Monday, December 04, 2006


The latest excuse for cancelling Christmas: It "creates pressure"!

There are some miserable bitches in the world

A pre-school has "cancelled Christmas" because it believes traditional pageants put too much pressure on young children. Parents received a letter last week informing them the annual Christmas celebrations at the Maitland Nursery School would not go ahead. The pre-school's director, Megan Filis, blamed the Department of Community Services for acting like a scrooge. In a letter to parents, Ms Filis wrote: "Due to concerns about the amount of pressure put on young children, our funding body, DOCS, has directed all early childhood services to avoid the more traditional types of group performances that we have been used to."

DOCS denied it had made such a directive, but the damage was done. Children were upset and parents were angry. "It's appalling," said Rebecca Crebert, whose daughter, Isabella, had been practising for the December 15 concert. "It's a finale of the work done all year, all the songs and all the actions."

A DOCS spokeswoman said Ms Filis had misinterpreted comments that were made at a recent meeting with DOCS officers. "In this case, DOCS staff were asked whether concerts were too stressful for young children. DOCS advised that the key to a successful end-of-year function was to ensure they were fun and child-focused and not to go over the top," the spokeswoman said. "They're only little children, and it's meant to be about having fun." The spokeswoman said DOCs "encourages centres to enjoy the festive season".

Ms Filis said last year's Christmas concert had "created pressure for children". "We were trying to bring it back to children having a fun day, rather than doing a big performance," she said. Instead of a pageant, Ms Filis will hold three drop-in days, enabling parents to visit their children for an hour. "Our last day will be more relaxed and informal without the group performance," she wrote in the letter to parents.

Ms Filis said Santa Claus would make an appearance, but Mrs Crebert said this was not good enough. "Isabella loves to perform. She was just so disappointed and said: 'Oh, Mum, what's happened? Why won't they let me sing our songs?"' Many of the 120 children, aged three to five, had also invited their grandparents. "It's a kick in the guts for the kids, their parents and their extended families," Mrs Crebert said. "We were looking forward to this, and there's really no pressure involved."


Anti-Christmas fanaticism attacked in Britain

A campaign to save the traditions of Christmas from the interference of politically correct town halls was launched by an influential coalition of Christian and Muslim leaders yesterday. Leaders of the two faiths warned that attempts to suppress Christmas bring a backlash and Muslims get the blame. And they said that while Christmas causes no offence to minority faiths, banning it offends almost everybody.

Notorious local authority attempts to stamp out Christmas include Birmingham's decision to name its seasonal celebrations 'Winterval' and Luton's attempt to change Christmas into a Harry Potter festival by renaming its festive lights 'Luminos'.

The angry rebuke came from the Christian Muslim Forum, a body set up earlier this year with the blessing of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Tony Blair. The body sent a letter to town halls in the name of Anglican Bishop of Bolton David Gillett and senior Islamic cleric and Government adviser Dr Ataullah Siddiqui. It pleaded for an end to the suppression of Christmas and the restoration of its Christian meaning. Council leaders were told: 'There seems to be a secularising agenda which fails to understand the concerns of religious communities. 'The approach of some is to exclude mention of any specific religious event or celebration in order to avoid offending anyone. The usual result of such a policy ends up offending most of the population.' The letter added: 'Any repetition of public bodies and local authorities renaming Christmas, so as not to offend other faith communities, will tend, as in the past, to backfire badly on the Muslim community in particular. 'Sadly we have seen it is they who get the blame - and for something they are not saying.'

The warning from the Council came as public organisations appeared to be redoubling efforts to obliterate Christmas from the calendar or at least remove any Christian element from the celebrations. The Royal Mail this year has removed any Christian references from its Christmas stamps. Notorious local authority attempts to stamp out Christmas include Birmingham's 1998 decision to name its seasonal celebrations 'Winterval' and Luton's 2001 attempt to change Christmas into a Harry Potter festival by renaming its festive lights 'Luminos'.

The letter from the Forum to town halls comes at a time of deepening anger over attempts by powerful organisations to ban any public reference to Christianity. Last week British Airways was forced to back down over a ban on employees wearing a Christian cross. Its order to check-in worker Nadia Eweida that she must wear a cross under her uniform met a furious reponse from the public and provoked an outcry from bishops, MPs and Government ministers.

Alarm over attempts by police and other public bodies to force Christians to accept gay rights rules have produced a major political row between churches and Government over the latest laws that, Anglicans fear, would compel priests to bless same-sex partnerships.

The letter to councils from the Forum said: 'We are conscious that all in public life wish to be similarly inclusive, but some seem to believe, for instance, that talk about Christmas is offensive to those of other faith communities. 'This is something which we have looked at together on the national Christian Muslim Forum and all of us, both Muslims and Christians, wish that people in public positions would take another look at how they deal with religious festivals.' The two leaders added: 'It is important for the 77 per cent who claim affiliation to one faith or another that these festivals should be seen and recognised, rather than banished from the public sphere.' They cited a series of festivals which were 'most commonly in evidence across much of the country' and which should not be suppressed: Christmas and Easter; the Muslim Eid, Hindu Diwali, and Jewish Hanukah.

Dr Siddiqui was appointed earlier this year as an adviser to the Government on providing better information on Islam to students. The appointment followed concern among ministers that Jihadist propaganda in universities was leading students into the hands of extremists. The Muslim cleric is head of the Islamic Foundation of Leicester and an Islamic higher education college, the Markfield Institute of Higher Education.


Come off it, folks: how many paedophiles can there be?

Boris Johnson manages to be jolly about a disgraceful situation

Really? I said, not quite able to believe my luck. There we were, waiting for take-off, and I had just been having a quick zizz. It was a long flight ahead, all the way to India, and I had two children on my left. Already they were toughing each other up and sticking their fingers up each other's nose, and now -- salvation! Hovering above me was a silk-clad British Airways stewardess with an angelic smile, and she seemed to want me to move. "Please come with me, sir" said the oriental vision.

At once, I got her drift. She desired to upgrade me. In my mind's eye, I saw the first-class cabin, the spiral staircase to the head massage, the Champagne, the hot towels. "You betcha!" I said, and began to unbuckle. At which point, the children set up a yammering. Oi, they said to me, where do you think you are going? I was explaining that the captain had probably spotted me come on board, don't you know. Doubtless he had decided that it was outrageous for me to fly steerage, sound chap that he was. I'd make sure to come back now and then, hmmm?

At which the stewardess gave a gentle cough. Actually, she said, she was proposing to move me to row 52, and that was because -- she lowered her voice -- "We have very strict rules". Eh? I said, by now baffled. "A man cannot sit with children," she said; and then I finally twigged. "But he's our FATHER", chimed the children. "Oh," said the stewardess, and then eyed me narrowly. "These are your children?" "Yes," I said, a bit testily. "Very sorry," she said, and wafted down the aisle -- and in that single lunatic exchange you will see just about everything you need to know about our dementedly phobic and risk-averse society. In the institutionalised prejudice of that BA stewardess against an adult male, you see one of the prime causes of this country's tragic under-achievement in schools.

I mention all this because the same absurd kerfuffle happened this week. Some child was put next to an ancient journalist and his wife on a flight, and the airline (BA again) went into spasm. As the hoo-ha raged, the press turned to the lobby groups, and someone called Pam Hibbert of Barnardo's obliged with the usual bossyboots quote. The ban on sitting children next to adults was "eminently sensible", said this eminently ridiculous figure.

I mean, come off it, folks. How many paedophiles can there be? Are we really saying that any time an adult male finds himself sitting next to someone under 16, he must expect to be hustled from his seat before the suspicious eyes of the entire cabin? What about adult females? Every week there is some new tale of what a saucy French mistress is deemed to have done with her adolescent charges behind the bicycle sheds; and, disgraceful though these episodes may be, I don't hear anyone saying that children should be shielded from adult women. Do you? Or maybe I'm wrong -- maybe all adults will have to carry personal cardboard partitions with them on every plane or train, just in case they find themselves sitting next to under-16s.

Even as I write, I can imagine the lip-pursing of some of my lovely high-minded readers. How would you like it, they will say, if some weird chap was plonked next to your kids? And they are right that I would worry about some strange adult sitting next to my children, chiefly because I wouldn't want the poor fellow to come to any harm.

To all those who worry about the paedophile plague, I would say that they not only have a very imperfect understanding of probability; but also that they fail to understand the terrible damage that is done by this system of presuming guilt in the entire male population just because of the tendencies of a tiny minority. There are all sorts of reasons why the numbers of male school teachers are down 50 per cent in the period 1981 to 2001, and why the ratio of female to male teachers in primary schools is now seven to one. There are problems of pay, and the catastrophic failure of the state to ensure that they are treated as figures of authority and respect; and what with 'elf 'n' safety and human rights it is very hard to enforce discipline.

But it is also, surely, a huge deterrent to any public-spirited man contemplating a career in education that society apparently regards all adult male contact with young people as being potentially a bit dodgy, a bit rum, a bit you know... It is a total disaster. It is not just that both boys and girls could do with more male role models in the classroom. Worse still, it often used to be men who taught physics, and maths, and chemistry, and it is the current shortage of such teachers that explains why 80 per cent of pupils studying physics are now taught by someone with a degree in biology; and that in turn helps explain why the numbers doing physics A-level have halved, and why physics departments are closing all over the shop, with all the consequent damage to our science base.

It has tended to be male teachers who take contact sports. Even if they can find a playing-field, these days, the poor male sports teachers have to cope with a terrifying six-inch thick manual explaining how they must on no account shout at their charges, and above all, on pain of prosecution, they must NOT BE LEFT ALONE with the kids. No wonder our children are apparently turning into big fat Augustus Gloops. It is insane, and the problem is the general collapse of trust. Almost every human relationship that was sensibly regulated by trust is now governed by law, with cripplingly expensive consequences.

I blame the media, I blame the judges, I blame the lobby groups, and in particular I blame the cowardly capitalist airline companies that give in to this sort of loony hysteria. If you happen to be reading this on a British Airways flight, and have quite rightly sustained a burst blood vessel, then I think you are entitled to an immediate upgrade.


Women pay the price of abandoning all standards

Feminism attacked traditional standards of female behaviour and young women have embraced that with a vengeance. So women are no longer treated with the respect that went with those traditional standards. Men now often describe all women as "Ho's" (whores, prostitutes) -- with the accompanying attitudes implied by that

Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are the stars of a new slew of internet gossip sites, fondly known as the "slagosphere", which run video of celebrity airheads and reams of paparazzi photographs that never make the magazines. Lately the on again, off again gal pals - or "frenemies" as they are sometimes called - have been plumbing new depths of banality and bad taste. They wear no underwear when they go out in their finery and keep accidentally-on-purpose flashing their shaven crotches to assembled cameras as they alight from Hilton's car or some limo. The gynaecological photos, complete with fresh caesarean scars in the case of recently single mother-of-two Spears, have become the talk of the internet.

But they have also unleashed a torrent of misogynistic abuse that is disturbingly violent and unhinged. The words are unprintable but the mouth-frothing hatred is startling. In site after site, from Egotastic! to The Superficial, anonymous writers tell the girls to "put it away" with a harshness that makes your toes curl. In one clip on the website X17, a male friend of Hilton's spews forth the most disgusting comments about Lohan's vagina to the paparazzi, now armed with video, while Hilton laughs up a storm at her frenemy's expense.

There is a terrible misogyny abroad at the moment - that has men walk up to attractive female strangers in nightclubs and hit them - not hit on them but punch them in the head with their fists. During schoolies week on the Gold Coast last month, for example, a 19-year-old man walking down Cavill Avenue king-hit pretty 18-year-old Natalie Montoya in the face, out of the blue, as she was standing on the corner with a group of girlfriends. "F--- off, slut," he said, knocking her to the ground and leaving her with a swollen nose and bleeding face.

After the shootings this year at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania and a high school in Colorado, The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert pointed out, "the killers went out of their way to separate the girls from the boys, and then deliberately attacked only the girls". Herbert describes the attacks in Colorado and Pennsylvania as "hate crimes" against women, "part of a devastating continuum of misogyny that at its farthest extreme touches down in places like the one-room Amish schoolhouse".

From the extreme pornography so easily available on the internet, to rap lyrics that glory in violence against "bitches", to Big Brother's male contestants holding down a woman and "turkey slapping" her, to pedophile fantasy fashions for little girls, the effect is the same. It dehumanises and disrespects women so that any degrading treatment becomes acceptable.

But there is no point in simply demanding that men change their attitudes. It is no coincidence that the rise in misogyny seems to coincide with some women's rejection of any self-respect or modesty. Underwear-eschewing paparazzi favourites such as Hilton, Spears and Lohan have become role models for young girls all over the world, as Shelley Gare points out in her new book, The Triumph Of The Airheads.

When you think about it, the misogyny sparked on the internet by the It girls' latest antics makes a sort of sick sense. Why would a man respect a woman who doesn't respect herself, when most of society's traditional protections for women have been torn down, often by women themselves, in the name of freedom? But freedom to flash your genitalia to the world is not liberating. It's just sad and ugly, reducing womanly allure to the level of a baboon and giving men no reason to behave well.


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