Political Correctness Watch 
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..

THIS may be the ultimate example of Political Correctness -- from the Unhinged Kingdom  

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Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

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."

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

The PERMALINKS to this site have been a bit messed up by new blogger. The permalink they give has the last part of the link duplicated so the whole link defaults to the top of the page. To fix the link, go the the URL and delete the second hatch mark and everything after it.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Coming soon: national service (or else)

It's interesting that Germany, of all places, is discussing reducing (though not eliminating) the demands of conscription even as the United States is edging slowly but surely toward some sort of national service.

True, the national service both Barack Obama and John McCain promise doesn't really resemble old-style military conscription -- although there have been calls to reinstate exactly that. Instead, the two presidential contenders envision sort of an expanded AmeriCorps -- bureaucratized volunteerism for every job the government wants done on the cheap -- with young people encouraged to participate through a combination of bribes, such as tax credits, and social pressure to conform.

But some high schools are already requiring community service as a condition of graduation, and Obama's website says he wants to "require 100 hours of service in college." That may not be a lot, but it is compulsory, and suggests an attitude that regards citizens as servants of the state. It's easy to see how the "voluntary" national service of next year could become the expected-as-a-condition-of-a-diploma labor for the state of five years from now.

I'm working on the assumption that my son will be strongly encouraged, or even required, to surrender some portion of his life to the dictates of government officials. If he's so inclined, I'll do what I can to help him defy such demands.


'I despise Islamism' says award winning British author

He is known for his polished prose, critically acclaimed novels -and for keeping a decidedly low profile. But today the Booker-winning novelist Ian McEwan found himself at the centre of an uncharacteristic row. During an interview with an Italian newspaper, the author launched a stinging attack on Islamism, saying he despised it and that it wanted 'to create a society that I detest.'

The fiercely private Mr McEwan, whose books include On Chesil Beach and Atonement which was recently made into a film starring Keira Knightley, was prompted to make the comments in defence of his friend Martin Amis. 'A dear friend had been called a racist,' he said. 'As soon as a writer expresses an opinion against Islamism, immediately someone on the left leaps to his feet and claims that because the majority of Muslims are dark-skinned, he who criticises it is racist. "This is logically absurd and morally unacceptable. Martin is not a racist. 'And I myself despise Islamism, because it wants to create a society that I detest, based on religious belief, on a text, on lack of freedom for women, intolerance towards homosexuality and so on - we know it well.

He went on: 'When you ask a novelist or a poet about his vision regarding an aspect of the world, you don't get the response of a politician or a sociologist, but even if you don't like what he says you have to accept it, you can't react with defamation. 'Martin is not a racist, and neither am I.'

Mr McEwan made his comments to Guido Santevecchi, a London correspondent for Corriere della Sera, and it is even possible he could now be investigated by police for a hate crime.

The novelist had spoken on the topic before and last year told The New York Times 'All religions make very big claims about the world, and it should be possible in an open society to dispute them. 'It should be possible to say, "I find some ideas in Islam questionable" without being called a racist.'

Mr McEwan's comments, however, are nowhere near as strong as those made by Martin Amis. 'The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order', he has said and in an open letter to columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a Muslim 'Islamism, in most of its manifestations, not only wants to kill me - it wants to kill you.'


Kids' parties dictated to in Sweden

Equality is COMPULSORY

It was supposed to be a party with balloons and a birthday cake but the eight-year-old Swedish boy had not reckoned on his country's obsession with equality and inclusiveness. Two of his classmates were left off the invitation list - and that, deemed his school - was forbidden and a violation of their rights in the strictest "nanny state" in Europe. The case has been sent to the Swedish parliament and has sparked a national debate about individual liberty. Does a child have the right to invite anyone he wants to a party, even if he risks hurting the feelings of those who were left out?

These issues are taken seriously in a society that has a very active Children's Ombudsman and which encourages children to voice their complaints about school and society. Sweden is the best place in the world to grow up, according to the Save the Children Fund's 2008 index. So much so, apparently, that adults and school managers have been put on the defensive. The Swedish pressure group Children's Rights in Society publicised recently 1,895 complaints by children about the way their parents used the household computer to access pornographic websites or sex chatlines. The Government is now looking into the problem.

Lena Nyberg, the Children's Ombudsman, is waging a campaign against collective punishment in schools too. Children have been complaining to her about the way that entire classes are kept behind after hours to punish an offence committed by a single pupil. "Adults at work would never accept being punished for something which a colleague is guilty of," Ms Nyberg said.

The birthday party case takes state intervention to a new level. Before the beginning of lessons the boy had cheerfully threaded his way through the class handing out invitations. When the teacher spotted that two children had not received one he confiscated the invitations. "One of the children had not invited my son to his own birthday party," explained the father of the boy, who lodged an official complaint with the parliamentary ombudsman. "The other one had been bad to my son for six months. You do not invite your antagonists."

That was not convincing enough for the headmaster or government deputies. "I believe the staff acted correctly, in a model way," said Lars Hansson, of the Swedish Liberal party, one of the four ruling coalition partners in the country. "It is their duty to reject any forms of insulting behaviour. To eliminate individual children from parties is not acceptable."

The school, in Lund, southern Sweden, argues that if invitations are handed out on school premises, which are public areas, it has an obligation to ensure that there is no discrimination. It is irrelevant that the party will be held in a private household. In other societies, exclusion from a party may be considered as a rite of passage. Many Swedes seem to believe, though, that equal treatment helps to reduce the unseemly scramble for classroom popularity and the splitting of pupils into groups of the socially attractive and those children perceived as unpopular.

A poll in Dagens Nyheter, a daily newspaper in Stockholm, showed that Swedes are divided on the matter: 56 per cent believed that a child should be free to choose who attends his party and 44 per cent backed the teachers. The debate is likely to continue until a verdict is reached in September, in time for the next school year. "My son has taken it pretty hard," his father told the newspaper Sydsvenskan. "No one has the right to confiscate someone's property in this way, it's like taking someone's post." In the meantime, the boy has several years to plan a very special celebration for his 18th birthday, when he will be free to leave anyone he wants to off the guest list.


Duplicitous affirmative action defenders

Post below recycled from Discriminations. See the original for links

An article about the anti-equality protesters in Arizona has all the usual drivel we have come to expect from them - outraged (and outrageous) charges that the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative is a "fraud"; would be "a setback for civil rights"; etc. - but it is nevertheless noteworthy, for three reasons: 1) one of the misrepresentations from the anti-equality protesters is unintentionally but revealingly humorous; 2) one of the misrepresentations is perhaps the most egregious I've seen in the long, sordid history of the pro-preference crowd; and 3), and perhaps most astounding of all, one of the Arizona protesters actually said something that is almost true. I'll take these in turn.

1. Shanta Driver, a "national spokeswoman" for BAMN, the violence-promoting pro-preference group whose official title is "Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, & Immigrant Rights and Fight For Equality By Any Means Necessary," has been encountered here a number of times, spouting nonsense and doublespeak, promoting unruly, disruptive behavior, engaging in Driver-by attacks on equality, filing frivolous lawsuits that inevitably get dismissed by the courts, etc. Now, predictably, she's shown up in Arizona to organize BAMN's voter intimidation efforts there, only now she's apparently trying to clean up her image. She is identified in the article (linked in first paragraph above) as representing "The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action." Looks like the "... By Any Means Necessary" was conveniently discarded, temporarily, as too incendiary for Arizonans.

2. Mathew Whitaker, one of the Arizona pro-preference protesters, had the nerve (or perhaps merely the ignorance) to claim that voting for the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative
would be rolling back mechanisms, programs, procedures and policies that allow everyone regardless of race, regardless of gender, equal access to that which sustains us here in the state.
In short, Whitaker has given new meaning to the concept of duplicitous disingenuousness (unless,of course, he's simply too dumb to know what he's talking about). Accusing civil rights advocates of engage in fraud and misrepresentation, he asserts that prohibiting the state from discriminating against any individual based on race, ethnicity, or gender would eliminate programs that provide equal access to everyone "regardless of race, regardless, of gender." News bulletin for Mr. Whitaker et. al.: it is the opponents, not the supporters, of the Arizona Ciivl Rights Initiative who regard official colorblindness ("regardless of race," etc.) as racism, who want to preserve programs that discriminate against some and give preferential treatment to others based on race.

3. Whitaker, perhaps doing an imitation of the stopped clock that is right twice a day, did, uncharacteristically of BAMN protesters everywhere, say one thing that was almost true. He urged voters to look closely at the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative in order
to understand that what you are looking at is not necessarily a measure that has been put forth by people whose definition of civil rights is the same as yours.
Almost true, but not quite. That initiative is "put forth" by people whose definition of civil rights is indeed different from Whitaker's and BAMN's, but I'm confident it is a definition shared by most voters in Arizona, as it was by voters in California, Washington, and Michigan.


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

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

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


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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Muslim polygamy: Taboo topic sparks critical debate in Canada

In the month since the Star published its investigation into the secret world of polygamy in our community, reporter Noor Javed has braved a firestorm of criticism. So too has the Star itself, with several complaints about Javed's groundbreaking articles about polygamy within the Muslim community in the GTA coming to the public editor's office. I've spent considerable time looking into these concerns and I think that the Star's reporting on this was accurate, fair and balanced.

I also believe it was a courageous act of journalism for Javed, a Muslim woman who has written illuminating articles for the Star in the past about her spiritual journey to Mecca to fulfill the holy Muslim pilgrimage called the hajj, and also about her choice to wear the Muslim head scarf, the hijab. As a journalist and a "visible" Muslim who chose to expose evidence of polygamy within the GTA's Muslim community, Javed well knew she would come under fire. But she also believed that reporting on this controversial, "taboo" issue, which is clearly illegal in Canadian law, could spark critical debate among Canadians.

I, however, was surprised by the personal attacks against her. Javed's commitment to her faith has been questioned by other Muslims and some have even suggested it was improper for a Muslim reporter to report on this. One "open letter" that came to my office, the Star's letters page, and is now circulating in the online blogosphere, accuses Javed of demonizing Islam itself. "If your intention was to spark debate on polygamy in the community then the Toronto Star was not the forum for it," the letter states. "There is already ample anti-Islamic sentiment in the world and it is not befitting for a Muslim to add to it. "As a Muslim woman, you had an Islamic obligation, to defend this aspect of your faith, not to deliver a further blow to an already bruised community."

While many North American Muslims have widely, and sometimes justly, criticized the media for anti-Islamic bias in the days since 9/11, I don't think the Star's reporting on polygamy was either anti-Islamic or unfair. Javed spent several months investigating this, talking to dozens of people including four local Muslim women who believe they have been victimized by polygamy. This has not been about "airing dirty laundry," as some have accused Javed of doing, but of airing these concerns.

Javed's reporting put the issue into context, explaining the perspective on polygamy of both the Muslim faith and Canadian law. She wrote that while polygamy is generally among the "last taboos" in Western society, it's practised in more than 850 societies worldwide, including within the fundamentalist Mormon community in Bountiful, B.C. She also spoke to several legal experts who believe polygamy will soon be forced to face a constitutional challenge.

But as Star columnist and editor emeritus Haroon Siddiqui also pointed out in a follow-up column to Javed's articles, those practising polygamy in Canada are breaking the law as it now stands: "Muslims are obliged to obey the law of the land where they live" he wrote.

Aly Hindy, the iman of Saluhuddin Islamic Centre who openly told Javed that he has "blessed" numerous polygamous unions, now accuses the Star of bias against the Muslim community. In an email to several hundred people, now posted online, Hindy's son, Ibrahim, states that the Star has an "agenda" to "caricature" the Muslim community and Hindy as "backwards, as anti-women and even anarchist ..."

Last week, Hindy submitted a lengthy opinion article suggesting that Javed had quoted him out of context and was inaccurate in her reporting. In fully investigating this, including listening to Javed's tape-recorded interviews with Hindy, I found these charges to be without merit. The Star declined to publish Hindy's article. We did tell him that the Star would publish a letter to the editor to clarify his perspective. He has thus far declined to submit a letter.

Despite this controversy, Javed's reporting on polygamy has done what it was intended to do - instigate critical debate. Whether it was in mosques across the GTA, at dinner tables, or on radio and television, these Star articles have sparked heated and necessary discussion about polygamy and the legislation around it. For me, that fulfils the highest purpose of great journalism.


Offensive thoughts now vie with offensive words

Beyond the rude words, which now cause the merest frisson of surprise, there are areas which, by a more subtle process than legislation, have, over time, become out of bounds. In an age when taking offence has become a cultural pastime, a process of gentle, fuzzy self-censorship has become established. It is no longer swear words that have the power to offend, but inappropriate thoughts.

For example, when did someone last dare to suggest in open debate that feelings - the feelings of ordinary people - are often completely irrelevant when it comes to public policy? Ever since the British discovered the dangerous pleasures of shared, public emotion, reason has become suspect. Politicians, obliged to show their soft and caring side, now play down the very strengths which any decent leader should possess - the ability to think coolly and rationally. You are as likely to hear a minister or shadow minister dismissing emotion and arguing for judgement and reason as you were in the 1970s to hear one of George Carlin's dirty words on Last Of The Summer Wine. Sentimentality rules, and anyone who disagrees is a cold-hearted rationalist.

There are more specific no-go areas. Thanks to a careful rewriting of recent history, the invasion of Iraq is now treated as if it was foisted on the British people by the brutal and ruthless Blair government. In fact, it was rather widely supported at the time, although it suits us to forget the fact. Soldiers are still dying today but the debate is over; it is as if only a tiny handful of people believe in the Iraqi cause any more, and they happen to be running the country. For their part, the media are too bored or embarrassed to address the issue. The war has become a non-subject.

Television reflects back at us our deepest confusions and anxieties, most obviously in matters of race. Is the colour of a person's skin important? In the reporting of gang behaviour, it is not. When one contestant on a reality show addresses another as "nigger", she is expelled from the show amid an orgy of hand-wringing. On the other hand, an entire episode of South Park whose plotline revolves around the same word can be broadcast without the slightest worry.

Occasionally, as in the recent appointment of Paul Ince as manager of Blackburn Rovers Football Club, the awkwardness which surrounds the subject of race becomes evident. The first black manager of a Premiership team is, on the face of it, a worthwhile story but, because colour should no longer be an issue for serious people, there was a sense of uneasiness in the television reports, an embarrassment that such a thing had to be covered at all. There are other more obvious problem areas. No writer or director who wishes to remain employed will include a scene in which a character lights a cigarette, inhales contentedly and sighs, "Ah, that's better." Yet other addictions are actively and cheerfully encouraged.

A group mindset extends into the most trivial of areas. Why have newsreaders become so grand, with Sir Trevor McDonald or Huw Edwards taking on the rather peculiar role of father figures to the nation? Who was it that decided that Dame Judi Dench is the greatest actress of her generation, or that Stephen Fry is the most brilliant man to appear on television, or that Dawn French is hilariously and endearingly funny?

The group wisdom about such things, and the way certain topics and points of view become inappropriate, are part of the same faintly sinister process. The obscenity law may be marginally more relaxed than it was in George Carlin's heyday, but self-imposed controls and constraints exert a firm, suffocating grip.


The revenge of the Ku Klux Klan

When I heard the secular jihadists at Americans United for Separation of Church and State had filed a lawsuit trying to block South Carolina from issuing vanity license plates that say "I Believe," it reminded me of the Ku Klux Klan. Why would the actions of the self-proclaimed "progressives" at Americans United for Separation of Church and State make me think of the racist bigots from a bygone era? It's very simple, really. You probably don't know that today's radical secular agenda promoting absolute separation of church and state was a movement actually birthed by the Klan.

It's one of many interesting insights I gleaned from reading a new book, "Who Killed the Constitution?" by Thomas E. Woods and Kevin R.C. Gutzman - by the way, perhaps the best book I have ever read on the betrayal of our American heritage. "The 'Klansman's Creed' included a statement that 'I believe in the eternal Separation of Church and State," write the authors. Between 1915 and 1926, the Klan had a major revival, largely due to increased Irish immigration that the organization exploited into anti-Catholic bigotry and fear-mongering.

It was the Klan that spawned Justice Hugo Black of Alabama. He officially joined the group in 1923 and used his activism in it to launch a successful campaign for the Senate. In 1937, the Senate confirmed his nomination to the Supreme Court. Throughout his tenure on the Supreme Court, Black pushed the separation of church and state line in his opinions, setting the stage, as the authors put it, for the landmark Engel v Vitale case in 1962.

"The facts of the case were simple: New York state had a policy of encouraging local public school districts to adopt prayers to be recited each morning by those students who chose to participate," they write. "New Hyde Park, New York, had adopted an anodyne prayer: 'Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.' The plaintiffs asserted that this practice violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause - as Justice Black put it in his majority opinion, that it 'breache[d] the wall of separation between Church and State.'"

Might it surprise our friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State to know who made the bed in which they now sleep? It wasn't Thomas Jefferson. It was a red-necked bully and coward in a hood and white robes. Later, one of those racist hate mongers traded in his white robes for the black robes of a Supreme Court justice and carried on his bigoted agenda in a powerful new venue.

President Franklin Roosevelt acknowledged in correspondence to a friend that he suspected Black was a Klansman before he named him to the court. And, today, Black's racist roots have been glossed over by historians, largely because of his rulings in cases like Engle v Vitale.

As one biography of Black puts it: "He was often regarded as a member of the liberal wing of the Court, together with (Earl) Warren, William O. Douglas, William Brennan, and Arthur Goldberg." So, apparently there is little distinction between the Ku Klux Klan and the progressive movement when their agendas overlap.

The movement for so-called "separation of church and state" in America began in earnest as an anti-Catholic extremist effort directed by the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was successful at getting one of its own on the Supreme Court at a critical time in history. It was Hugo Black's important swing vote that established the notion that reciting a simple, inoffensive, non-sectarian prayer in school was tantamount to establishing an official state religion.

That's the ancestry of today's radical secularist jihad to chase any vestige of faith from the public square. Americans United for Separation of Church and State was founded in 1947, right after one of Hugo Black's landmark opinion in Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township - a decade after the Klansman made the transition to honored justice.

I don't suggest Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, shares the Klan's racist, hateful ideals. But I do need to point out they represent the heritage of his ideals.


Antisemitic slur from Time magazine columnist

Accusing Jews of "divided loyalties" is an ancient antisemitic slur

Time magazine political columnist and blogger Joe Klein has posted his reaction to a column today by David Brooks of the New York Times.

Brooks credits President Bush for his decision, in the face of enormous political pressures, to embrace the so-called surge strategy in Iraq. Klein chalks this up not to President Bush's knowledge of tactics or strategy but to Bush's stubbornness - while Klein, who presents himself as a man in possession of enormous knowledge and sophistication about counterinsurgency doctrine, merely happened to be wrong in his fierce opposition to it. In any event, Klein admits he was wrong in opposing the surge and has proper praise for General Petraeus, which is admirable.

But then Klein goes on to say this:

The notion that we could just waltz in and inject democracy into an extremely complicated, devout and ancient culture smacked-still smacks-of neocolonialist legerdemain. The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives-people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary-plumped for this war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel.

Put aside the fact that Klein himself, swept up in the success of democratic elections in Iraq in 2005, was quite sympathetic to what he now refers to as "neocolonialist legerdemain." The "divided loyalties" charge is an ugly smear, one that ignores, among other things, the vast non-Jewish and non-neoconservative support for the Iraq war. (For example, the use of force resolution passed with 77 votes in the Senate - the overwhelming majority of which were cast by non-Jews and non-neoconservatives).

And on the matter of Iran: isn't it reasonable to assume that if Iran possessed a nuclear weapon it will pose an enormous threat not simply to Israel but to the region (including other Arab states) and the interests of America? And doesn't it matter that Israel is among our closest allies, a nation of extraordinary achievements and virtues, and one with whom we have security agreements? This doesn't necessarily lead one to support U.S. military strikes against Iran in order to prevent Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, & Company from possessing a nuclear weapon. If Klein is against that, fine; he should make the argument on prudential and policy grounds. But arguing that those who favor using military force against Iran and happen to be Jewish are driven by "divided loyalties" is despicable and libelous.

Joe Klein appears to be a man who cannot control his anger and even hatred toward those with whom he has policy disagreements. It is a sad thing to witness. And those who care for Klein should do him a favor and urge him to give up blogging, which allows his unfiltered rage to make its way into print and embarrass him and the magazine for which he writes.



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

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

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


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Saturday, June 28, 2008

TIME magazine for Socialism

Anyone who is still wondering why the so-called "mainstream media" was so hostile toward Congressman Ron Paul's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination will find an answer in the June 2 issue of Time magazine. Congressman Paul is a deeply educated student of economics, among other things, and an unabashed advocate of economic freedom and limited constitutional government; Time magazine is staffed by socialist ideologues who display little or no evidence of ever having studied economics at all.

The second paragraph of "How the Next President Should Fix the U.S. Economy," by one Justin Fox, explains the real problem as Time sees it: Americans enjoy too much economic freedom. The natural solution, therefore, is to strip them of their freedom with higher taxes, more regulations, and greater regimentation of their lives. The cause of all of today's economic problems, says Time, is of course Ronald Reagan, who supposedly cut taxes, went about "slashing regulation," and preached "the gospel that individual Americans were better suited to make economic decisions than bureaucrats in Washington were." Where on earth did Americans ever get such a crazy idea?

But there is hope, says Time. "There are signs that . America's 25-year love affair with tax cuts and deregulation" is ending. One reason for this is that the federal budget is "way out of balance." According to Time, the fact that the Bush administration has been even more spendthrift (on domestic spending as well as military) than the notorious Johnson administration, and has accumulated huge budget deficits, is evidence that Americans have too much freedom and too much money in their pockets. They need to be taxed more severely in the name of budgetary "balance." Not one word is devoted to the idea of cutting spending of any kind by a single dollar, let alone abolishing entire government bureaucracies altogether.

Then there are "soaring energy prices," caused by increased worldwide energy demand coupled with sluggish supply growth that has been blocked by environmental regulation. This would include the regulations that prohibit oil exploration in 85-90 percent of the outer-continental shelf off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as in most of Alaska. Even though regulation has caused this problem, the "solution," according to Time, is more regulation of the energy industry.

A third reason for "hope" that Americans will give up their economic freedom is the housing crisis, which again was caused primarily by the Fed-generated boom-and-bust cycle, with a little help from the government's thirty-year policy of forcing banks to make bad loans to uncreditworthy borrowers under the Community Reinvestment Act. Time wants to blame it all on the free market, however, and makes no mention at all of the role of monetary policy in generating the housing-market crisis.

Health-care costs began spiraling out of control as soon as government became involved in the post-World War II era, especially with the advent of Medicare and Medicaid. Health care and health insurance are arguably the most heavily regulated industries in America; decades of cost-increasing regulations have been the main cause of the "health care crisis" that the socialist ideologues at Time are so worried about. Government control of health-care markets is the problem; therefore, the obvious "solution" is even more government control of health-care markets, says Time.

Time's Justin Fox presents a tired, old, laundry list of failed socialistic interventions. These include protectionism; more income "redistribution" (a.k.a., legal theft) via the tax system, i.e., "heavy taxes on the rich"; more pork-barrel "infrastructure" spending - and higher taxes to pay for it; an additional round of tax increases "to close the budget gap" (which of course tax increases never do); yet another round of tax increases on oil, gas, and natural gas to "steer" consumers away from these items; more tax increases still in the form of elimination of the mortgage-interest deduction, which "costs the government about $80 billion a year"; and, of course, socialized medicine, the tax increases for which would entirely swamp all of the previously mentioned tax increases. (Time promises to explain how to "make universal health care work" in a separate article. I can't wait.)

What Time's "fix" involves is essentially the Sweden-ization of America, where the average working family would be handing over 65-70 percent of its earnings to government bureaucrats, with regulation-induced price increases eating up perhaps another ten percentage points. This all needs to be done at the very beginning of the next administration, moreover, for "putting off change won't be an option much longer." It is a perfect recipe for impoverishing America.


Ethnic independence helps keep the peace

President George W. Bush recently visited Slovenia for a summit between the United States and the 27-nation European Union. Slovenia is the only success story emanating from the violent ethnic break up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s after the Cold War ended. The reasons for its success, and lack thereof in other new states originating from the now defunct Yugoslavia, should inform policy decisions in faraway Iraq.

Unfortunately, in the 1990s, violence during Yugoslavia's break up tended to be directly proportional to the ethno-sectarian diversity of the geographical entity. Slovenia-the most ethnically, religiously, culturally, and linguistically homogeneous of the former Yugoslav states-had the least violence during the disintegration. After a war of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 that lasted only 10 days and killed only 70 people, Slovenia has flourished politically and economically. In contrast, in the more ethnically and religiously diverse Croatia, severe violence occurred in its subsequent war of independence. Even worse, the most ethnically and religiously heterogeneous piece of geography in the former Yugoslavia-Bosnia-had a brutal civil war with the worst atrocities committed in Europe since World War II. The Western powers, led by the United States, became involved and forced the parties into the uneasy Dayton peace accord.

The primary reason that Bosnia has not exploded into renewed civil war since the 1990s is the Dayton accord's creation of a decentralized Bosnian state. Such a governing arrangement allows each group-the Serbs, the Croats, and the Muslims-to have autonomous governance and a veto over decisions by the weak central government. The structure is not perfect, but it has helped prevent further eruptions of ethno-sectarian carnage.

Although faraway geographically, culturally, ethnically, and religiously from the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, like Bosnia, is an artificial country containing many ethno-sectarian divisions. Also as in Bosnia, politically correct Western do-gooders-some of whom histrionically argue that decentralized autonomous rule by ethno-sectarian groups constitutes "apartheid"-would like a stronger central government in Iraq. In fact, the already decentralized Iraqi governance needs to allow even more autonomy to ethno-sectarian and tribally based jurisdictions. Apartheid-in which one dominant group enforces racial, ethnic, or sectarian separation using coercive means-is much different from boundaries for autonomous governance created voluntarily by ethno-sectarian groups. We in the wealthy United States may not choose this type of voluntary ethno-sectarian-based governance-although the United States does have voluntary ethnically or racially homogeneous areas-but it may be the only means to achieve a modicum of stability in some developing countries racked with internecine ethno-sectarian violence.

Unfortunately, many areas in Iraq have become more homogeneous because of forced ethnic cleansing between ethno-sectarian populations. But returning refugees to their homes would probably only rekindle the slaughter. Instead, if new autonomous regions are created, incentives may have to be provided to get them, and people stuck on the "wrong" side of the boundaries, to permanently relocate to safer areas.

In the short-term, the United States has reduced the violence in Iraq. It has done so, however, by reinforcing ethno-sectarian identities-for example, by arming and training former Sunni guerrillas and Shi'i militiamen and by relying on Iran to broker a cease-fire with the Shi'i militia of Moktada al-Sadr, instead of undertaking a U.S. attempt to defeat this force. At the same time, the United States has contradictorily demanded that these same parties reconcile and share control of a central government.

Given Iraq's history of one group dominating the central government machinery-the Sunnis-and using it to oppress the other groups-the Kurds and the Shi'a-the groups will likely eventually fight over any significant central government power. Thus, to prevent an all-out civil war when the United States finally pulls its finger out of the dike and withdraws its military forces from the country, the power of the Iraqi government will probably have to be reduced to a weak confederation of autonomous regions based on voluntary tribal or ethno-sectarian associations. And even then, the best Iraq can probably hope for is uneasy stability-similar to than afforded to Bosnia by its weak confederation.


Iranian corruption

Underneath Iran's imperial ambitions and messianic pretensions suppurates a pre-modern patronage system that corrupts everyone who comes near it. The system is rotten, and must either break down, or break out, that is, through military adventures. Western observers who hope for reduced tensions through replacing the feckless Ahmadinejad with Majlis (parliament) speaker Ali Larijani will be disappointed. On that more below.

Iran's economic disaster looms large in the twilight war now in progress in the Middle East. Israel has just conducted the sort of public display of force that a nation does not do if it actually plans a surprise attack. Israel engages Syria, Egypt engages Hamas, and everyone else engages Iran - but to what end? It may be Sitzkrieg (sitting or phony war), but it is war nonetheless. Wars arise not from whim, but from circumstances that the prospective belligerents cannot bear. Iran has shown in the most vivid fashion that it cannot solve its internal problems. It is therefore likely to seek an external solution.

What happened to the US$35 billion of oil revenues that Iran's Shabab News, in a now notorious account, claims disappeared from official accounting during the year through March 2008? Half the country's oil revenues disappeared from the books. A great deal of it left the country for banks in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere; capital flight already was running at a $15 billion annual rate last year, by my estimate.

During the past year, though, conspicuous consumption in the form of a luxury housing boom has absorbed even more of Iran's oil windfall. Luxury apartments in Tehran's better neighborhoods now sell for $15,000 per square meter, Agence France Presse reported May 26, equal to the best neighborhoods in Paris or New York. A 200-square-meter apartment in northern Tehran sells for about $1 million. Real estate prices in outlying suburbs and some provincial cities have doubled over the past year.

Corruption has metastasized, that is to say, for the scale of the property boom implies that tens of thousands of Iranians are taking six-to-seven figure bites out of the oil budget. Rather than a handful of officials siphoning state funds into bank accounts in Dubai, an entire class of hangers-on of the Islamic revolution is spending sums beyond the dreams of the average Iranian, and in brazen public view.

Ahmadinejad's patronage system generates payoffs to the political class that have set in motion uncontrolled inflation - officially 25% per year but certainly much higher - and a rush into real assets. A side effect is that the average Iranian urban household, which spends $316 a month, is gradually being priced out of the rental market.

Not only rents but foodstuffs, fuel and other essentials have registered double- or triple-digit price increases during recent months, according to fragmentary reports trickling out of the country. The government's 25% inflation figure cannot be correct. The German Suddeutsche Zeitung's Tehran correspondent wrote on June 17, "Price increases follow one another in batches. After the prices of rice and detergent suddenly jumped by a multiple, tea prices have their turn. In just a few days different types of tea have become 300% to 700% more expensive." It is too early to speak of hyperinflation, but the the Iranian bazaar already presents with symptoms of incipient hyperinflation. How do households survive?

"Iranian urban households spent an average of 35 million rials (US$$3,700) for current annual living expenses (about 2.9 million rials per month)" in fiscal year 2005-2006, reports the country's central bank, of which just under 30% bought food. But it also reports that "urban households had an annual average gross income of 31,674 thousand rials [US$$3,423], about 2,640 thousand rials per month, out of which 74.6% was the share of money income and 25.4% was the share of non-money income."

These are the most recent data available from the central bank, which does not explain how it is possible for households to spend more than they earn in a country that has no consumer credit (nor for that matter what "non-money income" involves). Part of the explanation seems to be that every poor Iranian has a part-time job, from selling black-market gasoline to prostitution. The latter appears to be the most lucrative source of extra household income. Some 300,000 prostitutes ply the streets of Tehran, or one out of 10 of the city's female population of child-bearing age, [1] according to the most frequently cited sources (see Jihadis and whores Asia Times Online, November 21, 2006.)

In addition, tens of thousands of Iranian women are working as prostitutes abroad, notoriously in the Gulf States, but in Europe and Japan as well. The US State Department recently downgraded Iran to a "Level III" country, that is, one that does nothing to suppress the trade in female flesh.

Prostitution incorporates such a large proportion of Iran's marriageable females as to accelerate the country's demographic decline, which by 2030 will leave Iran with as high a proportion of pensioners as Western Europe, just as its oil reserves run out. Unlike Norway, which entrusted its oil windfalls to a national trust under professional management, Iran has allowed the political class to steal its patrimony.

The Persian pocket empire never had a government or a civil society: it only had a court and a bazaar, which are incapable of managing the affairs of a modern society. There is no political party, no social movement, in fact no form of popular organization of any kind capable of handling $350 million a day of oil revenue at present prices.

"Regime change" is a buzzword among Western strategists, but it is not at all clear what sort of regime might replace the court-and-bazaar combination that has characterized Persian politics for the past 2,600 years. Apart from a thin crust of Western-oriented students in the larger cities, the Iranian population remains sullenly dependent on state subsidies as well as its own cupidity.

Apart from oil, Iran exports mainly fruits and nuts. Its most talented people have emigrated, leaving behind only the leeches of the bazaar who hope to grow fat on state oil money. Its demographic problems are insoluble. It has no employment to offer its last generation of young people, half of whom have no visible employment, and no way to support a rapidly aging population. I am in no position to judge the likelihood that the Twelfth Imam of Shi'ite soteriology will reappear in the near future, but it is a fair assertion that nothing else is likely to steer the Persian pocket empire out of the ditch. Western analysts start with the premise that a solution exists for every problem, and set out to find it. I do not believe there is any way to save Iran from terminal dysfunction; it is only possible to prevent Iran's problems from turning into a disaster for the region.

It is no surprise that Iran's leaders remain obsessed with Shi'ite revolution. Larijani told the Islamic Coalition Party on June 19, "The jihadi forces of the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas are the pioneers of change in today's world," Iran's official press agency reported. Larijani added, "Interpreting the moves made within the Islamic World as terrorism under such conditions that the Islamic society enjoys the pride of having jihadi combatants is a grave mistake, since those groups are the soldiers of Almighty Allah." IRNA continued:
Larijani reiterated, "During the course of the 33-day war [in 2006] the global arrogance invaded against an oppressed nation with all its might having assumed that they could in confrontation with the jihadi combatants fighting for Allah's sake crash them fatally."

He reiterated, "The US Secretary of State had at that time directed the March 14 group to disturb the internal situation, assuring them that the Zionists, backed by the US, too, would wrap up the work of Hezbollah, and that was their strategic mistake." The parliament speaker said, "The Lebanese nation, in the framework of Hezbollah, resisted against the United States and Israel so that even their friends confessed to their defeat."

Larijani said, "The sagacious stands adopted by [Hezbollah leader] Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah regarding the recent developments in Lebanon revealed the plots hatched by the arrogance and they begged assistance from the small country Qatar, where they yielded to the presence of Hezbollah in Lebanon."

He considered all such jihadi victories as fruits of the martyrs' pure blood, arguing, "The martyrs were those who changed the conditions and were involved in deciding the fates of nations."
The fact that Larijani holds a doctorate in European philosophy and has authored books on the philosopher Immanuel Kant impressed political observers in Germany, that is, until he spoke at the annual Munich Conference on Security in February 2007. As Der Spiegel reported, "Larijani was cornered. In his answer he talked about an 'overreaction' to the Holocaust. In any case, he said, 'That's a historical matter,' which has 'nothing to do with us'. He was 'neither for, nor against' the idea that the Holocaust had really occurred, saying it was an 'open question'. He thus delicately danced around a straight denial of the Holocaust, which is illegal in Germany. If Larijani had voiced the well-known opinion of his own president, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, he could have been arrested."

Adhmadinejad is a boor from the back streets of Tehran, while Larijani is the polished son and the son-in-law of two ayatollahs. No matter; German universities during the 1930s were crawling with Kant scholars who enthused for Adolf Hitler. Larijani's enthusiasm for the blood of martyrs as the determinant of national destiny is not a philosophical, but an existential view, and Iran is one of the few venues in the world in which existential despair is sadly justified.


Photo crackdown hits parents' proud moments

Comment from Australia

ACCORDING to recent reports, parents have been forced to ask for permission to photograph their kids at some children's sporting clubs. Other clubs have prohibited the taking of snapshots altogether. Many parents are understandably distressed at the idea that they cannot provide themselves or their children with permanent and special images of their offspring's athletic accomplishments. But what do these extraordinary measures suggest about us as a society?

What point have we reached when we either have to ask permission or are prevented from doing what parents have done ever since the camera was invented: that is, create pictorial records of our children playing sport? What sort of hysteria is guiding these decisions? Suddenly, any adult with a camera within range of a child is looked at askance, and their motives are not only under suspicion but also their entire character is assassinated. Many adults with cameras at playing fields on weekends have reported being verbally abused, to the point where threats were made against them and accusations screamed, often in front of their own, shaken and confused, children.

Recent debates in the media and interest-group fuelled fears have ensured that no longer are these snap-happy grown-ups able to lovingly capture moments to place in the scrapbook of memories. No. Instead, innocent adult intentions are maligned and these people are branded pedophiles - loudly and publicly by other angry and frightened mothers and fathers.

Some people are attributing this extreme response to the recent Bill Henson photographic exhibition fiasco. But I'm afraid they're off the mark. This same excessive effect has occurred before, such as when bathing children at South Bank were surreptitiously photographed a couple of years ago.

While Henson's provocative images have allowed an important debate about children and sexualisation to continue, we also have to be sensible around these types of discussions and the outcomes they generate. But instead of moderation, we're allowing frenzied desperation, finger-pointing, ugly and unjust accusations, demonisation and panic to govern our responses.

We start to see "peds under beds" everywhere and construe the most benign and innocent of gestures as sexual; the most normal and natural of desires (such as wanting to photograph children) as sick and unnatural. In other words, we start to view other adults through a pedophile's lens.

There's no doubt that pedophiles and their perverted practices sicken most people. But the fact is that pedophiles sexualise children no matter what. They are aroused by images and ideas that bear little or no relation to what would be considered sexual by those with normal, healthy, adult appetites. They delight in the combination of innocence and provocation and seek out that kind of stimulus and generally, no matter what preventive measures we put in place, find or create it, even where none originally exists. They also hide their practices and are, generally, very successful at this - hence the huge police operations to uncover pedophile rings and the shock when one is unearthed.

The overwhelming majority of us are not pedophiles. It may come as a surprise considering the alarmist rhetoric out there, but most of us are decent and caring and appreciate young people and want the best for them. Sometimes, that means hugging them when they're upset or hurting, even when they're not our children. It can also mean taking photographs as significant mementos of childhood experiences. It also means setting reasonable and realistic boundaries around children and those who come into their orbit and organising and monitoring our children's exposure to age-appropriate material throughout their developmental years.

Being aware of and concerned about pedophiles does not and should not mean viewing every adult in a child's life with a jaundiced and unhealthy eye. As Professor of Media Studies at the University of New South Wales, Catherine Lumby, stated in a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday night, "we don't want to raise our children to believe that their bodies are dangerous" or "that they can somehow provoke child sexual abuse with what they wear or what they don't wear".

The one thing we must not do as a community is live our lives or constrict our children's because we're afraid of pedophiles. If we do that, then our children are already victims - and so are we. If we allow this misguided and now misdirected, panic-stricken fear of pedophiles to regulate our actions and reactions, then the pedophiles have already won. Our fear has managed to control us and our relationships, to our children's and everyone's detriment. To label someone a pedophile because they show a "normal" level of interest in children is ridiculous. It is also slander. To hurl abuse at them in public because we're suspicious and judgmental is highly dysfunctional and sad.

Soon, everyone will be a pedophile and we'll end up raising a generation of detached and lonely youngsters afraid of shadows we have created and ashamed of what their little bodies might potentially arouse in a person they will likely (thank goodness) never meet. It is so important that we continue to discuss issues around childhood protection, sexualisation and pedophiles, but not at the expense of those we're trying to shelter.



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

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

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


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Friday, June 27, 2008

Media bias against men

The image of fathers and fatherhood has taken a beating over the past several decades, and the media has been part of the problem. While there has been some improvement in the past few years, fathers are still frequently unfairly stereotyped. For example, in April the Council on Contemporary Families issued a report on men and housework. CNN's headline to the story was typical of most media- "Report: Men still not pulling weight on chores."

In reality, studies which account for the total amount of work that husbands and wives contribute to their households-including housework, child care, and employment-confirm that men contribute at least as much to their families as women do. What the CCF study actually said was that the amount of child care fathers provide has tripled over the past four decades, and the amount of housework men do has doubled. Moreover, men have accomplished this in an era where the average workweek has significantly expanded. The papers reporting the story barely noticed.

Ex-NBA Player Jason Caffey was widely vilified in April for being behind in his child support. Caffey had paid over 90% of what he was ordered to pay, but fell behind when his post-career income dropped, and was threatened with jail. Neither CNN commentator Nancy Grace nor Caffey's other critics stopped to ponder the absurdity of calling a father who had already paid millions of dollars in child support a "deadbeat dad."

Similarly, in April Chandra Myers made national headlines when she took the unusual step of suing New York bakery worker Robert Sean Myers' employers Sara Lee Bakeries and Bimbo Bakeries for allegedly failing to garnish his wages. Yet while Robert was labeled a "deadbeat dad," the media didn't even notice that a court had obligated Myers to pay $2,000 a month in child support for one child-on an income of only $1,600 a month.

USA Today financial columnist Sandra Block recently explained that widows receive significantly more social security benefits if their husbands delay retirement. She could have written, "Men, we know your wives and children appreciate the sacrifices you've made as family breadwinner, and delaying retirement will help ensure your loved ones are provided for." Instead, Block wrote:

"If you want to make up for all the times you came home with beer on your breath, left your socks on the bathroom floor or gave your wife a DustBuster for Valentine's Day, hold off on filing for your Social Security benefits." She then adds, with some understatement, "Many men who are eager to retire may chafe at this suggestion." You think?

In 2002, Clara Harris repeatedly ran over her husband David as his daughter begged Clara not to kill her father. She recently filed a suit against her former attorney, triggering a round of media reports on her case. Media outlets consistently referred to David simply as "Cheating Husband" or "Cheating Spouse." At one point, 233 of the 354 news stories indexed on Google News, referred to David Harris as Clara Harris' "cheating husband." If an unfaithful woman was murdered by her husband, it's doubtful that newspapers would disparage this victim of domestic violence by referring to her simply as "cheating wife."

The reporting of the Britney Spears-Kevin Federline child custody battle also had some low points. Many headlines were similar to Yahoo News' "Court awards Spears' kids to K-Fed." Funny, we thought "Spears' kids" had two parents, not just one.

Research shows that dads matter. The rates of the four major youth pathologies-teen pregnancy, teen drug abuse, school dropouts and juvenile crime-are tightly correlated with fatherlessness, often more so than with any other socioeconomic factor.

The public portrayal of fathers is fairer now than it was a few years ago, and much fairer than it was during the 1980s and 1990s. Still, too much of the media reflexively buys into unfair, destructive stereotypes of dads as slackers, deadbeats, deserters, and louts.


British Tories back have-a-go citizens

The public should be able to use physical force to restrain yobs without fear of being prosecuted for assault, according to a new Conservative policy. Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: "We have a duty to prevent crime, and law-abiding citizens should not be discouraged by either the state or the police."

It was necessary to clarify the law in order to "reignite the citizenry", he said. "If you grab a 12-year-old by the scruff of the neck now, you might be in trouble and this is something that we should be looking at. "People should act sensibly, but they can do a lot to stop crime."

Grieve believes people have become wary of intervening to stop delinquency after a series of cases in which members of the public and teachers have been charged with assault for trying to restrain violent teenagers. The disappearance of traditional reprimands by parents, teachers and neighbours, he said, meant many teenagers were being dealt with unnecessarily by the criminal justice system.

To redress the balance, Grieve wants the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to be given new guidelines for dealing with people who intervene to prevent crime. He argued that it was often better in the long run for teenagers to be tackled by an authority figure than to end up in court with a criminal record, which could start them on the path to serious crime.

Many teenagers who got into trouble, he said, went on to lead law-abiding lives. To illustrate the point, Grieve admitted that when he was 12, he and a friend broke into an abandoned house and smashed it up, shooting out the windows with an air rifle.


The "incorrect" Carlin

Carlin's comedy was not simply about dirty words; it was about the English language, and our collective fear of it. He used more expletives than Howard Stern, but his obsession was linguistics, not lasciviousness. As Carlin told CNN in 2004, "[I]f I hadn't chosen the career of being a performer, I think linguistics would have been a natural area that I'd have loved-to teach it, probably...Language has always fascinated me."

He was especially fascinated with the blunting of language for comfort's sake. Carlin ridiculed our watering-down of sexual descriptions and ethnic categories, not to mention our mourning clich‚s, all of which he believed were the real-life manifestations of George Orwell's "Newspeak," utilized to obscure reality, numb the mind, and discourage criticism. As much as Carlin loathed theology, war, greed, and hypersensitivity, he was most disgusted when religous puritans, the military, corporations, and P.C. "classroom liberals" mangled the language for the purpose of soothing the masses. When I saw Carlin perform in the `90s, the biggest laugh of the night came from his observation that "the unlikely event of a water landing," discussed in every preflight safety lecture, sounds suspiciously like "crashing into the f*cking ocean."

In fact, Carlin was disgusted with the mangling of English for any reason. He hated anyone who pronounced forte as "for-tay," insisted that "no comment is a comment," and advised us that "unique needs no modifier; very unique, quite unique, more unique, real unique, fairly unique, and extremely unique are wrong and they mark you as dumb, although certainly not unique." For all of his lifelong ranting against conservatism, Carlin was a diehard traditionalist when it came to grammar and vocabulary.

This mastery of the language allowed Carlin to craft his puns ("Soft rock music isn't rock, and it ain't music...it's just soft," "I thought it would be nice to get a job at a duty-free shop, but it doesn't sound like there's a whole lot to do in a place like that"), but also gave him the ability to see how we pad our existences with pleasant lies. In Carlin's mind, language should not be safe, and neither should life. Children, he argued in his final HBO special, this year's It's Bad for Ya, should play with sticks, not have "play dates" under the ever-watchful eyes of overprotective, micro-managing parents. (He had previously complained, with his trademark growl, "We've taken all the fun out of childhood just in the interest of saving a few lives.")

Near the end of his career, Carlin was more bitter than funny-It's Bad for Ya is a righteous tirade that provokes more nods than laughs-but he never lost his unparalleled ability to play with words. He deconstructed the phrases that we use absentmindedly, exposing our hypocrisies-and our human condition-in the process. He was a comic genius because he was a linguistic master. As Carlin said in his most famous routine: "I thank you for hearing my words... They're my work, they're my play, they're my passion. Words are all we have, really."


Of the clueless, by the clueless and for the clueless

Our old buddy Haroon Sidiqqui is back with another op-ed in the Toronto Star trying to make the case that hate-crime laws are a "reasonable limit" on free speech. You may remember Mr. Sadiqqui from his last feeble attempt to sell this load of malarkey. His new approach? Well, it's not about the concept of "rights" this time - it's about the process. Canada, you see, marches to the sound of a different drummer:
Canada has followed a different path on free speech than the United States, where there are no anti-hate laws because the U.S. Bill of Rights says "Congress shall make no laws ... abridging freedom of speech or of the press."

The Canadian Charter of Rights, too, guarantees "freedom of the press," but it places "reasonable limits" on it. That's why the Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the anti-hate provisions of both the Criminal Code and human rights statutes.
Canada, you see, has decided that "legality" is much more important that a concept of inalienable rights which limits government's action. Or said another way, it is government which has to last say, not the people. How else do you explain this:
What constitutes hate is up to the commissions and, ultimately, the courts to decide. But this being Canada, different jurisdictions tackle the issue differently.
So, if the commission in Ontario decides what someone from Alberta says in Alberta constitutes a hate-crime (even if the Alberta commission finds nothing hateful at all about the speech), Ontario can take the Albertan to court.

After all, instead of a matter of rights, this is all a matter of arbitrary opinion. And in Mr. Sadiqqui's world, arbitrary opinion that agrees with him is much more important than establishing a right which limits government. Nope, he'd much rather see government limit a right.

He produces a whole list of "anomalies" which should make you cringe, but seems to find nothing fundamentally wrong with their arbitrariness since they serve his purpose of seeing hate speech laws supported. Defense number two.
The federal commission gets up to 15,000 inquiries a year, says Jennifer Lynch, chair. "We take up only about 700 and refer only about 70 or 80 to the tribunal.

"Hate cases are only 2 per cent of that stream. The tribunal has dealt with only about 15 hate cases, so far. And not a single one of them has been overturned by the courts." So, why the hue and cry?
If you have to ask, it is clear you don't get it at all. But still - the old "its only 2% of whatever" defense? What's next? The old "if you don't say anything hateful, you have nothing to worry about" line? And why would the courts overturn anything - we've just been schooled in the fact that the commissions get to decide what constitutes hate - they make it up on the fly and the courts have little room to dispute their decisions, do they? Sadiqqui then lets out the big dog:
Karim Karim, chair of Carleton University's School of Journalism, says journalists are "fixated on their own right and privileges.

"What about the rights of people to be free of discriminatory and hateful speech? Journalists talk about one principle, and not the other."
One of the premises of the right of free speech has to do with that right being so important that a society must allow its free exercise at all times, with very few exceptions (and the US outlined its exception as the incitement to violence not being a part of free speech). And as I pointed out previously, acts of violence are factual evidence of such incitement.

When you further limit speech through arbitrarily defined means such as "discriminatory or hateful speech" you put a very real chill on free speech, to the point that you kill the debate that is necessary to the maintenance of liberty and freedom.

You don't talk about race, because such a discussion could be construed by some as "discriminatory or hate speech". You don't talk about religion, because such a discussion could be construed by some as "discriminatory or hate speech." You don't talk about gender because such a discussion could be considered by "discriminatory or hate speech."

In fact, you don't debate much of anything when you really have no idea who might take it wrong and haul you up in front of some commission on hate-speech charges do you? Vague and arbitrary hate-speech laws have then triumphed over the concept of free speech.

In his conclusion, Saddiqqui seems to retreat a bit from his defense of hate-speech laws but if you read it carefully, you'll see he's still all for hate-speech laws and not at all for free speech:
Anti-hate laws could be made consistent across Canada by exempting the media, as in Ontario, or axing the anti-hate provisions altogether. We may even adopt the American system and remove the anti-hate section from the Criminal Code as well.

Many disagree, including the Canadian Jewish Congress. Its head, Bernie Farber, says the anti-hate laws have helped make Canada "the warm, tolerant and accepting nation that it has become."

Beyond the law, there's self-restraint. Most media exercise it, every day. We do not publish racist cartoons and anti-Semitic rants. That Maclean's published a series of virulent articles about Muslims itself speaks volumes.
Note his first line - who is he pandering too? You bet - the media. Get them on board and this is a done deal. More importantly, though, notice who is left out his pandering altogether - the rest of Canada.

As for Mr. Farber's claim as echoed by Saddiqqui - a nation which puts its own people's speech on trial based in arbitrary definitions of "hate" is neither warm, friendly or accepting as I see it. Nor is it free.



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

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

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


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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fathers' day on the way to being banned

If Scotland is a bellwether

Christian references have been removed from Christmas cards and school sports days excised of competitiveness. Now Father's Day has become the latest event to fall victim to the forces of political correctness. Last week thousands of children were prevented from making Father’s Day cards at school to avoid causing embarrassment to classmates who live with single mothers and lesbian couples. The politically correct policy in the interests of “sensitivity” over the growing number of lone-parent and same-sex households, has been quietly adopted by schools across Scotland.

It only emerged this year after a large number of fathers failed to receive their traditional cards and gifts last Sunday. While primary children are banned from making cards for their fathers, few schools impose similar restrictions in the run up to Mothering Sunday. The ban has been introduced by schools in Glasgow, Edinburgh, East Renfrewshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Clackmannanshire. Currently, some 280,000 children in Scotland live in single parent households, accounting for just 7% of the total.

Tina Woolnough, 45, from Edinburgh, whose son Felix attends Blackhall primary, said a number of teachers at the school had not allowed children to make Father’s Day cards this year. “This is something I know they do on a class-by-class basis at my son Felix’s school,” said Woolnough, who is a member of the school’s parent-teacher council. Some classes send Father’s Day cards and some do not. “The teachers are aware of the family circumstances of the children in each class and if a child hasn’t got a father living at home, the teacher will avoid getting the children to make a card.”

Family rights campaigners have condemned the policy as “absurd” and claimed it is marginalising fathers. “I’m astonished at this, it totally undermines the role and significance of fathers whether they are still with the child’s mother or not,” said Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers For Justice. “It also sends out a troubling message to young boys that fathers aren’t important.”

Alastair Noble, education officer with the charity Christian Action, Research and Education, added: “This seems to be an extreme and somewhat absurd reaction. I would have thought that the traditional family and marriage are still the majority lifestyles of people in Scotland. To deny the experience of the majority just does not seem sensible.”

Victoria Gillick, the family values campaigner, accused schools of politicising a traditional fun activity for children. “Children like making things, and making things for someone is great fun. I wouldn’t call it politically correct, I’d just call it stupid,” she said. “It seems quite unfair to deny those children whose parents are together and who want to make cards from enjoying the experience. Stopping children from making Father’s Day cards is reinforcing the fact that some fathers are not there, it’s actually drawing attention to the issue.”

Local authorities defended the move, saying teachers needed to act sensitively at a time when many children were experiencing family breakdown and divorce. “Increasingly, it is the case that there are children who haven’t got fathers or haven’t got fathers living with them and teachers are having to be sensitive about this,” said a spokesman for East Renfrewshire council. “Teachers have always had to deal with some pupils not having fathers or mothers, but with marital breakdown it is accelerating.”

Jim Goodall, head of education at Clackmannanshire council, said: “We expect teachers and headteachers to apply their professional skills and behave in a common sense manner. They have to be sensitive to the appropriate use of class time and the changing pattern of family life. We trust our staff to act sensibly and sensitively." A spokesman for South Ayrshire council said: “We are aware of the sensitivities of the issue and wouldn’t do anything that would make any child feel left out or unwanted in any way.” Edinburgh city council said the practice on Father’s Day cards was a matter for individual schools.


Age discrimination in the USA

Concerning the issue of age discrimination, the Supreme Court in Meacham v. Knolls said that the burden of proof resides on the employer. If a company lays off too many older people (meaning, incredibly, people older than 40), it is under the gun, and must show that factors other than age account for the disparate impact. Otherwise, the courts will rule in favor of the plaintiffs and the business will be forced to fork over, even to the point of bankruptcy.

The age-discrimination law in question is 40 years old and an embedded part of the machinery of social planning by the courts. This decision is yet another move toward government control, but the real problem is more fundamental. Step back and think what it means for the government to make and enforce such a law.

Labor relations are as complex as any human relations. There are many reasons why people choose to associate or not associate. How do you decide whom to invite to a birthday? What are the standards you use? There is a scarcity of space and food, so you must discriminate in some way. There is no choice about that.

Think of the last party you held. There are some people you did not invite simply because you can't stand those people, usually for many reasons. And there are some who just might not mix well with others. Some people you want to invite but cannot because you have to cut the list somewhere.

Now imagine that the government appoints a party planner who says that you can invite or not invite whomever you want, provided that one consideration is not part of the mix: you must not decline to invite someone on grounds of hair color. Now, it may never have occurred to you to think along these lines. But now you have to. You notice that you have no redheads attending the party, much to your alarm.

What if this fact is taken as evidence that you are discriminating? Will it? You can't know for sure. You think again: even if no redheads are coming, this is surely not the reason why you are not inviting them. There are other factors, too many factors to name. In any case, how can the state's party planner know for sure what your motivations are? Isn't it astounding that a government agency would presume to read your mind, know your heart, and discern your innermost emotions and motives? Truly it is totalitarian.

It is precisely the same in workplace management. There are an unending variety of factors that go into the makeup of the workforce of a single firm. How the mix turns out in the end is not something you can entirely plan. It might be dictated by any of a million factors depending on time and place.

The state says that you the employer may not discriminate on grounds of age. Fine, you think. You would never think to do that. You just want a job well done. But let's say your firm is heavily into new technologies. Everyone must have great programming skills and quickly adapt to new web interfaces and innovations.

That has no direct bearing on age. A 60-year-old can in principle be just right for the job. But it so happens that the young have more technological skills than the old. Your workforce, then, is dominated by people under 40. Then a Federal Reserve recession comes along, and you must choose the better programmers. The remaining people over 40 are cut.

Have you discriminated on grounds of age? Not to your mind. You are thinking only of job skills and profitability. But from the perspective of a government planner with an agenda, it is different. Looking at the facts, it seems like a clear case of age discrimination.

With this new court decision, the burden of proof is on you to show otherwise. But how can something like the absence of a motivation be demonstrated? Now, it is possible or even likely that you might be able to show that factors other than age constitute the main reason for the disparity. But it is a toss-up as to whether the court or the EEOC will agree with you.

The only way to be off the hook completely is to pad your workforce with people hired because they are older. In the name of proving that you are not discriminating against a group, your only protection is to discriminate in favor of that group. And by doing so, you are necessarily discriminating against other groups, since young people will be turned way to make room for the older group.

But isn't this a case of age discrimination of a "reverse" sort? Of course. After all, everyone is either young or old. The charge that the employer is weighing decisions by age can be trumped up in every case one can imagine. Here we see an amazing thicket, created entirely by a state that presumes the capacity and the right to read minds like a swami guru or mystic soothsayer. The state has assigned to itself superhuman powers, and it is up to you to obey.

In contrast, here is what the free market permits. Employers can hire or fire for any reason they want. Employers can be biased, bigoted, or have poor judgment, but it is the employers' judgment to make. The same is true of employees. They can quit for any reason, including one that discriminates against some trait of the employer.

Imagine if the state said that you may not quit your job on grounds that you dislike your boss's age, race, religion, or sex. If that is your reason, you must stay working there. We would all recognize that this is a case of involuntary servitude. It is an attack on freedom. So why do we not see that it is the same with the employer?

Under freedom, if an employer decides, for no good reason, that employees should not be older than 40, that is his judgment. If it is a bad decision, the competition will gain an edge by hiring the people who have been passed over.

A final point about the employee. Would you want to work for a company that doesn't really want you there, that is only maintaining your job for fear of the bureaucrat? That is not a prescription for a happy life. The happy life comes through permitting maximum freedom to associate and choose - a freedom that applies to everyone and under all circumstances, without exception.


A world without children

IN 1965, the population of Italy was 52 million, of which 4.6 million, or just under 9 percent, were children younger than 5. A decade later, that age group had shrunk to 4.3 million - about 7.8 percent of Italians. By 1985, it was down to 3 million and 5.3 percent. Today, the figures are 2.5 million and 4.2 percent. Young children are disappearing from Italian society, and the end isn't in sight. According to one estimate by the UN's Population Division, their numbers will drop to fewer than 1.6 million in 2020, and to 1.3 million by 2050. At that point, they will account for a mere 2.8 percent of the Italian nation.

Italy isn't alone. There are 1.7 million fewer young children in Poland today than there were in 1960, a 50 percent drop. In Spain 30 years ago, there were nearly 3.3 million young children; there are just 2.2 million today. Across Europe, there were more than 57 million children under 5 in 1960; today, that age group has plummeted to 35 million, a decline of 38 percent.

The world's population is still growing, thanks to rising longevity. But fertility rates - the average number of children born per woman - are falling nearly everywhere. More and more adults are deciding to have fewer and fewer children. Worldwide, reports the UN, there are 6 million fewer babies and young children today than there were in 1990. By 2015, according to one calculation, there will be 83 million fewer. By 2025, 127 million fewer. By 2050, the world's supply of the youngest children may have plunged by a quarter of a billion, and will amount to less than 5 percent of the human family.

The reasons for this birth dearth are many. Among them: As the number of women in the workforce has soared, many have delayed marriage and childbearing, or decided against them altogether. The Sexual Revolution, by making sex readily available without marriage, removed what for many men had been a powerful motive to marry. Skyrocketing rates of divorce have made women less likely to have as many children as in generations past. Years of indoctrination about the perils of "overpopulation" have led many couples to embrace childlessness as a virtue.

Result: a dramatic and inexorable aging of society. In the years ahead, the ranks of the elderly are going to swell to unprecedented levels, while the number of young people continues to dwindle. The working-age population will shrink, first in relation to the population of retirees, then in absolute terms.

Now a determined optimist might take this as good news. In theory, fewer people in the workforce should increase the demand for employees and thus keep unemployment low and the economy humming. But the record tells a different story. In Japan, where the fall in fertility rates began early, the working-age population has been a diminishing share of the nation for 20 years. Yet for much of that period, unemployment has been up, not down. "Similarly, in the United States, the number of people between the ages of 15 and 24 has been declining in relative terms since 1990," demographer Phillip Longman observed in the Harvard Business Review. "But the smaller supply has not made younger workers more valuable; their unemployment rate has increased relative to that of their older counterparts."

Far from boosting the economy, an aging population depresses it. As workers are taxed more heavily to support surging numbers of elders, they respond by working less, which leads to stagnation, which reduces economic opportunity still further. "Imagine that all your taxes went for nothing but Social Security and Medicare," says Longman in "Demographic Winter," a new documentary about the coming population decline, "and you still didn't have health care as a young person."

Gary Becker, a Nobel laureate in economics, emphasizes that nothing is more indispensable to growth than "human capital" - the knowledge, skills, and experience of men and women. That is why baby booms are so often harbingers of economic expansion and vigor. And why businesses and young people drain away from regions where population is waning.

A world without children will be a poorer world - grayer, lonelier, less creative, less confident. Children are a great blessing, but it may take their disappearance for the world to remember why.


The enemy has a name

If you cannot name your enemy, how can you defeat it? Just as a physician must identify a disease before curing a patient, so a strategist must identify the foe before winning a war. Yet Westerners have proven reluctant to identify the opponent in the conflict the US government variously (and euphemistically) calls the "global war on terror," the "long war," the "global struggle against violent extremism," or even the "global struggle for security and progress."

This timidity translates into an inability to define war goals. Two high-level US statements from late 2001 typify the vague and ineffective declarations issued by Western governments. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld defined victory as establishing "an environment where we can in fact fulfill and live [our] freedoms." In contrast, George W. Bush announced a narrower goal, "the defeat of the global terror network" - whatever that undefined network might be.

"Defeating terrorism" has, indeed, remained the basic war goal. By implication, terrorists are the enemy and counterterrorism is the main response. But observers have increasingly concluded that terrorism is just a tactic, not an enemy. Bush effectively admitted this much in mid-2004, acknowledging that "We actually misnamed the war on terror." Instead, he called the war a "struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies and who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world."

A year later, in the aftermath of the 7/7 London transport bombings, British prime minister Tony Blair advanced the discussion by speaking of the enemy as "a religious ideology, a strain within the world-wide religion of Islam." Soon after, Bush himself used the terms "Islamic radicalism," "militant Jihadism," and "Islamo-fascism." But these words prompted much criticism and he backtracked.

By mid-2007, Bush had reverted to speaking about "the great struggle against extremism that is now playing out across the broader Middle East." That is where things now stand, with US government agencies being advised to refer to the enemy with such nebulous terms as "death cult," "cult-like," "sectarian cult," and "violent cultists."

IN FACT, that enemy has a precise and concise name: Islamism, a radical utopian version of Islam. Islamists, adherents of this well funded, widespread, totalitarian ideology, are attempting to create a global Islamic order that fully applies the Islamic law (Shari'a).

Thus defined, the needed response becomes clear. It is two-fold: vanquish Islamism and help Muslims develop an alternative form of Islam. Not coincidentally, this approach roughly parallels what the allied powers accomplished vis-…-vis the two prior radical utopian movements, fascism and communism.

First comes the burden of defeating an ideological enemy. As in 1945 and 1991, the goal must be to marginalize and weaken a coherent and aggressive ideological movement, so that it no longer attracts followers nor poses a world-shaking threat. World War II, won through blood, steel, and atomic bombs, offers one model for victory; the Cold War, with its deterrence, complexity, and nearly-peaceful collapse, offers quite another.

Victory against Islamism, presumably, will draw on both these legacies and mix them into a novel brew of conventional war, counterterrorism, counterpropaganda, and many other strategies. At one end, the war effort led to the overthrow of the Taliban government in Afghanistan; at the other, it requires repelling the lawful Islamists who work legitimately within the educational, religious, media, legal, and political arenas.

THE SECOND goal involves helping Muslims who oppose Islamist goals and wish to offer an alternative to Islamism's depravities by reconciling Islam with the best of modern ways. But such Muslims are weak, being but fractured individuals who have only just begun the hard work of researching, communicating, organizing, funding, and mobilizing.

To do all this more quickly and effectively, these moderates need non-Muslim encouragement and sponsorship. However unimpressive they may be at present, moderates, with Western support, alone hold the potential to modernize Islam, and thereby to terminate the threat of Islamism.

In the final analysis, Islamism presents two main challenges to Westerners: To speak frankly and to aim for victory. Neither comes naturally to the modern person, who tends to prefer political correctness and conflict resolution, or even appeasement. But once these hurdles are overcome, the Islamist enemy's objective weakness in terms of arsenal, economy, and resources means it can readily be defeated.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No skipping homosexual classes, Canadian schools tell parents

Not every parent wants her child to learn about gays and transgender sexuality in school. However, the Vancouver board of education plans to enforce a ministry policy that prevents parents from pulling students out of classes that deal with alternative sexuality, the Vancouver Sun reports.

A staff recommendation released Friday from the board says parents can pull their children out of sensitive lessons in health classes because of religious or family beliefs, but can't opt their children out of gay-friendly lessons in any other classes:
According to ministry guidelines, students can only opt out of the health portions of Health and Career Education K to 7, Health and Career Education 8 and 9, and Planning 10.

They aren't exempt from the lessons completely and must learn the material outside the classroom setting, by home instruction or self-directed studies. They also have to prove they've learned the material.
The recommendation has the Catholic Civil Rights League, for one, to balk. The league has long fought the policies, claiming parents have the right to remove children from any classes they find objectionable:

Edward Da Vita, a spokesman for the Catholic Civil Rights League, said he would prefer parents be able to pull their children out of any class containing controversial material.

"The problem now is that controversial subject matter can be brought up any time, anywhere, and there is no reasonable alternative delivery available for that," he said.


Socialists made eugenics fashionable

An exhibition of the history of those scientific ideas that gave a grimy intellectual veneer to the Nazi genocide opened recently at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The collection centres on eugenics, the notion that humanity can be improved and perfected by selective breeding and the elimination of individuals and groups considered to be undesirable. Entitled Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, it reveals how it was not thoughtless right-wing thugs as much as writers and scientists, the intellectual elite, who led the movement.

The exhibit is important, accurate but, regrettably, long overdue. It also fails to stress just how much the socialist left initiated and supported the eugenics campaign, not only in Germany but in Britain, the U. S. and the rest of Europe. Playwright George Bernard Shaw, English social democrat leader Sydney Webb and, in Canada, Tommy Douglas were just three influential socialists who called, for example, for the mass sterilization of the handicapped. In his Master's thesis The Problems of the Subnormal Family, the now revered Douglas argued that the mentally and even physically disabled should be sterilized and sent to camps so as not to "infect" the rest of the population.

It is deeply significant that few if any of Douglas's left-wing comrades in this country or internationally were surprised or offended by his proposals. Indeed the early fascism of 1920s Italy, while unsavoury and dictatorial, had little connection with social engineering and eugenics. The latter German version of fascism was influenced not by ultra conservatism in southern Europe but, as is made clear in the writings of the Nazi ideologues, by the Marxist left.

The most vociferous and outspoken of the socialist eugenicists was the novelist H. G. Wells, author of The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. He argued in best-selling books such as Anticipations and A Modern Utopia that the world would collapse and from this collapse a new order should and would emerge.

"People throughout the world whose minds were adapted to the big-scale conditions of the new time. A naturally and informally organised educated class, an unprecedented sort of people." A strict social order would be formed. At the bottom of it were the base. These were "people who had given evidence of a strong anti-social disposition", including "the black, the brown, the swarthy, the yellow." Christians would also "have to go" as well as the handicapped. Wells devoted entire pamphlets to the need of "preventing the birth, preventing the procreation or preventing the existence" of the mentally and physically handicapped. "This thing, this euthanasia of the weak and the sensual is possible. I have little or no doubt that in the future it will be planned and achieved."

The people of Africa and Asia, he said, simply could never find a place in a modern world controlled by science. Better to do away with the lot. "I take it they will have to go" he said of them. Marriage as it is known would have to end but couples could form mutually agreed unions. They would list their "desires, diseases, needs" on little cards and a central authority would decide who was fitted for whom.

Population would be rigidly controlled, with forced abortion for those who were not of the right class and race. Religion would be banned, children would be raised in communes and all would be well. The old and the ill would, naturally, have to be done away with and doctors would be given the authority to decide who had a right to live, who had a duty to die.

In the United States socialist writer Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and the mother of the abortion movement, called for a radical eugenics approach as early as the first years of the 20th century. She wrote of the need for "a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring. It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them. Herein lies the key of civilization."

The key of civilization. Unlocking the doors of a hell once unimaginable but now, after the Holocaust, the Ukrainian genocide, Pol Pot and Mao's mass slaughter, entirely within the grasp of contemporary sensibilities. History is often clouded by fashion and the whims of the victorious. Because some of the most pernicious intellectual criminals of the past century wore red they have escaped condemnation. It is time for the clouds to clear and the fashions to change.


Subsidizing folly
A Massachusetts high school is facing a pregnancy boom with 17 girls entering summer vacation expecting babies in what some have called a pregnancy pact. Officials at Gloucester High School in Gloucester, Mass., are investigating whether half of the teens made a pact to get pregnant during the school year, Time.com reported.

Officials said that beginning last fall a large group of girls started asking the school clinic for pregnancy tests, the site said. "Some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were," principal Joseph Sullivan told Time.com.

The pregnancy rate at the 1,200-student school is four times higher than the previous year, and officials were shocked to learn that men in their 20s had fathered some of the babies, Time.com said. "We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy," Sullivan told Time.com.

The Gloucester baby boom is forcing this city of 30,000 to grapple with the question of providing easier access to birth control, something this largely Catholic enclave is slow to embrace, the site said.
It is obvious even to a disabled monkey that easier access to birth control would have no impact on a situation like this. These stupid children were trying to get pregnant. TRYING! Oh and by the way, other articles about this point out that most of these girls are 16 and younger. I can't possibly fathom why this situation is a mystery to anyone who is paying attention to popular culture. Frankly, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often and on a grander scale.

We've allowed the rampant sexualization of girls all the way down to toddlers. Britney Spears' little sister, star of a Nickelodeon show, had a baby this week at the age of 17. Read the article I linked to for that and notice how they act like this is good news and she'll be such a great mom! OMG, like, she's so fun!

The stigma of being a slut is gone, thanks to Paris Hilton and the like. You can be publicly KNOWN to be a drunken, STD-carrying, wildly promiscuous shit-for-brains and what will happen? You'll get acting jobs, endorsement work, a fashion line, and hundreds of magazine covers.

If you have kids and you ever let them watch MTV - I mean ever - or half the other entertainment channels out there, you're making a serious mistake. Have you seen what's on there? I can't even begin to describe it. I flip by sometimes and stop to see what kind of garbage they're broadcasting to children, and I'm telling you as someone who doesn't even have kids, it freaks me OUT.

The girls who made the pregnancy pact-some of whom, according to Sullivan, reacted to the news that they were expecting with high fives and plans for baby showers-declined to be interviewed. So did their parents. But Amanda Ireland, who graduated from Gloucester High on June 8, thinks she knows why these girls wanted to get pregnant. Ireland, 18, gave birth her freshman year and says some of her now pregnant schoolmates regularly approached her in the hall, remarking how lucky she was to have a baby.

The high school has done perhaps too good a job of embracing young mothers. Sex-ed classes end freshman year at Gloucester, where teen parents are encouraged to take their children to a free on-site day-care center. Strollers mingle seamlessly in school hallways among cheerleaders and junior ROTC. "We're proud to help the mothers stay in school," says Sue Todd, CEO of Pathways for Children, which runs the day-care center.
Jesus H. Christ. Strollers in a high school? Here's an idea: if there are so many of them that they need their own on-site daycare, create a separate school for them. I think everyone has completely lost touch with some of the positive effects of ostracizing people who do stupid, dangerous things. It's not always bad to impose some shameful consequences, and if that's one way to make these little psychos stop what they're doing, then good.

This is one of the results of the fact that we've decided as a society that being "judgmental" is a horrible thing. Seems to me that people need to start being MORE judgmental. I'm doing it right now and it feels pretty good.

If you're a 16-year-old girl and you have sex with a homeless man with the express PURPOSE of becoming pregnant, I am judging your ass off. Judge, judge, judging. I think you should be ashamed of yourself and that you should be embarrassed. Maybe feeling that way will help you learn a lesson that you so obviously need to learn.

I'm judging the parents, too, though not so much. Even the most well-intentioned parents can't control everything their kid does, particularly in this day and age, but still, it would have been nice of them to teach their daughters some damn sense. I'm judging the school officials for making it so damn easy and convenient for girls to have babies before they graduate.

I'm judging the hell out of all the morons in that city who think the answer is easier access to birth control. Are they not paying any attention AT ALL? Are they missing the part about how this was a pact and these girls set out deliberately to get preggers?

They don't want birth control, you fools! They want to have babies because they think that makes them cool and "lucky". They're stupid, stupid, stupid little children who have no moral compass and have come of age watching Paris and Britney whoring all over the front pages of magazines and getting wealthier by the day.

They have no concept of shame or of negative consequences. Society has failed them and now they're going to pay the price, but not alone. Their babies will pay a portion and so will the taxpayers. (Note that the town they all live in is an economic disaster with no jobs, so you know most of these kids and their babies will end up on welfare.)

But that's just me, and I'm judgmental. I sit here on my high horse and judge these poor naive children for being marauding narcissistic sluts, but what do I know? I was never "lucky" enough to give birth at age 16. I guess I'm just bitter and jealous because I had those burdensome ideas about "decency" and "having a future" and "not whoring myself out in order to be loved."


Middle Eastern anti-Americanism is superficial

I grew up in the Arab world in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and anti-Americanism was the standard political language - even for those pining for American visas and green cards. Precious few took this seriously. The attraction to the glamorous, distant society was too strong in the Beirut of my boyhood.

It is no different today in Egypt or Pakistan. And what people tell pollsters who turn up in their midst with their clipboards? In Hosni Mubarak's tyranny, anti-Americanism is the permissible safety valve for Egyptians unable to speak of their despot. We stand between Pharaoh and his frustrated people, and the Egyptians railing against America are giving voice to the disappointment that runs through their life and culture. Scapegoating and anti-Americanism are a substitute for a sober assessment of what ails that old, burdened country.

Nor should we listen too closely to the anti-American hysteria that now grips Turkey. That country was once a serious, earnest land. It knew its place in the world as a bridge between Europe and Islam. But of late it has become the "torn country" that the celebrated political scientist Samuel Huntington said it was, its very identity fought over between the old Kemalist elites and the new Islamists.

No Turkish malady is caused by America, and no cure can come courtesy of the Americans. The Turks giving vent to anti-Americanism are doing a parody of Europe: They were led to believe that the Europe spurning them, and turning down their membership in its club, is given to anti-Americanism, so they took to the same fad. Turkish anti-Americanism is no doubt fueled by the resentment within Turkey of the American war in Iraq that gave protection and liberty to the Kurds. No apology is owed the Turks; indeed, it is they who must reconsider their intolerance of minorities. If the Turks were comfortable with the abnormality of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, it is they who have a problem.

And if there is enthusiasm for Barack Obama on foreign shores, his rise to fame and power must be a tribute to the land that has made this possible. Where else would a boy of marginality and relative poverty find his way to the peak of political life? Certainly not in his father's Kenya, where the tribal origins of the Obamas would have determined young Barack's life-chances. In an Arab world hemmed in by pedigree, where rulers bequeath power to their sons and the lot of the sons is invariably that of the fathers, the tale of Obama is fantasy.

There are lines, and barriers, of race which bedevil Arab lands, and they will be there awaiting a President Obama should he prevail in November. Consider a recent speech by Libya's erratic ruler, Moammar Gadhafi, to his countrymen.

He said he feared that Mr. Obama, as a "black man," might succumb to an "inferiority complex" if he were to come to power. "This is a great menace because Obama might turn out to be more white than the whites, exaggerating his persecution and disdain of blacks. The statements of our Kenyan brother with an American nationality about Jerusalem, and his support for Israelis, and his slighting of the Palestinian people is either a measure of his ignorance of international politics or a lie perpetrated on the Jews in the course of an election campaign."

There is no need to roam distant lands in search of indictments of America's ways. Tales of our demise appear every day in our media. Yes, it is not perfect, this republic of ours. But the possibilities for emancipation and self-improvement it affords are unmatched in other lands.

Meanwhile, a maligned American president now returns from a Europe at peace with American leadership. In France, Germany and Italy, center-right governments are eager to proclaim their identification with American power. Jacques Chirac is gone. Now there is Nicolas Sarkozy, who offered a poetic tribute last November to the American soldiers who fell on French soil, before a joint session of the U.S. Congress. "The children of my generation," he said, "understood that those young Americans, 20 years old, were true heroes to whom they owed the fact that they were free people and not slaves. France will never forget the sacrifice of your children."

The great battle over the Iraq war has subsided, and Europeans who ponder the burning grounds of the Islamic world know the distinction between fashionable anti-Americanism and the international order underpinned by American power. George W. Bush may have been indifferent to political protocol, but he held the line when it truly mattered, and the Europeans have come to understand that appeasement of dictators and brigands begets its own troubles.

It is one thing to rail against the Pax Americana. But after the pollsters are gone, the truth of our contemporary order of states endures. We live in a world held by American power - and benevolence. Nothing prettier, or more just, looms over the horizon.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

British equality bill to ban age barriers.

More British wackiness. Fools step in where angels fear to tread

Elderly people would have the right to join youth clubs or go on 18-30 cruises under new equality legislation to be introduced this week. Ministers are to give pensioners new protection against age discrimination. The law would stop insurance companies, 95% of which impose an upper age limit, refusing life insurance or holiday cover to senior citizens or charging more on the basis of their age.

The new law would give teenagers the right to join clubs that have traditionally been the preserve of the elderly, while middle-aged clubbers could not be refused entry to a nightclub on the basis of age alone.

Gordon Lishman, director-general of Age Concern, said: "People are often surprised to learn that ageism is the most commonly experienced prejudice in the UK. But both young and old find they come up against barriers created by their age. People over a certain age pay a huge premium on insurance just because of their age. They can also be denied certain types of health treatment because doctors don't think it is worth treating them. This is unfair and unjust."

The Single Equality Bill will also offer new protection to gays and ethnic minorities. Public bodies will have a duty to promote equality while schools will have to develop strategies to prevent gay bullying.

The bill is expected to stop short of demanding that companies introduce compulsory pay audits that would reveal whether men and women of equal experience and seniority are paid the same, after opposition from business. Less stringent measures to improve transparency on equal pay are to be introduced.


Colorado's war on Christian speech

In Colorado Christians can no longer condemn homosexuality as a sin, as an abomination, (as the scriptures refer to it), unless they are inside the four walls of their church. That is state law in Colorado now. There is an article at World Net Daily on this subject you should read. You'll find it here.

Has your jaw dropped yet? Ok, allow me to ask the following question: Whatever happened to "Separation of Church and State" with which the Left is constantly beating the Christian community of America over the head. Even though, I might add, it isn't even in the US Constitution.

Oh, I forgot. That only applies if it happens to be the Left's Ox being gored. In other words, the Left doesn't mind the state interfering with YOUR religion so long as it is YOUR religion they don't agree with. What we have here is just another blatant example of the hypocrisy of the left. By the way, do you see the ACLU rushing to the defense of Christians in Colorado over this? No. and you won't.

As a result of this law, there are no more gender specific restrooms or locker rooms in Colorado. Yep! Now a man can enter a woman's restroom and relieve himself, or a woman can enter a man's restroom and relieve herself... at will. There is no infraction of the law. Scratching your head over this one? Well, it took me a moment or so, too. See, you cannot publicly question the gender of a person anymore. At least. not in Colorado. If a man wishes to use the ladies restroom, you cannot forbid him because his physical plumbing is different from that of the gender to which the restroom was originally dedicated. Of course, the same thing applies to women.

Head still spinning? OK, then check this: religious publishers, in Colorado, could be accused under the law, for publishing biblical condemnation of homosexuality. It just so happens that Colorado is the state where the huge Christian publishing operations of NavPress and the International Bible Society are located. Now, suppose your church in Colorado has it's own church bulletin, which it publishes for every service, as most churches do these days. Suppose something in that church bulletin, intended for use in the worship service, condemns homosexuality. There is a possible violation of the law, as we understand it, if that publication leaves the church building. Most all churchgoers take their church bulletin home with them.

This is an abomination of a state law. If there was any doubt there is a "War on Christianity in America", what's happening in Colorado should erase it.


Nothing can dent Leftist preconceptions

"Yeah, it is that simple. He lied, and we all know it. So STFU. Now." - Marecek
That was one of 1,643 comments left in response to Fred Hiatt's June 9 piece in the Washington Post, entitled "Bush Lied? If Only It Were That Simple," which covered the findings of the Select Committee on Intelligence, headed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV). Marecek's was the majority opinion.

In writing his piece for the editorial page of the Washington Post, Hiatt - that page's editor - made the mistake of actually quoting passages of this report, which claimed that a host of "lies" of which President Bush has been accused since 2003 were "substantiated by intelligence." Vituperation and ad hominem attacks were left as commentary at the paper's website, with calls for Hiatt's immediate firing, for - apparently - his treason in quoting a report, written by a Democratic majority, that dared to depart from a narrative that has become conventional wisdom.
You know? The more I think about this lying idiot that edits WaPo, the more I realize how venal and corrupt the neo-cons really are. They really have no shame. No shame at all. Their corruption is complete. Frankly, the Emperor in Star Wars had more integrity than these neo-cons. Hiatt truly is a lapdog. - santafe2
I showed the article and comments to several friends of various backgrounds. One who works in media shot back: "if you don't like the message, ignore it and kill the messenger!"

A friend who homeschools her children - and does it so well that the oldest has won a full academic scholarship to a university - was surprised that commenters would express such contempt not for the committee findings, which contradicted their worldview, but for the reporter who covered it. "It's illogical," she said. "Do public schools no longer teach critical thinking skills?"

Curious about that myself, I asked a friend who teaches social studies at a local and very well-regarded high school. "We're supposed to be teaching critical thinking," she said. "It's in all the local and state standards, but in practice . there's only so much time." "I really do try to tell my students to keep an open mind and consider all sides," she continued, "but how much effect do you think that has when they get their news from sound bites followed by sarcasm on Comedy Central, and they see teachers wearing `Bush Lied' buttons on their lapels? The button gives a cue: `Think this way, you'll get an A.' That's pretty alluring. There is nothing out there actively encouraging reasonable thought; we do not teach logic."

A quick poll of college freshmen around the house found little to disagree with in her assessment. "Mr. B. did make a point of telling us to listen to both sides and make up our own minds, but mostly you knew where a teacher stood politically, because even if they tried not to show it, you could see it in how they taught - how they'd talk up what they supported and barely mention the other side." I showed them the Hiatt piece and comments, and asked their thoughts. "Well, you know," one young man shrugged, "it doesn't really matter. It's gone beyond what's true or not anymore. People are going to believe what they want to believe." Hiatt himself suggested as much, writing:
Why does it matter, at this late date? The Rockefeller report will not cause a spike in "Bush Lied" mug sales, and the Bond dissent will not lead anyone to scrape the "Bush Lied" bumper sticker off his or her car.
"It doesn't matter," the young man, repeated. "People don't look at `the truth' as `the truth' anymore. There's just what you believe, and how the other guy is wrong." "But that describes feelings, not truth," I said. "Right. Your feelings are your truth." "When did this happen?" I asked, "because I didn't get the memo.". My son gave a wry laugh and piped in, "around the time we couldn't decide what the meaning of `is' was!"

Laughter all around, but I could not join in. Collecting their news and information from Comedy Central and internet forums rich with satire and irony, everything has become a joke for our young - the "truthiness" that "feels" right, an acceptable alternative to solid facts or findings. But clever jokes and easy cynicism will not right the wrongs of the world or encourage serious governance over the cartoonish politics of the day. "Do you know Pope Benedict?" I asked the group. "Gunter Grass told a story about the pope when he was a teenager named Joseph Ratzinger and they were in an American POW camp." "Right, he was a Nazi," a girl piped up, knowledgeably, "but everyone was conscripted, then."

With a low moan I decided to let that bare bones narrative suffice. "Grass related a conversation he had with Ratzinger in that camp. `There are many truths,' he said. And Ratzinger replied, `there is only one.'" "Well, that's why he's pope," my son said, breezing it along. "Seems like `truthiness' has been around for a while then," he added. "Relativism has been, anyway," I agreed, knowing they'd lost interest. When they left I took out Benedict XVI's last homily as Cardinal Ratzinger, and reread this:
How many winds of doctrine we have known in these last decades, how many ideological currents, how many fashions of thought. . While relativism, that is, allowing oneself to be carried about with every wind of "doctrine," seems to be the only attitude that is fashionable. A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute and which only leaves the "I" and its whims as the ultimate measure.
Which explains, perhaps, how logic is served when a writer simply reports the facts of a finding and is met with: "STFU. Now."


Free speech very shaky in the Netherlands

That's the speculation in today's De Telegraaf, on the basis of an international arrest warrant which is expected to be issued at the behest of the Jordanian government. Here's a translation of the article by our expatriate Dutch correspondent H. Numan, followed by his commentary on the state of civil liberties in the Netherlands:
Wilders might soon be arrested

Amsterdam - Geert Wilders fears he will be arrested soon when traveling abroad, due to his movie Fitna. Jordan is working on an international warrant for the arrest of the PVV leader in order to prosecute him.

Last Monday the court in Amman found the complaint filed to be acceptable. Wilders expects that the court will soon appeal for an international warrant for his arrest, reports De Volkskrant.

Jordan can possibly make a request through Interpol. Such an appeal can be fought by the Dutch government.

It is also possible Jordan will ask individual nations visited by Wilders to extradite him. In any case, the Wilders' freedom of movement will be severely restricted. Wilders complains about the uncertainty. "One never knows when it will happen. My freedom of movement will be enormously limited and I cannot operate as a politician," according to Wilders in De Volkskrant.

The risks are being mapped by the ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Commentary by H. Numan:
Given the brave attitude of the Dutch government in protecting this bothersome politician and our constitutional rights, I expect the mapping of the Foreign Ministry will be limited to pointing out where Jordan is on the geographical map, and issuing a statement that since this country is far away from the Netherlands, there is actually no risk at all. Or, Mr. Balkenende will use his by now famous megaphone diplomacy, to update interested nations where certain politicians are presently traveling to. Nothing personal, mind you.

It didn't attract much attention, but last week we had a parliamentary debate about the arrest of Gregorius Nekschot. The government admitted the case was somewhat mishandled, but saw no reason for further investigation. The parliament accepted the explanation.

Not long after the arrest of Gregorius another Gestapo team raided the house of a person. For a middle aged cartoonist a ten men SWAT team is sufficient. In this case the police found it necessary to send in twenty officers. This person was and is involved in the management of the site www.holland-hardcore.com. Holland-Hardcore is a very big site (well over 10,000 visitors per day) dedicated to hardcore music and politics. The tenor is nationalist. Nothing remotely extreme about it. It certainly isn't extreme right-wing or neo-fascist, as media would like one to believe. After interrogation and confiscation of his pc the young man was released and no charges have been filed as yet.

Hoeiboei - one can call this hardly a right-wing blog, let alone extreme - received a summons to report to the local police station, to answer questions. In the summons no charges were filed. This alone is an offense, as it is legally required that the police state the reason why someone is summoned to the police station.

The owner of the site www.rechtser.com received a warrant last year for his arrest, due to two postings by visitors considered offensive. The case is still pending. In short, The Netherlands is still a democratic nation, in the same sense the DDR [East Germany] was a democratic republic.


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

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

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


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Intelligent people 'less likely to believe in God'

The correlation is undoubted but the reason why is the interesting part. That more intelligent people are far more likely to be exposed to the Leftist and anti-religious attitudes that prevail in the academy is certainly a large part of the explanation. But why is the academy Leftist? It was not always so. The great universities were mostly religious organizations originally. It is the influence of Leftism. From the French revolution on, Leftists have always resented any authority other than themselves

Professor Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, said many more members of the "intellectual elite" considered themselves atheists than the national average. A decline in religious observance over the last century was directly linked to a rise in average intelligence, he claimed.

But the conclusions - in a paper for the academic journal Intelligence - have been branded "simplistic" by critics. Professor Lynn, who has provoked controversy in the past with research linking intelligence to race and sex, said university academics were less likely to believe in God than almost anyone else. A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God - at a time when 68.5 per cent of the general UK population described themselves as believers. A separate poll in the 90s found only seven per cent of members of the American National Academy of Sciences believed in God.

Professor Lynn said most primary school children believed in God, but as they entered adolescence - and their intelligence increased - many started to have doubts. He told Times Higher Education magazine: "Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God." He said religious belief had declined across 137 developed nations in the 20th century at the same time as people became more intelligent.

But Professor Gordon Lynch, director of the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck College, London, said it failed to take account of a complex range of social, economic and historical factors. "Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation of religion as primitive, which - while we are trying to deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism - is perhaps not the most helpful response," he said.

Dr Alistair McFadyen, senior lecturer in Christian theology at Leeds University, said the conclusion had "a slight tinge of Western cultural imperialism as well as an anti-religious sentiment".

Dr David Hardman, principal lecturer in learning development at London Metropolitan University, said: "It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief. Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability - or perhaps willingness - to question and overturn strongly felt institutions."


Judge overturns attack on Gideons

A federal court has declared a Florida law banning representatives of the Gideons from handing out Bibles within 500 feet of any school in the state unconstitutional because it is vague and actually "encourages arbitrary enforcement." The ruling in a case brought by the Alliance Defense Fund comes from U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore and addresses an incident that developed Jan. 19, 2007, at Key Largo School, run by Principal Annette Martinson.

The law actually prohibits anyone without "legitimate business" from being within 500 feet of schools in the state and specifies "each principal or designee of each public or private school in this state shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency to prohibit any person from loitering in the school safety zone who does not have legitimate business in the school safety zone or any other authorization, or license to enter or remain in the school safety zone or does not otherwise have invitee status in the designated safety zone."

The issue arose because of team of Gideons, known for paying all of their own expenses out of pocket while raising all of their own funds and giving away Bibles, had been distributing the Scriptures at Key Largo School. The Gideons' procedure is to notify local police departments two weeks before their distribution date, give school administrators notice and have participants stand on a public bike path or sidewalk and avoid stepping on school grounds. But WND reported earlier when two members of the Gideons organization were charged for handing out Bibles there, and when a judge dismissed those counts.

Ernest Simpson and Anthony Mirto had been taken into custody by a sheriff's deputy and charged with trespassing after the principal of Key Largo School, Martinson, complained they were handing out Bibles. The initial counts were dismissed at the request of the ADF shortly after the law firm got involved, but then authorities filed a second round of counts, under a different law - this state law that prohibits anyone from being within 500 feet of any school property, including on public sidewalks and streets, without having either "legitimate business" or permission.

The lawsuit at hand then was filed on behalf of Gideon Thomas Gray, who was not arrested with Simpson and Mirto but arrived when they called to report trouble with a particular deputy sheriff. "Gray approached Officer [John] Perez and asked what the charges were. Officer Perez was highly agitated and said that Gray would know in 48 hours when he received the report," the judge said.

Gray contacted another deputy through whom he'd arranged for the distribution. "Gray then called Deputy [Ralph] Williams and asked for his assistance . Deputy Williams indicated that he would e-mail Officer Perez . Gray told Officer Perez that he had an e-mail in his car from another officer stating that the Gideons have a right to distribute Bibles from the public bike path/sidewalk, but Officer Perez indicated that he did not care," the judge wrote.

The ADF reported the two Gideons who were arrested were "placed in a Monroe County patrol car. A police officer mocked the two men, saying they could 'pray to Jesus all the way to jail.'" The ADF, after seeing that the charges against Simpon and Mirto were dismissed, filed the action on behalf of Gray, who said he feared arrest if he exercised his right to distribute Bibles.

The federal judge found that the state definition of a school safety zone, in the Key Largo School location, would include a public bike path and walkway abutting U.S. Highway 1, the highway itself and businesses including a pet motel, a gas station, a restaurant and a plumbing business. "Given the wide range of non-exempt persons and the various types of areas within the school safety zone, such as sidewalks, residential houses and streets, businesses, parking lots, etc., construing 'legitimate purpose' to mean any purpose which is connected with the operation of the school would result in an application so broad that it would likely infringe of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights," the judge said. He ordered the state never again enforce that particular law.

"Christians shouldn't be penalized for expressing their beliefs," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. "Arresting or threatening to arrest Christians simply because they choose to exercise their First Amendment rights in a public place is unconstitutional. The court was right in its assessment that the particular law used against these members of the Gideons does not pass constitutional muster."

In a statement at the outset of the case to WND, Becky Herrin, of the public information office in the Monroe County sheriff's office, stated as a fact that the defendants in the case did trespass. She later declined additional comment. "A copy of our police report (see attached) . clearly states that the people in question were arrested for trespassing on school property - not on a public sidewalk. In fact, they were given the opportunity to step off school property and onto public property, and they could have continued with their activities if they had done so. They chose instead to remain, against repeated warnings, on school property so deputies were forced to arrest them," Herrin said in a statement to WND. But the attached report forwarded to WND revealed the two were arrested while in their vehicle parked near, but not on, school property.


Human Rights Harassment against Catholic Magazine Costs $20,000, So Far

A monthly Canadian Catholic magazine of news, analysis and opinion has been burdened by $20,000 in legal costs in the process of defending itself against a campaign of harassment - including a human rights complaint - launched by homosexualist activists.

Fr. Alphonse de Valk, the editor of Catholic Insight (CI) magazine, spoke to LifeSiteNews.com today about the expensive and drawn-out harassment and human rights complaint that have been leveled against the magazine for the last year and a half.

CI is currently the subject of a complaint which was filed against the magazine in February 2007 by Rob Wells, a member of the Pride Centre of Edmonton. The complaint, a copy of which LifeSiteNews.com has obtained, is made up of a series of brief quotations, without citation or context, which Wells pulled from articles purportedly appearing on Catholic Insight's website. Wells argues that he has "reasonable grounds to believe" that these quotations prove CI is publishing "hate messages" that "are likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of their sexual orientation."

The quotations, lumped together, with only dashes and ellipses used to distinguish one from the next, are grouped under nine headings, each of which is one of Well's reasons for believing Catholic Insight is guilty of "hate speech." These include the accusation that CI has portrayed homosexuals "as preying upon children," as being the cause "for the current problems in society and the world," and as being "dangerous or violent by nature," amongst other things.

De Valk denies that the magazine at any point published hate speech. Wells, says de Valk, pulled out-of-context quotations from a total of 16 of 108 articles that CI has printed on the homosexualist issue since 1993. These articles dealt with the ongoing push within the public sphere to normalize homosexuality and, in particular, to legalize homosexual "marriage."

"Our articles were a combination of statements by doctors of the physical defects of the homosexual lifestyle, statements of the Church about the kind of lifestyle, news reports, what had been done by this judge or that judge, and then of course general analysis of the drive by the homosexual group, the activists among them that is. That's what Wells came forward with. And we defended it, saying we have a right to defend sanity, the teaching of the Church and reason."

Fifteen months after the human rights complaint was filed, CI is still awaiting a ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Commission on whether the matter will proceed beyond the investigation stage. In the meantime the magazine has already racked up $20,000 in legal fees, with no end in sight. Wells, on the other hand, has had all his legal fees covered by the state.

De Valk says that not only does he agree with Mark Steyn that, when it comes to human rights commissions, "the process is the punishment," but he believes the system is "hopeless" and leaves a significant portion of Canadians who hold traditional values "in terror." This is especially the case, says de Valk, since the various adjudicators who have been put in charge of the commissions, "all seem to come from one crowd." "They're all people who no longer believe in truth, who believe that hatred is whenever you make me feel uncomfortable. They all have the concept of hatred and comfort mixed up. They no longer believe in the reason of law, the rationale of law, and they certainly don't believe in the Judeo-Christian tradition."

As a consequence, he observed, every single hate speech complaint that has been made against a Christian or conservative has resulted in a conviction. For this reason, he says, it is time to step up the push for the elimination of or the restructuring of the human rights commissions which, de Valk says, have become the tool of a very small minority of radical activists, and which are therefore "threatening the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion of a good number of Canadians."

De Valk cited in particular the recent case of Steve Boissoin, an Alberta pastor who was hauled before a human rights commission for having written a letter to the editor in a local newspaper defending Christian teaching on homosexuality. Only last week Boissoin was ordered to apologize to the complainant in his case, to pay him a significant sum of money, and to never speak or write about homosexuality again. De Valk called the Boissoin ruling, "an outrageous ruling by an outrageous commission peopled by outrageous administrators."

The editor of CI says that he is not hopeful that his magazine will win the case against it. "There's no reason why we should be [hopeful]. We have an iron-clad case if you go by truth. But if you don't go by truth, then everything is up in the air."

De Valk says that the recent actions of the Human Rights Commissions are simply the latest manifestation of a "process that has been going on in Canada for the last 40 years, beginning with the birth control, and the divorce legislation in 1968-69 and especially the abortion legislation in 69.

"Canadian law," says de Valk, "which before was still within the context of a Christian culture, is now being emptied out of Christian culture. Instead, it is being replaced with the darkness of atheism. And atheism doesn't believe that there is truth. And if there's no truth, well, then your opinion is as good as anyone else's. That's why we have the legislation allowing the killing of unborn babies. And now we have all the other things, one after the other. Divorce by demand. And then homosexual marriage being introduced into Canadian law, and replacing the old Judeo-Christian version of voluntary union of one man and one woman for life - that has been thrown out and replaced with the union between two people. If parliament can do that then they could decide that marriage could be between five people, or any other combination, whatever comes into their heads."

In addition to the human rights complaint, the magazine has also had to engage legal counsel to deal with frivolous and unsuccessful actions launched by a homosexually "married" Toronto resident and disgruntled former Catholic seminarian, who wrote in an August 21, 2007 posting on the http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com website with respect to opposing religious institutions, "As long as the disruption is non-violent and it is proportionate to the provocation, then I think that it may be acceptable. It may not be legal, it may not be pretty, but it may be morally acceptable in some cases."

This individual's campaign of "disruption" against Catholic Insight has included attempting to strip the magazine of its funding under Heritage Canada's Publications Assistance Program and filing a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

In the meantime, concludes de Valk, supporters of CI and free speech in Canada, "Can write their members of parliament, their provincial members, and spread the word that these commissions must be revised, must be changed. "Just as the Ontario government allowed the Ontario Human Rights commission to make this ruling about Christian Horizons, which is completely unacceptable; just as the Alberta government gave its permission to make this absurd ruling about Reverend Boissoin; and just as the B.C. government allowed this tribunal with Mark Steyn to go forward last week - these governments must be held responsible. So people must agitate and make it an issue throughout the country. The hate laws should be revised by the federal government. Supporters can write their own members of parliament and start putting political pressure to have this very threatening law changed."


More photography paranoia

This also happens in England but it is even crazier in Australia. You can display nude pictures of little girls as "art" but cannot photograph your own children. Beat that!

Parents are furious after being banned from taking photographs of their children at weekend sporting events. They say the Bill Henson affair has made sports clubs paranoid about allowing them to photograph their children. Henson was cleared after police seized naked photographs of a 13- year-old girl from an art gallery.

Netball, basketball, rugby league, AFL, cricket, soccer and baseball clubs have imposed rules to prevent photos of young players being taken without the consent of all parents and coaches. NSW's Macarthur junior baseball league president Maud Goldfinch said parents had to sign a form confirming they would not take photographs without permission. Ms Goldfinch said that as a parent, she did not agree with the policy, which deprived children of happy sporting memories. "A lot of parents don't agree with what's going on. "They're quite upset by not being able to take photos of their children - they see it as an invasion of their privacy. "The Bill Henson (saga) brought it to a head. It's made people more aware ... and it brings debate around the topic."

Parents also need to give permission before photographs are uploaded to the club's website. One father said he was made to feel like a pedophile while photographing his eight-year-old daughter on the netball court. Michael Bianchino lodged a complaint with the Hills District Netball Association after it forbade him to photograph his daughter, Mia, during an under-nine match at Pennant Hills Park on May 31. "The way I was treated, I was made to feel like a pedophile," Mr Bianchino said. "I just said: 'I'm taking photos of my daughter - if anyone has a problem with their child being in the image, let me know."'

Club president Jennie Thompson repeatedly refused to comment on the incident, but said the club's policy was that parents could take photographs only after seeking permission. "Our stance and our club's stance is that we ask people to obtain permission prior to taking photographs of junior players," she said.

Cherrybrook United Netball Club president Debbie Whittle said it was hard to get permission from every parent, so few photographs were taken. "You want to get these memories for your children to keep. "It's an important part of their childhood, and you're limited because of all these rulings about getting permission," she said.



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

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

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


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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Amazing: Britain to mandate annual "safety" inspections of all garden trees

At huge overall cost

Homeowners face having to pay a specialist to inspect their trees under a safety regime drawn up by one of Britain's most respected watchdogs. The British standard for tree safety inspection would require all trees to be checked by a "trained person" every three years, with a still more rigorous "expert inspection" by an arboriculturist every five years. Tree owners will also be obliged to conduct a "walk-by" inspection themselves once a year.

The drive to make all trees subject to inspection is being led not by the Health and Safety Executive - which opposes the move - but by the British Standards Institution (BSI). Highly respected in the building and engineering industries, it is better known for its views on the composition of cement than on the health of trees.

Its proposals come despite the low risk posed by trees to the public. On average six people a year are killed by falling trees, making the probability of a fatal accident less than one in two million. This compares with 647 deaths from tripping down stairs or steps.

Under the health and safety principles that have governed trees for 60 years, the risk they pose is "tolerable", and no inspection regime is necessary if the probability of death is less than one in one million each year. But the BSI was prompted to act after several legal cases appeared to challenge the existing regime. In 2006 Gary Poll, a motorcyclist, collided with a fallen branch on a road in Somerset and made a claim against the landowners. The judge ruled that if arboriculturists had been called in, the accident could have been averted.

But critics say that the BSI is overreacting and fear that a tree standard would spawn a new industry of tree inspection - a bonanza for arboriculturists but extra cost for homeowners, local authorities and landowners. Many tree surgeons do not currently charge to inspect garden trees because it normally leads to work. Tree Care, a company in West London, is typical. It does not charge for inspections and quotes but the charge for the most basic work is 160 pounds. However, some companies who work for large landowners do offer an inspection service. Prices start at 300. However, those consulted by The Times yesterday said that if they were being called out for numerous routine inspection visits they would have to charge about 70 pounds a time, or more if they had to climb the tree.

The tree standard is currently a draft, subject to public consultation, but many tree owners are not sure how to make their views known. The new British Standard would cover trees growing anywhere near where the public had access, or within falling distance of man-made structures such as other properties. It also covers areas where "branch shedding or whole tree failure could potentially cause severe harm or loss of life".

A recently established risk watchdog, charged with halting the march of the "nanny state", has intervened to try to get the BSI to think again. The Risk and Regulation Advisory Council said that the level of risk posed by trees did not warrant a national inspection regime. "The risk from trees has not increased. We believe the existing legal principle effective for the last 60 years is sufficient," Rick Haythornthwaite, the council's chairman, said. "This is a perfect example of how the pressure to regulate to minimise public risk can lead to wholly undesirable outcomes if left unchallenged."

He also accuses "risk entrepreneurs" in the tree industry for seeking regulation to maximise the perception of risk. "The result is a set of standards for which they are perfectly placed to provide profitable solutions," he said.

A spokeswoman for the BSI defended its decision to set standards for trees. "We issue standards in all sorts of areas, including businesses such as estate agents," she said. "We hope to issue the standard early next year and everyone is able to comment on the draft up until July 31."


Oil Drilling and the Collective Madness of the U.S. Congress

There is something pathetic about Americans begging the House of Saud to produce another 300,000-500,000 barrels of oil per day, while in mindless fashion repeating the mantra, "We can't drill our way out of this problem" - as if anyone suggested absolute oil independence was the goal rather than more supply to deflate tight conditions that encourage speculation. Americans, who invented the oil industry, are beginning to resemble H.G. Wells' Eloi in our refined paralysis.

Exploration and oil production are an issue that is absolutely explosive for Democrats, given their perennial resistance to ANWR, coastal and deep ocean drilling, tar sands, shale, liquid coal, and nuclear. And the irony is that their opposition to drilling - dismissing each potential find or field with the reductionist "it would be only 500,000 barrels," "a mere million barrels," or "just a few cents off a gallon of gas" - is classically illiberal to the point of either callousness or abject madness.


(1) Social Justice: The poorer, inordinately in far cheaper 2nd-hand used gas guzzlers, who have less access to pricey new hybrids and imported small cars, are hurt the most, especially those in rural communities without mass transit.

(2) The Environment: Given the demands of two billion users in China and India, the world is going to go after oil, whether we like it or not. U.S. oil companies and American environmental legislation are the most ecologically friendly in the world. Each time we refuse to pump a barrel of oil, someone else in this fungible market will - and with far less concern for the health of planet Earth. Again, there is something appalling in de facto saying to others - "Drill off your coasts and in your fragile deserts and beside your lakes so I can fuel my Lexus SUV and Volvo - and cherish the comforting thought I would never do that in my ANWR."

(3) National Security: At $140 a barrel of oil we have little influence in warning the world about Iranian nukes, or Middle-East money leaking to Islamic terrorists, or Saudi-funded madrassas, or the cynicism of Hugo Chavez or Russian strong-arm tactics toward Europe; at less than $50 the world begins to appear far less dangerous and far more rational.

(4) Financial Sanity: U.S. exporters are doing brilliantly, with help from a weak dollar, but our efforts to produce and sell abroad are increasingly all for naught, given the enormous cost of imported oil. Each time we invest American know-how and expertise in selling abroad a skip-loader or bushel of wheat or new software program that once explained our national wealth, we simply buy another barrel of foreign oil at $140 that often costs the far-less-adept less than $5 to pump. In contrast, the tens of billions we would save by even shaving 3 to 4 million barrels per day from our imported appetites would radically redefine both our trade balances and the dollar.

(5) Alternate Fuels/New Energies: No one is talking about more the return of Hummers and Escalades or a mythical $2 a gallon gas. Rather, with demand down, and the public aware that oil is finite and will remain tight, drilling provides a needed window to transition us to electrical plug-ins, biofuels, fuel cells, etc. without endangering our national security - or going broke or seeing a nuke go off in the Middle East.

(6) Food versus Fuel: I don't understand in moral terms how worrying about the terrain in 2,000 acres in a multimillion-acre Alaska trumps diverting one-fifth to one-fourth of our corn acreage away from animal and human foods to produce transportation fuel. People worldwide are in dire straits, given rising food prices, while we, in anti-humanistic fashion, complain about the view from Santa Barbara or a herd on the tundra.


Quebec Judge Overrules Father's Decision to Ground His Sixth-Grade Daughter

So much for parental rights and responsibility in semi-Fascist Canada

A Quebec youngster has used the courts to avoid parental discipline in a "landmark" case. The 12-year-old girl, who is too young to be named, went to court to force her father to overturn his decision not to allow her to go on a school trip. Her father had decided to ground her after he found out she had posted photos of herself on a dating website against his wishes. The sixth grader then took her father to court, arguing that his punishments were too severe.

Madam Justice Suzanne Tessier of the Quebec Superior Court ruled today that denying the girl permission to go on the school trip was an excessive punishment. The girl's lawyer, Lucie Fortin, said, "She's becoming a big girl" and described the school trip as "a unique event in her life", the Globe and Mail reported.

In arguing the case, Fortin cited Sections 159 and 604 of the Quebec Civil Code, which allow minors in some circumstances to initiate court proceedings relating to the exercise of parental authority. Section 159 is used in "extreme circumstances", such as cases of parental negligence.

The father's lawyer, Kim Beaudoin said that her client is "stunned by this situation. He feels like he's lost his daughter". He is appealing the court's decision.

Although the child got what she wanted, others are saying that court has blazed new paths into the very heart of the family, which compounds the growing threat of state interference in private life in Canada. Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the decision "another chilling precedent", saying that it was so outrageous that it sounded like a parody. "This judge needs to be grounded and sent to her room," Mohler wrote. He points out that the rules the girl broke, and which the court has helped her to flout, were put in place for her own protection. Police have identified online dating sites as a common window through which sexual predators gain access to children.

"For years, we have been warned that the courts were poised to usurp parental authority. We have seen chilling judicial precedents and the encroaching reach of bureaucrats and government agents...Parents are supplanted by professionals who are 'experts' in raising other people's children." Mohler notes that the reaction in Canada is one of growing outrage.

The Ottawa Citizen quoted Gene Colman, a veteran Toronto family lawyer who founded the Canadian Journal of Family Law, who said, "It sounds unbelievable. I've never heard of this before."

Ottawa family lawyer Fred Cogan said, "I think it's state interference where the court shouldn't be interfering." "I've got six kids," Mr. Cogan said. "I certainly wouldn't want a judge watching over everything that I do, and I wouldn't want my kids being able to run to the judge."

But it was Lorne Gunter, writing in his regular column for the National Post, who had the strongest words, rebuking Judge Tessier for not laughing the case out of court. Gunter quotes Fortin saying of the girl's school camping trip, "For me that was really important." Gunter responds, "So what? Just who are you? Are you the kid's parent? Are you a relative of any sort? No? So why, then, does your opinion matter? And if it does matter, how is court action appropriate?"

"Here is a father who has full-time custody struggling to keep his daughter from getting caught up in the whole world of Internet predators, while also dealing with all the issues of discipline and conflicted loyalties that arise from divorce, and now the court has made his task far more difficult." "Even if his punishment is an overreaction, unless the judge wants to take over raising his daughter directly, calling all the shots, making all the emotional, on-the-ground, late-night decisions, the judge should butt out."


The real war on Islam

There is a real war on Islam. No, it's not waged by Israel, the US or the rest of the western world. It's waged by radical Islamists who are hijacking their religion and seeking to make the whole world into an Islamic Caliphate.

Islam is a religion like Judaism, Christianity or other religions. Previously, the Muslims were seen as desert people. Then because of the radical Islamist bombings, kidnappings and hijackings, it became associated in some people's minds with terrorism. Most people understand that radical Islamist terrorism doesn't represent all of Islam.

The political correct liberals have called Islamophobes, bigots or racists anyone who doesn't want to put up with the threat of radical Islam even though they're not talking about Islam when talking about the threat of the radical Islamists.

Many people don't understand the plight of the moderates, as they battle with the radicals for the control of their religion. While there are moderate Muslims who battle with radicals tirelessly to prevent it from being hijacked by the radicals, there are also Muslims who pretend to be moderate. The Muslim Brotherhood has pretended to be moderate while supporting terrorism on Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood's goal is the to have a Fundamentalist Sunni caliphate dominate the world. While some factions of the MB use terrorism,at least some factions of the Muslim Brotherhood have used the political process to achieve their goals. The Muslim Brotherhood has the same goals and interpretations of Islam as Al Quada. But unlike Al Quada, the Muslim Brotherhood also uses the political process.

Al Quada's goal is also to have a Sunni caluphate dominate the world. But Al Quada only engages in terrorism. The Muslim Brotherhood funds and incites radical islamist terrorism. Radical Islamist indoctrination is the cause of all suicide bombings including the Palestinian ones. The male suicide bombers [the majority of suicide bombers] believe that they'll go to heaven and get 72 virgins after they die for Allah in fighting the infidels. The women suicide bombers such as the Palestinian ones also believe they're fighting for Allah and that they'll go to heaven. However, they believe they're one of the virgins. They do it for honor.

Poverty is a contributing factor to the cause of suicide bombings. But it's not the root cause. When it comes to the cause of Palestinian suicide bombings, despite the opposition to the Israeli occupation and policies, it plays a small role.

The first suicide bombings happened in the early '90's when Israel was gradually trading land for peace to prepare for a gradual creation of a Palestinian state and while Israel was preparing for peace. A huge series of them happened in 1995 and 1996 when 98% of the Palestinian people were no longer under Israeli rule. The suicide bombings resulted in the Likud leader Binyamin Netanyhu's election victory because the Israeli public saw him as someone who could provide some security.

When Israel fought back when Netanyahu was Prime Minister, terrorism decreased. From 1967 until 1987, only a handful of Palestinians became terrorists. Life in the Palestinian territories was still pretty normal. The economy in the territories improved. Israel was still unpopular politically, as most Palestinians preferred to live under Arab rule. Israel sought to trade land for peace and had no peace partner.

In 1987, there was the first intifada, which got more Palestinians to go fighting Israel. Then came Oslo. The Oslo peace process resulted in more Palestinians supporting and seeking to become terrorists. While Israel complied with their agreements, the Palestinian Authority violated their agreements. Their widespread propaganda called for terrorism and the destruction of Israel. Suicide bombers were [and are] portrayed as heroic shahids and the propaganda stated that suicide bombers were holy Islamic fighters who were fighting off the evil Jewish infidels from Palestine, which, according to the propaganda, includes modern day Israel.

When restrictions are more harsh, which result from terrorism, terrorism decreases. The security fence has helped to dramatically decrease suicide bombings. The 2005 disengagement from Gaza resulted in rocket attacks escalating. As radical Islam promotes suicide bombings, moderate Muslims claim it contradicts Islam because Islam forbids suicide.

The extreme left has collaborated with the radical Islamists because of their hatred of the US and the west, which led to their hatred of their ally Israel, which ended up being the US's important ally and agreeing with the US on most [though not all] issues. The PC propaganda in Europe is far worse than America. Not only are you a bigot, racist and/or Islamophobe if you want to fight the Islamo-fascists, but the PC nonsense there says that the west's [especially America's] foreign policy has treated their Muslim citizens and the ones in the Middle East so badly that they had no choice but to bomb innocent men women and children in cold blood.

In America, at least there's more toleration for the side that says that radical Islamists attack us because we're infidels and that we have to fight them. Yes, President Bush is right that they hate freedom. It's a major obstacle to their totalitarian goal. Their beliefs contradict the basic concepts of freedom and democracy. They stone people to death. They'll kill you for converting from Islam to another faith. Their evil Nazi-like ideology hates freedom.

According to the PC in Europe, radical Islamist terrorism is seen as something terrible but also something coming from them because of the desperate conditions created by their governments. People killed for expressing their views that radical Islamists hate and seen by them as anti-Islamic are killed. If you say that you won't tolerate it and you need to fight for your freedom and democracy, according to the PC propaganda system, you're a bigot, a racist or an Islamophobe.

The PC system has made it okay to bash every religion excluding Islam. But if you give any criticism toward Islam, then you're a racist. To the European PC system, the killing of people by radical Muslims are seen as people who got what was coming to them because they were spreading anti-Islamic bigotry. The PC in Europe portray Israel as an imperialist nation that wants to take over Palestine and oppress it's people for the heck of it, creating desperate conditions there for terrorism on Israel. According to the European PC, the Israelis had what was coming to them, as terrorism there is seen as the only weapon to fight Israeli oppression. The PC propaganda portrays Israel as a proxy to US imperialism. The conflict in the holy land and the US-Israel relationship is far more complicated than how European PC liberals portray it. Yet that's exactly what a totalitarian dictatorship is. You kill innocent people in cold blood because of their views and you justify it by saying they're too dangerous.

The PC is not actually helping Islam. It's allowing Islam to be hijacked. Anyone who says the truth about what's going on is a bigot, a racist or an Islamophobe. Many victims of radical Islam are Muslims. Real moderate Muslims understand the threat and are trying desperately to expose the threat. Radical Islamists claim that the infidels [especially the Jews and Christians] are fighting a war on Islam and that it's their duty to spread jihad until Islam conquers the world.

The radical Islamists are a huge global movement. It's not isolated extremists. It is true that it only represents a part of Islam, a part that is trying to hijack the religion. Only extremely few of the Fundamentalist Christians as well as the Kahanists [the Kahanists are condemned by most Jews, most Israelis and the Israeli government] i.e. the ones who truly are isolated extremists, are Islamophobic.

The radicals are helping to build up their case by their terrorism, even though it's still just a few isolated nuts, who spread racism against the Muslims. There are different types of racism, many that are bigger than the anti-Muslim or anti-Arab one. Islamo-fascists and Islamo-Nazis are legitimate and accurate terms when meaning the radical Islamists. It doesn't mean Islam. They're very politically incorrect. But the radical Islamists really do hold fascist and Nazi like views and claim to be doing their attacks in the name of Islam.

The Nazis believed that Aryans were superior to everyone else. Radical Islam feels the same way about the Muslims. The Nazis persecuted and put into concentration camps non-aryans. Non-Muslims are getting persecuted by radical Islamists. In their society, they'd be persecuted. They both want to make global empires, Hitler an an Aryan one and the Islamo-fascists, an Islamic one.

When Hitler was threatening the world, the world was asleep. The same thing is happening today. Both ideologies hated the Jews. Hitler's holocaust helped find him allies in the Middle East. It was one of the factors that gave him allies there. Radical Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Arab nationalists such as the Baath party and the Free Officers collaborated with the Nazis. Al-Husseini, the Palestinian leader also collaborated with them. Al-Husseini commanded two Bosnian Muslim SS divisions. He supported Hitler's holocaust on the Jews and said to "kill the Jews wherever you find them."

The radical Islamists are publicly speaking about their evil goals as Hitler did in Mein Kampf, which, along with the protocols of the elders of Zion, which is a well-known anti-Semitic hoax, are becoming best sellers among radical Islamists and to many anti-Semites in the Middle East. It's becoming a best-seller in the Middle East. I'm not saying most Muslims in the Middle East have it or believe it. Many there do believe it. Anti-Semitism in the Middle East is becoming a big issue.

While the world condemned the Danish newspapers for making fun of Muhammad with political cartoons, which caused there to be riots, Arab newspapers have for decades and still do today have anti-Semitic political cartoons. When people are attacked for talking about violence in Islam or for saying something they dislike, it does send the message, whether it's true or not, that Islam is violent. The moderate Muslims are heroically fighting the radical Islamist ideology and should be supported. The moderate Muslims are even risking their lives to expose the radical Islamists, which shows how courageous they are.



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

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

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


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Evil British police again

A one-legged Royal Navy veteran was arrested after he rescued his neighbour from being harassed by two men. Stephen Beerling, 52, dialled 999 and raced to help the women and her baby after hearing screams during the night. But he was arrested when officers spotted a retractable truncheon he had picked up in case he had to protect himself.

Mr Beerling, a Liberal Democrat councillor, was arrested, locked up for 12 hours and charged with possessing an offensive weapon. He told of his ordeal yesterday after learning the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to drop the charge against him. Mr Beerling, of Maidstone, Kent, said: ' I am relieved, but very disappointed it even came to this. I don't blame the police but maybe they should have used their noggin. Perhaps they were a little inexperienced. The blame lies with the CPS - I just cannot understand why they wanted to press charges.'

Mr Beerling said the drama began at 2.30am on March 19 when he was woken by screams from his next door neighbour and her baby, and the sound of men shouting. He called police and strapped on the false leg he has worn since his leg was amputated in March 2004 while he was still serving with the Royal Navy. Aware he was probably outnumbered, he picked up the telescopic truncheon and put it in his back pocket. Mr Beerling then hurried downstairs and went outside where he said his neighbour was being harassed by two men.

He tried to calm the men down while he waited for police. Officers later arrested both suspects and charged them with affray. But then they also arrested him when they saw the truncheon. Mr Beerling was taken to Maidstone police station, kept in a cell overnight and charged. His case was due at crown court this week but on Wednesday the CPS decided to drop the charge.

The former sailor said: 'When they tried to open the truncheon, it was all rusted up. I've had it for years and it's just been in a drawer. 'It could be classed as an offensive weapon if it was taken out in public and used with intent. I hadn't even taken it out of my pocket. 'But I wouldn't think twice about stepping in to help people again. I could not have stood by and let it go. 'The most important thing for right-thinking people is to stand up to criminals who blight our society.'

Kent Police and Senior Crown Prosecutor Janet Garnon-Williams said in a statement: 'A decision has been taken jointly to discontinue the case as there is not a realistic prospect of conviction.' A police spokesman said the two men arrested with Mr Beerling were charged with affray, but the cases were later dropped. One was charged with possession of cannabis and fined 100 pounds by Maidstone magistrates.


More British "safety" idiocy

Sports day cancelled because uneven playing field is a health and safety risk. But it's much better for kids to learn not to trip over things when they are young. It's part of growing up

A school sports day has been cancelled over health and safety fears, because teaching staff are worried that the children could trip up on the uneven playing field. The head teacher of Holmbush First School in Shoreham, West Sussex, has written to parents to tell them that the annual event has been called off to avoid accidents. Rebecca Jackson told them that the surface of the school's playing field could be "too dangerous" for the traditional sack, egg-and-spoon, wheelbarrow and three-legged races. She said there were concerns that cracks and holes in the surface could cause the young pupils to "trip or fall".

But parents have said the decision to ban sports day, which was scheduled for July 14, is "ludicrous". Louise Powell, 32, a physiotherapist, was unimpressed when her daughter Maisie, five, came home from school with the letter. She said: "The school produces a newsletter every month. The latest issue said they've cancelled sports day for health and safety issues because the ground is uneven. "I'm absolutely furious because we were so looking forward to it. We were excited because it would have been Maisie's first sports day, it's really upset me. It's ludicrous. "I did sports day on ground that was uneven. Our playing field was on a slope and I know my husband did his on ground that was probably uneven. "When we were kids, you just got on with it." She added other parents and children were equally disappointed.

Another mum, who didn't want to be named, said: "Part of the fun of school sports days is running about and falling over all over the place - especially the three-legged race. "You are expected to fall over when you take part in a three-legged race, that's almost the point of it."

However, Mrs Jackson has defended the decision. She said the field, which has recently been acquired by the school, was used as farmland and is not yet ready for use by the 267 pupils. She said: "The school has not had a sports day before and we were hoping to organise one this year because we have had some playing field access. "But we have inspected the field and it's not yet ready to be used for sports day because of cracks and holes in the surface, which could be dangerous and cause children to trip or fall."


More on differing male/female brains

Women and men may genuinely think in different ways, according to research that has found subtle genetic variations between their brains. Hundreds of genes that are switched on and off differently in the male and female brain have been identified, suggesting that many patterns of behaviour regarded widely as typical of each sex could be founded on nature as well as nurture.

Dozens of mental traits and skills are said to differ between men and women. They include empathy, aggression, risk-taking, navigation and the qualities that are valued most in a sexual partner.

The existence of such differences is now widely accepted, but natural and social scientists have long disagreed about the extent to which they are rooted in our underlying biology, or are learnt through male and female social roles. Women are generally more accomplished than men at empathising with other people, and usually score as more compassionate on standard personality tests. Men are more prone to aggression and risk-taking behaviour, and tend to be proficient at understanding and devising systems, from car engines to the offside law.

While there are no sex differences in general intelligence, women tend to have stronger visual memories, while men are more proficient at visualising objects when rotated in space. It has been suggested that this may reflect the way most men like to navigate by reading maps, while many women prefer to remember landmarks.

Such observations have led Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, of the University of Cambridge, to suggest the existence of "empathising-type" and "systemising-type" brains, the first of which is more common among men and the second among women. Professor Baron-Cohen said: "This is a very original study, testing which genes are expressed differently in males and females across different primate species. It confirms the supposition that genetic sex differences are expressed not just in the secondary sexual characteristics in the body, but in the brain. "Finding genes that are conserved across species points to the evolution of these genetic sex differences, and finding them in the brain suggests that they may in part influence the way the mind works, and in part influence our behaviour."

Men and women also differ in their approach to finding sexual partners. Men generally place a higher value on youth and good looks, while women are often more attracted by status.

The new study, led by Elena Jazin, of the University of Uppsala in Sweden, does not directly prove that any of these traits is related to differences in gene activity, but it shows a contrasting genetic architecture of male and female brains that could plausibly contribute. While the two sexes have the same basic genes, many of these are more active in the brains of only one sex. These gender-specific patterns of gene expression could affect many aspects of behaviour, the researchers said.

"The obvious question to follow is whether or not these signatures of sex in the brain have physiological significance for brain physiology and/or behaviour," they wrote in the journal Public Library of Science Genetics. "Our results suggest that variation in expression of genes in the brain may be an important component of behavioural variation within as well as between species." The differences could also explain sex variations in mental health and neurological diseases: women, for instance, are more at risk of depression and Alzheimer's.

"Knowledge about gender differences is important for many reasons," Dr Jazin said. "For example, this information may be used in the future to calculate medical dosages, as well as for other treatments of diseases or damage to the brain."The scientists said that their work needed to be followed up to examine whether any human behavioural or health differences were related to the sex-specific gene expression profiles.


A separate orthodox branch is justified by homosexual bishops, say Conservative Anglicans

A new "orthodox" movement must be created within the Anglican Communion because of the divisive issue of homosexual clergy, claims a leading traditionalist. Dr Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney, said Anglican leaders in America had driven the worldwide church to the brink of schism by ordaining the first openly gay bishop, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, in 2003.

He insisted he and other conservatives were trying to preserve the Communion and remain faithful to scripture by proposing new structures. Dr Jensen said, at the start of a breakaway summit in Jerusalem: "If there is a schism we believe it is the North American churches that have rent the Communion and it is us who are trying to renew the Communion."

As The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday, a document produced by the leaders of the Gafcon conference states that "there is no longer any hope for a unified Communion" because of divisions over homosexual clergy and same-sex unions. Some hardliners say the only way they can remain faithful to scripture is through "amputation" from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the establishment of a new wing outside the existing church.

However Dr Jensen said the crisis over sexuality would just lead to a "realignment" in the balance of power to Africa and South America and a new movement within the Communion. He said issues such as homosexual clergy are of "such monumental significance'' that the creation of a new orthodox branch was justified.



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

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

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


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Friday, June 20, 2008

Muslim woman not given job as a hairdresser gets $8,000 for "hurt feelings"

Since people are not usually awarded large sums of money for hurt feelings, we have to assume that Muslim feelings are especially important. So whence equality before the law?

A Muslim woman has been awarded 4,000 pounds for "injury to feelings" after a hair salon owner refused to employ her because she wears a headscarf. Bushra Noah accused Sarah Desrosiers, owner of a trendy central London hair salon, of religious discrimination after she failed to offer her a job in May last year. A panel sitting at the central London employment tribunal dismissed her claim of direct discrimination but upheld her complaint of indirect discrimination.

Mrs Noah, of Acton, west London, applied for a job as a junior assistant at the Wedge salon in King's Cross. Giving its judgment, the tribunal said it accepted that Ms Desrosiers said that Mrs Noah lived too far away but was persuaded to give her an interview. But when the 19-year-old applicant arrived at the salon she claimed that the Canadian salon owner was clearly shocked by the fact she wore a headscarf.

Ms Desrosiers told the tribunal she was surprised that the younger woman had not mentioned it earlier. She said she needed stylists to reflect the "funky, urban" image of her salon and showcase alternative hairstyles. If an applicant had a conventional hairstyle she would insist that it was re-styled in a more "alternative" way, she said. After a 15-minute meeting she and Mrs Noah parted and both parties told the tribunal it was obvious that the 19-year-old would not be offered the job.

The panel refused an application by Mrs Noah for aggravated damages and rejected her claims that the episode had put her off hairdressing, finding that she applied for further salon jobs before deciding to retrain in tourism. But they did find that she had been badly upset by the 15-minute interview and awarded Mrs Noah 4,000 pounds damages for "injury to feelings".

In their judgment, the panel stated: "We were satisfied by the respondent's evidence that the claimant was not treated less favourably than the respondent would have treated a woman who, whether Muslim or not, for a reason other than religious belief wears a hair covering at all times when at work." But they also concluded: "There was no specific evidence before us as to what would (for sure) have been the actual impact of the claimant working in her salon with her head covered at all times. "We concluded that, on a critical and balanced assessment, the degree of risk, while real, should not be assumed to be as great at the respondent believed."

Ms Desrosiers, 32, said: "I feel it is a bit steep for what actually happened. It's really scary for a small business. "I never in a million years dreamt that somebody would be completely against the display of hair and be in this industry. I don't feel I deserve it." She said she still had not appointed someone to the job and had decided to "leave it for a while".


Almost 1000 days in hell - for what?

Reuters today reports yet another exoneration in the matter of Haditha: A military judge on Tuesday dismissed the case against the highest-ranking U.S. Marine charged in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians at Haditha, whittling down the list of those who must still face justice for the 2005 killings to just the accused ringleader. Military Judge Col. Steven Folsom dropped all charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, who was accused of violating a lawful order and dereliction of duty.Folsom threw out the charges against Chessani after finding that a four-star general who oversaw the investigation was influenced by an investigator who later became his advisor.

The appalling Congressman Jack Murtha in 2006 found the Marines guilty of "murder" with zero evidence, and did so on the national stage: "Who covered it up, why did they cover it up, why did they wait so long?" Murtha said on "This Week" on ABC. "We don't know how far it goes. It goes right up the chain of command."."I will not excuse murder, and this is what happened.This is worse than Abu Ghraib."

Haditha happened in November 2005. The Haditha Massacre entered the lexicon shortly after that, as a result of irresponsible, biased reporting in TIME Magazine and the MSM, and irresponsible, biased accusations like that by Congressman Murtha, all apparently in the service of an anti-war agenda with no consideration for the actual servicemen fighting actual battles with their lives at risk.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani and his comrades have suffered nearly 1000 days in hell from this persecution for no good reason whatsoever - and to the detriment of our armed services and the fine men who protect our freedoms. Who will give them back the three years of their lives that our enemies in Iraq, with the help of our media and Congress, have taken from them?


The Unity Weapon

Next time you hear a liberal politician speaking, check your watch and count the seconds until you hear a call for unity. The problem -- we're told -- is that we are divided, and consequently, more interested in fighting than in solving problems. Barack Obama offers a good, if somewhat self-congratulatory, example from a speech he gave after winning the North Carolina primary election -
"...it's possible to overcome the politics of division and distraction; that it's possible to overcome the same old negative attacks that are always about scoring points and never about solving our problems."
The idea of "unity" has emerged as a potent talisman for Left. Much the same way a charge of racism bring things to a screeching halt, unity and divisiveness (its evil counterpart) are used with great effect to stifle inconvenient conversations across America. How reasonable are expectations of unity? Why should it be essential that we come together and work toward solutions? As often the case when we travel through the looking glass into left wing politics, almost everything on the topic is exactly opposite of what a rational person might assume.

Unreasonable Expectations of Unity

Morality: Calls for unity are frequently heard in the context of issues concerning religious morality. Opposition to abortion and non-traditional marriage are both often characterized by the Left as "wedge issues", as if religions dating back several millennia were specifically crafted to provide talking points in some 21st century political contest.

The term "wedge issue" is noteworthy. What exactly does this mean? The fact that there are two separate opinions on a subject and a politician is attempting to clearly distinguish his or her position on such is supposed to be a bad thing? Isn't that the point of politics? Isn't this the point of freedom of speech, debate, and assembly?

Another oft-heard complaint is that the opposition is inflexible and not open to compromise. The fallacy here is that every issue has a middle ground in which the Left and right can meet without surrendering their principles. In our own checkered past of slavery and Jim Crow is it not a blessing that the abolitionists and civil rights protesters were unwilling to seek that "middle ground"? Does anyone, in hindsight, look back fondly on the Missouri Compromise?

More often than not, when religious citizens have agreed to compromise the "end-point" of negotiations becomes nothing more than a way-station from which to launch further demands after a brief intermission in the debate. This dynamic is clearly evidenced by the evolution of California's Domestic Partnership laws into a, previously unknown, constitutional right to marriage.

Ideological Unity: As well as demanding unity on issues of faith, liberals are also often outraged at divisions of an ideological nature. This statement on Illegal Immigration policy from Barack Obama's website illustrates the point :
"Barack Obama has played a leading role in crafting comprehensive immigration reform. Obama believes the immigration issue has been exploited by politicians to divide the nation rather than find real solutions."
Note the use of language. People who do not agree with Mr. Obama's immigration policies are "exploiting" the issue to "divide" the nation -- as opposed to Barack Obama who is interested in finding "real solutions". To disagree with him is to "exploit" and "divide," which is nothing more than respectable code for hurling the r-word.

Scientific Consensus: Al Gore has a lot to say on this subject. The following screed aimed at the so-called "global warming denier" sums it up nicely:
"The debate is over! There's no longer any debate in the scientific community about this. But the political systems around the world have held this at arm's length because it's an inconvenient truth, because they don't want to accept that it's a moral imperative."
By definition, expecting unity in matters of science violates the core principles of the scientific method. Although theories can be generally accepted, they are only as strong as their ability to refute alternative hypothesis. There was once a strong "scientific consensus" for the idea that the Earth was the center of the universe. The preposterous notion that the planets revolved around the Sun was as far from the mainstream as you could get, and divisive. Too ancient an example? How about the scientific consensus surrounding racial classifications and eugenics which were popular in Europe and America in the 20's and 30's? Seems unthinkable today but these were mainstream opinions, backed by a healthy majority of biological and social scientists.

The idea that skeptics to all, or part, of the theory of anthropogenic global warming should just fall in with the rest of the crowd is a great disservice to renegades like Copernicus and Galileo who rejected the prevailing consensus to advance what - at the time - were very radical ideas.

Reasonable Expectations of Unity

There are at least two areas where an expectation of some degree of political unity is appropriate: solidarity in times of war and standards for citizenship and national identity. In both cases the Left's previous demands for unity fall away to leave nothing but the rustling of grass and the sound of crickets. In these cases we are told that not only is it an unreasonable expectation, it is indeed their duty to speak out. Presto chango -- a wedge issue becomes "the highest form of patriotism".

Unity in a Time of War: It is not fair to ask citizens living in a free country to keep their opinions to themselves in the run up to a war. This is usually a period of great debate with legitimate differences of opinion, tactics, and ideology on all sides. Clearly this is no time to call for unity.

The same cannot be said of a country which is currently engaged in a conflict. Unless the war in question is thoroughly barbaric and wrong, (think Hitler in Poland or the Japanese in Nanking), the reasonable expectation is to present a united front. This does not mean that all citizens agree with every tactic, or even the majority decision to fight. It means that once you've committed to the course of action you do your best to pull together and win.

Obviously there is always a role for reasonable criticism and self-examination, (i.e., Abu Ghraib, or rethinking tactics prior to the surge), but it should be done within the context of a country that is united in winning the conflict. This license has been radically expanded, reaching points -- as in the case of the New York Times publishing sensitive details of previously effective anti-terror programs -- arguably just short of treason.

Unity of Identity as Americans: The motto on our coins -- E Pluribus Unum -- says it all. Roughly translated as "Out of Many - One," it is a sentiment which has served us practically as well as poetically. For almost 200 years, it was unquestioned that immigrants would cede allegiance to their country of origin and adopt the language, customs and culture of America. No one expected them to forget where they'd come from, but clearly it was well understood that assimilation was the desired end point. Immigrants chose to come here and were allowed in with varying numbers. Americans generally welcomed them, providing they too loved and appreciated the country that had offered them shelter and opportunity in their time of need.

Somewhere around 1965 Liberals began attacking this social contract. The rise of multiculturalism with its emphasis on the left side of the hyphen, (i.e., Mexican-American), and its relentless balkanization of the country into hostile competing camps has recast one of our great societal assets as an oppressive form of subjugation.

Despite their uninterrupted calls for the rest of us to forgo our inherent racism, in the end it is the Left which is incapable of seeing the world through any other lens. Their 21st century tribalism is about as far as you can get from unity, and it's a great loss for all of us, because this unity -- unity as Americans -- is much more than an empty campaign slogan. E Pluribus Unum is the promise of America, a country, which for all its flaws and shortcomings, is still more a shared ideal than any geographic location or common ancestry.

For all their talk of unity as a value, liberals employ it selectively and strategically to advance positions which are far from inclusive. On issues of faith and policy the left-wing hand wringing around "divisiveness" often amounts to nothing more than a gag order for those they don't agree with. In the intersection of science and public policy the term "scientific consensus" is used with similar designs to stifle minority opinion, (which if unfounded would ultimately be discredited through the rigors of the scientific method anyway).

Conversely, when we consider the cases where political and social unity is a reasonable expectation in our society, liberals will have none of it. Patriotic support in a time of war is routinely mocked and derided, with those choosing to do so referred to as ignorant or brainwashed. The same is true of calls for assimilation and shared culture which are characterized as nativist or xenophobic. There's no unity on the question of unity in politics and society.


Leading Jewish Rabbi on a Mission to Stop Jerusalem "Gay Pride" Parade

Rabbi Levin believes that the key to success is for the Vatican to speak out strongly in opposition to the homosexual parade and "for all the religions to unite in defense against the attacks from the homosexual network."

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Special Emissary of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, who represents over 1,000 Orthodox Rabbis in the United States, has informed LifeSiteNews that he is in Jerusalem on a special mission - to "stop the desecration of the Holy City by homosexual activists, who insist on having a public parade to celebrate depravity through the city streets."

Rabbi Levin says he believes that the key to the success of his mission is for the Vatican to speak out strongly in opposition to the homosexual parade and "for all the religions to unite in defense against the attacks from the homosexual network." Rabbi Levin has been one of the Culture of Life's greatest advocates and has been named one of the ten most influential personalities by the magazine Inside the Vatican.

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Rabbi Levin explained what should be done to "stop the homosexualization of the Holy Land." He first pointed to a 2006 international and interreligious conference, during which Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the then-Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, signed an agreement with the Chief Rabbinate's office stating they would work together to prevent any distasteful public displays and parades that would deeply offend people of the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths, who revere Jerusalem as a Holy City.

The new Apostolic Nuncio of Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, again honored this agreement later in 2006, after Rabbi Levin had a meeting with him to discuss the agreement. "He was extremely warm and very interested in helping with the issue," explained Rabbi Levin.

Archbishop Franco wasted little time demonstrating his opposition to the homosexual parade in Jerusalem. Not only did he speak out against the parade, Franco visited the mayor of Jerusalem to request the parade be cancelled. He didn't stop there, however. A few days later he sat in on a sub-committee hearing of the Israeli parliament and voiced his opposition to the parade.

Despite these efforts, which Rabbi Levin says he was very impressed by, the Rabbi believes more needs to be done. "The problem is that support for the parade is getting stronger and it is coming from more places. One year ago the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals have the right to march in Jerusalem no matter how offensive this is to religious people of all faiths," explained the rabbi.

Rabbi Levin is now invoking the Vatican to speak out strongly against the homosexual parade. "We request that the Vatican not only honor the letter of the agreement, but also, and more importantly, the spirit of the agreement, in order to do the right thing for the Holy Land," said Rabbi Levin.

He also expressed the importance of doing so with "strong, undiplomatic" language. "Speak out not in politically diplomatic terms but in strong undiplomatic terms, and speak out how negative this parade is in the Holy Land and how it is negative to all believers, whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish. Condemn the parade in the strongest possible language," exclaimed Rabbi Levin. The rabbi is also requesting the Vatican to "go to the President of Israel, who would be quite impressed given a request by the Vatican to do something about this parade and show how offensive it is."

The rabbi explained that during his political campaign, President Shimon Peres, needing the support of a religious party, had signed a petition with the Shas religious party, pledging his opposition to the homosexual parade. Rabbi Levin has contacted two prominent members of the Catholic Church in an attempt to have these requests met. "I am reaching out to the Vatican and, specifically, to Father Peter Gumpel, to assist in the effort to ban these Gay desecrations of the Holy City of Jerusalem." Fr. Grumpel, a Jesuit, is considered one of the Vatican's leading intellectuals. The rabbi also contacted Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who is now the Apostolic Nuncio of the U.S., to request he honor the agreement he signed. Rabbi Levin concluded by expressing the need for all faiths to combat not only the homosexualization of Jerusalem, but of the world.

The rabbi explained that after a meeting with the Pope, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia spoke on the importance of "interreligious dialogue" between the three states: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Rabbi Levin said, "This indicates the possibility of finding commonality of values between faiths." "This is a win-win situation. The Muslim world is strongly against the homosexualization of the Holy Land and the Middle East, and this view is, and should be shared with Christians and Jews."

In closing, Rabbi Levin reiterated this request: "I represent the Rabbinical Alliance of America, which includes over 1000 orthodox rabbis. We are requesting the Vatican to come out with a strong statement to specifically address and advance the dialogue that the King of Saudi Arabia is suggesting in the aftermath of a meeting with the Pope."

"This is a natural progression and we [the three states] need to reach this issue now and all stick together against the homosexualization of the Holy Land, and say this must be stopped. The major religions and the faithful around the world can advance this dialogue in a prominent and positive way and create a buzz here," he concluded.



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

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

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


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Thursday, June 19, 2008

More stupid media propaganda: Conservatives are against love

Today in the LA Times, there's an article titled "The right to love". This provocative title assumes that people opposed to re-defining the institution of marriage to something other than a man and a woman, somehow implies that opponents are trying to impose on a homosexual's "right to love". It has to be one of the most misleading titles ever published at the LA Times.

Opponents of the re-definition of marriage do not take issue with anything but the very definition of marriage that has been in place for thousands of years and has defined one of the most important institutions during the history of man.Family. Family is directly related to child-bearing and pro-creation, hence man and woman. It is an definition that holds true value to heterosexual families and should not be infringed by those who want to redefine what the majority of Americans call "marriage".

Let's be clear, those opposed to re-defining marriage do not take issue with the rights of homosexuals nor do they take issue with homosexuality itself. There are obviously no laws prohibiting homosexuals from the same rights they currently have, and have had, much less laws prohibiting them from "loving" which this article title so ridiculously implies. Gay couples have no more rights today than before this decision by the California Supreme Court came down.

This is not only an infringement on the sanctity of the institution that was established by traditional family values and heterosexual marriage from the beginning of time, but also an infringement on democracy, allowing liberal activist judges to define and create laws, ignoring the 65% of voters of California who voted in 2000 to keep the definition of marriage in its traditional state. In a democracy, what ultimately matters is the will of the people, not activist judges legislating from the bench. Now the average liberal talking point is:

"The law prohibited interracial marriage in the past so this is just the same thing!"

There is no DIFFERENCE between interracial couples. Interracial marriage should have never been banned for this very reason. On the other hand, there is an obvious biological difference between man and woman and that's what makes this argument so absurd.

The law doesn't recognize the right to marry 2 individuals, so wouldn't that be discriminatory as well? Especially if you're infringing on the "right to love" as the LA Times puts it? According the gay movement, the answer is yes. What about marriage between man and animal? This grossly negligent decision will open the door up to all kinds of lawsuits where gay couples want their relationships defined as "marriage". This hurts our society not only here in California, but the rest of America as well because now, if you oppose the definition of marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, you are looked at as homophobic, bigoted or xenophobic.

In 2000, Californians voted overwhelmingly to keep the definition of marriage, as recognized by the state, between one man and one woman. They did not vote to ban gay marriage, nor did they vote to take any rights away from gay couples. They simply voted for the definition of a historical tradition to be upheld, and not to allow another group take away that definition which families have held dear since the beginning of time.

Regardless of what your opinion on gay marriage is, judicial legislation in this manner is a serious blow to the democratic process which is supposed to uphold the values of the people, not the agenda of a handful of politically driven, unaccountable, hand picked judicial activists.


British parliament decides Fatherhood is irrelevant

Last Wednesday, the British House of Commons decided that a father is completely and totally irrelevant to a child's development. The legislation in question, which dealt with in vitro fertilization, or IVF, would have included a clause requiring a fertility doctor to "consider a child's need for a male role model before giving women IVF treatment," according to the news site This Is London. Even though IVF already marginalizes fathers by effectively removing them from the procreative process, feminists would not allow even this bland and toothless reference to men to stand. The clause was voted down.

This Is London went on to add that "the Government argued that the law as it stood discriminated against single women and lesbian couples - although both these groups can already get fertility treatment on the Health Service. From now on, doctors will have to consider only a child's need for 'supportive parenting'." Whatever that means.

Those of us who still celebrate Father's Day should reflect on this not simply as an isolated event, but as the latest in a long string of attacks that fatherhood has suffered at the hands of feminists and abortionists.

Modern feminists maintain that their highest goal is equality and liberty, but their agenda runs far deeper than that. It is summed up in the phrase, "bodily autonomy," an idea first developed and promoted by Margaret Sanger in her 1914 book, The Woman Rebel. This old-new catchphrase is still used by her ideological descendants. For the sex-obsessed feminism that Sanger helped create, simple equality is not enough. Women need to free themselves not only from men, but also from families, from religion, and especially from pregnancy. They must be completely free to do what they wish, when they wish, with no responsibility to anyone else but themselves.

This goal of radical autonomy essentially views men as members of an alien species. It completely ignores the complementary nature of men and women as two halves of the same race, whose bonding in lifelong, monogamous relationships is necessary for the survival, happiness and salvation of both. For this brand of feminism, the feminine defines what it means to be human. It is all there is, and it is infinitely plastic. Folk singer Ani DiFranco gleefully calls it "self-determination, and it's very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do."

In their quest to free themselves from the supposed bonds of male oppression, radical feminists have gone far beyond simply marginalizing and dehumanizing men. They have striven to form a world where every function that has historically been performed by men can be performed by women, with the aid of technology. Their goal is to render fathers and husbands not only unnecessary, but completely superfluous. Even the terms "father" and "husband" are to be rendered out-of-style and obsolete, odd relics from a bygone age, snatches of a song no longer sung.

This predictably wreaks havoc on the family, whose structure follows an age-old reproductive logic: a man, a woman, and the children that they procreate or adopt. If women are autonomous beings, answerable only to themselves, then the family loses its fundamental meaning. It must be redefined in nonbiological ways, and become infinitely inclusive.

Gender itself becomes fluid, as in California, where what bathroom one chooses to enter depends not upon one's genitalia, but upon what gender one has adopted that day. And, of course, ways must be found not only to exist, but to procreate, without men. The Amazons of legend kept men in cages; the radical feminists, assisted by modern technology, keep only the biologically necessary germ cells in test tubes, with abortion as a backup in case the experiment goes awry. If men attempted to build a society on such principles, it would rightly be considered insanity. But when radical feminists do it, it is merely "feminism."

The pro-life movement faces multiple tasks. It is not enough simply to overturn back laws and change attitudes about abortion, contraception and sex. The very fabric of the relationship between men and women must be stitched back together. What radical feminists do not realize is that by exploding the family, they are destroying the institution that has protected most women over most of human history from abuse. If men are not to be allowed to grow into their vital role as husbands and fathers, then they will simply use, violate and abandon women. The radical feminists are thus exacerbating the very attitudes and trends among men that they purport to be trying to escape.

One of the keys to ending abortion is to reinvigorate fatherhood. Intact, functioning and loving families protect their youngest and most vulnerable members. Isolated individuals - of either sex - do not.


Islam stuck in the Middle Ages, says Catholic theologian Hans Kung

Theologically, Kung is a far-Leftist

Islam is stuck in its own version of the "Middle Ages" which is contributing to a global crisis, one of the religion's leading experts has argued. Professor Hans Kung, a leading Roman Catholic and theologian from Germany, warned in a lecture of a "deadly threat" to all humankind unless new efforts are made to build bridges with Islam. He said in London that Islam has "special problems" with modernity because, unike Christianity and Judaism, in which he also specialises, it has never undergone a "serious religious reformation".

He questioned whether Islam is even capable of adapting to a post-modern world in the way that Christianity and Judaism have done. But he also outlined why he is hopeful that the present problems around radicalisation within Islam can be resolved, and how the other two Abrahamic faiths are subject to some of the same problems on their extremist edges. Violence has been practicised in the sign of the crescent, but also in the sign of the cross, he warned.

In his lecture, seen by The Times, Professor Kung said: "The options have become clear: either rivalry of the religions, clash of civilizations, war of the nations - or dialogue of civilizations and peace between the nations as a presupposition for peace between the nations. "In the face of the deadly threat to all humankind, instead of building new dams of hatred, revenge and enmity, we should tear down the walls of prejudice stone by stone and thus build bridges of dialogue, bridges particularly towards Islam."

Professor Kung, author of Islam: Past, Present and Future, published last year and one of the most authoritative works on the subject, was speaking on "Challenges to Islam, Christianity and Judaism" in a lecture organised by the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust and Sky Arts. It will be broadcast on Sky Arts later this month.

He described how liberal Jews, Christians and Muslims often get on better with each other than they do with fellow Jews, Christians and Muslims from the traditionalist wings of those religions. A Roman Catholic "imprisoned in the Middle Ages" will find himself closer to the "medieval element" of Islam and Judaism than with liberal Catholic believers.

Professor Kung said that one of the main causes of conflicts between religions is the persistence of outdated ways of thinking. Islam and Christianity regard the actual Middle Ages as the "great time" for their religions. But modernity has forced all three religions of the book onto the "defensive", and they all face challenges over how they react to their own "Middle Ages".

He argued that Christianity and Judaism have moved on, but not Islam, adding: "It remains an open question if the ecumenical paradigm of post-modernity will develop also in Islam." Professor Kung, who aged 80 is a contemporary of the Pope and worked with him as a theological adviser to the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, was influential at the council in persuading the Roman Catholic Church to adopt a more positive attitude to Judaism and religious freedom. He has also spoken out constantly in favour of the official recognition of the State of Israel by the Vatican and for a two-state-solution for Israelis and Palestinians.

Professor Kung, whose own liberal views cost him his official Catholic teaching licence in the last century, said that the essence of all three religions must be preserved, but those who want peace and reconciliation will not be able to avoid criticism. They must engage in self-criticism to enable their faiths to adapt to modernity. Referring to Christianity, for example, he said: "Jesus Christ as a basic model is a constant, but the law of celibacy is a variable."

He argued: "After the Reformation, Christianity had to undergo another paradigm shift, that of the Enlightenment. Judaism, after the French Revolution and Napoleon, experienced the Enlightenment first, and as a consequence, at least in Reform Judaism, it experienced also a religious reformation. Islam, however, has not undergone a serious religious reformation and so to the present day has quite special problems also with modernity and its core components, freedom of conscience and religion, human rights, tolerance, democracy."


Australia: Another case of blaming anybody but the person responsible

THE hotel industry has been spooked by the debate over who is responsible for drunken behaviour. And hotels are expected to clamp down even harder on serving drinkers who have already had alcohol. The stricter approach is likely after Coroner Stephen Carey berated the Dover Hotel in his findings on the death of a patron who fell into a river after drinking at the pub in October last year.

Peter O'Sullivan from Tasmania's liqour and gaming branch said the rules over serving alcohol to patrons who appeared drunk were very clear. But he said the broader debate about at what point those who drink to excess are responsible for their own behaviour could be murky. Hotel licensees can be fined $12,000 if charged under the Liquor Licensing Act with serving alcohol to a person who appears drunk. Staff members can be fined $6000.

On Monday, Coroner Carey said staff at the Dover Hotel had indirectly contributed to the death of John Larkins who fell down a river embankment opposite the pub while stopping to urinate on his walk home. The hotel has not been charged under the Act but the coronial "slap" has caused the hotel industry to take a closer look at responsible serving practices.

Australian Hotels Association general manager Steve Old said the association was talking with the publican at the Dover Hotel about the issue. "It is a tough one. But I do not want to delve into the broader issue of personal and industry responsibility at this stage because the publican is dealing with some legal issues," Mr Old said.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Right-wingers really are nicer people, latest research shows

George Orwell once wrote that politics was closely related to social identity. 'One sometimes gets the impression,' he wrote in The Road To Wigan Pier, 'that the mere words socialism and communism draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, nature-cure quack, pacifist and feminist in England'.

Orwell was making an observation. But today a whole body of academic research shows he was correct: your politics influence the manner in which you live your life. And the news is not so good for those on the political Left. There is plenty of data that shows that Right-wingers are happier, more generous to charities, less likely to commit suicide - and even hug their children more than those on the Left. In my experience, they are also more honest, friendly and well-adjusted.

Much of this springs from the destructive influence of modern liberal ideas. In the Sixties, we saw the beginning of a narcissism and self-absorption that gripped the Left and has not let go. The full-scale embrace of the importance of self-awareness, self-discovery and being 'true' to oneself, along with the idea that the State should care for the less fortunate, has created a swathe of Left-wing people who want to outsource their obligations to others.

The statistics I base this on come from the General Social Survey, America's premier social research database, but they are just as relevant to the UK, as I believe political belief systems drive one's attitudes, regardless of where you happen to live. Those surveyed were asked: 'Is it your obligation to care for a seriously injured/ill spouse or parent, or should you give care only if you really want to?' Of those describing themselves as 'conservative', 71 per cent said it was. Only 46 per cent of those on the Left agreed.

To the question: 'Do you get happiness by putting someone else's happiness ahead of your own?', 55 per cent of those who said they were 'very conservative' said Yes, compared with 20 per cent of those who were 'very liberal'.

It's been my experience that conservatives like to talk about things outside of themselves while progressives like to discuss themselves: how they are feeling and what their desires are. That might make for a good therapy session but it's not much fun over a long dinner.

Research also indicates those on the Left are less interested in getting married: 30 per cent of those who were 'very liberal' said it was important, in contrast to 65 per cent of Right-wingers. The same holds true when the question of having children arises. Progressive American cities such as San Francisco and Seattle have become 'childless liberal boutique' cities, according to Joel Kotkin, an expert on urban development. While 69 per cent of those who called themselves 'very conservative' said it was important for them to have children, only 38 per cent of corresponding liberals agreed.

Many on the Left proudly proclaim themselves 'child-free'. While some do not want children on ecological grounds, much has to do with the fact that they simply don't want the responsibility of having a child. When asked by the World Values Survey whether parents should sacrifice their own well-being for those of their children, those on the Left were nearly twice as likely to say No. 'I'll have babies if you pay for them,' one Leftie blogger said on the social networking website yelp.com. Billionaire Ted Turner, a self-described socialist, publicly regrets that he had five children. 'If I was doing it over again, I wouldn't have had that many,' he says. 'But I can't shoot them now they're here.'

All of this should not come as a surprise to anyone watching the drift of progressive thinking over the past 40 years. Starting with British anthropologist Edmund Leach, who said: 'Far from being the basis of a good society, the family, with its narrow privacy and tawdry secrets, is the source of all its discontents', feminists, progressives and others have seen the family as an oppressive force. Feminist Gloria Steinem says on behalf of women: 'The truth is, finding ourselves brings more excitement and wellbeing than anything romance can offer.' Linda Hirshman tells women not to have more than one baby so they can concentrate on a career. 'Find the money,' she advises. Ah, the important things in life.

Even when they do have children, research carried out at Princeton University shows liberals hug them less than conservatives. My wife thinks they're too busy hugging trees.

Most surprising of all is reputable research showing those on the Left are more interested in money than Right-wingers. Both the World Values Survey and the General Social Survey reveal Left-wingers are more likely to rate 'high income' as an important factor in choosing a job, more likely to say 'after good health, money is the most important thing', and agree with the statement 'there are no right or wrong ways to make money'. You don't need to explain that to Doug Urbanski, the former business manager for Left-wing firebrand and documentary-maker Michael Moore. 'He [Moore] is more money-obsessed than anyone I have known - and that's saying a lot,' claims Urbanski.

How is it possible that those who seem to renounce the money culture are more interested in money? One might suggest those on the Left are simply being more honest when they answer such questions. The problem is that there is no evidence to support this. Instead, I believe the results have more to do with the powerful appeal of progressive thinking. Many on the Left apparently believe that espousing liberal ideals is a 'get out of jail free' card that inoculates them from the evils of the money culture. Cherie Blair, for example, never lets her self-proclaimed socialist attitudes stop her making money. She is even willing to be paid (as she was in Australia) to appear at charity events. Such progressives, sure that they are not overly interested in money and possessions, believe they are then free to acquire them.

Studies also indicate that those on the Left are less likely to give to charity or to volunteer their time to charity. When they do support charity, it is often less the sort of organisation that helps people and more one that advocates political action. Uber-progressive Barbra Streisand gives lots of money to charity but the largest recipients are not organisations that feed the hungry - the cash goes to advocacy organisations such as The Bill Clinton Foundation. Similarly, Michael Moore gives to film festivals and elite cultural institutions such as the Lincoln Center - but barely a penny goes to needy people.

Progressives see economic equality as the highest form of social justice, so they have become obsessed with questions of income inequality. Can there be any surprise then that those on the Left tend to be more envious and jealous of successful people? That's what studies indicate. Professor James Lindgren, of Northwestern University in Chicago, found those who favour the redistribution of wealth are more envious than those who do not.

Scholars at Oxford and Warwick Universities found the same sort of behaviour when they conducted an experiment. Setting up a computer game that allowed people to accumulate money, they gave participants the option to spend some of their own money in order to take away more from someone else. The result? Those who considered themselves 'egalitarians' (i.e. Left of centre) were much more willing to give up some of their own money if it meant taking more money from someone else. Much of the desire to distribute wealth and higher taxation is motivated by envy - the desire to take more from someone else - and bitterness.

The culprit here is not those on the Left who embrace progressive ideas but the ideas themselves. As John Maynard Keynes reminds us: 'The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and wrong, are more powerful than commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else.' Or, as the American theorist Richard Weaver once declared: 'Ideas have consequences.' And it seems that today modern progressive ideas can often bring out the worst in people. [More likely the worst people shelter behind Leftist ideas]


The British are still lovers of liberty

But let's not forget the EU is as much a threat to our freedom as the surveillance state

By William Rees-Mogg

My wife, Gillian, is the chairman of the trustees of St John's Smith Square. Last Thursday evening, the hall was being used for the BBC's Question Time. We were watching the discussion from the balcony; David Dimbleby kindly invited us to supper after the show. The last time I had seen Question Time live is now 25 years ago, when Robin Day was in the chair.

On Thursday evening, the Irish had voted on the Lisbon treaty, but we did not yet know the result. David Davis had announced that he was going to resign his seat in order to fight a by-election on issues of liberty. Only one member of the panel seemed to regard the Davis story as really important; that was Shirley Williams, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. She spoke of Mr Davis's decision with considerable sympathy, more sympathy than I would have expected. Not for the first time, her judgment of a political issue was better than mine. The British people feel very strongly about the current issues of liberty; I admit that I think that Baroness Williams underrates their concern about liberty in Europe.

After supper, we drove down to Somerset late in the evening. Friday was, for me, a very enjoyable day. I had not expected the Irish to vote "no" to the Lisbon treaty; that seemed too good to be true after every other democratic defence against a bad treaty had failed. Only last Wednesday, the House of Lords had voted down Britain's promised referendum by 280 votes to 218. I found myself voting for the referendum in the same lobby as Margaret Thatcher, just as I had when I voted for a referendum on the Maastricht treaty. I thought it was shameful that the Labour and Lib Dem peers would not honour the manifesto commitments of the 2005 general election. But, then, I had thought it shameful when Tory peers tamely obeyed their whips and voted down a referendum for Maastricht.

Saturday was a perfect Somerset day; we sat in the garden from lunch to tea. Two of our grandchildren were staying with us and two more had come across in the morning. Our youngest daughter, Annunziata, who is the Conservative candidate for Somerton & Frome, went off to canvas in villages near Bruton, including Pitcombe, where our eldest daughter lives, and Shepton Montague, where a lot of our ancestors are buried. Annunziata was able to bring back to us a fresh and up-to-date report on public opinion in southeast Somerset.

As I expected, the Irish vote had been greeted with delight. Earlier in the year, we had a local referendum in Somerset & Frome on the Lisbon treaty. Eighty-seven per cent wanted a referendum on the treaty and 88 per cent stated that they would vote "no" if a referendum were given. The local MP, David Heath, resigned from the Lib Dem front bench in the Commons rather than follow Nick Clegg's three-line whip to abstain.

What I had not foreseen was the impact of the Davis resignation. Annunziata found that Lib Dem voters identified most strongly with the Davis campaign, to the point at which Mr Davis seemed to be validating the Conservatives as a party prepared to fight on liberal issues. There seems to have been a similar reaction among Labour rebels, some of whom say they will go up to Haltemprice and campaign for him. Pragmatists may have failed to recognise the impact of his personal declaration or the strength of public feeling on libertarian issues.

For the Libs Dems themselves, there is a snag in this, or perhaps two snags. The first, as Lady Williams immediately saw, is that Mr Davis is not campaigning on right-wing issues, but on traditional issues of personal liberty. The second snag is that Europe is itself a liberal issue, but one on which the Liberal Democrats as a party are on the anti-liberal side. If the Lib Dem peers had voted with the Conservatives in the Lords, the Lisbon Bill would have gone back to the Commons with a clause providing for a British referendum. We would not have had to leave our liberties for the Irish to protect.

The origin of the Lisbon treaty was the constitutional treaty, which was drafted by the European Constitutional Convention, which was controlled by Val‚ry Giscard d'Estaing as its chairman. In the Convention, the democratic deficit, which was supposed to be eliminated, was deepened and entrenched. The constitutional treaty was put to the vote in several European countries. Spain voted "yes", but France voted "no", as did the Netherlands. The European people do not want to transfer further powers away from their elected parliaments to the unelected bureaucracy in Brussels.

The EU responded to the French and Dutch votes not by recognising the public concerns about liberty and democracy, but by trying to avoid any public votes in the future. In every country except Ireland, this policy of avoiding democracy was successful, though there are still a few to come. The avoidance of a referendum was even successful in Britain, where all the major parties had committed themselves to a vote. Only the Conservatives honoured their commitment.

What may happen next? There will be an attempt to rescue the substance of the Lisbon treaty in some form or through some subterfuge. Brussels, like the Clintons, is extremely reluctant to recognise defeat. The European politicians want their legal identity, their extended powers, their president, their foreign minister. They want the status of a national state. But referendums will go against them, as the referendum went against them in Ireland.

The Prime Minister has no feeling for these developments in public opinion. He is creating an ever larger surveillance state and accepts the European democratic deficit. There is now no national consensus to ratify the Lisbon treaty and it would be a grave blunder to do so.


Summary of the Steyn human rights trial so far

We are now awaiting their "verdict"

In the United States, a suit purporting to seek justice for a perceived slight involving nothing more than a difference of opinion would be laughed out the docket. But tolerance for legal frivolity seems to increase above the 49th parallel. A subsection of Canada's Human Rights Act defines hate speech as speech "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt." By that impossibly opaque standard, Steyn's article - or, indeed, any article - could theoretically be considered hate speech. In practice, as well, that has been the case. The Canadian Human Rights Commission, which enforces the act, has a record of conviction that recalls the awful efficiency of Soviet courts: In over three decades of existence, the commission has yet to find someone innocent.

Undoubtedly mindful of the fact, the Canadian Islamic Congress turned to the Human Rights Commission to adjudicate its case against Maclean's. Shopping around for a friendly forum, the group initially took up their complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. They met with partial success. Although the commission declined to hear the CIC's complaint, it did so on narrowly technical grounds. And, lest anyone doubt what the verdict would have been, the commission issued a censorious ruling effectively finding in the CIC's favor. Reproaching both Steyn and Maclean's, the commission wrote that it "strongly condemns the Islamophobic portrayal of Muslims" they had supposedly published. Never mind that neither Steyn not Maclean's were afforded the opportunity to contest the charges against them. In the commission's crypto-totalitarian calculus, Steyn's article had offended someone. Ergo: hate crime.

Even more fulsomely accommodating was the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, the complainants' next choice of venue. Between June 2 and June 6, the tribunal heard the case against Steyn and Maclean's. In keeping with historical precedent, one might have expected the "trial" to be farce on a grand scale. According to those in the audience, it was that and more. "You didn't have to be a lawyer to see how it ridiculous it was," says Ezra Levant, who attended the tribunal. Levant is no stranger to such proceedings. A former publisher of Canada's Western Standard magazine, he was hauled before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for publishing the Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Even so, Levant was shocked by what he saw at the recent hearing.

Most striking, Levant said, was the incompetence of the tribunal's three judges. "You had a room full of professionals - the two top lawyers in the country [for the defense], journalists, including from the New York Times - presided over by three crackpots," Levant recalled. "It was a weird juxtaposition between people living in the real world and a kangaroo court with three radical, Marxist clowns."

Just how about was it? Levant noted that on one occasion, the accusers produced blog posts - some from the U.S., some from Belgium, and none written by Steyn - that they submitted as incriminating evidence. It is a commentary on the benthic standards of such tribunals that some of this "evidence" literally had been printed out the day before. "There are so many reasons why that evidence would be inadmissible," Levant, himself a lawyer, observes. "But the tribunal said, `Sure, we'll look at it.' None of the judges knew how to run a trial."

If the judges were inept, the prosecution was scarcely more competent. Attempting to prove Steyn's "Islamophobic" views, the prosecution's lawyers summoned Andrew Rippin, an expert on Islam and a professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. At issue was Steyn's use of the word "Mohammedan" to describe Muslims. The prosecution charged that this was insulting, possibly even hateful. Only, their star witness disagreed. Professor Rippin pointed out that just as Christians adopted the name of Christ, Muslims in various parts of the world referred to themselves as followers of the prophet Mohammed. "The prosecution was so stupid that their own expert witness made the case for Steyn," Levant says.

Similarly wince-inducing moments were a regular feature of the five-day hearing. All the more so if one happened to be a supporter of free speech. One such moment came when Faisal Joseph, the lawyer for the complainants, accused Steyn of failing to provide alternative points of view in his article. In a trial about hate speech, it was the equivalent of saying that all journalism that didn't meet Joseph's specifications was punishable as hate. Equally revealing was a comment from Dean Steacy, an investigator for the Canadian Human Rights Commission. When asked what value he gives to free speech in his investigations, Steacy breezily dismissed the question. "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value," he said.

With the tribunal thus revealed as a travesty of justice, Steyn and Maclean's wisely decided to focus their attention on the absurdity of the proceedings. Maclean's lawyers refused to provide any witnesses. Meanwhile, Steyn said that he would be happy to loose, if only to demonstrate how far the Human Rights Commission had gone in trampling on freedom of speech and the liberty of the press in Canada. As he put it to one interviewer: "We want to lose so we can take it to a real court and if necessary up to the Supreme Court of Canada and we can get the ancient liberties of free-born Canadian citizens that have been taken away from them by tribunals like this."

Supporters applaud that strategy. "Six months ago it would have been unrealistic for any politician to tackle the human rights commission. It would have been like going after apple pie," says Ezra Levant. "But a year from now, their reputation will be so tarnished that politicians can act. The first step to reform is to publicize its insanity." In that sense, it may be said that even if Steyn and Maclean's lose, Canadians have already won.


Democracies Can't Compromise on Core Values


As the American president embarked on his farewell tour of Europe last week, Der Spiegel, echoing the sentiments of a number of leading newspapers on the Continent, pronounced "Europe happy to see the back of Bush." Virtually everyone seems to believe that George W. Bush's tenure has undermined trans-Atlantic ties. There is also a palpable sense in Europe that America will move closer to Europe in the years ahead, especially if Barack Obama wins the presidential election.

But while Mr. Bush is widely seen by Europeans as a religious cowboy with a Manichean view on the world, Europe's growing rift with America predates the current occupant of the White House. When a French foreign minister, Hubert V‚drine, declared that his country "cannot accept a politically unipolar world, nor a culturally uniform world, nor the unilateralism of a single hyper power," President Clinton was in the seventh year of his presidency and Mr. Bush was still governor of Texas.

The trans-Atlantic rift is not the function of one president, but the product of deep ideological forces that for generations have worked to shape the divergent views of Americans and Europeans. Foremost among these are different attitudes toward identity in general, and the relationship between identity and democracy in particular.

To Europeans, identity and democracy are locked in a zero-sum struggle. Strong identities, especially religious or national identities, are seen as a threat to democratic life. This is what Dominique Moisi, a special adviser at the French Institute of International Relations, meant when he said in 2006 that "the combination of religion and nationalism in America is frightening. We feel betrayed by God and by nationalism, which is why we are building the European Union as a barrier to religious warfare." This attitude can be traced back to the French Revolution, when the forces fighting under a universal banner of "liberty, equality and fraternity" were pitted against the Church.

In contrast, the America to which pilgrims flocked in search of religious freedom, and whose revolution amounted to an assertion of national identity, has been able to reconcile identity and freedom in a way no country has been able to match. That acute observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, long ago noted the "intimate union of the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty" that was pervasive in America and made it so different than his native France.

The idea that strong identities are an inherent threat to democracy and peace became further entrenched in Europe in the wake of World War II. Exponents of what I call postidentity theories - postnationalism, postmodernism and multiculturalism - argued that only by shedding the particular identities that divide us could we build a peaceful world. Supranational institutions such as the EU, the International Court of Justice and the United Nations were supposed to help overcome the prejudices of the past and forge a harmonious world based on universal values and human rights.

While these ideas have penetrated academia and elite thinking in the U.S., they remain at odds with the views of most Americans, who see no inherent contradiction between maintaining strong identities and the demands of democratic life. On the contrary, the right to express one's identity is seen as fundamental. Exercising such a right is regarded as acting in the best American tradition.

The controversy over whether Muslims should be able to wear a veil in public schools underscores the profound difference in attitudes between America and Europe. In Europe, large majorities support a law banning the veil in public schools. In the U.S., students wear the veil in public schools or state colleges largely without controversy. At the same time severe limits are placed on the harmless expression of identity in the public square, some European governments refuse to insist that Muslim minorities abide by basic democratic norms. They turn a blind eye toward underage marriage, genital mutilation and honor killings.

The reality is that Muslim identity has grown stronger, has become more fundamentalist, and is increasingly contemptuous of a vapid "European" identity that has little vitality. All this may help explain why studies consistently show that efforts to integrate Muslims into society are much less effective in Europe than in America, where identity is much stronger.

Regardless of who wins in November, the attitudes of Americans toward the role of identity in democratic life are unlikely to change much. Relative to Europe, Americans will surely remain deeply patriotic and much more committed to their faiths.

Europeans, meanwhile, may move closer to the Americans in their views. The recent shift to the right in Europe - from the victory of conservative leaders like Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi to the surprise defeat of the leftist mayor of London, Ken Livingston - might partially reflect a belated awareness there that a unique heritage is under assault by a growing Muslim fundamentalism. The logic of the struggle against this fundamentalist threat will inevitably demand the reassertion of the European national and religious identities that are now threatened.

Europeans are now saying goodbye to Mr. Bush, and hoping for the election of an American president who they believe shares their sophisticated postnational, postmodern and multicultural attitudes. But don't be surprised if, in the years ahead, European leaders, in order to protect freedom and democracy at home, start sounding more and more like the straight-shooting cowboy from abroad they now love to hate.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

British health and safety zealots tell youngster her 2ft paddling pool needs a lifeguard

And they're not backing down

For nearly a quarter of a century, Lourdes Maxwell has celebrated the arrival of summer by putting a paddling pool in the garden. This year, however, her two grandchildren and the children of her neighbours may have to find another way to cool off in the heat. Miss Maxwell's local council has decided that the pool - which is only 2ft deep - needs a lifeguard. The 47-year-old divorced mother of three has also been told she must have insurance before she can inflate the toy outside her house in Portsmouth.

The health and safety edict came after she wrote to the city council asking for permission to put a bigger pool in the communal garden outside her home. Not only was she told it was too dangerous, but the council told her to empty the existing pool.

After her MP intervened, the local authority softened its stance, saying Miss Maxwell could have a pool if she paid for insurance and ensured supervisors were on constant watch. Residents near the communal gardens already have to obey a raft of rules governing their use. They are even supposed to ask the council for permission before having a barbecue.

Miss Maxwell, who is a full-time carer to her son Aiden, said yesterday: "It is absolutely pathetic. "I have had a paddling pool outside the front of my flat every summer for 24 years, ever since Aiden turned one year old. "Neighbours' children would come and enjoy the pool and I would give them ice lollies. It was always a very social occasion."

She added: "Now suddenly I'm not allowed. "I asked around for insurance and they just laughed at me. No one offers insurance for paddling pools. "I'm always there to supervise but they're trying to tell me I need lifeguards for a kiddies' pool as well - it's crazy."

Nigel Selley, Portsmouth Council's neighbourhood manager, defended the ruling yesterday. He said: "We did not have sufficient assurances that the risks associated with providing such a facility would be well-managed. "We have since spoken to Ms Maxwell and she is aware of our concerns for child safety and the risks associated with drowning." Steven Wylie, the councillor in charge of housing, added: "I want to encourage people to enjoy the communal gardens. "We want to help where we can to ensure that it is a fun and safe place for everyone to use."



By Jeff Jacoby

The agonies being inflicted on Zimbabwe by its corrupt and brutal president grow ever worse. Earlier this month, the government of Robert Mugabe ordered international aid agencies to halt the operations that have been keeping hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwe's people alive. With most of the country's population out of work and in dire poverty, the food and other humanitarian assistance provided by groups like CARE and Save the Children are more desperately needed than ever. By shutting them down, Mugabe and his henchmen have knowingly condemned countless vulnerable Zimbabweans to death.

Mugabe claims, preposterously, that the humanitarian agencies were trying "to cripple Zimbabwe's economy" and bring about "illegal regime change." Actually, it his own demented and dictatorial misrule that has destroyed the country, turning what was once a fruitful and prosperous land into the world's most rapidly collapsing economy. And it is his determination to cling to power by any means -- including starving and terrorizing voters who support a change in government -- that has filled Zimbabwe not just with hunger and sickness but with savagery and bloodshed as well.

Less than two weeks remain until the presidential election runoff between Mugabe, Zimbabwe's autocratic president for the last 28 years, and the popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who leads the Movement for Democratic Change. Tsvangirai and the MDC won the first round of elections in March, and supporters of Mugabe and his ZANU-PF ruling party have been waging a vicious campaign of intimidation and violence against them ever since.

Opposition rallies have been obstructed by police, and Tsvangirai has repeatedly been detained for hours at a time. On Thursday, the MDC's secretary general, Tendai Biti, was arrested and charged with treason. Thousands of opposition supporters have been attacked, arrested, or forced to flee for their lives. Homes have been torched; scores of people have been killed.

International aid workers say they were shut down to keep them from witnessing the government's increasingly lethal crackdown. The depravity of those attacks is suggested by UNICEF, which has said that 10,000 children have been driven from their homes by the violence, and that schools taken over by pro-government forces are being used as torture centers. Peter Osborne, in a dispatch from Zimbabwe for a British newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, itemizes some of the methods of abuse favored by Mugabe's men: pouring boiling plastic on victims' backs, burning their extremities, nearly drowning them in vats of water, and administering whippings violent enough to transform an adult's buttocks into a horrifying "mess of raw flesh."

The latest description of Zimbabwe's reign of terror comes from Human Rights Watch, which in a new report documents numerous cases of brutal repression by Mugabe supporters. "ZANU-PF and its allies have . . . established torture camps and organized abusive 're-education' meetings around the country to compel MDC supporters into voting for Mugabe," the report says. Hundreds of voters have been flogged with sticks, whips, bicycle chains, and metal bars. In one "re-education" meeting May 5, "ZANU-PF officials and 'war veterans' beat six men to death and tortured another 70 men and women, including a 76-year-old woman publicly thrashed in front of assembled villagers."

In other meetings, military officers have threatened to kill anyone who votes for the opposition. "Each villager would be given a bullet to hold in their hands. Then a soldier would say, 'If you vote for MDC in the presidential runoff election, you have seen the bullets, we have enough for each one of you, so beware.' "

We must assume that Mugabe's savage onslaught is likely to achieve its goal. Faced with starvation, dispossession, and threats of revenge, how many Zimbabweans will muster the courage to stand against him?

But why do the rest of us do nothing? Why is the free world so indifferent to the enormities committed by Mugabe and his bullies? Where are the worldwide demonstrations outside Zimbabwe's embassies? Where are the international boycotts, the UN resolutions, the presidential and papal condemnations? Where is the International Criminal Court indictment of Mugabe for his long career of murder, torture, and other crimes against humanity?

Let us be honest: If the people of Zimbabwe were being terrorized by a white despot -- if it were a white ruling party whose goons were beating them and burning their homes -- the whole world would be aroused on their behalf. Surely they deserve no less just because their oppressor is black.

Homosexuals have brain differences

Scientists investigating human sexuality have found that the brains of homosexuals have structural and functional differences from those of "straight" people. Lesbians appear to have a lower proportion of grey matter in their brains than straight women, giving their brains a more "male-like" structure.

The brains of gay men appear to have structural similarities to those of heterosexual women. They also exhibit the same powerful response as straight women to the sex hormones released in male sweat.

The research comes amid growing interest in how variations in brain structure are linked to human behaviour. It is known, for example, that the greater size of male brains and the higher proportion in females of grey matter - the cells that process signals from the senses - are caused partly by sex hormones released during foetal development. These hormones are also involved in determining sexual orientation. Scientists have long thought this meant there should be differences in the brains of homosexuals. Brain scanning equipment has only recently become powerful enough to seek them out, however.

In one study, researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to look at the brains of 80 men and women, including 16 gay men and 15 lesbians. They found that lesbians had a "male-like" proportion and distribution of grey matter in their brain when compared with heterosexual women. In a paper published in the Public Library of Science, the researchers said: "In homosexual women the perirhinal cortex grey matter displayed a male-like structural pattern." The perirhinal area is associated with social and sexual behaviour.

In another study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ivanka Savic of the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, asked 12 gay men, 12 heterosexual women and 12 heterosexual men to smell hormones found in male sweat while she measured their brain responses. She found that the anterior hypothalamus, an area linked to sexual behaviour, responded strongly in both heterosexual women and gay men. Straight men showed little response. This implies the brains of gay men have functional similarities to those of straight women. Savic also measured the brain responses of 12 lesbians who were asked to smell male and female hormones. The lesbians responded much more strongly to female hormones.

The research suggests sexual orientation is largely programmed into people early in life, according to Savic. However, other studies have shown a person's lifestyle can lead to structural brain changes.


Liar loses

A French media liar was so brazen that he sued a truth-teller for libel. Luckily, he lost the case and the truth-teller won

Charles Enderlin is not going quietly into the night. On May 23 a French appeals court dismissed the libel suit he and France2 brought against media critic Phillippe Karsenty, arising out of the latter's charge that Enderlin and France2 had duped the French public with their September 30, 2000 broadcast of the "death of Muhammed al-Dura" at Netzarim Junction. In his voice-over that night, Enderlin, who was not at Netzarim Junction during the events in question, unambiguously claimed that the boy in the film clip had been killed by Israeli fire that deliberately targeted him.

With the dismissal of his suit, Enderlin joined Oscar Wilde and Alger Hiss in the pantheon of those who brought libel suits and ended up destroying their own reputations. He has announced, however, that he will appeal to the French Supreme Court. And his friends in the French journalistic community are circulating a petition claiming that he is the victim of insane conspiracy theorists.

My friend Larry Derfner apparently shares that view. He wrote in the Jerusalem Post on May 28 that anyone who believes that France 2's broadcast was a hoax belongs in an asylum along with 9/11 deniers. According to Derfner, Karsenty, Boston University history professor Richard Landes, and Luc Rosenzweig, former editor-in-chief of Le Monde, are victims of Jewish paranoia.

Larry admits that every word Enderlin said in his voice-over was false: There is no evidence that the boy and his father were targets of Israeli fire. Nor was he killed by Israeli fire. Yet, he writes, evidence of a journalistic hoax does not amount to .001 percent of the evidence that Shimon Peres masterminded the Rabin assassination. At most, Karsenty, Landes, et al. have gathered a few of the "oddities" favored by wacked-out conspiracy theorists.

Enderlin distributed the France 2 clip free of charge, and it was subsequently broadcast thousands of times. The image of the terrified boy cowering behind his father quickly assumed iconic status. It featured prominently in mass anti-Israel demonstrations in Europe, where it was juxtaposed to the image of the Jewish boy with his hands raised in the Warsaw ghetto.

To heighten its impact, Palestinian TV cropped into the France 2-clip pictures of an Israeli soldier firing. The image of "Muhammed al-Dura" beckoning other Palestinian children to join him as martyrs in paradise features prominently in the Palestinian death cult. His name was invoked by the Ramallah mob that disemboweled two Israeli reservists, in Osama bin Laden's 9/11 video, and in that of Daniel Pearl's beheading.

One would have thought that those who doggedly exposed one falsehood after another and provoked Enderlin and France 2 into their ill-fated libel suit are deserving of praise, not ridicule. At the very least, we would expect their accusers to show some minimal familiarity with the evidence they have amassed and to make some attempt to refute it.

Let's consider some of the "oddities" that are firmly established. Palestinians regularly fake media images and lie shamelessly. Recall Hamas legislators meeting by candlelight with the curtains drawn in what turned out to be the middle of the day, or the 5,000 Palestinians reportedly massacred in Jenin, or the family of eight supposedly killed by Israeli fire on Gaza Beach, who turned out to have stepped on Hamas-laid mines. Professor Landes coined the name Pallywood for these Palestinian media hoaxes, and documents a slew of them at his Web site Second Draft.

For the Palestinians, media is a pure propaganda tool. Thus Riccardo Cristiano of Italian national TV felt compelled to compose a craven letter to the Palestinian Authority stating that his station would never have broadcast the Ramallah lynch because it fully understands the rules of reporting from the PA.

From the general to the particular. The sole footage of "Muhammed al-Dura's death" was that of Palestinian cameraman Talul Abu-Rahmeh working for France 2. Abu-Rahmeh is a liar. On October 3, 2000, he testified under oath to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that there had been 45 minutes of sustained Israeli fire directed at the man and boy. As an experienced war reporter, he could verify that they could have only been hit by Israeli fire. Abu-Rahmeh claimed to have filmed 27 minutes of the fusillade. Later he told German documentary filmmaker Esther Schapira that he had filmed six minutes.

We now know that the boy could have only been hit by Palestinian fire. The story of a 45-minute fusillade was on its face laughable: Had Israeli soldiers wanted to kill Palestinians, they had dozens of rioters immediately in front of the Israeli stockade from which to choose. Moreover, Abu-Rahmeh's entire footage of the man and boy consisted of 58 seconds comprised of six spliced scenes.

The rest of his 27 minutes of footage - only 18 minutes of which France2 produced when ordered to do so by the French appeals court - consists of obviously staged scenes, according to three veteran French journalists who viewed it. The "al-Dura" footage was shot in the same area that Abu-Rahmeh and other Palestinian cameramen spent the day shooting such staged scenes.

Abu-Rahmeh once declared, "I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people," and was certainly not above employing his camera for a bit of deception. A Reuters clip from the day shows him filming another staged scene involving a Molotov cocktail. That scene was inexplicably omitted from the rushes produced in the French court.

Whether Charles Enderlin knew from the first that his voice-over was false is unclear. That he lies is certain. He drew for gullible journalists a false map of Netzarim Junction, which wrongly placed the Israeli position in a direct line of fire to the man and the boy. Worse yet, he repeatedly claimed that he had edited out the last three seconds of the "al-Dura" footage because the boy's death throes were too painful to watch.

There were no such death throes. In those last three seconds, the boy lifts his head, peeks out from under his arm (with which he is shielding his eyes) prior to resuming a prone position -- albeit with his leg still held aloft. A nearby mob chants, "the boy is dead, the boy is dead," before he even lies prone the first time. Enderlin drew twitters of laughter in the French courtroom when he offered that perhaps the crowd was anticipating the boy's death.

Not only is there no dead boy on the film. There is no sign of blood or wounds of any kind. In other footage from the scene, civilians are seen passing by the crouching man and boy - some running, some strolling but all apparently oblivious to any rifle fire. (See Nidra Poller, "Myth, Fact, and the al-Dura Affair," Commentary, Sept. 2005).

Over the years, more holes have developed in the al-Dura story. Phillipe Karsenty revealed that Jamal al-Dura had been treated many years earlier in an Israeli hospital for the same wounds later shown to journalists as corroboration. And Sami el-Soudi, a Palestinian journalist working for Metulla News Agency, found records of a boy named Muhammed al-Dura admitted to a Gaza hospital four hours before the filming at Netzarim Junction.

As his original tale unraveled, Enderlin adopted a fallback position: Even if his voice-over was totally wrong, it still reflects the "reality" of the Israeli occupation: Israelis killing Palestinian children. That too appears to be Derfner's position: Nothing must be allowed to absolve Israel of guilt for the occupation. The al-Dura affair, it turns out, was not just about Israeli culpability, but about the very concept of Truth itself. Fortunately, this time the good guys won.



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

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

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


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Monday, June 16, 2008

The Tragedy of America's Disappearing Fathers

And while the divorce and child-support laws are as unbalanced as they are, fathers will keep disappearing. An American male who marries is taking a huge risk with his future. Few men will not have noticed the many media reports of piranha-like women being rewarded by the courts at huge expense to the man. Why risk it? Until the feminist-inspired anti-man laws are repealed, more and more women are going to find that men "won't commit"

Walter Dean Myers, a best-selling author of books for teenagers, sometimes visits juvenile detention centers in his home state of New Jersey to hold writing workshops and listen for stories about the lives of young Americans. One day, in a juvenile facility near his home in Jersey City, a 15-year-old black boy pulled him aside for a whispered question: Why did he write in "Somewhere in the Darkness" about a boy not meeting his father because the father was in jail? Mr. Myers, a 70-year-old black man, did not answer. He waited. And sure enough, the boy, eyes down, mumbled that he had yet to meet his own father, who was in jail.

As we celebrate Father's Day tomorrow, we should reflect upon a sad fact: It is now common to meet young people in our big city schools, foster-care homes and juvenile centers who do not know their dads. Most of those children have come face-to-face with their father at some point; but most have little regular contact with the man, or have any faith that he loves or cares about them.

When fatherless young people are encouraged to write about their lives, they tell heartbreaking stories about feeling like "throwaway people." In the privacy of the written page, their hard, emotional shells crack open to reveal the uncertainty that comes from not knowing if their father has any interest in them. The stories are like letters to unknown dads - some filled with imaginary scenes about what it might be like to have a dad who comes home and puts his arm around you or plays with you.

They feel like they've been thrown away, Mr. Myers says, because "they don't have a father to push them, discipline them, and they give up trying to succeed . . . they don't see themselves as wanted." A regular theme of their stories is that they feel safer in a foster care home or juvenile detention center than on the outside, because they have no father to hold together the family. There is no one at home.

The extent of the problem is clear. The nation's out-of-wedlock birth rate is 38%. Among white children, 28% are now born to a single mother; among Hispanic children it is 50% and reaches a chilling, disorienting peak of 71% for black children. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly a quarter of America's white children (22%) do not have any male in their homes; nearly a third (31%) of Hispanic children and over half of black children (56%) are fatherless.

This represents a dramatic shift in American life. In the early 1960s, only 2.3% of white children and 24% of black children were born to a single mom. Having a dad, in short, is now a privilege, a ticket to middle-class status on par with getting into a good college.

The odds increase for a child's success with the psychological and financial stability rooted in having two parents. Having two parents means there is a greater likelihood that someone will read to a child as a preschooler, support him through school, and prevent him from dropping out, as well as teaching him how to compete, win and lose and get up to try again, in academics, athletics and the arts. Maybe most important of all is that having a dad at home is almost a certain ticket out of poverty; because about 40% of single-mother families are in poverty. "If you are concerned about reducing child poverty then you have to focus on missing fathers," says Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, based in Gaithersburg, Md. This organization works to encourage more men to be involved fathers.

The odds are higher that a child without a dad will have more contact with the drug culture, the police and jail. Even in kindergarten, children living with single parents are more likely to trail children with two parents when it comes to health, cognitive skills and their emotional maturity. They are in the back of the bus before the bus - their life - even gets going.

A study of black families 10 years ago, when the out-of-wedlock birthrate was not as high as today, found that single moms reported only 20% of the "baby's daddy" spent time with the child or took a "lot" of interest in the baby. That is quite a contrast to the married black mothers who told researchers that 88% of married black men, or men living with the mother, regularly spent time with the child and took responsibility for the child's well-being.

In his fictional books, Walter Dean Myers has found that the key to reaching young readers is to connect with their "internal life of insecurities and doubts." These doubts and insecurities involve answers to painful questions such as, "do you feel loved, do you ever feel lonely?" These are feelings that are hard to share with a teacher, a coach or even a friend.

More so today than in the past, reaching the heart of insecurity among young people means writing about the hurt of life without a dad. It also means writing about being young and black or brown in the midst of the flood of negative images in rap videos without a positive male role model. These young people see so many others just like them standing on street corners, unconnected to family life and failing at school and work and threatening violence - and in so many cases just like them, without an adult male to guide them.

When these children see Barack Obama, Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice, they tell Walter Dean Myers that those black people must be "special; they are not like me, they don't have the background that I have."

In his own life, Mr. Myers often looked down on the man in his house: his stepfather, who worked as a janitor and was illiterate. He felt this man had little to teach him. Then his own son complained one day that he, Myers, "sounded just like granddad" when he told the boy to pick up after himself, to work harder and show respect to people. "I didn't know it at the time," says Mr. Myers of his stepfather, "but just having him around meant I was picking up his discipline, his pride, his work ethic. . ." He adds: "Until I heard it from my son I never understood it."


Israeli Prof. on Arab TV: Jerusalem Was Ours When Arabs Worshipped Idols

Bar Ilan University political scientist Dr. Mordechai Kedar told a Moslem show host on the Arabic-language Al Jazeera television network, "Jews were in Jerusalem while your ancestors were drinking wine and bowing to idols." In a heated debate with the narrator, he added, "We don't need your permission to build" in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem.

The encounter occurred earlier this week, when Jews around the world celebrated Jerusalem Unification Day. Dr. Kedar has frequently appeared on the widely viewed Qatar-based network but this time encountered a sharp attack from the show's host, Jimal Rian.

"Building in Jerusalem is another nail in the coffin in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority," narrator Jimal Rian asserted. Dr. Kedar answered in fluent Arabic, "This was our capital 3,000 years ago, and we were here when your forefathers were drinking wine, burying girls alive and worshipping pre-Muslim idols. This is our city and it will be our city forever."

His reference to Muslims drinking wine, which is forbidden in Islam, infuriated the host. Rian wagged his finger in the air and said excitedly, "If you want to talk about history, you cannot erase Jerusalem from the Koran, and don't attack the Muslim religion if we want to continue talking."

Dr. Kedar replied, "Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran. Jerusalem is a Jewish city." The Al Jazeera host responded by quoting a verse from the Koran in which he thought Jerusalem was mentioned by name, but stopped in the middle upon realizing that it only refers to "the farthest place." Dr. Kedar: "Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran even once. You can't rewrite the Koran on air on Al Jazeera."

Rian changed the subject to "settlements" and asked Dr. Kedar why Israel is building 1,000 new apartments and deciding to build thousands more while there are rumors that "Jerusalem will include all of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].

The Bar Ilan researcher replied. "My friend, Israel is not counting the number of apartments that Qatar is building on the Qatar Peninsula so why are you doing so in Jerusalem? Jerusalem is our city forever and is not an issue for you, for Al Jazeera or for anyone else. Period. Jerusalem belongs only to Jews.

Replying to Rian's question if Dr. Behar's assessment is the basis for talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), he declared, "My friend, I invite you to Jerusalem so you can see with your own eyes that it has become a flourishing city after it was in ruins under Arab rule until 1967. We rebuilt the city and opened it to Christians, Moslems and Jews equally, unlike under Muslim rule" that prohibited other religions.

The political scientist told Al Jazeera viewers, "The West bank does not belong to any nation because it was not under a nation's jurisdiction, unlike the Sinai Peninsula." No one can say it is occupied," he argued. "From what country did we take it? Until 1967, Jordan occupied it. Therefore, we can do what we want."

He explained that Al Jazeera takes a jihadic and anti-Israel stance in order to detract viewers' attention from the wealth of the oil-rich Arab kingdoms, including Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based. "The amount of poison that they disseminate about us from our home is too dangerous, and something had to be done," he recently told the Jewish Forward, referring to the Israeli government's unannounced partial boycott of the network. He labeled Al Jazeera "the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood," the radical terrorist party that is gaining popularity in Egypt.

Al Jazeera television claims 100 million viewers and has Israel-based studios in Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramallah.


Barack Obama and the politicisation of lifestyle

The most striking thing about the 2008 race for the White House is the `blue' elite's unrestrained disdain for its `bitter' moral inferiors

Now that Barack Obama has become the Democratic nominee in the presidential election, what has been the key lesson of the primary race? For me, one of the most interesting things is the extent to which lifestyle has been politicised in contemporary America. To date, the most memorable moment of the presidential campaign was `Bittergate'. This is the name given to the controversy caused by Obama's speech at a fundraising event in San Francisco on 6 April. Obama was talking about his difficulty in winning over white working-class voters in the Pennsylvania primary, when he said: `[It's] not surprising they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.'

His casual and knowing putdown of small-town folk sent a very clear message about the cultural fault-line that divides America today. He is blue (Democrat and liberal), they are red (Republican and traditionalist); he is enlightened, they are bitter.

During my travels in America, I often encounter people who unthinkingly and moralistically condemn their fellow citizens' values, emotions or faith. Indeed, the politicisation of people's personal values, even their lifestyle, strikes me as one of the most distinctive features of public life in contemporary America. Some seem to take their lifestyles so seriously that they do not simply disagree with people who have a different outlook to them - rather they heap contempt and loathing on those `other' individuals' manners, habits and values.

I am always struck by the hectoring language used by otherwise educated and sensitive, sophisticated people when they are denouncing `ordinary folk'. Frequently, those who are associated with the so-called religious right are described as `simpletons' and `idiots'. What is most striking is the passion and force with which certain individuals are attacked if they take a different position on, say, the right to abortion or the right to bear arms. These passionate denunciations suggest that some people, most notably those in the liberal elite, feel that their very identity - as expressed through their lifestyles - is being called into question by those who dare to disagree on the environment, abortion, immigration or any other issue. Sadly, all too often debates about issues and values can become very personal indeed in America.

The language used by Obama to describe the smalltown folk of the Rust Belt implied that these people inhabit a different moral universe to the one inhabited by the individuals he was addressing in San Francisco. In his words, when `they' get `bitter', they `cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them'. From this standpoint, insecurity, religion, guns and xenophobia all come to be associated with `the other', defining the way of life of what we in Europe refer to as the `little people'. Significant sections of America's cultural elite have bought into this caricatured representation of their smalltown citizens. They have adopted a sneering sense of moral superiority towards the outdated and dysfunctional attitudes of the `little people'.

Obama's statement on 6 April, and the various reactions to it, is testimony to the intense polarisation of public life in the US. And as the outcome of the Pennsylvania primary indicated (Hillary won with 51 per cent over Obama's 41 per cent), a significant section of the electorate regards such statements as personally insulting.

Historically, some big differences and clashes of interest have divided American society. Many of these old divisions, such as between North and South, black and white, Protestant and Catholic, have either diminished in importance, or they have become entangled with the contemporary polarisation between red and blue states. Consequently, the deep division between North and South that once shaped the contours of American political life has lost its salience. Today, reports indicate that there are growing value gaps amongst African-Americans. A recent report by the Pew Research Center found that both blacks and whites believe that in recent years `values held by blacks and whites have converged'.

The differences that matter now are cultural - but it's not culture with a capital C. Instead, what distinguishes liberal/cosmopolitan blue values from the more traditional red values are different orientations towards lifestyle. This is not simply a new version of the politics of identity that were promoted by the upwardly mobile baby-boomers in the 1970s. No, the emergence of the blue-and-red divide is underpinned by an inexorable tendency to politicise lifestyle. The labels `bitter', `frustrated' and `antipathetic' speak to personal attitudes and emotions.

In the 2000 presidential election won by George W Bush, the significance of red-and-blue divisions amongst the electorate became clear. And in the eight years since then, polarised attitudes towards cultural values have become more and more consolidated. Outwardly, categories such as ethnicity, race and gender still seem to dominate political discourse. Some commentators claim that class or economic status can explain the differences between the more prosperous blue states and poorer red states, such as those in the Mid-West. However, class and economics cannot account for the super-emotional attacks on people who are seen as the bitter moral inferiors of the blue elite. Increasingly, the American electorate has become more and more fragmented along lifestyle lines.

People who live in the `blue pockets' of generally red states have a very different life and outlook to their neighbours. An academic colleague of mine who lives in a college town in Wisconsin told me that `they' - it is always `they' - even eat differently to us. Likewise, Adolph Reed Jr of New School University in New York told of a colleague who, after the 2004 election that was won by Bush, complained that there are millions of people out there who are `just not like us'. This act of moral distancing - creating a gap between `us' and `them' - is one of the most disturbing aspects of the politicisation of lifestyle.

Contempt for `them' is usually expressed in code, through nods and winks. Terms like `NASCAR dads', `Rednecks', `Valley Girls' or `Soccer Moms' are used to refer to `them'. However, more recently the condemnation of other people's lifestyles has become unrestrained. This was most clear during and after the 2004 presidential election, when numerous media commentators took it upon themselves to question the mental capacity of their fellow citizens - the `red' ones.

A columnist for The Village Voice wrote of the `monumental apathy and programmed ignorance of at least half the American public'. A leading liberal writer argued that Americans were voting in a `fog of fear', and thus they could not be trusted to think about `real politics' in a serious manner. Apparently, thanks to President Bush's `unremitting fearmongering', `millions of voters are reacting not with their linear and logical left brain, but with their lizard brain and their more emotional right brain. It's not about left wing vs right wing; it's about left brain vs right brain.'

At times, the liberal-left's denunciation of the `religious right' reads like a critique of the electorate's mental capacity. One Democratic Party activist claims that the American public has become a sort of `Fast Food Electorate', and it is as if `Americans suffer collectively from a plague of Attention Deficit Disorder'. Reading such statements, it is difficult to disentangle political attitudes from an existential angst about who we are. In the blue-vs-red divide in America today - or should that be the human-vs-lizard divide? - everything from what you think to how you speak to what you eat can become politicised.

Of course, once an individual's identity and political outlook become entwined, then debate becomes highly charged - and highly personal. Arguments come to represent a statement about the self. When public issues are taken so personally, political dialogue becomes deeply confusing. It is always difficult to respond in a cool and detached manner to what we perceive to be an insult. When people endow their lifestyles with moral meaning, even relatively minor differences with others can acquire monumental significance. Often, people use statements such as `they are not like us' to affirm their own identity. Criticising other people's consumption of junk food or adherence to religious values is a way of making a statement about the self; those who advocate different kinds of behaviour and different values come to be seen as a threat to one's own identity.

So it is not political polarisation but disputes about different `ways of life' that fuel the blue/red divide. Some even believe that the identities of the blues and the reds are frozen and unchangeable. A report titled The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters, produced by a group of researchers at the University of Maryland, argued that Bush supporters live in a make-believe world while their opponents inhabit the real world (1). Increasingly, people's political attitudes are reduced to the level of personality. An individual's upbringing, psychology and character are discussed as key factors in forming their political worldview. Politics becomes psychologised.

Such vulgar psychologising is best captured in the writings of George Lakoff of the University of California, Berkeley. Lakoff imagines he is being insightful when he writes about the differences between red and blue voters; in fact he is recycling a caricatured version of Theodor Adorno's Authoritarian Personality. Lakoff divides the US electorate into two groups - those who are looking for a strict father figure, and those who would prefer a nurturing, parent-oriented family set-up. According to Lakoff, conservatives want a dominant father figure; it is their `strict authoritarian values' that `motivate them to enter the voting booth' (2). By contrast, liberals are imbued with the `nurturant parent worldview' and are inspired by the values of `empathy and responsibility' (3). Lakoff interprets people's voting behaviour as a personality issue rather than a matter of political choice. Apparently, it is not ideas but styles of parenting that determine voting behaviour.

This sort of pop psychology suggests that people's personality and emotions are immutable facts of life which determine how we vote. Authoritarian, strict-father types vote conservative, and nurturing, empathic individuals veer to the left. Lakoff and others reject the notion that people make reasoned calculations or vote according to their self-interests (otherwise, why would they have re-elected Bush?). Instead, `they vote their identity' and `they vote their values'. In other words, `they vote on the basis of who they are, what values they have, and who and what they admire' (4).

Of course, identity does play an important role in public life. But people's identity is far from fixed; certainly the simplistic association of parenting style with political affiliation overlooks the fluid, unpredictable manner in which people engage with public issues. If identity has become an important factor in voting behaviour today, then it has less to do with people's `father figures' than with the politicisation of lifestyles. At a time when there is very little to separate the presidential candidates, politicians have sought to politicise people's personal lives. Today, most of the wedge issues that divide the American electorate - guns, same-sex marriage, abortion, school prayer - directly impinge on individuals' identities. When issues become personal, debate becomes polarised. This process looks likely to entrench the sense of social fragmentation rather than alleviate it.

In the US election campaign, the kind of `moral distancing' undertaken by Obama and others reveals an unwillingness to engage in genuine public debate with `other' people. Also, the elevation of identity suggests that it is impossible to influence or change people's views through a rigorous and open conversation, since everything is already psychologically frozen. The idea of the `politics of choice' has given way to the `politics of identity'. Voters are treated as if their lifestyles and values are as much part of their individuality as the colour of their skin or hair. This tendency to naturalise identity is encouraged by the political elites, who appeal to people's narrow identities in order to consolidate their support base.

During the election campaign, elite attitudes towards `them' have, if anything, hardened. Far from being apologetic about Bittergate, many of Obama's supporters raised the ante when the controversy kicked off. `These people don't turn to God and guns and mistrust of foreigners because of a downturn in the economy', argued TV host Jon Stewart; rather `those are the very foundations those towns are built on'. In short, all is fixed in these red states; prejudice and backwardness is built into the very foundations.

Obama's victory in the Democratic nomination process reveals that much has changed in America. The old-fashioned politics of race is far less important than it was in the past - but it is being replaced by a new, individuated, culture-based divide between different sections of American society.


Risk has its rewards

An encouragingly intelligent essay from a minister in Australia's centre-Left Federal government: Craig Emerson

When previously in government, Labor was the party of competition and compassion. In this political philosophy, the role of policymakers is to allow the market to create prosperity and, out of that prosperity, to expand opportunity, not the welfare state. This is the philosophy of like-minded people I call market democrats: the modern champions of traditional Labor values of prosperity, fairness and compassion.

Some say competitive markets bring out the worst in people: greed and avarice. Oddly, they don't say the same about the Olympic Games, football, cricket, netball, music and dance competitions, all based on our most competitive instincts. As Bob Hawke was teaching me the intricacies of betting on horseracing, when I was a fresh recruit to his staff in 1986, he said: "Son, in any race, back the horse called Self-Interest because you know it will be trying."

Self-interest is not synonymous with selfishness. Athletes, singers, artists, dancers, authors and scientists are self-interested but not necessarily selfish. Some may be arrogant and rude, some selfish, others humble and altruistic, but all are self-interested. Without self-interest, economic and social progress is impossible.

The Hawke government began opening up the economy, dismantling the regulatory shackles that had been progressively applied through decades of mainly conservative governments. I came to understand that those Liberal-National governments were not champions of free enterprise but of private enterprise (although they quite liked the ideas of socialising private losses by bailing out insolvent businesses). The conservatives were keen regulators, protecting their private business supporters from competition.

My moral questions were answered through the competitive yet compassionate philosophy of the Hawke and Keating governments, a philosophy that sat easily with Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations. There was, I concluded, no inherent conflict between markets and morality. Labor values of prosperity, fairness and compassion fit well with supporting an open, competitive economy that rewards effort, risk-taking and entrepreneurship, and where opportunity, not welfare, is available to all.

Competitive markets reward effort, risk-taking and entrepreneurship, and they encourage innovation essential to the growth of a market economy. The forces of competition create pressure on businesses to be efficient and apply new ideas in producing goods and services valued by consumers.

Yet markets are chaotic and wasteful. Predicting prices produced by markets is hazardous. Markets force businesses to close, wasting infrastructure and obliging employees to seek work elsewhere. But far more wasteful and chaotic are central planning and governments pretending to be good at running businesses in so-called mixed economies.

Of course, it is unfair if the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. But why should governments try to prevent the rich from getting richer if the poor also get richer as a consequence of the wealth-creation process? Albania, Bangladesh and Ethiopia have more equal income distributions than Australia, but most would agree that Australia's society is fairer. Many Australians earning below-average incomes choose to forgo higher pay in favour of spending more time with their families or just relaxing. By doing so, they are making measured income inequality worse but, through free choice, they are making their own lives better.

In a flourishing democracy, government serves the people. Yet at every twist and turn governments come up with new taxes and new regulations that subjugate the people to the state. By intervening, taxing heavily and regulating, governments have sought to restrict individual freedoms, stifle initiative and inhibit self-reliance. In a market democracy, governments should serve the people instead of seeking to subjugate them to the will of government through high taxes and heavy regulation.

By allowing markets to reward hard work, risk-taking and entrepreneurship without unnecessary interference, market democrats advance freedom and self-fulfilment. If governments are to bring out the best in people, they should not erect disincentives to creating prosperity and good social behaviour such as honesty.

Governments must not imprison the disadvantaged by subjugating them to the state, robbing them of self-esteem and condemning them to a life of dependency; governments must liberate them by providing opportunity for all in a truly fair society. Let us not make the disadvantaged the experiments of social engineers yearning for a different social order but lacking the stomach to practise it in their own lives. It is this social experimentation of romanticising traditional life in the harsh outback that has caused Australia's most vulnerable - indigenous people - to be trapped in misery.

Good on Warren Mundine and Noel Pearson for exposing the immorality of those asserting moral superiority but whose pomposity perpetuates the disadvantage of our indigenous brother and sisters. And good on Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin for having the courage to set her own course.

Market democrats oppose the relentless expansion of the welfare state, where higher taxes are used to obtain revenue for recycling - often to the same people - in return for political support. This was the hallmark of the previous government and, judging by the objections of the Opposition Leader, the shadow treasurer and the Opposition spokesman for families to means-testing the baby bonus and family payments for stay-at-home mothers, remains a defining feature of the Coalition.

The modern welfare state extends beyond recycling tax revenue; it is a state of ever-expanding government regulation. This regulatory welfare reinforces the culture of dependency by discouraging people from taking responsibility for their own actions and their own lives. Regulatory welfare is inimical to a market democracy, since it discourages individual initiative and business risk-taking.



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

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

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


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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ireland: know your place, you ungrateful wretch!

The bile-filled assault on Irish voters shows just how corrupt and undemocratic is the EU. The article below was written before the result of the Irish vote on the Lisbon treaty (rejection) became known but the points it makes are still very relevant

How can the Irish be so ungrateful? That is the question being asked by EU officials (in private) and by EU supporters (in public) as the Irish go to the polls this Thursday to vote on whether to accept the Lisbon Treaty on the expansion of European Union institutions. The fact that the `No' lobby seems to be gaining ground - in a country that has benefited enormously from EU subsidies! - has led to an orgy of bile-ridden attacks on truculent, thick and thankless Irish voters.

The message is clear: the Irish should know their place in the European set-up and slavishly bow and scrape before their paymasters in Brussels. Anything else would be `extraordinarily ungrateful', according to one commentator (1). Welcome to the `democratic' EU - where most countries are bypassing their electorates and simply ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, and where the one country that is holding a referendum - Ireland - has been subjected to the kind of financial, political and emotional blackmail that would make even Imelda Marcos squirm.

In order for the Lisbon Treaty on EU enlargement to come into effect on 1 January 2009, all 27 member states must ratify it. So far, 15 countries have forced it through their parliaments, and another 11 are in the process of doing so. But Ireland - population: 4.3million - is the only EU member state constitutionally bound to hold a referendum and put the Treaty to the will of the people. EU officials and supporters are sweating and fretting over the possibility that Irish voters - `any clown with a pen', as one writer charmingly referred to them - will torpedo the Treaty (2).

According to recent opinion polls, the `No' lobby is gaining ground - even though Ireland's three main political parties, big newspapers and business world are calling for a `Yes' vote. Apparently, 40 per cent of voters are planning to say `Yes' and 39 per cent `No'; the `No' side has gained six points in the past two weeks, while the `Yes' side has remained steady (3).

European officials and commentators cannot believe that so many Irish voters would dare to be so ungracious to their financiers in the EU. `It seems extraordinary that the Irish could be so apparently ungrateful', thunders the Financial Times, pointing out that the Irish Republic has `reaped greater benefits from its 35 years of EU participation than any other member state'. Ireland has received œ40billion in subsidies from Brussels and yet its electorate might say `No' to Lisbon, probably because `they do not understand the Treaty', sniffs the FT (4). They're ungrateful and stupid.

`Gratitude, it would appear, is in short supply', says another commentator. He argues that, never mind the possibility of a `No' victory on Thursday, even the fact that `the Irish vote might be close is hard to fathom from a historical perspective'; after all, membership of the EU has given Ireland `a chance to diversify its economy'. The Irish should be `thankful, indeed overflowing with appreciation' - instead they seem to be `out of their collective minds' (5). Ireland will be seen as `the truculent and ungrateful child of Europe' if its voters reject Lisbon, says one report (6).

This echoes the attacks on Irish voters when they rejected the EU's Nice Treaty in a referendum in June 2001. Back then, 54 per cent of voters said `No thanks'. `The best pupils of the European class have spat in the soup', spat the French newspaper Liberation in 2001: `The blow is all the more treacherous in that it comes from a country that owes its new wealth to Europe.' (7) `Those ungrateful Irish', said a headline in The Economist, reminding truculent anti-Nice voters that `when Ireland joined the European Economic Community in 1973, the country's income per head was about 60 per cent of the community's average; it is now around 120 per cent' (8).

In 2002, under extreme pressure from the EU, the Irish state found a neat way to get around the inconvenient fact of a `No' vote to the Nice Treaty - it simply held a second referendum (in a shameless act of political Double Jeopardy) and devoted its not-inconsiderable political and media machinery to demanding that voters make the `right decision' this time (9). Pro-Nice posters reminded the ungrateful Irish about everything they had received from the EU. `Thirty billion Euros since 1973', the posters said, while Irish ministers warned ominously that a second rejection of Nice could `return Ireland to poverty' (10). This time, the `Yes' lobby won: in October 2002, 62.89 per cent of voters supported Nice.

The attacks on Irish voters for being `extraordinarily ungrateful' - both for initially rejecting Nice in 2001 and for even thinking about saying `No' to Lisbon this week - reveal a great deal about `democracy' in the EU. The EU's bureaucrats and backers seem dumbfounded that they cannot buy Irish people's support; they find it `hard to fathom' that a people who have received subsidies worth billions of Euros are not falling in line behind their rulers. It is the mark of corrupt, degenerate and anti-democratic elitism to believe that you can buy people's votes. Indeed, in many civilised, democratic countries it is illegal for political parties to offer voters financial reward for their ballots. Yet, Mafioso-style, EU backers are telling the Irish: `You've received your monies - now do as we say.'

The assaults on Irish voters also show what it means to be a `democratic citizen' in the EU: that is, someone who is financially cared for by caring-but-faceless bureaucrats in Brussels, and who should be `overflowing with appreciation' for the EU elite's grace and favour. This is the very opposite of political citizenship; it is a distortion of the traditional relationship between citizens and their governing bodies. In place of free and open debate, in which citizens are treated as adults who can have political views independent of any welfare they might receive from the authorities, we have a situation where those who dare to criticise or complain or say `No' are denounced as `extraordinarily ungrateful' and even `treacherous' (11). This is the kind of relationship a child has with his guardian, or a mentally ill person with his carer - it has nothing whatever to do with democracy.

Indeed, the use of that T-word - treacherous - to describe Irish voters who have rejected EU treaties tells you everything you need to know about the EU elite's view of the European masses. According to the OED, to be treacherous is to `commit treason against a sovereign, lord or master'; it is to be `deceiving, perfidious, false, disloyal, traitorous'. The EU clearly considers itself lord of all Europe, and the people its nodding serfs. That it can be described as `treachery' to make a certain political choice inside the ballot booth shows the extent to which Lisbon, like Nice before it, is an already agreed document that parliaments and the people are merely expected to rubber-stamp. How dare the ungrateful, wretched, deceitful Irish jeopardise the EU elite's already agreed-upon and carefully thought-through plans?

The expectation that the Irish should say `Yes' to Lisbon gives the lie to the idea of equality in the EU. In Brussels and across the pro-EU commentariat it is assumed that poorer countries in particular - Ireland, and also southern states such as Spain and Portugal, and the new Eastern European entries - should behave like `the best pupils of the European class' (12) because they receive generous subsidies from their masters. When the awarding of financial support becomes a key determinant in how states should relate to Brussels, then any notion of sovereign equality goes out the window. Richer states such as Britain, Germany and France can afford a more robust relationship with Brussels, whereas poorer states are told to be grateful, gracious, obedient and unquestioning. In the creaking, oligarchical bureaucracy that is the EU, the citizens of poorer member states are effectively disenfranchised, or certainly are `less equal' than citizens in states that are not so reliant on EU subsidies.

The lesson that many are drawing from Ireland's referendum on Lisbon is that democracy is a bad idea. `Putting the Treaty to such a plebiscite is absurd', says the FT, since many Irish voters `will vote "No" simply because they do not understand the Treaty [and] others want to register a protest against the political establishment that is all on the "Yes" side' (13). Surveying the various groups that make up the `No' lobby in Ireland, Andrew Duff, Liberal Democrat MEP for the East of England, declared: `When there is popular consultation, you get populism, nationalism, xenophobia, all sorts of lies.' (14) Similar insults were made against French and Dutch voters when they rejected the European Constitution in 2005. The masses, it seems, are not to be trusted - they are lying, conniving foreigner-bashers. Far better to leave European decision-making in the hands of an educated and cosmopolitan elite.

The Irish referendum has struck the fear of God into the EU and its supporters - and with good reason. The fact that the `No' vote is gaining ground shows that, even in nations that have for the past 35 years effectively been bribed with subsidies by EU officials, the EU has not been able to win any sense of affinity and loyalty. It is still seen by large sections of the European people as an aloof, distant and authoritarian institution to which we should say `No', `Non', `Nein'; the EU has come to embody people's bigger sense of dislocation from political institutions today. The Irish referendum is exposing the thin veneer of the EU's legitimacy and stripping away its democratic masquerade, leaving it exposed as shrill, undemocratic, unequal and corrupt. Who wouldn't want to say `No' to that?


An Unfairness Doctrine

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote that the best test of truth "is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market..." But today many are turning away from this theory, calling for greater government intervention in media ownership over the perceived lack of fairness in the press.

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), a vocal critic of the free market for ideas, recently stated, "We really do literally have five or six major corporations in this country that determine for the most part what Americans see, hear and read every day." Unfortunately for the Senator, we really don't. According to Ben Compaine, author of Who Owns the Media?, from 1985 to 1995 the top ten media companies went from raking in 38 percent of media revenue to 41 percent -- not exactly the kind of mass consolidation the pundits would have you fear.

But revenues -- the traditional means for measuring media market diversity -- are not the best way to gauge the diversity of opinions in the American marketplace of ideas. With the advent of the Internet and the new national pastime, blogging, media revenue models are being completely redrawn. Arianna Huffington's aptly named Huffington Post claims to draw in 4.7 million unique users a month (Nielson estimates show about 1.5 million). Fortune has quoted an unnamed source estimating that Huffington can expect her team of less than 50 staffers to haul in $7.5 million this year.

Compare that to the other post -- the Washington Post. The Washington Post Company reported that in 2007 the Post took in a comparatively whopping $496.2 million in advertising revenue. Yet its average daily circulation totaled 649,700, half of Nielson's conservative estimate of Huffington's reach.

Lean, web-based companies -- which have much lower operating costs and use far fewer dead trees to disseminate their ideas -- are left underrepresented in current media market measurement for no other reason than their relative efficiency. If we substituted eyeballs reached for dollars spent the already robust picture of the media market would show even less evidence for concern.

STILL, MANY BELIEVE there is need for regulation because Americans still receive the bulk of their news over the airwaves. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin has said that broadcasters should be required to give both sides of political issues to listeners, while Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has said she plans to look into reviving the "Fairness Doctrine." The doctrine, abandoned in 1985, placed political speech by broadcasters under the scrutiny of the Federal Communications Commission. FCC regulators mandated broadcasters "make reasonable judgments in good faith" on how best to present all sides of controversial issues.

Conservatives on Capitol Hill have banded together to oppose such a revival of the doctrine while pundits and free speech advocates have railed against the reinstatement of rule, citing the 1985 Supreme Court decision that found that the Fairness Doctrine had a "chilling effect" on speech.

While it's true that the Fairness Doctrine did result in many broadcasters shying away from political speech altogether, few have been quick to point out the obvious flaw in Durbin and Feinstein's thinking. Replacing the marketplace of ideas with a board of overseers doesn't do anything to rid the world of bias. It only empowers the bias of the overseers.

Economist James Buchanan clinched the Nobel Prize in 1986 for his keen observation that human beings don't check their self-interested ways at the door when entering the halls of Congress or the offices of any of Washington's many bureaucracies. Instead, commissioners and congressman alike act to advance their position, accrue more power, and expand the mission of their respective offices. This is especially true of the FCC. The commission, created 80 years ago to regulate the fledgling radio industry, now regulates nearly all electronically disseminated media to some degree. But the recent explosion of choice in the media marketplace has left the commission grasping at straw men.

Worse yet, its most recent round of regulations seek to solve its own bad rules with additional layers of rules. Rather than freeing the airwaves from restriction after restriction, and thereby increasing broadcast competition, it seeks to dictate what can be said and who can say it. Instead of opening up the Internet to more service providers, it seeks micromanage the global network. Most recently it has attacked cable providers' ability to make private contracts and now seeks to make termination fees for violating any communication service contract illegal. The commission isn't just seeking to regulate wireless and wired transmissions, but the fundamentals of the marketplace itself.

Were the FCC given the power to police political speech for any lack of fairness, it's safe to assume that violations would be found in droves, because that's the whole point of the agency.

WITH A DEMOCRATICALLY controlled Senate and potential Democratic White House in 2009, current commissioner Michael Copps may soon hold the title of chairman, giving the FCC a 3-2 Democratic majority. This should be pleasant news for Senator Dorgan, whom Copps said has, "Struck a blow for localism and diversity in a media environment crying out for more of both." Copps is right -- in at least one sense. Consumers are crying out for diversity and local content and getting more of both in spite of government regulations.

A Chairman Copps is the last thing the American media market needs. Instead, it needs an Alfred Kahn for the digital age. Kahn dismantled the corrupt and anti-consumer Civil Aeronautics Board, earning him a coveted place in history as the final chairman of an unnecessary agency. Channeling Justice Holmes, Kahn once remarked when speaking about his victories at the CAB that "The key point is that the market decides, not a bunch of know-it-alls in Washington." That's true for airlines and doubly true for free speech.


The Origins of Political Correctness

An Accuracy in Academia Address by Bill Lind

Where does all this stuff that you've heard about this morning - the victim feminism, the gay rights movement, the invented statistics, the rewritten history, the lies, the demands, all the rest of it - where does it come from? For the first time in our history, Americans have to be fearful of what they say, of what they write, and of what they think. They have to be afraid of using the wrong word, a word denounced as offensive or insensitive, or racist, sexist, or homophobic.

We have seen other countries, particularly in this century, where this has been the case. And we have always regarded them with a mixture of pity, and to be truthful, some amusement, because it has struck us as so strange that people would allow a situation to develop where they would be afraid of what words they used. But we now have this situation in this country. We have it primarily on college campuses, but it is spreading throughout the whole society. Were does it come from? What is it?

We call it "Political Correctness." The name originated as something of a joke, literally in a comic strip, and we tend still to think of it as only half-serious. In fact, it's deadly serious. It is the great disease of our century, the disease that has left tens of millions of people dead in Europe, in Russia, in China, indeed around the world. It is the disease of ideology. PC is not funny. PC is deadly serious.

If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. It is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I. If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with classical Marxism the parallels are very obvious.

First of all, both are totalitarian ideologies. The totalitarian nature of Political Correctness is revealed nowhere more clearly than on college campuses, many of which at this point are small ivy covered North Koreas, where the student or faculty member who dares to cross any of the lines set up by the gender feminist or the homosexual-rights activists, or the local black or Hispanic group, or any of the other sainted "victims" groups that PC revolves around, quickly find themselves in judicial trouble. Within the small legal system of the college, they face formal charges - some star-chamber proceeding - and punishment. That is a little look into the future that Political Correctness intends for the nation as a whole.

Indeed, all ideologies are totalitarian because the essence of an ideology (I would note that conservatism correctly understood is not an ideology) is to take some philosophy and say on the basis of this philosophy certain things must be true - such as the whole of the history of our culture is the history of the oppression of women. Since reality contradicts that, reality must be forbidden. It must become forbidden to acknowledge the reality of our history. People must be forced to live a lie, and since people are naturally reluctant to live a lie, they naturally use their ears and eyes to look out and say, "Wait a minute. This isn't true. I can see it isn't true," the power of the state must be put behind the demand to live a lie. That is why ideology invariably creates a totalitarian state.

Second, the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness, like economic Marxism, has a single factor explanation of history. Economic Marxism says that all of history is determined by ownership of means of production. Cultural Marxism, or Political Correctness, says that all history is determined by power, by which groups defined in terms of race, sex, etc., have power over which other groups. Nothing else matters. All literature, indeed, is about that. Everything in the past is about that one thing.

Third, just as in classical economic Marxism certain groups, i.e. workers and peasants, are a priori good, and other groups, i.e., the bourgeoisie and capital owners, are evil. In the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness certain groups are good - feminist women, (only feminist women, non-feminist women are deemed not to exist) blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals. These groups are determined to be "victims," and therefore automatically good regardless of what any of them do. Similarly, white males are determined automatically to be evil, thereby becoming the equivalent of the bourgeoisie in economic Marxism.

Fourth, both economic and cultural Marxism rely on expropriation. When the classical Marxists, the communists, took over a country like Russia, they expropriated the bourgeoisie, they took away their property. Similarly, when the cultural Marxists take over a university campus, they expropriate through things like quotas for admissions. When a white student with superior qualifications is denied admittance to a college in favor of a black or Hispanic who isn't as well qualified, the white student is expropriated. And indeed, affirmative action, in our whole society today, is a system of expropriation. White owned companies don't get a contract because the contract is reserved for a company owned by, say, Hispanics or women. So expropriation is a principle tool for both forms of Marxism.

And finally, both have a method of analysis that automatically gives the answers they want. For the classical Marxist, it's Marxist economics. For the cultural Marxist, it's deconstruction. Deconstruction essentially takes any text, removes all meaning from it and re-inserts any meaning desired. So we find, for example, that all of Shakespeare is about the suppression of women, or the Bible is really about race and gender. All of these texts simply become grist for the mill, which proves that "all history is about which groups have power over which other groups." So the parallels are very evident between the classical Marxism that we're familiar with in the old Soviet Union and the cultural Marxism that we see today as Political Correctness.

But the parallels are not accidents. The parallels did not come from nothing. The fact of the matter is that Political Correctness has a history, a history that is much longer than many people are aware of outside a small group of academics who have studied this. And the history goes back, as I said, to World War I, as do so many of the pathologies that are today bringing our society, and indeed our culture, down.

Marxist theory said that when the general European war came (as it did come in Europe in 1914), the working class throughout Europe would rise up and overthrow their governments - the bourgeois governments - because the workers had more in common with each other across the national boundaries than they had in common with the bourgeoisie and the ruling class in their own country. Well, 1914 came and it didn't happen. Throughout Europe, workers rallied to their flag and happily marched off to fight each other. The Kaiser shook hands with the leaders of the Marxist Social Democratic Party in Germany and said there are no parties now, there are only Germans. And this happened in every country in Europe. So something was wrong.

Marxists knew by definition it couldn't be the theory. In 1917, they finally got a Marxist coup in Russia and it looked like the theory was working, but it stalled again. It didn't spread and when attempts were made to spread immediately after the war, with the Spartacist uprising in Berlin, with the Bela Kun government in Hungary, with the Munich Soviet, the workers didn't support them.

So the Marxists' had a problem. And two Marxist theorists went to work on it: Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary. Gramsci said the workers will never see their true class interests, as defined by Marxism, until they are freed from Western culture, and particularly from the Christian religion - that they are blinded by culture and religion to their true class interests. Lukacs, who was considered the most brilliant Marxist theorist since Marx himself, said in 1919, "Who will save us from Western Civilization?" He also theorized that the great obstacle to the creation of a Marxist paradise was the culture: Western civilization itself.

Lukacs gets a chance to put his ideas into practice, because when the home grown Bolshevik Bela Kun government is established in Hungary in 1919, he becomes deputy commissar for culture, and the first thing he did was introduce sex education into the Hungarian schools. This ensured that the workers would not support the Bela Kun government, because the Hungarian people looked at this aghast, workers as well as everyone else. But he had already made the connection that today many of us are still surprised by, that we would consider the "latest thing."

In 1923 in Germany, a think-tank is established that takes on the role of translating Marxism from economic into cultural terms, that creates Political Correctness as we know it today, and essentially it has created the basis for it by the end of the 1930s. This comes about because the very wealthy young son of a millionaire German trader by the name of Felix Weil has become a Marxist and has lots of money to spend. He is disturbed by the divisions among the Marxists, so he sponsors something called the First Marxist Work Week, where he brings Lukacs and many of the key German thinkers together for a week, working on the differences of Marxism.

And he says, "What we need is a think-tank." Washington is full of think tanks and we think of them as very modern. In fact they go back quite a ways. He endows an institute, associated with Frankfurt University, established in 1923, that was originally supposed to be known as the Institute for Marxism. But the people behind it decided at the beginning that it was not to their advantage to be openly identified as Marxist. The last thing Political Correctness wants is for people to figure out it's a form of Marxism. So instead they decide to name it the Institute for Social Research.

Weil is very clear about his goals. In 1971, he wrote to Martin Jay the author of a principle book on the Frankfurt School, as the Institute for Social Research soon becomes known informally, and he said, "I wanted the institute to become known, perhaps famous, due to its contributions to Marxism." Well, he was successful. The first director of the Institute, Carl Grunberg, an Austrian economist, concluded his opening address, according to Martin Jay, "by clearly stating his personal allegiance to Marxism as a scientific methodology." Marxism, he said, would be the ruling principle at the Institute, and that never changed.

The initial work at the Institute was rather conventional, but in 1930 it acquired a new director named Max Horkheimer, and Horkheimer's views were very different. He was very much a Marxist renegade. The people who create and form the Frankfurt School are renegade Marxists. They're still very much Marxist in their thinking, but they're effectively run out of the party. Moscow looks at what they are doing and says, "Hey, this isn't us, and we're not going to bless this."

Horkheimer's initial heresy is that he is very interested in Freud, and the key to making the translation of Marxism from economic into cultural terms is essentially that he combined it with Freudism. Again, Martin Jay writes, "If it can be said that in the early years of its history, the Institute concerned itself primarily with an analysis of bourgeois society's socio-economic sub-structure," - and I point out that Jay is very sympathetic to the Frankfurt School, I'm not reading from a critic here - "in the years after 1930 its primary interests lay in its cultural superstructure. Indeed the traditional Marxist formula regarding the relationship between the two was brought into question by Critical Theory."

The stuff we've been hearing about this morning - the radical feminism, the women's studies departments, the gay studies departments, the black studies departments - all these things are branches of Critical Theory. What the Frankfurt School essentially does is draw on both Marx and Freud in the 1930s to create this theory called Critical Theory. The term is ingenious because you're tempted to ask, "What is the theory?" The theory is to criticize. The theory is that the way to bring down Western culture and the capitalist order is not to lay down an alternative. They explicitly refuse to do that. They say it can't be done, that we can't imagine what a free society would look like (their definition of a free society). As long as we're living under repression - the repression of a capitalistic economic order which creates (in their theory) the Freudian condition, the conditions that Freud describes in individuals of repression - we can't even imagine it. What Critical Theory is about is simply criticizing. It calls for the most destructive criticism possible, in every possible way, designed to bring the current order down. And, of course, when we hear from the feminists that the whole of society is just out to get women and so on, that kind of criticism is a derivative of Critical Theory. It is all coming from the 1930s, not the 1960s.

Other key members who join up around this time are Theodore Adorno, and, most importantly, Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse. Fromm and Marcuse introduce an element which is central to Political Correctness, and that's the sexual element. And particularly Marcuse, who in his own writings calls for a society of "polymorphous perversity," that is his definition of the future of the world that they want to create. Marcuse in particular by the 1930s is writing some very extreme stuff on the need for sexual liberation, but this runs through the whole Institute. So do most of the themes we see in Political Correctness, again in the early 30s. In Fromm's view, masculinity and femininity were not reflections of `essential' sexual differences, as the Romantics had thought. They were derived instead from differences in life functions, which were in part socially determined." Sex is a construct; sexual differences are a construct.

Another example is the emphasis we now see on environmentalism. "Materialism as far back as Hobbes had led to a manipulative dominating attitude toward nature." That was Horkhemier writing in 1933 in Materialismus und Moral. "The theme of man's domination of nature," according to Jay, " was to become a central concern of the Frankfurt School in subsequent years." "Horkheimer's antagonism to the fetishization of labor, (here's were they're obviously departing from Marxist orthodoxy) expressed another dimension of his materialism, the demand for human, sensual happiness." In one of his most trenchant essays, Egoism and the Movement for Emancipation, written in 1936, Horkeimer "discussed the hostility to personal gratification inherent in bourgeois culture." And he specifically referred to the Marquis de Sade, favorably, for his "protest.against asceticism in the name of a higher morality."

How does all of this stuff flood in here? How does it flood into our universities, and indeed into our lives today? The members of the Frankfurt School are Marxist, they are also, to a man, Jewish. In 1933 the Nazis came to power in Germany, and not surprisingly they shut down the Institute for Social Research. And its members fled. They fled to New York City, and the Institute was reestablished there in 1933 with help from Columbia University. And the members of the Institute, gradually through the 1930s, though many of them remained writing in German, shift their focus from Critical Theory about German society, destructive criticism about every aspect of that society, to Critical Theory directed toward American society. There is another very important transition when the war comes. Some of them go to work for the government, including Herbert Marcuse, who became a key figure in the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA), and some, including Horkheimer and Adorno, move to Hollywood.

These origins of Political Correctness would probably not mean too much to us today except for two subsequent events. The first was the student rebellion in the mid-1960s, which was driven largely by resistance to the draft and the Vietnam War. But the student rebels needed theory of some sort. They couldn't just get out there and say, "Hell no we won't go," they had to have some theoretical explanation behind it. Very few of them were interested in wading through Das Kapital. Classical, economic Marxism is not light, and most of the radicals of the 60s were not deep. Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for our country today, and not just in the university, Herbert Marcuse remained in America when the Frankfurt School relocated back to Frankfurt after the war. And whereas Mr. Adorno in Germany is appalled by the student rebellion when it breaks out there - when the student rebels come into Adorno's classroom, he calls the police and has them arrested - Herbert Marcuse, who remained here, saw the 60s student rebellion as the great chance. He saw the opportunity to take the work of the Frankfurt School and make it the theory of the New Left in the United States.

One of Marcuse's books was the key book. It virtually became the bible of the SDS and the student rebels of the 60s. That book was Eros and Civilization. Marcuse argues that under a capitalistic order (he downplays the Marxism very strongly here, it is subtitled, A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud, but the framework is Marxist), repression is the essence of that order and that gives us the person Freud describes - the person with all the hang-ups, the neuroses, because his sexual instincts are repressed. We can envision a future, if we can only destroy this existing oppressive order, in which we liberate eros, we liberate libido, in which we have a world of "polymorphous perversity," in which you can "do you own thing." And by the way, in that world there will no longer be work, only play.

What a wonderful message for the radicals of the mid-60s! They're students, they're baby-boomers, and they've grown up never having to worry about anything except eventually having to get a job. And here is a guy writing in a way they can easily follow. He doesn't require them to read a lot of heavy Marxism and tells them everything they want to hear which is essentially, "Do your own thing," "If it feels good do it," and "You never have to go to work." By the way, Marcuse is also the man who creates the phrase, "Make love, not war." Coming back to the situation people face on campus, Marcuse defines "liberating tolerance" as intolerance for anything coming from the Right and tolerance for anything coming from the Left. Marcuse joined the Frankfurt School, in 1932 (if I remember right). So, all of this goes back to the 1930s.

In conclusion, America today is in the throws of the greatest and direst transformation in its history. We are becoming an ideological state, a country with an official state ideology enforced by the power of the state. In "hate crimes" we now have people serving jail sentences for political thoughts. And the Congress is now moving to expand that category ever further. Affirmative action is part of it. The terror against anyone who dissents from Political Correctness on campus is part of it. It's exactly what we have seen happen in Russia, in Germany, in Italy, in China, and now it's coming here. And we don't recognize it because we call it Political Correctness and laugh it off. My message today is that it's not funny, it's here, it's growing and it will eventually destroy, as it seeks to destroy, everything that we have ever defined as our freedom and our culture.



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

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

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


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Saturday, June 14, 2008

British cops surrender to Leftist thugs

BRITISH National Party members set to stage a controversial summer festival stormed out of a licensing meeting after police objected to their plan at the eleventh hour. However the BNP has vowed to go ahead with the event on land off Codnor Denby Lane despite withdrawing its application for a council license to sell alcohol and play live music.

BNP members were confronted by more than 30 protesters opposed to the party, who chanted and waved placards outside Ripley Town Hall before the meeting.

Derbyshire Constabulary had initially raised no objections to the festival, due to take place in August. However it changed its mind and submitted an objection after Amber Valley Borough Council's deadline after receiving "significant intelligence" opponents of the BNP would try and cause trouble at the event.

Party representatives told the council's licensing board on Tuesday the claims were "spurious and politically motivated" before branding the hearing a farce and withdrawing the application.

Craig Sutherland, solicitor for Derbyshire Police, told the meeting: "The fact is we are expecting trouble at this event. "We didn't object to this festival in 2007, and we didn't object initially in 2008 however towards the end of May the intelligence picture changed. "We have started to receive intelligence to say that groups opposed to the BNP may attack people attending this festival. "Having a large number of individuals with opposing views together in one area like this is going to be a powder keg."

Mr Sutherland told the panel that if they were willing to let the event go ahead they would like to see several new conditions in place including a seven foot high fence around the entire site and temporary security lighting installed.

John Walker, national treasurer of the BNP, said afterwards: "We came here with an open mind. As it went on we came to the conclusion that it was becoming a farce because of the hoops we were being asked to jump through by Derbyshire Police. "The police have caved in to mob rule. We are going to withdraw this application and this event will go ahead without a licence."

BNP member Alan Warner, who hosts the event on his land in Denby, said: "The festival will be going ahead. We won't be selling alcohol but people will be able to bring their own and there will be recorded music and music from the fair ground. "The police still have to police the event. I'm looking forward to it, hopefully it will be even better than last year. We're hoping to have as many as 5000 people here."

Peter Carney, Chief Executive at Amber Valley Borough Council said: "The organisers will now not be permitted to provide any licensable activities during the course of the festival, should it go ahead. They will not be able to sell alcohol on site and live or recorded music as a main activity will not be allowed at the event. "The Council will be considering, with the police, what further steps we will take in respect of the concerns raised by them and by residents at the hearing if the organisers decide to go ahead with the event despite the withdrawal of the application."


Aggressive British police

But only towards law-abiding people

A man who laughed too hard at a comedian on TV ended up being pepper sprayed at his home by UK police and spending the night naked in a cell. Chris Cocker, 36, from Blackburn, laughed so hard while watching BBC TV's Have I Got News For You that he fell off the sofa, the BBC reported. A neighbour in the flat below heard the thud and called police.

"I fell off the settee in hysterics and hit the floor and got myself up and started carrying on watching the telly and the next thing I know there was a knock on the door," Mr Cocker said. The knock was from police officers, but Mr Cocker was not happy to see them and refused to co-operate.

"The bit where I lost it the most was when I shut the door and the policeman had stuck his foot in the doorway and was refusing to let me shut my own front door," he said. Police then pepper-sprayed Mr Cocker, bundled him into a police van and took him to a police station where he said he was stripped naked and made to spend a night in a jail cell, the BBC said.

Lancashire Police said the officers used the pepper spray after fearing for their safety when Mr Cocker became aggressive [What pansies!]. Mr Cocker admitted in court that he had resisted a police officer, the BBC said. He was given a conditional discharge for assault.


Censoring the U.S. military

The Democrats are angry. Despite investing enormous effort undermining the military, things are going fairly well in Iraq. General Petraeus and the surge have been a success, not that you would know that from the media coverage, which has been, to say the least, sparse. The anti-Bush themes of an "Iraqi quagmire" and "surge failure" were premature, and all the congressional show hearings, the choreographed Code Pink performance art and the MoveOn.org smears were for naught. The president and the military did it right, and the Democrats got it wrong.

Now it's time for Democrats to change the subject, to distract the public, to pretend the dire predictions and the hysterics were about something else entirely, and hope the short memory of the electorate kills the issue by November. It's also time for a little vengeance on the Pentagon.

The House passed Amendment 56 to the Defense Authorization Act for FY 2009 (384 to 23 in a voice vote), prohibiting the Department of Defense (DOD) from engaging in publicity or "propaganda" programs, banning funding for such programs and calling for an investigation by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) into the DOD Military Analyst Program. The justification is that Pentagon briefings on current operations presented to retired military pundits amounted to manipulating the media, and that it deceived the public with false information about the Iraq war.
"The President and members of his Administration led the country to war on the basis of unproven assertions, later confirmed to be false, and have continued to misrepresent the truth on the ground. The Hodes-DeFazio-DeLauro Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Defense from using funds for propaganda purposes and initiates a GAO and IG investigative report into past use of propaganda, is a vital step toward restoring the public's faith in information stemming from the Pentagon." - Speaker Nancy Pelosi
The three sponsors of the Bill, Representatives Hodes, DeFazio and DeLauro, vote along party lines. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, they hold to their perspective that Iraq is a failure and the American people and the media have been deceived.
"The American people were spun by Bush Administration "message multipliers." They were fed Administration talking points, believing they were getting independent military analysis...Congress cannot allow an Administration to manipulate the public on false propaganda on matters of war and national security." - Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH)

"What happened here was a violation of that law and that anybody would stand here on this floor and say that that law, which we have had in place for more than 50 years, should be repealed or undermined by one narrow-minded Administration or Vice President Cheney or anyone else who wants to manipulate intelligence to the Congress and American people to a war that should not have been initiated." - Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)

"This is propaganda, it is a military and industrial complex in which military analysts, many who have ties with the contractors making money off of the war and parroting DOD talking points on the air to mislead the American public and the TV networks did nothing to prevent it". - Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
Webster defines propaganda as the "spreading of ideas or information to further or damage a cause," it is also "ideas or allegations spread for such purpose." The popular connotation of the word is false information, or information used to deceive or mislead. The left uses the word as a negative label for information that does not conform to their view, a tool to demean and discredit, regardless of truth. Their purpose is to dominate what the public sees with their messages and to eliminate contradictory information.

In information warfare, this is called shaping the battle space. Throughout this war, the military has been inundated with negative press. Damaging leaks were rampant, coming from the Democrats in the Senate and the House, from the CIA and the State Department, even from inside the Pentagon. Every setback was exaggerated in an unrelenting information campaign to shape public perception.

Disinformation from our enemies was accepted without critical analysis by much of the media. Papers worldwide splashed every unsubstantiated negative story they could find. Enemy agents posing as stringers were feeding false stories about American atrocities. Terror attacks were timed for the 24-hour news-cycle. The broadcast media's mantra for Iraq was "if it bleeds it leads" writ large. The enemy knew it, and used it.

This relentless media assault frustrated and confounded the military, for whom the lessons of press malfeasance in Vietnam still rankle. How can you prosecute a war against a vicious enemy when your every action may be portrayed as criminal? How can you show success when failure is all Americans are allowed to see and hear? How do you get your message out when the press ignores or alters it? How can you tell the ground truth if no one is there to listen?

The Pentagon had to respond; the onslaught of negative press was affecting the morale of troops performing brilliantly in a very hard fight, and undermining a war effort they were duty bound to prosecute. Rather than inserting "propaganda," the military attempted to get accurate information out, and the only way to do it was to ensure former military commentators had the very best, uncorrupted information possible.

Military pundits already knew from the past that truth on the ground is seldom what's reported on the Six O'clock News. They understood the importance of that information getting through the media spin. On TV, a former officer speaks directly to the American people; the message gets through, unfiltered by the media template, from someone with experience.

The "propaganda" these honorable men presented came from good faith assessments, and verified intelligence and data from the field. Rather than these veterans being conspiratorial liars, as the authors of Amendment 56 would have you believe, some of the most accurate information about Iraq came from them, which is exactly why their briefings anger the Democrats.

There was no spin in General Petraeus' testimony on Capitol Hill. He was professional and honest about the dangers of the surge. He was also clear about the potential success. Congressional Democrats insulted this fine officer, allowed Code Pink lunatics to interrupt him, and pretended to wish him well. They then did everything they could to undermine him. The Democrats have used the men and women of our military as political props, easy targets for their anti-administration hysterics.

The military does not have the luxury of turnstile political alliances and situational ethics. They are loyal, even when betrayed by Congress. The job we have given them is to win our wars, and then they are punished for doing so.

A fact that you will not hear from the press is that military public affairs and media liaison offices stress a strict adherence to truth. Despite the myths we are fed from the left, the military understands that a lie will always come back to haunt you; while truth may be difficult at first, it is a far better and honorable course. The military still believes in honor. While individuals may break this code, they inevitably suffer for it. In each of the supposed "exposes" such as Abu Grab, Hadditha and Guantanamo Bay, the military had already conducted investigations and indicted those suspected of wrongdoing. They needed no prodding from the press.

The New York Times in particular excels at "uncovering" stories that were not hidden, and spinning them into scandal after the fact. An April 20, 2008 article by David Barstow, Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon's Hidden Hand, fueled this controversy. In cherry picked quotes, Barstow spins a dark conspiracy from what would have been called effective press relations in previous years. The hand was not hidden, and in fact was quite open, as evidenced by the easy access Barstow apparently had to program specifics.

All told, this military effort was only a moderate success when compared to the massive message machine the left has built to gain information dominance in the media, also often using taxpayer dollars. The information dominance they enjoy corrupts all the major networks and print media. No specifics on exactly what was misrepresented by military analysts about the Iraq war have been forthcoming from the Times.

Despite the many stories about American misbehavior eventually proven false, there are few retractions. In its arrogance, the press evidently feels it owes the public no correction or apology. However, words and pictures are like bullets; you cannot take them back. Those words wasted American lives, encouraged and enabled our enemies, and caused untold suffering.

Much of what the American people believe about Iraq derives from images, ideas and narratives produced by people who hope for our failure and would gladly abandon Iraq to ruin. The consequence of their advocacy, as ever, does not trouble them. Our failure in Iraq would aid them politically and that is all that matters to some.

Amendment 56 is not about "propaganda." It is about controlling the information environment and hamstringing a source the Democrats cannot control. The difference between factual information and "propaganda" will be what Congressional Democrats determine it is, and ground truth, if told by the military, will require their certification. Amendment 56 is designed to strip one of the military's few defenses against political manipulation. That so many Republicans supported the amendment is more than discouraging. It shows how easily we are duped and how easily we can lose our freedoms to political sleight of hand.

To those of us who remember the last six years' media coverage of the war, the accusations made by the authors of Amendment 56 are absurd. Their claim that military pundits somehow slanted media reporting with disinformation that encouraged support for the war is a cynical political tactic and a significant exaggeration. At best, they were able in a small way to even a very uneven playing field.

In the battle for the hearts and minds of the American people, the Democrats work hard to silence information that undermines their agenda and they are winning. While the military fights for victory, Democrats plot their defeat, not on the battlefield, but in the minds of the very citizens they serve. In this, they diminish us as a nation and inch us ever closer to defeat. The political fight for America's access to the truth, whatever the source, is one battle the military cannot fight for us. They must remain apolitical. This is a fight, we the people, must win for them.


Leftist ethical incoherence

Is there a fundamental definition of evil? Are there things which objectively possess this property independent of the perception of man? CS Lewis, when he was an atheist, found to his surprise that the concepts of good and evil couldn't be banished by the simple expedient of declaring the world meaningless.
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. ... Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist--in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless -I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality--namely my idea of justice--was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.
The inescapability of having to choose a standard or axioms -- even provisionally -- is the fracture line at the base of moral relativism and multiculturalism. When Richard Dawkins claims that "better many worlds than one god" or a lesser light makes the more pedestrian, but logically equivalent argument of "who's to judge who's right or wrong?", they are making statements that cannot be assigned a consistent truth value. After all, Richard Dawkins undoubtedly believes that he is right; and that his argument contains more intrinsic worth than a character string composed at random by typing monkeys. He could hardly agree to the proposition that it is better to have many monkeys than one Dawkins. And if it is true that no one can judge "who's right or wrong" then who can judge the truth of that assertion itself?

It is this illusory attempt to escape from the need to believe in something -- even provisionally -- that explains why all attempts to enforce an equivalency among all ideas and cultures inevitably creates a fascistic kind of monoculture itself. Belief, denied the front entrance as principle, often smuggles itself in via the backdoor as fascism.

The investigations by the British Columbia Human Rights into the politically incorrect writings of Mark Steyn are a case in point. The idea that all cultures are to be respected transforms itself into the conclusion that the culture in which Mark Steyn can write must be suppressed. Yet ironically the attack on dissenting opinion is justified by appealing to the very culture which is to be suppressed. The Atlantic recalls that during the 1990s Salman Rushdie argued against a British ban on a Pakistani film that depicted him as an alcoholic, lecherous Rambo-like Jewish tool who is eventually hunted down by heroic international Jihadis but who is ultimately destroyed by flying, lightning-bolt spitting Korans.

Rushie argued against the film's ban because it violated a fundamental taboo -- against suppressing speech -- within his own culture. Readers will notice we've arrived at a place almost as murky as the one C.S. Lewis was trying to understand. Fortunately Lewis' framework for making sense of a universe populated by both good and evil can shed light on our more limited problem of figuring out the relationship between freedom and anti-freedom within the framework of freedom itself. The key concept Lewis introduces is one of choice. Not the notion of choice as the fictional ability to do anything without paying a price or suffering the consequences: that is a counterfeit idea of choice composed of the shadows of multiculturalism. But of choice as inherent human ability to select between right and wrong and face the consequences.

It's not necessary to dwell on Lewis' idea of good and evil as a kind of broken symmetry to arrive at the counterintuitive idea that freedom is the outcome of a willingness to assume the consequences for choices. This relationship between consequence and choice is at the kernel of the commonplace expression that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty". Western society is free to allow every manner of expression only for so long as it is willing to pay the price of doing so. Salman Rushdie's "freedom" to let a Pakistani Jihadi call for his death is based on his willingness to defend that freedom as a fugitive and to struggle on its behalf.

Consider for a moment why Mark Steyn is a "free" man. It is only partly because he is a citizen of Canada but mostly due to his willingness to write without fear; or perhaps more accurately, in despite of it. Anyone who has struggled against tyranny understands this relationship intuitively. Whether you are in the Warsaw Ghetto, the French underground or in safehouse in Sampaloc district in Manila, freedom is always within your reach, if you are willing to pay the price.

Any writer can be as free as Mark Steyn or Salman Rushdie. Our civilization only offers the possibility of being free; and to choose right instead of wrong. No bureaucracy can guarantee it for us. Lewis understood that if one were looking for legitimate reasons to become an atheist, a release from the burden of choice was not one of them. Good and evil, right and wrong were not things you could wholly avoid on the path of life. He wrote:
I know someone will ask me, 'Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil-hoofs and horns and all?' Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is 'Yes, I do.' I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, 'Don't worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you'll like it when you do is another question.'


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

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

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


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Friday, June 13, 2008

Mixed Martial Arts: The latest candidate for do-gooder bans

If John McCain becomes president, will he leave me alone? You might think so. After all, he's got Grover Norquist in his corner, and Norquist wrote "Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives." The book makes a good case for "Americans who simply wish to be left alone by the government. They are not asking the government for others' money, time, or attention. Rather, they want to be free to own a gun, homeschool their children, pray, invest their money, and control their own destiny."

What if people want to fight each other? I ask because mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions are booming. "Mixed" martial arts is ... what it sounds like. Athletes combine boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, etc. to knock someone out or get them to submit. MMA fascinates people -- frankly, mostly male people who, like me, wondered about things like whether karate is more effective than judo. MMA answers such questions.

The big promoter of the sport, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, popularized MMA by setting rules (no eye gouging or finger twisting) and doing TV promotions with interesting fighters. People want to watch. A million viewers recently tuned in to a $39.95 pay-per-view event. Last week, one of their events hit network TV for the first time. So now kids want to do it. And some parents think that's just fine.

But some politicians say this is terrible. Sen. John McCain -- yes, that John McCain -- once called the adult version of MMA "human cockfighting." He wrote letters to the governor of every state asking them to ban it. At McCain's urging, pay-per-view events were dropped by major cable companies TCI and Time Warner. Now it is back on TV, and some states have removed bans after seeing the lost business opportunities. We called McCain's office to see if he's changed his opinion, but no one called back.

Mayor Robert Correia of Fall River, Mass., was horrified to learn that there was an MMA academy in his town, not far from his office. It teaches ultimate fighting to kids as young as 5. "That's irresponsible," the mayor told me, "To allow this to be taught to our children and for adults to stand by and cheer this on?" Correia wants MMA banned in his town and the gym shut down. It teaches kids the wrong things, he says. "It's telling them, look, the best thing to do is hurt someone."

"Nonsense," said moms at the gym. They told me the mayor was clueless and that MMA is little different from karate or judo classes. The mayor replied that some parents just don't know what's good for their kids. He'd heard that MMA is unsafe. It's not surprising that he'd heard that, since predictably, the media hypes every danger. "Good Morning America" aired a clip of pediatrician Lisa Thornton saying, "it is dangerous from a physical standpoint. It can lead to significant injuries to the neck and to the bones."

MMA could injure, of course, but a study from Johns Hopkins found that "the injury rate in MMA competitions is compatible with other combat sports," and, in fact, "the lower knockout rates compared to boxing may help prevent brain injury."

No sport is injury free. Over six years, 77 kids died after being hit in the chest with baseballs. Every year hundreds die riding bikes. No one has yet gathered comparative statistics on the risk of MMA, but even cheerleading sends 25,000 kids to hospital emergency rooms. When I said that to Mayor Correia, he replied, "That logic would say, Well, let's now add another 25,000 in mixed martial arts. That's OK?" Parents aren't responsible enough? The politicians need to make these decisions for them?

He replied, "Parents do have a chance to decide that through their elected officers. That's what a democracy is all about." Really? I had no idea democracy was about voting on who gets to tell you how to raise your kids. Give me a break!


Batty Britain again: Breastfeeding is a danger to health and safety!

Anybody in any position of authority in England just loves dictating to people

A mother was told she should not use a doctor's surgery to breast-feed her baby because she wasn't a patient there. Terri-Ann Barnes, 23, went into the practice with her three-month-old son Christian to shelter from a storm. She asked the receptionist if she could breast-feed him, as the waiting room was empty - and was told she could. But afterwards, a nurse at the Heavitree Health Centre in Exeter told her she should not have been allowed to feed him there, for health and safety reasons.

The young mother said: 'I was only in there for a few minutes but a nurse said I shouldn't use the waiting room because I wasn't a patient there. 'The waiting room was empty so I assumed it would be fine. She said it wasn't a drop-in centre. I was shocked. If you can't breast-feed in a doctor's surgery where can you?'

But practice manager Len Young said: 'The nurse asked her which doctor she was registered with, and she said she was not with the surgery. 'The nurse responded that she did not know if she should be using the facilities from a health and safety point of view.'


Palestine in 1695

Avi Goldreich is a resident of Caesarea, a lover of antiquarian books and Judaica. In Budapest, he found an old book, in Latin, which had been written by a Christian named Reland, chronicling his trip in the land of Israel in 1695/6. The outstanding conclusions are:

1. No settlement in the land of Israel has a name of Arabic extraction. The names of settlements are mostly of Hebrew extraction; some of Greek or Latin-Roman. In fact, no Arab settlement (except for Ramla) has had an original Arabic name to this day. Most names of Arab settlements are of Hebrew or Greek extraction which have been impaired and replaced by meaningless names in Arabic. There is no meaning in Arabic for the names Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Nablus, Gaza or Jenin and the names of cities, such as Ramallah, El-Halil and El-Kuds have no historical or philological roots in Arabic. In the year 1696, the year in which the tour was taken, Ramallah, for example, was called Beit El, Hebron was called Hebron and Mearat HaMachpelah was called El Chalil (a name for Abraham of the Bible).

2. The land was, on the whole, empty and desolate; the inhabitants were few and concentrated in the cities of Jeusalem, Acre, Safed, Jaffa, Tiberius and Gaza. Most of the inhabitants of the cities were Jews, the others were Christian; there were very few Moslems, mostly nomadic Bedouins. Nablus (Schem) was different, with a population of about 120 people from the Moslem Natsha family and about 70 Shomronites. In Nazareth, the capital of the Galilee, there were approximately 700 people - all Christians.

3. The book totally contradicts the post-modern theory of "a Palestinian heritage" or a Palestinian people, and strongly supports the fact that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews and not at all to the Arabs, who stole the land, and the name Palestine, as well, stole from the Latin and still claim to possess even that.

The full name of the book and the publisher: Palestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrate / Adriaan Reland. Published by Trajecti Baravorum, Utrecht, 1714


America's Racist Left

Some pesky history: Instead of merely ignoring the problems of African Americans, socialists and progressives actively contributed to them

If Barack Obama becomes America's first black president, he will fit nicely into a radical narrative that places leftists always and everywhere combating bigotry, shattering stereotypes, and advancing race relations. Indeed, merely to oppose him, as the Clintons, Geraldine Ferraro, and the voters of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana have discovered, is to invite charges of "racism" from his enthusiastic supporters - a trend that is sure to increase now that the contest has ceased to be an intramural one.

But history rarely conforms to the scripts that ideologues write. Racism, as important to understanding the American past as class divisions are to understanding European history, stains the history of homegrown radicals just as it stains the history of the nation which those radicals sought to change so radically. The American history that the Left lambastes is the American Left's history, too.

Welsh industrialist Robert Owen effectively launched the American Left that is recognizable to us today. His "Declaration of Mental Independence," issued on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, assailed "a trinity of the most monstrous evils" - private property, marriage, and traditional religion. That program certainly sounds familiar. But one "monstrous evil" is noticeably absent from the utopian socialist Owen's list: racism.

The ill-fated communal endeavor that Owen founded at New Harmony, Indiana, demonstrates how the white Left could be as snobbish toward racial minorities as the worst of their fellow countrymen. Owen's Indiana commune excluded African Americans. "Persons of color may be received as helpers to the Society, if necessary," New Harmony's 1825 constitution condescended, "or if it be found useful, to prepare and enable them to become associates in Communities in Africa; or in some other country, or in some other part of this country." In other words, anywhere but New Harmony.

The successors of 1820s' Owenite communism, the movements inspired by Frenchman Charles Fourier that proliferated in the 1840s, exhibited a similar disregard for the plight of African Americans. Future presidential candidate Horace Greeley, future presidential assassin Charles Guiteau, and novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne were each caught up in the communal mania. But few blacks were. Like Owen, the Fourierists compared the condition of southern slaves favorably to that of northern industrial workers, providing fodder for apologists of the South's "peculiar institution."

For instance, the lead article in the inaugural issue of The Phalanx - the Fourierist's official publication - claimed, "There are other social evils growing out of the same original falseness in the present system, which are equally unjust and oppressive as slavery, and which first demand our consideration." The other injustices equivalent to slavery, the paper coolly noted, included "hireling dependence," "monastic vows," and "poverty." Though slavers had no discernable role in the Fourierist craze, neither did African Americans.

Though antebellum utopians were largely indifferent to the plight of African Americans, the socialists and progressives who succeeded them aggressively advanced racist prejudices dressed up as science and progress. Instead of merely ignoring the problems of African Americans, the socialist and progressive Left actively contributed to them.

For Appeal to Reason, the most successful publication in the history of the American Left, segregation was intrinsic to socialism. Whereas "private ownership of industries mixes up the races, reducing blacks, whites, and yellows to a common level," Appeal to Reason noted that "socialism would separate the races and lift them all to the highest level each were capable." "The white worker in the shop, mine, and factory is told that Socialism means race equality," the Girard, Kansas-based weekly explained, but in reality "capitalism has forced him to work side by side with the negro, and for about the same wage. . . . [I]n the SIGHT OF THE CAPITALIST ALL WORKERS LOOK ALIKE." The Appeal, as did so many of its turn-of-the-century leftist readers, railed against the "yellow peril" and "Mongolian hordes" allegedly stealing jobs from "American" union workers.

"There can be no doubt that the negroes and mulattoes constitute a lower race," Victor Berger, long the Socialist Party's lone congressman, contended. "You know that capitalism never examines the color of the skin when it buys labor power," the party's national committeeman from Texas complained. When socialists acknowledged racial discrimination, they paternalistically counseled black Americans to abandon their selfish "personal" struggle for the "universal" struggle of the class war, which, when won, would magically solve all problems.

Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger spoke at a 1926 Ku Klux Klan rally, used the "n" word in reference to blacks, and deemed Aboriginal Australians "the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development." "The Jewish people and Italian families," she testified to the New York legislature, "who are filling the insane asylums, who are filling the hospitals and filling our feeble-minded institutions, these are the ones the tax payers have to pay for the upkeep of, and they are increasing the budget of the State, the enormous expense of the State is increasing because of the multiplication of the unfit in this country and in the State."

Despite all this and more, a friendly historian recently judged, "Sanger was no racist." Then, by this logic, neither were Theodore Bilbo and Bull Connor. To advocate certain progressive ideas is, for fellow progressives, evidence of innocence. And to do so under the guise of progress instead of tradition or habit, and with an intellectual's accent instead of a redneck's, provides immunity. Nonetheless, the progressive era resulted in the proliferation of miscegenation prohibitions, an increase in lynchings, and a majority of U.S. states backwardly codifying eugenics.

The open hostility to blacks that characterized the progressives and socialists transformed into cynicism for the Moscow-gazing Left of the '20s and '30s, which saw racism not as a problem to solve but a tool to embarrass America.

John Reed, canonized by the Hollywood Left in the Academy Award-winning Reds and the only American buried on the grounds of the Kremlin, casually referred to African Americans as "niggers" and "coons" in his letters to wife Louise Bryant. The Communist Party that Reed helped found embraced separatism and long advanced a plan of carving a black homeland out of the American South. Lovett-Fort Whiteman, the pioneering African American Communist acknowledged as "the Reddest of the Blacks" in Time magazine in 1925, endured worse than a few ugly names hurled his way. In the midst of the late-'30s Stalinist paranoia focused on one-time rival Leon Trotsky, Fort-Whiteman's comrades denounced him in Moscow to their Soviet overlords: "Lovett Fort-Whiteman, a Negro Comrade, showed himself for Trotsky." The verbal condemnation was a literal condemnation, and Fort-Whiteman, an American citizen, died in the gulag shortly thereafter.

The Communist Party banned Japanese Americans from membership after Pearl Harbor. Party chief Earl Browder rationalized that "the best place for any Japanese fifth columnist to hide is within the Communist party." Alas, there is no honor among fifth columnists. Browder purged Japanese-American fifth columnists from the ranks not because of their seditious beliefs - actually a prerequisite for membership - but because of their ethnicity.

Upon Browder's ouster, new Communist Party totem William Z. Foster decimated the ranks of his party by embarking on a crusade against "white chauvinists." Though most of these "white chauvinists" were as real as the Trotskyites and White Guards that the paranoid Stalin perennially sought to root out, the campaign revealed a guilt-ridden vulnerability on race and an inability to address the issue with maturity. This white guilt and promiscuous use of insult terms such as "racist" in describing political enemies plagued the broader postwar Left as well.



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

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

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


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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Like a gold coin on a dunghill, the truth about the EU

Comment from Peter Hitchens in Britain

Amid the silly soap opera that now passes for British politics, in which we are supposed to care more about hairstyles and mannerisms than about the country, there was one moment last week when a decent man said something important

The brief flash of truth shone out like a gold coin on a dunghill. The man was Peter Lilley, older and wiser than when he used to sing daft songs to Tory conferences. Mr Lilley looks to me as if, like several others, he is trapped in the Unconservative Party and would blossom like an irrigated desert if only he could escape from it.

Because what he said was important, there have been far too few reports of it. Hansard for Tuesday, June 3, at 3.35pm, will give you the details, if you want them. But his clear, hard message was that 80 per cent of our laws are now made in Brussels, and Parliament has no power to reject or amend them. If you wonder why our Post Offices are all closing, it's thanks to an EU directive. So is the increasingly hated Data Protection Act. So are Home Improvement Packs and fortnightly bin collections. In 15 years' time our Parliament will have only two functions left - to raise taxes and declare war - admittedly things that our current politicians are rather keen on.

Mr Lilley's mischievous suggestion is that MPs' pay should be cut each time they hand over authority to others. Incredibly, many MPs don't know what is going on. If they ended up on the wages paid to district councillors - which is all they really are now - they might care more. His own stark words cannot be improved upon: `Few voters, or even members of this house, fully realise how many powers have been, or are about to be, transferred elsewhere. There are three reasons for this.

'The first is that governments of all persuasions deny that any significant powers are being transferred. The second is that, once powers have been transferred, Ministers engage in a charade of pretence that they still retain those powers. Even when introducing measures that they are obliged to bring in as a result of an EU directive they behave as though the initiative were their own. `Indeed, Ministers often end up nobly accepting responsibility for laws that they actually opposed when they were being negotiated in Brussels.'

So now you know. Not since Dunkirk, 68 years ago, has our national independence been so imperilled. But back then, we could see the danger. Now most of us pretend it isn't there.


British council killjoys warn children of dangers of crabbing - the CRABS get distressed

When fishing for crabs, you'd be silly not to think about health and safety. After all, those pincers could give the unsuspecting finger a nasty surprise. But on the seawalls and quaysides around Wells, North Norfolk, this summer, the welfare concerns are all about the crabs. As the schoolchildren head down to the seashore with their hooks, lines and buckets to see what they can catch, experts say they should pack a leaflet on crustacean care too.

About 10,000 leaflets will be handed out this weekend, following investigations by Cambridge University students, which revealed that overcrowding crabs in buckets could cause stress for the smaller ones and lead to fights.

Fishermen say children are sensible enough to work this out for themselves - and don't believe the leaflets are necessary. But nature organisations say the creatures' welfare is a real concern. The guide explains to youngsters how to look after any captives without causing them undue distress. Instructions include:

* Keeping only ten crabs or fewer in a bucket at a time;

* Holding the captives in seawater - and changing the water every hour;

* Making sure your bucket isn't in direct sunlight.

Graduate Will Pearse explained: 'We are not saying people shouldn't go crabbing, which is fun. But there are concerns at the way in which they are treated. We want people to learn about crabs and understand their captive needs. If you are going to spend the day with something that is naturally beautiful then show it some respect.

'One of the main problems is that people put too many crabs in a bucket which results in some at the bottom asphyxiating through lack of oxygen in the water and males damaging each other in fights. In the sea males grapple with each other and the weaker one retreats. But they cannot run away in a bucket and keep fighting, leading to limbs being torn off or shed as a defence mechanism.'

However, local fishermen were not won over. John Davies, of Wells, said: 'Caring for crabs is a good message to send out, but this could be a little over the top. 'The crabs the youngsters catch are tiny and much more resilient than the edible ones we catch. Shore crabs are pretty indestructible. And I think most children look after them well. Youngsters get hours of fun out of it.'

Mike Richards, 44, of Cromer, Norfolk, said: 'Kids who catch crabs with a hook and line are generally pretty sensible and don't overcrowd or boil the crabs alive in the sun so this leaflet is a waste of time.'

Fifty miles along the coast, at Walberswick, Suffolk, the organisers of the British Open Crabbing Championships were quite taken aback by the guidance. David Webb said: 'It does seem rather extraordinary that they are having to do this. They must treat crabs more harshly in Norfolk. 'Here when we hold the championship we insist on a maximum of two crabs in a bucket.' Last year's winner, Oscar Kane, eight, from Kent, caught a crab of almost 6oz.

The leaflets, paid for by the Norfolk Coast Partnership and the Wells Fields Study Centre, may ensure the safety of the local crabs. But if you're uneasy about the fate of others, worry not: The scheme may well nip into neighbouring resorts soon.


O, Stalinoid Canada

If you want to look ahead to the United States under Barack Obama and a an expanded Congressional majority for the Democrats, consider Canada.

Canada's greatest gift to the contemporary world of letters --- Mark Steyn --- is being persecuted for free speech in his home country. Columnist Steyn is being hauled before something called the "Canada Human Rights Tribunal," a parallel legal system to the normal Canadian courts, without all the bother of due process, the presumption of innocence, a defined and limited legal venue, and protection for free speech.

Four Muslim law students complained about Steyn for accurately quoting Norway's infamous Mullah Krekar, a Kurdish mujaheed who has been twisting his Norwegian hosts around his little finger for years. You see, Norway can't deport a fraudulent asylum seeker if he is subject to the death penalty back home --- no matter how many innocent people he's blown to bits back in Kurdistan. It's just an invitation for killer mujahedeen to enjoy Norway's free hospitality forever, and Mullah Krekar has been taking full advantage of it.

Said Mullah Krekar to a Norwegian newspaper:
"We're the ones who will change you . . . Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children."
Steyn quoted Krekar in Canada's McLean's Magazine and both are now getting sued for reproducing Krekar saying that "the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes." Thus Muslims are using the PC Police to accuse Mark Steyn of repeating what a Muslim agitator said. Telling the truth is no defense. In Canada it's a basic human right not to have your malignant heroes quoted against you. Thus are human rights twisted into their opposites.

Forget the Spanish Inquisition. They're so five centuries ago. Today Canada's Stalinoids can simply punish people for speaking their minds. The Left rediscovered its Stalinist roots in the 1970s when the Boomer brigade conquered the culture. That's when Canada's farcical "Human Rights Tribunals" were created. Today, eighty percent of American college campuses have speech codes prohibiting politically incorrect speech. The ghost of Stalin stalks the earth, looking remarkably healthy.

As Mark Steyn tells it no one has ever been cleared by the Canadian Inquisition over the last 30 years. If you're accused, you get hanged. Say something critical about gays or Muslims north of the border, and you can be fined or made to pay your accusers for damages to their precious psyches. Write your criticism on a blog, even one based in the United States, and yes, you can be nailed in Canada. Touching, ain't it?

Want Shari'a law in your neighborhood? The Left has laid the foundations. They are allied with Islamists in Europe, Canada and the United States, simply by adding "Muslims" to all the victim groups with the right to persecute public critics. In Britain an arrest warrant has just been issued for blogger Lionheart for telling the world about Islamists in his neighborhood.

Unfortunately it's not rare. The Stalinoid plague has spread all over the United States and Europe. Our media constantly stamp out critics of the Left. We don't throw people in jail yet, but you can lose your job for saying the wrong words. Your reputation can be ruined. You can be bullied and harassed. Canada's national anthem, O Canada, has the words
From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
But that was sooo yesterday.


Islam's parasitic culture

After overrunning much of the civilized world during the latter half of the first millennium, Islam set about becoming a tasteful thief of the science, art, technology, and culture of its vanquished foes. Whatever was useful and furthered the advance of Dar al-Islam was borrowed and adopted by the Muslim conquerors, and anything else was discarded and forgotten.

Several centuries later, as Europe emerged from the chaos that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, the Europeans also became voracious borrowers. But the nature of their borrowing was different, and the evolution of Europe's hybrid culture diverged dramatically from that of Islam....

Beginning during the High Middle Ages - somewhere between the 12th and the 14th centuries A.D. - European technical and cultural development underwent an unprecedented acceleration. Starting from a position considerably behind contemporaneous civilizations - China, India, and the Arab World - the backward and benighted peoples of Europe raced ahead, and in just five brief centuries exploded across the globe to create the most powerful and advanced civilization that the world has ever known.

How did this come about? What made Europe different?

Like the Arabs, the Europeans of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance borrowed prodigiously from any other cultures they encountered. But, unlike the Arabs, Europeans incorporated, elaborated, and extended the knowledge and technology they acquired. Not content with simply utilizing what they stumbled across, they analyzed it, tried to understand it, and placed it within the ever-growing corpus of "philosophy", the body of knowledge that built on and extended the Roman and Greek classics....

There is much more.

He gives several examples optics being just one, where the Europeans took and idea and made something practical with it. In the Muslim world today there are virtually no inventors. Spain, which is no powerhouse when it comes to innovation has more new patents in a year that the entire Muslim world.

Islam has become a parasitic culture which creates little of value. Human bombs are the major GDP for the Palestinian culture.

The warriors of al Qaeda uses watches made elsewhere and weapons made by someone else. Even their IED's are made from components created by non Muslims. If radical Islam succeeded in conquering the world we would regress well beyond the Middle Ages.



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

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

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


Comment (1) | Trackback

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Feminized Leftists

Leftists are not inherently feminized. The brutalities of Stalin and Hitler were hardly feminine. And FDR and JFK didn't pull any punches. But in the Western world today, Leftists seem to have retreated into wimpy values and attitudes Perhaps it is the only "alternative" value system they have left after the undisputable triumph of capitalism in economic matters

Someone once said that men marry women hoping they'll never change, while women marry men hoping to change them. Someone wants to change us, big time. But a big part of manhood is preserving and defending the precious things that were created and handed down to us by our forefathers.

We are about to elect a feminized man whose official policy is to surrender to our enemies, so we have moved well beyond the theoretical to the actual. In the triangulated war between liberals, Islamists, and the left, only one side can win. Our side will lose if we run out of real men because we simply do not create enough of them. We will lose if we allow the new cutural ideal of the feminized adultolescent male to become the ideal. We will lose if we forget that an upright and noble man with the capacity for righteous violence is at the very foundation of civilization.

Liberals sneer at such men, which is to say, men. I found a typical example by a college professor at dailykos, called A Pacifist's Agony. S/h/it writes that "I've always hated the term `war crime,' since it's an insidious tautology. It implies that some wars are not crimes, and some of the atrocities committed during war are excusable by virtue of their context. I believe that if there can be any single concept by which a civilization ought to be defined it's this: there is no context that can justify the intentional killing of a sentient being who does not wish it. Period" (somehow, I'm sure there is a loophole for abortion).

The professor's job is not to educate students but to make them "politically aware," which in practice means to arrest their developmental journey toward adulthood. It is a form of spiritual and intellectual body-snatching; for the boys, it means a fantasized acquisition of manhood, for the girls, contempt for it. Before being indoctrinated, students are "not particularly politically aware," but by semester's end, if all goes well, they will be "different people. They now understand the direct relationship between their own deliberately inculcated ignorance and the crimes that are committed in their name." They will have inverted reality, so that they imagine themselves to be Morally Superior to the primitive and murderous men who protect and defend them.

This is why the left must constantly attack and undermine America, for that is what allows the sense of moral superiority to flourish. But the attack brings with it the unconscious fear of father's retaliation, hence the hysterical fears of murderous retribution for "speaking truth" to Father -- fear of spying, of theocratic takeovers, of Al Gore's world melting. When leftists say that George Bush is the world's greatest terrorist, they mean it, although it goes without saying that they have no insight into the unconscious basis of this hysterical projection of their own fear converted to anger and persecution.

Oddly enough, the professor agrees with me that our civilization is threatened: "Chomsky's right. It's over for America. Not just this war, but the American idea. And right now, the peace I'm enjoying in my living room, every selfish mile I drive to and from my home, the electricity that's powering my computer, and the privilege of education that allows me to articulate these thoughts is bought with the blood and dust of all the Hadithas that have made a moment like this and a person like me possible. And it's more than I can bear."

It's a fascinating thing about truth. One of the things that makes a fellow believe in a deity, really. As every psychoanalytically informed psychologist knows, there is the patient, there is the truth, and there is the truth they would like to deny, which is why they are in your office. Truth has a life of its own, and has a way of insisting its way into the patient's discourse, try as they might to prevent it from doing so.

The truth is true, and doesn't actually require anyone to think it. But this is not so of the lie. The lie is entirely parasitic on a thinker. Furthermore, the lie knows the truth, otherwise it could not lie about it. Pacifism is just such a lie, for it contains the truth to which it is a reaction:
Right now, the peace I'm enjoying in my living room, every selfish mile I drive to and from my home, the electricity that's powering my computer, and the privilege of education that allows me to articulate these thoughts is bought with the blood and dust of men who are far better than I, men who stand ready to do violence against the forces of evil that have made a moment like this and a person like me possible. And it's more than I can bear.
Yes, that would require growing up and facing the Truth.

Much more here

The destructive stupidity of the Left again

They only care about sounding good; too bad if they actually do harm

Bad news out today on the unemployment front - a big jump from 5.1 to 5.5%. However, within the numbers are some interesting details. First, the number didn't spike due to a big loss of payroll jobs - those declined only by 49,000 in April. That would be only .0004% in an economy of about 138 million workers.

Instead, the number jumped because of a surge of new people who came into the job market looking for, but not finding work. The overall unemployment number is about 8.5 million, and the increase last month represented about 860,000 new job seekers - only 49,000 of whom had lost a job elsewhere. Further, the unemployment rate for the 16-24 age group was up dramatically compared to other groups. Unemployment in that group rose 2.4%, compared to increasing by only .4% in the group of workers 25 and older. Who does this age group represent? How about high school and college students coming into the job market for the summer.

And what do many such job seekers get paid? Minimum wage -which Congress increased last year from $5.15 to $5.85, and which will increase again next month to $6.55, and then again next year to $7.25. Here's a personal case study in how that works to squeeze workers out of the minimum wage job market:

My parents own an ice cream shop, and rely heavily in its operation on eight 16-20 year olds working part-time schedules of 16-24 hours a week, along with one full-time manager who is assisted by my parents in their free time. Over the course of a 7 day work week, they typically employ the part-time workers for a total of about 340 hours a week.

Raising the minimum wage by .70 increased their straight wage expense by $240 a week, or about $1000 a month. But it had collateral consequences as well, as their worker's comp. and unemployment insurance costs rose in relation to their payroll, as did their payroll tax contributions. The combination of wage increase and the various increases that spin off that wage increase was about $1500 a month. This is against a total wage expense for the part-timers of about $8000 a month.

Now, the ice cream parlor business is somewhat inelastic from a price stand point - people won't continue to pay higher and higher prices for an ice cream cone when the alternative is simply to do without. So, that increase in operating expense could not, in total, be passed on to the customers. Instead, my parents worked a few more hours themselves and trimmed back on the hours they had the part-timers working. When one of the part-timers quit, they didn't hire a replacement for her.

Now, the same thing is going to happen next month - another increase of .70 per hour, totaling about $1500 a month in additional operating expenses is going to kick in. This will come on top of significant increases over the past year in product costs - multiply the increased cost of milk you are paying at the supermarket several times over and you get a feel for the increased cost of buying ice cream on a large scale for a business establishment.

They will raise the prices a little, but not enough to cover the total increase. They will cutback on the hours the part-timers work, and work a few more hours themselves. And if they lose another worker, they probably won't hire a replacement.

My parents are both in their late 60s, and they don't want to work 60 hour weeks at an ice cream parlor they bought on a lark after they retired. But they aren't going to operate it as a money loser either.

When Congress increased the minimum wage, for many many small business operators such as my parents, Congress took the profit from the business right out of their pocket. I'd be surprised if my parents' shop made more than $3,000 or $4,000 month in profit - with them taking nothing in terms of a wage for themselves. If they had not cut-back their part-time work force payroll, the minimum wage hike would have taken every bit of that profit away.

Now they are working more than they want, and for a very modest annual return on their labor and investment. And two fewer teenagers will be employed by them this summer than was the case last year. The other six should have their resumes up to date.


Iran and the Problem of Evil

Ever since World War II, we have been driven by a passionate desire to understand how mass genocide, terror states and global war came about - and how we can prevent them in the future.

Above all, we have sought answers to several basic questions: Why did the West fail to see the coming of the catastrophe? Why were there so few efforts to thwart the fascist tide, and why did virtually all Western leaders, and so many Western intellectuals, treat the fascists as if they were normal political leaders, instead of the virulent revolutionaries they really were? Why did the main designated victims - the Jews - similarly fail to recognize the magnitude of their impending doom? Why was resistance so rare?

Most eventually accepted a twofold "explanation": the uniqueness of the evil, and the lack of historical precedent for it. Italy and Germany were two of the most civilized and cultured nations in the world. It was difficult to appreciate that a great evil had become paramount in the countries that had produced Kant, Beethoven, Dante and Rossini.

How could Western leaders, let alone the victims, be blamed for failing to see something that was almost totally new - systematic mass murder on a vast scale, and a threat to civilization itself? Never before had there been such an organized campaign to destroy an entire "race," and it was therefore almost impossible to see it coming, or even to recognize it as it got under way.

The failure to understand what was happening took a well-known form: a systematic refusal to view our enemies plain. Hitler's rants, whether in "Mein Kampf" or at Nazi Party rallies, were often downplayed as "politics," a way of maintaining popular support. They were rarely taken seriously as solemn promises he fully intended to fulfill. Mussolini's call for the creation of a new Italian Empire, and his later alliance with Hitler, were often downplayed as mere bluster, or even excused on the grounds that, since other European countries had overseas territories, why not Italy?

Some scholars broadened the analysis to include other evil regimes, such as Stalin's Russia, which also systematically murdered millions of people and whose ambitions similarly threatened the West. Just as with fascism, most contemporaries found it nearly impossible to believe that the Gulag Archipelago was what it was. And just as with fascism, we studied it so that the next time we would see evil early enough to prevent it from threatening us again.

By now, there is very little we do not know about such regimes, and such movements. Some of our greatest scholars have described them, analyzed the reasons for their success, and chronicled the wars we fought to defeat them. Our understanding is considerable, as is the honesty and intensity of our desire that such things must be prevented.

Yet they are with us again, and we are acting as we did in the last century. The world is simmering in the familiar rhetoric and actions of movements and regimes - from Hezbollah and al Qaeda to the Iranian Khomeinists and the Saudi Wahhabis - who swear to destroy us and others like us. Like their 20th-century predecessors, they openly proclaim their intentions, and carry them out whenever and wherever they can. Like our own 20th-century predecessors, we rarely take them seriously or act accordingly. More often than not, we downplay the consequences of their words, as if they were some Islamic or Arab version of "politics," intended for internal consumption, and designed to accomplish domestic objectives.

Clearly, the explanations we gave for our failure to act in the last century were wrong. The rise of messianic mass movements is not new, and there is very little we do not know about them. Nor is there any excuse for us to be surprised at the success of evil leaders, even in countries with long histories and great cultural and political accomplishments. We know all about that. So we need to ask the old questions again. Why are we failing to see the mounting power of evil enemies? Why do we treat them as if they were normal political phenomena, as Western leaders do when they embrace negotiations as the best course of action?

No doubt there are many reasons. One is the deep-seated belief that all people are basically the same, and all are basically good. Most human history, above all the history of the last century, points in the opposite direction. But it is unpleasant to accept the fact that many people are evil, and entire cultures, even the finest, can fall prey to evil leaders and march in lockstep to their commands. Much of contemporary Western culture is deeply committed to a belief in the goodness of all mankind; we are reluctant to abandon that reassuring article of faith. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, we prefer to pursue the path of reasonableness, even with enemies whose thoroughly unreasonable fanaticism is manifest.

This is not merely a philosophical issue, for to accept the threat to us means - short of a policy of national suicide - acting against it. As it did in the 20th century, it means war. It means that, temporarily at least, we have to make sacrifices on many fronts: in the comforts of our lives, indeed in lives lost, in the domestic focus of our passions - careers derailed and personal freedoms subjected to unpleasant and even dangerous restrictions - and the diversion of wealth from self-satisfaction to the instruments of power. All of this is painful; even the contemplation of it hurts.

Then there is anti-Semitism. Old Jew-hating texts like "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," now in Farsi and Arabic, are proliferating throughout the Middle East. Calls for the destruction of the Jews appear regularly on Iranian, Egyptian, Saudi and Syrian television and are heard in European and American mosques. There is little if any condemnation from the West, and virtually no action against it, suggesting, at a minimum, a familiar Western indifference to the fate of the Jews.

Finally, there is the nature of our political system. None of the democracies adequately prepared for war before it was unleashed on them in the 1940s. None was prepared for the terror assault of the 21st century. The nature of Western politics makes it very difficult for national leaders - even those rare men and women who see what is happening and want to act - to take timely, prudent measures before war is upon them. Leaders like Winston Churchill are relegated to the opposition until the battle is unavoidable. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to fight desperately to win Congressional approval for a national military draft a few months before Pearl Harbor.

Then, as now, the initiative lies with the enemies of the West. Even today, when we are engaged on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little apparent recognition that we are under attack by a familiar sort of enemy, and great reluctance to act accordingly. This time, ignorance cannot be claimed as an excuse. If we are defeated, it will be because of failure of will, not lack of understanding. As, indeed, was almost the case with our near-defeat in the 1940s.


When animal rights go wrong

Comment from Australia

THEY oppose kids keeping goldfish. They oppose people riding horses. They even oppose blind people using guide dogs. But who would have thought that some so-called animal rights groups would end up promoting animal cruelty? That is exactly what has happened with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) protests calling for an immediate ban to mulesing.

It is not the first time this organisation has been on the absurd side of an argument. The reason for mulesing is simple - it prevents the sheep from being killed by flesh-eating maggots. Our merino sheep were developed through selective breeding, some time around 1870 - about the same time the blowfly made it here from South Africa. The folds in the breach of the merino's skin together with the introduction of the blowfly became a lethal combination, creating a new disease: flystrike, where the folds in the skin become infested with maggots and the sheep dies a slow and painful death.

That's why mulesing was first introduced. Removing some of the wool and skin around the breach prevents the sheep being eaten alive. Farmers don't enjoy doing it, but the alternative is far worse.

The American-based organisation PETA knew that Australian industry had agreed to a 2010 phase-out of the practice to provide time to develop alternatives to mulesing. Some of the alternatives being developed have involved clips, sprays and selective breeding. But then earlier this year PETA decided to embark on a campaign which, if successful, will only cause more sheep to die through flystrike.

They called for mulesing to be banned immediately. Then they went to different retailers around the world and tried to talk them into boycotting Australian wool because we had not met our 2010 deadline. That's right. PETA complained that a 2010 deadline had not been met in 2008. Industry is confident it is on track to have alternatives in place for 2010. That allows us to work towards improving animal welfare while still supplying the best quality wool in the world. In the meantime, extremist organisations should drop their attacks on Aussie farmers.

If PETA had its way and wool growers stopped mulesing today, we'd see an immediate rise in the number of sheep dying through flystrike. It's yet another case of extremists harming the cause they claim to support.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The D-Day story the MSM didn't tell again

Another D-Day anniversary has come and gone, and still the media won't report the news they don't want you to see. I witnessed the invasion at Normandy on D-Day in 2004, on the 60th Anniversary. No doubt they were back there again this D-Day, as they are every year. But you didn't hear about it from the MSM. It doesn't fit their template of how the Europeans, particularly the French, don't respect the United States anymore.

By the thousands, they come. Like ghosts. Dressed in full, authentic World War II battle gear. Standing in small groups on the street corners of St. Mere Eglise, Carentan and the other town and villages near the coast there the British, Canadians and Americans came ashore in '44. They carry M1's, BAR's, Thompson's and holstered 45's. All perfect replicas. Their uniforms display the patches of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. The 29th and 4th Infantry Divisions. Canteens and ammo pouches and med pacs on their web gear. They wear their hair short. Some have their faces blackened. Several even have Mohawks.

They drive along the coast in long caravans of military vehicles. Willys jeeps by the hundreds, scores of 2 ® ton trucks, armored cars, potable water trucks, mobile AA batteries, even a couple of grinding Sherman tanks. They bivouac in olive drab green tent cities. Big and small. Field kitchens smoking. They invade the Normandy area, everywhere. Thousands of them. Standing in small groups, smoking cigarettes on the corners. I walk by slowly, eavesdropping on their conversations, expecting to hear the accents of New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin. That's how authentic they look. Are they US soldiers stationed in Germany on leave? Who are they?

The language isn't American English. It's mostly French. That's right, French. And an occasional Brit, and a few from Belgium. Each D-Day, thousands of invasion re-enactors gather all along the Normandy coast in full G.I. regalia and honor the greatest day of the Greatest Generation. For the unprepared, as I was, it's an astonishing display. Jeeps crowded with "G.I's," flying over-sized Stars-and-Stripes, cruising along the coast, in long conga lines of vehicles. Loud engines. They stay in character. Stern faces like men on a mission.

I saw this with my own eyes in 2004; otherwise I'd be skeptical. The MSM has repeatedly told us how we're hated in Europe. Not by these guys. Later that day, back at the hotel where Hermann Goering once stayed, we watched CNN International broadcast the anniversary festivities. Christiane Amanpour was the color commentator. She missed no opportunity to bash Bush, who was there to speak at the American cemetery. She described the disdain that the French feel for the American president. She told the story of how the British struck the first blow on D-Day by dropping paratroopers at a bridge called Pegasus. Wrong. The British landed in gliders. She was such an embarrassment we called the CNN headquarters in Atlanta and left a voice mail.

Then there was that old woman -- 80 plus -- standing on a street corner in a village holding a handmade sign that read: "Thank You Americans for saving me and my family."

The man known as "Shifty" Powers from the TV series Band of Brothers was there. The real "Shifty," not the Hollywood one. He walked with us through St. Mere Eglise, his first time back since he parachuted into the town 60 years earlier. We asked where he landed, and he pointed out a spot in a nearby field. "Right about over there, I guess." We asked, "What did you do next?" He said, in his West Virginia accent, "Don't rightly remember. There were a lot of guys trying to kill me after that. I do remember later that we broke into a small wine store down that street [he points] and tasted a few bottles till we found one we liked."

Many old and young French men and women in Normandy remember Shifty and the others like him, with appreciation. But don't expect to hear that story from your MSM outlet next year, either. Doesn't fit their template.


Holland under the thumb of Islam

Comment from an American homosexual conservative:

While blogging from the Santa Barbara retreat of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, I contended that:
the greatest enemies of gay people are not social conservatives in the West who may question (what they call) our lifestyle and oppose legislation benefiting us, but Islamic theocrats who execute gay people in jurisdictions where they predominate and seek to destroy the nations with political systems which allow us to live freely.
Well, it seems the threat in not just from such theocrats in nations where they hold sway, but also from angry followers of their anti-gay doctrine in Western lands. At that retreat, I met a nice and intelligent Dutch gay lesbian who told me about a gay-bashing on April 30 in the Netherlands. She has since translated articles from the Dutch press (included with links below the "jump").

At a fashion show to promote tolerance of gay people on April 30, a national holiday in Holland, celebrating the birthday of the late Queen Juliana, a group of ten Muslim youths dragged gay model Mike Du Pree down from the catwalk, beating him up and breaking his nose. A second model who tried to help out was also attacked.

I could find no reference to this beating on any of the gay news web-sites I checked, including 365gay.com, the Advocate, the Washington Blade as well as sites of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). (I did searches on each of these sites for "Amsterdam.") Why is it HRC is so eager to savage John McCain, yet reluctant to condemn real gay-bashing? And such gay-bashing (as our friend Chris Crain knows from first-hand experience) is a growing phenomenon in the Netherlands. Martin Bosma, gay issues spokesman of the Dutch Party of Freedom (PVV), said as much:
This shows how strong the Islamic gaybashers feel they are. Even at daylight, on Queen's Day, in the heart of Amsterdam, they strike . . . . The Dutch nationality of the gaybashers of Rembrandt Square should immediately be taken from them and they should be expelled from the country today. The Netherlands can show no mercy for these people who damage our society in this way. Either they will win, or we will win.
Let us hope that Dutch lawmakers show a similar tough attitude toward such thugs. And that gay Americans take notice of the threats our fellows face in nations run by governments officially tolerant of gay people.

More here

Why `deradicalisation' is not the answer

It's time BritGov realised that Islamist extremism is not a `foreign' invader of Britain, but rather springs from Britain's own bankrupt culture

On Tuesday, the British home secretary, Jacqui Smith, announced the development of a nationwide `deradicalisation' programme to tackle people who have supposedly been drawn into violent Islamist extremism in Britain. Muslim community groups and councils will be allocated o12.5million, in addition to the o40million the government has already committed to the `prevent' element of the national counterterrorism strategy made public in July 2006. The funding will be used for projects that will `challenge and resist' the ideas and outlooks deemed to have informed recent acts of terror in the UK.

This strategy will fail for the simple reason that the government has yet to fully appreciate what the influences are that they seek to alter. In addition, officials have no idea as to what it is they would wish to alter them to.

The simplistic model that emerged in the aftermath of 9/11 was that the West was confronted by a resurgent form of political Islam emanating from the Middle East and further afield. Subsequent events, including the London bombings on 7 July 2005, led to an almost begrudging recognition that many of the perpetrators of terrorism had been educated in the West, if not born there.

This still allowed for the possibility that their ideas were largely foreign in origin, or that their outlooks were alien to the presumed norms prevailing in the West. Hence the continuing focus on the form that these ideas take - couched in their jihadist rhetoric - or appeals to defending an ill-defined sense of `our values' or `our way of life'. The UK government has failed to confront the true content of what these ideas expressed: a rejection of all things Western, rather than a positive affirmation of anything else.

Nor has the government offered an alternative vision of what we stand for as a society, beyond rhetorical references to freedom and democracy. However, the espousal of such values jars with current proposals to extend the period that alleged terrorists may be held without charge (from 28 to 42 days) - from a prime minister, Gordon Brown, who was never elected by the people.

The truth is that the sources of self-styled Islamist terrorism are more likely to be found within our own shores and within our own communities as anywhere else. It may be more likely, for now, that British Asians will act upon these ideas - with the benefit of an enhanced sense of victimhood that they may have picked up within the British education system. But as the steadily increasing number of white faces appearing on the counterterrorism radar suggests, this need not necessarily be true for much longer.

If this sounds rather harsh, let me illustrate what I mean by way of an example. A good friend of mine recently spent a day in the law faculty of a prestigious British university. The distinguished professor she spent time with advised her that nowadays students are not the same as they once were. They were no longer expected to read numerous books, write long essays or memorise case law. Rather, they are presented with handouts of Powerpoint presentations to read and they keep a weblog of their activities.

That evening, my friend attended the Islamic society meeting in the same university. There, she encountered many of the same students she had met earlier in the day (when they had been disinterestedly sending texts on their mobile phones during the law seminars). Now, however, the students appeared eager to learn. The cleric who ran the meeting expected them to recall specific lines from the Koran and to be familiar with all aspects of Islamic jurisprudence.

Maybe somebody should ask Jacqui Smith who here is the `radicalising' influence? Is it the foreign mullah who ran the evening class, demanding attention and commanding respect, or was it the jaded Western intellectual who deep down believes that there is no truth that can be taught, that not too much should be expected of young people nowadays, and who in any case would not wish to damage their `self-esteem' through challenging them in class?

I use this vignette to suggest that the roots of so-called `radicalisation' are much wider and deeper than can be addressed by a prejudicially targeted programme focusing on ill-founded notions as to where such ideas might emanate from. Indeed, rather than targeting Muslim communities and monitoring Islamic society meetings, the authorities would be better off observing and monitoring their own contemporary culture.

Far from there being a layer of vulnerable young Muslims who are preyed upon by various hotheads, what we find, time and again, are passionate, intelligent and energetic individuals who somehow fail to find any meaning or purpose to their lives from within the confines of contemporary Western culture. Most of these are neither disconnected nor alienated from society, and rather than being `radicalised' from the outside, they actively look for something to join. Nick Reilly, the supposed simpleton whose rudimentary device exploded in his face recently in Exeter, is proof that it is almost impossible to `recruit' anyone of note into terrorism.

In short: a few, fairly intelligent people, deprived of a sense of purpose, will go looking for answers in radical Islam. These are Western people looking for some alternatives to the bankrupt intellectual and political culture around them. Those who are apparently `recruited', on the other hand, are mostly idiots.

In focusing on so-called `extremists' and `radicals', the authorities and security agencies manage to miss that which lies right under their nose. What's worse, the very language they use belies their own difficulty. By accusing someone of being `extreme' or `radical', they effectively give up on any attempt to address the content of what people supposedly believe, targeting instead the extent to which they are held to believe it. This is like saying, `I don't care what it is you believe in, so long as it is not too much', which in its turn is an admission that they themselves believe in nothing.

At a talk given to the Smith Institute in London on the evening of her announcement regarding the proposed `deredicalisation' programme, Jacqui Smith suggested that `lacking a positive vision, al-Qaeda can only define itself by what it opposes'. Talk of projecting yourself on to others! She and her cronies would be better off outlining what kind of Britain it is that they do want to live in, rather than obsessing over a handful of dangerous idiots whose ideas and outlooks would seem entirely unimpressive were it not for the vacuum that they confront.


The Proposition 13 Revolution Turns Thirty

Thirty years ago, on June 6, 1978, Americans began a political revolution. Unlike most political revolutions in our history, this was not a revolution at the federal level and it was not a revolution led by politicians. The Revolution of 1978 was more, in fact, a popular revolution against political leaders than a revolution led by politicians or political parties.

What was this revolution? It was called "Proposition 13" and its immediate consequence was to limit the exploding property taxes in California. Rising property taxes were a form of unlegislated tax increase triggered solely because of the rising value of California homes. These tax hikes did not reflect an increase in the income of Californians who continued to own their homes, and the practical effect was to compel many California homeowners to choose between selling their home or destitution. Proposition 13 passed with a whopping 65% of the vote.

This Revolution of 1978 changed how government operated. Twenty-one states have a direct initiative and referendum process, and these are overwhelmingly located in the Pacific Coast, Rocky Mountain region and the Great Plains. Yet this tool of the people had been seldom used. In the thirty years before Proposition 13, Californians only approved seventeen propositions or about one every two years. In the thirty years since Proposition 13, Californians have adopted seventy-four propositions or about five every two years.

But it was not just the initiative component of direct democracy that was ignited in 1978. The bundle of direct democracy includes initiative, referendum and recall. Using recall the people of California removed from office a sitting a sitting Governor, Gray Davis, from office because of his corrupt Democrat machinations. He was only the second governor in American history to be recalled.

The will of the people was increasingly determining the law of our largest state. Consider that in the decade from 1961 to 1970, the people in states adopted only 37 ballot initiatives. In the decade from 1991 to 2000, the people in states adopted more than five times as many, 188 ballot initiatives. These propositions did not always lead to conservative victories, but in many cases it did and even when a conservative proposition went down to defeat, it was often by a close margin in California.

What was true in California after the Revolution of 1978 has been true throughout those states which allow direct democracy. The people, overriding legislatures and state bureaucracies, have implemented through initiative and popular vote policies like allowing school vouchers and charter schools, ending bilingual education, making English the official language, establishing term limits for elected officials, enacting Right to Work, requiring a vote of the people to increase taxes, ending racial preferences in hiring, and requiring notification of parents in case of abortion.

Circumventing legislative cabals is important, but circumventing the Leftist media establishment is at least as important. Abortion is a perfect example of how direct democracy can not only trump the established bosses of legislatures and special interests but, more importantly, how direct democracy can trump the established bosses of the establishment media. What is the drumbeat of Leftist media reporting on abortion? "Most Americans do not want to overturn Roe v. Wade.") Really?

That is simply a reflection of how Roe v. Wade has been presented to America. This deformed, macabre decision has little to do with the right to abortion - any state government could have legalized abortion and three states had legal abortions at the time of Roe v. Wade. What the Supreme Court did was to prohibit state regulation of abortion on the grounds that some nebulous constitutional right to abortion swamped states' rights (never mind that murder and rape are illegal only because state laws make them so.)

Consider how the Leftist media's own polling data exposes true public sentiment on abortion. CBS News in 2003 polls showed sixty percent of Americans wanted abortion illegal or more restricted than now. An ABC News poll the same year showed only twenty-three percent of Americans wanted abortion legal in all cases. A CNN poll in 2003 showed only twenty-four percent of Americans wanted abortion legal in all cases. An L.A. Times poll in 2007 showed only thirty-one percent of Americans wanted abortion legal in all cases and a CBS poll the same year shows only twenty-six percent of the people wanted abortion legal in all cases. Very few Americans want the grotesquerie called Roe v. Wade.

Or consider affirmative action. The Gallup Poll in 2003 showed that only twenty-seven percent of Americans believe that race should be a factor at all in college admissions. Moreover, forty-four percent of blacks and fifty-nine percent of Hispanics believe that college admission should be based exclusively on merit. This was in almost perfect accord with a Hart and Teeter poll which showed only twenty-six percent of Americans favoring the use of race as a factor in college admission. In both polls, two-thirds of Americans opposed using race at all as a factor in college admissions.

In these two "hot topic" areas - abortion and affirmative action - polls by the establishment Leftist media show an overwhelming opposition to both abortion on demand and racial preferences in college admissions. Yet we subjects of self-appointed secular priests are shoved into the moral and intellectual ghettos of "racism" or "misogyny," and told that we have no weapons beyond humble appeal to the remote, condescending high courts of bureaucratic Leftism to make our case.

The Revolution of 1978 was about who governs America. State governments, like the federal government, are largely dominated by career politicians, legislative staffers, bureaucrats, advocacy groups and complicit media. Whether public schools work or not matters much less to this gaggle of government gamesters than the lash of teachers' unions. The damage of affirmative action counts less than the hissing of civil rights careerists. And can anyone conceive of legislators voluntarily placing a limit on their terms of office?

Legislators of every sort are increasingly remote from the people. Members of the House of Representatives, for example, have about 600,000 constituents per district - and that is from the branch of the federal government intended to be closest to the people. When the Constitution was adopted, there was a congressman for about every 30,000 people. Those who were once our democratic representatives have become instead members of nobility - something that our Founding Fathers banned.

Plebiscite politics, placing government decisions directly in the hands of the people, including the right to compel a vote on issues, is imperfect - but then so is democracy. Churchill famously quipped: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest." The purpose of democracy is not to create a government that makes good laws or wise policy decisions, but rather to prevent government from becoming oppressive. This is a bit of history which professional politicians have forgotten. In the Declaration of Independence, after the famous statement that the purpose of government to protect "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," Jefferson wrote "That it is to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, drawing their just powers from the consent of the governed." That it is to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.

We, the governed, have been progressively denied a direct voice in our governance. Congress is now a Congress of Nobles, a Second Estate in pre-Revolutionary France, protected by courtiers of myriad type and interest. The First Estate, what was then the clergy and is in America the judiciary (especially the federal judiciary), governs autocratically our consciences, telling us what is right and what is wrong. What influence average Americans have in our laws or policies has been reduced to something greater than a vote by a Soviet citizen, but into something growing more like a pseudo-vote.

The exception is when citizens can band together in states, circulate petitions, wage policy campaigns and hold elections on laws. Conservatives overwhelmingly have used this tool to circumvent the bosses of our politics and government. That does not mean the substance of what we seek always wins - it does not - but it does mean that a ruling elite vastly more remote from our lives than King George III and Parliament were from the lives of American colonials in 1776 have a weapon used well to fight back for our freedoms and our values. The revolution has been going on for thirty years. The first shot was fired in California in the Revolution of 1978



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

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

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


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Monday, June 09, 2008

Candyfloss garbage men in Britain

And government supports it

Binmen have put two fingers up to common sense by issuing an astonishing warning to council-tax payers. 'If we can't pull your wheelie bin using just two fingers it is too heavy - and won't be emptied.' Bins that need three or more fingers, they claim, constitute a health and safety risk as they could fall from the lorry while being emptied. The edict from binmen is the latest salvo in a continuing battle between householders and bureaucracy.

It comes only days after the Daily Mail reported how widowed pensioner June Kay, 79, had been told to drag a 360-litre wheelie bin more than half a mile down a steep hill if she wanted it emptied.

The two-finger policy was discovered by Katie Shergold in the historic market town of Warminster, Wiltshire. She watched in disbelief as binmen stuck a 'too heavy to move' sticker on her bin of grass cuttings, just 6ft from their lorry. Yet 5ft 4in Mrs Shergold, 26, had wheeled the bin round to the front of her house without any difficulty.

She called West Wiltshire District Council, which confirmed the two-finger test rule. 'It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life,' said Miss Shergold, a health care assistant at Warminster Hospital. 'I work really long hours at the hospital to earn my money, but I have to part with more than 100 pounds each month in council tax. 'It's absolutely disgusting that we're being charged for this service but not receiving anything in return.'

West Wiltshire District Council denied there was an official 'two-finger' policy but admitted its binmen used the test - putting one index finger in each of the bin's handles - to check the weight. It said heavy bins posed a safety threat as they could break the collection truck's hydraulic lifting system, or topple off while they were being emptied, potentially injuring one of the collectors.

Mrs Shergold discovered the two-finger rule because she was at her home in a town centre cul-de-sac when the binmen arrived. She said: 'I was sitting in the living room and saw the binmen having a look at my green bin on the pavement, then tipping it back onto its wheels. 'The next thing I knew, they'd moved on to my neighbour's house and my green bin hadn't been emptied. 'I went outside to see what was going on and there was a sticker on it saying it was too heavy to move.

'I was astonished - I had been able to wheel it out there in the first place very easily. 'If I could move it by myself, these guys certainly could. 'These were big men and it was only 6ft from their lorry and contained nothing but grass, but they just left it there on the pavement. 'I phoned the council to tell them what had happened, but instead of apologising they told me it was normal for binmen to leave bins they couldn't pull with two fingers'.

Mrs Shergold said she eventually took the cuttings to a local tip to stop them rotting in the bin. But she said she and her husband Leigh, 31, were left disgusted by the binmen's attitude - and the response of the council - when they pay 130 pounds in council tax each month. She said: 'If I hadn't taken the grass cuttings to the tip myself they'd still be here outside our windows, stinking to high heaven.'

Nicole Smith, spokesman for West Wiltshire District Council, said: 'Focsa, our waste contractors, are unable to empty wheeled bins that are too heavy, due to the safety risk of the bin falling from the vehicle's lifting gear during emptying. 'If, at any time, a bin is considered by the operatives to be overloaded, a sticker will be placed on the lid letting the householder know that they have been unable to take the bin. 'If any resident has had a 'heavy' sticker left on the bin then they will be required to remove some of the contents for it to be emptied.'

The two-finger edict is the latest in a string of bizarre rulings that have exasperated householders across the country, especially with millions facing sharply rising council tax bills. Pensioner Mrs Kay, who pays more than 2,000 pounds a year in council tax at her home in Bolton by Bowland, Lancashire, now has to make a 25-minute round trip from the main road to drop off her rubbish.

In Plymouth, council officials want families to name somebody as the person in charge of their rubbish. They would then be the one to face 100 pound fines - and potentially a criminal record - if refuse is found in the wrong bins, or the bins are put out too soon or left in the wrong place.

Last month residents in Skipton, North Yorkshire, were told to empty their bins themselves - to reduce the risk of binmen getting injured. Craven District Council officials wrote to thousands of householders asking them to help 'take a lot of the strain out of the job'. The move followed a health and safety review.

Also last month, war veteran Lenny Woodward, 95, was told that binmen would no longer collect his rubbish because he had put a ketchup bottle in the wrong bin. And in April bus driver Gareth Corkhill, 26, from Whitehaven in Cumbria, was fined 210 and given a criminal record because the amount of rubbish in his wheelie bin meant the lid was open by a few inches.


The return of real men

The article below is satirical but perhaps it has to be. Excerpts:

Once, men were simply men. But then feminists decided they were chauvinist pigs who didn't spend enough time doing the dishes. So along came the guilt-ridden New Man, swiftly followed by sensitive, moisturising Metrosexual Man. Of course, women soon missed the whiff of testosterone and were calling for the return of Real Men. Now a new book, The Retrosexual Manual: How To Be A Real Man, has been published. David Thomas tip-toes through the unashamedly macho details. . . Remember, you have a number of qualities, almost all deriving from your testosterone, which women can't help but admire. For example:

1. Your mind is uncluttered. Consider the female brain, filled as it is with multiple anxieties about its owner's hair, figure, health, diet, clothes, shoes, emotions, digestive transit, sex life, competitive female friendships, multi-tasking duties as a worker/lover/ wife/mother/whatever. Instead, your mind is focused on the important things in life: sex, beer, football. Women secretly envy a mind like that.

2. You can make decisions on your own. You don't need to talk it over for hours with all your friends, or consult a horoscope, or worry about feng shui.

3. You have strong arms which come in handy whenever bottles need opening, cases need carrying, or a girl just feels like gazing at a strong, muscular limb.

4. You do not clutter up the bathroom. No woman wants a man who owns more beauty products than she does. A man who showers, shaves, then gets out of the way is ideal.

How to treat a lady

1. When on a date, you pay - even if she offers. Don't stand for any nonsense about going Dutch. And pay in cash - retrosexuals don't use credit cards.

2. You open doors for women, and you stand for pregnant women on a bus, train or Tube. You do this because you are a man, and you're proud of it.

3. You do not cook anything more sophisticated than Pot Noodles or baked beans. Cooking is her job. But when you have a Sunday roast - and you do, obviously - you carve with manly precision and flair.

4. Women like to talk, bless them. So don't try to stop her getting her feelings off her chest, however daft they might be. There's no need to actually listen, however. Nor does she expect, or even want you to express an opinion of your own. A nod of the head, roughly every 90 seconds, combined with a concerned frown, or a cheery laugh, where appropriate, is perfectly sufficient.

5. Of course, you want to have sex. Afterwards, however, it is important to avoid saying 'I love you' or 'I'm sorry, that's never happened before'.

6. She may be interested in commitment. You are not. It is vitally important that you never even acknowledge the possibility that you are in a relationship. The moment she uses a sentence that includes words such as 'wedding', 'children', or 'meet my parents', make your excuses and leave.

7. No woman ever comes between you and live TV football. Only a very special woman will come between you and the edited highlights on Match Of The Day.

8. There is no woman on Earth for whom you will go to see Sex And The City - The Movie.

Rules of the road

1. Never ask for directions, because you are never, ever lost. You're just taking a little longer than expected to get there.

2. Nor do you require sat-nav.

3. The correct speed for a retrosexual is 5 per cent above the stated limit - at all times.

4. The correct distance between you and the car in front is 3ft.

5. The correct answer to the question 'Should I let another driver cut in ahead of me at a junction?' is: 'Yes, if she's goodlooking.'

6. The only two occasions when it's acceptable to use a horn are: (i) to alert the driver in front when the traffic lights have turned green; (ii) to make a potentially attractive woman turn her face in your direction.

7. Never bother signalling left. Other motorists will always find out soon enough.

Home comforts

Beers in the fridge are all part of a real man's bachelor pad. A Retrosexual does not actually have a home, as such - not unless he has woken up one day to find that he has somehow got married. Of course, he has to have somewhere to live, but he demonstrates his inherent manliness by his absolute indifference to his physical surroundings. So, while he may be forced to acquire chairs, tables, a bed and something to lie on while watching the telly, he pays no attention at all to what they look like.

He may, on the other hand, devote considerable care to choosing his 42in widescreen plasma TV, his DVD recorder and his surround-sound homecinema system.

No Retrosexual ever watches any property based TV show. His notion of a Grand Design is a 6ft high pyramid of beer cans.

He does, however, have a number of possible decorative styles at his fingertips. These include:

MINIMALISM: Nothing in the place but a TV, a bed, a fridge and a pile of clothes on the floor.

MODERNISM: Same as minimalism, only with better TV, more gadgets (serious hi-fi, PC, video games, etc), and a large selection of power-tools.

SHABBY CHIC: In which random styles of furniture, all bought second-hand, are combined to give an eclectic, cluttered charm - or a pigsty, in other words.

The key is to tread a fine line between having such an untidy place that any women would run away, and being so clean and tidy that she questions your virility. If in doubt, do nothing. Bare walls, lightbulbs and an absence of girly soft furnishings (eg. cushions, tablecloths and even curtains) are safe options. And never, ever light any candles.


Breaking Faith With Britain


The rapid fragmentation of society, the emergence of isolated communities with only tenuous links to their wider context, and the impact of home-grown terrorism have all led even hard-bitten, pragmatist politicians to ask questions about "Britishness": what is at the core of British identity; how can it be reclaimed, passed on and owned by more and more people?

The answers to these questions cannot be only in terms of the "thin" values, such as respect, tolerance and good behaviour, which are usually served up by those scratching around for something to say. In fact, the answer can only be given after rigorous investigation into the history of nationhood and of the institutions, laws, customs and values which have arisen to sustain and to enhance it. In this connection, as with the rest of Europe, it cannot be gainsaid that the very idea of a unified people under God living in a "golden chain" of social harmony has everything to do with the arrival and flourishing of Christianity in these parts. It is impossible to imagine how else a rabble of mutually hostile tribes, fiefdoms and kingdoms could have become a nation conscious of its identity and able to make an impact on the world. In England, particularly, this consciousness goes back a long way and is reflected, for example, in a national network of care for the poor that was locally based in the parishes and was already in place in the 16th century.

In some ways, I am the least qualified to write about such matters. There have been, and are today, many eminent people in public and academic life who have a far greater claim to reflect on these issues than I have. Perhaps my only justification for even venturing into this field is to be found in Kipling when he wrote, "What should they know of England who only England know?" It may be, then, that to understand the precise relationship of the Christian faith to the public life of this nation, a perspective is helpful which is both rooted in the life of this country and able to look at it from the outside.

As I survey the field, what do I see? I find, first of all, "a descending theme" in terms of Christian influence. That is to say, I find that the systems of governance, of the rule of law, of the assumption of trust in common life all find their inspiration in Scripture; for example, in the Pauline doctrine of the godly magistrate and, ultimately, in the Christian doctrine of God the Holy Trinity, where you have both an ordered relationship and a mutuality of love. As Joan O'Donovan has pointed out, the notion of God's right, or God's justice, produced a network of divine, human and natural law which was the basis of a just ordering of society and also of a mutual sense of obligation "one towards another", as we say at Prayers for the Parliament.

Such a descending theme of influence continues to permeate society, but is especially focused in constitutional arrangements, such as the "Queen in Parliament under God", the Queen's Speech (which always ends with a prayer for Almighty God to bless the counsels of the assembled Parliament), daily prayers in Parliament, the presence of bishops in the House of Lords, the national flag, the national anthem - the list could go on. None of this should be seen as "icing on the cake" or as interesting and tourist-friendly vestigial elements left over from the Middle Ages. They have the purpose of weaving the awareness of God into the body politic of the nation.

In addition to this "descending theme", there is also what we might call the "ascending theme", which comes up from below to animate debate and policy-making in the institutions of state. Much of this has to do with our estimate of the human person and how that affects the business of making law and of governance. Such an estimate goes right back to the rediscovery of Aristotle by Europe - a rediscovery, incidentally, made possible by the work of largely Christian translators in the Islamic world. These translators made Aristotle, and much else besides, available to the Muslims, who used it, commented upon it and passed it on to Western Europe. One of the features of the rediscovery was a further appreciation of the human person as agent by Christian thinkers such as St Thomas Aquinas. They were driven to read the Bible in the light of Aristotle and this had several results which remain important for us today.

One was the discovery of conscience. If the individual is morally and spiritually responsible before God, then we have to think also of how conscience is formed by the Word of God and the Church's proclamation of it so that freedom can be exercised responsibly. Another result was the emergence of the idea that because human beings were moral agents, their consent was needed in the business of governance. It is not enough now simply to draw on notions of God's justice for patterns of government. We need also the consent of the governed who have been made in God's image (a term which comes into the foreground). This dual emphasis on conscience and consent led to people being seen as citizens rather than merely as subjects.

The Reformation also had a view about governance as well as the significance of the individual, which was to prove important for the future. The theme of natural rights was taken up by the Dominicans on the Continent in the context of defending the freedom and the possessions of the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas. From there, it influenced prominent thinkers of the moderate Enlightenment in this country, such as John Locke, who were attempting to rethink a Christian basis for society. This was also the context for the Evangelical revival in the 18th century. While the Evangelicals drew inspiration from the Bible for their humanitarian projects, such as the abolition of slavery, universal education and humane conditions of work for men, women and children, the Enlightenment provided them with the intellectual tools and the moral vision of natural rights so that they could argue their case in the public sphere. It was this Evangelical-Enlightenment consensus which brought about the huge social changes of the 19th and early 20th centuries and which came under sustained attack in the second half of the 20th century.

Sociologists of religion have been telling us that the process of secularisation has been a very long one and, indeed, they locate its origin precisely in the Enlightenment's rejection of heteronomous authority and its affirmation of autonomy. Historians, on the other hand, point out that faith flourished in industrial Britain in the 19th century and in the first part of the last century. Indeed, it is possible to say that it continued to prosper well into the 1950s. Was it long-term decline, then, or sudden demise? In fact, there are elements of truth in both approaches. It seems to be the case, however, that something momentous happened in the 1960s which has materially altered the scene: Christ-ianity began to be more and more marginal to the "public doctrine" by which the nation ordered itself, and this state of affairs has continued to the present day.

Many reasons have been given for this situation. Callum Brown has argued that it was the cultural revolution of the 1960s which brought Christianity's role in society to an abrupt and catastrophic end. He notes, particularly, the part played by women in upholding piety and in passing on the faith in the home. It was the loss of this faith and piety among women which caused the steep decline in Christian observance in all sections of society. Peter Mullen and others, similarly, have traced the situation to the student unrest of the 1960s which they claim was inspired by Marxism of one sort or another. The aim was to overturn what I have called the Evangelical-Enlightenment consensus so that revolution might be possible. One of the ingredients in their tactics was to encourage a social and sexual revolution so that a political one would, in due course, come about. Mullen points out that instead of the Churches resisting this phenomenon, liberal theologians and Church leaders all but capitulated to the intellectual and cultural forces of the time.

It is this situation that has created the moral and spiritual vacuum in which we now find ourselves.

Much more here

Australia: 'Aboriginal wars' memorial plan under fire

There were NO Aboriginal wars, though there were retaliatory raids after attacks by Aborigines on isolated whites. Leftist historians have simply inflated almost any conflict into a "war". I see no harm in a memorial to Aborigines but I see a lot of harm in the official perpetuation of a lie

In the wake of the Stolen Generation apology, the Rudd Government is considering erecting an official memorial in Canberra commemorating indigenous Australians killed by white settlers in the so-called "Aboriginal Wars". The plan, which was immediately rejected by the RSL, would see a memorial erected alongside existing statues and sculptures to Australia's war dead on Anzac Ave, leading to the Australian War memorial. The proposal comes from The Canberra Institute, headed by ACT Labor Senate candidate and former Hawke government adviser Peter Conway.

The government responded last week, advising Mr Conway the proposal would be considered by the Canberra National Memorials Committee, which approves the erection of national memorials on national land.

In its submission, the institute argued that the government's recent decision to erect a national memorial for the Boer War - "a British Colonial War conducted over a century ago" - meant an "Aboriginal Wars" memorial was also justified. The submission nominates a number of conflicts to be commemorated, including the Pemulwuy-led Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars from 1790, the Black Wars of Tasmania, the Port Phillip District Wars from 1830 to 1850, the Kalkodoon Wars of North West Queensland 1870 to 1890, and the Western Australian Conflict of 1890 to 1898.

The institute points out other colonial wars conducted at the same time as the "Aboriginal Wars" are already recognised in Hall of Valour dioramas at the Australian War Memorial.

If such a memorial is built, it will face fierce resistance from the RSL. The RSL's Major-General (Ret) Bill Crews told The Sunday Telegraph the RSL would oppose the plan. He said there was already a memorial for Aboriginal service men and women behind the Australian War Memorial. "All of the memorials that have been established generally commemorate the role of Australians in conflicts outside Australia and there is no precedent for a civil-style conflict to be commemorated," he said.

The Federal Government yesterday announced the inclusion of the Myall Creek Aboriginal massacre site, near Inverell, on the National Heritage List at a 170-year memorial service.



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

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

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


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Sunday, June 08, 2008

There's no idiocy like British idiocy

Security van makes 120 mile trip to escort prisoner 200 yards

A security van was sent on a 120-mile round trip to move a prisoner 200 yards to avoid breaching his human rights. Mark Bailey, 35, was taken to a Crown Court but after a brief hearing sent immediately to the magistrates' court across the road. Police said Bailey could not be walked across the street in handcuffs because it would breach his human rights - so a van was scrambled from 60 miles away for the 30 second journey. Campaigners and MPs branded the decision "a shocking waste of money" and said it was "no wonder" Britain's criminal justice system was in such a state of chaos.

Bailey appeared from custody before Northampton Crown Court Tuesday morning charged with stealing cable from a railway line. A judge decided it was better dealt with by magistrates and Bailey was ordered to appear the same day. However, by this time the prison van had gone. Police refused to walk him across Victoria Road, which separates the buildings, so a van was called from Cambridge, 57 miles away, to pick him up and drop him off.

He finally arrived at the magistrates' court two hours and 40 minutes after the van was called. Charged with theft and going equipped, Bailey, from Northampton, was remanded in custody.

A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire police said it would "not be appropriate" to walk a prisoner down a public street. She said: "Once a person is in the courts system, they are no longer in police custody and police are not responsible for their transportation. "It would not be appropriate for prisoners to walk in a public area while in custody for many reasons, including public safety issues, as well as the safety and human rights of the prisoner. "Until someone has been convicted of an offence they are innocent in the eyes of the law and it would therefore be inappropriate for them to be escorted across a busy main road in handcuffs."

Brian Binley, Conservative MP for Northampton South, said: "I've never heard such nonsense. Why we should have to suffer such ludicrous incompetence, and pay for it, is beyond me. "In my view, Bailey should have been escorted across the road but if they were worried about him absconding, they could have put him in a squad car - the police station is just around the corner."

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, added: "This is absurd and a total waste of money. "No wonder our prisons are in such a state of chaos, if they can't even manage to escort a prisoner 200 yards between buildings. "If anyone had shown a bit of initiative this could have been sorted out in five minutes, but instead taxpayers had to foot the bill for this wasteful trek."

A barrister at the court - who wishes to remain anonymous - said: "The transport of prisoners to court is ludicrous and a joke." A spokesman for Global Solutions Limited, responsible for the movement and security of prisoners, said: "It was an unplanned movement and the van had gone to do other things. It is not a taxi service and has a range of duties to make best use of taxpayers' money. "It is more efficient doing it this way than having a load of vehicles sitting around outside court just in case." He said he did not know whether the van came from Cambridge


The incredible British police again

Masked men caught on church roof stealing lead... but that's not enough evidence, say police

When three masked men were caught on the roof of an ancient church that had been stripped of lead worth œ100,000, villagers felt their prayers had been answered. Police arrived in time to catch the trio - in balaclavas and masks - red-handed. Lead had been taken off and rolled up nearby ready to be taken away. But to the astonishment of residents they only got a caution because officers decided they may just have been admiring the view.

After ten thefts of lead in as many months from St Helen's Church in Treeton, South Yorkshire, locals had become so desperate they had even set up their own undercover operation to catch them. However, police let the suspects off because of 'insufficient evidence'. The men had nothing incriminating in their possession when searched and no fingerprints could be taken from the stolen lead.

Churchwarden's wife Carole Robinson says 85 per cent of the lead on the roof has been taken. She added: 'It was beyond belief. The police said they could claim they had only gone up to look at the view. It left people furious. 'We have been plagued with lead thefts and when we finally catch men on the roof they let them off.'

The roof is covered with plastic sheets while officials raise 100,000 pounds to fix it, plus the same amount to repair the tower of the church, which is in the Domesday Book. Builders have erected scaffolding to replace the roof with stainless steel sheets, but thieves have used it to get easier access and steal lead they could not reach before.

Residents spotted the men on the roof after evening service on Sunday. Mrs Robinson said: 'The police arrived and the men came down and in effect gave themselves up. 'It seemed they had been caught red-handed. Lead had been removed and rolled up ready to be carried off. 'But the police said lead was not the kind of material you could get fingerprints from and they did not have enough evidence to take them to court because they could not link the men to the lead. I felt totally vulnerable. The law seems to be on the side of the criminals.'

Suggestions from police that the men were just 'youths' caught on scaffolding were angrily refuted. She said: 'They were men aged between 20 and 30 and they had balaclavas and gloves. I think it's quite wrong for the police dismiss this as youths playing on the scaffolding.'

But Chief Inspector Jason Harwin said: 'Four officers, including a dog handler, spoke with three youths who were on the scaffolding. 'Officers searched all three and examined the surrounding area but found no evidence that any offences had been committed, nor that the youths possessed any articles with which to commit any offences. Officers had no power to arrest these youths. They were warned to stay away from the property. 'Operations have been conducted to catch offenders stealing lead but these have been to no gain. Work is continuing to tackle the issue.'

Thefts of lead from church roofs have become a national problem. Ecclesiastical Insurance, which covers 95 per cent of Anglican churches in Britain received 2,000 claims relating to lead thefts worth 6 million in 2007. In 2005, there were 80 claims for 300,000 pounds.


The Left is leaving the workers

And the workers are reciprocating

Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands or the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) is Germany's oldest political party dating from 1863. At times, it has been Germany's largest party and it has elected German Chancellors such as Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and more recently Gerhard Schr”der. And it remains a junior coalition partner in Angela Merkel's government.

The current SPD leader is Kurt Beck and under his watch the SPD has seen its polling numbers drop and drop hitting a new low last week of just 20% support and its membership base erode by 8% in just two years. Der Spiegel provides the coverage:
A political party of historic importance is imploding in Germany. Even worse, though, is that the Social Democrats (SPD) themselves don't seem to care. Indeed, it is precisely this indifference, this indolence and this lethargy among prominent party members that explains in part why the SPD has sunk to such low depths.

The SPD of 2008, at any rate, has bid farewell to itself, turning its back on much of what made it great. First, the SPD has disconnected itself from the working class. Since the 1998 general elections, much of the SPD's slide has resulted from blue-collar voters turning their backs on the party. Support among workers having dropped 15 percent in the last decade. In a number of state elections during the second term of SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schr”der (from 2002 to 2005), the SPD lost as much as one-fifth of its blue-collar support.
Sound familiar? Perhaps the US Democratic Party is taking lessons from Kurt Beck and the SPD? Here is the takeaway again from Der Spiegel:
For the SPD, this shift is a profound disaster. The industrial working class has long formed the ideological center around which the SPD orbited. It was the party's raison d'etre, the source of party stability and the guiding light of all its efforts. The cool, unsentimental exodus of the working class has robbed the SPD of its core image, an image built up over more than a century. The SPD without support from the workers is a party stripped of its goal - namely that of emancipating the lower classes.
For the US Democratic Party, their raison d'ˆtre should be the working class because since at least 1928 the Democratic party has been the party of labor rights and labor protections, of the working class and of the American middle class. And it has been their votes that have propelled the party to victory. Now some argue that a new coalition is set to transform American politics, the creative class plus the young plus African-Americans. If the Democratic party no longer stands for the working class, and it has struggled mightily in trying to win their support since the 1980s, the working class will find a new political home and it will the Democratic party left standing in the cold halls of Congress, not in the warm chambers of political power. Has the political left forgotten its reason for being? Is it a temporary forgetfulness or a permanent delusion of grandeur?

I wonder if in a few year's hence, we too will be writing the political obituary of a working class party that has competed in elections since 1828, that of the US Democratic Party. I wonder if the German SPD can wither away, is this a lesson or a blueprint for the US Democratic Party?


Australia: Attack on fatherhood defeated by Christian party

The Rev Fred Nile from the Christian Democrats has successfully amended a NSW same-sex reform bill some feared would see the genetic father's name deleted from birth certificates of children born to lesbian partnerships. The amended bill was agreed to by the NSW lower house late yesterday. On Tuesday, Mr Nile's amendments found the support of all members of the MLC bar the four Green Party members.

The Attorney General John Hatzistergos said he accepted Mr Nile's two amendments because `it is not the Government's intention to modify the way birth certificates are issued in the sense of removing the names of mothers and fathers'.

Mr Nile has thanked his colleagues in the Legislative Council for their support `in ensuring we retained recognition of fathers and paternity under the law'. "I'm pleased we have managed to look beyond our own political differences and agenda and come together in recognising the important role fathers play in the lives of children," he said.

Mr Hatzistergos argued that the reforms were primarily aimed at ensuring the children of same-sex couples had the same rights that every other child has in a family, such as access to workers compensation, access to victim compensation benefits, and the rights of inheritance. "At the moment, if the birth mother were to pass away, the same-sex partner who has been in a relationship with the birth mother and who has been raising that child would have no legal nexus to that child. This legislation simply reflects reality, and that reality is based on decisions that have already been made by this Parliament," he said.

Earlier, Christian groups, including the Sydney Diocese's top ethical body, had raised serious concerns about the reform. In its briefing document released earlier this week, the Social Issues Executive of Sydney Diocese says it was concerned that the change to identify `social parents rather than genetic parents' would deny children `the possibility of knowing about their genetic origins'.

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Maclean's lawyer not allowed to question conduct of Islamic congress

Attempts by Maclean's counsel Julian Porter to question the B.C. director of the Canadian Islamic Congress about the organization's conduct were deemed inappropriate by tribunal judges on Thursday, undercutting the lawyer's line of questioning. B.C.'s Human Rights Tribunal is meeting this week because of a complaint filed by the province's CIC director, Naiyer Habib, as well as the organization's national president, Mohamed Elmasry. The complaint came in response to an article written by Mark Steyn that appeared in Maclean's in October, 2006. Titled The Future Belongs to Islam, the piece has been blasted by Muslim critics for spreading "Islamophobia."

On the stand Thursday, Dr. Habib detailed how his role as a CIC leader made him want "to do something" in response to Mr. Steyn's article, which alleges the religion will soon take over the Western world. But when Mr. Porter began his cross-examination and attempted to question Dr. Habib about a fellow CIC member's trip to Libya, he was rebuffed by the tribunal. After a recess, Mr. Porter was told the "conduct of the CIC is not an issue in this complaint" because "Dr. Habib filed the complaint himself," not on behalf of the organization. A frustrated Mr. Porter muttered that the decision would shorten his cross-examination considerably.

Mr. Porter then referenced Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks, suggesting a prevailing terrorist threat requires that "writers must write about it," although they are capable of making mistakes. In one heated exchange, Mr. Porter asked Dr. Habib what his organization and he personally were doing to "curtail bin Laden."

Faisal Joseph, a lawyer for the complainants, objected, saying these types of questions speak to the original complaint that launched the hearings. Although he steered clear of the line-by-line analysis of Mr. Steyn's work that marked the previous day's hearing, Dr. Habib claimed the piece "demonized Islam" and was "full of hate." And he read aloud a series of postings from an American website - which has no affiliation to Maclean's or Mr. Steyn - that favourably commented on Mr. Steyn's article and negatively commented on the Muslim community.


BOOK REVIEW of "Cry Wolf: A Political Fable" By Paul Lake

Review by Hal G.P. Colebatch

It has been rare in recent years for me to get more than a few pages into a modern novel before abandoning it; rarer still for me to bother finishing it; rarest of all for me to read it in a single sitting. This book, by an American poet and professor of literature (poetry editor of First Things) is in that final and rarest category.

Actually, Cry Wolf is more than a novel, though it has many of the strengths of one. It is a political fable, in the great tradition of George Orwell's Animal Farm. I can only hope that it will be as widely read and will be as powerful an influence as was Orwell's masterpiece in awakening civilization to its present deadly peril.

I have been watching developments in Britain for some years and it seemed to me much of the book could have been taken from British newspaper-clippings with only the names changed, but obviously this is an American work. It leads one to wonder if the title of Mark Steyn's brilliant and terrifying America Alone may not actually be over-optimistic.

Like Animal Farm, this is the tale of a farm run by animals. But the story of Cry Wolf begins with a very different situation to that of Orwell's spiritually corrupt and terror-ruled post-Revolutionary Communist order. This is an American, or at any rate Western, animal farm, Green Pastures, which the animals inherited peacefully when the old human owner died (see Nietzsche). With considerable effort they have established a stable Commonwealth. They are proud that in the early days of running the farm they beat off an attack by a bear, and "No Trespassing" is their watchword (A lost dog has been admitted and has become a useful member of the farm because of his civilized or "tame" heritage).

To keep the farm running has been a difficult achievement and there is some hardship and economic inefficiency, but they have managed. They know that they live far longer and better lives than the wild creatures outside. Although The Wild lurks beyond the farm's borders, with cougars, foxes, wolves and, worst of all, bears, the farm animals, even defenseless sheep and small birds like ducks and hens, can live in security. The dogs and the large, powerful animals like bulls and stallions guard the borders.

Slowly, and for very good reasons, the rule of keeping out wild animals in modified. As in Animal Farm there is an inevitability about the process and at no single point does it seem reasonable (or, at length, possible) to make a stand against it. A harmless doe is admitted, wounded and desperate after escaping from predators. Then a small raccoon whose hands make him invaluable for picking fruit which would otherwise be lost is allowed to remain after he begs and pleads for a job which will allow him to survive and feed his family.

FROM THERE THINGS become inevitable: more small non-predatory animals from the wild are admitted for very good reasons and form voting blocs in order to, democratically, express their point of view. The traditions, rituals, educational systems, ordinances and spiritual heritage of the farm are progressively modified.

The goose in charge of educating the young is by no means a complete fool. She is subject to uneasiness but cannot think outside the square of established ideas (It is part of the books strength that the characters are rounded, real and credible). Education, she assumes, is a good thing, the question of what is taught not entering into it.

The meek wild creatures who have been admitted on sufferance become less meek. Changes in the education system ensure that there is no melting-pot in which the newcomers might be assimilated and adopt the farm's values. Laws are interpreted with increasing creativity by far-seeing and progressively-inclined judges. The farm's mottos and maxims are re-interpreted or abolished. The security and high living standards which the farm animals have achieved are held to be matters of shame and collective guilt and evidence of their tyranny over and exploitation of wild creatures. And the newcomers breed much faster.

The rule of Law which had given the farm security is turned against it. "Rights" are interpreted in a strictly one-way direction, always in favor of the newcomers. Attempts by some of the farm animals to warn against what is happening are first stigmatized as hate-speech and then subjected to criminal punishments as Xenophobia and then Feralphobia.

Foxes and snakes join the smaller and more harmless wild creatures which had been admitted previously and take over buildings for their own where some of the young of the farm-creatures join them. "No-Go" areas spread, where the smaller and the female newcomers themselves live in increasing dread.

THE FIRST MURDER horrifies the farm animals. Then murders multiply as the force of the law is turned against political incorrectness and the use of incorrect words. Words like "prey" come to be used again. The old Green Pastures Farm's idea of equality for females and an equal voice for large and small animals is repudiated. Finally the wolves and bears come storming back. Prey is prey again. The old bull, who had been complacent in the knowledge of his own strength for so long, girds himself for a last stand...

Immediately after finishing this book I read a quote found by Mark Steyn in the British Church of England Newspaper:
At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland's aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.

While men-only gentlemen's clubs are now being dubbed unlawful, we hear of municipal swimming baths encouraging "Muslim women only" sessions and in Dewsbury Hospitals staff waste time by turning beds to face Mecca five times a day...Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast..."
The same day I read that a French judge, in France, had annulled a Muslim marriage on the grounds that the bride had not been a virgin and blood-stained sheets could not be shown to the wedding-guests.


Contracts were once as Good as Gold

Until an ignorant Leftist President destroyed it all

People these days fear inflation. We also fear changing rates of inflation. And most of the tools we might use to protect ourselves, such as the Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities bond or gold stocks, are imperfect. TIPS are, after all, based on an inflation-measure whose accuracy is itself controversial - the Consumer Price Index. So it's worth remembering that, 75 years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt destroyed an inflation hedge that was literally as good as gold: the so-called "gold clause." This helped prolong the Depression and has been causing damage ever since.

Consider an investor in the gold standard era. An ounce of gold was worth $20.67 and you could, at least in theory, trade your greenbacks for gold at the bank. The gold standard checked a government's willingness to inflate, since it started losing gold when it did so. Those who traded bonds knew a confidence we can never know.

Washington, like all governments, could occasionally cheat on the gold standard - suspend it, limit the ability of citizens to convert paper into gold, and so on. But investors could protect themselves by writing a gold clause into their contracts. Such a clause promised a borrower that he could be repaid "in gold coin of the United States of America of or equal to the present standard of weight and fineness." The gold clause fostered economic growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by making it easier for young industries to raise capital. Since investors protected by these clauses knew they would get their money back, interest rates were lower. To finance World War I, Washington even inserted gold clauses into Liberty Loans.

The powerful deflation of the early 1930s gave Roosevelt the excuse to end the gold standard. Dirt-low commodity prices, starving farmers, bank seizures of homes, 20% unemployment: All these miseries shouted, "looser money now!" The agricultural community, including eccentric Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace, viewed the end of the gold standard as the ultimate revenge of the farmers punishing Wall Street for its 1920s prosperity.

One night in April, 1933, FDR surprised a bunch of advisers, saying "Congratulate me." He'd taken the country off the gold standard, and now planned to personally manage the dollar's exchange rate and price levels. Hearing the news, colleagues "began to scold Mr. Roosevelt as though he were a perverse and particularly backward schoolboy," recalled Ray Moley. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, the great free trader, "looked as though he had been stabbed in the back. FDR took out a ten-dollar bill, examined it and said 'Ha! . . . How do I know it's any good? Only the fact that I think it is makes it so.'"

Congress then drafted a joint resolution declaring gold clauses - protection against any damage Roosevelt might do - to be "against public policy." Roosevelt couldn't wait to see the resolution become law. Henry Wallace wrote that Roosevelt "looked up at the clock and put down 4:40 p.m., June 5, 1933 and signed his name."

Randall Kroszner, a governor at the Federal Reserve Board, has studied this period and has noted that the price went up on most stocks and bonds, even gold-clause bonds, when the Supreme Court eventually validated FDR's action. Mr. Kroszner and others argue that the abrogation of the gold clause had some virtue because it reduced the cost and inconvenience of debt renegotiation in a period of credit crisis.

But you can also argue that those price movements were more an expression of relief that a futile battle was over rather than a vote of approval. In my own review of the period I found evidence that snatching away from investors the perfect inflation hedge hurt the economy.

The market rally in the spring of 1933 slowed as investors watched FDR fiddle with the dollar and commodities over the course of the fall. In 1934, FDR thought better of it all and fixed the dollar to gold again, albeit now at $35 dollars an ounce. But the abrogation of the gold clause suggested that Washington had no regard for property rights. The general uncertainty generated by government economic policies did not abate. Capital went on strike. The Great Depression endured to the end of the decade. The positive transparency that the Securities and Exchange Commission or the creation of deposit insurance brought to markets was offset by losses like that of the gold clause.

And from then on, the federal government enjoyed wider license to inflate. Without the gold-clause option, citizens tried out other hedges - today a line about the CPI may stand where the old gold line once stood. In the 1970s, Sen. Jesse Helms pushed for repeal of the old abrogation, and eventually, with the support of Treasury Secretary William Simon, he won. But the average investor never used the clause to the same extent.

Today, as in the last days of the gold clause, officials like Mr. Kroszner of the Fed's Board of Governors are weighing a difficult choice between efficient crisis management and property rights. People don't talk more about the damage of monetary uncertainty because that damage is so spread out - harder to discern than, say, a single giant event like the implosion of Bear Stearns. But the old gold clause footnote explains why we may see yet more angst over the Consumer Price Index, the TIPS bond, or even LIBOR, the London Interbank rate. We have lost our bearings and our confidence in money generally.

After a majority of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the gold clause abrogation, Justice James McReynolds read the dissent. Today McReynolds is generally regarded as an irrelevant reactionary, a footnote himself. But his rueful words ring true for those trying to reckon the dollar's future. It was, he said, "impossible to estimate the result of what has been done."


A race riot in Australia

Those evil intolerant whites? The KKK? No. Indians versus Africans. But with no whites involved, it will be forgotten overnight, unlike the hugely publicized events at Cronulla a few years ago. Indians are generally very peacable people so ....

RACIAL tension may have been behind a brawl this week when taxi drivers turned on each other outside a Tullamarine cafe. Up to 30 drivers, some brandishing weapons, spilled onto Melrose Drive from the Melrose Lounge, a witness said. A 25-year-old man was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with a cut above his eye, bruising and swelling.

It was initially suggested the fight was between Sudanese and Indian drivers. However, other witnesses said the fight began between a Somalian driver and an Indian driver before mushrooming into a brawl between Indians and drivers from various African nations.

A leader in the recent taxi protests in Melbourne's CBD told 3AW the fight was sparked when an Indian driver tried to skip the queue. "The Indian driver tried to jump the queue, and one of the Somalian drivers said, 'You can't jump the queue, you have to do the right thing, this is wrong', and they started fighting."

Other taxi drivers and airport staff claimed racial tensions were often evident at the airport rank, with queue-jumping enough to spark mass arguments and violence. Taxi driver Nabjot Gall said the fight broke out just before 8pm Wednesday. Drivers used carjacks as weapons and one man was smashed in the face, he said. "The fight went on and got bigger and bigger," he said. An Australia Federal Police officer confirmed members attended a "minor" incident at the cafe, but refused to comment further.



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

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

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


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Friday, June 06, 2008

The insane British animal freaks

At the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, they hate people. And animals die because their hostility chases away many potential carers. Reminiscent of all the animals that America's PETA kills. Although the RSPCA is a voluntary organization, legislation has given them certain powers and they use that to hurt people if they can. Too bad about the animals

The lady looked up at me sourly. "You're ten minutes too late". They said it would be OK, I pleaded; ten past three - I did ring to check. You see, it's quite hard to find the time and I don't know when... "3pm", she said sharply. "There's no one available to speak to you now." I looked at the bevy of staff loitering around behind the desk, doing nothing much. One woman caught my eye sympathetically. "You can have a quick look round", Ms Timetable said. "Then come back another time."

And then what? "Then you fill in a form." Could I do that now? "No, because there's no one available to interview you." I glanced again at all the staff behind her. Maybe I could fill in the form and leave it? You know, cut out another visit? It was a three-hour round trip, after all. "You have to fill it in with us." Then what "Then they come and visit you at home, see if your house is suitable. And then you can come back and see the dogs..."

I gave up. This was the second RSPCA animal shelter that I had tried to adopt from - the first being unwilling even to let us look around. And three three-hour trips to this joyless centre of bureaucracy, where animals might be tended, but humans are treated with disdain, without the promise of so much as a hamster at the end of it, was more than I could bear.

Then there was the child problem. I had a four-year-old. And the RSPCA will not allow any child under 5 to have a dog; not even if she'll be 4 by the time that it arrives. Except in special circumstances. Which were? No one would tell me. I had to jump through their hoops first, with the almost certain promise of rejection at the end of it.

It's funny how many RSPCA refuseniks you come across once you become one yourself. There was the man who was told that he could have a cat only if he built platforms under the skylights in his London flat - in case the cat climbed across the roof and fell through the window. Or the woman in a rural area who was advised to heighten her fence to 20ft, because some cats like to jump high. And a mother (the owner of two happy dogs) in Norfolk who simply screamed: "RSPCA? Forget it!"

When you see the "Pet Adoption Week" campaign being launched by the RSPCA next week, with Badger the starving terrier who was rescued by a television presenter, remember these stories.

I wouldn't normally have bothered to remark on this. If the charity wants to put down more animals than is necessary, that's its business. Its, and the people who fund it: the RSPCA has an annual income of more than 100 million pounds, and about 200 million in assets, plus many millions more in its 174 branches around the country (the one that I looked up, Solent, had 3.8 million tucked away). The British give more to animal charities than to charities for the disabled. One donkey sanctuary in Devon has higher income than all the main charities fighting abuse against women combined. Still, your business. Give money to what you like.

But now the RSPCA, in its joylessness, is telling schools that they can no longer have pets. Research by the charity has found that a quarter of schools own pets, ranging from a hermit crab to a horse. Hurrah! A small piece of chaos, of life, amid the regimented drilling that we call school. Not for much longer - the RSPCA believes there is a danger that the kids might be too noisy, or the lighting conditions could be wrong, and that the classroom pet may receive variable care from different families at evenings or weekends.

If the RSPCA has its way, no more generations of kids will be taught to care for the school guinea pig or rabbit, or hermit crab; no more learning responsibility and respect for animals, no feeling the joy of holding a live thing in their hands. Laughably, the charity suggests that schools should get a soft toy instead to teach children about animal welfare. This is no joke. They really do want to stop it. The charity has sent all schools a letter warning them of their duties under the draconian Animal Welfare Act introduced at its own urging two years ago. That Act imposed a duty of care on any adult in charge of a pet, or any adult responsible for a child who is in possession of an animal.

Now the RSPCA has told schools to name a single person responsible for the rabbit's welfare, so that they can hold that person to account. The 2006 Act gave uniformed RSPCA officers the right to enter non-domestic properties without a warrant (they can enter your home only with a warrant, but they like people to believe otherwise) to check for animal rights abuses. Find a hamster being teased by Harry and the nominated teacher could face up to a year in jail. We must not let these people bully the life out of schools.

I went to a different animal sanctuary in the end. They sent over Dave to see whether I might be able to have a cat (I was running with the cat idea by then). A morose individual, like so many animal obsessives, Dave carefully checked for feline dangers, telling me to be sure to keep the cat shut indoors at night in case it got run over. Isn't depriving a cat of the night a bit like depriving a human being of light? Night-time hunting is what a cat does.

But then, I'm just someone who likes animals. I'm not an obsessive. I think that's healthy. I like humans too. There seems to be a distinction between being a human and being an "animal lover" akin to the difference between riding a bicycle and being a "cyclist". The militants are similarly at a loss for any sense of humour or humanity. In the end, we bought a puppy. Please don't tell the RSPCA.


'Children happier under care of grandparents'

No! Force them into government run pre-schools and kindergartens! That's what the British and other Leftist governments are planning anyway

Academics at Oxford University and the Institute of Education, London, found that grandparents can help young children because they often have more time to spend with them than working parents. They are good at solving their problems as well as discussing their future plans. The survey of more than 1,500 children also discovered that grandparents could help keep them calm during crises such as divorce. Researchers found that one grandmother in three regularly looked after a grandchild, while 40 per cent helped out occasionally. But they believe that more grandparents should become involved in care to improve their grandchildren's well-being, and that the Government should do more to recognise their importance to society.

Prof Ann Buchanan, the director of the Centre for Research into Parenting and Children in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at Oxford University, said: "What was especially interesting was the link between involved grandparents and adolescent well-being. Closeness was not enough: only grandparents who got stuck in had this positive impact on their grandchildren." The study's findings will be discussed at the annual meeting of the Grandparents' Association in London on Wednesday.

The survey encountered one teenager who claimed that his grandmother "taught us to read and write", and another whose grandparents discussed with him not only what GCSEs to take but what universities he should apply to and what career to take. A 12-year-old girl said her grandmother comforted her when she was being bullied at school. Grandparents who were healthy, lived in less-deprived areas and had regular contact with their grandchildren were found to have the most involvement in their upbringing.

The children questioned said it did not matter how far away their grandparents lived, because they could keep in touch using technology such as mobile phones and email.


Islamic extremists should get therapy, British government tells local councils

Police and councils have been told to avoid putting some Islamic extremists through the criminal justice system

Members of extremist groups have have not "clearly" committed a crime would receive therapy and counselling under new Government plans to "deradicalise" religious fanatics. The Home Office is to announce an extra 12.5 million pounds to support new initiatives to try to stop extremism spreading. The central element of the Home Office plan is a new national "deradicalisation" programme that would persuade converts to violent and extremist causes to change their views. Controversially, the new plan makes clear that people who fall under the influence of violent organisations will not automatically face prosecution.

The Government says the presumption should now be that individuals who have not yet committed a crime would face therapy and counselling from community groups instead of being sanctioned. Documents being distributed to local councils explain that many people who get drawn into extremism have often suffered some sort of personal trauma or crisis that makes them vulnerable to exploitation. "We do not want to put through the criminal justice system those who are vulnerable to, or are being drawn into, violent extremism unless they have clearly committed an offence," a Home Office report says. "It is vital that individuals and communities understand this and have the confidence to use the support structures that we shall be developing."

A Home Office spokesman today insisted radicals who break the law will still be prosecuted: A spokesman said: "The police and the Criminal Justice Service will still those who prosecute people who commit offences and the guidance makes absolutely clear this is about preventing people being drawn into criminality and rehabilitating those that have not been."

Most of the new funding will be set aside for grants to community groups that challenge the messages of violent extremists should be supported. The plan includes a suggestion that local councils should map their areas religion, surveying and recording the faiths and denominations of local residents. New guidelines for councils say: "A deeper understanding of local communities should be developed to help inform and focus the programme of action - this may include mapping denominational backgrounds and demographic and socio-economic factors."

The Home Office has told councils they must be prepared to ask police to vet anyone involved in projects that receive government anti-radicalisation funding. If a group is found to be promoting violent extremism, local agencies and the police should consider disrupting or removing funding, and deny access to public facilities, the document added.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "A key element of our strategy aims to stop people getting involved in extremist violence. "We are investing at local level to build resilient communities, which are equipped to confront violent extremism and support the most vulnerable individuals."

Shadow home secretary David Davis said of today's publication: "This is pointless when the Government is fuelling the problem it is seeking to solve with its draconian approach to 42 days."


Feminists have tragically misled many women

Comment from Australia

The strategic silences of feminism are having profound effects on society. For all the brilliant choices ushered in for women - the freedom to forge ahead with careers, to stay single, if that was their wish, not to be tied down by family and babies, if that was their choice - feminism failed women by refusing to inform them that their new-found choices came at a price.

By failing to remind women about their biology and their declining fertility, feminism deliberately ignored the innate desire of most women to have a child. The silence continues. It is there in the classroom where, like previous generations of young girls, the present generation is still not taught that fertility cannot be taken for granted. Fortunately, there are moves to fill in the silence about infertility. If it happens, it may allow young women to make more fully informed choices about work and babies, avoiding the sorrow that afflicted many of their childless forerunners.

Unlike women in the 1950s and '60s, the liberated generation of women that followed in the '70s and '80s had the world at their feet. Yet feminism's mantra of choice made little room for women who chose to eschew careers for babies. Indeed, if we are honest, feminism never had much time for babies. Having babies meant leaving the workplace, opting out of the career track, at least for a time. With its unwavering focus on encouraging women to make great strides in the professions, making their presence felt in the boardroom, the courtroom and parliament, the feminist movement deliberately ignored motherhood as a legitimate choice for women.

The cost of feminism's silence about fertility is etched in the faces of those women who pursued dazzling careers and carefree singledom but ended up childless. Women such as ABC presenter Virginia Haussegger, who a few years ago openly wrote about the price she paid for listening to the feminist mothers, who encouraged us to reach for the sky but failed to tell us the truth about our biological clock. Said Haussegger: "Here we are, supposedly 'having it all' as we edge 40; excellent education; good qualifications, great jobs. It's a nice caffe-latte kind of life, really." But something was missing. "I am childless and I am angry. Angry that I was so foolish to take the word of my feminist mothers as gospel. Angry that I was daft enough to believe female fulfilment came with a leather briefcase."

The cost of feminism's silence about infertility is engraved in the experiences of those who, having delayed motherhood and unable to conceive, underwent in-vitro fertilisation at a great physical and emotional cost. Women such as Jodi Panayotov, who described how her mental anguish at not becoming pregnant had her rifling through her rubbish bin to check whether the second line on her discarded pregnancy test had appeared in the hour since she threw it there, along with dozens of others. "If I thought IVF would be the answer to both my reproductive issues and my mental issues, I was mistaken. Yes, it produced a baby. But it took ages to recover from the emotional toll."

Infertility affects one in six Australian couples. While the causes are many, a woman's age is a critical factor. By age 26, a woman's rate of infertility doubles from one in 10 to one in five. By her mid-30s, a woman has a 15 per cent of becoming pregnant each month. By her early 40s, it falls to 5 per cent. Add in miscarriage rates of 25 per cent for women aged 35 to 39, and 50 per cent for women aged 40 to 44, and the rate of chromosomal abnormalities, which increases from a risk of one in 600 for a 20-year-old woman to one in 39 for a 42-year-old woman, and one realises that female fertility is not a given.

Of course, with male infertility accounting for 40 per cent of cases, there is a need for both sexes to understand fertility. Unfortunately, there is a profound gap between perception and reality. A study by the Fertility Society of Australia in 2006 found that 57 per cent of women in their 30s and 43 per cent of women in their 40s believed they would be able to conceive without any problems. The survey of 1200 women and 1200 men found that 40 per cent of childless men and women in their 30s were still saying they were not ready to have a child. While choosing to marry later and have babies even later may fit the career choices of young men and women, the report concluded that "a real tragedy could occur if these people reach their late 30s and decide they have changed their minds and do want children, only to find that it is biologically too late for them".

The FSA recommended an education program informing young people about their fertility. Last week, a similar plea was made in Britain by new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority head Lisa Jardine.

It is a message echoed by Candice Reed and Rebecca Featherstone, two young women who call themselves "IVF-lings". Reed, a journalist in New Zealand, was Australia's first IVF baby, born in 1980. Featherstone, a Sydney agent for media personalities, was conceived in Bourne Hall, Cambridge, where Louise Brown, the world's first IVF baby, was born. In the next few weeks, Reed and Featherstone will be sending letters to state education and health ministers across Australia asking that schoolchildren be taught about fertility and IVF.

Featherstone told The Australian students were not receiving enough information. "The only things I was taught at school were about sexual education, condoms and STDs, that sort of stuff. I never learned anything about infertility or how many people go through IVF. I was never taught how a woman's fertility decreases." Ask a schoolteacher. Nothing has changed.

Featherstone says it's critical that young girls learn about their biology. "They may hold off having babies and do the career thing. And then they're like: 'Oh no, I'm 35 and I'll have to do IVF.' She says IVF should not be treated lightly as a fallback position for the next generation of career women. "It's not something nice to go through."

With studies showing that mothers in their late 30s and 40s who have baby girls are perhaps compromising their daughters' ability to have children, the trickle-down consequences of infertility will be profound and many of them yet unknown. One thing is clear. For all of feminism's focus on women's choices, its failure to treat motherhood as a legitimate choice did women no favours.



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

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

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


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Thursday, June 05, 2008

How the Israel lobby really works

It works because of NON-JEWISH support for Israel

One of the most enduring myths about American politics, a helpfully all-encompassing theory that purports to explain a bedrock feature of US foreign policy - and laced with just the faintest hint of the world's oldest hatred - is that of the all-powerful Jewish lobby. To outsiders, the spectacle of politicians lining up to pay homage to a lobby group that promotes the interests of one small country in the Middle East is proof of the disproportionate power wielded by Jews in US life. Why else would presidential contenders rush every year to attend the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee? Why else would they go to great lengths to ensure that they say nothing there that does not get the committee's approval?

The Jewish vote, after all, is pretty insignificant. Less than 3per cent of the population is Jewish - about the same number as Muslims. In New York and Florida the proportion is larger, but still in single figures. The Jewish population's direct political influence is probably further diminished by its tendencies to vote Democrat. In this, as in many other respects, Jews' voting behaviour is formed much more by their socio-economic conditions than any religious or foreign policy concerns.

If Jews wield little direct electoral clout, the reason for the power of the Israel lobby, say its critics, must be that it uses the financial and political muscle of American Jews to exercise a stranglehold on foreign policy debate. It requires politicians to commit the US to uncritical support for Israel, irrespective of other US interests in the region. There is a lot wrong with this idea. In a country as diverse as the US, candidates are constantly trying to ensure they are in the good graces of people of almost all faiths and traditions. Last week, John McCain was forced to disavow his support from an evangelical preacher who described Catholicism as a "godless theology of hate".

But there is a bigger reason to object to the familiar characterisation of the Jewish lobby. AIPAC is undoubtedly one of the most effective lobbying organisations in Washington. But it succeeds because very large numbers of Americans share its aims, not because it somehow strongarms politicians into supporting it. Candidates want AIPAC's approval because they know that being seen as pro-Israel is central to their foreign policy credentials. In opinion polls Americans express overwhelming support for Israel. They see it in kindred terms - a thriving democracy forged in an inhospitable climate. For Barack Obama in particular, dispelling doubts about his pro-Israel credentials is essential to winning the votes of most Americans.


Voters to define marriage in California

Setting the stage for a political showdown, the California secretary of state today said an initiative barring gay marriage had enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. 4 ballot. The proposal would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as a union "between a man and a woman" and undo last month's historic California Supreme Court ruling, which found that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was unconstitutional.

A coalition of religious and conservative activists submitted 1.1 million signatures for the ballot measure. Random sampling by Secretary of State Debra Bowen found that enough legitimate signatures had been collected.

Many opponents of same-sex marriage saw the high court's ruling as a rejection of past ballot measures against the practice, most recently Proposition 22, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. It passed in 2000 with 61% of the vote.

Supporters of the latest initiative described Monday's certification as "great news" but acknowledged that recent surveys had shown opposition to same-sex marriage weakening in recent years. "It will be tough," said Ron Prentice, chairman of the Protect Marriage campaign. "However, the vast body of research . . . confirmed that there is still a majority in California that will vote to protect historic marriage." Prentice said his campaign had already begun drawing on the support and resources of local religious groups and other organizations for an election battle he expected to win. He noted that a recent Los Angeles Times/KTLA poll found the proposed amendment was leading 54% to 35% among registered voters.

But opponents of the ballot initiative said they drew heart from signs that voters view gay marriage more favorably than they did nearly a decade ago. A Field Poll published last week found that 54% of registered voters opposed the measure, while 40% supported it. "Things have changed dramatically in California," said David Codell, an attorney with Equality for All, a coalition of gay rights organizations that is campaigning against the amendment initiative. Codell said the state's domestic partnership law had helped sway many voters on the issue. California has more than 100,000 households headed by gay couples, about a quarter with children, according to 2000 census data. "Californians have seen for years that same-sex couples are capable of participating fully in society as families recognized by law," he said. "Nobody is harmed when same-sex couples marry, and everyone is benefited."

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, local officials throughout the state are expected to begin performing same-sex marriage ceremonies this month. If the ballot measure passes in November, its effect on same-sex marriages performed before the election is unclear. Prentice said he had reviewed competing legal opinions on the issue. But he said he expected other groups that oppose same-sex marriages would consider challenging the marriages in court.

Garry South, a Democratic strategist, described the ballot measure as part of a decades-old strategy by California conservatives to use a wedge issue to mobilize support during a presidential election. But he noted that the Supreme Court that ruled in favor of gay marriage is dominated by Republicans and said a Barack Obama victory for the Democratic Party nomination would probably bring out young voters in November more sympathetic to same-sex marriage. "I don't think there's been a sea change in attitudes," South said, "but it's clear in the surveys that this is almost an even-steven issue in California."

Allan Hoffenblum, a former GOP political strategist, said voters might be swayed by the high court's ruling. "They're going to be seeing on TV gays getting married, then they're going to be told, 'No, we're going to take that right away,' " said Hoffenblum, who publishes the nonpartisan California Target Book, which analyzes political races. "I think that changes the dynamics of the whole thing."


Saskatchewan Marriage Commissioner Fined For Refusing To "Marry" Homosexuals

He referred them to another commissioner but that was not acceptable to them

A Saskatchewan human rights tribunal has fined Regina marriage commissioner Orville Nichols $2,500 for refusing to "marry" two homosexual men who approached him for the ceremony in 2005. Mr. Nichols told the two men, identified only as "M.J." and his partner as "B.R." in the court documents, he would not marry them because it went against his religious convictions as a devout Baptist, but referred them to another commissioner, Edna McCall, because he was aware that she would perform same sex marriages.

The court documents reveal that the complainant M.J. was 51 years old at the time of the hearing last year, had been married for about seventeen years and had three children, and "did not realize that he was a homosexual until after he was divorced." The "marriage" was performed on May 5, 2005, on the dock on the east side of Wascana Lake, as M.J. and B.R. had originally planned.

The tribunal ruling stated that Mr. Nichols had contravened section 31.4(b) of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and that his refusal based on religious belief conflicted with his duties as a public officer. "The Commission stands by its position that to allow public officials to insert their personal morality when determining who should and who should not receive the benefit of law undermines human rights in Saskatchewan beyond the issue of same-sex marriages."

Mr. Nichols, now 70 years of age, has been a resident of Regina for almost his entire life. Before becoming a marriage commissioner, he had served 25 years as a Regina City Police Officer from May 1957 to the end of June, 1982, retiring with a rank of Sergeant. He had also been a Justice of the Peace (JP) when he retired and continued in this position until 2001, presiding as senior judge for the City of Regina Bylaw Court and in Traffic Safety Court, as well as becoming a marriage commissioner and being appointed as a coroner, as position he held from 1982 though to 1991.

As a marriage commissioner, Mr. Nichols has performed more than 1,800 marriages since 1983, averaging between 80-100 per year. The fee for performing a marriage ceremony is $50, paid by the couple getting married. His only other source of income is his pension from the City of Regina Police Department.

Mr. Nichols testified at the hearing that he had never received a complaint in his 24 years of service as a marriage commissioner, nor had there ever been a problem with any of the services that he had provided in his capacity as a marriage commissioner, even though he had in a number of different situations refused to perform a marriage ceremony, such as marriages of convenience for immigration purposes or when he had been asked to perform a marriage dressed up in a cowboy costume.

Mr. Nichols told the tribunal that he had laid a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission against the Government of Saskatchewan because they had directed him to perform marriage ceremonies for homosexual couples. He acknowledged that the Chief Commissioner, Donna Scott, had dismissed his complaint.

Mr. Nichols said of the ruling against him, "I am very disappointed in the decision. I broke the law because of my religious beliefs," but added that he may launch an appeal if he can get more financial support to back his fight.


The Next Fidel: Venezuela's Hugo Chavez bids to revive revolutionary Marxism

by Peter Hitchens

Viewed from the shanty towns that peer down on it from the surrounding hillsides, Caracas looks like a caricature Latin American capital, with too much North American influence of the wrong kind and too little of the right kind. Here, spoiling a lovely steep valley, is the usual sad, globalized panorama of ugly, uninteresting concrete towers, one of them absurdly crowned with a huge Pepsi can. You might as well decorate the skyline with a gigantic banana.

And here is the usual trite contrast, long common in the Third World and rapidly spreading to the First World-gross wealth on display next to rancid squalor. Yes, there really are hovels a few hundred feet from a freeway crammed with new SUV's. How obvious. How stupid.

This is, at first sight, a place of cliches. Here they all are-the plethora of uniforms, the propaganda murals, the military despot, the rigged elections, the frequent, sometimes farcical putsches, the blithe, unashamed corruption and the prevalent crime, the Cuban fraternal assistance, the blatant suppression of opponents, the currency restrictions, the annoying, avoidable shortages of milk and toilet paper, the unvarying signs of a socialist hand on the economic tiller.

And like so many authoritarian states, Venezuela has little basic order or justice. There are a thousand murders a month in a country of 28 million people. The police simply pull out of the slums on weekends, unable to face the power of the gangs.

Only when you look a little more closely do you find, hidden in corners or quietly understated, evidence of a serious civil society and a genuine national independence-a glorious equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar, a ravishing old cathedral, an elegant, airy 19th-century parliament house embodying the heartbreaking over-optimism of the country's founders, and many honest people, equipped to live in liberty and disturbed by the menace of dictatorship.

They are right to be disturbed. It is astonishing, after more than a century of similar follies all over the world, all ending in weeping or worse, how anyone can still be taken in by the flatulent promises of political messiahs or how anyone cannot be repelled by the blatant unfairness, the transparent purchasing of the votes of the poor, the sheer vanity of Hugo Chavez.

And yet here we go again. No sooner has Fidel Castro finally accepted that his long career in radical chic showbusiness is over and retired to his bed than this new Marxoid messiah, with his own interminable speeches and dubious foreign alliances, has arisen in the Caribbean, loathed to the point of rage by the White House and absurdly idolized by the fashionable Left of the whole world.

I suppose one explanation for this resurrection must be the extraordinarily rapid collapse of the brief, intense Thatcher-Reagan dream. They told us that the world would finally accept that the market was all and that the implosion of the USSR would discredit world-reforming socialism for good. No such luck. The market philosophy, lacking any real interest in the human soul, turned out not to be very persuasive even in its countries of origin and to be a gross, bloated failure when tried in the former Evil Empire itself. If it didn't kill off idealist yearnings in Washington, London, or Brussels-let alone in Kabul and Mecca-why should it do so here, where some of the Caracas slum quarters have been suppurating on their neglected slopes for seven decades?

Then, of course, there is the Bush-Cheney effect. Nothing could have more effectively revived bad old resentful anti-Americanism-the cartoon kind that relies on images of a heedless, greedy, violent Uncle Sam-than Messrs. Bush and Cheney. They did exactly what people like Hugo Chavez always say they do. They mistook force for power.

It is also hard to dislike Comrade Chavez personally, mainly because he is funny-funny about himself, funny about others, funny at the expense of opponents, who mostly deserve to be laughed at. He calls President Bush "Mr. Danger," which isn't a bad name for him.

But he just will not stop talking. All too frequently Chavez commandeers the terrestrial TV channels-the poor can afford no others-and harangues his people, urging them to be ever more grateful for the undoubted benisons he has rained upon them: smart new apartment blocks and shiny new schools can be seen among the slums, and Cuban doctors provide unheard of medical care to the poor. The price is paid in a slow, systematic accretion of absolute power and in obligatory harangues.

When Spain's King Juan Carlos recently snapped "Why don't you shut up?" at Chavez at a Spanish-American summit, thousands of Venezuelans downloaded the royal outburst for use as a ring-tone on their cellphones. Chavez is undeterred by such mockery. He says his weekly TV show "Hallo, President!" is a religious program "because only God knows when it will end." This is disagreeably true for the worthies who have to sit in the invited audience, shifting from buttock to buttock as the hours amble by, sustaining themselves with sandwiches and gulps from water bottles.

It is autocracy conducted as a sort of "Oprah Winfrey Show," with jokes, reminiscence, and singing thrown in. And despite Chavez's charm and self-mockery, it is very, very serious. Remember, this is a man who first sought supreme office in a bungled military coup in 1992. We can laugh at it now because it failed, comically, but there is something terrifying about a man who thinks so highly of himself that he tries to take state power with violence. Castro's first putsch, the Moncada Barracks affair, was likewise a pantomime of bungles. Both failed only because their leaders hadn't at that stage had enough practice in taking over governments.

It was then, just after his failure had become obvious, that Chavez first used the menacing phrase that is now linked with him forever. The authorities, astonishingly, allowed the unsuccessful putschist to go on national TV, supposedly to tell his troops to surrender. This he duly did, but at the end he carefully added the words "por ahora"-"for now."

After a little while in prison, Chavez decided to take the democratic route, cleverly exploiting the uselessness and division of his opponents, and returned as promised. Since then, by what his enemies describe as rigging and corruption, he has remained in office, surviving a coup and slowly strengthening his control of the machinery of patronage and propaganda.

Now those two potent words, "por ahora," in white letters on a red background, appear again all over Caracas on the most prominent billboards. Their new meaning, known to everyone, is full of menace to those who have dared oppose Chavez. They refer to the referendum last December, which Chavez narrowly lost. Had he won, he would have become far more powerful, far more of a threat to private property, far harder to dislodge. There would have been no limit on his tenure of office, due to end in 2013. Many believe he wanted to ignore the result-he is widely accused of constant, highly scientific ballot-rigging of the kind that is very hard to prove-and was only dissuaded from doing so by a phone call from his friend Fidel Castro.

Whatever the reason, Chavez conceded defeat with a rather touching grace, then told his supporters to go home and let the opposition celebrate. But only for now. He can afford to be restrained. Time and the ever rising price of oil allow him to wait till later to try again. In the meantime, he continues to hustle his country down the familiar Stalinist staircase that leads to one-party rule, censorship, indoctrination, and prison camps, but this time so slowly that it will never again be alarming enough, at any particular moment, to frighten his opponents into effective action.

If there were any justice, Chavez would long ago have been forced from office by bankruptcy. His economic management is wasteful and sloppy and involves a great deal of expensive largesse to the poor in return for their votes, as well as disastrous controls that create shortages. The national oil company-which Chavez treats as his private bank-badly needs costly investment to secure future supplies. But because the Chinese and Indian booms and the Iraq War have taken the demand for oil to unseen heights, he need not worry about this. The money still comes in as fast as he can spend it. Meanwhile, much of the middle classes can be bought off with gasoline so cheap that you can fill a tank for $1.50.

Chavez lost the vote largely because of two very different opponents-one a general, the other a collection of politically untried students. Gen. Raul Isaias Baduel had been a comrade of Chavez's from their early days in the army. Rather than support Chavez's autocratic constitutional reforms, he resigned as defense minister. This was accepted with a smile. But within a few weeks, General Baduel found himself being denounced by government hacks as a traitor-any former sympathizer who dares criticize gets this treatment-and having his bodyguards withdrawn. Baduel, a religious man whose desk is covered with symbols of several faiths, also experienced a side of Chavez that his radical supporters in America and Europe find hard to explain or defend-a faint but unmistakable whiff of Judeophobia. He was accused of being "too close" to Venezuela's small Jewish community.

His defection was an especially hard blow because he had helped save Chavez from an attempted coup by conservative opponents in 2002. Last December, only five years later, he charged his old friend with plotting what was in effect a coup against the constitution. He says that on both occasions he was acting according to the same principle:

In 2002, as a soldier, I defended the laws and constitution against an attempted coup. Last December, as a citizen and a civilian I felt I also had to defend the laws and the constitution. Friendship does not mean you have to mortgage your principles. Loyalty is not complicity. I was taught as a child that friendship is a fundamental value -but when you place friendship and principle in the balance, principle weighs more heavily.

Such opposition, if only it were linked to a serious political party, would be dangerous to Chavez. As yet, there are few signs that Baduel has any wider political skills. He was able to slow down his old comrade's progress. But to remove and replace him with a real political party, able to appeal to the poor and offer reform and preserve liberty, is far more difficult.

The students, whom Chavez tried to dismiss as the spoiled children of the rich, are potentially a greater threat to him. They had no idea how much power they possessed when they began demonstrating against Chavez's vindictive closure of the country's oldest TV station, RCTV. This was pure, crude spite, vengeance for that station daring to criticize him. Unlike the traditional conservative political parties, discredited by years of corruption, neglect, and incompetence, the students could not be dismissed as self-serving or as enemies of the Venezuelan poor.

One of their leaders was Geraldine Alvarez, just 22. She and her friends, alarmed for freedom of speech when Chavez announced his plan to close RCTV, organized a genuinely independent protest. They were amazed when they suddenly found themselves both popular and under attack from the Chavez state. The official TV censored an interview with them. The police, not bothering to pretend to be impartial, made violent attacks on their peaceful marches. They were slandered and smeared by the president's many mouthpieces. Geraldine recalls:

When we went to the National Assembly and asked for the right of reply, they said we were terrorists and trained by the CIA. They smeared us personally. They said on state TV that I was mentally ill and on medication-my parents had to watch that. But most people did not buy these lies. Poor people in this country view students with sympathy. They could see that the placards we carried on our marches were homemade, not mass-produced like those of the government.

Nor did they believe it when Chavez said that the students were "spoiled rich brats," since most of them came from modest middle-class or working-class homes. So when ordinary censorship and routine smears failed, the regime resorted to the methods used by Stalin's agents in the nations of Eastern Europe 60 years ago.

Mysterious counter-demonstrators materialized on the streets, pelting the students with bottles and stones from behind police lines. Chavez enthusiasts were unleashed on the campus of the capital's main private university firing handguns. They arrived on motorbikes and in buses with official license plates. The state did not try very hard to hide its complicity. Interior Minister Pedro Carreno went on TV dressed in a revolutionary red T-shirt to blame the university and the students for being attacked.

But the students, innocent as they may have been of traditional political ambition, were wise as serpents. They resisted the strong temptation to attack the president personally. They ignored attempts by the official opposition leaders to co-opt them. They remained, to the end, untainted by conventional politics, which until recently was a dreary system in which two more-or-less identical parties alternated in office while corruption flourished. Because they stayed clean, their battle gave confidence to those who had given up hope of halting Chavez and undoubtedly helped the campaign for a "no" vote a few months later. But their purity also limited their ability to do more than oppose. Like General Baduel, they could apply the brakes, but they had no power to offer a program of their own.

Revenge is already being prepared. Chavez is now demanding that the universities drop their entrance examinations so that he can pack them with young half-educated supporters who can elbow aside Geraldine and her liberty-loving friends. He is already funding other universities, well equipped with fleets of buses to ferry their students to "spontaneous rallies" so that what happened last autumn can never be repeated.

Venezuela ought to be an advanced and free country under the rule of law. It has plenty of educated, articulate people. It has wealth. It has most of the constituents of a serious civil society, including strong public opinion. It was born out of a revolt against autocracy.

It is a measure of the failure of free countries to encourage others to adopt their best characteristics that such a place should be faced with a choice between neglect, plutocracy, and corruption on the one hand and crude revolutionary Marxism on the other. Much the same could be said of many of the new "democracies" that sprang up in the territories once ruled by Communists. The real essence of civilization, freedom under the law, seems much harder to export than the cheaper, flashier commodity we like to call "democracy."



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

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

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


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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Britain: Squatters taught to pick locks by council leaflet

Squatters are being given advice on how to break into empty properties and set up home without paying rent, in a council-recommended handbook. The booklet, issued by the Advisory Service for Squatters, gives tips on removing locks, and suggests that those caught breaking in to a property should claim they are “clearing drains”. In a section on legal advice, squatters are told to put a notice on the door warning it is a criminal offence to evict the new residents, and to threaten any homeowner who objects with the words: “You may receive a sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment.”

A number of councils across the country are steering local people who do not have a home to the Advisory Service through links on their websites. They include Hackney, Islington, Brent and Camden in London, as well as Durham and Doncaster. The Home Office also consults the group on its equality policies.

The guide positively encourages people to become squatters, with advice such as: "Only a small minority of squatters ever get nicked - squatting is not a crime. "If anyone says it is, they are wrong. "With a few exceptions, if you can get into an empty building without doing any damage, and can secure it, you can make it your home. "Private houses may provide years of housing to lucky squatters."

Eric Pickles, the Conservative local government spokesman, said he was appalled that councils were helping potential squatters get advice on breaking into empty properties. He added: "Homeowners will be horrified that town halls are giving squatters the green light to break into law-abiding citizens' homes."


Why does it take Bishop Nazir-Ali to tell Britain how it really is?

Why is it that nobody in our own elite actually likes or understands this country or its people or its traditions? Why did we have to wait for Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, born and raised in Muslim Pakistan, to remind us that, as he put it, `the beliefs, values and virtues of Great Britain have been formed by the Christian faith'?

Just as important, why did we have to wait for him to urge us to do something about restoring that faith before we either sink into a yelling chaos of knives, fists and boots, or swoon into the strong, implacable arms of Islam? Most of our homegrown prelates are more interested in homosexuality or in spreading doubt about the gospel or urging the adoption of Sharia law.

Then again, why did it take the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to explain to us that our parliamentary system was the best guarantee of liberty in the world and to remind us of the courage and valour of our people in war? This is not what British leaders say or even think, not least because they are busy pulling the constitution to pieces. It is not what our children are taught in schools. In fact, any expression of national pride is viewed with suspicion by the state, by the education system and above all by the BBC.

It was not always so. Half a century ago, we had churchmen, broadcasters, academics and military men who thought it normal to love their own country, normal to support the Christian faith which made us what we are, and were willing to defend it. The question of what happened in the years between is one of the most interesting in history.

We know, thanks to their endless memoirs and the dramas about them, that this country's foreign and intelligence services were maggoty with Communist penetration. I am sometimes tempted to wonder if the same organisation targeted both political parties (especially the Unconservatives), the Church of England, the BBC, the Civil Service, the legal profession and the universities. The Communist leader Harry Pollitt certainly urged his supporters back in the Forties to hide their true views and work their way into the establishment. An organised conspiracy could not have done much more damage than whatever did happen.

We have a country demoralised in every sense, its people robbed of their own pride, its children deprived of stability and authority, terrifyingly ignorant of their own culture, its tottering economy largely owned from abroad, its armed forces weak, its justice system a sick joke, its masses distracted by pornography, drink and drugs, its constitution menaced, its elite in the grip of a destructive, intolerant atheism. Ripe, in fact, for a foreign takeover.


The enormous costs of building restrictions and other urban regulations

A comment from California about Texas

Former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier, an old-school Democrat who ran the nation's fourth-largest city between 1992 and 1998, told those of us who attended the American Dream Coalition (ADC) conference in his city last week that he moved there, from a poor, industrial city in East Texas because Houston was "an open city." A person's race or economic background didn't much matter even when he got there decades ago, and it still doesn't matter much in Houston today. Anyone who works hard, he said, can make it in Houston - a city that sophisticates decry as insufficiently planned (it still lacks zoning), too tacky (money is still what matters there) and too "boom-to-bust." Houston remains a place where fortunes soar and fall, and where brashness and bigness aren't frowned upon.

Unfortunately, instead of trying to create cities with grand opportunities, government officials are trying to create compact, expensive, trendy places that appeal to wealthy elites - neat places to go out to eat and attend a concert, but bad places to raise a family and start a business.

Granted, Houston's not everyone's cup of tea, but it's a nice city with an impressive skyline, lush tree-lined neighborhoods, upscale shopping, great restaurants, endless economic opportunities and amazingly low home prices. During one session, Houston city councilman Peter Brown decried the growing lack of affordability in some parts of the city, where a person needs $220,000 to buy a nice house! The room broke out in laughter as those of us from California, Washington and Oregon guffawed spontaneously. As I rode to George Bush airport, I spotted a billboard for a new development boasting prices from the $80s to the $120s. The median home price is in the metropolitan area is $148,000, according to the National Association of Realtors, and anyone with 500 grand - about the median home price in Orange County - can afford a minipalace.

There's more to life than cheap houses, but you can certainly have a better life if you don't have to work three jobs to meet the $3,000 a month mortgage payment.

One obvious reason for the relatively low prices is Houston's location, in a swampy plain with few physical restrictions to stunt the region's growth. But the prices are mostly a reflection of the pro-growth, low-regulation attitude that is dominant in the Lone Star State. Regulations are slimmer than in most places, and that allows builders to respond to market demand. One of the key reasons for the current housing crisis is that when demand shot up, the market couldn't respond in tightly regulated, authoritarian places such as California and Oregon, explained Wendell Cox, a housing expert and Heritage Foundation fellow.

The lead time for putting up new houses was too severe around here - not because of the time needed to build the houses, but because of the months and even years necessary for West Coast builders to negotiate all the political hurdles. So prices shot upon inadequate supply and the bidding war got started, driving homes to inordinate price points. In places such as Houston, the market reacted to the credit boom by building more homes quickly to meet demand. Prices stayed low, so after the bust, there was no precipitous fall.

Low home prices are one indicator of an "open city" - a place where any person can make his mark if he works hard enough. In an open city, where regulations are low and prices are reasonable, it's easy for anyone to get a business permit and open a store or provide a service. That's the American Dream. That's the key to helping recent immigrants make it into the mainstream. It's a lot more cost-effective and kind-hearted than building a massive wall.

Yet as conference presentations explained, the dominant ideas found in city planning offices and among regional planners are Smart Growth and New Urbanism - efforts to set aside open land as permanent open space, to force builders to provide dense housing on small lots, and to replace highway construction with mass transit. The goal is to recreate old-fashioned city living and, supposedly, to enhance the sense of "community" we experience as we live cheek-by-jowl with our neighbors.

As a result, today's planners - and as ADC's outgoing director Randal O'Toole noted, government long-term plans are guaranteed to be wrong - are imposing one new restriction after another on what we do with our own private property. They push for more rules, more control, bigger regional planning bodies, less individual choice. Decisions, one speaker noted, are made either by free people or in the political process. Those are the only choices. In a free society, individuals can decide what to build and how to live - provided they follow some simple, easily understood rules. In un-free places, such as California, one must lobby councils, win over neighbors, pay consultants to twist arms, make promises to city governments. Approvals are based on the whims of the officials; there's no certainty or well-defined rights. Call a society that functions that way what you please, but don't pretend it's free or open.

The modern urban planning profession is, as author Joel Kotkin argued in a recent booklet called "Opportunity Urbanism," about enhancing an "area's ability to attract the wealthiest individuals, the people with the highest skills, and those who can perform the most rarefied economic functions. The resulting 'superstar cities' cater largely to the upper classes and to those who serve them; generally, those cities are becoming too expensive for middle income individuals or families." Hence, urban gurus such as Richard Florida entice cities to embrace policies that attract what he calls the "creative class." But it's perverse, really, for governments to use their power and energy to build cities for wealthy Yuppies, while ignoring - beyond lip service about affordable/subsidized housing - the needs of the middle class and poor.

A New York Times article in 2005 explained the result of such policies in the trendiest cities: "San Francisco, where the median house price is now about $700,000, had the lowest percentage of people under 18 of any large city in the nation . . Seattle, where there are more dogs than children, was a close second. Boston, Honolulu, Portland, Miami, Denver, Minneapolis, Austin and Atlanta, all considered, healthy, vibrant urban areas, were not far behind. . Officials say that the very things that attract people who revitalize a city - dense vertical housing, fashionable restaurants and shops and mass transit that makes a car unnecessary - are driving out children by making the neighborhoods too expensive for young families."

Those cities also lack an entrepreneurial culture. Southern California, for instance, is a fun place to live, but if you want to start a business, you'd be best advised to head for Nevada or Arizona. That's what the activists at the American Dream Coalition are about - reminding the public that when planners take over, our freedom, and our opportunity suffers. I spoke about the city of Santa Ana's Renaissance Plan, which is the effort to drive out long-standing businesses and settled neighborhoods and replace them with high-rise condos and fancy clubs to appeal to this upscale demographic sought-after by planners.

Instead of pitching an aesthetic vision of recreating an old-time city, city planners ought to promote the ideas expressed by Lanier, of an open city where the future is as endless as the Texas prairie. It's not a bad thing for politicians to remember also: Lanier won resounding victories among every political and ethnic demographic in Houston - a testament, he said, to the enduring political appeal of opportunity


Groupthink is the foundation of Fascism and racism

"When fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jack-boots. It will be Nike sneakers and Smiley shirts. Smiley-smiley." So said George Carlin, and Jonah Goldberg's graphic designer ran with it.

But what if racism were to politically take over America, become (once again) institutionalized by government? How would it be attired? I had always assumed it would come "wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross," like fascism. But after encountering three devotees of institutionalized love who were unknowingly working the soil in which racism grows, I fear there is another possibility. Each person teaches a lesson - prompted by a desire for justice, compassion, fairness - in how to begin thinking like a racist.

Lesson 1 by Sharon Stone

You may have seen the following headline on Drudge recently: "'KARMA': Sharon Stone Blames Treatment Of Tibet For Earthquake." Here's what she said: "[I]t was very interesting because at first I'm . . . not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans . . . . And then I've been . . . concerned about, 'Oh, how should we deal with the Olympics?' because they're not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who's a good friend of mine.

And then . . . this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and I thought, 'Is that karma? When you're not nice, that the bad things happen to you?'

And then I got a letter for the Tibetan Foundation that they wanted to go and be helpful. And that made me cry. . . . [I]t was a big lesson to me: that sometimes you have to learn to put your head down and be of service even to people who aren't nice to you . . . .

The lesson wasn't that karma can tell the difference between a government in Beijing and citizens in a province almost a thousand miles away. The lesson was: Even though people - who have nothing to do with what their communist government does - get punished by the Moral Order of the Universe, we should be nice to them.

This kind of group-think (pun intended), which treats people as group-members rather than persons, is a necessary condition for racist thinking. It produces the inability to distinguish between members of groups, to recognize individuality: If Chinese people (in government) were mean to Tibetans, and you're Chinese, you must have been mean to the Tibetans too.

Lesson 2 by Chief Justice Ronald George

The conclusion which Chief Justice George reached in the recent California Supreme Court decision on marriage makes sense to me. The "reasoning" he used to get to it, however, is not only irrational but insulting. Chief Justice George argues that the individual Californian's right to marry should be re-understood to include the right to marry a person of the same sex.

To get from the original understanding of the individual's right to marry to the new understanding of the individual's right to marry, however, Chief Justice George chose to go through groups: Given that individuals have a right to marry, both individuals in a couple have a right to marry. Therefore, "the couple as a whole" has the right to marry (p. 53, n. 34). Therefore, (same-sex) couples have the right to marry. Therefore, the individual's right to marry includes the right to marry any other person, regardless of gender.

For Chief Justice George, the individual's new right is derived from a corporate right, held not by individuals but by couples. The person is subordinated to the group in an attempt to show persons greater respect.

This type of collectivist thinking, where persons are seen as group-members, and assigned their properties/qualities/rights on the basis of their group-membership - not on the basis of their individual personhood - is a necessary condition for racist thinking: The individuals of the privileged race derive their "rights" (to dominance) from their group-membership. The individuals of the subordinate races derive their responsibilities (to submission, servitude, punishment) from their group-membership.

Lesson 3: by Ron Rosenbaum

Lastly, we have "In Praise of Liberal Guilt," which just won an Honorary WEeding Award. Again, the motivations are noble: Rosenbaum wants us to recognize problems and work to solve them. In the process, however, he joins Stone and George in group-reification. For Stone it is "the Chinese" and "the Tibetans." For George it is "the couple" (or "the family"). For Rosenbaum it is "America."

America has "virtues" and "sins" in Rosenbaum's worldview, and if - against your better judgment - you were born an American, you're saddled with both. One wants to break into song with the anti-imperialist cultural critics of Gilbert and Sullivan's day (namely, Gilbert and Sullivan):

He is an [American]!
For he himself has said it,
And it's greatly to his [(dis)]credit,
That he is an [American]!
. . .
But in spite of all temptations
To belong to other nations,
He remains an [American]!

Rosenbaum's thinking is so distorted, he can't tell the difference between William F. Buckley Jr.'s feeling guilty about something he himself wrote, and people feeling guilty for things they haven't done and would never do. Even those who took part in the Civil Rights movement were guilty, according to Rosenbaum, because they were part of a guilty nation.

How someone as knowledgeable about Hitler as Rosenbaum, who argues that he (Rosenbaum) has a "a right to be angry, still, about the Holocaust, even though it happened before [he] was born," could miss the similarity between the corporate guilt he champions and the Nazi/KKK rationalization for anti-Semitism is a mystery. According to Hitler, all Jews were guilty because they were Jews (whether or not they did what Hitler said Jews were doing). According to some (all?) American anti-Semites, Jews are guilty because "their people killed Christ." According to Rosenbaum, all Americans are guilty because of "our shameful racial past."

In the name of spurring us to correct the injustices of racism, Rosenbaum celebrates a pattern of thinking without which racism would be impossible.


To subordinate the human person to the group is to fertilize the soil in which racism grows. And you'll find both progressive and conservative hands unwittingly working the field.

Whether racism can be kept from springing from such soil, whether anything good can grow therefrom instead, and whether this article's semantic leakiness is different from some of the very thought-patterns it critiques are questions I hope to eventually sort out. Till then, however, let's not get blindsided because we expected the attack to come from across the aisle.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Too Many Women Doctors?

Another ill effect of afirmative action: Female Docs Work Far Less Hours, thus exacerbating a shortage of medical services

Because of commitments to family and other predilections, studies show that women doctors work far less hours than men, both here and in Great Britain. Predictions are that there's a looming, severe shortage of doctors in the next three years. I blame that on HMOs and other bad price-fixing forces that reduce the attraction for the best and brightest to go into medicine.

Businessweek says that with women dominating the medical field more and more (because of affirmative action and more support for female students than for males, far more women are now in college and medical school than men), this will make healthcare even harder to get, since they work less:

Finding a doctor could soon be even harder than paying for one. Various studies have projected a shortfall. . . . This looming shortage is forcing into the open a controversy that has been cautiously debated in hospitals and medical practices for some time: Are women doctors part of the problem? It's not the abilities of female doctors that are in question. It's that study after study has found women doctors tend to work 20% to 25% fewer hours than their male counterparts.

The British Medical Journal went public with the debate on Apr. 5 when it published a commentary by Dr. Brian McKinstry, a general practitioner at Scotland's University of Edinburgh, titled "Are There Too Many Female Medical Graduates? Yes." McKinstry argues that ". . . [W]e need to take a balanced approach to recruitment." . . .

Today women account for one-third of the physician workforce. In U.S. medical schools, they make up half the class. [DS: Actually, it's well more than half, as repeatedly documented by USA Today.]

But even those who disagree with McKinstry's position acknowledge that women doctors in the U.S. work less--47 hours per week on average, versus 53 for men. They also see about 10% fewer patients and tend to take more time off early in their careers. "It's pretty much an even bet that within a year or two of entering practice they will go on maternity leave," says Phillip Miller, a vice-president of the medical recruiting firm Merritt, Hawkins & Associates. "Then they are going to want more flexible hours."

Such demands tend to irritate older doctors. "The young women in our practice are always looking to get out of being on-call," says a male internist at a large New York-area medical group who asked not to be named. "The rest of us have to pick up the slack. That really stirs up a lot of resentment."
Another example of this disaster is the absurd story of Dr. Sophie Currier. All of this is a great-but-sad illustration of the failure of affirmative action. We gave a boost and pushed all the resources to women in a push to get them to go into medicine. And we ignored the men who wanted that career path. Now, as I noted above, women dominate medical school admissions and student bodies.

And since they work far less, we may have a healthcare crisis on our hands very shortly. Gender preferences at work.


Will tolerance of abortion decrease?

A comment from Britain

As a leftie, I had always been persuaded that abortion on demand is the right of every woman, with no arguments brooked. `Persuaded' is perhaps the wrong word; the rights of a woman to do whatever the hell she liked with her foetus was simply not something open to negotiation or debate with someone in possession of a penis, even if it was quite a small penis like mine. But a dark foreboding nonetheless gnawed away at me - much as, on a personal level, it gnawed away at many of the feminists who advanced this totalitarian no-surrender hypothesis. It is still, if you are on the feminist Left, an unchallengeable shibboleth, which is why the debate today is so fraught - the god-botherers on one side, the liberal Left on the other.

I may be wrong about this, but it strikes me that in a century or so, or maybe even less, we will be appalled that we allowed abortions at all. I do not mean that we should not allow them now; it is merely a suspicion that the advance of our knowledge about the life of a foetus, coupled with an improved ability to prevent conception, will mean that we will be mystified as to how such a primitive and brutal procedure could have become state-sanctioned and commonplace. I can see politicians in 2108 erecting monuments and offering apologies to the unborn dead - divorced from the reality of where we are now, and why. Apologising, in the manner of Tony Blair, with hindsight for crimes which were not considered crimes except by a furious and vengeful minority.

The scientific case - as opposed to the dubious religious case - against abortion seems to me as good as proven; or, at worst, pointing in the direction of being proven. Announcing the government's wish to stick by the 24-week limit which Britain currently has, the health minister Dawn Primarolo said: `No scientific evidence shows that the survival rates [of the foetus] have changed.'

You would guess that this is a politically expedient clutching at straws and carries with it the implication that they sort of expect the scientific evidence to change at some point in the future, that where we are now is a stop-gap, a temporary measure. It is only a matter of time - and not very much time, either, before the sentience of a foetus at 24 weeks becomes an established fact, beyond all dispute. And a little further on, 20 weeks, and then ten. There are plenty of scientists around - not all of them Roman Catholic - who will tell you that the foetus is a sort of sentient being which can experience pain as early as eight to nine weeks, when the major organs are all formed in an albeit rudimentary manner. The majority of neurobiologists seem to cleave to the view that between 20 and 24 weeks, with the establishment in the foetus of thalamocortical connections, the unborn child can certainly experience pain.

It is a deeply pessimistic outlook to define a human being merely by his or her ability to detect pain, of course. There is other stuff that makes us human. However, even by this baleful guideline, Eve Johnstone for the Medical Research Council reported in 2001 that it was `probable' that the human foetus was aware of pain at 24 weeks.


Sharia by stealth - Ontario turns a blind eye to polygamy

It's an issue the Liberal government of Ontario, led by Premier Dalton McGuinty, doesn't want to deal with - polygamy in the Muslim community. Last week the Toronto Star told the story of Safa Rigby, a 35-year-old mother of five children who recently learned her husband of 14 years had two other wives. Ms. Rigby's life is in tatters. She followed her husband's advice that she leave Toronto and live in Egypt for a year on the grounds that it would be better for their children to spend more time in a Muslim country. Now she knows it was a ruse. He used her time there to marry two other women.

Ms. Rigby does not support polygamy, which has been illegal in Canada for more than a century. But Toronto Imam Aly Hindy, who runs the Toronto Salahuddin Islamic Centre, does. He married Ms. Rigby's husband knowing he already had a wife and counselled him to keep the marriage secret from Ms. Rigby for as long as possible. Hindy has by his own admission performed 30 ceremonies in which men were married who already had wives. When Ms. Rigby confronted Hindy his response was reportedly cold and unsympathetic: "You will have to stand beside him in these difficult times," Hindy told her. "You should stop causing problems to (sic) him. You will not get anything by divorce except destroying your life" he went on to say.

For Hindy this is not about Ms. Rigby or her husband's desire to marry another woman - but making a broader political point. Hindy is using polygamy as a proxy for his fundamentalist version of Islam, something he wants to see legitimized in Canadian society as a whole. It is part of an attempt at empire building, a bid that if successful will enhance his influence within the Muslim community and demonstrate that Ontario and Canada is too ignorant and too afraid of Islam to uphold its own laws. He has admitted as much, challenging Ontario's government to dare stop him. "If the laws of the country conflict with Islamic law, if one goes against the other, then I am going to follow Islamic law, simple as that," he told the Star. Interviewed after the Star story appeared on the John Oakley Show on AM 640Toronto, Hindy was not apologetic and argued that freedom of religion in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms trumped prohibitions against polygamous marriages.

When he and another Imam from Toronto, Steve Rockwell, were challenged on the appropriateness of polygamy by a Muslim caller to the Oakley Show, the caller was immediately attacked and his identity as a true Muslim questioned because he did not follow Hindy's view that polygamy is a foundational pillar of Islam that grows out of Sharia Law. This speaks to a troubling absolutist interpretation of Islamic law, which runs against the reality that Sharia law is much more flexible that Hindy allows for, a fact well documented by Anver Emon, a specialist in Islamic law at the University of Toronto. Moreover, as noted in the Star article on Ms. Rigby, there is grave doubt that the Charter protects Islamic polygamy, as Hindy believes. Nik Bala, who teaches family law at Queen's University, points out that "Islam permits polygamy, but doesn't require it to be a practising Muslim." This is key, and may mean Hindy's attempt to find shelter behind the Charter will fail. Moreover, the impact polygamy has on women's equality and children could also sway the courts to uphold Canada's ban on polygamy.

But there is little chance at the moment that this will become a Charter issue down the road. Dalton McGuinty's government has responded to the revelations about polygamy in the Muslim community by denying its existence. On Wednesday Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin responded to a question on the issue in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario saying:

"Polygamy is a serious crime in Ontario . It's not something that's tolerated. As you know, the best advice I can give the honourable member opposite is that if she has any evidence that someone is engaging in multiple marriages, she should report it, because our Registrar General and our official reporting mechanisms have no evidence that that's happening. As you know, Mr. Speaker, marriage is a contract. A contract require a licence, and once a marriage occurs, it has to be registered. There are no multiple marriages being registered in the province of Ontario."

Mr. McMeekin's response is a shameful twisting of the law. The criminal code is clear. Section 293. (1) reads: "Every one who

(a) practises or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into
(i) any form of polygamy, or
(ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time, whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or
(b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii), is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years."

There is no provision in the law, contrary to Mr. McMeekin's assertion in the Ontario Legislature, that a polygamous marriage has to be registered before the government can act. The opposite is in fact true. By turning a blind eye to polygamy, Premier McGuinty is giving licence to Sharia by stealth.

In 2005 Ontario's premier rightly ruled out Sharia family courts, conceding that Muslim women may well fair poorly if such a system was allowed to be established. The same concern exists today, yet Ontario's Liberals sit on their hands.

Muslim women like Ms. Rigby are being victimized as are her children. Imam Hindy has told her to put up with her husband's desire for other wives. She has properly said no and has now obtained a divorce. When will Premier McGuinty's government say no and enforce the law it is bound to uphold?


Australian businessman angers feminists with 'virtual wife' ad

Are you humble enough to clean the boss's shoes, brush his cat and buy gifts for his family? You could be the "virtual wife" Cameron Clancy seeks. The 37-year-old sales consultant has placed an advertisement with an online job website in the hope of finding a woman with "excellent support abilities". Describing himself as a "busy, single professional", Mr Clancy says he wants help around the house so he can concentrate on building his business. His "virtual wife" would have a long list of chores, including ironing, shopping, making lunch and dinner, and preparing food menus for his cat. He expects all to be done in four to 16 hours a week.

Mr Clancy, of Forest Lake, in southwest Brisbane, said he had been unable to find a real wife. "I'm drowning in work and I need your help," he said in the advertisement. "I'm not looking for strictly a professional housekeeper and neither am I looking for strictly a personal assistant ... kind of a virtual wife. "So, you need to be humble enough to do my washing as well as savvy enough to make appointments with professional people."

His quest has angered feminists and academics, who say Mr Clancy's attitudes are ridiculously old fashioned. Dr Vivienne Muller, a gender expert at Queensland University of Technology, said she would be surprised if any women responded. "This man is way behind the times," she said. "He is hugely undervaluing women and has got the role of a modern wife completely wrong. "Many men do these household tasks for themselves today, and many women take an entrepreneurial role."

Domestic violence worker Chantal Eastwell, who is helping co-ordinate Brisbane's Feminist Conference, was shocked. "What angers me is that some men do think they have the right to control women in this way," she said. "It's terrible to have the attitude that women are subservient, and I hope no one wants to take this job."

But yesterday Mr Clancy, who says his ideal woman is actress Sandra Bullock, defended himself. He told The Sunday Mail 10 women had applied for the job, though he would not reveal the salary. "This could be the perfect job for someone," he said. "These are not actually tasks I expect a real wife to do, but using the term 'virtual wife' was the best way I could describe what I am after."



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

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

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


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Monday, June 02, 2008

Berlin Monument Upholds Homosexuals as Nazi Victims - but research suggests Nazi Party steeped in homosexuality

Berlin unveiled a monument yesterday to honor homosexuals as victims of Nazi persecution, despite a growing body of research suggesting that many prominent Nazi authorities, including Adolph Hitler, were themselves actively homosexual. A report yesterday from the Associated Press on the new Berlin concrete monument, which features a video of two men kissing, claimed that up to 15,000 active homosexuals were killed in Nazi concentration camps. "This is symptomatic for a society... that did not abolish unjust verdicts, but partially continued to implement them; a society which did not acknowledge a group of people as victims, only because they chose another way of life," said actively homosexual Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit.

The latest push to portray active homosexuals as victims of systematic Nazi attack contrasted with a recently growing body of evidence indicating wide-scale Nazi embrace of homosexuality. In her 2006 study “The Pink Swastika as Holocaust Revisionist History,” renowned expert on sexuality Judith A. Reisman of the Institute for Media Education revealed that the 1995 “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party” by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams demonstrates that many key actively homosexual Nazi officials protected many homosexual individuals from harm. “Lively and Abrams… document the homosexual movement as the agents that ensconced National Socialism (the Nazi party) and Adolf Hitler, thus triggering a holocaust which engulfed all of Europe,” wrote Resiman.

While Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” degraded Jews, Marxists, Negroes, Chinese, Arabs, women, and Eastern Europeans, the Fuhrer had no negative remarks for homosexuality. Instead, Hitler chose actively homosexual men as influential youth leaders.

An actively homosexual teacher, Karl Fischer, founded the “Wandervogel” boys’ group that became the Hitler Youth in 1933 under renowned pederast, Hans Blueher. Similarly, convicted Nazi pederast Edmund Heines was given leadership over Schiller Youth. “Other homosexual and bisexual leaders cited by these and other authors included Bladur von Schirach, Hitler Youth Leader; Hans Frank, Hitler’s Minister of Justice; Wilhelm Bruckner, Hitler’s adjutant; Walther Funk, Hitler’s Minister of Economics; friend and advisor Hermann Goering, Hitler’s second in command (who dressed “in drag and wore camp make-up”),” added Reisman.

“The Pink Swastika” convincingly undermined comparisons between the persecution of Jews and of homosexuals, contended Resiman. “Lively and Abrams report that basic mathematics refute the idea that homosexuals were killed for being homosexual. If homosexuals were treated like Jews, 2-3 million out of 2-3 million German homosexuals should have lost their businesses, their jobs, their property, their possessions and most should have lost their lives.” “Homosexuals would have been forced to wear pink triangles on their clothing in the streets, they would have had their passports stamped with an “H,” barred from travel, work, shopping, public appearances without their armbands, and we would have thousands of pictures of pink triangle graffiti saying ‘kill the faggots,’ and the like.”

Lively and Abrams were not the first to identify the homosexuality that permeated the highest Nazi ranks. “Adolf Hitler’s homosexuality has been demonstrated beyond question by German historian Lothar Machtan’s massively researched new book, The Hidden Hitler….But the crucial role within the Nazi movement of the most vicious and lawless types of homosexuality, which Machtan also shows, is even more important than Hitler’s personal preference,” Resiman quoted Dr. Nathaniel S. Lehrman, former clinical director of Kingsboro Psychiatric Center.

Resiman also noted that the work of Lively and Abrams contains important lessons about the Nazi-like tactics of the contemporary “gay” agenda. “The Pink Swastika finds that serious ‘Judeo-Christians’ are the likely targets of this resurgent homosexual movement. In 1934, all German school children were receiving textual, verbal and cinematic classroom indoctrination into Fascism.”

“The libraries purged anti Nazi books and teachers, just as our libraries are purging anti-homosexuality books and teachers. And, like our current status, by 1936, sexuality advocate, Wilheim Reich warned that the wide availability and juvenile use of pornography was creating heterophobic German children--boys and girls who feared and distrusted the opposite sex.”

“The Pink Swastika should be studied in all our schools, primary to university,” concluded Resiman. “Historical research on Nazi homosexual power should be pouring out from our institutions of higher learning. That universities are captured by “politically correct” homosexual/feminism only proves how dangerous fraud in science has been and continues to be for our nation.”


There have of course been attacks on the "pink Swastika" research by Leftists but it is an uphill battle for them. In addition to such well-known homosexuals as Roehm and Schirach at the top of the Nazi hierarchy there were others such as Heines -- whom Shirer ("The Rise and fall of the Third Reich") describes thus: "Edmund Heines, the Obergruppenfuehrer of Silesia... a notorious homosexual" (p. 307). Silesia is of course a major industrial area of great historic significance so command of the Nazis there was no mean post. Could a "notorious homosexual" get a prominent party job anywhere else in the world at that time? I think not. So Nazism did in its times embody an exceptional degree of "gay lib". Arguably it was in fact the first flowering of "gay-lib"!

Affirmative Action and Blood Guilt

The heinous idea of blood guilt is alive and well today in the United States. Yes, the same kind of fundamental mindset that characterized the policies of the governments of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union is today advocated by proponents of affirmative action.

The idea of blood guilt is not new; it has recurred time and again in societies from the ancient times to the present day. Those who believe in blood guilt think that an individual may be held liable for the transgressions of his kin - however broadly defined. In the Soviet Union, this idea translated into denying the children and grandchildren of the expropriated bourgeoisie admission to universities or imprisoning them. During the Stalin years, millions of people were deported to hard labor camps and even executed for no other crime than being related to "enemies of the people." Sometimes entire nationalities - including Chechens and Ukrainians - were hunted, deported, and decimated because some among them opposed the Soviet regime's policies.

In Nazi Germany, the legal concept of "Sippenhaft" or kin liability led the government to arrest, imprison, and often execute the family members of political dissidents. This is not to mention that anybody not belonging to the "pure Aryan race" was considered automatically evil and an enemy of the German people for no reason other than his blood and ancestry.

Although the penalties under it are less grievous, affirmative action today works on the same basic premise. A "white" American today may be denied admission to a university or a job for which he is qualified if his great-great-grandfather happened to be a slaveholder - as if the possible transgressions of a man he never knew might have at all stained his moral character. But he need not even be a descendant of a slaveholder to be subject to this punishment. His ancestors might have lived in the Northern states and might even have fought to abolish slavery during the Civil War. Or they might have immigrated to the United States long after the Emancipation and thus have had no direct contact with slavery at all. Under the premise of blood guilt, this man - who has not done one thing to infringe on the rights of any African-American individual - will still be punished, because there exists an extremely indirect genetic connection between him and white slaveholders in the American South during the Antebellum period.

On the other hand, under the premise of blood guilt, an African-American man alive today, who has never been a slave, is entitled to preferential treatment just because his ancestors might have suffered under slavery. It is also possible that his ancestors have never been slaves and were among the free blacks living in the North, or immigrated to the U. S. from Africa after the Emancipation. This does not matter to those who believe in blood guilt; this man's loose genetic affiliation with former slaves renders him entitled to being compensated as a "victim"- unless, of course, he challenges the entire premise of blood guilt and insists on being treated as an individual person, in which case he is denounced as an "Uncle Tom" and a "race traitor."

It is quite curious that people who like to think of themselves as "progressive" and free of superstitions would fall prey to this most backward and most absurd superstition of all - the one that has spilled the blood of the most innocents throughout history. Every rigid caste system, every tribal war, every genocide throughout history was made possible by the attitude that people can be punished simply because of their race, ethnicity, class, or family. Those who today call themselves "liberal" might be rightly appalled at a social structure where everyone is assigned a fixed "place" on the basis of birth - but many of them oddly fail to recognize that affirmative action is founded on the exact same principle.

The alternative to blood guilt has been well known ever since the American founding. It is individual self-responsibility - the idea that each person has rights as an individual and is bound as an individual to respect the rights of others. If he violates the rights of others, it is he and he alone who must be punished. If his rights have been infringed, it is he and he alone who is entitled to compensation. A father's transgressions do not render his children any more legally or morally culpable than they otherwise would have been. If one person of a certain racial or ethnic group commits murder or genocide, this has no bearing on the other members. This idea has largely freed America from the racially and ethnically motivated atrocities that have plagued virtually all of the world prior to the American founding and continue to persist in parts of the world today.

It is imperative for all civilized, sane, and rational people to reject the barbaric idea of blood guilt and to purge it from all existing institutions. Affirmative action must be abolished and replaced by the evaluation of each individual on the basis of his personal merits alone.


BOOK REVIEW of "Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population" by Matthew Connelly


In the 20th century, a global network of colluding activists, institutions, and governments sought to engineer solutions to various real and perceived social problems by, as Matthew Connelly puts it in his new book, planning "other people's families." In its most egregious expression, this movement led to the forced sterilization of millions of people around the world, including many thousands in the U.S., on the grounds that they were - genetically or otherwise - unfit. California alone had sterilized 7,500 people by 1931, and the practice continued in other states up until the 1970s.

This movement also, through philanthropies and government-directed foreign aid, spent billions of dollars distributing sometimes-dangerous birth-control devices and funding abortion clinics throughout much of the developing world, even though fertility rates across the globe were already plummeting. Connelly writes: "The great tragedy of population control, the fatal misconception, was to think that one could know other people's interests better than they knew it themselves. . . . The essence of population control, whether it targeted migrants, the `unfit,' or families that seemed either too big or too small, was to make rules for other people without having to answer to them."

Connelly, a professor of history at Columbia University and the youngest of eight children in a Catholic family, offers a new history of the population-control movement that is evenhanded and sensitive to historical context, if also naive in its ideal of libertarianism in population matters. His chief scholarly claim is to have been the first to explore the relevant archives of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the Population Council, International Planned Parenthood, the World Bank, key U.N. agencies, and other institutions deeply involved in efforts to curb world population growth. From this research, he emerges with the conclusion that while no formal, genocidal conspiracy existed, "some of the leading protagonists did, in fact, act in underhanded ways, pretending to be advancing one agenda while secretly harboring another."

Unfortunately, Connelly's heavy reliance on archival material from these institutions has led him to write a narrative that for the most part depicts the population-control movement as an endless series of international conferences - from the sixth "International Neo-Malthusian and Birth Control Conference" in New York in 1925 to the 1994 U.N. "Cairo Conference" - at which various factions engaged in doctrinal debate. This institutional perspective is important, but often makes for dull reading and misses the deeper psychology behind the actors in the movement. Connelly does discuss, of course, the large personalities involved, such as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich. But their stories appear in fragments throughout the book and Connelly makes little effort to sum up or judge their underlying motives and character.

For example, while discussing how the Holocaust affected public opinion on population matters, Connelly mentions Sanger's view only in passing. Quoting a 1950 address to Planned Parenthood by Sanger, he lets drop that this icon of today's feminist Left "pointed to the death camps as conclusive proof of the `widespread devaluation of human lives' and the urgent need for policies to improve them, `beginning with the sterilization of those with dysgenetic qualities of body and mind.'" Was this, truly, the meaning of the Holocaust for Sanger, and if so, what does it say about her?

Connelly does, however, get the broad outlines of the population-control movement right. It originated in the late 19th century, when Western elites began noticing their own falling fertility and the increasing population of "the unfit" (both at home and in Western colonies). Some, like Theodore Roosevelt, responded to the threat of what he and many others called "race suicide" by exhorting educated women to have more children. Later, many Western governments, including Germany and Italy under fascism, turned to, and today are returning to, pro-natalist policies, such as offering large family allowances and "baby bonuses."

But during most of the 20th century, the dominant strain of the population-control movement rejected pro-natalism and embraced a negative eugenics. In a passage Connelly does not quote, for example, Sanger wrote in 1922: "The lack of balance between the birth-rate of the `unfit' and the `fit,' admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes." Rather than haranguing the well-to-do about their small families, Sanger argued that "the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon American society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupid, cruel sentimentalism."

Into this mix of motives came two other strains of ideology, particularly as the century wore on: a libertarian strain of feminism emphasizing reproductive rights, and a Malthusian form of environmentalism. Sanger, when she wasn't talking about the need to improve "the race," justified birth control as a right of women to control their own bodies. She sometimes did this in the same sentence, as in: "Only upon a free, self-determining motherhood can rest any unshakable structure of racial betterment."

Meanwhile, as world population doubled, then doubled again in the 20th century, figures such as Paul Ehrlich justified negative eugenics (the effort to weed out "undesirable" traits) in the name of avoiding world famine and preserving the planet, including the vanishing habitats of his beloved butterflies. Responding to Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi's policy of coercing millions of her countrymen to undergo vasectomies in the Seventies, Ehrlich regretted that Western governments had not done more to facilitate the campaign. "We should have volunteered logistical support in the form of helicopters, vehicles, and surgical instruments," Ehrlich wrote (in another comment not quoted by Connelly). "We should have sent doctors to aid in the program by setting up centers for training para-medical personnel to do vasectomies. Coercion? Perhaps, but coercion in a good cause."

Connelly goes easy on Ehrlich and others who share his Malthusian mindset. Indeed, he proclaims what is (to me at least) an obnoxious moral equivalence between supporters of forced sterilization and social and religious conservatives opposed to birth control and abortion. But he does score two strong points against the negative-eugenics movement that are highly relevant to how we should think about population control and the environment.

One is that fertility rates were in steep decline in both the developed and the developing world long before the introduction of modern birth-control devices. Indeed, in countries such as Brazil, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, in which contraceptives were difficult to obtain, birthrates fell just as quickly as in countries that made massive efforts to suppress population growth.

Demographers now agree that human beings have long known how to control their own fertility and have done so when it made individual economic sense - as it does now for most of the world's inhabitants. Today's global decline in birthrates results primarily from the rapid urbanization of the Third World and the increasing educational attainment of women, both of which have dramatically raised the direct and opportunity cost of children. Also at work, many demographers say, is the diffusion of individualistic, and by extension anti-natalist, values through television and other global media.

(An aside: If birthrates were plummeting around the world, why did population grow so much in the 20th century? Mostly it was because of dramatic reductions in infant mortality, especially in the developing world. But while we are still far from eliminating infant mortality, its incidence is already low enough that continuing progress on that front adds little to population. This, combined with continuing falling birthrates, particularly in developing countries, leaves global population aging rapidly and on a course toward absolute decline by as early as mid-century.)

The other important point Connelly makes is that while growth of human population is not the problem many people once thought it was, growth in the world's number of cars, air-conditioned houses, and other sources of energy demand and pollution undeniably is a challenge, and population controllers are in large part responsible. As families have grown smaller throughout most of the world, their standard of living has increased, and so too has their environmental footprint. Not only does a population of small families and childless individuals require more housing units per person, the resources freed up by low fertility typically increase per capita consumption of everything else, from beef to oil and coal. Nowhere is this truer than in the two countries where population controllers had the most influence: India and China. In India, fertility rates dropped 22 percent between 1990 and 2003 and are now below replacement levels in the southern provinces. At the same time per capita carbon-dioxide emissions increased by 50 percent as more and more Indians achieved Western living standards. Meanwhile, China, with its famous "one child" policy, saw its per capita CO2 emissions increase by 53 percent, according to the World Bank. Each of those single-child "little emperors" who constitute the rising generation in China produces far more pollution than his peasant forebears.

Those who today point to the specter of global warming in hopes of reinvigorating the negative-eugenics movement of the last century should be careful what they wish for. The first-order effect of Zero Population Growth, let alone negative population growth, would most likely be a further increase in greenhouse-gas emissions, as individuals diverted investment in children into higher personal consumption. At the same time, the specter of global aging and population decline, particularly in the West, will undoubtedly strengthen the voices of those on the other side of the population-control debate who have long sought stricter limits on birth control and abortion. Consistent with the long history of mankind, population control is not about to go away.


Australia: More contempt for the Bible from the Church of England

Though I think it is more the Church of the Environment these days

VICTORIA'S first female bishop has vowed to listen, lead and stand as an example of what women can achieve. The consecration of the Rev Barbara Darling, the second female bishop in Australian history, was marked with loud applause from hundreds of supporters at Melbourne's St Paul's Cathedral yesterday.

Bishop Darling said she hoped her new role would provide inspiration for others. "I hope it means that, like having a new woman to be a governor-general or deputy prime minister, there are openings for women in many different areas," Bishop Darling said. "I want to be able to walk alongside people, to hear them, to listen to them, to join in their joys and their sorrows."

Bishop Darling said the long road to recognition for women in the church had been beneficial. "It's been helpful that it's taken a while because those of us in ministry have had the experience." Bishop Kay Goldsworthy - who became Australia's first female bishop St George's Cathedral in Perth in May - attended the service.



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

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

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


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Sunday, June 01, 2008

France: Unhappy Muslim husband divorces wife over lack of virginity

FRANCE plunged into a heated debate about its marriage laws today after learning that a court had annulled the union of two Muslims because the husband said the wife was not the virgin she had claimed to be. Politicians, feminists and human rights activists denounced the verdict, handed down last month but reported in the national press only on Thursday, as an affront to the legal equality of men and women and a violation of a woman's privacy.

The hoodwinked husband's lawyer responded just as forcibly that civil marriage was a legal contract. The court invalidated this one because the wife had lied about what French law calls an "essential quality" of a contracting party, he said.

Concerns about traditional Muslim views creeping into secular French law hung over the debate, but the strictly legal basis of the verdict forced critics to ask how two principles - contract fraud and sexual equality - could be reconciled. "It is profoundly shocking that, in our country, a marriage can be annulled on the basis of non-virginity before the marriage," Frederic Lefebvre, spokesman for President Nicolas Sarkozy's governing UMP party, said.

Prominent feminist Elisabeth Badinter said the courts should defend Muslim women, not pressure them. "The end result will be that some Muslim girls will rush to hospitals to have their hymens sewn back together again," she told France Inter radio.

Muslims make up about eight per cent of the population in France, which has vigorously defended its secular system against their occasional religious demands by banning Islamic headscarves in the civil service and in state schools.

Xavier Labbee, the husband's lawyer, denied that religion had anything to do with the verdict. "The law says that when there is an error concerning essential qualities of one of the spouses, an annulment can be sought," he said on LCI television. The same clause has been used in French courts to annul marriages in which one person discovered only afterwards that the other had concealed a divorce or had a physical or mental disability that made a normal sexual life impossible.

The rector of a large mosque in the northern city of Lille, where the case was tried, also denied Islam played any role. In Islam, Amar Lafsar said, "virginity is not a necessary condition for marriage". The religion preached chastity before marriage but Muslims could heed or ignore the message. "They're free," he told RTL radio. "They're in a country of law and liberty. Each is free to respond or not to the message."

Badinter said the verdict ignored the fact some traditional Muslim families shunned sexually active single daughters. Recalling some young women were even murdered in so-called "honour killings", she said the wife in this case "did not have the freedom not to lie ... she lied in self-defence." Laurence Rossignol, women's rights spokeswoman for the opposition Socialist Party, called the verdict unconstitutional. "If the civil code could produce such a decision, we have to change it urgently," she said.

Lefebvre suggested an appeals court review the verdict. "We are certainly not going to ask the wife to appeal, because if the verdict is annulled and the marriage is validated, that would probably not be good news for her," he said.


Earl of Devon bans homosexual marriages at his castle

The Earl of Devon, whose castle was a Royalist garrison in the English Civil War, is under siege from gay rights campaigners after banning same sex civil partnerships at his stately home. The 18th Earl, the master of Powderham Castle which is one of the oldest family houses in England, refused a request from two men to conduct their marriage ceremony behind his battlements. Lord Devon, whose family motto is Floret Virtus Vulnerata which translates roughly as "Virtue Flourishes (although) Wounded", said: "I am a Christian and therefore it [homosexuality] is objectionable to my Christian religion."

To avoid breaching the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations he has banned all civil marriage ceremonies whether they are gay or straight. "In order to stay on the right side of the law we have decided to do away with hosting civil ceremonies altogether at Powderham Castle. We are not the only place that has come across this issue," he said. The decision will cost the castle, on the banks of the Exe, up to 200,000 pounds a year in lost revenue. It was one of the most popular venues for civil marriages in Devon where the Earl, as a Vice-Lord Lieutenant of the county, represents the Queen at official engagements.

But Lord Devon now faces an investigation by the Treasury, which has granted Powderham Castle "conditional" exemption from inheritance tax because it is open to the public. Its regulations say that to obtain exemption the new owner must agree to look after the property and allow public access to it and that if the owner fails to fulfil their side of the bargain "the exemption is withdrawn".

Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of the gay rights organisation Stonewall, said: "We shall certainly be asking the Treasury about Lord Devon's inheritance tax exemption. "The inheritance tax regulations appear to suggest clearly that it should be withdrawn if his premises are not accessible to all members of the public without exception."

The house, built by Sir Philip Courtenay in 1390, has had a colourful history with one Earl executed for treason. The ninth Earl - who was responsible for the addition of a music room with the largest carpet in the world - fled to France in 1811 after being accused of sodomy. The Powderham website says in spite of being hounded into exile in France and America on account of his homosexuality, he was "dearly loved" by his tenants.

The castle was also home to Timothy the Tortoise, who died in 2004 aged 160 after earning the official title of Britain's oldest pet. The venerable creature, who served at sea during the Crimean War and was present at the Siege of Sebastopol as a ship's mascot, was found to be a girl in 1926. Mr Summerskill added: "We do think the Earl's approach is rather sad given the family history.

We hope at some point he will enter the 21st century, even if only at the speed of Timothy the Tortoise." Lord Devon, however, insists that the complaint to the Treasury is unfounded as he is not banning gays from visiting the house or its grounds but only from celebrating their civil partnerships under his roof.

Until last December, the country's 1,700 registrars of births, marriages and deaths were permitted to opt out of civil partnership ceremonies on religious grounds. However, their employment status changed with the introduction of the Statistics and Registration Act. Now designated as local government workers, they must carry out town hall orders.


Perfection demanded only from little Israel

Much of the world has disparaged Israel's celebration of its 60th year of independence (renewed independence, actually) by claiming, as one Connecticut newspaper columnist did the other day, that the country "was built over the debris of 400 destroyed villages and the sorrows of 750,000 people, both Christians and Muslims, expelled from their land."

Yes, Israel's re-establishment in 1948 had its dislocations, Jews going here, Muslims going there, and Christians caught in the middle. But not all these dislocations were expulsions. And if the whole Middle East is counted, there have been far more expulsions of Jews than of anyone else. In any case complaints about the dislocations in Israel's re-establishment presume that the planet was delivered to humanity straight from the factory with its national borders already marked on it and that the return of Israel was a smudge on the natural order of things. In fact, of course, most of today's national borders were established either by war or colonialism. Some make sense now; many still don't.

Even though its re-establishment in 1948 involved war, Israel can claim far more legitimacy than most countries. For unlike most countries today Israel was re-established by resolution of the international organization, the United Nations. Israel's neighbors refused to accept the U.N. resolution and immediately went to war against the new country, and then twice more, in 1967 and 1973, always to deny Israel's legitimacy. But unlike most nations victorious in war, Israel has either given back or has been looking for safe ways of giving away most of the territory it conquered.

As much as the dislocations arising from Israel's re-establishment obsess certain people today, they are tiny compared to dislocations that are hardly noticed anymore. For example, just a year before Israel's re-establishment, British-ruled India was partitioned, by act of Parliament and consensus among the colony's political classes, into Hindu and Muslim sectors, the former becoming independent India and the latter becoming Pakistan. This partition uprooted about 15 million people and cost about a half million lives, through ethnic violence, expropriation, and exhaustion. The resentments arising from the partition of India endure today and continue to cost as many lives every year as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does, but no one outside India and Pakistan seems to care.

Of course Europe, where criticism of Israel's anniversary may be strongest, has partitioned itself too many times to count, with peoples and nations pushed north, south, east, and west over the centuries. From Finland down to Yugoslavia -- whoops, Serbia now -- it is impossible to walk more than a few miles without crossing what, within the last 200 years, used to be a national border or without finding a town whose name wasn't different not long ago.

Anyone aggrieved that the areas that are supposed to become the Palestinian homeland -- the West Bank and Gaza -- are separated by 20 miles of Israel might check the map of the Indian subcontinent, where 1,500 miles separate what used to be the two Pakistans (now Pakistan and Bangladesh), or the map of Europe, where Russia's Kaliningrad province is 300 miles from Russia proper, cut off by Lithuania and Latvia.

While Israel, the size of Connecticut, is supposed to return to Syria the Golan Heights, smaller than Rhode Island, China is keeping the vastness of Tibet, which it seized in 1959. And, having made five states out of the territory it seized by war in 1848, the United States won't be returning Alta California to Mexico any time soon.

Traces of vanished, persecuted, dispersed, and murdered aboriginal peoples can be found in practically every country -- that's what Connecticut's Indian casinos are supposed to be about -- but everyone is forgiven except for the Jews, who instead are constantly ducking rocket fire and curses for clinging to their tiny strip along the eastern Mediterranean. Call it tribalism if you want, but that is to be blind to the tribalism that surrounds Israel, a tribalism that, unlike any Israeli tribalism, preaches extinction.

That Connecticut newspaper columnist approvingly quoted a letter written by a hundred anti-Israel British Jews denouncing the country's anniversary: "We will celebrate when Arabs and Jews live as equals in a peaceful Middle East." Of course such equality is to be attempted first not by democratizing Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, or Iran but by erasing the border that protects the smallest tribe so that it falls under the sovereignty of the very nations that drove it out and then three times waged war against it. Any such peace will be only the peace of the grave -- which has been the idea all along.


Australia: Traditional views about women are now a "disease"

A footballer as a hero of free speech: For readers not resident in the Australian State of Victoria, Sam Newman is a TV commentator on Australian Rules football. He is now in his 60s but was once a distinguished footballer himself. Comments below by Andrew Bolt

Don't like Sam Newman? Then argue back. Abuse him if you must. Take away your advertising, or - even better - just turn him off. Hell, Channel 9 can even sack him from The Footy Show if it figures his act is stale. But send him to a re-education camp? Which Maoists at the station thought of that particular "cure" for inconvenient opinions? That was Nine's executive director, Jeffrey Browne, actually.

With women switching off the boofy Footy Show and advertisers pulling ads to placate women offended by Newman's ways, the boss panicked. It's two months since Newman caused uproar by groping a half-dressed mannequin he doctored to look like Age football writer Caroline Wilson, but only now has Browne decided Newman did what he did because he is actually sick. But Browne doesn't just think Newman is sick in body, needing an indefinite break "to return to full health" after two big operations, one to remove his prostate. He seemingly also figures Newman is sick in the head, and has ordered "as a component of this rehabilitation" that he "undergo counselling to address, with professional assistance, the behaviour and issues that have attended what I now believe to be his premature return to the program". How offensive and absurd.

What is this "behaviour" that Newman must be counselled out of? It is not just the fondling of that mannequin, which was indeed plain nasty and boorish. It is that Newman genuinely holds - and has expressed - certain views that some influential people in particular do not like and think it a sin to hold. A sign of poor mental hygiene. One such opinion is that some women with powerful jobs in football were "liars and hypocrites" in their criticisms of him. Another opinion is that women in top football jobs have had little to contribute and, "for very little input they demand a lot of clout".

Such comments have made Browne as jumpy as a TV executive who's just learned he's lost his parking spot. "The Nine Network, in its entirety, is respectful of women," he protests.

And Newman will now be counselled - with that grim "professional assistance" - until his own thinking on women is "rehabilitated" to the standards Browne thinks healthy.

What makes this so offensive is that Newman is already in no doubt that a lot of people object to his views. After all, The Age has lashed him hysterically from its front page to its back, devoting to his alleged sins the kind of oh-my-god coverage it normally reserves for global warming.

Lawyers have sent him stiff letters demanding satisfaction, talkback jockeys have climbed on his back, co-host Garry Lyon has fronted him, his boss has disowned him, football executives have bounced him, and all in all it's been the most wonderful lynch party. So many professional denouncers have got their rocks off on Newman that you could build a pyramid over his body to rival Giza. That's called debate. And Newman, having gone through it, will either modify his opinions or stick to them, having considered the counter-arguments and rejected them.

His opinions may be right or, more likely, wrong - matters best left to each of us to decide for ourselves. But I am sure those opinions are sincerely held by an intelligent man, who should be allowed to hold them without now being deemed to be sick and in need of treatment. Bad opinions are best countered by arguments, not cures and counsellors.

But such is the militant temper of these group-think times that lawyers and men in white coats are called in by the powerful to do what their reasoning cannot. Some opinions must now be held by everyone - or else the treatment begins. What arrogance. What an abuse of power.

See how hard it is already for people to speak their frank mind, with so many cause-pushers so ready to denounce, abuse and sue, and so many battalions of thought-police ready to help them punish bad thinkers with fines or even jail - to win by force arguments they could not win by words.

To think we've even had Christian pastors dragged through months of hearings and mountains of legal bills for having simply quoted the Koran in ways that made some people laugh. Heavens, if I didn't have a rich boss behind me, paying lawyers, I'd probably have to shut up, too.

That's why Newman is still so loved even when so widely deplored. He reassures us there is still some freedom to say what the hell we think, and damn the consequences. But to be accurate: Newman reassures us most of that freedom when he is actually at his most outrageous - because he'd prove nothing by just baa-ing, would he?

Yet even Newman seems about to fall. Counter-arguments haven't swayed him, so it's off to the re-education camp. Excuse me, Mr Browne. Newman needs none of your "counselling" or "rehabilitation". He simply disagrees with his critics. If you don't like it, sack him. But pay him the respect of treating his views as the product of his reason, not as symptoms of bad "health". Or must I send some "counsellors" of my own around to "rehabilitate" your own unhealthy thoughts?



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

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

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


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This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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