Thursday, August 31, 2006


Even a casual reading of the news pages these days serves up a larger than usual number of comments and assertions so silly or stupid that even those who make them have to know that they are silly or stupid. Granted, we seldom expect straight talk from statesmen and politicians, but wouldn't it be a wonderful world if we could get answers to the following questions ?

If Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora is correct that the unintentional loss of lives due to Israeli air strikes constitutes crimes against humanity, how do we categorize Hezbollah's intentional killing of Israeli civilians with its rocket attacks upon Israeli cities ?

If John Kerry truly believes that Joe Lieberman's refusal to support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is a Republican position, hasn't he concisely explained why no Democrat, including Kerry, has won 50 percent of the popular vote for the presidency over the past 30 years ?

If George W. Bush's use of the term "Islamic fascists" in the aftermath of the Heathrow terrorist scare spreads hate and represents a slur against all those Muslims who aren't fascists, as some Muslim activists claim, don't we need to urgently revise our history books to remove all references to German and Italian fascists ? Or are such terms only politically correct, thus acceptable, when directed against Europeans ?

If even discussing the propensity of Muslim extremists for terrorism and violence represents hate speech, how do we engage in reasoned discourse with the goal of identifying and removing the sources of such Muslim violence and terrorism ? Or are we to somehow pretend that those who have committed so much of the terrorism against us in recent years, including on 9 / 11, are actually Christians, Buddhists and Hindus in disguise ?

If using military force in response to terrorism is counterproductive, as many liberals (and conservatives like George W. Will ) now argue, doesn't that leave only the law enforcement approach that we pursued before 9 / 11 as an alternative ? And how, precisely, is that an improvement ?

If Iran and Syria are acknowledged sponsors of terrorism directed at Americans and American interests, how can such behavior constitute anything other than acts of war by any reasonable reading of international law ?

If Hezbollah is truly the resistance, what, exactly, were they resisting in all those years after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon ?

If Islam is so obviously a religion of peace, why do so many of its clerics preach jihad and hatred, and why do they have no counterparts of any kind in the clergy of other religions ? Or is it intolerant and bigoted to merely ask such questions?

If all religions are, by definition, peaceful, then why have there been so many bloody religious wars over the centuries ? Or do we use the "religion of peace" moniker only because it is politically incorrect to do otherwise, regardless of the facts ?

If Hezbollah won't disarm and leave southern Lebanon in accord with the cease-fire agreement, why should Israel be required to withdraw its forces ? And does anyone other than Kofi Annan really believe that the Lebanese Army has either the ability or will to disarm Hezbollah and police the area ?

If most everyone in Hollywood is anti-Bush and opposed to the war in Iraq, why are Hollywood figures always being praised as courageous when they express such sentiments ? Wouldn't courage in such a context consist of doing exactly the opposite, of being pro-war and saying nice things about the current administration ?

If Fidel Castro is as beloved by the Cuban people as news reports suggested on the occasion of his recent illness, why has he never put that popularity to a test in a free and fair election ?

If Islam has been hijacked by extremists, then why did so-called mainstream Muslims let that hijacking take place, and what are they doing about it ? Or have they simply been too busy blaming the problems of the Islamic world on America and tiny Israel to look into the mirror ?

If Democrats truly believe that Americans will embrace their "withdraw now" position on Iraq, why do they attempt to disguise that position by referring to it as a redeployment of forces ? Perhaps because it sounds better than "cut and run" ?



The British love of revealing biographies is under threat because of a legal case about a Canadian folk singer determined to keep the public from finding out what lay under the linoleum in her Irish cottage. The ramifications could also affect "kiss-and-tell" stories in print and on television, and could give stars the power to veto photographs taken in public.

Publishers and media organisation are now mounting a legal battle against the "backdoor" assault on freedom of expression. Loreena McKennitt, whose albums including The Book of Secrets and The Mask and Mirror have sold 13m copies worldwide, went to the High Court in London to stop a former friend from publishing a book about her. While the details of the case are not judged to be important, it was what Mr Justice Eady said in his judgment that has exercised legal minds. They fear that the most trivial or anodyne details about a celebrity's life, even ones that are known to the public, could now be hidden under the guise of protecting privacy.

