The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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

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


31 March, 2012

Secret courts, the cover-up of a Mafia-style shooting, and a worryingly unaccountable police force

Official secrecy is pervasive in Britain  -- approaching that of a Fascist state:

At around 7.30pm on Tuesday, March 20, a Russian banker was gunned down outside his flat near Canary Wharf in London. German Gorbuntsov remains gravely ill in hospital having been shot three times in the stomach and once in the face.

Attempted assassinations of multi-millionaire Russian oligarchs are, thank goodness, unknown occurrences on British streets. And yet for reasons best known to themselves, officers at Scotland Yard did not immediately inform the media what had happened.

The day after the shooting they put out a bland and disgracefully misleading press release stating that there had been a routine shooting near Canary Wharf. So low-key was this statement that the British media ignored the incident altogether, which one suspects was what Scotland Yard had intended.

Indeed, the police mentioned that Trident Gang Crime Command was investigating the attempted murder, inviting newspapers to conclude that this was just another home- grown crime.

It was only on Friday, three days after the shooting, that the truth finally emerged. The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that Mr Gorbuntsov had been the victim of an attempted murder in London, and the British media were at last appraised of what had happened.

Over the past few days many details have been filled in. Mr Gorbuntsov was preparing to claim political asylum in Britain. Before amassing his fortune he was jailed for robbery. He was reportedly a witness to a 2009 murder attempt in Moscow on a billionaire banker called Alexander Antonov.  Oh, and he has a mistress in London and a wife in Russia.

Isn’t it amazing that we should learn about this incident from a newspaper in a country with a long and continuing record of muzzling truth? We would almost certainly still be in the dark were it not for Kommersant. Though we pride ourselves on living in a free country, we are obliged to rely on the media of a gangster state to learn what is happening on our own streets.

But this is not because our media are sleepy. It is because the Metropolitan Police apparently tried to suppress an important story. So long as Mr Gorbuntsov did not die, and his would-be assassin was never apprehended and brought to justice, they would have had no obligation to come clean.

Why didn’t Scotland Yard want us to know? I can think of two possible reasons. The first is that MI5 and/or the Foreign Office wanted it hushed up. If they suspected that the Russian authorities were somehow behind it, they might have their own reasons for keeping schtum for the moment.

More likely, perhaps, the Metropolitan Police did not want the world to know that only a few miles from the Olympic Stadium, and four months before the Games begin, a Russian hoodlum has been spraying around gunfire. It somewhat gives the lie to the notion that London is a safe city.

Whatever the explanation, a cover-up is outrageous. Mr Gorbuntsov’s neighbours were kept in the dark, and therefore incapable of estimating the danger they were in. And the wider public were not told that a Russian mafia-style attempted killing had taken place on British soil.

Moreover, it was not until last Saturday — after our media had taken up the Kommersant story — that Scotland Yard confirmed the victim’s name and on Sunday and Monday put out two press releases setting out in fuller detail what had happened, and appealing for witnesses. In other words, the proper administration of justice had been delayed for several days. If it were not for the Russian newspaper, it might have been delayed indefinitely.

The new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, should make a statement explaining why his officers appear to have concealed from the media an extremely serious incident about which it was undoubtedly in the public’s interest to know.

If we hear nothing from him, we can only assume that Scotland Yard is less convinced than it used to be that it has to account for its actions — and that Mr Hogan-Howe thinks it acceptable to brush the attempted assassination of a Russian oligarch under the carpet.

I believe that what has happened in this case owes a great deal to the changed relations between the police and the media as a result of the Leveson Inquiry. A number of statements by senior officers including Mr Hogan-Howe himself, as well as a preposterous review by former parliamentary commissioner for standards Elizabeth Filkin, have insisted that police officers should be extremely wary of ever talking to the media.

Of course, no one doubts that a few years ago senior journalists at News International got far too intimate with some senior police officers, and there may have been criminal collusion. If so, prosecutions must follow.

But in one fell swoop we have gone to the opposite extreme, so that police officers are now terrified of talking confidentially even to journalists whom they used to trust. Crime correspondents have testified to the Leveson Inquiry that their police sources have all but dried up.

A year ago, before the current state of affairs, well-placed police officers would have informed their contacts in the Press if a serious crime was being covered up, as the attempted murder of German Gorbuntsov was. Nor, in those days of greater openness, is it likely that Scotland Yard would have issued the kind of statement it did last Wednesday, which misled the media.

There is another case in which the Metropolitan Police appear to be pushing their luck, and taking refuge in the new more secretive world in which they like to operate. The inquest into the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting by police in Tottenham was the spark that ignited last summer’s riots, may be partly held behind closed doors.

This follows an application from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which says it has findings which should not be disclosed even to the coroner, but there is no doubt the Metropolitan Police would agree. Secret justice is seldom justice.

A killing sets off the worst riots in modern times, and it is seriously suggested by the authorities that people should be kept in the dark. It is a matter of overwhelming public interest that the truth should be ascertained so that the lessons can be learnt.

We don’t want a police force that hides its blunders and conceals important crimes. It is certainly not in the interests of justice, but nor is it in the interests of the police themselves to lose trust as a result of concealment, as Mr Hogan-Howe should have the gumption to realise.

Covering up the attempted murder of a Russian oligarch on a London street is undesirable from every point of view. And the worst of it is that it inevitably engenders the suspicion that there are other cover-ups, other important stories being withheld from the media.

In this case we are indebted to a Russian newspaper, which has sources not controlled by Scotland Yard. But how much more illuminating information is being kept from us of which we are wholly ignorant?

That is the deadly, unanswered question. The less journalists talk to police officers in the know, the more likely it is that we will have a secretive, unaccountable police force.


Racist British Social workers "snatched me from the white parents I loved to make me live with a black family": How the colour-obsessed foster care system sentenced Dawn to a life of regret

Dawn Cousins was taken from her foster parents in Oxfordshire when she was seven years old. They had fostered her from birth, and wanted to adopt her, but social services told them not to pursue their application because they were white and Dawn would be better off with a black family. Here she tells how this decision affected her...

Her earliest childhood memories are as cherished as they are vivid.  There were Saturday mornings digging potatoes in the allotment with her father, and the smell of sausages wafting from the barbecue during family holidays in Cornwall.

Lazy summer afternoons were spent playing in the garden with her three older siblings; family dinners were boisterous affairs; and birthday  parties were celebrated with homemade cake.  Dawn Cousins grew up feeling loved and secure, and that her future was full of hope. At least she did until she was seven.

At that point, her idyllic life was snatched away when a social worker took her away from her  picturesque Oxfordshire home.  Dawn was informed that despite the fact her  parents Gina and Pete had fostered her from birth, they were unsuitable for raising her.

She spent the next six months in a children’s home before being adopted by a couple who lived 50 miles away. She had to adapt to her different family, start a new school, and make new friends.

So what was the reason behind social services’ drastic decision? Dawn’s parents were not abusing her nor were they embroiled in a life of crime. They were doing nothing to jeopardise their little girl’s well-being.

They were a decent, middle-class couple who desperately wanted to adopt Dawn, and had attempted to do so.  However, social services told them not to pursue their application because they were white. Since Dawn was mixed race she would be  better off with a black family, they said.

Until recently, local authorities made it incredibly difficult for white couples to adopt a mixed-race child.

And although Education Secretary Michael Gove issued new guidelines last year relaxing the rules on inter-racial adoption, it is still more difficult for cases to be approved than same-race ones — resulting in growing  numbers of children left in care.

Recent figures show that only 3,050 children were adopted from the 65,000 in care in 2010 — many of whom could have found happy homes with parents of a different race.

Much has been made of the devastating effect such antiquated rulings have had on prospective parents.  But what of the impact they have had on children — especially when they carry both black and white genes?  In Dawn’s case it led to years of confusion and squandered opportunities.  As an adolescent, she went off the rails, had a breakdown and was put back into care.

It is only now, at 38, that she feels able to reflect on a system she believes badly let her down.

Dawn’s British biological mother, Linda, gave her up for adoption when she was born in June 1973, after Linda’s Jamaican immigrant husband, Owen, walked out on her.  Dawn’s foster parents Pete — now 70 and a retired civil servant — and Gina, 69, had two daughters and a son of their own but were overjoyed that they were able to look after Dawn, too.  She says: ‘They were generous  people who wanted to help others less fortunate.

‘Mum and Dad, as I called them, treated me the same as their other children. I was their first foster child — and from the start they made me feel welcome.’ A bright girl, Dawn excelled at school. She claims her skin colour was never questioned by anyone, not even herself.

‘I never asked my parents why my skin was darker, and my hair curly and black,’ she says. ‘I would have loved my sister’s long blonde hair but it didn’t occur to me to ask why mine was so different.

She says she only discovered Gina and Pete weren’t her real parents when the official from Slough social services called on the family one afternoon in July 1980.

Dawn was told then that she could no longer live with the people she loved. Her belongings were packed in a bag and she was driven away while Gina looked on in tears.  ‘I howled as I looked at Mum out of the car window,’ Dawn says. ‘I remember clutching my cuddly  dolphin for comfort, feeling frightened and confused.’

On her arrival at Bramerton  Children’s Home in Maidenhead, Berkshire, the social worker told Dawn that because she was mixed-race, it was better for her to be looked after by a black family.

‘She showed me pictures of my  biological parents in my file, explaining that my mother had been white and my father from Jamaica. Apparently they’d got back together after I was born and had another baby.  ‘I was shocked. I’d never heard the word mixed-race before nor contemplated the fact that my real parents weren’t Gina and Pete. I was hurt. All I wanted was to be home with the adults I knew as my mum and dad.’

Dawn’s memories are grim of the children’s home, which closed down in 1988. She caught head lice and her diet was so poor that she lost a lot of weight.  ‘I cried myself to sleep most nights,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t understand why Gina and Pete hadn’t visited or phoned me.’  Only later did she find out that Gina had arrived at the home with a cake she’d made for Dawn’s eighth birthday — but was turned away.  She and Pete were told they had to sever all contact with the little girl.

It was revealed last year that  children from ethnic-minority backgrounds wait three times longer on average than white children to be placed with families.

However, in Dawn’s case she was told less than a year after being moved to the home that a black  couple in the London Borough of Harrow wanted to adopt her.   They were Berna and Glen, now 69 and 79, who moved from Grenada to Britain as teenagers.  Berna was a nurse, Glen a housing officer, and they had a daughter three years older than Dawn but were unable to have another child.

‘The social workers made me parade around in front of them while they stared at me,’ recalls Dawn.  ‘It wasn’t Berna and Glen’s fault – they probably felt as awkward as I did. But I felt like a commodity.  The only thing I could see we had in common was the colour of our skin.’

That visit was followed by several others until Berna and Glen were given permission to adopt Dawn, late in 1981.  ‘By then I’d got used to being in care and at my new school,’ she says. ‘As miserable as my surroundings were, I’d made friends and was reluctant to leave.’

She was subjected to even more swingeing change after she moved to Berna and Glen’s three-bedroom terrace house to begin the latest chapter in her life.  Her new mum served rice and chicken instead of the shepherd’s pie and burgers she was used to, and started greasing and plaiting Dawn’s Afro hair which had always hung loose.  There were no holidays, and the only occasional outings were to the local shopping centre.

And Dawn’s relationship with her elder sister was often tense. ‘Until I arrived, she’d had her parents’ attention all to herself.‘Race had never been an issue with my white siblings but it seemed to be an issue with her.  ‘She would comment on the fact that my skin was lighter, and my hair not pure Afro.’

Dawn’s new parents were stricter, too. She wasn’t allowed on the bus on her own, and she had to stay in her room until she’d finished her times tables.

‘Everything seemed more formal,’ she recalls. ‘Berna and Glen, who I called Mum and Dad, kept telling me how grateful I should be to have these opportunities. I loved them and they were kind but I missed Gina and Pete.’

As the years passed, Dawn became increasingly unhappy. ‘I gravitated towards a white teacher at school because she reminded me of my old mum,’ she recalls.

‘The area we lived in was multi-cultural, so school was a mixture of black, white and Asian children. At break times and in the canteen, they’d divide into groups.  ‘The black children said I should play with them but I mainly bonded with the white children because they reminded me of my childhood. I felt torn.

‘I had one mixed-race friend and I was so envious that she lived at home with her white mum. I wanted the same for myself. I felt totally confused about who I was and where I belonged.’

By the time she was 15, Dawn was so desperately unhappy that she had started skipping school and shoplifting.  ‘At home I would lock myself in my room and lash out if Berna and Glen tried to comfort me,’ Dawn admits.

‘We never talked about my time in care or being fostered.  ‘I didn’t want to confide in anyone, and felt too guilty to tell them how unsettled I felt after everything they’d done for me.’

That year, Berna and Glen separated and social workers decided Dawn should be taken back into care.  She moved into Haslem House children’s home in Harrow, and lived there for a few months until she was 16.  ‘There was nothing to rebel against when I was back in care,’ she says.

‘I realised for the first time that I was responsible for my own behaviour. Instead of self-destructing, I actually wanted to make something of my life.’

Although the high grades Dawn had been predicted to achieve in her early childhood were no longer  possible, she did manage to get five GCSEs.

Afterwards she moved into a nearby council flat on her own. This further change sparked Dawn’s desire to track down her biological parents. She says: ‘I’d often wondered what my birth mother was like, and at 16 I was old enough to find out.’

In 1990, social workers agreed to put her in contact with Linda, who is now 58.  She was still living in Slough and had kept the two sons she’d had with Dawn’s father Owen, 64 — Paul, 41, and David, 36.

Dawn says about her first visit to Linda: ‘I was so nervous that I  vomited on the way there.  When I arrived, Linda seemed fragile. She’d had epilepsy and been in poor health when my father left her. She seemed more vulnerable than me.  ‘Any anger I had towards her  dissolved, and I was left feeling a mixture of relief and happiness that we’d made contact.’

Two years later, when Dawn was 18, she fell in love with a Jamaican driver and had two daughters with him — Sapphia, now 18, and  Yasmin, 16.  'Perhaps subconsciously I was  trying to recreate the mixed-race family environment I longed for'

The couple split up shortly after Yasmin’s birth, and Dawn embarked on a romance with a white electrician who became the father of her twins, Amber and Ryan, now 13.  The couple were together for six years, until 2006.

Dawn is now single, and says: ‘Perhaps subconsciously I was  trying to recreate the mixed-race family environment I longed for.’

When she was 31, Dawn decided to read her case files, which had been kept in Slough social services’ archives.  ‘I thought they’d help me find  closure and make me better able to understand my childhood,’ she explains.  For the first time she saw how social workers had considered it best to uproot Dawn and place her with a black family.  ‘Seeing it written down made me cry with anger and regret,’ she says. ‘All the happy years of childhood I could have had were wasted.’

Understanding for the first time that Gina and Pete had not wanted to give her up, Dawn decided to contact them.  Incredibly, their contact details on her files were still valid nearly 25 years later.  Dawn says: ‘They invited me for dinner and cried as they explained how distraught they had been to give me up.

‘They said they had tried to adopt me but couldn’t because I was mixed race. They were then forbidden to send cards or presents to me, and had no right to contact me. I felt relieved and sad that they had missed me as much as I had missed them.’

Dawn, who now works as a  counsellor for a charity, meets Gina and Pete several times a year — and they have become a welcome  presence in her life and her children’s lives too.

She has also built bridges with her ‘second’ mum Berna.
Dawn says: ‘I made contact when I became a mother myself. Since then we have worked on our  relationship and become friends.’

But Dawn can’t help feeling that her life would have worked out rather differently had Gina and Pete been able to adopt her in the first place.  ‘It is absurd that social services thought they were acting in my best interests,’ says Dawn.  ‘I think I would have a good case against them in court, given the stress I have suffered.

‘A white couple should be able to adopt a mixed-race child.  ‘It’s their love that counts — not the colour of their skin.’


Atheist Leader Calls Contraception a ‘Constitutional Right’ & Dubs the Bible a ‘Grim Fairy Tale’

One of the main forces behind last weekend’s atheist gathering, the Reason Rally, was the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist group headed by husband and wife duo Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker.

This organization, which describes itself as “an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church,” is familiar to Blaze readers, as we’ve regularly highlighted its legal battles and harsh rhetoric against religious symbols on public property.

During the massive secularist rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Gaylor and Barker addressed the crowd, using language that both invigorated their non-believing audience and poked fun at people of faith.

During Barker’s speech, the FFRF leader engaged in a bizarre performance of atheism-fueled songs he‘d like to see performed on children’s television shows. Gaylor, though, delved into some starker, more controversial commentary.

“God fixation won’t fix our nation, because nothing fails like prayer,” Gaylor proclaimed during her address. “And we like to tell pious politicians that it’s time to get off your knees.”

Gaylor took particular aim at the Catholic Church in both her speech and during an exclusive interview with The Blaze.

“It is disgraceful that our health care reform is being held hostage by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and our message to liberal and nominal Catholics is that it’s time to quit the Catholic Church,” she said.

Among her organization’s accomplishments, she highlighted a full-page ad in The New York Times that, much like her rhetoric, encourages Catholics to abandon their faith. She called it a “speak truth to power” moment and claims that it wasn’t meant to be offensive.

“Are we going to choose women and their rights or Bishops and their wrongs?,” Gaylor asked. “And we are choosing women and we are choosing secular government. We choose the doctrine of immaculate contraception.”

She also called contraception a “Constitutional right” and took aim at Christianity’s holiest book — the Bible.

“We work diligently to ensure religion and the Bible — that grim fairy tale — are not invoked in our secular lives,” Gaylor continued.

As we’ve already highlighted, a FAQ section on the Reason Rally web site reads, “Are we just going to use this opportunity to trash religion?”

“No,” the web site promised. “This will be a positive experience, focusing on all non-theists have achieved in the past several years (and beyond) and motivating those in attendance to become more active.”

However, both Gaylor and Barker had plenty to say that most certainly fell under the umbrella of “trashing religion.”


Australia: Catholic Church marshalls anti-gay marriage army

SIX Catholic bishops in Victoria will circulate 80,000 letters this weekend asking their parishioners to show the federal government their opposition to same sex marriage.

There are currently three gay marriage private member's bills before Federal Parliament, aimed at changing the legal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The bishops want all Catholics to contact their MPs and respond to an online survey being conducted by the Federal Parliament Standing Committee of Social Policy and Legal Affairs.

The Bishop of Sale, Christopher Prowse, said it would be a grave mistake with implications for the future of society should the legal definition of marriage be changed.

"We have asked Catholics to seriously reflect and pray about the ramifications for current and future generations of legislation which completely redefines marriage," Bishop Prowse said.

One bishop said the push was about protecting traditional marriage, and while today's discussion was on same-sex laws, "next it might be polygamy", reported the Herald Sun.

Marriage equality supporters have described the church's campaign as "alarmist" and rejected claims gay marriage would undermine family life or damage society.

"Families and societies are only strengthened when couples are allowed to commit to each other through marriage," national convenor of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich said.

"So to hear Archbishop Hart discouraging any recognition of this commitment is extraordinary and heartless."

A private bill, amending the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples, has been introduced to federal parliament by Labor MP Stephen Jones.

Another bill is being jointly proposed by Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent Andrew Wilkie.

Both bills have been referred to parliamentary committees for detailed examination.
A third bill, proposed by the Greens, will be considered in the Senate.

Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally, a devout Catholic, said people of her faith should look at a range of information sources to formulate their views.

"I've come to a position, with a fully-formed conscience, that I support gay marriage," she told ABC Television.

"I would encourage all Catholics to apply critical thinking to this issue."

Ms Keneally said the teachings of the church were not infallible although it was important people take heed of what their parish priest or bishop was saying.

"But it's equally important for them to consider how they in good conscience must act."



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

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

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


30 March, 2012

The 'experts' who break up families: The terrifying story of the prospective MP branded an unfit mother by experts who'd never met her - a nightmare shared by many other British families

Dark deeds thrive amid official secrecy

A little over a year ago, Lucy Allan led what most people would regard as an eminently respectable life. The middle-class mother, a Tory councillor, was happily married to her stockbroker husband, Robin, and doted on their ten-year-old son, who loved going to school and was a passionate cricketer.

Indeed, such was Mrs Allan’s standing in the community that this accountant and former investment banker was on David Cameron’s A-list of potential MPs and a prospective Conservative candidate at the last election. She devoted her spare time to her council duties. Twice a month, she sat on the local fostering panel, which oversaw the removal of children from their parents and placed them with new families.

It was heart-rending work, as she recalls. ‘At each fostering meeting we were presented with horrifying cases of abusive parents, almost always depicted as “substance abusers”, mentally unstable or “unable to put the needs of their children over their own needs”.  ‘Often, this portrayal was supported by an expert report from a psychiatrist, psychologist or medical doctor,’ says Lucy.

‘It never occured to me, or any member of the panel, that the information we were presented with might be a distorted, twisted fiction — or that the reports were anything other than independent.’

Now, her view has changed. She suspects that many of the damning reports were written by experts who had never met the families in question, to suit the wishes of social workers under pressure from the Government to increase the number of children adopted.  As a result of this process, more and more children are being taken into state foster care.

So why has her faith in the system she once facilitated been shattered? Because, thanks to a bewildering chain of events, this eloquent, educated woman found herself under attack from social workers and fighting to stop her own son being taken into care.

Hers is a Kafkaesque story involving family experts who passed judgment on her fitness as a mother without, in some cases, even meeting her.

Lucy’s story is particularly disturbing in the light of a report released this month which found that decisions about the futures of thousands of children are being based on flawed evidence from well-paid ‘experts’, some of whom are unqualified and, time and again, never meet the families concerned.

The damning study by Professor Jane Ireland, a forensic psychologist, examined more than 127 expert witness reports used in family court cases in three areas of England. She found that 90 per cent were produced by clinicians who no longer practise, but instead earn their living entirely as ‘professional expert witnesses’ paid for by council social work departments. Sixty-five per cent of the reports were poorly or very poorly carried out.

This has led to accusations from MPs, lawyers and families that many of the experts are on a gravy train — ‘hired guns’ paid to write precisely what social workers want to read.

This month the Mail reported how just such an accusation has been levelled against one leading psychiatrist, Dr George Hibbert — who faces allegations that he deliberately misdiagnosed parents as having mental disorders, which led to them having their children taken by social services.

John Hemming, a Lib Dem MP who is calling for a national inquiry into the use of expert testimonies in family court hearings, says this dubious system has resulted in families being torn apart and hundreds of children being wrongly taken for adoption from innocent parents.

It is a scenario Lucy Allan feared could happen with her own son. Her nightmare began last March when, aged 46, and having begun to feel depressed for no apparent reason, she decided to go to see a doctor.  ‘I am close to my son, so I was worried that he knew I was feeling sad. I went to my local GP surgery expecting to be given a course of anti-depressants and then feel better,’ she recalls.

She was seen by a young female locum, who listened to what Lucy had to say, and then told her she wanted to refer her to social services to ‘see if the family needed support’.

The locum turned to Dr Peter Green, a consultant forensic physician and head of child safeguarding in Wandsworth, South London, where Lucy lives. A flamboyant figure with flowing grey hair and a penchant for bow ties, he has written thousands of reports for the family courts.

According to documents seen by the Allan family, Dr Green told the locum his view was that Lucy was ‘very self-centred’ — this despite the fact he had never set eyes on Lucy or spoken to her.

(When she later complained about the conclusions he had drawn without even having seen her, the doctor is alleged to have told her he had relied on a ‘gut feel’).

To Lucy’s horror, following Dr Green’s assessment, the locum informed social services that Lucy’s son was at significant risk of harm from his mother.

Thus it was that a woman whose job it had been to make decisions on the fostering panel about which children should be removed from their families suddenly found herself under the most intense scrutiny.  ‘Instead of reading reports on another mother’s “emotionally abused” child or her “chaotic” home life, I was reading the same accusations in reports about me and my family,’ she says.

Social services insisted they interview her son, but as the inquiry unfolded, the evidence from his teachers suggested he was happy and thriving. An independent report from a NHS psychiatrist also said Lucy was ‘no risk to anyone, including her son’.

But social services hired their own psychiatrist from the Priory Hospital in Roehampton, south-west London — at taxpayers’ expense naturally.

Without meeting Lucy or her son, and based only on information provided by social services, the private psychiatrist stated in an ‘expert’ report that there was an ‘urgent need’ for the assessment and treatment of Lucy.  The psychiatrist added that there was ‘no way’ her depression would not have a ‘significant impact on her parenting’.

As the investigation dragged on, Lucy underwent a series of interviews by social services and by experts paid by them to examine her and her family. Many of their subsequent reports, says Lucy, were inaccurate, biased and took her family’s words out of context.

For example, her son had mentioned that when he got off the school bus, he always asked Lucy how she was, but this was described in one report as: ‘Her son demonstrates inappropriate anxiety for the wellbeing of his mother on a daily basis.’

When Lucy admitted taking sleeping pills for insomnia and diazepam for anxiety, another report on her said such ‘drug abuse would make her barely conscious on a daily basis’.

Her confession of sharing a bottle of wine with husband Robin most nights was written up as ‘alcohol abuse’, and the risk of Lucy harming her son was deemed to be ‘substantiated’.

All this begs the question of how often such judgments are passed down by ‘experts’ and social workers on those less well equipped than Lucy to defend themselves.

She has spent the past year trying to clear her name, paid out £10,000 on legal fees and has had to pull herself off the A-list of David Cameron’s potential Tory candidates, quit as a school governor, and, of course, resign from the fostering panel.

‘I am now ineligible for the Criminal Record Bureau check required for working with children or young people,’ she says sadly. Her son’s social services records state that she was once considered a ‘risk’ to him, and it will remain on his file till he is 18.

Finally, at Christmas, the council’s social services said officially no action was required concerning Lucy. She is trying to rebuild her life with the help of husband Robin — who, incredibly, was never interviewed by social services — but still fears she could come under scrutiny again.

‘The system is designed to silence people,’ she says. ‘I have been prescribed anti-depressants and I am better. But at the back of my mind is the fear that if I complain too loudly about the child protection system they will be back at my door.’

No doubt she would agree with Nigel Priestley, a lawyer involved in family law, who said recently: ‘Just about the most draconian act the state can carry out is to remove a family’s child. What is at stake is the loss of their children, and on the basis of a report which might, or might not be, questionable.’

Those who write these reports — often psychologists or psychiatrists, but also medical doctors and consultants — do not face the glare of public scrutiny precisely because of the secrecy of the family court system. Lucy can describe her ordeal only because her case never got as far as those closed courts — no parent who appears at one of these hearings, which operate in every town and city in the land, is allowed to speak to anyone later about what has happened there, even to their own MP.

Every year, 200 mothers or fathers are jailed for ‘contempt of court’ for breaking this silence — while the same family courts request the removal of 225 children each week, 97 per cent of whom are never returned to their families.

Now, there are demands for an American-style ‘class’ legal action against the Government by parents who have had dubious or even bogus reports written about them. Paul Grant, a legal adviser at Bernard Chill & Axtell Solicitors in Southampton, says devastated parents have contacted him after his firm took on the case of a mother, known only as Miss A, who claims she was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder by psychiatrist Dr George Hibbert because social workers wanted her baby adopted.

The Mail has been contacted by scores of parents who believe they have been mistreated on the word of these ‘experts’. We have been told by lawyers about clinicians charging £1,800 a day to appear at family courts, on top of the thousands of pounds a time they receive for writing the reports, which often contain lies, ambiguities and insinuations.

One mother said she had her children taken away because an ‘expert’ said she ‘liked shopping’; another was criticised as mentally unfit for ‘burning the toast’, and lost her child, too.

In another case, an expert was paid handsomely to write a report based on the observations of a social worker who said a five-year-old girl was ‘monosyllabic’.  Yet we are told a secret tape recording of the social worker’s interview showed the child chatting away about school, her family and her home. The little girl has since been removed from her mother.

We have also been told about a gregarious 47-year-old business adviser in the north of England who had to fight to keep her five-year-old daughter after being labelled a ‘totally isolated schizoid’ by a psychologist, who we understand is trained only to treat children, and should never have been involved in the analysis of adult behaviour.

The psychologist in question (who writes up to 100 expert reports a year) charged £6,000 for his written opinion on the mother, her husband and child. Yet the mother says she was given no chance to deny the ‘schizoid’ report — and kept her girl by the skin of her teeth only after the child’s nanny vouched for her parenting skills.

In another extraordinary case, after a woman was found by a psychologist to be a ‘competent mother’, the social workers are said to have insisted on commissioning a second expert’s report. It agreed with the first.  They then commissioned a third, which finally found that the mother had a ‘borderline personality disorder’. All three of her children were taken away for adoption.

So how have such apparent travesties been allowed to go on virtually unchecked in child protection?

No other country in Western Europe removes so many children from their parents. The numbers taken into care — the first step towards adoption — have doubled in a decade to more than 10,000 a year.  The last Labour government set adoption targets and rewarded local councils with hundreds of thousands of pounds if they reached them.

The targets have been scrapped after protests from MPs and lawyers, but the dangerous legacy persists. Social workers now get praise and promotion if they raise adoption numbers. David Cameron is also demanding more adoptions — and that they are fast-tracked.

It is the 1989 Children Act — which introduced a blanket secrecy in the family courts — that is the real culprit. It encouraged a lack of public scrutiny in the child protection system and what MP John Hemming calls the ‘twaddle and psychobabble’ peddled there, which has caused dreadful miscarriages of justice.

Ian Joseph, who has written a book on forced adoption, told me this week: ‘It’s time the criminal rules of justice applied in the family courts. We need parents to be considered innocent until proven guilty and also be free to talk about what is happening in those courts without being thrown into jail.’

Until that happens, hundreds more children may be seized from their families on the word of experts — many of whom are either not qualified or are receiving huge sums of money to play God.


The NYT as a mouthpiece for Muslim terrorism

Shares in The New York Times Company have slid from $US25 to $US6.89 (S6.60) during the past four years. The company has stopped making money. Its flagship newspaper has also stopped making sense when confronted with realities that do not accord with its ingrained world view.

On March 20, after Europe was rocked by a string of murders in France, The New York Times ran a prominent story which inferred the killings were a byproduct of anti-immigrant sentiment: "The political debate around the shootings, and whether the deaths were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant talk, is likely to continue - both as a weapon in the presidential campaign and as a more general soul-searching about the nature of France . . . In a period of economic anxiety, high unemployment and concerns about the war in Afghanistan and radical Islam, the far right in Europe has made considerable gains."

For the Times, the greatest threat to social cohesion in France is the far right, not the demographic challenge presented by an increasingly disaffected, de-assimilating, rapidly growing minority of 5 million Muslims.

Even after it was revealed that the killer was a Muslim who supported al-Qaeda, progressives went into overdrive to dissociate the violence from Islam. The most egregious example appeared on the ABC website, by Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford. He set new lows in rationalising bigotry:

"Twenty-three-year-old Mohamed Merah was a familiar face within and beyond his neighbourhood. People describe him as quiet, easy-going, nothing at all like an 'extremist jihadi Salafist' ready to kill for a religious or political cause . . .

"Religion was not Mohammed Merah's problem; nor is politics. A French citizen frustrated at being unable to find his place, to give his life dignity and meaning in his own country, he would find two political causes through which he could articulate his distress: Afghanistan and Palestine. He attacks symbols like the army, and kills Jews, Christians and Muslims without distinction. His political thought is that of a young man adrift, imbued neither with the values of Islam, or driven by racism and anti-Semitism."

What a load of reprehensible drivel.

Mohammed Merah did not kill without distinction. He was highly specific. He wanted to kill Muslim soldiers in the French army. He wanted to kill Jews. His killings were premeditated. He filmed the murders as he did them, a tactic frequently used and advocated by al-Qaeda. He had a history of crime and a collection of weapons. He told police he had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to train as a jihad fighter. He had been on a watch list of Muslim extremists, one reason the police found him quite quickly. When they approached he opened fire.

His film of the shootings was mailed to the al-Jazeera TV network for dissemination. The footage depicted all seven murders, taken with a camera slung from the gunman's neck. The film had been dubbed with verses from the Koran invoking jihad and the greatness of Islam.

Merah's mother is married to the father of Sabri Essid, a member of an underground network that recruited fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. He was convicted on terrorism charges in France in 2009. Merah's brother, Abdelkader, was also investigated but not charged. He has now been charged with complicity in the seven murders by his brother.

The more we learn about this story, the more sinister it becomes.

During Merah's time in prison he studied the Koran. The French prison system has become a fertile recruitment ground for radical Islam. Merah had also formed a connection with Forsane Alizza, Arabic for "knights of honour", which had 2000 followers on Facebook before it was banned in January by the French Interior Ministry for inciting racial hatred.

Forsane Alizza is one of several linked groups in Europe, notably Shariah4UK and Sharia4Belgium, with others in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Scandinavia. According to the Pew Research Centre in the US, about 100 million Muslims express support for al-Qaeda and thousands are in Europe.

In contrast, support for race war among the far right in Europe is minuscule. The killing rampage by a far-right gunman in Norway last year revealed no connections to a wider movement.

The primary objective of Forsane Alizza, according to its website, is to "support the mujahideen everywhere". The group disavows democracy. It agitates for sharia in Europe. Its principal targets are the French military, especially Muslims in the military, and Jews. These are exactly the targets Mohammed Merah selected. But Professor Ramadan portrayed him as a frustrated, adrift, distressed, non-racist, non-political, non-religious Frenchman. A murderer of children becomes a victim.

Speaking of rationalisations for bigotry, tonight a debate will be held at the University of Sydney featuring a speaker from Hizb ut-Tahrir. The group is banned in many countries for advocating jihad.


Playing the Race Card Again

    Jonah Goldberg

"White Hispanic." That's how the New York Times, Reuters and other media outlets have opted to describe George Zimmerman, a man who would simply be Hispanic if he hadn't shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The term, rarely if ever used before this tragedy, is necessary in telling the Martin story in a more comfortable way.

What's the comfortable way? It's the way the blame for Martin's death belongs squarely at the feet of "the system." And "the system" is a white thing, don't you know.

For instance, in a remarkably uncritical interview with the Los Angeles Times, the Rev. Jesse Jackson explained that with the election of President Obama, "there was this feeling that we were kind of beyond racism." He continued: "That's not true. His victory has triggered tremendous backlash." Indeed, "Blacks are under attack."

Jackson apparently includes in this racist Obama "backlash" record home foreclosures for African Americans and black unemployment. It would have been nice if the L.A. Times had asked Jackson to work a little harder to connect those dots.

Jackson also laments that "targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business" in America.

On the saner end of the liberal spectrum, Reniqua Allen of the New America Foundation writes in the Washington Post that it's harder to talk about race now that we have a black president (note: not a "white African American president," a la the new Zimmerman standard, although both men have a white parent).

Allen is surely right that having a black president makes it hard to talk about race, particularly if you want to have the hackneyed monologue that hustlers such as Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton want to have. Weak-tea Marxist rants about a system that parasitically feeds off black men sound absurdly antiquated when that system is run, at the top, by black men (Eric Holder, let's not forget, runs the Justice Department).

But the aging race industry that continues to see the world through a half-century-old prism of Jim Crow, and still wants you to see it that way, too, is determined to bum-rush Zimmerman into his assigned role, heedless of facts or the lack of them.

Meanwhile, Obama, who promised a new conversation on race, seems happier in an election year to lend heft to the old one. He called for soul-searching -- but absent a full set of facts, why does this homicide of all U.S. homicides require it? Obama's comments mostly seem aimed at adding credence to liberal conventional wisdom.

Zimmerman may well deserve to go to jail. Or this may just be a confluence of horrible mistakes with no criminal intent whatsoever. That's what a Justice Department probe and a Florida grand jury will determine. But for the forces demanding action, that isn't good enough. Jackson, as is his wont, threatens there will be "no peace" until Zimmerman is arrested.

Others are not so patient. The New Black Panther Party has put a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman's head. "He should be fearful for his life," leader Mikhail Muhammad said. "You can't keep killing black children." Spike Lee joined the digital lynch mob and tweeted Zimmerman's home address.

Yes, absolutely, there are pockets of racism in America. But among the myriad problems with a "blame the system" narrative is that it obscures and often silences far greater problems than white-on-black racist violence.

Martin's tragic death is a statistical outlier. More whites are killed by blacks than blacks killed by whites (or "white Hispanics"). And far, far more blacks are killed by other blacks. Indeed, if we're going to use the prism of race to analyze murder rates, then the real epidemic is that of black murderers. Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute notes that recent data show black males age 14 to 24 commit homicides at a rate nearly 10 times higher than that of young white and Latino males combined. Surely that's worthy of some soul-searching, too.

And yet, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow says "the burden of black boys in America" is fear of racist assaults. MSNBC has handed over vast swaths of airtime to its in-house huckster, Sharpton.

No doubt, white -- and "white Hispanic" -- prejudice is a problem for young black men, but the notion that it is the singular or chief "burden of black boys in America" is nonsense. Alas, the very people begging for an honest conversation on race will likely accuse you of racism for saying so.

SOURCE.  More on the Zimmerman affair on GUN WATCH

Talking out of their vaginas

Eve Ensler wrote a play called the Vagina Monologues and, following this, helped begin the V-Day Movement to end violence against women and girls. She came to Australia last month to deliver the annual Australian Human Rights Centre lecture in Sydney.

The ABC interviewed Ensler on its news analysis program, Lateline (Ensler, We don't own our bodies: Ensler, 2012). The ABC describes this program as ".a provocative, challenging and intelligent window on today's world." They continue to say, "Lateline engages the foremost experts or commentators. to bring you penetrating insights from a range of perspectives (ABC, 2012)."

The foremost expert or commentator who interviewed Ensler was Emma Alberici, who has some twenty years experience in journalism.

This, dear reader, is what passes for "an intelligent window" in Australia today.

Alberici begins the interview with a general question about her play. Ensler opens up with how "everyone" was scandalised with the word "vagina" in the 1990s. She claims that "you could say `Scud Missile' on the front pages." but, apparently "if you said vagina the whole world went crazy. "

The next part is worth quoting verbatim:

"And I think part of the reason of doing the play was that so many women I had interviewed had not only, not said the word vagina, they never saw their vaginas, they didn't know what they looked like, they didn't know how their vaginas functioned, they didn't know what gave them pleasure. They didn't even know their vaginas were their own."

In the 1970s I attended college in Scotland. In my class, a Computer Science course, the gender mix was 50/50. Every single woman on that course knew the word vagina, and a whole lot of other words for the vagina. Twenty years later, when Ensler wrote her play, and the word vagina has mysteriously vanished from the western woman's vocabulary?

I'm glad that Ensler points out that they had never seen their vaginas. I immediately became aware that I have never seen my own anus.

The real question, of course, is: so f*cking what?

To what level should a woman understand how her vagina functions? For example, should she be able to discuss in detail what part Bartholin's glands play?

And why? Does Ensler know how her thyroid glands work? Does she understand how wax gets in the outer ear? As long as she knows which end to stick over the toilet, where to put the tampon, etc. does it really matter?

Ensler's final statement, that women ".didn't even know their vaginas were their own," is feminism at its finest. Alberici doesn't ask "Who did they think their vaginas belonged to?" Or, "Were they just renting them?" Or "If I kicked them in the vagina, who did they think would feel it?"

Ensler tries to paint herself as the radical who is not afraid to break taboos. And to do this she will use any word she chooses, no matter how upset the establishment gets. The fact is that when the play was written and first performed in the nineties, the word "vagina" was seen as a proper and polite term to describe female genitalia. You could have "The Vagina Monologues" on a bill board and in neon lights. It may have been titillating, perhaps, even risqu‚, but certainly short of scandalous in Western society in the nineties.

Ensler informs us that in China the play was banned because the Chinese only had vulgar and derogatory words for vagina.

Speaking of scandalous and vulgar words, the Vagina Monologues uses the word "cunt" 30 times. Now that word, all by itself, ensures an "Adults Only" rating in Australia. You can say it in a play with that rating, but you won't be having "The Cunt Monologues" in neon on Main Street.

But Alberici doesn't ask if it was the translation of "vagina" or "cunt" that caused the Chinese such problems.

In fact, the Shanghai Drama Centre was told by the Chinese authorities who banned the play that ".it does not fit with China's national situation (USA Today, 2004)." Did Alberici ask Ensler if she was surprised that a Western play written by a "Human Rights Activist" was banned in China in 2004? No, she just lets Ensler give us the sacred babble.

There are two serious aspects about her play that Alberici should have raised with Ensler, particularly given the "Human Rights Activist" tag.

The first is a section of the play which deals with the seduction of a girl by woman, which involves the woman giving the child alcohol as part of the seduction. In one version of the script I found the girl is sixteen (Ensler, Vagina Monolgues Script - The Dialogue, 1996). However, there have been reports of other versions of the script where the child was aged as young as thirteen (Swope, 2006).

In January this year a 29 year old female teacher was found guilty of the crime of having sex with a sixteen year old female student in Melbourne, Australia (Lowe, 2012). Also, note that the legal age for drinking alcohol in Australia is eighteen.  In other words, Ensler's play is describing an act that is illegal in Australia, as well as immoral anywhere.

Ensler's monologue describes the seduction from the point of view of the child. It concludes:

"You know, I realized later, she was my surprising, unexpected, politically incorrect salvation. She transformed my sorry-ass coochie snorcher [vagina] and raised it up into a kind of heaven."

In other words, this manipulation into a sexual act was good for the child.

This blas‚ attitude is also seen in another monologue in the play, where Ensler's heroine dominates women during sex. The dialogue explains:

"Sometimes I used force, but not violent, oppressing force, no.  More like dominating, `I'm gonna take you someplace, why don't you lay back, enjoy the ride' kind of force."

So clearly, according to Ensler, domination and child sex abuse are alright when done in a feminist context. When men rape its rape, when women rape it's "salvation," so "lie back and enjoy the ride".

Alberici does not ask one thing about this. How's that for "a range of perspectives"? That's the "let's ignore it completely" perspective.



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

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

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


29 March, 2012

Some justice at last in Britain:  Father who killed burglar with meat cleaver to end 'harrowing and brutal' attack was 'justified', coroner rules

Why was he arrested in the first place?  The British police HATE self-defence

A terrified father who killed a burglar by hitting him in the head with a meat cleaver was justified in his actions, a coroner ruled yesterday.

Xiaopeng Wang had been bludgeoned with a wheel brace and his wife punched in the face as she cradled their two-year-old daughter after Steven Shaw and his brother Craig raided their home on a notorious estate in the middle of the night.

A court heard the brothers subjected taxi driver Mr Wang and his family to a ‘harrowing and brutal attack’ lasting 15 minutes.

The violence stopped only when Mr Wang, now 33, found a meat cleaver and hit Steven Shaw with it, causing a ‘sharp force trauma’ to his head. The burglar, 32, was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

Police initially launched a murder inquiry and arrested four people, including Mr and Mrs Wang, now 32, and the victim’s brother. But no charges were ever brought against the couple after it was accepted Mr Wang had acted in self-defence.

Police established the brothers had been targeting another person they thought lived at the address. When they realised they had the wrong victim, they decided to demand money from the Wangs anyway.

Craig Shaw, 21, later admitted aggravated burglary and was jailed for eight-and-a-half years in December. Sentencing him at Nottingham Crown Court, Judge Michael Stokes said Mr Wang had been ‘fully entitled’ to pick up the cleaver to defend his family.

The incident happened after Mr Wang was marched into the sitting room of his home on Nottingham’s Bestwood Estate to get cash for the burglars. He hit Shaw with the cleaver a number of times as the burglar attacked his wife and daughter.

Recording a verdict of lawful killing at an inquest in Nottingham on Monday, coroner Mairin Casey said: ‘The defensive action taken by Mr Wang was proportionate and justified. ‘This was a harrowing and brutal experience for them, and I understand they are still traumatised.’

The inquest heard Steven Shaw punched Mrs Wang in the face and pulled her hair to force her to watch as her husband was assaulted. He was left with blood streaming into his eyes from a head wound.

Toxicology reports found traces of cocaine and alcohol in Shaw’s bloodstream.

Miss Casey said: ‘Mr Wang and his family were subjected to extreme violence and trauma. In the course of the action, Mr Wang assaulted Steven Shaw, causing catastrophic injuries which led to his death.’

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: ‘When deciding whether to prosecute any offence, the CPS will consider the Code for Crown Prosecutors and any relevant guidance. The CPS has published guidelines concerning the reasonable use of force in cases where householders choose to defend themselves or their property.

‘In this case, these guidelines were applied and the CPS accepted that the householder had acted in self-defence, and that the correct course of action was to proceed with charges of aggravated burglary against the intruder and to take no further action against the householder.’

Residents in the street where the attack took place said police moved the Wangs to a secret location after the incident, telling their former neighbours: ‘You won’t be seeing them again.’

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said yesterday the family remained ‘very traumatised’ and had since moved out of the region to make a fresh start.


Cantuar grows some balls

Society is in danger of becoming fragmented by a preoccupation with homosexual rights, feminism and separate racial identities, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.  Dr Rowan Williams claimed that identity had become a ‘slippery’ word and that, while much had been achieved for minority groups, it was time to focus on the common good.

In a speech to teenagers in Cardiff, the Archbishop, 61, warned of a ‘pendulum swinging back’.

In a separate address to members of the Welsh Assembly in the city, he also attacked a culture of dependence on welfare handouts, which he said was harmful to society and ‘not good news’.

Dr Williams, who is stepping down as leader of the Anglican communion later this year, has always supported gay rights and has also promoted the cause of women bishops during his tenure.

Since announcing his resignation earlier this month, at a time of continuing rancour inside the Church over both those topics, the Archbishop has made a series of outspoken interventions.

He signalled last week that he plans to use his final months in office to speak out forcefully on issues about which he feels passionate.

In his speech to the teenagers, he said: ‘Identity politics, whether it is the politics of feminism, whether it is the politics of ethnic minorities or the politics of sexual minorities, has been a very important part of the last ten or 20 years because before that I think there was a sense that diversity was not really welcome.

‘And so minorities of various kinds and … women began to say, “Actually we need to say who we are in our terms, not yours” and that led to identity politics of a very strong kind and legislation that followed it.

'We are now, I think, beginning to see the pendulum swinging back and saying identity politics is all very well but we have to have some way of putting it all back together again and discovering what is good for all of us and share something of who we are with each other so as to discover more about who we are.’

He added: ‘Identity isn’t just something sealed off and finished with … it’s always work in progress.  ‘Once we start saying, “This is my identity and that’s it” then I think we are in danger of really fragmenting the society we belong to.’

Canon Giles Goddard, chairman of Anglican group Inclusive Church, which campaigns for female and homosexual bishops, said talk of pendulums swinging back was premature.

He said: ‘We have got a long way to go yet. We have to achieve full equality which is the removal of barriers to full participation of what I call accidents of birth. We haven’t removed these in society and we certainly haven’t removed them in the Church yet.’

In his speech to the Assembly, Dr Williams also spoke of ‘spiralling’ differences between rich and poor but warned of the dangers of dependence on the state.

He said: ‘There is a problem about dependency, there is a problem about assuming somebody else resolves the problems and there is certainly a problem about centralised state provision as the solution to everything.

‘And those who have recently from both left and right pointed out that welfarism is not good news for those who want a mutually responsible active, creative community have not been wrong.’


Middle class children 'are held back by childcare' as they suffer 'significant declines' in their development

The proper place for little children is in a loving home

Middle class children are adversely affected by time spent in childcare, a study claims.

They suffer ‘significant declines’ in their development, health and standards of behaviour, researchers found.

The poorest youngsters benefit from being in nurseries or with childminders, and wealthy parents can afford the highest quality childcare.

But youngsters in the middle – the ‘lion’s share’ of the population – fall behind in developmental tests, suffer more ill health and behave more aggressively.

The study, being presented today at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference,  suggests that childcare leads to a substantial drop-off in parents’ involvement in their children’s upbringing.

The damaging effects are most marked for boys and for youngsters aged from birth to two, prompting the researchers to suggest that childcare may not ‘be suited for children aged zero to two’.

Academics from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, studied a highly subsidised childcare scheme in Quebec. Families who took part in the scheme were compared with similar families elsewhere in  Canada, with 10,000 youngsters a year being studied.

Children were assigned a series of scores for their development and behaviour, based on the results of assessments and questionnaires.

Childcare was found to significantly improve development for disadvantaged children.  But the ‘lion’s share of the population experienced significant declines in motor-social development and health measures as well as increased behavioural problems’, the study found.

It added: ‘The reported benefits for children with least advantage, the grounds on which universal childcare is often justified, stands opposite to negative outcomes for the bulk of children.’


Australia: Truth falls victim to the sparkling stone

"Finkelstein" is German/Yiddish for sparkling stone or gemstone.  Judge Finkelstein seems to think he's one.  Britain has a similar inquiry into the press that is still ongoing -- under Lord Justice Leveson.  One hopes its recommendations will be less Fascistic

TELL the truth. Speak truth to power. These phrases are so familiar that we rarely stop to understand them. But in a coming age of censorship heralded by political phenomena such as hate speech legislation and the Finkelstein inquiry, humanity's relationship with truth is at breaking point.

Universities are partly to blame for events such as the Finkelstein inquiry. There is a veritable canon stretching from Russell Jacoby's The Last Intellectuals to Paul Berman's The Flight of the Intellectuals, which documents the fate of academics from the Left and Right who dared to tell unpalatable truths. Many were exiled or resigned their university posts on pain of ostracism.

Australian academics' latent refusal to have their intellectual activity monitored by the new sector regulator, the Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency, breathed life into the idea of intellectual freedom. But it doesn't appear to have vivified the liberty of the press.

The Finkelstein recommendations may do to the media in the 21st century what was done to higher education in the 20th.

Finkelstein, with his panel of lawyers and academics, proposes meta-regulation of the press under the lunatic pretext that gagging freedom of speech will expand democracy. They commend a progressive silencing of the press as beneficial to the public interest because "often readers are not in a position to make an appropriately informed judgment about the news". I beg your pardon?

Almost 100 pages later, we are told why we readers are apparently so witless: "Because of information asymmetry, readers are seldom in a position to judge the quality of news stories."

Information asymmetry sounds very much like the obfuscating language introduced into the higher education humanities by postmodernists in the 1980s and 1990s.

It was inevitably accompanied by the claim that there was no such thing as objective truth, the acceptance of which was supposedly prerequisite to social justice. Fret not, fellow witless reader; I never understood it either.

In fact, the culture of contemporary censorship makes little sense until you read the finest analysis of political phenomena such as the Finkelstein inquiry by philosopher John Ralston Saul: "The idea of governments invoking the public interest, as a justification for taking unjust or illegal action, has been with us since the French satirist Mathurin Regnier coined the phrase in 1609. Now raison d'etat is being turned into a blanket principle: the technocrat knows best."

On the 20th anniversary of Voltaire's Bastards, Ralston Saul has never looked more prescient. The technocrats became cultivated in their craft at leading universities that, by the 1970s, had come to resemble management schools.

What technocrats don't understand is the nature of truth; how to search for it, how to prove or disprove it and what to do with it. Their lack of knowledge about truth proves a significant impediment to the formation of public policy based on principle, rather than partisan political ideology.

The Finkelstein review's great undoing is that is has not established truth. It is deeply methodologically flawed, with statements of fact that lack supporting evidence, a line of causative argument without established cause and effect, and recommendations, however persuasively put, that consequently lack credibility.

A major claim of the report is that the Australian media is failing the public interest. There are five examples of malicious media action provided late in the report and reference to the News of the World phone hacking scandal as the origin of the inquiry. But the core evidence provided for the apparent failure of the media and subsequent recommendation for meta-regulation of the free press is a series of opinion surveys.

As Plato, Socrates and Galileo would tell us, opinion, however popular, is not truth. Nor is perception proof. The statement "I don't trust the media", which appears in the surveys, tells us nothing about the state of the media. It tells us simply that someone doesn't trust it. Public mistrust may very well be the result of a newspaper fulfilling its duty to tell the truth. Imagine a 17th-century newspaper running a series of articles on Galileo's discovery that the world was round. The Finkelstein inquiry proposes that the news media should be regulated for perceived bias and balance. So what would Galileo's reporters do -- report that the world was round-ish?

The pursuit of truth, once the common ground of journalists and academics, was sustained as an intellectual tradition by classical liberal arts universities that taught formal logic as a method of deducing fact. Formal logic was devised by Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, championed by the Enlightenment freethinkers and revived by 20th- and 21st-century philosophers such as Bertrand Russell, Hannah Arendt and A.C. Grayling. The willingness to seek truth, the ability to deduce it and the courage to publish it are what make a citizen truly free. The philosophical and legal recognition of citizen freedoms, tempered by John Stuart Mill's principle of not causing harm to another, is what makes a state democratic. Regulating the free press in the manner recommended by the Finkelstein inquiry violates these principles.

Jacob Mchangama, a lecturer in international human rights at the University of Copenhagen, wrote that "respect for freedom of expression is the hallmark of free societies and the first right to be circumscribed by illiberal states". Eleanor Roosevelt, that great democrat who drafted the UN Declaration of Human Rights, might have agreed with him. Roosevelt warned humanity about the suppression of freedom under the guise of protecting citizens against hostile speech. She was concerned in particular with Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has been used successfully to lobby for anti-vilification laws in Australia and other Western countries.

In combination with hate speech laws, the proposed media meta-regulation recommended by the Finkelstein inquiry transforms the future of 21st-century journalism. In the new media landscape, journalists will be allowed to create their sentences from a pre-approved vocabulary, draw their own inferences from a sanctioned pool of populism and publish their own conclusions within the parameters of state ideology. It's freedom y'all. Wake up and smell the doublespeak.



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

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

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


28 March, 2012

Another blow to marriage in Britain?

Australia has had no-fault divorce for many years and it seems to work well.  There are many amicable split-ups, which is surely the most desirable outcome

Senior judges yesterday renewed calls for no-fault divorces, as they attacked current laws as vastly outdated.  At present, couples can be legally parted within six months if one party is shown to be at fault.  The most common grounds are unreasonable behaviour, which can include committing adultery or devoting too much time to one’s career.

Leading family court judge Sir Nicholas Wall said: ‘I am a strong believer in marriage. But I see no good arguments against no-fault divorce.’  He added that divorce was in reality an ‘administrative’ process, rather than a legal one.

Another senior judicial figure, Lord Justice Thorpe, indicated his support for no-fault divorce in an Appeal Court ruling, arguing that the current laws ‘represent the social values of a bygone age’.

The twin assault comes at a time of deep controversy over the legal and political status of marriage.

David Cameron’s plans to allow marriage for same-sex couples were published this month, in the face of deep opposition from church figures.

A law removing the need for fault in divorces was passed by John Major’s Conservative government in 1996. It was backed by judges, lawyers, academics and charities – but opponents said it would encourage couples to break up.

Trials showed the Family Law Act 1996 to be unworkable, and Tony Blair’s government scrapped the plan to introduce no-fault divorces. Legal figures, however, have continued to lobby for them.

Sir Nicholas Wall, who as president of the High Court’s Family Division is the country’s most senior divorce court judge, said in a speech to family lawyers that he was a member of the Whitehall advisory group that backed the 1996 change.

‘At the moment, it seems to me we have a system – so far as divorce itself is concerned – which is in fact administrative, but which masquerades as judicial,’ he said.

‘No doubt this has its roots in history. In the 19th century, and for much of the 20th, divorce was a matter of social status. It mattered whether you were divorced or not, and if you were, it was important to demonstrate that you were the innocent party. All that, I think, has gone. Defended divorces are now effectively unheard of.’

In the case of Susan Rae, who believed minor disagreements had been wrongly interpreted as ‘unreasonable behaviour’, he said: ‘I feel the sadness of the wife’s position and her complete inability to accept what has happened to her.

‘Our laws of divorce have not been reformed since their introduction in 1969.’ He said the no-fault proposals would have meant that divorce petitions would no longer have to be justified through hurtful hearings designed to establish fault.

‘Had they been implemented, there would have been no need for these painful investigations, which now seem to represent the social values of a bygone age,’ he added.

Politicians and family experts yesterday warned against removing fault from divorce. Tory MP Julian Brazier said: ‘We already have no-fault divorce in all but name. The real issue is whether we need to reintroduce fault for the determination of child custody and division of resources.

‘If one partner abandons the other, that should be taken into account ..... When it comes to dividing possessions, it is extraordinary that no account is taken of adultery or other fault.’

Jill Kirby, who writes about family life, said: ‘The less the courts consider fault in divorce, the greater the sense of injustice felt by the spouse who thinks he or she was not to blame.’


Wife regrets destroying her marriage

This is the case referred to above

A woman whose husband of 20 years divorced her for unreasonable behaviour has hit out at the courts for allowing marriages to break up on ‘trivial’ grounds.

Susan Rae, 50, told an appeal hearing that her husband should never have been allowed to divorce her simply because she threw his packed lunches away and took a fuse out of the washing machine.

Alan Rae, 56, an assistant dean at the University of Northampton, was granted a decree nisi last year.

But Mrs Rae said the behaviour cited was ‘normal squabbling between a husband and wife’ and not proper grounds for a separation.

She broke down in tears yesterday, as she said the courts had ‘elevated’ examples of their ‘everyday family difficulties’ to the level of unreasonable behaviour.

She explained: ‘I didn’t want him to do the washing, and I didn’t want intensively farmed meat in the house. ‘I asked that of him and he ignored me for the whole 20 years. But these were our only two disagreements.’

She went on to say that her husband had only become so affected by these ‘everyday’ problems after he began suffering from depression, and that she had been accused  of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ so the divorce could be rubber-stamped.

‘My reactions to my husband were always....  what any right-thinking person would consider reasonable,’ she said.

Lord Justice Thorpe admitted that he was sympathetic to Mrs Rae’s plight, but said it was clear that her marriage could not be saved.


Sarkozy bans imams from entering France in fundamentalist crackdown after Toulouse shootings

France is to ban radical Muslim preachers from entering the country as part of a crackdown after shootings by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman in Toulouse, President Nicolas Sarkozy said today.

The President said he would block the entry of some imams invited to an Islamic conference next month, organised by the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF).

The UOIF, one of three Muslim federations in France, is regarded as close to Egypt's Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.        

'I have clearly indicated that there certain people who have been invited to this congress who are not welcome on French soil,' Mr Sarkozy told France Info radio.       

The crackdown follows the murder of seven people in Toulouse by Islamic extremist Mohammed Merah, 23.

The gunman shot down a Rabbi, three children and three soldiers in three separate attacks before being shot dead at the end of 32-hour police siege.

Following the shootings last week, Mr Sarkozy has announced plans to punish those viewing websites advocating Islamic extremism and going abroad for indoctrination or terrorist training.

One imam banned by the President is Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric based in Qatar who is one of the most prominent Sunni Muslim clerics in the Arab world and a household name in the Middle East due to regular appearances on the Al Jazeera news channel.    

A former member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Qaradawi is independent of the group but remains close to it. Mr Sarkozy said the situation was complicated because the imam holds a diplomatic passport and does not require a visa to enter France.

'I indicated to the Emir of Qatar himself that this person was not welcome on the territory of the French republic,' Mr Sarkozy said. 'He will not come.'

Qaradawi was denied a visa to visit Britain in 2008 on grounds of seeking to 'justify acts of terrorist violence or disburse views that could foster inter-community violence', a Home Office spokeswoman said at the time.     

The cleric had defended Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel and attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.      

The killing spree by Merah has pushed security to the top of the political agenda.           

Mr Sarkozy, campaigning for re-election, has rebutted criticism by opposition politicians that the security services blundered in allowing the 23-year-old, a petty criminal known to have visited Afghanistan twice, to shoot dead seven people in a ten-day rampage in southwest France.           

'Here is a young criminal who suddenly becomes a very active terrorist without any transition. As far as we know there was no cell,' Mr Sarkozy said.    

The legislation will have to wait until after a two-round April-May presidential election because the Socialist opposition has resisted an emergency session of parliament to approve them.


The more often you attend church services the happier you'll become, says survey

If you want to cheer yourself up, you could do a lot worse than attend church services, according to the findings of a recent poll.  A Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that people who attend a church, synagogue, or mosque frequently report experiencing more positive emotions and fewer negative ones in general than do those who attend less often or not at all.

Frequent churchgoers experience an average of 3.36 positive emotions per day compared with an average of 3.08 among those who never attend.  In other words, regular churchgoers seem to do better than non-churchgoers or occasional churchgoers in terms of their daily positive wellbeing experiences.

The U.S survey based its findings on more than 300,000 interviews.

The positive emotions include smiling and laughter, enjoyment, happiness, and learning or doing something interesting.  Negative emotions include worry, sadness, stress, and anger.

Not only do Americans who attend a church, synagogue, or mosque frequently report having higher wellbeing in general, but they also get an extra boost to their emotional state on Sundays - while the rest of the nation sees a decline in their mood.
Heavens above: Going to church can have a positive effect on your emotions, according to new research

The average number of positive emotions frequent churchgoers report experiencing rises to a high of 3.49 for the week on Sundays, whereas for those who attend church monthly or less often, the average number peaks on Saturdays and declines to a range of 3.14 to 3.29 on Sundays.  A similar pattern is evident for negative emotions.

Although reports of negative emotions decline on Saturdays for all the population in general, frequent churchgoers still report experiencing still fewer negative emotions on Sundays, while negativity increased on that day for those who attend church seldom or never.

Meanwhile, Sunday is the only day of the week when the moods of frequent churchgoers and those who do not attend a religious service often diverge in direction significantly.
Gallup church poll - days of the week


Australia:  Clear evidence that the abandonment of double jeopardy can lead to gross abuses

We now see one reason why the double jeopady principle was entrenched British law for centuries.  It's persecution the way the man below is being treated. When do the retrials stop?  This could go on forever.  At the very least only two trials should be permitted.  I gather that the double jeopardy rule has been abandoned in Britain too

Five years ago, Philip Leung was found rocking from side to side at the foot of his stairs, cradling his blood-stained partner, Mario Guzzetti. A short time later, Mr Guzzetti was dead, having suffered head injuries.

Last week, Mr Leung, 51, broke down in the same stairwell after learning he would stand trial over his former lover's killing - for the third time.

At his original trial in 2009, Mr Leung was acquitted of murder after a judge directed the jury to find him not guilty.

The Crown, however, used NSW's controversial double jeopardy laws, introduced in 2006, to have the verdict quashed.

Mr Leung then faced court on a manslaughter charge last April, but became the first person in Australian legal history to be acquitted twice by a judge's directed verdict. As he left court that day, he said he was "finally free" to move on.

He was wrong.  Last Tuesday, the unprecedented case took another twist: the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal upheld a second appeal by the Crown and ordered that Mr Leung again be tried for manslaughter.

According to uncontested facts referred to in the judgment by the appeal court, Mr Leung and his partner had been together since 2001, but a month before his death, Mr Guzzetti, 72, had told a friend he wanted to end the relationship because Mr Leung was becoming aggressive and frightening him. On the morning of April 7, Easter Eve in 2007, a neighbour heard two voices arguing at the couple's shared home in Alexandria, followed by a loud bang that resembled "a shelf falling, and pots and lids falling to the ground". She also later heard Mr Leung crying, "like roaring or having a tantrum". Almost an hour after the initial bang, Mr Leung called an ambulance, stating: "I had a fight with my friend and my friend dead."

When the first witnesses arrived at the scene, they found Mr Leung sitting at the bottom of the staircase. Holding Mr Guzzetti, he said to an acquaintance: "I want my Mario … Mario, wake up."

He told another friend: "We had an argument … I was making carrot juice and he [Mario] kept at me." Mr Guzzetti had stopped breathing before paramedics arrived and in an interview at Redfern Police Station that same day, Mr Leung could not recall the vital moments before his death. "We have breakfast, Mario argue with me. He criticise me a lot … and then my head starts spinning."

Mr Leung was charged with murder. At his trial in May 2009, the Crown alleged the couple argued while Mr Leung was making a carrot juice, resulting in him striking his lover with a bloodstained juicer that was found on the floor beside Mr Guzzetti's body, and also by applying additional pressure to his neck. However, crucial medical and scientific evidence proved inconclusive, with both a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist concluding Mr Guzzetti's blunt force head injuries were consistent with both a physical attack using the juice extractor - and a fall.

Equally, it was advised that bruising around the neck could have been the result of either force, or amateurish attempts at resuscitation. Consequently, Justice Stephen Rothman delivered a directed not-guilty verdict, ruling the Crown had failed to properly establish how Mr Guzzetti had died. In April last year, Justice Michael Adams reached the same conclusion, directing a second jury to find Mr Leung not guilty.

But on two occasions now, the Crown has utilised double jeopardy laws that permit appeals in homicide cases settled by a judge's directed verdict. In its latest appeal, the Crown pointed to the fact that prior to the second trial, Dr Paul Botterill, who had conducted the original autopsy, inspected the premises and staircase area where the death occurred. After that visit, he concluded the likelihood of the injuries being caused by falling from the top of the stairs - which change direction and feature a quarter landing - was at most a "theoretical possibility".

Mr Leung's lawyers, meanwhile, argued that with two Supreme Court judges having twice dismissed the case, a third retrial would "undermine community confidence in the criminal justice system". It was also pointed out that Mr Leung had "clearly suffered" following four months of imprisonment, strict bail conditions, as well as five years of continuing stress and uncertainty that had arisen from the Crown appeals.

In his judgment on Tuesday, the NSW Chief Justice, Tom Bathurst, said based on all available evidence, and particularly the fact that both men were alone in the house, it was "by no means certain" that a jury verdict of guilty would be set aside as "unreasonable".

He overturned the acquittal, adding it was now a matter for the prosecution to determine whether to proceed for a third time against Mr Leung.

Mr Leung is on bail for manslaughter and a trial date is yet to be set. When that day arrive, he will become the first person in Australian legal history to be tried three times over the same killing.



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

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

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


27 March, 2012

Be polite and stand up for your elders or lose free travel, London Mayor Boris Johnson tells young

Teenagers will be told to ‘stand up for their elders’ on public transport – or risk losing their right to free travel. London Mayor Boris Johnson will unveil plans today to make youngsters sign a ‘courtesy pledge’ to promise to behave in a respectful manner when travelling in the capital.

The three-point pledge states that they will give up their seats to the elderly, pregnant and disabled; refrain from using offensive or threatening language; and be courteous and polite to fellow passengers and staff. Those who refuse, or are caught behaving in a loutish manner, will have their free travel passes removed.

The plan – a key part of Mr Johnson’s re-election bid – will initially affect the 400,000 11-to-15-year-olds in London who qualify for free travel cards, but Tory sources believe the idea could be used across the country.

A Conservative insider said: ‘The initiative chimes perfectly with the push to create a Big Society. It is about changing culture and expectations around behaviour to improve the atmosphere on buses and trains for everyone.’

Speaking before today’s launch, Mr Johnson said he was determined to tackle the anti-social behaviour of a ‘minority of youngsters’ on public transport.

‘When I was a boy, I was taught to stand up for those less able to,’ he said. ‘Youngsters enjoy the privilege of free travel, which is paid for by Londoners, but they have to understand that with that privilege comes responsibility. Anyone who abuses this privilege will have it taken away, and will have to earn that right back.’

Teenagers found guilty of a serious breach of the new behaviour code will lose their travel passes, and will have to carry out unpaid community work to have them restored.

Mr Johnson is also introducing a ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy to deal with repeat offenders, under which those committing a second serious breach of the code will lose their travel rights permanently.

City Hall sources said the plan would cost taxpayers nothing, as the pledge would be incorporated into the existing application process for youngsters’ free travel passes.

The move follows an earlier initiative of Mr Johnson’s that banned the consumption of alcohol on public transport in the capital, which is credited with helping to drive down crime rates on buses and trains.

Critics initially dismissed the ban as a gimmick but, although there is little formal enforcement, peer pressure has helped to battle the problem of anti-social drinking on the city’s transport network. Crime on London buses has been cut by almost a third since the ban was introduced in 2008.


Germaine Greer, the anti-feminist

Greer was back in Australia recently. Aging leads to many transformations

Peter FitzSimons

As to Germaine Greer, TFF noted recently her extraordinary personal attacks at the Perth Writers Festival on Julie Bishop and Gina Rinehart - the latter for her "bloated form" - which amazed me, given that as the world's most iconic living feminist, I would have thought everything she stood for was against attacking other women for the way they look.

And yet, on Tuesday night's Q&A on ABC1 she was at it again, offering the Prime Minister gratuitous advice on what she should wear. (Can anyone ever remember Greer passing comment on gear worn by the likes of Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating or Rudd? Me neither.)

But then, she followed up with the outrageous, and hurtful, "Face it, Julia, you've got a big arse!" Staggering. It's like hearing Barack Obama call a black man a "nigger", or Nelson Mandela say apartheid really was not so bad.

And the strangest thing? Not that it matters at all, but there is no truth in it (not that it matters if there was truth in it). I acknowledge this is a bit delicate - and for once I won't respond to emails on it, because such discussion would be tacky - but I happened to be on the podium, sitting right behind the PM on Wednesday morning as she made her tribute speech to Nancy Wake in the Great Hall of Parliament House, and couldn't help but notice that Greer is simply wrong. There. I've said it. So shoot me.


Australia: Is this Julia Gillard's biggest gaffe yet?

ANZAC day is close to the heart of most Australians. It is the day we remember our many fine young men who died in war. It is often described as Australia's most sacred day. Criticizing it will both discredit the critic and lead to emphasized support for the commemorations. As Prime Minister, Gillard should have rejected this mealy-mouthed bureaucratic garbage immediately. As it is, it is now associated with her government. She's brainless and so are her ministers

THE Federal Government has been warned that celebrating the centenary of Anzac Day could provoke division in multicultural Australia - and that there are "risks" in honouring our fallen soldiers.

The centenary is a "double-edged sword" and a "potential area of divisiveness" because of multiculturalism, a taxpayer-funded report from 2010 finds.

Bureaucrats spent almost $370,000 for focus-group testing and a research paper used by the Government to guide commemoration plans, which listed multiculturalism under "risks and issues" to avoid "unexpected negative complications".

Diggers groups slammed the report, saying Australians supported the April 2015 centenary celebrations, which are expected to stop the nation, and include travelling exhibitions and special remembrance services.

The report also says organisers should avoid references to current military action because it is "unpopular with young people".

The paper states: "Commemorating our military history in a multicultural society is something of a double-edged sword.

"While the 100th anniversaries are thought to provide some opportunity for creating a greater sense of unity, it is also recognised as a potential area of divisiveness."

More research into the impact of Anzac Day commemorations on recently arrived migrants was suggested.

But the report acknowledged that making the centenary events "overly political correct" would not be well received generally or by military personnel.

Commemorations should be "culturally sensitive and inclusive", the paper said.

It said events to mark the centenary and wars which had claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Australians should not be "unrelentingly gloomy". Any commemoration "needs to allow a positive end, make it uplifting after being reflective".

"Commemoration fatigue" was identified in focus groups if events spanned a planned four years - the same amount of time Australians spent fighting in hellish conditions at places including Gallipoli and the Western Front during World War I.

The paper has been panned by the RSL, which maintains Australia's enthusiasm for the day remains as strong as ever.

RSL national president Ken Doolan, a member of the Anzac Day National Commission and the Anzac Centenary advisory board, said Anzac Day held a "central place in Australia". "The Australian people have said overwhelmingly that they want the centenary celebrated," he said.

Victorian RSL president David McLachlan said the commemoration had the full support of Australia's Turkish communities and the Turkish Government. There were no multicultural issues with the planned event, Mr McLachlan said.

Ray Brown, of the Injured Service Persons Association, was horrified by the spending. "We've always seemed to get it right, we have never offended anybody. "We seem to be able to acknowledge war is not a nice thing and that people on both sides lose out - and we have never had to spend $300,000 combined, let alone in one year," he said.

The cost is on top of more than $103,000 on focus groups to discuss "branding concepts" for the centenary in 2015.

A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said the research paper was to "gain an understanding of the views, perceptions, knowledge and aspirations of the Australian people in relation to Anzac commemoration and the impending centenary".


Islam and the Future of Liberalism

Sam Harris

My criticism of Islam, as of any other religion, is aimed at its doctrine and the resulting behavior of its adherents. I am not talking about races of people, or nationalities, or any other aspects of culture.

And yes, there are more moderate strands of the faith: The Ahmadis, for instance, resemble what many liberal Westerners imagine the "true" face of Islam must be like. I still find their creed disconcerting: According to one of the websites affiliated with this movement, Ahmadis believe that the "Holy Qu'ran is the word of God which is to guide mankind forever, and the Holy Prophet Muhammad was the perfect model of Islamic teachings whose example shall forever be binding on every Muslim to follow." To my ear, the words "forever" and "perfect" and "every" and "binding" convey the scent of despotism about as well as "a thousand-year Reich"-especially when one considers the actual contents of the Qur'an and the example set by Muhammad. However, the Ahmadis at least claim to believe that jihad "primarily signifies a spiritual, intellectual and moral struggle to reform oneself and others" and to condemn "all use of force except in unavoidable self-defense." I'm not sure I would want to put these assertions to the test by venturing into an Ahmadi mosque with a fresh batch of cartoons of the Prophet, but the Ahmadis are at least disposed to make the sorts of conciliatory sounds that the religious must make in order to live peacefully in a pluralistic world where most people do not share their favorite superstitions.

But the Ahmadis are by no means the "true" face of Islam, and their mosques are regularly bombed in Pakistan. It is only decent to observe that these atrocities have nothing to do with Israel's occupation of Palestine, or U.S. foreign policy, or any other terrestrial concern. Why do Ahmadis suffer and die in this way? The reason is as easily discerned as reasons generally are among religious lunatics: Sunni Muslims consider Ahmadis to be heretics-in fact, the government of Pakistan officially deems them so. Unwisely, one branch of this sect holds that its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908), was a true Prophet of Islam, akin to Muhammad. One thing is as certain in the year 2012 as it was in the year 1012: If you claim that your favorite mystic was Muhammad's true successor, some young Muslims will be eager to lay down their lives for the pleasure of destroying yours.

As I tried to make clear on Rogan's podcast, we know that intolerance within the Muslim world extends far beyond the membership of "extremist" groups. Recent events in Afghanistan demonstrate, yet again, that ordinary Afghans grow far more incensed when a copy of the Qur'an gets defaced than when their own children are accidentally killed by our bombs-or intentionally murdered. I doubt there is a more ominous skewing of priorities to be found in this world.

Should people be free to draw cartoons of the Prophet? There must be at least 300 million Muslims spread over a hundred countries who think that a person should be put to death for doing so. (This is based on every poll assessing Muslim opinion I have seen over the past ten years.) Should Ayaan Hirsi Ali be killed for her apostasy? Millions of Muslim women would applaud her murder (to say nothing of Muslim men). These attitudes must change. The moral high ground here is clear, and we are standing on it.

Of course, millions of Muslims are more secular and are eager to help create a global civil society. But they are virtually silent because they have nothing to say that makes any sense within the framework of their faith. (They are also afraid of getting killed.) That is the problem we must keep in view. And it represents an undeniable difference between Islam and Christianity at this point in history. There are also many nefarious people, in both Europe and the U.S., who are eager to keep well-intentioned liberals confused on this point, equating any criticism of Islam with racism or "Islamophobia." The fact that many critics of Islam are also racists, Christian fascists, or both does not make these apologists any less cynical or sinister.

The only way to know which way is up, ethically speaking, is to honestly assess what people want and what they believe. We must confront the stubborn reality of differing intentions: In every case it is essential to ask, "What would these people do if they had the power to do anything they wanted?"

Consider the position of Israel, which is so regularly vilified by the Left. As a secularist and a nonbeliever-and as a Jew-I find the idea of a Jewish state obnoxious. But if ever a state organized around a religion was justified, it is the Jewish state of Israel, given the world's propensity for genocidal anti-Semitism. And if ever criticism of a religious state was unjustified, it is the criticism of Israel that ceaselessly flows from every corner of the Muslim world, given the genocidal aspirations so many Muslims freely confess regarding the Jews. Those who see moral parity between the two sides of Israeli-Palestinian conflict are ignoring rather obvious differences in intent.

My fellow liberals generally refuse to concede that the religious beliefs of groups like Hamas merit any special concern. And yet the slogan of Hamas, as set forth in Article 8 of its charter, reads: "Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes." If this is insufficient to establish this group as a death cult of aspiring martyrs, consider the following excerpts from the charter:
[T]he Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with. As is said in the honourable Hadith:
"The people of Syria are Allah's lash in His land. He wreaks His vengeance through them against whomsoever He wishes among His slaves. It is unthinkable that those who are double-faced among them should prosper over the faithful. They will certainly die out of grief and desperation."

It is necessary to instill in the minds of the Muslim generations that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on this basis. Palestine contains Islamic holy sites. In it there is al-Aqsa Mosque which is bound to the great Mosque in Mecca in an inseparable bond as long as heaven and earth speak of Isra` (Mohammed's midnight journey to the seven heavens) and Mi'raj (Mohammed's ascension to the seven heavens from Jerusalem).

"The bond of one day for the sake of Allah is better than the world and whatever there is on it. The place of one's whip in Paradise is far better than the world and whatever there is on it. A worshipper's going and coming in the service of Allah is better than the world and whatever there is on it." (As related by al-Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tarmdhi and Ibn Maja).

"I swear by the holder of Mohammed's soul that I would like to invade and be killed for the sake of Allah, then invade and be killed, and then invade again and be killed." (As related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Whether or not every Palestinian believes these things is not the point. The point is that many do, and their democratically elected government claims to. It is only rational, therefore, for Israel to behave as though it is confronted by a cult of religious sociopaths. The fact that much of the world, and most Western liberals, cannot see the moral imbalance here only makes the position of Israel more precarious, leaving it increasingly vulnerable to overreacting to Palestinian provocations. If the rest of the world were united in condemnation of Hamas, and of Islamism generally, Israel could afford to be slower to reach for its guns.

As is so often the case on the subject of religion, those who should know better reliably do not. For instance, Nicholas Kristof has consistently championed the cause of women in the developing world, many of whom suffer under the strictures of Islam. But he has also been a tireless advocate of political correctness on the subject of religion. In his review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book, Nomad, these two commitments collide and, predictably, political correctness wins:
To those of us who have lived and traveled widely in Africa and Asia, descriptions of Islam often seem true but incomplete. The repression of women, the persecution complexes, the lack of democracy, the volatility, the anti-Semitism, the difficulties modernizing, the disproportionate role in terrorism - those are all real. But if those were the only faces of Islam, it wouldn't be one of the fastest-growing religions in the world today. There is also the warm hospitality toward guests, including Christians and Jews; charity for the poor; the aesthetic beauty of Koranic Arabic; the sense of democratic unity as rich and poor pray shoulder to shoulder in the mosque. Glib summaries don't work any better for Islam than they do for Christianity or Judaism. [I]n the West, we should try to have a conversation about Islam and its genuine problems - while speaking out against over-the-top exaggerations about the East. This memoir, while engaging and insightful in many places, exemplifies precisely the kind of rhetoric that is overheated and overstated.

There is sanctimony to spare here, of course, but that is not the worst of it. How could someone as smart and as obviously well-intentioned as Kristof be so off the mark when discussing the views and career of Ayaan Hirsi Ali? He, of all people, should understand how important Hirsi Ali's contributions have been to our global conversation about the rights of women (and what an obstacle religion has been to the establishment of those rights).

Whenever I make observations of this kind, I am accused of misunderstanding the true causes of the conflict between Islam and the West. Almost invariably, I am urged to read the work of Robert A. Pape. Pape is the author of a very influential paper, "The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" (American Political Science Review 97, no. 3, 2003), and the book Dying to Win, in which he argues that suicide bombing is best understood as a strategic means to achieve certain well-defined nationalist goals and should not be considered a consequence of religious ideology. No one has done more to convince my fellow liberals that if we just behaved ourselves on the world stage, our problems with Islam would go away. I am happy to say that Pape has agreed to discuss these issues with me on this page in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.



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

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

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


26 March, 2012

Book tells Muslim men how to beat and control their wives; Controversial guide sold in Toronto

A local bookstore has “sold out” of a controversial marriage guide that advises Muslim men on how to beat their wives.

The 160-page book, published by Idara Impex in New Delhi, India, is written by Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, who’s described in the book’s foreword as a “prolific writer on almost every topic of Islamic learning.”

The store’s manager, who didn’t give his name, said the book had been sold out for some time, and the store’s owner, whom the manager identified as Shamim Ahmad, refused to comment for the story.

It wasn’t clear whether the shop has ordered more copies of the book, but it’s available at online Islamic bookstores and even through eBay.

In the book’s opening pages, it is written that “it might be necessary to restrain her with strength or even to threaten her.”

Later, its author advises that “the husband should treat the wife with kindness and love, even if she tends to be stupid and slow sometimes.”

Page 45 contains the rights of the husband, which include his wife’s inability to leave “his house without his permission,” and that his wife must “fulfil his desires” and “not allow herself to be untidy ... but should beautify herself for him ... ”

In terms of physical punishment, the book advises that a husband may scold her, “beat by hand or stick,” withhold money from her or “pull (her) by the ears,” but should “refrain from beating her excessively.”

Moderate Muslim voice Tarek Fatah says the shopkeeper should be charged for selling such a book.

“I wouldn’t say it’s hate, but it is inciting men to hit women,” said Fatah, who identified the book’s author as a prominent Islamic scholar. “This is new to you, but the Muslim community knows that this is widespread, that a woman can be beaten. Muslim leaders will deny this, but... ”

Male dominance over women has been making headlines for some time, with the recent lengthy trial and conviction of the Shafia family.

Mohammad Shafia, 59, his second wife, Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son, Hamed, 21, were each convicted in January on four counts of first-degree murder in what was characterized as an honour killing of four female family members as punishment for disobedience. They were handed life sentences with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Shafia’s three daughters and his first wife were found drowned in a car at the bottom of the Rideau Canal in Kingston, Ont., in June 2009.

Eric Brazau says he was flipping through the marriage guide while in the bookstore around a month ago.

Brazau bought it out of curiosity but was taken aback when he found dozens of chapters and passages giving Muslim husbands advice on controlling, restraining, scolding and beating their wives.

“At first, I thought that it is incredible that this kind of thing can be found in Canada,” said Brazau. “And then I thought, radical Islam is not coming to Canada, it is already here.”


British council worker faces sack for flag tribute to soldiers... just weeks after it flies the rainbow banner for gay rights

Flying a flag at half mast is a normal sign of mourning. Attacking someone for doing so is incredibly crass

A council worker could face the sack after he lowered the town hall flag in memory of six British soldiers who died in Afghanistan - despite it proudly flying a rainbow banner in support of gay rights just weeks before.

Having seen Bassetlaw District Council in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, show its support for good causes and agreeing to fly the symbolic rainbow flag last month, the unnamed worker lowered the council's own flag to half mast as a gesture to the soldiers.

But the employee, an ex-serviceman himself, was served with disciplinary papers alleging 'gross misconduct'.

It is thought he is also being quizzed for failing to carry out a 'thorough health and safety assessment' before lowering the flag on Tuesday, the day in which the bodies of the six soldiers killed in a car bomb were flown home.

Those close to the employee, who is said to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder following his own deployment, are now concerned about the impact of his reprimand. Speaking to the Sun a friend of the employee, said: 'This is an outrage. 'The council knows about his stress disorder.'

Decisions about when it is appropriate to lower the flag continue to be shrouded in confusion as the flag of the local Mercian Regiment was at half-mast over the town hall yesterday - in honour of a soldier killed on Wednesday.

The deaths of Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, Cpl Jake Hartley, 20, Pte Anthony Frampton, 20, Pte Christopher Kershaw, 19, Pte Daniel Wade, 20, and Pte Daniel Wilford, 21, were the single biggest loss of British life in Afghanistan since 2006 and took the total number of British military fatalities since 2001 to more than 400.

Their bodies were flown back to Britain early this week and in Oxon more than 2,000 people turned out to pay their respects.
Five of the men were from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and a sixth was attached from 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s regiment.

A spokesman for the council wouldn't be drawn on the incident but said: 'We have a strong association with the Mercians.
'It is policy to lower the flag in the tragic event of loss of life.'


Britons are ignorant of Christianity and the Classics, says Sister Wendy

Sister Wendy, the nun-turned-television-presenter, has warned that modern-day ignorance about Christianity and the Classics has left people unable to appreciate much of Western art.

She says she regrets the public's lack of understanding of the Gospel stories, and adds that as a consequence they cannot grasp the meaning of much of the canon of European painting.

Sister Wendy Beckett, who presented a popular series on art during the 1990s, says: "In the past everybody knew these stories, although they didn't necessarily live the spirit of them. "Everybody used to know the Greek myths and most people had a smattering of Latin, now they don't."

She adds that the widespread lack of knowledge meant art historians were forced to fill in basic gaps, without which many paintings – such as those portraying the annunciation of Christ's birth to the young Mary, or Christ washing the disciples' feet on the eve of his execution – lose the central part of their meaning.

She points out that this phenomenon has coincided with a huge increase in the number of people attending art galleries, and says she fears that their experience is poorer because of their lack of religious understanding.

"This country has been built on the Christian faith – it's our heritage, whether people believe it or not. They have a right to know what happened and it does sadden me [that they don't]," she says.

Sister Wendy speaks about the issue in an Arena television documentary, extracts of which were shown for the first time at the Oxford Literary Festival yesterday.

The BBC programme shows how she now uses the great religious paintings to retell the Gospel stories, in the hope of reacquainting her audience with their true meaning.

She also tells how an early experience led the young Wendy Beckett to devote her life to her religious faith. Sitting under the kitchen table at her parents home in South Africa at the age of just four, she says, she felt the overwhelming presence of God. "I felt protected by him. It happened just once, but that was enough to last a lifetime," she says.

Now aged 82, and unable to attend the Oxford festival in person because of ill health, she says she is looking forward to her death.

In one particularly touching scene of the documentary, to be broadcast later this year, Sister Wendy visits the monastery graveyard where she hopes to be buried. "I've had the most incredibly happy life," she says.


Disagreement vs. 'Gay-Bashing' and Hate Speech

Chuck Colson

When I was going through Watergate, my life was threatened repeatedly. And in the early years of my ministry with Prison Fellowship, the authorities had to monitor various individuals who had made threats against me.

In 1983, on my way to Prison Fellowship International's convocation in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I learned at a press conference that I had been placed on the hit list of the Irish Republican Army. The IRA was threatened by the work of Prison Fellowship there, because we were reconciling Catholics and Protestants prisoners in the midst of a very hot war euphemistically called "the Troubles."

In fact, when Patty and I arrived in Belfast, we were accorded special protection. So I am no stranger to hit lists and threats.

But, it seems like I've made another list - and frankly, I'm surprised, though, as I'll explain, I guess I shouldn't.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, with the misleading acronym GLAAD, has placed 36 commentators, yours truly among them, on its Commentator Accountability Project list. GLAAD claims, and I quote, that it is seeking to "educate the media about the extreme rhetoric of over three dozen activists who are often given a platform to speak in opposition to LGBT people and the issues that affect their lives."

Uh, okay. GLAAD's press release goes on to say that everyone on the list has expressed an "extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community." Its website accuses those on the list of "violent anti-LGBT rhetoric."

So, yes, I'm surprised that Princeton's Robert George and I, two of the three co-authors of the Manhattan Declaration, made the list. When we wrote the Declaration, we went to enormous lengths to be sensitive to homosexuals, to proclaim that homosexuals possess "profound, inherent, and equal dignity," and to call upon the church to resist "disdainful condemnation" of homosexuals.

And in my 35 years of ministering behind bars, I've embraced, and prayed with numerous men and women dying of AIDS. We have called all sinners - gay and straight - to repentance in Jesus Christ.

So, yes, I'm surprised I made the list. But sadly, I realize I shouldn't be. For one thing, this type of intimidation is par for the course for many in the so-called gay-rights movement. Not interested in dialogue, they seem more interested in demonizing and shouting down their opponents.

For another, their definition of "gay-bashing" is skewed. For them, anything short of renouncing the historical Christian teaching on sexuality is akin to hate. If I say that homosexual sex is a sin, they say I'm hateful. Yet I also say that pre-marital sex is a sin, as is drinking too much. Is that hateful, too?

Over the years I have been very careful not to involve in gay-bashing. I can't think of a single time I have. I seek to honestly discuss the issues. So if any reporter has evidence of gay-bashing on my part, I'd like to hear it. But again, I reject the notion that disagreement - even strong disagreement - is gay-bashing or hateful.

I can't speak for the others on this latest list, but I for one, will not be intimidated into silence. No matter what list I make!



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

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

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


25 March, 2012

Evil and lawless British social workers again

"Social workers took away our baby for nine months": With no evidence against them, couple were banned from looking after their son

When Julie Nevin put her only son to bed in late December 2010, he was seven months old. The next time she was allowed to perform that simple act, Reilly was a 16-month-old toddler. She and her husband David lost nine months of their little boy’s life after social services took him away over a minor bruise on his forehead.

They believed Mr and Mrs Nevin may have slapped their beloved son, with the couple at one point being arrested on suspicion of assault and subjected to the humiliation of police taking their DNA, fingerprints and mugshots – despite all the initial checks coming back clear.

The couple’s nightmare only ended when a consultant paediatrician belatedly conceded that the bruising had most likely been caused by the little boy accidentally bumping into the metal legs of the family’s sofa – as they had originally suggested.

A judge dismissed the council’s application for a care order, ruling that Reilly was already a ‘well-cared for child’, and his parents were allowed to take him home.

Last night the Nevins told how their lives had been ‘turned upside down’ by the horrific experience, and called for an urgent overhaul of the child protection system.

Mrs Nevin, 40, who works for the Red Cross, said: ‘Reilly left us as a baby and came back as a toddler. We have had to start all over again. For nine months we came back to an empty house, it was very distressing.’

‘The whole system is loaded against parents. You are guilty until proven innocent. Nobody believed us apart from our GP. Our backgrounds and medical history were checked and there was nothing.’

She added: ‘We felt we were stuck in a system in which social workers were ticking the right boxes just to make them look as if they were working.’

The couple’s ordeal began on Christmas Eve 2010, when Reilly woke up at the family’s semi-detached bungalow in the village of Rhos, near Swansea, with a minor bruise on his forehead.

Mrs Nevin called her husband, a manager in a dairy company, who advised her to take Reilly to their family doctor to be on the safe side. The GP concluded he was a ‘well, bright and lively’ child who had probably hurt himself rolling around the sitting room floor, and that there was no evidence that the injury was deliberate.

But five days later, Mrs Nevin took Reilly for a check-up at a medical centre, and staff referred him to the paediatric assessment unit at Morriston Hospital in Swansea. There, a consultant paediatrician suggested a slap could have caused the bruise, describing it as a ‘non-accidental suspicious injury’.

His parents rejected this and gave other possible explanations, including him hitting his face on the metal legs of the sofa, or on his cot bars, or on his toys. But Mrs Nevin said: ‘Although the paediatricians did not say it in so many words, they thought we had slapped him.’

Reilly stayed in hospital for two nights for observation and tests, including one for shaken baby syndrome, which all came back clear. Despite this, the devastated couple were told they were not allowed to take Reilly home because of concerns about his safety.

Arrangements were made for the baby to stay with relatives, initially his uncle and aunt. Reilly then spent the next nine months being fostered by Mrs Nevin’s parents, who live a few miles away from Rhos, with a social worker acting as his legal guardian.

The couple were allowed to see their son, but only on a strict schedule, and they had to be supervised at all times. They visited each day but overnight stays were banned.

Mr Nevin, 48, said: ‘On the first day, we got back home and we just hugged each other in the kitchen and cried. Even though it was New Year’s Eve, we were in bed by 8pm and cried all night.’

Then in February last year, the couple were arrested for suspected assault. A few weeks later however, police told the Nevins the case was being dropped because of lack of evidence. Despite this, social services still sought a care order and told the couple Reilly might be put up for adoption.

Over the next few months, the couple, who have been married for nearly four years, attended the family court in Swansea four times to try to get Reilly back. A second consultant paediatrician, instructed by Reilly’s guardian, initially told the hearing the bruising was caused ‘most probably by a hand slap’.

But after various alternatives were put to him he changed his evidence, conceding the bruising was narrower than he would have expected if Reilly had been slapped. He eventually said he believed the most likely cause was Reilly bumping against a sofa leg.

District Judge Jane Garland-Thomas dismissed the care order application, ruling that Neath Port Talbot Council had failed to prove the injury was non-accidental and that there was ‘no evidence whatsoever’ of any other causes of concern. She added: ‘Reilly was a well-cared for and no doubt still is a well-cared for baby and these parents have been totally compliant and engaged fully with the social services.’

Finally, on September 27 last year, the couple were able to take Reilly home.

Nearly six months later, Mr and Mrs Nevin are still recovering from the pain of being separated from Reilly for nearly a year.

They have written to the Prime Minister asking for changes to child protection procedures, highlighting the ‘stress, heartache, family upset and depression’ they suffered.

Mrs Nevin, who was prescribed anti-depressants, said: ‘He is the most loved child ever. But I still don’t think I have got over it. I am even afraid to take Reilly to the doctor now.’

A spokesman for Neath Port Talbot Council said: ‘We take safeguarding of children extremely seriously. We are satisfied that all appropriate actions were taken.’ [Self-righteous scum]


Meet the British students taking on the state

If you think student groups are all PC, censorious bores, you clearly haven't heard of Liberty League.

‘It’s pretty much totally unprecedented.’ Anton Howes, a 21-year-old undergraduate student at King’s College London, is referring to the rapid rise of the pro-freedom organisation Liberty League on campuses across the UK. Howes and a group of fellow students launched Liberty League 18 months ago.

For decades, university students in Britain who wanted to change the world often had little more than a handful of left-wing groups to sign up to. And, as time has gone on, these radical groups have become more and more outdated and divorced from political reality. Left-wing student associations are now more likely to call for state intervention into people’s lives, embrace the welfare state and demand fewer cuts, rather than fundamentally challenging the state’s role.

Howes recognises this phenomenon. ‘People are sick of seeing tonnes and tonnes of Socialist Workers Party or Marxist groups hounding them on tables outside campus all the time, posting fliers and posters everywhere. They think “well, I don’t agree with this”. Students want to see an alternative group on campus that has pro-liberty ideas.’

Howes, like an entrepreneur, explains that the reason for establishing the Liberty League was a case of supply and demand: ‘There’s a growing demand for an end to interference in people’s lives. More and more people are getting annoyed with the state, but they might not necessarily pin it on the state at the start.’ This is where Liberty League comes in. ‘What you need’, Howes continues, ‘is the infrastructure of a group of people that say “well here’s your problem”’.

The demand for such a group is coming from a mix of students, says Howes, who place themselves all over the traditional political spectrum, from left-wing anarchists to young conservatives. Liberty League now has 30 active student societies on campuses across the UK and it is rising all the time.

One enthusiastic Liberty League supporter is Gabrielle Shiner, a young American studying at Queen Mary, University of London. Shiner recounts: ‘When I got to the UK I couldn’t really find any student group to join. It was really disheartening for libertarian students. And then Anton, who I’d never heard of, started tweeting asking me if I was looking to get involved in something and I was really excited about that.’

Howes and Shiner both say that they are neither left-wing nor right-wing. Instead, they prefer to call themselves ‘libertarian’. ‘Right now what unites us all [at Liberty League] is we are all working towards having small state where people can live more independent lives and where power is given back to the individual’, says Shiner. ‘That’s the fundamental principle that everyone wants to see realised.’

Both of the students recount frustrating experiences of being wrongly pigeonholed. ‘People automatically throw us next to the Tory group on campus before they’ve even interacted with us or spoken to us’, says Shiner. ‘A lot of people think we’re just the really extreme Tories, which is totally bizarre to me.’

Shiner has, however, found that right-leaning students are more open to discussions on campus than some left-wing ones are: ‘When I send invites for debates to the socialist societies, they just aren’t really willing to engage with them’, she says. ‘It’s really hard to strike up a conversation and I really want my events to be about debate. I don’t want to be in a room with the people who already agree with me. What’s the point of having a student society if you’re not engaging with - and challenging - ideas?’

Liberty League campaigners have been experimenting with different initiatives to try to open up debate around freedom issues. One such experiment was the Freedom Wall, established by Shiner and her friends at Queen Mary. They persuaded the student union to let them erect a 16ft-long wall where, over the course of a week, students could write whatever they liked.

‘A lot of campuses in America have set up Freedom Walls, but it hadn’t been done in Europe before’, Shiner explains. But setting one up wasn’t without its problems. ‘I spoke to my student union and they were like “oh but someone might write something racist on it, you can’t do that!”’ Shiner didn’t give up and after a lot of discussion eventually got the green light.

While some of the messages posted on the wall were banal, Shiner found it served its purpose. ‘When discussing it some people made some weird connections, saying things like “If you support free speech and you support being able to question all ideas, then that means you support Islamophobia”. That’s absolutely ridiculous, but that’s the kind of attitude a lot of students had. Illogical conclusions were being drawn, but the positive thing was that it started up a conversation among people about what free speech means.’

There are now plans to set up Freedom Walls on other campuses and Liberty League has several other campaigns in the pipeline, too. Howes is excited about a forthcoming campaign to challenge the increasing obsession with putting health warnings on food, drink and tobacco.

However, Liberty League is defined mostly by a strong belief in holding lively, no-holds-barred debates. Shiner will shortly be organising a public debate in London entitled ‘Libertarians and Marxists: Friends or Foes?’. At the end of this month, they are organising a national conference, the Liberty League Freedom Forum, which is supported by spiked. There will be discussions on everything from Ancient Greek conceptions of freedom to free speech at football matches and free-market environmentalism.

In stark contrast to the Occupy movement, which eschews aims and demands, the Liberty Leaguers have a clear sense of what they want to achieve. ‘The ultimate aim is to have a Liberty League, or associated group, on every campus in the UK’, says Howes. ‘In five years’ time I want our conference to have 1,000 participants.’ Speaking more broadly about what he calls the ‘liberty movement’, Howes rules out the idea of moving into party politics: ‘In 10 years’ time, it should be a kind of constituency - big enough and powerful enough so that during student elections and local and general elections, those running for posts and office will be asking themselves “how do I keep the libertarians happy with this policy or that policy?”. That’s the dream.’

Shiner has set her sights on helping to organise the liberty movement internationally. She is a supporter of the Students For Liberty organisation in the US, which has gone from having 100 people at their founding conference four years ago, to attracting over 1,000 people at their conference in Washington this February.

After graduating, Shiner plans to dedicate her time to building European Students For Liberty, which she is on the board of, and the nascent student liberty movement in Africa. But she recognises a lot of misconceptions about libertarians need to be nipped in the bud as the movement develops. ‘As a libertarian, you’re told all the time that you’re horrible and immoral, that you want to kill poor people and don’t care about equality, women’s rights and racism. Nothing could be further from the truth.’

Shiner believes that the idea that people need the state to help them make their way in life urgently needs to be challenged. ‘People aren’t stupid. Look at what we have achieved and still achieve despite everything we’re up against. The idea that people aren’t capable of achieving anything and that they’re all just going to starve to death and die with less state support - that’s ridiculous. People are incredibly innovative and creative, especially when you have a culture that promotes and supports independence, rather than undercutting people’s ability to make something of themselves… So much of libertarianism is about respecting the potential of humanity. It’s about a love for what our potential is and about wanting to see individuals and societies flourish. So it’s the exact opposite of trying to favour a small handful of people. It’s the belief that every individual has those capabilities.’

Such words should set alarm bells ringing among the tired, left-wing student groups currently colonising political activities on campuses in the UK and beyond. With such genuinely radical arguments being made by campaigners calling for less state interference into our lives, traditional left-wing groups may well find their longstanding monopoly on student politics is coming to an end.


Outrage as teacher tells pupils to hold minute's silence for Toulouse terrorist

Typical Leftist thinking

Pictures have emerged of injured police officers being brought out of Thursday's raid in Toulouse in which serial killer Mohammed Merah was shot dead.

Meanwhile an English teacher sparked outrage across France yesterday after calling for her pupils to observe a minute’s silence for Merah.

In disturbing scenes at Gustave Flaubert High School in Rouen, Normandy, Lorraine Collin, 56, described the terrorist as being the ‘victim of an unhappy childhood’.

This prompted up to 15 pupils aged between 17 and 18 to storm out of their classroom and report Ms Collin to their headmaster.

Luc Chatel, France’s Education Minister, called for Ms Collin to be ‘suspended immediately’, saying he ‘condemned this unspeakable behaviour without reservation’.

Ms Collin drew attention to the fact that Merah was from a disadvantaged French-Algerian immigrant background and had been drawn to Islamic extremism while serving a prison sentence.

Referring to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Ms Collin even said that Merah’s links with Al-Qaeda had been ‘invented by the media and Sarko.’

It was only when her students began to leave, or to argue with her, that she appeared to back down, saying she was ‘not feeling too well and perhaps take some time off.’

Ms Collin’s comments were soon afterwards reported by the Paris Normandie news website, who quoted an unnamed parent saying: ‘The students acted as responsible citizens by leaving the classroom. They hope the teacher will be suspended.

‘Otherwise, I will give permission for my daughter to boycott English classes until the end of the year.’

A spokesman for the school said what happened was a ‘sad incident’, and that a disciplinary procedure was underway.

Meanwhile hundreds of people participated in a minute of silence to pay tribute to the victims of the Toulouse school and three French soldiers, at the Capitol square in Toulouse, France.


Atheist Group Demands Christian Church Be Evicted From Public Building In Hawaii

The Solid Rock Fellowship Assembly of God is a church that is stationed inside of a low-income housing complex in Kalihi, Hawaii. Run by Pastor Taavao Alualu, the house of worship has been in operation since 1996. Despite its 16-year history, the Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church (HCSSC), a group that values church-state separatism, is seeking to have the church evicted.

In addition to urging the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to evict the church and prevent it from using the public space, the group wants the state to collect back-rent that the house of worship didn’t pay during some of its time using the building.

“It’s basically a separation of church and state issue,” explains David Tveraas, director of HCSSC. “The issue is this is a state building and the state is not allowed to be funding any private churches.”

On the surface, the notion that the church used space free of charge may raise questions. But Pastor Alualu explains that when he opened the church, it was in an old building that was so run down that nobody wanted to use it. In exchange for permission to utilize the building, now called Towers at Kuhio, the faith leader claims he and his congregants agreed to renovate it.

“The place was all rubbish. In front of the building was all graffiti, parties, drug dealing, and gangsters,” he said. “We prayed for it and I asked the management office if we can use it. They said the place is too old. It is not safe.”

In the end, permission was apparently granted. Pastor Alualu claims that he spent $37,000 to reinvigorate the building, which has since been used for prayer meetings, outreach projects to youths, a food bank and more. But, despite these investments, HCSSC believes that the church must be booted from the property and that taxpayers are unfairly footing the bill for the church’s use of the land. Alualu, of course, disagrees and believes that his church’s contributions to the local community more than justify its presence.

“They knew that I spent a lot of money here, so that’s my rent. And I’m willing, if they want me, whoever wants me, to pay more rent,” he said. “Even though it’s not fair — I will.”

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority is investigating the dilemma, with Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi claiming that he was only recently made aware of the atheist group’s request.

“This entity (the church) has spent over $40,000 in renovation and maintenance and they do bring a lot of service to the community,” Ouansafi said. “Having said that, it is something we were not aware of and are in the process of getting to the bottom of it to make sure that no laws are broken.”



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

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

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


24 March, 2012

As a Jewish school is attacked in France, one British mother's utterly shocking account of the anit-Semitism her children suffer

Every weekday morning I drive to a building surrounded by razor wire. It has bomb-proof windows, security guards posted next to its tall, iron gates, and sturdy fences that ring the perimeters. Access to anyone is by entry phone — or by convincing the guards you have a right to enter.

So do I work in a prison? No. I have children who attend a Jewish school near our home in Manchester.

Though the security at the school may sound shockingly heavy-handed, my sons barely notice it and we parents gratefully accept it. However, every so often I ask myself: is this how we really need to protect a school in modern Britain?

Sadly, there is no choice. And after the horrific events in Toulouse this week, which saw the killing of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school just like my children’s, I can’t see that changing.

I was driving when the news came through on the radio and, shaking hard, I just about managed to manoeuvre the car through the morning traffic as I fought to take it in. As soon as I could, I pulled over to phone my husband and tell him what had happened.

Not only was there deep shock and profound sorrow, there was something else, too — a cold dread that fingered the spine. Put simply, I was terrified.

For the sorry truth is that schools like my children’s would not need such protection if there was a not a genuine threat in Britain, too. Don’t believe me? Three of my four children attend Jewish schools (the fourth is now on a gap year), and over recent years they, along with many of their friends and classmates, have been targets for anti-Semitic abuse.

Only recently, my 13-year-old son and his friends were walking home from the local Jewish high school when a group of yobs from across the road taunted them by shouting: ‘You Jews, Sieg Heil! We hate you, Jews.’

Ask any of the pupils about this kind of incident and they will tell you — to quote my 16-year-old son — that ‘it happens all the time’.

These are not teenagers who are ultra-orthodox, so there are no overt signs of their religion, except that they are walking home from a Jewish school. They look like any other scruffy kids as they amble along with their skewed ties, untucked shirts, backpacks and pockets jammed with jaw-rotting sweets. But even that relative anonymity doesn’t protect them.

The tragedy in France has crystallised the fear of every Jewish parent in this country

The son of one friend of mine had eggs thrown at him by a group of youths as he made his way home, while another was actually set upon by a trio of mindless young idiots — though he managed to break free and run away, thankfully, with just a few bruises.

Little wonder that on the afternoon of the Toulouse murders, as I went to collect my seven-year-old daughter from school, the atmosphere in the playground was febrile with what I can only describe as a collective terror.

For the tragedy in France has crystallised the fear of every Jewish parent in this country: that racial hatred takes no prisoners — even innocent ones — and can, in the worst-case scenario, lead to unimaginable tragedy.

Thank goodness that our children, buoyed by youthful optimism, seem almost to take it in their stride. Part of me admires their fortitude.

As a mother, I would fight like a lioness with anyone who threatened their safety.

But I don’t want my teenage sons yoked to my side by a prevailing fear of anti-Semitic attack. I want to raise them to hold their heads high, to be proud of their Jewish heritage, to contribute to and integrate with the wider community and, above all, to know who they are.

Unfortunately, being Jewish and going to a Jewish school puts them in the firing line for threatening and abusive behaviour.

Where I live, the situation is compounded by the fact that more anti-Semitic crime took place in Greater Manchester than London last year, despite seven times more Jews living in the capital.

There is no obvious reason for this except, perhaps, it is easier to target the tight-knit Jewish community in Manchester, which is concentrated in an area that is relatively small compared to London’s sprawl. In terms of the aggressors, there doesn’t seem to be any consistent racial or religious profile.

According to the Community Security Trust (CST), which provides additional protection at schools and communal events to the Jewish community across the country, the victims include two Jewish schoolgirls who were approached by two other youngsters who held cigarette lighters up to them and threatened to ‘burn you like Hitler’.

On another occasion, a lit firework was thrown from a car at three Jewish schoolchildren as they walked home. Let me ask the non-Jewish mothers and fathers reading this: wouldn’t your blood chill if pupils at your children’s school were being threatened this way?

I try to give my sons obvious advice such as never allow yourselves to be goaded into a street fight, and if someone yells abuse from a car, try to get the number plate. (My friend’s son who was covered in eggs did this, and police tracked down and charged the culprit.)

So why is Britain’s 350,000-strong Jewish community — and particularly its children — under the kind of attack that has uncomfortable echoes of 1930s Germany?

The simple answer could be that anyone who seems different will always be a butt for old-fashioned xenophobia, patriarchal bigotry and inherited prejudice.

Perhaps, and this is far more depressing, it’s down to a cultural hatred of Jews that has bled through the generations, creating an unapologetic loathing of anything to do with our religion.

Certainly I believe anti-Semitic attacks are influenced by events in Israel — the CST, which also monitors incidents against Jewish people and organisations — said anti-Semitic incidents spiked during last year’s conflict in Gaza.

But the vitriolic feelings that manifest themselves in this country must be fuelled by something more than politics. I simply fail to understand how a tiny democracy in the Middle East, one that is no larger than Wales and surrounded by hostile neighbours, elicits such loathing.

In the end, I’m afraid I believe that our children are a target because no one fears a Jewish reprisal. As comedian Jackie Mason once said, ‘Nobody ever crossed the street to avoid a group of Jewish accountants.’ It sounds light-hearted but it’s true. We don’t make excessive demands for the State to absorb our culture. We just want to live a peaceful coexistence.

So what of the legacy of the terrible events in Toulouse? Well, security at our school could barely get any tighter. Though judging from the pale, pinched faces of parents on the school run this week, confidence in what is already a well-fortified system is understandably shaken.

Meanwhile, it doesn’t matter how hard we Jews work to feel part of a broader culture, there will always be others who won’t stop reminding our children that we’re not.

My own children — along with many classmates — are only too happy to integrate. They attend a Jewish school because my husband and I want them to get a first-class secular education as well as knowledge of their heritage and tradition.

That way, as they make the journey to adulthood, they can have a foot in the Jewish and the non-Jewish world, with no recourse to mutual exclusivity.

What a pity the yobs who yell Nazi slurs at them as they make their way to and from school will never see it that way.


Leftie bishops, liberal judges, a biased BBC and how the gutless Tories lost control of our national institutions

When Rowan Williams resigned as Archbishop of Canterbury last week I thought Dr John Sentamu, the traditionalist Archbishop of York, was favourite to succeed him. He may still have the shortest odds, but I am now far from convinced he will make it.

Unidentified senior ecclesiastical sources are putting the knife in. Sentamu lacks judgment, they claim. Bit of a wild card. It is suggested he has blotted his copybook by writing a column for the Sunday edition of The Sun. We need a safe pair of hands, say his detractors.

What they really mean, of course, is that Dr Sentamu is a social conservative, and therefore unacceptable to the liberals who constitute a majority in the upper echelons of the Church of England. They will do their utmost to have one of their own chosen as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the Anglican Church there is at least a strong socially conservative element. Not so at the BBC, where the search is on for a new director-general to succeed Mark Thompson. It is inconceivable that his replacement could be a social conservative, or indeed a conservative of any stripe.

The choice is between BBC apparatchiks: Caroline Thomson, Helen Boaden, George Entwistle and Tim Davie. I’m told Ms Boaden may lean fractionally more to the Right than the others, but none of them could be fairly described as conservative with a big or small ‘c’, and it is unimaginable that anyone of such a persuasion could become director-general of the BBC.

Mark Thompson himself admitted 18 months ago that the Corporation was guilty of a ‘massive’ Left-wing bias in the past, while contending it is now a broader church. I don’t see much evidence of that. Sceptics will say the BBC is so innately Left-of-centre that it wouldn’t make any difference if a full-blooded Tory were put in charge.

And before we run away with the idea that its quite recently installed chairman, Lord Patten, could be so described, let it be remembered that he was a leading ‘wet’ and anti-Thatcherite who resided on the far reaches of the liberal wing of the Tory Party, which was several degrees to the Left of what used to be called ‘Right-wing Labour’.

The truth is that it is very difficult for a conservative or Conservative to be appointed to lead any of our great national institutions. It has been thus since at least the dawn of New Labour in 1997. What is surprising is that it should continue to be so even after nearly two years of a supposedly Tory-led Government.

Of course, there are many institutional posts that are not within the gift of any government, and most of these continue to be taken up by people of the Left. One small but telling example is the rash of recent appointments of outsiders as heads of Oxbridge colleges. All come from the Left.

At Oxford, there is the former BBC executive Mark Damazer, economist Will Hutton and Labour peer Helena Kennedy. Magdalene College, Cambridge, will soon be presided over by the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who without apparent irony once described himself as a ‘hairy Lefty’.

My point is not that these people are unworthy of their new positions. It is simply that I cannot easily imagine luminaries of the Right — say the distinguished philosopher Roger Scruton, or the former newspaper editor Charles Moore — being chosen in significant numbers, if at all, for posts of this sort.

This shows that the culture wars of the past half century have been largely won by the Left, whose denizens increasingly dominate institutions beyond the reach of government patronage. These include the judiciary, by the way. According to rumours, a new judge being chosen for the European Court of Human Rights may be a Left-leaning QC called Ben Emmerson, who works with Cherie Blair in Matrix Chambers.

But if the Left has captured many institutional strongholds in which the Right once had a role, a Tory-led government is far from powerless, controlling as it does hundreds of important official appointments in quangos and other bodies. New Labour was adept at ruthlessly packing these with its own people.

The Coalition, by contrast, is much more tentative, and cheerfully tolerates many Left-of-centre figures who thrived in the Labour years. This indulgence is probably the consequence of undue Lib Dem influence, and of a kind of easygoing amateurishness at the top of the Tory Party.

Whatever the reason, a large number of Labour appointees continue to hold important public positions. There is Lord Smith (the former Labour cabinet minister, Chris Smith) who has been chairman of Advertising Standards Authority since 2007 and of the Environment Agency since 2008.

The ubiquitous academic Lisa Jardine has been chair of the Human Fertilisation And Embryology Authority since 2008, while that inveterate quangocrat Suzi Leather clings on as chair of the Charity Commission, having previously had Professor Jardine’s present job.

I could go on. There are innumerable examples of ‘progressive’ and Leftish types appointed to key positions by the last government who remain happily in post. They are not all bad people, and some of them may be doing a good job.

Nonetheless, the timidity of what, after all, is supposed to be a Tory-led Coalition, is both striking and depressing. Are Tories never to play a part in public life again? I do not want to get rid of all the Lefties in the way many of them would like to drop every Tory off Beachy Head. All I am asking for is fair representation.

At the last election, the Tories won 36 per cent of the vote. I’ve no doubt there are many who voted Labour and Lib Dem who would describe themselves as small ‘c’ conservatives. There is an enormous swathe of opinion not reflected in our institutions.

As I’ve said, there are many of these over which government has no sway, and in which the Left has prevailed after its long march. A Tory history don at Oxford told me the other day that in his estimation about 90 per cent of his colleagues in his department are of the Left. There isn’t a great deal the Government can do about that.

But it can redress the grotesque imbalance in its own backyard by removing some of the Leftist dinosaurs installed by New Labour, and appointing people who have the temerity to hold Right-wing views.

David Cameron did not have to appoint Lord Patten. He could have put a real Tory in charge of the BBC, which is by far the most powerful Leftist institution in Britain. Nor, in fact, does he have to accept the first name of two nominees for the Archbishopric of Canterbury if it is that of an off-the-shelf liberal with Dr Sentamu as the second nominee.

There are lots of ways in which ‘David Cameron’s Tories’ could turn the tide if only they had the guts and the gumption. If they think government is only about getting the deficit down, they are sadly misguided. The Left knows differently — which is why, even when it is not in government, it remains in power.


Children looked after by their grandparents often develop better than those put in nurseries

This is consistent with previous research showing that institutional care stresses even very young kids much more than being cared for in a loving home. But it is true that the small minority of children from feral homes would be better off in formal care

Young children looked after by middle-class grandparents develop better vocabulary than those in nurseries, a study has revealed. They are ‘significantly ahead’ by the age of three due to the amount of one-on-one time they spend with a loving adult.

The head start relates more to children who live in better-off households, where grandparents tend to have higher levels of education and ‘are likely to be better carers than formal carers’ in relation to the early learning of new words.

For less well-off homes, the researchers believe that while children are not put at a ‘significant’ disadvantage in terms of vocabulary, their grandparents ‘may not confer the advantages’ formal care provides.

A similar distinction was suggested in social development. The researchers found a ‘positive association between socio-emotional development and being looked after by grandparents among more educated families’, which was still apparent by the age of five.

By contrast, children from disadvantaged backgrounds were thought to receive a slight benefit from formal childcare.

The findings were published in a review of childcare studies by researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Bryson Purdon Social Research, Essex University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and the National Centre for Social Research.

Funded by charity the Nuffield Foundation, the conclusions highlight the important role grandparents can play through ‘informal’ childcare.

Half of pre-school children whose parents work are looked after part of the time by relations, usually grandparents. At primary school age, the proportion increases to 60 per cent and then 82 per cent by the time children start secondary school.

The report says that most parents choose to leave their children with grandparents for ‘positive’ reasons such as the ‘caring environment’ rather than simply because they can’t afford formal childcare.

The researchers, led by social scientist Caroline Bryson, examined the Millennium Cohort Study, which follows almost 19,000 children. ‘By the age of three, they [those looked after by grandparents] were significantly further ahead than children in centre-based care,’ they said.

‘Evidence suggests in terms of vocabulary development, if you are from an advantaged background, grandparents are likely to be better carers than formal carers, maybe because of differences in their education levels or potentially through differences in type of engagement that both groups have with the children in their care.’


Hundreds of Lobbying Atheists Prepare to ‘Flood’ Capitol Hill On Friday

Washington D.C. is in for an infusion of anti-religious sentiment this weekend. On Saturday, thousands of atheists and secularists are expected to converge on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to celebrate their non-belief through a massive event called the “Reason Rally.”

But the day before this supposed amalgamate of non-believers descends on the nation’s capitol, the Secular Coalition of America is holding the “Lobby Day for Reason” — an event aimed at training atheists in how to interact with Congress.

The event, which will take place on Friday morning, will include free lobbying training followed by an opportunity for participating “atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheistic Americans” to meet with offices of the House and Senate. The issues they plan to discuss with lawmakers, of course, focus on the separation of church and state and their views on the intermingling of government and religion.

In a press release on Tuesday, the Secular Coalition announced that 280 “non-theistic Americans” have pre-registered to take part in this massive lobbying effort. It read, in part:

"Lobby Day for Reason will encourage and support secular and nontheistic Americans to speak out to the elected officials who were put in office to serve all of their constituents regardless of religious beliefs. The Secular Coalition for America will support these taxpaying Americans as they put faces to the nontheistic and secular communities and tell their federal representatives that they are voters and are paying attention to issues."

With recent polls showing that non-religiously affiliated individuals account for 16 percent of Americans, it’s not surprising to learn that this pool of citizens planning to attend the training represents 36 states and the District of Columbia. Already, the Coalition claims to have setup 50 meetings with Senate offices and more than 100 meetings with Representatives’ offices — with more to come.

“We wanted a wave of nonreligious and secular voters to flood the halls of every congressional building—and that’s just what we are going to have,” proclaimed Amanda Knief, who serves as government relations manager for the Secular Coalition.

Knief is quoted as saying in the release that these non-believing taxpayers plan to show their representatives that they are voters who care about their country. It is their plan to, thus, share their vision for a government free of theological influence.



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

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

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


23 March, 2012

Britain's Fascist social workers again

Mother could face jail because her children talked to each other on Facebook

This case would make headlines across the land, if it were not hidden behind the family courts' extraordinary wall of secrecy.

Sometime this week, in a case which promises to make legal history, a mother may be sent to prison, apparently because her teenage children – two of whom are in foster care for reasons which, I am told, had nothing to do with her treatment of them – have been chatting to each other on Facebook.

This landmark case, which says much about the surreal state of our family protection system, arose from a judicial order last year that the mother must not talk to her children on Facebook, even through “a third party”. The two girls were taken into care a few years back for their own protection, I am told, not because of any actions by their mother but because their safety had been threatened by members of a gang on the inner-city council estate where they lived. After being sent to a foster home in another part of the country, they eventually managed to make contact through Facebook with their brothers and a cousin, all of whom are still living with their mother in the family home.

Once contact had been established between the younger members of the family, the mother joined in – until this came to the notice of social workers in the city where the family originally lived. This led to the judge’s order last year that the mother must have no further contact with her daughters, an order which she obeyed – even though her girls had repeatedly been told that she no longer loved them. (Thanks to what they had been told by their brothers on Facebook, they knew this to be untrue.)

The children, however, continued to chat to each other, and this was picked up by social workers who were monitoring their exchanges on Facebook. This has led to the mother being summonsed to attend a family court, in a city 100 miles away from where they now live, under threat of imprisonment for breaching the court order.

If the judge sentences the mother, it will have a hugely detrimental effect on the lives of the three children who live with her, Her two sons have already had enough disturbance to their lives, having themselves spent time unhappily in care (again for reasons which, I am told, had nothing to do with their mother’s treatment of them but with the behaviour of a now long-absent partner). They were eventually allowed by the social workers and courts to return to live with her, as was their cousin, who had also been in care.

All three teenagers are deeply dismayed at the prospect of their lives being turned upside down again, after they have found security with someone who loves and cares for them. The two boys and their cousin plan to accompany the mother to the court, hoping they might be allowed to explain that it was they, not she, who initially tracked down the sisters on Facebook, and continued to make contact after the mother had been forbidden to communicate with them.

I have more than once reported on mothers being sent to prison for inadvertently breaching court orders prohibiting them from contacting their children. One was punished for sending her son a birthday card, another for waving across the street when she saw her child, who was in foster care in the same town. A third was sent down when, after walking to a local petrol station to buy a newspaper, she happened to coincide with her daughter, who called out to her from the back of a car which had pulled in at the same time.

But if this latest episode ends in a prison sentence it will make history as the first time that any mother has been gaoled just because her children have wanted to talk to each other on Facebook – supposedly in breach of a court order that was not directed at them in the first place. It is a case that should make headlines across the land. But thanks to the extraordinary wall of secrecy that our family protection system has erected around itself, to hide its workings from public view, it is unlikely to attract any coverage at all.

Such is the England in which we now live, where people can be imprisoned for an offence they themselves have not committed – and where this cannot even be reported, except in the anonymised terms I have had to use here.


Red Ken: I will make London a beacon of Islam

Ken Livingstone has promised to turn London into a “beacon” for the words of the Prophet Mohammed in a sermon at one of the capital’s most controversial mosques.

Mr Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for mayor of London, pledged to “educate the mass of Londoners” in Islam, saying: “That will help to cement our city as a beacon that demonstrates the meaning of the words of the Prophet.” Mr Livingstone described Mohammed’s words in his last sermon as “an agenda for all humanity.”

He praised the Prophet’s last sermon, telling his audience: “I want to spend the next four years making sure that every non-Muslim in London knows and understands [its] words and message.” He also promised to “make your life a bit easier financially.”

Mr Livingstone was speaking at last Friday’s Jummah prayer at the North London Central Mosque, also known as Finsbury Park Mosque, formerly controlled by the terrorist recruiter Abu Hamza.

Hamza was removed in 2003 but the mosque is now controlled by an Islamist organisation, the Muslim Association of Britain, which has been linked to the banned terror group, Hamas. A man who has acted as spokesman for the current leadership, Azzam Tamimi, is on record as supporting suicide bombings. One of the mosque’s current directors, Mohammed Sawalha, is described by the BBC as a former senior figure in Hamas who “is said to have masterminded much of Hamas’s political and military strategy” from his post in London.

In 2009 Mr Sawalha also signed the Istanbul Declaration which calls for attacks against the allies of Israel, which include the UK. The British Government interpreted it as calling for attacks on British troops.

In 2010, the Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, a Muslim moderate, resigned from the mosque’s board of trustees and reported it to the Charity Commission, accusing the mosque of forging his signature on key legal documents.

Mr Livingstone has been dogged by allegations of links to Islamic fundamentalism. In 2010, in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, he campaigned against his own party’s candidate to back a controversial independent politician, Lutfur Rahman, sacked by Labour for his links to a Muslim extremist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE).

During his mayoralty, Mr Livingstone’s London Development Agency channelled hundreds of thousands of pounds to the East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets, controlled by the IFE, even though senior LDA managers strongly opposed the grant. In return, IFE activists campaigned strongly for him at the 2008 mayoral elections, boasting that they "got out the vote" for Mr Livingstone and achieving dramatic swings to him in their east London heartland.

Mr Livingstone also gave thousands of pounds of public money to the Muslim Welfare House, a charity closely associated with the Finsbury Park Mosque, which signed an open letter backing his re-election campaign in 2008.

In his last sermon, delivered in the valley of Mount Arafat, near Mecca in 632 AD, the Prophet Mohammed attacked discrimination, saying that “a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white, except by piety and good action.” However, he also said that men had a right to ensure their wives “do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve.”


Fleeing From Fatherhood

You don't have to be an elderly Aunt Agatha to remember when feminism was about equal rights and equal pay. In those heady days of righteousness unbound, not all women cheered the revolution, but most did. Our mothers and grandmothers who enjoyed the freedom of being full-time moms, home for the kids after school, nevertheless believed that pay scales deprived women of what was rightly theirs.

But soon women of the generation of stay-at-home moms felt the sting of condescension, targets of the pioneering women they first cheered. They had become the enemy in a new war, women vs. women. The mommies lost that war, and their daughters went on to full-time careers. Today, women are the majority sex in college and graduate school, including the schools of law and medicine.

The sexual revolution brought freedom -- and privilege -- to women that an earlier generation never dreamed of. Alas, like most revolutions, the feminist revolution, for all of its earnest and idealistic beginnings, has been blighted by unintended consequences. A new class of victim, the single mom, has been abandoned by men to raise children alone. Not so long ago, a man who fathered a child with a woman he wouldn't (or couldn't) marry suffered stigma and reproach, perhaps from men more than women. That was before "illegitimacy" became the "new normal." Now, more than half of babies born to mothers under 30 are born outside marriage. The trend accelerates.

These single moms are not the college-educated career women who have climbed the ladder of rank and prosperity. "Marriage has become a luxury good," sociologist Frank Furstenberg of the University of Pennsylvania tells The New York Times. Fully 90 percent of college-educated women who become mothers are married. They discovered something besides book learning behind the ivy-covered walls. The big losers are women without the advantages of prosperity. The racial breakdown of unwed mothers is stark and dramatic: 73 percent of black children, 53 percent of Latino children and 29 percent of white children are born to single mothers.

These are more than statistics. Any of us can recite the litany of disadvantages inherited by children raised without fathers. They are more likely to experience poverty, to do poorly in school, to wind up on the wrong side of the law and to repeat the grim cycle in their own generation.

Few in Washington discuss this because it's first a cultural problem, and Washington only wants to talk about problems that can be reduced to politics. Culture doesn't fit comfortably into political solutions. When Bill Clinton was president and reluctantly supported welfare reform, welfare was widely thought to encourage illegitimacy. The government played Big Daddy and picked up the check. Many women who had lived on welfare learned that getting off the dole and finding work felt good. They found work but not daddies for their babies. The revolution freed women to take charge of their lives, and men were happy to get out of their way.

What's being ignored in the controversy over government-mandated contraceptive coverage is the way men have abandoned their responsibility to share responsibility for birth control. There's no one in the debate to say this. Neither Mitt Romney nor Newt Gingrich is eager to join the debate, and Rick Santorum only dreams of the day when contraception will be forbidden. The celibate bishops in their gowns have more to say about sexual responsibility than the men who have rendered themselves irrelevant.

It's a little cheeky of feminists to mount high horses to object to the rudeness of being called "sluts," it seems to me, since they've organized "Slut Walks" to assert their right to dress like hookers without suffering the leers of men. The idea was to deprive the word of its sting, in the way that gays have tried to deprive the word "queer" of its power to wound. It hasn't quite worked. The dissembling of Sandra Fluke, who brought Rush Limbaugh low, is easy to see through, too; she knows very well that college-educated women do not depend on government mandates to pay for their birth control. Women are no longer the second sex.

The birth control controversy has been cast as political -- Republican vs. Democrat, conservative vs. liberal -- when it's clearly about whether the religious folk can be required by the government to pay for something offensive to their faith.

It's also about the fundamental change in the male-female relationship. As women gained equality with men, men lost their identity as provider and protector. If marriage was once required as a sexual-economic compromise that domesticated men for family life, it is no longer. Men have fled fatherhood as well as the responsibility for preventing unwanted fatherhood. Man has been unmanned


Rupert a saviour of newspapers

FAR FROM being a destructive force, Rupert Murdoch has helped ensure the survival of the British newspaper industry, and his titles should remain as voices of plurality in the media landscape, the broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, who sits on an influential House of Lords media committee, has said.

"The British newspaper industry was under greater threat in the 1980s than it is today because of completely arcane practices that were choking it to death," Lord Bragg, a Labour life peer, said.

He said Mr Murdoch was a "bold man" who had "ensured the survival and thriving" of newspapers there, efforts overshadowed by the hacking and bribery scandals engulfing Mr Murdoch's British newspaper division.

As a member of Lords Communications Committee, Lord Bragg has sat on inquiries into the governance of the BBC, the future of investigative journalism and phone hacking.

Asked if he thought it would be a loss if News Corporation sold its newspapers, a move that is being widely speculated in financial circles, Lord Bragg answered: "I like plurality. I am a democrat … whatever you think of them [the newspapers] they are more voices out there."

As the Australian government prepares to receive a report into the future of the media, which might usher in a relaxation of the media ownership laws, Lord Bragg cited the BBC's commitment to quality journalism and programming as a sign regulation can work. He said the idea that regulation led to less freedom was "unproven".


How I Became a Hate Group

Daniel Greenfield

When I went to sleep last night, little did I know that while outside sirens competed with car alarms in the symphony that is New York City, I had already been declared a hate group.

Being declared a hate group wasn't in my plans for the day, but like winning the lottery, it seems to be one of those things that happens when you least expect it. Except that as the little bald man in front of the bodega tells you, you have to play to win, but you don't even have to buy a ticket to be declared an official hate group.

My first response on finding out that I was now a hate group was to look around to see where everyone else was. A hate group needs the group part and one man and a cat don't seem to be enough. Even when the cat is a well known bigot who hates mice, birds, car alarms that go off in the middle of the night, the plumber and sudden noises.

Still the Southern Poverty Law Center had listed, "Sultan Knish a blog by Daniel Greenfield" as one of their Active Anti-Muslim Hate Groups, alongside such other vast organizations as "Faith Freedom", a website for ex-Muslims, and "Casa D'Ice Signs", the signs on a bar located on K-Mart Plaza in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Someone with less faith in the fact checking abilities of the Southern Poverty Law Center might have thought that whoever had made up this list had no clue that "Casa D'Ice" was a lounge with signs outside, that there was no such group as "Casa D'Ice Signs" and that signs are pieces of plastic and not a hate group. But I had faith that the Center knew more than I did. Perhaps its crack team of researchers had learned that the signs had come alive and formed their own hate group, somehow arranging their own letters to form messages about illegal immigration and the need to get out of Iraq.

My first thought was to wonder whether some mistake had been made in my own case, but the Southern Poverty Law Center people are experts on hate groups, even if they don't seem to know what the definitions of "hate" or "groups" or "hate groups" might be. Even if they seem to have copied their list off a forum somewhere at the last minute to have something to show the donors. Clearly I was now a hate group and with tax season upon us, I called my accountant to find out if there was a tax deduction for that. There wasn't.

As a consolation though, I was listed as "active", which I took as a compliment because I had jogged a few miles yesterday and clearly the Southern Poverty Law Center had noticed. They also listed me as being in New York, which showed that the Center was well aware that it was aggressively trespassing above its jurisdiction below the Mason-Dixon Line and invading the north.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's "Hate Map" (TM), which is either a map of hate groups or a map of groups that the center hates, had me floating somewhere in the East River next to the National Black Foot Soldier Network and the National Socialist Movement in Long Island. Say what you will, but I think it's a real tribute to the broadminded diversity of the city that there's room for all of us there, from Catholic Family News to the Nation of Islam to the newest massively organized hate group-- me.

I had fewer members, especially if you don't count the cat, and no uniforms or jackboots, but I had to soldier on. The Southern Poverty Law Center was in desperate need of more hate groups to fight and I couldn't let them down. It's not easy running a 216 million dollar organization which has been described as the country's richest civil rights organization with misleading fundraising practices.

Having succeeded in such diverse areas as being George McGovern's national finance director, Carter's national finance director and national finance chairman for Ted Kennedy's presidential campaign, SPLC head honcho Morris Dees doesn't have many options except to collect his 0.95 percent compensation and solicit more donations to fight active hate groups like me and that guy who puts up signs on his bar. I knew that I couldn't let him down.

Every time the Southern Poverty Law Center sent out another begging letter asking donors to help an organization with a mere 216 million dollar endowment fight an impossible uphill battle against Bare Naked Islam, Atlas Shrugs and Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, I had to do my part so that all the poor employees of the Southern Poverty Law Center would have enough to eat that night.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which seems to have expanded beyond its core mission of using the law to impoverish people in the south, to qualify as an Anti-Muslim hate group, you had to believe such outrageous filthy things as the notion that Islam might be "sanctioning pedophilia, marital rape and child marriage".

People who believe such Islamophobic nonsense include the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Grand Mufti of Australia and whoever wrote the Koran, which says, "marry of women as may be agreeable to you, two, or three, or four".

Quickly I understood that I was now part of a much bigger Anti-Muslim hate group than I had realized. This Islamophobic group included all of Islam. Was it possible for Islam itself to be an Anti-Muslim hate group? It seemed mind-boggling, but there could be no other answer.

Pakistan, which had legalized the marriage of 12 year olds, was surely the base for a major Anti-Islamic hate group which was doing its best to demean Islam. It also appeared to be conspiring to depict Muslims as "irrational, intolerant and violent", which was another check box on the SPLC list. But the story didn't end there.

"These groups also typically hold conspiratorial views regarding the inherent danger to America posed by its Muslim-American community." Now it appeared that Anti-Islam hate groups included the FBI and the NYPD, which were notorious for suspecting that Muslim-Americans might be terrorists and arresting them and detaining them for doing nothing more than practicing some aspects of their religion.

Suddenly it wasn't just one man and a cat-- it was the entire Muslim world, the FBI, the NYPD and it didn't end there. The Southern Poverty Law Center's own website had a list of Top 10 Jihadists, slurring the names of such respectable practitioners of traditional Islam as Anwar Al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric who appeared on PBS, NPR and many other outlets to explain the peaceful nature of Islam and Abdullah Muhammad, whom the Center outrageously suggests was conspiring to terrorize South Park for mocking the other Muhammad, the one who in a bid to make Islam look bad practiced pedophilia, marital rape and child marriage.

Even the Southern Poverty Law Center had exposed itself as an Anti-Islam hate group, and how could I or anyone else trust it to assemble a reliable Anti-Islam hate group list, when it had left itself off that list.

It was hard for me to accept that a group of intrepid researchers who had cluelessly listed Ann Barnhardt twice, listed Silver Bullet Gun Oil, a weapons lubricant, as a hate group, listed single- author blogs like mine, Pamela Geller's and Bonni Intall's as "hate groups" could possibly be wrong. How could an organization which wrote down "Casa D'Ice Signs" as a hate group without realizing that Casa D'Ice was a bar, make a mistake?

But there was no way around it. The SPLC had proven to be Islamophobes and couldn't be trusted anymore. And so I could no longer take their word that I and my cat were a Hate Group. Though Morris Dees may have to go hungry to bed tonight, I must decline the honor of posing as a hate group in order to help him defraud his donors. But I will always remember the brief four hours when I had my own hate group.



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

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

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


22 March, 2012

Homosexual marriage is not a 'human right': European ruling torpedoes British government stance

Same-sex marriages are not a human right, European judges have ruled. Their decision shreds the claim by ministers that gay marriage is a universal human right and that same-sex couples have a right to marry because their mutual commitment is just as strong as that of husbands and wives.

The ruling was made by judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg following a case involving a lesbian couple in a civil partnership who complained the French courts would not allow them to adopt a child as a couple.

The ruling also says that if gay couples are allowed to marry, any church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex couples.

It means that if MPs legislate for same-sex marriage, the Coalition’s promise that churches will not be compelled to conduct the weddings will be worthless.

The ruling comes just days after the Government published a consultation paper which promised marriage to same-sex couples and made clear that Britain is only catching up with other countries.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: ‘Put simply, it’s not right that a couple who love each other and want to formalise a commitment to each other should be denied the right to marry.’

However, the Strasbourg judges ruled that because the French couple were civil partners, they did not have the rights of married people, who in France have the sole right to adopt a child as a couple.

They declared: ‘The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage.’

The judges added that couples who are not married do not enjoy the same status as those who are. ‘With regard to married couples, the court considers that in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage, the applicants’ legal situation could not be said to be comparable to that of married couples.’

The French civil partners, Valerie Gas and Nathalie Dubois, tried to secure marriage rights under clauses that prevent discrimination and protect privacy and family life. But the Strasbourg judges said there had been no discrimination against them because they were lesbians.

Lawyers said the decisions transformed the impact of David Cameron’s planned same-sex marriage law. Neil Addison, a specialist in discrimination law, said: ‘Once same-sex marriage has been legalised then the partners to such a marriage are entitled to exactly the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage.

This means that if same-sex marriage is legalised in the UK it will be illegal for the Government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises.’

The Government’s consultation paper also said that no church would have to conduct gay weddings. It said there would be different legal categories of civil and religious marriage and same-sex couples would not be allowed religious marriages.

But Church of England lawyers have already warned that if same-sex marriage goes ahead, then equality law is likely to force churches to fall into line and perform the wedding ceremonies.

The Strasbourg ruling won praise from campaigners against same-sex marriage. Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘For too long campaigners have been using the language of rights in an attempt to add moral force to what are nothing more than personal desires. ‘In many cases they have bypassed the democratic process and succeeded in imposing their views on the rest of the population by force of law.

‘We are seeing the same principle at work in the Government’s sham of a consultation on same-sex marriage.’

He added: ‘The ruling from the ECHR will embolden those whose concerns about same-sex marriage and adoption are not inspired by personal hatred and animosity, but by a genuine concern for the well-being of children and the welfare of society.

‘Instead of rushing to legislate without seriously considering the views of the electorate, the Government should be encouraging a measured public debate on the nature and meaning of marriage.’

The Stonewall pressure group called for same-sex couples to be allowed religious weddings if churches agreed.

It added: ‘The vitriol seen in statements by many political and religious figures, particularly some senior clerics, in advance of this consultation demonstrates the persistence of deeply worrying prejudice towards gay people.’


Baroness Ashton called on to resign after likening shooting at Toulouse school to troubles of Palestinian children in Gaza

A Labour Party appointee, a mediocrity clearly out of her depth

EU foreign minister Baroness Ashton is facing calls to resign after appearing to use the fatal shootings of three Jewish schoolchildren in France to criticise Israeli policy in Gaza.

In a speech on Palestinian affairs in Brussels, the British EU official suggested that the shootings outside a Jewish school in Toulouse were the same as the deaths of children inadvertently killed in Israeli attacks on Palestinian militants.

Lady Ashton also seemingly compared the deaths in Gaza to the slaughter of innocents in Syria, the rampage by a gunman in Norway last year in which dozens of teenagers were killed and the bus crash in Switzerland that killed 22 Belgian schoolchildren a week ago.

She said: ‘When we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.’

The Israeli government demanded that Lady Ashton step down, with defence minister Ehud Barak denouncing the mention of Gaza as inappropriate and demanding a retraction. He said: ‘The comparison made by Ashton between what is happening in Gaza to what happened in Toulouse, and what is going on in Syria every day, is outrageous and has absolutely no grounding in reality.’

Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai said Lady Ashton’s statement ‘further harms the ability of the EU to be an honest broker’ in the Middle East, adding: ‘She can no longer serve in her position.’ He was joined in his calls for a retraction by Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign affairs minister.

A spokesman for Lady Ashton, who was a surprise appointment to the new post of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs in 2009, claimed the remarks had been grossly distorted. ‘In her remarks, the High Representative referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza,’ he said.

But that explanation was not accepted by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said she wrongly sought to draw a parallel between the calculated murder of children and Palestinian casualties who have died in attacks on adult terrorists in Gaza.

‘What especially outrages me is the comparison between a targeted massacre of children and the surgical defensive actions of the IDF [Israel Defence Forces], intended to strike at terrorists using children as human shields,’ he said.

Tory MP James Clappison, vice-chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said: ‘It is entirely inappropriate for her to make a comparison between events in France and Gaza when she is speaking as the EU’s foreign minister. She needs to think again.’

Downing Street launched a lukewarm defence of Lady Ashton. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I’m not entirely sure that was the comparison she was making.’ He said Baroness Ashton’s team ‘feel her remarks were taken out of context’.


America's Real War on Women

There is a war against women. It is something comparatively new in our national life, and we have to start noticing it.

It is not a "Republican war on women." It has nothing to do with White House attempts to paint conservative efforts to protect religious liberty as a war against women's rights to contraceptives. That is a mischievous fiction, and the president's polls this week suggest it isn't working. Good.

But the real war is against women in American public life, in politics and media most obviously, but in other spheres as well. In this war, leaders who are women are publicly demeaned and diminished based on the fact that they are women. They are the object of sexual slurs, and insulted in sexual terms. The words used are vulgar, and are meant to tear down and embarrass.

Every woman in American public life knows of it. They talk about it in private. They've all experienced it.

Here are some of the words that have been hurled the past few years at public figures who are female: "slut," "whore," "prostitute," "bimbo." You know the other, coarser words that have been used. But the point is, these are not private insults. They are said in public. This is something new in American political life, that women can be spoken of this way.

Eleanor Roosevelt was probably the most controversial first lady ever, but no one ever felt they could speak of her in these terms in public. Dorothy Thompson may have been the most controversial commentator of the 20th century, but no one felt free to take to the airwaves, to go on the radio, and oppose her in such a low and vulgar way.

But you don't have to go back 60 and 70 years to see how much things have changed. Twenty years ago the discourse was higher.

All this has devolved into a political argument about who's worse, the right or the left. I don't think that's the most important question, but since it's on the table the answer is the left. We all know about Bill Maher, David Letterman, Ed Schultz. A liberal radio host a while back accused the Republican lieutenant governor of Wisconsin of performing "fellatio on all the talk show hosts in Milwaukee."

Two nonconservative columnists recently nailed it. Karen Tumulty in the Washington Post wrote that what Rush Limbaugh said two weeks ago—Sandra Fluke was a "slut" and a "prostitute" who owed the public videotapes of her having sex—was bad indeed, but "Some of the more blatantly sexist attacks I have personally felt have come from the left."

Prize pig is left-wing journalist Matt Taibbi who becomes emotional and can't control himself when writing about women. Here he is on a conservative media figure: "When I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text . . . with [male genitals] in her mouth." Democrat Kirsten Powers, in brave pieces in the Daily Beast, called out "the army of swine on the left." Keith Olbermann, who still exists, attacked her for defending Mr. Limbaugh, which she hadn't done. He took to Twitter. One of his followers called her "just another brainless plastic doll Fox puts on camera to appease the horned up 60-year-old white dudes at home." Ms. Powers wryly notes, "Don't forget: liberals are the feminists, it's the GOP who hates women."

Why would the left be worse? Let me be harsh. Some left-wing men think they can talk like this because they're on the correct side on social issues such as abortion. Their attitude: "I backed you on the abortions you want so much, I opposed a ban on partial birth. Hell, I'll let you kill kids at any point until they're 15, I'm cool. And that means I can call women in public life t - - - s, right? Because, you know, I think of them that way."


Australian Federal Territory passes laws to force removal of burqas

New laws that will allow police to force the removal of burqas, helmets, hats and other clothing concealing a person's identity have been passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly.

The road transport legislation, approved yesterday, will give ACT authorities greater power to order the removal of head coverings in circumstances including random roadside drug tests, traffic offences, and applications for a driver's licence. But women who wear a head covering, such as a burqa, for religious or cultural reasons will be allowed to request that it only be removed in the presence of a female police officer or in a private place in accordance with their beliefs.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said yesterday the laws were not meant to target certain cultural or religious groups in the ACT and had been developed in response to incidents where motorists had refused to remove items of clothing such as motorcycle helmets, balaclavas, large sunglasses and hoodies when police were trying to establish their identity.

"Where drivers or riders continue to refuse to remove the item, sometimes it has been necessary to resort to the arrest power and take the person into custody to establish his or her identity," Mr Corbell told the Assembly. "A new direction to remove the obscuring item is a more efficient and less heavy handed solution."

People wearing facial coverings as part of medical treatment will not be required to remove them under the legislation.

The Canberra Liberals and the ACT Greens voted in favour of the laws, with both parties saying the legislation was sensitive to drivers who concealed their faces for cultural, religious or medical reasons.

However, Greens MLA Amanda Bresnan called for an amendment to part of the legislation that protects police who do not comply when a driver makes a reasonable request for a female officer or a private location to remove a facial covering.

The amendment was voted down by the government and the Canberra Liberals.

Mr Corbell said the laws did not impose an "absolute obligation" to comply with a request because there were circumstances where "all or even part compliance with a request may not be safe or reasonably practical."

Yesterday's amendments to the ACT's traffic laws also tightened the definition of a repeat offender for serious traffic offences, such as culpable or negligent driving.

The change will ensure that a person who commits a second offence when a conviction for a first offence is still being finalised will be charged as a repeat offender and can have their licence automatically disqualified.

Mr Corbell said that the amendment would make ACT roads safer and encourage better driver behaviour.



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

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

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


21 March, 2012

Neurotic atheists

Atheists in Polk County symbolically scrubbed away at a major highway leading into the county Saturday. The were removing a blessing placed there a year ago by a group of religious leaders.

Brooms, mops and water hoses in hand, the atheists gathered at the roadside. "We come in peace .. now that's normally what aliens say when they visit a new planet, but we're not aliens, we're atheists!" Humanists of Florida director Mark Palmer shouted to the group along Highway 98.

Representatives from various atheist groups in the area scrubbed the road at the Pasco-Polk county line. They were figuratively removing holy oil that had been put on the road last year by a group of area religious leaders. That group was Polk Under Prayer, or PUP.

PUP director Richard Geringswald said his group had been blessing the county line. "And praying for that entryway in to the city, that God would protect us from evildoers, mainly the drug crowd, that they would be dissuaded to come in to the county," Geringswald said.

But Humanists of Florida members don't see it that way. They say it makes them feel unwelcome. "It sends a very bad signal to everyone in Polk County, and (anyone) who travels through Polk county who doesn't happen to be Christian,” Palmer said, “This event is not about atheist rights; this is about welcoming everybody into Polk county."

So they took their "unholy water" and washed the road.

It's been an ongoing feud between the groups in the county: the atheists are also unhappy with prayer bricks PUP members buried along I-4 and various other roadway leading in to the county, engraved with Psalm 37.

"For the wicked shall be destroyed, but those who trust the Lord shall be given every blessing," Geringswald said, reading the psalm from his Bible.

Geringswald said PUP is trying to do something positive - to keep crime out and encourage faith. He says they also plan to run TV ads later this year that will say they are trying to send a positive message about criminals turning their lives around.

The humanists say they don't plan on stopping their protests any time soon.


Tyler Clementi Case Fueled Anti-Bullying Panic and Assault on Free Speech

A New Jersey jury has convicted Dharun Ravi of hate crimes in the Tyler Clementi case, which created a furor over bullying that led to legislation that endangers free speech on campus, and helped spawn a thriving “anti-bullying” industry that has enriched opportunistic consultants and self-proclaimed experts. Ravi, a Rutgers University student, surreptitiously filmed his gay college roommate, Tyler Clementi, kissing another man. Clementi committed suicide two days later. Initial media accounts falsely claimed that Ravi had filmed Clementi having sex, not just kissing, and sensationalized the case through factual exaggerations. Press reports also jumped to conclusions about the mental state of Ravi and Clementi, and falsely made it sound like there were gaps in existing law that somehow facilitated Ravi’s mistreatment of Clementi. (In reality, Rutgers, like most colleges, enforces rules against sexual and sexual orientation harassment, and New Jersey state law forbids invasions of privacy, and holds colleges liable for negligently failing to respond to anti-gay harassment committed by students, as a 2007 ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court made clear.)

Jurors convicted Ravi of hate crimes without making any finding that he was motivated by hate, argues Jacob Sullum at Reason magazine, in a commentary entitled, “Did Dharun Ravi Commit a Hateless Hate Crime?” Prosecutors did not allege at trial that Ravi’s actions, which Clementi himself dismissively referred to as a brief “five sec peep,” actually drove Clementi to commit suicide, and Ravi’s lawyers were denied access to key writings by Clementi that might have revealed other factors contributing to the suicide. Jurors did find that Clementi “reasonably perceived” himself to have been targeted for intimidation based on his sexual orientation. Law Professor Ann Althouse says that it “sounds like Ravi was found guilty because he couldn’t disprove a motivation that was inferred based on Clementi’s subjective perception. And yet the defense was deprived of much of the evidence of Clementi’s subjective state of mind.” (Note that Ravi wrote to Clementi that he had a close friend who was gay.)

Law Professor Glenn Reynolds was blunter: “the mob was angry and demanded a sacrifice.” (Ravi, who was brought to America from India as a small child, now faces likely deportation to that country as a result of his conviction.) Finding someone guilty based on an “inferred stated of mind” — as New Jersey’s hate crimes law specifically authorized the jury to do in finding Ravi guilty of bias-motivated intimidation – may violate the Supreme Court’s decision in Virginia v. Black, which declared unconstitutional a state’s attempt to legislatively declare certain conduct presumptively intimidating in purpose or effect.

The Clementi case illustrates the broad reach of hate crimes laws, not any gap in existing law that would justify more draconian laws. But in response to Clementi’s suicide, liberal congressmen proposed the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act (which has yet to pass Congress), and New Jersey enacted a sweeping new anti-bullying law. Both of these pieces of legislation restrict speech and were criticized as violations of the First Amendment by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil liberties group.

As Sullum noted earlier, after New Jersey passed its lengthy and complicated anti-bullying law, known as the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights,” the result was less free speech on campus, and more costly unfunded mandates for local school districts. The law, which contains 18 pages of “required components,” gave a huge boost to a burgeoning “anti-bullying” industry that seeks to define bullying as broadly as possible (to include things like “eye-rolling,” or always associating with the same group of friends) in order to create demand for its services. Hundreds of New Jersey schools “snapped up a $1,295 package put together by a consulting firm that includes a 100-page manual.”

Liberal lawmakers and the Obama administration have sought to define as “bullying” or “cyberbullying” speech that is clearly protected by the First Amendment, such as harsh criticism of politicians. We wrote earlier about how the current panic over bullying is leading to attacks on free speech, political debate, and free association in the schools; political pandering; dishonest stretching of existing federal laws by federal officials; and violations of basic principles of federalism. The panic over bullying ignores the fact that the incidence of bullying has fallen for many years in the nation’s schools.

Press coverage has also been slanted and factually inaccurate in covering other high-profile allegations of school bullying, such as in the Anoka-Hennepin school district. One press account described people as victims of anti-gay bullying in that school district even when they could not have been, either because they weren’t gay, or weren’t mistreated based on their sexual orientation, or didn’t even attend its schools (like a University of Minnesota student), simply because they happened to live in the area, and committed suicide. The school district is located in Minnesota, which has a broad gay rights law. But recently, the school district was sued in federal court over anti-gay harassment, and settled the case after the U.S. Department of Education, which deliberately ignores limits on harassment liability contained in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Davis decision, declared that the school district had violated Title IX by failing to prevent anti-gay harassment (in doing so, the Education Department ignored both the Supreme Court’s definition of harassment, and limits on institutional liability for acts by students).


Want to hang bunting to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee? You'll need ladder training first

Organisers of a Diamond Jubilee street party who want to put up bunting have been told they must first go on a health and safety course – on how to climb a ladder. They will also be taught how to carry out the risk assessments required to put up tables for a street market.

The safety rules were described as 'lunacy' by those planning the party in Petersfield, Hampshire, in June.

The event will take place in the town centre and organisers need permission from a shopping centre to erect the bunting.

Committee member Vaughan Clarke, 71, said: ‘These ridiculous rules are making it more and more difficult to have some simple old-fashioned fun. ‘I’ve been using ladders all my life. All we want to do is mark the occasion by stringing up some bunting. It’s lunacy.

‘The centre management told me I needed public liability insurance, a risk assessment and a ladder certificate to put up the bunting.

‘We have taken it in good humour, but there is a serious side to this – we are a charity and £320 for a ladder course is an expense we could do without.’

The course, called Safety With Ladders, covers the Health and Safety Executive Work at Height Regulations 2005. Trainer Eric Goulding, who will run tomorrow’s course, said there would be a video and a PowerPoint presentation.

Participants are shown how to set up a barrier around a ladder to stop people bumping into it, and how to position someone at the bottom of it to warn others the ladder is there.

Mr Goulding said: ‘It is about trying to find the right balance between being a killjoy or having people hurt themselves.’

Shopping centre spokesman Michael Knowles said: ‘The committee informed us that their team was to have ladder training and would supply an appropriate risk assessment.’


Nothing is fair about Australia's unfair dismissal laws

HANDS up, all those in favour of unfair dismissal. I can't see any hands. Are you sure? So here are some stories.

A worker in a factory located in a regional town refuses to wear safety glasses, which is a requirement of work health and safety laws. He is reminded several times, but he still refuses. He is given a warning. The employer dismisses the worker lest the firm be found guilty of violating the safety laws.

The tribunal finds that the worker has been unfairly dismissed, in part because it will be hard for him to find alternative work and he has a family to support. He is awarded monetary compensation.

Another worker - this time a teacher of English as a second language - decides to use the F-word as the basis of his lessons. His employer discovers this and dismisses the workers on the basis of gross misconduct.

The tribunal finds that the worker, who has since left the country (he was a temporary migrant), was unfairly dismissed. There was no specific instruction given to the teacher to refrain from using swear words as an aid to teaching, so the argument went. The worker receives monetary compensation (more than $20,000).

Yet another worker is found to have daubed the factory wall with swastikas, which some of the other workers understandably find offensive. But there is a culture of joshing within the workplace, according to the tribunal, and the worker is found to have been unfairly dismissed. He also is awarded monetary compensation.

So are we all still against unfair dismissal? Let's face of it: none of these actual cases passes the common sense test. Note that we are not talking about unlawful dismissal, the sacking of a worker for specified reasons that are deemed to be unlawful. We are dealing with the much more subjective adjective unfair. What may seem unfair to one party to an employment contract may seem fair - indeed, necessary - to the other.

There is no doubt that the Fair Work Act has opened the floodgates to more claims for unfair dismissal. This was always going to be the case as the exemption in the Work Choices legislation (all employers with fewer than 100 employees) was removed. The numbers are now running at about 17,000 a year, up from 6000 a year under Work Choices.

In research undertaken by academics Paul Oslington of the Australian Catholic University and Ben Freyens from the University of Canberra, they note that Fair Work Australia has failed to release important data in relation to conciliated outcomes, which are the vast majority of cases. (This is yet another blot against this organisation. Note also its clearly deficient website, which is designed mainly to confuse and obscure.)

For the 3 per cent of claims in 2010-11 settled by arbitration, 51 per cent were in favour of the plaintiff compared with 33 per cent under Work Choices. And "walk away" money is back in town, with the most common range of payment being from $2000 to $4000, with 10 per cent from $6000 to $8000.

Perhaps an even more worrying development for the business community than unfair dismissal claims is the take-up of actions under the general protection provisions of the act related to adverse action.

Adverse action is defined as any deleterious action affecting an employee or potential employee (including dismissal, but also other eventualities) that is taken by an employer for prohibited reasons. Inserted in the act at the last minute, these provisions provide much easier access for disgruntled employees to sue their employers.

One of the key sections is 346, which states "a person must not take adverse action against another person because the other person is or is not an officer or member of an industrial association (trade union)".

There is also prohibition against adverse action being taken against an employee because of the person's race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer's responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.

In the case of claims of adverse action, there is more time to lodge a claim, there are no earnings restrictions and compensation is not capped.

This is in contrast to the unfair dismissal provisions, where claims must be lodged within 14 days; earnings must be below $118,000 a year unless the worker is covered by an enterprise agreement or award; and compensation is limited to six months' pay.

Moreover, for adverse action claims, the onus of proof is reversed, so employers need to demonstrate that any adverse action affecting an employee has not occurred for a prohibited reason. It is hardly surprising that there has been rapid rise in the number of claims under this part of the act: from 1200 in 2009-10 to 1900 in 2010-11. The number is tracking to reach 2200 this financial year. (These are Oslington and Freyens's figures.)

One of the most significant adverse action cases is still being played out through the courts. It is due to be heard by the High Court at the end of this month, with the Victorian government having appealed the decision of the full Federal Court.

The background to this case is that a teacher, Mr Barclay, at a regional TAFE college, who was also president of his union sub-branch, sent an email to other union members alleging an instance of serious misconduct against a named senior person, without naming the complainants. His employer queried why the teacher had not raised the issue before sending the email, alleging that Mr Barclay was in fact guilty of serious misconduct. He was stood down on full pay.

The Full Bench of the Federal Court found in favour of the teacher because the employer action was seen to have taken adverse action against the teacher in his capacity as a representative of the union.

As Joe Catanzariti of Clayton Utz notes: "Subjective good intentions (on the part of employers) are not good enough. You've got to be very cautious if you are contemplating action against an employee in response to something the employee has done, or has arguably done, in the capacity of the union member or union official."

This sort of statement is just music to the ears of the trade union movement.

The decision of the High Court will be significant. In the meantime, employers are faced with the burden of this part of the act and Catanzariti's advice is that employers' "decision-making processes need to make sure that there are clear guidelines and to give reasons to employees for their decisions based on the work process and conditions. And, of course, document everything."

I wonder what the Deregulation Minister has to say about that - more paperwork, just what business needs.

The combined operation of the unfair dismissal and adverse action provisions sends a chill through the business community, crimping its willingness to take on new workers, particularly ones who could pose a risk. Strong employment protection laws and strong employment growth are infrequent bedfellows. It is time to reconsider these provisions and to debate the case for exempting small business.



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

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

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


20 March, 2012

Home schoolers free to teach own views on gays or abortion, Alberta government says

But fails to reflect that in the new education law in any way -- using vague generalities instead

The governing Conservatives have bowed to pressure from Christian home-schooling groups and amended Alberta’s new Education Act, making parental control over education explicit.

Advocates, however, say the changes don’t go far enough and they still fear they will one day be brought before a human rights tribunal for teaching that homosexuality and abortion are sins. “The amendment doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t help,” said Paul van den Bosch, spokesman for the Alberta Home Education Association, which organized a protest at the legislature last week. “Home educators can’t swallow this, and neither should any parent in Alberta.”

Their concerns centre on section 16 of the proposed new law, which says all programs of study offered by Alberta schools must respect the Alberta Human Rights Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Christian groups worry that because their faith-based curricula teach that God created the Earth and that homosexuality and abortion are sins, they will be sanctioned by authorities and forced to stop home-schooling. Alternatively, they fear that a complaint lodged against them will land them before the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

The solution, van den Bosch says, is to change the law so that home education is not defined as a “school.”

The new Education Act currently says “parents have the right to make informed decisions,” and van den Bosch wants the language changed back to the wording used in the Schools Act, which says “parents have the right to make decisions.”

The amendment passed in the legislature just before midnight Wednesday does not make any of those changes. Instead, the government has added a preamble that details the intent of the law.

“The government of Alberta recognizes that parents have a right to choose the religious and ethical traditions in which their children are raised,” the preamble says in part, adding that “a child’s education begins in the home; that parents play a foundational role in the moral and spiritual formation of their children.”

Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk has repeatedly said the government has no intention of undermining parents’ religious rights and that the amendment was only necessary to address concerns from the home-schooling community. “The act as it was written in no way affected parents rights or their ability to educate their children in a home setting,” Lukaszuk said outside the legislature Thursday. "But obviously there are some Albertans who are concerned that somehow their rights may be affected. So I have provided a new preamble.” A preamble is a section of a law that “interprets the spirit of the act,” Lukaszuk said. “It clearly restates what the act already says: There is no intention in any way to affect or in any way diminish parental rights.”

Premier Alison Redford said her government is staying out of the homes of Albertans to allow home-schoolers to teach their children their own views about morality, ethics and religion.

The premier told a talk radio audience Thursday the amendment “protects parent’s’ rights.”

Asked whether she was OK with home-schoolers teaching children that homosexuality is a sin, she said: “Parents are allowed to educate their children in whatever model of school they would like to and if they have particular views with respect to a number of issues and choose to educate their children at home as a result of that, they are entitled to do that,” she said.


A Dangerous Verdict in New Jersey

New Jersey jury on Friday convicted a Rutgers freshman of “bias intimidation,” among several other charges. Dharum Ravi had set up a webcam in the dorm room he shared with Tyler Clementi, and then posted footage online of Clementi being intimate with another man. Three days later Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Ravi faces up to ten years in prison or deportation to India.

This verdict promises to have malign effects beyond the problems of hate-speech laws already long recognized. Most important, it will make it easier for Muslim organizations to achieve in the United States what they have in Europe: criminalizing legitimate and fact-based criticism of Islam by disguising it as “hate speech,” thus enlisting our criminal justice system in the enforcement of shari’a-based blasphemy laws.

Ravi’s conviction has dangerously expanded the already over-broad and subjective statutes against “hate crimes,” which are for the most part based on words and attitudes. Such laws are an attempt to criminalize preferences disapproved of by some political ideologies, and they are based on dubious social psychology theories about how “hate speech” creates a “climate of fear” that legitimizes and hence increases physical violence or harassment against protected groups. The problem with such laws, however, is that in practice they are selective, protecting politically favored constituencies while excluding other groups such as Christians, Jews, straight white males, or conservatives. Worse yet, what constitutes “hate speech” is highly subjective and reductive, ignoring the specific contexts and intentions that contribute to any speech act. Finally, under the Constitution, we are free to dislike whomever we wish for whatever reason we wish, no matter how much such dislike disturbs others. And subject to strict “fighting words” constraints, under the First Amendment we have the right to express that dislike in speech, including speech others may find offensive.

In short, “hate crime” laws represent another dangerous government intrusion into social and political life at the expense of freedom, all in an attempt to create some utopian world in which nobody ever feels bad, and social relations are without strife and conflict. Yet this goal is impossible given human nature and the great variety of people and their beliefs, some of which they passionately hold and consider foundational to their identities and the meaning of their lives. In a free society that by law gives people the right to express these beliefs and preferences, there inevitably will be clashes, and these disagreements won’t always be conducted with the decorum of a Jane Austen novel. Thus freedom of speech necessarily entails accepting that occasionally one will be insulted or offended. But that’s the price we pay for that freedom, for the alternative is the creation of legal limitations that inhibit speech by using the coercive power of the state to threaten or silence disagreeable political views.

The more dangerous consequence of such legislation, the illegitimate expansion of the scope of hate crime offenses, is what has taken place in the Ravi case. What Ravi did could be considered mean or boorish, but given he was a freshman in college at the time, such behavior is to be expected of a callow youth. There was no evidence presented that Ravi personally was homophobic, no past record of harassing or intimidating homosexuals. In fact, there was not any “hate speech” at all, just a subjective interpretation of his actions as the fuzzy crime “bias intimidation.” As a result, this verdict has broadened the categories “hate” and “bias” to criminalize immaturity––as long as the victim is a member of a protected group. If the roles were reversed, and Clementi had posted videos of Ravi having sex with a woman, nobody would have cared how humiliated or shamed Ravi became, even if he committed suicide.

As a result of this expansion, this verdict contributes to that “chilling” effect on free speech that the ACLU selectively complains about. People who disagree about the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, for example, or resist the attempt to normalize homosexuality, now face the possibility that their opinions, if expressed in ways subjectively interpreted as “hurtful,” could be construed as “bias intimidation” or a “hate crime” or “bullying,” and hence subject to legal sanctions. After all, if normal freshman boorishness can be criminalized, anything can. Already the threat of such prosecution lurks behind every charge of “sexism” or “racism” or “homophobia.” We saw this tactic in the recent uproar over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke, which a Washington Post blogger called “hate speech” that “crossed into the realm of sexual harassment.” That is, as something that the power of the government can punish. Such threats can lead to self-censorship and an environment that is hostile to free speech.


British Liberals block move to name the father on all birth certificates

Radical changes to the law to require fathers’ names to be included on birth certificates are being blocked by the Liberal Democrats.

Conservative ministers say unmarried mothers trying to cut a father out of a child’s life should be forced to acknowledge his role, with men given a right to insist upon a paternity test if they resist.

Meanwhile, they say, feckless fathers who refuse to be named on a birth certificate should – like mothers who decline to name a father – be liable for a fine, expected to be £200.

The plan is backed by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who says fathers should have both a right and a responsibility to be formally acknowledged by the state.

He believes the move is a vital part of addressing a crisis in responsible parenting by fathers and increasing the rights of men in family law.

But in the latest coalition row, senior Lib Dems, including Children’s Minister Sarah Teather, are understood to be objecting to the move and refusing to agree to it being implemented – even though the necessary legislation is already on the statute book.

Currently, 50,000 women a year choose to leave the space for the father’s name on a birth certificate blank.

Conservative ministers believe children should have the ‘security’ of being formally acknowledged by both their mother and father.

Making it a legal responsibility for new fathers to register births jointly with mothers would also make it easier to settle disputes over child maintenance, they argue.

The change in the law, which was initiated by Labour and is now on the statute book, would cut both ways. Fathers who do not want to be named on a birth certificate would – like mothers who refuse to name a father – be breaking the law and be liable for a financial penalty.

In 1964 around 65,000 children were born outside marriage in Britain. In 2005 the figure was around 275,000 – and every year 50,000 UK children have the father’s name left blank on their birth certificate.

Under the change in the law, mothers would have to demonstrate exceptional circumstances to be allowed to leave off a father’s name. A GP or social worker would have to corroborate a claim of domestic violence or abuse that could mean a woman or child would be put in danger by naming the father. Children born as a result of rape or sperm donation would also not have to have a father’s name included.

The necessary amendments have already been made to the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 and the Children Act 1989 relating to how parental responsibility is acquired by unmarried fathers.

Government sources, however, said the Lib Dems are objecting to the plan. The party is said to have expressed concern that the system would tar some children permanently by associating them with undesirable fathers, as well as undermining the rights of new mothers to make their own decisions about whether or not to acknowledge paternity.

‘Sarah Teather is the main block to this,’ said one. ‘Ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions have expressed support for this policy, but to no avail.’


British parents told son is a health and safety risk because he's TOO TALL for nursery and will wear out equipment faster than smaller toddlers

The adoring parents of a two-year-old were horrified when they were told their son was a health and safety risk because he is too tall.

Staff at the Jolly Roger Adventure play centre in Swindon, Wiltshire, said Dylan and Amanda Sparks would have to pay extra for son Oliver to attend the nursery because he is 3ft 3ins (100cm) tall. Managers said that, at five-and-a-half inches (14cm) above the average height for a child his age, Oliver would 'wear out equipment faster' than the other toddlers.

Mrs Sparks, 24, was told that she would have to pay a full child price of £3.60 for Oliver instead of the under-four admission fee of £2.20.

The youngster's angry parents have hit back at the play centre, saying their son was being discriminated against because he had grown slightly faster than most children his age.

Dylan, 30, said: 'Ollie is tall for his age but, because he is asthmatic, he has had to take steroids from a young age which has probably made him grow a bit quicker. 'To me it just seems like complete discrimination against my son for being tall.

'He is only two so he is definitely still a toddler. I would say you probably stop being a toddler at about four years old, when you start school. 'They go there almost every week and he even had his second birthday party there last year.

'On their latest visit, Amanda went to pay the normal toddler price and was told she would have to pay more.

'She paid it because she didn’t want Ollie to know she was disappointed because he was so excited. But when they queried it afterwards with the manager they were told, "If you have a tall child then it is just tough".'

Mr Sparks emailed the management team the same day and was told that the decision had been made for health and safety reasons. He added: 'It’s not really about the price, it is more about the attitude that we have been given.'

A friend’s daughter, who is one month younger than Oliver, was able to enter as a toddler.

Mrs Sparks said: 'Last time we measured him he was about 100cm tall, so he is quite tall for his age, but he does have these steroids, and I am quite tall too. 'When they measured him he just came right up to the line, but that was because his hair was all spiked up.

'It just seems unfair when my friend’s daughter, who is just a month younger than Oliver, is classed as a toddler.

'He can still play in the toddler area once he is inside because that is done on age, but the price is done on height, which doesn’t seem fair to me.'

On the Jolly Roger website it states that the toddlers' area is exclusively for children under four years old or 95cm in height. Oliver will not be three for another two months, but already exceeds the specified height by 5cm.

Manager John Bolton said: 'We do go by height at Jolly Roger - a bigger child would wear the equipment out quicker than a smaller child would.

'But if an older child wants to play with their younger brother or sister in the toddler area then we wouldn’t stop this, as we want the children to be happy and play together, so we can mix and match. 'We would never stop friends playing together because of their height - that is not what we are about.

'We try to be as accommodating as we can and make the play areas as safe as possible.'



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

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

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


19 March, 2012

New Polls Suggest Assault on Religious Freedom a Political Loser

Two new polls suggest surprising popular opposition to Obama’s proposed mandate, including among women.

New opinion polls and government deficit projections create unexpected new difficulties for ObamaCare and its assault against religious liberty, as well as Obama’s reelection effort generally.

In fact, the issue has turned so quickly against Obama that he pivoted from contriving it as a political bludgeon to despairing that others might use it as a political bludgeon against him.

The issue, of course, is the attempted new ObamaCare contraceptive mandate for religious employers. Desperate for an election year wedge issue to counteract failed economic policies, rising gasoline prices, trillion-dollar deficits and flagging popularity, the Obama Administration drafted a new federal regulation earlier this year that would suddenly require religious institutions to provide “free” abortives and contraceptives even if doing so violates their fundamental theological principles. Such a requirement contravenes the First Amendment’s explicit free exercise clause, which states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

As we emphasized last month, this is not a debate about contraceptives themselves, and it’s dishonest to claim otherwise.

After all, contraceptives were placed beyond prohibition nearly half a century ago by the United States Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). So this is not about some new effort to restrict abortives or contraceptives currently available. Rather, it’s an issue of the federal government suddenly trying to force religious institutions to violate their theological principles by either (a) providing abortives and contraceptives against their conscience, or (b) abandoning the charitable causes in which their theology requires that they engage.

Attempting to force that choice violates the explicit terms of the First Amendment.

Now, two new polls suggest surprising popular opposition to Obama’s proposed mandate, including among women.

According to the Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, “when asked whether the government should mandate that Roman Catholic and other religiously affiliated hospitals and colleges offer birth control paid for by the institutions’ insurance companies – as required by the rule – Americans were opposed by 45% to 38%.” When asked more specifically whether the government should require religious institutions to provide contraceptives such as the “morning-after pill,” opposition increased to 49% to 34% overall. In what must have jolted White House officials, women were opposed by a substantial 46% to 35% margin.

Similarly, a New York Times/CBS News poll this week produced the same result. By a 53% to 38% margin, women respondents said that “religiously affiliated employers should be able to opt out of the birth-control rule that requires employers, including religious institutions, to offer contraceptive drugs free of charge.” Opposition among respondents overall was even higher.

Startled that this issue appears to be backfiring on him, Obama changed course and complained about “using religion as a bludgeon in politics.” As reported by The Hill:

“Obama said it’s a problem when religion is used ‘to divide, instead of bring the country together’ in an interview that aired Monday on Iowa TV. ‘When we start using religion as a bludgeon in politics, we start questioning other people’s faith, we start using religion to divide, instead of bring the country together, then I think we’ve got a problem,’ Obama told Des Moines’s local NBC affiliate, WHO TV.”

So there you have it. After commencing a divisive assault against religious liberty, Obama now protests the consequences of his decision.


Rush and the New Blacklist

Pat Buchanan

The original "Hollywood blacklist" dates back to 1947, when 10 members of the Communist Party, present or former, invoked the Fifth Amendment before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

The party was then a wholly owned subsidiary of the Comintern of Joseph Stalin, whose victims had surpassed in number those of Adolf Hitler.

In a 346-17 vote, the Hollywood Ten were charged with contempt of Congress and suspended or fired.

The blacklist had begun. Directors, producers and writers who had been or were members of the party and refused to recant lost their jobs.

Politically, the blacklist was a victory of the American right. In those first years of the Cold War, anti-communism and Christianity were mighty social, political and cultural forces. Hollywood acknowledged their power in what it produced.

Rhett Butler's departing words to Scarlett O'Hara -- "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!" -- were the most shocking heard on screen.

Catholicism was idealistically portrayed in "Going My Way" and "The Song of Bernadette." Priest roles were played by Bing Crosby, Spencer Tracy, Gregory Peck.

But over a half century, the left captured and now controls the culture.

The Legion of Decency is dead. The Filthy Speech Movement from Berkeley 1964 has triumphed. The "seven filthy words" of comedians like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin are regular fare in films and steadily creeping into prime-time.

Movies show sexually explicit scenes that make Howard Hughes' 1944 condemned film, "The Outlaw," starring Jane Russell, look like "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm."

Where Ingrid Bergman of "Casablanca" fame had to flee the country in 1950 after an adulterous affair with director Roberto Rossellini, the media today happily provide all the salacious details of every "relationship" that Hollywood stars enter into and exit.

All of this testifies to the cultural ascendancy of the left.

Yet every establishment has its own orthodoxy, its own taboos, and its own blacklist. And, despite its pretensions to be open to all ideas, our cultural establishment is no different.

While the Hollywood Ten have been rehabilitated and heroized, it is Christians and conservatives who are in cultural cross hairs now.

Traditional Catholic morality is mocked, as are Southern evangelical Christians. And the new cultural establishment has erected a new regime called Political Correctness. It writes the hate-crimes laws that citizens must obey and the campus speech codes students must follow.

The new mortal sins are not filthy talk or immoral conduct, but racism, sexism, homophobia and nativism. The establishment alone defines these sins and enforces the proscriptions against them, from which there is no appeal, only the obligatory apology, the act of contrition and the solemn commitment never to sin again.

If you still believe homosexuality is unnatural and immoral and gay marriage absurd, you are a homophobe who is to keep his mouth shut.

If you think some ethnic and racial groups have greater natural athletic, academic or artistic talents, don't go there, if you do not wish an early end to your journalistic career.

If you think illegal aliens should be sent home and legal immigration should mirror the ethnic makeup of the nation, you are a xenophobe and a racist.

All of these terms -- racist, sexist, homophobe -- are synonyms for heretic. Any of them can get you hauled before an inquisition.

To control the politics of a nation, control of the culture is a precondition. For who controls the culture defines what is moral and immoral, and what is heroic and villainous. And if you can set limits on what journalists write and broadcasters say, you can shape what people think and believe.

Through history, frightened establishments have dealt severely even with peaceful challenges to their power, which is why Socrates was forced to drink poison, Christ was crucified, Sir Thomas More was beheaded and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was sent to the Gulag.

When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a "slut" for demanding that Georgetown Law School subsidize the $3,000 women students annually require for birth control to exercise their sexual freedom, the media that piled on Rush objected less to the term than to the target he picked: one of their own.

Bill Maher routinely uses far more odious terms on Sarah Palin. Yet his $1 million gift to an Obama Super PAC was welcomed by agents of the same president who phoned Fluke to console her over Rush's remarks.

Rush apologized. But the left still campaigns to have his voice stifled and censored, by threatening advertisers of his radio show with boycotts if they refuse to drop him.

Thus does the left honor the First Amendment.

As shown in HBO's "Game Change," John McCain in 2008 ruled out attacks on Barack Obama's 20-year ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Chicago preacher of "God damn America!" fame.

Why? Wright and Obama were black, and such attacks might agitate the latent racism of white America. The Republican Party censors itself so as not to antagonize a cultural establishment that wants to see it dead.

"Beautiful losers," my late friend Sam Francis called them.


Curfews, tags and no TVs: British PM orders prison boss to end 'soft justice' and put emhpasis on punishment

David Cameron has ordered Ken Clarke to dramatically toughen community punishments, with offenders facing curfews, confiscation of TVs and tags that monitor alcohol and drug levels in their blood.

The Prime Minister admitted many non-custodial sentences were a ‘soft option’, with no element of punishment involved.

He has ordered officials to draw up legislation, expected to be unveiled in the Queen’s Speech in May, requiring all community sentences to include punitive conditions.

The move is another blow to Justice Secretary Mr Clarke, who has been accused of undermining the Tories’ traditional stance on law and order.

But it is also an attempt to shore up public confidence in community sentences, which are likely to be used more frequently as budget cuts squeeze prison places.

Mr Cameron, speaking on a flight home from his successful three-day visit to the U.S., said: ‘For too long, community sentences have been seen and indeed have been a soft option.

‘This Government wants to change this and make them a proper and robust punishment. Criminals given a community punishment shouldn’t just be able to enjoy life as it was before. They should pay for their crime and I intend to see that happen.’

Most controversially, the Government intends to use the latest tagging technology to monitor movements and activities.

Mr Cameron wants to use tags that check levels of alcohol and drugs by testing perspiration every 60 seconds to ensure offenders are complying with bans on particular substances.

The Government will also extend the use of GPS tags, which have been tested in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

A government source said: ‘At the moment, people just have a machine at home that says whether they’re there or not.

‘GPS tags can ensure we can stop people from going to the football, keep them away from certain pubs, clubs or entire town centres.

‘You can be much more sophisticated about curfews and restrictions that ensure someone’s life doesn’t just carry on as normal.’

Courts will be given new powers to confiscate offenders’ property as part of a community punishment, including credit cards, driving licences and passports as well as property such as TVs or vehicles.

With prisons at near-capacity for several years, the legislation will be seen as an attempt to shift public opinion on the worth of non-custodial sentences.

According to the latest figures from the National Offender Management Service, one in four offenders given community sentences or released early from prison on licence failed to comply with the terms set by the authorities.

The period for which curfews can be imposed under the terms of a community sentence has already been extended from six to 12 months. Daily curfew hours have also been extended from 12 to 16 hours.

‘This isn’t about softening people up because we want fewer people to go to prison,’ the source added. ‘The truth is that the majority of non-custodial sentences have no punitive measures whatsoever. ‘The law will be changed so that there must be punishment so that community sentences are seen as credible and robust by magistrates, victims and the wider public.

‘We want to restrict liberty through much greater use of curfews, tagging, confiscation and fines.’


The real bigots in Britain's gay marriage row are the liberals

By Simon Heffer

On Thursday, the Government launched a consultation on its plans to allow people of the same sex to be ‘married’ in civil ‘weddings’. I use quotation marks not to denigrate the idea but because, like millions of others, I believe that the only people who should be able to marry and have a wedding are those of different genders.

My opposition to homosexual ‘marriage’ is straightforward. The phrase is simply illogical — and no change in the law can make it otherwise.

I uphold the traditional idea of marriage and what it has meant since the earliest Christian times. Namely that it is the ultimate recognition of the relationship between a man and a woman, often for the purposes of having children.

I am aware that many same-sex couples are deeply committed to each other and often wish to solemnise that commitment with a ‘marriage’ ceremony. However, what the change in law would do is to alter dramatically the nature of the institution for everybody, radically changing its very meaning and significance.

Moreover, none of the main political parties proposed same-sex marriage in their 2010 election manifestoes. And for the avoidance of doubt, I do not have any prejudice against homosexuals or lesbians, or wish them to be discriminated against. Nor do I hold my views because of any religious objection: I am not religious. It is simply, for me, a matter of common sense.

We used to be a society where differing views were respected. I respect the views of those who support same-sex marriage, even though I profoundly disagree with them. I would not dream of insulting them or their beliefs.

Indeed, anyone wishing to make the case against same-sex marriage must do so rationally. Calling its advocates rude names, or deriding their arguments, would simply weaken the case.

This view is plainly not shared by Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem MP who is Equalities Minister. She said the opposition expressed by prominent Christians to same-sex marriage was ‘homophobic’ and belonged in ‘the Dark Ages’. She singled out as ‘medieval’ the use of the term ‘heretic’ by a cleric to describe those advocating a change in the law.

Miss Featherstone said her own views were, by contrast, ‘progressive’ and the Government’s policy was ‘loving’.

Such blinkered intransigence — indeed, I would go so far as to call it bigotry — does not bode well for the free, pluralistic society that liberals claim to believe in. And it makes a mockery of their much-vaunted virtue of ‘tolerance’.

The truth is that a predominantly Conservative government is pursuing a social policy that is being driven by the minority Lib Dems.

I realise David Cameron trumpets his desire to legalise same-sex unions. He justified this belief at his last party conference, perversely, on the grounds that he is a conservative. Yet he is unrepresentative of his party, to whose MPs he has had to promise a free vote on the issue; and his justification is frankly frivolous and absurd.

I am more impressed by the sincerity of the argument advanced by Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, who sadly lost his brother to Aids and who says his party must drop its ‘backward-looking social attitudes’.

I can find no evidence that the majority of people support same-sex marriages. My homosexual friends tell me that many of them are opposed to the planned law change, for much the same reasons as I am. One told me he thought they were ‘silly’, ‘patronising’ and ‘just designed to make a political point’.

Therefore the majority of people — mostly silent — are being asked to accept a policy advocated by a minority, but which would have a serious effect on the nature of marriage.

The fact that the language used by those urging a change is intemperate only adds insult to injury.

The arguments of the mainstream Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches against same-sex marriages are well known. These are not pariah groups.

However, the language Miss Featherstone uses about them might suggest to the ill-informed that they are.

The slur ‘homophobic’ is designed, like ‘racist’, to shut down any argument — in other words, to censor debate. When a liberal such as Miss Featherstone calls someone ‘homophobic’, the implication is that person is prejudiced and holds views that are beyond the pale.

The truth is that ministers are all too aware of the widescale opposition to their policy (not just among clergy, but also among many reasonable people of faith and no faith), and have cynically decided to launch an all-out assault on their opponents.

Their weapons are abuse, vilification, unreason and moral blackmail as they attempt to silence, or at least cow, the opposition.

This is a shocking attack on freedom of speech. Just because somebody — priest or otherwise — finds same-sex marriage irreconcilable either with his conscience or his sense of reason, does not make him a homophobe. Nor does it make him medieval.

The tone taken by supporters of same-sex marriage, and not just by Miss Featherstone, against those who disagree with them has been deliberately intimidating.

It’s not as if opponents are calling for discrimination against homosexuals. Indeed, the majority support the civil contracts for same-sex partnerships that were introduced some years ago.

No, I repeat, the opponents of same-sex marriage are decent people, motivated by the deepest conscience, who are simply seeking to stand up for their sincerely held beliefs.

Having the temerity to disagree with the Coalition’s minority-backed plan is not sufficient excuse for a minister of the Crown to abuse them.

The irony is that this insidious campaign of abuse has been promoted most vigorously by some Tories. It began with a depressing speech at the 2002 Conservative conference at Bournemouth by Theresa May, then the chairman of the party, who termed the Tories ‘the nasty party’.

Her comments were part in reaction to a big lie, that the party had lost two general elections because it was considered prejudiced against ethnic minorities, the poor and homosexuals.

The fact is that it lost in 1997 because John Major was a weak leader who never recovered credibility after Black Wednesday (the notorious day when sterling was forced to pull out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in September 1992) and again in 2001 because it remained paralysed by this failure.

What Mrs May clearly believed was that using self-hatred, and grandstanding on social issues, would advance her party’s cause among people who were not its natural supporters.

This tactic didn’t work — the Tories have not won an election since — but it encouraged people such as David Cameron and Francis Maude to parade their consciences when touting for votes.

Now this assault on traditional conservative values is in full cry. Some argue that this is simply Mr Cameron and his friends trying to isolate and weaken his party’s Right-wing. Yet I fear there is more to it.

There is a sneering, disapproving tone used by Mr Cameron and his outriders against a wide range of conservative beliefs.

For example, those who protest against the exploitation of the taxpayer-funded welfare state by scroungers are dismissed as heartless. Those who want higher standards and the return of selection in education are regarded as divisive. Those who deplore the easy availability of abortion or divorce are dismissed as antediluvians.

And we have all noted the reticence by many leading ministers to condemn the most destructive and corrosive force in our society, the use of illegal drugs.

(Incidentally, how bitterly ironic it is that they wish so fervently for homosexual ‘marriage’ when they feel unable to do anything to support traditional marriage.)

The fact is that traditional conservative values are not a minority interest. They are instinctively held by millions of people of all ages, faiths, sexual orientations and classes in our society.

Liberals, however, maliciously seek to stigmatise the values as evil. They do this because they cannot trump conscience by reason alone.

Come the next general election, voters must muse on the fact that the greatest enemy of the principles of conservatism has turned out to be the Conservative leader himself.



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

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

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


18 March, 2012


What a lot of whining! We all feel "othered" on occasions. I was treated with occasional scorn when I was at school because I was totally uninterested in sport and spent my time reading books instead. But it was like water off a duck's back. People need to get used to the fact that there are all sorts of differences between people and that not to notice it is to ignore reality

Something that might be real reason for upset is the way men tend to ignore flatchested women and women tend to ignore short men -- but that too is just part of reality and not likely to change any time soon. Sometimes people just have to learn to cope with their circumstances -- e.g. by getting a boob job or a Filipina bride. Accepting differences is much healthier than denying them or railing against them

The term ‘microagression’ was first coined by psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe the everyday things we say or do which causes someone to feel ‘othered’. Originally a racially-related phenomenon, its definition has since evolved to include any subtle verbal or non-verbal communication that conveys insensitivity towards a person’s sex, social status, physical appearance or sexuality.

Microaggressive remarks can often come in the form of back-handed compliments. For example, “She’s gorgeous for a big girl” or “I would never be able to tell you’re GAY!” Essentially, they are messages that appear innocent enough on the surface but contain ‘demeaning meta-communications’ to its recipients.

According to Columbia University psychologist Derald Wing Sue, “Most people... harbour unconscious biases and prejudices that leak out in many interpersonal situations.” Just think of all the talk-back radio rants that begin with “Now, I’m not racist/ sexist/ homophobic, but ...” or any number of ‘well-meaning’ comments that finish with: [chuckle] “No offence”. And since most ‘microaggressors’ are genuinely unaware of any wrongdoings, this makes it nearly impossible to confront the situation without evoking paranoia.

Ironically, Sue’s research also found that most of us are actually better at handling overt acts of discrimination than subtle insults, because at least the former has “no guesswork involved” whereas victims of microaggression are “often left to question what actually happened”.

The challenge ultimately lies in making the invisible visible – however ‘insignificant’ it may be. And we can do this, writes Cultural Anthropologist Zara Zimbardo, by “returning the gaze”: “In feminist discourse, it’s when “the targeted ‘other’ look[s] back at the non-target “norm”, putting them in the spotlight of scrutiny.” Viral videos like S**t White Girls Say to Black Girls or the Microaggression Project – where contributors are encouraged to submit snippets of microaggressive insults – are great examples of putting the spotlight on the myriad ‘invisible things’ that make up a marginalised experience.

In the end, this is an awkward subject because it often requires well-meaning people to reflect on their own bias and privilege. Sure, you may object to racism, but do you speak really, reaaally slowly when you order Thai home delivery? Perhaps no one sums up the value of self-awareness better than David Foster Wallace in his famous ‘This is water' speech:

“Two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"”

It’s surprising what goes unnoticed sometimes.


Even Britain's Leftist leader is fed up with Britons who won't work

Unemployed young men and women who turn down State-backed work training schemes will be stripped of their benefits under a Labour government, Ed Miliband said yesterday. The party leader said that for under-25s without work for at least a year ‘saying no is not an option’.

Labour’s Budget would demand a tax on bank bonuses to fund six months’ work for the young, he said.

Under the ‘Real Jobs Guarantee’ scheme, businesses would be paid up to £4,000 to cover 25 hours-a-week paid experience, he told a Labour youth conference.

Mr Miliband said: ‘It is simply unacceptable to have so many talented young people out of work for an entire year, with their hopes and dreams evaporating. And that’s why my ambition is this: to conquer long term youth unemployment.’

But the policy began to unravel when Deputy Leader Harriet Harman could not say how much it would cost. Asked on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme, she floundered, saying: ‘I’ll have to get back to you on that.’

The tax would raise £1billion, she added – although the party later said it would be £2billion.

Mr Miliband also used his speech in Warwick to tell how the extraordinary life and death of his father taught him to make the most of opportunities.

Marxist academic Ralph Miliband, who fled the Nazis in Belgium, died when Ed was 24. The Jewish refugee had arrived in London at 16 knowing no English and earned money clearing rubble. Within three years, he had a place at the London School of Economics.

Mr Miliband said: ‘He succeeded because he was given a chance. And the opportunity he was given was matched by his sense of striving.

'He worked hard to make something of himself and that is one of the things I learned from him: hard work and its value. It was just a sense that you shouldn’t waste your potential.’

In a personal interview in The Times yesterday, he attributed his and his elder brother David’s careers in politics to their father. ‘He was a lodestar, something to steer by.’

His father’s death at the age of 70 in 1994 had been the ‘worst thing that happened in my life’, Mr Miliband said.

He admitted that having an older father made him less likely to rebel, as he did not want to put a strain on the elderly man.

Ralph Miliband wanted his youngest son to be an academic but realised that he was more driven by politics.

But Mr Miliband said: ‘The idea that two of his children would be MPs and me the leader, that would not have been what he would have expected.’ Mr Miliband said he still had not apologised to his elder brother for inflicting a shock defeat over him to take the Labour leadership. He said ‘we’ve sort of moved on’ 18 months later.

Mr Miliband married the mother of his two children, Justine Thornton, last year.


Myths about social mobility in Britain

I heard an interesting interview on BBC Radio Four’s Today program the other morning. It was with The Guardian journalist Stephen Armstrong, who has retraced George Orwell’s 1937 journey to Wigan Pier and tracked down some of the sons of men Orwell interviewed for The Road to Wigan Pier. Here’s what Armstrong said:
Orwell met a lot of people on the road to Wigan Pier and he disguised a lot of names. We discovered that we know three of them quite well: a man called Gerry Kennan, who was a union activist, a man called Sid Smith, who was selling newspapers, and a guy called Jim Hammond, who was unemployed, a black-listed communist miner who really wasn’t getting any work.

So I went back to try to meet their sons. Gerry Kennan’s son, unfortunately, died at the end of last year. Sid Smith grew his shop into the largest independent retail newsagent in the north-west and his son Trevor now lives in a large house in green fields on the edge of Wigan. And Tony Hammond is now a retired High Court judge.

The BBC interviewer was astonished. These are only two cases, of course, but social mobility like this is not what The Guardian and BBC journalists expect to find when they go sniffing around northern, working-class towns like Wigan. This story just doesn’t fit with their familiar narrative of class privilege.

For years, I have been trying to convince anyone who will listen that social mobility in Britain is extensive. Like most other advanced capitalist countries, Britain is an open, meritocratic society where talent and hard work count for much more than social origins. Employers are interested not in who your father was but in what your competencies are.

But no matter how many times I set out the statistical evidence, politicians, academics and left-wing journalists refuse to believe it. Government is so convinced there is a problem that it is threatening to withdraw funding from top universities like Oxford and Cambridge unless they accept more working-class entrants on lower grades. Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed a social mobility ‘Tsar,’ Alan Milburn, who describes Britain as a ‘closed shop society.’ Milburn told the BBC last year: ‘In Britain, if you’re born poor, you die poor.’ This despite the fact that 80% of people born to parents under the poverty line in Britain avoid poverty when they reach adulthood.

We might hope that Armstrong’s stories of the retail magnate and the High Court judge might help correct some of these prevailing myths and misconceptions. But when a BBC interviewer gets together with a Guardian journalist, it doesn’t take long for them to revert to type.

Armstrong went on to tell of a 12-year-old in Wigan who thought that to become a High Court judge nowadays, ‘a magician would have to cast a magic spell.’ Armstrong concluded from this that mobility doesn’t exist anymore: ‘The opportunities that they [Orwell’s generation] had seem to have been closed off.’

He went on: 'Poverty is back to 1936 levels. I met a girl, Sarah, who is living on £2 a day.'

This does sound like appalling poverty. Except it turns out that Sarah had failed to attend an appointment at the Job Centre, so her unemployment benefit was docked. Instead of arranging a new interview, she was living in a homeless hostel and had apparently taken up with some undesirable men. Armstrong concluded from this:

'So Victorian style poverty and fates worse than death are increasing.'

'Yes,' said the BBC interviewer, now safely back in his comfort zone. And with ruffled feathers back in place, Radio Four moved on to its next story.


Open Doors and Closed Minds in America

There is simply no intolerance like that of so-called gay rights activists. In recent years, they have passed feminists as the most censorious political faction in higher education. Homosexual activists at Ohio University demonstrate that the gay rights movement is not about equality. It never has been. It is about forcing your views on others and forcing your opponents into closeted lives as second class citizens.

The most recent outbreak of homosexual hysteria began in the Fall Quarter of 2011. The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) decided to fund religious speaker Frank Turek. Then, Open Doors, the campus LGBTIQQA (alphabet soup of victimhood) union protested due to Turek’s opposition to same-sex marriage. In other words, Open Doors wanted OU to close its doors to Turek because he is not as tolerant as they are. How queer is that logic?

The SAC is a commission of the Ohio University Student Senate that uses a portion of student general tuition to fund student organizations and student events. Any student organization program that uses university funding is under the direction of SAC’s general assembly. That includes Ratio Christi, a religious student organization that I have spoken for on more than one occasion.

Ratio Christi focuses on logical reasoning for the belief in the Christian worldview. So it made sense for them to invite Frank Turek to speak at OU. Turek spoke about his book “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” He did not, however, speak about his book “Correct, Not Politically Correct: How same-sex marriage hurts everyone.”

Despite the fact that Turek came to speak on matters wholly unrelated to homosexuality, Open Doors opposed SAC’s allocating of their tuition money to fund Turek. Even when the subject is not homosexuality, the homosexuals have to change the subject to homosexuality. Their lives revolve around it. They simply cannot function unless they are proclaiming their victimhood.

The SAC did not capitulate to Open Doors demand that the Turek speech be cancelled. However, they did something almost as bad: they apologized to Open Doors. This is totally unacceptable.

Imagine what the conversation must have been like as SAC apologized to Open Doors. Maybe it went something like this: “We are truly sorry that you had to endure the thought that someone was present somewhere on campus – even for a couple of hours – who did not share your views on a subject he was not discussing. We know this was a trying time for your emotionally fragile constituency. We also know you were upset that not all student funds go to people who agree with you at all times and on all issues. So, we’re going to make it up to you. We’re buying extra condoms and contraceptives this year and using only student fees to do it. That will make the Christians just as angry as you were!”

How stupid are these people? Well, “stupid” is not a good choice of words. Let’s listen to their own words as quoted by a local newspaper reporter: “We were really confused and kind of pissed off,” said Open Doors co-chair, Michael Pistrui, after learning about SAC’s decision to fund Turek.

“Confused” and “pissed off” pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it. Gay activists are confused by a First Amendment that applies equally to everyone. And that pisses them off because they don’t really support equality.

But the story at OU gets worse. SAC is actually considering changing funding rules to ensure that such an incident never happens again. And that should be easy, shouldn’t it. Keeping homosexuals from getting angry is a pretty simple task. You just reward them for being angry and censorious and suddenly they become happy and tolerant, right?


SAC Treasurer Chris Wimsatt was quoted by The New Political as saying “We can’t decide to de-fund it after we already decided to fund it” suggesting that the principal moral and legal issue concerning the speech was contractual, not constitutional. In other words, cancelling the speech would have offended an isolated contract rather than offending a bedrock constitutional principle. Wimsatt said the effort to protest the matter was, “too little, too late” somehow suggesting that an earlier protest might have succeeded.

Regardless, the way forward is very simple. Conservatives should sponsor a speech next year called “The Gay Assault on Free Speech Equality.” When the Open Doors Gaystapo succeeds in shutting the doors to the speaker, they will humiliate themselves in the court of public opinion. Then my friends at the Alliance Defense Fund will come in and sue the SAC for viewpoint-based discrimination in the allocation of student activity fees.

What is needed is a plaintiff willing to put his finger in the glory hole of gay hypocrisy. Shaming the shameless will never be enough to prevent the fall of Athens.



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

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

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


17 March, 2012

Where's Sharpton's Apology for Accusing a White Man of Raping a Black Teen?

"Meet the Press" host David Gregory asked his panel "where civility has gone in our public discourse." Incredibly, one panelist urged people to be more "mature" and not "poison the atmosphere."

I say "incredibly" because this panelist was none other than the race-hustling, anti-Semitic "civil rights activist" and MSNBC talk show host, Al Sharpton. For some reason, Sharpton's own struggles with civility never came up. Nor did any panelist behave so rudely as to bring up Sharpton's role in one of the most hideous, disgusting and cynical uses of the race card this side of the O.J. Simpson case. And Sharpton, unlike Rush Limbaugh, refuses to apologize.

While this raises little or no concern to MSNBC or its advertisers, Sharpton became famous by falsely accusing a white man of raping a black teenage girl. Tawana Brawley, then 15, told authorities that white racists abducted, raped and sodomized her -- scrawling the initials "KKK" on her in human feces.

A grand jury later found the entire incident a complete hoax. This did not stop the Rev. Al Sharpton, who had accused Steven Pagones, then an assistant district attorney in Duchess County, N.Y., of the crime. After Sharpton's accusation, Pagones received death threats, and his young daughter was later threatened.

"We stated openly that Steven Pagones did it," said Sharpton. "If we're lying, sue us, so we can go into court with you and prove you did it. Sue us -- sue us right now."

Pagones did sue. A jury unanimously concluded that Sharpton defamed Pagones, ordering Sharpton to pay him $65,000. The Reverend promptly and publicly said he did not intend to pay. Later, when Sharpton decided to run for president, the outstanding defamation debt became a political problem. So Sharpton's one-percenter buddies passed the hat and paid off his debt, which by then totaled $87,000 with interest and penalties.

Civility, Rev. Al? In 1989, a young white woman, dubbed the "Central Park jogger," was monstrously raped and nearly beaten to death. Sharpton insisted -- despite the defendants' confessions -- that her black attacker-suspects were innocent, modern-day Scottsboro Boys trapped in "a fit of racial hysteria." Sharpton charged that the jogger's boyfriend did it and organized protests outside the courthouse, chanting, "The boyfriend did it!" and denouncing the victim as a "whore!"

Sharpton appealed for a psychiatrist to examine the victim, generously saying: "It doesn't even have to be a black psychiatrist. ... We're not endorsing the damage to the girl -- if there was this damage." (The convictions of the accused were eventually vacated, despite their taped confessions, after another man -- whose DNA matched -- confessed to the rape in 2002.)

Civility, Rev. Al? Sharpton once called former Marine, magna cum laude graduate, lawyer, professor and then-Mayor David Dinkins -- New York City's first and only black mayor -- a "n--ger whore turning tricks in City Hall."

Civility, Rev. Al? In 1991, when a 7-year-old black child was accidentally killed in Crown Heights after a car driven by a Hasidic Jew went out of control, Sharpton led 400 protesters through the Jewish neighborhood. There were four nights of rock and bottle throwing. A young Talmudic scholar was surrounded by a mob shouting, "Kill the Jew," and stabbed to death. After deriding Jews as "diamond merchants," Sharpton said, "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house."

Civility, Rev. Al? The Jewish owner of Freddy's Fashion Mart in Harlem raised the rent on a black sub-tenant. At one of the many rallies designed to frighten the owner, Sharpton called him a "white interloper." Following a demonstration three months later, one of the protestors, a black man, stormed Freddy's Fashion Mart with a pistol, screaming: "It's on now! All blacks out!" In addition to shooting, he set fire to the building, eventually killing himself and seven others.

Initially, Sharpton denied having spoken at any rallies and refused to accept any responsibility for poisoning the atmosphere. When tapes surfaced showing Sharpton speaking, he said, "What's wrong with denouncing white interlopers?" Eventually, he apologized -- for saying "white," but not for saying "interloper."

Sharpton refuses to apologize for Tawana Brawley. He assumes liberal bias will prevent the media from asking him about Brawley. Or, he will accuse them of racism if they do: "I did what I believed. ... They are asking me to grovel. They want black children to say they forced a black man coming out of the hardcore ghetto to his knees. ... Once you begin bending, it's, 'Did you bend today?' or: 'I missed the apology. Say it again.' Once you start compromising, you lose respect for yourself."

In other words, falsely and unapologetically accusing a white man of raping a black teenage girl is no barrier to hosting a talk show on MSNBC or lecturing the nation on civility.

Rush Limbaugh twice apologized to the Georgetown law student for calling her a slut. Sharpton has never apologized for calling Steven Pagones a rapist.


What About Free Speech?

For a couple of years now, I have been talking about the Kultursmog, the utterly polluted state of our political culture. Those who pollute it are the liberals. Kultursmog is the only form of pollution that they approve of, but they do approve of it mightily, and of course, they are the chief contributors to its noxious fumes. Now they are using it to kill off an American value prized by millions of Americans down through the centuries, free speech. As I say in another context, we are watching the death of liberalism.

Through Media Matters for America, MSNBC, Think Progress and various other outfits, the liberals are trying to kill off talk radio. They have made feints in this direction for years -- for instance, in encouraging the return of the Fairness Doctrine, which is anything but fair. Now they are aiming at the heart of talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, and, as collateral damage, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and the whole conservative camorra. As I mentioned last week, Rush -- in the course of his 15 hours of dialogue each week -- made a joke of dubious jocularity about the felicitously named Sandra Fluke. All hell broke loose. To my surprise -- and I suspect to Rush's -- it turns out that his joke was almost tasteful and indeed elevated in comparison with the tasteless scurrility directed at conservative women.

The clown Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a "dumb t---" and a "c---." He jokes about Rick Santorum's wife using a vibrator. Ed Schultz has called Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut," anticipating Rush's reference to Fluke. Keith Olbermann is as foul, and doubtless there are others. This is the language regularly resorted to by the left, and one would think that these revelations would put an end to the orchestrated crisis over Rush, especially because it was a liberal, the admirable Kirsten Powers, who turned up these instances of garbagespiel. But no, the crisis continues.

I can understand why. Talk radio is almost exclusively conservative radio. For some reason, liberals cannot make it in the talk show market. Even when they come up with heavily subsidized formats, such as Air America, the liberals flounder. This is, I suspect, because they cannot talk about politics without assuming a grim voice and interlacing their dialogue with scatological references. Have you ever heard them? Have you read their blogs? They have sewers for brains.

On Tuesday, my colleague Jeffrey Lord, on The American Spectator's website, connected the dots. Using the indispensable Daily Caller, he pointed to the Caller's evidence that Media Matters virtually writes the scripts for such MSNBC eminentoes as Al Sharpton and the dolt Schultz. Moreover, it does it with a vast mound of George Soros' money. Most of what Sharpton and Schultz say is mendacious and infantile, and sometimes it is worse. Lord presented for Spectator readers some of Sharpton's indigestible morsels. The morsels came from before he linked up with Soros and MSNBC, but that is all the more reason he should not be posing as a commentator on cable news. He has absolutely no claim to being a journalist. Perhaps he can claim to being a personality, but if that is the case, the way he became a personality is similar to how the late George Wallace became a personality. It was through racism, and as a personality, Wallace did not get far.

On the Spectator's website, Lord has preserved the tapes of Sharpton inveterately using the N-word. He uses terms such as "white interloper" and "cracker." He refers to Aristotle -- yes, that Aristotle -- as "a Greek homo." So far to the left has the Kultursmog gone that it finds Rush controversial but Sharpton a budding Walter Cronkite. In truth, as Lord has demonstrated, Sharpton made his way to national fame as a racist rabble-rouser.

Talk radio is afflicted by several thousand social isolates sitting around the house in their underwear tapping out irate messages to the sponsors of Rush and his cohorts. They do it on their digital tools, Twitter, Facebook, the blogs. They rely on the same mentality as the Occupy protesters. Their complaints to sponsors amount to dirty tricks. They are not clients or customers. They are a pain in the neck but nothing more. Eventually, this too will pass, but in the meantime, things will be tricky for talk radio -- unless it mounts a counterattack on Media Matters for America, MSNBC (whose owner is Comcast) and Think Progress. Just a thought!


Half a million incapacity benefit claimants are fit for work, British Government’s OWN figures show

Half a million people on incapacity benefit are fit for work, ministers said yesterday. Medical assessments carried out on 141,000 existing claimants found that an astonishing 37 per cent of people on incapacity benefit were capable of working immediately.

A further 34 per cent will be placed in a 'work-related activity group' to help them prepare to go back to work at some point in the future. Only 29 per cent of claimants were deemed to be so sick or disabled that they will never be able to work.

The figures are the first results from a programme to reassess 1.5million existing claimants of incapacity benefit, which is worth £94.25 a week. They do not include information on appeals, which are likely to reduce the number of people deemed fit for work.

But Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the figures suggested a significant proportion of people on long-term sickness benefits were fit enough to work. He said: On current projections, and based on the results so far, we expect around half a million people to see if they can return to work.

'Without the reassessment process, those people would have been left on incapacity benefit for the rest of their lives, with little prospect of doing something else with their time.'

Incapacity benefit costs the taxpayer £4.8billion a year. Many claimants have not been assessed for years. Statistics show that those who have been on the benefit for more than two years are more likely to die than ever find another job.

Mr Grayling said it was 'very obvious that long term welfare dependency is a trap into which it is easy to fall, and a place that many are very reluctant to leave'.

He went on: 'These first figures completely justify our decision to reassess all the people on incapacity benefit. To have such a high percentage who are fit for work just emphasises what a complete waste of human lives the current system has been.

'We know that for many it will be a long haul back to work but it's much better to help them on the journey than to leave them on benefits for the rest of their lives.' Those deemed fit to work immediately will be moved to Jobseekers' Allowance, which is worth £67.50 a week.

Others will be placed on Employment and Support Allowance, which is worth up to £99.85 for those who are considered too ill to ever work again.

Critics claim that the drive to reassess hundreds of thousands of people on sickness benefits is driven by the need to cut costs rather than a genuine desire to help the long-term sick.

A spokesman for Disability Rights UK described yesterday's figures as 'misleading'. He pointed out that in some parts of the country up to 40 per cent of those who appeal against their assessments are found to be unable to work.

The spokesman said: 'There is a huge amount of money being wasted on appeals because the initial assessments are not identifying the needs of disabled people.

'By the time you account for appeals, the figure will probably be closer to a quarter rather than 37 per cent. Even then it is misleading to accuse people of abusing the system because Employment and Support Allowance is a different system from incapacity benefit.'

Brendan Barber, general-secretary of the TUC, also criticised the figures, saying: 'It's hardly surprising that a test specifically designed to make fewer people qualify for disability benefits is passing more people as "fit to work".'

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions defended the reassessment process, which is carried out by private doctors. He said adjustments were being made to reduce the number of appeals.


Don't use the words husband and wife! British government's same-sex wedding reforms would axe terms from official documents

It sounds like the Liberal tail is wagging the Conservative dog

Reforms to allow same-sex marriage will see the words husband and wife removed from official forms, it was revealed last night. Tax and benefits guidance and immigration documents must be rewritten so they no longer assume a married couple is a man and a woman.

And private companies will be told to overhaul paperwork and computer databases containing the words.

Marriage certificates could even be affected by the Coalition proposals, with rules possibly axing terms such as bride and bridegroom.

The reforms – promised by Prime Minister David Cameron last autumn and set out in a consultation paper launched yesterday – intend to open civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples for the first time. A different category – religious marriage – will be reserved for male and female couples.

The proposals have triggered a furious row, with the Church of England accusing the Coalition of misunderstanding the law of marriage.

But Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone warned religious leaders not to ‘fan the flames of homophobia’ with ‘inflammatory’ language. New versions of documents will‘replace references to husband and wife with the more neutral terms spouses and partners’.

The cost of the red tape revolution demanded by the ‘Equal Civil Marriage’ plans will run into millions, according to an official analysis published alongside the consultation paper.

Businesses will be given ‘lead-in time’ – a period of grace to change their websites and databases before their failure to recognise same-sex marriage runs foul of the law.

The consultation paper, produced by Home Secretary Theresa May and Miss Featherstone, has set aside three months for public responses before civil servants begin to draw up the new legislation. And the axing of the terms husband and wife is spelled out in an ‘impact analysis’ published by the Home Office alongside the paper.

It said UK Border Agency forms and staff guidance would replace husbands and wives with spouses and partners.

‘Some tax, National Insurance Contributions and tax credit legislation will have to be changed where there is a specific reference to a husband and wife,’ it added.

References to go include direct mentions of husband and wife and phrases about couples ‘living together as husband and wife’. Forms and IT systems and guidance for Revenue and Customs staff will need to change, it added.

The removal of gender-specific language also has sweeping implications for marriage services. The Home Office declined to say yesterday how ministers intend to change the wording of ceremonies. Currently couples marrying in a register office must pledge to take each other as ‘my wedded husband’ or ‘my wedded wife’.

If marriage law is reformed in line with the rewrite of red tape, then couples will be required at a civil wedding to pledge themselves to ‘my wedded partner’.

The Church of England said: ‘Arguments that suggest “religious marriage” is separate and different from “civil marriage”, and will not be affected by the proposed redefinition, misunderstand the legal nature of marriage in this country. 'They mistake the form of the ceremony for the institution itself.’

The Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales said in a statement: ‘It is alarming to note that children are not mentioned at any stage in this consultation document about marriage.’

But Miss Featherstone said yesterday: ‘I believe that if a couple love each other and want to commit to a life together, they should have the option of a civil marriage, whatever their gender. 'Marriage is a celebration of love and should be open to everyone.’ [It's actually a reproductive contract, historically]



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

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

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


16 March, 2012

The poisonous NY Times Refuses to Run Anti-Islam Ad… After Running Anti-Catholic Ad

The New York Times has rejected a full-page anti-Islam advertisement that mirrored a scathing anti-Catholic advertisement the newspaper published on March 9.

According to The Daily Caller, a March 13 letter sent by the Times to the parody’s sponsor, activist Pamela Geller, said the $39,000 anti-Islam ad was rejected because “the fallout from running this ad now could put U.S. troops and/or civilians in the [Afghan] region in danger.”

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, accused the Times of having a double standard and told DC that The Time’s was based on “either [anti-Catholic] bigotry or fear [of Islamic violence], and they’ve painted themselves into that corner.”

DC adds:
Donohue said the frequent claims of intellectual honesty by Times employees would compel them to address the double standard if they weren’t “shameless.”

TheDC asked Robert Christie, the Times’ senior vice-president for corporate communications, if the Times’ decision is a surrender to violence and also an incentive for additional threats of violence.

However, Christie declined to discuss the paper’s decision, and referred TheDC to the letter sent by the Times to Geller and her organization, Stop the Islamization of Nations.

The original ad was created by the controversial, and often radical, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. The ad, “It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church” positioned itself as an “open letter to ‘liberal’ and ‘nominal’ Catholics.”

“Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages?” it asks. “Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on?”

“Not a single Catholic who reads this ad will be impelled to leave the Church. That is not the issue,” said Donohue in response to the ad. “The issue is the increase in hate speech directed at Catholics.”

CNA adds more information about the anti-Catholic ad:
The ad claims that the church is “an avowedly antidemocratic Old Boys club” and derides Catholic teaching that contraception use is sinful. It also blames the Church for causing misery, poverty, unwanted pregnancies and deaths and attacks Catholic teaching on the ordination of women, parochial schools, and the Church’s response to sex abuse.

The ad, which includes a disparaging cartoon of a Catholic bishop, claims U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference has made a “declaration of war against women’s right to contraception.”


Students hear a Christian message for once. Big shock!

Constant Leftist messages are much better, of course

Kicking off with a hard rock performance, it was clear this was not to be your average assembly. At first students at Dunkerton High School, Iowa, seemed grateful for this musical break from the norm - albeit with Christian-themed lyrics denouncing the evils of drugs, alcohol and violence.

But things took a turn for the worse when the event veered into an impassioned and unfocused rant against homosexuality, abortion and sex before marriage.

After his band Junkyard Prophet left the stage, drummer and preacher Bradlee Dean took the microphone, separating the crowd into boys, girls and teachers.

Mr Dean is the president of the ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, which is listed by civil rights organisation the Southern Poverty Law Center as an active anti-gay hate group.

The clip below - a segment on homosexuality - shows him launching attacks on the influence of the media and pop culture, taking aim mainly at Sir Elton John and Lady Gaga.

Before a packed school hall he projects a photograph of Sir Elton next to a quotation that reads: 'There's nothing wrong with going to bed with someone of your own sex. I just think people should be very free with sex... They should draw the line at goats.'

Mr Dean demands of his young audience: 'Is that a good moral standard? Would you allow your son or daughter to spend the night at Elton's house?'

He then picks apart Lady Gaga hits such as The Fame and Born This Way, taking exception to her placing the lyrics 'No matter black, white or beige' side by side with 'No matter gay, straight or bi'. He says: 'What she's saying is if you're black it's the same thing as being gay. Sexual deviancy is the same thing. 'You're born as a product of your parents. But your actions - listen to this - you do have control over it.'

And after an embittered rant in which Mr Dean claims music videos give a false impression of what love is, he asks: 'Did you know the average age death of a homosexual male is 42 years old? 'Yeah, his actions literally kill him and he lives about half his life out.'

He adds: 'Up until 1961 [homosexuality] was illegal in all 50 states. We protected that institution. 'In 1998 if you were busted in Rhode Island you'd go to prison for 20 years; in 1973 they thought it was a mental illness. 'Now what are they teaching you?'

Junkyard Prophet had previously visited the school without incident and staff were expecting them to return last week with a talk on bullying and making the right choices.

But instead, students found themselves faced with graphic images of aborted foetuses, while girls were instructed to obey their husbands.

Parent Jennifer Littlefield told the LaCrosse Tribune: 'They told my daughter, the girls, that they were going to have mud on their wedding dresses if they weren't virgins.' Her 16-year-old daughter Alivia was distraught when she called her after the event and was one of several to have left in tears.

Appalled parents complained to the school, which has since accepted responsibility. The district authority is trying to recover the fee paid to Junkyard Prophet, who are said to command a rate of $1,500 per show.

Members of the group have since returned to the area to explain their performance, addressing 75 people at a nearby church.

According to local network KWWL, Mr Dean, who was met by a small group of protesters, took to the stage to hit out at 'offensive' accusations and negative media coverage. He said: 'When I left, there was nothing wrong with anything. I get home and it's an anti-gay ministry. 'I'm tired of that. It wasn't brought up at all.'


Force them to work': British think tank calls on ministers to get tough on feckless fathers

Feckless fathers should be forced to take a job if they refuse to pay for the upkeep of their child, a think tank demanded last night.

They said that unemployed fathers on benefits who no longer live with their partner should be put on compulsory work experience schemes if they fail to take financial responsibility for their offspring.

Policy Exchange called on ministers to target these individuals and fast-track them on to compulsory work experience schemes to try to get them back into the labour market.

If they fail to stick with the work experience to the end, they would lose state payments, under the scheme being pushed by the centre-right think tank.

Centre-right Policy Exchange called for a job placement programme which would be similar to the controversial scheme that last month sparked accusations that young people were being forced into 'slave labour'. After a wave of protests last month ministers announced youngsters would no longer be sanctioned for quitting placements.

But despite the problems, Policy Exchange said a mandatory programme for fathers would make it more likely claimants would leave benefits and take paid work. Its report shows that absent fathers on benefits typically contribute just £5 a week in child maintenance payments.

The study estimates there are up to 65,800 men who have been out of work for six months or longer and claims the Child Support Agency focuses on collecting payments from working parents.

The think tank also demanded that fathers are named on birth certificates.

And it called for single parents claiming income support to be exempted from paying a fee to use the CSA under changes being introduced by the Government, warning it will deter the poorest from chasing payments.

Report author Peter Saunders said: 'Most fathers want to do all they can to help and support their children, even when they find themselves unemployed. But a minority persistently evade their responsibilities. 'This is unfair on their children, their former partners, other fathers who are doing the right thing, and taxpayers, who have to pick up the tab.

'Organising work activity for tens of thousands of men, many of whom may have forgotten or never learned routine work discipline would be expensive. 'In the longer term, however, such a policy should reduce the burden on taxpayers, by getting at least some of these men back into useful employment. 'If they refuse to enrol on to these work schemes then benefits should be withdrawn.


Australian bricklayer sparks row over Irish ban

The advertiser was saving both himself and others time and trouble as experience had obviously moved him not to hire Irish people. The ban on such advertising won't remove discrimination. It will just make it less visible. Even if he cannot advertise what he wants he can still hire on that basis as long as he keeps that basis to himself. This is a ban on speech, not a ban on discrimination

AN online job ad stating "no Irish" should apply has forced the Australian embassy in Ireland to defend the country's commitment to diversity and racial tolerance.

The ad posted on website Gumtree stated: “Bricklayer needed ASAP. $250 a day, no part-time workers and NO IRISH”, reports the Irish Independent.

The ad sparked immediate reader outrage after the Independent reported the ad was “in language reminiscent of the discrimination against the Irish in British cities in the 1950s”.

It has since been removed, but not before the man responsible - known only as “Simon” - defended his position stating he was sick of Irish people applying for jobs they were not qualified to do.

“I have no trouble with Irish people,” he told the Independent. “But I’ve had to fire a number of people. I’ve had lots of Irish people say they have experience bricklaying but come over and have no clue how to lay bricks. “I’m very busy and don’t have time to be watching over them.”

A spokesman for the Australian embassy told the Independent online: “The Government has an unwavering commitment to a multicultural Australia and greatly welcomes the contribution made by people of all backgrounds, regardless of origin, gender, or colour, to Australia's culture, society, and prosperity.”

He said Australia had no tolerance for racism and discrimination reflected in a broad range of anti-discrimination legislation.

Orla Tunney of the Irish Embassy in Canberra said they are very concerned at any instance of discrimination against Irish people in Australia. "We understand that the advertisement in question was illegal and has now been removed from the website where it appeared," said Ms Tunney.

"Thankfully, incidents of this type are very rare and in general we are aware of a very high level of respect in Australia for Irish workers. We very often receive positive feedback about the level of education and training of Irish workers and their ability to adapt well to Australian workplaces."

Race Discrimination Commissioner Helen Szoke confirmed with news.com.au that this was a clear cut case of discrimination. “What’s important is that people understand that it is unlawful to advertise in this way and that there are grounds for people to bring a complaint of discrimination to the Australian Human Rights Commission,” Dr Szoke said.

“But it’s also unhealthy. With a job like bricklaying it’s pretty easy to ascertain what the requirements of the job are without being abusive on the basis of race.”

Dr Szoke said employment was the single largest area of racial complaints in Australia. “Section 16 of the Race Discrimination Act states that an advertisement could be understood as being unlawful if it treats people unfavourably on the basis of race,” she said. “This is a pretty clear cut case. It’s a clear exclusion of Irish people both in the advertising and in the employment practice – so there would seem there are grounds for lodging a complaint.”

The economic downturn in Ireland has led to a surge of Irish emigrating to Australia in search of work.



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

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

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


15 March, 2012

British supermarket tells suppliers: Don't fly the Union flag on your packets (because it might offend the Scots)

This sounds like saying not to fly Old Glory in Tennessee in case it offends Southerners

With the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics fast approaching, many companies are proud to fly the British flag. Not Asda.

The supermarket has complained to suppliers using the Union flag on their packaging – amid fears it might offend customers in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The chain said the decision to add the flag to products had been made by manufacturers without consulting the supermarket.

It claimed that using the image ‘is a big issue because this packaging will potentially land in both Northern Ireland and Scotland stores’. That is despite both being represented in the flag, playing a key role in the jubilee celebrations and being part of team GB at London 2012.

Asda’s warning came in an email from its headquarters in Leeds. Sent to 20 suppliers including Coca-Cola, it stressed that ‘standard packaging is to be sent to Northern Ireland and Scottish stores’, and asked for suppliers to list the products they intend to decorate with the flag, so Asda can ‘manage the distribution accordingly’.

The email has been met with confusion from manufacturers who believe the Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 provide a unique nationwide marketing opportunity for their products. One supplier said: ‘There was a stunned silence in the office when the email landed because it makes absolutely no sense.

‘Sporting events such as the World Cup are always important but they are usually confined to England and you wouldn’t expect to sell products marked with the St George’s Cross in Scotland. ‘But to have both the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games in one summer offers a unique opportunity to capture the imagination of Britain as a whole.

‘We are aware there are issues of sensitivity in Northern Ireland but this email clearly states that they want standard packaging to be sent to Scotland too. ‘It also says there will be no British event within the seasonal aisle in Scotland where they normally sell summer goods. ‘Does that mean they don’t believe the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics are British events?’

Events celebrating the Diamond Jubilee are taking place as far away as the Falkland Islands where beacons will be lit to celebrate the Queen’s 60th year on the throne. The Queen will visit Northern Ireland as part of her Jubilee tour and celebrations are expected to end in Scotland with a garden party at Balmoral.

Scottish athletes such as the cyclist Sir Chris Hoy are senior members of Team GB at London 2012 and are expected to lead the charge for gold medals. Sir Chris Hoy has described himself as ‘a Scottish athlete in a British team’ and Glasgow will even host eight Olympic football matches at the city’s Hampden Park stadium.

The email was sent at a time when the issue of independence for Scotland is on the political agenda because of a promised referendum by the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

But Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell has predicted a backlash against Asda if it panders to the Scottish nationalist stance. He said: ‘I think it’s very unwise move by Asda to go down this route.

‘For Asda to play petty politics at a time that we are celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a time of national unity and celebration will leave a great many people deeply offended. ‘I for one won’t be shopping at Asda if that is the game they are going to play.’

Last night Asda claimed the email sent to more than 20 suppliers and copied to two of the supermarket’s own executives was ‘a badly worded note.’ A spokesman added: ‘All our stores that want Union Jack branded products will receive them.’


Marriage is good for children and state must back it, declares British government minister

Marriage provides a more stable environment for bringing up children than other relationships and should be supported and encouraged by the state, ministers will say today.

The Social Justice Strategy paper will stress that marriage is an ‘excellent’ environment in which to raise families, and warns that family instability or breakdown can have ‘devastating’ long-term consequences.

The hard-hitting document, launched by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, adds that children enjoy better life outcomes when the ‘same two parents’ give support and protection throughout childhood.

It warns that children who experience parental breakdown are more likely to have poor life outcomes than those who grow up with both of their parents.

The document adds that one in three cohabiting couples separate before a child’s fifth birthday, compared with a figure of around one in ten married parents.

Most significantly, the paper clearly spells out the Government’s support for the institution of marriage.

The report states: ‘Given that married relationships tend to have greater longevity and stability than other forms, this Government believes marriage often provides an excellent environment in which to bring up children. ‘So the Government is clear that marriage should be supported and encouraged.’

The strategy provides welcome ammunition for campaigners who are trying to push David Cameron into keeping his promise to give a tax break to married couples. It comes days after figures showed that marriage is coming back into fashion after 40 years of decline.

The number of weddings has risen by 3.7 per cent in a year. Analysts believe the recession has caused a return to family values and a desire for the stability marriage offers.

The document will form the blueprint of the Government’s plans to tackle the root causes of poverty, which include earlier interventions for problem families and encouraging people back into work.

Mr Duncan Smith will warn that family breakdown is a root cause of many of the problems in society. He will say that the family is the most important ‘building block’ in a child’s life. ‘When families are strong and stable, so are children,’ he will say.

‘We know that children raised by parents reporting high relationship quality and satisfaction tend to have higher levels of wellbeing, while intense conflict between parents has been shown to be detrimental to children’s outcomes.’ ‘When families break down, the consequences can be severe,’ he added.

Mr Duncan Smith will add: ‘At the heart of this, it means emphasising the Government’s support for marriage.’

The Social Justice Strategy paper warns that men who have been separated from a parent, experienced high family conflict or multiple transitions in new families, were more likely to be involved in crime.

In a survey of offenders, 41 per cent reported witnessing violence in their home as a child and 29 per cent – or almost a third – reported emotional, sexual or physical abuse as a child.

It finds: ‘Children who have experienced parental relationship breakdown are more likely to have poor cognitive development and education and employment outcomes than those who have lived with both birth parents.’

The paper says that ‘multiple relationship transitions’ are particularly detrimental to children.

Ministers acknowledge that couples who are not married can also provide ‘good family environments’. It says: ‘Evidence suggests that the way in which a family functions has more effect on outcomes for children than the type of family. ‘This is not to say that lone parents and step-families cannot provide high levels of love and support for children. ‘All types of family structure have the potential to provide the stability that is vital for enabling good outcomes.’


The 295 words and phrases blocked by Chinese Web censors

A new Carnegie Mellon University study has identified the 295 words and phrases the Chinese government looks for when it steps in and forcibly blocks communication between its own citizens.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the list is home to known controversial terms like "Falun Gong" but also includes "iodized salt." And strangely enough, they both have become hot button search items.

The Falun Gong is a dissident religious group labeled a cult by the Chinese government, while iodized salt is one of the most common household items in the modern world. But it was also part of a rampant rumor in China after last year's nuclear plant meltdown in Japan, in which people falsely claimed that iodized salt could reduce radiation poisoning.

"The Chinese government came in, put their foot down and said don't believe these rumors. After that, iodized salt became a sensitive topic and it was highly likely a message would be deleted if it discussed salt," said David Bamman, the study's co-author, in an interview with the Gazette. The study results were first published in the online journal First Monday.

The study's authors based their findings on data collected from the Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo. While Twitter has a purported 300 million users worldwide, Sina Weibo has 300 million in China alone. Even with the rampant Chinese government censorship, Sina Weibo's stock has soared recently with news that 50 million of its 300 million users have joined in the past three months alone, making it the third most popular site in China.

The study looked at more than 57 million messages posted on Sina Weibo during a three-month period last year.

When breaking down the messages to match with the popular political and social terms, the research team found that 212,583 out of 1.3 million checked messages, roughly 16 percent, had been deleted by the Chinese government. And 54 percent of all messages sent from Tibet had been deleted.

Study co-author Noah Smith said most examinations of Chinese Internet censorship look at the sites the government has blocked outright. So the authors instead wanted to process a hard statistical analysis of what the Chinese government was doing to censor content on sites it lets the public at large access.

A 2005 Open Net study declared that China has the most-sophisticated level of Internet censorship in the world.

"The rise of domestic Chinese micro-blogging sites has provided a unique opportunity to systematically study content censorship in detail," Smith told the Gazette.

The Chinese government is not shy about its Internet censorship, even launching an official campaign known as the Golden Shield Project, or "Great Firewall." The government has announced that as of March 16, it will require all Sina Weibo users to publicly use their real names on all accounts.


Companies must employ drunks?

That's Australian law, apparently

RAILCORP discriminated against a job applicant who had two convictions for drink-driving offences when it denied him a position as a market analyst, the Australian Human Rights Commission has found.

The man, known as Mr CG, had convictions for a middle-range drink-driving offence in 2001 and a low-range offence in 2008. When he applied for a position as a market analyst with RailCorp in 2009 he was told he was not offered the position because of his criminal record, despite having met all the selection criteria and being the selection panel's preferred candidate.

The Australian Human Rights Commission Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of a person's criminal record.

In a report tabled in Federal Parliament yesterday, Catherine Branson, the president of the commission, recommended RailCorp pay Mr CG $7500 in compensation for hurt, humiliation and distress. But RailCorp has refused to pay.

RailCorp accepts Mr CG was not offered employment because of his criminal record. But it disputes this constituted discrimination. It said his criminal record made him unable to perform the inherent requirements of the job.

RailCorp describes the inherent requirements as compliance with its drug and alcohol policy, upholding its safety-first values and performing the duties faithfully, diligently, carefully, honestly and with the exercise of skill and good judgment.

However, Ms Branson found Mr CG was not excluded from the job due to the inherent requirements of the job. He had worked for RailCorp for eight years in various roles, including an 18-month stint as a market analyst. There had been no suggestion he had behaved in a way inconsistent with the inherent requirement of the market analyst's position.

She found his offences had no connection with his employment and had not occurred in work hours. Driving was not part of his employment and he was not required to provide rail transport services in which safety was a critical concern.

"While the absence of a criminal record might be an inherent requirement of some positions with a limited class of employers, I am not satisfied that this position of market analyst is such a position," she wrote in the report.

While RailCorp did not accept the commission's findings on compensation, it has said it will review its recruitment procedures with a view to ensuring people were not inappropriately excluded from employment. The decision is reviewable under the Administrative Decisions Act.



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

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

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


14 March, 2012

Priest who followed the teachings of his church placed on leave by his church

Lesbianism trumps church doctrine, apparently. Lesbian Buddhists living unrepentant in sin must be given communion? It's an old Protestant view that Catholics are not Christians. The church does sometimes foster that impression

A Catholic priest in the Washington, D.C. area has ignited controversy over the past month after he reportedly refused to grant communion to a lesbian woman at her mother’s funeral.

As The Blaze has reported, the woman, Barbara Johnson, has publicly called for the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo of St. John Neumann Catholic Church to be removed. Now, following these pleas and the national outraged that followed, he has officially been placed on leave.

While specific details aren’t yet available regarding why the Washington archdiocese made the decision to impose the harsh penalty, a letter that is dated March 9 and that addresses the issue has been uncovered by the Washington Post. In it, Bishop Barry Knestout, the leader of Washington D.C. and Maryland area churches, told other local priests that the punishment came as a result of Guarnizo “engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry.”

The entire letter reads:
I write to inform you that effective today, Father Marcel Guarnizo’s assignment at St. John Neumann Parish is withdrawn and he has been placed on administrative leave with his priestly faculties removed until such time as an inquiry into his actions at the parish is completed.

This action was taken after I received credible allegations that Father Guarnizo has engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry.

Given the grave nature of these allegations, and in light of the confusion in the parish and the concerns expressed by parishioners, Father Guarnizo is prohibited from exercising any priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington until all matters can be appropriately resolved, with the hope that he might return to priestly ministry.

Sincerely in Christ
Most Reverend Barry C. Knestout
Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia

Despite these words — which don’t mention the communion incident — many are assuming that the removal is related to the priest’s interaction with Johnson. Rev. Thomas LaHood, who is the pastor at St. John Neumann, denied this over the weekend, though. According to the Post, LaHood echoed the letter over the weekend and said that the removal has to do with “actions over the past week or two.”

“As we know there’s been disagreement within the parish over how and to whom Communion is distributed. From my perspective this disagreement and related emotions flow from love. Love for Christ, really and truly present in the Eucharist,” LaHood said during Sunday mass. “However, how we live out this love is important. The Scriptures tell us that we are known above all by how we love…I realize this letter is hard to hear. Please keep mind that this is a first personnel issue, dealing with issues of ministry in the church. Father Guarnizo will have every opportunity to present his position.”

Johnson, like Guarnizo, has been relatively quiet over the past few days in regards to addressing the incident.

“We are hopeful that Bishop Knestout’s decision will ensure that no others will have to undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family,” Johnson and here family said in a written statement responding to the disciplinary actions taken against the priest. “We urge all Catholics to put aside political points of view, and pray that our Church will remain in Christ’s love.”

Here’s what The Blaze originally reported about the incident:
Johnson, a lesbian, was joined at the church by her partner to celebrate her mother’s life. Just before the service, Guarnizo apparently learned about her sexuality and relationship. Then, during the service, when Johnson stood up to receive communion, the priest openly denied her.

“He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,’” she explained following the incident.

Some bloggers, like Thomas Peters if CatholicVote.org, have railed against Johnson, pointing to a paper that appears to be published under her name. In it, she admits to being a Buddhist.

Peters, among others, has dismissed Johnson’s communion concerns, going on to highlight her activism as a case behind her outrage with Guarnizo’s actions. Peters writes:
What’s that? Johnson is a self-professed Buddhist? No wonder she describes herself as a “student of … Buddhist philosophy” on her website.

So what was she doing presenting herself for Communion at her mother’s funeral if she apostatized? Why has she failed to mention this important fact in all of her appearances on the media?

Could it be, quite simply, because she herself has a political agenda? [...]

…I’m sick and tired of the media playing along with these agenda-driven personal stories while exercising zero vetting because they coincide with the media’s agenda.

Peters’ point is that Johnson, a Buddhist, shouldn‘t be too concerned over the priest’s refusal to give her communion. This, of course, depends on Johnson and her devotion — or lack thereof — to the Catholic faith.


UK: Catholic archbishops intensify opposition to homosexual "marriage"

The Catholic Church in England has intensified its campaign against government plans to legalise same-sex marriage, urging the faithful to protect the "true meaning" of matrimony for future generations.

In a letter read in 2500 parish churches across the country during Sunday Mass, the church's senior archbishops argued that the proposed change would reduce the significance of marriage.

"The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society's understanding of the purpose of marriage," Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith said in the letter.

"There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children," they wrote.

The archbishops ended the letter by calling on Catholics to fulfil their duty to make sure "the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations".

Britain's government plans to allow everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, to have the option of a civil marriage. Prime Minister David Cameron has openly backed the plans, and the equalities minister will launch a consultation later this month on how to change the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said it was "bizarre" that the Catholic Church had chosen to mobilise their congregations on the issue. "It shows a perverse sense of moral priorities," he said, accusing the archbishops of "preaching a gospel of division and discrimination".

"Catholics are entitled to believe that same-sex marriages are wrong, but they are not entitled to demand that their rejection of gay marriages should be imposed on the rest of society and enforced by law," Tatchell said.

A spokeswoman for the gay and lesbian rights group Quest said the "tide of history" was already turning in favour of same-sex marriages.

However, opinion polls showed on Sunday that the government proposals could clash with the views of Conservative voters, of whom just 35 per cent said they were in favour of putting same-sex relationships on the same footing with marriage. But the ICM poll for The Sunday Telegraph also found that the wider public backed the move by a margin of 45 to 36 per cent.

Currently only heterosexual couples are permitted to get married in Britain, while civil partnerships, introduced in 2005, are limited to same-sex couples.

The archbishops' message came after Pope Benedict XVI on Friday denounced what he called the "powerful" gay marriage lobby in America and told visiting US bishops to not back down in the face of "powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage".

Last week Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Scottish Catholic Church, condemned the British marriage proposals as "madness", and accused the coalition government of trying to "redefine reality".

The controversy came as the head of the Anglican Church Rowan Williams visited Rome on Sunday for a private meeting with the Pope, followed by joint prayers during Vespers at the monastery of Rome's Church of San Gregorio al Celio.

Relations between the Anglican Church and the Vatican have warmed markedly since a landmark visit by Pope Benedict XVI to England and Scotland in 2010.


Leading British companies may be forced to promote more female executives

Hiring the best person for the job not allowed -- leading to an inevitable decline in the standard of the work and the life of the business

Britain's biggest firms are ‘spectacularly unsuccessful’ at promoting high-flying women to top jobs, management experts warn. In a report today, the School of Management at Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, says firms are good at hiring young women to junior jobs, but too few make it to the top.

A separate report today from the Department for Business raises the prospect of firms being forced to hire a certain number of women on to their boards.

Lord Davies of Abersoch, who was appointed by ministers to investigate the lack of women in boardrooms, urged firms to speed up their promotion or risk the consequences. He said: ‘I must emphasise that efforts need to be ramped up and the speed of change accelerated if we are to avoid Government interference.’

In his first report, published last year, he said FTSE 100 companies should reach a minimum target of 25 per cent of female representation on the board by 2015. But he rejected the option of setting quotas, which exist in countries such as Norway.

However, David Cameron refuses to rule out these so-called ‘golden skirt’ targets if the situation does not improve. The Prime Minister said the promotion of women to senior jobs had to ‘accelerate’ and that the case was ‘overwhelming’ that firms were run better if men and women worked alongside each other. Speaking in Stockholm recently, he said: ‘I don’t think you should ever rule out [quotas] if you can’t get there in other ways.’

The Department for Business said the number of women appointed to the boardrooms of Britain’s biggest firms had achieved its ‘largest-ever annual increase’ over the past year. In 1999, just 6.9 per cent of directors in the FTSE index of Britain’s 100 biggest firms were women. Last year, it reached 12.5 per cent. It has since jumped sharply to 15.6 per cent, with more than one in four jobs now going to women.

Lord Davies said: ‘We are on a steady journey towards our 25 per cent target, but the reality is that a lot more still needs to be done.’

Business Secretary Vince Cable will also say today that quotas are unlikely to be needed if companies continue to make progress, adding: ‘The UK is making the voluntary approach work.’

But the problem remains that while many women join companies from school or university, only a tiny number reach the top.

Professor Susan Vinnicombe, co-author of Cranfield’s Female FTSE report, said: ‘Many FTSE companies are successful at attracting women at entry level, and developing them and retaining them after maternity leave. 'But [they] are still spectacularly unsuccessful at promoting them to executive level.’

She said the figures were ‘moving in the right direction’ but a gulf still existed between the women who became executives and those in part-time non-executive jobs.

Women account for 22.4 per cent of all non-executive directors in the country’s boardrooms, but only 6.6 per cent of executive jobs.

Theresa May, Minister for Women, welcomed the ‘unprecedented progress’ by women, and said firms knew they could not ‘ignore the talent of half the population’.

Lord Davies has accused some men of being ‘prehistoric monsters’ who do not understand equality. The former trade minister said: ‘The attitude of chairmen is different if they have daughters in their twenties. They are talking about it to them, whereas older chairmen pay lip service to it.’

Over the last year, the number of companies in the FTSE 100 which have only men on their board has dropped sharply from 21 to 11.

It comes after a report last week found high-flying women were paid nearly 10 per cent less than a man doing exactly the same job. On average, a female executive gets a total pay package of £93,434, while a man with the same job title receives £103,230.


Angry fathers' outrage gets Huggies ad campaign pulled from television

Why are white husbands open to negative streotyping that would be roundly condemned if applied to any other group?

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Kimberly-Clark wanted to demonstrate the superiority of their Huggies diapers on television, and to do this they chose a stereotype right out of 1950s situation comedies.

They wanted to show how well their diapers did their job under even the worst possible conitions. And what conditions could be worse than putting them in the hands of the most hapless, clueless, inept adults known to American folklore -- fathers?

The Huggies "Dad Test" campaign filmed five babies left alone in the same house with their fathers for five days, on the premise that if Huggies could survive five days with these bumbling boobs, they could survive anything.

"To prove that Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything," the female voice-over begins, "we put them to the toughest test imaginable -- Dads." In other words, as a consumerist.com headline put it, Huggies diapers are so good, even dads can't use them wrong.

Dads across the country were not amused. They had good reason not to be. It turns our that 32% of fathers are their children's primary caregivers. And most of the other 68% pitch in with child care -- at least to the extent of knowing how and when to, uh, change a diaper.

So leaving babies with their dads is not some kind of torture test, but everyday life.

Bloggers at goodmenproject.com complained that this was "NOT a way to 'celebrate fatherhood.' Most dads don't struggle with infant care today...Time Magazine, in an article last year titled 'Chore Wars,' found that dads are nearing equality to moms in time spent with their children. Clearly most dads know what a diaper is and how to use it."

Another group organized a change.org petition drive against Huggies' "stereotype of dumb fathers."

They were far from the only ones. "We have heard the feedback from dads concerning our current 'real-life' commercials," Kimberly-Clark spokesman Joey Mooring e-mailed. "We intended to break out of stereotypes by showing that dads have an opinion on product performance just as much as moms do," he added.

But you don't "break out of stereotypes" by reinforcing them.

As a result of its dad-driven epiphany, K-C has pulled the offending commercial. You'll no longer see it on channels 6, 8, 12 and 35, or on any of the Comcast or Verizon cable channels serving the Richmond metro area. It'll be replaced by another, presumably inoffensive, one.

Scrapping that first commercial is probably a half million dollars or so in talent and production costs down the drain (plus the cost of the air time).

Kimberly-Clark is also "revising the wording of the Huggies brand online communications" and "making changes to ensure that the true spirit of the campaign comes through in the strongest way possible." That's still more money.

They're also sending members of their brand management team to this weekend's Dad 2.0 Summit in Austin to meet with bloggers and get to know their audience better -- something they should have done long before approving storyboards. Insulting consumers doesn't sell them



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

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

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


13 March, 2012

Former NASA specialist claims he was fired over intelligent design

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has landed robotic explorers on the surface of Mars, sent probes to outer planets and operates a worldwide network of antennas that communicates with interplanetary spacecraft.

Its latest mission is defending itself in a workplace lawsuit filed by a former computer specialist who claims he was demoted -- and then let go -- for promoting his views on intelligent design, the belief that a higher power must have had a hand in creation because life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone.

David Coppedge, who worked as a "team lead" on the Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, alleges that he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work. Coppedge lost his "team lead" title in 2009 and was let go last year after 15 years on the mission.

Opening statements are expected to begin Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court after two years of legal wrangling in a case that has generated interest among supporters of intelligent design. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian civil rights group, and the Discovery Institute, a proponent of intelligent design, are both supporting Coppedge's case.

"It's part of a pattern. There is basically a war on anyone who dissents from Darwin and we've seen that for several years," said John West, associate director of Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. "This is free speech, freedom of conscience 101."

The National Center for Science Education, which rejects intelligent design as thinly veiled creationism, is also watching the case and has posted all the legal filings on its website.

"It would be unfortunate if the court took what seems to be a fairly straightforward employment law case and allowed it to become this tangled mess of trying to adjudicate scientific matters," said Josh Rosenau, NCSE's programs and policy director. "It looks like a pretty straightforward case. The mission that he was working on was winding down and he was laid off."

Coppedge's attorney, William Becker, says his client was singled out by his bosses because they perceived his belief in intelligent design to be religious. Coppedge had a reputation around JPL as an evangelical Christian and other interactions with co-workers led some to label him as a Christian conservative, Becker said.

In the lawsuit, Coppedge says he believes other things also led to his demotion, including his support for a state ballot measure that sought to define marriage as limited to heterosexual couples and his request to rename the annual holiday party a "Christmas party."

"David had this reputation for being a Christian, for being a practicing one. He did not go around evangelizing or proselytizing. But if he found out that someone was a Christian he would say, `Oh that's interesting, what denomination are you?"' Becker said.

"He's not apologizing for who he is. He's an evangelical Christian."

In an emailed statement, JPL dismissed Coppedge's claims. In court papers, lawyers for the California Institute of Technology, which manages JPL for NASA, said Coppedge received a written warning because his co-workers complained of harassment. They also said Coppedge lost his "team lead" status because of ongoing conflicts with others.

Caltech lawyers contend Coppedge was one of two Cassini technicians and among 246 JPL employees let go last year due to planned budget cuts.

While the case has attracted interest because of the controversial nature of intelligent design, it is at its heart a straightforward discrimination case, said Eugene Volokh, a professor of First Amendment law at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

"The question is whether the plaintiff was fired simply because he was wasting people's time and bothering them in ways that would have led him to being fired regardless of whether it was about religion or whether he was treated worse based on the religiosity of his beliefs," said Volokh. "If he can show that, then he's got a good case."

Coppedge, who began working for JPL as a contractor in 1996 and was hired in 2003, is active in the intelligent design sphere and runs a website that interprets scientific discoveries through the lens of intelligent design. His father authored an anti-evolution book and founded a Christian outreach group.

He is also a board member for Illustra Media, a company that produces video documentaries examining the scientific evidence for intelligent design. The company produces the videos that Coppedge was handing out to co-workers, said Becker, his attorney.

His main duties at JPL were to maintain computer networks and troubleshoot technical problems for the mission. In 2000, he was named "team lead," serving as a liaison between technicians and managers for nearly a decade before being demoted in 2009.

He sued in April 2010 alleging religious discrimination, retaliation and harassment and amended his suit to include wrongful termination after losing his job last year.

Coppedge is seeking attorney's fees and costs, damages for wrongful termination and a statement from the judge that his rights were violated, said Becker.


British Christians Fight for Right to Wear a Cross at Work

Two Christian British women have taken their case over religious liberty to the highest level, now set to square off against the Government of the United Kingdom at the European Court of Human Rights over their right to wear a cross or crucifix at work . In opposition to the women, the government will have to state publicly whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work. The Telegraph reports that government ministers will argue that because displaying the cross is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and fire workers who insist on doing so:
“The Government’s refusal to say that Christians have a right to display the symbol of their faith at work emerged after its plans to legalise same-sex marriages were attacked by the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain.

A poll commissioned by The Sunday Telegraph shows that the country is split on the issue. Overall, 45 per cent of voters support moves to allow gay marriage, with 36 per cent against, while 19 per cent say they do not know.

However, the Prime Minister is out of step with his own party.

Exactly half of Conservative voters oppose same-sex marriage in principle and only 35 per cent back it.

There is no public appetite to change the law urgently, with more than three quarters of people polled saying it was wrong to fast-track the plan before 2015 and only 14 per cent saying it was right.
Click here to find out more!

The Strasbourg case hinges on whether human rights laws protect the right to wear a cross or crucifix at work under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It states: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.’

The Christian women bringing the case, Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, claim that they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing the symbols.

They want the European Court to rule that this breached their human right to manifest their religion.”

The European Court of Human Rights is based in Strasbourg, France, and is not a part of the European Union’s patchwork of institutions but rather aligned to the Council of Europe, which is dedicated to the protection of human rights across 47 countries. The New York Times reports that the court considers cases brought against nations that are bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, and notes that British Prime Minister David Cameron has recently called for the court to restrict its power to overrule national judgements.
RT reports that the U.K. government will now fight in the court against Eweida and Chaplin, asserting that the Christians have no right to wear a cross or crucifix at work:
“Nadia Ewedia is a British Airways employee, who was asked to cover her cross while at work, and was placed on unpaid leave when she refused to do so. Shirley Chaplin is a nurse moved to a desk position after she refused to remove a crucifix.

The women claim they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing a cross and crucifix respectively.

The government position is that wearing the cross is not a ‘requirement of the faith’ and therefore employers can ban the wearing of the cross at work.”

The Telegraph reports that lawyers for the two women claim that the government is setting the bar too high in their position, and that “manifesting” religion includes doing things that are not a “requirement of the faith.” They go on to argue that Christians are given less protection than members of other religions who have been granted special status for garments or symbols such as the Sikh turban and kara bracelet, or the Muslim hijab.
The government’s position has been criticized by British religious leaders. The UK Press Association reports that The Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu has attacked the government for denying that Christians have a right to wear the cross at work, saying on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show:
“My view is that this is not the business of government actually. They are beginning to meddle in areas that they ought not to. I think they should leave that to the courts to make a judgment.

“If someone wanted to manifest their belief as a Christian that they wanted to wear a cross – after all at their baptism they are sealed with a cross of Christ – so if they decided to say ‘I know I am sealed with it, but I am going to wear it’, I think that is a matter really for people and that we should allow it. The government should not raise the bar so high that in the end they are now being unjust.”

The Telegraph notes that Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, accused government officials and the courts of “dictating” to Christians, and said the government position regarding crosses was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life.


Ads against gay marriage? How offensive, says the WI

Infiltrated by feminists?

Being slow hand-clapped as he addressed Women’s Institute members was the moment that Tony Blair’s premiership first lost its golden shine. It also marked a turning point for the WI as the organisation became increasingly politicised.

The WI — for years the standard-bearer for traditional family life — is now poised to cause a political stir again.

It has rejected an advert to be placed in its WI Life magazine from C4M (Coalition for Marriage) which is leading the campaign against the Government’s plans to allow same-sex marriages.

Helen Evans, advertising manager for the magazine which is sent to the WI’s 210,000 members, told C4M: ‘We are a national campaigning charity and your campaign doesn’t fit with any of our resolutions first and foremost. As WI Life is the national membership magazine, any promotion of your campaign could be seen as an endorsement .... to members. We do also welcome all women to the WI and this campaign could offend many of our members.’

A spokesman for C4M, whose supporters include Lord Carey the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said: ‘It’s a surprising and unnecessary decision. Most ordinary members will see this as an over-reaction.’

Labour’s former Home Secretary Jack Straw, while a passionate advocate of civil partnerships, has consistently opposed gay marriage.

Back in 2000 he insisted that the introduction of civil partnerships would not lead to changes to marriage law. He said: ‘[Marriage is] about a union for the procreation of children, which by definition can only happen between a heterosexual couple. So I see no circumstances in which we would ever bring forward proposals for so-called gay marriage.’

How things change. Twelve years on, he now supports gay marriage. So much for principles, Jack!


Israel Apartheid Week and "Underdogma"

Eight years ago, “Israel Apartheid Week” began on campuses in America and around the world to show “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle” and to demonize Israel as an “Apartheid” regime.

Ten years ago, I began studying this “pro-Palestinian/anti-Israeli” phenomenon.

It began, like so many movements, on a university campus. The year was 2002, and then-former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was scheduled to speak to a group of Jewish students.

But he was not allowed to speak. Why? Because a mob of young, multicultural North American university students – who waved Palestinian flags, spat on Jews, smashed glass, and hurled anti-Semitic slurs – stopped him from speaking.

Why would Western university students clash with police and riot in the streets to stop a free man from engaging in free speech – on what should have been a bastion of free speech: a university campus? And why would those students – and students across America and around the world – demonize Israel and declare their solidarity with Palestinians in their annual “Israel Apartheid Week?”

My journey to answer that question brought me all the way to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem home, where I had the honor of working shoulder-to-shoulder with him as a writer on his victorious 2009 campaign to become Israel’s current Prime Minister.

Why would non-Palestinian university students declare their solidarity with Palestinians, when almost everything that defines campus life in America – free love, free speech, women’s rights, gay rights – would get them killed by the very Palestinians they champion?

For that matter, what is it about the Palestinian cause that has the power to unite vastly different non-Palestinians around the world, including President Jimmy Carter, the Green Party, the late Saddam Hussein, scores of American columnists and news editors, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the worldwide labor movement, gay and lesbian activists, women’s groups, Noam Chomsky, Amnesty International, the late Osama bin Laden, solidarity groups from America, England, Germany, Canada, Spain, India, Norway, Scotland, Ireland, France, Sweden, Australia and Italy, campus groups from the vast majority of colleges and universities in America, plus the United Nations—to make “Palestinians the largest per capita recipients of international development assistance in the world,” and to make Israel the most protested nation in the world after America?

What is it about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that causes millions of people around the world to choose sides the way they do?

Researchers at the University of South Florida set out to answer that question. They gave two groups of test subjects an identical, one-page essay that described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—equally and fairly—from both sides’ perspectives. Then one group was given a map that showed Israel as geographically small, and the other group got a map that showed Israel as large.

Same Israel. Same facts. The lone variable was the map: one group got a small Israel map, and the other group got a big Israel map.

The results were astounding. The group with the small Israel map felt Israel was the underdog and took their side, and those with a big Israel map felt Palestinians were the underdogs and took their side.

What does this tell us?

It tells us these test subjects based their decisions on something other than facts. The facts were identical (each group got the same one-page essay). The results, however, were far from identical. The lone variable was the map. When Israel was perceived as small, test subjects saw an “underdog” and supported Israel. When Israel was perceived as big, test subjects saw an “overdog” and chose the side of Palestinians.

What is going on here?

Identical facts. And yet people choose sides, in dramatically different ways, based on which side is the perceived underdog and which is the perceived overdog.

This “Axis of Power”—between the power-haves and the power have-nots, underdogs and overdogs—is the tipping point for many of the issues that shape our world today—from Occupy Wall Street to President Obama’s re-election campaign of “fairness vs. fatcats” to the way millions of people around the world choose sides the way they do in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I gave this belief system a name—Underdogma—which is the widespread and reflexive belief that, in any given issue, whichever side has less power (the underdog) is automatically considered righteous—simply because they have less power, and whichever side has more power (the overdog) is automatically considered wrong—simply because they have more power.

Jews have traditionally been the underdogs of history—enslaved, rounded up, and killed by some of the world’s most powerful tyrants. But things have changed. Today, Jews have a powerful homeland in Israel, advanced weapons, and a fearsome, well-equipped army. In the eyes of those who practice Underdogma, Jews committed an unforgivable sin. History’s persecuted underdogs became powerful overdogs. In the words of Israel’s late foreign Minister Abba Eban: “when I was first here, we had the advantages of the underdog. Now we have the disadvantages of the overdog.”

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told America “the story of a powerless and stateless people who became a strong and proud nation able to defend itself.” Because Israel is now strong and proud and able to defend itself, it must now also learn how to defend itself against those – on campuses or on the campaign trail – who demonize the strong for being strong.

It’s called “Underdogma,” and if you want to know how to defeat it, visit www.under-dogma.com



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

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

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


12 March, 2012

Great Moments in European Political Correctness

Europe is in shambles. Nations are going bankrupt. There are riots in the streets. So you would guess that the folks at the European Commission are focused on some big issues.

But you would be wrong. The eurocrats in Brussels have much bigger fish to fry. They’re addressing the unmitigated horror of inadequate female representation in corporate boardrooms and contemplating continent-wide quotas.

I’m not kidding. Here are some excerpts from the New York Times report.
Frustrated that her previous efforts to get more women into the top echelons of European business have not yielded stronger results, Viviane Reding, the senior justice official in the European Union, was to announce a new effort Monday that could result in legislation requiring that women occupy up to 60 percent of the seats on corporate boards. …E.U.-wide rules were now needed, she said. “Personally, I don’t like quotas,” Ms. Reding said. “But I like what the quotas do. Quotas open the way to equality and they break through the glass ceiling.” Countries that have quotas “bring the results,” she said. Ms. Reding has long campaigned for major changes in European boardrooms and had given industry “a last chance” to improve its record on placing women in top management.

Isn’t that nice. She doesn’t like quotas, but she has no choice because she gave industry a “last chance” to engage in gender bean counting and they didn’t comply.

I wonder if it’s ever occurred to this über-bureaucrat that it’s not her job to tell private companies who to hire, fire, or promote?

As an aside, the New York Times manages to demonstrate its bias by directly implying that “genuine equality” only exists if boardrooms have equal numbers of men and women.
Having now concluded that self-regulation has failed, Ms. Reding has set her sights on legislation that could, if enacted, drastically speed up a revolution in the position of women in the workplace that began many decades ago but has so far failed to deliver genuine equality in many areas of business.

Has it ever occurred to the reporter that “genuine equality” exists when everyone has an equal chance and government doesn’t put a thumb on the scale? But regardless of what he thinks, doesn’t good journalism mean keeping his opinions to himself?

Maybe I’m just too old fashioned.

Let’s return to the meat of the story and the actions of Ms. Reding. In this passage, I like how she blames “society” because companies didn’t kow-tow to her voluntary suggestions.
In the announcement to be made Monday, Ms. Reding will call for a new round of consultations with governments, trade unions, companies and civil groups. The move comes a year after she called on companies to take voluntary steps to increase the representation of women on boards to 30 percent by 2015 and to 40 percent by 2020, by replacing departing male directors. …Ms. Reding said that the severe economic downturn in Europe that has pressured companies to focus on their bottom lines was not responsible for the failure of her voluntary initiative. “It is really a question of society,” she said.

The story continues with discussion of the onerous plans being concocted by Ms. über-bureaucrat.
Ms. Reding said that the consultations, beginning Monday and ending on May 28, would determine the proportion of women that should be on boards under any E.U.-wide legislation; whether quotas should apply to state-owned companies as well as publicly listed ones; whether both executive and nonexecutive boards should be covered by the rules; and what sanctions should apply to companies that do not meet the objectives, and if there are circumstances where exceptions are necessary.

Unfortunately, the private sector in Europe has the same cringing approach as their counterparts in the United States. Instead of boldly saying that corporate boards are a private matter for shareholders to decide, representatives from big companies accept the intrusion and merely complain about implementation.
…the European Round Table of Industrialists, a forum for the chairmen and chief executives of major multinational companies, has warned that big divergences among sectors and national traditions meant any measures should remain voluntary. “Societal changes take time,” said Carlo Bozotti, the chief executive of STMicroelectronics, a semiconductor company, and the head of a group at the Round Table looking at the issue. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution for industrial companies from multiple sectors, of various structures, and from diverse cultural backgrounds,” he said.

The article concludes with an assertion that “gender-diverse” boardrooms lead to better economic performance. That may very well be true, but it suggests that shareholders are deliberately sacrificing income and wealth in order to retain something akin to an old boys’ network. That seems rather implausible, to say the least.
There is plentiful evidence from business consulting firms including McKinsey & Co., and from Catalyst, a nonprofit research group, that companies with gender-diverse management teams experience higher growth in their share prices, better-than-average operating profits, and outperform their rivals in terms of sales, return on investment capital and return on equity, according to the report. That research showed that women asked more questions and made fewer reckless decisions, proving that “women are not a cost, women are a benefit,” Ms. Reding said.

I want to close with a semi-optimistic note. As crazy as it is for Ms. Reding to try to dictate the number of men and women in corporate boardrooms, at least she’s not complaining about discrimination based on looks or height and trying to get government involved in those areas. At least, not yet.


Militant neo-atheists are busting a gut to drive Christians off the radar, says British TV cook

Delia Smith is mounting a campaign to defend Christianity against attacks by 'militant neo-atheists' – who she claims are engaged in a 'running battle’ with believers. The veteran television chef was prompted to make her outspoken remarks by a series of high-profile rows over the role of religion in modern life.

Ms Smith, 70, said: 'There is a running battle going on... and militant neo-atheists and devout secularists are busting a gut to drive us off the radar and try to convince us that we hardly exist.’ In the statement posted on her website, www.deliaonline.com – which has two million regular users – the chef added: 'I am a passionate believer but... we are somewhat under the cosh.'

Last night Ms Smith said she had been spurred into action by hearing the atheist scientist, Richard Dawkins, claim recently that religion was increasingly irrelevant in Britain.

Ms Smith said: 'Atheists have been saying that Christianity is dying. 'He [Richard Dawkins] did a survey which said we were not a Christian country, which was cheeky – and not true. 'Secularists and believers have got to work alongside each other. But Christians are alive and kicking. 'I probably will be saying more on this subject. I am concerned about it.'

Mr Dawkins had backed up his claim by saying that the proportion of people identifying themselves as Christians had plunged from 72 per cent to just 54 per cent in the past ten years. He said the findings supported his contention that all signs of religion in British public life should be removed, along with Christian opposition to social changes such as gay marriage and assisted suicide.

'It is clear that faith is a spent force in the UK and it is time our policy-makers woke up to that reality and stopped trying to impose beliefs on society that society itself has largely rejected,' he said.

Ms Smith made her call to her followers as part of an appeal for the aid charity, the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), saying: 'Whilst the belief battle grabs the headlines, one thing we all stand united on is hopefully our common belief in human life and human flourishing.'

Last month a judge caused fury in the Christian community when he ordered Bideford Council in Devon to stop holding prayers during official proceedings – after an atheist former councillor complained it disregarded non–believers.

On the same day, in a separate test case heard in the Supreme Court, a Christian couple lost their attempt to overturn a £3,600 fine imposed on them for refusing to allow a gay couple to occupy a double room in their hotel.

But Keith Porteous Wood, of the The National Secular Society, said: 'Delia Smith has fallen for a myth in imagining secularists and atheists are somehow endangering her faith. 'It is the Church that is destroying itself with its inhumane pronouncements and unwillingness, in some cases, to admit its own evil-doing. 'When crimes against little children are denied and covered up, people are repelled and walk away.

The prayers ruling was condemned by bishops and Cabinet Ministers. Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles dismissed it as 'illiberal' and personally signed an order giving councils the power to ignore the ban.

Shortly afterwards Baroness Warsi, the Conservative chairman, used a visit to the Vatican to launch an attack on the 'liberal elite' attempting to downgrade the importance of religion in public life.

Ms Smith comes from an ecumenical background, having been baptised into the Church of England and attended a Methodist Sunday School and a Congregationalist Brownie group before converting to Catholicism at the age of 22.

She has written books on religion, including a full-length book on prayer called A Journey Into God. Ms Smith's cookery books are the second bestselling in the UK, earning her £63 million – second only to Jamie Oliver's £101 million. She has presented cookery programmes on the BBC since 1973.


Racism against black and Jewish people is all in their minds, claims veteran comedian Jackie Mason in provocative outburst

I think he is largely right. People have their thoughts but rarely act on them these days

Veteran Jewish comedian Jackie Mason has plunged the BBC’s Desert Island Discs into the centre of a race row by claiming that ‘Jewish and black people’ are no longer the victims of racial discrimination.

Mason, 75, who is regarded as one of the world’s greatest stand-up comedy stars, said some minority groups wrongly believe they are still being persecuted because of an inability to escape the past.

In an edition of the Radio 4 show to be broadcast today, the New York-born star says: ‘I wouldn’t say the Jews or the blacks today are suffering from racism. ‘I don’t think it’s such a terrible disadvantage to be black or Jewish today.’

He added: ‘But because they once were ...... they are still not comfortable enough with the new situation they’re in. ‘They still can’t accept the fact that they are completely accepted everywhere ..... it’s all in their minds.’

Mason, who is currently playing to packed houses in London’s West End, said he doubted whether Jewish people were even being persecuted when he started out as a comedian in the early Sixties.

He said their memories of the horrors unleashed by the Second World War had kept their fears alive. He said: ‘Jews weren’t really suffering anywhere, but they were self-conscious because they have suffered in the past. ‘It was like they couldn’t believe the fact they were being accepted now and they were still nervous about something that hasn’t happened in the last 20 years.’

Mason, who was ordained as a rabbi before opting for a life as a comedian, said many other minority groups shared fears that were equally unwarranted. He said: ‘It’s the same with black people today. They still talk about being persecuted when the white people don’t even feel that.’

Mason’s comments shocked Kirsty Young, the show’s host, who said it was up to the minority groups themselves to identify incidents of racism.

But the star said young people today simply did not care about issues of religion and race any more. He said: ‘The younger the people are the less it matters to them what their identity is in terms of their religion or their colour. ‘Whites and blacks would never marry in those days. Jews and Gentiles would never marry. Today, that type of marriage is very common.’

He said some people who complained of racism were simply covering up for their inadequacies, and the election of President Barack Obama proved times had moved on. He said: ‘I see this with all the minorities. You can’t get a job somewhere. He can’t admit to himself that he is inadequate – they’ll claim it’s anti-Semitism.

‘It’s more imagination. Everybody imagined that it’s impossible for a black person to get elected President of the United States. Whether they are Jewish or white or black, they never thought it was possible for a black person to become President.’

Mason said his distinct Jewish sense of humour often alienated members of that community. He said: ‘A lot of Jews are embarrassed by Jewishness because it reminds them of their parents and grandparents who were refugees and poverty stricken. They were always like an alienated minority. People who are raised that way still have a feeling of “I don’t belong if I’m Jewish so I’d rather you don’t mention it”.’


Australia: Darwin Mayoral candidate hits out at park and street dwellers

Most Aboriginals are quite relaxed about living in the open with minimal shelter -- so they tend to "camp" for extended periods on public land -- in parks, on beach foreshores, etc.

Since they also tend to be alcohol abusers, this is experienced as unpleasant by the rest of the community -- who avoid places where the Aborigines are camped

Mentioning any of that is very "incorrect", however. A dark skin makes you immune from criticism these days

LORD mayoral candidate Katrina Fong Lim has vowed to rid Darwin's streets of itinerants. One of her opponents - rubbish warrior Trevor Jenkins - is homeless.

In a press release entitled "Fong Lim targets itinerants", Ms Fong Lim said Darwin residents had the right to use the city's parks, beaches and shopping centres without having to be humbugged.

"We live in an affluent society and no one should be homeless - however some people, for whatever reason, cannot conform to standard suburban living," she said.

"I believe (the) council has a role in helping address the issue whether it is through better designed and maintained public areas, examining our place in delivering appropriate services and/or looking for innovative solutions such as a possible increase of night and day patrol services."

Ms Fong Lim was quickly criticised by incumbent Graeme Sawyer and community groups, who accused her of demonising the most vulnerable members of our society. Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer said Ms Fong Lim was taking a cheap shot at Darwin's most vulnerable in a bid to score a political point. "Itinerants and homeless people are part of our community too," he said. "It's very cheap for someone to come out and say local government should come out and do something about this."

Mr Sawyer said the council already helped itinerants through its program Homeless Connect and was working with 56 organisations on the issue. It was also working with the Government to house homeless people, he said.

NT Shelter policy officer Morgan Sabbith said homeless people had every right to use the city's parks and beaches. "This is how they live and the rest of us don't like seeing it," she said. "A lot of people have nowhere to go. "There's not enough housing; Aboriginal people are actively discriminated against when they apply for housing."

Ms Sabbith said the best thing to help homeless people was to build shower and toilet facilities around the city, East Point, and near the hospital.



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

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

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


11 March, 2012

My SPEECH belongs to me

Yet in December, the House approved bill HR 313 that would CRIMINALIZE even personal speech that merely _anticipates_ the use of drugs...

...in another country!

* The House Judiciary Committee defeated an amendment that would exempt speech that applied to drug use in nations where it is legal.

* It even defeated an amendment that would make the law enforceable only against real conspiracies among drug kingpins. (http://1.usa.gov/x4Hpxy)

* In an act of gutlessness, the House let the measure "pass" without even a voice vote.

* And author Rep. Lamar Smith boasted that the bill was "bipartisan" and had the support of the Obama Administration. (http://cs.pn/y2gi8E)

This means, if your own son says, "Next month, I'm going to Amsterdam, and I plan to get high," then you and your colleagues would sentence him to a federal prison.


It is pathetic that I even have to ask: What is the crime in merely talking about future drug use? How do we even know if it's true? And why would it matter to the U.S. government what one of its residents does while visiting a foreign country, when that something is LEGAL? Are we your children?

Under this bill... (http://huff.to/qu0MHb)

* A U.S. doctor who works with overseas doctors or government officials on needle exchange programs could be subject to criminal prosecution.

* A U.S. resident who advises someone in another country about how to run a medical marijuana dispensary would also be in violation of the new law, even if medical marijuana is legal in the country where the recipient of the advice resides.

I may or may not think some now-illegal drugs are unhealthy. I may or may not think using them are immoral.

But I will NOT sacrifice basic human rights, such as freedom of speech, just because I don't like where my neighbor takes his vacation.

HR 313 demonstrates how Drug Warriors are devoid of reason, disrespectful of the Constitution, and lacking in basic empathy and compassion. They show themselves to be brutal, backward, and fanatical by outlawing mere words about things they dislike.

I urge the entire Senate to oppose this atrocious bill. Kill HR 313 in committee, and if it or a similar bill comes to the floor, use all your parliamentary tricks, including filibuster, to defeat it.


The Holy Father condemns homosexual "marriage"

POPE Benedict XVI condemned gay marriage in a speech to bishops from the United States after the US state of Maryland last week became the eighth in the nation to legalise same-sex unions.

"Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage," the Pope said, warning against "the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage."

"Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature," he said.

He also said bishops could not overlook "the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation."

"The contemporary crisis of marriage and the family... has led to grave societal problems bearing an immense human and economic cost," he added.

Benedict has frequently warned against liberal family values in veiled references to homosexual marriage and adoptions by gay couples and the Catholic Church often condemns countries that recognise gay rights.

Benedict praised the visiting bishops for their pastoral work. "I appreciate all that your parishes, schools and charitable agencies do daily to support families and to reach out to those in difficult marital situations, especially the divorced, single parents, teenage mothers and women considering abortion," he said.


A “human-rights sceptic” and proud of it

Anyone who values liberty should be a card-carrying ‘sceptic’ of the European Court of Human Rights

When Shami Chakrabati, director of British lobby group Liberty, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today last week to argue against proposed reforms that would see far fewer cases going before the European Court of Human Rights, she branded her opponent, Dominic Raab MP, a ‘human-rights sceptic’. Such is the confidence of the human-rights lobby today that it has adopted a tactic established by climate-change activists: accuse your opponent of having committed a thought crime with their arguments, which they will then - as Raab did - be forced to deny vehemently .

It is time that such swaggering confidence was punctured. The human-rights framework that has developed in Europe, including the UK, over the past 60 years - built on the European Convention on Human Rights - is a dehumanising, anti-democratic system of law, deserving to be bulldozed at the earliest opportunity. It is time that liberal opponents of the human-rights system followed in the proud tradition established by homosexuals and hip-hop artists by re-appropriating the language used to keep them down: Sista, it’s time liberals were proud to be ‘human-rights sceptics’.

And I mean real, proper, balls-in-hand sceptics. It’s time that the acceptance of human rights as our standard for freedom is interrogated with a view to exposing its illiberal assumptions. Of course, the idea mooted by the UK Liberal-Conservative government predictably falls short. The reforms, to be debated at an international conference in Brighton next month, propose that no case would be considered by the European Court unless a national court has ‘manifestly made an error in its interpretation of the convention’, or if the case ‘raises a serious question about the way the convention is interpreted or applied’. The proposals follow high-profile cases in which the government has been prevented from doing what it wants to do by the European Court. Most recently, the wigged up saviours of humanity in Strasbourg have prevented the deportation of radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada and forced the UK government to consider giving prisoners the right to vote.

You don’t have to be a little Englander, or even right wing, to recognise that it is an affront to democracy that unelected and completely unaccountable judges, who have absolutely no democratic mandate, are able to override the decisions of elected representatives. It is appalling that European judges can make significant political decisions over a body of citizens across Europe to whom they will never have to answer.

But there is a more fundamental reason that liberals should be sceptical of human-rights law: because it makes us all less free. Human rights are not ‘rights’ in a liberal sense at all. They bear no resemblance to the ‘rights’ fought for by the radical liberals of the English Civil War, or the French and American revolutions, which sought to limit the power of the state and protect the autonomy of citizens. Instead, human rights treat people as fundamentally vulnerable and in need of state protection. This view of human vulnerability, in the eyes of the human-rights lobby, justifies the granting of absolute power to the state to set the boundaries of freedom.

Take, for example, the ‘right to a private and family life’ protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The courts will not consider a claim under Article 8 unless it is convinced in the courtroom that you have a ‘family life’ worth protecting. How the courts have defined ‘family life’ for the purposes of Article 8 is laughably antiquated. In 2002, the courts ruled that ‘family life’ does not exist where a relationship between parents and their grown-up children is ‘only emotional’, in that the children are no longer economically dependent on their parents. Neither are unmarried parents likely to be considered a family, unless they maintain sufficient levels of contact with their children. How can any ‘liberal’ support the idea that your family life is only worthwhile if it conforms to what the state decides a family should look like?

Or take Article 10, which purports to protect our freedom of expression. Of course, the very concept of ‘freedom of expression’ owes its existence to radical liberals like John Stuart Mill and Voltaire, who argued that there can be no exceptions to free speech, otherwise you do not have free speech at all. But human-rights lawyers will tell you that Article 10, along with most other human rights, is a ‘qualified right’ because there is a long list of conditions under which the state can interfere with it. This list includes where it is necessary in the ‘interests of public safety’ or for the ‘protection of health or morals’. Such broad qualifications mean that as a means of limiting state power, ‘qualified’ human rights are all but useless.

In fact they are worse than useless. History has shown that this qualified, state-sanctioned notion of freedom makes human rights a force in opposition to the civil liberties fought for by the radicals of the past. Since the European Convention on Human Rights was made directly applicable in UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998, it has approved the introduction of reams of draconian anti-terror legislation, including new powers of surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 that give local authorities increased powers to spy on their citizens. The Human Rights Act has also allowed new legal bans that limit how we can use public space. Rather than promote freedom, human rights have fostered an environment in which state interference has become commonplace.

This is why anyone who believes in freedom should be a card-carrying, philosophical ‘sceptic’ of the European Court of Human Rights. We should be sceptical of unelected judges making political decisions; sceptical when human-rights lawyers tell us we are vulnerable plebs in need of the state’s protection and, perhaps most importantly, sceptical of the very ideological foundation of the human-rights framework: the idea that the state should decide for us what freedom looks like.


British law doesn't give a damn about fathers

By Louis De Bernières

Some years ago, I was outside a pizza restaurant when a young woman turned up, pushing a pram. She was preceded by a small boy who must have been about four years old. He stopped at the door, whereupon she said: ‘Well, open the f***ing door, you little s**t.’ I think my disillusionment with the idea that there was something sacred, sublime and beautiful about mothers and motherhood began on that day.

Shortly after, I spent some years working in a truancy centre, where we tried to give a little general education to children who had missed years at school. In many cases, it was clear that the reason for these absences had been mothers who kept them at home either because the women were lonely or because they needed the children as babysitters.

The point is that while there are many good mothers in the world, there are plenty of bad and often abusive mothers, too, yet we still have a Family Justice system that prizes mothers and motherhood, but devalues fathers.

When David Cameron wrote an article in the Sunday Telegraph one Father’s Day, he made a point of attacking absent fathers. I snarled with contempt and threw the paper across the room. He clearly had no idea that a very high proportion of fathers are absent because they are forced to be so by vindictive and possessive mothers, and the family (in)justice system that backs them up.

David Cameron has young children, and he ought to consider what it might be like, if, God forbid, his marriage ever ended, to find that the courts are against him — and that any orders they made giving him access to his children were unenforceable.

He might win the right to have them for half the time, but if Samantha withheld access to the children, there would be absolutely nothing he could do about it, except apply for another order she could ignore.

Judges of both sexes are the kind of people who have never had to change a nappy in their lives, and don’t see why any man would want to. They also seem to have a strangely warped moral sense.

Now that family (in)justice is under review, any male MPs with small children ought to take note of what might be done to them the moment their marriage or relationship goes wrong, as mine did two years ago.

Since then, as patron of Families Need Fathers, I have received many letters of support, many of them telling dismal and heartbreaking stories.

The surprising thing is that most of them come from grandmothers. They write about their sons’ repeated breakdowns, caused by being separated from their children, or about how children are brainwashed to reject their fathers. This is called ‘parental alienation’ by those in the know.

I have had letters from paternal grandparents who are desperate with grief, because ever since their grandchildren were abducted (as they see it, and so do I), they have never seen them again.

Lest I seem misogynist, I should say that the passion you have for your children is the most powerful and overwhelming emotion you can have, and the behaviour of some mothers is entirely explicable because of this.

One of the reasons I became a father was that a friend of mine told me that until you have had children, you know nothing of human love. I have since found out that he was right.

The problem is that when you go through a break-up, this extreme passion results in an equally extreme selfishness with respect to sharing them. If I had my way, I would have my children all the time. I had a vision of how their childhood was going to be, and I was not going to give it up. The trouble is that your ex feels the same.

Some people resort to dirty tricks, one of the commonest and most successful of which is to accuse the other parent of sexual abuse or violence. The authorities will take several years failing to investigate, during which time the accused will be allowed little or no contact with the children.

A judge is then equally likely to rule that the children have got used to the separation from their parent, and should not be disturbed by having it reversed. It is not illegal or punishable for someone to accuse you falsely in this way, and nor is it illegal for a solicitor to suggest it as a tactic.

The courts are seemingly unaware that women are almost as likely to be violent as men, and so the same accusations against them are less likely to be believed. As I once had a girlfriend who attacked me every time she got drunk, I am not inclined to fall for any myths about the gentler sex.

Another dirty trick commonly employed by mothers is to move a long way away and take the children with her. In this way, while a man may have the right to have the children three days a week, if the mother has moved to the other end of the country, or even abroad, it makes fatherhood impossible.

British Family Law doesn’t, in short, give a damn about men. A judge in Cambridge told me that he was appalled by how often men were simply treated as sperm donors and cashpoints. The more you can withhold the children from a father, the more maintenance he has to pay because the mother — having turned herself into the primary carer — is less likely to be able to work, and will have more costs to bear.

There seems to be little expectation that mothers should make a financial contribution, even though we all know mothers who successfully go out to work or run their own businesses, and despite school hours meaning it’s perfectly possible to get part-time work. Middle-class mothers will be relieved to know they are considered too delicate to have to go and stack shelves in Tesco like everyone else. There is, therefore, a very strong financial incentive to make sure that fathers have their children as little as possible.

A big part of the problem with Family Law, as practised at present, is that it is adversarial, and this has given rise to hordes of lawyers who exist to exploit the hurricane of emotions that overtakes you.

They raise the level of aggression and acrimony, and some of them will clean you out of every penny you have. They are masters of delay and of creating new things for you to argue about and hate each other for, and the vituperation and litigation will not end until one of you cannot pay them any more.

My solicitor was agreeable to the idea of mediation right from the start, and I estimate that her charges came to about one-third of what my ex had to pay. My solicitor and I were open-mouthed with amazement when, at one hearing, they turned up with three lawyers.

Early on in the break-up, I found myself receiving orders from these enemy solicitors, who seemed to have a fantasy that they actually had some authority over me. I was to have the children every other weekend, and the weekend was to begin on Saturday morning and end early on Sunday evening. I was not to go and help out in my son’s nursery during the early days, when that was the only way I could get to see him.

I said to my solicitor: ‘Why can’t I just go and kidnap them back?’ But I was advised not to get involved in open warfare.

Even so, I am not the kind of person who reacts kindly to being told what to do by people who knew neither me nor my children, and who, I believe, just wanted my head as another trophy.

Their firm’s propaganda clearly displays their pride in duffing over the eminent or rich. They began a prolonged war without it ever occurring to them to ask my ex if she thought she was really doing the best or the right thing.

Luckily, the judge in Norwich wasn’t going to take any nonsense. The first question he asked was ‘What about a process of reconciliation?’ The second thing he said was that, with all respect, lawyers were part of the problem, and why didn’t we do everything by mediation?

We did sort out the sharing of the children by mediation, which turned out to be quick, easy and cheap, although painful at times. During the inevitable rows, the mediator just looked out of the window until we had finished.

My ex did not want to deal with finances by mediation, however, and that became a fantastically long and expensive ordeal that ultimately took no account whatsoever of the fact that a writer’s income fluctuates wildly from year to year.

The general public may not know that family law is ‘judicial’. That is, it is made up by judges as they go along. There is no proper code of practice and no proper code of laws, except that judges tend to follow previous rulings.

You are faced with a situation in which you and your solicitor have no idea what the likely outcome is, because, as I was often told: ‘It all depends on the judge. You might be lucky, and you might not.’

The judge in Norwich I have already described. The one in London dealing with the question of finance was mainly starring in her own show, immensely enjoyed her own robust humour, did not let me speak at all and did not let my barrister finish a sentence.

So what is to be done? Any review of family law has to take account of the fact that times have changed. Fathers now do things that only mothers used to do. We enjoy it, we want to carry on doing it and we want to remove the anomaly and injustice involved in the judicial habit of thinking that mothers count and fathers don’t.

Many countries have equality as a default position, and I have not heard of this causing any problems. Children are sometimes annoyed about having to live in two places at once, but that is all it is — a bit of an irritation.

I’d be mildly vexed if I was halfway through a jigsaw puzzle and had to leave it at one house to go to the other, just as I am certainly vexed when I discover that all my children’s socks have disappeared because they are at their mother’s house.

Women continue to struggle for equal rights in the workplace, and I have always supported them in this, ever since I became interested in feminist issues in the Seventies.

Women were demanding that men should take more of a share of domestic responsibilities, so that their talents could flourish in the wider world. Well, we have — and a lot of us have grown to love it.

I have my children half the time now, and I only feel truly happy when I have them in the house. The love exchanged between us makes any other kind of love a bit of a sideshow, which in some ways is a pity, but I wouldn’t change it.

My ex and I live harmoniously not very far apart, and the more the legal horrors recede into the distance, the easier it becomes to get along. A pleasant friendship and companionship has reappeared, which help me to push away the anger and resentment that still frequently perturb me.

There was, however, a time when I was utterly bereft. For some months, I was helpless with rage and frustration and an overwhelming sense of injustice, always aware that any extreme expression of my despair would inevitably be used against me in order to show that I was unstable. Of course I was unstable! Isn’t that normal when you’ve been thrown into Hades? I am very surprised that there are not more murders and suicides relating to parents separating, although there are many such.

I was only able to carry on because I never gave up hope, and I knew that the most important thing was to give the children a good future.

I was also given a cause to fight for. Our children, their fathers and their fathers’ relatives have got to have rights enshrined in law, because our pains and pleasures, our joys in our children, are as pure and profound as those of mothers and their relatives. The children need all of us.

On Mother’s Day next weekend, I hope David Cameron publishes an article in a newspaper pointing out that it is more often fatherless children that become delinquent, not motherless ones.



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

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

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


10 March, 2012

God save us from atheist whining

A US campaign encouraging atheists ‘out of the closet’ is fuelled more by victim culture than secularist principles

An atheist association’s decision to take their latest billboard campaign to the heart of Muslim and Jewish enclaves in New York and New Jersey seems like an outright provocation. ‘You know it’s a myth… and you have a choice’, the billboards erected on Monday say - in Arabic, Hebrew and English.

But Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, claims the aim is not to stir up tension but to reach out to non-believers who feel isolated and beleaguered because they are surrounded by devout people. He and his fellow atheists want to encourage Americans to ‘come out’, something that is, of course, most closely associated with gays and lesbians. The billboards are also an advertisement for the Reason Rally, to be held in Washington DC later this month. According to its website, the goal of this gathering is ‘to encourage attendees… to come out of the closet as secular Americans, or supporters of secular equality’.

This idea that closet atheists need to be coaxed out into the open, and that they need to claim the right to rally together as proud non-believers, has become a central tenet of the ‘new atheist’ movement. The approach comes across as a curious blend of therapeutic thinking and fearmongering, and it is expressed with a kind of fervour that would not be altogether alien to the deeply devout. Silverman, for instance, believes that the Christian right ‘has unleashed an unparalleled slew of efforts aimed at Christianising the country’. The same kind of shrillness is heard among those religious people who imagine that atheists are tearing down the social fabric of America and are conducting a ‘war on religion’.

In an article outlining the importance of coming out, Silverman speaks of the ‘fear of rejection’, the ‘shame’ and the ‘mental and physical’ toll experienced by closet atheists. Admitting you’re a non-believer is, Silverman says, ‘the first step’, but he implores readers also to be ‘proud, open, honest’ atheists and not ‘another closeted victim of the Christian right’. The advice here reads like a 12-step programme for people recovering from religion. Rather than a positive clarion call for secular values, this is a self-help scheme for people who see themselves as traumatised abuse-victims.

But are Silverman’s sentiments even borne out by reality? Are atheists really a beleaguered minority in the US? Is it really a great taboo today to profess that you do not believe in God?

The so-called ‘new atheism’ movement has been headed up by esteemed writers like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens, and supported by famous people like Bill Maher, Tim Minchin and - unsurprisingly - the band Bad Religion. In other words, this is an outspoken crowd that does not need to cower in fear or meet behind closed doors. The Reason Rally will take place on the Mall, for god’s sake, on the doorsteps of the US political establishment.

No doubt there are Americans growing up in religious communities who do not feel like they belong there. Some of these communities are very closed off, including the Jewish orthodox neighbourhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where the American Atheists are putting up their signs. And no doubt many politicians are antagonistic to the idea of completely separating church and state. But atheists are not being persecuted for denying the existence of God or prevented from holding secular values and expressing them in public. Hard as it may be from a personal point of view, even Jews in Williamsburg are free to leave the orthodox life behind.

American Atheists and other supporters of the Reason Rally say they want to promote secular values. But in asserting that they are beleaguered and ought to forge a sense of togetherness based on that, they reveal that their true roots lie in therapy culture and in its relative - identity politics. Of course, non-belief, self-victimisation and religion-bashing make for a pretty negative and weak ground for common identification.

It seems, in fact, that the very thing that irks today’s atheists about religious people is that they have a strong, unifying vision of a good society and that they are willing to live by it, well, religiously. But those of us interested in advancing a human-centred vision of the future would do better focusing on important things like wealth creation, liberty, scientific advancement and creating great art. With these things comes enlightenment. With plastering religious areas with insulting billboards and attending feelgood events in DC come smugness and cheap thrills. The Reason Rally really isn’t worth coming out for.


£70,000 for a British warden who slipped and fell on ice ... while putting up 'beware of ice' signs

As the park warden picked his way through the snow and ice he should have known every step was a health hazard. After all, the signs he was putting up all around the park said so. ‘Be careful in the ice and snow,’ they boomed in big bold letters. But somehow the warden hadn’t got the message himself.

As he selected the best locations for the warning alerts, he went head over heels on the icy ground, badly hurting his back, neck, wrist and arms.

Now his council bosses, who had no doubt sent him on his mission with the aim of preventing compensation claims, are facing a £70,000 claim from one of their own. It seems health and safety can be downright dangerous at times. Not to mention expensive.

Leicester council has agreed to settle the case out of court after admitting the accident could have been prevented. The final payout has yet to be decided but £70,000 has been set aside to compensate the unnamed park warden and cover legal fees.

So how could the warden’s spectacular slip-up be blamed on the council? The recent purchase of 150 pairs of slip-on shoes with studded soles might be a clue. The council has ordered the winter weather shoes, which cost £13 each, in the hope of avoiding any more such injuries to outdoor workers. The accident came to light in a report from the council’s ‘risk committee’ into action it has taken to avoid expensive compensation claims.

The report explains that, under the Employers’ Liability Act, councils are obliged to ‘provide all necessary equipment for staff to safely carry out their role’. And since the council spent £1,950 buying ‘snow/ice traction aids’ (snow shoes to the rest of us), there have been no more workers taking a tumble in wintry conditions.

The prevention doesn’t stop there. The council has also spent £7,500 on tracking devices for its fleet of gritters, to monitor which of the city’s roads have been gritted.

That initiative followed a claim from a member of the public who slipped and broke an arm. The council claimed the road had been gritted but couldn’t prove it and ended up having to pay out £16,000. The tracking devices have helped successfully defend four similar claims since then.

Leicester council would not say where the warning sign accident happened or whether the warden was still an employee. Last year it revealed it had paid £356,000 in compensation to 61 staff since 2008, for accidents ranging from broken teeth to sore backs.

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: ‘Councils and other large organisations have increasingly found themselves targeted by lawyers who encourage people to make claims.

‘The Government needs to look at the best way to give those with genuine injuries access to justice, while deterring lawyers who are out to make a quick buck.’


Who wants police chiefs to edit a free press?

In the atmosphere of press unfreedom created around Britain's Leveson Inquiry, it seems ‘the public interest’ is now to be defined by… the London Metropolitan Police

What is meant by reporting in ‘the public interest’, and who is to define it? We are told that this is one of the big questions facing Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into the British press. Now, it appears, we have an answer. In the non-brave new world of press unfreedom that the Leveson Inquiry is helping to create, the ‘public interest’ is apparently to be defined for us by…. the Metropolitan Police.

Last week Leveson started the second phase of his inquisition into the crimes against humanity, sorry, the ‘culture and ethics’, of the tabloid press, which is supposed to deal with relations between the media and the police. The first star witness was Sue Akers, deputy assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, in charge of the investigation into alleged criminal acts by newspapers. She baldly announced to Leveson and the world that there had been ‘a culture at the Sun of illegal payments [to police and public officials] and systems created to facilitate those payments’.

Never mind that the 11 Sun journalists and executives arrested on suspicion of bribing public officials have not even been charged with, let alone convicted of, any such offence. DAC Akers of the Yard apparently felt free to declare that all and sundry at the Sun had effectively been found guilty by a jury of one good woman and true (her).

Worse, the pious DAC indicated, this supposed corruption had not been carried out in the cause of good journalism: ‘The vast majority of the disclosures made [by officials] have led to stories which I would describe as salacious gossip, not what I would describe as being remotely in the public interest.’

The notion of senior uniforms ruling on what is ‘remotely in the public interest’, and thus what the press should and should not be reporting, might normally be associated with a nice little police state. Yet in the UK, the anti-tabloid atmosphere around the Leveson Inquiry has now reached the point where a police chief can try to lay down the law on what information we should be allowed to read and hear, drawing a line between information published as ‘salacious gossip’ (tabloid journalism, bad, open to prosecution) and stories in ‘the public interest’ (quality journalism, good, potentially justified). When did the Old Bill take on the new powers to police the minds of tabloid journalists and their readers?

This snobbish division between the ‘Goodies’ and the alleged ‘Baddies’ of the British press (to borrow Hugh Grant’s infantile phraseology) runs right through the Leveson debate about regulation. Now it has been given the Metropolitan Police seal of approval. Goodbye Press Complaints Commission, hello deputy assistant commissioner?

Many concerns have been expressed about ‘unhealthy’ and ‘too close’ relations between senior police officers and the Murdoch press. Yet those concerns are being exploited to justify a far more dangerous relationship, one where rather than the media poking around in police business, the Met take a close interest in the affairs of the press – with the collaboration of newspaper management and the support of crusading journalists.

Scotland Yard has been embarrassed by criticism of the Met’s early conduct of the phone-hacking investigation, and revelations about links to the press which led to the resignation of its commissioner. Now the Met’s new leadership is trying to reassert the Force’s moral authority by pursuing a zealous campaign against the evil tabloids that allegedly besmirched the honour of naive and innocent police chiefs.

In this surreal atmosphere, Trevor Kavanagh of the Sun estimates that the police war on the heinous atrocities of hacking phone messages and buying information from public officials has now become the largest-scale investigation in British criminal history. Leading lights among Kavanagh’s fellow Sun journalists have been arrested in dawn raids while police squads tear up their floorboards. Meanwhile News Corp’s own Management and Standards Committee has been tearing up the book on protecting journalists and their sources, handing over millions of emails and internal documents to the Met and setting up the Sun’s own people for arrest. So much for the ‘ethical’ backlash against bad practice in the press.

These are dangerous developments in the policing of a free press, the like of which have not been seen in recent times. Yet so shrunken is the esteem in which press freedom is held in the UK today that even supposedly liberal-minded journalists have effectively turned into police cheerleaders. Take Nick Davies, the crusading Guardian reporter whose investigations are credited with bringing the phone-hacking scandal to light. After DAC Akers’ appearance before Leveson last week, Davies wrote correctly characterising the inquiry as a ‘defining power struggle’ between the state and the press. Yet he came out as an Akers backer in that struggle. So blinded are high-minded journalists by anti-tabloid bigotry and Murdoch-phobia today, many seem to have lost sight of the simple truth that state encroachment is far more dangerous to a free press than the most debased abuse of such freedom by journalists could be.

There are some forgotten principles that need to be reintroduced into this debate. For instance, that the freedom of the press, like any aspect of free speech, is not divisible or something that can be rationed out only to the ‘Goodies’. That it should not be up to a deputy assistant commissioner – or indeed a Lord Justice – to decree what is or is not in the ‘public interest’ to publish; that is a matter for the public to decide, on the basis of all the information that is freely presented to them. And that anybody with an ounce of feeling for liberty should strive for all they are worth to get the police, and the judges, out of the debate about the future of the press.

Meanwhile, Nick Davies has just been announced as the winner of the Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism. According to the Guardian report of their man’s triumph, ‘The organising committee, in its citation, praised Davies’ “dogged and lonely reporting”, the impact of which forced “a humbled Rupert Murdoch” to close the News of the World…’ Thus a journalist wins a top prize for helping to close down a newspaper, while a senior cop is praised for laying down the law on what the press should be free to publish. Welcome to the alternative unfree universe of Planet Leveson.


Australia: Leftist newspaper's angry man says it's racist to criticize half-Japanese airhead

Because George Negus [white male] hasn't come under as much scrutiny for his comments on "The Circle" TV programme as Yumi Stynes [half-Japanese female].

The fact that Stynes and Negus made different comments (etc.) doesn't count, apparently, though both made derogatory remaks about an Australian hero soldier

John Birmingham

It is possible, if only just, to imagine that the hateswarm engulfing Yumi Stynes this week has nothing to do with her being an attractive Asian woman, but unfortunately my imagination doesn’t stretch that far. So I’m gonna say it – most of the vitriol being spewed in her face over the comments she made about Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith on The Circle are motivated by racism, gender and jealousy.

Yumi Stynes and George Negus disgraced themselves when they mocked the VC winner Roberts-Smith in a seriously ill-considered grab for a couple of cheap laughs. What they did was wrong and quite literally shameful. Media careers have been extinguished by much lesser offences. Giles Hardie wrote a great piece explaining how such mistakes are often made, not just on live TV, but at barbecues, bars and in the tea rooms of millions of workplaces every day. He explained their oafish behaviour without excusing it, because there is no excusing it.

But while those two particular citizens are probably wallowing in their shame – and I say ‘probably’ because Negus has a hide much thicker and tougher than even the giant Walrus of Stupid – some of the deranged responses directed at Stynes in particular are appalling and immeasurably more shameful than her original sin. She is being attacked with a savage and terrible glee that is largely absent from the criticism of Negus.

Producers are removing or disallowing any comments on The Circle’s Facebook page that go beyond reasonable criticism. Sexual threats and insults, threats against Stynes’ family, misspelled and misogynistic abuse (so odd, how those two often go together), they’re all being zapped. But there is no shutting down the interwebz and a search on Twitter for Stynes and Negus finds thousands of comments, some of them quite level-headed and judicious critiques of their foolishness, but many, many of them not. Many, indeed, present with an air of menace and promised violence that would go a long way towards securing Stynes the protection of the law, if she chose to seek it.

Why the difference? I asked this, not entirely seriously, on the twitterz and farcebuck the other day, as the shrieking of the horde reached an ugly, feral pitch. “I wonder why the hatin' on Yumi Stynes is so much hatier than the hatin' on George Negus? What possible difference might there be?”

Only one respondent actually replied with any sort of coherent defence of the lynching of Stynes, an irregular drop-in here at the Instrument, Lobes, who wrote on Facebook that, Stynes' comments were worse "for a start". She has achieved little since she was a contest winner VJ on Foxtel, he argued, whereas at least Negus has had a career of some accomplishment. "Saying that though, they are both retards*, but she definitely deserved it more… The initial comment was made by Stynes about BRS being brainless. She set the tone and Negus followed.”

I doubted that the mob assaulting Stynes had parsed the original exchange so minutely, and Lobes replied, “I see where you are coming from JB, and believe me I do not share the sentiment that seems to motivate those thousands. But just because you take a different path does not preclude you from arriving at the same conclusion.”

Why delve into these individual responses? Because for better or worse they at least characterise some of the moderate and more considered ‘debate’ that has flowed from Stynes’ and Negus’ abysmal misjudgment.

For the most part, though, it’s been a feeding frenzy, with the worst of our natures on display. The only person to come out of this with their integrity unsullied is Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith who graciously accepted the apologies of Negus and Stynes and moved on. He doesn’t need the army of trolls and orcs which has come boiling out of the lower levels of internet hell to defend him. The sick-making abuse and threats of violence they’ve heaped on Stynes, and the contrast with the relatively light treatment of Negus – in spite of his shark’s tooth amulet and porno mo – is a disgusting example of double standards and cowardice.



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

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

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


9 March, 2012

PA Atheists Use Race & Slave Imagery in Billboard Against the ‘Barbaric’ Christian Bible‏

The fact that it was Wilberforce and his fellow devout Protestants who pushed England into being the first country to abolish slavery appears to be unknown to these haters and ignoramuses. Any religion can be misused -- as can atheism. See the deeds of the atheist Stalin, for instance. But Protestant Christianity has been a liberating influence overall

Last month, The Blaze told you about a battle that’s been brewing between atheists and Pennsylvania lawmakers after the state’s House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution calling 2012 the “Year of the Bible.” At the time, a staff lawyer from the Freedom From Religion Foundation called the act “shocking.”

Now, two other groups, American Atheists and Pa. Nonbelievers, are being accused of invoking racial themes after posting a Bible-inspired billboard against the designation. Their sign, which tackles the issue of slavery, was erected in an area of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with a large African American population.

The message aimed at railing against politicians who supported the resolution, was posted just blocks away from the state capitol. It comes, as many atheist-led billboard campaigns do, with a fair amount of controversy. Only this particular message was so inflammatory that it also led to a defacing.

State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (D-Delaware), a black legislator, was one of the many voices objecting to the now-removed billboard, which featured a shackled slave. The image of the individual in shackles appeared below the words, “Slaves, obey your masters.” Kirkland supported the Bible resolution and has claimed that the billboard took the Bible out of context and that it is portrayed both racism and hatred.

Now, here’s where the story gets even more interesting. One of the men behind the billboard, Ernest Perce V, is American Atheists’ Pennsylvania director. He is also the non-believer who had been in the headlines of late after being attacked by a Muslim during a 2011 Halloween parade (you’ll recall Perce was dressed as a Zombie Muhammad).

When it comes to the billboard, Perce says that he and his group would like the House to repeal the Bible resolution. If the “Year of the Bible” reference isn’t removed, Perce, who calls the Bible “barbaric,” originally pledged to keep the billboard up and to erect others around the state. Someone vandalized the sign, making his first promise an impossibility (although he could opt to re-post it).

WGAL has more about the controversy:
“The message that we want to send, obviously — slavery is brought to you by the Bible and the House of Representatives,” said Ernest Perce V, of the American Atheists.

Perce said the message shows the Bible promotes slavery, and that the state House should not have voted to make 2012 the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania.

Martha Brown, of Harrisburg, said she disagreed with the message of the billboard. “That’s not true,” Brown said. “I believe the Bible. I read the Bible and I’m not racist.”

Following the controversy, Pa. Nonbelievers President Brian Fields issued an apology, claiming that he is sorry “that many people have misunderstood the billboard.” Fields went on to claim that the intention was never to use race as the sole message behind it.

“The bible is NOT holy or moral as promoted by the Pa. House of Representatives in the ‘Year of the Bible,’” he continued. “The bible was used as an excuse for many very bad things, including American slavery.”


Government should butt out of marriage and churches

UK Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone want to legalise gay marriage. Fine by me: I don't see why gay couples should not be able to sign up for the same obligations, rights and benefits that heterosexual couples observe and enjoy.

She also wants gay couples to be allowed to marry in church, like heterosexual ones. Again, I have no problem with that, if the church is willing to do it.

The Church of England, typically, is divided on the issue. As the Established Church, they do pretty well out of their cosy relationship with the state, not the least of which is that two dozen of their senior executives, the bishops, sit by right in the House of Lords. So when ministers tell them to do cartwheels the Church of England normally swallow their principles, hitch up their cassocks and cartwheel.

The trouble is that some time ago, the state muscled in on marriage. Churches had been doing their own thing for millennia, but when the state started taxing rich folks and paying benefits to poor ones, it had to find some way of defining families so that it could establish the tax base and the appropriate unit to which benefits should be paid (two can live as cheaply as one, and all that). So they nationalised the whole business, and shoehorned everyone into a single set of regulations, as governments do.

But should we be so shoehorned? Maybe one of the reasons why the one-size-fits-all state-produced marriage contract has declined so much is that people today are more individual, and want to fashion their own ways of living, rather than have a standard, off-the-peg package of obligations forced on them. And so they should. People should be able to draw up their own lifetime contracts, accepting some bits of the present marriage contract, rejecting others and adding different ones of their own if they choose. Certainly, the state might insist on some minimum elements if people want to be taxed, and draw benefits, as a family. But apart from that, it should keep its nose out.

Likewise, Ms Featherstone should keep her nose out of what the churches choose to do. They too may have their own minimum standards for marriage, which couples have to sign up to before they can expect to be married on the premises. Fine. Churches are private clubs, let them get on with it. Personally, I would be campaigning for them to accept gay couples, but I wouldn't force church officials to betray their consciences. These are deeply held ethical positions. Churches have been thinking about the morality of lifetime partnerships a good deal longer than Ms Featherstone has.

I do wish politicians would buzz off and leave us all to our private sphere, allowing us to wallow in our own eccentric diversity rather than forcing us into tidy moulds. At this, rate, they will be demanding that the churches should not discriminate on the grounds of religion, and should accept other faiths into membership. I don't know what Cardinal O'Brien is going to make of it when he has to hand out wine and wafers to his first Satanist.


American actor stunned by homosexual backlash

Actor Kirk Cameron has been left stunned by the harsh criticism he has been subjected to since he suggested homosexuality was "unnatural" in a recent TV interview - because those attacking him have shown a complete lack of tolerance.

The former Growing Pains star, now an evangelical Christian minister, has sparked controversy when he spoke out against gays and lesbians during a recent interview on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, when he stated that he thought homosexuality was "detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilisation".

Gay rights activists and campaigners, including the actor's former TV co-stars Alan Thicke and Tracy Gold, were quick to address Cameron's views, and now he has responded to the more cutting remarks, insisting he doesn't deserve to be "slandered" for expressing his point of view.
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"I spoke as honestly as I could, but some people believe my responses were not loving toward those in the gay community. That is not true. I can assuredly say that it's my life's mission to love all people," Cameron told ABC News.

"I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilisation for 2000 years - without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach 'tolerance' that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I'm in the public square.

"I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect. I've been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally).


Former student radical to be appointed chairman of Australia's main public broadcaster

They don't mention below that he was a student radical but he was. I was there at the time

The former chief justice of the Supreme Court of NSW, Jim Spigelman, is to be appointed chairman of the ABC. An announcement is expected to be made by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, today or tomorrow, sources say.

Cabinet approval was given on Monday for Mr Spigelman to take up the part-time $151,000-a-year post.

Mr Spigelman, who retired from the bench last May, replaces the former stockbroker Maurice Newman, who stepped down at the end of last year.

Mr Newman's tenure at times was marked by controversy. He said journalists had succumbed to groupthink because they failed to predict the global financial crisis and his parting shot was a suggestion to merge the ABC and SBS to save money.

Facing Mr Spigelman will be a long list of issues, the top of which is how the ABC remains relevant in a changing media landscape and its response to the government's review on convergence in the media.

He will also have to negotiate another round of triennial funding and ask for more money as the corporation expands its reach with new channels and appears on more digital devices.

The appointment completes a circle in a career that began with the then nascent area of communications in the Whitlam government.

Mr Spigelman's long association with Labor - he was an adviser to Gough Whitlam and in 1975 was appointed secretary to the first department of the media - will inevitably attract some accusations that he is a political appointee, a charge often levelled at his predecessor, who was a close friend of John Howard.

Mr Spigelman dropped a heavy hint that he was heading for the role at a breakfast talk a fortnight ago. He was asked what he thought about the corporation moving into new genres. "That's also something I don't have an informed opinion about but I'm looking forward to developing one," he replied.



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

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

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


8 March, 2012

When "all men are equal" unjustly hurts women

British women face £362 rise in car insurance: EU ruling means they lose benefit for having fewer accidents

Millions of women drivers could have to pay an extra £362 a year for their car insurance after a ruling by European judges, it emerged yesterday. The increase follows a decision that men cannot be charged more for their policies even though they are more likely to have a serious crash.

The ruling, described by critics as ‘madness’, means that from December 21 women drivers – although generally safer – will no longer be able to access cheaper car insurance rates because of their gender.

Labour transport spokesman John Woodcock said female drivers face an ‘insurance timebomb’ and called on ministers to curb the impact of the ruling.

Analysis by Labour found that women could end up paying an extra £362 a year, around £30 a month. A Treasury analysis revealed that women of all ages would see their premiums increase by up to 24 per cent on average. Young men would see theirs fall on average by 9 per cent.

Insurance experts warned that younger women will be hit particularly badly as they will end up having to pay the same premiums as ‘boy racers’. A woman under the age of 22 pays around £1,682 in car insurance while a young man is charged an average of £2,750. [Which is about 3 times as much as the same person would pay in Australia. Australia has much less insurance fraud]

This is because men under 22 are ten times more likely to have a serious crash, 25 times more likely to commit a driving offence and twice as likely to make an insurance claim.

Policies with more than one named driver will be adversely affected if the main policy holder is a woman.

When a man is the main driver and a woman the ‘named’ driver, premiums are likely to come down. The changes will be forced through without Parliament having the chance to fight the ruling by the European Court of Justice.

Experts say the overall cost to UK customers of the judgment – based on a case brought by a consumer group in Belgium – will be almost £1billion.

Motoring groups warn the ruling could lead to more deaths on the roads if young men benefiting from lower premiums buy faster cars.

Mr Woodcock urged ministers to put pressure on insurance companies not to round up rates to the average paid by men.

Labour wants to see every insurance company being forced to offer drivers at least one black box product. The boxes allow motorists to prove how safe they are by recording how they drive. Those who drive carefully or don’t drive at night could benefit from cheaper premiums.

Mr Woodcock told the Daily Mail: ‘At a time when motorists are already being squeezed by record fuel prices, women will be dismayed that out-of-touch ministers are not lifting a finger to defuse the insurance timebomb heading their way from Europe. ‘Premiums for women are currently less because they tend to have fewer accidents.

The Government must not sit back and let the insurance industry round up to the highest level they think they can get away with – that could mean hikes of up to £362 for women.

‘The ban on insurance by gender means women will need to find different ways to prove they are safe, but currently not enough insurers offer new black box technology that helps safer drivers get lower premiums.’

Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘Three weeks ago the Prime Minister held a meeting for the insurance industry at Downing Street. But because we are not prepared to do anything about Europe, we can do absolutely nothing about this madness.’

Until now, discrimination in setting insurance rates has been permitted under EU equal treatment rules allowing the market to base the price of a financial product on the statistical likelihood of a person having an accident, falling ill or dying.

All insurance products will be affected by the new ruling. For life insurance, men could see a 10 per cent fall in costs, while women’s rates could rise by as much as 20 per cent as they live longer.

Malcolm Tarling, from the Association of British Insurers, said: ‘This gender ban is disappointing news for UK consumers and something the UK insurance industry has fought against for the last decade.’


Let’s call it quits on Britain's equality law

The Equality Act is less about ending oppression and more about enforcing state-approved behaviour

On Monday, the Clearing the Ground inquiry, staffed by a cross-party group of Christian MPs, published its report into ‘the freedom of Christians in the UK’. The report called for the Equality Act 2010 to be used to enforce ‘reasonable accommodation’ for Christians, with legal recourse in the form of compensation for those deemed by the courts to have been treated unfairly on the grounds of their Christian beliefs.

The report comes at time when many in politics and in the media consider it is vital to offer their diagnoses of the state of spiritual life in the UK. On the one hand, we have Conservative Party co-chair Baroness Warsi, who earlier this month argued that the UK was suffering from a ‘militant secularisation’ and called for British people to be more ‘confident’ in their Christianity. On the other hand, we have evolutionary scientist and atheist poster boy Richard Dawkins claiming that actually none of us are as religious as we thought. Today, everyone who is anyone needs a view on religion and its place in British society.

Accordingly, Clearing the Ground was charged with answering the question: ‘Are Christians marginalised in the UK?’ It may not be surprising that their answer to that one was ‘yes’. But following in the tradition of public inquiries, it helpfully answered a lot of questions that no one had actually asked: ‘Is the United Kingdom displaying symptoms of “religious illiteracy”?’ Yes. ‘Do organisations need more guidance as to how to accommodate Christian people?’ Yes. While its initial remit was narrow, it soon becomes clear that this inquiry set itself the task of fixing the ‘endemic secularisation’ identified by Warsi.

Yet there was a contradiction at the heart of the report’s findings. While calling for an extension of the law into more aspects of religious life, it took as its starting point the idea that the interests of the law and religion are often fundamentally opposed. It noted, rightly, that this conflict is most profoundly felt in the UK when it comes to freedom of expression. The report was pained to list case after case in which the rights of religious people to express themselves freely had been disregarded in the name of laws purporting to promote equality.

Take the shocking case of Dale McAlpine, who was charged under the Public Order Act 1986 on the basis that his preaching, which included proclaiming that homosexuality was a sin, amounted to a hate crime. For expressing an unconscionable opinion, McAlpine was prosecuted and taken to court, only for the charges then to be dropped with an apology from the police. Or take Adrian Smith, who was demoted within Trafford Housing Trust for posting a Facebook status update opposing gay marriage and for arguing that ‘the state should not impose its rules on places of faith and conscience’. The report is full of examples of the law fostering a climate in which the rights of religious people to express themselves freely are routinely subjugated.

Yet, despite acknowledging that the law has frequently been used against religious people expressing their beliefs, the report bizarrely argues for yet more legal intervention. The problem, in the eyes of the inquiry, is that the law does not make things quite equal enough. This desperate, pleading, ‘what about me?’ logic is used by many religious pressure groups, who in the past have similarly argued that the law does not go far enough to enforce the rights of religious people. However, this argument does not chime with the demands of many out there in the real world, such as Adrian Smith, who do not want the state interfering in religious matters at all.

But this is not only about the rights of religious people. Litigation under the Equality Act has had a corrosive effect on one of the most fundamental rights of everyone throughout society: the right to discriminate. When Peter and Hazelmary Bull were hauled up in front of the courts in 2011 for refusing entry to two homosexual men to their bed-and-breakfast establishment, which was also their home, it was not the rights of the homosexuals to stay at any hotel they liked that was at stake. After all, if you spend a weekend in my old hometown of Brighton, where gay-only hotels abound, you will realise that the right to stay in any hotel you like regardless of your sexuality does not exist. Neither should it. Nor was it about religion: refusing someone entry to your home is hardly an act of worship.

Rather it was about the rights of two admittedly homophobic people to refuse to mix with people that they did not want to. At the conclusion of these proceedings, the Bulls were effectively told that their own judgement about who they did and did not want to mix with was wrong, and that they should have to pay damages of £3,600 for trying to uphold it. Ironically, the very legislation that Clearing the Ground now seeks to extend has already eroded a right crucial to religious people: the right to organise their institutions in a manner of their own choosing.

The right of individuals to discriminate allows us to organise our lives without having to justify ourselves to anyone. That is why it is a mistake to see the Equality Act as an heir to other legislative reforms that historically brought oppressed people to be more equal and free before the law. The act does little more than cajole private individuals and institutions into behaving the way the state wants them to.

This can’t make people more moral, nor society more fair, but it does try to make both more obedient. It’s not only religious people like Adrian Smith who should resist the ‘expansion’ of the Equality Act but anyone who values their own judgement in ‘matters of conscience’, religious or otherwise.


Prisoners, terrorists and gipsies should be handed MORE human rights, declares British equality qango

Prisoners, gipsies, terrorists and union activists routinely have their human rights abused, a highly controversial report will claim today.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has spent at least £150,000 of taxpayers’ money publishing a review into how public bodies safeguard people’s rights.

The left-wing quango, led by former Labour politician Trevor Phillips, has concluded that ‘more could be done to improve human rights protections of some,’ which also included vulnerable people in care homes and victims of crime.

But it contentiously calls for more rights for groups that include criminals, travellers and gipsies on illegal camps, and suspected extremists.

Some of the EHRC’s conclusions will spark anger because they are in defiance of the rulings of law made in Britain’s courts and decisions made in Parliament.

In one of its most controversial findings, the report, due to be published this morning, states that prisoners should be given the right to vote. In February last year, MPs voted to continue to deny inmates a chance to vote in elections despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

But the report, called How Fair Is Britain?, states: ‘Human rights... apply to everyone, even unpopular minorities.

‘Offenders may be punished with a prison sentence, which means a denial of their right to liberty. Treating the right to vote as a privilege to be removed for bad behaviour is a disproportionate interference with a fundamental right.’

The report also states that travellers and gipsies had no choice but to occupy sites illegally because local authorities had undermined their rights by failing to provide land for caravans. Evicting them therefore contravened Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to a private and family life.

‘Gipsy and traveller communities face a shortage of caravan sites,’ the report claims. ‘This means it is difficult for them to practise their traditional way of life.’

It echoed a claim by the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe last week that October’s eviction of 80 families illegally camped at Dale Farm, near Basildon, Essex, was an outrage against human rights.

Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘I don’t really think the commission needed to spend tens of thousands of pounds telling us we need more human rights – that’s the reason for its existence. It seems a complete waste of money.

‘In many cases the people who the commission says are not getting human rights have forfeited them.

‘Do prisoners think of the human rights of the victims of their crime? Do travellers think of the human rights of those whose land they illegally camp on? Not for a second.

‘These are the only people who seem to have rights, not the decent law-abiding people whose rights seem to be ignored time after time.’

The document, which took more than two years to compile, also criticises Britain’s terror laws.

Currently, those suspected of terrorism-related offences can be held without charge for up to 14 days. ‘The EHRC has argued that the maximum period of pre-charge detention should be four days,’ states the report.

And only those who have committed terror-related crimes should be subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIM) – Government orders which place strict restrictions on terror suspects. The report said that TPIMs ‘violate long-held principles of civil liberties, including the prohibition on punishment for what people might do rather than what they have done’.

Professor Geraldine Van Bueren, an EHRC commissioner, said: ‘Human rights should not only get our attention when people we might not like try to use them. Nor should the value of human rights be limited to when we see what happens to people in other countries when these rights do not exist.’

The EHRC report also criticised the ‘detailed rules for holding a ballot’ among members of a union threatening industrial action which meant it was ‘too easy’ for bosses to challenge strikes as unlawful.

The report also highlights its own study which found the treatment of vulnerable elderly people in some care homes was so appalling that pensioners were left ‘wanting to die’.


The War on Conservative Women

Michelle Malkin

I'm sorry Rush Limbaugh called 30-year-old Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a "slut." She's really just another professional femme-a-gogue helping to manufacture a false narrative about the GOP "war on women." I'm sorry the civility police now have an opening to demonize the entire right based on one radio comment -- because it's the progressive left in this country that has viciously and systematically slimed female conservatives for their beliefs.

We have the well-worn battle scars to prove it. And no, we don't need coddling phone calls from the pandering president of the United States to convince us to stand up and fight.

At his first press conference of the year on Tuesday, the Nation's Concern Troll explained that he phoned Fluke to send a message to his daughters and all women that they shouldn't be "attacked or called horrible names because they are being good citizens." After inserting himself into the fray and dragging Sasha and Malia into the debate, Obama then told a reporter he "didn't want to get into the business of arbitrating" language and civility. Too late, pal.

The fact is, "slut" is one of the nicer things I've been called over 20 years of public life. In college during the late 1980s, it was "race traitor," "coconut" (brown on the outside white on the inside) and "white man's puppet." After my first book, "Invasion," came out in 2001, it was "immigrant-hater," the "Radical Right's Asian Pitbull," "Tokyo Rose" and "Aunt Tomasina." In my third book, 2005's "Unhinged," I published entire chapters of hate mail rife with degrading, unprintable sexual epithets and mockery of my Filipino heritage.

If I had a dollar for every time libs have called me a "Manila whore" and "Subic Bay bar girl," I'd be able to pay for a ticket to a Hollywood-for-Obama fundraiser.

Self-serving opponents argue that such attacks do not represent "respectable," "mainstream" liberal opinion about their conservative female counterparts. But it was feminist godmother Gloria Steinem who called Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison a "female impersonator." It was NOW leader Patricia Ireland who commanded her flock to only vote for "authentic" female political candidates. It was Al Gore consultant Naomi Wolf who accused the late Jeane Kirkpatrick of being "uninflected by the experiences of the female body."

It was Matt Taibbi, now of Rolling Stone magazine, who mocked my early championing of the tea party movement by jibing: "Now when I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy set of (redacted) in her mouth. It vastly improves her prose."

It was Keith Olbermann, then at MSNBC and now at Al Gore's Current TV, who wrote on Twitter that columnist S.E. Cupp was "a perfect demonstration of the necessity of the work Planned Parenthood does" and who called me a "mashed up bag of meat with lipstick on it." He stands by those remarks. Olbermann has been a special guest at the White House.

Some of us have not forgotten when liberal Wisconsin radio host John "Sly" Sylvester outrageously accused GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch of performing "fellatio on all the talk-show hosts in Milwaukee" and sneered that she had "pulled a train" (a crude phrase for gang sex). (Earlier, he called former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a "black trophy" and "Aunt Jemima.")

Or when MSNBC misogynist Ed Schultz called talk show host Laura Ingraham a "talk slut" for criticizing Obama's petty beer summit. Or when Playboy published a list of the top 10 conservative women who deserved to be "hate-f**ked." The article, which was promoted by Anne Schroeder Mullins at Politico.com, included Ingraham, "The View's" Elisabeth Hasselbeck, former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann and others. Yours truly topped the list with the following description: a "highly f**kable Filipina" and "a regular on Fox News, where her tight body and get-off-my-lawn stare just scream, 'Do me!'"

And then there's the left's war on Sarah Palin, which would require an entire national forest of trees to publish.

A reporter asked Obama to comment on examples of liberal hate speech at Tuesday's press conference. He whiffed, of course. This is, after all, the brave leader who sat on his hands while his street thugs attacked tea party mothers and grandmothers as "Koch whores" during the fight over union reform in Wisconsin. (As I reported last week, his re-election campaign is now targeting the Koch brothers' private foundation donors in a parallel effort to chill conservative speech and activism.) He's leading by example.

So no, we won't get any phone calls from Mr. Civility. Acknowledging the war on conservative women would obliterate The Narrative. Enjoy the silence.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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

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

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


7 March, 2012

European Union Pushes Discriminatory Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards

by Hans Bader

The European Union (EU) could not keep member states like Greece from cheating on EU budget rules, resulting in Greece’s fiscal collapse and the current European financial crisis. But now, the EU government, which cannot manage itself effectively, wants to micromanage private companies in the EU by dictating that they use gender quotas on their corporate boards — a discriminatory, economically-destructive demand that would be illegal if imposed on U.S. companies. As Bloomberg News recently noted, Greece was able to enter the Euro Zone “after claiming its deficit was less than 1 percent of gross domestic product, well within the bloc’s 3-percent threshold. European Commission reports have since revealed Greece’s budget hasn’t been within the 3-percent limit a single year since its accession. Greece went unpunished except for being told by the EU to tighten up its bookkeeping.”

Rather than focusing their energy on preventing the EU ship from sinking, or fixing the EU’s flawed constitutional architecture, EU officials are now doing the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The EU is now eying 40-percent quotas for corporate boards, a mandate already imposed in several countries such as Spain and France. Such a quota is backed by the EU’s Justice Minister, Viviane Reding, who wants the EU to adopt Europe-wide laws that would impose such quotas even on EU member countries that have traditionally avoided such micro-management of corporate affairs.

Gender quotas could provide a big boost for nepotism on corporate boards in some fields. In sectors like metallurgical engineering, there are just not very many women with the required knowledge and expertise to sit on a corporate board. So a company in such a sector, confronted with a gender quota, will probably pick female relatives of existing corporate insiders to sit on the board. If you have to put someone who is largely ignorant of your business on your board, it might as well be someone who will do what others on the board with more knowledge advise them to do — and they are more likely to take your advice if they are your relative than if they are not related to you.

After Norway adopted gender quotas for corporate boards — requiring companies to have boards of directors comprised of at least 40 percent women — large numbers of inexperienced people ended up as corporate directors. “A study by the University of Michigan found that this led to large numbers of inexperienced women being appointed to boards, and that this has seriously damaged those firms’ performance.”

But this didn’t stop other European countries such as Spain and France from following Norway’s example and mandating 40-percent quotas (Spain’s quota requirement is already in effect, while France’s law goes into effect in 2017). Other countries, like Italy, adoped lower quotas (Italy’s is 30 percent). The European Parliament has previously recommended that all member countries adopt such quotas in their national laws.

The Economist recently opposed such quotas in an editorial. (Corporate law scholars such as Stephen Bainbridge have also criticized such proposals.) As The Economist later noted, Europe’s race towards quotas is at odds with company practice and legal norms elsewhere in the world:
Hans Bader, a senior attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, compares the situation in Europe with that of America: “From an American legal perspective, laws mandating quotas for women on corporate boards in European countries seem utterly bizarre. In America, such quotas would be struck down as a violation of the right of male directors to equal treatment. The Supreme Court ruled in its 1989 Croson decision that quotas violate, rather than promote, equality, calling it ‘completely unrealistic’ to expect groups to be represented in each field or activity ‘in lockstep proportion to their representation in the local population.’ American courts have struck down quotas and gender-balance requirements for boards and commissions in cases such as Back v. Carter. They have allowed companies to challenge quotas on behalf of their male or white employees in cases such as Lutheran Church Missouri Synod v. FCC. And they overturned government-mandated preferences for female business owners in the Lamprecht case.” . . . Ranko Bon, writing from Motovun in Croatia, thinks it is lucky that the idea of female quotas is catching on in Europe only: “America is largely free of it, and much of Asia is still blissfully unaware. As Europe is increasingly irrelevant in world business, the damage will be limited and perhaps even tolerable.”

Defenders of these quotas argue that quotas are good for business because companies with more women on their boards do better. But even if such companies typically make more money, this claim confuses cause and effect, and puts the cart before the horse, as studies like the University of Michigan study illustrate. With each passing year, the percentage of female business professionals in Europe rises, as does the percentage of female college graduates. The pool of female qualified applicants in a company for a directorship naturally rises over time. So a company that is not growing and hires few new people will naturally have less women in its ranks than a company that is growing and hiring new people. The company’s growth does not occur because of the increase in women in the company; rather, the increase in women in a company occurs because of the company’s prior and pre-existing growth. Countries like Sweden that have faster-growing economies and less corruption and red tape than places like Greece also have higher female participation in the labor force, and thus, higher numbers of women on corporate boards: “Northern countries like Finland, Sweden or Latvia, which don’t have quotas, boast the biggest percentage of women on company boards in Europe.”

This is also why growing companies in the U.S. tend to have more Asians, Hispanics, and women than companies that aren’t growing: the percentage of each graduating class that is Asian or Hispanic or female grows each year. It’s not because affirmative action helps company performance –it doesn’t. Rather, it’s because growing companies hire new blood, and new blood is more heavily Asian and Hispanic (and female) than the older generation, among whom business people are overwhelmingly white males. My brother’s investment firm was much more heavily minority than the ranks of the company its principals came from (Deutsche Bank), and the financial industry as a whole, but it did not practice affirmative action, and would have regarding doing so as bizarre. The reason for its high minority percentage was because the company’s managers were young, and young people as a group are more heavily minority and more heavily non-white than their elders, due to immigration (immigrants are disproportionately non-white) and a higher non-white birthrate.


Sarkozy rejects Muslim pandering

The issue of France’s Muslims moved front and center into the presidential campaign with the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, excluding on Saturday any special indulgences for halal meat or separate swimming hours for Muslim women in public pools.

Echoing his 2007 campaign, Sarkozy insisted that French civilization must prevail in France. He created France’s first Ministry of Immigration and National Identity after being elected, but has since done away with it.

Muslims, and immigration, are constant themes in recent French presidential races, but the topic is rising to the fore with vehemence as the April 22 first-round vote nears — 50 days from now. The final round is May 6.

Critics say Sarkozy is ogling supporters of extreme-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who is third in polls after front-runner Francois Hollande, a Socialist, and the conservative president. Le Pen, who succeeds party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, her father, has worked to erase the image of the party as anti-Semitic — but now castigates what she says is the profile of Islam in France.

There are an estimated 5 million Muslims in France, the largest such population in Western Europe, and the latest generation is making increasing demands that the country accommodate needs set out by their religion or their customs.

“There is no place in the republic for xenophobia, there is no place for racism … There is no place for pools with hours for men and hours for women,” Sarkozy told a rally Saturday in Bordeaux.

The team of Hollande, the Socialist candidate, castigated as “sickening” a remark Friday by Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who said that giving foreigners the right to vote in local elections would open the way to halal meat in school canteens and burqa-style bathing suits in public pools.

Sarkozy makes “scapegoats, stigmatizes” Muslims, said Manuel Valls, communications chief for Hollande’s campaign.

Hollande has proposed allowing all foreigners residing in France legally for five years to have the right to vote in local elections. The Socialist candidate has made it a policy to avoid implicating himself directly in divisive issues, leaving responses to his lieutenants.

At a rally Saturday in Dijon, Hollande simply reiterated that foreigners should be allowed to vote “without fearing for our citizenship or our national cohesion or our freedom.”

The French president, who declared his candidacy just weeks ago, on Feb. 15, is narrowing the gap with Hollande but, polls show, would lose by a wide margin in second-round balloting.

“There is no taboo subject,” Sarkozy said, suggesting that it is not in the nation’s interest to be politically correct about immigration or about what some Muslims seek to conform to their religious beliefs or cultural mores.

He said issues like halal food in schools or special hours so that Muslim women can swim out of view of men are in contradiction with the French principle of secularism.

Such issues “should be considered not as religious facts, but as facts of civilization,” he said.

Jerome Sainte-Marie of the CSA polling firm, monitoring the rally with BFM television, said that with Sarkozy’s showing in polls he must work the terrain where he does best.

“Nicolas Sarkozy has no other choice but to turn the tables and transform this election into a referendum on national identity,” Sainte-Marie said.

But the spokesman for Le Pen’s campaign, Florian Philippot, counters that “the French are not for one second dupes of the electoral strings (being pulled) by the Sarkozy camp.


Islamic Leaders Plan Pro-NYPD Rally in Support of Secret Anti-Terror Surveillance

It’s been a tough few weeks for the New York City Police Department (NYPD), as critics have charged authorities with unfairly targeting Muslim populations. While surveillance activities have been dubbed as discriminatory by some who believe the police department has gone to far, a unique rally will take place this morning in support of the NYPD’s tactics.

Muslim groups have heavily criticized the department and politicians charged with overseeing its operations after The Associated Press reported that the NYPD had been secretly monitoring Muslims across the Northeast following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

On Monday morning, Muslim leaders from the American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) will come together in support of officers’ tactics to target extremism in their community.

WNYW-TV has more about the group’s plans to assemble: "The rally, which is expected to start at 10 a.m. ET, will include representatives from more than 20 Muslim organizations, activists and Congressman Peter King (R-NY), who serves as the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security."

King, who has been a major NYPD supporter and a chief ally among those leading the fight against Islamic extremism, had made his opinion clear on the matter.

“The threat right now is Islamist terrorism — and that’s going to be coming from the Muslim community, it’s just a fact,” he said. “Just like the mafia came from the Italian community, and the Russian mob is coming from the Russian community.”

On its web site, the AILC is promoting the rally and explaining why, despite criticism among many individuals in the Muslim community, its members are supporting the NYPD (read the entire press release):
Since the 2007 release of its Intelligence Division’s landmark report, “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” the NYPD has come under a systematic and coordinated assault by highly-politicized Islamist organizations and their enablers, intent on dismantling the NYPD’s successful counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization programs. These groups would prefer to see American Muslims shackled to a mindset of victimization, and thus alienated from American society at large, rather than confront the very real issues we face in our communities, including the threat of extremist ideology. [...]

It is important to note that published NYPD documents clearly and appropriately distinguish between the religion of Islam, and the highly politicized ideology of hatred, supremacy and violence characteristic of political Islam (i.e., “Islamism”), and especially the subset thereof known as “jihadi Salafism.” [...]

In light of the swirling controversy over the New York Police Department’s counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization practices, we feel it is our civic, moral and religious duty to publicly address a number of issues raised by this controversy.
“To our knowledge, no NYPD counter-terrorism cases have given rise to departmental abuses of power,” the release continues, concluding with a reiteration of support for the department’s “courageous” efforts to protect the city.

While the AILC is praising these actions, CAIR has been railing against the NYPD’s surveillance tactics. In addition to post-9/11 anti-terror measures, some of the angst being displayed by CAIR, among other groups, stems from allegations that the NYPD showed “The Third Jihad,” a film about radical Islam, to nearly 1,500 police officers during training (the department did eventually admit that the documentary was shown in the lobby of a training building). The Blaze extensively covered this issue in January.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the narrator of the film, is also expected to speak at today’s rally. ”We feel the NYPD has been taking a lot of unfair hits,” he said, referring to the reason for today’s pro-NYPD gathering.

This showing of support is the community’s first real stance for the NYPD and its counter-terror efforts.


The war on workfare in Britain is worse than workfare itself

The pity and tears of the anti-workfare lobby are far more insulting to working-class youth than asking them to stack shelves in a British supermarket

As a radical leftist of some years’ standing, it pains me to point out the following: we are rapidly entering a new era in Britain in which radical protests against government austerity measures are more reactionary than anything proposed by the government itself.

We saw it with the debate around the National Health Service, where the clumsiness of the Lib-Cons’ cash-saving reforms were more than outdone by the conservatism of the left-wing anti-reformers, who think a moral forcefield should be erected around the creaking, increasingly authoritarian NHS. We saw it in the debate about having a household benefits cap of £26,000, where the government’s naivety about how to roll back the recession was overshadowed by the cynicism of liberal campaigners begging unelected bishops in the House of Lords to mow down any tweaks to modern welfarism. And now we see it in the controversy over workfare, where the fact that this initiative is far from perfect pales into insignificance when compared with the patronising politics of pity and vicarious workshyness of its influential opponents.

Introduced by the Lib-Cons in January 2011, the welfare-to-work programme, or ‘workfare’, is a voluntary scheme for people aged 16 to 24 who have been unemployed for three months or longer. The government, in tandem with big corporations like Tesco or Burger King, provides these youth with placements, where they work for 25-30 hours a week for a period of two to eight weeks. They don’t get paid an actual wage, but they continue to receive their jobseeker’s allowance and possibly some additional travel and childcare costs. Theoretically, anyone who opts out of a placement can have their benefits cut, though according to the government, out of the 34,200 people who did workfare between January and November 2011, only 200 had their benefits docked.

That’s it. It is hardly the best government job-creation scheme in history, yet nor is it ‘slave labour’, as its historically clueless critics claim, some of them even turning up at Westfield shopping centre in London dressed in Dickensian garb with placards saying ‘Westfield Workhouse’ and ‘Say “No” to slave labour’. Perhaps if these people spent more time reading Oliver Twist rather than doing am-dram versions of it on the streets of West London, they would know that asking a 19-year-old to spend a few hours serving sausage rolls in a Greggs bakery is not quite the same as the system of exhausting child labour that existed in the past.

Of course, there is much that can be criticised about the workfare scheme, primarily the impact that it could have on the existing working population. By subsidising the supply of effectively free workers to massive retail outlets and other workplaces, the government is potentially isolating and even threatening the positions of those members of staff who got their jobs by their own volition and who currently must (and should) be paid a full-time wage. Rather than work so closely with big businesses, which are driven primarily by a desire to cut costs and boost profits, it might have been better for the government to set up and fund proper apprenticeship schemes and social-based work projects, which would allow unemployed youth to get a taste of the world of work without coming into conflict with actually employed workers.

However, the noisy and shrill critics of workfare are attacking the scheme for all the wrong reasons – not on the basis that it might harm existing workers, but on the basis that it is somehow harmful to ask unemployed yoof, those apparently fragile creatures, to work in return for some of society’s resources, for the monies they currently receive from the state. This can be seen in the widespread use of the terms ‘unpaid labour’ and ‘slave labour’, which overlooks the fact that these young people are actually being rewarded for their short bursts of work (in the form of small benefit payments from the state, which are not as good as a full wage, of course). And it overlooks the even more important fact that sending young people the alternative message – that they should receive these resources in return for nothing, in return for never working – is a far more dangerous and destructive thing than a scheme pressuring them to do some shelf-stacking in Tesco.

The small but influential middle-class anti-workfare lobby, which has already successfully pressurised Tesco, Burger King and others into withdrawing from workfare, seems incapable of thinking through the consequences of its arguments and its actions. It seems not to recognise that fighting to preserve a situation in which huge numbers of young people have their bodies and souls sustained by the state is not a ‘good fight’. On the contrary, it is a fight which is likely only to exacerbate young people’s dependence on external favour and patronage rather than on their own inner drive and ambition, and which will further tie youth into an unhealthy relationship of reliance with the state. In the long term, this will have a far more damaging impact on them, on their capacity for social solidarity and on their individual self-respect, than workfare ever could.

It is in fact entirely reasonable to expect able-minded, able-bodied people, anyone who is not a child or disabled or sick or old, to do something in return for resources, to make some practical, real-world contribution to their communities or the running of society. Of course, it would be ideal if they could be provided with gainful and fruitful employment, but where that is not possible it is quite legitimate to request that individuals contribute to the upkeep of their communities in return for monetary sustenance. This is especially the case with the young, with people who are loosening their ties with their families and entering for the first time into proper social and community life. Absolutely the worst thing society could do for this section of society – for the 16- to 24-year-olds whom workfare is aimed at – is communicate to them the idea that society will sustain and reward you for doing nothing, for simply existing.

The impact of that message on youth is likely to be dire: it will inflame today’s already existing culture of entitlement, and further alienate youth from both their communities and their peers, encouraging them to suckle at the teat of the state rather than to use their own resourcefulness to strike up relationships with people and institutions in their communities. At precisely a time when young people should be showing initiative, taking risks, ‘getting on their bikes’ perhaps, venturing into the unforgiving world and making a niche or a name or just a living for themselves, they are instead encouraged by the welfare statists of the modern liberal elite and the anti-workfare lobby to stay home, wait, be sustained by external actors. The healthy pressure of economic need is replaced by the soul-zapping sustenance of the state’s largesse. It might even be an idea to withdraw benefits from the 16- to 24-year-old age bracket entirely, apart from to those who are disabled or who have children to care for, in order to demonstrate how seriously society takes the exercise of self-drive and risk-taking amongst the young.

None of this, none of the consequences of entangling large sections of youth into a deadening relationship with the state, crosses the minds of the anti-workfare activists. That is because these campaigners – well-fed, middle-class, utterly removed from the condition in which many working-class young people find themselves today – relate to these people’s problems entirely through the vicarious prism of pity rather than through the lived and shared political category of solidarity. Viewing working-class youth more like lobsters in a restaurant tank whom they want to save rather than individuals capable of fighting and striving for work and a better life, they employ that most self-flattering, luxuriant emotion known to man – pity, the aloof projection of a highly condescending sorrow on to people of whom they know little. And as that ancient proverb says: ‘Friends help; others pity.’

That should be the motto of self-respecting working-class youth in modern Britain: ‘Friends help; others pity.’ They should reject the patronising assistance offered by the welfare state and its thoughtless, well-off cheerleaders and instead turn to ‘friends’ – family, peers, colleagues, communities – for opportunities and tips and the kind of proper, face-to-face moral sustenance that can never be provided by a faceless bureaucrat. That would be better than falling deeper into the system of what we might call ‘vicarious workshyness’, where it is patronising outsiders who now seek to convince working-class youth that they should be shy of work, afear’d of it, because it might be asking too much of them and it might damage their self-esteem. Yes, there is something Dickensian in the workfare debate, but it isn’t that workfare is like the workhouse – it is that the critics of workfare are driven by the same priestly moralism and ‘Good Tory’ desire to save the downtrodden that afflicted rather too many of Dickens’ characters.



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

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

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


6 March, 2012

British unionists win 'racist' monkey cartoon case

Four trade-unionists who were accused of racism after drawing a satirical cartoon of the three wise monkeys who "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" have won a four-and-a-half year legal battle.

It is a familiar image - the three wise monkeys who “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. The ancient Japanese saying is nowadays applied to those who wilfully ignore an unwelcome truth. So when a group of four hard-Left trade unionists became exasperated at being brushed off by their leadership, they put out a leaflet using the image.

As campaigners used to political rough and tumble they thought it would make an effective satirical point. Not for a moment did they consider the image could be perceived as racist - but that was exactly the reaction when they took on their colleagues at Unison, Britain’s biggest public sector union.

Amongst the 15-strong committee criticised was one black man, who called the image “insulting”. The chairman of the union’s National Black Members Committee went further, saying it was “offensive and racist”.

The group tried to defuse the row, apologising for inadvertently causing offence. But the union began a full-scale investigation, resulting in them being banned from holding office.

Now, after a four-and-a-half year legal battle costing up to £200,000, the matter has been settled, after an Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled in favour of the four and criticised the union’s reaction.

Glenn Kelly, 50, one of those behind the leaflet, said: “The whole thing was a nonsense. The way we were targeted you would think that the British National Party had produced the leaflet.”

The ordeal of the so-called “Unison Four” began at the union’s annual conference, in June 2007. Mr Kelly, former secretary of the Bromley branch; Onay Kasab, former secretary of the Greenwich branch; Brian Debus, 64, former chairman of Hackney branch; and Suzanne Muna, 45, former secretary of the Tenants Services Authority branch had all submitted motions which were rejected by the union’s Standing Orders Committee (SOC).

The four, all members of the Socialist Party — formerly Labour’s Militant Tendency — wanted the conference to discuss proposals to cut funding of the Labour Party and elect full-time officials. In response to the SOC’s decision they produced the leaflet and distributed 1,500 copies.

But shortly after the conference began Bev Miller, chairman of the Black Members Committee, made a speech attacking the document and denouncing those behind it.

She said that the leaflet “belonged in the past with Bernard Manning” and that “black members and all other decent anti-racist trade unionists who understand the historic and racist denigration of black people did not find the joke funny”.

Clytus Williams, chairman of the SOC, added that his committee — of which he was the only black member — “did not expect to be insulted in the literature distributed to conference delegates”.

A number of union members complained to senior officials about the leaflet and the four wrote to both committees to refute the charge of racism but to apologise for any “unintentional offence”.

Despite this, an investigation was launched which, eight months later, resulted in the four being told that disciplinary charges would be brought against them for the “racial offence” caused by the leaflet.

The hearing took place over nine days spread between May 2008 and July 2009. In their defence, the four complained that there had been other occasions when members had inadvertently caused offence but had not been disciplined. At the 2007 conference another official was criticised after remarking about seeing a “sea of orange” in reference to a display of voting cards. He explained that the comment was not a reference to the politics of Northern Ireland.

However, the union ruled that the four should be barred from holding office for between three and five years. They brought a claim against Unison, claiming they had been unjustifiably disciplined under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act.

At the tribunal, Unison insisted the leaflet was racist. Mr Williams, the only SOC member to give evidence, said it had “caused him racial offence”.

The tribunal ruled in favour of the four in January 2011. The union, which has more than 1.3 million members, appealed, but on February 22 the Employment Appeal Tribunal again ruled in the four’s favour.

The judgment said: “It never occurred to [the four] that anyone would take [the image] out of context and consider it to be racially offensive because one member of the SOC, the chairman, was a black man.”

The four, who have paid their own costs, estimate the union has spent around £100,000 bringing the case. They are now waiting to be reinstated to their former positions. They are also hoping they will be awarded damages and costs of up to £25,000 each — bringing Unison’s potential bill up to £200,000.

A spokesman for the union said: “Unison is considering the recent judgment and the merits of taking an appeal.


Fireman Sam and the day British freedom went up in smoke

By Peter Hitchens

Here are the most sinister and hopeless words I have ever read: ‘I was told that we now live in a different time and some things are not to be said.’ They should be carved on the tombstone of the Country Formerly Known as Great Britain.

They are as near as we will get to an exact moment at which it became clear our free, happy past is gone for ever.

We grew up in another country, and because we did not guard it, or even see the danger, we have lost it, and our children will live in a censored twilight.
Author David Jones was detained by airport security after he made a remark about wearing a scarf over his face

Author David Jones was detained by airport security after he made a remark about wearing a scarf over his face

They were spoken – apparently by a police officer – to David Jones, author of the Fireman Sam books. Mr Jones had been detained for speaking words that only a stone-faced totalitarian, wholly devoid of a sense of humour or proportion, could have objected to.

Here are the words: ‘If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.’

Here is the context. Mr Jones was passing through the officious farce known as airport security, in which surly persons pretend to watch out for terrorists, and we pretend to take them seriously. A Muslim woman wearing a face veil had gone through the screen ahead of Mr Jones, had not set off the alarm, and had not been stopped.

Mr Jones’s artificial hip (that well-known terrorist weapon) had caused the machine to bleep and so the law-abiding, respectable, 67-year-old former fireman was humiliated with a stupid search which (as always) revealed nothing.

I go through this stuff quite a lot, including an exciting new machine that allows security personnel to view my naked body, and good luck to them. Though its moronic futility fills me with rage, I have learned to suppress it (at one Texas airport, there is a recorded announcement warning that it is an offence to make jokes about security).

I also know, because I read and hear so many stories, just how the Equality and Diversity Inquisition is rapidly turning into a full-on Thought Police in workplaces, schools and public buildings. Sooner or later, they are going to get me too. At this rate, I think it will be sooner.

What Mr Jones was actually doing was to behave like a free man, instead of the cowed subject of a monitored surveillance state in which most of what we think can no longer be said, and every miserable snitch, snoop and sneak has the power to ruin his neighbour’s life.

I’ll carry on defying it for as long as I can, but how long will that be?


Self-righteous Swedish prick scolds British ministers over gypsy eviction claiming it was a 'breach of human rights'

What about the rights of the farmer whose land the Gypsies illegally occupied?

Britain is undermining the rights of gipsies and travellers to housing which is ‘culturally acceptable’ to them, Europe’s human rights watchdog has warned.

Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, also said the eviction of travellers from the illegal Dale Farm camp last year was a violation of their rights, ‘highly regrettable’ and must never happen again.

Mr Hammarberg’s comments emerged yesterday after it was revealed he wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, stating: ‘The continuing shortage of adequate permanent and transit sites for gipsies and travellers living in caravans is a priority area to address.’

European Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg, left, demanded that the Government ease the shortage of caravan sites for travellers in Britain as a 'priority' in a letter to Eric Pickles, right

He said providing such housing was a ‘pre-condition for the enjoyment of other human rights, including the rights to education and health’.

The Council of Europe also runs the European Court of Human Rights, which David Cameron is currently trying to reform following its repeated interference in decisions made by British courts and Parliament.

The court’s attempts to overrule democratic institutions in this country have provoked widespread demands from Tory backbenchers for Britain to pull out of the Council of Europe.

Mr Hammarberg’s comments prompted criticism from Priti Patel, Tory MP for Witham, in Essex. She said: ‘This is another disgraceful example of Europe using the facade of human rights to meddle in our domestic affairs and attack laws passed by our Parliament. The Commissioner should show respect for the work the Government is doing rather than attack it.’

She added: ‘Europe’s unaccountable bureaucrats know nothing about planning matters in this country and after the problems at Dale Farm, they are out of touch with the British people.’

The latest statistics show that the number of caravans on unauthorised sites increased from 728 to 2,395 between 2000 and 2010. Around 80 families illegally camped at Dale Farm in Basildon, Essex, were evicted last October after ten years of legal battles. The process cost taxpayers more than £6million as travellers exploited every last legal avenue to try to stave off the bailiffs.

Despite the intervention of a United Nations human rights expert, appeals by actress Vanessa Redgrave and attempts by protest groups to block the evictions from Europe’s largest illegal traveller site, they went ahead.

However, within weeks, some of the evicted travellers were back with their caravans, either on nearby pitches legally occupied by travellers or in nearby lanes.

Referring to the evictions, Mr Hammarberg said: ‘The rights to adequate housing of travellers in Basildon have already been violated once. The authorities should ensure that no further violations take place and should work responsibly towards a solution that is acceptable for all.’

The Swedish-born Commissioner for Human Rights singled out Mr Pickles as he published a 250-page report on gipsy human rights across Europe which was severely critical of Britain.


CA Democrats Call on State Fish & Game Chief to Resign Over Legally Hunting Cougar in Idaho, Chief Refuses

Fish and Game Commission president Daniel Richards shot a cougar during an Idaho hunting expedition and, like many hunters, was photographed with the animal’s body. The photo was sent to the Western Outdoor News blog with a caption reading: “I‘m glad it’s legal in Idaho.”

Once that photograph started circulating the on the Internet, however, conservationists became outraged and Democratic lawmakers found a way to file an ethics complaint against the San Bernardino County Republican in addition to calling on him to resign from his post of four years.

On what grounds? The San Francisco Chronicle explains that Richards allegedly violated state law by accepting a free hunt, complete with dogs and a tracker, at the “Flying B” ranch. The typical package at Flying B costs $6,800 but the ranch offered the commission president a free hunt — a fact that did not escape Kathy Bowler, the former executive director of the California Democratic Party who filed the complaint.

Bowler cited state law limiting gifts to elected officials and state commission appointees to a maximum of $420 a year. According to SFChronicle, Bowler also complained that Richards did not report the gift to the FPPC.

To make matters worse, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with 40 Democratic Assembly members are now calling on Richards to resign over the incident, saying the killing of a mountain lion doesn’t reflect California values. According to the Chronicle, Newsom also claims the incident is a distraction from commission business. “I do appreciate that you did nothing illegal in Idaho, but it is clear that your actions do not reflect the values of the people of California,” Newsom said.

But Richards is standing his ground and is challenging his Democratic assailants. According to The Wall Street Journal, Richards wrote a letter Tuesday to an Assemblyman stating: “Do you really think a California Commissioner is actually obligated to follow California laws across these United States? Really?”

Responding to criticism that he killed the animal only for sport, Richards added: “We did dine on Mountain Lion for dinner…I will continue to hunt and fish wherever I please…There is ZERO chance I would consider resigning my position.”

WSJ adds:

"Some Republican lawmakers have rallied to Mr. Richards’ defense, saying he had a right to hunt the mountain lion.

One of the state capital’s most powerful Democrats, Senate President Darrell Steinberg, said Thursday he wasn’t ready to say what action, if any, should be taken against Mr. Richards. Mr. Richards’ appointment expires Jan. 15 next year.

Mr. Richards is one of five fish-and-game commissioners appointed by the governor who set regulations governing activities such as hunting and fishing in California"



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

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

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


5 March, 2012

Catholic leader Cardinal Keith O'Brien clashes with British PM on same-sex marriage plans

The Catholic Church is on a collision course with David Cameron as one of its most senior figures issues an outspoken attack on the Government over its plans to legalise gay marriage.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, says the proposals to allow same-sex unions are “madness” and a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.

The cardinal’s intervention, in an article for The Sunday Telegraph, is the strongest criticism yet from any church figure of the plans, which are due to be unveiled this month by Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister.

He accuses ministers of trying to “redefine reality” and change long-standing laws and traditions “at the behest of a small minority of activists”.

The cardinal has added his voice to those of leading figures in the Coalition for Marriage, a group of bishops, politicians and lawyers opposed to the changes. The group’s supporters include Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The group is in outright opposition to Mr Cameron, who hopes to make legislation changing the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, expected by 2015, one of the central achievements of his time in office.

Mrs Featherstone is to launch a consultation on how the changes will come about this month. Despite opposition from some sections of his party, the Prime Minister has personally associated himself with the proposals.

Mr Cameron told last year’s Tory conference in Manchester: “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.” Last week his spokesman said he was “passionate” about the issue.

Cardinal O’Brien, the only British Catholic to be part of the College of Cardinals, the body which elects popes, accuses ministers of showing “intolerance” and coming up with plans that would “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”.

The new clash between the Coalition and the Catholic Church comes as the Church of England also appears increasingly split over the issue of gay rights.

A new proposal for a deal that would effectively prevent openly gay clergy from becoming bishops is on the brink of failure despite the personal endorsement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The proposed agreement, known as the Anglican Covenant, has been rejected by 13 dioceses so far, with only eight backing it. Defeat would, it was said, be a “devastating” blow to Dr Williams. The Covenant needs the approval of a majority of dioceses for a vote at the General Synod.

The Government, meanwhile, faces a Commons rebellion of scores of Conservative MPs over its gay marriage proposals. Some Tory ministers are among those opposed. Any vote is many months away, however, and Labour would be almost certain to back the move.

The legislation would apply only in England and Wales. However, Scottish MPs would be able to vote on the plans – a fact which has helped provoke Cardinal O’Brien’s intervention today.

He writes: “Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples, it is clear that this proposal is not about rights, but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.

“Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.”

Ministers have assured church groups they will not be forced to accept same-sex marriages – a pledge which does not impress the cardinal. He writes: “Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that 'No one will be forced to keep a slave.’

“Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right?”

Campaigners say the state has no right to change the definition of marriage according to most Christian thinking – a definition which is enshrined in laws dating back almost 800 years.

Mrs Featherstone, however, has argued that marriage is “owned by the people” and that governments have a duty to change laws to bolster the “underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms”.


Outraged by Mormon proxy baptism? Not this Jew

by Jeff Jacoby

IN A COLUMN many years ago, I described how I once attempted to chart a family tree. Most of my father's family had been killed in Auschwitz and my efforts to trace their genealogy left me, I wrote, with a family tree that "has stumps where branches ought to be" and "gets narrower, not wider, as it grows."

A woman phoned me the morning that column appeared. She said she was a Mormon, and wanted to add the names of my father's massacred relatives - the column had mentioned about 18 of them by name - to the Mormon Church's vast genealogical archives. I told her that I certainly had no objection; indeed, I was grateful for any gesture that might help preserve some remembrance of these family members whose lives had been so cruelly cut short.

At the time I knew nothing about "baptism by proxy," the ritual that Mormons believe gives even souls in the afterlife a chance to accept their faith and thus enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only later did I learn that some Mormons, eager to save the souls of dead Jews, had taken to submitting the names of Holocaust victims for posthumous baptism.

The discovery didn't trouble me at all. In Judaism, conversion after death is a concept without meaning; no after-the-fact rites in this world can possibly change the Jewishness of the men, women, children, and babies whom the Nazis, in their obsessive hatred, singled out for extermination. I found the Mormons' belief eccentric, not offensive. By my lights, their efforts to make salvation available to millions of deceased strangers were ineffectual. But plainly they were sincere, and intended as a kindness.

Other Jews, however, were offended. There was a commotion over the issue in the 1990s, and in response the Mormon Church formally barred proxy baptism for Jewish Holocaust victims. As a rule the ban is respected but there are occasional violations of church policy, and the issue is back in the news following reports that Anne Frank, who died at 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, was recently baptized by proxy at a Mormon temple in the Dominican Republic. Relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal were also submitted for proxy baptisms.

So now there's a whole new commotion, with some prominent Jewish voices once again expressing indignation.

"Holocaust victims were killed solely because they were Jews," fumes Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "And here comes the Mormon church taking away their Jewishness. It's like killing them twice." The Simon Wiesenthal Center, pronouncing itself "outraged," declares that the latest proxy baptisms "make a mockery" of Jewish-Mormon relations. Wiesel himself insists that Mitt Romney, as "the most famous and important Mormon in the country," has a moral obligation to tell his church: "Stop it."

But if anyone should be told to "stop it," it's men like Foxman and Wiesel, whose reactions to this issue have been unworthy and unfair.

For one thing, the Mormon church promptly apologized for the listing of Anne Frank and the others, and firmly reiterated its policy: "Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited." Leaping to take offense at something the church has unequivocally repudiated is cheap grandstanding.

More odious by far is the accusation that a posthumous "baptism" no Jew attaches any credence to is tantamount to a second genocide ("It's like killing them twice"). What an ugly slander. Even to the most zealous Mormon, proxy baptism is simply the offering of a choice -- it gives non-Mormons in the afterlife a chance to accept the gospel, should they wish to. You don't have to buy the theology -- I certainly don't -- to recognize that its message is benign.

As a Jew, I am less interested in what other religions teach about the fate of Jews in the next world than in how they affect the fate of Jews in this world. Rafael Medoff, a scholar of America's response to the Holocaust, notes that Mormon leaders were outspoken supporters of efforts to rescue Jews from Nazi Europe at a time when many mainstream Christians were silent. For example, Utah Senator William King -- among the most renowned Mormons of his day -- strongly backed legislation that could have saved Anne Frank and her family.

Outraged by proxy baptisms? Count me out. As my stunted family tree attests, the Jewish people have very real, very dangerous enemies. Mormons undergoing peaceful rituals in their own temples aren't on the list.


German "Anti-Zionism" drops the mask to reveal its Nazi face

Israeli footballer is subjected to vile Holocaust songs and Heil Hitler! salute by German fans

German football authorities have promised to stamp out racism in the stands after an Israeli football player was subjected to Heil Hitler! salutes and sordid chants about the Holocaust at a training game.

Germany's Football Federation the DFB said it 'will not tolerate anti-Semitic or racist attacks' after a small group of people verbally abused Israeli player Itay Shechter during a Kaiserslautern practice session.

The incident took place on Sunday, a day after relegation-threatened Kaiserslautern's 4-0 defeat at Mainz 05.

The group gave the Heil Hitler! salute, shouted out 'sieg Heil' - the Nazi party greeting during the Third Reich - and shouted a vile chant about him joining 'the six million'. This is a reference to the number of Jews exterminated by the Nazis during World War II.

'Together with the president we want to underline that the DFB will not tolerate such actions and we must act decisively,' said Wolfgang Niersbach, who is due to become the new DFB boss next month. 'Racism and anti-Semitism have no place in football. We must defend ourselves against this and we wish that the authorities chase up this incident,' added Niersbach.

Police have launched an investigation to identify those involved while the club, which has called on fans to help identify the people involved, condemned the incident saying those responsible were not football fans.

'The players understood the feelings, views and fears of the fans,' Kaiserslautern chairman Stefan Kuntz said on Tuesday on the meeting with the Kaiserslautern fans.

'As a conclusion, it is this meeting with 300 club fans that should be in focus and not the inexcusable behaviour of a handful of radicals.'

The display of Nazi symbols, greetings and slogans is banned in Germany and there have been growing concerns since the revelations last November that an extremist right-wing cell calling itself the Nationalist Socialist Underground lay behind the killings of 10 people, eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman ovder a 13 year period.

The German government's own survey revealed earlier this month that anti-Smitism is on the rise, particularly among the young.

Last Thursday, on the day that Germany held a day of mourning for the victims of the NSU death squad, a photograph emerged of a masked Berlin policeman giving the Hitler salute on the Facebook social networking site.


New Free Speech Campaign Launched in Australia

You would all know by now that Mr. Ray Finkelstein QC, a left-wing former Federal Court Judge with no media experience, issued a 400 page report for the Gillard Government which calls for a Big Brother Super-Regulator to 'regulate' political speech and - among other things - impose new laws to stop Australians from speaking up.

Its “recommendations” should sicken every single Australian: They actually call for a Big Brother Super-Regulator to censor not just the newspapers and TV, but websites, personal blogs, and even what you say on Twitter!

This is a proposal that would seem right at home in North Korea or Zibmabwe. I never thought – as dark as things seemed- we could stoop this low here in Australia.

The size and scope of the proposed Super-Regulator is breathtaking. They will have the power to impose a “code of ethics”, force you to print views you don’t agree with as part of a ‘right of reply’, take you to court, and even make you take pieces down! Even personal blogs that get only 40 hits a day will be covered! To make matters worse, the SuperRegulator "would not have to give reasons for its decisions" and the decisions "would not be subject to appeal." Even climate change websites in other countries like Watt’s Up With That will be coved by this!
This is not a matter of partisan politics. If you are left wing or right wing, you should take action against this horror.

We need to speak out now – while we are still allowed.

This is why we just created www.FreeSpeechAustralia.com so we can work together to help stop this nightmare from becoming a reality.

It includes an online petition, which I STRONGLY urge you all to sign and to pass onto all your family and friends, as well as an “Action Centre” detailing what other activities you can take, a resource toolkit, and links to a Facebook page and Twitter account.

Australia is already behind countries like, Niger, Mali, Slovakia, Namibia and Poland in the Index of Media Freedom. If this is passed, we will be joining North Korea, Cuba, and Zimbabwe.

Here’s what you can do right now to stop this nightmare from becoming a reality:

1)Visit www.FreeSpeechAustralia.com and sign our online petition calling on the government to reject these recommendations outright. Then pass this on to your family, friends, bloggers you read, and any other contacts you may have!

2)Visit our online resource centre to find out what MP’s to contact, and a draft email of what to say.

3)Call your local talkback radio station, or write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing your disgust at this proposal!

4)Follow this new campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and share with all your contacts!

5)Make a donation of $25, $50, or $100 to help us spread the word. As much as I would like to, I can't afford to run this campaign myself, and every cent donated will go to making sure this does not become a reality!

Freedom of speech is at the very heart of democracy, and if we do not stand up to defend it now, we might not have the chance again: all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

I know I can count on you to do the right thing and take action now. Our future as a free society depends on it.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Australia: Exposing Finkelstein’s Dirty Trick

Mr. Finkelstein, in his 400 page attack on freedom of speech in Australia and call for Big Brother regulation of the media, website, blogs, and even Twitter, spent a number of pages discussing media bias in Australia regards to Climate Change.

It is clear from the report, particularly paragraphs 4.31-4.42 that a major driving force behind this proposal is to muzzle climate sceptics; it is pretty explicit about this.

However, what is interesting is the dirty little trick Mr. Finkelstein used.

Mr. Finkelstein pointed out that only 21% of Australians agree that the media reports all sides of the story (at paragraph 4.27). In the next paragraph (4.28) he comments that a different study found 72% thought that the media was fair to the Coalition, and only 55% to Labor. The next paragraph (4.29) cites another study that 62% of Australians believe that newspapers are biased against Labor, and even 42% of non-Labor supporters agree with this.

The implication from context is clear: the media biased to the Coalition which is why we need to take action.

Except for one thing. The polls showing a pro-Labor bias were from… wait for it… 1966 and and 1976. That’s right, they are decades old. Yet they are in the same section as debate on climate change, and used later on as justification for this regulatory regime.

This would be funny, if it wasn’t so scary…



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

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

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


4 March, 2012

You're allowed to disgust people if you are a Lesbian

Kenyata White and Aeimee Diaz were celebrating their anniversary at the American Kitchen & Wine Bar in downtown Phoenix this week when they were suddenly asked to leave the restaurant for "inappropriate behavior."

But after an uproar on Facebook and other social media sites, the lesbian couple has been welcomed back with open arms -- and free drinks.

The Arizona Republic reports that the couple was asked to leave the restaurant, which is in the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, after the two women were seen hugging and kissing at their table.

A manager approached them to tell them their behavior was "inappropriate," and making other customers "uncomfortable."

"My partner and I were reminiscing," White told the Arizona Republic. "I had my arm around her neck, and she had her hand around my waist. I gave her a hug for about a minute, pulled myself away to give her a quick kiss, and then we continued talking."

White posted about the incident on her Facebook page and received an overwhelming response of support from the online community. Representatives of the hotel then met with the couple to apologize for the incident.

"We had the opportunity to meet with the couple late (Tuesday) to listen to their story and better understand their view and how they felt," hotel General Manager Leo Percopo said in a statement. "We had a collaborative conversation, and both parties are taking this incident seriously. Together, we have identified opportunities in which both parties can unite and work together to foster diversity awareness."

White said the couple was not only invited back the next day, but offered free drinks as partial recourse.


Now Britain's health and safety police bans the coffee from mothers' coffee morning because it is a 'scalding hazard'

Britain's oppressive bureaucracy is always looking for ways to harass ordinary people

It is a common occurrence up and down the country every day. Groups of mothers with their children get together for a chat and a cup of tea or coffee.

But mothers who attend one weekly coffee morning have been left furious after health and safety chiefs banned hot drinks from their event.

Volunteers have been ordered to change the name of the Friday morning sessions from ‘Coffee and Play’ to just ‘Baby Play’.

Biscuits have also been replaced by healthy snacks including fruit and bread sticks.

Parents attending the Stratford Children’s Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon, must now catch up over a plastic cup of water.

The weekly 90-minute sessions have been running for five years for children aged 18 months and under and no toddler has ever been injured in that time. But last week Warwickshire County Council introduced the ban after it ruled hot drinks were a hazard to toddlers.

Parents have now branded the ban 'health and safety madness'.

One young mother, who did not want to be named, said: 'The hot drinks were never served in a cup or a mug. 'They were served in what I regard as a "no spill plastic safety cup" with a lid. 'There were almost like flasks, with a very small opening. Everyone is just a bit disappointed.

'I know it probably doesn’t seem much, but having a cup of tea or coffee is quite a nice social thing to do as a new mum. 'Does this mean I shouldn’t be drinking a cup of coffee in the comfort of my home? 'To me the ban is yet another example of health and safety madness.'

Children’s centres across Warwickshire can now only serve hot drinks if they are in a separate area from the toddlers.

Mum-of-two Sue Turner, 30, said: 'What the council are saying is if a parent wants a cuppa they must turn their back on their child and walk across to another area of the children’s centre to make it and drink it. 'Surely it is more dangerous to leave your child unattended than it is to have a cup of tea on a table next to you while you watch them.'

Vicky Kersey, children’s centre officer at the council, defended the ban. She said: 'To minimise any risk of scalding a child we have introduced a hot drinks policy at all of the county’s children’s centres.

'Hot drinks can now only be served at children and baby sessions if the layout of the centre provides a separate area to consume hot drinks away from children playing.'

Caroline Loveridge, spokeswoman for the Stratford Children’s Centre added: 'All families using the centre were informed about this change of arrangements and we invited their feedback. 'The majority of responses we have received have been positive and supportive as parents understand we want to minimise the chance of any harm being caused to their child.' [I'm betting that's an outright lie]


Why Britain's fallen out of love with the welfare state

Britain now spends 7.2 per cent of GDP on it's welfare system, and the costs of supporting the, supposedly, needy continue to rise. As the Whitehall empire grows, drowning the noble intentions of welfare in red tape, so too do the number who chose to abuse the system.

The Heaton family recieves £30,000 in benefits but wants a bigger house. Seventy years after Sir William Beveridge began our welfare system, Dominique Sandbrook argues that, if we are to protect the truly needy, the welfare state needs massive reform

Seventy years ago, with Britain locked in battle against the armies of Nazi Germany, one of the most brilliant public servants of his generation was hard at work on a report that would change our national life for ever.

Invited by Churchill’s government to consider the issue of welfare once victory was won, Sir William Beveridge set out to slay the ‘five giants’ of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.

When his report was published at the end of 1942, it became the cornerstone of a welfare state that supported its citizens from cradle to grave, banishing the poverty and starvation of the Depression, and laying the foundations for the great post-war boom.

For years the welfare state was one of the glories of Britain’s democratic landscape, a monument to the generosity and decency of human nature, offering a hand up to those unlucky enough to be born at the bottom.

Seven decades on, however, the British people seem to be falling out of love with Beveridge’s brainchild.

According to a YouGov poll for Prospect magazine, a staggering 74 per cent of us think that the Government should slash benefits. Young and old, Labour and Tory, rich and poor: every single social group believes it is time to cut back.

As the pollster Peter Kellner points out, such public unanimity is almost unprecedented. And what’s more, 69 per cent believe our welfare system has ‘created a culture of dependency’, and that ‘people should take more responsibility for their lives and families’.

On the face of it, such findings are not surprising. At a time when ordinary families are struggling to make ends meet, people are bound to resent those who seem to be getting something for nothing.

Only two days ago, the Mail carried the story of Dr Barbara Longley, a welfare cheat who fraudulently claimed more than £100,000 in benefits while secretly holding an NHS pension and owning a Spanish holiday home. And with similar stories appearing almost every week, it is little wonder so many people shake their heads in angry disbelief.

Even so, the turn against welfare is unprecedented. In previous times of austerity, public attitudes have always remained remarkably generous. Even in the straitened late Seventies, for example, seven out of ten people told pollsters they would like to see higher taxes to pay for higher social spending.

The truth is that we have reached a watershed. Seventy years after Beveridge’s landmark report, the British people appear to have lost confidence in the welfare state.

The current system has become bureaucratic, sclerotic and ineffective, trapping thousands of people in a cycle of dependency. New ideas and a new approach are long overdue.

The irony is that Beveridge himself could never have foreseen how welfare would look in the 21st century. For even when he wrote his famous blueprint, he was looking backwards.

His mission was to eradicate the grinding poverty of the Hungry Thirties, when three out of four people in some industrial towns were out of work, when thousands of children suffered from disease and malnutrition, and when rickets, dental decay and anaemia were widespread in inner cities.

And to his credit, Beveridge’s system was an overwhelming success. Thanks to Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government, institutions like the National Health Service, as well as innovations such as national insurance, transformed the lives of millions.

Yet like so many top-down initiatives, the welfare state gradually became a gigantic exercise in Whitehall empire-building. The figures tell the story.

When Attlee left office in 1951, we spent just £700 million a year on welfare (not including health and pensions), which amounted to 4.7 per cent of Britain’s GDP. Yet in 2011 we spent a whopping £110 billion a year, which works out at 7.2 per cent of GDP.

To the outside observer, the welfare state now seems a bewildering carousel of benefits and tax credits. The Department of Work and Pensions alone employs 130,000 people to administer this Byzantine system, costing the taxpayer around £60,000 per employee when office costs are taken into account.

Not surprisingly, waste and fraud are widespread. A few years ago, even the DWP itself admitted that the level of fraud in the jobseeker’s allowance was almost 10 per cent. Year after year, as the former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Edward Leigh, remarked, ‘the story has been the same: the DWP loses enormous sums of money to fraud and error . . . Year after year billions of pounds are going into the pockets of people who are not entitled to them.’

Of course, no government can entirely eradicate fraud and error. And the abuse of the system should never blind us to our moral responsibility to help those in genuine need.

Still, it is worth remembering that when Tony Blair came to power in 1997, he claimed that we had ‘reached the limits of the public’s willingness simply to fund an unreformed welfare system through ever higher taxes and spending.’ Urgent welfare reforms, he said, would ‘cut the bills of social failure’, releasing money for schools and hospitals.

Not even Mr Blair’s partisans would claim that such reforms were forthcoming. Instead, the leviathan staggered on, quietly eating up more and more of our national income. For an example of the way good intentions can have very unsettling results, look at the case of incapacity benefit. Of course, those people who are genuinely disabled deserve infinite compassion. To look after the weak is the first duty of any decent government; to abandon them would be unconscionable.

Still, given the British people are better housed, fed and cared for than any generation before, it beggars belief that today more than 2.5 million people of working age are paid almost £8 billion in disability benefits.

Tens of thousands are apparently unable to work because of dizziness, depression, headaches and phobias, while 2,000 people claim benefits because they are ‘too fat to work’.

Embarrassingly, Britain now has the highest proportion of working-age people on disability benefit in the developed world. And while just 3 per cent of Japanese people and 5 per cent of Americans live in households where no one works, the figure in Britain is a humiliating 13 per cent.

Are British people really more likely to be disabled than their competitors? Is there, perhaps, something in the water that renders us more incapable?

Of course not. The truth is, Whitehall uses incapacity benefit to massage unemployment figures, effectively pretending that people are unable to work rather than simply out of work.

The people who really lose from this, incidentally, are those who are genuinely disabled. They deserve boundless public sympathy; instead, thanks to the abuse of the system, they are too often treated with scepticism.

But behind all this lies a deeper issue. Beveridge designed the welfare state for a tightly knit, deeply patriotic and overwhelmingly working-class society, dominated by the nuclear family.

Britain in the Forties was an old-fashioned, conservative and collectivist world, in which divorce was exceptional and single parenthood so rare as to be practically unknown.

Though millions of people had grown up in intense poverty, they were steeped in a culture of working-class respectability and driven by an almost Victorian work ethic. In the world of the narrow terrace back streets, deliberate idleness would have been virtually unthinkable.

Seventy years on, we live in a very different Britain. Collective class identities have largely broken down; in an age of selfishness, the bonds of the family have become badly frayed.

Even relatively poor families enjoy creature comforts, such as central heating and digital televisions, that their forebears could barely have imagined. Yet this has bred a sense of entitlement and eroded the sense of civic duty which once guided so many people. And as our culture of debt suggests, many of us demand the good life without being prepared to work for it.

Take, for example, Iona Heaton, a mother of nine from Blackburn, whose story was revealed in the Mail last week. Mrs Heaton might be a poster-girl for everything that is wrong with the current welfare system. Every year she receives almost £30,000 in benefits. By comparison, the average salary in Britain last year was just £26,000.

Her council house has a flat-screen TV, a computer, a Nintendo Wii, a digital camera and iPhone, and she takes her family to Pontins for two weeks every year. Yet she feels hard done by: the council, she says, should give her a bigger home.

It is a safe bet that Sir William Beveridge was not thinking of people like Mrs Heaton when he wrote his report. But then Beveridge was not quite the handout-happy do-gooder modern Left-wingers often imagine.

A man of personal austerity, who rose every morning at dawn, took an ice-cold bath and worked for two hours before breakfast, he hated the thought people might ‘settle down’ to a life on benefits.

‘The State in organising security should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility,’ he wrote. ‘In establishing a national minimum [income], it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family.’

Tellingly, Beveridge was also an early supporter of ‘workfare’ — the system the Coalition Government is trying to promote, under which the unemployed, while keeping their jobseeker’s allowance, work for nothing for a few weeks to gain experience — arguing that to prevent ‘habituation to idleness’, men and women should be ‘required as a condition of benefit to attend a work or training centre’.

At a time when the Government is desperately trying to cut our public debt, and when we are facing decades of spiralling health and pension costs, getting back to Beveridge’s original spirit might seem like common sense.

Yet when governments try to reform the welfare state, they provoke hysterical shrieks of protest.

Absurdly, Margaret Thatcher is still derided as the ‘Milk Snatcher’ because of her decision to withdraw free school milk, a relic of the battle against malnutrition that looked simply ridiculous in the context of the Seventies.

George Osborne’s plans to cut child benefit for high earners provoked similar howls of fury, while the Left seethes with rage at the thought of capping welfare payments at £26,000 — even though millions of people in full-time employment take home considerably less than this.

Even the current crisis of the Government’s workfare scheme — under fire from Left-wing groups who, wrongly, argue it is unfair to the jobless — reflects the same spirit of entrenched refusal to change.

To my mind, though, it is frankly bizarre that we have entered the 2010s with a welfare system designed to solve the problems of the Forties, handing out child benefit to millionaires and allowing some people to make more on benefits than their neighbours do by sheer hard work.

With foreign competitors eating into our markets, the harsh truth is that 21st-century Britain will need to work harder than ever to earn its living. Even meeting our health and pensions bills for the next 50 years will be daunting.

Paying current welfare costs on top of that would stretch our finances beyond breaking point.

Yet this is not just a matter for government. What we need is not just a leaner and more efficient system, more carefully targeted at those who really need assistance, but a new spirit of collective social duty, from the nation’s boardrooms to its living rooms.

Going on as we are, as the Prospect poll shows, is no answer. For if public dissatisfaction with the welfare system continues to mount, then the real losers will be the people who really do need a hand: the genuinely sick, the abandoned, the weak and the unlucky.

Those were the people William Beveridge sought to help. Tragically, 70 years on, they may well be the ones who end up paying the price if Britain refuses to change.


Taxpayer-funded body needed to regulate Australia's media

Anyone for a free press?

A TAXPAYER-funded body should regulate all of Australia's news and current affairs across all media, an independent inquiry has urged. The Independent Media Inquiry wants a statutory watchdog to set standards and handle complaints involving all print, radio, television and online platforms.

The highly controversial measures were detailed in the inquiry's report, released yesterday by the Federal Government.

Aspects of the report already face strong opposition. Kim Williams, chief executive of News Limited - publisher of The Courier-Mail - questioned the role of government in the proposed body.

"The spectre of a government-funded overseer of a free press in an open and forward-looking democracy like ours cannot be justified," he said. "If print and online media are to continue to be able to robustly question, challenge and keep governments in check, they must remain self-regulated entirely independent of government."

Inquiry chairman Ray Finkelstein, QC, argued strongly for the new body, a regulatory regime to cover all the media. He said existing mechanisms regulating the media were not sufficient to deal with accountability in all news and current affairs platforms.

He singled out the Australian Press Council, which handles public complaints and monitors the professional standards of its print medium members.

But the APC opposed the proposed new body. Instead, it pushed for the strengthening of its own organisation to include news and comment in all platforms. This was the alternative the APC had presented to the inquiry for consideration.



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

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

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


3 March, 2012

Atheists now targeting Muslims

I can't wait for the fireworks!

The Blaze has consistently reported about atheists’ use of billboards to spread their message of non-belief. But while their efforts initially seemed aimed at poking fun at Christians and others who embrace the nation that God exists, lately their methods have changed. Rather than making general and sweeping statements, organizations like American Atheists are targeting specific ethnic groups in an attempt to find non-believers.

Earlier this month, we told you about the campaign that African Americans for Humanism (AAH) recently put together. Now, just weeks later, American Atheists will unveil a special billboard initiative that targets Muslims and Jews. The organization plans to place one of its anti-faith signs in Paterson, New Jersey — an area with a high Islamic concentration. The Jewish billboard will appear in a Brooklyn neighborhood that, not surprisingly, has a heavy concentration of Jews.

As CNN reports, the billboard will read, “You know it’s a myth…and you have a choice,” the billboards proclaim. Both will include English along with the language that is most appropriate to each community. AA president Dave Silverman maintains that the purpose of the campaign is to reach non-believers who are embedded in highly-religions communities.

“Those communities are designed to keep atheists in the ranks,” Silverman says. “If there are atheists in those communities, we are reaching out to them. We are letting them know that we see them, we acknowledge them and they don’t have to live that way if they don’t want to.”

Silverman, who says he knows the billboards will cause a stir, says his group does not intend to incite or anger anyone. Instead, he says he’s attempting to reach non-believers. This push to encourage people to “come out” has been something that atheist groups have ramped up in recent years.


Historic reform 'to end culture of welfare payments being seen as an acceptable alternative to work' finally becomes law in Britain

David Cameron today hailed an 'historic step' in ending Britain's benefits culture as the Government's flagship Welfare Reform Bill finally became law.

The Prime Minister said the measures to curb welfare dependency would help get people back to work and start to turn around the something-for-nothing culture encouraged by Labour.

The Welfare Reform Bill cleared its final hurdle in the Lords last night despite bitter opposition from Labour and some Church of England bishops.

The legislation brings in a £26,000-a-year cap on the total amount of benefits any family can claim and introduces new curbs to a number of long-term benefits.

The Prime Minister said: 'Today marks an historic step in the biggest welfare revolution in over 60 years.

'These reforms will change lives for the better, giving people the help they need, while backing individual responsibility so that they can escape poverty, not be trapped in it.

'Past governments have talked about reform, while watching the benefits bill sky-rocket and generations languish on the dole and dependency. This Government is delivering it.

'Our new law will mark the end of the culture that said a life on benefits was an acceptable alternative to work.'

The Prime Minister paid tribute to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who faced fierce criticism from charities and pressure groups to water down the legislation.

He added: 'We've stood up against the abuse that left taxpayers footing the bills for people on £30,000 or even £50,000 a year in benefits.

'It's a fair principle: a family out of work on benefits shouldn't be paid more than the average family in work. 'This is a core part of the Government's task of turning around the legacy of debt, overspending and waste we inherited.

'We want money to go to people who need it, not subsidising the consequences of our broken society. By reforming welfare we will get people into fulfilling jobs - not abandon them to poverty and dependency - save billions of pounds of taxpayers' money and make sure those who really need help get it.'

The Bill had a stormy passage through the Lords, with peers inflicting seven defeats on the Government when the legislation was first considered and a further one after MPs had overturned all the setbacks.

The most prominent came when the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds John Packer led a move to exempt child benefit from the £26,000 cap.

Tory MP David Davies today pointed out that the Church of England pays its bishops' chauffeurs significantly less than the £26,000 still on offer to some benefits claimants. MPs were told that the Church's 19 drivers are employed at a total cost of £352,719 - an average of £18,500.

Mr Davies said the clergy were morally obliged to pay their drivers at least as much as a household can receive in benefits.

The Monmouth MP said: 'The Welfare Reform Bill has just become an Act. Those bishops who voted against this, who voted to ensure people who are not working should earn more than £26,000, should now feel a moral imperative to pay their chauffeurs accordingly.'

Conservative Tony Baldry, representing the Church Commissioners, said being driven around 'helps ensure the best use of bishops' time'.


African couple in London guilty of 'witch' murder of boy

Ain't multiculturalism grand?

A LONDON soccer coach and his fiancee were found guilty overnight of the brutal murder of the woman's 15-year-old brother, who they believed was a witch.

Eric Bikubi and his partner Magalie Bamu, both 28, subjected Kristy Bamu to four days of torture until he drowned in their apartment in Manor Park, east London, on Christmas Day 2010, after suffering 101 different injuries.

The boy had travelled with his two brothers and two sisters from Paris to stay with Bikubi and Bamu, but the couple turned on Kristy, who was singled out after wetting his pants.

They became convinced the boy was possessed, and when the teenager refused to admit to sorcery and witchcraft his punishments in a "deliverance" ceremony became more horrendous.

He was tortured for days with knives, sticks, metal bars, and a hammer and chisel until he "begged to die". He drowned in the couple's bath during a final ritual of deliverance.

The killers both hail from the Democratic Republic of Congo where belief in witchcraft, or "kindoki", is particularly strong.

The Old Bailey jury was told there was an "armory of weapons" at the couple's home, including several knives, a metal bar, wooden poles, a pair of blood-stained pliers, a hammer, a chisel, broken ceramic tiles and a blood-stained mop.

The two sisters aged 20 and 11, were beaten along with Kristy, but escaped further attacks after "confessing" to being witches.

All four of Kristy's siblings, including a 13-year-old boy and an autistic brother aged 22, were starved and made to stay awake for four days by Bikubi and Bamu, who forced them to pray and join in the torture of their brother.

At one point, Bikubi told the youngsters to jump out of the couple's eighth floor window to see if they could fly, the court heard.

They looked to their older sister to save them, but she encouraged Bikubi and beat Kristy until he also confessed to witchcraft.

The defendants, who denied murder, were remanded in custody to be sentenced on Tuesday.

Judge David Paget told the jury of seven women and five men that the case was so "harrowing" he was exempting them from jury service for the rest of their lives.

A statement from Kristy's father, Pierre, was read outside court overnight.

He said, "Kristy died in unimaginable circumstances at the hands of people he loved and trusted, people we all loved and trusted. I feel betrayed. How could they accuse, judge and sentence? To know that Kristy's own sister, Magalie, did nothing to save him makes the pain that much worse".


Coffee chain feels heat from animal rights group

Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee shop chain looking to make deeper inroads south of the border, is under mounting pressure by animal rights activists to assure that its U.S. pork and egg suppliers adopt more humane practices.

The Humane Society of America said on Tuesday it will propose a shareholder vote in May on whether the chain should work to stop the practice of confining hens in cages and sows in gestation crates.

"When it comes to addressing cruelty to animals, an issue that American consumers feel strongly about, Tim Hortons is severely lagging," Matthew Prescott, food policy director at the Humane Society, said in a statement announcing the proposal.

In response, Tim Hortons said it was actively working with its suppliers to make "realistic long-term improvements" in animal welfare. It said it will provide an update on the initiative and address the shareholder proposal in the next month.

"While we are not directly involved in the raising or handling of animals, Tim Hortons has significant initiatives and procedures in place to make sure our supply chain practices are consistent with both regulatory and industry norms," spokeswoman Alexandra Cygal said.

The Humane Society can claim a string of successes in persuading the U.S. food industry to treat its animals more humanely.

Fast food chain McDonald's Corp said earlier this month it would work to phase out the use of gestation crates.

The Humane Society said 70 percent of the U.S. pork industry confines its pregnant pigs to the crates, which are banned in the European Union and eight U.S. states - including California, Ohio and Michigan.

Sows are often confined in the crates - which are typically too narrow to allow them to turn around - from just before the birth of their piglets until the young pigs are weaned months later.

Tim Hortons is focused on expanding in its "core" U.S. markets near its Canadian base, including Ohio and Michigan.

The Humane Society said it owns 130 Tim Hortons shares, just enough to submit the proposal at the chain's annual meeting.

Named after Tim Horton, a Hall of Fame hockey player who was one of the founders, the chain dominates the coffee and light-lunch trade in its home market, blanketing the country with its Spartan yellow and red stores. It says it brews eight out of every 10 cups of coffee sold in Canada.

The company is facing tough competition from McDonald's, which has been renovating Canadian stores, promoting its coffee and introducing espresso drinks. For its part, Tims has beefed up its menu with items like lasagna casserole.



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

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

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


2 March, 2012

Lesbian Wants Priest Removed After She Was Denied Communion at Her Mother's Funeral

If they are unrepentantly living in sin, they are not eligible for communion anyway

Barbara Johnson and her family are calling for Rev. Marcel Guarnizo of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to be removed from his ministry. The family is making bold proclamations after Guarnizo reportedly denied Johnson, 51, communion at her mother's funeral on Saturday.

Johnson, a lesbian, was joined at the church by her partner to celebrate her mother's life. Just before the service, Guarnizo apparently learned about her sexuality and relationship. Then, during the service, when Johnson stood up to receive communion, the priest openly denied her. "He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, `I can't give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,'" she explained following the incident.

When he refused her, Johnson said she was shocked and stood in front of him, thinking that he'd change his mind. "I just stood there, in shock. I was grieving, crying," she explained. "My mother's body was behind me, and all I wanted to do was provide for her, and the final thing was to make a beautiful funeral, and here I was letting her down because there was a scene."

But Johnson, 51, and her family claim that Guarnizo's offending actions went above and beyond the communion he purportedly refused to offer her. They claim that the priest left the altar when Johnson gave her eulogy and that he didn't show up at the burial and declined to find a priest to replace him.

In a letter she penned to the priest, Johnson made her disgust and frustration known. She wrote, in part:

"You brought your politics, not your God into that Church yesterday, and you will pay dearly on the day of judgment for judging me." "I will pray for your soul, but first I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families."

The Washington, D.C. Archdiocese claims that the priest's actions go against "policy." Although the church has not officially commented to media, this statement was made in a brief note that was released on the matter. The Archdiocese plans to investigate the incident.

"Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting," the statement also read.

Johnson's family, though, says they aren't looking to use the incident to criticize the Catholic Church as a whole. "We agreed this is not a discussion about gay rights or about the teachings of the Catholic Church," her brother, Larry Johnson, said. "We're not in this to Catholic-bash. That's the farthest thing from our minds."


Dharun Ravi Could Face At Least 10 Years For Thought Crimes

William Teach

You've probably heard about the issue with Dharun Ravi: he was the Rutgers U. student who used a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having homosexual sex. Clementi later disappeared, then was found to have committed suicide. Ravi's trial has started
(Seattle PI) Early witnesses testified that Ravi expressed discomfort about having a gay roommate, but they didn't know him to have a problem with gay people generally.

His attitude matters in the trial because the 15 charges Ravi faces include bias intimidation, which can carry a 10-year prison sentence. To get a conviction on that charge, prosecutors must persuade jurors that Ravi acted out of bias against gays.

Ravi also is charged with invasion of privacy. And he is accused of trying to cover his tracks by taking measures including deleting a Twitter message and instructing a witness what to tell police. He is not charged with Clementi's death.

Now, make no mistake about it, what Ravi did was pretty darned mean. But, essentially, he is being charged with a thought crime (bias intimidation), which could land him in jail for 10 years on that charge alone. You can peruse Google News for hate crimes, and see much the same thing: people being charged for having improper thoughts. People can receive long prison sentences for essentially be a**holes.

Why do I bring this up? I've actually been thinking about this most of the day, as KC and Carmen were discussing it on the Morning Rush (106.1 Raleigh), as was Jason Lewis. 10 years for thought crimes. And, this makes me wonder: Ravi is no threat to society, he was simply a young man who did something seriously a**holish, yet, could be put in a dangerous jail with hardcore criminals. Meanwhile, there are people in government who allowed guns to walk across the border into Mexico without alerting the Mexican authorities, and did not track those guns.

Those guns were put in the hands of hardcore criminals and criminal enterprises, and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans, possibly people from other countries, and at least two US citizens, Border Agent Brian Terry and Jaime Zapata, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Yet, the people responsible for Operation Fast and Furious are facing no criminal charges (at this time). Were it you or me, we'd be facing, at a minimum, illegal gun trafficking/gun running and accessory to murder charges. The government of Mexico would want you or me extradited. We'd be looking at spending the rest of our lives in jail.

Alas, the people responsible for F&F will more than likely not even be charged. And will get a nice little pension and high paying lobbyist jobs when they leave office. Yet, Ravi is looking at a minimum of 10 years in prison for bad thoughts. What kind of bad thoughts put untracked guns in the hands of violent and murderous criminals? How's that justice system working?


Resurgence of marriage in Britain: After an official report showed married couples are happiest, wedding are on the increase

Marriage is coming back into fashion. After 40 years of decline, the number of weddings has risen by 3.7 per cent in a year.

Analysts believe the recession has caused a return to family values and a desire for the stability marriage offers.

Data released by the Office of National Statistics showed there were 241,100 weddings in England and Wales in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available.

This is 8,657 more than in the previous year, and provides welcome ammunition for campaigners who are trying to push David Cameron into keeping his promise to give a tax break to married couples.

The new data follows fresh evidence of the benefits of marriage from the first results of the Prime Minister's attempt to measure the nation's happiness.

Figures published this week showed that married people are the happiest, their sense of well-being higher than that of cohabitees and far higher than that of the single, divorced or separated.

Church of England weddings went up by 4 per cent in 2010 thanks to rules which allow couples a wider choice of churches than was available under the old system, which tied a bride and groom to the parish where they live.

However other Christian denominations saw a fall of 1.1 per cent in their wedding numbers. There were even bigger drops in religious weddings staged by other faiths.

Together, the number of Sikh, Muslim and Jewish weddings went down by 3.4 per cent. Two out of three of all civil weddings are now celebrated in stately homes, hotels, golf clubs or football-ground hospitality suites which have been allowed to stage ceremonies since 1995.

The popularity of a wedding in a venue technically known as 'approved premises' means 124,570 were held in them in 2010, a 12 per cent increase in a single year. This is more than three times the number in register offices.

In general the popularity of marriage has been on the wane since 1972 - just after liberal divorce reforms came into operation which made it possible to end a marriage in six months.

At the time there were more than 400,000 weddings a year in England and Wales.

The ONS said economic pressures could be behind the increase in 2010. 'During tough economic times, people seek stability and family may be valued more highly than material goods. As parents could be out of work, they may have more time to spend on child rearing.'

If this thinking is right, it means many people still instinctively put marriage at the heart of family life - a view not shared by politicians such as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

He said in December that marriage was outmoded and that 'we need to get away from the idea that there is something on a piece of paper that says if you are married, that's good, if you're not married, that's not'.

The ONS report also said that couples whose lives had been disrupted in the first years of the recession, or who had to put off marriage because of money pressures, could have been catching up in 2010.

Other reasons put forward to explain the rise included a drop in the number of couples marrying abroad - another result of the recession - and an increase in numbers of older cohabiting couples deciding it was time to put their relationships on a firmer legal footing.

The rise might also be attributable to immigration. Around 600,000 migrants come to live in Britain each year and have a high regard for marriage.

All available academic research has long shown that married couples are better off and healthier than others, and that their children too are healthier and do better at school.

The new count showed that for every 1,000 single people over 16, 8.7 were married in 2010, up from 8.5 in 2009. Couples were most likely to marry between the ages of 25 and 29, but the biggest percentage increases in marriage numbers came among men in their late 40s and women in their early 30s. Two out of three weddings were first marriages for both bride and groom.

The increase was the third rise in marriage numbers in the past decade. Between 2002 and 2003 there was a 5.7 per cent rise, and there was a further very small increase between 2007 and 2008.

The ONS believes a decline in 2004 was caused by new laws clamping down on sham marriages to get around immigration laws.

The ONS report said: 'It is not possible to determine at this stage whether the rise in the provisional number of marriages in 2010 signifies an end to the long-term decline of marriages or whether such increases will continue.'


Britain's bid to rein in the Euro judges: National courts must have priority, say ministers

Britain has drawn up long-overdue plans to curtail the meddling of the controversial European Court of Human Rights.

Under the leaked proposals, judges in Strasbourg - who recently blocked the deportation of hate preacher Abu Qatada - would not normally be allowed to interfere in cases which have already gone through the UK courts. The plans were welcomed by Tory MPs sick of the court overturning UK judgments.

But ministers face a huge battle to get the proposals past the 46 other nations who are members of the Council of Europe, which oversees the court - and the Liberal Democrats.

Changing the rules requires unanimous approval of the Council - which is notoriously difficult to achieve.

Ministers have thrown in a concession to supporters of the court in a bid to make the proposals seem more attractive. It would, for the first time, allow the Council of Europe to levy fines on member states which ignore Strasbourg's judgments. This could mean, for example, that Britain could be clobbered with a fine if Parliament refuses the Strasbourg court's current demand for prisoners to be granted the vote.

The proposals - named the 'Draft Brighton Convention' - are to be debated at a meeting in England on April 19 and 20.

Britain currently has presidency of the Council and the Tories are determined to use the opportunity to rein in some of the worst excesses of the court, which is criticised for being unaccountable.

Under the plans, Strasbourg would not normally be able to examine cases that are 'identical in substance to a claim that has been considered by a national court'.

The court would only be able to take on a case when national courts have made a glaring error, or in major issues of interpretation of human rights.

The changes would also reduce the time period in which claims must be lodged with Strasbourg following a ruling by a domestic court, from the current six months to two or four months.

In the case of Qatada, who is wanted for trial in Jordan on charges of plotting terrorist atrocities, the UK's Law Lords (now the Supreme Court) ruled he could safely be deported.

But the European judges overturned the decision, saying there was a risk that some of the evidence used against Qatada - an Al Qaeda hate preacher - may have been obtained by torture.

Qatada has since been released on bail and Home Secretary Theresa May is now seeking reassurances from Jordan that she hopes will allow the fanatic to be kicked out.

Tory MP Dominic Raab, who has led the calls for urgent reform of the Strasbourg court, welcomed the draft proposals. He said: 'These are sensible and moderate proposals to reduce the Strasbourg Court's scope to interfere with decisions of the UK Supreme Court and law-making by our elected representatives. 'Strasbourg should re-focus on the worst violations of the most fundamental rights.'

But he added: 'Any suggestion that we give the Council of Europe the power to issue fines is out of the question at a time when the court is handing down arbitrary rulings on Abu Qatada and prisoner voting.'

Shami Chakrabarti, of campaign group Liberty, said Britain should be setting an example on human rights to younger democracies, such as Russia.

Mr Raab responded: 'There's no point in kidding ourselves that Putin is going to care two hoots about whether we deport Abu Qatada, or prisoner voting.'

Labour's Sadiq Khan said: 'We risk opening a Pandora's Box across Europe as other countries ignore the Convention. Our moral authority could simply evaporate for the sake of satisfying Cameron's awkward backbenchers.'



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

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

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


1 March, 2012

Maybe Cantuar really is a Christian after all!

Why it would be wrong to legalise gay marriage, by the Archbishop of Canterbury

The law has no right to legalise same-sex marriage, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared yesterday. Dr Rowan Williams said a new marriage law for gay couples would amount to forcing unwanted change on the rest of the nation.

He also said it would be wrong to legalise assisted dying because of the threat it would pose to the vulnerable and because it would go against the beliefs of most people.

In a key speech on human rights, the head of the Anglican Church put his weight behind other leading clergy who have launched a powerful campaign to prevent David Cameron from going ahead with his plan to allow the full rights of marriage to same-sex couples.

Dr Williams’s predecessor in Lambeth Palace, Lord Carey, notably told the Mail last week that same-sex marriage laws would be ‘one of the greatest political power grabs in history’.

Dr Williams’s statement means the Prime Minister now knows he will face opposition from the liberal-minded leadership of the Church of England – as well as its determined traditionalists – if he continues on the track towards legalised gay marriage.

The Archbishop said human rights law ‘falls short of a legal charter to promote change in institutions’.

Dr Williams added: ‘If it is said that a failure to legalise assisted suicide – or same-sex marriage – perpetuates stigma or marginalisation for some people, the reply must be, I believe, that issues like stigma and marginalisation have to be addressed at the level of culture rather than law.’

The Archbishop indicated to MPs earlier this week that CofE churches would never be used to solemnise gay marriages and Anglican officials underlined that the Church says marriage must remain a union between a man and a woman.

Dr Williams’s intervention in the argument yesterday, in a speech to a World Council of Churches gathering in Geneva, echoed, in typically mild academic language, the sentiments expressed by Lord Carey.

The Archbishop has long been a personal supporter of gay rights and his lecture yesterday insisted Christians must accept that gay equality laws are here to stay. But he has also listened to the concerns of traditional Christian believers since he began his career at Lambeth Palace in 2003 by refusing to allow an openly gay cleric to take a post as a CofE bishop.

His remarks yesterday came after Coalition ministers insisted they would go ahead with a same-sex marriage law whatever the churches say. Equality minister Lynne Featherstone said last week the churches did not own marriage law. She added a same-sex marriage law would be ‘about the underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms’.

Mr Cameron declared for same-sex marriage last autumn, saying: ‘Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.

‘I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’ A consultation document on how a gay marriage law would work is due out shortly.

Dr Williams said in his speech that same-sex marriage law was wrong because it tried to impose cultural change. He added human rights language could be ‘confused and artificial’ when it strayed from protecting the vulnerable. It could become ‘an alien culture, pressing the imperatives of universal equality over all local custom and affinity’.


Secret justice and an abuse of power: Alarm at British Government's plan to allow controversial court cases and inquests to be heard behind closed doors

The historic principle that justice should be seen to be done is threatened by hugely controversial plans to allow secret hearings, ministers are being warned.

Proposals for sweeping new powers which would allow the Government to withhold any evidence it deems ‘sensitive’ from an open civil court hearing or inquest are facing a chorus of criticism.

Former director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald yesterday attacked the Government’s proposal for so-called ‘closed material procedures’ in civil courts, an attempt to prevent sensitive claims for damages being aired in open hearings.

Critics say the legislation has been ‘dictated’ by the security services following an embarrassing string of cases brought against them by former terrorist suspects who claimed they had been subjected to torture.

In the case of Binyam Mohamed, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who sought to sue the Government for complicity in torture, the Government tried to conceal documents disclosing his alleged mistreatment but were overruled by the courts.

There is increasing concern that Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke’s proposals will mean ministers being able to prevent a huge range of cases – from military inquests to police and medical negligence claims – being held in public.

Negligence claims against the Ministry of Defence for death and injuries arising from ‘friendly fire’ incidents or failure of equipment would be a prime target for ministers seeking to avoid embarrassment, campaigners predict.

Past cases such as the inquiry into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes by police who mistook him for a terrorist could have been hushed up by the Government if the measures had been in force at the time. And MI5’s failings over the 7/7 bombings might never have come to light.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights campaign group Liberty, called the proposals a ‘shameless attempt to cover up abuses of power’.

She said: ‘Proposed legislation wouldn’t just end the long-held principle that no one is above the law – it would exclude the Press, public and victims from seeing justice done.

‘Open courts and investigative journalists fought to uncover some of the worst scandals of the war on terror. Under these plans, future ministers would be granted sweeping powers to lock down embarrassing inquests and civil claims against the powerful. Victims of gross abuses of power, the public and the Press could be left in the dark for ever.’

Under the proposals, ministers will be able to order not only that a hearing is conducted behind closed doors, but also that claimants are denied access to government evidence or witnesses.

The reforms, detailed in a Green Paper on justice and security, are backed by senior figures in the security community, notably Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee.

But legal experts in the field appear increasingly uneasy. Lord Macdonald, QC, said the plans would put the Government ‘above the law’ and must be reconsidered.

‘These unprecedented proposals are an audacious attack on the fundamental principle of British justice: that you should be able to know, and to challenge, the claims which are made against you,’ he said. ‘They threaten to put the Government above the law, while leaving ordinary citizens, and the Press, shut out of their own justice system.

‘After a decade in which we have seen our politicians and officials caught up in the woeful abuses of the war on terror, the last thing the Government should be seeking is to sweep all of this under the carpet. However, that is exactly what their disastrous secret justice proposals are likely to do....


Australia's conservatives target free speech restrictions in racial discrimination laws

FREE speech restrictions in racial discrimination laws would be wound back under a federal coalition government.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has revealed the plan to change the laws if he was made prime minister.

The plan would see sections of the Racial Discrimination Act that were used to prosecute Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt last year, after he wrote about light-skinned Aborigines, repealed by the Coalition.

The Australian newspaper reports Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis saying that would mean the removal of provisions that prevent the use of words that could offend or insult.

"We consider that to be an inappropriate limitation on freedom of speech and freedom of public discussion – as was evident in the Andrew Bolt case," he said.

"Offensive and insulting words are part of the robust democratic process which is essential to a free country."

The changes would bring the Act's restrictions on free speech closer to limits found in defamation laws, The Australian reports.

Liability for racial vilification would be limited to comments that humiliate or intimidate.


Antisemitism resurgent

A blurb on a book jacket would seem an unlikely vehicle for the introduction of a new and sinister tactic in the promotion of an ancient prejudice. But in September 2011, a word of appreciation on the cover of The Wandering Who launched a fresh chapter in the modern history of anti-Semitism.

The flattering quotation came from John Mearsheimer, the University of Chicago professor and co-author, with Harvard's Stephen Walt, of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Mearsheimer's 2007 bestseller, which contends that Israel's American supporters are powerful enough to subvert the U.S. national interest, has been controversial for its adoption of anti-Semitic tropes-tropes Mearsheimer danced around cleverly. But in endorsing The Wandering Who and its Israeli-born author, Gilad Atzmon, Mearsheimer crossed the boundary.

The man whose book Mearsheimer called "fascinating and provocative," a work that "should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike," is an anti-Semite, pure and simple. A saxophone player by trade, Atzmon was born and raised in Israel but subsequently moved to London. He proclaims himself either an "ex-Jew" or a "proud self-hating Jew" and was quoted approvingly by Turkey's Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the Davos conference in 2009: Denouncing Israel in vociferous terms before a horrified Shimon Peres, Erdogan quoted Atzmon as saying, "Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty."

Atzmon fixates upon the irredeemably tribal and racist identity he calls "Jewishness." The anti-Gentile separatism that compels Jews to amass greater power and influence is manifested, he preaches, in any context where Jews come together as a group. The Wandering Who finds Atzmon on territory well-trodden by anti-Semites past and present: Holocaust revisionism (one chapter is entitled "Swindler's List"), the rehabilitation of Hitler (he argues that Israel's behavior makes all the more tempting the conclusion that the Fhrer was right about the Jews), the separation of Jesus from Judaism (Christ was the original proud, self-hating Jew, whose example Spinoza, Marx, and now, Atzmon himself, have followed).

One would think this was categorically indefensible stuff. Yet, when the blogger Adam Holland e-mailed Mearsheimer to ask whether he was aware of Atzmon's flirtation with Holocaust denial, as well as his recital of telltale anti-Semitic provocations, Mearsheimer stood by his endorsement of the book. Holland duly published Mearsheimer's response: "The blurb below is the one I wrote for The Wandering Who and I have no reason to amend it or embellish it, as it accurately reflects my view of the book." A number of prominent commentators-among them Jeffrey Goldberg, Walter Russell Mead, and even Andrew Sullivan, up to that point a dependable supporter of Mearsheimer-rushed to confront and condemn the professor. But Mearsheimer maintained in various blog posts that Atzmon was no anti-Semite and those who said otherwise were guilty of vicious smear jobs. He wrote on the Foreign Policy magazine blog of his co-author, Stephen Walt: "[Jeffrey Goldberg's] insinuation that I have any sympathy for Holocaust denial and am an anti-Semite . . . is just another attempt in his longstanding effort to smear Steve Walt and me."

And that was that. No affaire Mearsheimer unfolded.

The fact that a controversy did not erupt, that the endorsement of a Holocaust revisionist by a prominent professor at a major university did not lead to calls for his dismissal or resignation or even a chin-pulling symposium in the pages of the New York Times's "Sunday Review," represents an important shift in the privileges that anti-Semites and their sympathizers enjoy

The list of flagrant Jew-baiters is growing; those with Jewish names provide an additional frisson. In America, M.J. Rosenberg-a one-time employee of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)and now called a "foreign policy fellow" at the leftist organization Media Matters-refers to supporters of Israel as "Israel Firsters," recycling the notion that Jewish political loyalties gravitate toward other Jews first and last. There is Max Blumenthal, whose enraged salvos against Jewish chauvinism earned him a flattering profile on the Iranian regime-financed Press TV, the most repulsive of all the English-language satellite broadcasters currently on the market.

There is Philip Weiss, a blogger whose bitterly personal reflections on Jewish influence were, until quite recently, underwritten by the Nation magazine's Nation Institute ("I felt that the form demanded transparency about what I cared about, Jewish identity," Weiss wrote about his blog in the American Conservative.) What Weiss means by "Jewish identity" was laid bare in a 2007 posting on his Mondoweiss blog, concerning journalist Seymour Hersh's contention that "Jewish money" was driving a new war fervor against Iran. Crowed Weiss: "This is a beautiful moment, too. Hersh is a progressive Jew. Now he is turning on other Jews. `New York Jewish money,' he says. The soul-searching that I have called for within the Jewish community has begun!!!!"

The origin of this warped thinking lies in the left's commitment to anticolonialism following the Second World War.1 Frustrated by Marxist orthodoxies about class, and contemptuous of such bourgeois frivolities as individual rights, writers Frantz Fanon, Regis Debray, and others laid the foundations for a new politics based on identity. Native populations would never see the world clearly until they were liberated from the neuroses imposed on them by their white, Western colonizers. Through the revolutionary process, the colonized would become the masters of their countries, their cultures, and-above all-their discourse.

As it turned out, it was in the colonizing nations, among the disaffected students and intellectuals who swelled the ranks of the New Left, that the politics of identity were embraced most fervently. As Western progressives reassessed their own societies through the filter of identity, matters of sex and race were pushed to the fore. And when it came to defining and identifying racism and sexism, the inner logic of identity politics dictated that these words were the property of the victims.

In our own time, these ownership rights have become largely uncontroversial, insofar as most minorities can expect a respectful hearing when it comes to claims of racism. With the Jews, however, the reverse is now true: Claims of anti-Semitism are so often disputed, scorned, and denied outright. This state of affairs faithfully reflects the perception of the Jews as socially privileged, disproportionately represented in the fields of glamour, intellect, and finance, and-crucially-as the agency behind the dispossession of Palestine's native Arab inhabitants.

This perception is not limited to the extreme left (nor, for that matter, to the far right, which thinks in near-identical terms). It now sits as comfortably with a traditional conservative realist like Mearsheimer as it does with many others who have had little interaction with the New Left or the Chomskyite school of international relations. It leads, furthermore, to a conclusion with a distinctly postmodern twist: Those who truly suffer from anti-Semitism today are not Jews, but those who are accused of being anti-Semitic. Those mere speakers of truth, so the thinking goes, are being made to pay for centuries of hateful prejudice.

Adherents of anti-Zionism have traditionally avoided speaking about Jews qua Jews to dodge the anti-Semitism bullet. Atzmon observes no such niceties, happily telling an Israeli journalist in a recent interview that he "hates" Judaism, that neoconservative Jews are responsible for the global financial crisis, and-for good measure-that the death marches the Nazis forced the last remnants of concentration camp inmates to go on should properly be seen as a Jewish attempt to escape the advancing Red Army. That Erdogan, Mearsheimer, and numerous others-ranging from Tony Blair's estranged sister-in-law to a prominent Anglican Bishop-do not think the person who speaks such bile is to be avoided, lest his inarguable Jew-hatred be seen as infecting their own views, suggests the degree to which anti-Semitism has been normalized in the current political culture.

While the Jews and their allies regard anti-Semites as propelled by hatred, anti-Semites regard themselves as a fraternity bound by a message of universalist love. "This book is above all a book for friends, a book that is written for those who love us," wrote Edouard Drumont, one of the founders of France's Ligue Antisemitique, and an especially shrill voice behind the false allegations of treason against Alfred Dreyfus, in his Le Testament d'un Antisemite. Atzmon expresses himself with similar pretensions: "When you talk about humanity, you talk about a universal system of values promoting love for one another." Rather than being anti-moral, the moral sensibility of anti-Semitism resides in its presentation of the Jews (or "Jewishness" or "Judaism") as the barrier to a society founded upon love. What seems at first glance to be a material battle is really a spiritual one.

The use of anti-Semitism denial as a technique of anti-Semitism comes to the Western bistros in part from the Arab and Muslim worlds, where rampant anti-Semitism resulted in the wholesale expulsion of Jewish communities from Arab countries in the latter half of the 20th century. We have all heard the ludicrous platitude that the Arabs, as "Semites," can't possibly be anti-Semitic. We have heard-endlessly-about the unparalleled tolerance of the Islamic world. And we have grimaced before those spokesmen who whisper that the Arabs of Palestine "are the Jews of the Jews," the final victims of the Holocaust and the most tragic of all. All these lines of argument reject the very possibility of Arab anti-Semitism, deflecting any moral censure onto those who argue otherwise.

In America, too, the practice of anti-Semitism denial is older than one might believe. In his fascinating study, The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower, Stephen H. Norwood reveals the wide-ranging sympathy for Nazi Germany on American campuses. Norwood offers an especially relevant account of how the president of Columbia University at the time, Nicholas Murray Butler, dismissed the campus demonstrations that greeted Hans Luther, Nazi Germany's ambassador to the United States, as an uncouth smear campaign.

When it comes to anti-Semitism, American universities have too often found that there is honor not in opposing it, but in fawning before it or "speaking truth to power" by denying it. The realization that Harvard's Alan Dershowitz is the only famous academic to have confronted Mearsheimer says more about his peers than anything else could.



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

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

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

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

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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

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

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds