Saturday, February 04, 2006


As I noted yesterday on Dissecting Leftism, the prosecution of two British National Party men for hate speech has failed. The jury acquitted them on some charges and failed to agree on others. It seems that you may now say critical things about Islam in private conversations in Britain. It's not much and even that limited freedom is still under attack: The British government says it is going to try the men again on the charges that the jury could not agree about. The following press release therefore has my support:

"The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today welcomes the partial acquittal of BNP Leader Nick Griffin and his colleague Mark Collett. Both men had been charged with political offences. Their probable retrial on those charges where the Jury could not agree constrains the Libertarian Alliance from saying all that it otherwise might. But their acquittal on some of the charges is unreservedly welcomed.

Moving away from matters subject to the sub iudice rule, the Libertarian Alliance calls on the British Government to repeal all laws against racial hatred and racial discrimination. Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, comments: "The rights to freedom of speech and association are fundamental to a free society. So far as these rights are diminished, that society becomes less free. I was born in a country where these rights had been enjoyed for centuries. I have reached middle age in a politically correct police state where the Government is now trying to silence its opponents through the courts. Particularly under Tony Blair, this country has become a more genteel version of Zimbabwe.

"Doubtless, there are people who take offence at the expression of certain views on race and immigration. But free speech that does not include the right to give offence is not free speech. It is the political equivalent of decaffeinated coffee.

"If people are upset by what they read or hear, let them ignore it or argue against it. There is no place in these debates for the Thought Police.

" The Libertarian Alliance believes:

* That the Race Relations Act 1976 should be repealed;
* That the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 should be repealed;
* That, pending repeal, the Race Regulations subsequent to these Acts should be withdrawn;
* That those sections of the Public Order Act 1986 dealing with speech and publication should be repealed;
* That those sections of the Criminal Justice Act 1998 dealing with "racial aggravation" of offences should be repealed;
* That the Commission for Racial Equality and all similar organisations should be abolished, and their records burned;
* That all those convicted of thought crimes under the above laws should be pardoned and, where appropriate, compensated;
* That the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill now before Parliament should be abandoned;
* That the Human Rights Act 1998 should be amended to protect the right of people to say anything they like about public issues, and to associate or not associate as they please.


Parents of a student who attended a taxpayer-funded summer educational institute are upset that the program included, without their prior knowledge, a seminar that promoted homosexuality. Jim and Beverly Burrows say their son returned home from last year's Governor's School "confused" about homosexuality as a result of the seminar, and that they have had to seek family counseling. "We feel that this was totally inappropriate for the students who were 15, 16, and 17 years old," the Burrowses wrote to officials at the State Departament of Public Instruction. "We feel that our rights as parents have been violated by this program."

In addition to complaining to DPI officials, the Burrowses wrote to editors at several newspapers in North Carolina. DPI officials have defended the seminar, saying it was optional for students to attend, as is the Governor's School itself. The seminar, "The New Gay Teenager," was based on a book with the same name, written by homosexual Cornell University professor Ritch Savin-Williams. The book and the Governor's School seminar discussed whether homosexual teen-agers benefit, or are harmed, by embracing labels based on their sexual orientation. The co-leaders of the seminar identified themselves as gay, Mrs. Burrows said - which is supported by documentation obtained by Carolina Journal.

"We trusted their reputation," Mrs. Burrows said. "It's supposed to be one of the highest honors in the school system, to go to the Governor's School." The six-week Governor's School is held every summer, with 400 students each at two locations: Salem College in Winston-Salem (West) and Meredith College in Raleigh (East). The "Gay Teenager" seminar was conducted at the West school. The residential program draws public high school students who are approaching their senior years, and who are nominated by their high schools' teachers and administrators. Students are identified as "intellectually gifted," and the program "integrat(es) academic disciplines, the arts, and unique courses.." Students explore "recent ideas and concepts in each discipline," but are not tested or graded. No academic credit is given for participation.

The Department of Public Instruction's Exceptional Children Division oversees the Governor's School. The state budget fully funds the program, with $1.3 million set aside for it this fiscal year. Students are nominated based on specific areas of academic or performing-arts excellence, and pay nothing to attend, other than the cost to travel to the schools.....

In a letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, the Burrowses alleged, based on a conversation with their son, that the seminar was "pro-homosexual." The Burrowses said that they should have been informed about what the students would be taught and that they were not given the opportunity to decline the seminar on behalf of their son. They also alleged that the staff leading the seminar had "a pro-homosexual agenda."

The Governor's School Internet Web site lists 88 optional seminars presented "recently" at the West school, but none indicates homosexuality or any other controversial subject matter. Some seem of limited interest, but the Web site says seminars "are very well-attended by students and faculty." Titles of other optional seminars include "Famine Relief for Mauritania," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy," and "Meet Your Meat, Part I" and "Part II." Lucy Milner, on-site director of the Governor's School West last year, estimated that about half the students and faculty attended "The New Gay Teenager" seminar.

The Burrowses also complained that the seminar was the last optional one conducted at the school, two days before the closing ceremonies. It also was the only seminar scheduled for its time slot, whereas in most other cases students had more than one to choose from. The Burrowses suspect the scheduling was intentional, meant to leave a lasting impression on the students. The seminar was not placed on the schedule until the end of the fifth week, after Milner said she was approached by faculty who said students had been discussing the issue. Seminars are regularly scheduled during the school session based upon topics that arise in class discussions.

The Burrowses also said the two staff members who led the seminar were both homosexuals who encouraged the students to remain active in promoting the issue. They said both instructors encouraged students to start gay and lesbian clubs at their schools after the students returned to their homes. The Burrowses also alleged that students were "taught in their classes to question and not believe what they had been taught by their parents all these years." They said their son was told that the Bible was not true, was filled with inconsistencies, and did not apply to society today. "After finding out what this program was really about," the Burrowses wrote to Atkinson, "we totally regret sending our son to [the Governor's School]. However, the damage.has been done." ......

Atkinson promised the Burrowses, in a letter dated Sept. 23, 2005, that the Exceptional Children Division would examine the courses and instructional practices of the Governor's School. On Nov. 3 the Burrowses were sent a letter from Mary Watson, director of the division, who defended the school's decision to conduct the seminar. Her letter contained a lengthy memo from on-site Director Lucy Milner, addressing the Burrowses' concerns and explaining her decision to allow the seminar......

One instructor of "The New Gay Teenager" seminar was Wesley Nemenz - the 19-year-old "office assistant" for the Governor's School. The Burrowses said Nemenz had contact with their son, "trying to convince him to start a `Gay & Lesbian' club at his high school." ....

While Milner and Watson denied any agenda at the Governor's School, Nemenz expressed a different view. "To lump every distinct, individual faculty member together and say that they had a collective `agenda' is absolutely ridiculous," Nemenz wrote in a Governor's School message board on the MySpace Internet Web site. But he said as individuals, "we all have agendas. It is my personal belief that [the Governor's School] is only an enabler for you to create your own agenda.

"In doing the New Gay Teenager seminar, my `agenda' was to shed light on an interesting way of looking at sexuality and to talk about my personal experience. . I believe my agenda succeeded. And I believe that people are better off for it. I could be wrong . but it's my agenda and I'll tout it if I want to. We all have our agendas."

More here

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