gay or lesbian.'

Gay rights campaigner Anthony Crank, best known for fronting Channel 4 youth show T4, works for BBC Radio Manchester as a regular cover presenter and presented BBC family shows including Holiday and Holiday Hit Squad.

BBC children's presenter Kirsten O'Brien said in 2007 that 'everyone at CBBC is either gay or childless and don't like kids'.

However, the corporation insisted that her remarks about her colleagues during a stand-up show at the Edinburgh festival had been made in jest.


Social workers tore me from my babies for a year: Nightmare of innocent mother accused of harming son

A loving mother had her children taken away from her in a dawn raid on her home after being wrongly accused of cruelty.  The three terrified youngsters watched as she was handcuffed before they were each put into separate cars and taken into foster care.

It took 19 months for the devastated family to be reunited - when a judge exonerated the parents and strongly criticised the social workers and police responsible for the appalling error.

Judge Nicholas Marston said social services, who had accused the parents of deliberately causing symptoms of illness in their disabled son, acted on claims `based on misunderstandings' or which were `just plain wrong'.

The couple were wrongly alleged to have given 12-year-old Kane medicine to induce symptoms of digestive, nervous system and growth problems, as well as the fact he is on the autistic spectrum.

Social workers accused them of Fabricated or Induced Illness by carers (FII), also known as Munchausen's syndrome by proxy.

The 6am police swoop, which involved 14 officers descending on a quiet Hampshire cul-de-sac, was described by the judge as `utterly disproportionate' and `itself abusive of the children involved'.

The children's father, who had left for work as an engineer at the time of the raid, was also later arrested on suspicion of neglect. Parents Kealey and Andy, who wish to keep the family surname secret, were never charged but say they have been `destroyed' by the ordeal.

Kealey, 39, who had a nervous breakdown brought on by the arrest and  has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, said: `I didn't see my children for over a year.  I wasn't allowed to speak to them. It was torture.

`You see mums crying when they wave their kids off on a school trip. There aren't words to describe going a year without seeing your babies.

`We are broken. The old me is gone. It is very hard for the children because they see a very different mum.'

Although his parents have now regained full custody, Kane is voluntarily staying in foster and respite care because Kealey is currently too ill to care for him. Andy, 47, lost his job on his arrest and has since had to take up a new position abroad, meaning he gets to see the children only every three or four months.

He said: `Social services were more interested in proving we were wrong than giving Kane care.

`They thought we had managed to convince 30 doctors over Kane's lifetime. They said we had given him medicine to induce the problems, but he had the problems before he had the medicine so I don't know how they worked that out.'

The arrests, in July 2010, were triggered after staff at Bursledon House specialist children's centre in Southampton, where Kane was undergoing treatment, told social services that he was not showing all the symptoms his parents described and they concluded it was a case of FII.

Once in care, the children were unable to see or speak to their mother for a year and were allowed to see their father only on weekly three-hour supervised visits.

Kane was kept separately from his sisters Carris and Marly, then 14 and eight, for four months, before they were all sent to a foster family 60 miles from the family home in Farnborough, with a daily two-hour round trip to school.

Carris, who is now 16, had been predicted 14 A*s at GCSE, but left school with only two passes. She took herself out of care as soon as she turned 16 last summer and returned to her family.

At a four-week hearing at Portsmouth County Court in February, Judge Marston praised Kealey and Andy for being `caring, loving' parents and criticised Hampshire County Council for failing to prove any of its claims.

In his judgment, he said: `What happened here is that a picture was painted before the facts were properly analysed, indeed before many of the facts were actually known, and then the facts were made to fit the picture.'

John Coughlan, Hampshire County Council's director of children's services, said that the council had acted with the `best motives', adding: `It is our duty as a local authority to secure the  wellbeing of children.'

Detective Superintendent Nigel Lecointe, head of the public protection department of Hampshire Constabulary, said he accepted his officers' actions had been `perceived to be heavy-handed' and `had a significant long-term effect on the family'.


A victory for free speech in Britain: Lords vote to axe law banning insults that had led to countless arrests of ordinary people

Free speech campaigners have hailed a vote by the House of Lords to scrap a  draconian law that made it a crime simply to insult someone.

The controversial legislation led to countless arrests of ordinary people for making jokes and expressing opinions about  religion and sexuality.

Section 5 of the Public Order Act criminalised `insulting' words and behaviour - without defining what the term meant.

Critics warned that over- zealous police and prosecutors  were abusing the law, leading to ludicrous scenarios such as the conviction of a teenager for saying `woof' to two dogs.

An amendment to strike out the term `insult' by Lord Dear, a crossbencher and former West Midlands chief constable, was backed by 150 votes to 54 late on Tuesday.  The move was backed despite the Government and Labour peers opposing the change.

Liberal Democrats banded with rebel lords from across the parties and crossbench peers to vote for the change. Lord Dear said: `We must never lose sight of our basic constitutional freedoms within the law which are so important in any civilised country.  `That's why the vote was so important in upholding and enhancing one of those basic freedoms.'

Simon Calvert, of The Christian Institute and campaign director for Reform Section 5, said: `We are delighted the House of Lords has voted to enhance free speech for everyone by reforming Section 5.  `The vote will encourage everyone who believes in robust debate, especially those who feel free speech has become less free in recent years.

`We now wait to hear whether the Government will try to overturn this vote in the Commons.'

The amendment was passed by the House of Lords as part of the Crime and Courts Bill. It will still need to go through the House of Commons for approval, however, and will need government backing to become law.

Last night, the Home Office said it was `considering' the arguments for change and `will reflect on the Lords' decision'.

A spokesman added: `The  Government supported the retention of Section 5 as it  currently stands, because we believe it is wrong to swear at police officers.'

The Home Office launched a consultation on repealing Section 5 in January, but no decision has yet been reached about whether it will back the change.

One senior MP told the Mail the Home Office had taken an unusually long time to deliberate and had `become hesitant' to change the law following the `plebgate' row involving former International Development  Secretary Andrew Mitchell.

The MP said: `Until Mitchell's plebgate, we thought the Home Office and police could work this out and agree to drop it. But Theresa May did not want to be seen undermining police in the wake of that.'

Mr Mitchell was accused of swearing at police officers outside Downing Street when he was asked to get off his bicycle.

But the intervention last week of the Crown Prosecution Service will heap pressure on the Government to back the change.

Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the law could be `safely' amended while still protecting vulnerable  people from harassment under existing laws.


Britain is getting a glimpse of the world of culture wars

Pressing  homosexual marriage onto the churches is bringing the politics of division to a country more used to peace on the issue

Some concepts are simply alien to some cultures, which is why the British have no word for "Kulturkampf". The practice of "culture wars" - dividing a nation into warring tribes and then exploiting that division - has been happily absent from our politics. Anyone visiting the United States during election time will watch, amazed, the bitter arguments about abortion, gun control or the teaching of evolution. The power of these debates is astonishing: they can set neighbour against neighbour, while often bearing only a tangential relationship to the issues actually resolved at election time.

Returning home, a Brit can tune into the evening news and sigh with relief at our less lively, but rather saner, public discussion. But the news, in recent days, has started to sound a little more American. MPs have been quoting the Bible in just the same way, and getting themselves just as wound up. David Cameron's plans for gay marriage, which were controversial enough in the first place, have been made even more so by his decision to let such unions take place in churches. After two years of trying to discuss this rationally, tribal battle has now broken out. A group of liberal Tories calling themselves the "Freedom to Marry" alliance are up against a group of less organised, lesser known and less telegenic Conservatives who are popping up on TV to denounce the Government. The ordinary viewer may conclude that the Tory party is going through one of its periodic bouts of madness.

I suspect that, by now, even Cameron is wondering if this has not all spun out of control. It's perfectly easy to see his original logic. As a matter of principle, he believes in marriage and would like it to be accessible to everyone. If the Unitarian Church and certain strands of Judaism want to marry gay couples on their premises, then why should government stand in their way? For the record, I quite agree. Religious freedom in Britain ought to be universal, extended to the handful of churches or synagogues who want same-sex marriage. To lift the ban ought to be a technical issue, an amendment to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 requiring no fanfare.

But this time, there has been not just a fanfare, but the drumbeat of war. Nick Clegg released the text of a speech in which he regretted the fact that economic turmoil "gives the bigots a stick to beat us with, as they demand we 'postpone' the equalities agenda". He later withdrew the b-word, but his point was made: that Britain is now divided into two camps. You have the Liberal Democrats, friends of equality. And on the other side, the "bigots" - a group that presumably includes followers of every mainstream religion. A former adviser to Clegg resurfaced to say that his boss ought to have stuck to his word, because such people are indeed bigots.

A Washington strategist would have given Clegg full marks for this textbook example of culture war. The British gay marriage debate has now become (as the American sociologist James Hunter puts it) a matter of "political and social hostility rooted in different systems of moral understanding". The trick is to draw a dividing line, insult those on the other side - and try to attract supporters by forcing people to choose. The strategy could, in theory, help Clegg make common cause with his target voters: younger suburbanites, living in an un-religious Britain. But it means declaring war on an enemy who tend to be, disproportionately, shire-dwellers, churchgoers and over 60.

It's less clear, however, what Cameron hopes to gain from the same strategy - which is what is making Tory MPs so suspicious. Many suspect he is using this to (as one senior backbencher puts it) "identify a wing of his party who are at best old-fashioned and at worst bigoted". Some mutter about an old theory articulated by Oliver Letwin, Cameron's policy chief: that the party could double its membership if it lost the least attractive 25 per cent of it. And if this sounds like MPs' paranoia, then welcome to the crazy world of culture wars. They tend to bring out the worst in everyone.

Some of his party say they will not rise to Cameron's bait, believing this to be a ploy to make them go on national television and sound like lunatics. Some are past caring, and are doing it anyway. Tory supporters of Cameron's plan point to Barack Obama's victory and conclude that winning parties make sure they stay socially liberal. But another supporter says the Prime Minister has "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory", because all voters will remember about the gay marriage debate is the way the Tories went mad one December and tore each other apart.

The irony is that Britain does not need legislation to make it more liberal. It can already claim to be one of the most tolerant places on earth. The 2011 census showed how we have absorbed the unprecedented rates of immigration over the past decade without anything like the far-Right backlash seen on the Continent. Britain is the country where Mo Farah is a national hero, Graham Norton a national treasure, and vindaloo the national dish. As a people, we tend not to resent each other's race, colour or sexual orientation - or even think too much about it.

But our new cultural warriors do care about creed, especially those who offend secular notions of equality. Take Adrian Smith, a Manchester housing trust worker who wrote on his Facebook page that gay marriage was an "equality too far". His punishment was demotion by his employer and a 40 per cent pay cut. The High Court upheld his appeal. "Something has poisoned the atmosphere in Britain," he said, "where an honest man like me can be punished for making perfectly polite remarks about the importance of marriage."

His treatment was an affront to the right of liberty - but the law of unintended consequences is one that Westminster always unwittingly enacts. Promises of a "quadruple lock" to stop the Church of England being ordered to conduct gay marriages, for example, make the clergy feel more vulnerable than ever. For centuries, the Church has not needed such protection, since its freedom had been taken for granted. No longer. The clergy fear that the very existence of the legislation proves that a hostile, secular agenda is gathering strength.

Cameron does have a way to calm things down: he simply needs to make good his promise to do more to promote marriage for straight couples. He is Prime Minister of a country where 48 per cent of children will see their parents split up. Strip out immigrants (who flatter most social statistics) and only a minority of British babies are born to married parents. By the age of 16, a British child is considerably more likely to have a television in the bedroom than a father in the house.

Marriage, as an institution, is in need of some help. If Cameron is serious about strengthening it, then he should do so for everyone.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


14 December, 2012

Atheists Post Anti-Christmas Billboard in Times Square

It's Christmas time, again, which means that American Atheists (AA), an activist non-profit, is back with yet another overtly-offensive holiday billboard. In 2010, the group posted a message in New Jersey calling the Christmas story "a myth" (The Catholic League erected a response). And in 2011, AA followed that up with another campaign, featuring Jesus, Satan and Santa.

Now, there's yet another billboard alleging that Christ's story is a fable - and this time, it's proudly displayed in New York City's Time Square.

The new message, which reads, "Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!," elevates the controversy that AA typically seeks to ignite by providing an image of Santa with a photo of Jesus suffering on the cross. The "merry" corresponds to the traditional Christmas mascot, with "myth" (in caps) is presented beneath the Christian savior's picture, clearly in reference to Jesus' death.

As is typically the case, representatives from AA have come forward to comment about the billboard, while explaining the organization's motivations for posting it. Teresa MacBain, who serves as AA's communications director, said that the holiday season is about "family, friends, and love" and that its beauty has "nothing to do with the gods of yesteryear."

"Indeed, the season is far more enjoyable without the religious baggage of guilt and judgmentalism," she added. "Dump the myth and have a happy holiday season."

David Silverman, president of AA, added his own views on the matter, claiming that a large proportion of Christians are non-believers who are "trapped in their family's religion."
American Atheists Erect Jesus Myth Ad | War on Christmas

"If you know God is a myth, you do not have to lie and call yourself Christian in order to have a festive holiday season," Silverman said. "You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should."

While AA would argue that the billboard is intended to inspire atheists to "come out," others will likely see it as offensive. The message will run through Jan. 10.


Row over 'white as snow' Miss France

The possibility that white women are the most attractive to most French people seems to be overlooked

A black rights group on Monday slammed the latest Miss France competition for producing a "white as snow" winner from a field it claimed was unrepresentative of the country's ethnic make-up.

Marine Lorphelin, 19, a brunette medical student from Burgundy, was on Saturday crowned Miss France 2013, having edged out Miss Tahiti, Hinarini de Longeaux, in the final round of judging.

Louis-Georges Tin, the president of the CRAN (Representative Council of Black Associations), on Monday lamented the lack of contestants from France's African and north African communities.

"The failure to represent the contemporary French population in an event such as this is obviously serious," Tin said in a statement issued jointly with Fred Royer, the creator of Miss Black France.   "It amounts to denying the very existence of French people of African origin."

Of the 33 finalists in Saturday's contest, eight were from ethnic minorities with six of those coming from France's Pacific or Caribbean territories.

"In the antiquated world of Miss France, blacks apparently can only come from overseas departments," the CRAN statement said.

"As for Frenchwomen of north African heritage, they were 'represented' by only one candidate who was quickly eliminated (too Muslim perhaps?)."

France is home to around five million Muslims, most of them of north African origin.

The statement went on to express regret that "Miss France is as white as the end of year snow on the steeples of an eternal France."


Disability handouts to be cut or stopped for 330,000 claimants as British Government aims to end 'welfare for life'

The Government is to reduce or stop disability allowance for hundreds of thousands of claimants in a bid to end unchecked `welfare for life'.

The clampdown comes as new figures suggest that seven in ten of those claiming the benefit go through the system without proper checks.

Ministers intend to reassess an initial 560,000 claimants, and expect that 330,000 - nearly 60 per cent - will get no award or a reduced sum after the checks.

There are currently 3.2million adults claiming disability living allowance (DLA), costing Britain œ13.2billion a year - equivalent to the entire budget for the Department for Transport.

The number of claimants has more than trebled since the benefit was created in 1992.

Disability minister Esther McVey said without reform, one in every 17 adults would be claiming DLA by 2018.

The Tory minister said the vast majority of claimants - 71 per cent - get the benefit `for life', often having filled in an initial claim form about their capability themselves.

She added that about a third of people with a disability had a change in a condition in a year - some for the worse, but many for the better.

This suggests that in many cases claimants may no longer need the full benefit or any allowance at all.

The first 560,000 claimants will be reassessed by October 2015.

The group consists of those who report a change in circumstance or who have been given a time-limited award that comes to an end.

In a concession to critics, the Government will slow down the timetable for checks on the remaining claimants, which will begin in 2015. It is not clear that the same proportion  will see benefits reduced in the second stage as in the first.

An independent review of the first stage of reform will be conducted in 2014.

The Government has already identified œ630million in overpayments and œ190million in underpayments, highlighting the turmoil in the welfare system.

Miss McVey said: `It has been considered a static benefit, not a dynamic one. But there will be people getting better thanks to medical advances or who overcome an impairment. So we need new and more regular assessments.  `DLA is an outdated benefit introduced over 20 years ago.

`At the moment the vast majority of people get the benefit for life without systematic checks to see if their condition has changed.' The Coalition is replacing DLA with a new benefit, called the personal independence payment.

It will be designed to target more generous support towards `those who need it most'.

The new system will involve a medical expert assessing a claim in a face-to-face appointment, and regular later checks.

Last night, charities voiced a chorus of protest at plans to slash the disability benefit bill.

A poll by campaign group Disability Alliance found that 9 per cent of survey respondents said losing the disability living allowance `may make life not worth living'.

The group has also protested that the Government had identified cuts in spending before consulting on which elements of benefits needed to be reformed.

The clampdown on disability benefit emerged as the Conservatives and Labour traded increasingly bitter blows over efforts to cut the vast welfare budget.

At Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, David Cameron condemned Labour as the party of `unlimited welfare'.

Ed Miliband made clear Labour will oppose Government plans to cap most out-of-work benefits and tax credits to a below-inflation 1 per cent increase for the next three years.

Labour claims that the squeeze will hit lower income families who are in work but in receipt of tax credits as well as the unemployed, but the Prime Minister insisted that such concern is misplaced.

Working families would be more than compensated by other measures, most notably, a record increase in the basic rate income tax threshold to œ9,440, Mr Cameron said.

Officials say the average working family would be œ125 a year better off next year once the income tax break, the tax credit squeeze and the cancellation of a 3p rise in fuel duty are taken into account.

Savings from the welfare cap are so significant that it would take a 1p rise income tax to plug the gap.

Mr Miliband accused the Government of seeking to `divide and rule', by portraying benefit claimants as `scroungers'.


The Pros and Cons of Minority Outreach

By David Bozeman

This is a tough one for conservatives and libertarians.  Our message to Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, etc. is the same that we share with any American:  if you work hard and make positive choices (i.e., stay in school. save money, avoid the pitfalls of sexual promiscuity, among others), you, too, can enjoy success beyond your expectations. That may sound condescending, but it's born of equal doses of logic and compassion.

The response, of course, is that we don't understand the discrimination and hardships these groups face.  We certainly don't deny that discrimination exists, and some have suffered the lingering effects endured by their elders.  But we wholeheartedly believe that in 2012, Americans of any background can achieve far more than their leaders allow them to realize.  Even in tough economic times, minorities are surpassing expectations every day.  Republicans celebrated such Americans at their convention last summer:  Marco Rubio, Condoleeza Rice and Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, among others.

Nonetheless, conservatives are just not good at this sort of thing - we see individual potential, not group identity.  But still, changing times demand that we modify our message.  That doesn't mean to compromise or go wobbly, it simply means that the type of outreach we should employ is not group-to-group but person-to-person.  In fact, few Americans of any background will respond to cold analytical discussions of the Federal Reserve, the debt ceiling or the pertinent messages of Atlas Shrugged Part 2.

But for all our best efforts, we can never guarantee full equality of outcome.  For all our laws banning discrimination, some individuals will have to work harder than others.  That is a fact of human nature and not an indictment of traditional, free-market American principles.

How interesting that if you talk to most people one-on-one, they will heartily agree to such "conservative" tenets as hard work and self-sufficiency.  They instinctively accept that life is not always fair, and they will rely on their own common sense over the blithering idiocy of self-serving politicians.

Indeed, most people, in their day-to-day lives, weigh right versus wrong and not conservative versus liberal or Republican versus Democrat.  It is only when they don the cloaks of class and group identity that our fellow citizens surrender their individual judgments.

A friend, an African American, recently informed me that white conservatives just don't grasp the historical significance of Barack Obama's presidency.  I conceded the point.  The president does indeed inspire untold affection from many people of color (and other voting blocs).  He stands with (or maybe just behind) Martin Luther King as a transformative figure.  Conservatives who keep screaming "But he's a socialist, he doesn't care anything about you!" may as well be spitting into the wind.

So while conceding my friend's point, I offered the following: Mitt Romney, John McCain, George. W. Bush and most other boring white guys on the right do not care any less than the president for the average person of color.  They have just as much faith in you as the president does (in fact, some would argue more).

Conservatives do not relish failure in minority communities (we extol success stories because they often prove America's limitless potential) or enact policies that destroy minority families.  And the dreams inspired by Obama were no less attainable in 2007 than in 2008.

But that, in the end, is not really what matters.  So much verbal energy has been wasted in the emotional terrain, but the pertinent question is not which party believes in you, but do you believe in yourself?  Who do you want your children to look to as a role model in twenty years, Barack Obama or you?   Who defines our national character, the most humble among us or Obama?

Ultimately, we conservatives will not forge a winning majority without acknowledging that it is not what we say that matters but what our fellow citizens hear.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


13 December, 2012

U.S. Navy cancels nativity play over atheist complaint

The Navy directed service members serving in Bahrain to cancel and dismantle a "Live Nativity" after receiving a complaint from a military atheist group who said the manger scene endangered Americans serving in a Muslim country and violated the U .S. Constitution.

The chaplain at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain confirmed to Fox News the nativity scene was cancelled - but referred any further comments to the NSA's public information officer.

The "Live Nativity" was a long-standing tradition at NSA Bahrain that featured the children of military personnel dressed as shepherds, wise men, along with Mary and Joseph. It was part of a larger festival that included a tree lighting, Christmas music and photographs with Santa Claus and a camel.

But the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers objected to the Nativity and filed a complaint with the Navy's Inspector General. They argued the Nativity promoted "Christianity as the official religion of the base."

The atheist group also worried that the Nativity put service members in danger.

"Also of concern is the likelihood that the predominantly Muslim local population will see the U.S. military as a Christian force rather than a secular military support U.S. - but not necessarily Christian values in their Muslim country," the MAAF wrote in their complaint. "This even threatens U.S. security and violates the Constitution as well as command policy."

"It's unconstitutional, it's bad for the military and in a Muslim country it's dangerous," MAAF spokesman Jason Torpy told Fox News.

"Upon further review, the CRP (Command Religious Program) will be removing the Living Nativity Program from the general base secular holiday festivities and co-locating it more appropriately with some of our other private religious and faith-based observances at the chapel at a separate time," read a statement the Navy reportedly sent the NAAF.

Some service members in Bahrain told Fox News called the cancellation heartbreaking and children who were supposed to act in the Nativity were devastated.

"It was horrible," said one officer who asked not to be identified. "It was devastating. Here we are serving in the Middle East, defending our country and other people's religions and we couldn't understand why we can't enjoy our own religious freedoms."

Crews had already started building the Nativity structure, but orders were given to have it dismantled.

"You can go outside the gate and hear Christmas music, but on the base you can't have a Nativity," said another officer. "The sense of hypocrisy is overwhelming."

Pastors and religious liberty advocates are expressing shock and outrage over the yuletide controversy.

"It is unthinkable that our own  military would violate the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religious expression-a freedom  that our forefathers sacrificed their lives to provide for us," said Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. "Taxpayers give the military hundreds of billions of dollars every year to protect our constitutional freedoms, not to trample upon them."


Why we must tolerate hate

Leftists seem unaware of their own bigotry against others.  Should they be punished for hate speech?

In America, if you decorate your house with anti-Semitic slogans or your clothing with swastikas, you are engaging in protected speech. But paper your neighbour's car with anti-Semitic bumper stickers and you are guilty of vandalism. Hate speech is constitutionally protected (as the Supreme Court confirmed most recently in Snyder v Phelps). Destruction or defacement of someone else's property is legally prohibited.

Advocates of censoring `hate speech' might say that we value property more than the elimination of bigotry. I'd say that we value speech, as well as property, more than inoffensiveness. Besides, protections of presumptively hateful speech are not absolute: a prohibited act, like assault or vandalism, accompanied by vicious expressions of bigotry, may constitute a hate crime under law.

Consider this recent incident at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts: anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled across the back door of the Jewish Life House, where four students reside. The student who discovered it, Molly Tobin, described herself as `shocked, angry, and terrified', according to the Boston Globe. But students and faculty members have `come together' in support of diversity, with a potluck and a Facebook campaign. Campus police are investigating the incident, and the school is offering a $1,000 reward for information about it.

Could the vandals in this case be prosecuted for a hate crime? Perhaps. Massachusetts law provides that assaulting someone or damaging her property with `intent to intimidate' on the basis of race, colour or religion, among other characteristics, is punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or a maximum two-and-a-half-year prison sentence. Whether or not the graffiti on the door of the Jewish Life House was intentionally intimidating is a question of fact; but you can guess how it might be resolved.

Should the vandals in this case be prosecuted for a hate crime? Fierce free-speech advocates, like my friend and colleague Harvey Silverglate, condemn hate-crime laws for practically creating thought crimes. `It is foolish and dangerous for the legal system to punish a malefactor on the basis of whatever ideological or personal views or hatreds might, or might not, motivate crimes against person or property', Silverglate says. `The slope from punishing acts to punishing thoughts is very slippery indeed.'

I tend to agree. Hate-crime laws are generally sentence-enhancement laws, imposing harsher sentences on crimes motivated by bias. They ensure that assaulting someone you hate because of his personality quirks is a lesser crime than assaulting someone you hate because he belongs to a particular, protected demographic group. In other words, when you're prosecuted for a bias crime, you're prosecuted for your bad thought and beliefs as well as your conduct.

Once convicted of a hate crime, you may even be subject to mandatory thought-reform: in Massachusetts, you're required to complete a state-sponsored and designed `diversity awareness programme' before being released from prison or completing probation. Deface someone's property for the wrong reasons - bigotry or a bad attitude towards a protected group - and your thoughts become the business of the state.

This seems quintessentially un-American, if freedom of speech and belief are quintessential American values. But individual freedom is sometimes valued less, especially on campus, than diversity and the psychic as well as physical security of presumptively disadvantaged groups.

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), reports on the lamentable consequences of this values shift in his important new book, Unlearning Liberty. `On college campuses today, students are punished for everything from mild satire, to writing politically incorrect short stories, to having the wrong opinion on virtually every hot button issue', he reports, in disturbing detail.

When `mild satire' and arguably offensive jokes are deemed too dangerous or disruptive to tolerate, it's not surprising that anti-Semitic graffiti is `terrifying' and virtually incomprehensible. At Wheaton, Molly Tobin says she remains afraid to walk around the campus at night and describes her reaction to finding the graffiti on her door as `an out-of-body experience'. While appreciative of the strong support offered by Wheaton faculty and students, she considers it `pretty tragic that something on this level has to happen for the campus to respond like this'.

Death, disease, war and genocide are tragic; famine is tragic; climate change is potentially tragic. An isolated incident of anti-Semitic graffiti is unsettling and lamentable, but it is hardly a tragedy. It is human nature. Few of us will go through life without being insulted or disliked on account of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or other immutable characteristics. People can be mean and stupid. People harbour biases; they always have and always will, and their right to believe in the inferiority or sinfulness of particular groups is the same as your right to believe in equality.

I'm not suggesting that we should resign ourselves to bigotry. I'm arguing that we should tolerate expressions of it. This doesn't mean tolerating bigoted acts. Vandalism is not a form of protected speech, regardless of the ideas it expresses. Penal laws should punish assaults on people or property that are and aren't motivated by bigotry. Anti-discrimination laws can and do single out bias-motivated acts in employment and education with virtually no opposition from free-speech advocates, except in some cases that involve verbal harassment.

Advocates of censoring hateful or offensive speech draw on civil rights laws to assert a right not to be offended or intimidated on account of membership of a protected group. But in the interests of equality, the state can regulate some educational policies (especially in public schools) as well as hiring, firing and promotion in secular businesses without significantly infringing on the First Amendment. The state can't regulate hate or offensiveness without eviscerating fundamental First Amendment freedoms.

Is this an excuse for vigilantism? When is it necessary, appropriate or ethical to publicly shame people for their bigoted speech? The website Jezebel sparked a minor fracas about journalistic ethics by calling out and ratting out to school administrators teenagers who spewed crude, racist tweets in the wake of Barack Obama's re-election: `We contacted their school's administrators with the hope that, if their educators were made aware of their students' ignorance, perhaps they could teach them about racial sensitivity. Or they could let them know that while the First Amendment protects their freedom of speech, it doesn't protect them from the consequences that might result from expressing their opinions.'

In fact, because the First Amendment protects the students' freedom of speech it should also protect them from some of the consequences `that might result' from their speech, especially consequences imposed by public school officials. It's true that student speech rights have been significantly limited in recent years, but the girls at Jezebel might want to consider whether that's cause for celebration.

In any case, they obviously enjoy their own First Amendment rights to shame teenagers or adults whose speech offends them. They enjoy the right to encourage public school officials to punish students for their racist tweets. But they should perhaps exercise this right with a sense of irony.

Instead, the Jezebel site is infused with the self-righteousness of people who have little compunction of speaking up in the interests of shutting up their ideological opponents and shutting down speech they find offensive. Freedom of speech respects self-certainty, but requires at least a little self-doubt.


'We don't need a law against insults': British prosecutor backs free speech as he says it's OK to offend people

There is no need for a law that makes it a crime to insult someone, the Director of Public Prosecutions has said.

In a boost to free-speech campaigners, Keir Starmer QC said it was safe to reform the controversial law that says it is a criminal offence to use `insulting words or behaviour'.

The clause of the 26-year-old Public Order Act has spurred a campaign which has united gay and secular activists, celebrities and conservative Christian evangelicals in favour of a robust right for people to insult each other.

In October, comedian Rowan Atkinson said the law was having a `chilling effect on free expression and free protest'.

He warned: `The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult.'

The Crown Prosecution Service, which Mr Starmer heads, has in the past been against any move to strike the word `insulting' from the statute book. But the DPP has now changed his mind, the CPS said.

He wrote in a letter to former West Midlands chief constable Lord Dear: `Having now considered the case law in greater depth, we are unable to identify a case in which the alleged behaviour leading to conviction could not properly be characterised as "abusive" as well as "insulting".

`I therefore agree the word "insulting" could safely be removed without the risk of undermining the ability of the CPS to bring prosecutions.'

However, Mr Starmer added: `I also appreciate there are other policy considerations involved.'

The indication from the CPS that the law against insult does nothing to protect the public came as a major boost for the campaign to amend the 1986 Public Order Act.

The law was notoriously used in 2005 when an Oxford University student was arrested for saying to a police officer: `Excuse me, do you realise your horse is gay?' It has also been used to arrest a Christian preacher in Workington who told a passer-by that he thought homosexuality was sinful.

And teenager Kyle Little was fined œ50 in 2007 for `causing distress' to a pair of labradors by saying `woof woof' at them within earshot of the police. The case was later quashed on appeal.

Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute think-tank said: `We hope Home Secretary Theresa May will listen to the country's top prosecutor and agree to reform this overboard and unwanted legislation.'

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: `This legislation has been on the statue books for 26 years, initially to control football hooligans, major demonstrations and protests such as the miners' dispute. 

`But the legislation is now being used to criminalise huge numbers of people for trivial comments.  `In 2009 the police used this law 18,000 times, including against people who were expressing their views or beliefs in a reasonable manner.'


Deaf woman wants to be on a jury

There is a culture of denial among many deaf people which denies that they are handicapped

A DEAF woman claims she was subjected to unlawful discrimination when she was unwillingly excused from jury duty because of her hearing disability.

Gaye Prudence Lyons has made a complaint against the Queensland Government under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 for failing to provide an interpreter during her stint as member of an Ipswich jury panel.

Details of the action were revealed in a recent Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision to consider Ms Lyons' request for an order forcing the Deputy Registrar and Sheriff of the Ipswich District Court to supply a range of documents.

QCAT senior member Clare Endicott, in a recently published four page ruling, dismissed Mr Lyons' application for the tribunal to issue a notice of production, but does give a small insight into the hearing impaired woman's complaint.

"Ms Lyons has referred to QCAT a complaint that she has been unlawfully discriminated against by the State of Queensland when she was excused from jury duty because she is deaf and required an Auslan interpreter in order to perform jury duty," Ms Endicott said.

"Ms Lyons complains that she has been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of an impairment in the provision of services to her and by the administration of State laws and programs contrary to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991."

The tribunal was told Ms Lyons, in preparation of her case, applied for a notice to be issued by the tribunal to obtain a range of documents, including any policy, guideline, direction or other document relating to deaf people and jury duty in operation between January 1 and October 9 this year.

Ms Lyons' application was opposed by the state government on the grounds it was an abuse of process.

"(Ms Lyons) has explained that access to the requested documents is reasonably necessary for (her) to reply to the contentions of the state," Ms Endicott said.

Ms Endicott, in dismissing Mr Lyons application, said she expected the state government would make reasonable attempts to ascertain if the documents requested actually existed before the matter was heard.

"If documents within the categories do exist, and if the State objects to providing copies to Ms Lyons of all or any of the ascertained documents, then the parties can at that stage seek a direction for QCAT for the release of copies of the actual documents in dispute to Ms Lyons."



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


12 December, 2012

Unemployed single mother on British welfare who spends œ2,000 on Christmas with 20 presents for each of her children

She's the sensible one.  It is British socialism that has caused this destructive situation

While many families are worrying about how to afford Christmas this year, one jobless single mother has revealed she receives so much in benefits she has œ2,000 to spend on designer gifts, clothes and partying.

Mother-of-two Leanna Broderick plans to buy 20 presents for each of her children, including Burberry and Ralph Lauren outfits, iPads and gold jewellery.

The 20-year-old, who has never worked, claims nearly œ15,500 a year in state handouts.

She claims she is better off on benefits and would not get a job unless she could continue her luxury lifestyle, which includes designer outfits, holidays abroad, clubbing, lunches out and expensive gifts for her daughters Zelekah, two, and Zakirah, one.

`Last year, I saved œ2,500 and my kids had 50 presents each, including Burberry and Ralph Lauren clothes and dolls, DVDs and CDs.

`This year, I've saved œ2,000 and they'll get 20 presents each, including iPads and a new Disney-themed bedroom to share, with designer wall art and bed linen,' she said.

She is also buying gold earrings for Zelekah, who has pierced ears, and keeping œ300 for the sales and œ150 for a New Year's Eve outing.

Miss Broderick, who left school at 16 with no GCSEs, said: `I don't care if people get annoyed. I don't take advantage, I just choose to save - it's smart.'

She said there was `no point' earning less in a minimum wage job and having to pay for childcare on top.

After becoming pregnant at 17 with her on-off 23-year-old boyfriend, Miss Broderick was allocated a temporary three-bed council house.

When Zelekah was eight months old she considered working in care, but then became pregnant again by the same man.

Now split from the girls' father, she has a new two-bedroom council flat in Croydon, South London, with a garden, which is paid for by her œ111 weekly housing benefit - part of œ1,290 a month total claim.

She said: `I didn't want to miss out on my kids' childhoods or have someone else raise them. I'm not one of those girls who gets pregnant for the benefits.'

The money for Christmas comes from the œ250 she saves each month, which she said shows she is `really responsible'.

She adds: `Anyone who thinks people on benefits don't deserve nice things is talking rubbish. I work 24/7 as a mother.  `This way, taxpayers know I'm raising two well-brought-up kids.'

But she admits Christmas might not be so lavish next year because of the Government's benefit cuts.  `I'm not against the cuts, but only if the Government helps me find a job,' she said.  `In the meantime, I'll stay on benefits and get as much as I can out of it.'


Let's do away with  British  insult  to free speech

A law that can be used to arrest a man who said 'woof' to a dog has no place in Britain

By Geoffrey Dear  (Lord Dear is a Crossbench member of the House of Lords. Previously he was chief constable of West Midlands, and HM Inspector of Constabulary )

As a former police officer and chief constable, and as a member of the House of Lords, I fully understand the importance of free speech. It helps to preserve the unique set of beliefs and values that underpin our society.

But I strongly believe that Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, which makes it illegal to use "threatening, abusive or insulting" words or behaviour if they are likely to cause "harassment, alarm or distress", can be used to undermine free speech because of the way it is framed.

That is why the House of Lords will vote tomorrow on my proposed amendment to this Act. If approved, it will see the removal of the term "insulting".

The wording of Section 5 has been a concern since the passage of the 1986 Act itself. Although similar wording had appeared in earlier legislation, in 1986 the threshold was lowered to include anything "within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby". No one need actually be alarmed - such alarm need only be "likely" in the view of police or prosecutors.

At the time, Professor A T H Smith, now Cambridge Professor of Criminal and Public Laws, said: "Because of the potential breadth of the language in which the section is drafted, it affords scope for injudicious policing."

Threats and abuse are always wrong and outlawing them is clearly justified. The term "insulting", however, is subjective and vague. Increasingly the police and other law-enforcement agencies are misinterpreting the legislation to such an extent that it is impinging on the right to free speech.

In 2009 the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) observed: "Whilst arresting a protester for using 'threatening or abusive' speech may, depending on the circumstances, be a proportionate response, we do not think that language or behaviour which is merely 'insulting' should ever be criminalised in this way."

The late Lord Monson, a champion of personal liberties, agreed. Speaking in the House of Lords in the same year, he observed that "the word 'abusive' can be judged objectively, but 'insulting' is totally subjective. What one person finds offensive, the next person may be indifferent to. It did not matter very much at first, because I think that the public 20-odd years ago were less thin-skinned than they are now. People are positively encouraged to be touchy, both by the media - whether deliberately or not - and pressure groups."

The comedian and a fellow campaigner for reform, Rowan Atkinson, recently summed up the difficulties posed by the inclusion of the term "insulting" in the Act. He warned that, under Section 5, criticism, unfavourable comparison or "merely stating an alternative point of view" can be interpreted as an insult and lead to arrest.

The law, in its current form, has been used to arrest gay activists, Christian preachers and a student who called a police horse "gay". A critic of Scientology was summoned under Section 5. And a young man who said "woof" to a dog was actually convicted, although a court later cleared him. There must be something wrong with a law that can be used by police, prosecutors and the courts in such an excessively broad way.

Opponents of reform argue, incorrectly, that by removing the term "insulting" from the Act, individuals will be at liberty to verbally abuse vulnerable people.

This ignores the existence of other pieces of legislation, better suited to tackling these offences. Laws such as public nuisance, breach of the peace, harassment and incitement to hatred ensure there are more than sufficient powers to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice. Furthermore, as case law demonstrates, Section 5 in its amended form would still be sufficient to prosecute individuals who are being abusive. This includes foul-mouthed rants targeted at individuals - including the police - which are capable of being deemed as either abusive or threatening.

In a last-minute development, the Crown Prosecution Service now supports this view. In a letter to me, dated December 6, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, explained that: "Having now considered the case law in greater depth, we are unable to identify a case in which the alleged behaviour leading to conviction could not be characterised as 'abusive' as well as 'insulting'. I therefore agree that the word 'insulting' could be safely removed without the risk of undermining the ability of the CPS to bring prosecutions."

Behaviour that is merely "insulting" should not be criminal in a democracy. The vote tomorrow is an important opportunity to enhance free speech. I hope the House of Lords will approve my amendment.


Free speech in Australia tripped up by too-broad law

BY: JAMES SPIGELMAN (A former Australian judge)

I WISH to discuss the boundary between hate speech, a significant factor in social inclusion, and free speech, perhaps the most fundamental human right underpinning participation in public life.

This issue has been controversial in Australia in recent years, in the context of the racial vilification provision in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, which is proposed to be re-enacted as section 51 of the new omnibus legislation, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.

There may now have elapsed sufficient time for us to debate the issue dispassionately, and not on the basis of whether you like Andrew Bolt. The focus of that debate was not on the existence of a racial vilification provision but on the breadth of the conduct to which section 18C extends: namely, conduct "reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person".

The key criticism was directed to the fact the section made speech that merely "offends" unlawful. A similar, but less powerful objection, can be made to the reference to "insult".

These matters have long concerned me, but my thoughts have crystallised after reading a book by Jeremy Waldron, one of the foremost jurisprudential scholars of our time, with joint appointments to Oxford University and New York University law school.

From the perspective of society, Waldron emphasises inclusiveness as a public good, providing an assurance and sense of security to all members of the society that they can live their lives without facing hostility, violence, discrimination or exclusion.

From the other perspective, of those who are meant to benefit from this assurance, the fundamental human right that is affirmed is the right to dignity. Hate speech undermines the sense of assurance and denies the dignity of individuals.

The section of Waldron's hate speech book that is of particular significance for our debate is the chapter he devotes to establishing the proposition that protection of dignity does not require protection from being offended. As he puts it:

"Laws restricting hate speech should aim to protect people's dignity against assault. Dignity in that sense may need protection against attack, particularly against group-directed attacks. However, I do not believe that it should be the aim of these laws to prevent people from being offended. Protecting people's feelings against offence is not an appropriate objective for the law."

I agree with Waldron. His detailed analysis supports the proposition that declaring conduct, relevantly speech, to be unlawful because it causes offence goes too far. The freedom to offend is an integral component of freedom of speech. There is no right not to be offended.

I am not aware of any international human rights instrument, or national anti-discrimination statute in another liberal democracy, that extends to conduct that is merely offensive.

Section 19(2)(b) of the proposed Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 introduces "offending" into the definition of discrimination for all purposes, not just for racial vilification. The new S19 defines, for the first time, discrimination by unfavourable treatment to include "conduct that offends, insults or intimidates" another person. Significantly, unlike existing S18C (or its replacement by the new S51), there is no element of objectivity, as presently found in the words "reasonably likely to offend". It appears to me the new bill contains a subjective test of being offended.

There are 18 "protected attributes" set out in section 17 of the draft bill, seven of which apply only in the employment context. These are wide ranging and, in some respects, novel.

The inclusion of religion as a "protected attribute" in the workplace appears to me, in effect, to make blasphemy unlawful at work but not elsewhere. The controversial Danish cartoons could be published but not taken to work.

Similar anomalies could arise with other workplace-protected attributes, such as political opinion, social origin and nationality.

Further, each of the four existing commonwealth anti-discrimination acts proscribe publication of an advertisement or notice that indicates an intention to engage in discriminatory conduct. Section 53 of the new omnibus bill goes further into freedom of speech territory by extending this proscription beyond advertisements to any publication.

The new bill proposes a significant redrawing of the line between permissible and unlawful speech. A freedom that is contingent on proving, after the event, that it was exercised reasonably or on some other exculpatory basis is a much reduced freedom.

Further, as is well known, the chilling effect of the mere possibility of legal processes will prevent speech that could have satisfied an exception.

When rights conflict, drawing the line too far in favour of one degrades the other right. Words such as "offend" and "insult" impinge on freedom of speech in a way that words such as "humiliate", "denigrate," "intimidate", "incite hostility" or "hatred" or "contempt", do not. To go beyond language of the latter character, in my opinion, goes too far.

We should take care not to put ourselves in a position where others could reasonably assert that we are in breach of our international treaty obligations to protect freedom of speech.


Children banned from dressing up as gingerbread men. because school says costumes are racist

Schoolchildren in Sweden have been banned from dressing up as gingerbread men for a Christmas parade because their teachers fear the costumes could be considered racist.

Youngsters from a primary school in Laxa told their parents they had been ordered not to wear the outfits for the St Lucia celebrations on Thursday.  Traditionally, children dress as either St Lucia, or gnomes, stars, or gingerbread men for the candle-lit parade.

But heartbroken 10-year-old Mio Simiv was told he could not wear his gingerbread man costume to the celebration because it might be seen as 'offensive'.

Angry mum Jenny Simic told local media: 'I thought he had to have got it wrong so I called the school and they said people might find a brown gingerbread character offensive.

'I said, well then my son won't participate. He won't support some Ku Klux Klan procession - because that's what the little Lucias look like when they all come in with white hoods and white dresses.'

She later sent a text message to Mio's teacher to see if the ban still stood.

She received the response: 'I know what you think and what you're writing. Unfortunately we have no gingerbread men or songs in our procession! We cannot offer gingerbread cookies because of allergies among pupils.'   A school spokesman blamed the row on a 'misunderstanding'.

District schools head Marghareta Zetterlund claimed: 'The children and their teachers chose the songs for the parade and they didn't chose the gingerbread boy song, so there will be no gingerbread boys.

'We don't serve gingerbread cookies because of possible nut allergies. I can't comment on who might find the costumes offensive,' she added.

But Mrs Simiv said: 'This is not what we were told at all. There was no misunderstanding, this is just an excuse.'

'Why should they remove these things from a traditional celebration just because someone might be offended? You could turn that around and ask, "Why are we removing it? Aren't brown people like us, or what? Can't they participate?"'



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


11 December, 2012

Why do men avoid marriage?

Katherine Feeney's comments below are of course just another iteration of a familar cry from women in their 30s.  NONE of them seem to realize that current divorce laws would deter any reasonably-informed man from marriage.  The laws make forming a new family after a divorce a matter of extreme financial difficulty in many cases.  Women who want men to "commit" should be agitating for divorce laws that are less destructive to men -- but don't hold your breath waiting for it.

I have been married and amicably divorced four times so am not speaking from sour grapes.  I have not suffered but the stories of those who have are legion

Why are men around my age so reluctant to tie the knot?

Several women I know - all around 30 - are beginning to question the wisdom of the wedding ultimatum. "Either you propose to me by Christmas or we're quits, pal," they say. "We've been together long enough now, it's 'I do' or die."

They wonder what's holding up their husbands-to-be. They're all in long-term, apparently loving relationships. Isn't marriage the next logical step?

Variously, they decide it's not their man, but the men he hangs out with. The single lads; lads who love a night out, aren't 'shackled' with a ball and chain, and who make fun of supine surrender under his missus's thumb. These are the boy wonders who won't ever 'grow up'.

(Note how marriage is still aligned with maturity. Is a ring really the sign of a more developed individual?)

On that idea, I recently had a conversation with a close man-friend of mine. He may be described as the definitive leader of Lost Boys. At least, he might have been, were it not for the new Wendy-lady in his life. Suddenly, the serial playmaker had found a reason to stop flying and settle down. His band of boys didn't really understand. That was hard. Could he overcome their derision and 'man-up' to marriage?

"I think my boyfriend will get over his friends and we'll get there eventually," a girlfriend, in a different-but-like situation told me recently. "But I think the longer we leave it, the harder it becomes."

This is because of two things, she thinks. One: the diminishing chances his single friends will find a lady of their own and break-apart the dude squad. Two: the increased likelihood their friends, who are already married, will divorce.

Her points are somewhat valid. Based on Australian marriage statistics, there are roughly two 'peak' periods for meeting a life partner. The median age for first marriage sits at around 30 for both men and women (or 29 for men and 27 for women), so the years preceding the big three-zero are optimal match-making time. Then there's the so-called 'second round' stretch, when a surge of newly single divorcees hit the market. Given most marriages that end in divorce tend to do so after eight to nine years, round two begins at around 36.

What the above fails to mention, of course, is that the number of births outside marriage is rising along with the age of the mothers (interestingly their median age is around the same that for first-time brides), and the crude marriage rate is declining as de facto co-habitation rates are rising. This doesn't suggest that couples comprising a peer group are just as likely to be married as they are de facto, with or without children, but it does suggest a variety of relationship options are presented to people with increasing regularity.

So in one sense, the reasoning that men are putting off marriage because they've seen the broken or bad marriages of their formerly 'free and single' mates is flawed; they may be less inclined to propose marriage because they've seen their mates shacked up in circumstances less official which are just as satisfying (if not more).

But then you read articles like this, tellingly titled I was a "male spinster", and you're reminded just how locked in to this marriage ideal we really are. Yes, even blokes. Fact remains; marriage remains our chief expression of love. It is closely linked with an ever expanding scholarship on the attainment of happiness. Not only is this strong reason to bring forward marriage equality, but it's a good reminder to anyone in a relationship treading around the edges of eternal commitment to talk about it, and resolve to abide by the outcome.

Even if that outcome is: Yes to marriage, but not to you.


Most parents don't want homosexual  children, claims Tory MP David Davies

Mr Davies made the claim as he spoke out against David Cameron's plans to allow same-sex couples to marry, including in some churches.   Mr Davies, the MP for Monmouth, said the plan was "barking mad" and would cost the Conservative Party many of its traditional supporters.

In an interview with BBC Wales, he went on to say that "most parents" would prefer their children not to be homosexual.

He said: "I think most people are very tolerant and have no problem at all if people are gay but, and I hate to say this in a way because I expect it's going to cause controversy, but I think most parents would prefer their children not to be gay, knowing most parents want grandchildren if nothing else."

Some Conservative advocates of the same-sex marriage plan is an essential part of changing the party's image in the eyes of some voters, who regard Tories as intolerant.

Critics of Mr Cameron's plans say that they will actually bring the party few new votes while alienating a much larger number of its existing backers.

Mr Davies said: "We're going to lose a large number of very loyal activists who've gone out and campaigned for us over the years and who don't like this idea, so politically it's barking mad"

He said that existing laws allowing same-sex couples to have civil partnerships could be changed to ensure full equality without going as far as church weddings. "I really don't know why we need to go ahead with this at all."


Lowering the Union Jack is a shameful surrender to Ulster's gangsters

In a large part of this country, it is against the law to fly the Union Flag from government buildings for 348 days of the year. This has been so since the year 2000. As a special treat, it can be flown for the other 17 days. The rest of the time the flagpole stays bare.

The place where this law operates is Northern Ireland.  I wonder how much longer we shall be able to fly our national flag in the rest of the United Kingdom, or even how much longer that flag will exist at all.

I think this is a shocking fact. I am one of the few British journalists who bothered to read the so-called `Good Friday' Agreement under which this country capitulated to the gangsters of the Provisional IRA, under American pressure.

I know that we released hundreds of grisly criminals, destroyed our security apparatus and withdrew the Army in return for various unsigned and unenforceable promises from Sinn Fein and the IRA.

But even I did not know that this was one of its effects. Our national flag, you see, might offend someone. That is also the excuse for its recent removal from Belfast City Hall, which has led to so much bitterness and turmoil in that city.

But the reality is this. You haul down your flag when you surrender. And it was a surrender.  I was amused to see that Mrs Hillary Clinton, that nasty hard Leftist now aiming for the White House, had her vote-winning visit to Northern Ireland spoiled by the flag riots on Friday.

How can you have riots and peace? The great pretence, that giving in to organised crime brings peace, was for once exposed. Northern Ireland's poor and weak have never been so subject to intimidation and gangsterism, and I wonder if I will live to see the (sadly inevitable) day when Irish troops are putting down Orange riots on the Protestant Shankill Road, probably caused by illegal displays of the old Union Flag. Peace, indeed.

The squalid history of this event is a warning we refuse to heed and which is barely known here.  I saw it happen, in Washington DC, astonished by the brusque and scornful treatment of my country by a nation I had foolishly seen as an ally.

I remember one very senior White House official letting  slip to me that she thought of Britain as a sort of Serbia, just another place to intervene in, as Syria is now. I have laughed at the phrase `Special Relationship' ever since.

I followed Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams round the USA, as this coffin-faced apologist for violence and terror was feted and adulated by Americans who would have shrunk from him had he spoken for any other cause but the Irish one.

I annoyed him so much with my inconvenient questions  that he publicly said I should  be `decommissioned' and -  on the one occasion we were ever alone together -  showed me his less diplomatic, less humorous side.

What was this about? Mrs Clinton's husband Bill needed working-class Roman Catholic votes to win the White House, votes his party had lost by backing abortion.

So he discovered the Irish cause, about which he knew  little and (I suspect) cared less. He also took a lot of Irish-American campaign money. In 1993, Irish America, which these days means some very big business, tired of waiting for results and demanded action.

And so he acted, and so we were forced to make a shameful peace with the IRA, and haul down our flag over part of our own territory.

By the time the whole thing's finished, St Patrick's Cross will have to come out of that flag, and the harp will depart from the Royal Standard.

I think that when countries suffer defeats, they should admit to them and grieve over them, not pretend they have won. That way lie more defeats and more humiliations.


The Cowards and the Courageous

The behavior of the western media can only be described as cowardly. That news is not going to surprise any honest, fair-minded person. Anyone can see the glaring spinelessness in their reporting (or lack thereof) on the beleaguered freedom-loving souls in Egypt today.

When thousands of people demonstrated against President Mubarak in January 2011, all major western media outlets sent reporters to Egypt, where they reported day and night. It was mostly inaccurate and biased, but at least they were reporting.

Now that an Islamist government-which was falsely installed by the military council-is in power, there is deafening silence. As even more young, educated democracy seekers are wounded and killed than in the Revolution of 2011, the media still cannot be lured from its hiding places.

Even after the Islamist President Morsi declared his dictatorship, western media said nothing. Well, nothing except for the occasional comment to support him and his push for total control-all the poor guy needs is the power to cleanse Egypt of the vestiges of the Mubarak regime. The media ignores the fact that government employees make up a majority of the country and can be categorized as vestiges of the Mubarak regime.

I get it: the western media is scared. Most, if not all, are intimidated and fearful of Islamists. But no one buys their claim that they only fear being accused of Islamophobia. They really fear for their lives, and for their profits. And that fear is the root of their cowardice.

When the Director General of the BBC was asked why they had tried so hard to not offend Muslims, especially when they had often treated Christians with scorn, his honest answer was: a Christian has "broad shoulders" and can take it, but an Islamist may complain by saying, "I am loading my AK47."

As the power of fear and intimidation grows worldwide, the slippery slope of appeasement will make the leftist western media obsolete as a news source. An uninformed public will remain blissfully ignorant until it is too late to stop the media from becoming a dangerous tool in the Islamist's pocket.

Already it feels like I'm living back in Egypt during the 1960s when most of the nation's media got their cues from Nasser. They would attack whom they knew Nasser wanted attacked. And they would remain silent on certain deadly issues if they knew he wanted them to close their eyes.

Today's protestors represent the best of Egypt. They are Muslim men and Christian men. They are veiled women and unveiled women. They are united in a love for their country and disdain for what their Islamist president is doing to it.

Unlike western media, they have shown courage time after time. They protested last year at enormous risk to their lives. Now they protest again make sure their courage has not been for nothing.

But Morsi is an Islamist, and the media fears the Islamists. And Morsi is President Obama's ally, and the media loves the U.S. president. That leaves the protestors out in the cold with the TV cameras turned off.

The people of the West need to learn from their beleaguered freedom-loving Egyptian compatriots who are shedding their blood for true democracy.

The people of the West need to wake up from their slumber, follow the example of the Egyptian protestors, and rise up against the deliberate deception of the western media.

It is time for the people of the West-for all truth-loving people-to boycott the cowards and support the courageous.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


10 December, 2012

There may not always be an England
Q.  When does the British government subsidize a TV channel that carries the rants of anti-gay religious fanatics?

A.  When the TV channel is run by Islamist extremists.

OK, that one was a softball.  But it's worth pointing out a telling contrast in the British government's stance on people's right to think unapproved thoughts about homosexuality.

Here is what Mr. Abdullah Hakim Quick, a speaker who has been featured on Britain's Ramadan TV, has to say about gays:

Abdullah Hakim Quick . has been condemned by New Zealand's broadcasting authority for his anti-gay tirades, which state that homosexuals must be killed, that they are "sick" and "not natural", and that "Muslims are going to have to take a stand [against homosexuals] and it's not enough to call names." He continues to hold this position: "They said `what is the Islamic position [on homosexuality]?' And I told them. Put my name in the paper. The punishment is death. And I'm not going to change this religion."

The National Health Service's North East London & the City agency responded to this editorial posture by subsidizing Ramadan TV to the tune of œ3,200.  Sam Westrop at the Gatestone Institute (first link) gives other examples of bloodthirsty extremism from the talking heads on Ramadan TV.  Homosexuality, however, is the topic that highlights the unequal treatment now being accorded to citizens of the UK.

Islamist anti-gay ranters may find their media outlets subsidized by British government agencies, but foster parents who merely can't agree to endorse homosexuality to children under the age of 10 are denied any further opportunities to take in foster children.  Such was the judgment of the Derby City Council against Owen and Eunice Johns in 2010.  The council's decision on the matter was upheld by the British High Court in February 2011.

The organization Christian Concern summarized the court's findings at the time.  The [High Court] judges stated:

*         That if children are placed with parents who have traditional Christian views like the Johns "there may well be a conflict with the local authority's duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of looked-after children",

*        That there is a tension between the equality provisions concerning religious discrimination and those concerning sexual orientation. Yet, as regards fostering, "the equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence",

*         That a local authority can require positive attitudes to be demonstrated towards homosexuality,

*         That there is no religious discrimination against the Johns because they were being excluded from fostering due to their moral views on sexual ethics and not their Christian beliefs (This is incredible and very disingenuous as the Johns moral views cannot be separated from their religious beliefs), and

*         That "Article 9 [of the European Human Rights Act] only provides a `qualified' right to manifest religious belief and . this will be particularly so where a person in whose care a child is placed wishes to manifest a belief that is inimical to the interests of children".

So, it is clear that if you are Christian and don't endorse homosexuality, you will be denied participation in government-regulated activities - even if you state, as Eunice Johns did, that you have no animus against gays.  But if you are an Islamist organization and your featured speakers advocate death for homosexuals, you can be subsidized by a government agency - that is, by the UK taxpayer.

Of course, when one thing goes wrong with a society, everything else does too.  It's worth noting the news that some Jewish students at the University of Edinburgh have had to decide to leave school, due to an alarmingly unpleasant campus atmosphere created by radical Islamists and anti-Israel groups.  This is reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s, among other things.

Scotland, like England, once produced philosophers of freedom, tolerance, rationality, and equality before the law.  But the noble British tradition from which America drew so much is close to extinction in its birthplace.  It's easy to blame radical Muslims for this, but the truth is that the Brits, like the rest of the West, have done it to themselves with a nihilistic radical-left philosophy.  The same city councilmen who denied foster parenting to the Johns couple would quite probably dismiss Mr. Quick's anti-gay rant with a hand-wave and a naively Orwellian phrase or two about "diversity."  The reign of irrational, hysterical sentiment is complete - and every word in its charter document was written by the Western left.

John Bull was once a canny and tough old fellow.  But he set aside principle for sentiment, and today, he is on life-support.


Weren't the Tories supposed to call off the watchdogs?

Another day, another watchdog gets on its hind legs and barks disapproval about a Coalition measure. Today it's Ofqual's turn. The outfit, which oversees exams, has warned Michael Gove that his English baccalaureate exam is "unworkable".

At least Ofqual is not parti-pris: look at their website and you'll find the Chair of the board is Amanda Spielman, associated with ARK, the education charity that has sponsored a number of academies. In other words, as watchdogs go, Ofqual is a well-behaved puppy (though no poodle).

While Ofqual can't be branded a Lefty cabal, the same isn't true of other quangos. Ofcom, the media regulator, came under scrutiny during the Leveson inquiry. Its membership is so uniformly liberal-Left that Tory papers fear for their future. Ditto, the Media Standards Trust. And what of the Electoral Commission which bungles - sorry I mean oversees - elections? Even Save the Children is not the innocuous feelgood little charity you'd think: its chief executive Justin Forsyth served as a Labour strategy chief under Gordon Brown.

Yes, quangos outlive governments - but what is peculiar about Britain's quangos is that the great majority were appointed under Labour. Begotten under Blair, they multiplied under Brown. There was a reason for this: Gordon Brown, as Fraser Nelson outlined earlier this year in the Telegraph, understood that building a network of placement would ensure a client state that votes Labour forever more.

The worrying thing is that quangos don't just play party politics. They spend lots of money. Look at Ofcom's spending and you'd think that, despite the Autumn Budget forecast, there was money to throw around.

The Coalition boasted they would dismantle the quango state. Sadly, they have failed in their mission. It's a failure that will make things difficult while they're in power - and long after.


Islamology 101

Google "Islamist" and you'll get more than 24 million hits. Google "jihadist" and you'll get millions more. Yet I bet the average American could not tell you what it is that Islamists and jihadists believe. And those at the highest levels of the U.S. government refuse to do so.

Why? John Brennan, the top counterterrorism adviser in the White House, argues that it is "counterproductive" to describe America's "enemy as `jihadists' or `Islamists' because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children." To describe terrorists using "religious terms," he adds, would "play into the false perception" that the "murderers" waging unconventional war against the West are doing so in the name of a "holy cause."

I get it. I understand why it would be useful to convince as many of the world's more than a billion Muslims as possible that Americans are only attempting to defend themselves against "violent extremists." By now, however, it should be obvious that this spin - one can hardly call it analysis - has spun out. The unpleasant fact is that there is an ideology called Islamism and, as Yale professor Charles Hill recently noted, it "has been on the rise for generations."

So we need to understand it. We need to understand how Islamism has unfolded from Islam, and how it differs from traditional Islam as practiced in places as far-flung and diverse as Kuala Lumpur, Erbil, and Timbuktu. This is what Bassam Tibi attempts in his most recent book, published this year, Islamism and Islam. It has received nowhere near the attention it deserves.

A Koret Foundation Senior Fellow at Stanford University, Tibi describes himself as an "Arab-Muslim pro-democracy theorist and practitioner." Raised in Damascus, he has "studied Islam and its civilization for four decades, working in the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa." His research has led him to this simple and stark conclusion: "Islamism is a totalitarian ideology." And just as there cannot be "democratic totalitarianism," so there cannot be "democratic Islamism."

Brennan and other American and European officials are wrong, Tibi says, to fear that "fighting Islamism is tantamount to declaring all of Islam a violent enemy." As for the Obama administration's insistence that "the enemy is specifically, and only, al-Qaeda," that, Tibi writes, "is far too reductive."

Tibi also faults Noah Feldman, the young scholar who advised the Bush administration, and who insisted, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, that sharia, Islamic law, can be viewed as "Islamic constitutionalism." Feldman failed to grasp the significance of the "Islamist claim to supremacy (siyadat al-Islam)," the conviction that Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists are inferior and that their inferiority should be reflected under the law and by government institutions.

Tibi makes this important distinction: All jihadists are Islamists, but not all Islamists are jihadists. In other words, not all Islamists are committed to violence, including terrorism, as the preferred means to achieve their goals. He asks: "Can we trust Islamists who forgo violence to participate in good faith within a pluralistic, democratic system?" He answers: "I believe we cannot."

Chief among Islamist goals, Tibi writes, is al-hall al Islami, "the Islamic solution, a kind of magic answer for all of the problems - global and local, socio-economic or value-related - in the crisis-ridden world of Islam." Islamists ignore the fact that such governance has been implemented, for example, in Iran for over more than 30 years, in Afghanistan under the Taliban, in Gaza under Hamas, and in Sudan. It has never delivered development, freedom, human rights, or democracy. As for Turkey, Tibi sees it as "not yet an Islamist state" but heading in that direction.

Tibi makes some arguments with which I'd quarrel. For example, he views Saudi religious/political doctrines as a "variety of Salafism (orthodox, traditional Islam) not Islamism." I would counter that Salafism is a variant of Islamism, albeit one based not on the writings of Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, but on nostalgia for the glory days of the seventh century.

Nevertheless, the debate Tibi is attempting to initiate is necessary - and long overdue. During the Cold War there was a field of study known as Sovietology. It was taught in our most elite universities with strong U.S. government support.

Why isn't Islamology - not Islamic theology, or "Muslim-Christian understanding," or "Islamic thought" - a discipline today? For one, Tibi observes, because to "protect themselves against criticism, Islamists have invented the formula of `Islamophobia' to defame their critics." (How did Stalin not come up with Sovietophobia or Russophobia?) And of course if such slander fails to intimidate, there are other ways to shut people up: Tibi has "survived attempts on my life by jihadists."

A second reason for the absence of Islamology: The U.S. government cannot back the study of an ideology it stubbornly insists does not exist. Finally, those who do fund anything to do with Islam on campus - for example, the Gulf petro-princes who have given tens of millions of dollars to Georgetown and Harvard - have a different agenda, one that does not include free and serious inquiry. We ignore what they are doing - and what Tibi is telling us - at great peril.


American woman 'lied about being raped because she "didn't enjoy" the bad date and consensual sex she had with a man she met online'

The small bond suggests that this is not being taken very seriously  -- unlike the situation in Britain

A Tennessee woman was charged with filing a false rape claim after she admitted to police that she only did so because she 'didn't enjoy' their date.

Twenty-seven-year-old Lynette Lee told detectives in Clarksville, Tennessee that the unidentified man never actually raped her, and that she made the whole story up to get back at him for what she thought was a bad date.

Lee was charged with filing a false police report and held on a $2,000 bond.

Lee initially told police officers from a hospital that she was raped by a man she met on the online dating site Meetme.com.

Per her story, the two had agreed to meet up.

She then told authorities that the two of them went to an unknown location, where the man then removed his clothes and forced her to have sex with him, despite her desire not to.

Investigating the story, police interviewed the man, who promptly told them that the allegations against him were not true.

He said that he did indeed meet with Lee and on the second date they had consensual sex. The man also said that they had a good time and made further arrangements to meet again.

Police then called in Lee who again told officers the same story as before. But shortly after, she asked them to drop the case and admitted that the incident had been completely fabricated.

Police said Lee told them she made up the story 'because she did not enjoy it and it was bad.'



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


9 December, 2012

Unbelievable:  British Car thief is handed œ2,000 in compensation after being bitten by police dog while he was being arrested

A police force had to pay œ2,000 in compensation to a car thief after he was bitten by a police dog while in the middle of a break-in.

The unnamed man was injured when he tried to flee after being confronted by a dog handler while breaking into a vehicle in the Meadows area of Nottingham.  It is believed he spent several days in hospital.

The payout came to light following a Freedom of Information request regarding people who had sued Nottinghamshire Police over dog bites in the past three years.  In total, over œ19,000 has been paid to six claimants.

A spokesman for the force said he was unable to discuss individual cases, or comment on when the incident took place.

But he said: 'When a person or suspect is bitten by a police dog, there are robust procedures in place to ensure that it is recorded, reviewed and assessed whether any further action is necessary, including a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

'Any claim for compensation is investigated thoroughly to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident. The result of the investigation will determine whether the applicant is successful or if their claim is rejected.

'The training, deployment and management of police dogs within Nottinghamshire Police is constantly reviewed and developed in order to maintain the highest possible standards of professionalism and welfare.

'A dog handler will always instruct a suspect to stand still and not run away. In some cases this instruction is ignored, and as the dogs are trained to pursue and restrain individuals, they will be detained by the dog, and this may result in a dog bite.'

'Every dog utilised by the Force undergoes additional training throughout the year, specifically around bite control, which is in line with national requirements and must be completed in order for any police dog to maintain its national licence'.

All 16 general purpose police dogs within Nottinghamshire Police are used to assist with general patrols and are deployed to all types of incidents.  All of the dogs are trained in detaining suspects and or anyone who poses a threat to the public.


British PM  warned that the House of Lords will 'massacre' gay marriage laws

David Cameron has been warned that plans to let same-sex couples marry in churches will be "massacred" in the House of Lords and alienate grassroots Conservatives

Tory MPs and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, have reacted with dismay after the Prime Minister said places of worship will be allowed to conduct same-sex weddings.   The decision represents a major u-turn on the position set out in a formal Government consultation earlier this year which proposed a blanket ban.

Mr Cameron was today branded "arrogant" by Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough, who is one of more than 100 Conservatives preparing to fight the new laws.

The Prime Minister has stressed that no religious group will be forced to marry gay people but opponents of the laws fear that churches could face challenges under equality laws.   He will allow Conservative MPs a free vote to follow their conscience on the issue, but Labour and the Liberal Democrats are likely to team up with the Government in favour.

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop, said here was a real possibility that the bill could be defeated in the Lords.  "I think it makes a mockery of the Government's attempt to consult and then review in the light of that consultation," he said.  

"Bearing in mind that so many Conservative MPs are unhappy about this, it seems to be madness on the part of the Government to rush through in this kind of way - this is not wisdom.

"I think it is very hard to gauge how the House of Lords will vote on this. Many will go with the Government on the equality aspect but my guess is that there will be a fair number of Conservatives and a fair number of cross-benchers with a few Labour to make it a very interesting debate.

"And I hope that the House of Lords, which is known to question Commons procedure, may take a different view, I think it could be defeated."

Mark Pritchard, a Conservative MP for The Wrekin, urged to Mr Cameron to hear the "alarm bells" of discontent from the Tory grassroots, comparing it to discontent about his failure to call an EU referendum.   "Same-sex marriage Bill will undo much of the good outreach work the Party has done with Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities," he added.

His colleague, Mr Jackson, predicted the new laws will be defeated in the House of Lords as the Prime Minister will not be able to force through legislation.

By convention, governments can only use the Parliament Act to overrule peers if the new law relates to a policy that was included in their election pledges. The Conservatives only pledged to "consider" it in their equality manifesto.

To add to the fury of many Tory MPs, Mr Cameron has stalled over tax breaks for married couples, which was in the Conservative manifesto.

Mr Jackson wrote on Twitter: "Gay marriage bill will be massacred in the Lords and [the Government] can't use Parliament Act as it wasn't in manifesto. Arrogant Cameron knows best."

Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, predicted "outrage throughout the country" about the new developments.   He told BBC News: "For the majority of our supporters out in the country, marriage is between one man and one woman. And so changes to the definition of marriage are not appreciated and I think are not strongly supported."


It's the social workers who are racist, say Slovak parents in UKIP fostering scandal

Thought Police furore is  more shocking than it seemed

The birth parents of the children at the centre of the UKIP fostering row can today be revealed as a Slovakian couple who have had six of their offspring taken away by social workers.

Last night the father accused council staff of `racism' and of destroying his family as he told how  20 police officers `raided' their home to remove their last four children.

The authorities have also taken the couple's grandchild (the baby son of their 17-year-old married daughter), bringing the total number now being looked after by the state from this one family to seven. Their ages range from five months to 11 years.

The parents, who are happily  married and came to Britain five years ago, found themselves at the centre of national controversy after the staunchly Labour council in Rotherham, Yorkshire, discovered that it had sent three of their removed children to live with a foster couple who are UKIP members.

The furore blew up when social workers abruptly moved the children from the foster couple because they considered that their support of the anti-EU party, which attracted nearly one million votes at the last election, made them incapable of fulfilling the East European youngsters' `cultural and ethnic needs'.

The astonishing decision was attacked by MPs from all political parties, and Rotherham social services were accused of acting like `Thought Police'.

Ironically, the council has also been criticised for failing to protect scores of young girls, some in care, who have been sexually abused by street grooming gangs, mainly of Pakistani heritage.

UKIP claimed the Slovak children's removal from loving foster parents - who said they grew fond of the three and had bought them Christmas presents - was for blatant political reasons.

Now, the Mail can tell the story of the children's birth parents - and reveal growing concerns at the number of children being taken away from Eastern European migrant families for adoption or fostering, at increasing expense to the state. The issue is causing rising tension between the British and Slovak governments.

Through friends, the parents of the Rotherham children say the irony is that despite the council's fears of the UKIP foster couple being racist, it is the council which has picked on them because they are Roma, and social workers disapprove of their non-British `lifestyle'.

The Slovak father told friends: `It is the social services who have been racist against my family.'

However, social services are standing by their original decision to remove the Slovak couple's first  two children, made after one of their sons was found wandering the streets of Rotherham at two in the morning shortly after they came to Britain. The council then took their newly born grandchild into care this summer.

The remaining four children were seized in September when social workers deemed the family's small terrace house was `overcrowded' and infested with mice, said the father.

Social workers claim there are other concerns about the family, including suspicions that the father had physically abused some of the children. He, and their mother, have denied this.

Over the past five years since the EU's borders were opened, more than 3,500 Eastern Europeans (including many Slovak and Czech Roma) have settled in Rotherham.

Astonishingly, the family had six children taken into care

The council has encouraged them to adopt British ways by sending their children to school, putting them to bed on time rather than letting them play out on the streets and not smacking or hitting them as a punishment.

But, according to neighbours, the Slovak family's children were happy and there were photos lovingly displayed around the house of them smiling and laughing.

Whatever the merits of the social services' actions, the 46-year-old father is angry at the way his children have been separated from each other by the authorities and the brutal manner in which they were removed. The last `raid' on their home saw council staff and police hustle the children into cars as they screamed for their 34-year-old mother, who was left crying in the street. Neighbours who comforted her said the scene they witnessed was `appalling cruelty to an ordinary family'.

The father says: `What has happened has broken my wife's heart. She has talked of killing herself since her children were  taken away. I would like to leave Britain, but I cannot desert my six children who are living in different groups with strangers.'

His married daughter, who has her own home in Yorkshire, said: `I have not seen my own baby boy since he was taken from me at a month old this summer.'

She insists her child was removed because she is Slovakian and the council disapproved of her lifestyle. `This was my first child and I looked after him well. The council said they wanted to assess how I cared for him when he was born because I am a teenage mother. They did so for a month, and then took him away against my will,' the mother told a Slovakian TV reporter.

Neither she nor her parents can be named in order to protect the identity of their children.

The father of the six children has told friends: `I love all my children and would never hurt them. I came to Britain to work and make a better life for my sons and daughters. I never believed this could have happened to us.'

He has complained that he and his wife are allowed to visit their children only at a contact centre under supervision of social workers. It is believed they saw some of the children taken in September for the first time last week.

It's caused street protests in the Slovak capital, Bratislava

The couple first realised their own three children were at the centre of the `UKIP row' when told by their lawyer a few days ago. 

The fostering row and subsequent public outrage helped UKIP score its best-ever by-election result - coming second in last week's poll in the staunchly socialist seat of Rotherham.

It's clear that many of the local community are aware of the family involved. `We are scared that our own children will be the next ones taken by the social services,' said one woman with a baby as she joined a group of other Slovaks at a social centre. The Eastern European community in Rotherham has held emotional meetings about the social services' actions. Some Slovaks and Czechs claim that children are being removed on `any excuse' to give to English parents for adoption.

The Slovak father, a handsome and articulate man, was contacted for comment by a Slovakian television station after his first two children were taken.

The TV station asked him to take part in a talk show highlighting how more than 120 children from 40 Slovakian families have been put into care by social workers in England. Some have been adopted and will never see their parents again.

However, the father refused to do so, hoping that he would get his children back. Indeed, he says he has been told he faces jail if he talks to the Press.

Meanwhile, the Slovakian Government has protested to the British authorities about the huge numbers of Slovak children being put into care by social workers, and last Friday a debate at the Council of Europe, which promotes human rights in all European countries, centred on the scandal.

A resolution was passed that said children are being removed by UK social services and family courts `against the will' of their natural  parents and in violation of the `right to respect of family life' and the `principle of fair trial'.

It insisted that social workers should give `practical assistance' to families in difficulties instead of their children being put into care which caused `irreversible damage' to the entire family.

A sign of the diplomatic tensions between Slovakia and Britain came in September, when protesters filled the street outside the British embassy in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, waving placards saying `Stop legal kidnapping' and `Britain thief of children'.

The demonstration coincided with a hearing at London's Court of Appeal in which a Slovak grandmother - supported by the country's authorities - pleaded for the return of her two young grandsons, who were seized from their parents in Britain two years ago after one of the boys was found to have a rash on his genitals.

Suspicions that he had been abused were later ruled out, but the boys have still not been returned to the family by Surrey Council social workers.

In another case this autumn, Slovak officials attended a court hearing in Kent that ended with five children being sent back to their extended family in Slovakia after being taken by social workers because their parents left them unsupervised while working night shifts.

The family courts operate in strict secrecy to protect the identities of the children involved. It means that evidence given by social workers and their hired medical experts cannot be publicly challenged.

Parents who talk publicly about what happens there - even to their MPs - have been sent to prison.

Last night John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who has questioned the courts' secrecy and why 500 English children of all backgrounds are taken into care every week, said: `Few realise how many Eastern European children are being taken away by social services.

`Of course, this has long been happening to English families. But many parents are innocent and do not deserve to lose their children.

`It will be costing Rotherham Council œ40,000 a year for each of the seven children they have taken in this case - a total of nearly œ300,000 a year. The council has complained it is short of money.

`If it feels there is something wrong with these Slovakian parents, why don't they send the family back to Slovakia where the authorities there can judge for themselves? They will understand their culture and lifestyle.'

The UKIP-supporting foster couple refused to comment when the Mail told them that six children, plus a grandchild, had been taken from the Slovak parents. 

Rotherham Council has said it will not comment on any individual cases of children it removes from families into care.


A Queer Need for Rejection

Mike Adams

Whenever I write about the issue of First Amendment Freedom of Association, I defend the right of campus groups, not government administrators, to control their own belief structure and membership requirements. This often involves discussing real life cases with real life tension between religious groups and homosexual activists. This results in a slew of emails asking why a homosexual student would ever want to join a fundamentalist religious group. The short answer to the question is that homosexual activists don't really want to join these organizations. Some want to use them for political gain before shutting them down altogether.

The homosexual rights movement is not a political movement seeking equality. It is a religious movement seeking affirmation. Conservative Christian organizations refuse to offer affirmation of the homosexual lifestyle. In fact, they actually condemn it. So they become targets of homosexual activism.

Paradoxically, homosexual activists also target conservative Christians because being rejected by them is an important part of the process of attaining affirmation from the general public. When a homosexual activist tries to "join" such a group, it is often done with the following goals in mind:

1. Using discrimination claims to strengthen the genetic argument (and using the genetic argument to strengthen discrimination claims). It is fairly obvious why homosexuals want to assert that homosexuality is genetic. If they are programmed to behave in a certain way then homosexuality becomes less of a behavior and more of a status. This helps advance efforts to include sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws, which are meant to give homosexuals equal power in relation to legitimate civil rights causes based upon immutable physical characteristics.

The only problem with the genetic argument is that it lacks supporting evidence. There is no more evidence for a gay gene than there is for Santa Claus or for legitimate feminist scholarship. The best the activist can do is to argue circumstantially that no one would choose a lifestyle that guarantees being subjected to discrimination. The argument is as silly as saying there must be an interracial dating gene because no one would choose to be subjected to discrimination for dating someone of another race.

But homosexual politics is not about logic. It is about end results. Activists need to be subjected to "discrimination" in order to advance their cause. So they join conservative Christian groups they do not like, engage in advocacy they know offends and disrupts the group, get kicked out of the group, and then claim to have been discriminated against. Finally, they lobby for stronger anti-discrimination rules that put them on a par with blacks and women.

2. Defaming the opposition. Homosexuals have a lot of options on campus. They can join a Unitarian Universalist group, they can join a United Methodist group, or they can start their own religious group that affirms homosexual conduct. But the very thought that someone on their campus disagrees with their lifestyle makes them angry. They simply cannot "coexist" (no matter what their bumper stickers say). This anger is probably due to awareness that they are engaging in a lifestyle that is both unnatural and immoral. So, if you can't beat the Christians, just join them (and eventually destroy them). It's always destroying, not joining, that motivates them.

After they join the group they don't want to be in - and deny the stated principles of the group they never agreed with - the unable-to-coexist homosexual activist goes to the administration with a complaint. When the Christian group is expelled from campus under the anti-discrimination clause people ask "Why did the Christian group have to expel the homosexual?" Stated another way, the question becomes "Why can't Christians coexist with homosexuals?"

In the end, the homosexual activist has made the group whose very existence he refuses to tolerate look intolerant. Another public relations victory!

3. Containing moral criticism. Of course, once the conservative Christian group is gone a clear message is sent to those who would dare to criticize the homosexual lifestyle. This exerts a powerful chilling effect on constitutionally protected religious expression.

But that isn't the end of things. The homosexual rights movement continues to redefine homophobia in order to reduce any semblance of criticism directed toward the homosexual agenda. Isn't this similar to what we have seen in the struggle for racial equality in America?

At first, the civil rights movement was about stopping lynching and racial segregation. After redefining racism (to include any disagreement with black leaders whatsoever) the movement has become little more than a mechanism used to suppress political speech. Racism went from being a social problem to being a political weapon. Redefining homophobia now serves the same function for the homosexual activist that redefining racism served for the civil rights activist.

But there is one crucial difference between the black civil rights movement and the homosexual rights movement. The former began by addressing real oppression before eventually (and incessantly) crying "wolf" as a means of punishing political speech. The latter began as an attack on free speech that becomes more pronounced with each and every concession.

The supreme irony of all this is that the NAACP is the organization that first won legal recognition of the right to freedom of association in 1958. They prevailed in a successful effort to keep the KKK from joining and destroying their organization. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the NAACP saying they could keep their membership lists secret and even keep out those who disagree with their beliefs.

Today, in an effort to attain moral equivalency with the NAACP, the homosexual rights movement is adopting one of the old tactics of the KKK. Politics makes strange bedfellows - particularly when it demands affirmation of what goes on in the bedroom.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


7 December, 2012

Feel the hate

Tories turn up heat on Human Rights Act as seven former ministers call on Cameron to repeal the law

Seven former ministers voted for the repeal of the Human Rights Act yesterday - as Tory MPs stepped up pressure on David Cameron to act on the issue.

Former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, former justice minister Crispin Blunt and former schools minister Nick Gibb were among 72, mostly Tory, MPs who voted for the repeal of Labour's controversial legislation, which enshrined the European Convention of Human Rights in British law.

Other senior Tories involved included the former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth, former social security secretary Peter Lilley and former whips Bill Wiggin and James Duddridge.

Serving ministers and aides were barred from voting in the backbench bid, which was heavily defeated by 195 votes to 72 yesterday, as Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs mobilised to defend the Human Rights Act.

But the scale of the push will pile pressure on the Prime Minister to pursue his manifesto commitment to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.

The issue is currently deadlocked because of opposition from Nick Clegg and other Lib Dems. A commission set up to study the issue is widely seen as an effort to kick it into the long grass.

But Tory MP Richard Bacon said the current row over prisoner voting had underlined the need for action.

The South Norfolk MP said the Human Rights Act was a vehicle for the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to influence and change British law.

He added: `Although I do object to the idea of prisoner voting, my much more fundamental objection is to the idea that a court sitting overseas composed of judges from, among other countries, Latvia, Liechtenstein and Azerbaijan, however fine they may be as people, should have more say over what laws should apply in the UK than our constituents do through their elected representatives.'

Mr Bacon said it was `fundamentally undemocratic' that unelected European judges could override the will of Parliament.

He said: `Judges do not have access to a tablet of stone not available to the rest of us that allow them better to discern what our people need than we can possibly do as their elected, fallible, corrigible representatives.

`There is no set of values so universally agreed we can appeal to them as a useful final arbiter. In the end, they will always be shown up as either uselessly vague or controversially specific.

`In the end, questions of major social policy - whether on abortion, or capital punishment, or the right to bear firearms, or workers' rights - should be decided by elected representatives, and not by unelected judges.'

Opposition to the bid was led by Labour MP Thomas Docherty, who said the Human Rights Act was one of his party's most important reforms during 13 years in Government.

Mr Docherty said the Human Rights Act guaranteed the fundamental rights held by British citizens - including a right to life and prohibition of torture.  He rejected claims the Act allowed the Strasbourg courts rights to set British law.

Mr Docherty said scrapping the Act would send a dangerous signal to other countries about the importance of human rights.

He said: `To turn our back, to tear up, to cast aside this Bill that enshrines into law those fundamental human rights which we ask others to respect would remove the legitimacy of our position.

`How can we ask developing countries, the new democracies, to respect human rights when we seek to remove them from our statute book?'

`How can we ask developing countries, the new democracies, to respect human rights when we seek to remove them from our statute book?'


Another brutal sneak attack by a black in Britain

Following a similar brutal attack by Michael Ayoade

CCTV footage released by police shows a man using his scarf to choke the 37-year-old victim, who was making his way to work in the Earls Court area of London.

It shows the passenger, who police say has been left 'highly traumatised' by the incident, losing consciousness briefly before coming around, at which point the suspect can be seen trying to strangle him once again.

The assault took place as the commuter was en route to work on a single decker C1 bus in broad daylight in London at around 1.50pm on Saturday afternoon.

CCTV footage released by the Met Police shows the attacker boarding the bus, which was travelling to White City, at Cresswell Gardens and sitting down immediately behind the victim.

It shows the pair exchanging words briefly, before the suspect launches at his fellow passenger from behind, choking him with a scarf until he passes out.

When the victim regained consciousness a few seconds later, the assailant again tried to strangle him. In all the attack lasted around 30 seconds.

After being assisted by passengers, the victim got off the bus at Earls Court and told nearby police officers what had happened.

The suspect, a black male believed to be in his early to mid 20s, was captured on camera getting off the bus at Shepherds Bush at 1.57pm.  He was wearing a grey beanie hat, a sleeveless puffa-style jacket over a beige sweatshirt, dark jeans and boots.

Detective Constable Thomas Norman, of Notting Hill CID, said: 'This was an unprovoked attack on an innocent passenger who was on his way to work.  'The victim has been left highly traumatised. It was so violent that he passed out and this could have been far worse.

'I would urge anyone with information or anyone who recognises this man to contact us as soon as possible. This man is a danger to the public.'


The Real Root of Atheists' Anti-Christmas Rage

Doug Giles

Why do some atheists embarrass themselves year after year trying to eradicate Christmas from American culture? Why do they make themselves societal hemorrhoids during this hallowed season? Is it because they are crusaders for equality, secularism's saviors and humanism's heroes? I'm sure that's what they tell themselves when they're pouting on their couches all alone on Christmas Eve after every single one of their friends has dumped them for being a rabid jackass.

I believe, however-and I could be wrong-that the reason some rage against the machine is that they hate God and love their sin, and bringing up Jesus in December is not the way they wanted to finish off the year. Indeed, Christ really rains on their parade . and they love their parade.

Christmas, if you really get down to the brass tacks of it, isn't about reindeer, elves, iPhones or Lindsay Lohan punching a gypsy, but about mankind's sin problem and what God did to remedy it by sending His Son.

I know the chief facet most people focus on regarding Christ's birth has been the peace on earth and good will toward men stuff, but if you dig around in the gospels a tad you'll quickly see that the "peace on earth" thing is an ancillary perk to the main reason the second person of the godhead donned an earth suit and decided to hang out with us dunderheads. The core cause that necessitated Jesus' incarnation was our jacked up carnality. Yep, Hambone, it was our sin. There, I said it. Sin. Yours, mine and ours.

Transgression was the reason for the season.

This is why El Diablo didn't pass out cigars at Jesus' birth. Happy he was not that the Son was not only going to address our sins but He was going to eternally and temporally salvage those who believe from sin's fetid effects. This is why slewfoot energized Herod to put a hit out on the Nazarene when He was a wee little baby and why Satan's demon inspired ilk are anti-Christmas to this day. Jesus' birth equated to Satan's demise.

This is not good news to some, though. Indeed, many atheists are up front about it and don't want to leave their wantonness. As Jesus Himself said, they prefer darkness to light and don't like to be reminded of their personal accountability for their sin-and thus their need for salvation-and therefore we should not expect them to be stoked about Jesus' birthday party.

This is easy math, folks: A person who has no remorse and thus no desire to repent from their sins is probably not going to be a big advocate for the celebration of the person who reminds them they're wrong and calls them to repent and believe.

Call me goofy, but I'm forever grateful for Jesus' birth, His attesting miracles, His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection. While most atheists this Christmas will be drinking to forget, I will, as Martin Luther said, drink to remember the One who was and is and is to come.


Jihad on Christmas Trees.  Welcome to Christmas Cubes!

"What will be next? Will all Easter eggs be banned in Brussels because they refer to Easter?" - Bianca Debaets, of Belgium's Christian Democratic and Flemish Party

More than 25,000 people in Belgium have signed a petition denouncing a decision to remove the traditional Christmas tree in the central square in Brussels and replace it with a politically correct structure of abstract minimalist art.

Critics accuse the Socialist mayor, Freddy Thielemans, of declaring war on Christmas by installing the "multicultural" structure of lights to placate the city's burgeoning Muslim population.

Historically, a 20 meter [65 foot] fir tree taken from the forests of the Ardennes has adorned the city's main square, the Grand-Place. This year, however, it has been replaced with a 25 meter [82] foot new-age-like structure of lighted boxes (see video here). Moreover, the traditional Christmas Market in downtown Brussels is no longer being referred to as a "Christmas Market." Instead, it has been renamed as "Winter Pleasures 2012."

The mayor's office, where more than half of the city's eleven councilors are either Muslim or Socialist or both, said the structure was part of a theme this year of "light." City Councilor Philippe Close, a Socialist, said the aim was to show off the "avant-garde character" of Brussels by blending the modern and the traditional to produce something new and different. He added: "The Christmas tree is not a religious symbol and actually lots of Muslims have a Christmas tree at home."

But critics say the non-tree, which was inaugurated on November 30 and will be on display through January 6, was installed to avoid offending Muslims. They also point to a recent Fatwa [a legal pronouncement in Islam], which states that Muslims are prohibited from having anything to do with Christmas trees.

The Fatwa states: "It is not permissible to imitate the kuffar [a highly derogatory Arabic term used to refer to non-Muslims] in any of their acts of worship, rituals or symbols, because the Prophet [Mohammed] said: 'Whoever imitates a people is one of them.'"

The Fatwa continues: "So it is not permissible to put up this tree in a Muslim house even if you do not celebrate Christmas, because putting up this tree comes under the heading of imitating others that is haram [banned], or venerating and showing respect to a religious symbol of the kuffar. What the parents must do is protect their children and keep them away from what is haram, and protect them from the Fire as Allah, may He be exalted."

The Fatwa concludes: "You should explain to your daughter that it is haram to imitate the disbelievers and that it is obligatory to differ from those who are doomed to Hell and to dislike what they venerate of clothing, symbols or rituals, so as to develop respect for her own religion and adhere to it."

Bianca Debaets, a Brussels councilor from the Christian Democratic and Flemish party, told the Flemish newspaper Brussel Nieuws that she believed an argument over Muslim religious sensitivities had prompted the Brussels City Council to put up the light sculpture.

Debaets said, "I suspect that the reference to the Christian religion was the decisive factor in replacing the tree. For a lot of people who are not Christians, the tree there is offensive to them. What will be next? Will all Easter eggs be banned in Brussels because they refer to Easter?"

Erik Maxwell, a resident of Brussels, told the BBC News: "We think the tree has been put up for cultural reasons. A tree is for Christmas and Christians but now there are a lot of Muslims here in Brussels. So to avoid discussions they have just replaced a tree with a couple of cubes!"

Others say the structure -- which cost the taxpayers of Brussels a total of _44,000 ($57,000), compared to _5,000 for the traditional tree -- resembles the green cross outside European drug stores, and some have nicknamed it "The Pharmacy."

A Facebook page called "Save the Brussels Tree" has nearly 5,000 "likes" demanding that the mayor of Brussels "give us back our tree." Another Facebook page called "For our Traditional Tree" has invited nearly 20,000 people to attend a December 8th "revolt" against the sculpture at the Grand-Place.

The conflict over the traditional Christmas tree comes as two Muslim politicians, who won municipal elections in Brussels on October 14, have vowed to implement Islamic Sharia law in Belgium.

The two candidates, Lhoucine A‹t Jeddig and Redouane Ahrouch, both from the fledgling Islam Party, won seats in two heavily Islamized municipalities of Brussels, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean and Anderlecht, respectively.

During a post-election press conference in Brussels on October 25, the two councilors, who were officially sworn in on December 3, said they regard their election as key to the assertion of the Muslim community in Belgium.

"We are elected Islamists but above all we are Muslims," Ahrouch said. "Islam is compatible with the laws of the Belgian people. As elected Muslims, we embrace the Koran and the tradition of the Prophet Mohammed. We believe Islam is a universal religion. Our presence on the town council will give us the opportunity to express ourselves.

Speaking to a reporter from Radio T‚l‚vision Belge Francophone (RTBF), the public broadcasting service of the French-speaking part of Belgium, Ahrouch said: "I think we have to sensitize people, make them understand the advantages to having Islamic people and Islamic laws. And then it will be completely natural to have Islamic laws and we will become an Islamic state."

The reporter interjected: "An Islamic State in Belgium?" Ahrouch replied: "In Belgium, of course! I am for the Sharia. Islamic law, I am for it. It is a long-term struggle that will take decades or a century, but the movement has been launched."

The rise of the Islam Party comes amid a rapidly growing Muslim population in the Belgian capital. Muslims now make up one-quarter of the population of Brussels, according to a book recently published by the Catholic University of Leuven, the top Dutch-language university in Belgium.

In real terms, the number of Muslims in Brussels -- where half of the number of Muslims in Belgium currently live --- has reached 300,000, which means that the self-styled "Capital of Europe" is now the most Islamic city in Europe.

In practical terms, Islam mobilizes more people in Brussels than do the Roman Catholic Church, political parties or even trade unions, according to "The Iris and the Crescent," a book that is the product of more than a year of field research. The book's author, the sociologist Felice Dassetto, predicts that Muslims will make up the majority of the population of Brussels by 2030.

Meanwhile, critics of the "electronic winter tree" have called on Muslims in Belgium to sign a petition to show that they do not have anything against the traditional Christmas tree. The petition reads: "The removal of the Christmas tree on the Grand-Place in Brussels aroused strong controversy about the role of Muslims in this decision. I hereby would like to see Muslims sign this petition to show that they are not against this tree. I would like to gather as many signatures as possible to show that Muslims comply with Belgian traditions and do not want to remove this joy at home." Fewer than 80 of Belgium's 600,000 Muslims have signed the petition.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


6 December, 2012

Appalling British judge

A judge who told a burglar that stealing from homes took 'a huge amount of courage' before setting him free has been formally reprimanded.

Judge Peter Bowers admitted he could be pilloried for sparing Richard Rochford from prison at Teesside Crown Court when he made the comment in September.

David Cameron got involved in the outcry that followed saying that burglars were cowards, not brave, and their crimes were 'hateful'.

Following an investigation, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice have upheld complaints about the judge's comments and issued him with a reprimand after his remarks 'damaged public confidence in the judicial process', the Office for Judicial Complaints said.

They believed the use of the word courage was a 'serious error of judgement' and 'offensive' to those who have been victims of a burglary, according to a letter from the OJC to one of the complainants, radio presenter Nick Ferrari.

Judge Bowers told an offender who raided three homes in five days: 'It takes a huge amount of courage, as far as I can see, for somebody to burgle somebody's house. I wouldn't have the nerve.'

Handing 26-year-old Richard Rochford, from Redcar, a suspended 12-month term, the judge said: 'I'm going to take a chance on you', the Evening Gazette newspaper reported.

After acknowledging the trauma burglary victims face, the judge explained he would not jail Rochford, who had quit drugs since the February break-ins.  He was given a two-year supervision order with drug rehabilitation and 200 hours' unpaid work, with a one-year driving ban.

Following the case, Mr Ferrari, who presents the LBC 97.3 breakfast show, sent a written complaint to the OJC after he was contacted by thousands of listeners venting their anger at the judge's remarks.

He said: 'These comments appear to praise this individual even though he was found guilty of his crime. In addition to this the sentence seems to reward this man for his behaviour rather than punish.  'He could have been jailed for two-and-a-half years but instead he was given a suspended 12-month jail sentence.

'The comment and the sentence has upset and angered my listeners, many of whom have been victims of burglaries.'

Following the decision to reprimand the judge, the OJC replied: 'Whilst His Honour Judge (HHJ) Bowers regrets his use of the word `courage' the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice believe that this was a serious error of judgment and offensive to those who have been victims of a burglary.

'They also believe that HHJ Bowers' conduct has been damaging to the respect of the judicial process. For this reason, HHJ Bowers has been issued with a formal reprimand.'

Announcing the decision, an OJC spokesman said: 'His Honour Judge Peter Bowers has been issued with a reprimand following complaints about remarks he made during his sentencing of a burglar at Teesside Crown Court.

'The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice considered his comments to have damaged public confidence in the judicial process.'


Autumn Statement: British PM announces bureaucracy cuts to fund schools

Good if it happens

Thousands of civil servants are expected to be sacked under plans to raise œ5 billion in the Autumn Statement for building new roads and schools to help stimulate the economy.

David Cameron and George Osborne are ordering government departments to reduce their administration costs in a move that could see one in four civil servants sacked in some departments.

The Prime Minister said the Government would cut "unnecessary spending" and put the money into infrastucture projects to help drive economic growth.

Speaking on a visit to Corpus Christi School in Brixton, south London, the Prime Minister said: "Government departments aren't actually spending up to their budgets so I think we can say to them, you've got to cut back some spending, including some unnecessary spending.

"Let's put that money into things that will make a difference in our country and in our economy - more roads, more school buildings, more infrastructure to make our economy work better, to make our country work better."

Nick Clegg said the plans would mean Government money was used for the best possible purposes as it would not be "tied up in Whitehall".

The Deputy Prime Minister said: "We now know that it's going to take longer to clear up the mess left by Labour than we'd once hoped and that's why we're even more determined in the Coalition Government to do it as fairly as possible, to spread the burden as evenly as possible so that we can wipe the slate clean for our children and our grandchildren.

"Today's announcement is all about making sure that the money we do have available to us is used for the best possible purposes - not tied up in Whitehall but used to rebuild schools, to improve our transport infrastructure, to invest in the things that this country needs for the long term.

"Everybody accepts in Government that when money's tight, when everybody is having to tighten their belts and when everybody is facing very stretching bills for households up and down the country, we have a responsibility to taxpayers and the nation make sure the money we do have is used for the best possible purposes.

"I can't think of a better purpose than spending œ1 billion on expanding school buildings so that children can go to school in their local area where there are insufficient places."

The Chancellor will detail which departments are to face the greatest reductions when he gives his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

He will ask his colleagues to find more savings after seeing how Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, slashed more than 1,000 jobs in his department.

Mr Osborne told the Cabinet today that he wants to spend the œ5 billion of savings on building projects over next two years. These will include new schools, roads, science schemes and skills projects, Downing Street said.

Whitehall departments will be asked to save an additional one per cent on their budgets next year and two per cent in 2014, on top of savings set out in when the Coalition came to power.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said there was clearly potential to make further savings in the running costs of Whitehall.

He said government departments were being urged to raise their game to the "best in class", and hailed the example of cost cutting at the Department for Education. Michael Gove's department is cutting its running costs by 50 per cent and making 1,000 staff redundant, a quarter of its workforce.

"It is certainly possible to drive further efficiencies through departments if everyone moves up to best in class," the PM's spokesman said.

"So for example, if you look at what Department for Education has been doing on their admin spending and if you saw other departments taking a similar approach we would be able to find additional savings.

"Clearly spending on frontline services will continue to be prioritised. We certainly want to deal with admin budgets and reduce admin budgets."

Senior Downing Street figures and ministers have expressed frustration over the way the Civil Service has been slow to implement reforms.

An internal Department for Education review earlier this year criticised the Civil Service's "slow and laborious" working style for sapping the "energy" of staff.

Under the radical plan for speeding up the way officials work, one in four civil servants at the DfE will be dismissed and the remaining staff will focus "ruthlessly" on ministers' priorities.

The œ5 billion of new investment will be spent over the next two years and targeted at transport, skills, science and schools. Officials said œ1 billion would be spent on new schools, funding extra places in areas with the greatest demand from young families.

Some 100 new academies and free schools are expected to be built in the next two years, with the money.

The cuts apply directly to England only, but there will be knock-on effects for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland under the complicated formula which determines central funding for the different parts of the United Kingdom.

Local government will be exempted from the cuts in the first year, as it is already having to find savings to deliver a council tax freeze, but councils will be required to meet the 2% cut in 2014/15. The NHS budget and spending on international aid are also expected to be protected.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence will be given more flexibility to retain funding that it has not spent, which last year amounted to almost œ400 million. As a result, ministers believe that there will be no cuts to military manpower or core MoD budgets.

The cuts across Whitehall departments relate to day-to-day resource spending, rather than capital spending projects.

The Treasury calculates that the cuts mean that the new investment falls within the Government's existing plans and will not involve further state borrowing.

Mr Osborne is under pressure to boost growth with a raft of major new construction projects, after the UK headed back into recession this year.


An Australian State Government will hear plan to give serial indigenous offenders work and education 'sentences' instead of jail time

This is a laugh.  Aborigines can repeat word for word what do-gooders tell them but it doesn't alter their behaviour

VIOLENT and serial indigenous offenders would no longer be jailed but given a work and education "sentence" under a plan to be taken to the Newman Government.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine will meet with Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie next month to talk about his controversial proposal, which has been bankrolled by some of Australia's richest people.

Mr Mundine, speaking exclusively to The Courier-Mail, warned that the growing indigenous jail population was a "ticking time bomb" and "we are setting up a future in 10-15 years where there will be a large criminal (indigenous) element operating".

The boss of Queensland's jails, Marlene Morison said the number of non-indigenous prisoners had fallen from 4130 in 2006 to 3988 in 2011, but the number of indigenous prisoners has crept from 1519 to 1666 in the same period.

"It's our only growth area, while all our other numbers are coming off."

Mr Mundine is the chief executive officer of GenerationOne, which is funded by mining magnate Andrew Forrest, casino-king James Packer, media mogul Kerry Stokes, supermarket entrepreneur Frank Lowy and trucking legend Lindsay Fox. It aims to swap detention for jobs and education.

Under Mr Mundine's blueprint, a magistrate would have the option of sending an indigenous offender to work, linked with educational outcomes, and if they failed to turn-up, then they would be sent to jail.

"Criminal records have been identified as a barrier to employment. GenerationOne is now looking at juvenile justice, and how employment and education should be a viable alternative to youth incarceration," Mr Mundine said.

"I'm not a touchy, feely, bang the bongo drums and sing songs around the camp fire person . . . (and) that's why I don't have a problem with boot camps, it's about discipline.

"We're living in the 21st century and people have got to work. Jobs - some of them couldn't spell it let alone anything else."

Mr Mundine said he hadn't seen any evidence that showed locking up kids resolved youth offending.


Amsterdam to expel nuisance neighbours

Amsterdam is to create villages where nuisance neighbours and anti-social tenants will be exiled from the city and rehoused in caravans or containers with "minimal services" under constant police supervision.

The new camps have been dubbed "scum villages" because the plan echoes a proposal from Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist right-wing party, for special units to deal with persistent troublemakers.

"Repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighbourhood and sent to a village for scum," he suggested last year. "Put all the trash together."

The Dutch capital already has a squad of municipal officials to identify the worst offenders for a compulsory six-month course on how to behave. Social housing problem families or tenants who do not show an improvement or refuse to go to the special units face eviction and homelessness.

Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam's mayor, has tabled the plan to tackle 13,000 complaints of anti-social behaviour every year. He complained that long-term harassment often led to law-abiding tenants, rather than their nuisance neighbours, being driven out.

"This is the world turned upside down," the mayor said at the weekend.

The project also involves setting up a hotline and system for victims to report their problems to the authorities.

A spokesman for the mayor denied the new projects would be punishment camps for "scum", but stressed that the units would aim to enforce good behaviour.  "The aim is not to reward people who behave badly with a new five-room home with a south-facing garden. This is supposed to be a deterrent," he said.

The tough approach taken by Mr van der Laan appears to jar with Amsterdam's famous tolerance for prostitution and soft drugs but reflects hardening attitudes to routine anti-social behaviour that falls short of criminality.

There are already several small trial projects in the Netherlands, including in Amsterdam, where 10 shipping container homes have been set aside for offenders, under 24-hour supervision from social workers and police.

The new policy will come into effect in January, when the first offenders will be moved to the new units.

In the 19th century, troublemakers were moved to special villages in Drenthe and Overijssel outside Amsterdam. The villages were rarely successful, becoming sink estates for the lawless.

"We have learned from the past," said the mayor's spokesman.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


5 December, 2012

British Scouts' pledge to drop any mention of God in promise with new members able to declare themselves as atheists

I doubt that this is a big issue either way in Britain.  Homosexuality is, I gather, the big issue for Scouts.  I did once know a Scoutmaster who seemed very fond of little boys.  It seemed likely to me that Scouts would be a magnet to his type so I never even considered sending my son to Scouts.

The Scouts are to drop their historic rule that teenage recruits must declare religious belief, the movement's leaders said yesterday.

In future boys and girls who join the organisation will be allowed to declare themselves as atheists and make a pledge of honourable behaviour that makes no mention of God.

The retreat from religion marks a break with a tradition begun in 1908 when the movement's founder Robert Baden-Powell wrote a Scout Promise which required a vow to `do my duty to God'.

In 1908 founder Robert Baden-Powell, left, wrote a Scout Promise, which runs in full: `On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people, and to keep the Scout Law'

The promise survives to this day with the language virtually unaltered, except for alternative versions available for young people of other faiths than Christianity, including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. All members have to make a religious promise of some kind.

Scout leaders said yesterday that the change was being made in the cause of helping the organisation `increase its diversity and benefit more communities than ever before.'

The movement has been under pressure from secular campaigners to drop the religious pledge.

The National Secular Society is running a petition against religion in the Scouts following a case in the autumn when an 11-year-old from Somerset, George Pratt, was refused membership in his local troop after he said he was an atheist and declined to make the promise.

The Scouts said yesterday that they will run a consultation to ask `whether an alternative version of the Scout Promise should be developed for atheists, or those who feel unable to make the existing commitment.'

The organisation added that `the consultation is about finding a way to allow young people and adults who have not previously been able to join the movement to be part of the scouting adventure.'

Chief Commissioner Wayne Bulpitt said: `We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the scouting programme. That will not change.

'However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the UK.' No form of wording of a Scout Promise for atheists has been finalised.

The Scout Promise runs in full: `On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people, and to keep the Scout Law'.

Scouts also retain their original motto, `Be Prepared'.

Versions of the promise for the use of boys of other religions were first produced by Baden-Powell in the 1920s. But such arrangements remained informal until the 1970s, when promises were altered to suit other faiths than Christianity.

The failure to admit professed atheists has not prevented the fast expansion of the Scouts in recent years.

The movement says it has grown its British membership from below 450,000 to move than 525,000 over the past 12 years, an increase of nearly 17 per cent.

It claims to be attracting more girl recruits than the female-only Guides, who have also suggested that they will also review their religious requirements. Guides are asked to pledge `to love my God'.

A Scout spokesman said yesterday that the movement in Britain will not remove its demand that members do their duty to the Queen. Earlier this year the Duchess of Cambridge became a volunteer helper with a troop in North Wales.

Non-British scouts in this country are allowed a special pledge in which they promise to do their duty to the country they are living in.

Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society said: `This is a move in the right direction. By adjusting their promise to include people without a religious belief, the Scouts will bring themselves in line with the reality of 21st century Britain, where more than two thirds of young people say they have no religious belief.

`If the Scouts decide to change the promise, it would relieve many young people of having to lie about what they believe in order to be part of this great organisation.'


AGAIN:  Another false rape claim from Britain

A woman who falsely cried rape twice against her ex-boyfriend has been jailed.  Beverley Brandreth, 20, claimed that he had raped her while she was pregnant which made her lose a baby, a claim which was found to be untrue.

At the time prosecutors advised that no charge should be brought against her.  Then she made a second claim last November when she told police that he had dragged her into woods where she was beaten unconscious and raped, and he threatened to kill her if she reported the matter.

Her lies were unmasked again when the victim later proved he was in a DVD store with his new girlfriend when Brandreth claimed he attacked her.

The man she accused was arrested on both occasions and spent a total of 30 hours in custody, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard.  He remained on bail for more than two months over the latest alleged offence before Brandreth, of Sharston, Manchester was arrested herself in January.

The defendant made no comment and only admitted not telling the truth when she entered a guilty plea in August to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sentencing her, Judge Bernard Lever said that `mercifully' the accused man had been able to prove his innocence but he told Brandreth she `did not know that at the time you made this outrageous allegation against him'.

The sentencing comes after a woman who cried rape because she regretted having sex with three men at a drunken orgy has been jailed for two years for her `wicked' lies in September.

Rosie Dodd, 20, had been out drinking when she met the men, aged 25, 23, and 21, and started groping one of them on a bus on the way home.  She had sex with them one after the other, but after telling a friend she felt `dirty' she lied to police that she had been raped.

The men, two of them students, then suffered a `nightmare' involving intimate examinations and being locked up in cells.

But after police became concerned about inconsistencies in Dodd's account, she admitted the encounters had been consensual.

In a separate incident, jilted Janet Higginbottom, 36, tried to frame her ex-lover for rape after he refused to rekindle their affair has been jailed.  Higginbottom got drunk and dialled 999 at 2am falsely claiming she had been stalked and then raped in the street after being followed home.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Higginbottom of  Broadbottom, Hyde, then identified her ex as the culprit, wrongly claiming he had fled in a car after the incident even though he was at home all the time.

Higginbottom's unnamed former boyfriend was later arrested in a 4am raid in front of his current girlfriend and held for 11 hours.


Don't wish Beveridge a happy birthday

On the 70th anniversary of the publication of the Beveridge Report, it's time radicals addressed the devastating social costs of welfarism

On 2 December 1942, the UK government published the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services, usually referred to as the Beveridge Report after its chair, the social reformer (and eugenicist) William Beveridge. The report is commonly regarded as a watershed in the development of the welfare state in Britain, a sign that we were becoming a more civilised and humane society. But the seventieth anniversary of the report on Saturday will no doubt prompt much handwringing about the system that the report helped to create.

The Beveridge report identified five `giant evils' in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease. Its conclusion was that in order to tackle these evils, we had to set up a system of compulsory social insurance to ensure that everyone had a subsistence level of income to rely on when they were unable to support themselves, whether as a result of unemployment, old age, disability or the death of the family `breadwinner'. The report's conclusions were broadly backed by a White Paper in 1944.

The fact that the report's recommendations were largely implemented by a Labour government, elected after the Second World War ended in 1945, has led to the creation of a myth that these were somehow `radical' or `socialist' policies. In fact, the general assumption that the state had to step in to reorganise and manage large swathes of society had been broadly accepted both before and particularly during the war. Compulsory national insurance had been introduced in a limited way in 1911 and state pensions had been enacted, for the very few people who lived past the age of 70, in 1908. The first call for a national health service came from the distinctly un-radical think tank, Political and Economic Planning, in 1937 - a call which was backed by the British Medical Association a year later.

Beveridge built on these developments, but what his report gave rise to was not the welfare state as we know it today. Rather, Beveridge recommended the expansion of the compulsory insurance scheme that forced workers and employers to set aside contributions in advance to offset the inevitable periods when they would be unemployed and to save for some kind of income in old age. Thus, this was not largess handed down by the goodwill of the state, but rather benefits accrued thanks to the contributions made in the good times when work was available.

There was, however, still a system of poor relief - National Assistance - to act as a safety net if these benefits ran out or for those who were not part of the scheme. But these benefits were means-tested, much to the irritation of those who had to have their resources and household income pored over. Even the entitlements accrued under the system of social insurance were far from generous, strictly designed to meet the subsistence needs of those who claimed them and no more.

These changes were not a case of the working classes beating the bosses into submission, but rather represented a recognition among society's rulers that a bare standard of existence had to be maintained in order to run factories, to keep a reserve of labour available during recessions and to fight wars. The mish-mash of private assurance via friendly societies and charitable provision was simply too inefficient and narrowly applicable to sustain a modern society. Social welfare, education, healthcare and the wider economy had to be organised by the state because private provision had proved itself lacking and incapable. In this light, modern-day notions of saving `Our NHS' look laughable - it was never ours in the first place.

Moreover, although revolutionary notions among the working classes had been put down with the smashing of the General Strike in 1926, it was clear to the ruling elite that there was always the potential for social unrest unless the worst symptoms of market failure were attended to. This new system of minimal `cradle to grave' support was designed to ameliorate the worst aspects of capitalism as a way of pre-empting any wider social and political challenge.

Beveridge also built his belief in social insurance on another idea: that it was the function of the state to ensure full employment. Beveridge was inspired by the establishment's new ideologue-in-chief, John Maynard Keynes; ideas about planning and state management of the economy started to become all the rage. The welfare bill would never become too large, Beveridge assumed, because the government would never let unemployment get out of hand. Individuals suffering temporary unemployment would be covered by their insurance contributions. In any event, it was widely assumed that people would, by and large, be too proud and independent to abuse the system and would choose work over welfare.

Yet as the decades passed, the welfare state expanded. The notion of a connection between national-insurance contributions and entitlements has pretty much disappeared. Now there is an amorphous sense of entitlement to welfare, regardless of one's contributions. The state has positively encouraged this sentiment even as politicians have attacked `scroungers' rhetorically.

For example, incapacity benefit has been expanded, so that millions of people who could work but are not currently employed are effectively told not to bother looking for jobs. This suited politicians when it became abundantly clear that full employment was gone, never to return. Taking those who might struggle to find work off the dole figures, and putting them on benefits that are not reliant upon them looking for work, might seem like a humane or generous thing to do. But in truth, the incapacity system effectively disabled them, by officially branding them `incapable' - a label which many of these people have now internalised.

Welfare has expanded from a short-term fix when people can't earn money or can't afford healthcare into something that touches upon everyone's lives, all of the time. Hence the howls of protest when the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announced in 2010 that families with a higher-rate taxpayer would lose child-benefit payments. Even well-off people now assume that they should receive routine support from the state.

In turn, the state has taken to poking its nose into every aspect of our lives. Incapable of macromanaging the economy, the authorities instead seek to micromanage our lives from `cradle to grave'. (In fact, from womb to grave would be more accurate, given the endless regulation of pregnant women.) Today's announcement of a minimum price per unit of alcohol is just the latest way in which an increasingly therapeutic, welfarist-minded government is interfering in how we live our lives.

In turn, the belief that the state will provide for us has undermined the sense of needing to be independent and the importance of making a contribution. The court action brought by unemployed geology graduate Cait Reilly against the government for forcing her to undertake work at Poundland in exchange for her welfare benefits is a case in point. The scheme that she was on may have been useless at helping her to find a decent job, but to declare that being forced to work in exchange for benefits was a denial of her human rights was an absurd expression of a pervasive sense of entitlement.

Far from being radical, such demands are thoroughly conservative. You are not exactly going to overthrow the state if you are dependent upon it. While there may be much bitching from politicians past and present about the cost of welfarism, this relationship of dependence between the populace and the state is the big overarching idea by which the political class justifies itself today: `We will look after you', is their message, their means of gaining political and public legitimacy.

Sadly, much of the debate about Beveridge in the next few days will be reduced to fretting about the financial cost of the welfare state today or the impact of government cuts to benefits. While the financial cost of social security is substantial, and could no doubt be reduced, it is the political, social and personal cost of welfarism that we should really be worried about.


Australia:  Vicious Qld. child protection dept. blames the victims for their bungles

Social workers seem to be scum just about everywhere.  That social work as a discipline is heavily Leftist  -- even Marxist  -- explains a lot, however.  They hate us.  The individual young social workers are mostly OK from what I have seen.  It is the old hags running the show who are full of bile

Question for the minister: Why is your department partly blaming the child victims of sex crimes, and their parents, for the incidents?

THIS is the question that Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis refuses to directly answer.

Instead, Ms Davis's office issued a statement in which she claimed the Newman Government wanted "to make Queensland's child safety system the best it possibly can be".

But child-protection advocates have taken on Ms Davis and the State Government after The Courier-Mail revealed Child Safety's practice of using legal action to pressure traumatised families badly let down by the department.

CASE 1: Mum blamed for foster child raping her eight-year-old son

In the first case, Crown Law sought a contribution claim from a mother, arguing she was to blame after her eight-year-old was allegedly raped by a foster child in her care. The department has said the mother should have better supervised the children even though the family had not been fully told about the foster child's history of sexual behaviour.

In the second case, three sisters who were repeatedly sexually abused by a foster child, also with a past not fully disclosed, have been told by the Child Safety department they also share the blame for failing to lock their bedroom doors.

CASE 2: Three sisters blamed for sexual abuse for not locking their bedroom doors

Taxpayers are funding the action against the families in a bid to make the parents partly responsible for any compensation payout to the children.

"These people are traumatised," Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said. "They (the department) wear them down. They wear out all (the families') financial resources until there is nothing left and then they throw them a pittance.

"These children had clear histories in sexualised behaviours. You don't place children with sexualised behaviours against other children, with children. (They) need to be placed in very specific care situations."

Child-protection body PeakCare Qld's executive director Lindsay Wegener urged the department to change its legal tactics.

"Under no circumstances should children ever be blamed or seen as contributing to a sexual assault that's been perpetrated against them," Mr Wegener said. "If it is that the department itself is hamstrung by legal process then those legal processes need to change.

"We cannot have legal processes that do not put the safety and wellbeing of children first."

Council of Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said the move to force families to contribute to any compensation could deter people from bringing claims.

"It's a harsh decision," Mr Cope said. "The Government isn't a commercial entity and all it is going to do is deprive the children of funds unless the parents themselves have an insurance policy."

Yesterday, Ms Davis's office replied to The Courier-Mail's question: "While the law prevents the Government from discussing individual child-safety cases, the Newman Government is determined to make Queensland's child-safety system the best it possibly can be and that's why we've established the Commission of Inquiry. We look forward to receiving the Inquiry's recommendations in April for revitalising the child-protection system."



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


4 December, 2012

Cyclo-Fascists: Arrogant, abusive and oh-so smug - why do so many cyclists think they're above the law?

I have long had a remedy for cyclists speeding dangerously close to me as I walk along.  I recommend my remedy.  I hold a hand straight out with palm upwards at their face level.  They know that if they collide with that hand their bike and they will violently part company, propelled by their own momentum.  When they see that hand they immediately take drastic evasive action.  And they can't object too much as a hand held that way is the classical stop sign.  The trick is to hold the hand at the level of their faces.  I may endanger them by doing that but if they can be uncivilized so can I.  Cyclists HAVE killed people by knocking them down.  Google "Raisin-Shaw" if you doubt it  -- JR

By Melanie Phillips

One of the developments that I have cheered along in recent years has been the attempt to rein back the motor car in our cities and towns.

Although I am a driver, I have long all but given up driving in London and now travel instead mainly by bus or Tube. I have also discovered the delights of walking and enjoying the city's stunning architecture and views - as well as literally rubbing shoulders with the rest of the human race, instead of sitting in solitary splendour within a motorised bubble.

Accordingly, I have welcomed the pedestrianisation of many streets, silently cursed the noisy, smelly cars - and also welcomed the arrival of the `Boris bikes', the cycles for hire around the city that were an inspired idea.

Although I do not own a bicycle, I enjoy and approve of cycling. Like many others, I have for years observed and admired those Continental cities where half the population seems to be on a bike and where the traffic seems tamed as a result.

So getting more people on to bikes in London seemed to me to be a good idea - encouraging health-giving exercise, reducing traffic congestion and generally turning the city into a calmer, gentler and more civilised place.

How wrong can you be! For far from being calm, gentle or civilised, many cyclists have proved to be the exact opposite. While of course this by no means applies to all of them, large numbers of cyclists have brought a new level of aggression and indeed menace to our city streets.

As a pedestrian, I have encountered this on innumerable occasions. A few weeks ago, at a major intersection in Central London I started to cross the road when the green man flashed up at the lights.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something hurtling towards me and sprang backwards just in time. A cyclist had jumped the red light and almost knocked me down as he sped across the junction.
They ride the wrong way up one-way streets. They ride on the pavement, causing pedestrians to move sharply out of the way - sometimes into the road! - to avoid being knocked down

They ride the wrong way up one-way streets. They ride on the pavement, causing pedestrians to move sharply out of the way - sometimes into the road! - to avoid being knocked down

Furious, I shouted after him that he had jumped the lights. To my astonishment, he stopped and, looking back over his shoulder, shouted abuse at me for having dared try to interrupt his progress by crossing the road.

You can understand why cyclists become enraged by motorists who they may well fear have the capacity to kill them.

But what possible justification could there be for abusing a pedestrian - and when the cyclist himself had just put her in danger by breaking the law? Surely an apology to me was in order rather than a tirade?

But it seems that, while obeying the law or the rules of the road may be obligatory for lesser mortals such as car drivers, cyclists believe that they themselves are above such irritating trifles. As many others have also protested, cyclists regularly ride through red lights or fail to stop at pedestrian crossings - even when a car has just done so.

They ride the wrong way up one-way streets. They ride on the pavement, causing pedestrians to move sharply out of the way - sometimes into the road! - to avoid being knocked down.

In short, they behave as if they are lords of the universe. Small wonder, when they are generally treated with veneration as the harbingers of a morally elevated society. One particular campaign by The Times champions them as such unimpeachable icons of progress that it seems to suggest the entire road network should be reconfigured for their convenience.

Two days ago, it triumphantly reported an unprecedented œ913?million initiative by local councils to put cycling at the heart of public transport.

Certainly, the toll of cyclists killed on the roads is alarmingly high, and it is only right that attention should be paid to making cycling safer.

Nevertheless, at least some of the time these accidents are caused by cyclists taking astonishing chances with their own lives - riding at night without any lights, cutting up cars or buses or overtaking on the inside so drivers cannot see them.

But none of these things is ever deemed to be their fault. The blame is always laid on others.

What sticks in the craw is the monumental arrogance accompanying such irresponsibility. For legitimate remonstration with them is all too often met with obscene gestures, swearing or other abuse.

This arrogance is not confined to behaviour on the road. It is part of a particular lifestyle. For this is the era of cycling-chic.

Once upon a time, alpha males roared around on motor bikes. Now leather has been exchanged for Lycra; the streets are thronged by other-worldly creatures dubbed `Mamils' - middle aged men in Lycra shorts.

The marketing wonk who coined this term discovered that `Mamils' are mainly men in their 30s and 40s from the upper social classes, who read broadsheet newspapers and shop at Waitrose - and may spend thousands of pounds on buying a bike. In other words, the cycle has become the must-have accessory of choice for our old friends, the progressive metropolitan intelligentsia.

For such folk, every single aspect of their lives is a statement - about themselves, of course, and in particular how worthy and progressive they are.

So for them, the cycle is not just a machine for getting about with two wheels, a saddle and a handlebar. No, it is a badge of unimpeachable virtue.

It effectively says of its rider: look how environmentally conscious I am, how socially responsible, how  clean-living, humble and powerless - compared to the dreadful Mr Toads behind the wheels of their powerful, filthy, anti-social cars which are all going to destroy the planet if they don't choke us all to death first!

That's why politicians such as David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson have used the image of themselves on their cycles to burnish their progressive credentials (slightly dampened in the case of Mr Cameron, when it was discovered he was being followed on his cycle by a car with his official papers on the back seat).

This assumption of superior virtue confers an air of effortless entitlement, which causes certain cyclists to believe they can break laws with impunity - and if they mow down any pedestrians, well it's the pedestrians' own fault.

It is sanctimonious self-righteousness sealed in Spandex - and the rest of us just have to get out of the damned way.

Part of cycling's huge boost in popularity was caused by the events of the summer, when Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France and the Olympic time trial, which engendered huge excitement over Team GB's performance in Olympic cycling.

One effect of this was the transformation of cycling from its association with wicker baskets, bicycle clips and a leisurely way of life to competition, winning and aggressively getting an edge over the other chap.

In addition to this harsher image, it lost its claim to intrinsic virtue when one of its icons, Lance Armstrong, was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories amid allegations (still denied) of doping.

In other words, cyclists are no better or worse than the rest of us. But when their faults are pointed out, they react as if they really think they are untouchable.

One journalist wrote recently that after criticising cyclists for their behaviour, she received death threats, vile insults and obscene abuse.

It's high time such cyclo-fascists were brought down off their towering saddles and made to observe the same laws and social conventions as the rest of us. Inspiring sportsmen they may be; demi-gods behind handlebars they are not.


British social workers:  Unbelievable sons of bitches

Parents murdered but surviving little girls not allowed to stay with relatives

The two young survivors of the French Alps massacre have been `kidnapped by social services', it was claimed yesterday.

Zainab al-Hilli, seven, and her sister Zeena, four, were orphaned when their parents were gunned down in their BMW on a holiday to Lake Annecy on September 5.  Their father Saad al-Hilli, 50, mother Ikbal, 47, and grandmother Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were killed alongside 45-year-old French cyclist Sylvain Mollier.

The murders have baffled police both in France and Britain, where the Al-Hillis had a œ1million home in Surrey.

Relatives claim they want to care for the girls but they have been placed in foster care by Surrey County Council `against their will'.

Their great-uncle, Ahmed al-Saffar, said Zainab and Zeena  had been upset when parting from their aunt Fadwa al-Saffar, their mother's sister, after a brief recent visit. He was also at the meeting.  He said: `They were crying, asking "why are our meetings so short? We want to be with you forever". We were devastated by it.'

Mr al-Saffar, a Swedish-based pharmacologist in his sixties, fears the council's approach to the girls' welfare has compounded the tragedy they are striving to cope with.

He said: `They would like to be with their family. We see their suffering after the pain and loss of their parents and how this then continues in their separation from the one they love to be with, which is their auntie.'

He said he had no criticism of the girls' white British foster family, describing them as `kind and supportive'. `But the situation is not satisfactory and it is getting more difficult.

He said the family wanted `answers to questions about the girls' future' but there had been no response to emails and inquiries.

Another friend of the family told the Sunday Times that the girls had effectively been `kidnapped by social services'.

They have formed a private Facebook support group for the sisters, and the friends have said they are ready to adopt the girls. They say they want to offer them some sense of normality as they come to terms with the tragedy.

One friend of the family said he has complained about the situation to his Conservative MP, Zac Goldsmith, after becoming frustrated at a lack of response from social services to his attempts to pass messages and gifts to the sisters, the Sunday Times reported. Court orders obtained by Surrey county council protect the girls from publicity and  ban publication of any details that might disclose their whereabouts.

Detectives have not made a single arrest since the horror in the mountains and remain baffled as to who was responsible. A British cyclist and former RAF officer  was the first to arrive at the murder scene. He found the three adults dead in the car and a dazed and badly injured Zainab wandering nearby. Zeena was not discovered by police for another eight hours, hiding in the car.

Surrey County Council declined to comment.


Principles?  What principles?  David Cameron banned British government ministers from speaking to Dalai Lama

David Cameron banned all contact with the Dalai Lama during crunch talks with Chinese Government over Euro bailout package earlier this year, leaked documents show.

The "blanket prohibition" on meeting the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader - imposed by the Prime Minister's team during crisis talks over Eurozone countries at a meeting of G20 countries - prompted a fierce backlash from ministers.

The ministers - Tim Loughton and Norman Baker - were barred from attending a private lunch with the Tibetan spiritual leader in the apartment of the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow minutes before it was due to start.

The pair then wrote to the Prime Minister to protest after the "deeply embarrassing" incident in June this year, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Channel Four Dispatches programme.

Mr Loughton told the programme that he and Mr Baker had originally been cleared to meet the Dalai Lama on his visit to the UK between 14 and 23 June this year.

The pair had been given the green light to attend the lunch on June 20 - Mr Baker is honorary president of the Tibet Society and Mr Loughton is a member of the Tibet Society council.

But on the eve of the lunch, Mr Loughton said "I had a whole barrage of calls. I'd made myself scarce in my office and the Department of Education were fielding most of these calls".

Many of the calls were from officials travelling with Mr Cameron in Cancun, Mexico at the G20 summit, he said. The pair were determined to go.

But the then-foreign minister Jeremy Browne intervened, telling moments that they could not attend moments before it was due to begin.

Mr Loughton said: "I can only presume that given I myself and Norman Baker were both ministers it would be in some way have been seen as some Government support for the Dalai Lama if we were to go and have lunch with him."

The pair wrote a private letter to Mr Cameron in July which they strongly protested about the way they had been muzzled, and complained about the "tremendous pressure put upon each of us at the 11th hour not to attend".

The letter, copied to Foreign secretary William Hague and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, said: "We feel we have to write to you to express our concern and annoyance with regard to the inflexible instruction given last week to ministers, prohibiting any contact whatsoever with the Dalai Lama during his visit to the UK."

They said they could not understand how the Government could impose a "blanket prohibition on a minister meeting a religious leader in private in a non-ministerial capacity and we think this crossed a line.

"Our absence from this small private lunch is deeply embarrassing for us in terms of our longstanding Tibetan connections, and will have been registered by the Speaker, to whom we were obliged to offer late apologies, and doubtless will not have passed unnoticed by others."

The pair said they felt British policy over China was "tantamount to saying that British foreign policy on Tibet is whatever China wants it to be.

"It completes ignores the fact his Holiness is a spiritual leader only and no longer holds a political position and is frankly just plain wrong."

The row took place as China was in talks about offering œ27billion, into a fighting fund expected to be used up by the International Monetary Fund to bail out Eurozone economies.

An earlier high profile meeting in May between the Dalai Lama, Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg went down badly in Beijing, which urged the UK to "stop conniving at and supporting" Tibetan separatist attempts.

Mr Loughton was sacked as a minister in the September reshuffle while transport minister Mr Baker is still in post. Mr Baker declined to comment.

A Government spokesman said: "The Dalai Lama was due to visit the United Kingdom twice in quick succession earlier this year. The Chinese Government always lobbies hard against any meetings between foreign governments and the Dalai Lama.

"We made clear in advance to the Chinese Government that British Ministers will decide who they meet and when they meet them - irrespective of Chinese lobbying.

"It was never intended that any Minister would meet the Dalai Lama on his second visit. We are committed to striking a balance between taking a clear position on Tibet, and sustaining broad-based engagement with the Chinese Government.

"It is only through engaging China that we can help bring about positive change to human rights in China."


How to convince people that women should become bishops

Not much episcopal gravitas here

Reverend Sally Hitchiner over the past week. She has posted several tweets on her Twitter page - where she describes herself as an `Anglican priest, faith adviser, broadcaster... and finder of funny things' - on the subject of `the theology of fashion'.

She was so preoccupied by it that she even conducted a Facebook debate on the subject.

So we shouldn't be too surprised then, that this weekend, the 32-year-old Church of England vicar took her theological studies even further forward, posing for a fashion shoot for a Saturday broadsheet magazine under the headline: The Vicar Wears Prada.

In the main picture, Rev Hitchiner is reclining on a leather chair wearing a œ480 black leather jacket by Frances Leon, a œ505 Prada top and tight silver leather trousers by the Mother label that come in at just over œ1,000. She also wears œ535 leopard print Christian Louboutin heels, that rest on a leather stool.

In one shot, a heavily kohled eye gazes sultrily at the camera beneath a œ239 Andrew Wilkie leopard skin hat set at a flirtatious angle, covering her other eye. Her blood red lips pout above her sharply white dog collar.

In another picture, the vicar poses in a œ1,025 blue, back and cream Stella McCartney top, accessorised again with her dog collar.

Another uber-trendy picture sees Rev Hitchiner in a œ646 black skirt by Graham & Spencer, œ209 Sandro top, œ355 shiny blazer by The Kooples and œ995 ankle boots - again by Louboutin.

Few of her flock can afford to wear such clothes - though in fairness, Rev Hitchiner borrowed them for the shoot. On her modest vicar's stipend, her label of choice is the fashionable but infinitely cheaper Top Shop.

But Rev Hitchiner certainly enjoyed herself. `Wearing a dog collar in a fashion shoot was quite a powerful experience,' she declared afterwards, in a game attempt to give her day of dressing up in designer gear some sort of theological perspective.

The fashion shoot appears to be some sort of response to last month's vote by the Church of England's governing General Synod, which decided against allowing women to become bishops.

After agreeing to ordain women priests back in 1994, it has taken until now for the vote for women bishops to take place. As a consequence of its failure, the schism between CoE  `traditionalists' and `progressives' is wider than ever.

There is no need to spell out whose side Rev Hitchiner, who had been mooted as a future bishop, is on. After all, would a `traditionalist' wear Louboutin leopard print heels?

Exactly. It's a look that hasn't been received quite so well by the Church's more traditional followers. But Rev Hitchiner believes she is not alone in the clergy in enjoying the frivolities of fashion.

Explaining that many priests like to `accessorise', she says: `Everything in life has two sides. It's not that the Church of England is perfect and that twinsets and pearls are perfect.

`It's not that some supposedly frivolous areas in life are not worthy enough for God. The fashion industry is important. Obviously, Nietzsche said a lot of things about God I don't agree with, but there's his theory that beauty makes you good, that engaging with things that are beautiful is an antidote to the ugly and the difficult.  `Historically, the arts have been honoured by the Church as a spiritual gift, and the first spiritual gift mentioned in the Bible is craftsmanship.'

Indeed. The great cathedrals of Europe, the Renaissance painters, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. The list is a long and fine one.  Now to add to it we have Christian Louboutin's leopard print heels and a Stella McCartney top.

`I'm in awe of Stella McCartney,' she says. `I think she's got a gift from God, although I'm not sure she would agree with me.'

Rev Hitchiner's unusual clerical style is apparent, too, on her Twitter and Facebook pages. For her Twitter page, she selected a photograph of herself wearing a tiara-style hair clip. In one picture on Facebook, she is winking at the camera.

Confronted by all this attention-seeking, one is duty bound to ask the question Rev Hitchiner is presumably dying for us to ask: is this really fitting behaviour for a woman of the cloth?



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


3 December, 2012

For a free press, with no buts

In the war of words around the Leveson report, too many on all sides have accepted the myth that the UK press is too free and must be tamed

Lord Justice Leveson's report into media `culture and ethics', widely expected to propose a new press regulator backed by law, will spark a war of words in parliament and across the media. But will it be a phony war?

The trouble is that leading figures on both sides of this battle have accepted the central myth of the Leveson debate: the myth that the British press has been too free to run wild, and needs a tough new `independent' regulator, whether statute-backed or not, to keep it in line.

As spiked has argued from the start of the phone-hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry, the truth is that the press is neither free nor open enough, even before a new regulator is appointed to wash its mouth out with soap. This is why we reject all of the options on the table today.

You can use whatever inoffensive-sounding weasel words you choose - statutory backdrop / underpinning / recognition etc - but a law to regulate the press still means more state intervention in a supposedly free press by any other name.

A statute compelling newspapers to sign up to a new regulator would look like a modern version of state licensing of the press. That system dictated that nothing could be published without the permission of the Crown. People went to the Tower and the gallows to fight for a free press until licensing was ended in 1694. Despite what some might like, we are unlikely to see a return to hanging, drawing and quartering for dissident journalists and publishers. But what happens to a newspaper that refuses to pay penalties under the new statutory-backed system? Are the authorities going to close it down?

Many politicians and media figures have latterly come out against the spectre of statutory-backed regulation. Yet the alternatives they propose all accept the basic premise of the anti-tabloid celebrities and crusaders - that tough new measures are needed to tame the press. Thus the proposals for `strengthened self-regulation' backed by Lords Hunt and Black involve giving a new `independent' regulator more power to police and punish the press than are currently enjoyed by the police, and introducing a form of industry licensing whereby those who refuse to sign up can be denied press cards and news sources.

There is no need for scaremongering about Britain becoming Zimbabwe-on-Sea. The danger is not crude censorship or an `Orwellian nightmare' of government-controlled newspapers.

The threat is more insidious: that the shadow of state intervention and the consensus on the need for tougher regulation leaves us with a more conformist, tamer and sanitised press. The mission of the Leveson Inquiry has been to purge the press of that which is not to the taste of those who consider `popular' a dirty word. A conformist culture of `You can't say THAT' is the biggest threat to press freedom after Leveson, whatever new system of regulation is finally agreed.

The press is already far too unfree, hemmed in by dozens of restraining laws and by informal self-censorship. A top editor has warned of an `ice age' for investigative journalism even before a new regulator is imposed. What we need is more diversity, boldness and troublemaking in the press. The last thing required is another policeman, state-uniformed or not, looking over the shoulders of journalists and editors.

We should defend press freedom and freedom of expression as a bedrock liberty of a civilised society - and defend the right of a free press to be an unruly mess. That some abuse press freedom, as in the phone-hacking scandal, is no excuse for others to encroach upon it. Press freedom is not a gift to be handed down like charity only to those deemed deserving. It is an indivisible liberty for all or none at all.

Amid the three million words spoken at the Leveson Inquiry and the 2,000 pages of Lord Justice Leveson's report, some key questions have not been aired. Leveson asked `who guards the guardians?'. But what about the equally important question: who judges the judges? What gives a Lord Justice the right to propose, and a government to impose, rules under which the press operate in a society where the public should be free to choose for itself?

And why do we need special regulation of a free press anyway? In America, the First Amendment makes it illegal to pass any law `abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press'. Those few words - inspired by the Puritan revolutionaries of England - say more about the meaning of press freedom than Lord Justice Leveson's voluminous report will today.

In the post-Leveson debate, almost everybody will begin by stating that of course they support press freedom, before adding the now-obligatory `But.' of one sort or another. It is time we raised the banner for free speech and a free press, with no buts.


Bombshell by Leveson's own adviser: His law to gag press is illegal as it breaches Human Rights Act

But she's banned from telling you what she advised inquiry

One of Lord Justice Leveson's key advisers last night delivered  the bombshell verdict that his demand for compulsory press regulation would be illegal.

In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, said any such clampdown would breach the Human Rights Act and be open to legal challenge.

Her intervention is hugely significant because as one of only six `assessors' who helped guide the inquiry and its conclusions, her position threatens the viability of key parts of the report.

As well as her opposition to Leveson's demand for a law to enact  his recommendations, we can also reveal that she:

*   Rebuked pro-legislation pressure groups such as Hacked Off, led by celebrities including Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, saying: `There has been a great deal of ill-informed debate, with people bandying about terms such as "statutory underpinning" with little grasp of what this would mean.'

*    Has been banned from discussing any aspect of the report's deliberations under pain of `disciplinary action'.

*    Poured scorn on Labour leader Ed Miliband's `hasty and ill-considered' endorsement of the report.

At the heart of her objections to the Leveson report is that any new law that made the government quango Ofcom the `backstop regulator' with sweeping powers to punish newspapers would violate Article 10 of the European Convention On Human Rights which guarantees free speech and is enshrined in  Britain's Human Rights Act, too.

She said: `We were chosen as advisers because of our areas of expertise. Mine is human-rights law and civil liberties. In a democracy, regulation of the press and imposing standards on it must be voluntary.

`A compulsory statute to regulate media ethics in the way the report suggests would violate the Act, and I cannot support it.  'It would mean the press was being coerced in being held to higher standards than anyone else, and this would be unlawful.'

On Miliband, she commented on the fact that when he made his promise to back the report on the day it was published, he could not possibly have read or weighed up the contents of its 2,000 pages.  `He should have been more careful about what he said,' Ms Chakrabarti said.

`To declare his full support so early, when he cannot have read it, was hasty. He should have reflected on it. This is a policy that must not be rushed.'

Ms Chakrabarti and the other assessors were hand-picked by David Cameron to help guide and advise Leveson on his inquiry and report.

Another assessor, George Jones, the former political editor of the Daily Telegraph, shares her view that there should be no `backstop' role for Ofcom, as a little-noticed footnote to the report makes clear.

Ms Chakrabarti said that if the recommendation were made law, any publication which became subject to compulsory regulation would be able to challenge it in the courts, and seek a legal declaration that the `Leveson law' flouted human rights.  If the law were not repealed, the publication could seek to have it overturned at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Article 10 states: `Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.'

Ms Chakrabarti also rebutted Leveson's claim that a new statute to establish a press regulator is `essential'. She said the new regulator does not need `statutory underpinning', and should not rely on approval from Ofcom or any other quango.

Of Hacked Off, Ms Chakrabarti said: `I understand that people who have been wronged want action. But they should be interested in outcomes, rather than particular processes.

'The outcome they should be seeking is a free and vibrant press with access to justice for the public when things go wrong.

`We can achieve this without legislation, which may have serious unintended consequences. Unfortunately, there has been a great deal of ill-informed debate, with people bandying about terms such as "statutory underpinning" with little grasp of what this would mean.'

The important thing, she said, was for the newspaper industry to set up as quickly as possible a new, independent regulator along the lines Leveson recommends, with real powers to punish publications. The debate over whether any change in law was then required should  wait until its structure was clear.

But neither Ofcom nor any other state quango should validate it, she said. `I don't think quangos such as Ofcom are independent enough of the state to be judging press regulation.  `Quangos are an emanation of the state, and their members are appointed by Ministers.'

If a quango were to be involved, she added, Ofcom was an especially unfortunate choice, because its existing role in governing broadcasters means it is a `regulator of content'.

For example, Ofcom has powers to decide whether programmes breach broadcasting rules on political bias, which have never applied to the press, and to punish those who transgress.

Leveson's recommendation that Ofcom should be the body empowered by law to decide whether the regulator was doing its job was `something I can never accept'.

Journalism, she added, must never become a `state-licensed profession'. Some, she noted, had argued that the state does license drivers, implying that licensing for the media would be no more onerous.  `But driving a car isn't a fundamental human right,' she said. `Freedom of speech is.'

However, it is in discussing the politically-vexed issue of whether legislation is necessary at all that Ms Chakrabarti's views present the most radical departure from Lord Leveson, who believes: `It is essential that there should be legislation to underpin the independent self-regulatory system and facilitate its recognition in legal processes.'

But as Ms Chakrabarti pointed out, in the same breath, the judge also said that the law should not determine the structure of the new regulator: that should be left to the press itself. In her view, the new system would work much better without any legislation at all.

She believes that the way to ensure newspapers both join and obey a regulator is through incentives, administered by judges considering legal actions against the press.

In fact, the Leveson report recommends this too, saying that once the new regulator has set up an arbitration system which can be readily accessed by the public, judges should be able to impose big cost penalties on those who ignore it, whether they be newspapers or those who try to sue them.

Yet all this, Ms Chakrabarti said, could be achieved without statute. All that is necessary is for the press to set up the regulator, and then, if sued, to ask the judge to take their participation into account when deciding costs.

`That would not be statutory regulation of the press, or even statutory underpinning,' she said. `It would be the civil courts giving credit to the press for meeting Leveson's crucial recommendations, by joining a "club" that was independent and able to provide redress for those with legitimate grievances.'

If, she added, judges proved unwilling to change the way costs are awarded, then it should be possible to amend the Civil Procedure Rules, the `White Book' of regulations for the way civil cases must be conducted.

This would be done by a panel of judges, so again legislation would not be needed. Only if this proved impossible would Ms Chakrabarti countenance a very limited statute on the matter of costs.

Ms Chakrabarti's view was supported yesterday by Dan Tench, a partner in London law firm Olswang and an expert on media law.

`She is absolutely right that you don't need legislation,' he said, adding that changes due to come into force in April to the way costs are awarded would make it easy for judges to `incentivise' newspapers in the way Ms Chakrabarti suggested.

Ms Chakrabarti said it was also clear there could be more than one regulator, and that other such `clubs' could also be established for internet bloggers or Twitter users - who could thus also benefit from the court incentives.

She added that the Leveson report had come at a time when media freedom is already under threat, with the government fighting to introduce more secrecy to British courts.

She said. `Investigative journalism is under attack, and it's a shame the media have not paid as much attention to these measures as they have to Leveson. Their effect, if enacted, will be chilling.'

Finally she revealed she was `sadly disappointed' Ed Miliband was so vocal about the Leveson Report - while remaining silent on a Bill opening the way to `secret courts' and  the `snoopers charter' which would give security agencies owers to spy on people's use of the internet.

`When Ed Miliband was elected party leader, he promised this would mark a new era of Labour concern for civil liberties. I'm still waiting for that. I would like to see him be  much more robust on these issues.'


British Welfare State has ballooned to over 12 times its original size, figures reveal as Chancellor prepares benefits freeze

The cost of the Welfare State has risen 12-fold in real terms since its introduction, figures reveal today - as George Osborne prepares to unveil a benefits freeze.

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions to mark the 70th anniversary of William Beveridge's landmark report on welfare, show the cost of the modern system dwarfs that of his original vision.

They come as the Chancellor puts the finishing touches to next week's Autumn Statement on the economy, when he is expected to announce a freeze in the value of most benefits apart from pensions and disability payments.

The move is part of Mr Osborne's drive to tackle Britain's budget deficit. He is also expected to ease pressure on family budgets by cancelling the 3p rise in fuel duty due to come in next month.

The new figures reveal that benefit spending has increased dramatically since Beveridge's proposals were introduced in 1948, rising from the equivalent of œ13.5billion in today's prices to œ165.5billion this year - more than a 12-fold increase.

Even given the huge growth in the economy over the past seven decades, the increase in the cost of the benefits system has been dramatic.

In 1948 spending on benefits accounted for 10.4 per cent of Britain's total income, against 24.2 per cent this year.

Jobseeker's Allowance has almost doubled in real terms from œ37.30 a week for the 1948 unemployment benefit to œ71 today. At the same time the basic state pension has almost trebled from œ37.30 to œ107.45.

Yet over the same period the price of a pint of milk has fallen in real terms from 57p to 46p.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the soaring cost underlined the fact that the welfare system had lost touch with Beveridge's original vision of ensuring `freedom from want'.

`Beveridge's pioneering vision for welfare has been completely lost,' he said. `The system is complicated, expensive and open to abuse.

`Our reforms will restore confidence and bring the benefits system back to Beveridge's founding principles.

`We will deliver his vision of a Welfare State that provides a safety net for those who need it, without stifling incentive, opportunity or responsibility.'

In October, Mr Duncan Smith said that spending on benefits and tax credits had risen by more than 60 per cent under the previous Labour government - spiralling even before the recession, when growth was booming, jobs were being created, and welfare bills should have been falling.

By 2010, the extra spending was costing every household in the country an extra œ3,000 a year in tax, helping to increase the budget deficit..


No more "bride" & "groom" on marriage certificates in Washingtom State

The words "bride" and "groom" - along with "husband" and "wife" are about to become archaic language in Washington state as officials prepare to remove the terms from marriage and divorce certificates.

Tim Church, a spokesman for the Wash. state Health Department, told Fox News they will likely be removing those words in favor of more gender neutral terms.

He said the changes are necessary in response to the same-sex marriage law that takes effect Dec. 6.

"We've been quickly moving ahead to change our marriage certificate to make sure it fits for everyone who is going to be using it," he told Fox News.

The words "bride" and "groom" could be replaced with "Spouse A" and "Spouse B" or "Person A" and "Person B," Church said.

The department has been taking public input but the state's secretary of health will ultimately decide which terms are used.

"People are just happy we are aware that the form needs updating," Church said. "One (person) expressed concern that she sees forms that she does not see herself in - and she's forced to make a choice on a form that is not a perfect choice for her."

"We want our form to work for everyone who is getting married," he added.

Peter Sprigg, of the Family Research Council, said it's no surprise that traditional marriage terminology is about to be censored in Washington state.

"It is one sort of symbolic indication of how radical a change the legalization of same-sex marriage is," Sprigg told Fox News. "Symbolically, they are doing away with the whole concept of bride and groom, husband and wife - at least in the eyes of the law."

Sprigg suggested the heterosexual couples could challenge the new terms by simply crossing out the new language and inserting the old.

"I wonder if the state would accept that," he asked. "If not, it would suggest this movement is intent on being even more totalitarian."



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


2 December, 2012

British PM: 'I'm NOT convinced by Leveson'. PM warns 'complicated plan to cross Rubicon' and regulate press by law COULD impinge on free speech

David Cameron today took just hours to throw out Lord Justice Leveson's plan for legislation to regulate the press, warning it could `infringe freedom of speech'.

The Prime Minister warned the judge's 2,000-page report demanding media watchdog Ofcom oversee a new independent press body would put newspapers under the control of a government quango.

Mr Cameron put himself on a collision course with his deputy Nick Clegg, who said he could see no reason not to implement the report in full.

Cross-party talks are due to start tonight, with Labour leader Ed Miliband warning 'there can be no more last chance saloons' for the press.

Lord Leveson has called for a new system of independent self-regulation, with a powerful new body able to impose fines of up to œ1million and demand front page apologies.

But he wants to law change to give state watchdog Ofcom - which regulates TV, radio and phone and postal services - power to oversee the process.

Mr Cameron told MPs: `The danger is this would create a vehicle for politicians whether today or in the future to impose regulations on the press.  'I am not convinced at this stage that statute is necessary to achieve Lord Leveson's intentions.'

He warned using the law to control the press would 'cross the Rubicon' - a dramatic reference to the army of Julius Casaer crossing the Rubicon river which was considered an act of insurrection.

The Prime Minister said he had 'serious concerns and misgivings' about Lord Leveson's proposals for a statutory underpinning to a new regulation system.

'For the first time we would have crossed the Rubicon, writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land.

'We should, I believe, be wary of any legislation which has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press.

'In this House, which has been a bulwark of democracy for centuries, we should think very, very carefully before crossing this line.'

But Mr Clegg - who broke with parliamentary convention to make a separate statement in the Commons -  bluntly dismissed Mr Cameron's call for a period of reflection on the controversial plans.

'We mustn't now prevaricate. I - like many people - am impatient for reform,' he said.  'And, bluntly, nothing I have seen so far in this debate suggests to me we will find a better solution than the one which has been proposed. Nor do I draw any hope from the repeated failure of pure self-regulation that we've seen over the last 60 years.

'We need to get on with this without delay. We owe it to the victims of these scandals, who have already waited too long for us to do the right thing.

'Too long for an independent press watchdog in which they can put their trust. I am determined we do not make them wait any more.'

But both Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg were united in opposition to some of the recommendations, including a plan for broadcasting watchdog Ofcom to oversee a new independent regulator.

The two leaders also expressed serious concerns about imposing tougher data protection rules on journalists.  Lord Justice Leveson called for significant restrictions to exemptions granted to reporters under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Powers for the Information Commissioner to prosecute the media, investigators and others for breaches should also be extended, he suggested.

Mr Cameron said he would be wary about any move to 'reduce the special treatment that journalists are afforded when dealing with personal data' which he said were vital for investigative journalism.

Mr Clegg also said he had 'specific concerns' about the idea.

Lord Justice Leveson's long-awaited report calls for a new law to 'underpin' an independent press watchdog, a tightening of data protection legislation to limit journalists' rights to use personal information and a change in the law to allow publishers to be penalised in libel and other cases if they refuse to be subject to the regulator.

The judge said the press had ignored its own code of conduct in a way that had 'wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people' on far too many occasions over the last decade.

Under Lord Leveson's plan a new independent regulatory body would be overseen by media watchdog Ofcom.

But Mr Cameron said the head of Ofcom is appointed by ministers, putting politicians too close to the process of regulating the press.

'Ofcom is already a very powerful regulatory body and we should be trying to reduce concentrations of power rather than increase them.'

Instead Mr Cameron said he wanted the press industry to implement Leveson's principles for regulation, without Parliament changing the law.

Lord Black of Brentwood, the chairman of the Press Standards Board of Finance, warned the Leveson proposals are `profoundly dangerous' and would put a state regulator `at the very heart of the newsroom'.

He expressed `great caution expressed about the role of the statutory regulator Ofcom in the new system'.

And he added: `That would be a state regulator at the very heart of the newsroom. Would you agree with me that, if the industry can make rapid progress in the task of establishing a new system, such a move would not be just be profoundly dangerous but completely unnecessary?'

The PM welcomed Lord Leveson's key requirements for a new independent self-regulatory body, including independence of appointments and funding, a standards code, an arbitration service and a speedy complaints handling mechanism.

He said that it should have the power to demand prominent apologies and to impose fines of up to œ1 million.

Mr Cameron said the press now had a 'limited period of time' to make its own changes, and the 'status quo' would not be allowed to continue.

But Labour leader Ed Miliband said: `We should put our faith in the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson. There can be no more last chance saloons.'

Mr Miliband said cross-party talks 'must be about implementing these recommendations, not whether we implement them'.

He added: 'The press must be able to hold the powerful, especially us politicians, to account without fear or favour. That is part of the character of our country.

'But at the same time I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for the sake of profit. And where powerful interests in the press know they won't be held to account.'

Cross-party talks are to begin today. All three leaders are likely to accept recommendations for frontbenchers to publish details of meetings and contact with media bosses.

Mr Cameron also said he supported Leveson's recommendations for ending the 'cosy relationship' between the press and the police.

The Premier also backed former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt who he said had endured 'a stream of allegations with great dignity' over his handling of the BSkyB bid, and the report confirmed that 'we were right to stand by him'.


It's not just UKIP parents who are under suspicion in Britain

The Rotherham fostering controversy isn't a mad one-off - it's the logical conclusion to the intensification of state meddling in parents' lives

The Rotherham foster family controversy has scandalised Britain. Understandably so. Rotherham council's decision to remove three children from a fostering couple simply because the couple are members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) reeks of a McCarthy-like political authoritarianism. It is not surprising that the decision has been slammed by the press as `ugly', `poisonous', `prejudicial', `Orwellian' and `arrogant'.

Yet this very reaction, not only from the press but also from leading politicians, who have described Rotherham council's behaviour as `indefensible', gives the impression that what happened in Rotherham was a one-off, an act of extremism by a crazy council. It wasn't. Rather, the Rotherham mess is the logical conclusion to the ever-more embedded idea that the state should get to say who would make a good parent and who would not; that the state has the right to determine which political, cultural and lifestyle attitudes it is okay for parents to have and which ones it is not okay for them to have. It is this idea - promoted by some of the same people now getting irate over Rotherham - which leads to a situation where foster parents who have the `wrong' views can have their kids removed.

The most striking thing about the Rotherham case is how open the council was about its prejudices. Usually, when councils want to take children away from parents whom they decree to be `undesirable', they will draw up a list of often exaggerated physical or moral harms facing those children as a way of justifying their actions. But in this case, officials were explicit about the fact that these kids were being removed because of the foster parents' political views. The council's director of children's services, Joyce Thacker, said that because the three children are of Eastern European origin, it would be wrong to leave them with foster parents who support a party that is anti-EU and critical of the ideology of multiculturalism. `If the party mantra is, for example, ending the active promotion of multiculturalism, I have to think about that', she said. `I have to think of [the children's] longer-term needs.'

In essence, Thacker is saying that anyone who is critical of multiculturalism is not fit to be a foster parent - or, by extension, a natural parent - because they might inculcate children with views that Thacker considers to be wrong, insufficiently multicultural. This isn't the first time a council in Britain has removed children from parents or foster parents who are seen as having problematic cultural views. Earlier this year, Toni McLeod, a mother-of-four in Durham, had her children taken from her, partly because, in the words of Durham council, she had developed `inappropriate friendships [through] the English Defence League', a small far-right political group. `Inappropriate friendships' was clearly code for `inappropriate views'. Last year, Eunice and Owen Johns, a Derby-based black Christian couple in their 60s who had been fostering children aged between five and 10 for years, were told they were no longer suitable foster carers because of their views on homosexuality - that is, they had told social workers they would not teach children that homosexuality was an acceptable lifestyle.

When councils aren't removing children from parents or foster parents who have `unhealthy' political views, they're taking them away from parents who are just plain unhealthy. Under the cover of protecting children from so-called passive smoking and even from the `influence of obesity', more and more councils are refusing to place kids with anyone who smokes or is fat. Last year, a couple in Essex were rejected as foster parents after the aspiring foster dad admitted to having smoked two cigars in the previous year - under Essex council's rules, foster parents must be `tobacco-free for 12 months' before they can receive children. The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) advises that no child under two, and ideally under five, should be placed with families that include a smoker. One council in Scotland refuses to place children aged 11 or younger with smokers, and decrees that smokers must fully cleanse themselves of their filthy habit before they can foster young kids: `Foster carers who have successfully given up smoking should not be allowed to adopt or foster. until they have stopped smoking for a minimum period of 12 months.'

Fat people are also being denied the right to foster and adopt. The BAAF says being obese can `limit a parent or carer's ability to look after a child', and therefore, `practitioners need to consider obesity' when placing children. Practitioners are doing this with relish. In 2009, a teetotal, respectable, long-married couple in their 30s in Leeds were told they were not suitable candidates for adoption because of the husband's weight: 24 stone. Leeds Council informed the couple that people with a Body Mass Index of over 40 were `unlikely to be approved' and therefore `[it would] be to your advantage to begin the assessment with an up-to-date medical where your BMI is clearly recorded as being under 40 and to demonstrate that you are able to maintain this weight loss'. In short, if you're fat you don't deserve kids; you'll probably be too lazy and feckless to look after them properly.

These health judgements against aspiring foster or adoptive parents are also really judgements about cultural attitudes. Just as right-wing people and traditional Christians are denied the right to look after children because they're seen as having the `wrong' views, so fat people and smokers are forbidden from fostering because they have the `wrong' attitude - they have failed to conform to the idea that every parent must be a super-fit, fruit-eating, multicultural, state-approved Decent Person. There's a big class component to these judgements, too. If obesity and smoking, not to mention having supposedly un-PC views, are markers for being from a certain section of the working class, then the end result of these rules about who is and who isn't fit to foster is that poorer people will be prevented from looking after needy kids - something that they have been helping society out with for decades.

The fact is that, for all these councils' elitist, prejudicial judgements about what size, shape and political persuasion a foster or adoptive parent should be, around the country there are millions of natural parents who are overweight or who smoke or who have traditionalist, sometimes bigoted views that their children will either adopt or discard as they get older. Believe it or not, a fat dad who can't run very far in the park can still be a brilliant dad; the mum who smokes 60 a day can still be a great mum; Christian parents who think homosexuals are weird can still provide loving homes for their kids. In only selecting for fostering or adoption those adults who conform to state diktats on health and PC and multiculturalism, various councils are starkly at odds with reality, with the fact that unhealthy, un-PC people are parents and are good parents to boot.

This is where we get to the nub of the Rotherham scandal and other recent efforts by officialdom to limit fostering and adoption to those people considered culturally acceptable: this is really about sending out a message to all parents, to natural parents as well as foster parents, about how they should behave and what they should believe. Increasingly, the worlds of adoption and fostering are being used as laboratories in which state officials can make clear what they consider to be a Good Parent. Because in this arena they get to select who can be a parent, they are seizing the opportunity to infuse parenting with their prejudices, to carve out a model parent - thin, tobacco-free, multiculturally on-message - whose image can be projected across society. Coupled with the state's increasing cockiness in removing children from natural families that are considered `chaotic' and its promotion of parenting classes for all natural parents, the use of the sphere of fostering and adoption to promote an idealised parent is strengthening the idea that the state should get to say what sort of people may have and bring up children.

This is all proving disastrous for children in need of care. It was reported last year that there has been a `steep rise' in the number of children being taken away from their birth parents and put into care by the state, particularly following the Baby P tragedy of 2008, but that at the same time there is a `crisis in foster care' because `tough guidelines [are] scaring off potential foster parents'. In short, the state is tearing apart more and more natural families, but it is then incapable of finding new homes for the children it removes because it is making foster and adoptive parents jump through so many lifestyle and cultural hoops. The state's suspicion towards the family unit makes it take more children from their birth parents, and its distrust of potential foster parents means it finds it increasingly difficult to place those children in other family homes. So they languish in care, victims, primarily, of the vile prejudices and fears of our rulers.


SAS hero walks free... and thanks the Press: Sniper jailed for 'illegally possessing' Iraqi gift pistol has his sentence quashed

An SAS hero jailed for keeping an Iraqi pistol as a war trophy thanked the Press yesterday for helping secure his freedom.  Danny Nightingale's 18-month prison sentence was quashed by senior judges following a three-week newspaper campaign.  He will now be able to spend Christmas with his young family.

The sniper's release yesterday came as Lord Justice Leveson published a report calling for draconian controls on the Press.

But Sergeant Nightingale, who has served with valour in Iraq and Afghanistan, said: `For the media support that has been out there, thank you people.'

The Daily Mail had kept up the pressure with a series of stories including an interview with his wife Sally, 38.

She described him as a `hero who had been betrayed' and a father reduced to a voice on the phone for their daughters, five-year-old Mara and Alys, two.

Mrs Nightingale, who raised œ100,000 to fund a legal battle to free her husband, said: `I'm very, very happy. We have fought for this and now we have got justice.

`I did not dare to dream that this would be the outcome. It will be brilliant to have him home. It can only be good for all the troops out there fighting for our country to see justice has been done.'

Describing him as an exemplary soldier, Appeal Court judges cut Sgt Nightingale's prison term to a 12-month suspended sentence - allowing the 37-year-old to immediately return home to Crewe.

He was reunited with his wife in emotional scenes at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London.

`I need to say thank you so much to my wife, family and friends for their trust and support. They have been amazingly courageous and dignified in all they have done,' he said.

`The great British public and people around the world have been absolutely wonderful in their support. It has been extremely humbling.'

The judges also granted the non-commissioned officer permission to appeal against his conviction.

Sgt Nightingale was sent to a military prison in Colchester three weeks ago after pleading guilty to possessing a working 9mm Glock pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition at his home.

The sentence sparked a national outcry. David Cameron said he was `sympathetic' to the Nightingale family and a protest petition attracted 107,000 signatures.

Three judges - the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, Mr Justice Fulford and Mr Justice Bean - heard the appeal and ruled that the offences were `committed in exceptional circumstances by an exceptional officer'.

They were told the 9mm Glock was a souvenir from Iraqi soldiers Sgt Nightingale helped train in 2007.  But during his tour of duty he was ordered to fly home urgently with the bodies of two fallen comrades.  His belongings in Iraq - including the firearm - were packed by colleagues and sent back separately to Britain, first to SAS headquarters and then to a home he rented with other soldiers.

Sgt Nightingale intended to pass the gun to his regiment to be decommissioned and displayed as a war trophy.

But he forgot he had the weapon and ammunition after suffering `significant' brain damage that affected his memory when he collapsed on a 220-mile charity trek in the Brazilian jungle.

He amazed medics by not only surviving but returning to fitness so he could deploy on operations. The Glock and ammunition were found when police raided his rented home in Hereford last year following a dispute between his SAS housemate and his estranged wife.

Sgt Nightingale, who was serving with special forces in Afghanistan at the time, said he did not remember having the weapon.

He pleaded guilty to two charges at the court martial on November 6 and was sent to the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester.

His lawyers yesterday argued that he was pressured into pleading guilty to possessing the gun and ammunition with the trial judge suggesting he would receive five years in a civilian jail if he fought the case.

William Craig QC, for Sgt Nightingale, said: `No defendant should be told that and no judge should indicate that to a defendant. He failed comprehensively to follow [legal] guidance.'

Lieutenant Colonal Richard Williams, Sgt Nightingale's former commanding officer, told the Appeal Court the sniper had `saved many lives' by inventing a new bandage to treat gunshot wounds.

Tory MP Julian Brazier who raised Sgt Nightingale's plight in Parliament, said: `The original sentence was a serious miscarriage of justice.  `I am delighted that Danny will be going home to his family for Christmas.'

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: `The justice system has worked. [CRAP!  It was publicity that worked] `I was pleased that an appeal was heard quickly and it is right that a court should decide on whether the sentence was appropriate.  `The Court of Appeal has decided the sentence was too harsh and has freed him.'


Independence lost

Comment from Australia

WHAT do the latest James Bond movie, `Skyfall', and Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's longest-serving prime minister, have in common? If you say, no idea - then that's understandable.

If, on the other hand, you answer Tennyson's poem Ulysses, then you win the prize.

In the latest Bond movie, M, facing a parliamentary inquiry into her failures as head of MI6, recites the final lines from Tennyson's poem, which supposedly was a favourite of the founder of the Liberal Party.

In the poem the ancient Greek hero Ulysses, though old and soon to confront death, longs for one last chance to prove his valour and strength and to embark on another perilous journey. He states:

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The sentiment is one of overcoming adversity, not giving in to suffering, and battling against all odds to demonstrate one's bravery and heroism.

Pain, suffering and loss have always been with us and are an inevitable part of being human. The challenge, though, is how best to overcome adversity.

For Sir Robert Menzies' generation, who experienced two world wars and the Great Depression, the belief was that individuals, although often with the help others, had to rely on their own bravery, resilience and the conviction that after the tempest, still waters would prevail.

The welfare state, with its insatiable desire to intervene and comfort all, had yet to take control and individuals and their families still relied on one another and local networks to meet their needs.

Welfare payments were few and far between, unemployment relief was meagre and universal health care had yet to be introduced.

An essential part of Australia's bush ethos and the ANZAC legend was to fight against adversity and face a harsh future stoically. Stories such as Henry Lawson's The Drover's Wife epitomised the ability to survive in a hostile environment and to do what was necessary to raise a family.

In modern-day tragedies such as Victoria's Black Saturday bushfires and last year's floods in Queensland, we saw again this spirit of resilience and bravery when ordinary people achieve heroic feats.

Tennyson's poem and Lawson's short story embody a romantic notion of the hero and one increasingly lacking today when the common cry is one of victimhood.

Read the papers, watch or listen to the news or surf the net and it's clear we are surrounded by those seeking redress and government action for what has been or is being suffered.

As Joe Hockey said in a speech earlier this year, we live in a time characterised as the age of entitlement.

Many succumb to drugs and alcohol and, instead of taking responsibility, argue it's because of the sins of others and they must get government support.

Some are the victims of violence and abuse and, instead of breaking free, bemoan their fate, trapped in the past.

Even in education, the victim mentality is now rife with working class, migrant and indigenous students told that only positive discrimination will turn failure into success.

Supposedly, performance at school is not a matter of ability or effort, but the result of home background.

Instead of working harder, at-risk students are told it's not their fault that they underachieve.

Today's generations are wrapped in cotton wool and expect that all they have to do is to complain and things will work out in the end.

Worse still, the victim mentality drains individuals of their ability to stand on their own two feet, confront and overcome problems and get on with life with a positive attitude.

While there's no denying that those experiencing pain, loss and disadvantage need help and support, maybe, just maybe, things would be better if, like Ulysses, instead of victimhood, the cry was one of: To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


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