Times Newspapers (publishers of The Sunday Times), other newspaper groups, the Press Association, the BBC, BSkyB and a number of magazine publishers will go to the Court of Appeal on September 4 to seek permission to intervene in the case. They also fear public figures such as politicians and celebrities will use the case in an attempt to muzzle information that has already been made public. One media lawyer said: "It would be like trying to make someone a virgin again."

Literary and other public figures who have fought to block unauthorised biographies include JK Rowling, Bono, Mary Archer and Sir John Mortimer. Eady awarded McKennitt 5,000 pounds damages and an injunction preventing Niema Ash from Hampstead, northwest London, publishing specific passages in her book Travels With Loreena McKennitt: My Life as a Friend. These included such mundane matters as what was under the lino of the house in Ireland, how many bunk beds were put up when visitors came to stay and what happened when McKennitt was aroused from sleep.

But his judgment went much further. For the first time a British court drew on a 2004 ruling at the European Court of Human Rights that said photographs of Princess Caroline of Monaco shopping in a public place or in a swimming costume at a beach club breached her right to privacy. The judge claimed there was a "significant shift" taking place between, on the one hand, the right of freedom of expression and the corresponding interest of the public to receive information and, on the other hand, "the legitimate expectation of citizens to have their private lives protected".

He said information about an affair between two people could be protected even if one of them decided to reveal it to the public; incorrect information could breach someone's right to privacy; and the fact that something was already in the public domain did not always mean it could be published again.

Ash has lodged an appeal and the media organisations are seeking to join in the action when it is heard later this year. McKennitt has said in an interview: "Privacy is integral to people's emotional and psychological wellbeing. It doesn't matter if you are a so-called public figure."

Media lawyers say the case has wider ramifications than the long-running one brought against a tabloid newspaper by Naomi Campbell, the supermodel. She won 3,500 pounds damages from the Daily Mirror after it revealed her fight against drug addiction. The Court of Appeal overturned the award but the House of Lords then allowed the model's appeal against that judgment, saying the newspaper had gone too far in detailing her medical treatment.

Under the Eady judgment, celebrities will be able to sue for breach of privacy over the slightest affront to their feeling of self-importance. They will not have to prove that something is untrue, but just that raising it has invaded their privacy.

A spokesman for the solicitors Farrer & Co said: "This judge has clearly recognised the development of privacy cases in Europe. This judgment will be much quoted in future `kiss-and-tell' actions."


Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Targeting People of Faith

Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 1441 (Kuehl-D) into law today. SB 1441 would require all businesses and organizations receiving funding from the state to condone homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality or lose state funding. There is no exception for faith-based organizations or business owners with sincerely held religious convictions.

"This isn't even a veiled attempt at subtly advancing the radical homosexual agenda," stated Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute. "SB 1441 is an outright, blatant assault on religious freedom in California."

This legislation will prevent parochial schools, such as private, Christian, Catholic, Mormon, and many other religious universities, from receiving student financial assistance if they also maintain a student code of conduct preventing behavior deemed immoral by their religious beliefs. By withholding state funding from schools, students' educational opportunities will be severely limited. And limiting educational opportunities will result in a less diverse, less educated citizenry.

"As a citizen of California and a religious person, I am terribly disappointed in Governor Schwarzenegger," stated Meredith Turney, Legislative Liaison for Capitol Resource Institute. "It is bad public policy to add to the list of protected classes a sexual behavior. Equating sexual preference with the immutable characteristics of age, national origin or race will result in other variable behaviors being added to the list of invariable classes rightfully protected."

Forcing private education institutions to accept students engaged in behavior offensive to the school's moral code is a serious infringement of the constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

"This bill is yet another attempt to prevent citizens with moral and religious principles from expressing their beliefs and educating their children according to those beliefs," continued England. "On behalf of California families, private schools and other private organization, I express our outrage at this attack on our freedom. Unfortunately for California families, there are several other radical homosexual bills heading towards the Governor's desk."


No comments: