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 January, 2011

Cowardly British cops

"Elf 'n safety" trumps law enforcement

In the line of duty, police officers routinely risk life and limb in all sorts of dangerous situations to protect and serve. So patrolling an area plagued by teenage yobs should be child’s play by comparison. But constables and PCSOs have been banned from keeping the peace at an adventure playground at night because it is considered dark and dangerous.

A senior officer told stunned councillors there would be no patrols after 8pm at newly-built Waterlees Park in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, for health and safety reasons. Inspector Sullivan said: 'If kids play in the park at night we will not go in. It is not our job to get kids out of the park.'

‘The place has no lighting and it is still, in effect, a building site,’ Inspector Andy Sullivan told a meeting of Wisbech Town Council. ‘I am not going to put my staff - police officers or PCSOs - into an area where they can’t see what is going on.’

Speaking after the full council meeting on Monday, he added: ‘If kids play in the park at night we will not go in. It is not our job to get kids out of the park. ‘If it was any other building site, would people be happy if police tried to get people out?’

Critics of the policy pointed out the £1million park, which opened last year, was not a ‘building site’ as children were already allowed to play there during the day. Only minor work remains to be done.

And they complained the inspector’s announcement that the park was too dangerous for officers would mean a free-for-all for the dozens of children that sometimes converge there, causing noise and thousands of pounds worth of damage on a regular basis.

Town councillor Richard Fulcher said: ‘I and many other councillors were disgusted with his comments. ‘What on earth sort of society have we got where police officers refuse to go anywhere after 8pm? ‘What Inspector Sullivan has done is to declare this part of Wisbech a no-go area because of poor lighting.’

Another councillor, David Patrick, said: ‘I had to ask for confirmation from the inspector to ensure I had heard it right the first time. ‘He said police officers wouldn’t go into the park because it was dark. Don’t they carry torches?’

The park has traditional play equipment such as swings and climbing frames, as well as a 35ft tower with a slide and two 65ft barges that were hauled in and converted into a classroom and toilets.

But homeowners in the area - many of whom are old or disabled - complain it has become a magnet for young thugs and have reported dozens of incidents of anti-social behaviour. They have also found evidence of alcohol and drug use.

Residents say their homes and cars have been vandalised, leaving them scared to go out at night. Retired businessman Malcolm Moss, 58, said: ‘Sometimes there are three or four of them, on occasions it ends up being 20 or 30. ‘The barges were practically wrecked from the outset as all the windows were smashed in and fire extinguishers were set off. The fire brigade have been involved quite a few times. ‘Stones have been thrown and on top of all that, there has been an increase in noise, with people shouting and screaming. ‘There is quite an aged population around this field and people are fearful of going out at night.

‘The police are meant to keep the peace but in their opinion if kids are creating havoc in this area it’s not happening somewhere else, so they just let them get on with it.’

A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman insisted the play park was ‘effectively a building site’ and said it currently has a council-appointed security guard. He added: ‘During the evenings there is no lighting so it is effectively pitch black.

‘It is not a police officer’s job to ensure the area is kept clear. However, if a crime is committed or there is a risk to life, officers would take appropriate action.’


Great idea! British victims get power to sue police if they fail to tackle yobs

Police forces which fail to protect victims of anti-social behaviour could face being sued for compensation. Government proposals will give members of the public the power to launch legal action if it can be proved that officers or other public bodies have let them down.

The move, to be unveiled next month by Home Secretary Theresa May, was drawn up following the shocking case of Fiona Pilkington, the mother who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca in 2007 after being hounded by yobs outside their home in Leicestershire.

Under the plans, people who claim that they have not been given adequate protection from gangs or nuisance neighbours will be able to complain to newly-elected police crime commissioners.

The Government last year introduced plans for the US-style directly-elected officials, who will have the power to appoint and dismiss Chief Constables. The commissioners will answer to a new Police and Crime Panel comprising council chiefs and members of the public.

If a complaint is upheld, victims will be entitled to a pay-out. Under the reforms police will have a ‘duty’ to investigate any report of anti-social behaviour, however seemingly petty, as long as at least five separate households have complained about the same issue.

They could also face action if they fail to investigate any anti-social behaviour that has been reported a minimum of three times.

It is not clear at this stage how the cases would be funded and from what budgets any compensation would be paid. The Government believes that the moves will end the uncertainty about who is responsible for dealing with the blight of nuisance gangs.

An inquest into the death of Mrs Pilkington and her daughter heard that her local council and Leicestershire Police had failed to save vital information about the family, including their disabilities and the abuse they were receiving.

Last year a report by police watchdog HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found that police officers did not turn up to 23 per cent of anti-social behaviour complaints.

The new Police and Social Responsibility Bill will include measures that will allow neighbourhoods to act collectively to deal with anti-social behaviour, with the safeguard of ‘redress’ through the civil courts if their pleas are not acted upon.

As part of the new proposals, there will be a more detailed Government and police website that will show where crimes have been reported and committed in each neighbourhood so that members of the public can see the movement of crime in their area.

This would involve having access to up-to-date incidents that have been reported by the neighbourhood.

A source said last night: ‘The idea of these reforms is to be seen to give the power back to the victims of crime, especially anti-social behaviour. The public have lost faith in the authorities in the way they have dealt with anti-social behaviour. It has spiralled out of control.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The current tools and powers for dealing with anti-social behaviour are too bureaucratic and don’t work effectively. We will soon be consulting on new proposals to tackle it.’


Think it was right to sack a "sexist" commentator? See how you feel when the Thought Police come for you

By Peter Hitchens

I hate professional football and everything about it. I would leave a railway carriage if Andy Gray or Richard Keys got into it, rather than listen to their crude, uninteresting conversation about this extraordinarily dull game, with its bad acting, pointless spite, tribal rage, drunken violence, sticky sentimentality and incessant unapologetic cheating. What’s more I don’t understand the offside rule and I don’t care.

No doubt Mr Gray would regard me as little better than a girl. I have changed nappies and been present at the births of my children. I have even endured the breathing exercises beforehand. I have (sometimes) even laughed at Miranda Hart.

But Mr Gray and Mr Keys should not have been sacked, or disciplined in any way. And those who joined in the stampede of rage against them are dangerous, intolerant totalitarians, helping the growth of the Thought Police in our midst.

Many of those who sang in this sanctimonious chorus are the sort who often complain in pubs about ‘political correctness gone mad’. But when it comes to it, they cravenly take part in the madness.

Remember this. The things they said were not intended for broadcast and they were not transmitted. They were private conversations. I don’t care that those conversations were leaked. Any remotely public figure has to assume this will happen nowadays. But if Mr Gray and Mr Keys didn’t intend their remarks to be broadcast, they shouldn’t be judged professionally as if they had intended it.

It is quite simply unjust to condemn a man for having his private conversation transmitted to the world by someone else.

But that’s not all. Had these remarks been intentionally broadcast, would it really have been so bad? Are these opinions and attitudes so wicked that people should be deprived of their jobs for holding them? Are female football officials such feeble things that they have never heard men claim they can’t understand the game, and need smelling salts when it is said?

Surely, if the sexes are equal, this sort of blushing, swooning, maiden-aunt stuff is as obsolete as denying votes to women. If we are so set against coarseness, then most fashionable comedians should be sacked too. They rely almost entirely on the f-word, on shocking the gentle and on sexual grossness. But they all carry on unsacked, presumably because they mix their crudity with a dollop of political correctness and anti-Thatcherism. So that’s not good enough as an argument.

Women are allowed to be crudely dismissive of men, so explicit banter of this kind isn’t the problem either.

As for Charlotte Jackson and the microphone ‘joke’, are we really expected to believe that a physically tough, professional modern woman who used to pose for ‘Lads’ Magazines’ will be seriously upset by this pathetic, dirty-old-man humour?

Subject the episode to any sort of cool analysis, and it’s just part of our national comedy, an entertaining but unimportant moment. Or it would have been, except that two men lost their jobs over it. And if they can lose their jobs because of private remarks, then so can anyone else. Did you want that? Is any society free where such things happen?


Where Calvin meets Mao

A Clown with a Knife from AltRightTV on Vimeo.

In this interview with Craig Bodeker, AltRight contributing editor Derek Turner provides what may be the most concise yet penetrating explanation of the origins and nature of political correctness I have yet to encounter. The full video is available on the website of the National Policy Institute.

Critics of PC have advanced several theses regarding its origins. Paul Gottfried has suggested that it is largely an outgrowth of left-wing American Christianity. Bill Lind considers it be a form of “cultural Marxism” derived from an inversion of orthodox Marxism advanced by the Frankfurt School. David Heleniak has an interesting thesis suggesting that PC is largely a derivative of the Christian doctrine of original sin that subsequently took on a secular form through the influence of the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Still others regard PC as good old fashioned Communism wearing a different set of clothes. My own efforts to investigate the historical development of PC (which I prefer to call “totalitarian humanism”) have led me to a position that is something of a synthesis of these narratives.

Derek points out that political correctness has become the most deeply entrenched in historically Protestant countries, primarily the nations of Scandinavia and the Anglosphere. Presumably, this can be explained as a manifestation of the sense of Calvinist guilt that has been woven into the cultural fabric and historical memories of Protestant societies. That colonial American Puritanism was a rather extreme manifestation of the Calvinist ethos, and that American left-wing Christianity came about largely as an eclipsing successor of orthodox Calvinism in the American northeast, may help to explain why PC first took root in America and exported itself throughout the Western world the way that it did.

If indeed Rousseau’s philosophy provided a secular transformation of the notion of original sin, then it is not improbable that such thinking would take root in a cultural milieu where orthodox Calvinism had once been virulent, but was in the process of shedding that history while retaining some of its residual influences, which would have been the case with northeastern American Protestantism during the developmental periods of this country.

It should not be surprising then that the Frankfurt School found a home for itself in northeastern American universities following its exile from Nazi Germany (and after an ironic stay in Geneva, the city most closely associated with the legacy of Calvin!). Some of the iconic figures of the New Left, such as Angela Davis and Abbie Hoffman, were personally students of the Frankfurt School’s most extreme left-wing advocate, Herbert Marcuse, and it is another irony that just as Marcuse eventually settled in California, it was at West Coast universities such as Berkeley that the leftist student rebellions of the 1960s began to emerge before spreading throughout the West and even elsewhere.

As for the relationship between orthodox Communism and PC, in my efforts to trace the origins of the term, I have encountered phrases such as “correct politics” or “correct political line,” and references to persons being shunned or dismissed from organizations for “incorrect politics” in old radical literature from the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly among Weather Underground-influenced groups or the most extreme offshoots of the “black power” movement. The Maoist influence on these groups is well-known, as is the fascination of some of the more extreme New Left radicals of the era with the Chinese Cultural Revolution. PC in many ways resembles a Maoist self-criticism session, so there is likely a connection there.

I actually grew up in part as a Calvinist fundamentalist myself during the 1970s. My family were adherents of old-style orthodox Calvinism of the kind represented by theologians like J. Gresham Machen and Cornelius Van Til, and for a time we were involved with a church associated with the theocratic “Christian reconstructionist” movement of R.J. Rushdoony and Gary North. All of my education up through and including my sophomore year of high school was done at a fundamentalist academy that adhered to dispensational Christian Zionism (think of Bob Jones University and you will get an idea what the atmosphere there was like).

During the late 1980s and early 1990s I was a left-wing Chomskyite and it was during this time that I first began to personally encounter PC. Observing the psychology of PC and its behavioral manifestations up close and in an unadulterated form gave me a sense of déjà vu: “Where I have seen this kind of thing before?” Having long since abandoned my previous Christianity by that time, I came to realize that PC essentially amounts to Christian fundamentalism without a Christ (perhaps this explains the Left’s habit of elevating perceived progressive saints such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the status of Christ-like semi-divine figures).

Whatever the true historical trajectory of PC may be, its obscurantist and totalitarian nature is obvious enough. It is ironic that eccentric religious subcultures such as the ones I came from are demonized by the anointed as dangerous theocratic fascists about to carry out an Taliban-like coup any minute now (a view that wildly exaggerates the influence and degree of extremism of such subcultures), while a form of obscurantist totalitarianism that has actually has the support of elites, intellectuals, academics, journalists, and others of genuine influence continues to entrench itself in Western cultural and political institutions.

SOURCE. (See the original for links)


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


30 January, 2011

I've never seen anything so wet in all my life': British judge slams 'soft' sentencing options that prevented him jailing burglar

A judge has hit out after sentencing guidelines prevented him from sending a burglar to prison. Julian Lambert lambasted the justice system as ‘soft’ after he was forced to hand burglar Daniel Rogers, 25, a community sentence.

He said: ‘I’ve never seen anything so wet in all my life – 80 hours’ community work for burgling someone’s house. ‘I very much regret sentencing guidelines which say I should not send you straight to prison. ‘We live in soft times.’

His comments highlight the frustration felt by many judges over restrictions placed on their powers.

The Guideline Judgments Case Compendium sets out clear sentencing guidelines for judges and magistrates. It states that cases of burglary with minimal loss and damage and a low impact on the victim should be dealt with by a community sentence. A burglary with some higher culpability on the part of the offender or having a greater impact on the victim should usually involve a custodial sentence of between nine and 18 months, though the term can be longer.

Burglaries with serious culpability or impact have a starting point of two years’ imprisonment, and the maximum sentence for domestic burglary is 14 years. A judge must also take into account any mitigating factors and aggravating factors such as when the burglary was and whether the occupier was at home. A plea of guilty or not guilty is also a factor.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Rogers broke into a house in the city last year and began looking for valuable items. Owner Ross Campbell discovered Rogers as he rifled through his living room and the burglar snatched computer gear, a wallet and DVDs before running out of the house.

Rogers, who lives in Southmead, Bristol, pleaded guilty to burglary after police tracked him down through a fingerprint left on a games controller.

Jonathan Stanniland, prosecuting, said Mr Campbell heard noises coming from downstairs and found a hooded man in his living room. He said: ‘He chased the man out of the rear door. ‘The man went into the back garden and scaled a fence to next door.’ He added that Mr Campbell had suffered from anxiety after the break-in and feared that he may have been targeted because he and Rogers had three friends in common on Facebook.

Judge Lambert said he despaired of current sentencing guidelines when he was handed a report advising him not to send him to prison. But judges are bound to take in mitigating factors – such as Rogers’s early guilty plea – when it comes to sentencing. It was recommended that he sentence Rogers to just 80 hours’ community work.

But the judge gave him 240 hours, a six-month curfew between 9pm to 6am, a 12-month ban from licensed premises and 18 months of supervision. He told Rogers: ‘You’ve got the lot. It may be easier for you to do the time.’

James Haskell, defending, said his client could do community service and said a curfew would prevent Rogers from going out drinking, which he had used as a ‘coping mechanism’ previously.

Last night the judge’s comments drew support from Sue Lloyd, of Victim Support. She said: ‘Victims often feel let down by the criminal justice system and the complexities of sentencing decisions. ‘Burglary can have a serious impact on a victim, not only because of the theft and damage involved but also the sense of invasion of what should be a safe, private place.’

The Avon and Somerset Probation Service said any probation report supplied to a judge before sentencing was for guidance only. A spokesman said: ‘The pre-sentence report is purely to provide information and act as a guide for the judge.’


Some most embarrassing Wikileaks

To the horror of a European political intelligentsia which has been steadfast to the point of fanatical in its opposition to Israeli “settlements” in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership itself, we now know, has long accepted that the vast majority of Israeli settlements can be considered legitimate and would become part of Israel under any reasonable peace agreement.

This is utterly devastating since it simultaneously shows that everyone from the British Foreign Office and the BBC to the European Commission and the continent’s passionately anti-Israeli NGO community have been adopting a position which was significantly more uncompromising on “settlements” than the Palestinian leadership itself, and also that that same Palestinian leadership had accepted that the so called 1967 “borders” — the gold standard for practically every anti-Israeli polemic around — are irrelevant to the prospects of a lasting peace.

In one of its most resentful leader columns for years, the Guardian was nothing short of apoplectic: not so much with Israel, but with a Palestinian leadership which has effectively blown the credibility of the Guardian’s very own mantras on the MidEast straight out of the water. The Palestinian leadership, the paper declaimed, had been shown to be “weak” and “craven”. Their concessions amounted to “surrender of land Palestinians have lived on for centuries”. And, in words that look alarmingly close to the position adopted by Hamas, “The Palestinian Authority may continue as an employer but, as of today, its legitimacy as negotiators will have all but ended on the Palestinian street.” This is sheer spite.

The Palestinian leadership accepts what any reasonable person has been able to accept for decades. The Guardian then slams them as surrender monkeys. The Guardian newspaper is more hardline against Israel than the Palestinian leadership itself. And bear in mind, as you mull over the implications of that stark and unyielding state of affairs, that the Palestinian Authority is led by Mahmoud Abbas, who is a Holocaust denier.

But it gets worse. The only conceivable way out of this for the anti-Israel community is to turn this all upside down and argue — as analysts, reporters (anyone they can get their hands on) have been doing on the BBC all day — that what this really shows is the extent of Israeli “intransigence”: the Palestinians offer all these concessions, and still the Israelis say no! This was the line adopted by Paul Danahar, the BBC’s MidEast bureau chief, who quite casually averred that, “The Israelis look churlish for turning down major concessions”. Good thing no-one’s taking sides then.

Tragicomically, it just won’t wash. Privately and morally, senior Palestinians can see that there is nothing illegitimate or even especially problematic about most of the “settlements”, (as reasonable observers of the MidEast have been saying for years). This we know from the leaks themselves. But publicly and politically they cannot sell such concessions to their own people. This we know because they are currently trying to distance themselves from the leaks, and because they educate their own people in an implacable rejectionism which extends to the “moderate” Palestinian authority glorifying suicide bombers and other terrorists by naming streets and squares after them.

Logically and reasonably, the Israeli response is to see such “concessions” for what they are: well intentioned in so far as they go, but impossible to implement in practice. Quite apart from the question of Hamas-run Gaza, the Palestinians have been playing the same old game of saying one thing to one audience and something else to another. They are not a credible partner for peace, and the Israelis do not look remotely “churlish” for understanding this.

It will be interesting to see how this whole affair now plays out. But never again can the anti-Israel community play the settlement card and at the same time retain a single ounce of credibility.


Australia: Wrapped in the flag and loving it

Sally Neighbour makes observations below that are similar to the ones I made briefly on Australia day. Note that I was able to explain what she cannot

NOT usually one for patriotic musings, at lunchtime on Wednesday I nonetheless found myself pondering the meaning of Australia Day and how this once second-rate public holiday became the source of such riotous celebration across the land.

At the time I was floating on a giant inflatable plastic thong, clinging to a rope tethered between buoys beyond the breakers at Bondi Beach.

For the record, it wasn't my idea. But there we were, bobbing on the ocean, me and 2067 other patsies, all set to make a world record for the number of people gullible enough to queue for 45 minutes and - get this - pay $30 to promote a foreign brand of rubber thong. The marketing genius who thought that up surely deserves an Order of Australia for services to advertising.

As the hoary strains of Men At Work's Down Under drifted predictably across the sea, our mooring provided a novel vantage point of Bondi Beach, now crowded with tens of thousands of bodies, outnumbered only by Australian flags - on bikinis, board shorts, towels, hats, umbrellas, beach shelters, painted faces and fake tattoos.

I wondered: how had it come to this? How had I been roped into such a commercial stunt? (In short, because my in-principle objections sounded lame in the face of my 11-year-old's protestation: "but it'll be fun". And damn it, it was.) More to the point, when and why had Australians embraced with such gusto an event that, not long ago, was regarded as just an excuse for a day off?

In the 1970s and 80s, having a holiday to commemorate the arrival of the first boats of white settlers was widely regarded - at least among my generation - as passe, an anachronistic nod to a history we weren't sure whether to be proud of or not.

As for the Australian flag, it was seen by many as an irrelevant relic of our colonial past, doomed for the scrapheap come the republic.

We would no sooner have draped ourselves in such a frumpy ensign than donned our grandma's bowling whites and headed for the local green.

For some, a vague discomfort with Australia's national symbols was only sharpened in recent years by the spectre of Pauline Hanson wrapped in the flag and its use as a symbol of ugly jingoism at Cronulla in 2005. "The cloak of racism," one friend calls it.

But such reservations have little traction among generations X and Y. Ambivalence has given way to unabashed pride in all things Australian, not least the flag.

They turn up to the Big Day Out with it tattooed on their skin. The same young Australians flock to Gallipoli each year to mark Anzac Day, and trek in their thousands along the Kokoda Track.

Just why this is so is a question that intrigues social researcher Rebecca Huntley, director of the survey-based market research firm, Ipsos. She has commissioned a study beginning this year called "being Australian", which will examine, among other things, the patriotism of gens X and Y.

Ipsos research thus far shows the things people most typically associate with being Australian are time-honoured values such as the "great Australian dream" of owning their own home, the idea of having a "laid-back" lifestyle, which Huntley says is "a core part of being Australian", and the knowledge that people will pull together in a time of need such as the recent floods. The surging affinity with nationalistic symbols is a more recent trend, most markedly in the past three years.

Huntley is reluctant to jump to conclusions about why young Australians are clearly more comfortable with the flag than the generation before them.

Maybe the young revellers simply realise how fortunate they are. It's hard to know when all you can get out of them is, "Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie, Oi Oi Oi!" It was left to a jubilant newcomer at a citizenship ceremony in Sydney to articulate why being Australian was something to be immensely grateful for. "The opportunity to find jobs here is much better and it's much safer. I do think that Australians who haven't travelled and seen how the rest of the world lives take the freedom here for granted."


Standing Up to the PC Bullies

Professor Robert Engler has taught sociology at Chicago’s Roosevelt University for 12 years. Like many professors, he occasional tells a joke, but in this instance, mirth cost him his job, probably his career plus thousands in legal fees. Here’s the joke:

A group of sociologists did a poll in Arizona about the new immigration law. Sixty percent said they were in favor, and 40 percent said, 'No hablo English.'"

The gag may not be a side-splitter, but it hardly insults Hispanics. Nevertheless, in the spring of 2010 it elicited two written complaints as ethnically offensive, and as a result, he was fired and his course, “City and Citizenship” (a graduation requirement) was discontinued. In fact, his department refused to put the “harassment” charge in writing and Engler only discovered the accusation in the student newspaper.

And why was this lame joke so harmful? Cristina Solis justified her complaint with "If that is what it took to give him a reality check, and to make sure that no other student has to go through that, maybe it's for the best." She also claimed that Engler’s joke was inappropriate for "a school like Roosevelt University, which is based on social justice."

This mountain-out-of-a-mole hill strategy is hardly unique--a free speech organization FIRE encounters dozens per year. Important lessons are to be learned from this seemingly minor Politically Correct outrage.

First, American education has produced an entire generation that is hyper-sensitive to any affront, real or imagined, who collect grievances as some hobbyists collect postage stamps. Indeed, victimhood seems hard wired into their DNA so an insult-free environment, regardless of millions spent for sensitivity training, let alone accommodations, is beyond reach. Further add quick-to-demonstrate groups whose raison d’être (and funding) depends on quick-trigger mobilizations of angry followers.

Second, it is impossible to anticipate what might stir the pot. Unlike Pakistan, our blasphemy laws are unwritten, even unknowable in advance. The eminent Harvard historian Stephen Thernstrom was brought up on charges that he offended black students when he said “slave” instead of “enslaved person” since, it was claimed, “slave” de-humanized those in bondage. When the Dean took the student’s side, he decided not to teach the course in the future.

Third, the aggrieved party is judge and jury. Professor Engler could not request that an impartial panel of humor experts to assess the joke’s hurtfulness. After all, the only admissible credential for this expertise is one’s racial or ethnic identify, and who can challenge that? So, if a black accuses a white of racism, trial over.

Fourth, emotional harm trumps scientific truth. The truth may set you free but it will not win back your job. When co-discoverer of the structure of DNA and Nobel laureate James Watson characterized sub-Saharan Africans as having lower IQ’s than whites, he was pushed out as chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (see here). Nor did he regain his job when he backtracked with” there is no scientific basis for such a belief” (actually ample but not all scientific data support Watson’s initial statement. For confirming data, see here).

Fifth, once stigmatized as “offensive” there is no redemption. Dog killers get a better deal. Profusely apologizing, adding endless qualifiers, claiming that one’s offensive remarks were misinterpreted or taken out of context do not bring absolutions. And it only takes a tiny handful of incidents to kill public discussion. Larry Summers will probably go down in history not for his stellar academic record but as the Harvard Dean who famously hinted that biology might explain why women do not occupy top scientific position. Anybody want to re-open the debate?

Finally, and perhaps most depressing, those deemed guilty of “offensiveness” will seldom receive any public backing, regardless of the charge’s ridiculousness, its scientific accuracy or one’s expertise. Even the accuser’s outright scurrilous lies will not draw public rebuke. The heretic is on his own though trusted friends may privately provide succor. Nor is the First Amendment relevant—this only protects you from government action, not enraged private citizens. Perhaps the only exception has been Juan Williams who got a $2 million dollar contract from Fox News after admitting that airline passengers in Muslim garb made him nervous. I suspect that ordinary passengers uttering those “hateful” words would receive extra airport security.

What can be done? In the short run, not much—the offended cannot be mollified. Prosecuting heretics is undoubtedly just human nature; only the subject changes—religious dissenters in medieval times, those who link violence to Islam today.

But, there is some good news—orthodoxies bringing dangerous willful blindness are not forever. In Victorian times even mentioning venereal disease was taboo; today schools may be legally required to explain it to youngsters.

The path to success begins by overcoming the accused heretic’s isolation. PC types are typically bullies quickly emboldened when they can attack timid, isolated enemies, one at a time. Perhaps Roosevelt University faculty and students should have organized an ethnic humor night with stand-up comics telling Hispanic, Jewish, Black and Polish jokes? Bring in Jackie Mason or Chris Rock. Give Professor Engler an open mike and a coach to polish his delivery.

More important, don’t surrender to those using “being offended” as the ticket to success. Appeasement only brings a bigger bill next time around. How many times have we seen an “offensive” incident eliciting demonstrations demanding hiring more minority faculty, extra sensitive training, a new publicly funded cultural center and similar accommodations to, allegedly, heal the wounds? In fact, these pay-offs often encourages hoaxes.

Finally, when all is said and done, there is no substitute for invoking truth or at least an argument that is likely to be true. The truth often hurts, it can be offensive and lowers self-esteem, but public debate built on soothing lies invites disaster.

Consider what might now happen at Roosevelt University. Other professors teaching potentially controversial subjects will cleanse any “insulting” references to Hispanics or other easy-to-anger groups. Topics like crime, teenage pregnancy and welfare dependency will vanish lest a slip of the tongue, even the wrong facial expression, brings charges of harassment. Prudent faculty might also revert to plain vanilla boring lectures and award sensitive students “A’s” as an insurance policy. Other might just pander to these groups to play it safe. Classes will grow duller, less spontaneous and Hispanic students, among other thin-skinned students, will receive an incomplete, watered down but flattering education filled soothing lies. And they will never know it and so graduates will have feasted on a diet of lies and omissions. So much for Roosevelt University’s commitment to social justice.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


29 January, 2011

What does it take? British criminal gets 578th conviction but has never been sent to prison

A man with a 50-year record of crime has been spared jail despite being found guilty of his 578th offence. The case led an MP yesterday to describe the criminal justice system as a ‘joke’.

The serial offender is one of thousands given community sentences every year for crimes including violence and sex attacks, despite having been convicted or cautioned more than 50 times before. The number in this category has increased by a quarter in a year.

The appalling statistics are seen as proof that the justice system is failing to tackle career criminals who repeatedly avoid being locked away.

Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt revealed the case of the man with 578 offences in response to a parliamentary question by Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley. He refused to give any details about the offender or his crimes.

Mr Davies said: ‘This shows that the criminal justice system has become a joke. ‘Even Crispin Blunt has said that prison should be there not just for serious offenders, but for persistent offenders as well. ‘Surely when someone has committed so many crimes, somebody somewhere should say this man is a serious offender? ‘Whatever he has done, this man is surely a menace to the community and it beggars belief that he can commit 578 crimes and still not be sent to prison.

‘And of course, these are only crimes that are detected. ‘We are probably talking of thousands of crimes here. It shows that, despite what (Justice Secretary) Ken Clarke would have us believe, we have too few people in prison, not too many.’

David Green, of the think-tank Civitas, said: ‘I have long argued that career criminals should be jailed for a long period, because they have no respect for the rights and obligations of normal life. ‘We all accept that prison should not be something we resort to too quickly. ‘We would all like to be given a second chance if we do something stupid – it’s the 578th chance I have a problem with.’


Muslims charged over 'gay excution leaflet' in first British 'sexual hatred' case

Two men are due to appear in court charged with stirring up hatred due to sexual orientation in the first such case in Britain. Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, are to appear before magistrates in Derby accused of handing out leaflets calling for homosexuals to be executed. It is the first prosecution since laws outlawing homophobia came into force last March.

The pair were yesterday charged with distributing the leaflet, titled “The Death Penalty?”, outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July last year. They are also accused of placing the leaflets through local letterboxes during the same month, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

The pair, who were arrested after a tip-off from the public, have been charged with distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

They face a maximum sentence of seven years’ jail and and/or an unlimited fine if convicted at a crown court. No other details of the offences were released.

"We have... authorised Derbyshire Police to charge Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, with one count each of distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation," said CPS lawyer Sue Hemming. "The charges relate to the distribution of a leaflet, 'The Death Penalty?', outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July 2010 and through letterboxes during the same month.

"This is the first ever prosecution for this offence and it is the result of close working between the Crown Prosecution Service and Derbyshire Police." “Following complaints from the public, Derbyshire Police mounted a thorough investigation.”

She added: “We have carefully reviewed the evidence provided by the police and are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge these men.”

The Public Order Act 1986 was amended by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.


Fury over Lauda call for ban on gay TV dancers

AUSTRIAN gay groups have demanded an apology from the former racing driver Niki Lauda after he made disparaging remarks about the pairing of a gay celebrity with a male dancer on a television dance program.

Alfons Haider, a 53-year-old television presenter from Vienna, is set to waltz with another man in the forthcoming series of Dancing Stars on the state-owned ORF channel.

Mr Lauda, 61, the three-times world formula one champion, told the Austrian daily Oesterreich he did not want to have to explain to his children why two men were dancing together on prime-time TV. "There are some good traditions in our culture, one of which is that men dance with women," he said. "Soon we will reach the stage where we will all have to publicly apologise for being heterosexual."

The German tabloid Bild asked Mr Lauda if it was really so bad for two men to dance together. "No," he said. "As long as they do it at home and not on TV, when children are watching."

He insisted he was not homophobic and that he would not mind at all if his son was gay. He employed "loads" of gay people on his airline, Niki, "even as instructors", he added.

Christian Hogl, the chairman of the Vienna gay rights group HOSI, said: "We are really shocked and very surprised that Mr Lauda harbours such prejudice against homosexuals to make such an unjustified attack." The group has invited Mr Lauda to the city's Rainbow Ball next month to educate him about homosexuality.

Dancing Stars is due to start in March, but Mr Lauda said: "I demand that the general director [of ORF], Alex Wrabetz, who is in an upright marriage, stops this gay dance number." Mr Wrabetz said: "I don't chose Mr Lauda's pilots and he doesn't choose our dancers."


The psychopathology of anti-Israel discourse

Some belief systems, as Jared Loughner demonstrated, are beyond politics and logic. Everyone seems to agree that Loughner, who went on a shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona, wounding Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killing bystanders, was an unfortunate schizophrenic suffering from incoherent ideation. But what if there was a whole Loughnerism movement? What if they taught this sort of thinking at universities, and it was believed by respectable people?

On what must have been a pleasant autumn evening, a group of moderately educated young people met and discussed favorably the following propositions:

* The Red Cross is a bad organization because it is neutral. Neutral organizations are bad.

* The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a sexist document.

* The Middle East peace process is bad for the Arab Palestinians.

* Foreign aid is bad for the Palestinians.

* The sure path to liberation of the Catholic Philippines and gay people is to join the cause of Muslim extremism and wipe out Jewish self- determination. Only Zionism stands in the way of liberation of these oppressed peoples.

* Bad people are always white and probably Zionist. Good people are colored and are therefore oppressed.

This meeting did not take place in the closed ward of a mental institution or in Kim Il Sung University in PyongYang, People’s Republic of Korea, but in an American University campus financed by the state of California. The attendees were undergraduates and graduate students, America’s leaders of tomorrow.

The “teach-in” was sponsored by an improbable coalition of Muslims, Filipino Catholics and gay people.

A very broad coalition supports this sort of Loughnerism. Perhaps Loughner’s only misfortune is that he did not focus on “Zionists” – he could have had massive support. The Quakers (“Friends”) of course were (nonviolently) in favor of genocide and the Hamas, against the peace process and the Red Cross.

BAYAN, in case you are wondering, is a Filipino organization, reputedly a communist front, possibly associated with Filipino Muslims.. Evidently, they convinced themselves that Teddy Roosevelt was a Zionist, that the Spanish monarchy was Jewish or Zionist, and that it is the Jews (“Zionists”) (who else?) who are responsible for the current ills of their homeland.

Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jews. If the students meant to give the Jews a different horizon for national liberation, they did not say so. Filipino nationalism and Arab Palestinian are good according to the students, Jewish nationalism is evil, because, one supposes, Jews are supposed to be evil.

They all seemed to agree, as usual, that thrashing the Kikes would save their cause:

… the center of all our work has to be fighting against Zionism –

…. The end goal is the end to Zionism that should be the end goal.

And unless that is the focus and center of your activism and organizing when it comes to Palestine and joint struggle and solidarity then there’s a problem, because that really is the key to ending, or the goal to liberation also of Palestinians is the ending of Zionism…

If you aren’t interested in whacking the Jews, these people don’t want your help.

That was the comparatively coherent part. It unmasks the various sponsors (including the Quakers, who may as well remove their pacifist masks) for what they are. It shows, for any who may have doubted, what the struggle is about: genocide and hate mongering.

Here is a bit more:

Barack Obama to the contrary notwithstanding, the U.S. is “white.” White is bad. The Jews (“Zionists) must be part of the evil plot, right? Where do gay people and Quakers fit in? It doesn’t matter, right? It makes no difference that the young people in this auditorium never saw Hamas leader Ismail Hanniyeh, who is white, or his Jewish Ethiopian victims. Logic is bourgeois, facts are for pedants, right? The important thing is for American students in an American University who never did any useful work and never suffered in any way to rail against white oppression, right? The struggle is the important thing, right?

It is hard to understand why gay people and Filipino activists, possibly communists, would believe that their own cause could somehow be bettered by “ending Zionism” and furthering the advance of radical Islamism - but it seems that they do.

Young people, who have mostly never seen a real live Zionist, never lived in a Muslim country and have little background information about the Philippines or the Middle East, might accept these doctrines as valid. The reasoning behind them is no better or worse than that of Pol Pot or Ulrike Meinhoff or Mao Tse Tung, but those doctrines were after all believed by millions, and they got “results.” Pohl Pot killed three million people in Cambodia. Ulrike Meinhof left a trail of victims and a cult of people who justified her “ideology,” Mao Tse Tung killed about 20 billion in China.

Next to these masters, Jared Loughner, who killed a small number of people in Arizona, was a pathetic failure. It was not his fault. He was not more illogical than the successful ideologists. He didn’t understand how to market his product and make it chic. He did not target “Zionists.” Therefore he was disowned and derided as insane. If Loughner had killed a respectable number of people, and if he had been backed by petrodollar-funded public relations, he would no doubt be written up by Time magazine as an anti-Zionist hero. At the very least, he would be given a column somewhere.

The gathering at Berkeley was a “teach in” in which the young attendees absorbed a way of thinking and a set of doctrines that would otherwise be the subject of psychiatric analysis. When one person thinks this way, he is isolated as a psychopath. When groups of people think this way, they have an “ideology.” It is organized and funded. The “ideology” of the teach-in will not be confined to eccentric student groups. Graduate students grow into professors, journalists and officials. Professors write texts. Officials make policy. Journalists determine how you perceive reality. Today’s student yahoo yelling incoherently about oppression is tomorrow’s authoritative opinion maker and policy maker.

What do these groups and their members have in common? The world is full of Jared Loughners. The do not really have a coherent picture of geography or politics. They hate. They fear. But some are more coherent than others. They can provide a voice, organize a demonstration, get weapons. Groups like these provide a warm home for the Jared Loughners of the world.

The Loughnerization of thought processes about Israel has been going on for years. It did not begin just now in Berkeley. The teach-in in Berkeley may be viewed as a dress rehearsal for the special meeting of the U.N. General Assembly that will be held in September 2011 in New York, to commemorate the Durban “anti-Racism” conference.

The Berkeley Loughnerites and many others will no doubt send delegations as well. If not, they will be there in spirit, right? All the big names in Middle East Loughnerism will probably be there, including Muammar Ghaddafi of Libya and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian Jared Loughner. Think of the possibilities. Imagine if Loughner had an atom bomb instead of a lousy Glock!



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


28 January, 2011

It's very difficult to win against even the most extreme feminists

And it has been very difficult for a long time. The discovery that the Obama Department of Justice takes sides in political cases (by refusing to prosecute non-white violators of voters’ rights, most notably by abandoning the New Black Panthers' voter intimidation case) may be shocking, but it is nothing new.

An appalling prior example of connivance between American prosecutors and Leftist agitators is found in a recently-published book available on Amazon.com "Odd Customers", by Wim de Vriend.

Most of the book consists of humorous human-interest stories about restaurant customers, and reminiscences of World War II. But the longest story in the book describes the siege of de Vriend's business by radical feminist picketers, who were out to destroy his livelihood in revenge for a letter he had published in the local paper.

The local D.A. decided that his tormentors, who were well-connected to the local government, were not at fault; he was. It's all pretty shocking so I have excerpted the relevant chapter here. The book includes some good pictures as well which I have not reproduced --JR.

Calif. University Apologizes for Serving Fried Chicken on MLK Holiday

The fact that the whole world now eats fried chicken -- KFC -- seems overlooked

Note to self: serving soul food in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. is apparently NOT okay… or at least that‘s the lesson I’m taking away from the latest political-correctness kerfuffle going down at the University of California – Irvine.

While many schools have recently come under fire for not serving enough health-conscious options, UC Irvine is getting a lesson in culturally sensitive cuisine. The LA Times reports:
A last-minute decision to serve fried chicken and waffles at a campus dining hall in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. was a regrettable choice and lacked sensitivity, UC Irvine officials acknowledged Wednesday.

The meal was served at Pippin Commons on Jan. 17, the first day of UC Irvine’s 28th annual Martin Luther King Jr. symposium. …

The menu and a sign in the dining hall reading “MLK Holiday Special: Chicken and Waffles” were pulled together at the last minute by a chef and other cafeteria staff members, said UC Irvine spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon.

The culinary choices were made without any university oversight, Lawhon said.

While the university seems to be working to distance itself from the… er, incident… UC Irvine student Ricardo Sparks, a co-chair of the Black Student Union, has filed a formal complaint with the school’s administration.

“It‘s just another in a long line of small events on our campus that aren’t meant to be taken in a certain way, but are at least questionable in their cultural legitimacy,” John Murillo III, director of communications for the Black Student Union, told the Times. “It takes all the radicalism and activism that we tried to do with the symposium and then [the cafeteria] serves chicken and waffles and takes away from all the stuff that we did.”

Officials at the university are agreeing, saying the chicken & waffles menu on MLK day did not show “good taste.” While the menu’s intention was to offer comfort food, Lawhon admitted it “probably wasn’t the most sensitive thing.”

The chef has not been formally reprimanded, but officials with Aramark Corp., the company which runs campus dining services, said they would conduct “cultural sensitivity training” for managers and chefs.

“I understand people have prejudice and ignorance,” Sparks said. “But this is out in the community and nobody is saying anything about it.”


British PM aiming to crack down on £1bn 'sue-the-boss' culture

Workplace law is to be torn up to bring a £1billion a year employment tribunal bonanza to an end. David Cameron and Vince Cable will today trigger a battle with trade union leaders by unveiling plans to make it much harder for workers to claim compensation from their bosses.

The Coalition will argue that unfair dismissal and compensation claims are increasingly being exploited by disgruntled staff and their lawyers. Ministers say it is vital to lift the burden of red tape on business as the private sector is asked to drag Britain out of the economic mire.

Today’s proposals include a fee – expected to be around £500 – to bring a tribunal claim, compulsory mediation before a case can proceed to a tribunal, and an increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from one to two years.

The last move, likely to be the most controversial, would wind the law back to 1999. Before that date, workers had to be employed for two years or more before they could pursue unfair dismissal cases.

Ministers also plan an ‘employers’ charter’ that aims to dispel myths about what an employer can and cannot do to manage their staff reasonably, fairly and lawfully. They are understood to be working on even more radical exemptions from workplace law for the smallest firms, the lifeblood of the economy.

However, judges making employment tribunal rulings will be able to impose new penalties on erring firms, payable to the Exchequer – as well as compensation to victims. This is designed to deter firms from treating staff unlawfully and recoup some of the costs to the state of running tribunals.

Angry union chiefs insisted that changing the law to make it easier for employers to get rid of staff would not improve the performance of firms. But business leaders agreed that urgent action was needed to weed out growing numbers of ‘weak and vexatious’ claims.

Around three out of every five claims now ends with the employer paying off the disgruntled worker simply to save the cost and embarrassment of a full-blown tribunal case. Last year, there were a record 236,000 claims, up 56 per cent in a year and nearly three times the number just five years ago.

The industrial courts grant an estimated £1billion a year in payouts to those who claim they have been wrongly dismissed or suffered discrimination.

The British Chambers of Commerce says it typically costs a firm £8,500 to defend a case at a tribunal, but only £5,400 to settle it by paying off the worker who complained.

Mr Cable said: ‘Disputes in the workplace cost time and money, can affect morale, reduce productivity and hold back businesses. ‘We often hear that knife-edge decisions about whether to hire new staff can be swung by concerns about ending up in an employment tribunal if things don’t work out. Today’s proposals address these concerns and should help give employers more confidence.’

John Cridland, head of the CBI, said: ‘It is in everyone’s interests that disputes are resolved swiftly and fairly. Introducing an element of charging would help weed out weak and vexatious claims, clearing the way for more deserving cases to be heard.’

But TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘While employer groups complain that tribunals are costing them too much, they have lost sight of the fact that if firms treated their staff fairly, few would ever find themselves taken to court.’

The greatest increase in claims has come under EU legislation. Numbers of cases involving the European Working Time Directive - which limits the working week to 48 hours - almost quadrupled last year from 24,000 to 95,200. Numbers of race discrimination claims have gone up by nearly 40 per cent in two years to reach 5,700 last year.


The false rape claims come thick and fast in England

One yesterday, another today

A middle-aged council chief executive told of his nine-month nightmare yesterday after being cleared of rape. Byron Davies, 52, was accused by a married 26-year-old who worked for the same council of having sex with her when she was too drunk to give proper consent.

He insisted she had targeted him in a bar, had behaved in a ‘flirtatious’ manner and had not been that drunk, despite the strong lagers he had bought her.

After being cleared in just over an hour, the £100,000-a-year divorcee said the case should never have been brought and that he was considering legal action over detectives’ ‘lazy’ handling of the investigation.

The trial, which revolved around a one-night-stand at the father of two’s apartment, comes amid debate over whether men accused of rape should be granted anonymity, like their alleged victims.

Mr Davies, who remains suspended from his job as chief executive of Conwy County Borough Council in North Wales, said he was devastated and angry that he had been accused. ‘Obviously I am absolutely delighted and thrilled with the decision that has been reached today,’ he added. He had ‘an element of sympathy’ for his accuser, and said ‘she may require some kind of psychiatric help’.

Mr Davies said he had been eating by himself at a hotel in Conwy after work on March 23 last year when the woman began staring at him then approached him, asking if he was Byron Davies.

A council employee, she had spent the evening drinking with a male friend. Mr Davies admitted he had been flattered by the attention of an attractive woman half his age and bought her at least two lagers. He claimed she had asked for his help in moving to a new job at the council, to which he had replied that he could not help.

He denied she was drunk and said she had repeatedly asked him if he had a room at the hotel. Mr Davies told the jury he had begun to leave for home, but she told him she was ‘always on my own’ so in the end he offered to drive her back to his flat.

He said he had asked her if she wanted to go to bed, even though he had been anxious and nervous about having sex with her. At about six o’clock the following morning, Mr Davies said he got up for work, waking the woman with difficulty. He denied asking her for ‘a quick one’ but offered her a lift home and claimed she said she would rather walk. ‘Not very gentlemanly, it was a one-night stand and I apologise for that,’ he told the court.

But he added: ‘There is no doubt in my mind she targeted me. She knew my name, she sought out my company.’

The prosecution argued that the woman was so drunk that she could not properly consent to sex.

She described herself as ‘happily married’ and said she didn’t remember much about going back to his flat, but said: ‘He kept grabbing me and I told him “I am a married woman, I am not interested”,’ she told police. ‘Why on earth would I want to kiss him? He’s late 40s, early 50s.’ But under cross-examination at Mold Crown Court she was accused of being ‘a wilful person, who lacks judgement, who is impulsive and capable of hurting people if you want to’.

She admitted once cutting her own throat after an argument with her husband but blamed it on a short period of instability.

Judge Niclas Parry told Mr Davies he was discharged with his good character ‘very much intact’.

Last night the council said it had appointed an independent QC to oversee ‘a disciplinary investigation into matters relating to the arrest’. It is understood Mr Davies may be asked to leave his post in return for a substantial pay-off.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


27 January, 2011

Shout at your spouse and risk losing your home: It's just the same as domestic violence, warns British woman judge

Men and women who shout at their partners risk being thrown out of their homes under a sweeping ruling by judges yesterday. Raising your voice at a husband or wife, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, now counts as domestic violence under the landmark Supreme Court judgment. The decision also means that denying money to a partner or criticising them can count as violence and bring down draconian domestic violence penalties from the courts.

The Supreme Court made its decision in the case of a woman who left her husband’s council flat and then demanded a new council home. She said she left because she had suffered domestic violence – even though her husband had never harmed her.

Lady Hale, leading a bench of five justices, said the definition of violence must change so that a range of abusive behaviour now counts in law.

The decision will affect domestic violence and family law which has given the courts powers to throw someone out of their home if their partner accuses them of violent behaviour. Until now violence has always had to mean physical assault.

The judges were hearing the case of Mihret Yemshaw, 35, who said she had been subjected to domestic violence and was entitled to be rehoused under the 1996 Housing Act. Officials in Hounslow, West London, turned her down after hearing that her husband had never hit her nor threatened to do so.

Mrs Yemshaw told them he had shouted in front of their two children, failed to treat her like a human, had not given her housekeeping money, and she was scared he would take the children away from her.

Lady Hale said the meaning of the word ‘violence’ had moved on since Parliament passed the Housing Act. The word ‘is capable of bearing several meanings and applying to many different types of behaviour. These can change and develop over time’. The judge added that ‘it is not for Government and official bodies to interpret the meaning of the words which Parliament has used. That role lies with the courts.’

Lady Hale said that according to the dictionary, violence means physical attack, but can also apply to extreme fervour, passion or fury.

One judge, Lord Brown, said he had a ‘profound doubt’ as to whether the domestic violence provisions were ever intended ‘to extend beyond the limits of physical violence’.

The judgment means that Mrs Yemshaw will now have her case reconsidered by Hounslow. It will also apply to a wide field of legislation, including the 1996 Family Law Act which allows people to be ejected from their homes if their partners complain of domestic violence.

The decision comes at a time of growing concern over the powers of senior judges and their willingness to alter laws made by Parliament.

Family law expert Jill Kirby yesterday drew a comparison between the ruling and the Humpty Dumpty character in Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking-Glass, who said words meant whatever he wanted them to mean. She said: ‘The judiciary are taking the Humpty Dumpty view, and it risks undermining confidence in the legal system.’

Mihret Yemshaw’s husband told the Daily Mail last night he had never been violent towards his wife who, like him, was born in Ethiopia. They married in London ten years ago. Samuel Estifanos, a 40-year-old bus driver, claimed she left the flat where he still lives because she was ‘unhappy’. He added: ‘I never hit her and I never even screamed or swore at her.’


Victory for Christianity: Health worker 'bullied' by British health service over abortion can go back to work

A Christian health worker who faced the sack after giving an NHS colleague a booklet about the potential dangers of abortion has been allowed to return to work. Margaret Forrester, 39, claimed to have been ‘bullied’ and ‘treated like a criminal’ for expressing her religious views, but said yesterday that she has now been offered a better job at the same NHS trust.

Christian campaigners yesterday hailed it as a ‘victory for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech’.

Miss Forrester, a Roman Catholic, claims she was suspended in November last year after she handed the £4 pro-life booklet called Forsaken – published by a charity – to her colleague. It detailed the physical and psychological trauma experienced by five women from Taunton, Somerset, who terminated their pregnancies.

She said she offered it to a family planning worker during a private conversation because she felt the NHS did not give enough information about the potential risks of abortion.

The mental health worker, who has been employed by the NHS for six years, said there was no sign her colleague, with whom she had discussed abortion, was offended by the booklet or by their conversation. But a few days later her manager told her she was being sent home on ‘special leave with full pay’. She was ordered not to see any patients and to stay away from all NHS sites while the trust investigated.

Later, she was told she had not been suspended and could return to work, but claimed she was not allowed to do her normal job. Instead she was put on other duties, which she found ‘bullying and offensive’, adding: ‘I felt physically sickened by their bullying.’ She was eventually signed off on sick leave and has not been back to the health centre since.

Miss Forrester, who worked at the Central and North West London Mental Health Trust, in Camden, attended an internal disciplinary hearing last month where she was accused of ‘distributing materials some people may find offensive’.

Last night a spokesman for the trust said Miss Forrester had been warned not to distribute the ‘offensive’ material or anything similar again, but confirmed she had been offered a new role within the trust.

Miss Forrester said: ‘My employers have not given me any warnings of any kind. They have offered me a new, better role with a wider scope. If at any point they do send me a warning, I will challenge it in court.

‘It was incredible that I was suspended in the first place, just because I expressed a personal opinion. I should be able to express my opinion privately without fear and act freely in good conscience. Today is a victory for freedom of speech. I want to thank all of those who have prayed for me and supported me.’

Andrea Minichiello Williams, a barrister who runs the Christian Legal Centre which supported Miss Forrester, said: ‘The level of intolerance in the public sphere, demonstrated increasingly in public sector employment, is deeply worrying. ‘We hope that today’s decision by the NHS will help to reverse the tide of intolerance. This is a victory for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.’

Claire Murdoch, chief executive of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Miss Forrester’s employer, said: ‘It is clear that the booklet Miss Forrester distributed offers a seriously unbalanced and one-sided view of abortion and that it is offensive to NHS staff.

‘The booklet implies that abortion can lead to alcohol and drug abuse, suicidal thoughts and increased risk of cancer. This could be very worrying and deeply offensive for women who may need an abortion and want balanced, sensible advice. We simply cannot allow NHS staff to distribute material that we know to be seriously unbalanced.’ [So telling them nothing about the downside is "balanced"?]


Yet another false rape claim in Britain

A teenage girl has been convicted of falsely claiming she was raped after having sex with a 14-year-old boy in his bedroom. The teenager claimed she was attacked when she was 15 after the boy ‘nagged’ her to sleep with him during a game of ‘truth or dare’. He was arrested by police and held overnight but denied rape and was freed without charge.

Instead police charged the girl, now 16, with making a false allegation to pervert the course of justice – despite both children being under the age of consent.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denied the charge, but has now been found guilty at Cheltenham Magistrates Court, where the judge branded her a ‘liar’, and remanded on unconditional bail for a pre-sentence report.

Technically, both youngsters were breaking the law by having intercourse under the age of 16 – where a child is 13 or older and consenting, the offence is classed as ‘unlawful sexual intercourse’ – but the boy has not been prosecuted.

Rape campaigners yesterday criticised the decision to charge the girl. Lisa Longstaff, from Women Against Rape, said: ‘It is awful that a girl so young has been prosecuted in this way.’

The case recalls controversial comments four years ago by then Dyfed-Powys chief constable Terry Grange, who said it would not be possible to prosecute all young boys who have sex with young girls. He said in 2006: ‘If you prosecute each and every time a boy has sex with a girl under 16 and above 12, then we’d be in the schools across Britain and in the youth clubs across Britain pretty regularly because, since I’ve been alive, it’s been pretty normal. It’s what teenagers do.’

The girl, from Gloucestershire, claimed that after a game of ‘truth or dare’, which at one point involved her and a female friend lifting their tops, the boy had ‘nagged’ her to have sex with him but she had repeatedly said she did not want to. Then when he asked her three or four times to lie down on the bed, she did so just to shut him up.

She claimed the boy covered them both with duvets, took off some of her clothes, and raped her. She said she ‘froze’ during the incident and though she told him quietly to stop, she did not call out to her friends for help. But the prosecution said the girl’s account of the alleged rape was ‘riddled with lies’.

Julian Kesner, prosecuting, said she had at first said just the two of them were in the bedroom but later admitted that two friends were also there. He added that the day after the alleged attack the girl was spotted holding hands with the boy. Mr Kesner said: ‘When she told her friend she had accused the boy of rape, the other girl, who had been in the room at the time, said, “Oh my God, it wasn’t rape. What have you got yourself into now?”’

On the third and final day of the trial, the girl admitted that she had told lies to police but continued to maintain that she had been raped.

District Judge Joti Bopa Rai concluded that the sex was consensual, saying it was possible the girl had lied because she feared she was pregnant or to ‘cover her tracks’. ‘That lie grew bigger and bigger and bigger,’ she added.

She said she appreciated the defendant was young but said: ‘She knew the consequences of telling lies and getting the boy concerned into trouble. The consequences for him have been horrendous and I believe she meant that to happen.’


Religious persecution by Muslims? Perish the thought!

Religious dialogue is worthwhile endeavor. In particular, Christians and Muslims should engage one another. While miracles are unlikely to result, greater familiarity may reduce unintended misunderstanding and insult. However, any dialogue must be based on truth. Including the pervasive Islamic persecution of Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities.

Unfortunately, truth apparently is not a concern of the Muslim side of one well-publicized engagement process with Catholics. The al-Azhar Islamic Research Council, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, held an emergency meeting and decided to suspend its bi-annual meetings with the Vatican. The reason: "repeatedly insulting remarks issued by the Vatican Pope towards Islam and his statement that Muslims are discriminating against others who live with them in the Middle East."

The Cairo-based Council also criticized Pope Benedict XVI's "unjustified claim that Copts are persecuted in Egypt and the Middle East." Indeed, added the Council, the Pope had "repeatedly addressed Islam negatively." Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar University, further denounced the Pope's "unacceptable interference in Egypt's affairs."

Even before the Council acted, the Egyptian government had attacked the Vatican's "unacceptable interference in its internal affairs" and recalled its ambassador from the Holy See. Ambassador Lamia Aly Mekhemar, who returned to Cairo for "consultation," explained that "We do not share the views that Christians are persecuted in our part of the world." Nor, he added, does his government agree that "some governments in the area have not provided protection for the Christians in the Middle East."

Moreover, Arab leaders gathered for an economic summit in Sharm al-Sheikh expressed "total rejection" of foreign interference regarding Christian minorities in the Middle East.

The Council, Egyptian government, and other Middle Eastern states are angry because the Pope denounced the murder of Christians in Egypt, Iraq, and Nigeria. He spoke of "the urgent need for the governments of the region" to protect religious minorities and urged Christian communities to maintain a nonviolent response to "a strategy of violence that has Christians as a target."

Apparently the al-Azhar Islamic Research Council believes in inter-faith dialogue, but only so long as it does not include the fact that members of one side of that dialogue are busy killing members of the other side. Indeed, pointing to ongoing attacks constitutes "insulting remarks." Moreover, America's Arab allies enjoy cashing big checks from Uncle Sam, but are outraged, simply outraged, that the latter has the temerity to mention the lack of religious liberty in those same nations.

Almost makes you wonder whether adherents of the "religion of peace" think it really is the "religion of peace." Or at least that being the "religion of peace" actually requires believing in, well, "peace."

The reaction of the Council and Arab governments is extraordinarily revealing because Islamic brutality, both discrimination and violence, against Christians is so pervasive. The Pope spoke out after a bombing in Alexandria outside a Coptic Church on New Year's Eve which killed 25 people and injured more than 90 others. Christians continue to be killed in Iraq and Nigeria.

Christian converts risk judicial murder in Afghanistan. Pakistan is threatening to execute a Christian "blasphemer" in Pakistan. Iran recently initiated a campaign against Christians. Even in relatively liberal Muslim states, like Kuwait, where Christians can worship openly, proselytism is forbidden.

Egypt is a particularly apt case since the number of Christians is relatively large, constituting as much as 15 percent of a population of more than 80 million. Violence is common. In mid-November an off-duty police officer boarded a train and opened fire, murdering a 71-year-old Copt and injuring five other Christians. Last November Muslim mobs destroyed a score of homes and shops in Qena Province. Earlier in the year six Copts along with a Muslim guard were killed and another nine Copts wounded in a drive-by shooting in the town of Nag Hammadi.

Kathryn Cameron Porter of the Council for Human Rights observed afterwards: "Copts in Egypt continuously face ongoing discrimination and outright persecution, either by the Egyptian government or through its tacit approval."

Although Cairo routinely discriminates against non-Muslims, it does not directly engage in what we typically think of as persecution. But it does little to prevent private violence. Unfortunately, the effect is basically the same.

There is much to criticize in the policies of Western governments, including of the U.S. But that has nothing to do with an inter-faith dialogue. It certainly has nothing to do with how Christians, Jews, Baha'is, and other religious minorities are, or at least should be, treated in majority Muslim nations.

Moreover, until Muslim governments treat all of their people, irrespective of faith, with respect and dignity, they have no credibility to complain about the treatment of Muslims elsewhere. As Jesus explained, we should take the plank out of our own eye before seeking to pull a speck out of someone else's eye (Matthew 7:3-5). His advice should be widely shared and, more importantly, heeded in Cairo and throughout the Muslim world.

More here


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


26 January, 2011

A falling out between partners in crime

Does Monday's carnage in Russia mean Islamist bombers are indiscriminate and irrational, and pose no special threat to free nations? You might as well ask whom Hitler hated more: Churchill or Stalin?

Should the dozens slaughtered and well over 100 injured by a suicide bomber at Moscow Domodedovo Airport on Monday identify with the American victims of 9/11? Some might say that the many tributes we've heard in the years since al-Qaida attacked the U.S. homeland preclude such a comparison.

On that very day, President George W. Bush began his address to the nation with the assertion that "our way of life — our very freedom — came under attack." He said, "America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world."

Certainly no one can say that about the Russia of Vladimir Putin, the former KGB operative who has done everything in his power to maintain an undemocratic grasp on power and darken his countrymen's opportunities for freedom — including his likely being behind the murder in London four years ago of dissident Russian journalist Alexander Litvinenko, courtesy of a radioactive isotope slipped into his tea.

While history may well record the Litvinenko killing as the first-ever act of nuclear terrorism, Putin's Russia has for years helped Islamofascist Iran achieve nuclear capability, the route to the kind of terrorism that leaves far more than a troublesome writer dead.

Moscow was instrumental in building Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant along the Persian Gulf coast, completed in 2009, and provided nuclear fuel for the facility.

It's no stretch to view the Moscow-Tehran alliance as a 21st-century version of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. There may have been immense differences between Nazism and communism, but both powers were united as enemies of U.S./British-style representative government, economic freedom, and the religious and philosophical values of Western civilization.

"By signing the pact with Germany, the Soviet Union opened the door to war" against Britain and France and "Germany was protected against a major conflict on its eastern front," Russian historians Mikhail Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich write in their Soviet history, "Utopia in Power." The August 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop "non-aggression" treaty was followed a week later by Germany invading Poland.

The leaders of al-Qaida and the mullahs of Iran are similarly united with the reconstructed communist thug Putin as enemies of the West. And just as the Hitler-Stalin Pact did not stop those two bloodthirsty tyrants from ultimately going at each other, a selective Russian-Islamist alliance does not preclude jihadist suicide bombings against Russia — or Moscow's certain reprisals against Islamists.

Consider Russia's stubborn dominance of Chechnya, whose population of more than 1 million is Sunni Muslim. Stalin's 1944 deportation of ethnic Chechens, many to Siberia — officially declared "an act of genocide" by the European Parliament in 2004 — is but one of countless crimes committed against them by Moscow.

A nearly constant state of war has persisted there, and in that Islamists see opportunity. For a new Muslim nation to finally emerge from the ashes of the Soviet Union would be a resounding propaganda victory for jihadists.

It would give the impression that more of the world is coming under Islamic rule — an obvious counterpunch to Iraq going from seemingly permanent Baathist rule under Saddam Hussein to becoming a pro-Western state with freely elected leaders.

It was no neoconservative but President Bill Clinton who, in his 1994 State of the Union address to Congress, said: "Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere; democracies don't attack each other."

Governments and groups who are opposed to political and economic freedoms, on the other hand, do attack each other — even when they work toward common ends in other areas.


Vicious murder by black gang in Britain

A 15-year-old schoolboy was killed in a ‘merciless’ knife attack planned on Facebook, during rush hour at Victoria station, a court has heard. GCSE student Sofyen Belamouadden was ‘hunted down’ by a heavily armed group of 20 teenagers before being stabbed, punched and kicked, jurors were told.

On the day of the attack in March last year two of the defendants were said to have left school at lunchtime to buy a block of knives from Argos, prosecutors said.

Sofyen was killed after tensions between pupils from two west London schools, some of whom saw the station as ‘home territory’, the Old Bailey heard.

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said the attack on the schoolboy took place in ‘broad daylight’ in front of hundreds of commuters in the heart of London. Samuel Roberts, of Camberwell, Obi Nwokeh, of Bermondsey, Enoch Amoah, of Camberwell, and Victoria Osoteku, of Deptford, all aged 18, each deny murder. They have also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and violent disorder. Four 17-year-old youths, two from Streatham, one from Stockwell and one from Brixton, also deny each of the charges.

Details of the trial were able to be published for the first time today after reporting restrictions were lifted.

Sofyen was stabbed nine times, including to the lung and chest. ‘He was given no chance of life,’ said Mr Heywood. ‘So brazen and confident were his killers that they openly carried the various weapons that they used with them as they ran towards him and together hunted him down.

‘Such was their arrogance that they carried out that kind of attack in the heart of the capital city, in a public place, a terminus station at the height of the rush hour, and in sight of scores if not hundreds of people passing by, people going to their own homes.'

Mr Heywood added: ‘They were so heavily armed that no other individual or smaller group or even police officer or member of station staff could withstand them or stop them.’

The attack on the schoolboy, in March last year, was said to have been in revenge for an ‘inconsequential’ skirmish at Victoria the previous day when a boy from a rival school had been left with a bloody nose.

During Facebook chats that evening, some of Sofyen's alleged killers discussed what was to happen the following day, and getting weapons, jurors were told. Later, at the station, witnesses saw youths with weapons including a samurai sword with a blade 20-30cm long (9-12in), a flick knife and a Swiss Army knife, and possibly machetes and screwdrivers.

Police based at Victoria station, aware of the possibility of trouble, had conducted higher visibility patrols the next day, he added.

At lunchtime on the day of the attack, Osoteku went out of school with one of the 17-year-olds to buy a block of five knives for £3.99 from Argos, jurors were told. Later when Sofyen's group was confronted at Victoria and a sword was produced, the victim and his friends turned and fled, the court heard.

Mr Heywood said: ‘They were hopelessly outnumbered. They had already lost the arms race and it was obvious that they had seriously underestimated what they were likely to meet at Victoria that afternoon. ‘They did not expect the kind of weapons and they almost certainly did not expect the level of ferocity.’

One witness described looking up the stairs from the Underground station to see a group of 10 to 15 teenagers pushing someone from the top, said Mr Heywood. ‘The level of aggression was indescribable,’ he added.

Jurors were told that seven of the eight defendants were among those who went down into the District and Circle line ticket hall where the attack took place. Some left the scene on a bus where they were later arrested.

A number of knives, including one found wrapped in a newspaper on the bus, were found to have the victim's blood on it.

Other members of the initial group of 20, including one with the sword, were said to have peeled off before the attack on Sofyen and chased another youth. All have been charged with the same offences but for practical reasons cannot be tried at the same time.


Town hall spies curb as British councils stopped from abusing terror powers to snoop on families over 'bin crimes'

Town halls will be banned from spying on the public over ‘bin crimes’ and school catchment area rules. In a victory for the Daily Mail, Home Secretary Theresa May will say that only offences which carry a jail term should be subject to the intrusive surveillance powers. Even then, councils must first seek the formal approval of a magistrate before they are allowed to make use of the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

It will end the scandal of councils using Big Brother ‘direct surveillance’ tactics against people suspected of the most minor misdemeanours. Spying for dog fouling, leaving out the rubbish on the wrong day and other offences which carry only a fine will no longer be allowed.

The only exception to the rule – which states an offence must carry a sentence of up to six months or more before RIPA can be applied – will be undercover operations for underage sales of alcohol and tobacco.

In reality, it will restrict councils to going after more serious criminals, such as benefit cheats, con-artists and industrial fly tippers. Civil liberties campaigners will view it as an end to the ‘tyranny of the town hall Stasi’.

The announcement, which will be made in a statement to MPs, is part of a string of changes to anti-terrorism laws – which also include the scrapping of abused stop and search powers, and the replacement of the control order regime. It follows revelations by this newspaper about over-zealous officials training hidden cameras and even undercover agents on the law-abiding public. These include spying on people suspected of dropping litter and attempting to cheat school catchment area rules.

Council staff – who have been accused of having James Bond delusions – have been secretly taking photographs and videos. In some cases, cameras have been hidden in tin cans, or inside the homes of the neighbours of their ‘target’. It has provoked public outrage and undermined faith in the RIPA regime, which was passed by Labour in 2000, ostensibly to fight terrorism.

The legislation will remain available to the police and the security services.

The Coalition – expecting a backlash over the decision to retain curfews for terror suspects – will point to the hacking back of RIPA as proof that it is serious about restoring civil liberties.

Labour repeatedly promised to tackle the legislation. In the meantime, town halls and other public bodies have continued to use the law on a massive scale. Notoriously, Poole Borough Council admitted spying on Jenny Paton and her family to find out if they were living in a school catchment area. They were put under surveillance for more than two weeks.

The Coalition’s review of RIPA laws considered a string of options for clamping down on such abuse. Ministers decided it would be best to set up a system of double checks.

Initially, council officials will require a magistrate’s approval to use any of the techniques available under the legislation – which also allows the checking of phone records – to establish a person’s location at a specific time. This requirement is then backed by the rule that surveillance tactics should be confined to cases where the offence under investigation carries a custodial sentence.

Today, it will also be announced that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows police to search people without reasonable suspicion, will be scrapped. Those who have suffered include photographers taking pictures of tourist attractions.


Abortion's awful euphemisms

by Jeff Jacoby

GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACIES and legal panels are not usually known for their vivid writing style. But "vivid" doesn't come close to conveying the driving force of the grand jury report released last week by the Philadelphia district attorney in connection with the Women's Medical Society, a long-established abortion clinic operated by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The report was issued on the same day that Gosnell and nine of his employees were arrested on charges including murder, infanticide, and abuse of a corpse. In 261 pages of shatteringly clear prose, the grand jurors laid out their findings.

The remains of dozens of dead babies were found amid appallingly squalid conditions at this abortion clinic in West Philadelphia.

"This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women," the report begins. "What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy -- and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels -- and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it."

The report goes on to describe a horror-show -- a squalid operation in which hygiene was ignored, equipment was broken, and late-term abortions were routine. Pregnant women coming to Gosnell's clinic were treated with callous disdain, often left for hours to sit, semi-conscious and in pain, on dirty recliners covered with bloodstained blankets. Untrained and unsupervised employees administered powerful drugs to induce labor, and heavy sedatives to keep women from screaming.

Time and again, the grand jury says, late-term babies were delivered alive -- fully intact and breathing -- and then killed. But Gosnell didn't use the word "kill" to describe what he or his employees were doing. "He called it 'ensuring fetal demise.' The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby's neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that 'snipping.' Over the years, there were hundreds of 'snippings.'" The report describes a case in which one of the clinic employees played with a newborn before slitting its neck.

The grand jury report came out just days before the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the endlessly controversial Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in every state. By the usual newsroom calculus, that should have made the ghastly revelations of this "baby charnel house" -- the grand jury's term -- a huge story. But outside of Philadelphia, the story got only muted attention.

Even after the story broke, Philadelphia's local Planned Parenthood chapter could only bring itself to "condemn any physician who does not follow the law or endangers anyone's health," and said women in such cases should "complain to the Department of Health." But the grand jury found that Pennsylvania authorities knew what was happening at Gosnell's abortion mill, yet deliberately looked the other way. In 1993, with the accession of a pro-choice governor, Republican Tom Ridge, the Pennsylvania Department of Health stopped inspecting abortion clinics. "Officials concluded that inspections would be 'putting a barrier up to women' seeking abortions," the report says, and decided "to leave clinics to do as they pleased."

Kermit Gosnell, who ran the Women's Medical Society, an abortion clinic, for decades, has been arrested on multiple charges of murder, infanticide, and abuse of a corpse.

The blunt clarity of the grand jury's findings could not contrast more sharply with the abstract euphemisms preferred by abortion's supporters.

In a statement marking Roe v. Wade's anniversary, President Obama referred not to "abortion," but to "women's health and reproductive freedom" and the importance of keeping government out of "private family matters." Planned Parenthood and NARAL's Blog for Choice celebrated Roe for enshrining "a woman's right to choose." Rarely can those who extoll "choice" bring themselves to acknowledge openly that what is being chosen is death.

Since 1973, Roe has led to the destruction of more than 40 million unborn babies. It has led to a desensitizing debasement of our language as well. Americans have gotten so used to the idea of life in the womb being violently killed in part because they camouflage that killing with feel-good labels like "reproductive freedom" and "choice." So pervasive is the mindset such language sustains that even when an alleged butcher like Gosnell comes along, the champions of "choice" offer only muted criticism.

Abortion is always a violent and awful thing, whether it happens in a squalid cesspit or in an immaculate doctor's office. Reasonable people can debate whether abortion should be legal, and under what circumstances. But they ought to be able to do so without euphemistic evasions. Too many Americans have grown too comfortable with abortion's terrible reality. For that as well, we have Roe to thank.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


25 January, 2011

Feminists are obnoxious bigots and men have a raw deal: British Conservative

Men are increasingly the victims of ‘obnoxious bigotry’ by women and should start ‘burning their briefs’ in protest, according to a rising Tory star.

Dominic Raab, a new MP tipped for high office, said men were getting a ‘raw deal’ from the cradle to the grave following years of anti-discrimination legislation favouring women. He pointed out women in their 20s are now paid more than their male peers, who work longer hours, retire later and die earlier.

Mr Raab, the 37-year-old MP for Esher and Walton in Surrey and a former chief of staff to David Davis, called for an end to what he called feminist bigotry. He said men were blamed by society for the banking crisis, discriminated against by parental leave rules which favour women who want time off and ignored by the courts when relationships break down and they seek custody of their children.

Mr Raab suggested men should rise up against what he called the ‘equality bandwagon’, which has pitted them against women since the 1960s, likening the cause to that of the Suffragettes. ‘Maybe it’s time men started burning their briefs, to put to an end once and for all what Emmeline Pankhurst used to call “the ­double standard of sex morals”, the MP wrote in an article for the politicshome.com website.

Mr Raab welcomed the Government’s plans to make the system of parental leave more flexible, by allowing mothers and fathers to divide up time off evenly. He said that sort of policy was more relevant than Labour’s ‘outdated and obsolete equality and diversity agenda’.

‘Take the gender pay gap. The fascinating thing is just how sexist its champions have become,’ he said. ‘It is almost taboo for a man to question the assertion that the rapidly dwindling pay gap is the result of discrimination, rather than genuine choice,’ he said.

‘Yet, research shows the pay gap has halved since the 1970s. Office for National Statistics data in December showed that, since 1997, the difference between full-time median earnings has fallen from 17 per cent to 10 per cent – and the shrinkage is accelerating. 'According to research for the Institute for Economic Affairs, women in their 20s earn one per cent more than men, single women a shade more.

'Gay men earn more than straight men, lesbian women more than heterosexual women. Does that sound like a society ­riddled with discrimination?

‘Meanwhile, pay is just one of the terms of employment. Men work longer hours, enjoy their jobs less, commute further and are more likely to get the sack.’

Mr Raab said Britain now had some of the toughest anti-discrimination laws in the world, but was ‘blind to some of the most flagrant discrimination – against men’. ‘From the cradle to the grave, men are getting a raw deal. Men work longer hours, die earlier, but retire later than women. That won’t be fixed for another seven years.

You can’t have it both ways – either you believe in equality or you don't'

Mr Raab – whose wife Erika works in marketing for a major IT firm – said there was also more subtle sexism. He said: ‘One Financial Times commentator recently complained that: “High-flying women are programmed to go for high-flying men. Most men aren’t attracted to women who are more successful than they are”. ‘Can you imagine the outrage if such trite generalisations were made about women, or other minorities? Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots.’

But Harriet Harman, Labour deputy leader and former equality minister, said: ‘Women still earn 20 per cent less than men, domestic violence claims the lives of women every week and women bear the brunt of poverty in the developing world.’

Labour MP Kate Green, former chairman of the London Child Poverty Commission, said: ‘This is exactly the kind of attitude that shows the Tories are out of touch.’


260,000 British children growing up in homes where no one has ever worked

More than 260,000 under-16s are growing up in homes where no one has ever worked, according to figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions today. There are another 600,000 between the ages of 16 and 24 who have never worked since leaving school or further education.

Ministers last night described the 860,000 people under the age of 24 stuck in a culture of worklessness as a ‘ticking time bomb’.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling will seek to tackle the benefit dependency today by unveiling plans to dramatically expand the work experience available to the young unemployed. At present young jobseekers are able to take part in two weeks of job-related work experience before losing their benefits. But the coalition will extend that to eight weeks, enabling them to beef up their CVs and enhance their chances of getting a job.

Under the new initiative, young people between 18 and 21 will be matched by Jobcentre Plus with employers looking for people to do work experience. Leading employers like Homebase, Hilton Hotels, McDonalds, De Vere Hotels, Carillion, Coyle Personnel and Punch Taverns are cooperating with the scheme.

Unemployment figures published last week showed the number of people under 25 out of work rise by 32,000 to 951,000 in the three months to November.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has been highly critical of the government’s decision to end the Future Jobs Fund as part of the coalition’s programme of spending cuts.

But Mr Grayling pointed the finger of blame at Labour for creating a generation of young people with no direct experience of working, either for themselves or by watching their parents form the habit of going to work. He said: ‘Today’s figures on children growing up in workless households highlight once again the shocking betrayal of this country’s young people by the last Labour government.

‘Billions were squandered on the New Deal and Future Jobs Fund which too often merely put the young in short term, public sector jobs that were unsustainable. 'Their failure to get young people into work will cost us dear in the long run, as the next generation have to shoulder the burden not only of the enormous debt left by Labour, but also lack the confidence to reach their potential.

‘Our new work experience scheme will give young people the chance to get valuable experience in a business for up to two months, which will make a real difference to their confidence, their employability and their prospects. ‘This government is making the changes that will give young people access to jobs and opportunities that can help them towards a brighter future.’

A recent survey from High Flyers showed that 60 per cent of employers would only take on graduates who had some experience of the workplace, underlining the value employers place in it.

Critics will point out that the work experience scheme will not guarantee anyone a paid job.

But it has won the backing of Hayley Taylor, star of Channel 4’s Fairy Jobmother series. She said: ‘It’s hard to get a job with no experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. That’s why this work experience scheme is a really good idea.’

David Frost of the British Chambers of Commerce said: ‘Employers will be key to getting young people into work. This programme is a way of not only providing quality work experience but also of introducing individuals to the modern world of work.’


Never Mind the Bomb, Beware of Islamofascism

Amil Imani

The National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iran’s bomb project had stirred a great deal of controversy. Some say that there is now reason to abandon the war posturing and start negotiating a live-and-let-live deal with the Mullahs, since they have “abandoned” their quest for the bomb. At least that is what the not-so-reliable report seems to imply. Others, with good reason, remain skeptical of both the validity of the report and the ever-cheating, conniving Mullahs.

This controversy aside, the irrefutable fact is that the Jihadist belief of Islam itself poses existential danger to the world. Beliefs energize and direct actions. Beliefs are as indispensable as the air we breathe. Even an atheist is a believer, with his own system of disbelief. Not believing in anything is mental breakdown. There is something about humans that demands a belief. A belief can be anything or a combination of many things; it can be well-defined and even rigid, or a loosely put together hodge-podge with considerable latitude. It can be magnificent or the most abhorrent. But, it has to be there. Beliefs steer our vehicles in the journey of life.

Forming a religious belief is primarily an emotional undertaking. Therefore, reason must work extremely hard to override the emotion-based belief. Yet, it can be done.

There is nothing inherently wrong with religion. Religion can be a tremendous force for the good. However when religion - this feeling-based belief - is filled with superstition, intolerance and hatred, then the observer of that religion embodies those qualities and becomes a menace to the self and to others. Feelings energize actions. Destructive feelings energize destructive actions.

Muslims living in theocratic states, in particular, are victims of their religious brains. Their religious brains are indoctrinated from the moment of birth by an extensive ruthless in-power cadre of self-serving clergy who are intent on maintaining their stranglehold on the rank and file of the faithful who are their very source of support and livelihood.

The mullahs and imams, as well as parents and others, envelop the receptive mind, feed it their dogma, and shield it from information that may undermine or falsify their version of belief.

Islamofascism is a pandemic fiercely-promoted belief system that enjoys a huge advantage over the competition. Some of the reasons for Islamofascism’s longevity and success are listed below.

* It is a crusading belief. Early on, it forced itself by the sword and as time went on it employed any and all schemes to promote itself while destroying the competition.

* It mandates prolific procreation on the faithful. It allows a man to have as many as four wives concurrently, in part to cater to the lust of the men and in part to produce more children who would, in turn, swell its ranks.

* It gets the first crack at imprinting its dogma on the blank slate of the child’s mind from the very first day of birth. The imprinting is usually deeply engrained and makes it difficult for the person to fully erase it, or replace it altogether. Even when successful, an ex-Muslim, or a “cultural” Muslim retains on his slate some traces of the early imprints. It may take more than one generation to fully erase the Islamic imprints.

* It does not allow anyone the choice of leaving its fold at the penalty of death for apostasy.

* It holds that the earth is Allah’s and no non-Muslim is entitled to the same rights and privileges reserved for its own members. Even the “people of the book,” Jews and Christians, must pay the religious tax of jazyyeh (or jizya) to be allowed a subservient place under the Islamic rule.

* It campaigns ceaselessly at propagating itself by any and all means, while banning other religions from so doing. Islamic proselytizers invade the lands of the unbelievers and work relentlessly to convert others while non-Muslim faiths are even barred from having a place of worship in lands such as the cradle of Islam, Saudi Arabia.

* It is anathema to many of civilized humanity’s values, such as those enshrined in the first amendment of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights.

* It is a caste system where the male believer enjoys valued privileges denied to all minorities, women and slaves. This discriminatory provision guarantees generation after generation of avowed in-power adherents who would shirk at nothing to maintain their privileged status granted to them by Allah.

* It is a powerful carrot-and-stick system of belief. It maintains its stranglehold on its obedient followers by promising them unimaginable compensations, if not in this world, then assuredly in the next, while anyone who strays from the mandated path is threatened with a raft of unending horrid torture from a vengeful Allah.

* The extortion-high oil prices that oil-rich Muslims extract from the addicted and oblivious non-Muslim world fuel the Islamic jihad throughout the world. Muslim kings, emirs and sheiks enjoy opulent life and aim to have it the same in Allah’s next world by funneling a portion of their huge parasitic income to madrassas (religious indoctrinating schools), mosques, storefront recruiting centers and charitable outlets that would enlist and hold masses of choiceless and fanatical believers. By funding these activities in the service of the jihadist Islam, these in-power Muslims believe that they can have it both ways: a material existence of great enjoyment here and an eternal life of hedonism in Allah’s promised paradise. In the bargain, these ringleader menaces of the world, aim to assuage their guilt feeling resulting from oppressing the impoverished exploited masses of Muslims with the delusion they are furthering Allah’s cause.

The danger of the bomb in the hands of the Mullahs has not disappeared, in spite of what the mainstream media and the Useful Idiots claim by misrepresenting the NIE report. The NIE guesses that the Mullahs seem to have ceased the construction of the warhead in 2003. How can the CIA be sure that this is the case and that the Mullahs are not secretly constructing it? Yet the IRI, by its own admission, is on a crash program to develop long range missiles and operates cascades of centrifuges to make enriched weapons-grade uranium needed for the bomb.

The handwriting is on the wall. Huge numbers of Muslims, overwhelmingly poor, under-educated, and deeply indoctrinated in the jihadist belief are invading the world. It is this human bomb that must be defused as well as keeping a vigilant eye on the other one that Iran’s Mullahs are relentlessly pursuing.

In short, never mind the nuclear bomb, if you like. But, we must do all we can to erase the suicide-homicide belief-vest that Islamofascists straps on their masses of poor, undereducated, and deluded followers.

“Think globally, act locally,” is the rallying cry of the environmentalist movement. The same exhortation even more urgently applies to the fight against the deadly spread and menace of Islamofascism.


The state against blacks

by Jason Riley

'Sometimes I sarcastically, perhaps cynically, say that I'm glad that I received virtually all of my education before it became fashionable for white people to like black people," writes Walter Williams in his new autobiography, "Up from the Projects." "By that I mean that I encountered back then a more honest assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Professors didn't hesitate to criticize me—sometimes to the point of saying, 'That's nonsense.'"

Mr. Williams, an economist at George Mason University, is contrasting being black and poor in the 1940s and '50s with today's experience. It's a theme that permeates his short, bracing volume of reminiscence, and it's where we began our conversation on a recent morning at his home in suburban Philadelphia.

"We lived in the Richard Allen housing projects" in Philadelphia, says Mr. Williams. "My father deserted us when I was three and my sister was two. But we were the only kids who didn't have a mother and father in the house. These were poor black people and a few whites living in a housing project, and it was unusual not to have a mother and father in the house. Today, in the same projects, it would be rare to have a mother and father in the house."

Even in the antebellum era, when slaves often weren't permitted to wed, most black children lived with a biological mother and father. During Reconstruction and up until the 1940s, 75% to 85% of black children lived in two-parent families. Today, more than 70% of black children are born to single women. "The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn't do, what Jim Crow couldn't do, what the harshest racism couldn't do," Mr. Williams says. "And that is to destroy the black family."

Government programs and regulations are favorite butts of the professor, who is best known today for his weekly column—started in 1977 and now appearing in more than 140 newspapers—and for his stints guest-hosting Rush Limbaugh's popular radio program.

Libertarianism is currently in vogue, thanks to the election of a statist president and the subsequent rise of the tea party movement. But Walter Williams was a libertarian before it was cool. And like other prominent right-of-center blacks—Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele—his intellectual odyssey began on the political left.

"I was more than anything a radical," says Mr. Williams. "I was more sympathetic to Malcolm X than Martin Luther King because Malcolm X was more of a radical who was willing to confront discrimination in ways that I thought it should be confronted, including perhaps the use of violence.

"But I really just wanted to be left alone. I thought some laws, like minimum-wage laws, helped poor people and poor black people and protected workers from exploitation. I thought they were a good thing until I was pressed by professors to look at the evidence."

During his junior year at California State College in Los Angeles, Mr. Williams switched his major from sociology to economics after reading W.E.B. Du Bois's "Black Reconstruction in America," a Marxist take on the South's transformation after the Civil War that will never be confused with "The Wealth of Nations." Even so, the book taught him that "black people cannot make great progress until they understand the economic system, until they know something about economics."

He earned his doctorate in 1972 from UCLA, which had one of the top economics departments in the country, and he says he "probably became a libertarian through exposure to tough-mined professors"—James Buchanan, Armen Alchian, Milton Friedman —"who encouraged me to think with my brain instead of my heart. I learned that you have to evaluate the effects of public policy as opposed to intentions."

Mr. Williams distinguished himself in the mid-1970s through his research on the effects of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931—which got the government involved in setting wage levels—and on the impact of minimum-wage law on youth and minority unemployment. He concluded that minimum wages caused high rates of teenage unemployment, particularly among minority teenagers. His research also showed that Davis-Bacon, which requires high prevailing (read: union) wages on federally financed or assisted construction projects, was the product of lawmakers with explicitly racist motivations.

One of Congress's goals at the time was to stop black laborers from displacing whites by working for less money. Missouri Rep. John Cochran said that he had "received numerous complaints in recent months about Southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics." And Alabama Rep. Clayton Allgood fretted about contractors with "cheap colored labor . . . of the sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country."

Today just 17% of construction workers are unionized, but Democratic politicians, in deference to the AFL-CIO, have kept Davis-Bacon in place to protect them. Because most black construction workers aren't union members, however, the law has the effect of freezing them out of jobs. It also serves to significantly increase the costs of government projects, since there are fewer contractors to bid on them than there would be without Davis-Bacon.

Analysis of this issue launched Mr. Williams's career as a public intellectual, and in 1982 he published his first book, "The State Against Blacks," arguing that laws regulating economic activity are far larger impediments to black progress than racial bigotry and discrimination. Nearly 30 years later, he stands by that premise.

"Racial discrimination is not the problem of black people that it used to be" in his youth, says Mr. Williams. "Today I doubt you could find any significant problem that blacks face that is caused by racial discrimination. The 70% illegitimacy rate is a devastating problem, but it doesn't have a damn thing to do with racism. The fact that in some areas black people are huddled in their homes at night, sometimes serving meals on the floor so they don't get hit by a stray bullet—that's not because the Klan is riding through the neighborhood."

Over the decades, Mr. Williams's writings have sought to highlight "the moral superiority of individual liberty and free markets," as he puts it. "I try to write so that economics is understandable to the ordinary person without an economics background." His motivation? "I think it's important for people to understand the ideas of scarcity and decision-making in everyday life so that they won't be ripped off by politicians," he says. "Politicians exploit economic illiteracy."

Which is why, he adds, the tea party movement is a positive development in our politics and long overdue. "For the first time in my lifetime—and I'm approaching 75 years old—you hear Americans debating about the U.S. Constitution," he says. "You hear them saying 'This is unconstitutional' or 'We need limits on government'—things that I haven't heard before. I've been arguing them for years, but now there's widespread acceptance of the idea that we need to limit the government."

Still, he's concerned about how far the country has strayed from the type of limited government envisioned by the Founding Fathers. "In 1794, Congress appropriated $15,000 to help some French refugees," he says. In objection, "James Madison stood on the House floor and said he could not take to lay his finger on that article in the Constitution that allows Congress to take the money of its constituents for the purposes of benevolence. Well, if you look at the federal budget today, two-thirds to three-quarters of it is for the purposes of benevolence."

Mr. Williams says that "if there is anything good to be said about the Democratic White House and the [previous] Congress and their brazen attempt to take over the economy and control our lives, it's that the tea party movement has come out of it. But we have gone so far from the basic constitutional principles that made us a great country that it's a question of whether we can get back."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


24 January, 2011

BBC looks into multicultural Britain and finds some unwelcome truths

Are young men of Pakistani origin really fizzing with testosterone, and do they target young white women for sex because they see them as easy meat, as Jack Straw claimed last week? The Today programme went to Bradford this morning to find out, and you got the distinct impression that no one was more shocked than the BBC to find young Asian men, by and large, confirming what Mr Straw said.

A minority of interviewees sounded a note of caution, said everyone was equal and there was no such thing as an “easy target”. A more typical response, however, was: “It’s the way the white women dress, innit. Miniskirts. Encourages them, innit, to go jack ‘em and that, d’you get me?” (That’s an exact quote, by the way.) Or: “A lot of Asian women wouldn’t actually have their body showing, whereas white women you would find them like that.” Or: “White women drink, so when they [are] under the influence of alcohol the Pakistani men probably – the ones from Pakistan that have recently come – probably think they can take advantage, innit.”

Zubeida Malik introduced her report by saying: “Given the huge controversy that Jack Straw’s comments raised, you might be surprised by what you hear.” But were listeners really shocked by what they heard? Over at the BBC they might have been surprised, but no one else the programme interviewed sounded as though the comments were news to them. In fact, just before the end of programme, at ten to nine, they brought on David Aaronovitch and Nihal from the BBC Asian Network. I’m afraid the show’s producers will have been disappointed if they hoped Aaronovitch and Nihal might offer an alternative reading of the situation.

“What you have is a level of anecdotal evidence that something of this sort is going on,” Aaronovitch said. “It does seem that there is really something going on that people need to deal with.” Justin Webb struggled manfully to present a more innocent and less damaging case, proposing that, perhaps, some Asian men simply “fancied western women”.

Then Nihal from the Asian Network came on and I can only imagine the hand-wringing among BBC multiculturalists when they heard what he had to say: “We did this story back in November and we asked the question whether there is something in the Pakistani culture that led men to do this. Many people called in my phone-in show and said: ‘Yes we know that this is happening. Our men have this attitude towards white girls.’ [On Monday] a caller said: ‘White girls are easy. Fact.’ That’s what he said and he was unapologetic about that. I told him it wasn’t fact it was an opinion.”

Webb responded that that was very tough on young men of Pakistani origin. And he’s right, of course: it certainly is not good for respectable young Asian men. The fact is, though, that hardly anyone now denies that there is a real issue here and it has be faced. Perhaps only Keith Vaz is left insisting the whole thing’s an invention, and no one takes him seriously. As Nihal said: “Even Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, on my show this week said that he had never heard anybody say this, that white women were easy or promiscuous. I said to him: Well, why don’t you check out the iPlayer, because ten minutes before he came on my show someone had said that very thing!”

“It’s certainly been well mentioned now,” Webb said, a bit testily, as he wound up the interview. Small wonder if he was inwardly peeved. Today the BBC took a good look at multicultural Britain – and they didn’t like what they saw.


Anonymity can help enable free speech

I’m about to do something that I never really thought I’d do. But before I do, let me give you a little context:

I’ve never really taken free speech for granted, but I’ve always felt free to speak my mind. Or at least I thought that’s the way I felt. But some years ago, not long after I first created Lady Liberty’s Constitution Clearing House, I discovered an unsettling truth.

I was gathering news headlines and writing a comment on one of the stories I’d found. When I re-read what I’d written, I was afraid it might be a little harsh. I deleted it and started again. When I considered my revisions, I worried that somebody (particularly somebody in a government that was watching all too closely in those days following 9/11) might not like the words I’d used. I hit the delete key again. It took several more revisions and deletions before it struck me that I was censoring myself, and that I was doing so not out of concern that I might be wrong or that my real opinion wasn’t accurately represented, but because I was afraid of what some government entity or another might think. The moment I realized that salient point, I reverted back to my original words and uploaded the file.

That little anecdote (it really happened just that way) has been in my mind of late thanks to the fallout from the Tucson tragedy of January 8. While I certainly can’t argue that threats are bad, suggestions coming from corners as far ranging as Congress and the media itself include the censorship or even criminalization of words that might be “incendiary” or “offensive.” These proposals are even worse than your garden-variety censorship as is ably illustrated by even the most cursory consideration of just how subjective “incendiary” and “offensive” are as descriptors! Adding insult to injury is the fact that the majority of Americans don’t think that rhetoric of any kind from either side had anything material to do with the actions of a man who appears to be nothing more or less than a lunatic.

Along with the complaints concerning some of the political rhetoric that the media suggested was a root cause of the shootings in Arizona (later shown to be untrue, but never retracted by those who made the claims) came criticisms of anonymous comments via the Internet. People were accused of hiding behind anonymity and using it to their advantage to say particularly cruel or vitriolic things. In what is apparently purely coincidental (, the Obama administration proposed an Internet ID for Americans. While not required (yet), the ID is proposed in an effort to safeguard online privacy (really) and is accompanied by assurances that there will be no centralized database of those who have such ID’s (oh, sure) and that anonymity will remain an option for those who desire it (well, anonymous except to everybody who has access to the database that won’t exist).

While the attacks on the idea of free speech have unquestionably ramped up in the last week or so, events in Tucson weren’t the only news making matters to incite such ideas. Take, for example, the WikiLeaks scandal. Julian Assange, head honcho at WikiLeaks, is less than popular with the US government these days since his site published a number of diplomatic memos that were, to put it kindly, somewhat embarrassing to American officials. While I support the prosecution of anybody who leaked these documents if he was legally prohibited from doing so, unless WikiLeaks actually and actively solicited the leak, I can’t hold them responsible for publishing something that landed in their lap (arguments the documents released to date threaten national security are exaggerated at best; the one document that might actually meet the definition was redacted by WikiLeaks itself prior to release).

Congress, however, apparently continues to have another view of the WikiLeaks matter. When it appeared there were no laws in existence that would permit any prosecution of Assange, a triplet of Senators (a Republican, a Democrat, and an Independent) has proposed legislation that will seal what they see as a loophole. Not only is that legislation in and of itself a threat to the freedom of the press, the measure is actually likely to be made retroactive. I’m not sure what that would do to the statute of limitations on such things, but I sure know what it means for investigative reporters and freedom of the press!

The thread that ties many of these things together is the anonymity I briefly mentioned earlier. Some have suggested that anonymity on the Internet helps bloggers and others who share their opinions to “avoid responsibility and accountability for what one is saying.” Others suggest that anonymity means people can say whatever they wish behind the cover of a screen name, no matter how crazy or incendiary it may be, and no matter that they’d never say the same things if they were face to face or using their real name. To some extent, they’re right. But does the fact that they have a point mean anonymity-and truly free speech-should be somehow regulated? Even prohibited?

Before you answer that question, consider that there are good reasons for anonymity that have nothing to do with whether or not an individual is willing to “own” his or her comments. There are women who are doing all that they can to hide from abusive ex-husbands or boyfriends. There are men who would otherwise endanger their employment or their lives if their comments were associated with them. And it doesn’t need to be anything as serious as whistle-blowing, either. Just last week, a Minnesota wrestling coach was placed on leave over political comments he made on his own time and in an entirely out-of-school context. His comments were made in public, of course, but I think that clearly shows the danger of merely expressing an opinion! And lest you think that anonymity facilitates crime, it doesn’t, at least not for long.

In my own case, I chose a pseudonym for several reasons. Personally, I wasn’t worried about any reflection on myself. I was, however, concerned that anything I said not be linked to my employer. While my company might not be all that concerned about things I say (I’m lucky that way), some of its clients might be. I also haven’t been inclined to be linked to real world acquaintances from either my past or my present. This is for the sake of privacy, both mine and theirs.

I’ve never used anonymity to say anything I wouldn’t say in public and I certainly haven’t hidden behind anything to promote violence. I’ve never used my anonymity to engage in any illegal activity. And I’ve frankly never said anything in any of my columns or other postings that I wouldn’t just as cheerfully say on a stage or over drinks. Whatever I think of anything, I do my best to back it up with facts that you can check for yourself, so anonymity shouldn’t undermine my credibility either. Still, some Web sites won’t publish letters or commentary written under a pseudonym anymore, and now anonymity is getting some of the same blame for various and sundry problems (and for the same invalid reasons) as is political rhetoric as a whole, guns, and threats to national security.

Fine. After some lengthy discussions with those involved, and a good deal of thought and consideration, I’m going to nip some of this nonsense in the bud, at least where I personally am concerned. If a name gives me added credibility, if it lends itself to my obvious willingness to accept responsibility for what I say, and if it matters so very much to some, then hear this: I am Lady Liberty. But my name is L. Kathryn Jones [Which is pretty close to anonymity -- JR]


Defending moral autonomy against an army of nudgers

Frank Furedi slams the ‘choice architects’ who bypass public debate in their zealous effort to reshape our minds and bodies

This year, spiked will be upping the ante in our culture war against the new politics of nudging and in defence of individual autonomy. In this new essay, Frank Furedi takes the nudge-obsessed authorities to task for denigrating our right to make moral choices.

I have always had a visceral revulsion for the idea of ‘false consciousness’. As a student radical in the early 1970s, I was continually being warned about the dangers of this social disease. Many on the left argued that the general public, specifically the working classes, did not understand what their real interests were. The self-appointed carriers of true consciousness pointed to certain areas of plebian behaviour, such as seeking solace in football or voting for the UK Conservative Party, as proof of the widespread nature of ‘false consciousness’.

Herbert Marcuse’s claim that people are driven by ‘false needs’ was continually talked up by the apparently enlightened minority, who presumed to know what the ‘real needs’ of their fellow citizens were. In recent decades, this outlook has come to be astonishingly influential within the professional middle classes, particularly in the United States. Consider the writings of the American journalist Thomas Frank, who frequently espouses an updated version of the idea of false consciousness. His 2004 book, What’s The Matter With Kansas?, exemplifies this patronising outlook; it concludes that ‘people getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about’.

In recent years, the idea that people are too thick to know what is in their best interests has influenced and shaped policymaking on both sides of the Atlantic. In one sense, this diagnosis of intellectual poverty among the masses is simply a new expression of an old idea. Nineteenth-century social engineers regarded the targets of their work - the masses - as both irrational and easily suggestible. In the twentieth century, psychologists and advertisers argued that the world would be a better place if they could successfully manipulate the public to act in accordance with the latest ‘scientific’ insights. They expressed their assumption of moral authority openly and with little concern for insulting people’s sensibilities.

So in 1941, Dr Ernest Dichter, the president of the Institute for Motivational Research, stated that ‘the successful ad agency manipulates human motivations and desires and develops a need for goods with which the public has at one time been unfamiliar’. Today, manipulating human motivations remains a key aim of both the public and private sectors. Only now, the old-fashioned motivational techniques have been given a new boost by so-called behavioural economics and evolutionary psychology.

In the twenty-first century, motivational research has been embraced by governments that have effectively given up on the idea of morally or politically motivating their citizens. Policy advisers frequently complain that citizens refuse to acknowledge the wisdom that they are offering and instead adopt forms of behaviour that are antithetical to expert advice. In effect, these policy advisers, along with government officials and politicians, have concluded that the time for open debate and argument is over, since arguing with people who act irrationally is pointless. They claim that what is now required are new techniques of behaviour management and motivational manipulation, in order to encourage the public to act in accordance with best practice.

That is why both the British and American governments have embraced the doctrine of ‘nudge’, as most explicitly espoused by the American academics Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Relying on behaviour-management techniques, this doctrine, described as ‘libertarian paternalism’, aims to manipulate people into making choices which the powers-that-be consider ‘right’.

Bypassing public debate

In Britain, a Cabinet Office Behavioural Insight Team, otherwise known as the Nudge Unit, has been busy advising different departments of state about which psychological tricks are likely to achieve the best results. In a report published last month, it explained that the ‘traditional tools of government’ have failed to alter people’s ‘behavioural problems’, and therefore it is spearheading a mission to ‘help the UK government develop and apply lessons from behavioural economics and behavioural science to public policymaking’.

The main justification for displacing the ‘traditional tools of government’ with behaviour-management techniques is the apparently novel discovery that people do not always act rationally. The report states: ‘Many of the most pressing public policy issues cannot be addressed without thinking about the behaviour of individuals. Behavioural science and behavioural economics show us that, very often, we do not behave in a way that we would be expected to if we were perfectly “rational” human beings.’

As it happens, we don’t need behavioural science to ‘show us’ that people behave in ways that violate the dictates of expert advice and sophisticated cost-benefit analysis. We all know that human beings are subject to habit, slothfulness and passion. Some people take pleasure from indulging in activities that come with a health warning or which run counter to the latest expert advice. Sometimes we even display altruistic behaviour that might directly contradict our self-interest.

For centuries, these different forms of behaviour have kept moral entrepreneurs and experts - those concerned with understanding and remoulding our behaviour - in employment. In principle, of course, people who object to certain kinds of human behaviour are entitled to speak out and warn the public about the potential unhappy consequences of such behaviour. In a democratic society, argument and debate about the negative or destructive consequences of specific forms of conduct can help to encourage the flourishing of a vibrant public life. Tragically, however, the aim of today’s ‘libertarian paternalism’ is to bypass public debate and opt for psychological manipulation instead.

Outwardly, some of the techniques of behaviour management proposed by the UK government’s Nudge Unit seem harmless. For example, it boasts about introducing a trial of ‘prompted choice’ for organ donation in order to increase the number of donor registrations. This trial will ask people if they would like to be organ donors when they are applying online for a driving licence. The unit believes that this will significantly increase the number of organ donors.

It may well do that, and in many ways the trial makes perfect sense. However, the premise of this proposal, and of the numerous other nudge proposals, is fundamentally regressive. Instead of opting to have a grown-up public debate about the responsibilities that citizens have towards one other, today’s ruling elite prefers to treat adults as children who need to be prompted and coaxed to do the right thing. This strategy of altering behaviour displaces the political challenge of influencing people through ideas and argument.

Paternalistic behaviour is entirely appropriate in relation to childrearing. Many parents realise that there is little point in arguing with a toddler; it is far better simply to use childrearing techniques that will encourage little Mary to act in accordance with her mother’s desires. However, when similar techniques are used in relation to grown-up citizens, then we really can glimpse the corrosion and ultimately the corruption of public life.

Paternalistic behaviour towards children is seen as acceptable because we presume that parents possess the experience and knowledge that their infants lack. Parents are responsible for their children and therefore are expected to have some authority and control over their behaviour. Infants lack experience and more importantly they lack the capacity for autonomy and moral independence. But things are fundamentally different when it comes to the relationship between government and adults. For a start, it is far from clear where behavioural economists, policymakers and politicians get the moral authority to manipulate people’s behaviour. Experience shows that experts do not always possess wisdom and that ordinary people have very little to learn from them.

Denying us moral responsibility

Advocates of nudging describe themselves as ‘choice architects’ and claim that their policies help people make the right choices. What they mean is that their aim is to construct a scenario where people make the kind of choices that our moral superiors believe to be right. The aim of behavioural-management techniques is to prevent, or at least discourage, people from making the ‘wrong’ choices. In effect, the implicit objective of these techniques is to deprive people of the capacity for making wrong choices. But if citizens are freed from the burden of distinguishing between right and wrong, then they cease to be choice-makers.

Proponents of choice architecture delude themselves into believing that their paternalism is libertarian, that their policies are neither authoritarian nor coercive. In truth, their objectives echo those that have traditionally been associated with totalitarian regimes. Recently, the UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg casually said that his government’s Nudge Unit could ‘change the way citizens think’. But since when has it been a democratic government’s brief to wage an ideological crusade aimed at altering its citizens’ thoughts? From this viewpoint, governing is not so much about realising people’s aspirations as it is about changing those aspirations so that they correspond to the worldview of the ‘choice architects’.

The project of remoulding the way that people think and act requires the erosion of people’s right to assent to, or reject, government policies. There has to be an implicit elimination of the two-way process of discussion between citizens and their rulers. The UK Cabinet Office paper Mindspace: Influencing Behaviour Through Public Policy explains this in the following terms:

‘“Mindspace” effects depend at least partly on automatic influences on behaviour. This means that citizens may not fully realise that their behaviour is being changed – or, at least, how it is being changed. Therefore, there may be little opportunity for citizens to opt out or choose otherwise; the concept of “choice architecture” is less use here. Any action that may reduce the “right to be wrong” is likely to be controversial.’

The authors of Mindspace make it quite clear that some of their objectives will have to be achieved behind the backs of the electorate. Consequently, the public ‘may not fully realise’ what is happening, and of course there will no ‘opt-out’. In short, citizens have no choice but to acquiesce.

The presumption of a public that is powerless to determine its own future is central to the nudge industry, to the project of constraining people’s private preferences through behaviour management. The authors of Mindspace put forward a fantasy which says that government action can ‘augment freedom’ by acting as the ‘surrogate willpower’ of the populace. A government that substitutes itself for the exercise of human free will clearly has very little attachment to the idea of freedom. As the American political theorist Alan Wolfe warns us, ‘under the rules of liberal paternalism, all power goes to the choice architects’.

Four compelling reasons to reject nudging

There are three moral reasons and one practical reason for saying no to the new politics of nudging.

1) It denigrates moral independence

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that the capacity to make choices about one’s life is central to the development of moral autonomy. In his famous statement What is Enlightenment? (1784), he argued:

‘It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me.’

As far as Kant was concerned, it was preferable to make a wrong choice through the exercise of moral independence than to follow the ‘right’ advice. Why? Because through the exercise of moral autonomy people gain the experience that is necessary for maturity. An autonomous person is presumed to possess moral independence, in other words to act with moral responsibility. Through the exercise of autonomy, people can develop their personality through assuming responsibility for their lives. The cultivation of moral independence requires that people are free to deliberate and to come to their own conclusions about how best to live.

2) It erodes our capacity to make judgments of value

A central virtue for Aristotle was phronesis. Phronesis is difficult to translate into English. It means the capacity to exercise judgment in particular circumstances. According to Aristotle, making judgments and choices is the precondition for virtuous behaviour. So telling a colleague something they don’t want to hear may in some circumstances express the virtue of honesty and in other circumstances spring from the vice of boasting. It is in the very act of making moral choices that we develop the virtue of phronesis. That is why judgment cannot be left to choice architects. Phronesis is not something that can be outsourced to an expert – it is a virtue that we need to learn for ourselves, and it is possibly the single most important virtue when it comes to pursuing and conducting a good life.

3) It devalues the private sphere

Nudging encourages the colonisation of private life as our personal conduct becomes the target of the behaviour-management industry. One of the most significant gains of liberalisation in recent centuries was the development of the idea of the private sphere. The seventeenth-century English philosopher John Locke was a key architect of this idea. Locke claimed that government has no business controlling people’s beliefs and personal behaviour. He recognised that moral development required that people should have the freedom to behave in accordance with their beliefs and emotions. Sadly, today, individual behaviour is no longer treated as a private matter by government. And the more that governments become incapable of dealing with the challenging issues thrown up in the public sphere, the more they will opt for the quick-fix solution of manipulating individual behaviour instead.

4) It empties out public life

As tools of public policy, behaviour-management techniques rarely achieve positive results. Decades of experience show that the billions of pounds spent on parenting classes, sex and drugs education and early-intervention programmes fail to have the desired results. Why? Because social problems are only in part the outcome of individual behaviour.

Individual behaviour is mediated through cultural and moral norms and is influenced by social circumstances. And yet the raison d’être of nudging is to avoid engaging with the cultural, moral and political questions that dominate people’s lives. That is why one can predict with the utmost certainty that the Behavioural Insight Team’s plans for reducing teenage pregnancy rates, for example, will not work. The assumption that teenage mothers-to-be are akin to rats in a laboratory will founder on the rocks of cultural and social realities. However, provide teenagers with greater opportunities for a better life - in short, think about the bigger social picture - and then watch pregnancy rates drop.

The most regrettable consequence of the nudge industry is its stultifying effect on public debate and political life. No doubt its advocates mean well. But in encouraging the manipulation of people’s imaginations, they corrupt the very meaning of public life.


Australia: As the left sides with Muslims, Christians search for support

Martin Place is the symbolic centre, the point zero, of Australia's existence as a sophisticated economy. Last Wednesday it looked medieval. A forest of crucifixes sprouted among a sea of earnest faces that would look comfortable on ancient coins. The talk was of murder and persecution. The threat was real. Hyperbole was unnecessary.

As Martin Place, between Pitt and Castlereagh streets, became crammed with people, many of them young, real politics was made, and real news. Observing this rally, in oppressive humidity and under a dark sky that occasionally showered the crowd, was to observe another example of grassroots support for the ALP falling away.

Not long ago this crowd, drawn from a broader Middle Eastern Christian diaspora, would have voted like the rest of Australia. Demographics would have been the key driver. Labor would have got its share. Not any more.

When Julia Gillard's name was mentioned, it was greeted by a stony silence from the crowd of between 1000 and 2000 people. When the name of Tony Abbott was mentioned, there was a burst of spontaneous applause. Abbott had sent a personal emissary from his shadow ministry, Senator Connie Fierravanti-Wells, who would deliver some telling news.

Most at the rally were Coptic Orthodox Christians, the Egyptian branch of Christianity. They increasingly find common purpose with the expatriate communities of Assyrian Christians from Iraq and Maronite Christians from Lebanon. All three groups, who collectively number about 200,000, are heavily represented in western Sydney. All three are feeling the pressure of the religious cleansing of Christians in the Middle East.

These communities are tilting away from Labor, perceiving it as the party of appeasement of Muslim belligerence, and the party which has turned Australia's refugee program into a Muslim immigration program, while Christian communities are bludgeoned in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon. These countries have seen a Christian exodus. The American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 proved to be a disaster for the estimated two million Assyrian Christians. Roughly half have fled the country.

The trigger for the rally at Martin Place was a cascade of events which began late last year when a list was circulated via an extremist Islamic website pledging attacks against 64 specific Coptic Orthodox churches. Four of the churches are in Sydney, where the majority of Australia's 80,000 Copts live.

At the top of the hit list was the Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt. On New Year's Eve, as Christians left a midnight prayer service at the Saints Church, a car bomb exploded. Twenty-three Copts died and at least 95 others were wounded in the attack. Hours before, Muslim fundamentalists had gathered outside a major mosque in Alexandria chanting threats against the Coptic church. After the attack, men ran around the city shouting "Allah Akbah!", the battle cry of jihad.

Violent attacks against the more than 10 million Coptic Christians in Egypt have been continuing for almost 40 years. The violence coincided with the rise of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the prototype of modern Islamic fascism. Violent incidents continue. On January 12, an off-duty police officer shot six Copts on a train in Egypt after identifying them as Christians.

Australia's most contentious mainstream Muslim cleric, Sheikh Taj el-Din al Hilaly, the former grand mufti of Australia, is an import from Egypt. He was installed as a permanent resident by the Keating Labor government, over the objections of the security service. His Labor connections are well known and self-advertised.

The Labor Party, locked into a political alliance with Muslim leaders in western Sydney, has said little of consequence about the problem of religious cleansing of Christians by Muslims. It has done even less.

On January 1, the acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, Martin Ferguson, issued a six-line reaction to the Alexandria bombing, stating "the Australian government utterly condemns the attack". Condemnations were issued by President Barack Obama, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, among other leaders.

No statement was issued by Julia Gillard. Nor has there been any policy change in Labor's policy of indifference to Coptic refugees from Egypt. The Australian embassy in Cairo has long been a point of contention. It is difficult for Egyptian Copts to immigrate to Australia or seek refugee status. The blocking agents include the Egyptian government, which discriminates against Christians as official policy, and the local embassy, which acts as a de facto extension of state discrimination against non-Muslims.

At the rally in Martin Place, Senator Fierravanti-Wells announced that a Coalition government would reintroduce a program for Coptic refugees from religious persecution in Egypt, a program discarded by the Rudd government.

She was one of three Liberal MPs who spoke, while Labor was entirely absent until the last minute, when a Labor member of the NSW upper house, Greg Donnelly, was dropped in to represent the Premier, Kristina Keneally. Such is the desperation of NSW Labor that Donnelly could not resist noting: "There are no representatives from the Greens today, which is interesting."

The absence of the Greens was not interesting. It was predictable. Throughout Western Europe and Australia, the left has consistently made common cause with political Islam, an embrace of reactionary intolerance made without a shred of irony. Also absent was the broadcast arm of the Greens, the ABC, whose two 24-hour news networks could see no value in attending.

Meanwhile, outside the world of the public sector unions, while religious intolerance remains endemic across the Muslim world and Australia's refugee and asylum-seeker process remains a debacle, support for Labor is showing signs of disintegrating among Australians who take discrimination against Christians seriously.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


23 January, 2011

Equality madness: British government spends £30m to discover whether preserving fish stocks harms ethnic Chinese, or hovercraft discriminate against gays

Home Secretary Theresa May has drawn fire from her own party over the implementation of the new Equality Act

The Government has been accused of wasting tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to comply with controversial new equality laws that force organisations to prove they are not discriminating against minority groups.

Whitehall departments have already issued a string of bizarre reports to meet the terms of the Equality Act 2010.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) paid £100,000 to consultants who produced a report investigating how efforts to boost Britain’s coastal fish stocks would affect minority communities including the Chinese, homosexuals and Welsh speakers.

And the Department for Transport issued a study this month looking at harassment and discrimination on ships and hovercraft. The report covered a range of groups, including transsexuals.

The Government has admitted that the cost of implementing the legislation will be about £100 million over the next 12 months. But critics say the figure is likely to rise far higher as lawyers and consultants seek to exploit the new law, which came into force only three months ago. The cost to the public sector alone will be £30 million this year.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab said: ‘The Coalition should scale back the Equality Act. The last thing hard-pressed public bodies need is this blizzard of extra bureaucracy – wasting their time and millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. It’s not just political correctness. It’s also bitterly divisive to carve up our society into artificial social categories.’

An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has uncovered a string of extraordinary initiatives by Government departments and other public bodies surrounding the Equality Act. These include:

* Officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport carrying out a so-called ‘equality impact assessment’ to ensure minority groups are able to take a full part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations next summer.

* The Department of Energy and Climate Change issuing a report last month assessing whether a range of groups, including people in civil partnerships, had been unfairly treated when it suspended its £300 million scheme to help people insulate their homes.

* Government officials undertaking a study into India’s traditional caste system and its implications for discrimination in the UK.

* The promotion of the first leadership course specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual National Health Service managers.

* The Department for Work and Pensions publishing a report into whether proposed changes to its scheme to help disabled people find jobs would have implications on a range of issues from religion to gender reassignment.

* Kent Police issuing fresh equality guidance earlier this month, to comply with the Act, saying that transsexual staff are protected as soon as they start to dress, behave or live ‘in the gender they identify with’.

The Equality Act was championed by Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, who fought for the legislation to be introduced just before Labour left government last year.

Although it faced criticism over the extra burdens it would place on business and the public sector, it has been kept by the Coalition and backed by Home Secretary Theresa May.

In Opposition, Mrs May, who is also Minister for Women and Equality, said many of the legislation’s clauses would be too bureaucratic and expensive.

She scrapped some requirements but introduced much of the Act, including a much-derided provision creating the concept of ‘third-party harassment’. Under this, workers can sue over banter they find offensive, even if it is aimed at someone else. Critics say it signals the end of the office joke.

There are also fears that employers will ask staff intrusive questions about sexuality or beliefs in an effort to prove they are not discriminating.

Public bodies are already required to promote equality on grounds of gender, race and disability and the new Act extends the protection to ‘age, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, and religion or belief’. From April, 27,000 state bodies with more than 150 staff will have to publish annual updates on the diversity of their workforce.

Many Whitehall departments have equality schemes in place, such as the Home Office’s Here Come The Girls to raise the visibility of lesbian and bisexual women among its staff. Another Home Office initiative, Blow The Whistle On Gay Hate, encourages victims of homophobia to go to the police.

The Department of Health last year spent £100,000 on an Equality and Diversity Council comprising officials, union representatives and experts.

And a number of Government departments have paid £2,000 to sign up to a Diversity Champions scheme run by the gay rights organisation Stonewall.

Conservative MP Philip Davies said: ‘This is the kind of politically corrupt drivel that we had come to expect from Harriet Harman and the previous Government, but it is the type of thing that makes the public’s blood boil and it is a complete waste of everyone’s time and money. These Government assessments are ludicrous and pointless. ‘I hope this Government will show some common sense and scrap much of this legislation. In many respects, Theresa May is as bad as Harriet Harman.’

Some of the Government assessments inspired by the Equality Act were begun under Labour, but a number have been carried out since the Coalition came to power.


NFL Running Back: ‘Every Team’ Made Fun of Me for Being White

Rush Limbaugh got into trouble for questioning the abilities of a black quarterback, however it seems you can mock a white player without repercussions

Peyton Hillis, running back for the Cleveland Browns, was recently asked about being a white running back in the NFL. On Tuesday, Hillis told Sports Illustrated‘s Dan Patrick that he’s often taunted during games for his race. The Huffington Post reports:

“Every team did it,” Hillis said. “They’ll say, ‘You white boy, you ain’t gonna run on us today. This is ridiculous. Why are you giving offensive linemen the ball?’

He went on to give examples of the nicknames he heard throughout the season. Patrick said his favorite was “The Avalanche.” “I heard that one,” Hillis replied. “I heard ‘White Rhino.’ I heard … Chuck Norris.’”

NBC Sports‘ Josiah Schlatter shrugged off Hillis’ comments, claiming it was probably nothing more than a little game play:

"Is this an example of the mysterious ‘reverse racism’ everybody’s saying exists now? Not to my knowledge. Most defensive players like to try and get inside a star player’s head to feast on their insecurities as a human so when they receive a hand-off and hit a running lane they have the idea that they’re a slow nobody with a stupid facemask who can barely tie his own shoelaces bouncing around their skull"

"Because Hillis is white, he noticed these comments a little bit more, and when Patrick asked him a touchy question, he went at it with the same bullheadedness he uses to perfection on the football field. There haven’t been many great white running back hopes in recent memory, and defensive players are put on their heels a little bit because they have no idea how to insult Hillis without bringing race into the equation".

Whether the remarks aimed at Hillis are racially charged or not, the running back says he converts the underhanded criticism into motivation: “I know a lot of people don’t have a lot faith in me,” he said, “and even if you have a good year or a bad year they’re still going to criticize you and say you’re not good enough. It just gives me the motivation to go out there and do better.”


The Pope should not have voiced displeasure with Coptic Christians being murdered in Egypt...

... because that's offensive to Muslim academics
Top Muslim academics in Egypt have announced they are suspending all dialogue with the Vatican to protest Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about anti-Christian violence in Egypt.

The decision of Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, president of al-Azhar University in Cairo, and members of the Islamic Research Academy was reported by the website Ahram Online, a site devoted to covering news of interest to Muslims in the Middle East.

Shortly after the news was reported in Cairo, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue “is collecting the information needed to adequately understand the situation”.

“In any case,” he said, “the line of openness and the desire for dialogue on the part of the pontifical council remain unchanged.”

The news of the dialogue boycott came about a month before the scheduled annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions. The committee, established in 1998, meets in late February each year.

Ahram Online reported that the decision to suspend the dialogue was made unanimously in response to the Pope’s reference “to the discrimination endured by Coptic Christians in Egypt” after a bombing at a Coptic Orthodox church left 23 people dead.

Sheik el-Tayeb already had criticised the Pope’s remarks as “unacceptable interference in Egypt’s affairs.”

Clearly the Pope needs to take lessons from Obama on how to deal with the Muslim community. More bowing perhaps. More kow-towing. An aplogy tour. Did I mention bowing?

The Pope's remarks are clearly mean-spirited, even hateful, and give evidence to the Islamaphobia the pontiff has obviously embraced.

It might've been better for him to acknowledge the Muslim quest for inner peace that can be filled only by the slaughtering of infidels (and Christians are a bonus) and to affirm and recognize the struggle that is jihad for your average mujahideen. This would have more likely led to the kind of dialogue being sought by these Islamic scholars.

Instead, the Pope has embraced a spirit of hatred and bigotry and should be held responsible and accountable for the deaths that will surely follow as fatwas are issued in response.
Clearly the Pope here is in the wrong. His intolerance beyond the pale. I pray that Muslims throughout the world will withstand the persecution they are suffering at the hands of Catholics world wide.

It is a travesty. Jesus (peace be upon him) weeps.


Australian expat suing UK employer over 'racist' comments

I can well imagine that the comments would be tiresome but any reaction beyond that seems excessive. He must be unaware that the English are bigoted towards one-another too. Just ask a Yorkshire man about Lancastrians if you doubt that. I would tend to hit back with derogatory remarks like: "Well at least I haven't got a working-class accent". That would cause ire but would also stop the aspersions. The English are deeply embarrassed by any mention of social class and would not risk further mention of it

An AUSTRALIAN working in the UK is suing his employer over his colleagues' allegedly racist comments mocking his nationality, the Daily Mail reported.

Geoff Stephens, a community warden, has lived in Britain for 26 years, yet the 48-year-old claimed his colleagues regularly make jokes about kangaroos, greet him with “G’day, sport” and ask, “Is your girlfriend called Sheila?”

The Adelaide native said he has been taking a “cocktail of antidepressants” to deal with the constant abuse from his coworkers in Dymchurch, a Kent County village about 112 km southeast of London.

“I’ve only been able to sleep for three hours a night since August, and the physical and mental exhaustion will eventually kill me,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.

“I feel like my life has been ripped apart. I loved my job with a passion and I did a lot of good work in Dymchurch,” he added. Wardens work closely with police in the UK, alerting them of anti-social behavior, littering and graffiti as well as helping them organize community outreach programs.

Dymchurch locals said they were aware of the teasing, but did not realize how upset Stephens was.

“He’s got an Australian accent and people rib him about it, but nobody knew quite how much it was affecting him,” one resident reportedly said, asking not to be named.

“I think he doesn’t mind the kids having a laugh about ‘putting another shrimp on the barbie’ or saying ‘G’day, sport,’ but it’s the constant references to Australia from his colleagues that is obviously getting him down.”

Stephens is suing the Kent County Council, which refused to comment on personnel issues.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


22 January, 2011

Britain: The Christian hotelier found guilty of gay bias looks set to lose her home and asks: So who's really being persecuted?

Christian hotel owner Hazelmary Bull has certainly had her faith tested to the limit this week. Yesterday, she was planning to make a four-hour round trip to visit her desperately ill husband Peter, 71, in hospital, where he is recovering from a triple heart bypass and valve replacement surgery.

How, she fretted, was she going to tell him that they were teetering on the brink of financial ruin? That there was little hope now of hanging on to the Cornish guesthouse they’d owned for 25 years; the home they’d poured not only their life savings into, but also their heart and souls. In the end, 66-year-old Hazelmary just couldn’t bring herself to do it.

On Tuesday, Peter was undergoing a nine-hour operation at the exact moment his wife of 47 years was sitting in Bristol County Court waiting to hear their fate. In a landmark ruling, which will have far-reaching implications for many Christians in Britain, Judge Rutherford ordered the Bulls to pay civil partners Martyn Hall, 46, and Steven Preddy, 38, £1,800 each in compensation for refusing to allow the couple to stay in a double room at their hotel.

The gay couple, IT workers from Bristol, sued the Bulls for £5,000 in damages under the Equality Act (Sexuality Orientation) Regulations 2007, after they were turned away from seven-bedroom Chymorvah House, near Penzance, in September 2008.

The Bulls argued that, as devout Christians, they let their double rooms only to heterosexual married couples and that their beliefs prevented them from allowing same-sex couples to share a double bed - although gay couples could stay in single or twin rooms.

This week, however, the judge ruled that the Bulls’ actions amounted to direct discrimination, on the grounds of sexual orientation, as there was ‘no material difference between marriage and civil partnership’.

Their lives are now in turmoil. Hazelmary is adamant that she and Peter will not compromise their religious beliefs, despite the court ruling. As a result, they have two options - face prosecution again by refusing to book double rooms to gay civil partners, or close the business. And if they close the business, which is already in debt, then they can’t afford to stay in their home.

‘I don’t want to tell Peter. I want to hold back for a little while, because he’s so ill,’ says Hazelmary, whose husband suffered complications after surgery. ‘He doesn’t know because the hospital has kept him sedated for two days. ‘The uncertainty of the future would take Peter down. He doesn’t cope well with stress. ‘I feel so upset. I don’t want us to leave Chymorvah like this. It feels like we are being driven out.

‘We have put everything into it and if we lose it we’ll be left with nothing. We’ll have no money to buy a new home and who will give us a mortgage at our age?’

Chymorvah is a small, loss-making hotel, which charges £43 per person per night. Yet the Bulls did not go into this business to make a fortune, but to offer Christian hospitality. They bought the house in 1986 for £81,000 and ploughed the money they’d made from their first B&B in Cornwall into it, renovating and updating the building.

They are now incapable of paying their £2,800-a-month mortgage, and have come to an agreement with their lender to pay less, for now. But Hazelmary says that with the hotel closed since Christmas and not due to re-open until Easter - if it ever opens again - this, too, will become impossible to meet.

‘Our lenders have been very sympathetic, but there will come a time when we will either have to sell or, if that doesn’t happen in this gloomy market, lose our home,’ says Hazelmary. ‘Even if we do re-open, things will be very tricky, because we are not prepared to compromise our beliefs. I would not be able to look God in the eye if I did.’

As evangelical Christians, the Bulls insist that ‘the Bible’s teaching is clear that a man should not lie with a man and a woman should not lie with a woman’.

Is this really the victory that ­campaigners envisaged: two elderly ­people ­facing ruin and this week subjected to a barrage of abusive phone calls and obscene emails which are now in the hands of police? Even Peter’s hospital has been plagued with ­nuisance calls.

‘Peter was airlifted to hospital on New Year’s Eve when he became ill and I believe the stress of this case exacerbated his condition,’ says Hazelmary. ‘I would have been at his side during surgery, but news on Monday afternoon that the judgment was about to be delivered came out of the blue.

‘When the judgment was delivered, I was disappointed, but I can’t help feeling this isn’t over yet. There are many people in Britain, Christian or not, who are very worried about being told what to believe in their own homes. ‘This is a head-on collision between two lifestyles which are both equally protected under the human rights charter, but it seems our rights are now less equal.

‘This has never been a personal battle with Mr Hall and Mr Preddy. They were always going to feel the way they did and we were always going to feel the way we did. So is there a human rights charter out there which respects the feelings of us all? That’s what’s really on trial.’

‘I am not against leglislation which protects all members of society from discrimination. No one — not least myself — would want to see a return to the days when homo­sexuals were oppressed, but I believe the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

‘Christians are definitely being marginalised. There is no question about it and we have to be careful that we don’t exchange one brand of oppression for another. The human rights charter says faith is protected not just in the home but in the workplace. Well, this is my workplace.’


Left-wing bias? It's written through the BBC's very DNA, says Peter Sissons

For 20 years I was a front man at the BBC, anchoring news and current ­affairs programmes, so I reckon nobody is better placed than me to ­answer the question that nags at many of its viewers — is the BBC biased?

In my view, ‘bias’ is too blunt a word to describe the subtleties of the ­pervading culture. The better word is a ‘mindset’. At the core of the BBC, in its very DNA, is a way of thinking that is firmly of the Left.

By far the most popular and widely read newspapers at the BBC are The Guardian and The Independent. ­Producers refer to them routinely for the line to take on ­running stories, and for inspiration on which items to cover. In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’.

If you want to read one of the few copies of the Daily Mail that find their way into the BBC newsroom, they are difficult to track down, and you would be advised not to make too much of a show of reading them. Wrap them in brown paper or a copy of The Guardian, would be my advice.

I am in no doubt that the majority of BBC staff vote for political parties of the Left. But it’s impossible to do ­anything but guess at the numbers whose beliefs are on the Right or even Centre-Right. This is because the one thing guaranteed to damage your career prospects at the BBC is letting it be known that you are at odds with the prevailing and deep-rooted BBC attitude towards Life, the Universe, and Everything.

At any given time there is a BBC line on everything of importance, a line usually adopted in the light of which way its senior echelons believe the political wind is ­blowing. This line is rarely spelled out explicitly, but percolates subtly throughout the organisation.

Whatever the United Nations is associated with is good — it is heresy to question any of its activities. The EU is also a good thing, but not quite as good as the UN. Soaking the rich is good, despite well-founded economic arguments that the more you tax, the less you get. And Government spending is a good thing, although most BBC ­people prefer to call it investment, in line with New Labour’s terminology.

All green and environmental groups are very good things. Al Gore is a saint. George Bush was a bad thing, and thick into the bargain. Obama was not just the Democratic Party’s candidate for the White House, he was the BBC’s. Blair was good, Brown bad, but the BBC has now lost interest in both.

Trade unions are mostly good things, especially when they are fighting BBC managers. Quangos are also mostly good, and the reports they produce are usually handled uncritically. The Royal Family is a bore. Islam must not be offended at any price, although ­Christians are fair game because they do nothing about it if they are offended.

The increasing ­tendency for the BBC to interview its own reporters on air exacerbates this mindset. Instead of ­concentrating on interviewing the leading players in a story or spreading the net wide for a range of views, these days the BBC frequently chooses to use the time getting the thoughts of its own correspondents. It is a format intended to help clarify the facts, but which often invites the expression of opinion. When that happens, instead of hearing both sides of a story, the audience at home gets what is, in effect, the BBC’s view presented as fact.

And, inside the organisation, you challenge that collective view at your peril. In today’s BBC only those whose antennae are fully attuned to the corporation’s cultural mindset — or keep quiet about their true feelings — are going to make progress.

Moreover, making progress these days doesn’t mean just achieving the influence and prestige of a senior job with the world’s greatest broadcaster, once considered reward enough. For those breaking through into the senior ranks, there’s now big, big money and a gold-plated pension to be had

Which is why, although there has been plenty of grumbling on the shop floor about the escalation of pay for top BBC managers in recent years, it’s muted. No one wants to wreck his or her chances of a well-paid place in the promised land. The newsroom has many talented journalists of middle rank, who know what’s wrong with the organisation, but who don’t rock the boat for fear of blowing their futures.

Not that talent alone is enough to get on at the BBC. The key to understanding its internal promotions system is that, for every person whose career is advanced on ability, two are promoted because it solves a problem for management.

If Human Resources — or Personnel, as it used to be known — advise that it’s time a woman or someone from an ethnic minority (or a combination of the two) was appointed to the job for which you, a white male, have applied, then that’s who gets it.

But whatever your talent, sex or ethnicity, there’s one sure-fire way at a BBC promotions board to ensure you don’t get the job, indeed to bring your career to a grinding halt. And that’s if, when asked which post-war politician you most admire, you reply: ‘Margaret Thatcher’.

Much more HERE

Obama Should Embrace Race and Gender Neutral Initiatives that Outlaw Government Sanctioned Discrimination

By an overwhelming margin, Arizona voters approved a ballot initiative in November that explicitly forbids government agencies from discriminating on the basis of race, sex and ethnicity. Despite the best efforts of far-left pressure groups to mislead the electorate and intimidate supporters, Proposition 107, also known as the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative (ACRI), prevailed with 60 percent of the vote.

As Americans celebrated and recognized Martin Luther King Jr. for his commitment to equality and the ideals of the founding period on January 17th, now would be the opportune moment for President Obama to express support for ACRI and other race neutral initiatives that enjoy broad support. ACRI is part of a larger national effort that began with Proposition 209 in California back in 1996.

In December, a federal judge rejected legal challenges to the law, which also passed by a substantial margin. Ward Connerly, a former University of California regent, who is now president of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), has been the galvanizing force behind the civil rights measures. Thus far, the initiatives have prevailed in Washington State, Michigan and Nebraska.

The Arizona law amends the state constitution to read as follows: “This state shall not grant preferential treatment to or discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.”

Unfortunately, President Obama’s administration continues to advance race and gender preferences as a matter of policy. Although he campaigned as a racial healer, open to a socio-economic form of affirmative action that would not exclude white Americans, Obama has thus far failed to follow through on public policy measures that would advance King’s vision; quite the opposite in fact. He also on record as opposing Connerly’s initiatives.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a scholar with the Hudson Institute, has identified some of the key provisions that open the way to preferential policies.

Government agencies and private contractors must now incorporate racial and gender preferences into their employment practices under Section 324 of the Dodd-Frank finance bill. This key provision calls for the creation of at least 20 new Offices of Minority and Women inclusion. The healthcare bill also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award preferences to those with “underrepresented backgrounds.”

“Section 324’s provisions are broad and vague and are certain to increase inefficiency in federal agencies,” Furchtgott-Roth has said. “To comply, federal agencies are likely to find it easier to employ and contract with less-qualified women and minorities, merely in order to avoid regulatory trouble. This would in turn decrease the agencies’ efficiency, productivity and output, while increasing their costs.”

There is no escaping the conflict between the discriminatory language folded away into the legislation and the Obama Administration’s rhetorical opposition to racial profiling. In a joint White House news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon last May, Obama characterized Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, SB 1070, as a “misdirected expression of frustration” that would subject law abiding individuals to unfair racially motivated scrutiny.

But it would seem that Obama Administration officials must now “profile” on the basis of race and ethnicity to enforce the new legislation. By contrast, the same Arizona state lawmakers, who have been on the receiving end of White House criticism, successfully advanced a constitutional amendment that explicitly bans government sanctioned discrimination.

Obama should carefully consider the remarks of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who has argued against the use of set asides and preferences in his written remarks. Discriminatory practices cannot be resolved by transferring them from one group to another, he has observed. The answer, instead, is to constrain the government from pursuing policies that violate the principle of equality.

With state lawmakers in Utah now giving consideration to their own ballot initiative, Obama should reverse course and reaffirm the colorblind policies Dr. King enunciated so forcefully.


Black Man's Burden: Those Who Make Them Victims

"Black man's burden," read the headline in the Los Angeles Times piece. "African-American men," read the subheading, "are still often judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character."

It must be MLK Day. This is when the guilt-ridden, blame-seeking, personal-responsibility-avoiding, racism-under-every-rock, oh-so-sympathetic, victicrat media tell us about Martin Luther King's "unfinished" legacy. Never mind that America, two years ago, elected a black president.

"Racism is like that," Judy Belk wrote. "A dripping faucet of sorts. You ignore it until you can't anymore." As proof of today's "dripping faucet" of "racism," Belk gives three examples.

First, she warned her son, then 13, to be wary of "strange-acting folks" when riding on Oakland's BART rapid transit system. Her son, however, told her that riders assumed him to be in the category of "strange-acting folks." "I just noticed," he said, "the last couple of times I was on BART, I could feel I was making several white women nervous when I sat near them. ... I could just tell." Her son, says Belk, was being ... stereotyped! Racism!

News bulletin: The crimes committed by a minority of young blacks affect how others -- of all races -- view the majority of law-abiding young blacks. And Oakland is one of America's most crime-ridden cities, with a disproportionately large amount of the crime committed by young black men. And though a lot of crime is same-race crime, when it is black-white interracial, by an overwhelming margin the perps are black and the victims are white.

By their early 30s, 3.2 percent of white males have been imprisoned, while 22.4 percent of black males -- nearly 1 in 4 -- have spent time behind bars. Yes, people find young black men, especially if they look and dress like Coolio, scarier than old white men who look and dress like Bob Newhart. Weird.

Jesse Jackson once told an interviewer that when hearing footsteps behind him while walking down a street at night, he is relieved if he turns to see the sound is coming from white feet.

Michelle Obama, when asked whether she worried about the safety of her then-presidential candidate husband, said, "I don't lose sleep over it, because the realities are that, you know, as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station." She probably didn't mean a gas station in Beverly Hills.

Second, Belk said that her 6-foot-5-inch son, then 16, "stormed into the house complaining to no one in particular: 'Why does everyone assume that just because I'm black, I play basketball? That's just plain racist.'" Sure, while his height was "undoubtedly part of the equation, it wasn't all of it (emphasis added)." What's the rest of "the equation"? That a lot of black men who are tall don't play basketball -- and it's "racist" to assume that they do? Oh, where have you gone, Rosa Parks?!

Third, Belk's son, then starting graduate studies at the University of North Carolina, and her husband were victims of "racial profiling" on a road considered "treacherous territory for black men": "The night he and my husband arrived in town to move him into his new apartment, they were stopped on the interstate by the police, allegedly for not moving to the outer lane when passing a police car that had stopped another driver. ... Like it or not, racial profiling still plays into many law enforcement decisions." Racism, case closed!!!

Police departments in many major cities have long required cops to write down the race of those stopped, as well as the race of the cop doing the stopping. In some cases, cops do indeed stop a "disproportionate" number of black motorists -- compared with their percentage of actual drivers. Does this show illegal "racial profiling," as opposed to cops focusing on high-crime areas or cops responding to the very behavior of the drivers stopped?

New Jersey state troopers, during the late '90s, were accused of illegally profiling black drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike. At the request of the U.S. Justice Department, the state commissioned an independent study to find out why troopers stopped so many black motorists. It turned out that black drivers drove faster than white drivers -- and the faster the speed the more likely the driver was black. The Justice Department, citing "flawed methodology," refused to accept the study. New Jersey commissioned a second study. Same result.

More to the point, Belk writes, "My husband told me he was glad to have been there to model ... how to behave during a police stop, something every black man needs to be prepared to handle." Exactly. Behave appropriately and so will the cops, the occasional bad apple aside.

Belk is right. There are certain things every young black person "needs to be prepared to handle." And one of them is this: learning to reject newspaper articles, relatives, friends, teachers and the media that are determined to convince them that they remain forever victims. Now, more than ever, hard work, drive and focus win the race.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


21 January, 2011

Sympathy for the Devil?

Peter Saunders

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards recently published his autobiography. It has topped best-seller lists across the world and has attracted acclaim from the most unlikely sources. Writing in Britain’s conservative Daily Telegraph, the Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was so impressed he called for Richards to be knighted!

Keef is an unlikely Tory hero. His book makes clear his disdain for authority and contempt for the governing classes, and it documents repeated clashes with the police, years of illegal hard drug use, and legendary promiscuity. But few of us nowadays are shocked by tales of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

But what about thieving? Before he became famous, Richards tells us he was ‘always nicking things from the other flats’ where he lived. Later, he knocked around with gangsters and drug dealers, on one occasion unwittingly driving the get-away car in a jewellery heist. He boasts that ‘all my close friends have been jailbirds.’ How does Boris square all this with conservative respect for law and order?

Richards is also a violent man. He boasts of booting one fan in the head and kicking a photographer for taking his photograph. He threatened a taxi driver with a knife, and attacked a man in a nightclub with a broken wineglass stem. A music journalist was told he’d have his hands smashed if he mentioned our hero’s acne, and Richards threw a knife at someone in a recording studio for suggesting changes to the arrangement he was playing. He brags that the chauffeur who informed on his drug-taking in 1967 ‘never walked the same again.’

Richards carries a knife and packed illegal guns and ammunition for many years. He was twice involved in shoot-outs at drugs deals and discharged guns at parties. He tells us the best strategy in a blade fight is to slash your opponent’s forehead so the blood gushes into his eyes. Is this really someone the Conservative Mayor of London should seek to honour?

In the 1970s, Richards took his seven year-old son on tour with him, charged with waking him from his drug stupors and helping him to stash his drugs at border crossings. His daughter was raised by his mother because neither he nor his increasingly violent and delusional junkie girlfriend could care properly for her. His second son died in infancy, but Richards didn’t even go home for the funeral. In the most chilling sentence in the book, he writes: ‘I don’t even know where the little bugger is buried, if he’s buried at all.’

Where do the Tories stand on family values nowadays, Boris?

Richards expresses contempt for the establishment, but he has made good use of it down the years, pulling strings and mobilising friends in high places to win favours and get him out of scrapes. Presidents, movie stars, aristocrats and tycoons have all prostrated themselves before our Keef, so the Mayor of London is in good company.

But why is a conservative like Johnson so desperate to condone such a gross and vile lifestyle? The answer is that Keef is cool, and Boris wants to distance himself from the stuffy old establishment values that conservatives used to uphold. Never mind the lawlessness, violence and destruction; better to appear cool than to be seen as dull and boring.

Of course, Richards would never accept a knighthood, and he is scathing about ‘Sir’ Mick Jagger for accepting his. He cherishes his image as a folk-rebel, so he’d never risk tarnishing his reputation by accepting a bauble from the Queen. But for leading conservatives to suggest he is worthy of honouring shows just how far Britain has slid into moral relativism and nihilism. Arise Sir Keef, so we may all pay obeisance to the base values that your life celebrates and which our leaders have lost the confidence to condemn.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated Jan. 21. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

NAACP Boxes George Washington

Lloyd Marcus

While reading her emails, I heard my wife say, "This is so absurd, it has to be an internet hoax doctored photo". It was a photo of a rally on MLK Day hosted by the South Carolina NAACP held at the state house. The statue of George Washington at the state house was boxed in on three sides hidden from the rallying crowd. The NAACP said they covered the statue because they "didn't want to offend anyone".

Upon investigation, the photo was confirmed to be real.

This misdirected ridiculous behavior by the NAACP epitomizes why I, a black American, will never join or give one nickel to this exploitative divisive organization. With black high school dropout rates at epidemic levels, 80% of black kids growing up in fatherless homes and 50% of black pregnancies ending in abortion, why on earth would the NAACP invest time and energy into running around covering up statues of long dead white guys; rather than addressing "real" issues plaguing black America today?

Regardless of what you think about George Washington, he was our first president. Exploiting the occasion of MLK day to diss America's first president is part of the NAACP's continuing effort to find irrelevant crap to protest about, impugn the greatness of our country and live in the past, as if American race relations have not progressed since the 50s.

The NAACP's mantra is blacks are eternal victims of an eternally racist America; white America should feel eternally guilty, and loyal blacks should feel eternally entitled.

I've heard, "Always follow the money". Somewhere along the way, the once great NAACP strayed from being dignified true advocates for fairness, civil rights and holding blacks accountable to "gettin' paid".

The NAACP's searching the past for evidence to reenforce their victim status and protesting things which have zero effect on the lives of contemporary black Americans is laying the foundation for more government handouts, extortion of businesses and reparations.

The NAACP has morphed into a left wing political action committee committed to electing liberal democrats who support their eternal victim, America sucks; eternal entitlement agenda.

I am president of the NAACPC, National Association for the Advancement of Conservative People of All Colors. If he were alive today, MLK would be a proud member. [MLK was in fact a Republican]


British judge condemns 'enormous emotional pressure' put on Muslim women after rape case collapses

A judge today condemned the 'enormous emotional pressure' exerted on women in Muslim communities after a rape case collapsed at the eleventh hour when the wife of an Asian man refused to give evidence against him.

The 35-year-old woman had accused her 34-year-old husband - a convicted sex offender - of raping her twice and was due to testify against him at a trial earlier this week.

But prosecutors were forced to offer no evidence and the case collapsed when the women suddenly decided to retract the allegations.

Judge Simon Newell said he was concerned ‘sections of the community’ were ‘exerting influences’ and ‘inhibiting the police’ from carrying out their duties. He implied justice was being interfered with by those close to the woman who wanted her to drop the charges.

The husband, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has two previous convictions - one for assault causing actual bodily harm against his wife and another for a sexual offence against another woman. He has already been ordered to sign the sex offenders register until September 2014.

Despite expressing concern that the woman had been pressurised into withdrawing the rape claims, Judge Newell allowed the husband to walk free from court. However, he warned him that the matter would ‘lie on his file’ and could be brought before the courts again should new evidence come to light.

'It seems to me there are persons who have an interest in this case, who are minded to express opinions and exert influences which are possibly inhibiting the police, the prosecuting authorities and the courts in carrying out their proper functions,' the judge said.

'This will not be tolerated. It is for the courts to carry out judicial functions and it’s not for individuals or sections of the community to attempt to resolve these matters outside the court.'

Burnley Crown Court was told that the husband, of Burnley, Lancs, denied both rape charges against him.

Sara Dodd, prosecuting, said the alleged victim was at court, but did not wish to give evidence against her husband. She said the complainant had been put under 'enormous emotional pressure from her community' over the case. Miss Dodd said the Crown Prosecution Service would not be proceeding with the case against the husband as it would 'do more harm than good' to the alleged victim.

It is understood that no action will be taken against the woman for retracting the allegations.

Last month Keir Starmer, the chief prosecutor in England and Wales, admitted there had been failings in the treatment of women who withdraw rape claims.

His comments came after a 28-year-old woman, from Welshpool, North Wales, was jailed for retracting allegations of rape against her husband. The young mother, who was bullied into withdrawing the charges by her controlling and manipulative husband, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment for perverting the course of justice by a crown court judge after the case against her husband collapsed.

But she was freed after spending 18 days in jail by the country’s most senior judge in November, who said a community punishment would have been more ‘compassionate’.

Mr Starmer publicly apologised to the woman and said that any moves to prosecute women who retract a rape allegation would now need his personal approval. 'If the victim has decided to withdraw a rape allegation, we must explore the issues behind that, particularly if the victim is under pressure or frightened,' he added.


Pakistani-origin Conservative triggers backlash over 'Islamophobia' in Britain

Tory chairman Baroness Warsi faced a fierce backlash last night after claiming anti-Muslim bigotry was commonplace around British dinner tables.

The peer, the first Muslim woman to be appointed to the Cabinet, said Islamophobia had ‘seeped into our society’.

She also suggested that followers of Islam should not be divided into ‘extremists’ and ‘moderates’.

Her remarks were condemned by the Right of her party and church leaders, and Downing Street refused to endorse her views.

In a speech, Lady Warsi said: ‘It’s not a big leap of imagination to predict where the talk of “moderate” Muslims leads; in the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says: “Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim”. In the school, the kids say: “The family next door are Muslim but they’re not too bad”.

‘It has seeped into our society in a way where it is acceptable around dinner to have conversations where anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry is openly discussed.

‘At various times, Britain has not been at ease with various religious minorities, whether that’s the Catholic community, eventually resulting in Catholic emancipation, or more recently the British Jewish community.

‘I look at the way those challenges were dealt with and indeed are continuing to be dealt with and how we must bring some of those lessons to the rise of anti-Muslim hatred.’

She added that perceptions of criminality among Muslims were of particular concern.

‘Sadly, one of the concerns that has been raised as I travel around the country is that somehow because there are a minority of people who commit criminal acts who come from the faith of Islam, that somehow means that it is fair game to have a go at the community as a whole,’ she said. ‘'It has seeped into our society in a way where it is acceptable around dinner to have conversations where anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry'

She also suggested that Muslim communities must do more to make clear to fundamentalists that their beliefs and actions are not acceptable.

Downing Street is understood to have insisted on significant changes to the final version of Lady Warsi’s speech. One source said: ‘Her remarks do not represent Government policy.’

Lady Warsi’s veteran predecessor Lord Tebbit said she should be more concerned about anti-Christian sentiments expressed by Muslims.

‘The Muslim faith was not discussed over the dinner tables of England, nor in the bars, before large numbers of Muslims came here to our country,’ he said. ‘I would have told her to go to our Christian churches and listen to what was said about her religion and those who practise it, then to the Mosques to hear what is said in some of them about the Christian faith and those who practise it.’

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, rejected Lady Warsi’s suggestion that distinguishing between ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ Muslims fostered prejudice. ‘Extremism as a mindset is spreading throughout the Muslim world’ he said.

‘That is why we must distinguish between those Muslims who want to live peacefully with their non-Muslim neighbours and those who wish to introduce Shari’a into this country, restrict freedom of speech and confine women to their homes.’

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, which campaigns against State interference in people’s lives, said: ‘I think all but a tiny handful of people are able to distinguish between those who hold to the Islamic faith, and Islamist extremists.’

But former Tory MP Paul Goodman said: ‘She’s right about Muslims because some of what’s broadcast and written about them is dangerous. Try swapping the word “Muslim” when you see it in a newspaper headline with the word “Jewish”.’ He said she was wrong on extremism, however.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


20 January, 2011

Two mothers and their toddler children banned from council-funded playgroup - for being BRITISH

Two British mothers have been banned from a publicly funded women's group and creche because it was set up exclusively for foreigners.

Emma Knightley and Kimberley Wildman thought the group would be the ideal way for them and their children to make friends. They were encouraged to come by a mixed-race friend who attends meetings despite being born and raised in Britain. But when they arrived for their first session, a female volunteer told them they weren't welcome because they were British-born.

The Making Links group in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, was set up to help integrate foreigners and their children aged under five into the community. It receives money from the town council and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

But yesterday legal experts warned the group could be in breach of the Race Relations Act, and faces action in a civil court which could order it to pay compensation.

Nationality and race are protected under last year's Equality Act. This states that people have a right not to be discriminated against, harassed or victimised because of these factors.

But the Race Relations Act 1976 gives permission for a form of positive discrimination, for example in providing funding for gay or lesbian groups, or advertising for a female social worker to help women who have been victims of domestic violence.

Caroline Herbert, an expert in discrimation law, said the two women could claim discrimination. She added: `A case could be brought in a civil court, which could award compensation.'

Shop worker Miss Knightley, 25, who lives in the town with her 21-month-old daughter Imogen, said: `The first thing I was asked about was my nationality and when I said I was British I was told we had to leave.

`She said "Are you not aware this is for foreign people only?" I said I knew it was trying to integrate people into the community but didn't realise that meant British people and their children were banned. `I felt humiliated. You wouldn't get away with a British-only mum and children's group.'

Trainee midwife Miss Wildman, 27, who has two daughters, Georgia, five, and 18-month-old Olivia, added: `It's a real shame. `I want my children to play with children from other races and integrate in the community because that stops discrimination.'

When the pair were challenged last week, Miss Knightley pointed out that their friend, who is of Indian and Malaysian descent, was born and bred in Britain too. The volunteer replied: `But her parents aren't.'

Ministers said the group was `divisive' and `racist'. Last night the Department of Communities and Local Government announced it would effectively abolish it by cutting its public funding.

Communities and local government minister Bob Neill said: `It is a real cause for concern that monies allocated for community development are being spent in such a divisive manner. `Rather than building good community relations, such an insensitive approach that seemingly discriminates against British people threatens to undermine community cohesion.'

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly, whose Huntingdon constituency includes St Neots, added: `I'm upset to hear that constituents have had a racist experience. There is a question here of legality and also of sensitivity. Teaching people how to integrate involves allowing people to integrate.'


The Slow-Motion Exodus of European Jews

Do Jews have a future in an increasingly Muslim Europe? Often explored by Daniel Pipes, this question recently drew a disconcerting answer from prominent Dutch politician Frits Bolkestein, who opined on the grim choices facing visible (e.g., Orthodox) Jews in his nation:
The former EU commissioner says there is no future for this group in the Netherlands because of "the anti-Semitism among Dutchmen of Moroccan descent, whose numbers keep growing."

He feels that this group of Jews should encourage their children to emigrate to either the United States or Israel, because he has little confidence in the effectiveness of the government's proposals for fighting anti-Semitism.

Bolkestein's remarks echo those of Benjamin Jacobs, the country's chief rabbi, who told Arutz Sheva in 2010 that "the future for Dutch Jewry is moving to Israel." Indeed, some Jews are acting. The same news service reported in December that the son of Raphael Evers, another leading Dutch rabbi, "has announced plans to move to Israel due to anti-Semitism":
"It's not that you can't leave the house, but you need to constantly hide, to be careful," he explained. He related his own cautionary measures, which include avoiding certain neighborhoods, and hiding his kippah (yalmulke) when walking through areas with a high number of Muslim immigrants.

Next consider Sweden. Last month, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged traveling Jews to exercise "extreme caution" due to "harassment of Jewish citizens in the southern city of Malm”." An estimated 60,000 Muslims comprise a fifth of Malm”'s population and hate crimes regularly impact the lives of its 700 remaining Jews. "The city's synagogue has guards and rocket-proof glass in the windows," the Telegraph notes, "while the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through thick steel security doors." With the government's response a mix of denial and blaming the victim, many Jews are leaving Malm” - and even Sweden altogether.

Recent years also have seen increasing numbers of Jews moving to Israel from France and the UK. Will this soon be the case for Jews of other European countries as well? Given the raft of worrying tales from 2010 alone - Muslims assaulting Jews in Norway and Denmark, stone-tossing Arabs driving Jewish dancers from a stage in Germany, and a poll finding that 38% of Muslim youth in Austria agree that "Hitler had done a lot of good for the people" - the future does not look happy.

It has become fashionable to equate the plight of today's Muslim population in Europe with that of the continent's oppressed Jews during the 1930s. However, one can tell which group faces the real threat in modern Europe by watching migratory trends. While European governments are planning fences to keep Muslims from entering illegally, Jews are exiting in droves. People vote with their feet. The results - Muslims in, Jews out - offer critical lessons and warnings.


Smartphone searches, encryption, and the Constitution

Privacy severely threatened

The smartphone is arguably one of the most empowering and revolutionary technologies of the modern era. By putting the processing power of a personal computer and the speed of a broadband connection into a device that fits in a pocket, smartphones have revolutionized how we communicate, travel, learn, game, shop, and more.

Yet smartphones have an oft-overlooked downside: when they end up in the wrong hands, they offer overreaching agents of the state, thieves, hackers, and other wrongdoers an unparalleled avenue for uncovering and abusing the volumes of sensitive personal information we increasingly store on our mobile phones.

Over on Ars Technica, I have a long feature story that examines the constitutional and technical issues surrounding police searches of mobile phones:
Last week, California’s Supreme Court reached a controversial 5-2 decision in People v. Diaz (PDF), holding that police officers may lawfully search mobile phones found on arrested individuals’ persons without first obtaining a search warrant. The court reasoned that mobile phones, like cigarette packs and wallets, fall under the search incident to arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

California’s opinion in Diaz is the latest of several recent court rulings upholding warrantless searches of mobile phones incident to arrest. While this precedent is troubling for civil liberties, it’s not a death knell for mobile phone privacy. If you follow a few basic guidelines, you can protect your mobile device from unreasonable search and seizure, even in the event of arrest. In this article, we will discuss the rationale for allowing police to conduct warrantless searches of arrestees, your right to remain silent during police interrogation, and the state of mobile phone security.

You can read the full essay on Ars Technica here. And while you’re at it, I highly recommend watching this informative YouTube video that explains why it’s not a good idea to talk to police:

SOURCE. (See the original for links)

Anti-male bigotry in Britain

Crazed phone calls, sinister threats, vile sex slurs - so why did the police treat a female stalker as a joke?

My experience is not at all as bad as that described below but I was once chased around London by a female stalker and I was the one who ended up in a police cell as a result. Fortunately, my pursuer gave up at that point and I was soon released. So I can vouch for such things happening in Britain -- JR

One summer evening in 2009 I was cycling home when I heard a voice shout out my name. Even before I looked, I knew who it was. A quick glance confirmed it, so I pedalled faster, past Somerfield, towards the street in which I live. To my horror, the person started sprinting after me.

As I reached the steps up to my front door, I could only stare in bewilderment as she came haring around the corner. Panic rushed over me as my key would not go in the lock and the distance between us began to shrink to a few yards. Thankfully, I got in just in time and slammed the door as she bounded up the steps.

It might sound melodramatic but I bent down and shouted through the letterbox, not for the first - or the last - time, that I was going to call the police.

You see, the woman in question was my stalker. Yes, that's right, me - a strapping 6ft 3in, 37-year-old man. I have a female stalker called Karen, who also happens to be not altogether unattractive and in her early 40s.

If you find this notion rather risible - aren't stalkers supposed to be pathetic lonely single men, forlornly loitering outside TV studios to catch a glimpse of their favourite female newsreader? - then you're not alone.

Everybody seems to find it funny that I have been stalked for the best part of two years - my friends; casual acquaintances, who hear the S-word and chuckle without considering the stress that real stalking causes; and even the police.

Not all the police, but a significant few. When you have had a uniformed officer, to whom you are giving your first statement, suddenly crack up laughing at your plight (`I'm really sorry, mate, but she sounds -mental'), you start to wonder if that's going to be a standard reaction.

I first met Karen at my local pub in summer 2008, when she recognised me as being a member of the same dating website as her. The second time I met her was the weekend after I had just split up with my then girlfriend, and I'd gone to the same pub to drown my sorrows. We got talking in more depth, she was down-to-earth, quirky and flirty, and in the time-honoured tradition of the Great British Rebound, we ended up in bed.

In the wee small hours of the next morning, I woke up and, through bleary eyes, saw a beatifically-grinning Karen tell me that she loved me. There and then, I had a tiny -premonition of how bad things would get.

Frankly, I had no desire to see Karen again, certainly not after her declarations, but I did the classic man thing of ignoring her emails and texts rather than nipping it in the bud - a big mistake.

Over the course of the next 16 months, Karen's actions provided me with a constant series of `firsts' to tick off. A week after our initial -meeting, she turned up drunk at my home for the first time, at pub chucking-out time, -slurring and begging entry.

In April, she made her first twin-pronged attempt to rouse me from my slumbers, -showing up to ring me on my mobile and hammer on my front door between calls, and then left her first abusive voicemail.

'When I gave my statement, a uniformed officer cracked up laughing, "I'm really sorry, mate, but she sounds -mental"'

May saw the arrival of the first handwritten, hand-delivered letter begging forgiveness, two pages long, not a lick of sense on either page. And July brought that unnerving pursuit, the first time anyone had ever chased me in the street.

To my friends, to my work colleagues, this was all still a source of hilarity - after all, she seemed to be on some kind of two-to-three-month cycle, her drunken visits a sporadic inconvenience rather than anything about which I needed to feel threatened. 'How's the stalker?' they would josh, and I would tell them the latest. All good fun.

It stopped being all good fun in November. I was out on the step one evening chatting to neighbours when Karen came -stumbling down the street. She was substantially more drunk than I had ever seen her before, screaming abuse, bizarrely, about my failed -aspirations as a novelist.

The next day I left my flat to find her again loitering outside. When I told her that I'd had enough and that I'd be calling the police imminently, she delivered her killer blow. `If you do,' she said calmly, `I'll tell them you drugged me and sexually assaulted me.'

Two things happened in that instant: I stopped feeling any -lingering sympathy I may have had for Karen, and I stopped finding -anything funny about the situation.

It took one more `first' before I went to the police, however: after six more months of worrying, insomnia and creeping paranoia, I finally knew what had to be done when, in May last year, Karen forced her way into my home, bounding up the steps to burst through the front door before I could react - her first use of physical force.

She began to shout abuse very directly at my face, so that when I went outside to get away from her and call the police, luckily she -followed. I was then able to slip back inside, slam the door, and, as she -continued to hammer on the door and roar insults, make the call.

To their credit, the police arrived in time to intercept her as she stumbled off, but not before some other firsts: explicit physical threats, and explicit use of the word `rape'.

The next day, I went to my local police station to give a full statement (and have it laughed at by the PC on duty) and play them tapes of three abusive voicemails that Karen had obligingly left after being interviewed by police at the scene.

Within a few days, I had been assigned a case officer, and Karen had been arrested, whereupon she made good her threat and counter-alleged sexual assault. And that's when the legal system kicked in.

As a man alleging harassment against a woman, I just had my case officer. Karen, meanwhile, was able, as a victim of an alleged sexual assault, to turn to Victim Support and the free legal aid that it provided, legal aid that tried to make her nonsensical claims stand up.

My case officer, it turned out, wasn't great. Awkward on the phone, cagey and slapdash, he never got round to interviewing any of my suggested witnesses. And when I emailed him fresh evidence of harassment at the end of last year, I never heard back.

When you have an allegation of sexual assault against you - however ridiculous - a constant feeling of nausea settles in your gut and does not leave. My fear was now that I would end up in court, and lose my job. As for any official support channels for me? Either there weren't any - or the police had neglected to tell me about them.

One thing it did achieve, though, was finally uniting my friends in non-mirthful solidarity behind me - female friends were outraged that a woman would falsely allege something so serious, an issue that I'd guess affects them all deeply. My male friends, I think, were secretly relieved it was not happening to them.

But I did have the evidence - -those voicemails. A few weeks later, in late August, Karen was issued with a -harassment warning prohibiting her from contacting me. It wasn't the same as a restraining order that would have prevented her from coming within a certain distance of me but it provided a firm assurance that if the harassment continued, she would be prosecuted.

Meanwhile her case against me dragged on for months. The -common-or-garden insomnia I'd been experiencing for six months became fevered nightmares of -violence, and at work as a journalist, my temper was constantly on edge.

A potential relationship foundered - night terrors made it impossible for me to share a bed with anyone, and besides, it's not like I was thinking about sex anyway. My anger that I was left in this horrific limbo ate away at me; I drank alone at weekends, just so that I would fall asleep before I started hearing noises in the dark outside.

If all this sounds melodramatic, then I guess the unique combination of being stalked and having a serious sexual allegation against you makes one prone to melodrama. I've visited war zones for work in the past, but believe me, I felt more fear in those awful few months.

They eventually called me in to the station in October. I arrived 20 minutes early for the appointment, and spent it vomiting into a bin out of sheer terror. Karen had a three-strong case team working on her allegations against me, who were everything my own case officer had not been.

They calmly, reassuringly explained to me that my presence there was a mere formality to -complete the process that had been set in motion by Karen's initial addled allegations (for which she was still receiving Victim Support). I was in and out in 30 minutes.

The next time I heard from the police six or seven weeks later, it was to tell me that no more action was being taken on Karen's case against me. The reason? Apparently her statement had made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

And no, she wasn't prosecuted for -wasting police time. But to be -honest, at the time all I cared was that her ridiculous claims weren't going any further.

So, end of story. Except it isn't. Indeed, I'm not even sure where the end is. For one thing, Karen has already started to bend the rules of her warning, starting online Scrabble games on Facebook with me, using a false profile. The games enabled her to leave further rambling messages for me to read, blaming the whole sorry affair on me.

But that's not my prime concern right now - I am. The nightmares are now a nightly fixture, so too the sudden flashes of impotent rage about what she got away with, about all the legal help she got, about the help I needed and didn't get.

It bothers me that every day is tinged with fear that she'll come back, maybe with a knife in her hand. I know I have to move away from the area, but at the moment, I'd just take a decent, uninterrupted night's sleep. And I can't even get that.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


19 January, 2011

'Now some people are more equal than others': Despair of Christian hotel owners penalised for turning away homosexuals

Two Christian hotel owners punished for refusing a bed to a gay couple claimed yesterday that their religion is being suppressed. Peter and Hazelmary Bull said Christianity had been pushed to the margins of society, and added: ‘Some people are more equal than others.’

They spoke out after a landmark court decision awarded £1,800 each to civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who were denied a double room under the Bulls’ policy of allowing only married couples to share a bed in the hotel that is also their home.

The ruling by a judge in Bristol sealed the supremacy of gay rights over Christian belief under the Sexual Orientation Regulations pushed through by Tony Blair four years ago.

The laws prevent discrimination against homosexuals by businesses and state organisations, but have had the knock-on effect of requiring Christians who run small concerns to set their principles and beliefs aside if they wish to stay in business.

And Judge Andrew Rutherford also broke new ground by insisting that in the eyes of the law there is no difference between a civil partnership and a marriage.

Although civil partnership conveys precisely the same rights and privileges on a gay couple as marriage does on heterosexuals, the Labour ministers who introduced civil partnerships always said they were merely contracts and did not amount to marriage. But the judge said: ‘There is no material difference between marriage and a civil partnership.’

His ruling may lead to a long legal battle if the Bulls appeal, with a possibility that the case will go as far as the country’s highest tribunal, the Supreme Court.

The Bulls were sued over their married-only policy on double beds. They were ordered to pay each of the victims £1,800 in compensation for the ‘hurt and embarrassment they suffered’.

Outside court, Mrs Bull said the verdict had serious implications for the religious liberty of Christians who would be forced to act against ‘deeply and genuinely held beliefs’. The 66-year-old and her husband, 70, live at the seven-bedroom Chymorvah Private Hotel near Penzance, Cornwall, and have only ever allowed married couples to share a double room since they opened for business 25 years ago.

They had accepted a booking for a double room from Mr Preddy, 38, believing he would be staying with his wife. It was only when he arrived at the £80-a-night hotel with his 46-year-old civil partner that they were turned away.

IT workers Mr Preddy and Mr Hall described themselves as feeling ‘angry and humiliated’ and contacted police, who helped them find alternative accommodation. The two men deny suggestions that their booking was a set-up on behalf of gay rights group Stonewall, which had previously written to the hotel owners about their rules.

Mrs Bull said: ‘Our double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody. It was applied equally and consistently to unmarried heterosexual couples and homosexual couples, as the judge accepted.’

Their legal battle was aided by the Christian Institute think tank, while Mr Preddy and Mr Hall were supported by the taxpayer-funded state equality body the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Mr and Mrs Bull, who have previously admitted they are struggling to pay debts, are facing financial ruin after being ordered to pay most of the costs of the commission. Mr Hall and Mr Preddy, from Bristol, had asked for £5,000 damages, claiming sexual orientation discrimination.

In his 12-page ruling, Judge Rutherford said that in the past 50 years social attitudes had changed. He added that the Bulls ‘have the right to manifest their religion or beliefs’ and said both sides in the case ‘hold perfectly honourable and respectable, albeit wholly contrary, views’. However, he concluded that the Bulls ‘discriminate on the basis of marital status’.

‘There is no material difference between marriage and a civil partnership. If that is right, then upon what basis do the defendants draw a distinction if it is not on sexual orientation? The only conclusion which can be drawn is that the refusal to allow [the claimants] to occupy the double room which they had booked was because of their sexual orientation and that this is direct discrimination.’

But Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said: ‘This ruling is further evidence that equality laws are being used as a sword rather than a shield. Christians are being sidelined.’


It's marriage, not paternity leave, that gives British children the best start

Does marriage matter? Not to the Deputy Prime Minister, it would seem. Setting out his vision of ­family policy this week, Nick Clegg said that government ministers should not ‘preach’ to parents about marriage — what mattered, instead, was helping them make their relationships work.

And yet, how I wish somebody would preach about marriage. How I yearn for a politician (or even an archbishop) to start banging the drum for the greatest family institution of all.

They could enthuse about the deep companionship and trust marriage brings, its safety and refuge, its strength and support, its humour and grace.

How I long for Nick Clegg — presumably desperate to recover ground after the ­tuition fees debacle and make what political capital he can from pushing the equality agenda forward — to make a speech, instead, where he tells us how worthwhile marriage is, how it is the ideal framework in which to bring up children and therefore the one to which we should all aspire.

He won’t, of course. But he will say that he backs plans to allow fathers to take up to six months’ maternity leave (increasing to ten months by 2015).

This seems to me to exemplify his ­muddled thinking. It will benefit only a small proportion of the population — mothers who are married to men with ­freelance jobs who earn less than they do.

For the rest, I don’t see many men wanting to risk taking so much time out of their career. A man who wants to spend ten months at home with his baby is a very rare beast, in my experience (or, more likely, a liar).

Meanwhile, one of America’s foremost campaigners for increased maternity leave is warning women that taking too much time can be counterproductive: taking any longer than six months seems likely to fatally set back your prospects of pay and promotion.

Indeed, isn’t it about time that both men and women grew up a little? Four out of six mothers work today, compared with one in six in 1951. If your job ­matters to you, then don’t take more than six months’ maternity leave — and don’t expect your husband to, either.

It doesn’t mean you can’t still be a good mother. And the benefits of the workplace — an engaged brain and another dimension to your world — are more than financial.

Besides, since when did we get the notion that we’re all entitled to an easy life? Yes, it’s hard to be a working mother — but it’s not impossible.

It requires determination, a willingness to invest in the best childcare you can afford, and a recognition that you will need to abandon any meaningful social life when your children are small.

But most of all, it requires a supportive husband. And if Nick Clegg really wants to improve the nation’s parenting, he should forget about paternity leave and concentrate instead on a truly radical policy: promoting marriage.

By all means adopt some of the proposals put forward by Demos — the Left-wing think-tank whose latest report Clegg was endorsing.

Broadening the role of health visitors, using ante-natal classes to prepare new parents for the strain a new baby will place on their relationship, and offering a parenting ‘booster’ class to parents when their child starts primary school are all excellent ideas.

But the wisest idea of all is the oldest and the simplest: to take that leap of faith and make a public commitment to love and honour each other until death.

It’s not the product of any think-tank. But I’m quite sure that it’s one of the best things we can ever do — for ourselves, for our society and, most ­importantly of all, for our children.


Lots of schoolgirl pregnancies in Memphis, Tennessee

Mostly blacks, apparently. Traditional standards regarding pregnancy seem to have been stood on their head. With welfare payments easier than working, why not?

As Memphis City Schools leaders discuss the best way to deal with the crisis at Frayser High School, one young student is dealing with parenthood. The Action News 5 Investigators recently discovered 90 girls who attend Frayser High School are now pregnant or have already had a baby this school year.

Frayser is in Memphis City School Board member Stephanie Gatewood's district. She said a former principal of the school first sounded the alarm about the issue about a year ago.

Sources told Action News 5 there is a massive initiative in the works dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy in the Frayser community. The initiative will include after-school and in-school programs funded with grant money and run by a local nonprofit that already does some work for city schools.

Gatewood said there are programs right now to help students. "Noting that our young ladies absolutely did not get pregnant in the hallways of our schools," said Gatewood. "So while everything that happens in our communities, it just spills over into our schools. Now we as a community have to deal with them." Greenwood said the school board has implemented some plans to help children who are already parents or are about to become parents.

Roughly 20 percent of the female student population at Frayser High is already experiencing the trials of parenthood.

"It's a shame that all these girls at Frayser are pregnant, but it ain't nothing new," said Sutton. "Some girls just try to do it because they think it's cute. For some, it's an accident." Sutton said she believes some girls are making agreements with each other to get pregnant. "They probably plan it," she said. "Plan what they're going to do to get pregnant. No telling."

Sutton said educators need to do more to try to help prevent teen pregnancies. "They need a class where they can teach the girls before they get pregnant to use protection and stuff," said Sutton. "And don't try to get pregnant."


Australia: Sculptor defies 'bullies' and refuses to take down anti-burka mural

A SYDNEY artist whose anti-burka mural has infuriated left-wing and Islamic activists is vowing that the provocative artwork will stay in place despite death threats, abuse, a string of vandalism attacks, a violent weekend protest and a police request to remove it.

Newtown glass sculptor Sergio Redegalli has this week restored the mural painted outside his studio for more than the 40th time after dozens of graffiti and paint-bomb attacks by protesters who say it is racist and inflammatory.

In the latest incident last Sunday, a crowd of 50 activists hurled paint at the mural and then turned on police who had to call in reinforcements to restore order.

Seven men were arrested and charged with offences including resisting police, assaulting police and destroying or damaging property.

The charges will be heard in Newtown Local Court next month. Redegalli blames local left-wing groups, rather than Muslim activists, for the incident.

The sculptor, who is a well-known figure in inner-suburban Newtown, says he has since been visited by local police who asked him to take down the mural after learning of a threat to fire-bomb it.

He refuses to do so in the interests of free speech and public debate. "I'm not going to let the bullies win," Redegalli told The Australian yesterday. "I'm not doing it for pride (but because) I don't believe bullies have the right to stand over people and deny us our freedoms."

Redegalli painted the mural and slogan "Say no to burqas" on an exterior wall of his glassworks last September, after a local fashion designer received death threats over a plan to feature models wearing the traditional Islamic garment in a fashion parade.

The artist says his objective is to promote debate about the Islamic face veil, which he sees as a symbol of repression and violent extremism.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


18 January, 2011

The christening without much Christianity: Church of England to offer 'baptism lite' to attract non-worshippers

Church of England baptism services may be re-written to remove some references to Christianity. The plan for a new ‘baptism lite’ service designed to make christenings more interesting to non-churchgoers will be considered next month by the Church’s parliament, the General Synod.

Supporters say the baptism service should be ‘expressed in culturally appropriate and accessible language’ that is readily understood by ‘non-theologically versed Britons’.
But traditionalist clergy said the idea amounted to ‘dumbing down’.

The new service would be used at 150,000 christenings each year. If the plan is accepted, it will be the third full re-write of the baptism ceremony in around 30 years – the version in the Church’s Book of Common Prayer went virtually unaltered for more than 400 years until 1980.

Complaints centre on three sections of the baptism service from the Church’s latest prayer book, Common Worship, authorised for use in 1997. In one, parents, godparents or an adult being baptised are asked to ‘reject the devil and all rebellion against God’ and to renounce ‘the deceit and corruption of evil’. They are asked to ‘submit to Christ as Lord’.

The Reverend Dr Tim Stratford, from Liverpool, who is putting the plans before the synod, said in a paper that ‘there remains some unhappiness about the language not being earthed enough’. He added: ‘The concern is one of the language not making strong enough connections to life choices in such a way that it can be heard.’

Dr Stratford and his supporters have also called for a new version of prayers that refer to the symbolic role of water in baptism. He said that among clergy from poor and inner city parishes ‘there was a strong plea for a shorter prayer in direct but poetic language that allows the Gospel to resonate better with people’s experience of life’. He added: ‘This was not a plea for a prayer in Scouse, but for a prayer that the majority of non-theologically versed Britons would understand.’

A third part of the service was condemned as too long and not ‘direct’.

Stephen Parkinson, of the Anglo-Catholic Forward in Faith organisation, said there were problems with the 1997 service, but added: ‘Simply dumbing it down is not the answer.’

Bishops indicated yesterday that if the Synod accepts the argument a committee will be instructed to begin writing a new baptism service, but they warned that such re-writing would raise arguments over faith and doctrine.

William Fittall, secretary general of the synod, said that bishops are ‘clear that now is not the time to embark on the long and complex process involved in such a revision or replacement’.


'It's a sledgehammer for British businesses': Ten month paternity leave for fathers savaged by city chiefs

Allowing fathers to take up to ten months of paternity leave would be a ‘sledgehammer to business’, it was claimed last night. Under plans outlined yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, couples could be allowed to divide up their joint parental leave into chunks of a few weeks at a time – increasing the disruption for employers. Fathers may also be offered an extra six weeks of ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ leave to encourage them to take time off.

The British Chambers of Commerce said the proposals were a ‘sledgehammer’ to business while employment lawyers said they could have a ‘chilling’ effect on recruitment.

The Institute of Directors warned that the policy would make it impossible for businesses to plan, adding: ‘If employees were given the opportunity to take leave in short blocks, the system would become virtually unmanageable.’

Employment law barrister Daniel Barnett warned the change could put firms off employing young people at all. He said: ‘It sounds noble, but is deeply impractical. It will have a chilling impact on recruitment practice.’

Embarrassingly, it emerged that David Cameron had spoken out against similar Labour proposals while in opposition. In 2006, he said: ‘The massive extension of paternity leave owes a bit more to political correctness than the realities of life. It could be very disruptive, particularly to small business.’

Mr Clegg said the Coalition would press ahead in April with Labour’s plans to allow new parents to share up to six months of paid maternity leave – with the intention of increasing that to ten months in due course.

But Downing Street yesterday stressed that the ten-month proposal would not be introduced until 2015.


Popular broadcasting personality lambasts BBC's red-tape and political corectness

Sir Terry Wogan has attacked the BBC, saying its obsession with red tape is tantamount to ‘lunatics taking over the asylum’. The veteran broadcaster warned that the corporation is in danger of censoring its talent in the wake of the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand phone prank scandal.

He compared its approach with the public sector’s obsession with unnecessary and restrictive health and safety regulations.

The BBC tightened up procedures governing suitable broadcast content, known as ‘compliance’, after 54,000 people complained about Ross and Brand’s abusive messages to Andrew Sachs on a Radio 2 show.

‘Today, lunatics have taken over the asylum,’ Sir Terry, 72, told Radio Times. ‘Agents and publicists rule and the BBC even sends people to monitor interviews in the name of “compliance”. It is so restrictive.’

However, Sir Terry also criticised the next generation on screen, branding comedian Frankie Boyle as ‘too strong’ and warning that Ricky Gervais ‘walked a tightrope’.

He said of Piers Morgan’s U.S. role as CNN chat show host: ‘People confuse longevity with merit. Morgan is shameless and fearless enough to succeed.

‘There’s nothing to be gained from being an aggressive interviewer. Clive Anderson proved if you’re sharp, possibly nasty, you last six months as you won’t have any guests. People only appear on radio and TV if they’ve something to sell.’

He added that executives are more concerned about pay packets than the prestige of working for a world-renowned public service broadcaster.

Now one of the BBC’s highest-paid stars earning more than £800,000 for his Sunday Radio 2 show, he insisted money should not be the driving force for working at the BBC. Three years ago he accused bosses of lacking ‘old-fashioned thoroughness’.


TIME magazine savages Israel -- again

Faltering magazine seeks its salvation in antisemitism

It's not clear why Time magazine has championed anti-Israel zealotry, but it has now established quite a reputation for biased and inflammatory coverage of the Jewish state.

In a September 2010 article, "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace," Time reporter Karl Vick repeated the anti-Semitic trope that Jews only care about money. The article set off a firestorm of criticism and reportedly prompted some Time advertisers to express concern about the magazine's tilt.

In this week's issue, another article by Vick, "Israel's Rightward Lurch Scares Some Conservatives," heaps condemnation on the Jewish state for legislation that would require NGOs to reveal foreign funding (a similar requirement for foreign lobbyists in the U.S.) and employs noxious rhetoric.

This draws a rare rebuke from the Israeli government. An official authorized to speak only without attribution told me in measured tones that he was "surprised that Time would publish such a narrow and superficial piece on an important topic -- one that overlooked the full range and complexity of Israel's democracy. We would have expected Time to hold itself to a higher standard."

Andrea Levin, the head of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), e-mailed me this morning: "Apparently, Time Magazine has decided the way to save a waning magazine is to bash the Jewish state full tilt." She accused Vick of a "jaundiced and factually-challenged view of Israel."

Levin put the discussion of NGO funding in context: Israel's Knesset voted to establish a parliamentary committee to examine international sources of funding for Israeli organizations that "aid the de-legitimization of Israel through harming IDF soldiers."

As Ronen Shoval, head of the Im Tirtzu organization that has exposed linkages between extremist NGO's and the notorious Goldstone Report, writes in Ha'aretz: "During the past year, the vast majority of the public became convinced that the organizations that call themselves human rights groups actually belong to the extreme left and seek to force their radical values on others through foreign funding."

Much of the far left, which supports the extreme NGO's, has risen in fury at the prospect of parliamentary inquiries into funding. Karl Vick's story parrots the indignation of those who have previously dispensed biased, false attacks against Israel with impunity.

A Democratic pro-Israel activist, who is similarly beside himself, e-mails me: "Is Israel less entitled than the US or anyone else to know WHAT FOREIGN FUNDING is flowing into lobbying organizations in Israel? The people screaming are those on the fringes of Israeli society who pretend, but don't really, have the support inside Israel to fund their extremist anti-establishment, anti-Israel propaganda.

So where do they get their money? Often from foreign governments. In the U.S., when foreign governments spend money to influence our political system, they and those working for them are required to make that public. Who is afraid of transparency?

The Time piece also takes issue with Israel's Shin Bet security agency. Daniel Gordis, a senior vice president at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem counters: "Time calls the Shin Bet a 'shadowy' organization, as if the work of the CIA or NSA is carried out in broad daylight. Why on earth would a security organization not be shadowy, and why is that a crime? It's a source of suspicion, for Time, only if the country in question is Israel."

The single worst passage of the article may be this: "Ron Pundak, a historian who runs the Peres Center for Peace, sees the current atmosphere of Israeli politics as the ugliest in the nation's history. "It's totally abnormal," he says. "From my point of view, this is reminiscent of the dark ages of different places in the world in the 1930s. Maybe not Germany, but Italy, maybe Argentina later. I fear we are reaching a slippery slope, if we are not already there."

Levin said she is outraged by the fascism accusation: "His nasty rhetoric aside, Mr. Pundak is evidently aghast that many others think it's a move toward getting off the 'slippery slope' and onto solid ground to take a close look at the substance, sources and impact of certain NGO's."

But it is the entire premise of the article -- that the region's only democracy has become a sinister, authoritarian state -- that is the most disturbing. Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security advisor to George W. Bush and now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign relations, tells me:

"Time's accounts of Israel resemble, but are now more extreme, than those in Saudi or Iranian publications. In a week when the police attack demonstrators in Egypt protesting the stolen November election there, and there are anti-government riots in Jordan, Tunisia and Algeria, what does Time do? It attacks Israel, the only democracy in the region, because provisions Time does not like are being debated in Israel's parliament.

No doubt Time is scared about what it sees as 'rightward lurches' in lots of places, beginning in the United States in last November's election, but the repeated assaults on Israel have long since crossed into biased and venomous reporting."

It is the lack of balance and perspective that Gordis finds objectionable. He observes, "The article is egregiously unbalanced, as we have sadly come to expect from Time. Examples abound. Israel is accused of lurching to the right for considering stripping citizens of citizenship for espionage, when the U.S. has executed people (Julius and Ethel Rosenberg) for that crime. By that standard, stripping a citizen who betrays his or her own country in the most horrific manner of their citizenship seems mild, not extreme." He adds, "One need not be a supporter of Israel to be disgusted with Time magazine. One need only remember the days when Time's journalism was a serious craft."

Just last month, Israel's ambassador, Michael Oren, told me he was deeply troubled "the insinuation into journalistic discourse of themes that would have been deemed unacceptable or racist only a few years ago." He has reason to be concerned, just as readers of Time have reason to be alarmed by a once respectable journal that has now championed the cause of Israel's most aggressive bashers.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


17 January, 2011

The therapist who claims she can help homosexuals go straight

A psychotherapist who tried to convert a gay man to become heterosexual faces being struck off at a landmark disciplinary hearing this week. The case will expose the growing use of hugely controversial therapies, from the United States, which attempt to make homosexual men heterosexual.

The therapy has been described by the leading professional psychotherapy body as “absurd”, while the Royal College of Psychiatrists said “so-called treatments of homosexuality” allow prejudice to flourish.

A small group of counsellors believe all men are born heterosexual but that some choose a homosexual lifestyle which can then be changed through counselling.

Lesley Pilkington, 60, a psychotherapist for 20 years, faces being stripped of her accreditation to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) after treating a patient who had told her he wanted to be “cured” of his homosexuality.

The patient was in fact a prominent homosexual rights campaigner and journalist, who secretly recorded two sessions with Mrs Pilkington, a devout Christian, before reporting her to the BACP.

Mrs Pilkington says her method of therapy – Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) – is legitimate and effective. The therapy is practised by a handful of psychotherapists in Britain.

Mrs Pilkington, whose 29-year-old son is homosexual, said she was motivated by a desire to help others. “He [my son] is heterosexual. He just has a homosexual problem,” she said last week.

Mrs Pilkington has accused Patrick Strudwick, the award-winning journalist who secretly taped her, of entrapment. On the tape, Mr Strudwick asks Mrs Pilkington if she views homosexuality as “a mental illness, an addiction or an antireligious phenomenon”. She replies: “It is all of that.”

Mr Strudwick told The Sunday Telegraph: “Entering into therapy with somebody who thinks I am sick … is the singularly most chilling experience of my life.” He added: “If a black person goes to a GP and says I want skin bleaching treatment, that does not put the onus on the practitioner to deliver the demands of the patient. It puts the onus on the health care practitioner to behave responsibly.”

Mr Strudwick approached Mrs Pilkington at a largely Christian conference — run by the US organisation The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality — where he said he was unhappy with his homosexual lifestyle and that he “wanted to leave it”. He then requested “treatment for his same-sex attraction”.

In May 2009, Mr Strudwick attended a therapy session at Mrs Pilkington’s private practice, based at her home in Chorleywood, Herts, and recorded the session on a tape machine strapped to his stomach.

In the disciplinary letter sent to Mrs Pilkington, she is accused by BACP of “praying to God to heal him [Strudwick] of his homosexuality”. She is also accused of having an “agenda that homosexuality is wrong and that gay people can change and that you allegedly attempted to inflict these views on him”.

Mrs Pilkington told The Sunday Telegraph: “He told me he was looking for a treatment for being gay. He said he was depressed and unhappy and would I give him some therapy.

“I told him I only work using a Christian biblical framework and he said that was exactly what he wanted.”

She estimates that in the past decade she has offered the SOCE method to about one patient a year, lasting typically about a year. “We don’t use the word 'cure’ because it makes it [homosexuality] sound like a disease. We are helping people move out of that lifestyle because they are depressed and unhappy.

“We say everybody is heterosexual but some people have a homosexual problem. Nobody is born gay. It is environmental; it is in the upbringing.”

The SOCE method involves behavioural, psychoanalytical and religious techniques. Homosexual men are sent on weekends away with heterosexual men to “encourage their masculinity” and “in time to develop healthy relationships with women”, said Mrs Pilkington.

She said she became involved “in this lifestyle treatment” because of her son. “I am not in this because I am judging people. I am in it because I understand what the issues are.

“I have been able to help my son. We have gone through a process in my family. I want to help others who are in a similar place.

“[My son] is still gay ... we are developing a relationship that was quite difficult for many years but is now coming back in a very nice way. I am confident he will come through this and he will resolve his issues and that he will change.”

Her legal defence is being funded by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which has instructed Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister, to fight the case.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, the director of the CLC, said: “It is shocking that Lesley was targeted, lied to and misrepresented by this homosexual activist and even worse that her professional body consider her actions worthy of investigation.

“Therapy should remain freely available for those who wish to change their homosexual behaviour.”

The Royal College of Psychiatrists issued a policy statement last year condemning conversion therapies. It stated: “There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be exchanged. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish.”

Philip Hodson, a fellow of the BACP, said: “[BACP] is dedicated to social diversity, equality and inclusivity of treatment without sexual discrimination or judgmentalism of any kind, and it would be absurd to attempt to alter such fundamental aspects of personal identity as sexual orientation by counselling.


The UAW Deputizes Itself to become "Human Rights" Police

Somehow, somewhere in its nearly 76 year history, the United Auto Workers (UAW) became a “human rights” policeman. With their newly declared calling to find violators of human rights, the UAW is setting its gaze upon car manufacturers that primarily operate in America’s South.

Of course, to the UAW, a human rights violation would be to not allow the union to shanghai the paychecks of the employees they claim to defend. We’re not exactly sure if this would be a violation that the United Nations Human Rights Council would recognize, but we would not be surprised if it were.

Speaking on Wednesday, Bob King the President of the UAW, announced that it would be aggressively moving forward on organizing workers at Honda, BMW, Toyota, and Hyundai, among others. Seeking to come off as a benevolent representative of the typical “disenfranchised employee”, he informed the automakers that he seeks to be a friend and not a foe.

But all hope of King and the UAW being a friend to the auto companies was lost when he described at the Automotive News World Congress what he would do to those that did not allow the UAW to hold a secret ballot election at their factories.

Threatening the auto manufacturers, King said that companies that don’t sign on in support of the UAW’s preferences for holding elections in regards to whether or not employees should be represented by the UAW, he announced that the UAW would brand those companies as human rights violators. And that’s the least of what he will do.

According to the Labor Union Report, King vowed to commit the entire array of resources at the UAW’s command in order to sniff out these “human rights violators.” The amount of those resources? Possibly $800 million or more.

On top of being branded a violator of human rights, the UAW will hold protests and demonstrations while informing the local community of all the evils that purportedly go on at the companies. All the while, the UAW suggests to the companies that they should do nothing to interfere in the mischaracterization and falsehoods they will undoubtedly spread.

When an AP reporter asked the executive vice president of sales for American Honda why the employees of Honda were not actively seeking the UAW to represent them, he replied that “[t]hey've never seen the need, so far, to have anybody intervene on their behalf, work in partner with them, and I think that continues to be their decision, not ours.”

More intriguing on this matter is the fact that the employees in the non-union companies are making the same amount of money as those that work at companies with the UAW’s presence. The UAW argues that the companies that currently have no union representation are exploiting their workers, but how? The UAW isn’t really sure yet, but their confident that there must be something wrong.

Oh, and never mind the fact that the UAW owns 67 percent of Chrysler, a competitor to all of the companies that they seek to wet their beak at. Why any company would even allow the UAW to encroach on their employees is beyond logic.

While the UAW may believe that it is empowered to sniff out and destroy those that would violate human rights in the auto manufacturing industry, it is important to remember that these same, greedy, self-righteous human rights policeman brought Detroit to its knees and destroyed what little was left of the American auto industry, including a vast amount of jobs. The UAW is no more qualified to declare one in violation of Human Rights than the nation of Sudan is.


Weapons of Mass Consumption

Has modern technology ruined our self-control?

The good times are killing us, Daniel Akst suggests in We Have Met The Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess, but at least he believes there are steps we can take to keep ourselves from having too much fun. Compared to other critics of American affluence, this qualifies him as an optimist. His general take: Cheap food, easy credit, overwhelming consumer choice, lax social mores, and all the other virtues that bedevil us here in the land of the alarmingly unrestrained may stack the deck against us, but if, like Odysseus, we’re willing to bind ourselves to the mast whenever our own personal Sirens start trilling their irresistible melodies, we may yet escape complete ruin.

In Akst’s estimation, saying “no” to modern life’s immersive temptations is our culture’s “biggest and most enduring challenge,” and he’s got some compelling statistics to bolster this contention. According to a Harvard study he cites, extending medical coverage to all Americans would save approximately 45,000 lives a year. Meanwhile, nearly half of the 2.5 million Americans who expire each year could postpone their demises if they could only summon the strength to forsake punitively taxed cigarettes and Jersey Shore marathons.

Hear that, tubby patriots? Universal jumping jacks could save far more lives than universal healthcare, a prospect that should gladden the sclerotic hearts of both Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore, and yet we mostly fail to take action. Or at least score few victories in our battles with temptation. “Why is self-control so difficult?” Akst asks. “We might as well start by looking at our own devices, which have made everything cheaper, faster, and easier. Someday somebody will invent devices that can help us exercise more self control,” but until that day, he concludes, “technology is the problem.”

Akst dismisses TV as a “cheap, immediate pleasure” that turns us away from “longer term satisfactions requiring patience and diligence.” He calls the Internet a “diabolical means of distraction.” Everywhere he turns, in fact, he sees “weapons of mass consumption” designed to undermine our good intentions by playing to our more impulsive urges.

When Akst covers how our brains work and the many experiments social scientists have devised to show us how easy we are to manipulate, the bad news continues. Have you heard, for example, about the Yale psychologist who was able to influence how subjects assessed an individual’s personality simply by giving them hot or cold drinks to hold for a while? (Those given hot drinks judged the individual warmer.) Or inspired subjects to interrupt more frequently by exposing them to words associated with rudeness? “We have much less volition and autonomy than we think,” the psychologist tells Akst.

Still, Akst stands firm in his conviction that we do, as individuals, have agency over our choices and must take responsibility for them. The trick is to know we’re sailing through dangerous waters and to constrain our will against foreseeable desires we’d like to withstand. Psychologists call this practice pre-commitment. Akst describes one woman who freezes her credit card in a block of ice as a way to discourage spending. Another pours salt on half her dessert as a means of portion control.

To regulate their Internet usage, problem Web surfers use Covenant Eyes, which keeps track of the sites you visit and mails them to an “accountability partner” you designate. Freedom is a productivity app procrastinators use to keep themselves off the Internet long enough to get some work done. At stickK.com, you can pledge to give $1000 to a charity you support—or oppose—if you light up a cigarette. “Anti-charities are apparently highly motivating,” Akst reports. “stickK says they have an 85 percent success rate.”

And thus technology marches forward. Indeed, when Akst exclaimed that technology has made everything cheaper, faster, and easier, he was right—it’s just that everything includes organic bananas as well as Big Macs, portion control plates along with bottomless pasta bowls at Olive Garden. And even the invidious forces of TV and the Internet have incredible upsides. Shows like Trading Spaces and Biggest Loser have transformed the boob tube from electronic pacifier to America’s life coach, inspiring millions to remodel their kitchens and renovate their asses. The Internet may distract us, but it can also inspire preternatural focus in those who use it. Before the Web came along, how many tweens were writing 10,000-word fanfics about their favorite characters from the 2,500-page serials they spent their days and nights chain-reading? How many adults devoted their leisure to crafting encyclopedia entries on Spanish heraldry or leaf-cutter ants? Even in the Internet age, patience and diligence persist.

If it’s easy to overindulge these days, it’s also easy to make good choices. And it’s getting easier all the time. Thus, it comes as something of surprise when, after making a case for self-control, Akst is so quick to suggest that the government might manage, somewhat oxymoronically, our self-control for us. “If self-mastery is such a problem, should we demand that government do more to
protect us from ourselves?” he asks. “And is it really capable of doing so? The answers are yes and maybe.”

In their 2008 book Nudge, University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler and White House advisor Cass Sunstein promoted what they call libertarian paternalism—the idea that the government or other “choice architects” can make it easier for people to make decisions that benefit themselves and society in general by the way they arrange potential choices or options, without actually compelling anyone to engage in specific actions. An employer might make its 401(k) plan opt-out rather than opt-in to encourage more employees to participate in it. A health insurance plan might offer some kind of reward points to members who exercise on a regular basis.

Akst echoes such sentiments. “[The government] needs to step in where informational asymmetries or dangerous appetites make people easy marks for amoral profit seekers,” he writes. “It needs to shape the public realm in ways that promote healthy choices. And most of all, it needs to provide strong weapons of pre-commitment to those who would use them.”

One idea Akst proposes is allowing people to affix “No Tobacco” or “No Alcohol” stickers on their IDs, banning themselves from purchasing these products. Another is giving a tax break to couples who reach “some marital milestone.” In these instances, the pre-commitments affect people on an individual basis, but it’s easy to see how pre-commitment for one might easily shift to pre-commitment for all once the government got involved. Who, for example, gets to decide which appetites are dangerous enough to warrant government intervention? How can the public realm be shaped without imposing features that some individuals will consider coercive rather than elective?

Then of course there’s the fact that the government tends to suffer self-control problems of its own. The best way we can help it from compulsively fine-tuning our lives is to refrain from granting it such powers in the first place.


Incorrect architecture must go

Britain's know-alls got it wrong so something simple that got it right has to go

I can feel that sense of innocence and optimism as I walk around Britain’s last surviving prefab estate at Catford, South London. Plonked on top of pre-plumbed ­concrete slabs, these homes could be built in a day by teams of German and Italian prisoners-of-war who were in no hurry to return home, come the peace.

Yet, they are as much a part of British social history as Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. That is why English Heritage has fought to give them a Grade II listing, ensuring that future generations will at least retain some idea of what post-war life was like for a large chunk of the population.

But the Government has agreed to safeguard just six of them. The other 181 homes on this quiet, graffiti-free, non-Asbo estate are not being ­protected.

The owners are just weeks away from a council decision which could lead to almost all of the Excalibur estate being demolished. And for ­residents like Eddie O’Mahony, 90, who arrived in 1946 and never left, it is time for the biggest battle since, like Hector, he came home from the war.

For there is more at stake here than a warren of old bungalows and the ­memories of a few hundred Londoners. Here is a healthy riposte to every ­central planner who believes that society’s future lies in ­brutalist tower blocks.

Here is a reminder that the modernisers don’t always have the answers. It’s Forties 1, Sixties 0. We should not forget it.

For more than 150,000 homeless, bombed-out families across Britain, these two-bedroom prefabs were meant to be a merely temporary solution at the end of the war. But they were a godsend, too — detached houses with the then astonishing luxury of a garden, a bathroom and a separate indoor loo.

They were designed to last only ten years, just long enough to allow post-war Britain to build all those wonderful new council blocks for homecoming heroes like Hector Murdoch and his family.

As the Sixties unfolded, multi-storey concrete utopias were popping up all over Britain’s ­metropolitan skylines and most of the prefabs came down.

But as the years went on, the script went badly wrong. Many people found that they hated living in high-rise blocks, no matter how much the architects and the councils told them how lucky they were. In the end, the tower blocks started coming down again.

The Luftwaffe's destruction of London during the Blitz forced housing authorities to follow the American fashion for prefabricated buildings. The 1944 Housing Act authorised the Government to spend up to £150 million on temporary houses in areas like Lewisham, where more than 1,500 homes had been destroyed during just the first year of conflict.

Cheap and quick to build, the prefab houses were popular with both councils and residents, not least because they were the first buildings many had lived in to have an indoor toilet.

It may seem strange by today's standards but the prefabs quickly became synonymous with comfort and luxury. In fact, the war-time government was so proud of its new idea that it commissioned a prototype to appear at the Tate Gallery in London.

More than 150,000 of these 'palaces for the people' were mass produced in sections at a factory and assembled on sites around the country.

But the Excalibur Estate in Catford, consisting of 187 homes and even a prefab church, remains the largest to survive, despite the original tenants being told it would survive for little more than a decade. Yet, the remaining prefabs — and their grateful residents — stayed put.

And that is why so many are determined to stay here at Catford’s Excalibur estate — so-called because the roads have incongruous Arthurian names liked Baudwin and Pelinore.

It is not just about the buildings. It is about preserving a way of life which, they argue, is anything but prefabricated.

‘Round here, people still look after each other. Say “hello” to a stranger anywhere else and they think you’re a nutter. But not here. We’re old school,’ says retired building manager, Jim Blackender. ‘There’s a waiting list to live here. On the other estates, there’s a waiting list, too — to get out.’

But Excalibur is also a headache for the local council, a nose-thumbing contradiction of every rule in the modern Town Hall handbook.

Officially, these dwellings are damp and unfit for 21st-century human habitation. Some are — but only because they have been neglected by the council which owns all but 29 of them. Many others, cheerfully ­maintained by their owners and tenants, turn out to be dry, warm and much-loved.

They also sit on 12 valuable acres. And the council planners, along with their property developing partner, want to squeeze up to 400 new homes on the same patch.

This is why the suits at Lewisham ­Borough Council want to knock the whole thing down. In the Orwellian argot of the modern public sector, the ­prefabs must make way for ­something called the ‘Sustainable Community Strategy’.

Hence, a battalion of conservation groups including the Twentieth ­Century Society want to preserve as much of it as possible.

Students study the design and demography of the place. Film crews love it (they’ve done Only Fools And Horses here). When David Dimbleby was filming How We Built Britain, he came here. Eddie O’Mahony is proud to say that the presenter borrowed his loo.

The first thing I notice is the sky. I’d travelled for miles through the South-East London suburbs. Tower blocks and identical gabled terraces as far as the eye can see.

Then I turn on to the Excalibur estate and there is a sense of reaching open ground. That is simply because everything here is single-storey.

It would be patronising to call it pretty. Some bungalows have had love and attention devoted to them. Some have been given a mock-Tudor makeover with fake wooden beams and lattice windows. One has a couple of palm trees.

Others, however, are a tip, with free-range undergrowth and piles of junk. But there is a Hi-de-Hi holiday camp feel to it all. Almost everyone I meet loves it here.

‘This has gone way beyond being a prefab. It’s a bungalow,’ says road engineer Paul Newman, 47, who has lived here with his wife and two ­children for more than 16 years. ‘And where else are you going to find outdoor space like this in London for £60-a-week in rent?’

He opens the back door and there is a terrace ­leading out on to an immaculate lawn, surrounded by a sturdy fence. Paul has done it all himself. ‘I have spent thousands on this place. ­People ask why I bother, since I’m a council tenant, but I’m proud of this place. It’s like a country village in the summer. No one overlooks you and there’s no trouble. I call this a ­working-class Blackheath.’

It might not resemble that chi-chi Georgian suburb at the posh end of the borough. But both of them share a strong sense of civic pride. ‘If I won £15 million on the Lottery, I’d keep it just as it is,’ says Eddie O’Mahony.

He recalls the day his great friends Bob and Alice Allen in Pelinore Road had a visit from the Queen Mother in 1985 after a prize-winning performance in a local garden competition.

The Queen Mum, it seems, was a champion of the prefab, regularly dropping in on them during her regular tours of suburban London gardens. ‘She always said that as long as she was around, she would stand up for the prefab,’ says Jim Blackender, of the anti-demolition campaign.

It’s not picture postcard Britain. The names are Arthurian but it’s not exactly Tintagel. Yet, our history is here in these ingenious 20th century bungalows. They did not just provide homes fit for heroes. They have also put the high-rise arrogance of ­Britain’s modernists to shame.

For that alone, these stubborn monuments to the age of sacrifice should be allowed to stay.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


16 January, 2011

Opposing illegal traveller sites isn't racist, British Environment boss tells Gypsies' leader

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman rejected claims of ‘gipsy racism’ yesterday after pledging to take tough new action against illegal traveller sites.

Ms Spelman clashed with a travellers’ leader as she defended villagers in her Midlands constituency who have staged a round-the-clock demonstration for more than six months against an encampment on greenbelt land.

Travellers’ leader Jake Bowers called the protesters ‘racists’ and compared Ms Spelman’s approach to the ‘Deep South’ of America, where slavery flourished until the Civil War.

The confrontation on Radio 4’s Today programme came after Mr Bowers, editor of the Travellers’ Times magazine, claimed the protest in Ms Spelman’s Meriden constituency in Warwickshire had nothing to do with whether the camp was legal.

‘When the mask slips, the real reason they are there is because there are gipsies in their village and they don’t like it,’ he said. He added the racism charge would be given legal weight as a result of ‘gipsies and Irish travellers’ being included as an ethnic minority for the first time in the ten-year census due on March 27. Mr Bowers taunted Ms Spelman: ‘Come on Caroline, this is more Deep South than Middle England.’

Ms Spelman said: ‘I don’t think it is an issue of racism. There is an issue with planning law.’

The camp was established after a travellers’ group exploited council workers being off over a Bank Holiday weekend to set up a permanent site without planning permission.

Villagers have been blockading an illegal settlement to prevent travellers getting building materials on to it.

Ms Spelman said new laws to be unveiled in the Commons tomorrow will bring about ‘fairness between the settled and travelling communities by providing more authorised sites – while closing a loophole which allows travellers to apply for and obtain retrospective planning permission after having set up camp.’


The War Against the Christians

Imagine if Muslims in Europe were being arrested for nothing more than peacefully practicing their religion. Imagine if Muslims in South America were being sentenced to death for “insulting” Jesus. Imagine if mosques were being bombed and burned by terrorists in a growing list of Christian-majority countries.

Now here’s what you don’t need to imagine because it is all too real: In recent days, Christian churches have been bombed in Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, and the Philippines. In Indonesia a mob of 1,000 Muslims burned down two Christian churches because, according to one commentator, local Islamic authorities determined there were “too many faithful and too many prayers.” In Iran, scores of Christians have been arrested. In Pakistan, a Christian woman received the death penalty for the “crime” of insulting Islam; the governor of Punjab promised to pardon her — and was then assassinated for the “crime” of blasphemy.

I could provide dozens more examples of the persecution and, in many cases, “cleansing” of Christians in what we have come to call the Muslim world. If the situation were reversed, if such a war were being waged against Muslims, it would be the top story in every newspaper, the most urgent item at the U.N., the highest priority of all the big-league human-rights groups.

What we have instead is denial. I cited some of the above examples on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Power and Politics program last week. In response, Prof. Janice Stein of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto insisted that these dots do not connect. The assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, she said, should be viewed as the consequence of Pakistan’s “terrible distribution of wealth.” Class conflict, not religious extremism, she added, is the correct explanation for the tragedy.

I noted that 500 Pakistani religious scholars not only justified the killing of Taseer; they praised his killer’s “courage” and religious zeal, and said he had made Muslims proud around the world. They warned that anyone attending Taseer’s funeral, praying for him, or expressing grief over his death would deserve the same fate he suffered.

The assailant who gunned down Taseer — Mumtaz Qadri, one of his own bodyguards — exulted afterward: “I have killed a blasphemer!” He did not say: “I have killed a member of the bourgeoisie!”

Professor Stein spoke, too, of the “conflict” between Muslims and Christians in Egypt as though both were equally to blame when, in fact, it is clearly Egypt’s ancient but diminishing Coptic community that is under siege with little means to defend itself, much less to wage a campaign of reciprocal oppression.

I offered a similar analysis on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox last week, prompting Media Matters and several other left-wing blogs to accuse me of attempting to start a religious war. These bloggers failed to mention that those attacking Christians call themselves “jihadis” — meaning warriors who fight for Islam. The crowds that gathered in front of the destroyed Egyptian church shouted “Allahu Akbar!” — “Allah is greatest!” Is this message really so hard to interpret?

Apparently so. Investor’s Business Daily recently quoted James Zogby, head of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: “The guy who gets up on the plane and says ‘Allah!’ or whatever and then blows the plane up is not making a statement about his faith,” Zogby told congressional staffers. He added that it’s like a Christian hitting his thumb with a hammer and exclaiming “Jesus Christ.” Commented IBD: “The comparison is absurd. Muslims say ‘Allah is greatest’ to exalt their God. When Christians mutter ‘Jesus Christ,’ they in contrast are taking their Lord’s name in vain. There’s no corresponding ‘Jesus Christ is greatest!’”

Zogby is an intelligent man. He must be aware that hateful, oppressive, and terrorist religious ideologies have sprouted like weeds in the broader Middle East and that their seeds have now spread from Europe to Africa to the Americas. I suspect he fears that acknowledging that fact will lead to prejudice against all Muslims and Arabs.

He’s wrong: It is not lost on me and others that Salman Taseer was himself a Muslim and that other Pakistani Muslims defied the extremists by attending the governor’s funeral — though few of Pakistan’s political leaders were bold enough to take that risk.

There is abundant evidence to suggest that most Muslims do not want to live under al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah, or Hamas rulers. They do not want to live under a mullahocracy. I remain convinced that most Muslims do not want to be at war with the West — with Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others.

Which leads to this question: How do moderate and tolerant Muslims fight the tyrants within their community? How do they avoid being killed if they dare speak up in defense of their own freedom and rights — much less in defense of religious minorities, ethnic minorities, and women?

We cannot possibly come up with an adequate answer so long as we refuse to look reality in the eye. And the reality is this: Within the Muslim world today are regimes, movements, and individuals convinced that their religion justifies — and benefits from — the most heinous atrocities. They are determined, ruthless, and lethal — as Christians and other minorities across a broad swath of the world have been finding out.

If we in the West fail even to speak up for them, can we really expect moderate Muslims to do more?


City puts a stop to homeless outreach

Couple must have proper permit to continue feeding dozens each day. Bureaucracy trumps compassion

Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.

That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their "Feed a Friend" effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.

"We don't really know what they want, we just think that they don't want us down there feeding people," said Bobby Herring, a Christian rapper who goes by the stage name Tre9.

Anyone serving food for public consumption, whether for the homeless or for sale, must have a permit, said Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department. To get that permit, the food must be prepared in a certified kitchen with a certified food manager.

The regulations are all the more essential in the case of the homeless, Barton said, because "poor people are the most vulnerable to foodborne illness and also are the least likely to have access to health care."

Bobby Herring said those rules would preclude them from continuing to feed the 60 to 120 people they assisted nightly for more than a year. The food had been donated from area businesses and prepared in various kitchens by volunteers or by his wife.

He and his wife became involved in the effort several years ago, when she would take leftover food from work to the homeless downtown. From there, it expanded into a full-time effort for her working through Eyes on Me, the Herrings' nonprofit organization that focuses on Christian-themed youth outreach efforts.

Nearly every day last year, they distributed food prepared or donated by volunteers or local stores at 6 p.m. at the corner of Commerce and San Jacinto, near the Harris County Jail, Bobby Herring said.

On Nov. 8, they were approached by Houston police officers and asked to provide food at another location under an overpass at Commerce and Travis streets adjacent to Buffalo Bayou, he recalled. They were happy to move to the new location and continued to provide food there until Dec. 30, when a park ranger and two police officers told them they would have to stop until they could obtain a permit.

Because the new area to which they had moved is on city park land, they need permission and permits from both the parks department and health department.

Because city ordinances would prevent them from obtaining the needed permit, Bobby Herring said he is hoping to find a new solution, perhaps working through a church with a permit or finding a downtown location that would allow them to continue to help the homeless.

Amanda Herring said she was frustrated at the city's sudden stance. "I'm just really sad," she said. "I can't believe for a year we were right out in the open and never had anybody tell us to leave, to stop, to tell us it was wrong. I'm blindsided with it."

Barton said city officials in the past had considered passing a "public feeding" ordinance that would make it easier for people like the Herrings to comply with rules designed to protect people's health and well being. The ordinance could involve easier and cheaper permitting processes, she said, although there had not been discussion of the matter for some time.

City Councilwoman Wanda Adams, who has been an advocate for the homeless during her tenure, said she planned to review the ordinance. She reiterated the importance of the city's rules but applauded the efforts of the Herrings. "I'm very passionate about what they're doing," she said. "Somebody needs to make sure our homeless people are being taken care of. ... We have to look as a city to see if there are other ways we can partner with people like this who are trying to help."


Court awards £105,000 to German sex offenders

The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ordered Germany to pay 125,000 euros (£105,000) in damages to three sex offenders kept in prison because they were likely to reoffend.

The three, convicted on rape and assault charges – including one for sexually abusing a minor – were being held under Germany's preventive detention system, which allows prisoners considered dangerous to be detained for an indefinite period. However, the three were all convicted before a 1998 change to the law that lifted a 10-year limit on preventive detention.

The three, Rudiger Kallweit, Manuel Mautes and Martin Schummer, filed complaints to the court after their detentions were extended beyond 10 years based on psychological and neurological tests that found they were likely to recommit crimes if released.

The rights court ruled that since their convictions dated from before the 1998 change to the law, they could not be held beyond the original 10-year maximum. "Without the amendment of the Criminal Code in 1998 the courts responsible for the execution of the sentences would not have had jurisdiction to extend the duration of the detention," the court said in its ruling.

The extension of the detention was therefore a violation of the plaintiffs' "right to liberty and security," the court said.

Schummer was given a conditional release in September 2010 while the other two plaintiffs remain in prison.

The court awarded damages of 70,000 euros to Schummer, convicted on rape and abduction charges in 1985, 30,000 euros to Kallweit, convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in 1993, and 25,000 euros to Mautes, convicted of dangerous assault and attempted sexual assault in 1990. It also urged Germany to "speedily" release the two prisoners still being held.

The Strasbourg-based court had previously condemned the preventive detention system in a December 2009 ruling, ordering Germany to pay 50,000 euros to a prisoner held under the system for nearly 20 years.

Following criticism from the court and rights groups, Germany in December amended the law to limit its application to severe crimes such as homicide, assault and sex crimes.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


15 January, 2011

The Other (Endless) Massacre

Tucson Tragedy Eclipses Minority Murders

Since Saturday, our media have reveled in the aftermath of the avoidable slaughter in Tucson, where a young madman--ignored by “tolerant” social, educational and law-enforcement systems—gunned down, among others, a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, while gravely wounding a Congresswoman reaching out to her constituents.

Caught out in his incompetence, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Arizona, railed against conservatives, who the “lawman” blamed for the massacre on his turf. Other leftists rushed to blame the Tea Party (conveniently overlooking the murderer’s internet claim that The Communist Manifesto was one of his favorite books—oops!).

The fact is that the shooter wasn’t a political creature, but a psychopath. And a hyper-liberal social climate allowed him to go unchecked, despite no end of warning signs and documented complaints from his fellow citizens.

Meanwhile, another massacre occurred on the doorstep of our nation’s capital, but the media and left-wing activists ignored it: In the first eleven days of 2011, eleven people were gunned down in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Their deaths were irrelevant to the political discourse—because they were black.

We do, indeed, have a violence problem and an intolerable culture of the gun in this country. But it has nothing to do with honest citizens who go hunting every autumn. It’s a creation of the Democratic Party, which will take no serious measures to impose the rule of law and foster quality education systems in minority-populated districts, preferring to keep blacks and Latinos down on their electoral plantations.

Prince George’s County should be a shining success story. Bordering the District of Columbia, it has the highest per capita income of any black-majority county in the country, thanks largely to federal jobs. Yet, its levels of violence are breathtaking, the last county executive and his wife have been charged with whopping corruption, the police are dysfunctional (and frequently indicted), and the schools are third-rate. It’s a poster community for the effects on minorities of leftist policies designed by white elites.

How did county officials respond to eleven dead in eleven days? By telling citizens not to worry, since the killers and victims mostly knew each other and at least six of the crimes were drug-related. That made it okay.

Want to see racism in action? You don’t have to call up images of Selma five decades ago. The media weep for white victims in Tucson, but turn up their collective noses at the ongoing slaughter in minority communities. Intolerable drop-out rates from incompetent school systems exacerbate a multi-generational cycle of poverty and culture of violence. Wherever Democrats rule, minorities get the scraps from the overseer’s table, while the party’s professional blamesters tell them their problems stem from slavery that ended a century and a half ago, from lack of opportunity ascribed to prejudice, and from old-fashioned white bigotry.

Whites aren’t killing blacks. Blacks are. But facts are inconvenient.

To be fair, the apostles of blame are historically correct. The problem is that correct history isn’t taught. The racist Democratic Party gave this country the Confederacy, which fought a four-year war to preserve slavery, resulting in over a half-million deaths. When war failed to keep blacks chained, Democrats created the Ku Klux Klan and preserved Southern segregation into the 1960s. Lack of opportunity? Look at the union-ravaged schools where minority students aren’t expected to learn (and where they’re certainly not taught the history of “their” Democratic Party). Then the Democrat-spawned Great Society robbed black communities of their pride, addicting them to hand-outs. It’s a blot on our nation’s conscience—on all of us, liberal or conservative—that we have tolerated policies that left once-thriving minority communities with less promise and social integrity than they enjoyed in the years of segregation.

Dead young blacks don’t count in Washington politics or for the media. And that is a position so immoral and repugnant that future generations will excoriate our callousness and bigotry as savagely as we castigate the records of Bull Connor and Lester Maddox. The shocking human wastage among minorities in this country should mobilize us all to demand safe streets, disciplined schools and the dignity of achievement for our fellow citizens debased by leftist policies.

It’s up to conservatives to push for reforms with bite, since leftists never will. They thrive on the alienation of their own victims.

As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, our country needs all the educated, hard-working talent we can generate. At present, we seek it from immigrants, while ignoring the politically segregated and willfully marginalized fellow citizens in our ghettos, barrios—and Democratic Party strongholds, such as Prince George’s County.

This column doesn’t stem from political bias, but from outrage. I’m ashamed of the terrorist act committed by a psychopath in Tucson—a young killer unleashed by a combination of do-your-own-thing-no-matter-what tolerance and a local bureaucracy conditioned to avoid responsibility. But I am far more ashamed of the media’s and society’s willingness to write off minority Americans—except when it’s politically convenient to pander to them.

Responsible journalism? Consider one more nauseating example of media racism (despite the rise of minority anchors and reporters): For years we’ve been treated to breathless reporting about a missing middle-class teenager, Natalee Holloway, who was white, blond and photogenic. Does any reader of this column believe that, had that girl been black and poor, she would have gotten a single prime-time mention? Social justice? Don’t make me laugh. If she ain’t white and cute, networks don’t give a hoot.

The Tucson tragedy was inexcusable. But it also was an anomaly. The slaughter in minority communities is 24/7. Meanwhile, even our first minority president perpetuates the culture of failure essential to Democratic politics: Instead of crusading vigorously for safe, quality schools in minority neighborhoods—schools for the benefit of their students, not unionized teachers--he debased the prestige of his office by phoning a sports hustler to praise him for giving an abusive criminal and overpaid sports star a “second chance.” The children of millions of parents who voted for Obama won’t get a first chance.

We all pray that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will recover. But will our minority fellow citizens ever recover from leftist policies thrust upon them by white ideologues?

We’ll bury the dead of the Tucson tragedy with fanfare. But the dead of Prince George’s County will go ignored. It’s un-American.


Libraries are just for the privileged white middle class... says white middle-class British Library chief

A quango chief has enraged campaigners fighting to stop the mass closure of public libraries by claiming they are the preserve of ‘the privileged, mainly white, middle class’.

Roy Clare, chief executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, suggested dozens of local protest groups were out of date, commenting: ‘Public libraries will not be preserved by wishful thinking and aspic.’

Almost 400 libraries nationwide are threatened with closure, and with half of councils yet to announce their plans the total could reach 800. In some counties more than half of all libraries are set to close, with rural areas worst hit by the spending cuts.

But this week in a controversial email to librarians, many of whom face losing their jobs, Mr Clare urged them to ‘nourish change and embrace development’. The MLA, which ‘promotes best practice’ in libraries, and Mr Clare’s £127,000 a year job are also being axed, but campaigners who fear communities will be badly damaged by the loss of so many libraries have reacted furiously to his comments.

Children’s author Alan Gibbons said the remarks were ‘a very cheap shot’. He said: ‘Around the country campaigners from all walks of life are out petitioning and protesting to defend their libraries. ‘Groups other than the “white middle class” are well-represented because libraries serve the whole community.’

Mr Gibbons said the planned closures were ‘wholly disproportionate, unnecessary and fail even to achieve the Government’s stated aim of saving substantial amounts of money’.

He added: ‘What’s more, some of the libraries targeted for closure have only recently been refurbished. ‘This is depressing in the extreme and utterly nonsensical.’

A spokesman for Voices For The Library campaign group, a head librarian who asked not to be named, said he was ‘shocked and disgusted’ by Mr Clare’s comments.

One library under threat is in Hesters Way, Cheltenham, a deprived area where a significant proportion of the population is unemployed or on minimum wages. It is a hub of the community and provides the only access many have to the internet.

Campaigner Johanna Anderson, an academic librarian at the University of Gloucestershire, said: ‘We have been overwhelmed by support from people of all backgrounds. ‘What Roy Clare is saying is complete and utter nonsense.’

The most savage cuts announced to date are in the Isle of Wight, which is set to lose nine of its 11 libraries.


The boycott bluff: trading to good neighbourly relations


The Middle East is full of contradictions. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s bluff. If you call the wrong bluff, you can end up blown to pieces. And if you miss a real opportunity, you can end up a real sucker.

“Peace activists” attack with knives and rocks. “Human Rights” groups willfully ignore the persecution of Christians. “War crimes” are attributed to self defense, but not to shooting children or pregnant mothers at point blank range.

Judges condemn protection of civilian populations while ignoring the use of private homes, mosques, schools and hospitals as shields for military operations.

Israel is accused of being an apartheid state, even though its minorities can live anywhere, are entitled to all the rights of the mainstream population, and are represented in parliament, in the judiciary and all walks of life. But when Palestinian President Abbas territories says "I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land" and when selling land to a Jew is punishable by death, no-one even blinks.

But what about the hypocrisy of the tidal wave of delegitimization tactics aimed at Israel, by people who want to fully exploit the benefit of their contact with the Jewish state? We are asked to shun Israeli academics and universities by a boycott movement headed by Omar Barghouti - who studies for his doctorate at Tel Aviv University.

The same Palestinian Authority that asks the world not to buy produce from "settlements" approves tens of thousands of its citizens to work in those communities. Building them is an obstruction to the peace process - while the PA sends the construction workers to do the work.

So while you are being asked to deprive yourself of the unique know-how and innovation that has brought so many Israeli inventions in every field to the world, and won Israelis and Jews such a disproportionate number of Nobel and other prizes, consider the following:

In March of this year, the hugely innovative Israeli agricultural industry will hold its annual showcase event - the AgroMashov - at which hundreds of Israeli companies will present their unique achievements. Israel has long been known as an agricultural innovator. A well known example is drip irrigation systems, which were developed here, and are now exported everywhere. The organizers invited me to join a preview tour to some of the exhibitors, where I saw

* a farm which had developed a unique strain of pitaya fruit,

* leading edge bull sperm collection techniques (did you know that 98% of cattle were born via artificial insemination?),

* the way the Hebrew University researches the best vegetation to plant in hot climate with little water,

* a bee farm developing new (and surprisingly tasty!) health products,

* a nursery applying modern inventory management techniques to factories around the globe supplying fresh spices, flowers and other plants to supermarkets and other outlets,

* new packaging techniques for vegetables,

* and more.

From this little taste, I could understand why visitors would come from all around the globe to learn, to share, to form relationships and to shop. But farmers are not the only ones who ignore anti-Israel boycott attempts. The Palestinians won't deprive themselves of the opportunity.

As in every year, Palestinian farmers and industry representatives will be there in force. Around 200 have already registered. Not only that, but a large pavilion will hold exhibits specifically of Palestinian produce and farm machinery produced in the West Bank. And the delegation will be led by Palestinian Agriculture Minister, Dr. Ismail Daak.

This spirit of mutual dialogue, cooperation and trade, which is so essential if we are ever to see peace, is happening outside the spotlight of politics, and without the destructive grandstanding and double-talk of the boycott nonsense.

It is not just happening in agriculture. The jewelry industry is another example of co-existence. In July, the annual Jovella jewelery exhibition will be held in Tel Aviv. For the last four years, the Peres Center for Peace has organized delegations from the West Bank to come and visit Jovella. Last year they brought 44 delegates - and another 20 Palestinians just turned up under their own steam.

So is it a bluff? And if you are a farmer or in the jewelery industry, will you lose out by listening to the anti-Israel "human rights activists" who urge you to boycott Israeli products and exhibitions, while the Palestinians are attending?

Confused? Welcome to the Middle East, where real life is rarely as reported in the mainstream media.


Very few working-class votes in homosexual marriage

Christopher Pearson comments from Australia. Pearson himself has "come out". He is commenting on the Australian Labor Party, Australia's major party of the Left

ONE of the more startling facts about contemporary politics is the way the ALP is being steadily cannibalised. On one hand, it is bleeding a growing share of inner-city professionals to the Greens. On the other, it seems determined to vacate the field in the outer suburbs to Tony Abbott's brand of mild social conservatism.

Where once Labor's Right provided most of the party's ballast and intellectual leadership there is now almost a vacuum, the political culture that enabled the rise of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

No one now in federal cabinet seems able to project a view of the ALP's abiding values that would have been recognisable to the people who first elected the Hawke government. Labor has become, almost by default, the aggressively secularist party Lindsay Tanner wanted it to be.

The gap between the party's elected representatives and its traditional support base has been emerging as a given since the Keating era. Accordingly, Labor hardheads such as Gary Johns, Keating's special minister of state, and The Australian's editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, have often waxed eloquent about the electoral prospects of seemingly entrenched mainstream parties that stray too far from their origins.

Dennis Glover, a speechwriter for Labor leaders from Kim Beazley to Mark Latham, has a more optimistic take on matters. Writing in Thursday's edition of The Australian, he said: "In a world in which public administration has become complex and global, requiring ever higher levels of education, technical command and cultural sophistication, there is an inevitable tendency for politicians to become distanced from working-class voters.

"There is a reason why train drivers no longer become prime ministers and it's not just because Labor has supposedly been hijacked by 'the dregs of the middle class', as some of Labor's false friends often put it. Professionalism affects all parties."

It's worth noting in passing that the author of the line about Labor's capture by the dregs of the middle class was Kim Beazley Sr, who as a long-serving MHR was well-placed to make such a judgment. It also seems to me that what Glover calls professionalism could more aptly be described as the triumph of the apparatchiks.

A clear majority of ALP candidates were previously union operatives or political staffers. The same is true of a small percentage of Liberals, but on the whole the people who occupy the Coalition benches come from a much more diverse range of occupations.

Is it true, as Glover claims, that politicians with more education and sophistication will inevitably tend to become distanced from working-class voters?

It may be increasingly the case with senators elected on a party list, but for MHRs I suspect the answer is not necessarily, unless they have safe seats and can delegate most of their constituency work to staffers. The holders of marginal seats normally have a fair idea of popular sentiment in their own neck of the woods.

Again Glover takes a sunny-side-up approach, blaming the caution of parties of the Left on timidity and being misled by focus groups and talkback radio. "Too many progressive politicians have internalised the idea that the working class is a bastion of political, social, economic, cultural and environmental reaction." To put it another way: "Social-democrat parties almost invariably discount the progressiveness of their electoral base, especially their working-class base."

Why is he so confident? It turns out that Glover has been conducting a focus group of his own. "At a series of recent extended family get-togethers and school reunions I made a point of asking people's opinions about the one issue we are forever being told lies at the heart of the supposedly unbridgeable cultural divide between the conservative working class and the permissive inner-city 'elites': gay marriage."

He concedes some problems with the sample. "I'm prepared to admit they comprise a statistically meaningless collection of a little more than two dozen individuals between the ages of 40 and 75, gathered mostly from the outer suburbs of Melbourne."

However, he argues: "Because I know these people, their families, the schools they went to and the influences that formed them, I know also that they represent the heart of post-war working-class Australia."

In the unlikely event that nervous members in marginal seats are carried away by this sort of rhetoric, let me sound a note of caution. As a homosexual member of the baby-boomer generation with a working-class father and a middle-class mother, I've out of necessity made a lifetime's study of Australian attitudes on this and related questions.

In my experience, prior to the late 1970s men of all classes were markedly more inclined to adopt a live and let live attitude than women, especially if they'd served in the war or done national service. What would at the time have been called respectable working-class people of both sexes were generally more disposed to stern judgment than their middle-class counterparts until well into the 90s. An at-least-notionally relaxed attitude was a marker of upward mobility from the mid-60s and a default position for most university graduates from the 80s.

As I see it, what lie at the heart of post-war working-class Australia are extended family and tribal bonds of attachment. Anything that's likely to impinge adversely on family life, in the way coming out openly as a homosexual so often does, is apt to be perceived as a threat.

Then there are all the households of every social class where religion plays even a residual part. I doubt that Glover or most of the self-styled progressives could imagine what the sacrament of marriage means to them and the strength of their opposition to same-sex weddings.

It is worth spelling out that none of the mainstream churches sanctions homophobic behaviour - not even the Sydney Anglicans - these days. That doesn't mean that they don't or shouldn't take a hard line on homosexual activity. They mostly do.

Only one of Glover's focus group of 25 said he was opposed to gay marriage and that it wouldn't influence his vote because "he had bigger concerns".

Glover says the rest of his friends, and especially the women, "instinctively grasped that gay marriage is about justice . . . This shouldn't surprise us, because people such as Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John have made gay equality a given."

I give working-class Australians far more credit than that. They didn't need foreign television stars and singers to teach them about equality in the first place and most of them will rely on far more discerning judges when the pros and cons of gay marriage are debated.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


14 January, 2011

British police chief: 'We couldn't speak out on Pakistani sex gangs for fear of appearing institutionally racist'

Police could not speak out about Asian sex gangs for fear of appearing ‘institutionally racist’, a senior officer said yesterday. Mick Gradwell, a former detective superintendent, said the targeting of underage and vulnerable girls had been going on for decades.

He added: ‘You have girls being abused and raped and yet the most senior officers are refusing to comment on it. On what other subject would you get that? ‘How many young girls have been abused and raped because of the reluctance of the authorities to say exactly what is happening?’

Mr Gradwell spoke out following a trial in Derby which resulted in Abid Saddique, 27, and Mohammed Liaqat, 28, being jailed for a total of 19 years last week after targeting underage girls. His warning also follows the arrests of a gang of Asian men over claims they plied 14 white girls with drink and drugs before turning them into sex slaves in Rochdale, near Manchester.

In the aftermath of these cases, former home secretary Jack Straw prompted controversy when he described some of the victims as ‘easy meat’ for gangs – often made up of Pakistani men – who trawl the streets looking for sex.

The vulnerable girls in Rochdale – some as young as 13 – say they were forced to work the streets as prostitutes and hand over money to the gang.

The nine men, eight of them Asian, were questioned by detectives after officers swooped on a number of addresses. The arrests took place shortly before Christmas and were the result of a major inquiry into the sexual exploitation of teenage girls by men since 2008.

Mr Gradwell added: ‘When I joined in 1979 one of my first tasks was to police around a Blackburn nightclub where one of the issues was Asian men cruising around in BMWs and Mercs trying to pick up young drunken girls.

‘The main pressure police have is being called institutionally racist if they highlight a crime trend like this. ‘There’s a fantastic reluctance to be absolutely straight because some people may take such offence.’

The comments come just days after a nationwide investigation was launched following a string of disturbing cases.

The two sexual predators convicted in Derby, Saddique and Liaqat – both British-born fathers of Pakistani origin – cruised the streets in either a Range Rover or a BMW looking for vulnerable young girls.

The victims were ‘chatted up’ at the roadside and invited to go for drives in the car where they were plied with vodka or cocaine before being taken to hotel rooms, parks or houses to be sexually abused.


A BBC obsessed with diversity and feminist pieties is gloriously hoist with its own petard

The BBC likes to present itself as the most progressive organisation in the world, a trenchant opponent of sexism, racism, ageism and every other kind of -ism you can think of.

It even has a so-called Head of ­Diversity, whose well-remunerated job is presumably to ensure that there are enough vegetarians, people born under the star sign of Capricorn, single ­mothers with a surname beginning with J and left-handed Methodists on the ­payroll of the BBC.

So it is a rich irony that the ­Corporation should have been accused by an ­industrial tribunal of ‘social ­engineering’ over its sacking of a female ­presenter because she was regarded as too old.

Miriam O’Reilly, 51 when she was fired, now 53, will pocket some £150,000 of licence-fee payers’ money. The BBC spent an estimated further £100,000 fighting the case.

Though I am no fan of interfering industrial tribunals, it is impossible to disagree with the judgment that BBC executives were obsessed with ‘ethnic diversity’, ‘rejuvenation’ and trying to attract younger viewers when they got rid of Miss O’Reilly.

This supposedly high-minded ­organisation, so quick to criticise others who display allegedly reactionary behaviour, turns out to have the morals of a hard-hearted brothel keeper who throws her charges on the street once they reach a certain age.

The irony deepens when we consider that Miss O’Reilly was sacked as a ­presenter of the BBC1 programme ­Countryfile along with three other women to be replaced by younger staff, two of whom were from ethnic minorities.

A revealing email from Teresa Bogan, then Countryfile series producer, spoke of ­finding ‘additional ethnic talent’.

A rather condescending term, I would have thought. In order to put the appropriate ticks against the ‘ethnic talent’ ­boxes, the BBC was prepared to give poor Miriam O’Reilly and her colleagues the heave-ho in a most brutal manner.

She was ­offered £80,000 if she walked away and never spoke about the affair. To her great credit, she chose to fight.

The BBC emerges from this case as a muddled and bureaucratic organisation which agonises over concepts such as ‘fairness’ and ‘diversity’ and prides itself on its feminist credentials — before going on to behave in a nasty and ­underhand way.

This is by no means the first time a female presenter has been ­dismissed for the ‘crime’ of being too old... The BBC worships mindlessly at the shrine of the cult of youth. It seeks attractive young ­presenters, usually though not invariably female, who may be short on talent but are loved by the camera. When they reach a certain age, they are often unceremoniously tossed on the scrap heap.

Not everyone wants to watch only pouting 30-year-old ­lovelies whose main, perhaps only, attraction lies in their features. I have absolutely nothing against 30-year-old lovelies, but I also look for knowledge, experience and talent — qualities by no means lacking in all 30-year-olds, though occasionally in limited supply.

There are, if one thinks about it, a lot of quite elderly men on television, some of them much older than Paxo.

The wildlife expert David Attenborough is 84 and the Strictly Come Dancing ­presenter Bruce Forsyth is nearly 83. Terry Wogan, who has admittedly scaled back his work, is a child of 72.

They and other male oldies still hold the floor because no one can do it better.

It is very difficult indeed to think of ­septuagenarian or octogenarian female television star presenters, and this only confirms the point made by Miss O’Reilly — that the BBC (and probably other broad­casters) discriminate against women of a certain age.

Of course, no one, male or female, should ­expect a job for life come what may. There are old boobies and young geniuses. Stale presenters of either sex should make way for gifted newcomers. We don’t want the BBC to become a gerontocracy.

My proposal to the BBC is that it should stop thinking in terms of age or sex or ethnic ­origin, and set out to employ the most talented people to produce the best possible programmes. It should get rid of this habit of fretting about ­quotas and ticking boxes, and make quality its only concern.


Eek! A Male!

Treating all men as potential predators doesn't make our kids safer

Last week, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, Timothy Murray, noticed smoke coming out of a minivan in his hometown of Worcester. He raced over and pulled out two small children, moments before the van's tire exploded into flames. At which point, according to the AP account, the kids' grandmother, who had been driving, nearly punched our hero in the face.

Why? Mr. Murray said she told him she thought he might be a kidnapper.

And so it goes these days, when almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep. I call it "Worst-First" thinking: Gripped by pedophile panic, we jump to the very worst, even least likely, conclusion first. Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant.

Consider the Iowa daycare center where Nichole Adkins works. The one male aide employed there, she told me in an interview, is not allowed to change diapers. "In fact," Ms. Adkins said, "he has been asked to leave the classroom when diapering was happening."

Now, a guy turned on by diaper changes has got to be even rarer than a guy turned on by Sponge Bob. But "Worst-First" thinking means suspecting the motives of any man who chooses to work around kids.

Maybe the daycare center felt it had to be extra cautious, to avoid lawsuits. But regular folk are suspicious, too. Last February, a woman followed a man around at a store berating him for clutching a pile of girls' panties. "I can't believe this! You're disgusting. This is a public place, you pervert!" she said—until the guy, who posted about the episode on a website, fished out his ID. He was a clerk restocking the underwear department.

Given the level of distrust, is it any wonder that, as the London Telegraph reported last month, the British Musicians' Union warned its members they are no longer to touch a child's fingers, even to position them correctly on the keys? Or that a public pool in Sydney, Australia last fall prohibited boys from changing in the same locker room as the men? (According to the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, the men demanded this, fearing false accusations.)

What's really ironic about all this emphasis on perverts is that it's making us think like them. Remember the story that broke right before Christmas? The FBI warned law-enforcement agencies that the new Video Barbie could be used to make kiddie porn. The warning was not intended for the public but it leaked out. TV news celebrated the joy of the season by telling parents that any man nice enough to play dolls with their daughters could really be videotaping "under their little skirts!" as one Fox News reporter said.

This queasy climate is making men think twice about things they used to do unselfconsciously. A friend of mine, Eric Kozak, was working for a while as a courier. Driving around an unfamiliar neighborhood, he says, "I got lost. I saw a couple kids by the side of the road and rolled down my window to ask, 'Where is such-and-such road?' They ran off screaming."

Another dad told me about taking his three-year-old to play football in the local park, where he'd help organize the slightly older kids into a game. Over time, one of the kids started to look up to him. "He wanted to stand close to me, wanted approval, Dad stuff, I guess. And because of this whole 'stranger danger' mentality, I could sense this sort of wary disapproval from the few other parents at the playground. So I just stopped going."

And that's not the worst. In England in 2006, BBC News reported the story of a bricklayer who spotted a toddler at the side of the road. As he later testified at a hearing, he didn't stop to help for fear he'd be accused of trying to abduct her. You know: A man driving around with a little girl in his car? She ended up at a pond and drowned.

We think we're protecting our kids by treating all men as potential predators. But that's not a society that's safe. Just sick.


That convenient scapegoat, Israel

In all likelihood 2011 will see the apogee of Western Israel-loathing, eclipsing even the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Israel's victories over the Arab armies led to the invention of an imaginary country, the Israeli Goliath bullying the Arab David, and to the invention of an imaginary people, the saintly and unstained Palestinians, who forever lie bereft by the side of the road waiting for their Good Samaritan.

Israeli internal politics is becoming ever more bitterly self-divided and mutually intolerant. Ever since the so-called Gaza convoy, Israeli public opinion has resumed its old suspicion - first cemented in the awful days of the 1972 Munich Olympics - that the Western decision-making classes are basically and ritually allergic towards the Jews, and that it is futile and perverse for Israelis to care what anybody else thinks of them.

Hamas, that strange freak of nature which, rather than sustaining its offspring with its blood, actually feeds upon its supporters' blood for its own succour, swells in strength as its international respectability grows. (Why, even now Western activists are assembling funds for a new flotilla in its aid.) And the Iranian nuclear catastrophe inches ever closer, demanding some kind of urgent action. On almost every front, Israel will be compelled to give its opponents new grounds for their never-sated hatred.

Christianity, we are told, bequeathed to the modern secular West a fundamental aversion to the idea of the scapegoat, since Christ, the God-man, freely allowed himself to be scapegoated in order to assume all our sins, and in doing so shamed us forever. And yet in practice almost everybody who claims to be opposed to the scapegoating of particular groups, be they 1950s Hollywood film producers or contemporary Western Muslims, seems compelled to substitute an even greater scapegoat for the lesser one, as if in some act of spiritual compensation.

If Muslims could not have brought down the World Trade Centre in 2001, then surely it must have been Mossad and the CIA in ghostly concert. If the Iraq War cannot be sufficiently explained by American oil-lust, then surely it must have been a dark plan of Jewish White House neocons. Why, in the past couple of days the citizens of Egypt have been told, on the authority of senior intellectual figures in Cairo, that it was not Muslims who bombed the Coptic church in Alexandria, but rather Israeli agents in their usual cunning disguises. The Israeli conspiracy is a well that never empties.

Israeli citizens may perhaps comfort themselves with this small paradoxical thought. Just as it suits Arab governments for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to go on forever, and for the Palestinians to remain the lightning-rod for all the discontents of the region, so it would ill-suit Israel-haters for Israel actually to be wiped from the map. How, after all, could victory for Hamas bring peace in the region any closer? What would the triumphant Palestinian state look like that emerged in Israel's place, and how could Western radicals possibly find the reserves of self-deceit necessary to stay in love with it?

And who else, when all is said and done, could provide a sufficient repository for all that fear and loathing? As Stalin well knew, the most useful conspiracy theories are those that nourish themselves in perpetuity, no matter how many accidental lives might be blighted along the way.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


13 January, 2011

Intrusive political correctness in Britain

Are you straight or gay? Police and nurses to be asked their sexuality in new equality drive. I wonder how "None of your F** business" would go as a reply?

Millions of teachers, nurses and policemen could be asked to disclose their sexuality, religion and race as part of a new Coalition equality drive.

Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone says all public sector organisations should consider sending ‘diversity monitoring forms’ to staff to prove they are treating all sections of society fairly.

From April, public bodies will be subject to the Equality Act – passed by Labour but taken up enthusiastically by the Coalition – which will force them to consider the impact of everything they do on the diversity of the people they serve or employ.

Miss Featherstone supports sending staff a questionnaire about their sexuality and even whether they have had a sex change.

Her plans are suggested in a guide to how public bodies should comply with the Act. Critics fear it will lead to an avalanche of bureaucracy and expense just as jobs are under threat and budgets are slashed.

One example given in the document is banning police from imposing height restrictions because they may be discriminatory to women.

It also says that complying with the equality duty ‘may involve treating some people better than others, as far as this is allowed by discrimination law’.


The Latest Shootings in America: An English View

Sean Gabb

I try to avoid commenting on American affairs. It is usually bad manners to get involved in the politics of a foreign country. It is always unwise for someone to get involved in the politics of country where he does not live. I see this all the time in foreign comments on England – they are never enlightening, but range between repetitions of platitude and the utterly perverse. This being said, the shooting last week by Jared Loughner of Gabrielle Giffords, a politician there, and of several other people, is an exception. The matter of who kills whom in America, and for what reason, is no proper concern of mine. But the shootings have, on both sides of the Atlantic, begun a debate over the possible effects of speech on action. So far as this debate touches on England, and might be used to justify the removal of what freedom we still possess, I do not think it inappropriate to comment on the shootings.

Now, when speaking about the removal of our freedoms, a good place to begin is an article in yesterday’s Independent. Mary Ann Sieghart appears to blame the shootings on freedom of speech. She certainly disapproves of those journalists in America who fail to agree with their ruling class on every main issue. She says, for example:

These viewers [of Fox News] were shockingly misinformed. They were twice as likely to believe that most scientists don't believe in climate change and that it wasn't clear whether Obama was born in America. The more often they viewed Fox News, the more likely they were to believe these untruths. And the effect wasn't just a matter of partisan bias. Even Democrats who watched the station were more likely to be misinformed.

This is, I must confess, the first good thing I have heard in recent years of any media outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch. For Mrs Sieghart, though, it stands to reason that anything like the spreading of probable truth on these and other issues must lead inevitably to the shooting of politicians. Such is her opinion, and such seems to be the consensus among other ruling class propagandists here and in America.

I do expect this consensus to fracture in the next few days. In America, media attention may be shifted to the supposed ease with which common people can buy guns. Over here, this would be the waste of a good shooting. Our victim disarmament laws are already about the strictest in the world. The only way left to reduce the number of guns in circulation would be to start disarming criminals and the police. But, though our own censorship laws are also stricter than the American, they are still far from complete. Every so often, there are reports in the newspapers that someone has been arrested for uttering words that might, before about 1980, barely have raised an eyebrow; and libertarians of all shades – real libertarians, that is, not the sort who get jobs with The Guardian or the BBC – then strike up a chorus of horror about the abolition of free speech.

We are, of course, right in one sense. On the other hand, the censorship laws are still applied very feebly, and they do not apply to dissent within the educated classes. So long as we know what phrasing to avoid, we can still complain as we please about the joint loss of our country and of our liberties. Stopping this is much more important to our ruling class than finding an excuse to take away a few more shotguns and hunting rifles. It therefore makes sense for the debate in England over these shootings to remain fixed on the alleged connection between what is called hate speech and violent crime.

Already, the newspapers here are repeating claims about the influence on Jared Loughner of the white nationalist journal American Renaissance. According to a headline in the last Mail on Sunday, “Tucson shooting suspect [is] linked to fanatical pro-white magazine with anti-Semitic and anti-government views.” The story is repeated across much of the British media. It is only a matter of time before someone points out that Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, was invited to speak last year at an American Renaissance conference – and would have spoken, had this not been cancelled after threats of violence from “anti-fascist” protestors. We shall then have a “clear and obvious” connection between Mr Griffin and Jared Loughner.

It may be remembered how, in 1999, someone called Michael Copeland let off several bombs in London. He had briefly been a member of the BNP. Though he had left the moment he discovered that no one shared his interest in killing people, calls still went up for the party to be banned. The calls were manifestly unfair. The BNP could be held no more responsible for David Copeland’s crimes than the Social Democratic Party could for the crimes of the serial sex killer Dennis Nilsen. But that was then. The BNP is now the third or fourth opposition party in this country. I have no doubt the calls will go up again. I do not think they will fade away so quickly.

But let us look at this “fanatical” and “anti-semitic” and “anti-government” and pro-white” journal. Anyone who looks on the American Renaissance website will see that it is a white nationalist journal. Its overall message is to claim that whites should think of themselves as members of a distinct group, with certain interests and certain aptitudes, and that they should defend their possession of those territories where they now form the majority – and that they should be at least sceptical when members of other groups, or their white allies, call for endless apology and abasement and surrender.

These claims may be true. They may be false. They may equally be irrelevant in a world where a set of cultural values and ways of thinking about the world may have first been developed by whites, but are now the common heritage of all mankind, and where future conflicts will arise not between whites and non-whites, but between believers and disbelievers in the power and autonomy of reason. Civilisation, as it has so far existed, may be overwhelmingly a creation of the white races. But that may not be so in the future. Political correctness and forced multi-culturalism should be denounced as ruling class legitimation strategies. But a libertarian world, based on respect for life, liberty and property, will have its own natural diversity.

But true or false or irrelevant, I can see nothing in American Renaissance that could be remotely described as an incitement to violence. The tone of the journal is uniformly courteous and scholarly. I have never once seen the slightest intemperance of language, except where it has been necessary to quote the words of others. It is not fanatical. It is certainly not anti-Semitic. Some of its writers are Jews. So are many of its readers. If some borderline raving lunatic can read a copy of American Renaissance, and find in it advice that he should go out and shoot someone, that is properly a matter for the lawyers and doctors to consider, not an excuse for censorship of the journal or the persecution of its readers.

The standard response to this sort of factual challenge is to collapse all distinctions between incitement and inspiration, and to carry into the second the moral blame attached to the first. We saw this in 1999, when no one could find evidence that the BNP had recommended any acts of violence. The talk then was all of the “climate of hate” variety. The BNP was said to have created an environment within which acts of violence were more likely to be perceived as legitimate. The same argument is used by the anti-pornography lobby. No one can prove that showing pictures of naked women is direct incitement to rape. And so the claim is that these pictures somehow “dehumanise” all women and make it more likely that they will be raped.

Whoever uses it, this argument is based on a trick. Incitements to violence imply blame. Inspiration at worst implies causality. Anyone who uses the argument must be a villain or a fool. Most who use it, I am sure, are villains. They are villains because they never apply it consistently. For example, though I have never read the collected writings of Marx and Engels. What I have read, though, does not contain any direct incitement to mass-enslavement and mass-murder. However, they are strong mix of denunciation and utopian fantasy that have obviously inspired the creation of terrorist governments.

Again, the reported words of Christ suggest a more than womanly dislike of violence. But his promise of eternal life for all who will heed his call to repentance has been inspiring various kinds of inquisition for the past two thousand years. Should we therefore use the “climate of hate argument” to ban Das Capital or shut down the Roman Catholic Church? I do not think any of the ruling class propagandists who will cry up the alleged link between Jared Loughner and Nick Griffin via Jared Taylor will show much interest in consistency. They want to make the BNP an illegal organisation, and any argument – no matter how defective – will do, so long as they can get enough people to go along with it.

But let us leave the matter of inspiration and go back to arguments about incitement. Let us suppose – and this is not, I believe, the case – that American Renaissance and Nick Griffin and the BNP were to advocate the use of violence. Should this be made grounds for any kind of legal action against them? Again, I will say that this case is hypothetical: it has neither evidence nor other credibility. But let it be supposed for the sake of argument. I think the answer must be no. Someone who commissions violent acts against a named individual is an accessory to the crime, and there is no need to consider the nature or degree of incitement.

It may be a special case when a man is urging on an angry crowd against some nearby object. But someone who makes a speech inside a room, or who writes a book or an article – especially if no names are mentioned or implied, and if no money changes hands – should not be held legally responsible if others take his words, even if in their most natural meaning, and go out and hurt someone. The sole responsibility for acts of violence must lie with those who commit them. This is so because all reasonable considerations make it so. A man who reads or hears an argument for violence will generally have enough time before carrying words into action to think about what he is doing, and to take responsibility.

Deny this, and you have to say that Bill Gates forced me to buy Windows 7 because, three weeks after he offered me a copy for £30, I pulled out a credit card and paid the money – or that Margaret Thatcher forced David Laws to give the taxpayers’ money to his male lover, because she first allowed House of Commons expenses to become a shadow increase of salary for Members of Parliament.

Moreover, to make a crime of incitement is to deny the possibility of democratic government. If men cannot be trusted to think for themselves, it is both dangerous and a waste of time to trust them with the vote. Of course, this may be a good argument against the sort of democracy we now have. But anyone who really does believe in our current political system should be cautious about accepting any argument that spreads responsibility for criminal acts beyond those who commit them.

I am not saying it is other than disreputable for someone to preach violence against those he dislikes. There is a case for shunning people like Abu Hamza. I just do not see how it can be consistent with any idea of liberal democracy to hold one man guilty of crimes committed by another. But – I repeat – I am not accusing any of the persons mentioned of incitement. I only deny that incitement is the excuse for censorship it is taken to be.

As I have said, what happens in America is not my concern. America is not my country. I have no great regard for the United States as a country or as an idea. Equally, as said, when American facts seem likely to be made into argument for the further theft of English liberties, I do see reason for commenting on those facts. All that remains is to see whether the debate in England goes in the direction that I strongly suspect it will.


The attack on Israel is part of a larger attack on reason and morality

As we all know by now, Israel has lost the battle for public opinion in the west. Even the Israel government is now acknowledging this fact. Israel and its defenders have been outclassed and outmaneuvered in a war of the mind being waged on a battleground it never even acknowledged it was on.

The first thing to say is that this phenomenon is characteristic not just of the media animosity or economic or academic boycotts. It goes across the intelligentsia and political class, spreading well beyond the normal suspects on the left into the mainstream middle-classes.

In Britain, the universities, the established church, the theatrical and publishing worlds, the voluntary sector, significant elements within the Foreign Office, members of Parliament across the political spectrum, as well as the media have overwhelmingly signed up to the demonization and delegitimisation of Israel.

The scale of this phenomenon is nothing short of a multi-layered civilization crisis.

The west is experiencing a total inversion of truth evidence and reason. A society's thinking class has overwhelmingly subscribed to an immoral, patently false and in many cases demonstrably absurd account of the Middle East, past and present, which it has uncritically absorbed and assumes to be true.

In routine, everyday discourse history is turned on its head; logic is suspended; and an entirely false narrative of the conflict is now widely accepted as unchallengeable fact, from which fundamental error has been spun a global web of potentially catastrophic false conclusions.

This has led to a kind of dialogue of the demented in which rational discussion is simply not possible because there is no shared understanding of the meaning of language. So victim and victimizer, truth and lies, justice and injustice turn into their precise opposite.

This madness is being promulgated through a global alliance between state and non-state actors – diplomats and journalists, politicians and NGOs and websites. Many of these are waging war not just against Israel but against the west.

There are two preconditions for an effective fightback. First is to form effective structures of resistance. Those structures, however, depend in turn on a correct understanding of the nature and scale of what Israel is up against.

So far, the structures are not in place, and more important still, what Israel is up against is grossly – and fatally – underestimated and misunderstood.

The problem is that we are dealing with a pathology – to which we nevertheless respond as if it were rational behavior.

What's happened is a pattern of thinking in the west which turns reality upside down. Remarkably, this in turn echoes a very similar inversion of reality within the Islamic world, where such inversion has a theological base.

Because Islam is considered perfect, its adherents can never do wrong. All their aggression is therefore represented as self-defense, while western/Israeli self-defense is said to be aggression.

So in this Orwellian universe the enslavement of Muslim women is said to represent their liberation; democracy is a means of enslavement from which the west must be freed; murder of Israelis is the purest form of justice.

Furthermore, this is overlaid by the phenomenon of 'psychological projection' in which the Islamic world not only denies its own misdeeds but ascribes them instead to its victims.

So while Muslims deny the Holocaust, they claim that Israel is carrying out a holocaust in Gaza. Anti-Semitism is central to Jewish experience in Europe; Muslims claim that 'Islamophobia' is rife throughout Europe.

Israel gives all Jews the 'right of return' to Israel on account of the unique reality of global Jewish persecution; the Muslims claim a 'right of return' – not to their own putative state of Palestine, but to Israel. They even claim that the Palestinians are the world's 'new Jews'.

These and many other examples are used within the Islamic world to negate Jewish experience and appropriate it for itself to obtain what Muslims want in terms of status, power and conquest.

What is remarkable is that instead of treating this as a pathological deformity of thinking, the western progressive intelligentsia has largely embraced it as rational and true. And to a large extent this is because that same western intelligentsia has itself supplanted rationality by ideology – or the dogma of a particular idea.

Objectivity, evidence and truth have been ditched for ideologies such as moral and cultural relativism, multiculturalism, feminism, environmentalism, anti-capitalism, anti-colonialism, transnationalism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism.

Across a wide range of such issues, it's no longer possible to have a rational discussion with the progressive intelligentsia, as on each issue there's only one story for them which brooks no dissent.

This is because, rather than arriving at a conclusion from the evidence, ideology inescapably wrenches the evidence to fit a prior idea. So ideology of any kind is fundamentally anti-reason and truth. And if there's no truth, there can be no lies either; truth and lies become merely 'alternative narratives'.

Moral and cultural relativism – the belief that subjective experience trumps moral authority and any notion of objectivity or truth – has turned right and wrong on their heads.

Because of the dominant belief in multiculturalism, victim culture and minority rights, self-designated victim groups – those without power – can never do wrong while majority groups can never do right. And Jews are not considered a minority because – in the hateful discourse of today – Jews are held to be all-powerful as they 'control' the media, Wall Street and America.

So the Muslim world cannot be held responsible for blowing people up as they are the third world victims of the west; so any atrocities they commit must be the fault of their victims; and so the US had it coming to it on 9/11. And in similar fashion, Israel can never be the victim of the Arab world; the murder of Israelis by the Arab world must be Israel's own fault.

So the way has been opened for mass credulity towards propaganda and fabrication. The custodians of reason have thus turned into destroyers of reason – centered in the crucible of reason, the university.

All these different ideologies are utopian; in their different ways, they all posit the creation of the perfect society. That is why they are considered 'progressive', and people on the progressive wing of politics sign up to them. That helps explain the distressing fact that so many Jews on the left also sign up to Israel-hatred, since they too sign up to utopian ideologies.

But when utopias fail, as they always do, their adherents invariably select scapegoats on whom they turn to express their rage over the thwarting of the establishment of that perfect society. And since utopia is all about realizing the perfect society, these scapegoats become enemies of humanity.

For Greens, such enemies of humanity are capitalists; for anti imperialists, America; for militant atheists, religious believers. Anti-Zionists turn on Israel for thwarting the end to the 'Jewish question': the redemption of western guilt for the persecution of the Jews – a guilt which can never be redeemed as long as the wretched Jews continue to make themselves the targets of attack.

In short, therefore, the west cannot defend itself against the Islamic jihad because it can't itself even think straight any more.

But this lethal muddle in the minds of the intelligentsia must be viewed in turn in the context of a global diplomatic process which itself embodies upside-down thinking, which fans the flames of bigotry and defeatism – and in which Israel itself has been tragically, and suicidally, complicit.


McDonald's reviews ban on gay websites

McDonald's New Zealand said it was reviewing its internet access policies after gay groups complained the fast-food giant was blocking their websites from its Wi-Fi network.

Gay lifestyle website GayNZ.com sparked the review when it published an open letter condemning McDonald's for "censoring" the free Wi-Fi access it introduced in its 132 restaurants last month.

It said GayNZ and other sites offering advice and resources to the gay community were barred, preventing access to information that could be "extremely valuable, even life saving, for young people".

"There is a difference between sexuality and sex. Perhaps your censors do not understand this?" the website said.

McDonald's said it barred gambling, tobacco and adult websites from its Wi-Fi service because it was a family restaurant chain and all content it allowed must be suitable for children to view.

The company said this extended to sites where clicking on links and third-party advertisements could provide access to sexually explicit material.

"However, we might not always get our filtering process right, and we're absolutely happy to review websites on a case by case basis, if our customers believe that sites have been unjustifiably blocked," it said in a statement.

Rainbow Youth executive director Tom Hamilton said there was no inappropriate content on the organisation's website, which offers support services to gay and lesbian youths.

"Obviously there is a flaw in [McDonald's] approach. Websites like Rainbow Youth are not of any danger to young people," he told Radio NZ.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


12 January, 2011

Sodomy and Sufism in Afgaynistan

Social scientists attached to the Second Marine Battalion in Afghanistan last year circulated a startling report on Pashtun sociology, in the form of a human terrain report on male sexuality among America's Afghan allies. The document, made available by military sources, is not classified, just disturbing. Don't ask, don't tell doesn't begin to qualify the problem. These are things you didn't want to know, and regret having heard. The marines got their money's worth from their Human Terrain adjuncts, but the report might have considered whether male pedophilia in Afghanistan has a religious dimension as well as a cultural one. I will explain why below.

Most Pashtun men, Human Terrain Team AF-6 reports, engage in sex with men - boys - in fact, the vast majority of their sexual contacts are with males. "A culturally-contrived homosexuality [significantly not termed as such by its practitioners] appears to affect a far greater population base then some researchers would argue is attributable to natural inclination. Some of its root causes lie in the severe segregation of women, the prohibitive cost of marriage within Pashtun tribal codes, and the depressed economic situation into which young Pashtun men are placed."

The human terrain team responded to scandalous interactions between Pashtun fighters and North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops, some reported with hilarity by the media. An article in the Scotsman of May 24, 2002, reported, for example: "In Bagram, British marines returning from an operation deep in the Afghan mountains spoke last night of an alarming new threat – being propositioned by swarms of gay local farmers. An Arbroath marine, James Fletcher, said: 'They were more terrifying than the al-Qaeda. One bloke who had painted toenails was offering to paint ours. They go about hand in hand, mincing around the village.' While the marines failed to find any al-Qaeda during the seven-day Operation Condor, they were propositioned by dozens of men in villages the troops were ordered to search."

Another interviewee in the article, a marine in his 20s, stated, "It was hell. Every village we went into we got a group of men wearing makeup coming up, stroking our hair and cheeks and making kissing noises."

The trouble, the researchers surmise, is "Pashtun society's extremely limited access to women," citing a Los Angeles Times interview with a young Pashtun identified as Daud. He only has sex with men, explaining: "I like boys, but I like girls better. It's just that we can't see the women to see if they are beautiful. But we can see the boys, and so we can tell which of them is beautiful."

Many of the Pashtuns interviewed allow "that homosexuality is indeed prohibited within Islam, warranting great shame and condemnation. However, homosexuality is then narrowly and specifically defined as the love of another man. Loving a man would therefore be unacceptable and a major sin within this cultural interpretation of Islam, but using another man for sexual gratification would be regarded as a foible -undesirable but far preferable to sex with a ineligible woman, which in the context of Pashtun honor, would likely result in issues of revenge and honor killings."

How prevalent are homosexual relations among Pashtuns? The researchers note that "medics treated an outbreak of gonorrhea among the local national interpreters on their camp. Approximately 12 of the nearly 20 young male interpreters present in the camp had contracted the disease, and most had done so anally. This is a merely anecdotal observation and far too small of a sample size to make any generalizations regarding the actual prevalence of homosexual activity region-wide. However, given the difficulty in procuring such data, it may serve as some indicator."

Through Khaled Hosseini's 2003 novel The Kite Runner, Western audiences caught a glimpse of what the military team calls "an openly celebrated cultural tradition. Kandahar's long artistic and poetic tradition idolizes the pre-pubescent ‘beardless boy’ as the icon of physical beauty. Further, even the newly re-emerging musical nightlife of southern Afghan cities idolizes pre-pubescent boy performers, whose star status lasts only as long as their voices remain immature."

"Kandahar's Pashtuns have been notorious for their homosexuality for centuries, particularly their fondness for naive young boys. Before the Taliban arrived in 1994, the streets were filled with teenagers and their sugar daddies, flaunting their relationship. It is called the homosexual capital of South Asia. Such is the Pashtun obsession with sodomy - locals tell you that birds fly over the city using only one wing, the other covering their posterior - that the rape of young boys by warlords was one of the key factors in Mullah Omar mobilizing the Taliban," the report adds.

Although the Taliban discouraged open display, it "should not be viewed as free of the culture and tradition of homosexuality of the Pashtun world of which it is a part" the authors add.

"Men who take on a halekon [young male lover] often attempt to integrate the boy into their families by marrying him to a daughter when the boy is no longer young enough to play the 'beardless' role. This maintains the love relationship between the father and son-in-law which inevitably makes difficult the establishment of a normal relationship with the wife," the human terrain Team explains.

The team's results are striking, but they place too much emphasis on the weirdness of Pashtun tradition and give too little attention to the broader role of homosexuality in Islamic (and especially Sufi) culture. What scholars now consider the Golden Age of Islamic love poetry, the Persian high middle ages, made homosexual pederasty the normative mode of love. While Petrarch wrote sonnets to Laura and Dante longed for Beatrice, their counterparts in the canon of Islamic poetry, Hafez and Rumi, wrote of their infatuation with young boys.

Afghanistan's own Sufi poet was the 17th-century bard Abdul Rahman Baba, of whom little is known except that he is said to have eloped with a young boy named Mujnoon. He is generally portrayed as a premature flower-child dedicated to peace and love; that must be what the Taliban thought as well, for they placed a bomb in his tomb in March 2009. According to the limited available criticism of Rahman's work, his Pashto poems are closely related to the Persian style of Rumi.

The prevalence of homosexual pedophilia in classical Islamic poetry, Persian as well as Pashto, suggests that the human terrain team may have missed an important dimension, namely the religious. In a study entitled Sufism, Sodomy and Satan published in this space August 12, 2008, I argued:

Sufi pedophilia cannot be dismissed as a remnant of the old tribal practices that Islam often incorporated, for example, female genital mutilation. Genital mutilation is a pre-Islamic practice unknown in the ancient and modern West. Even though some Muslim authorities defend it on the basis of Hadith, no one has ever claimed that it offered a path to enlightenment. Sadly, pedophiles are found almost everywhere. In its ascendancy, Sufism made a definitive spiritual experience out of a practice considered criminally aberrant in the West. But pederasty as a spiritual exercise is not essentially different in character from the furtive practices of Western perverts. As the psychiatrists explain, pederasty is an expression of narcissism, the love of an idealized youthful self-image.

All forms of contemplative mysticism involve the danger that the object of adoration into which one dissolves might turn out to be one's self. It sounds well and good to seek God in the all, that is, no place in particular. The trouble is that if one tries to dissolve one's self into the all, one's self becomes part of the all. The lover cannot distinguish himself from the all. The self and the all are the same, and one loves one's self. There is no other in Sufism, only your own ego staring back in the carnival mirror of mysticism. The adept does not worship a God who is wholly other - YHWH of the Hebrew Bible or Jesus of the Gospels - but a younger and prettier version of himself. In that respect, pedophilia in Afghanistan may have a distinctly religious motivation.


Britain's Centre/Left want to destroy Parliament and replace it with rule by judges

By Bernard Jenkin

As a newly elected MP in 1992, I remember sitting in the Commons tea room with fellow new boy Iain Duncan Smith. The crucial vote on the Maastricht Treaty, that accelerated the transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels, was looming.

Chancellor Norman Lamont’s young and ambitious Parliamentary Private Secretary came and sat with us to try to persuade us to vote for the treaty. We refused. He looked stunned that two ambitious young MPs would throw away their ministerial careers in such a way.

Today’s Commons contains one of the largest intakes of new Conservative MPs in history. They now face the same pressures we faced then. The young man who approached me in the tea room, William Hague, is now Foreign Secretary.

If there was one thing which David Cameron used in order to persuade a lot of Tory MPs to vote for him as party leader in 2005, it was that he was serious about the issue of parliamentary sovereignty. The sovereignty of Parliament is the foundation principle of the United Kingdom’s democratic constitution.

But some of our judges openly question this. One, Lord Hope (Deputy President of the Supreme Court, no less) said that ‘parliamentary sovereignty is no longer . . . absolute’. He added that ‘step by step’ it ‘is being qualified’.

In his view, it is now the ‘rule of law enforced by the courts’ that is ‘the ultimate controlling factor on which our constitution is based’.

The sovereignty of Parliament is not merely some arcane matter of dusty constitutional curiosity. It is the very root of British democracy and affects the daily lives of every citizen. It should be the duty of MPs to protect it on behalf of our voters and for future generations.

Parliamentary sovereignty means that the last word in determining matters of public policy lies with Parliament. A threat to parliamentary sovereignty is a threat to democracy itself.

Parliament is an elected body. There is a chronic democratic deficit in the European Union, and no one elects judges in this country.

Nor should they be elected: judges are appointed to determine questions of law, not to govern us politically. This, constitutionally, is what makes Britain a democracy.
Lord Hope, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, has said that 'parliamentary sovereignty is no longer ... absolute

Lord Hope, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, has said that 'parliamentary sovereignty is no longer ... absolute'

Take it away and you strike at democracy itself and the freedom of the voters to choose who governs them and how. That is something for which people have fought and died.

Before the Election, David Cameron promised a Sovereignty Bill. In his speech entitled Giving Power Back To The People he said: ‘As we have no written constitution . . . we have no explicit legal guarantee that the last word on our laws stays in Britain . . . so, as well as making sure that further power cannot be handed to the EU without a referendum, we will also introduce a new law, in the form of a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill, to make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament.’

Later, he promised ‘to strengthen the place of Parliament at the heart of our democracy’ and that he would make sure that ‘Britain’s laws can no longer be decided by unaccountable judges’.

But, instead of a Sovereignty Bill, on Tuesday, MPs will be asked to pass Clause 18 of the EU Bill. Ministers claim that this will deliver the Prime Minister’s pledge to protect our sovereignty.

It will do nothing of the sort. Parliamentary supremacy, or sovereignty, or primacy doesn’t feature in it. As currently drafted, it is so feeble it would effectively hand over control of parliamentary sovereignty to unelected judges.

To make matters worse, the Government has explained parliamentary sovereignty as a ‘common law principle’. This is just rubbish. Parliament claimed sovereignty when it cut off the head of Charles I.

The Government is playing into the hands of the judges. The common law is judge-made law. The judges are its authors and its guardians. They may change it whenever they see fit.

Professor Adam Tomkins, of Glasgow University, the legal adviser to the House of Lords Constitutional Affairs Committee, has warned that Clause 18 could actually promote judicial meddling in parliamentary sovereignty. He calls it ‘the proverbial red rag to the bull’.

This is why some of us are asking other Conservative MPs, particularly newly elected ones, to vote for crucial amendments to affirm parliamentary sovereignty. We are asking them: How much can each of us afford to renege personally on the promises made to constituents and to Conservative activists? Does integrity matter?

Before the Election, David Cameron, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, said: ‘Country before party. I say to MPs, when you get into Parliament you must vote according to your conscience and then your view of the national interest and your view of your constituents’ interests and then your party.’

Needless to say, debate on the EU Bill is being severely limited by the Government. It is no coincidence that Clause 18 is being debated on Tuesday, the day after the House resumes after the Christmas break, so there is as little time for discussion as possible and as few MPs as possible will be present.

New MPs will be threatened, cajoled, promised preferment and the rest. They will be assailed by whips, wooed by senior Ministers in the tea room, just as I was when I was a new boy, and promotion will be dangled in front of them. In this way, the Government hopes to contain the rebellion. But does there not come a point at which the Conservative Party must finally make itself felt in this Coalition?

It is tragic that a Conservative Prime Minister should be willing to place parliamentary sovereignty in such danger.

The EU Bill may have been designed to look ‘Euro-sceptic’. But close scrutiny shows that it is the opposite. It is a policy deliberately devised to promote Liberal Democrat ideology – part of the disastrous constitutional revolution which is under way.

The Liberal Democrats have never defended parliamentary sovereignty. They want to destroy it. They seek not only a federal Europe but also a written constitution for the United Kingdom. This would be a legal document, enforceable by the courts, destroying parliamentary sovereignty and replacing it with rule by judges.

If Mr Cameron and Mr Hague have the national interest at heart, they will not let this constitutional outrage occur.


A new tyranny

Big business is not your friend

As the US and Australian governments got grumpy about their dirty laundry being aired by leaked cables to WikiLeaks, MasterCard and Visa last month chose to block their cardholders from donating money to the whistle-blowing organisation.

A spokesman for MasterCard, Chris Monteiro, was quoted as saying the company's website suspended dealings with WikiLeaks because "MasterCard rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal".

There are a number of problems with this statement. The first is that despite the angry rhetoric from embarrassed governments, no one has found a law that WikiLeaks has actually broken, either in Australia, Europe, the United States or anywhere else. What WikiLeaks has done is publish information which it has received from various sources, in the same way that media organisations do every day.

On this precedent, News Limited customers would be barred from using their plastic dosh to pay for newspaper and online subscriptions.

The second problem is that MasterCard and Visa – which are dominant in market share of credit card holders – have trampled on consumer rights by stopping people from being able to choose what to spend their money on.

This is a very slippery slope, when financial institutions are telling people what is and is not appropriate use of their money. Today it is WikiLeaks ... who will it be tomorrow? What will stop MasterCard or Visa going further in future and blocking transactions, wherever they occur, because they believe a product, cause or issue is too politically unpopular or controversial?

If no explicit laws prohibit sending money to a particular cause or organisation – such as those that apply to outlawed organisations like terrorist groups – then there should be no question of impeding Australians' freedom of choice.

Unlike the debate over banking choice, these credit companies have a monopoly on the credit card business – so while Visa and MasterCard can "boycott" WikiLeaks their customers don't have the same freedom.

The key issue here is that consumers have no real choice to move their business if they disagree with MasterCard and Visa's actions.

The situation is already changing, however. The Australian government has had to admit that WikiLeaks has broken no laws. We will have to wait and see whether MasterCard and Visa follow suit. To see the US Government apologise – now that would be priceless.


Australia: Donation cap limits speech, warns academic

LIMITS on political donations will limit free speech, an academic expert on campaign finance has warned.

The Greens have been accused of "moral bankruptcy" by Liberal Senate leader Eric Abetz for accepting $1.6 million from Graeme Wood, the founder of online travel giant Wotif -- the largest individual donation in Australian political history -- while pressing for a ban on gifts from individuals worth more than $1000.

Centre for Independent Studies fellow Andrew Norton said the donation demonstrated the altruistic nature of most campaign contributions.

"It's a transparent case of a purely ideologically motivated donation," he said yesterday. Mr Norton said there was normally no way to judge what motivated donations, but warned: "If you try to ban donations to buy influence on a particular party, you also ban all other donations."

He said the donation showed the Greens and minor parties could prosper within the existing campaign finance framework, which was "not inherently rigged". He warned that the cap on donations demanded by the Greens would dampen debate.

"What it does is restrict successful campaigning to groups that already have existing large constituencies in the community, either parties that have existing support bases or causes people are in favour of," he said.

Overseas political donations have already been banned under the accord struck between Labor and the Greens last August, yet the Greens received significant support from overseas donors.

Mr Norton pointed to an unintended consequence of NSW laws capping political donations and campaign expenditure. "Candidates can still spend their own money," he said. "It will be similar to the US, where people who are rich, incumbent and celebrities have an advantage as they already have the money or the profile or both."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


11 January, 2011

Islam's Hijackers and Hijackees

For years we've been hearing about how the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists. What if it's the other way around? Worse, what if the peaceful hijackers are losing their bid to take over the religion? That certainly seems to be the case in Pakistan.

Salman Taseer, a popular Pakistani governor, was assassinated this week because he was critical of Pakistan's blasphemy law. Specifically, Taseer was supportive of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for "insulting Muhammad."

Bibi had offered some fellow farm laborers some water. They refused to drink it because Christian hands apparently make water unclean. An argument followed. She defended her faith, which they took as synonymous with attacking theirs. Later, she says, a mob of her accusers raped her. Naturally, a Pakistani judge sentenced her to hang for blasphemy.

And Governor Taseer, who bravely visited her and sympathized with her plight, had 40 bullets pumped into him by one of his own bodyguards. "Salmaan Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer," Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri said to the television cameras even as he was being arrested.

Now, so far, it's hard to say who is the hijacker and who is the hijackee. After all, Taseer the moderate was a prominent politician, Qadri a mere bodyguard.

A reasonable person might look at this tragic situation and say it is indeed proof of extremists trying to hijack the religion and the country. Except, it was Taseer who wanted to change the status quo and Qadri who wanted to protect it. Pakistan's blasphemy laws have been on the books for decades, and while judicial death sentences for blasphemy are rare, the police and security forces have been enforcing it unilaterally for years.

And what of the reaction to the assassination? Many columnists and commentators denounced the murder, but the public's reaction was often celebratory. A Facebook fan page for Qadri had to be taken down even as it was drawing thousands of followers.

And what of the country's official guardians of the faith? A group of more than 500 leading Muslim scholars, representing what the Associated Press describes a "moderate school of Islam" and the British Guardian calls the "mainstream religious organizations" in Pakistan not only celebrated the murder, but warned that no Muslim should mourn Taseer's murder or pray for him.

They even went so far as to warn government officials and journalists that the "supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy," and so therefore they should all take "a lesson from the exemplary death" of Salman Taseer.


Rape accusers must show their faces

I rarely agree with Naomi Wolf but she puts up a good argument below

As Swedish prosecutors' sex-crime allegations against Julian Assange play out, one aspect merits scrutiny. We know Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, by name. But his two accusers are consistently identified as "Miss A" and "Miss W" in the media. In Britain it is against the law to name an accuser in a sex-crime case once a complaint has been made; elsewhere - in the US, and much of Europe - media convention demands that accusers get the same protection. This is bad law and bad policy. Motivated by good intentions, the outcome harms women.

The shielding of rape accusers is a relic of the Victorian era, when rape and other sex crimes were being codified in what has become modern law. Rape was seen as "the fate worse than death", rendering women "damaged goods". The practice of not naming victims took hold for this reason.

Borrowing from a poem by Coventry Patmore, Virginia Woolf labelled the ideal of womanhood in this period "the angel in the house": a retiring creature who could not withstand the rigours of the public arena. "Good" women's ostensible fragility and sexual purity was used to exclude them from influencing outcomes that affected their destinies. For example, women could not fully participate in legal proceedings. Indeed, suffragists fought for the right to be found guilty of one's own crimes.

Nonetheless, even after women gained legal rights, the convention of not naming women who make sex-crime allegations remains. Not only is this condescending, but it makes rape prosecutions more difficult.

Anonymity serves institutions that do not want to prosecute rapists. My alma mater, Yale, used anonymity to sweep incidents under the carpet for two decades. Charges made anonymously are not taken as seriously as charges brought in public.

It is only when victims have waived their anonymity that institutions change. It was Anita Hill's difficult decision in 1991 not to make anonymous accusations against Clarence Thomas, now a US Supreme Court justice, that spurred a wave of enforcement of equal opportunity law. Hill knew that her motives would be questioned. But as a lawyer she understood how unethical anonymous allegations were, and how unlikely to bring about change.

The convention of anonymity lets rape myths flourish. When accusers are identified, it becomes clear that rape can happen to anyone. Stereotypes about how "real" rape victims look and act fall away.

Feminists have long argued that rape must be treated like any other crime. But in no other crime are accusers' identities hidden. Treating rape differently serves only to maintain its mischaracterisation as a "different" kind of crime.

Finally, there is a profound moral issue here. Although children's identities should, of course, be shielded, women are not children. If one makes a serious criminal accusation, one must be treated as a moral adult. The importance of this is particularly clear in the Assange case, where public opinion matters far more than usual. Here, geopolitical state pressure, as well as the pressure of public attitudes about Assange, weigh heavily. Can judicial decision-making be impartial when the accused is exposed to the glare of media scrutiny and attack by the US government, while his accusers remain hidden?

It is no one's business whom a victim of sex crime has had sex with previously, or what she was wearing when attacked. Laws exist to protect women from such inquiries. But some questions of motive and context, for both parties, are legitimate in any serious allegation.

The Oscar Wilde trial of 1895 is worth remembering. Wilde, like Assange, was held in solitary confinement. Like Assange, he faced a legal proceeding for alleged sex crimes in which there was state pressure: the alleged behind-the-scenes involvement of the then prime minister, Lord Rosebery, ensured the likelihood of a "guilty" verdict. The roar of public opprobrium, in the wake of reports from accusers shielded in some cases by anonymity, also sealed Wilde's fate. His sentence - two years' hard labour - was atypically severe.

No one is proud of the outcome of that trial today. The lesson for us? Top-level political pressure and virulent public opprobrium - inflamed and enabled by anonymous accusations - can grossly distort legal process.


British firms get more powers to fire the slackers

Companies are to be given greater freedom to sack under-performing workers as part of an overhaul of employment laws to boost the economic recovery. The new “employers’ charter” will allow companies to sack workers during the first two years of their employment without the threat of being taken to a tribunal for unfair dismissal. Currently an employee can bring an unfair dismissal claim after only a year.

To reduce the number of vexatious allegations, workers will face a fee when lodging an employment tribunal claim.

The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the Government is also launching a review that is likely to see small companies excluded from some stringent employment laws. The length of time that firms have to pay workers statutory sick pay is set to be reduced as part of the shake-up. David Cameron hopes that relaxed employment laws will help to boost the private sector and encourage firms to take on thousands of new workers.

Downing Street will host a jobs summit on Monday at which some of the biggest employers – including Tesco, McDonalds, Microsoft and Shell — will promise to take on thousands of recruits and create apprenticeships for school leavers.

The issue of jobs is likely to dominate the first day of the new parliamentary session as MPs return after the holiday recess. The Coalition will try to focus on its plans for economic growth, rather than public spending cuts.

Mr Cameron said: “We can only get our economy back on track by creating a climate in which the private sector can grow and develop, creating jobs and opportunities for people across the country. This year the Government is determined to help deliver many thousands of new jobs and I’m delighted that the companies joining me today are part of that.

“Across a whole range of areas you’re going to see the most pro-business, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda ever unleashed by a government. “It’s time we looked forward to a positive, strong, confident Britain. By developing the right skills and jobs I am determined that the many, not the few will share in the country’s prosperity.”

In total 19 major employers will attend today’s summit with other firms including Balfour Beatty, Centrica, Jaguar, Land Rover and Marks and Spencer. Downing Street said the Prime Minister would talk to employers about “what more the Government can do to enable employers to get Britain working again”.

Currently workers can pursue a claim for unfair dismissal after a year of full-time employment. This is expected to be increased to two years, a move that does not require new legislation. A similar rise was introduced in the 1980s, leading to an increase in employment. The one-year limit was proposed in 1996 and enacted by the Labour government.

Claims for discrimination can be lodged after any term of employment.

Companies also have to pay statutory sick pay of at least £79.15 for up to 28 weeks to those unable to work. The period of payment by employers may be reduced in future.

Mr Cameron is expected to order a wider review of employment laws to slash the red tape for smaller companies. These firms are seen as the key to securing the economic recovery and encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs. Many small and medium-sized firms complain that they are being hindered by employment rules introduced over the past decade.

Ministers are expected to contrast the “employers’ charter” with the European-led social charter introduced by Labour which boosted workers’ rights.

A Whitehall source said: "The thrust of the initiative is that to persuade companies to hire people we need to make it easier to fire those workers who aren't up to the job, so there is less risk in taking on new people, especially the young.” The plan, which will be officially announced after the Oldham and Saddleworth by-election on Thursday, is expected to be fiercely opposed by the trade unions.

Workers’ leaders have warned of the consequences of encouraging “second rate employers” by weakening labour laws. The TUC is planning mass protests against Government cuts in the spring and the “employers’ charter” could further antagonise the unions.

Mr Cameron said yesterday that he would not be “pushed around” by the unions. “Striking is not going to achieve anything,” he said. “The trade unions need to know they’re not going to be able to push anyone around by holding this strike, or that strike or even a whole lot of strikes together. “This Government is a very strong government. It’s got a strong majority. I believe the public is right behind the approach that we are taking and people need to know we will not change course because one union or another union wants to kick off.”

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, will join the debate on jobs today, by holding a press conference to attack the Government’s approach to tackling youth unemployment. Mr Miliband is expected to say: “The first thing Mr Cameron should be addressing at his meeting today is the risk of a lost generation of young people in this country. “He should follow Labour’s advice and keep the Future Jobs Fund which would mean 100,000 extra jobs for young people. There will be a looming gap in the help given to unemployed young people.This decision to betray young people is not just unfair it is the wrong long-term economic judgment for our country.”

The Government’s employment policies were also criticised by the shadow minister for equality and women. Yvette Cooper pointed out that women were likely to be hardest hit by the proposals because they were often in shorter term employment.

“The Government is already hitting women hardest in their pockets through cuts in child benefit and child tax credit,” she said. “Now these plans look likely to hit hardest at women’s jobs, because women are more likely to be in shorter term work. “It is typical of this deeply unfair government to claim the only way to bring unemployment down is to make it easier to sack people who have been doing jobs between one and two years.”


While Muslim sexual predators have been jailed, it is Leftist Britain's hypocritical values that are to blame

Not for the first time, Jack Straw has ignited a firestorm of controversy by expressing serious concerns about behaviour within the British Muslim community.

Mr Straw, whose Blackburn constituency is heavily populated by Muslims, spoke out after two British men of Pakistani descent were jailed last week for a series of rapes and sexual assaults on vulnerable young girls, whom they also groomed for sex with other gangs members or their relatives.

This was far from a one-off case. Police operations going back to 1996 have revealed a disturbingly similar pattern of collective abuse involving small groups of Muslim men committing a particular type of sexual crime.

This has typically involved abducting, raping or otherwise sexually attacking hundreds of mainly white girls aged 11 to 16, as well as enslaving them through alcohol and drugs and grooming them for sex.

Mr Straw said the reason was that some British Pakistani men regarded emotionally ‘vulnerable’ white girls as ‘easy meat’ whom they trapped through plying them with gifts and drugs.

The reaction to his remarks from certain quarters was all too predictable. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said Straw’s comments were ‘pretty dangerous’. Others accused him of being ‘inflammatory’ or ‘stereo-typing’ an entire community.

What all this merely illustrated, however, was the politically correct denial which exculpates the guilty by ruling out of bounds any criticism of the community to which they belong. For far too long, this has served to suppress an absolutely vital debate which desperately needs to be had. For while, of course, most Muslims repudiate any kind of sexual crime, the fact remains that the majority of those who are involved in this particular kind of predatory activity are Muslim.

The picture is certainly complicated. The overwhelming majority of people who are convicted in general of sex crimes - including sexual abuse within families - are white men. Nevertheless, we do now know that most cases of gang-led, on-street grooming that have come to light involve British Muslim offenders and young white girls.

Most disturbingly, the police say that these convictions form only a small proportion of a ‘tidal wave’ of such crimes. Yet, until now, there has been a conspiracy of silence over this phenomenon.

Charities such as Barnardo’s won’t even discuss the cultural background of such criminals. The Home Office refuses to collect such statistics. And, of course, the Guardianistas condemn any such analysis as ‘racialising crime’.

Actually, there is more than a grain of truth in that particular criticism. For this is certainly not a racial issue. Indeed, one of the many red herrings in this debate is that - if cultural characteristics are discussed at all -the gangs tend to be described as ‘Asian’.

But this is to besmirch Sikhs, Hindus, ­Chinese and other Asians. For these ­particular gang members are overwhelmingly Muslim men. And the common ­characteristic is not ethnicity, but religion.

For these gang members select their victims from communities which they believe to be ‘unbelievers’ — non-Muslims whom they view with disdain and hostility. You can see that this is not a racial but a religious animosity from the fact that, while the vast majority of the girls who are targeted are white, the victims include Sikhs and Hindus, too.

Back in 2007, The Hindu Forum Of Britain claimed that hundreds of
Hindu and Sikh girls had been intimidated by Muslim men who took them on dates before terrorising them until they converted.

And the Sikh Media Monitoring group described ‘the deliberate and targeted sexual degradation of Sikh women purely because of their religion’ and how a minority of young Muslim men boasted about ‘seducing the Kaffir (unbeliever) women’.

Nevertheless, there is a particular problem with white girls. They are targeted because the men involved in these offences do not regard Muslim girls in the same way as sexual objects to be shared by all. One Muslim man was reported as saying that white girls are targeted by such men because ‘if they did it to a Muslim girl, they’d be shot’.

White girls also tend to be seen as sluts. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a national Muslim youth organisation, says: ‘These people think that white girls have fewer morals and are less valuable than our girls.’

What seems to have taken place is therefore a tragic conflation of certain primitive, religiously based attitudes towards women and unbelievers — and the degraded way in which certain white girls behave.

For in this debauched British society, highly-sexualised behaviour by even pre-teens is ignored, excused, condoned or encouraged.

Who can be surprised that young white girls willingly go with these sexual predators who pick them up when so many stagger in and out of pubs and nightclubs in a drunken haze wearing clothes that leave little to the imagination and boasting of ‘blow jobs’ or how many guys they have ‘shagged’?

Who can be surprised when even sex education materials in schools advise on oral sex and other sexual practices; teen-targeted magazines, clothing and popular culture are saturated by sexuality; and family life has often disintegrated into a procession of mum’s casual pick-ups and gross parental indifference, leaving young girls desperate for affection from any quarter?

The disgust felt by some Muslim youths at such sexually promiscuous girls can then feed into a more general hatred and hostility towards Britain and the West. Such youths form themselves into gangs bound by a common feeling of being outsiders united by a profound hostility to the society into which they were born.

But because they are indeed also part of British society, and have therefore been exposed to an education system which gives them precious little education about Britain and even less moral ­guidance, such youths often descend into the same pit of drugs, alcohol and sex as their ‘unbeliever’ peers.

Yet they come from backgrounds where, all too often, women have second-class status — a world in which some particularly extreme communities have a mindset that divides them into either virginal slaves to their husbands or prostitutes.

The resulting conflict set up in the minds of these British Muslim boys sometimes creates a disgust that turns upon the ‘slags’ and ‘slappers’. Or - far more lethally - it leads to a self-disgust which makes them vulnerable to the message that they can purify themselves by destroying the society that has led them into such evil and ungodly ways.

It is remarkable that, even though the obscenity of rape and the inviolable rights of women over their bodies are among the shibboleths of the age, feminists and other liberals are almost totally silent when Muslims violate these sacred codes.

Muslim women are often treated abominably within their communities. But to their suffering, feminists and other right-on liberals are almost totally silent. The only sound from that lobby is the cry of ‘racist’ or ‘bigot’ hurled at anyone who dares protest at such religious slavery.

Some Muslim sexual predators may now be behind bars. Others, according to the police, may still be very much at large. But it is multicultural, reverse-racist, sickeningly hypocritical Britain which is actually in the dock.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


10 January, 2011

A hotel is demolished in Jerusalem and that attracts the attention of the U.S. Secretary of State?

It shows how picky everyone is about the minutest thing that is done in Israel. The evil eye never leaves the Jews

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton early today condemned Israel's demolition of an east Jerusalem hotel complex, saying it undermines chances for peace with the Palestinians. "We are very concerned about initiation of demolition of the Shepherd's Hotel in east Jerusalem," Mrs Clinton said after arriving in Abu Dhabi for talks on the stalled Middle East peace process as well as on Iran and Iraq.

"This disturbing development undermines peace efforts to achieve two state-solution," the chief US diplomat said in a statement. "In particular, this move contradicts the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties on the status of Jerusalem. "We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties should mutually agree on an outcome that realises the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.

"Ultimately, the lack of a resolution to this conflict harms Israel, harms the Palestinians, and harms US and the international community. "We will continue to press ahead with the parties to resolve the core issues, including Jerusalem, in the context of a peace agreement."

The Palestinians reacted furiously to the demolition of part of the Hotel Shepherd, which sits on a plot of land in annexed east Jerusalem where developers plan to build a complex of 20 luxury apartments for Jewish settlers.

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since late September, when an Israeli freeze on the construction of Jewish settlements expired. Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has insisted he will not hold peace talks while Israel continues to build on land which the Palestinians want for their future state.


What women really want

RARELY do social theorists cause a public furore outside their ivory towers -- except for Catherine Hakim, feminist foe and author of such provocative works as Mummy, I Want to be a Housewife.

Last year, in Erotic Capital, she claimed that women's looks, sexuality and charm should be as highly valued as assets usually held in higher regard, such as brains - and she cited prostitutes, model Katie Price, wives and girlfriends of sportsmen, princess Diana and Madonna. Now she has done it again.

Hakim argues, in a new paper called Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine, that women still want to "marry up": to marry men who are richer and cleverer than them. She says "most of the theories and ideas built up around gender equality in the past few decades are wrong" and that "despite feminist claims, the truth is that most men and women have different career aspirations and priorities".

The paper has caused merry hell since it was published last week. Those who think the sex war is far from over accuse Hakim of an outrage. One says: "It's like we're going back to Jane Austen. I am so anti-Hakim; she is all about the de-powering of women."

Campaigners at the Fawcett Society, a feminist think tank, complain: "[Hakim's] claims come at a time when women's rights are being undermined by government cuts which threaten to put women's progress back by a generation. "She has this ideological bent that brings into play an old-fashioned stereotype that threatens the progress made in women's lives."

Others think she is saying things that need to be said. "The truth is women often end up earning less because somebody has to stay at home and be the parent. And until men can have babies, that will be the mother," Amber Rust, an Oxford-educated stay-at-home mother, says. The idea of women accepting and even desiring financial dependence, says Rust, "is an unpalatable truth, but Hakim is spot on. The truth hurts."

As the arguments rage, a YouGov survey for The Sunday Times suggests Hakim has a point. It reveals that 64 per cent of women of all political views, ages and locations would have preferred to marry a man who earned more than them.

But only 19 per cent want a better educated man (against 62 per cent who sought men with the same sort of education). More women (31 per cent) think they are better educated than their spouses than vice versa (19 per cent).

Asked whether, if money were not a worry, they would prefer to stay at home with their children, 55 per cent said yes. And 53 per cent agreed that society puts pressure on women with children to go to work. Is that another sign that, as Hakim would have it, women want a rich husband and to enjoy domestic life? Or does such data conceal more complex influences at play?

Hakim, a senior research fellow in the sociology department at the London School of Economics, is a curious woman. Mostly she contributes to academic conversation with fellow social theorists, economists and, as she puts it, "that gender studies lot".

Every so often, she surfaces in the mainstream as an agent provocateur. She has made her name with a stream of papers that point a finger at modern women in the workplace.

Academically, she is known for her preference theory, which states that women make their own choices about work and home life - a basic criticism of many feminist assumptions. She is a defender of the theory that male dominance is inevitable and has been cited as saying that "it explains some of the more inconvenient facts about women as well as men".

Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine was originally intended as an academic paper but her submission to the journal of the European Sociological Association was roundly rejected by four peers. Instead, it was eventually published by the Thatcherite Centre for Policy Studies. "There's no point in publishing something like this in an academic journal, it's too un-PC for them," Hakim says.

She's not kidding. Sri Lanka is a better model of equality than Sweden, she writes. Government policy to promote equality is "magic medicine" and counter-productive. Women already have their equal opportunities. The sex war is over, she declares.

There is no shortage of women applauding her. One Goldman Sachs banker supports Hakim's theory that emphasis on equality can undermine women's achievements. She describes how she was unable to enjoy a genuinely earned promotion because colleagues suspected it was down to a general "boost the number of female MDs" policy.

Belinda Robertson, chief executive of a company selling cashmere clothing, says: "We've made women a special case and not equal. That's not how we want to be considered, as tokens on boards. Women don't do themselves any favours, abusing the system. "I employ lots of women with kids; they're much harder working, very efficient. But having a child is a conscious choice; it involves a lot of sacrifice. You can't have everything."

Others challenge Hakim's suggestion that the pay gap between men and women is no longer relevant. The head of policy and campaigns at the Fawcett Society, Anna Bird, disputes her figures.

"Unequal pay is far from consigned to history," Bird says. "Forty years after the [UK] Equal Pay Act, women can expect to earn 15.5 per cent less than men. Some 45,000 women are currently fighting equal pay claims."

A human resources director for a London law firm says: "The bottom line is men are still making the decisions. I see them daily deciding women don't deserve a pay rise or promotion."

Hakim claims the data supports her conclusions. "Research evidence consistently shows that most husbands are the main breadwinners in their family and that most mothers would prefer not to have the competing demands of family work and paid jobs," she says.

Some experts dispute her interpretation that the data shows women making truly free choices between careers and domestic life.

The University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies' director Jude Brown says: "Hakim belongs to the school of thought that interprets certain inequalities as reflections of the choices that individuals make. "The thinking here is that these choices are related to people's preferences. But for there to be a real choice there need to be different options, instead of just herding people into stereotypical roles. For most families seeking to balance child care and work, there is no real choice.

"We do need more policy provision and it should be focused on, for example, adequately paid parental leave [as opposed to just maternity leave] and more affordable child care. The current prescriptions of how we should live serve to sustain the robust nature of the status quo."

Another critic, Adrienne Burgess, is head of research at the Fatherhood Institute, a think tank that works to "transform children's lives by focusing society on the importance of positively involved fathers".

"I don't disagree with the stats. I disagree with her conclusions," Burgess says. "We need legislation to break old models, so fathers can get involved with parenting more easily, otherwise we fall into the old models Hakim seems to prefer. "The statistics do not mean the sex war is won. They herald [that] it is time for a new phase, a time for legislation to make the workplace more family friendly. Quite why this woman wants to shut the door on progress, I don't know."

For her part, "this woman" argues: "Everything should be gender neutral. When it comes to maternity and paternity leave, let people make their own choice. "I'm just saying that the data shows that mostly women like raising kids and mostly fathers are not that keen on doing it full-time. "Social, structural and cultural forces are in place, so if a man doesn't have a full-time job people will look down on him."

Rust remains adamantly a Hakim fan. "I love this woman, I want to go out for lunch with her. "And I love this line: 'Financial dependence on a man has lost none of its attractions after the equal opportunities revolution.' "


Stop and rethink British police powers

It seems that senior police officers have told ministers that they need new counter-terrorism powers to stop and search people without having to suspect them of any involvement in crime. Police, including the Met, believe they need these powers to guard against attempted attacks on big events such as the 2012 Olympics.

Hmm. As we know from bitter experience, if we give the police these powers, they will be used – and not necessarily for the purposes for which they were intended. Witness the detention, under anti-terrorism powers, of Walther Wolfgang, who dared heckle the Foreign Secretary at a Labour Party conference, or Sally Cameron who audaciously walked on a path marked as a cycle path in Dundee docks.

I actually think that it's perfectly reasonable for the police to stop us and ask what we are up to, provided they don't make a big bureaucratic deal out of it. A Canadian TV crew I was doing an interview for some months ago asked if they could do some set-up shots of me walking in the street and going into the office. Within one minute of them humping their enormous camera out onto the pavement, a squad car drew up (Westminster is the CCTV capital of the globe) and we were all asked to explain ourselves – and fill out a yellow form giving our name, address, height, sex, eye colour and probably religion.

Talk about rotten public relations. I would have had no problem with this if they had stopped us, asked us what we were doing and requested some ID, and parted with a cheery 'that's perfectly fine, thank you sir, carry on'. I would have been glad to help, and pleased that our friends in blue were so on the ball. But as it is, the bureaucracy of the exercise – though designed to prove that the police are being even handed in whom they stop – actually drives a wedge between the public and the police. It becomes an us and them situation, instead of a situation where we are all on the same side against a real threat.

We all know the police can haul us in and keep us locked up for 28 days without trial. We just don't want them to act like they can. If I believed that the police would use the powers they seek responsibly, I would have little problem over the issue. As it is, I'm not so sure.


Australia's Cardinal Pell upsets a few applecarts

His Eminence is a doughty warrior for his faith. No watered-down Gospel for him -- to the consternation of the Left

PREMIER Kristina Keneally has lashed out at the head of her church in Australia, saying she was "saddened" by Cardinal George Pell for denouncing Catholic politicians who do not follow the church's teachings. In an exclusive interview, Ms Keneally said Cardinal Pell risked being "interpreted as condemnatory and threatening" by urging MPs to stick to their religious convictions when making policy decisions on contentious social issues such as same-sex marriage.

Ms Keneally, a deeply committed Catholic with a Masters degree in religious studies, said: "I read those comments from the Archbishop and, if anything, they saddened me. "Almost every Catholic politician I know takes their responsibility as an elected representative and their faith very seriously. Many have really struggled, as have I, when moral issues require us to vote - and particularly when it is a conscience vote."

Cardinal Pell told The Sunday Telegraph last week that Catholic politicians couldn't have it both ways on sensitive moral issues such as gay marriage and euthanasia, saying it was "incongruous for somebody to be a Captain Catholic one minute, saying they're as good a Catholic as the Pope, then voting against the established Christian traditions".

His remarks caused a split among Catholic MPs who have been grappling with contentious issues such as same-sex marriage, gay adoptions and euthanasia.

Liberal NSW Upper House MP David Clarke agreed with the Cardinal. "You can't just use your religion when you want to," he said.

Member for Lakemba Tony Stewart said: "I found those comments from Pell bizarre and straight from the 1950s. "Trying to get politicians to vote in accordance to the Catholic Church is really to the detriment of what parliamentary representation is all about in Australia."

In a swipe at Cardinal Pell, suggesting he could be more helpful, Ms Keneally said: "Politicians of faith often would like to turn to religious leaders for pastoral advice and guidance, and sometimes that's not available."

She said she disagreed with the Catholic church on some points and with some of its social teachings, including the church's views on abortion.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


9 January, 2011

Uniforms worn by British police give a good clue to their mentality

Britain's most senior policeman has launched a stinging attack on the ‘paramilitary style’ uniforms being worn by many forces. Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the Met, spoke out against the all-black kit favoured by an increasing number of constabularies.

As Scotland Yard prepares to police the Olympics next year, Sir Paul said he wanted his officers to look like ‘traditional British bobbies’ – complete with white shirts. He has no plans to introduce the so-called ‘boys in black’ uniforms being worn in forces such as North Wales, Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley.

Critics have likened them to the black uniforms worn by followers of fascist Sir Oswald Mosley in the 1930s, who were known as the Blackshirts.

Sir Paul, renowned for his traditional views on policing, stopped short of making that comparison. But he made it clear he believes black uniforms send out the wrong message. He said: ‘I’m not awfully keen on ever-more paramilitary-type equipment on our streets. On occasions, we look paramilitary enough now. Frankly, that worries me. ‘I want to continue to look like the British police officer whenever we can.

‘It’s one of the reasons why I’m very passionate about continuing to make sure Met police officers look like Met police officers in white shirts, and not awfully keen on the move in other areas of the country towards different sorts of uniform that look more paramilitary.’

In an interview with LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari, Sir Paul went on: ‘I want cops in London to be reassuring, not oppressive.’

As more forces adopt the all-black uniforms, a fierce debate has raged in Police Review magazine about their suitability. Over the past few years, critics have included senior officers such as Barry Taylor, then speaking in his capacity as Association of Chief Police Officers’ spokesman on police uniforms. He said: ‘I am not in favour of black shirts because of the political connotations. It gives the wrong impression, which we should try and avoid where possible.’

When North Wales Police announced its officers would be adopting an all- black look, David Jones, the Tory MP for Clwyd West, said the move would give officers ‘a sinister, unfriendly appearance ... a fascist, militaristic appearance’.

However, the black look has proved popular where it has been adopted. Brian Stockham, of Sussex Police Federation, told Police Review the uniforms, consisting of a black polo shirt and black combat trousers, were ‘eminently sensible’.

But Scotland Yard said in a statement: ‘Whilst uniforms must equip officers with the tools they need to be safe and effective, it is also important officers on London’s streets look traditional and approachable.’


Doing the terrorists’ dirty work for them

Nathalie Rothschild reports from Sweden where lawmakers are exploiting people’s fears to curtail liberty

It’s not surprising that Swedish newspapers’ reflections on 2010 focused heavily on the threat of terrorism. After all, in early December Sweden experienced its first suicide bombing when an Iraqi-born Swede blew himself up on a busy shopping street in Stockholm. A couple of weeks later, Swedish and Danish authorities foiled an alleged terror plot aimed at ‘killing as many people as possible’ at the offices of Jyllandsposten (the Danish daily that published the infamous Mohammad cartoons in 2005). Three of the five men arrested for plotting a massacre in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks were Swedish citizens.

These Scandinavian militant Islamists thankfully failed to orchestrate bloodbaths – the suicide bomber himself was the only fatality on 11 December, and the five suspected cartoons militants were arrested before they could carry out any attack. Yet it looks like they have been successful in another respect. Because in 2011, Sweden looks set to be infused with a climate of fear and illiberalism as politicians and lawmakers lobby to extend the state’s surveillance powers and to clamp down on freedom of expression and association. All in the name of preventing terrorism. In short, Swedish society itself is pursuing what was surely one of the aims of the failed Islamist militants: to instil a sense of insecurity and paranoia across society.

In the wake of recent events, several politicians, law enforcers and commentators claim that draconian surveillance laws are now necessary in Sweden. They are effectively exploiting the fear and nervousness that the public understandably feels in the aftermath of terror plots. They are seeking to add moral weight to illiberal laws which will have severe long-term consequences for Swedish citizens’ liberties – while doing little practical to stop terrorism.

The fiercely debated ‘FRA law’ – anti-terrorist legislation passed by the Swedish parliament in 2008 despite a groundswell of public opposition – gave the Swedish intelligence bureau, Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the right to intercept all cable communications crossing Sweden’s borders. In short, FRA was given the right to snoop on every single email, telephone call, facsimile and SMS message that arrives in Sweden. The police and the secret services agency Säpo, however, were blocked from directly intercepting cable communication.

The controversial law, nicknamed Lex Orwell, sparked weeks of heated debate. The opposition party, the Social Democrats, pledged to block the centre-right government’s proposal to extend the snooping powers to Säpo; indeed, one of the cornerstone policies of the red-green alliance (the Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party) during the 2010 general election campaign was to tear up FRA. However, after the Stockholm suicide bombing, Morgan Johansson, the Social Democrat chairman of the parliament’s justice committee, said his party would agree to the extension of surveillance powers to Säpo. He also said the FRA law should not be ditched, after all. ‘We should not whip up fear, but we should take the threat seriously’, he told parliament.

The FRA law represents a severe infringement on Swedish and foreign nationals’ right to correspond freely and without fear. It reveals the extent to which terror-prevention measures are driven by a cavalier attitude towards people’s liberties. Apparently we should be prepared to give up our liberties without resistance just in case it might help in some way to shed some light on alleged criminal activity.

But FRA itself recognises that it can only gather a fraction of the digital communication that occurs every day in Sweden. As reported previously on spiked, the purpose of the FRA law is to ‘map external threats’; so, under this law, only communication from abroad can be intercepted. Yet it is technically impossible to differentiate between domestic and international traffic. Many Swedish companies and organisations have web servers that are based overseas, and often emails sent between individuals in one country are routed via another.

As Magnus Nilsson, president of the Social Democrat Student Association, has pointed out, ‘FRA gives us a false sense of security and moves us a step closer to a more and more controlled society’. Once the idea that the authorities should be able to snoop on us all has been enshrined into the law, then the limits to what communication can and cannot be intercepted are, as we have seen, likely to be stretched.

And in Sweden, it’s not just private correspondence that is up for grabs in the aftermath of December’s foiled terror plots – freedom of association, freedom of speech and the freedom to move around without being gazed at by the authorities are also under threat. Bo Huldt, a professor in security policy at the Stockholm-based National Defense College, points out that: ‘Routines will be sharpened and that’s something we will all have to accept… It may mean restrictions for us all regarding where we can move around, how many people can attend meetings or gatherings and more police presence at meetings.’

The trend for monitoring people’s meetings and sharing of ideas has already been set: a new terror-prevention law was introduced in Sweden on 1 December 2010 criminalising public incitement, recruitment and education ‘for the purpose of terrorism and other serious crimes’. The law is designed to meet the requirements of the European Council’s convention on the prevention of terrorism. As similar laws in Britain have shown, these measures tend to blur the boundaries between speech and action, between thought and deed, as anything from championing Hamas to speaking ill of the West can be categorised as speech that ‘incites terrorism’.

Politicians and law enforcers are letting a handful of individuals restrict all Swedish citizens’ liberties. Essentially, they are doing the terrorists’ jobs for them by helping to create a paranoid society in which everyone is a potential suspect, in which our right to communicate without fear of snooping, to associate with whomever we want and to attend demonstrations and meetings as we please is being suppressed. The alleged terrorists thankfully failed to kill anyone – but courtesy of Swedish officialdom, they succeeded in changing Swedish society for the worse.


Australia: Politically correct confusion over male nurses

Commonsense seems to have been lost on all sides. Of course male nurses (the straight ones anyway) are better equipped to handle aggressive patients

QUEENSLAND'S mental health hospitals are at the centre of a sex discrimination row after bureaucrats ordered male nurses to handle dangerous patients instead of their female colleagues.

A leaked memo reveals Queensland Health has been attempting to stop the practice becoming the norm at two of its main mental health facilities out of fears the department is breaching anti-discrimination laws.

The move comes after a male nurse complained to management that he was being discriminated against and prompted the department to seek legal advice on the matter.

But female nurses who account for most of the workforce, and some of whom have been bashed so badly one had to eat through a straw fear they will be harmed as patient shackles and door locks often don't work properly. Some managers demand they muscle up and do their job.

In a December 13 memo obtained by The Sunday Mail, Darling Downs-West Moreton Health Services District mental health executive director Shirley Wigan told staff at Toowoomba's Baillie Henderson Hospital and The Park, west of Brisbane, to follow the Anti-Discrimination Act.

"There may be instances of directions being provided around managing . . . aggressive behaviour which suggest that some managers prefer male nurses over female nurses," Ms Wigan wrote. "There should not be a standing order in any facility that female nurses should not respond to aggressive patient situations. This must be assessed on a case-by-case basis."

But a second complaint lodged by a female staff member claims the memo was dangerous because it was clearly common sense to make it normal practice for males to handle violent patients. The complaint argues that the Anti-Discrimination Act allowed an exemption to keep staff safe under workplace health and safety. "The number of vicious assaults has increased due to the negligence of management and senior medical staff to provide a safe working environment," the complaint reads.

Queensland Health acting district chief Peter Bristow yesterday noted the workplace health and safety clause, saying the matter was up for discussion among staff. "This is designed to give staff an opportunity to express their views, and seek a way forward which is acceptable to staff, and in keeping with the law," he said.

Queensland Nurses Union state secretary Beth Mohle said no one should be put in an unsafe situation but that rostering meant this would be inevitable for females.

In Sydney last week, a male nurse died after allegedly being stabbed by a mental patient, and his young female offsider was also stabbed.


Financial Info: Banned in Boston

"Banned in Boston." Those words became a catch phrase in the mid-20th century, as the city was notorious for suppressing works by authors such as Ernest Hemingway, H.L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis.

Back then, Massachusetts's obscenity laws were written to authorize the banning of books, plays and movies considered dangerous by powerful paternalistic groups such as the Watch and Ward Society. As late as the mid-1960s, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a ban of the 18th-century English novel "Fanny Hill," only to be reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Memoirs v. Massachusetts (1966) case.

Today the Bay State is a liberal bastion, so you might think that "Banned in Boston" is an anachronism. But on Thursday the state's highest court will consider a case involving censorship of truthful speech. The target of state Attorney General Martha Coakley and this modern Watch and Ward Society: financial information disseminated to the general public by a hedge fund.

In 2007, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin sanctioned the hedge fund Bulldog Investors for making an illegal public "offering" under the state's securities laws. Under state (and federal) law, alternative investment vehicles such as hedge funds can generally offer their securities only to "accredited investors" who meet certain financial conditions such as having $1 million or more in net worth.

Massachusetts doesn't contend that Bulldog signed up any investor who didn't meet the law's definition of "accredited investor." Rather, it charges that Bulldog's "offering"—in the form of a website with information about the fund's performance and philosophy—"fail[ed] to properly restrict access by prospective investors."

The Bay State is not contending that any information on Bulldog's website was false or misleading. Instead, in echoes of the state's puritanical censors of the past, officials are trying to suppress truthful information because it "arouses" the public. The website, they say, "even though not couched in terms of a direct offer," may still "condition the public mind or arouse public interest in the particular securities."

The legal team for Phillip Goldstein, the cofounder of Bulldog, will argue that Massachusetts' broad definition of "offering" violates the First Amendment. Among his lawyers is Laurence Tribe, the liberal Harvard Law professor who has just finished a stint as senior counselor for access to justice in the Obama Justice Department.

State Attorney General Coakley, for her part, has implied in a brief that the First Amendment doesn't apply to securities laws. "Widespread concerns . . . exist about extending the First Amendment to securities regulation," her brief states. It cites the controversial California Supreme Court ruling, in Kasky v. Nike (2002), that "differential treatment of speech about products based on the identity of the speaker is inherent in the commercial speech doctrine." This view subjects speech to a highly subjective test of how much it benefits a speaker financially—rather than whether it actually advocates a commercial transaction.

A friend-of-the court brief filed by a group of financial researchers (including this author) explains why Ms. Coakley is mistaken. The brief states that "making truthful information about lawful activity accessible to journalists, academics and others who wish to receive it for noncommercial reasons is noncommercial speech regardless of who is speaking."

The brief adds that even if the information on the website were deemed "commercial speech" entitled to less constitutional protection, "regulations that restrict public access to truthful information about a lawful product or service are unconstitutional."

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly (2001) that a Massachusetts rule aimed at preventing tobacco ads from reaching children violated the First Amendment because it blocked too much speech to adults. And the state itself has a website advertising state lottery tickets, even though their purchase is restricted to adults.

In this case Massachusetts is treating a whole class of non-wealthy adults as children who can't be trusted with basic information about how hedge funds work. In the name of protecting investors, Ms. Coakley and Mr. Galvin are actually perpetuating problems—namely lack of transparency in the hedge-fund market and inequality of information among investors—so often decried by politicians.

For these reasons, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court should think long and hard about whether it wants the "Banned in Boston" insignia appended to financial speech in the 21st century.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


8 January, 2011

Military culture clashes with political correctness

And PC wins, of course

To no one's surprise, the Navy has fired Captain Owen Honors, commander of the USS Enterprise. Honors, who had served as skipper of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier since May of last year, was sacked after the Virginian-Pilot newspaper posted copies of raunchy "morale" videos that he produced while serving as executive officer of the Enterprise in 2006-2007.

The videos, shown to thousands of crew members over the carrier's closed-circuit TV system, featured Captain Honors using gay slurs, staging "suggestive" shower scenes with female crew members and simulating masturbation.

A story about the videos appeared in Sunday's edition of the Pilot, which also made them available for public viewing through its website. By Tuesday, Honors' fate was sealed, with the Navy announcing his dismissal at a hastily-called press conference:

"After personally reviewing the videos created while serving as executive officer, I have lost confidence in Capt. Honors' ability to lead effectively," said Adm. John Harvey, head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, in Norfolk. Harvey declined to answer questions from reporters.

The long gap between the videos airing on the Enterprise and their appearance at the Pilot website raises obvious questions about the lack of complaints (until now), and the lack of action by Navy leaders.

As for the first issue, it appears that few among the carrier's crew took offense to the videos. In fact, a number of Enterprise sailors, current and former--men and women--have rallied to Captain Honors' defense. As Sara Sorcher of the National Journal reports:

In solidarity with Honors, Facebook groups with titles like “We Support Captain O.P. Honors!“ have garnered thousands of members. Nearly 1,000 have signed a petition to keep him as commander of the carrier, and many have swapped out their Facebook pictures for images of Honors in uniform.

Before Honors became XO of the Enterprise, the mood on board was “awful,” said Kimberly Wooster, 32, who served as an electronics technician from 2001 to 2005 and left because she was so unhappy.

“People were leaving because they couldn’t take it anymore. Even as a strong, grounded person it was just very, very hard. Everything seemed to be disintegrating so fast,” Wooster said in an interview, describing a particularly bad 18-month period where the carrier was not deployed, but crew members were working 16- to 18-hour days, seven days a week.

When asked if other XOs or commanders did anything to boost morale on the ship before Honors, Wooster responded, “Hell no.” “We were not worth their concern or their time,” she said. “I don’t think we even registered on their radar.”

Wooster only overlapped with Honors briefly and said she later received burned copies of his videos. “People were saying, ‘You left too soon. This guy’s amazing. He’s made us feel like it’s OK,’” she said. “It’s not that the job got so much easier, it’s just that someone was finally listening, aware that these are 18- to 24-year-olds who have lost a lot in the last year and they need something to understand they’re not alone.”

Wooster's comments are illustrative, for a couple of reasons. First, she confirms that Captain Honors videos received wide dissemination. If a former Petty Officer from the Enterprise could get copies of the videos, it's reasonable to assume that senior officers saw them too. So, why didn't anyone raise red flags three or four years ago when Captain Honors was producing those tasteless (but amusing) skits?

We're guessing that the brass viewed Honors as an effective leader. Unit morale is one of the responsibilities of a ship XO (executive officer), and it looks like Captain Honors inherited a very unhappy crew on Enterprise. Apparently, most of the sailors appreciated his efforts and we're guessing that the "Big E's" efficiency improved under his watch. So, the brass was willing to look the other way.

Incidentally, we are not trying to condone Captain Honors morale efforts. But the videos that have found their way into the public realm also remind us that the Navy has its own, unique culture. Bawdy skits and offensive humor have long been used to relieve the monotony that sets in after months at sea. It was in this tradition that Honors produced his videos, and judging by the comments on various Facebook pages and other on-line forums, his efforts were appreciated.

But even if his motives were focused on crew morale and mission accomplishment, you still have to ask the essential question: what was Captain Honors thinking? We assume that the former carrier commander was aware that his videos were making their way around the fleet. And surely he knew it was just a matter of time before they showed up on YouTube. The fact they weren't on-line (until the Virginian-Pilot got hold on them) is another testament to the popularity and respect that Honors earned from his sailors.

They understood that on-board "morale videos" were intended for the crew--and no one else. It was one more shared experience that bonded them together during months of training and long periods at sea. It's a concept that is almost alien to anyone who hasn't been a sailor, or part of the wider military community.

You see, there's something about shared hardships and camaraderie that bring people together--or drive them apart. In that environment, you quickly discover which senior officers genuinely care about their troops, and the ones that are more interested in that next promotion. Captain Honors clearly fell in that latter category, even if his efforts at morale-boosting have been deemed inappropriate.

Apparently, the former skipper of the Enterprise didn't understand that his Navy has changed(along with the rest of the U.S. military). Honors is only a couple of years younger than your humble correspondent. We came into a military culture where a certain degree of raunchiness was tolerated, even encouraged.

As a junior intel officer, I knew female colleagues who included "Playboy" shots in their aircrew briefings--just to make sure that no one fell asleep and missed the important stuff. A male officer in my organization used the base distribution system to send copies of his favorite skin magazines to pilots and spooks in other squadrons (he recently retired as a Colonel). And some of the dirtiest jokes I've ever heard were told--in mixed company--by a female officer who also retired as an O-6. Today, the same activities would get them an Article 15--at a minimum--and put offenders on the fast track to an early civilian career.

To be fair, some change was in order. There probably was too much sexism and vulgar behavior in the "old" military, but clearly, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.


Christophobia is OK

The Super Bowl is more than just a huge day for professional football fans. Part of the game's massive audience is there for the chance to see how mega-corporations creatively spend millions of dollars for one Super Bowl commercial. Some Super Bowl ads are brilliant and successful. Budweiser knows it has hit one out of the park when its ad is Monday's water-cooler talk.

But never underestimate the ability of some people to go too far, where talent and imagination are rejected for sophistry and shock. Take the ad geniuses for Doritos and Pepsi Max, who posted on YouTube some entrants in their "Crash the Super Bowl" ad contest. One entry, titled "Feed the Flock," crassly, deliberately mocked Christianity and the Holy Eucharist. Instead of offering the Body of Christ, some priests are shown lining up the faithful to receive Doritos and Pepsi Max diet cola. Their church was sinking in popularity -- until Jesus was replaced by a snack chip.

This is appalling to any Christian who celebrates 2,000 years of reverence for the sacred Lord's Supper. It's especially insulting to Catholics, whose Catechism teaches that the Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life." The communion wafer is not a tasteless snack, in desperate need of Nacho Cheese flavor; it is sharing in the Way, the Truth, and the Life offered selflessly in the sacrifice of the Christ. It is the very Body and Blood of Our Lord.

The ad makers just poured moldy garbage on that. Oh, I'm sure they knew there would be outraged Christians, but there would also be a "free media" bounce, as in some "buzz" on the Internet. Frito-Lay and PepsiCo honored this inane mockery by offering it for more than 120,000 views on YouTube -- before finally taking it down.

It isn't just offensive; it's a blatant violation of their own contest rules, which clearly stated any ad submitted "must be suitable for display and publication on national television (e.g., may not be obscene or indecent, including but not limited to nudity or profanity) ... and ... must not contain defamatory statements (including but not limited to words or symbols that are widely considered offensive to individuals of a certain race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or socioeconomic group)."

Are they dim-witted? No, these businessmen know what they're doing and obviously didn't fear an ad that is offensive to Christians. Never in a million years would they ever countenance the idea of similarly insulting Muslims. As one wag joked on Twitter: "I'm sure any day now we'll see a commercial where Muslims turn their prayer mats to point at the new 2011 Lexus LS."

Our national media, so exquisitely attuned to the monitors of "homophobia" and "Islamophobia," find no offense whatsoever in this online "Christophobia." In fact, in the past, they have either ignored this sacrament-trashing ... or enjoyed it.

They ignored the public radio show that joked about Mike Huckabee's family enjoying "deep-fried" Eucharist; the short-lived NBC sitcom "Committed" with a half-hour plot centered on accidentally flushing the Eucharist; or Bill Maher joking how the Catholic Church should "go gay" and chant, "We're here, we're queer, get Eucharist." But they enjoyed as "thrillingly down and dirty" the ridiculous stage production of "Jerry Springer: The Opera" that mocked the "little biscuit" of a genital-fondling Jesus character who admitted he was "a little bit gay."

These media hypocrites disgust me. Look at how they twisted themselves into the shape of a tasty Mister Salty Pretzel at the "controversy" regarding what quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, were going to say something in a Super Bowl ad by Focus on the Family against abortion. And here's the controversy: Instead of speaking directly of how doctors advised her to abort, Pam talked about her troubled pregnancy: "I call him my miracle baby. He almost didn't make it into this world. I remember so many times when I almost lost him." The A-word was never used.

Still, the media twisted the story to portray the whole pro-life concept as tasteless. ABC's Dan Harris spoke out for "many sports fans" who found it "a great shame" that our national unity over football "could become yet another day where we are divided over politics and the culture wars."

Where is Dan Harris now? Munching on Doritos while sipping Pepsi, I suppose.


"Multicultural" Britain: 'A pack of [black] animals' chased lone British white boy of 16, killed him with a single stab

A teenage gang chased down a 16-year-old like a pack of animals and stabbed him to death, a court heard yesterday. The six youths – one aged just 14 and some wearing their school uniforms – screamed ‘I’m gonna cut you in pieces’, it is alleged.

The Old Bailey heard that they chased Nicholas Pearton and plunged a knife five inches through his back and into his heart. As they made off on a bus, the killers were apparently seen bragging and laughing about the attack, with one holding a knife high above his head as he chanted the name of their gang.

In a sickening gesture of congratulations, two of the alleged killers are captured on CCTV shaking hands as they sat on the bus. Others shouted foul-mouthed abuse about their victim, yelling: ‘I wish the ****er would die.’

As the gang fled, Nicholas’s parents rushed from their nearby home to cradle their dying son who lay slumped on the ground.

His death was the result of rivalry between two gangs, the Black Mafia and the Shanks and Guns, prosecutor Edward Brown QC told the court. He said: ‘Some of the defendants were in their school uniform at the time of the attack – in their blazers and ties.’

It is believed one of the alleged killers had a run-in with a friend of Nicholas’s at Sedgehill School a few hours before the attack in Sydenham, South-East London, on May 5 last year. Nicholas went to help his friends in the Black Mafia gang in nearby Home Park after hearing they were embroiled in a fight with the rival gang. But when he arrived his gang ‘evaporated’.

Nicholas, the only white boy involved, was left alone in the park, making him an easy target, Mr Brown said.

Witnesses described seeing Nicholas ‘running for his life’ as he was chased by the group wielding knives and sticks into Sydenham Road. ‘The forerunner, knife in hand, lunged twice at least and then brought the knife round in a slashing motion into the back of Nicholas as he continued to try to get away. ‘It was one stab. Nicholas cried out. The knife had plunged five inches or so into Nicholas’s back, all the way in. ‘One witness described the defendants as a group of young men acting like animals.’

Moments after being knifed, CCTV footage showed Nicholas dragging his body into the MM chicken shop and closing the door, gripping the handle to stay upright. He collapsed seconds later as one of his hooded pursuers took a flying kick at the door.

Mr Brown said one of the teenagers conducted a ‘head count’ of the gang as they made their escape on a bus, shaking hands in a ‘revealing and sickening gesture of approval to what just had taken place’. ‘Once the head count was done, he said “OK we’re all here...I was sure one of us was going to get nicked”.’ The whole group, described as laughing and joking, were shouting chants such as ‘p***y hole’ and ‘SG boys’.

Six youths aged 14, 15, two aged 16 and two now aged 17, deny murder. They are all from the South-east London area but cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Mr Brown said it was alleged that one of the 17-year-olds stabbed Nicholas, but all the boys had been acting together. He added: ‘More than one was armed with a knife. ‘It may be that the defendant who was able to reach Nicholas first, the quickest runner, was the one who stabbed him.’


Australia: Housing for blacks is standing empty

We see an arguably racist refusal by the bureaucracy to accept the customary Aboriginal lifestyle. Aborigines are very social people and usually live in large groups. A smaller number of large, semi-open houses is what was needed. The small houses actually built are just not wanted by those for whom they were allegedly built. Building a suburban Melbourne house for Aboriginal communities in the tropics is mind-bogglingly stupid. Consultation must have been totally absent

MORE than 40 houses built under the Labor government's indigenous housing program are standing empty in Northern Territory communities. The government has confirmed that only 132 houses have been handed over to tenants, leaving 42 empty.

The news follows The Australian's report that 64 of the 174 new houses now built have two bedrooms - a planning decision condemned as a disgrace by Northern Territory independent indigenous MP Alison Anderson.

A Territory Housing spokeswoman defended the program, saying all 174 houses were connected to services and ready for tenants. "Territory Housing is currently working with tenants to hand over the remaining 42 properties over the coming weeks as tenancy agreements are finalised," she said. "Territory Housing staff work with each tenant to ensure they understand the tenancy agreement before they sign it, and their rights and responsibilities as the tenant."

Ms Anderson said the situation was a disgrace. "Nothing is being done properly and this money is being wasted. The Territory government and the federal government should be absolutely ashamed of themselves," she said.

"If this was happening in Sydney or Adelaide, there would be a royal commission. (The houses are) just too small and you are going to end up having 14 people living in them. A two-bedroom house is not a design for Aboriginal people.

"They are not consulting properly with people. It's their expectations of how Aboriginal people should live. "If you have a look at a two-bedroom house that now houses 14 to 20 people living in it, within a couple of months you will have a problem with the sewerage and bathroom facilities in them.

The 174 new dwellings - a mix of stand-alone and duplex houses - include 106 three-bedroom houses and four of four bedrooms. The new houses have been built at Nguiu on the Tiwi Islands, Maningrida, Alice Springs town camps, Wadeye, Angurugu, Uumbakumba, Milyakburra, Gunbalanya and Galiwinku.

The average cost of a new house under the scheme is $450,000; the average cost of rebuilding is $200,000; and the average cost of a refurbishment is $75,000.

Last night, the government denied opposition claims the program was running over budget, arguing that it was on track and would meet its targets of 750 new houses, 230 rebuilds and 2500 refurbishments within the $672 million budget. An independent assessment of the scheme early last year found the program was on track to achieve its targets.

The government said refurbishments, also criticised by the opposition for failing to substantially fix homes, focused on the parts of a house that had the greatest impact on tenants: safety faults, bathrooms, kitchens and laundries.

Coalition indigenous affairs spokesman Nigel Scullion said a house could not be defined as completed until it was handed over and tenanted, and the government's numbers had been deceptive.

"SIHIP (the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Project) was implemented to address chronic overcrowding and poor housing standards in Aboriginal communities. It is now being manipulated in an attempt to meet minister (Jenny) Macklin's promises. Some of the houses would be as small as one bedroom to ensure the target was met."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


7 January, 2011

Useless and stupid British police again

They're too lily-livered to tackle real crime. Easy work and soft targets are all they go for. A long way from the British police of old

Musical theatre may not be to everyone’s liking, but Anne-Marie Carroll’s passion for song and dance is hardly a crime. Yet somehow the mother of two aroused the suspicion of vice squad officers on her way to rehearsals with an amateur dramatics society.

The registration number of her company car was recorded by police trying to prosecute kerb crawlers in a red light district. Much to the 45-year-old’s disgust and embarrassment, a police letter was sent to her company and opened by her boss. Fortunately the managing director happens to be Mrs Carroll’s twin brother Nicholas, who realised a mistake had been made.

The strongly worded letter, which began ‘Dear Sir’, stated that West Yorkshire Police had a policy of vigorously investigating and prosecuting offences of kerb crawling in Bradford. It informed the car’s owner that her Volvo estate had been sighted by officers who needed to speak to her as soon as possible to ‘confirm you have not committed any offences’. To add insult to injury, the letter stated that the sighting would be ‘kept on record'.

Mrs Carroll, the family cleaning firm’s sales director, was so infuriated with the ‘lazy policing’ that she has spoken out for fear that men driving company cars could be unfairly accused of kerb crawling. She said police did not stop or question her on the night and failed to establish she was a lone woman and what she was doing.

'My concern is with innocent people who, like me, drive company cars,’ she said. ‘A letter will go to their employers. Being a woman, it removes 90 per cent of the doubt that I was actually kerb crawling. ‘But if I were a man I could protest my innocence until I was blue in the face and people wouldn’t believe me. ‘To send it to someone’s workplace, not knowing who might see it, is irresponsible. ‘It casts aspersions immediately and once that aspersion has been cast there would always be doubt as to what they were doing.’

Mrs Carroll’s parked car was ‘observed’ at 7.30pm on December 9 near the Bradford Catholic Players rehearsal venue in the city’s red light district – where crossbow cannibal Stephen Griffiths stalked his victims. She knew nothing about being caught in the vice squad net until the letter arrived ten days later.

Mrs Carroll added: ‘I drove up to the venue the same way I have for 26 years and parked up outside it. ‘I wasn’t slowing down regularly or acting suspiciously. I was flabbergasted when the letter arrived.’ She said that last year a man from the amateur group was stopped and taken into a police van to explain what he was doing. Police promised not to stop people using the rehearsal room in future, she added.

Mrs Carroll, who lives in Bingley with husband Matthew, 42, an account director, is applying to have the sighting removed from police records.

Superintendent Angela Williams, of West Yorkshire Police, said: ‘The tactic to target the men who solicit women has been used for a number of years ... and with notable success. ‘Letters are sent out following detailed observations of a vehicle’s movements and the registered owner is contacted whether it is an individual or a business.’ Drivers found to have ‘legitimate reason for their activity’ are removed from records, she added.


Must not warn other motorists to slow down in Britain -- and other oppression of decent citizens by British police

A similar prosecution was recently thrown out in the USA and a similar charge against me some years ago in Australia was dropped after it was concluded that no offence had been committed -- JR

There are certainly some forces who could do with a primer in customer service. In Grimsby, for instance, a 64-year-old motorist has been convicted of ­obstruction because he flashed his lights at drivers ­coming in the opposite direction to warn them of a speed trap ahead.

Semi-retired Michael Thompson was accused of perverting the course of justice after being stopped on the A46. Although Mr ­Thompson argued that he was doing his ‘civic duty’, the Crown Prosecution Service took up the case ‘in the public interest’. The court fined him £175, ordered him to pay £250 costs and slapped on a £15 victim surcharge.

Presiding magistrate Jean ­Ellerton said: ‘We found that your flashing of your headlights was an obstruction, we found that you knew this action would cause ­vehicles to slow down and cause other motorists to avoid the speed trap and avoid prosecution.’

And your point is, pet? For years, the Old Bill has insisted that the purpose of speed traps is to encourage safe driving and enforce the speed limit — not to secure convictions and raise money. Mr Thompson’s prosecution blows that argument out of the water.

By warning other drivers of the speed trap, he was encouraging them to slow down and drive safely. So what’s the problem? In what way was he obstructing the police, other than preventing them nicking people? Silly question. That’s exactly why he was prosecuted.

Mr Thompson says that the policeman who stopped him was a ‘Rambo character’ who acted like ‘Judge Dredd’. Sounds about right.

Unfortunately, there are coppers who measure their success by the number of arrests they make, no matter how trivial the alleged offence, not by the number of lives they save or the number of crimes they prevent.

They delight in showing us who’s boss and deliberately antagonising law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. What’s worse is when they are supported by senior officers, the allegedly-independent CPS and, especially, the magistrates who are supposed to uphold justice. This case should never have reached court. And when it did, it should have been thrown out.

A few months ago, I brought you the story of photographer Dave Hogan’s run-in with a stroppy WPC and a probationer in North ­London. He was given a ticket and a ­patronising lecture for using a mobile phone while driving — even though he could prove he was stationary at a red traffic light and hadn’t made or received a call at the time alleged on the summons.

Dave gave in and paid up when he realised it would cost him a ­minimum of £2,000 and a shedload of aggravation to fight the £60 fixed penalty in court. But his faith in the police took a nosedive.

For the past two-and-half months, another motorist has been in a ­running battle with police chiefs after being given a ticket for ­‘driving without a seatbelt’. Austin Musgrave-Brown, 67, ­unfastened his safety belt while he was sitting in stationary ­traffic in Lowestoft, with his handbrake on and his engine switched off, as he waited in a queue for the town’s drawbridge on the A12 to lower.

‘When the bridge came down, I put my seatbelt back on before starting the engine and ­continuing,’ he said. Half a mile later he was pulled over a given a fixed penalty notice. ‘At no time was I ever driving ­without a seatbelt, not one inch,’ said Mr Musgrave-Brown, who has now made an official complaint.

But the officer who stopped him said he might have suffered from whiplash if his car had been shunted from the rear while he was parked and was therefore ­committing an offence.

‘The police have been so over the top with this. Surely the officer could have shown some common sense without treating me as a petty crook. ‘It would have been easy for me to accept everything and not do ­anything about it, but I was appalled at the way I was treated,’ said Mr Musgrave-Brown.

Well done, Suffolk Police. It’s some achievement to make an enemy of a respectable, retired Hoseasons Holidays executive with a clean driving licence.

I know that by tonight, I’ll have received a flood of emails ­containing similar complaints, not just from aggrieved motorists. Proper ­coppers (especially in the CID) are dismayed at the actions of these zealots, who only serve to damage relations between police and the public and make their job ten times more difficult.

The Government keeps telling us the war on motorists is over. But no one seems to have told the Old Bill.


Islam now considered 'a threat' to national identity by almost half of French and Germans, according to new poll

Islam is considered a ‘threat’ by millions of French and Germans to their national identity. A poll by France’s Le Monde newspaper also found a majority in both countries believe Muslims have ‘not integrated properly’. Le Monde ran the results under a headline which brands efforts to get different religious communities to live side by side as a ‘failure’.

France, with seven million, and Germany, 4.3 million, have the largest Muslim communities in Europe. There are 2.4million in Britain.

Last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded that her country’s multicultural society had ‘failed’, while French president Nicolas Sarkozy has also complained about the growing influence of radical Islam.

According to the Le Monde poll, carried out with marketing firm IFOP, 68 per cent of French and 75 per cent of Germans believe Muslims are ‘not well integrated into society’.

Others – 55 per cent in France and 49 per cent in Germany – believe the ‘influence and visibility of Islam’ is ‘too large’, while 60 per cent in both countries say the reason for the problem is Muslims’ own ‘refusal’ to integrate.

Just as crucially, 42 per cent of French and 40 per cent of Germans consider the presence of Islamic communities ‘a threat’ to their national identities.

An editorial in Le Monde adds: ‘As Islam becomes a permanent and increasingly conspicuous fixture of European societies, public opinion is clearly tensing up, though disparities do appear between young and old and between Left and Right wing.’

Jerome Fourquet, of IFOP, said the results ‘go beyond linking immigration with security or immigration with unemployment, to linking Islam with a threat to identity’. Mr Fourquet said he would like to extend the research to countries like the UK, where he believed the results would be much the same.

The threat of terrorism has increasingly been linked with Muslim communities in all European countries since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the 7/7 atrocities in London in 2005.

In France, Mr Sarkozy’s government has displayed an increasing hard line towards religious extremism, recently banning Islamic veils.

French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was important not to confuse moderate Muslims with radical or fundamentalist parties. She said: ‘The trap set by Al Qaeda was to push us towards a general confrontation, towards a war between the Muslim and Western worlds. We must watch out for anything that goes in that direction. We must not confuse Islam and terrorism.’

The poll questioned 1,600 people in France and Germany last month.


Censoring Huck Finn

Concerned about the closing of the American mind? How about slamming it shut and throwing away the key. Publishers Weekly reports on a new edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to be published without the “n” word:
Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”

“This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with “slave” when reading aloud.

Here’s the joke: These protectors of fragile sensibilities think “slave” is safe from the larger PC police force. I’m in a slightly unique position to know otherwise. In another lifetime, I worked in educational publishing. Political correctness does not inform that industry; it defines it. The purpose of children’s textbooks is to orient kids to a PC worldview.

One time, I worked on a third-grade social-studies textbook for a Southern school district. A few weeks after completing the project — which covered regional history from before Columbus’s arrival to the present day — a directive came from on high: the chapters on slavery, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction had to be reworked. There was, we were told, excessive use of a forbidden word. Dare to guess? Slave. The term, you see, was dehumanizing and had to be replaced with “enslaved person.”

Teaching about slavery without slaves — that’s enlightened, PC education. It never dawned on these kindly censors that making slavery seem less dehumanizing than it actually is only serves to soften the perception of what was a horrific reality. They never considered that prettifying history’s abominations is an insult to those who suffered, a free pass to those who inflicted pain, and a partial guarantor of repeat performances.

Just as it surely does not occur to Prof. Gribben that in hiding behind a safe word he denies the history of a people who endured far worse than classroom awkwardness. He will find out soon enough, once he’s made to understand that “slave” isn’t safe. Words are not meant to be safe, after all. If Prof. Gribben hasn’t learned that from reading Twain, he’s not fit to teach the book in any iteration.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


6 January, 2011

Top British detective blasts 'culture of silence' that allows Asian sex gangs to groom white girls... because police and social services fear being branded racist

Police and social services have been accused of fuelling a culture of silence which has allowed hundreds of young white girls to be exploited by Asian men for sex.

Agencies have identified a long-term pattern of offending by gangs of men, predominantly from the British Pakistani community, who have befriended and abused hundreds of vulnerable girls aged 11 to 16.

Experts claim the statistics represent a mere fraction of a 'tidal wave' of offending in counties across the Midlands and the north of England which has been going on for more than a decade.

A senior officer at West Mercia police has called for an end to the 'damaging taboo' connecting on-street grooming with race. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Edwards said: 'These girls are being passed around and used as meat. 'To stop this type of crime you need to start everyone talking about it but everyone's been too scared to address the ethnicity factor.

'No one wants to stand up and say that Pakistani guys in some parts of the country are recruiting young white girls and passing them around their relatives for sex, but we need to stop being worried about the racial complication.'

In a briefing paper, researchers at University College London's Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science concurred that victims were typically white girls while 'most central offenders are Pakistani'. The offenders were not viewed as paedophiles but had picked the girls 'because of their malleability'.

The report concluded that 'race is a delicate issue' that should be 'handled sensitively but not brushed under the carpet'.

The grooming usually begins with older groups of men befriending girls aged from 11 to 16 they meet on the street. In a typical scenario, the victim is initially treated as a girlfriend and showered with presents and attention. But the relationship quickly becomes more sinister as the abuser plies the child with drink and drugs before effectively pimping her out to friends and associates. The worst cases involve young girls being moved around the country to be repeatedly abused.

Charities and agencies working in conjunction with the police to help victims of sexual abuse in such cases have publicly denied there is a link between ethnicity and the on-street grooming of young girls by gangs and pimps.

But researchers identified 17 court prosecutions since 1997, 14 of them in the past three years, involving the on-street grooming of girls aged 11 to 16 by groups of men. The victims came from 13 towns and cities and in each case two or more men were convicted of offences. In total, 56 people, with an average age of 28, were found guilty of crimes including rape, child abduction, indecent assault and sex with a child.

Three of the 56 were white, 53 were Asian. Of those, 50 were Muslim and a majority were members of the British Pakistani community.

Those convicted allegedly represent only a small proportion of what one detective called a ‘tidal wave’ of offending in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the Midlands.

The claims come after five Asian men were jailed in November for a total of 32 years for a string of sexual offences against girls aged between 12 and 16 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. The presiding judge Peter Kelson QC, told the men they were ‘sexual predators’, adding: ‘You had what you regarded as your fun. Now you will take your punishment. 'All five of you were ­convicted of sexual activity with a child. The clue is in the title: a child.’

Weeks earlier, nine Asian men were jailed for the 'sustained sexual abuse' of a privately-educated schoolgirl who was forced into sex slavery aged 14 after being picked up by a gang in Rochdale, greater Manchester.

Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Lancashire-based Ramadhan Foundation, a charity working for peaceful harmony between different communities, said last year: ‘I think the police are overcautious because they are afraid of being branded racist. 'These men are criminals and should be treated as criminals — whatever their race.’

Former Labour MP Ann Cryer provoked a fierce in 2003 when she said the traditional culture of arranged marriages could have caused a criminal minority of Asian men to target vulnerable young white girls for sex.

The cases of on-street grooming in the UK have borne comparison with incidents in the Netherlands involving young white girl being groomed for prostitution by Moroccan pimps, known as 'loverboys'.

A tri-nation study in Utrecht in 2005 and 2006 involving Barnardo's saw a Dutch women's group attack the 'double moral standards' of offenders who 'guard the chastity of their sisters, but... use other girls for their loverboy practices'.

A project in Blackburn has been established to confront the issue while a report by the Derby safeguarding children board in the wake of the arrests last year said there should be greater consideration of 'whether the ethnic background and culture of the perpetrators had any bearing on their decision to take part in this activity'.


Must not question the British police

You will be censored if you do

Officers investigating the murder of Jo Yeates reacted against a media backlash today by banning ITV News from a press conference. The move came after reporter Geraint Vincent suggested detectives were not carrying out routine inquiries properly during last night's News at Ten.

Meanwhile, the police officer in charge of the investigation took an apparent side swipe at a national newspaper by rubbishing the significance of CCTV pictures published today. The images in The Daily Mirror show an unidentified woman walking close to Miss Yeates's home on the evening she vanished. Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones said: 'I'm aware of the CCTV footage that has been recovered from the Hophouse pub. 'It is very poor quality footage and there is better CCTV footage from the Tesco Express.'

He confirmed that officers had examined the film at an earlier stage in the investigation and added: 'This is a complex investigation and we are meticulously investigating.'

DCI Jones - who is described as a highly experienced officer -has come under increasing pressure to make a breakthrough in the 'complex' investigation. Criticism has mounted in the last few days and came to a head in ITV's report last night.

Bristol and Avon police today hit back by complaining to Ofcom for what it called 'unfair, naïve and irresponsible reporting' during the piece to camera. In a statement, it added: 'As we are still awaiting a response to our complaint it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this time.

'A live murder investigation has been underway now for just 12 days and the media have played an important role in helping us to appeal for witnesses. 'While we appreciate the support we have received so far from most of the media we must step in if we feel coverage will hamper the investigation. Our primary aim will always be to secure justice for Joanna.'

David Mannion, the editor-in-chief of ITV News responded by saying: 'We stand by our story and we also stand by the procedure which the police have now taken [to complain to Ofcom]. If Ofcom decides to uphold that complaint we will respect that.

'There's an issue in the interim period if we have a situation where there's numbers of the press summarily banned from press conferences – and that's what happened this morning before the complaint was made. 'We made numerous attempts to contact Avon and Somerset police – between eight and 10 – before the programme went out and didn't get a single response.'

During the contentious report, a former murder squad detective suggested that 'certain routine inquiries' such as a new painstaking search of the scene where the body was found had not been carried out.

The detective leading the investigation felt compelled to respond to criticism in one national newspaper that police failed to publicise CCTV footage of Miss Yeates apparently being followed on the evening she was last seen alive.

Days after her body was found, Miss Yeates' father David claimed his family were being kept in the dark by police investigating the killing. He said: 'We’re sure police know more about what happened than they are telling us, but at the moment we are not questioning them because we feel they are doing their best.'


Britain's metastasizing employment tribunals

The number of tribunals has trebled in just five years following their ruthless exploitation by greedy workers and lawyers, business chiefs said yesterday. The increase in claims means three out of five cases end with the employer paying off the worker to save the cost and embarrassment of a full-blown tribunal case.

One manager at a leading charity said the tribunal system has become ‘legalised extortion’.

The complaints of abuse, backed by two of the biggest employer organisations in the country, come against a background of record numbers of tribunal claims. Last year there were 236,000 claims, up 50 per cent in a year – and nearly three times the number just five years ago.

The British Chambers of Commerce released a report which said it typically costs a firm £8,500 to defend a case at a tribunal, but only £5,400 to settle it by paying off the worker who complained.

The BCC and the Confederation of British Industry have called for radical reforms to tribunal laws. They want to see anyone who brings a claim of wrongful dismissal or discrimination to be made to pay a fee, to discourage spurious cases. They also called for the great majority of cases to be settled by negotiation rather than by a tribunal with expensive lawyers.

Helen Giles, human resources director of the homeless charity Broadway, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: ‘What was set up in the 1960s to protect us from bad employers has become legalised extortion. ‘It’s easy and costs nothing for an employee to cook up a claim.’


Mascot politics

Thomas Sowell

Dr. Victor Davis Hanson's quietly chilling article, "Two Californias," in National Review Online, ought to be read by every American who is concerned about where this country is headed. California is leading the way, but what is happening in California is happening elsewhere-- and is a slow poison that is being largely ignored.

Professor Hanson grew up on a farm in California's predominantly agricultural Central Valley. Now, as he tours that area, many years later, he finds a world as foreign to the world he knew as it is from the rest of California today-- and very different from the rest of America, either past or present.

In Hanson's own words: "Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World. There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards."

This is a Third World culture, transplanted from Mexico, and living largely outside the scope of American law, state or federal.

Ironically, this is happening in a state notorious for its pervasive and intrusive regulation of the minute details of people's lives, homes, and businesses. But not out in the Third World enclaves in the Central Valley, where garbage is strewn with impunity and unlicensed swarms of peddlers come and go, selling for cash and with no sales tax.

While waiting in line at two supermarkets, Victor Davis Hanson realized in both places that he was the only one in line who was not paying with the plastic cards issued by welfare authorities to replace the old food stamps. He noted that these people living on the taxpayers were driving late-model cars and had iPhones, BlackBerries and other parts of what he calls "the technological veneer of the middle class."

Sadly-- and, in the long run, tragically-- this is not unique to California, or to illegal immigrants from Mexico, or even to the United States. It is a pattern to which the Western world has been slowly but steadily succumbing.

In France, for example, there are enclaves of Third World Muslims, living by their own rules and festering with resentments of the society that is content to let them vegetate on handouts from the welfare state.

The black ghettos of America, and especially their housing projects, are other enclaves of people largely abandoned to their own lawless and violent lives, their children warehoused in schools where they are allowed to run wild, with education being more or less optional.

What is going on? These and other groups, here and abroad, are treated as mascots of the self-congratulatory elites.

These elites are able to indulge themselves in non-judgmental permissiveness toward those selected as mascots, while cracking down with heavy-handed, nanny-state control on others.

The effect of all this on the mascots themselves is not a big concern of the elites. Mascots symbolize something for others. The actual fate of the mascots themselves seldom matters much to their supposed benefactors.

So long as the elites have control of the public purse, they can subsidize self-destructive behavior on the part of the mascots. And so long as the elites can send their own children to private schools, they needn't worry about what happens to the children of the mascots in the public schools.

Other people who cannot afford to send their children to private schools can simply be called "racists" for objecting to what the indulgence of the mascots is doing to the public schools or what the violence of the mascots is doing to other children trapped in the same schools with them.

A hundred years ago, groups who are now indulged as mascots were targets and scapegoats of Progressive era elites, treated like dirt and targeted for eradication in the name of "eugenics."

There are no permanent mascots. As fashions change, the mascots of today can become the scapegoats and targets of tomorrow. But who thinks ahead any 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, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


5 January, 2011

Beer deregulation in Britain

Schooners (15 oz. in the old money) are mostly drunk in Sydney rather than in Australia generally. I have sunk a schooner or two there myself in the past. People who drank smaller measures tended to be suspected of homosexuality at the time

The traditional cry of ‘Mine’s a pint’ could become ‘Mine’s a schooner’. Under government proposals it will soon be possible to order a new range of measures of alcohol in licensed premises.

One of which would be the Australian schooner measure – which is the equivalent of two-thirds of a pint, or 400ml.

Currently there are strict rules which dictate the size of drinks on offer. For example, a beer can only be served in halves or pints, although a little-known ‘third’ does also exist.

But the Government has decided to rip up the traditional system in a move designed to discourage binge-drinking. And in an added plus for these austere times, the proposals should also slash the price of a round of drinks, as the amount of alcohol per round falls.

The rules will also apply to cider and lager and represents a radical change since the ‘pint’ was introduced by an Act of Parliament in 1698.

David Willetts, Science Minister, said: ‘This is exactly the sort of unnecessary red tape the government wants to remove. ‘We have listened to consumers and businesses. They have called for fixed quantities to be kept – but with greater flexibility. That is what this change will deliver.’


Some commonsense returning to British policing

The Asbo is to be scrapped as part of a major review on tackling anti-social behaviour that will see a return to the common sense policing of yobs, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Ministers will bin a series of measures, including Labour's flagship anti-social behaviour orders, and replace them with a streamlined set of powers to make it easier to deal with nuisance and minor crimes.

Officers will also be given more discretion on how to deal with incidents including forcing offenders to make immediate amends, such as repairing a damaged fence, rather than taking more formal action.

The review, expected within weeks, will signal a radical rethink by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, on how to deal with anti-social behaviour after more than a decade of failed promises by Labour.

Sir Denis O'Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, warned in September that police have lost control of the streets as figures showed that an estimated 14 million incidents of anti-social behaviour take place each year — one every two seconds.

In a related pilot scheme launched today, police will create personal logs for victims of anti-social nuisance to ensure repeat attacks are recorded together and no one falls through the net. The move, to run in eight forces, is aimed at preventing cases such as Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her daughter, after little was done to stop years of torment from a teenage gang.

But it is the death of the Asbo that will mark the most significant shift in the Coalition's approach when the review is published. The orders were first unveiled by Tony Blair in 1999 and formed a key part of his Respect agenda. However, they soon became the subject of ridicule, with some offenders claiming it as a "badge of honour" and its use by local authorities has plummeted in the past five years. More than half of the orders are breached and only half of those guilty of a breach are sent to prison as a result. A total of 16,999 Asbos have been issued since 1999 but 55 per cent were breached at least once. In 2005, 4,122 were issued, but only 2,027 in 2008.

Mrs May sounded the death knell for last summer when she said it was "time to move beyond the Asbo". She called for a "complete change in emphasis", with communities working with the police and other agencies to stop bad behaviour escalating.

Labour has been criticised for creating a plethora of court orders to tackle nuisance, including parent orders, graffiti removal orders and dog control orders, on top of the Asbo but many of which have been hardly used. The review is expected to tear most of the orders up in their current form and streamline them in to series of simpler sanctions, still including some form of court orders, for the police and local authorities to use against anti-social behaviour.

However, whatever the outcome of the review, there will be nothing known as an Asbo. The move will be met with fierce criticism from Labour who have continued to defend the effectiveness of the Asbo in opposition, insisting it has made a "huge contribution".

Mrs May also wants to give police more scope to deal with local thugs and nuisance rather than always heading for the courts.
If an officers believes an incident can be dealt with by other action, and with the support of the victim, then they will be entitled to use their judgment. It could mean a yob repairing a fence he has damaged or cleaning up his own graffiti.

Ministers will also ensure more support for victims when reporting issues to the police. Authorities have been accused of not taking anti-social behaviour seriously enough, especially in the aftermath of cases such as Ms Pilkington. She killed herself and her 18-year-old Francecca Hardwick, who suffered from learning disabilities, in October 2007. Their deaths followed 10 years of torment at the hands of yobs who taunted them and pelted their property with stones, eggs and flour.

The Home Office announced a pilot in eight force areas today to ensure reports of anti-social behaviour are dealt with appropriately. Officers will change the way they respond to calls, introduce a new system to log complaints and improve their IT systems in a seven-month project designed to help quickly identify and protect vulnerable victims.

James Brokenshire, the crime prevention minister, said: "It is not acceptable that those most in need either slip through the net or are plain ignored. "It is essential those who raise the alarm and ask for help are listened to and their complaints acted upon promptly."

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Edens, the lead on the issue for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said the pilot scheme "will focus on improving handling and logging of complaints as well as looking at improvements to IT systems to ensure information from partners is shared more easily".

The trials, in Avon and Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, South Wales, Sussex and West Mercia will run until July.


The case for discrimination

Dr Walter Block outlines below some of the issues in his book: "The Case for Discrimination"

In the days of yore, to say that a man was discriminating was to pay him a compliment. It meant that he had taste; he could distinguish between the poor, the mediocre, the good and the excellent. His ability to make fine distinctions enabled him to live a better life than otherwise.

Nowadays, in our politically correct times, discrimination implies racial and/or sexual hatred. It evokes lynching the innocent, hanging black people who had committed no crime, and, yes, perhaps, even, in the extreme, a return to slavery. This at least was virtually the reaction that greeted candidate for U.S. Senate Rand Paul, when he averred that there were parts of the so-called "Civil Rights" Act of 1964 that were objectionable.

But all Senator Paul was saying is that while it would be illicit for government to discriminate on the basis of race or sex or any other such criterion, it is a basic element of private property rights that individuals be free to engage in exactly such preferences. If they were not, an important element of liberty would be lost.

The howls of outrage that greeted this reasonable distinction were so great that Dr. Rand Paul felt compelled to backtrack on his statement. However, we are now discussing a book, not an election. Here, the truth and justice is our only guide, not the hurt feelings of journalists working for the mainstream media and other sob sisters. As such, it is clear that discrimination on the part of individuals, but of course not the state, is part of our birthright of liberty.

If not, coercive bisexuality would be the logical implication of the anti-discrimination movement. Why? Well, male heterosexuals despicably discriminate against half the human race as bed/sex/marriage partners: all other men. Nor can female heterosexuals plead innocence against this dread charge; they, too, abjure half of their fellow creatures in this regard. Can male homosexuals deflect this deadly indictment? No, they, too, refuse to have anything to do with all females in such a context. Similarly, female homosexuals, lesbians, rotten creatures that they are, also avoid entangling alliances of this sort with all men, again, half the human race.

No, it is the bisexuals, and only the bisexuals, who are entirely innocent of discrimination of this sort. They are the only decent people in the entire sexual spectrum to refrain from this evil practice. (We now disregard the fact that bisexuals also make invidious comparisons based on beauty, age, sense of humor, etc.) Therefore, if we really opposed discrimination in matters of the heart, we would all embrace bi-sexuality. Since we do not, the logical implication is that we should be forced to do so. For, to hang back from this conclusion is to give not only tacit but active approval to discriminatory practices, surely one of the worst things in the politically correct panoply.

It might well be objected that the laws against private parties discriminating should apply only to business, not personal interactions. But why just in commerce and not, also, in human relations? Surely, if there is any such thing as the right not to be discriminated against, it applies in all realms of human existence, not merely in the marketplace. If we have a right not to be murdered, or stolen from, and we do, we do, then this right pervades all realms of human existence. It is equally improper to be killed or robbed in the bedroom as it is in the store. And, as a matter of fact, present anti-discrimination law does not even apply, across the board, in the commercial realm. Rather, it depends upon "power" relationships, a rather meaningless concept, at least as employed by our friends on the left.

For example, if I hate Chinese people, and therefore will not patronize their restaurants, I violate no law. However, if the owner of the Chinese restaurant, for example, despises Jews, he will not be legally able to forbid them from entry onto his premises. Why? Because sellers, in this case, are deemed to be more "powerful" than buyers. But it does not always work in this way. If a large buyer, say, Wal-Mart, refused to purchase from any female-headed firm because of their taste for discrimination against women, they would not for a moment be able to get away with such a policy. But why should "power" in this misbegotten sense determine the legality of economic decision-making? Surely, a "powerless" man in the sense of being poor would not be allowed to rape a "powerful" woman, in the sense that she is rich. Or would he? Well, this defense has not yet been tried, so who knows?

Another objection is that it might be acceptable for any one individual to discriminate against a downtrodden minority, but if many, or, worse, all of the members of the majority engaged in this practice, its victims will suffer unduly. For example, suppose that whites refuse to rent hotel rooms to blacks, or to employ them. Then, the latter will undergo grievous misery. But this objection is economically illiterate. If whites boycott blacks in this manner, the free enterprise system will rise up in defense of the latter. How so? If no landlord will rent to a black person, the profits from doing so will rise; it will then be to some entrepreneur’s financial advantage to supply this part of the market.

Similarly, in the labor field. If whites refuse to hire blacks, their wages will fall below the levels that would otherwise prevail. This will set up large profit opportunities for someone, be he white or black it matters not, to hire these people, and thus be able to outcompete those with great tastes for discrimination. (I am in these cases discussing only, employer/owner discrimination, and abstracting from customer and employee discrimination, complications I do analyze in the book itself.)

But, this phenomenon did not work with the plight of black people who were forced to sit in the back of the bus during the Jim Crow era in the south. Why not? Because entry into the bus industry was strictly limited by the political forces responsible for this reprehensible legal code in the first place. If all there were standing in the way of black people sitting in all reaches of the bus was private discrimination, this would have been an impotent force, as other, competing firms would have supplied bus service.

These are the sorts of questions wrestled with in this book. It is my hope that this volume will shed some light on these issues, and prove an interesting read.


Australia: Another pathetic Muslim

If they can't adopt civilized values, they should be sent back whence they come.

A MUSLIM girl caught between her religion, her parents and wanting to be a typical Aussie teenager is at the centre of an apprehended violence order against her father after he found she had a boyfriend.

Police were called to the family home after the man threatened to kill himself and the 14-year-old girl when he discovered the boy in a room of their home, Parramatta Bail Court heard yesterday.

The man, who cannot be named, allegedly told police the relationship was disrespectful to Muslim culture and brought shame on his family in the Afghan community.

The court heard he tried to detain the boy in the early hours of New Year's Day at the house in Blacktown. The family called police because they were scared the father would kill the boy.

After police arrived, the man became enraged because they would not arrest the boy, who had been invited into the house by his daughter.

He said the boyfriend would be killed if the incident happened in Afghanistan, the country he and his wife had emigrated from in 1998.

"The accused then stated, as the boyfriend would not be going to jail, the only thing left to do was kill his daughter and himself," police said.

"The complainant is stuck between her religion, strict parents and wanting to be a typical Australian teenager."

Officers claimed that on October 27 the daughter ran away from home. Her father said he would kill himself if she did not return by sundown. When she did not return, the father attempted to hang himself but was stopped by his wife and son.

"The daughter said she fears that her father will kill her because of her actions and that if he doesn't, she will be locked in the house unable to leave, unless he kills himself," police said.

Police took out an apprehended domestic violence order against the father on behalf of the girl. He was charged with stalking, intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm.

The father, who is a qualified surgeon in Afghanistan but employed as a taxi driver in Sydney, was refused bail because of his threats against the girl and self-harm history.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


4 January, 2011

A nasty British bureaucracy again

Suppressing normal human activity gets them off: Owner faces £1,000 fine over 'lost cat' poster. But louts running wild in the streets and intimidating people is beneath their notice

Desperate to find his missing cat Wookie, Mike Harding put up posters throughout the neighbourhood offering a reward for its safe return.

And it was not long before he received a phone call. Not from someone who had found the pet, however, but from the council saying he was breaking the law.

An official letter the following day accused him of causing ‘urban decay’ with his ‘fly-posting’ and ordered him to remove the signs immediately or face a £1,000 fine. He rushed around the streets in sub-zero temperatures to tear down the posters and finally finished at 3am on Christmas Eve – six hours before the deadline he had been given.

Mr Harding, 44, a driving instructor from Bedford, said the woman caller told him he should not have put up posters. ‘I said I was really sorry. I didn’t know I was breaking any laws and I would take them down. She asked me for my address and it was all very affable – I thought they were sending me some guidance in the post.

‘But when I got home from work on December 23 at 8.30pm I found the letter warning I would be prosecuted if the posters weren’t removed by 9am on December 24 at the latest. I had to walk around town in the snow and ice when it was minus nine degrees. ‘I’m a law-abiding citizen yet I’m being threatened with a £1,000 fine for looking for my cat. You would think the council would have some compassion.’

Mr Harding, who lives with his partner Rachael Claridge, 32, has had the seven-year-old cat since it was a kitten. Wookie went missing in late November and his owner immediately set about printing 35 posters which he attached to lampposts, trees and parking meters. Most were held in place with cable ties but when they ran out he used tacks on four trees.

The letter from Bedford Borough Council warned: ‘Fly-posting is unsightly and now considered to be a contributory factor to urban decay. Contravention of the Act may lead to a fine of up to £1,000. This warning will be kept on record and should any further offences be committed the council will prosecute.’

The authority defended its actions yesterday, saying: ‘Our environmental enforcement team discovered more than 20 posters. Some were nailed to trees. Mr Harding has removed the posters and we are satisfied that this matter has been resolved.’

Sadly for Wookie’s owner, however, the matter remains far from resolved. His cat is still missing.


The Gospel of Nice is selling out Christians

In John 21:15-17, the post-resurrection Jesus three times repeats to his disciple Peter "Feed my sheep", thus emphasizing a duty for Christian leaders to look after the wellbeing of Christian believers

If you ask a Christian leader why he does not speak out on Islam, you get some version of this: My duty is to tend to my flock, to help them become better Christians. My job is not to oppose Islam.

What if a Christian leader actually took the advice to tend to his flock? Start with the image of tending the flock. This is a Christian image of Christ tending to the flock, the church -- a warm pastoral image of lambs and no violence. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

There is a common acronym: WWJD (what would Jesus do)? This should be a living question in a Christian's mind. An even more important question is, What did Jesus do? It turns out that we have detailed accounting of Jesus debating and criticizing religious leaders. Even a causal observation of the gospel accountings shows two things. Jesus knew more about the subject under debate than anyone in the room. He also stood up in public and private and confronted error, even against leadership.

What would it mean if a Christian leader tried to follow Christ's example of knowing the subject? It would mean that the leader would know the Koran and the Sunna of Mohammed. He would be able to comment on the great themes of the Koran and know it as a story. He would know the Sira, the life of Mohammed, and have detailed knowledge of the Hadith. He would know the history of the Christian dhimmi. He would know what happened to the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in Revelation. He would know how Egypt, Turkey, North Africa, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon all went from being Christian to Islamic. This is not difficult work for a scholar. It can be done in six months with present books. Just reading Mark Durie's The Third Choice, would give them a running start. He would know more than 90% of all Christian leaders.

Once you get your knowledge, you need one more quality: courage. A leader would stand in public and discuss the truth of the facts of Islam. According to political correctness and multiculturalism, that would not be nice, since someone might disapprove or become upset. Nice people do not confront others; that is not nice. The modern Christian prefers the Gospel of Nice to the Gospel of Christ. As a result of the Gospel of Nice, the Christian leader does not need courage.

Does tending the flock include a pastor being able to give fact-based advice to the Christian woman who comes to him and asks if it all right to marry a Muslim? Tending the flock would mean knowing the doctrine of wife-beating found in the Sharia, Koran, and Hadith. The nice thing to do is to say, "Sure, marry the Muslim. We worship the same god." That is nice, but it is a lie. That nice lie is the one that many shepherds have given their flocks.

Tending the flock would mean being able to teach a Christian flirting with Islam the truth about Islamic doctrine. But if the leader is ignorant, how can he refute Islamic arguments for the Christian to convert?

What if the flock extended beyond the limits of the boundaries of the church building? Tending the flock would include the suffering of Christians in Africa and the Middle East. A good shepherd would tell of the murder, rape, and abuse perpetrated by Islam on Christians on a daily basis.

Would the idea of a larger flock mean inviting persecuted Christians to speak to the congregation? Should the persecuted be recognized and prayed for at church? The current nice policy is to never mention the martyrs or the oppression of the Christians in Muslim countries.

The black church is hemorrhaging young males to Islam. If tending the flock meant seeing that the flock is large enough to include the black church, then a true shepherd would be able to give guidance to the black leaders and educate them about the cruel Islamic doctrine of slavery still in existence. Tending the flock would include the story of Mohammed as a retail and wholesale slave trader, a man who owned white slaves, Arab slaves, black slaves, and sex slaves. The wise shepherd would tell the story of how Islam enslaved a million white Christians and murdered 120 million Africans in the process of running the Islamic slave trade on the Mediterranean coast and the east and west coasts of Africa. Of course, talking about Islam and slavery is not nice. And besides, it would marginalize all that white guilt about slavery in America. The Christian leader can bemoan that history and wallow in guilt, since that is considered nice. But to talk about the 1,400-year-old Islamic slave trade active in Africa today would require both knowledge and courage, and that is not nice.

A Christian leader would be able to see that the Great Commission of preaching the gospel would include converting Muslims to Christianity, thus increasing the flock. Preaching the gospel to Muslims may be in the Gospel of Christ, but it is excluded from the Gospel of Nice. As a result, Christian leaders avoid the Great Commission when it comes to Islam in the West.

We will never defeat political Islam as long as our Christian leaders see their job as being nice. Some of Islam's biggest supporters are our ignorant religious leaders. Although this article has focused on Christian leaders, let it be a public record that Christian leaders are ahead of Jewish leadership. If Christian leadership is tragic, then Jewish leadership is pathetic.

A piece of advice to Christian leaders: be a real shepherd. Don't just be nurturing and caring, but be a defender of the flock as well. Stop being nice. Be like the Good Shepherd: be wise, and be courageous.


Hate-preaching behind most recent Muslim attacks

Comment from Australia

The bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, at the weekend, apparently by a radical Islamist, was widely reported as a suicide attack. This is a serious misnomer.

The intention of a person who commits suicide is to kill himself or herself. The aim of the perpetrator of the crime in Alexandria was to kill as many Christians as possible. This is murder. The act is perhaps best described as suicide/homicide.

Egypt's President, Hosni Mubarak, has said that the attack was the work of "foreign hands". He seems to believe that the suicide/homicide attack was organised by a person loyal to al-Qaeda who entered Egypt to commit crime - following threats by Osama bin Laden's followers directed at Egypt's Copts. This analysis is probably correct.

Recent evidence from Britain, Denmark, Sweden and the US indicates that attacks on Western targets have been thwarted by a combination of good intelligence and good luck. Danish and Swedish police say they prevented an attempt to massacre staff at the newspaper Jyllands-Posten in protest at its decision in 2005 to publish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

In Britain, authorities say they stopped an attack on the US embassy in London and the London Stock Exchange. In Stockholm in mid-December the Swedish-born and British-educated Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly killed himself while attempting, unsuccessfully, to murder as many Christmas shoppers as possible. And then there was the attempted terrorist attack in Times Square, New York, last May.

What all these activities have in common is that they were apparently the work of a "lone wolf" or, rather, a number of lone wolves. The term has been used by Dr Sajjan Gohel, of the Asia-Pacific Foundation.

According to his research, the number of attacks that have been controlled by what he terms "al-Qaeda central" has diminished since 2006. He attributes this to several factors. First, the original al-Qaeda central organisation "has been severely disrupted by allied operations in north and south Waziristan along the Afghan-Pakistan border region". Second, al-Qaeda is finding it harder to raise and receive finance.

This leads Gohel to conclude that the growing concern in the West is to individuals who are not connected to any particular cell or network but who became "radicalised as a result of jihadist literature online".

Roshonara Choudhry is a case in point. A gifted student at King's College London who is fluent in four languages, she was influenced by the American-born and Yemen-based Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Last May, inspired by al-Awlaki's teachings on the internet, she tried to stab to death a Labour MP, Stephen Timms. Choudhry was a lone-wolf attacker who decided to be a martyr. It is all but impossible for intelligence organisations to thwart such attacks.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is another case. The son of a successful and wealthy Nigerian family, he allegedly tried to bring down an aircraft bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 by igniting chemicals strapped to his inner leg.

Many members of the civil liberties lobby in Australia opposed the Howard government's Anti-Terrorism Act in 2005, which was supported by the Labor opposition. However, a number of jury trials in Australia have supported the view that there are people in Australia who have planned terrorist attacks.

First, there were convictions in the Operation Pendennis trials - the first in Sydney, the second in Melbourne. Juries were convinced, after lengthy trials and long deliberations, that Abdul Nacer Benbrika and some Islamist associates had conspired to undertake terrorist attacks on targets in Australia. In both cases the defendants were provided with able defence teams, courtesy of the Australian taxpayer.

Second, last month, a jury in Melbourne convicted three Islamists for taking part in a conspiracy (termed by police Operation Neath) to wage an attack on Holsworthy army base in Sydney. Two of the accused were acquitted after another long trial and lengthy jury deliberation.

What was particularly disturbing about Operation Neath turned on the evident contempt of the Somalia-born Saney Aweys for his fellow Australians. Yet Aweys's intercepted phone conversations indicate that he was more than willing to accept welfare payments in support of his wife and children and saw no contradiction in residing in public housing while condemning what he termed the "filthy people" who make up contemporary Australia.

The convictions in the Operation Pendennis and Operation Neath cases support Gohel's thesis. There is no evidence that those convicted were operating in accordance with directives from al-Qaeda central - unlike those Islamists who took part in the attacks in the US in 2001 or the attacks in Britain in 2005. Rather, the current danger in Australia appears to turn on individuals who have been radicalised at home or after brief visits overseas.

It is difficult to obtain guilty verdicts in conspiracy cases where no physical attack has taken place.

The success of counter-terrorism operations in Australia so far suggests that police and intelligence services are doing well in a difficult environment.

As the mainstream British Muslim Mohammed Bashir said recently of Islamists groups in Luton: "They enjoy living in this country and then spend all their time speaking out against it; they are fools but they are also very dangerous."

The sad fact is that some of these dangerous fools commit, or conspire to commit, suicide/homicide.


Australia's Cardinal Pell challenges hate speech emanating from homosexual marriage campaigners

AUSTRALIA'S most senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal George Pell, has tentatively agreed to a meeting with gay marriage campaigners. That is if they first declare that not all opposition to same-sex marriage is homophobic and discriminatory.

As both sides of the debate continue their public campaigns, Cardinal Pell has written a letter in response to a request from gay marriage campaigners for a formal meeting to discuss the issues polarising the community.

The official gay marriage campaign, Australian Marriage Equality, wrote to the Archbishop of Sydney on December 20 to discuss their concerns about a campaign by the Australian Catholic Church against same-sex marriage.

Cardinal Pell surprised gay marriage supporters with a reply on December 22 saying a meeting might be possible. But he wanted a guarantee first that the church's position would not be depicted as hateful. "It would help me in considering your request for a meeting to receive an assurance that you . . . do not regard opposition to same-sex marriage in itself as a form of prejudice and discrimination, and that you are prepared to say this publicly.

"I am grateful for your request for a meeting to discuss these matters and am open to considering such a meeting," he wrote. "I can offer you no assistance on the second reason you have asked for this meeting (to prevent Catholic clergy from actively campaigning against same-sex marriage), and on most of the substantive matters I expect we will have to agree to disagree. "But it is always good to talk whenever this might be helpful."

Cardinal Pell said he was prepared to meet a same-sex couple who have been civilly married in another jurisdiction if a Catholic married couple could also be present "so that they can explain their concerns about same-sex marriage and what it might mean for the sort of commitment they have made".

In his letter in reply, Peter Furness, acting national convenor of the gay marriage campaign, said he would be happy for Cardinal Pell to be accompanied by a Catholic married couple.

A spokesman for the gay marriage campaign, Rodney Croome, told The Australian he was willing to concede that the Catholic Church did not intend to discriminate, meeting part of Cardinal Pell's demand for a meeting.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


3 January, 2011


Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950's for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce....

I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way. Here is a model separation agreement:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military.

We'll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar and biodiesel. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).

We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless, homeboys, hippies, druggies and illegal aliens.

We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood .

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.

You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values... You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N... But we will no longer be paying the bill.

We'll keep the SUV's, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find. You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right.

We'll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute Imagine, I'd like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World.

We'll practice trickle down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.

Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you answer which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

Sincerely, John J. Wall Law Student and an American

P. S. Also, please take Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Barbara Streisand, & Jane Fonda with you. P. S. S. And you won't have to press 1 for English when you call our country.

Britain's prisons minister says prison doesn't work. Little wonder when they're holiday camps like this one

With a regrettable absence of considered reflection, a BBC radio report suggested yesterday that as a result of ­impending cutbacks in the coming year, we are likely to see repeat ­performances of the riot at Ford Open Prison in West Sussex, which happened on New Year’s Eve.

But what took place had little, if anything, to do with a lack of resources. On the contrary, the prisoners at Ford would appear to have been indulged by the prison authorities to an extraordinary extent, while being ­subjected to only negligible and intermittent discipline.

Lavish facilities included ten pool tables as well as a gym and snooker room. Many people might not begrudge prisoners such relative luxuries if some of their number did not proceed to try to burn down the place, causing an estimated £2 million of damage.

Combined with a pampered lifestyle, there was an absence of discipline that is hard to credit. According to one report, before the attempt by staff to breathalyse prisoners that led to the riot, 40 empty bottles of alcohol had been found at the prison, and last Friday a stash of cocaine and heroin was ­discovered in a jail dormitory after a tip-off.

One former Ford inmate called ‘Dave’ told BBC Radio Five Live: ‘Certain inmates in there will be encouraged to jump over the fence, nip down to Tesco, which is just down the road, and go and get x amount of pounds of alcohol.’

Lord Brocket, who spent time in the open prison as part of a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for insurance fraud, described in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday how he discovered a woman in a fellow inmate’s room who had been smuggled in over the fence, and was effortlessly smuggled back out again.

Before the riot began, there were supposedly only two guards on duty looking after more than 500 inmates. Why it was thought sensible to start breathalysing prisoners in such circumstances will be one of many questions that must be considered by an inquiry set up by the Government.

Some will suggest that the shortage of prison officers is the consequence of previous economies. I doubt it. Descriptions of Ford and other similar prisons highlight the provision of costly luxuries. The lack of staff probably illustrates ­administrative incompetence, and in this case staffing levels had very likely been kept ­unrealistically low because prison officers wished to ­celebrate New Year with their friends or family.

Another key question is why many hardened criminals had been sent to Ford to live alongside the supposedly less ­troublesome Category D ­prisoners for whom it was intended. It was the ‘tough nuts’ who started the riots in a prison that was never meant to house the likes of them.

Incidentally, those supposedly ‘soft’ Category D prisoners who joined in the mayhem might be the very types who, so the ­Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke believes, should be given community sentences.

Everything we have learned makes Ford sound much more like a holiday camp, albeit a highly dysfunctional one, than a properly run prison. The authorities have evidently given up any attempt to subject inmates to a well-ordered, punitive regime free of drink and drugs in which they have the remotest chance of rehabilitation.

Is there any point at all in sending people to prison if they are treated in such a lax and indulgent way? Just before Christmas, we learned how a group of animal rights extremists jailed for a campaign of ­terrorism have described prison as a ‘holiday camp’.

Seven fanatics were sentenced to a total of 50 years for ­intimidating workers connected to a laboratory that used ­animals in experiments. Tactics included branding hundreds of innocent staff as paedophiles, threatening to kill their ­children, and sending hoax bombs and items allegedly contaminated with Aids to workers’ homes.

But on a website for supporters of the group, called Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty, these criminals gloat about life in jail. One calls his prison ­‘Butlins’, while another says she is ‘blissfully happy’. A male inmate jailed for four years enthuses about his ‘en suite shower’ and says that ‘prison is fantastically easy and nothing more than an inconvenience’.

Surely it should be a guiding principle that incarceration must entail a measure of hardship over and above the withdrawal of liberty. If prisons were to gain a reputation for being like five-star hotels, the disincentive to committing crimes would be almost completely removed. Judging by these reports, we might be halfway towards that situation.

Equally, prisons should be places where rehabilitation can take place so prisoners have a better chance of not re-offending when they are released. If drink and drugs are freely ­available, as is the case at Ford and many other jails, and if prison officers preside over a laissez faire regime organised by the worst ­elements among prisoners, the chances of ­rehabilitation will be practically nil.

Kenneth Clarke breezily ­suggests that for many criminals prison does not work. He should modify that belief. The wrong sort of prison — over-indulgent and undisciplined to the point of anarchy — is unlikely to work. Mr Clarke rightly points out the appallingly high rate of recidivism. But is it surprising that so many criminals should re-offend when they are merely ‘warehoused’ in prisons of this sort?

In fact, Mr Clarke and his ­deputy and fellow Tory, prisons minister Crispin Blunt, are using bad prisons as a justification for not locking up ­criminals, when they should be striving to reform jails so they can again become effective places of ­rehabilitation and punishment.

That, of course, would require a lot of hard thinking and root- and-branch reform of the prison system, as well as taking on the Prison Officers Association, which is part of the problem. Rather than embarking on such an arduous programme of change, Mr Clarke prefers to take refuge in the lazy assertion that prison doesn’t work.

Mr Blunt is no more clear- thinking. He has also asserted that there are too many people under lock and key. And it was he who last July announced that a ban on ‘inappropriate’ prison events, introduced in 2008 after bizarre reports of a fancy dress party, should be lifted. Fortunately, on that ­occasion he was over-ruled by No 10. Why should prisoners be allowed to hold parties?

Fittingly, this same lightweight Mr Blunt was quaffing champagne while watching fireworks at a lavish party in the House of Commons on New Year’s Eve, as the riot in Ford Open Prison began. If only he had known it, the ­explosions at Ford would be far more significant.

We might, indeed, see a repeat performance of the events there, but it will not be because of any Government cuts or shortage of money. It will be because ministers have forgotten what prisons should be like, and what they are for, and are too timid or muddle-headed to do anything about it.


Christianity not dead yet

St. George's Chapel, located within the walls of Windsor Castle, is anglophile heaven -- a marvel of Gothic in the Perpendicular style, mother church of The Most Noble Order of the Garter, the holy of holies of monarchism. Sitting in the Quire during Sung Evensong, one faces the common grave of Henry VIII and Charles I. Behind and in front are the wooden stalls of the Knights of the Garter, topped by heraldic banners. Above is the enclosed box seat where Victoria would watch services during her endless mourning.

At one point in the service, prayers are said for the kings, queens and members of the royal family who have aided the order. It was the first time I had ever prayed for the soul of Richard III, who may or may not have been responsible for the deaths of his nephews. I suppose everyone can be spared a prayer. Besides, the communion of saints includes more than a few rogues.

This pilgrimage (made a few years ago) came nostalgically to mind while reading a recent article in the Guardian. "This Christmas," it declared, "for perhaps the first time ever, Britain is a majority non-religious nation." In 1985, according to the British Social Attitudes survey, 63 percent of Britons called themselves Christians. In 2010, it was 42 percent, with 51 percent claiming no religion at all.

So all that history -- Cranmer and Laud, roundheads and cavaliers, Henry with his wives and Charles without his head -- has led to a shrug and a yawn. The next monarch will still pledge to "maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law." But the meaning is increasingly hollowed out. First a ceremonial monarchy, then a ceremonial religion.

Britain is exhibit A for the secularization thesis -- the idea that modernization and scientific rationality will cause religion to wither and die. That is manifestly false in places such as Africa, India or the Muslim world. Only in Europe does it feel true.

Even in Europe, however, the thesis is less compelling under scrutiny. The European past was not nearly as pious as we imagine. Christian conversion on the fringes of the Roman Empire -- in places such as Gaul and Britannia -- was always a shallow and partial affair. Rulers pledged their orthodoxy; the populace hedged their bets with magic and animism. In late medieval times, church attendance was spotty, often with good reason. "Members of the congregation," according to historian Keith Thomas, "jostled for pews, nudged their neighbors, hawked and spat, knitted, made coarse remarks, told jokes, fell asleep and even let off guns."

And the European present is not as secular as church attendance numbers would indicate. Spiritual beliefs broadly persist, even in the absence of formal religious associations.

But the swift decline of European religious institutions is not a small thing. Institutions codify and transmit faith, producing the Perpendicular Gothic and the Book of Common Prayer. They can also discredit faith, especially when too closely tied to the established order -- seeking its favor, implicated in its power games, justifying its scandals. The aid of various Richards throughout the ages comes with a price.

Contrast this to American religion, involving less heraldry and more vitality. The whole pageant is well described in "American Grace," by Robert Putnam and David Campbell. They depict a "highly religious people," divided by contentious social issues but generally tolerant of other religious traditions. Immigration, conversion and intermarriage produce a churn of belief that undermines settled prejudices. American religious congregations cultivate civic engagement, creating citizens who are generous, active and trusting.

All this liveliness comes with some disturbingly American characteristics -- a general theological ignorance, a tendency toward the anodyne, turning a creed into a hobby. But the general impression left by "American Grace" is of a fluid marketplace of faith that is favorable to faith itself.

There are many reasons for this American achievement, but foremost is a commitment to religious freedom -- which originated in the struggles of English Protestants, but was applied in a way the world had not seen before. There would be no Church of America, because Christian belief was compromised by secular alliances, and because true fidelity to God could not be forced. By creating this system, the Founders proved that secularism is not essential to political liberalism. Pluralism will suffice.

The decline in the standing of many religious institutions is undeniable. But this cannot be extrapolated to the end of belief. Institutions grow gray and gouty. Faith, in freedom, is ever new.


Cast adrift from reality, the slick spruikers of 'our' shame

Comment from Australia. In case it is not understood elsewhere, a "spruiker" means a salesman and a con man

The water in Sydney Harbour over the New Year weekend was clear, the sky was bright blue and endless, and the new fashion on the beach was bikini-clad women wearing pork-pie hats. A great look. There can be no city in the world where so many people, millions, have easy access to so much natural beauty and a comfortable life. Nowhere else on this scale.

Millions of people would want to come here if they could. I don't blame them. There are roughly 60 million refugees or displaced people in the world, and we would like to scoop them all up and save them. But in the real world it can take a powerful amount of work to even save one's own children from harm. If Australia decided, by an act of democratic will, to become the most generous nation in history, and open its borders to all who sought a better life here, in time this would have dire consequences for the society that has evolved here, and the environment we have already degraded so much.

In this context, I would like to hand out medals for the most dubious contributions to Australian public life in 2010. I don't question the sincerity or good intentions of those I am about to disabuse, I question their grasp on reality.

The gold medal goes to Graeme Innes, the Human Right Commission's disability discrimination commissioner and race discrimination commissioner, who has spent his entire 33-year career as a human rights lawyer. In August, Innes flew to Geneva, at taxpayers' expense, to address the committee of the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Innes managed to cram his speech with six major points that I regard as self-serving or untrue or both:

(1) He said there was "a strong need for a domestic implementation mechanism for CERD in Australia".

(2) He claimed, "We have a clear sense of what the Australian community wanted … an enshrined bill of rights …".

(3) He called for changes to the Australian constitution to give greater effect to anti-racism laws.

(4) He wants "a national multicultural policy".

(5) He complained that there was "no national data on the prevalence of migrants as victims of crime".

(6) He called for a "federal law to criminalise race hate".

This is a proscriptive paradise for human rights lawyers, as if Australia were not already excessively regulated and litigious and footing the bill for a human rights industry scrambling for clients and relevance.

The silver medal goes to another lawyer, a District Court judge, Stephen Norrish, who believes Aboriginal criminals should have prison terms of less than 12 months automatically suspended or converted to community service. He wants culture and disadvantage to be considered in mitigation during sentencing. He wants special "Koori courts". "Unless acts of affirmative action are formally recognised," he said, "not only will the disproportionate number of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system continue, but it will increase, to this nation's greater shame."

What about some collective remorse and self-criticism from the Aboriginal community? What about the gangs of young Aboriginal men who roam the streets of Sydney and country towns stealing and belting white kids, a problem my extended family has experienced first-hand multiple times? What about an apology from the Aboriginal people (a concept which itself is a white fiction) for the endemic child abuse inside Aboriginal families and communities?

I don't believe most Australians feel "shame" that Aborigines are 15-times over-represented in the criminal justice system. I believe they feel anger, as the victims of crime. Australians are sick of the chasm between rhetoric and reality, and the idea that the only acceptable public narratives for Aboriginal people are that of victim or artist or noble custodian. The percentage of incarcerated Aboriginals would be even higher if so many were not given a free pass by the justice system, which in turn has led to a self-perpetuating culture of violence.

The human rights industry, and lawyers from the High Court down, have created a system of moral and legal apartheid in this country in which Aboriginal communities are guaranteed to fail. And they want more of the same failed policies.

Judge Norrish does not treat Aborigines as human beings. Instead they are to be treated as something outside Australian law and culture, as victims, mendicants, piccaninnies, avatars of white guilt, incapable of knowing right from wrong. His comments are profoundly insulting to the majority of Aboriginal and part-Aboriginal people who function well within the norms of society.

At least he does not extend his "shame", like Commissioner Innes, who returned to Australia and complained about the "race to the bottom" by the major political parties in their policies for the handling of illegal boat arrivals. This is a deeply contemptuous phrase. It strips all principle from the debate for those who support strong border protection. It supports the false premise that the relatively small number of people who arrive by illegal boats makes this a minor matter than can be dealt with by compassion, not hysteria, exaggeration or xenophobia.

But this argument is about principle. Not numbers. The principle applies whether there are two boats or two hundred. The heart of the current debacle is a failure of law, an absence of legal certainty. If an election were to be fought today over whether those who arrive by illegal means, or without proper papers, should be guaranteed of failure, Julia Gillard and her government would be gone.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


2 January, 2011

Cultural Winners and Losers, 2010

2010 may have been an encouraging year for political conservatives, but it wasn't so rosy for America's culture. The most depressing result was the Second Circuit Court of Appeals granting our television networks the right to employ the nastiest curse words in front of children at any hour of the broadcast day.

In her opinion, Judge Rosemary Pooler insisted that the TV networks weren't pushing the envelope like "a petulant teenager angling for a later curfew"; they were good people with a "a good faith desire to comply with the FCC's indecency regime." The judge should win some sort of Alice-in-Wonderland prize for declaring the absolute opposite of all the evidence right in front of her face. Here are my other choices for other cultural winners and losers this year:

Loser: Perhaps inspired by Pooler, CBS put out a sitcom with the title "(Bleep) My Dad Says." Critics were bored. Viewers flushed it.

Winner: Tim Tebow. The quarterback's heartwarming pro-life ad with his mother during the Super Bowl was so winning, and so un-political, you could see why CBS would allow it.

Losers: The radical feminists who protested this ad as a vicious sermon without seeing it. How embarrassing. Let's add Chicago-based sports marketer John Rowady, who sneered Tebow was ruining his career in Advertising Age magazine: "His promotion of his 'belief system' has built a perception throughout the league that he has a long way to mature from a business perspective, especially in the fast lane of the NFL."

Tebow wasn't harmed: He was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos, and at year's end, he was starting and leading the Broncos to victory.

Winner: Sandra Bullock. Defying the Hollywood odds, she won an Oscar for her heartfelt portrayal of Leigh Ann Touhy, whose Memphis family adopted a black teen named Michael Oher and loved him into college and then a starting job with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. Critics hated the film, but America loved it. One reviewer found it "contrived, storybook-sweet, credulity-straining and -- um, true."

Loser: Fox's "Family Guy" is always looking for a new low in sick jokes. They found one when baby Stewie and his dog, Brian, were accidentally locked in a bank vault. The baby orders the dog to eat the contents of his diaper. When the dog actually eats the baby feces, the baby vomits and then says, "Got some dessert for you." The dog then eats the vomit. The dog also licked the baby's rear end clean, so Stewie could boast to the otherwise empty vault that the dog "French-kissed my bottom clean."

Earth to Judge Pooler: Networks never "push the envelope"? Millions of children are exposed to this garbage.

Loser: Garry Trudeau, who scheduled a comic strip on Christmas Day that spewed hate at God. A female soldier said her chaplain "yells at God a lot." A female social worker replied: "He deserves it. In my extremely humble opinion."

Winner: Charlie Daniels. His blazing violin graced an ad for Geico, and his new album, "Land That I Love," underlined the strong emphasis on patriotism in his music. That's a snapshot of his career, a love affair with his country that he has expressed in song, both here and everywhere our military serves, for more than a half-century.

Loser: Louis CK, promoted by Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" as "one of my favorite comedians." As they were joking about being bleeped by censors, Louis said, "I was going to say that the Pope f---ed boys and I didn't have time." After sick laughs, he insisted he was serious: "I do think he does. Can I defend that before we go away? ... Well here's the thing. He lets other people do it," and you are either outraged, or you are participating in it. Oddly, Stewart later held a "Rally for Sanity" to condemn vicious insults.

Winner: family films. Studio heads were shocked again by surprise hits like the remake of "The Karate Kid," which grossed more than $175 million. None of the top 15 movies received an "R" rating. Six of the top 15 movies were animated, and at No. 1 in box-office receipts (with more than $415 million) was G-rated "Toy Story 3." A St. Petersburg Times critic suggested it wasn't just the best film of the summer; it could be Best Picture of 2010. Quality doesn't have to equal perversity.

Children are good at nagging and dragging their parents to the cineplex. Someone in Tinseltown should just wake up and smell the popcorn.


Reforming voices in the Middle East

AMID calls for jihad emanating from websites and television channels in the Muslim world, a counterpoint has emerged: fierce Arab self-criticism and openness to the West.

Although small in number compared with fundamentalists in the media, Muslim liberals have been able to expose the Arab world to a totally different, often shocking, way of seeing itself.

"Why do the Arabs boast of their courage when in fact we are the most cowardly people on earth?" Iraqi researcher Mohammed al-Khodari said last month on al-Jazeera TV, the leading news channel in the Middle East. "Of all peoples, Arabs are most likely to resign themselves to injustice, oppression and persecution."

Referring to a photograph of a suicide bomber, he said: "This backward man, this low-life, who is the product of the Arab peoples, blew himself up in Iraq, at a [church] mass, among people who were worshipping God. His family and his people are proud of him."

Lebanese journalist Ziyad Noujeim, interviewed on Lebanese station OTV in October, said the distortions in Arab society began with denial. "We refuse to admit there is a problem between Christianity and Islam. We say 'they live in brotherhood' but every 10 years they fight one another and leave behind 25,000 casualties. We say that everything is fine with the Lebanese family but not a single man is with his own wife. You cannot tell which man is married to which woman. We refuse to say 'Israel', saying instead 'occupied Palestine'.

"Our entire culture is based on two things and two things alone: lies and denial. We blame everything on Israel. If one day Israel is eliminated, what would we do?"

A damning analysis was voiced by a prominent writer in Bahrain, Dihyaa al-Musawi, in an interview posted on YouTube. "We have a gallows culture in which we try to hang a thinker, a poet, every day. We are against creativity and civilisation. We have not developed to the point of admitting defeat, cultural defeat. In the past we had a civilisation but we are regressing. We export violence. We terrorise whole countries. Our pulpits have become booby traps for the public by generating hatred towards 'the other'."

Sheik Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari, former dean of Islamic law at Qatar University, attributes the backwardness of the modern Arab world to the disappearance of critical thinking and the resultant absence of accountability.

"Despite the defeats we have suffered for half a century [an apparent reference to the wars with Israel] we have not learned a thing" he said on Abu-Dhabi TV.

"We say that Israel is the enemy and that we hate it, but let's ask ourselves why Israel is always victorious. It is because it has a tradition of accountability."

Although Israel was the victor in its war with Hezbollah in 2006, said al-Ansari, most Arabs chose to believe otherwise. "Would you believe that after the war Israel, despite all it had achieved, established a committee to examine the accountability of the government because it hadn't achieved a total victory; just 80 per cent instead of 100 per cent? We, on the other hand, are still proclaiming from the rooftops that we won."

Although Israel is a target of vilification in the Arab media, it is not infrequently portrayed, as by al-Ansari, in a positive context as an example of a modern society from which Arabs could learn.

"People talk about how Israel attacked Gaza [in Operation Cast Lead two years ago]," said interview host Faysal al-Qassem on al-Jazeera. "By God, if Gaza revolted against any Arab ruler, would there be anything left of it?"

The ideological ferment within the Muslim world has been monitored for more than a decade by the Middle East Media Research Institute, from which the quotes and video clips mentioned in this article are taken.

Menahem Milson, a co-founder of MEMRI and professor emeritus of Arab studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says Arab reformist views were expressed with increasing vigour in the Arab media following the 9/11 attacks on the US. "Enlightened Muslims in Arab countries and elsewhere came to realise that because of the extremists, Islam and all Muslims are viewed as backward. They realised they must rectify the damage."

Mainstream Arab media such as al-Jazeera are still anti-West and anti-liberal in their orientation, Milson says, but they do from time to time provide a platform for reformist views. "They want to preserve their image as pluralistic and professional channels." As for the effect of reformist views on the Arab world, it is too soon to assess, Milson says.

Some jihadi internet forums have warned Muslims living in the West to stay away from Christmas celebrations, presumably including Santa Claus in the shopping mall. One forum member with a grievance against the Egyptian-based Coptic church gave a list of Coptic churches in Australia and other countries and provided an illustrated manual for homemade bombs. Another had practical suggestions for creating blackouts in Western cities "a Christmas gift not to be forgotten".

Several Muslim countries, including Egypt, have shut down jihadi stations and websites that threaten their regimes.

In the past year, however, MEMRI has determined that YouTube has become the portal of choice for jihadi clips, surpassing websites administered by jihadists. These clips have found an audience among disaffected Muslim youths in the West.

Following protests in the past few months from several US congressmen, YouTube has pledged to remove content inciting violence.

The battle between fundamentalists and reformers in the Arab world is nearer the beginning than the end. It is one that will engage the attention of the West as if its future depended on the outcome.



Following on from the complaint about 1 particular programme where the BBC do not dispute lying, though their assertion that having broadcast 10s of thousands of hours pushing catastrophic warming alarmism & zero hours devoted to scepticism they had maintained the "due balance" required in their guidelines we come to their "Charter & Agreement."

These are the legal basis of their claim to the right to our money. The Agreement pdf sits alongside the Charter providing detail of what the Charter means. In it we find that the previously discussed Editorial Guidelines ate not merely guidelines but written into their legal duties.
44. Accuracy and impartiality

(1) The BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output.

(2) In applying paragraph (1), a series of programmes may be considered as a whole.

(3) The UK Public Services must not contain any output which expresses the opinion of the BBC or of its Trust or Executive Board on current affairs or matters of public policy other than broadcasting or the provision of online services.

This is essentially the wording used in the "guidelines" and if they are in breach of it they have no legal validity.

Beyond the simple issue of breach of contract lets look at the European Declaration of Human Rights

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. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

So if the BBC have failed to show due balance, across their broadcasting they have also interfered with the human rights of all those whose views have been suppressed. If, for example, they have had UKIP spokesmen on significantly less than 4 times as often and BNP ones significantly less than twice as often as Green ones they clearly not only defrauded supporters of the former but interfered with their human rights.

If the evidence that we are experiencing catastrophic global warming is less than 10s of thousands of times greater than the evidence of severe snow then their claim to have maintained "due balance" is false & they have defrauded all their licence payers for over a decade & not only have no right to demand money from them, until they have proven themselves honest, but I suspect, have a legal duty to refund that money.

If they have and are totally censoring reporting of racial genocide, something which Damian Whyte of "BBC Information" promised to deny & when presented with the facts specifically then found himself unable to do, then they have clearly breached the duty of "due balance" (they have also made themselves complicit in crimes against humanity but that is meat for another time). and are not entitled to demand payment from the public, indeed they owe money.

That they have censored to promote warming alarmism, one particular [political party & racial genocide appears to me to be indubitable. I believe that there are many other subjects on which such accusations could be made with a degree of credibility greatly exceeding the "balance of probability" standard used in civil courts. It seems easily provable that, even by the standard of "beyond reasonable doubt" they have censored & lied in these instances.

If somebody not only defends a licence fee prosecution of the BBC but counter sues for previous year's payments they would also be able to call a number of top executives & Trust members & make them testify, under oath, how the decisions to censor everything from the weather to NATO police's Crimes Against Humanity were taken. That opens whole new cans of worms. I suspect it would go viral online, though unmentioned by the MSM.
Labels: British politics, Government parasitism, Media

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Some are Still Arguing for Civil Trials for the Uncivilized!

How to treat terrorists at Gitmo

John Bernard

Every once in a while, I am questioned about my stand on one element of this ongoing debate or another and the question is almost always couched in such a way as to bring discredit to this particular viewpoint. I find that interesting in general because I am not thin skinned and because this argument is not difficult to follow. Because it is not difficult to follow, it forces people to consider their true nature and their true allegiances.

I have always maintained that my sole concern is for our Warriors. This is not some misguided plea to protect Warriors from the dangers of warfare, it is in fact an attempt to protect them from the negligence and agenda of those in our own government. So when I receive the occasional hand wringing diatribe that so often allies the hand wringer with the enemies of this nation and our Warriors, I feel compelled to 'chew butt'.

What follows is an answer I gave to one such person who is morally conflicted about the handling of prisoners at Gitmo. Of course she has no particular moral conflict with the way our Warriors are treated by their own government, foreign prosecutors, the national media, the lies perpetrated by dirt bags hiding behind the doctrine of Taqiyya and left wing nut cases that are looking for any opportunity to help dismantle this country.

As Follows:

First of all; there has never been any actual evidence of 'abuses' of the dirt bags being held at Gitmo. The only thing there has ever been is unfounded accusations generally levied by someone on the left trying to push their agenda or someone with an ax to grind.

Second, and most importantly; we are talking about 'people' content to cut the heads from their 'enemies' and in general anyone who doesn't agree with them or take a knee to their demon god, Allah. These people are not covered by our Constitution because they are not Americans. They are not covered by the Geneva Conventions because they do not represent any nation or its people and they do not wear a uniform. The 'non-uniformed' clause in the Geneva Conventions is generally accepted to mean protection for civilians. By definition, civilians do not involve themselves in armed conflict and certainly not by siding with unrepentant murderers.

The only people still arguing for the 'entitlement of respect' of these dirt bags, are those arguing from the safety and sanctity of their well protected American homes - protected by the very Warriors they so easily cast to the wolves while denigrating this country and its foundational underpinning.

These 'people' cross borders and do harm to any and all as they and their religious ideology see fit. As such and with the support of my prior two points; they should expect no quarter from any sovereign nation or it's government or their armed forces.

The whole bloody argument over Military Tribunals versus Civilian Court is a straw argument based on a faulty definition of who these dirt bags are and how they 'should' be covered by our Constitution. This argument is generally levied by those in our society lacking intestinal fortitude and who believe in one big happy world - without borders.

So for those who may be reading this who think that way, listen up; this is a world of sovereign nations, with flags, unique systems of jurisprudence, a well identified citizenry and borders. Any person(s) who desires to do harm to the citizens of this nation - of their own accord or in accordance with the doctrines of their demon god should beware...governments do not 'bear the sword in vain' (Romans 13). If you/they want to test the sanctity of this nation and this government, you/they deserve to be treated as no better than a piece of rotting meat! The elected 'leaders' of this country should get their confused thoughts in alignment with this as well.

This should always have been done in a Military Tribunal and EVERY piece of evidence garnered - by whatever means it was gathered, should be admissible. These 'people' deserve nothing, should expect nothing and their 'supporters' need to consider who and what they are; citizens of this nation or allies with unrepentant, ideologically motivated murderers.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


1 January, 2011

Attack on religion in Quebec

It's never too early to close the minds of the young. That's the thinking of the provincial government here, which recently announced a ban on religion in subsidized daycare centres.

Subsidized daycare is a central part of social policy in Quebec--parents pay $7/day, and provincial government pays the rest, about $40/day. The government of Quebec is now increasing its vigilance on what dangerous ideas the toddlers might be exposed to.

Just before Christmas, Family Minister Yolande James announced regulations that would seek to ban religion instruction from daycare centres that take government money. The Quebec government is out to stamp out religious expressions -- prayers, bible stories, manger scenes and even explanations for religious dietary practices.

Strangely, you can have a manger scene -- you just can't tell the children who the figures are. The scene is cultural, but Jesus is religious. In a Jewish or Muslim daycare, presumably the children could keep dietary laws but not be told why. Children could decorate a Christmas tree (cultural) but not sing Silent Night (religious). It's easy to mock the silliness, but violations of religious liberty are no laughing matter. Quebec's antipathy to expressions of Jewish and Islamic faith, combined with a self-loathing of its Catholic heritage, makes for a toxic combination.

"In Quebec, secularism has become the new religion," said Daniel Amar, executive director of the Quebec Jewish Congress. That's almost right. It's secular fundamentalism that the Quebec government practises, touched by a totalitarian impulse that brooks no dissent, even from little children who might need help in colouring their religious pictures.

Our editorial board argued on Tuesday that Quebec's massive subsidies for approved daycare spaces has effectively crowded out non-subsidized daycare. The economic argument is clear -- subsidize one form of child care over all others, and soon there will effectively be just one form of child care. Daycare has been de facto nationalized in Quebec, and the national religion of intolerant secularism will now be imposed.

The cultural question is more troubling. So serious is Quebec's government about imposing its view on all children that, concurrent with the new regulations, it will triple the number of inspectors to enforce them. Quebec will soon have 58 inquisitors dropping in on daycares to ensure compliance. One can only imagine the scene when the inquisition arrives, sifting through the sandbox in search of clandestine religious items. And who will write the code for the bureaucrats, ensuring that miscreant daycare workers don't mention that la fete nationale was once upon a time Saint-Jean-Baptiste?

There is an economic cost to big government. There is also a cultural cost, if everywhere government goes alternative values and viewpoints must retreat. If government goes everywhere, then not even babies are entitled to hear views that dissent from government dogma. Quebec has long since abandoned the neutral state in favour of the aggressively secular state. Where the Quebec state goes, religion must retreat, and there's no limit on where the Quebec state will go.

The heart of every culture is its attitude to the big questions of human life and existence. That's why a sensible people leaves culture in the hands of the churches, the artists and the writers. Only a deeply insecure society entrusts culture to bureaucratic inquisitors. And only bureaucratic inquisitors see threats in the cradle.

Totalitarian states have always sought to control the kindergartens and the schools and the youth groups, all the better to ensure that the influence of parents on their own children is attenuated. There is the hard totalitarianism that comes by force of arms. Soft totalitarianism comes by way of subsidies, where first the family is embraced by the state, and only then is it suffocated.

The educational world in Quebec does not leave much room to breathe. The consensus position, as defined by the curriculum apparatchiks, must be taught without exception in all public schools, private schools and even at home. Until now, the preschoolers had escaped the stifling grasp of government. No longer.

As our editorial pointed out, the actual educational results of Quebec daycare are poor. Quebec's nationalized daycares don't teach little Quebecers very much. Now they will ensure that the youngsters know even less.


NYT Gets Vapors Over Justice Scalia and Tea Party Seminar

The New York Times is all verklemmt over Justice Scalia’s involvement in a tea party seminar:
When the Tea Party holds its first Conservative Constitutional Seminar next month, Justice Antonin Scalia is set to be the speaker. It was a bad idea for him to accept this invitation. He should send his regrets.

The Tea Party epitomizes the kind of organization no justice should speak to — left, right or center — in the kind of seminar that has been described in the press. It has a well-known and extreme point of view about the Constitution and about cases and issues that will be decided by the Supreme Court.

Now the NYT is terrified that somehow the tea party, so devoted to the Constitution, would influence a Supreme Court justice to be devoted … to … the Constitution. They leapfrog through reasons, trying them on, seeing which has the most affect.
Justice Scalia has been particularly assertive that the American public should trust his ability to handle ethical questions. Incidents like this seminar emphasize that it is in the interest of the Supreme Court to provide him and every justice with more specific guidance.....

By presiding over this seminar, Justice Scalia would provide strong reasons to doubt his impartiality when he ruled later on any topic discussed there. He can best convey his commitment to the importance of his independence, and the court’s, by deciding it would be best not to attend.

The NYT’s assertion that Justice Scalia’s involvement somehow violates the code of conduct for judges (which, to my understanding, doesn’t apply to Supreme Court Justices) is only applicable based on the presupposition that Scalia is influenceable. Considering his past opinions, I would say that the opposite is the most likely: the movement stands to be influenced by Scalia than Scalia by the movement. The NYT’s presupposition is also offensive in that a man of the Constitution and expert on the law such as Scalia would be influenced by a group for whom the NYT has such a low regard.

The NYT’s real worry is that Scalia’s involvement in speaking to a tea party group would lend the movement further credibility and undermine the NYT’s carefully crafted narrative that the movement is nothing but a lot of stupid, racist rednecks. They can’t come out and say that, but suddenly they’re concerned for the man whose decisions and remarks they’ve vilified almost as vigorously as the movement.

The editorial also hits on the lack of a code of conduct for Supreme Court justices who are exempt from such a code governing federal judges.
The court remains the only federal court not covered by the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. The court and the country would be better off if the justices were responsible to the code. Even without a duty to the code, each justice has a duty to its principles. Each has a duty to promote the judiciary’s impartiality.

As for the code of conduct, I reached out to a legal heavyweight for perspective, my good friend and fellow blogger, the law professor and Constitutional scholar Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, who replied:
“Supreme Court Justices have no substitutes. If they recuse themselves, there’s nobody else to take their place; the composition of the Court just changes for that case. Rather than let parties try to manipulate ethics rules to disqualify justices they see as hostile, the justices are the judges of their own ethics.”

It makes perfect sense. Judges are either partial to the Constitution or they aren’t; they either believe that the document is perfect in its form and that rights like free speech don’t ebb in and out of style – or they believe that it’s an anachronistic document in a world that needs a malleable, living Constitution. Each justice enters the Supreme Court possessing a record of opinion by which he or she is measured, and that without threat of election or outside influence, they will apply the Constitution as they always have, thus it’s ridiculous to assert the opposite.

If the NYT was truly concerned about impartiality, they would have had a field day with this:

Instead the NYT essentially deflected and defended her. Sotomayor is listed by the American Bar Association as a member of the far left extremist group La Raza:
In addition to her work on the bench, Judge Sotomayor is an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law and a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York Women’s Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Association of Judges of Hispanic Heritage, and the National Council of La Raza.

A member of a radical group that opposes the law Sotomayor vowed to uphold. The NYT is worried about Justice Scalia speaking to a group whose expressed purpose is to uphold the Constitution yet says nothing of the justice whose membership – not speaking to a group but membership – is in a group whose expressed purpose is to obliterate the Constitution by staging violent opposition to the laws therein. The discrepancy between these incomparable groups only magnifies the NYT’s bias.
There is nothing like the Tea Party on the left, but if there were and one of the more liberal justices accepted a similar invitation from it, that would be just as bad.

But yet it’s not.
By presiding over this seminar, Justice Scalia would provide strong reasons to doubt his impartiality when he ruled later on any topic discussed there. He can best convey his commitment to the importance of his independence, and the court’s, by deciding it would be best not to attend.

It’s not Justice Scalia’s impartiality I doubt, it’s the New York Times’s impartiality and genuineness that have proven by this instance to be nonexistent.


'Norwegians in UNIFIL causing negative view of Israel

Norway’s aspirations to be a “moral superpower” and play a key role in the Middle East peace process could be constrained by its tense relationship with Israel, anti-Semitism at home and its approach to Hamas, according to a WikiLeaks cable published by the Oslo-based Aftenposten paper.

The cable, written on February 13, 2009, by Kevin Johnson, the deputy chief of the US Embassy in Norway, summarizes Oslo’s aspirations to be a leader in the Middle East peace negotiations.

The cable could serve as an important source document for those seeking to understand the difficulty Israel has in getting its narrative across in Europe.

According to the analysis in this cable, the Oslo process seemed to herald a new peacemaker role for Norway, which it relished. But as the Oslo Accords crumbled, “ties between Norway and Israel weakened,” the cable read.

The Lebanon wars had a major impact, with approximately 20,000 Norwegians serving in UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon from 1978 to 1998. These soldiers came home with sympathetic reports about Palestinian refugees and negative impressions of Israelis. Israeli settlements and walls in the West Bank, and invasions of Lebanon and Gaza contributed to Norwegians’ increasingly negative view of Israel,” the US diplomat wrote.

“Norwegian society values dialogue above all,” the cable read. “Talk, even without any expectation of results, is seen as valuable. Anyone who draws a line and refuses to talk to an opposing party is seen as a radical unilateralist. Conversely, Norwegians are extremely opposed to the use of military force to achieve goals, no matter how laudable.”

Compounding this aversion to force, according to the cable, is the fact that “Norwegians do not generally see any threats” and do not see a danger from terrorism.

To illustrate this particular “societal attitude,” the cable points out that a man who shot up Oslo’s synagogue in 2006, planned to behead the Israeli ambassador and attack Israeli and US embassies was “convicted only of grave vandalism.” The cable said, however, that his “strict sentence showed some understanding of the severity of the charges.” The man convicted of the shooting, Arfan Qadeer Bhatti, was given an eight-year sentence in 2008.

Norway, according to the cable, has engaged with Hamas, and the organization’s vow to destroy Israel “was ignored or characterized as only rhetoric by the Norwegians.”

“Although the GON [Government of Norway] would deny it, there are clear signs that contacts with Hamas go beyond a tactical desire for dialogue to a level of sympathy for Hamas positions. The FM once told DCM [deputy chief of mission] for example that one could not expect Hamas to recognize Israel without knowing which borders Israel will have. While the FM expresses some sympathy for Hamas’ positions only in unguarded moments, other prominent Norwegians go further.”

The cable also gives backing to those who argue that Israel’s difficult position in much of Europe is fueled by the large Muslim minorities there.

“Norway’s growing minority population also plays a role in hardening public attitude toward Israel,” the cable read. “The primary minority groups in Norway (25% of Oslo’s population) are Moslem and stem from Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan. They are interested in Middle East politics and not surprisingly very critical of Israel.”

Johnson wrote in the cable that with “traditional Norwegians” already independently quite critical of Israel, “it is likely that this viewpoint will be re-enforced by the growing minority groups in Norway.”

Aftenposten has reportedly gained access to the cache of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks started releasing late last month and that were given to a limited number of newspapers, including The Guardian in Britain, Le Monde in France, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany.


Saying the Unsayable: Revisiting International Censorship

It is by now well known that, among its other achievements, China leads the world in the development of innovative and sophisticated methods to control its citizens’ access to information. Less well known, but equally pernicious, is China’s aggressive campaign to extend its censorship system outside its borders.

Consider the case of the Melbourne film festival last fall. A few days before the festival was set to open, Richard Moore, its executive director, received a call from the local Chinese consulate. The Chinese official urged the festival to withdraw a documentary about the life of Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled activist committed to the cause of China’s Uighur minority. In a stunning display of arrogance, the consulate official told Moore that the festival needed to “justify” the inclusion of the Kadeer film. This demand was followed by threatening e-mails, ugly phone messages, and a cascade of faxes. As part of the campaign, hackers broke into the festival’s online booking site and manipulated material in order to make it appear that the Kadeer session had been sold out. Moore himself received messages threatening his family. While the Kadeer film was ultimately shown, Moore acknowledged that in the future festival organizers would think carefully about how to showcase controversial works.

The Chinese offensive against the Melbourne film festival is not, unfortunately, an isolated case. There are campaigns by a variety of groups and individuals around the world—ranging from foreign governments and business moguls to local, sometimes well-meaning, activists—to discourage journalists, scholars, NGOs, and others from addressing politically sensitive subjects.

This creeping censorship is manifesting itself in venues as unlikely as the United Nations, the judicial systems of established democracies, and even the human rights commissions of states where free expression has long been held sacred. Often, the objective is to place restrictions on what people can say or publish about Islam. But the offensive is also being carried forward by Russian oligarchs, Chinese diplomats, and the sons of African strongmen. And while struggles over free expression in the past have been waged mostly in autocratic settings, the current controversies frequently revolve around efforts to restrict information and opinions in Europe, North America, and other bastions of civil liberty.

Some observers have attributed the upsurge in free-speech controversies to the 2005 publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. In fact, the cartoons simply added fuel to an already smoldering fire. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the driving force behind the recent anti-blasphemy resolutions at the United Nations, has been promoting similar measures since 1999. Even so, the ability of the campaign’s proponents to mobilize global support based on the actions of a newspaper in a small European country—actions that could have gone unnoticed in an earlier era—points up the unpredictable and not always positive effects of globalization.

This past March, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a now annual resolution that essentially calls for the universal embrace of anti-blasphemy laws prescribing penalties for those who criticize particular religions. Such laws exist in a number of countries, including some European democracies, but they are more widespread and far more likely to be enforced in Muslim societies. The resolution, sponsored principally by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, is the latest iteration of a document that has been circulating at the United Nations, with minor changes, for more than ten years. Although it refers to all religions, the only religion that is identified as a victim of discrimination and hatred is Islam. The text is suffused with the vocabulary of human rights and cross-cultural harmony. At the same time, it notes an “increasing trend in recent years of statements attacking religions, Islam and Muslims in particular, especially in human rights forums.” It deplores the use of the media to “incite acts of violence, xenophobia, or related intolerance or discrimination towards Islam or any religion.” And it calls on governments to take measures to prevent speech that, by its standards, incites hatred against Islam or Muslims....

Just as the Human Rights Council has been a battleground for opponents and defenders of free expression, a related controversy has been fought out in Canada’s human rights commissions.

In the two most prominent cases, local Muslim activists brought complaints against magazines that had published material deemed offensive to the country’s Islamic community. The first case involved the Western Standard, a now online-only news magazine published by an outspoken conservative, Ezra Levant, that had republished the Danish cartoons in February 2006, near the peak of the global uproar over the images. Levant also ran a sampling of anti-Semitic cartoons from the Arab media, with images of hook-nosed Jews committing atrocities against defenseless Arab victims. Canadian Muslim activists mounted a quick response, and Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, filed a complaint with the human rights commission in Alberta, where the case was eventually heard in 2008.

The second case involved Maclean’s  magazine, a venerable mainstream publication that is often referred to as Canada’s version of Time. In October 2006, Maclean’s published an article by Mark Steyn, a prominent conservative writer, that was a distillation of his book America Alone. It argued that, due to low fertility rates, Europe would eventually be overrun by immigrants from the Muslim world, placing its liberal values in jeopardy. The article drew an angry response from a number of readers; Maclean’s ultimately published twenty-seven letters, many of them quite critical of Steyn’s views. The magazine’s editor, however, rejected a demand by the Canadian Islamic Congress for a rebuttal article. This triggered legal action that was eventually to be heard by the human rights commissions in Ontario and British Columbia, as well as the federal commission.

Ultimately, the Canadian cases were either dropped by the complainants or decided in the defendants’ favor. This outcome, however, is not entirely reassuring. In Canada, human rights commissions do not function like legal tribunals; the normal rules of evidence do not apply, and those who preside over the proceedings do not necessarily have legal training. In a sense, the process itself is punishment, since defendants can spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees and are held up to the opprobrium of those who believe them to be bigots, racists, or extremists....

U.S. law, which features important First Amendment protections, makes it difficult to sue authors for libel. To get around these protections, plaintiffs have been suing American writers in Britain, whose defamation standards essentially assume that any offending speech is false, and the author must prove the contrary to fend off the suit.

As a result, Britain has earned the dubious distinction of being the “libel capital of the world,” the destination of choice for Russian oligarchs, Saudi sheiks, and others interested in muzzling free expression. Already, authors and publishers who deal with controversial subjects are refusing to have their works published in Britain, a disturbing development given the country’s reputation as a leading source of scholarship on history and current affairs.

The former Soviet states, which are among the world’s most inhospitable to free expression, have become a breeding ground for libel tourists. Alisher Usmanov, a Kremlin-friendly, Uzbek-born metals magnate, used English law to silence Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, who wrote in his memoirs about Usmanov’s alleged corrupt activity. Usmanov, whose net worth is estimated in the billions, hired Schillings, one of London’s most feared defamation firms, which convinced the Internet service provider that hosted Murray’s blog to shut it down....

London-based defense attorney Mark Stephens, who represents Ehrenfeld and other high-profile libel tourism defendants, points out that “the lawsuits—and threats of suits—are silencing important voices and protecting the powerful from public scrutiny.” He also notes that his ability to defend his clients is severely hampered by obstacles he confronts in many libel tourists’ authoritarian home countries. There’s little equal footing when defense attorneys are denied travel visas or find that their requests for essential evidence are impeded or ignored.

Journalists and book publishers are not the only potential victims of libel tourism. In recent years, a series of cases has been brought against NGOs that reported on the shady dealings of dictators or major corporations operating in authoritarian settings. Such well-known organizations as Human Rights Watch, Global Witness, and Index on Censorship have all been threatened.

Consider the case of Index on Censorship, a British NGO that publishes a highly respected journal on freedom of expression. In 2007, it spiked an article it had commissioned on libel tourism after the author shared information he had gathered with a subject of the story. This individual threatened to sue, and the organization decided to shelve the article, concluding that the potential legal costs were prohibitive...

At its core, this struggle is not about the “excesses” of free speech but the nature of modern authoritarianism, which has found ways to update traditional forms of repression and apply them in a variety of foreign and international arenas.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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

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

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds