Sunday, August 28, 2016




Controversial election-favourite Geert Wilders calls for all mosques to be shut and the Koran banned in Holland

Dutch right wing politician Geert Wilders has called for all mosques and Islamic schools to be closed down and the Koran banned in a one-page election manifesto.

The Freedom Party leader, who is topping the polls ahead of next year's elections, also wants a ban on all asylum seekers and migrants from Islamic nations, as well as a Dutch exit from the European Union.

The divisive politician has been leading the polls in Holland for several months, although he may find it difficult to form a coalition due to his extremist views. 

Wilders' manifesto was the first published by a major political party ahead of elections for the lower house of Dutch parliament which are due by March 15 next year.

The party also called for a ban on headscarves for those who work in public and a ban on all other Islamic symbols deemed to be contrary to the interests of public order.

As a preventive measure, radical Muslims would be locked away in jail while criminals with a double nationality would lose their Dutch passport and face deportation.

The party summed up their programme saying 'instead of financing the whole world and people we do not want to see here, we will spend money on ordinary Dutchmen'.

Wilders said the manifesto was a response to '1,400 years of Jihad'. 

In polls, the PVV is on course to take 35 seats in the 150-seat Dutch Parliament, about ten seats more than the ruling Liberal party of PM Mark Rutte.

SOURCE






Extreme Position of Pro-Choice Politicians Contradicts American Consensus

Lurking behind the annual split among Americans over the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” is a new reality. The fact is that today, whatever label they choose, Americans overwhelmingly support abortion restrictions.

Pro-choice politicians who typically support unrestricted, or almost unrestricted, abortion share the extreme view of a tiny minority of the American people.

Consider this. A majority of Americans who identify as pro-choice (62 percent) say that abortion should be restricted to—at most—the first trimester of pregnancy. Less than a quarter of them (22 percent) want unrestricted abortion.

Among Americans as a whole, the number who want such abortion restrictions is about eight in 10 (78 percent). Only about one in 10 of this group (13 percent) would leave it unrestricted.

Almost twice as many American voters would limit abortion to—at most—saving the life of the mother (24 percent) as would allow it any time.

It’s not a partisan issue either. Strong majorities regardless of political identity would restrict abortion to the first trimester, at most. This includes about two-thirds of Democrats (65 percent), as well as eight in 10 independents (80 percent), and nine in 10 Republicans (93 percent). There are few issues in our country on which you find such a strong consensus from across the political spectrum.

The polling we commissioned on this issue was done by the gold standard in public opinion research: Marist. That’s the same pollster used by NBC News, McClatchy, and The Wall Street Journal.

The numbers have been consistent on this for nearly a decade. Americans overwhelmingly support substantial restrictions on abortion. “Pro-life” politicians typically support bills consistent with this national consensus.

Nevertheless, self-identified “pro-choice” politicians generally hew to a policy orthodoxy that allows for no restrictions at all on abortion—even though it’s a view hardly ever shared by their constituents.

The typical “pro-choice” politician today represents the most radical view of abortion in the country—a view they share with only about one in 10 Americans (13 percent).

Some of these politicians celebrate abortion as a right that should not be restricted in any way. That’s the same line taken by the abortion industry, whose livelihood depends on performing this destructive procedure.

Other politicians hide behind the idea that they are “personally opposed” to abortion, but cannot impose their will on the majority. What majority are they talking about? Nearly everyone in the country wants solid restrictions on abortion, making such a position either ignorant or dishonest.

If a politician is really “personally opposed,” he should have the decency to follow his conscience and not block the vast consensus on this issue.

Better yet, he could take John F. Kennedy’s advice, who said when running for president in 1960 that he would resign if his conscience came into conflict with what he saw as the public interest. Kennedy said he hoped “any conscientious public servant would do the same.” That’s still good advice, and a worthy wish, five decades later.

Instead, the opposite is occurring.

Despite the American consensus on this issue, more and more extreme positions are being proposed by pro-abortion politicians.

Some are pledging to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions—contrary to Americans’ view that tax dollars should not be used this way.

Nearly two in three Americans would prohibit the use of tax dollars for abortion (62 percent). This includes more than four in 10 Democrats (44 percent), more than six in 10 independents (61 percent), and more than eight in 10 Republicans (84 percent).

Those who identify as pro-choice are split too, with 45 percent saying tax dollars should not be used for abortion.

Abortion is now the number one cause of death in America. With more than 50 million abortions since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, no other issue comes close in scale. And yet, each year, another million abortions are allowed to occur by politicians who turn a deaf ear to the will of the people and oppose restrictions.

It’s time for the abortion extremism among these politicians to end. It’s time for “pro-choice” politicians to begin supporting policy proposals that restrict abortion consistent with our national consensus.

SOURCE






Popular Australian hardware chain is now pandering to Muslims

Beef OK, vegetarian OK but no bacon in their sizzles!  And DEFINITELY no pork sausages!   They say defensively they are just trying to keep it simple.  If so, how is vegetarian allowed? And what is complicated about pork sausages?  Good that Woolworths still includes bacon & eggs in their sizzles.  I had some recently

For many Australians, a Bunnings sausage sizzle is an institution, a reminder of being dragged to the hardware store on a Saturday morning by your partner or parents.

Others see the tradition as a way to raise funds for local sports clubs or community groups.

However shoppers have been left confused after it was revealed the sausage sizzles, which are a fixture at the hardware giant, also come with a strict set of guidelines.

The most baffling rule to one social media user was that bacon is not allowed to be sold at the BBQ's.

'I went to Bunnings yesterday and as you do I stopped at the Rotary sausage sizzle on the way out,' Dave wrote on Facebook.

'There was three or four blokes about my age working on the BBQ and I couldn't help myself, I just had to find out if it was true or an urban myth. 'So I asked; Is it true that they can't cook bacon on those stalls?

'I'm sad to say it is true, if you want a bacon sanga don't go to the Bunnings sausage sizzle, anywhere in Australia!,' his post finished.

Bunnings said they keep the barbecues 'simple' to allow all community groups equal opportunity.

'Our reasons behind keeping the offer simple and offering meat sausages is to ensure that all community groups are able to host a fundraiser sausage sizzle with the greatest amount of ease, along with providing a consistent offer for customers across all our stores,' Michael Schneider, Bunnings Managing Director told Daily Mail Australia in a statement.

'On a case by case basis, we also allow community groups to have a vegetarian fundraising sausage sizzle if that is their preference, which is supported by appropriate customer signage,' he added.

SOURCE






'Born This Way'? New Study Debunks LGBT Claims

Among leftists, it is at convenient times an accepted fact (“settled science,” you might say) that homosexuals and transgendered people are “born that way” — that their sexual attractions or gender identities are not the product of choice, but a matter of genetics. (When that’s not convenient, of course, it’s a perfectly acceptable “life choice.”) A new report, instantly controversial, torpedoes that understanding of homosexuality and gender dysphoria, the medical term for transgenderism.

The report, entitled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” is co-authored by two of the most well respected experts on mental health and human sexuality. Dr. Paul McHugh, described as “arguably the most important American psychiatrist of the last half century,” is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and served for 25 years as psychiatrist in chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital. And Dr. Lawrence Mayer, Psychiatry Department scholar-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University, is a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University.

While, not surprisingly, many on the Left and in the LGBT “community” immediately raged against the report as anti-LGBT, it should be noted that Johns Hopkins was the first medical facility in the U.S. to perform sex-reassignment surgery, and did so for decades until a growing body of peer-reviewed studies, including an analysis of how Hopkins' own transgendered patients fared over time, led the hospital to end those types of surgeries. Furthermore, McHugh is no far right-wing ideologue or Bible-thumper; he’s a self-described “politically liberal” Democrat.

Yet it was his long-term experience with patients who suffer from gender dysphoria that led him to his conclusions, summarized in a report that analyzed more than 200 peer reviewed studies. McHugh and Mayer are also very up front about what the science does and does not show. They freely admit the gaps in the available research, which they argue underscores the need for more research before establishing medical standards, public policy guidelines, and laws, based on “settled science” that is not at all settled.

So what did the study find? A few excerpts:

“The belief that sexual orientation is an innate, biologically fixed human property — that people are ‘born that way’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.

Likewise, the belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex — so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.

Only a minority of children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is no evidence that all such children should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery.

Non-heterosexual and transgender people have higher rates of mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), than the general population. Discrimination alone does not account for the entire disparity.”

One of the most shocking findings in the report is that not only do people who suffer from gender dysphoria experience far higher rates of social pathologies (depression, substance abuse, suicide) than the general population, but sex-reassignment surgery does not offer the relief those on the Left claim.

One study finds that “compared to [the general population], sex-reassigned individuals were about five times more likely to attempt suicide and about 19 times more likely to die by suicide.” The study finds a staggering 41% of transgendered individuals will attempt suicide in their lifetime.

The duo investigated the underlying causes of these tragic statistics, and found that while “stressors like stigma and prejudice account for much of the additional suffering observed in these subpopulations … [this theory] does not seem to offer a complete explanation for the disparities in the outcomes.” Even in social environments where transgendered people are accepted, they still suffer from above-normal rates of these social pathologies. McHugh and Mayer encourage additional research be done to study the correlation between childhood sexual abuse and sexual orientation (studies have shown non-heterosexuals to be two to three times more likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse as compared to heterosexuals).

Far from offering condemnation or judgment, they stress the need for greater understanding of the science behind gender dysphoria, and a more thoughtful, science-based approached to treating it. “More research is needed to uncover the causes of the increased rates of mental health problems in the LGBT subpopulations,” McHugh and Mayer say, calling on society to work to “alleviate suffering and promote human health and flourishing.”

All the more reason to base medical treatment and public policy on sound science, which is not currently the case. The authors declare they are “disturbed and alarmed by the severity and irreversibility of some interventions being publicly discussed and employed for children. … We are concerned by the increasing tendency toward encouraging children with gender identity issues to transition to their preferred gender through medical and then surgical procedures.” The pair notes, “There is little scientific evidence for the therapeutic value of interventions that delay puberty or modify the secondary sex characteristics of adolescents.”

The Obama administration has used (and abused) its vast power to dismiss the concerns of parents, policymakers and medical professionals in implementing policy in the furtherance of its ideological goal — forced social acceptance of gender dysphoria as normal, all under the guise of medical science.

Part of that effort was Obama’s announcement earlier this year that schools receiving federal funding were prohibited from requiring students to use the restroom and shower facilities of their birth sex, while threatening a loss of funding for any school that didn’t comply with his imperial decree. Essentially, this meant boys who think they are girls would get to shower with female classmates.

Luckily, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor has injected some sanity into the debate, issuing an injunction against implementation of this policy, stating that Obama exceeded his authority in his attempt to reinterpret Title IX. As O'Connor said, “It cannot be disputed that the meaning of the term ‘sex’ [in Title IX] meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined by their birth.”

Gender dysphoria is a real and debilitating problem for a tiny minority of the population, and we should treat those who suffer from it compassionately. At the same time, we do not show true compassion by pretending it is not an illness, or by encouraging those who suffer from it to embrace and celebrate it.

SOURCE

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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Saturday, August 27, 2016



The Red Pill: the movie about men that feminists didn’t want you to see

A feminist filmmaker has re-ignited the gender war by daring to make a controversial movie about the Men Right’s Movement.

As part of her research for The Red Pill, American film maker Cassie Jaye spent hundreds of hours with the internet’s most notorious Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) over a two-and-a-half year period. For balance, she also interviewed some of  their fiercest critics – such as Katherine Spillar, Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. 

Jaye began the process as a feminist, but she ended up not only sympathising with the MRAs, but fundamentally questioning the “aggressive” ethos of modern feminism.

For her efforts, she says she has been smeared, threatened with “career suicide” and even saw her funding dry up – to the point where the movie was unlikely to see the light of day.

But then something incredible happened: via a Kickstarter fund, a “global army” of 2,732 free speech advocates (of both genders), raised a staggering $211,260, ensuring the movie’s cinematic release.

Jaye, 29, has heavyweight credentials, winning multiple awards for her two previous movies, Daddy I Do and The Right to Love: An American Family.

The title The Red Pill refers to a scene in the Matrix, when Keanu Reeves’ character takes the red pill to see “the truth” – MRAs claim they see the “truth” about women and a world they feel is systematically stacked against men and boys.

The Red Pills’ key interviewees – including MRA luminaries such as A Voice For Men founder Paul Elam, author of The Myth Of Male Power Dr Warren Farrell and the National Coalition For Men’s Dean Esmay – have long been smeared as some of the internet’s biggest anti-feminist bogeyman.

Yet until now no serious documentary maker has tried to get inside their world.

“When I started this project, my perception of MRAs was definitely negative,” she tells me. “I thought they’d say shocking things and it would be a peek inside this mysterious, misogynistic community. All I knew about them was the cherry-picked, shocking comments used on feminist websites.

“But when I started to really listen to them, I started to empathise with a lot of their issues. Our cultural conditioning is that women have been oppressed and men are the oppressors. But I saw that wasn’t so.

“Within the feminist community, there is a level of dismissiveness and a lack of compassion. There is a feeling ‘they have been the oppressors, and now it’s our turn’. Some prefer to step on men in the process. Even when men were suffering, like falling behind at school, I heard a lot of talk about ‘toxic masculinity’ – that it was somehow the fault of the patriarchy, that men caused their own problems.

“But the MRAs weren’t loners or misogynists. Most of them are in loving relationships and have children, and that was shocking for me.”

When it began to emerge that Jaye was to tell a sympathetic story of the MRAs, her feminist interviewees were furious – and her funding suddenly dried up. “There was anger from feminists when they found out I was being too kind to MRAs,” she says. “They said, 'they’re going to turn on you. Don’t be fooled’.

“As time went on they did not want to go through with funding – because I was balanced and ‘giving the MRAs a platform’.  “It was a way of stopping this film getting too big. They hoped it would fizzle out. They believed they had control of the film. It was an indirect attempt to censor my voice.

‘So I looked at film grants, but there were no categories for boys and men. The situation was desperate”.

It was at this point when the internet stepped in, spurred on by a rally article in Breibart, and raised the six figure sum needed to push the film towards distribution.

“People power, Twitter power, social media power, came to our rescue,” she says. “People were disgusted that one side was trying to silence and prevent this film from being made.

“Many said ‘I’m not into the MRA thing, but I absolutely believe they have the right to have their say’.

“It was a global uprising of both genders; people from China, India, Australia, USA, Canada and the UK”.

Now Red Pill is due for a cinematic release in Autumn 2016 to drive men’s issues on the radar ahead of the US Presidential Election (there will also be a London screening).

“I didn’t realise it would get so much resistance,” says Jaye. “But we can now afford an Oscar qualifying screening. This forces a great amount of very prestigious people to watch it.

“I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people high up in the film industry who not only support it, but even wanted to make it, but they felt it would be career suicide.

“Making this was the most life-changing experience of my life. It completely changed how I see men, from my relationship with my boyfriend to my father figures. It will open doors for understanding how men work.

“Above all, Red Pill is not about attacking women: it is about supporting men. And that can only be a good thing”.

SOURCE






Air Force Officer Faces Review Over Bible

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is demanding an Air Force major be “aggressively punished” for having an open Bible on his desk at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, CO.

“It [the Bible] is very obviously a statement of Christian preference, Christian primacy,” MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein told me. “Had that been the Book of Satan or the Koran there would be blood in the freaking streets.”

He accused Maj. Steve Lewis, a supervisor at the Reserve National Security Space Institute, of “harboring and encouraging a truly abhorrent example of First Amendment civil rights violations.”

Mr. Weinstein is a fussy little fellow, isn’t he?

Col. Damon Feltman, the commander of the 310th Space Wing, told me they are reviewing the incident involving the Good Book. “He has removed the Bible voluntarily because he didn’t want this to cause attention or disruption to his unit,” Col. Feltman said. “I’ve performed a walk-through of the office and everything seemed to be in compliance with Air Force regulation.”

So when will Maj. Lewis be able to return the Bible to his desk?

“I’m waiting on the unit commander’s review of the situation before making a final assessment,” the colonel said.

He stressed that Air Force personnel are free to exercise their constitutional rights to practice their own religion “as long as it is respectful of other individual’s rights to follow their own belief system in ways that support good order and discipline and don’t detract from (the) military mission.”

“As long as he’s not doing something excessive, the existence of a Bible or the Koran or the Torah or some other religious article is not prohibited,” Col. Feltman said. “It’s what you do with it when you have it.”

Weinstein, who earns a paycheck by trying to eradicate Christianity from the Armed Forces, accused Maj. Lewis of committing a “repulsive violation of USAF regulations” as well as the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s not his desk,” he told me. “That desk belongs to the American people, to the U.S. military. If that desk was in his home or his car it would not be a problem.”

Weinstein fired off a nasty, adjective-laden letter to the base commander after receiving complaints from 33 unnamed Air Force personnel.  “We have 33 very scared Air Force families,” Weinstein told me.

Just a brief aside: If those Air Force personnel are terrified of a Bible, how in the world will they be able to muster the courage to fight the enemy?

Apparently one of Weinstein’s gentle snowflakes managed to conquer his fear long enough to sneak up on the open Bible and take several photographs — which were then submitted as evidence.

“Major Lewis has created an around-the-clock Christian Bible Shrine on his official USAF workstation desk that has been in prominent static display for years,” Weinstein said. “The pages in his open Bible on his USAF desk never change, ever.”

One of the airmen who reached out to Weinstein complained that the officer’s Bible is a “blatant case of Christian defiance and Christian discrimination.”

“I am intimidated by the display, and I am a practicing Christian,” the unnamed airman wrote. “This open Bible is discrimination at the highest level.”  The airman went on to say that he wasn’t just offended by the Bible, he was “outrageously offended.”

Travis Weber, the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, said every service member has a right to the free exercise of religion. “It should be beyond clear that they are protected by the Constitution, statutory authority and regulations,” Weber told me.

He pointed to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces that reaffirmed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “applies in the military context.”

“Men and women signing up to defend our country do not give up this right — especially when, of all things, they are fighting to defend the very Constitution which contains this protection,” Weber said.

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin said the problem is that militant secularists see the Bible as a threat. “Indeed it is a powerful weapon, but it is not a threat to America,” he said. “The military should be focused on the real threats to this nation.”

Perhaps the Air Force should offer complimentary counseling for those personnel suffering from PTBS (Post Traumatic Bible Syndrome)?

For the record, there is no evidence that any of Weinstein’s clients spontaneously combusted or converted after glancing at the Holy Bible.

SOURCE





Human Rights Act WILL be scrapped and replaced with a British Bill of Rights, says Justice Secretary Liz Truss

The Human Rights Act will be scrapped and replaced with a British Bill of Rights, Justice Secretary Liz Truss promised today as she rubbished reports the move had been axed.

She said she was working on the details of the policy but refused to give any indication when it would be introduced.

It will allay fears among Tory MPs that the party's 2015 manifesto commitment had been put under review by the new Prime Minister following June's  Brexit vote.

Reports earlier this month quoted sources close to Theresa May saying the idea of a British Bill of Rights had been 'junked'.

But Ms Truss, who made history last month after Mrs May appointed her as Britain's first ever Justice Secretary, insisted the Government will introduce the Bill.

She told the BBC: 'We are committed to that. It is a manifesto pledge. We are looking very closely at the details but we have a manifesto pledge to deliver that.'

The Human Rights Act was brought in by Tony Blair and incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law. But any move by Mrs May's government to ditch the Act would not mean withdrawing from the ECHR

Mrs May ruled out withdrawing from the ECHR during the Conservative party leadership election, saying there was insufficient support for the move in the current Parliament.

Replacing the Act with a British Bill of Rights would aim to reiterate the supremacy of UK law and enable UK authorities to deport foreign criminals without being blocked by Strasbourg. 

Mr Cameron first pledged to introduce a Bill of Rights before the 2010 general election, arguing that replacing the Human Rights Act was the best way of curbing abuses.

He said the legislation would limit the ability of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to interfere in domestic decisions such as whether criminals could be deported.

The Liberal Democrats did not agree to the overhaul during the coalition years, but it was revived after the Tories won an overall majority last year.

The Bill would have provided explicit protections for 'freedom of expression' and the armed forces serving abroad.

However, Mrs May is said to have been unhappy with some of the details, including a concession that Britain would remain signed up to the ECHR.

The fine print of the policy had been largely drawn up by former Justice Secretary Michael Gove - who was summarily axed by Mrs May when she took over in Downing Street.

The PM's chief of staff, Nick Timothy, has previously suggested that a Bill of Rights would be pointless unless the UK leaves the jurisdiction of the ECHR.

Mrs May has already made clear she will not be pursuing her ambition of cutting ties with the court - which is separate from the EU - conceding there is not a majority in parliament for doing so.

SOURCE





Political Correctness Prevents Advancement of Science

Science can make us uncomfortable. Astronomy proved that the Earth goes around the sun, upending centuries of geocentric theology. Physics tells us that our universe will someday come to an end. DNA sequencing can reveal our true ancestry or genetic predispositions to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, forever changing our life’s trajectory.

As unsettling as those discoveries have been for society, some research is so politically controversial that few dare to speak of it in public for fear of running afoul of the PC police. And this fear, argues Nathan Cofnas in the journal Foundations of Science, obstructs the self-correcting nature of scientific inquiry.

Mr. Cofnas begins the paper with the story of Socrates, who was executed for “corrupting the youth” of Greece. Forebodingly, he adds, “[T]he philosophy of his prosecutors — that morality-threatening scientific investigation should be prohibited — flourishes even today.”

To support his case, Mr. Cofnas focuses on the taboo subject of group differences in intelligence, which he says is suppressed by those who believe that even discussing the topic is “morally wrong or morally dangerous.”

Those who embrace such a viewpoint obviously do so with the honorable intention of preventing discrimination. However, the proverbial road to hell is paved with good intentions. Such misguided efforts to maintain perfect equality can hamper the advancement of knowledge. Mr. Cofnas states:

“[W]hen hypotheses are regarded as supporting certain moral values or desirable political goals, scientists often refuse to abandon them in the light of empirical evidence.”

Is he right? Absolutely, yes.

Not only do intellectuals refuse to abandon politically correct beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence, but simply questioning them can ruin a person’s career. Lawrence Summers’ tenure as president of Harvard was cut short because he suggested that there are intellectual differences between men and women. As a result of such punitive pushback, some researchers are afraid to investigate differences between male and female brains, which certainly exist. Without a doubt, this reticence is holding back the field of neuroscience.

A similar chilling effect can be seen in climatology. The only politically correct belief regarding the climate is that humans are 100% responsible for everything bad that happens and that the Four Horsemen are already marching toward Earth. Questioning that apocalyptic and unscientific belief has resulted in multiple researchers being labeled “climate deniers.” Climatology would greatly benefit from the more skeptical approach of so-called “lukewarmers,” but far too many are ostracized and demonized.

Discussions about the causes of homelessness also fall under the purview of the PC police. The politically correct explanation is that homelessness is the result of poverty. While obviously a factor, often left out of the debate is the fact that, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 20% to 25% of homeless people are severely mentally ill, a prevalence that is roughly four times that of the general population. The same group estimates that 38% and 26% of homeless people are dependent on alcohol and drugs, respectively. In fact, NCH states that, “Substance abuse [is] the single largest cause of homelessness for single adults.”

Certainly, many — perhaps most — people prefer to ignore reality in favor of feel-good fallacies. Mr. Cofnas believes this phenomenon is rooted in a “deep human impulse to conflate facts and moral values.” In other words, (positive) statements that describe the world as it is are often interpreted by people as (normative) statements that prescribe the world as it ought to be.

This fundamental confusion distorts debate and impedes progress. If Mr. Cofnas is correct that this cognitive dissonance is hardwired into us, then that makes the goal of evidence-based policy sadly unattainable.

SOURCE

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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Friday, August 26, 2016



A new/old "privilege": Thin privilege



Kelsey Miller, who writes below, is fat (see above) and she envies the better treatment that thin women get.  And the everlasting Leftist grumble about "inequality" provides her with a peg to hang her envy on.  What she says below is that liking for thin bodies is unjust in that it offends against the equality doctrine and that we as individuals might not be able to change social values but we can be equally nice to fatties and slenders.  And it would be REALLY good if slender people could be made to feel guilty about being slender.  Let fatties rule!

Like all fat grumblers, she makes no enquiry about WHY slim is seen as better.  It's just something "society" does for inscrutable reasons.  As with Leftists generally, the fact that their dreams of a different world never come about, seems to escape her attention.  The world SHOULD be different and that is that!

But let us take a quick glance at why her dream will never come about.  Let us ask why this world is as it is.

It's old hat to go back to the cavemen but they probably do have a role here.  Slim people can run, jump and climb faster so are the ones most likely to catch a tasty animal for dinner.  And evolution is a slow burn so much of our behaviour and values reflect our caveman past.  It seems highly probable that natural selection has built into our genes a preference for slimness.  Fat-lovers are fighting a million years of human evolution.

Aha!  Someone will say:  How come fat women are ADMIRED in the poorer parts of the Arab world and China?  Where did their genes  go?

Human being are very flexible.  Witness the fact that fat ladies do normally acquire a husband.  The husband will mostly be short or a smoking, drinking, gambling type but he is male and does help to bring forth children.  In other words, there are circumstances in which the genetic influence can be overridden. In the absence of better alternatives the fatty may take on a man who is rejected by women with better alterantives. 

I once ran a large boarding house in a poor area and it was amusing to see the couples walking down the street in that area.  It was common to see  short, spherical women trotting alongside a short, thin and very scrubby man puffing on a fag (cigarette). Both had wisely compromised and gotten what they could:  A useless man and a lady prepared to tolerate a lot. At least they were not alone.

And such flexibility is observable in poor countries too.  In poor countries, the problem is food.  It seems strange to most of us in the modern world but, until quite recently, there were a lot of people everywhere who had to struggle to put bread on the table for their families.  And in some countries only a tiny elite escaped that position.   In those circumstances, food abundance was greatly admired.  Someone who had plenty of food was envied.

And what is sure evidence that the pesron is one of those who are blessed with lots of food?  Fat!  Fat was the mark of a prosperous and successful family.  So a fat lady was socially desirable.  She could open the door to FOOD!  A poor society is the fat woman's nirvana.

And I have seen it in operation.  I was walking along a street in Australia with a number of benches beside it.  And on one bench I came across a very amusing sight. There was a rather good looking man of Arab appearance who was clearly expressing great admiration and affection to the Caucasian woman he was sitting beside.  And the woman was very FAT!  And the look of utter confusion on her face was a treat.  Here was this handsome man being very nice to HER!  Why?  Why was she being treated as a great beauty?  She basically did not know what to do.  I walked on so saw no more of them so I will never know if she figured out that she really WAS beautiful to Arab eyes.

But in our bountiful societies none of that applies.  Other values, including caveman values, come into play.  And caveman values are only part of it.  Another really important value is YOUTH.  And those of us with creaky bones will emphatically assure you that youth is better.  But what is associated with youth?  Slimness.  In our teens, the great majority of us are slim.  But that does not usually last.  Even those of us who started out skinny do expand over time.  So admiration for slimness is largely an admiration for a youthful appearance and no amount of Leftist equality-mongering will change that

Fatties go to the back of the bus!  Actually, they are there already. It is easy to say that fat is a choice.  We can always diet to lose it.  But, as Kelsey Miller knows, that is easier said than done.  Separating a fatty from their food is almost impossible long term. 

So what can a fatty do?  One thing guaranteed to do no good at all is to write angry articles condemning “thin privilege”. So the really vital thing to do is to accept how the cookie crumbles.  Accept how the world about us works and adapt yourself to it as best you can. So for fat ladies, I would suggest that they re-evaluate that pesky short guy who seems to be the only one interested in you.  He may be the best you can get -- and half a loaf is better than  none.  Perhaps you can concentrate on his pretty eyes, or how well he plays the spoons, or something



If we claim to care about equality, then we must acknowledge this inequality, too: thin privilege.

What’s your gut reaction to that term? Defensiveness, anger, hope, curiosity? Before stepping further into this subject, I think it’s important to recognize where we’re all coming from.

When I hear the term “thin privilege,” my first response is anxiety. I feel anger and interest and hope as well, but first and foremost, I feel nervous when the subject comes up, because I am not a thin person.

Illogical as it may sound, naming another group’s privilege feels almost like picking on them. The thing to remember is that privilege isn’t about us as individuals. It’s about the system we all live inside. It’s no one’s fault, yet it is everyone’s responsibility.

“Acknowledging that you have privilege is not saying that your life hasn’t been difficult,” says Melissa Fabello, renowned body-acceptance activist, academic, and managing editor of Everyday Feminism. “It's simply acknowledging which obstacles you have not faced.”

As a thin person working in the realm of body activism, Fabello frequently affirms the obstacles she herself hasn’t faced.

For example, “when I walk onto a plane, I don’t have any thoughts about whether or not I'm going to be able to sit in the seat,” she says. Going to the doctor, she doesn’t deal with automatic assumptions about her health.

“It's always, ‘Okay, let's treat whatever issue you came in here for.’”

Fabello offers these examples with no caveat or defense. That’s a rare attitude when it comes to any topic about our bodies — particularly women’s bodies.

Because, for one thing, thin privilege doesn’t protect her from other harmful experiences and damaging beliefs. We live in a world that scrutinizes and judges women’s bodies, period. Furthermore, “our current cultural beauty ideal for women is this weird skinny-but-curvy thing,” she says.

The beauty standard has evolved in the past few decades (“in the latter half of the 20th century [it] was very stick-thin,” Fabello notes), but it hasn’t become any more flexible or generous. It used to require visible hip bones, and now it demands curves — but only in the “right places.” By its very nature, a beauty standard is exclusionary, and women of all sizes are vulnerable to it.

“That’s an issue of women's bodies being seen as public property. That’s an issue of women's bodies being seen through the lens of the male gaze,” says Fabello.

“It is not about size discrimination, which is a separate issue.”

In fact, this new twist in the beauty standard may be feeding the ever-growing elephant in this room: skinny shaming. While it is an entirely different topic, we cannot have a conversation about thin privilege or size bias without contending with skinny shaming. And that’s a problem.

While things like privilege and bias are systemic, shaming happens on an interpersonal level. It may be within your family, your peer group, or even your broader community. It’s simply a different form of harm.

“Oppression isn't one, two, five, or one hundred people saying something bad about your body or making you feel bad about your body.

That’s not oppression,” says Fabello, “Oppression is something that is woven into society so that it is inescapable.” That doesn’t make body shaming of any kind invalid or harmless — and no one is arguing that.

Yet, many thin people still present skinny shaming as a counterpoint in an argument that isn’t happening.

“I would say nine out of 10 times, thin people only complain about or bring up the concept of skinny shaming as a way to derail a conversation about fat shaming,” says Fabello.

They’ll offer evidence as if to say that their experience is exactly the same as a fat person’s. “You know, ‘Well, I'm so thin that when I go to the doctor they tell me I just have to gain weight.’

Or, ‘I can't shop in the average clothing store either. I have to buy kid's clothes, because they don’t make clothes in my size.’ They come up with these counter-examples, which then makes it a difficult conversation.”

Of course, anecdotes like this just don’t add up against the basic, big-picture facts: The world does not hold thinness and fatness as equal. “We are all socialized not to want a fat body,” says Fabello.

But stating the obvious is a fruitless tactic when faced with someone like this. If you can’t acknowledge these basic truths, “you’re not actually trying to learn or understand. You’re just on the defensive.”

We are all prone to that defensiveness. It’s a knee-jerk response when someone checks our privilege for us (see: #AllLivesMatter).

This is why the system hurts us all so deeply: It perverts our empathy into something fearful and selfish and utterly nonsensical.

When thin people argue like this, Fabello points out, they’re saying, “‘Well, what about me? I'm also shamed for my body, so therefore thin privilege can’t exist and fat oppression can’t exist because I have this experience.’”

That is why body positivity isn’t just about accepting your own body. It’s about actively acknowledging others’ — particularly those who don’t benefit from your own privilege.

Absolutely, it begins with self-acceptance. “We all need body acceptance,” Fabello reaffirms. “Everybody wants to have their own pain acknowledged and everybody should have their own pain acknowledged in whatever appropriate way there is.”

For her, that means being mindful of the room she’s in. “If people are hurt, then I think people need to have that conversation to heal.

But I think that it should be had within one privileged group and also with context.” Imagine an able-bodied person walking into a room full of quadriplegics, complaining about her broken arm.

Even better, imagine a straight, cis, white woman walking into a room full of queer, trans quadriplegics of color — and complaining about her broken arm.

When in doubt, remember to look for and note all the privileges we cannot see — or which we’ve been conditioned not to see.

It’s not an overt maliciousness, this blind spot in our vision. Shaming is overt. Privilege, like prejudice, is something so old and so ordinary; it’s the mottled lens through which we see everything.

It’s our idea of average. “And whenever we have an idea of an ‘average person,’ it's always someone who is the most privileged.”

The world is built around this idea of a person, and everyone else is an exception to be accommodated. Some accommodations are more easily made than others; the left-handed kid needs a lefty desk, so the teacher runs around looking for one, apologizing to the student because, of course, that’s only fair.

When it comes to something like size, it’s different. “You go to a restaurant and the table is nailed down to the ground,” says Fabello.

“There's this assumption that the blank-slate person who things are created for is a certain size.” It’s a bias you might not notice unless you’re pressed right up against it.

When you’re sitting comfortably, it takes effort to notice — and even more effort to question.

But really, it’s not that hard. The problem is that we take the word “privilege” so personally, when it’s not so much about you as it is us.

Actively acknowledging your own privilege isn’t saying, “I’m the bad guy.” It’s saying the system is bad. It does not invalidate your own pain, but validates the pain of others — which is just as real, though not as recognized.

In voicing that injustice, you are not giving up your seat at the table, but demanding a table at which all of us can sit with comfort and be heard.

SOURCE






Obama’s LGBT Agenda Suffers Loss in Case of Transgender Funeral Director

When families lose loved ones, they often seek out funeral homes for solace and comfort and, for people of faith, spiritual consolation as well.  At such a delicate time, the last thing grieving families expect is a debate over whether male funeral home employees should be allowed to dress like women at their loved one’s funeral.

But that is exactly the conflict President Barack Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission set in motion when it sued Thomas Rost.

As a matter of faith, Rost, the owner of three funeral homes in Michigan, required his male and female employees to dress in keeping with the solemnity and sensitivity of funerals and burials.

Thankfully, a federal district court has vindicated Rost’s religious liberty in a well-reasoned decision under the nation’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The conflict started when one of Rost’s male funeral directors stated in writing that he needed to be treated like a woman by others and informed Rost that from now on he would wear skirts while representing the funeral home, which included attendance at funerals.

Rost respectfully dismissed the funeral director, not because of who the employee was or anything he did outside work, but because Rost’s religious beliefs did not allow him to actively affirm a false sexual identity, or to have his business be the cause of distress and offense to mourners at their most vulnerable moments.

Rost, however, did not count on the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender agenda pushed by LGBT advocates and the Obama administration.

After the employee complained to the EEOC, the Obama administration sued Rost’s family funeral business, demanding that his employees be allowed to dress like the opposite sex whenever and wherever they wanted to, including at memorial services, or face damage awards and penalties.

Judge Sean F. Cox noted in his opinion that unless Rost violated his faith, the funeral home owner “would feel significant pressure to sell [the] business and give up [his] life’s calling of ministering to grieving people as a funeral home director and owner.”

No one should be put to such a choice.

Funeral homes seem like odd places for the Obama administration to take a stand against religious liberty. But similarly bad optics did not stop the administration from fighting the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of nuns, all the way to the Supreme Court over Obamacare’s mandate that the order’s health plans cover abortion-inducing drugs.

It seems that when it comes to issues of sexual morality and identity—be it same-sex marriage, contraceptives, abortion, and now gender identity—the administration’s rule is that sexual autonomy must always win over religious liberty, even at church funerals and gravesites.

As my colleague Ryan T. Anderson and I have explained, the Obama administration has systematically misinterpreted bans on “sex discrimination” (both old and new) to mean “gender identity.”

From requiring male access to women’s and girls’ showers, dorms, and bathrooms in schools and universities, to regulating pronoun use in employment, to mandating sex reassignment surgeries under Obamacare, the administration has imposed a new gender ideology across the land with no basis in law and without the backing of the American people.

Obama’s policies insert the federal government into matters that are properly the domain of state and local authorities. They impose one-size-fits-all policies on the nation, they endanger privacy and safety, and they ignore the equality of all.

Parents, teachers, principals, hospitals, professionals, businesses and other employers, and local officials have been working out nuanced solutions that are respectful to all affected parties in this sensitive area. They should be allowed to continue to reach reasonable solutions without threats of lawsuits and funding cuts by the federal government.

The Obama administration should not force Americans to conform or be taken to court, fined, or stripped of funding.

Twenty-four states wisely have sued the administration over its threats, and a court in Texas has just ordered a halt to the administration’s ideologically driven attempt to rewrite the law unilaterally to include gender identity without congressional approval. The administration almost certainly will appeal and there is no guarantee as to the outcome, especially given a liberal-dominated judiciary.

This is why Congress can and should pass legislation to undo the confusion and harm unleashed by an overreaching executive branch and activist courts (stacked with liberal Obama appointees). That would be a major step toward restoring respect for the rule of law, federalism, and state, local, and private decision-making.

The Civil Rights Uniformity Act, recently introduced by Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, would do precisely that by assuring three simple things:

The word “sex” in antidiscrimination laws is not interpreted to mean “gender identity” or its equivalents.
The words “man” and “woman” in antidiscrimination laws refer to a person’s sex.

Gender identity and transgender status won’t be elevated to a special, protected class under civil rights laws without express congressional approval.

If passed, such a law would undo the Obama administration’s high-handedness and prevent future abuses of power by subsequent presidents and the courts.

Thomas Rost’s faith led him to dedicate his life to comforting and serving those who grieve. Because the Obama administration is likely to contest his victory on appeal, Rost and his life’s calling once again will be put in jeopardy by a steamrolling gender ideology that did not start, and will not stop, with funeral homes.

A law such as the Civil Rights Uniformity Act is needed now more than ever.

SOURCE





Boycotters Say New Target Transgender Policy Still Allows Predators ‘Easier Access to Their Victims’

Target plans to spend $20 million adding single-stall, lockable bathrooms to all store locations after a controversy over a new policy that allows transgender people to use the restroom and fitting room that correspond with the gender they self-identify with.

“Across the board, our goal is to make sure that everyone feels welcome at Target,” Katie Boylan, Target’s vice president of communications, told The Daily Signal.

In April, Target announced the new transgender policy. Boylan said Target has openly listened to guest feedback since then.

“The feedback has been mixed,” Boylan said. Some guests have been very supportive of the bathroom policy, while others “less so,” she said.

In response to the bathroom policy, over 1.4 million people signed a pledge to boycott Target.

“We committed in the spring to making sure that every store across the country has a single-stall, lockable restroom for those who would like to use it,” Boylan said. The remodels in Target’s 1,800 store locations across the country have been under way since then, she said, and will cost $20 million.

The American Family Association, a nonprofit that supports Christian values, started the pledge in April to boycott Target.

“Target’s announcement that it is installing unisex bathrooms does nothing to address the objections of more than 1.4 million customers who are boycotting the retail giant,” Ed Vitagliano, executive vice president of the American Family Association, said in a statement to The Daily Signal. He added:

While AFA did suggest single-occupancy, unisex bathrooms as a way to help the retailer’s transgender customers, our major concern was that Target’s policy would grant voyeurs and sexual predators easier access to their victims by allowing men in women’s restrooms and changing areas, which puts women and girls in danger.

“Target must maintain the gender-specific bathrooms as well—if the company is interested in guaranteeing the safety and privacy of women and girls who patronize the retailer’s stores.” —@AmericanFamAssc

In July, a man who identifies as a woman videotaped an 18-year-old girl in an Idaho Target dressing room. Authorities arrested and charged the man, age 43, who told police that he previously made other videos of women undressing, Time reported.

“Unisex bathrooms are fine, but Target must maintain the gender-specific bathrooms as well—if the company is interested in guaranteeing the safety and privacy of women and girls who patronize the retailer’s stores,” Vitagliano said.

The $20 million investment does not change Target’s fitting room policy and accommodations.

“This partial backtracking proves what everyone already knew, that Target lost customers in droves after it announced that men would be allowed full access to women’s intimate facilities at its stores,” Roger Severino, director of the Devos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

In the immediate two weeks following Target’s announcement of the policy, Target’s stock declined by 4.2 percent.

Target announced its second quarter earnings on Wednesday. Sales decreased by 7.2 percent from last year.

“We have no evidence that says the bathroom policy has had a material impact on our business at this time,” Boylan said.

The policy has had no impact on business in both the last financial quarter and this quarter, Boylan added.

“For too long big businesses like Target have put the interests of loud gender identity activists over the legitimate safety and privacy concerns of its everyday customers,” Heritage’s Severino said. “Target is of course free to do what it wants, but so are its customers, and it is an open question as to whether they will return given that men are still allowed into women’s spaces at Target even under the new policies.”

SOURCE






Federal judge temporarily blocks Obama’s transgender rules

A federal judge has blocked the Obama administration from enforcing new guidelines that were intended to expand restroom access for transgender students across the country.

Judge Reed O’Connor of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas said in a 38-page ruling Sunday that the government had not complied with federal law when it issued “directives which contradict the existing legislative and regulatory text.”

O’Connor, whom President George W. Bush nominated to the federal bench, said the order should apply nationwide but analysts said its impact might be limited.

O’Connor said not granting an injunction would put states “in the position of either maintaining their current policies in the face of the federal government’s view that they are violating the law, or changing them to comply with the guidelines and cede their authority over this issue.”

The judge’s order, in a case brought by officials from more than a dozen states, is a victory for social conservatives in the continuing legal battles over the restroom guidelines, which the federal government issued this year.

The fight over the rights of transgender people, and especially their right to use public bathrooms consistent with their gender identities, has emerged as an emotional cause among social conservatives.

The Obama administration’s assertion that the rights of transgender people in public schools and workplaces are protected under existing laws against sex discrimination has been condemned by social conservatives, who said the administration was illegally intruding into local affairs and promoting a policy that would jeopardize the privacy and safety of schoolchildren.

The ruling could deter the administration from bringing new legal action against school districts that do not allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.

“We are pleased that the court ruled against the Obama administration’s latest illegal federal overreach,” Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas said in a statement on Monday. “This president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people and is threatening to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform.”

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Dena W. Iverson, said the department was disappointed with the decision and was reviewing its options.

In a statement, several civil rights organizations that had submitted a brief opposing the injunction called the ruling unfortunate and premature.

“A ruling by a single judge in one circuit cannot and does not undo the years of clear legal precedent nationwide establishing that transgender students have the right to go to school without being singled out for discrimination,” the groups — Lambda Legal; the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Texas; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; the Transgender Law Center; and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders — said in their statement.

The ultimate impact of the Texas decision is unclear and likely to be limited, legal analysts said. More senior courts in other regions have agreed with the administration that transgender students and workers are protected by existing laws against sex discrimination, and their decisions will not be altered by the Texas ruling.

Also, the decision will not necessarily affect the outcome of other current cases.

In the most prominent one, a federal court in North Carolina is weighing almost identical issues in suits brought by civil rights groups and the Department of Justice that seek to block a state law requiring people in government buildings, including public schools, to use bathrooms that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Adding another major note of uncertainty, the US Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that required a school district in Virginia to allow a transgender boy to use the boys’ bathrooms. The Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction until it decides, probably this fall, whether to hear the case.

If the Supreme Court does take the case and reaches a majority decision one way or another, then existing rulings by district and appeals courts could be superseded. If the Supreme Court takes the Virginia case but then is divided, 4 to 4, on the issues, the Fourth Circuit’s existing decision in favor of transgender rights would take effect, although it would not be a nationally binding precedent.

The Texas lawsuit, filed by Paxton on behalf of officials in 13 states, argued that the Obama administration had overstepped its authority in a series of pronouncements in recent years, holding that discrimination against transgender people is a violation of existing laws against sex discrimination, including Title IX in federal education laws and Title VII in federal civil rights laws governing the workplace.

In May, in the latest such statement, the federal departments of Justice and Education issued a joint letter to public schools stating that transgender people should be free to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities and that schools which refuse could lose federal funds.

The letter was quickly condemned by social conservatives, leading numerous state governments and school districts around the country to file lawsuits seeking to prevent the administration from taking action.

The Obama administration, seeking to deflect the Texas lawsuit and another brought by 10 other states, argued that the directive was not a regulation or mandate but rather an explanation of how the administration interpreted existing sex-discrimination protections. But it carried a threat that the administration might sue noncompliant school districts and seek to cut off vital federal education aid.

SOURCE

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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016



Muslim values at work in Australia

On January 16, 2015, a visibly shaken Leila Alavi hung up the phone after taking a call from her estranged husband.

Prosecutors say the 26-year-old turned to a colleague and told him: "He said he is going to kill me and all of us. Probably he is watching too many movies."

By morning, she was dead.

In the carpark below the western Sydney hairdressing salon where she worked, Mokhtar Hosseiniamraei stabbed his wife 56 times with a pair of scissors he had stolen from a nearby supermarket.

"That moment. Like a bomb. It exploded. I didn't realise what I was doing for a moment," he would later tell a forensic psychiatrist.

But in the hours after the stabbing on January 17, 2015, when police asked him through an interpreter why he had killed Ms Alavi, Hosseiniamraei was frank: "Because we were married, and ... she broke the contract. I could not tolerate it.

"And I could not forget it."

Documents tendered in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday tell of the devastating loss suffered by Ms Alavi's loved ones, and the broken logic with which her killer tried to explain what he had done.

"Where did you hit her with scissors on her body?" police asked Hosseiniamraei.

"In her heart and in her neck. Because she did not obey the rule of marriage," the killer replied.

"When we marry we have a commitment, moral commitment towards one another. In this country this means nothing."

He has since pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Alavi.

Hosseiniamraei, a refugee who fled Iran because of religious persecution, met his bride in Turkey and travelled with her to Australia in 2010.

By late 2014 the relationship had broken down and Hosseiniamraei was abusing drugs daily.

A psychiatrist who interviewed the 34-year-old noted he had been using heroin and ice almost every day around that time, and was smoking up to 28 joints of cannabis a week.

Ms Alavi sought a restraining order on October 2014, but documents before the court indicate the couple continued to see one another regularly.

Even after their separation, Ms Alavi continued to visit Hosseiniamraei to cook and clean for him, according to the offender's sister.

Now the dead woman's relatives have questioned why more was not done to keep her safe.

In a victim impact statement tendered in court on Thursday, Ms Alavi's sister Marjan Lotfi wrote that the grief of losing her was "almost unbearable".

"I don't want other women to suffer the same tragedy. I don't want other family members to go through what I and my family have gone through," she wrote.

"I keep thinking: why didn't someone help her? Why didn't she receive the protection she needed?"

Another sister, Mitra Alavi, said she and Leila had left Iran to escape violence. She said she had worried for years about her little sister's relationship with Hosseiniamraei.

"I saw that she was abused both physically and psychologically by him. I believe this man was cruel and dangerous," she wrote.

SOURCE






What Conservatives Did to Pull Off Religious Liberty Win in California

California conservatives won a surprise victory this week, changing a state assembly bill that would have curtailed the freedom of private religious colleges.

“We literally were able to see tens of thousands of people mobilize to make calls and to write their legislators, and to participate in the political process,” William Jessup University President John Jackson told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.

“We were hearing from legislators who said that they had gotten hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of phone calls on just this one piece of legislation,” he added. “And I think that’s a tremendous, tremendous encouragement to me for the health of our state.”

It’s a victory that they hope will prove a bellwether for institutional liberty fights to come.

Facing a maelstrom of grassroots controversy, state Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat, said Wednesday that he would remove the portions of his bill, SB 1146, that would have harmed the right of religious colleges to operate according to their principles.

Under the previous wording, SB 1146 would have ultimately blocked low-income students from receiving Cal Grants, California’s system of need-based education aid, if they attended colleges with policies such as bathroom use based on biological sex that violated the state’s LGBT policies. It also would have enabled students who feel discriminated against in light of these policies to bring a lawsuit against their college.

“Without a doubt, the unmodified version [of the bill] would have jeopardized Christian institutions and egregiously penalized all students of faith, especially Latino and African-American individuals,” Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said in a statement.

Conservatives who opposed the measure say they are relieved by this change, but some stressed that the current version of the bill, while less concerning, may still negatively impact religious colleges. Jackson mentioned a new amendment that would make religious colleges release data on expelled students—ostensibly to ensure they were not expelled for discriminatory reasons.

“What we’ve indicated to the senator [Lara] is that we’ll have to review the bill and compare it to [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] regulations,” Jackson said.

But religious liberty activists say they are pleased to have an effective blueprint for success as that battle progresses, a blueprint that involves building national coalitions focused on preserving the rights of religious Americans.

In addition to grassroots mobilization, conservative nonprofits also played a pivotal role in the controversy.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty publicized the fact that three of four students affected by the loss of Cal Grants would be low-income minority students, circulating a petition that quickly garnered 100,000 signatures.

With an open statement, Andrew Walker’s, the director of policy studies at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, commission publicly opposed the bill with the support of a diverse group of advocates and thinkers both on the ideological left and on the right. Notable signatories included law professors, administrators at religious colleges, Hispanic and Islamic leaders, seminary presidents, Christian denominational authorities, intellectuals at think tanks (including three from The Heritage Foundation), and conservative magazines.

The statement was publicly released on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Lara announced that he was changing the provisions.

“I just think that this was a multifaceted effort that really showed what effective communication and strategy can result in,” Walker told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “You get your national coalitions working with your people on the ground, coupled with strong messaging—and religious liberty, we found out, is not dead in California.”

Continued defeats on issues of individual conscience, Walker said, showed that advocates of religious freedom still have a long way to go. But as lawmakers nationwide begin to bicker over the limits of freedom of conscience for religious institutions, the changes to SB 1146 represent a heartening opening salvo.

“There’s one discussion about private citizens engaged in commercial acts, like the bakers and the florists and the photographers, but what we see here is that the ability to protect religious institutions and their religious integrity remains very intact and very strong,” he said. “We’re going to have to turn especially and fight on all fronts, and that includes institutionally. We had a large institutional win in California.”

Jackson and Walker also stressed that conservatives must remain vigilant to oppose similar encroachments in the future.

“The sponsor of this bill has said that he intends to study this issue at further depth, and possibly reintroduce legislation like this next year,” Walker said. “We’re not naïve to the fact that this is an ongoing battle.”

SOURCE





Political Correctness Has Skewed Our Understanding Of Racism

By Hsin-Yi Lo, Melbourne-based writer and freelance journalist



Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has caused a storm when she posted an edited photo of Usain Bolt carrying her on his back with the tweet saying, "this is how I'm running errands from now on." But critics have taken the post amiss and blitzed the comedienne on social media demanding her to take off the post. Political correctness is once again the culprit that's killed our joy to make witty jokes, and the parameters of what actually constitutes racism.

PC started in the 1970s which was the era that spawned a generation of activists crusading against institutionalised thoughts that discriminate ethnic minorities, and people from different sexual orientations, religion and physical abilities. Credit should be given to the movement since it has corrected derogatory words like the N-word, and replacing it with 'Afro-American'. PC has also encouraged us to use gender indeterminate descriptions for jobs i.e. chairperson and businessperson so we don't subconsciously think that only males dominate particular roles.

As we live in a more pluralistic world, we should try to eliminate prejudice for the sake of social harmony. But PC has inadvertently bred a "I'm so easily offended" culture where we blow things out of proportion. This year Red Cross' pool safety poster for children came under fire because there were more 'coloured children' portrayed as the naughty kids. If we must be PC about this, could this poster be racist when there are 'white children' also illustrated as disobedient and there is a 'coloured' safety instructor?

Like DeGeneres' post, humour, wit or good intentions are mistaken for spite and racism. In Australia we're encouraged to be more culturally aware in our day-to-day interactions. This also extends to avoiding the greeting 'Merry Christmas' because it could potentially offend non-Christians and give out the idea that only Christmas is celebrated across the country. Instead, we should use religiously-neutral salutes like 'Seasons Greetings'.

I don't have a religion myself, but I don't mind when friends and associates say Merry Christmas to me because I know they wish me well. I also remember when I was studying in the UK, one of my flatmates kindly put a small Christmas tree in the kitchen so those who were alone wouldn't feel desolate and bleak.

In the immortal words of George W Bush: "The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land. And although the movement arises from the laudable desire to sweep away the debris of racism and sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudice with new ones. It declares certain topics off-limits, certain expression off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits".

PC has barred us from openly discussing race, religion, sexuality, etc. If freedom of expression is limited, we lose opportunities to explore more about ourselves, society and the world. Examples include criticism over Hollywood's decision to cast Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko in 'Ghost in the Shell'. According to political correctness, Major Motoko is exclusively Asian even though the character sports a set of blue eyes. I'm also denied the freedom to have open discussions about mixed marriages.

We're also obsessed with finding the perfect description to identify non-white Australians. The word 'ethnic' is considered racist because it implies non-white Australians are 'backwards' and separate from the 'default' Australian race – the white Australians. There are multiple interpretations of the word ethnic, but essentially it describes groups of people who share a common religion, race, cultural heritage and language. To replace it, we used NESB (non-English speaking background) to define non-white Australians.

Unfortunately, NESB didn't fit the shoe because the term hints that second generation migrant Australians could be included. And now, we've got CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse background) – a seemingly immaculate description for non-whites. But with PC's high alert on race and ethnicity – it's hard to address the implications this phrase brings.

I remember I had a debate with a member of the PC brigade who didn't accept that 'CALD' also suggests that Irish-Australians or even Anglo-Australians could be included. And if non-whites have exclusive membership to the CALD club, then we've contradicted ourselves because we're maintaining that there is a divide between whites and non-whites. Since the word ethnic and CALD serves the same purpose, 'ethnic' should be a foul word. As humans we tend to categorise people, who are dissimilar to us, according to their different traits. Through this, this is how we can openly learn about others who are different from us.

Unfortunately, black slavery is part of our world history and it's understandable we're more vigilant when it comes to race relations between black and white people. But now we don't have a proper sense of what bigotry really means, and we've become so preoccupied with taking the self-righteous moral high ground we're carelessly labelling people someone as racist without understanding the full consequences.

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Australia: A racist who was distraught to be called a racist

She seemed to think that it was reasonable to fight racial discrimination by discriminating racially

Cindy Prior, 49, has bittersweet memories of her childhood in a loving family with nine brothers and sisters.

Her parents were Aboriginal, members of the Noongar tribe. They enrolled her in a primary school in Bunbury, Western Australia, and at a high school in the mining town of Kalgoorlie.

In her affidavit in a Racial Discrimination Act section 18C case she brought against Queensland University of Technology students, from whom she is seeking $250,000 in damages, Prior describes formative experiences and events in her life, including racism, before her employment as an administrative officer in QUT’s indigenous-only Oodgeroo Unit in Brisbane.

Her school years, she recalls, were a “challenging time for me and other Aboriginal students due to the perception and racist attitudes of non-indigenous students and some teachers towards us”. “When I started school I made friends with both white and Aboriginal students. Racism in the playground and in the class was a daily occurrence, but surrounded by my big cousins and sister, we stuck up for each other and supported each other. I was above average in all of my classes but as I looked around there were no Aboriginal students in any of my (high school) classes and I deliberately began to fail so that I could be in the same classes as them. I was a quiet, well-liked ­student and had made friends with both white and Aboriginal ­people.”

Prior, who left at the end of Year 10, describes an “extremely disadvantaged” upbringing of her parents. She says her parents were restricted from going to school (except for mission schools) ­because of segregation policies.

Prior worked in a Kalgoorlie shop. Married at 23, she had three children. She says she became sole carer of her now adult children ­following the 2014 death in a car accident of their father, whom she had divorced. She wanted to do an arts degree majoring in human rights, ethics and Australian studies until illness scotched those plans.

At the heart of her affidavit is the reason for it being sworn in the first place: “the 28 May 2013 incident”, the catalyst for her action against the students in an ongoing case that The Weekend Australian has been reporting since it burst into public consciousness in February this year. It is this vexing case that has begun a public debate about 18C’s impact on free speech, posing a challenge for Malcolm Turnbull as he comes under growing pressure to make good on promises he had quietly made to fellow parliamentarians to reform 18C if he replaced Tony Abbott as prime minister. The QUT case is being cited by ­reform-minded federal Liberal politicians, including Abbott, James Paterson, Tim Wilson and Cory Bernardi, along with independent conservatives such as Bob Day and David Leyonhjelm.

The case confounds some of the arguments of supporters of 18C because, on what is known from public filings and other material, it is still going three years later while causing significant financial, reputational and emotional cost to those caught in it and to taxpayers. The unanswered question is to what extent Prior’s family circumstances have contributed to her ­reliance on 18C against the students, reinforcing concerns of some that the legislative provision can be used to address past hurts and unrelated grievances.

Attorney-General ­George Brandis, a Queensland senator, has been conspicuous by his ­silence on the case and its implications for free speech as a result of 18C, which makes it unlawful for anyone to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” another person or group on the grounds of “race, colour or ethnicity”.

In the beginning, according to Prior, colleague Naomi Franks, a learning support officer in the uni, appeared “hesitant and uncertain” on May 28, 2013. She was worried as she told Prior: “There are some people in the computer lab and I don’t think they’re indigenous. Love, you do it.”

Prior, who oversaw reception for the indigenous-only “safe space”, replied: “I’ll deal with it.’’ She says she saw “three young white men I did not recognise at all”, and to one of them, Alex Wood, a fee-paying student who had unknowingly entered the unit to try to access a computer, she asked: “Hi, are you indigenous?’’

Wood: “No, we’re not.’’

Prior: “Ah, this is the Oodgeroo Unit, it’s an indigenous space for indigenous students at QUT. There are other computer labs in the university you can use.’’

Prior says the students said nothing. They packed their gear. Prior had made it plain that they needed to go, however, she insists: “I didn’t ask them to leave because I didn’t want to embarrass them in a black space. They simply left and I thought that that was that.’’

She says she continued working. A few hours later an indigenous student went to her with concerns that comments had been posted to a Facebook site, called QUT Stalker Space, about the eviction of Wood and his two friends from the Oodgeroo Unit. She says there were tears in the unit as the comments were read by the indigenous staff and students.

Wood, in what he saw as a legitimate, uncontroversial exercise of free speech, had written: “Just got kicked out of the unsigned ­indigenous computer room. QUT (is) stopping segregation with segregation.”

Jackson Powell wrote sarcastically: “I wonder where the white supremacist computer lab is.”

One post that was obviously ­offensive — “ITT niggers” — came from a Facebook profile bearing the name of student Calum Thwaites, who had not been near the Oodgeroo Unit. He immediately reported to Facebook and QUT that the Facebook profile had never belonged to him; he would never write such words; and that someone had set him up as part of a student prank.

In her affidavit of 285 pages, including exhibits, earlier this year, Prior recalls: “I was terribly upset and angry. I dread the word ‘nigger’. It is the ultimate racist taunt.”

She and colleagues had printed and screenshot the thread, which was circulated to university management, including the unit’s ­director, Lee Hong, and Mary Kelly, the director of equity. One of Prior’s contacts in the Faculty of Law Project offered her a “safe space” and observed in an email: “I guess it just reinforces what we all know to be true for this place.”

Prior went home and downloaded the posts. She became more upset as she read some students expressing their opinions that an indigenous-only unit was unhelpful because it perpetuated inequality, and resulted in “chronic self-consciousness and feelings of inferiority for Aboriginal people”. She says she became anxious at work the next day. “I had barely slept.” The reference to “white ­supremacists” in the sarcastic post of Powell left her, she says, with a “visceral reaction”, and a “primal fear of images of white hoods and burning crosses”. She says she feared being physically assaulted “if word got out that I was the person” who had turned away Wood. She raised with five managers her security needs as “interim measures for our safety and students” including the activation of swipe-card access. She says she felt “at risk of imminent but unpredictable physical or verbal assault”.

Prior says she was “furious, distraught, upset and emotionally drained” after she had read that QUT academic Sharon Hayes had speculated in an online post that Prior could have breached regulations by questioning Wood and the other two students about whether they were indigenous. Prior went to a doctor and was medically certified as unfit for work. Her initial doctor wrote: “Cynthia feels unsafe and frightened to return to work.”

Ten days after the students walked into the Oodgeroo Unit, a second doctor issued a workers’ compensation certificate declaring her unfit for work due to “nightmares, fear and sweating”. Four days later, Prior, who has not returned to the unit in the three years since the incident, told QUT she would be taking the matter to the Human Rights Commission. She felt “disheartened and powerless” because the university and its vice-chancellor, Peter Coaldrake, had made public statements about the incident and directed new strategies, which did not go far enough in her view. She felt “the critical issue of how to get me back to work and feeling safe once again” was being avoided.

Prior says she was too stressed to meet Kelly at QUT so they met elsewhere, where the director of equity told her and a witness friend “there were only two or three comments that were clear-cut racist”; “you might wanna check out what racial vilification is before you jump in”; and “with the small amount of contact I’ve had with these students it is very clear that they were not racist”. Prior says she felt “physically sick and abandoned”; she “could not understand how or why the students had not already been suspended or disciplined”; and “felt I had been warned off” from taking it further.

On August 1, 2013, Prior described her anxiety and workplace fears to another doctor, who wrote she was “reporting extremely ­severe levels of depression and anxiety, and severe levels of stress”. A subsequent medical tribunal assessment concluded Prior was “not feeling good about her identity, her people, or her culture”, as she accepted the incident had ended her career.

After going in 2014 to the HRC with her formal complaint against seven students under the Racial Discrimination Act’s section 18C, Prior and her Brisbane solicitor, Susan Moriarty, prepared for confidential settlement talks, and commission-sponsored conciliation. The Weekend Australian has established that a number of students in the original legal action, helped by their parents in some cases, paid thousands of dollars to be released from the complaint.

The students strenuously denied being racists or expressing racist views, but before their ­careers had started they feared their reputations and job prospects would be destroyed by anything linking them to the mere ­accusation of racism. The three students left in the case — Wood, Powell and Thwaites, who also deny racism — were not told by the commission until shortly ­before a compulsory conciliation conference in August 2015 that they were accused of racial hatred and faced public naming and shaming. The three students had minimal funds and could not ­afford legal representation. Their lives have been disrupted by the threat of being effectively convicted of racism with all of its attendant ugliness.

The commission ruled last year there was no prospect of a resolution, resulting in the case being advanced to the Federal Circuit Court where the students are being represented pro bono by Tony Morris QC and Michael Henry, both of whom have taken a robust approach to Prior, QUT and the commission over their conduct, evidence and actions. This has led to HRC president Gillian Triggs appointing an external lawyer at taxpayers’ expense, Angus Stewart SC, to run an inquiry into allegations that the commission itself had breached the students’ human rights, with Triggs and her staff acting “disgracefully” — claims they deny.

For Prior, who faces potentially massive orders for legal costs as Federal Circuit Court judge ­Michael Jarrett prepares to rule on whether her action under section 18C should be dismissed, and her lawyers, the case is black and white. But whatever the hurt and offence she insists she felt in late May 2013 over some Facebook posts, public responses to the subsequent 18C legal action and its demand for $250,000 in damages from the students have been significantly more frank and unsympathetic. Many people believe the students were the victims of ­racism because of their eviction.

The words “free speech” are not a feature of Prior’s affidavit, but in the last paragraph she says: “I am deeply disappointed that my private case has now become public, and I have been publicly vilified by people I don’t even know or who know me, or who don’t know the full story which led to the ending of my career at QUT. Whilst I desperately wanted to return to work it became clear each day that passed that this might never happen. I used to check my email every day to hear from somebody until in the end I just gave up.”

SOURCE

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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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