Tuesday, February 28, 2006
He sounds a lot like The Prime Minister of Australia in fact
Muslims must accept that freedom of speech is central to Britishness and should be preserved even if it offends people, says Sir Trevor Phillips. The chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) said we should "allow people to offend each other". And he suggested that Muslims who wanted a system of Islamic Shariah law should leave the UK. His comments follow angry protests against cartoons satirising the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Sir Trevor told ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby programme: "What some minorities have to accept is that there are certain central things we all agree about, which are about the way we treat each other. "That we have an attachment to democracy, that we sort things out by voting not by violence and intimidation, that we tolerate things that we don't like." And that commitment to freedom of expression should also allow Muslim preachers to make comments about homosexuality that are offensive to broad segments of the British population, he said. "One point of Britishness is that people can say what they like about the way we should live, however absurd, however unpopular it is," said Sir Trevor.
He also rejected the idea of Shariah law in Muslim communities in the UK. "We have one set of laws. They are decided on by one group of people, members of Parliament, and that's the end of the story. "Anybody who lives here has to accept that's the way we do it. If you want to have laws decided in another way, you have to live somewhere else," he said.
THE POLITICALLY CORRECT DELUSIONS OF THE EUROPEAN LEFT
From a review of "The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium" by Paul Edward Gottfried
According to Gottfried, we have witnessed in recent decades a gradual and accelerating evolution of the European Left away from doctrinaire Marxism and toward a multicultural substitute that bears little resemblance to the earlier creed. Essentially, no one on the European Left calls for nationalizing the means of production or looks toward a sweeping overthrow of capitalism at the hands of a class-conscious proletariat any longer. Why this should be is a complicated matter. Social, economic, and demographic changes in Europe have made substantial inroads into an ideology aimed at the working class. There is, also, reality’s stubborn refusal to conform to classical Marxist predictions of the immiseration of the proletariat; anyone can see that the working class of the Western world enjoys a standard of living of which even the nobility of yore could only have dreamed.
The European Left is, therefore, post-Marxist. As Gottfried puts it, “Looking at the legislation Communists have pushed center-left coalitions into supporting—from hate-speech laws directed primarily against the European Christian majority populations, through the criminalization of published or televised communications deemed to deny or minimize Nazi acts of genocide, to the sponsoring of multicultural programs, to the declaration of national commemorations for the deportation of Nazi victims, gay rights, and the raising of public subsidies for asylum-seekers—it is not clear how these projects fit into Marxist revolution.”
Inseparable from the modern European Left, Gottfried argues, is an intense self-loathing for all things Western (themselves and their ideology excluded, naturally), and particularly for the Western past. This pathology manifests itself in “the frenzied desire to repopulate the West with non-Western immigrants, some of whom are unmistakably hostile, and the propensity to exalt what is non-Western as a replacement for Western moral and spiritual impoverishment.” One is reminded of Robert Frost’s definition of a liberal as someone who refuses to take his own side in an argument.
Although American conservatives from time to time still write books and articles about the alleged problem of leftist anti-Americanism in Europe, Gottfried suggests that the “anti-Americanism” complained of by many on the Right is only superficial. Although European leftists have vigorously dissented from American Middle East policy, they deeply admire what the United States has become at home, finding “aspects of American politics and society they wished to import into their own country.” And unpleasant as it may be to admit, why shouldn’t they, given the leftist premises that dominate American political speech, even among many self-described conservatives? “Generous immigration policies, a culturally pluralistic, creedal basis for citizenship, and the readiness to employ government to banish prejudice were American trends that the European Left, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet model, ran to espouse.” Alain Minc, one of Le Monde’s senior editors, wrote last year that “no democrat can ever be anti-American, seeing that America is the land identified in an almost ontological sense with modernity and progress.”
In its never-ending “antifascist” crusade, the European Left is anxious to reeducate those backward souls whose religious convictions and bourgeois values could, they fear, easily give place to a fascist resurgence. Now any sensible person realizes that fascism is about as likely to return to Europe as the Bourbons are to return to the French throne. But the European Left sees fascism and oppression everywhere: in even the mildest expressions of nationalism and national identity, in insufficient devotion to multiculturalism, and in continuing allegiance to the bourgeois family.
According to Gottfried, “Whether fighting to allow unrestricted Third World immigration into Europe, gay marriage, the lowering of the legal age for male homosexual prostitution, the building of mosques at the expenses of European taxpayers, this Left is implacably hostile to those who think differently and trace this deviation to fascist sympathies.” Merely calling attention to atrocities perpetrated by communist regimes is frequently denounced as evidence of fascist tendencies, since cataloguing such offenses supposedly serves to divert attention from fascist crimes, the Holocaust in particular.
Sometimes the antifascist crusade even involves the criminalization of insensitive speech, as in France where the infamous Loi Gayssot, introduced in 1990, has been applied “to prevent or inhibit criticism of immigration, the growing Islamicist presence in France, and responses to attacks on the French Catholic identity.” Banning such speech is one of the therapeutic functions of the managerial state, staffed by leftists, whose task it is to govern in accordance with officially sanctioned victimology and to punish patterns of thought and behavior among the majority population that indicate a lack of penitence for past racism, sexism, homophobia, and other sins against officially protected groups.
Given the cultural and political dominance of the Left in present-day Europe, such that even alleged conservatives all too often speak in a leftist idiom, the continent’s future is, to say the least, uncertain. On the one hand, Western Europe is experiencing a massive influx of non-Westerners who are, quite possibly, religiously and culturally unassimilable and who, in many cases, lack even the desire to be assimilated into their new societies. On the other, Europe is dominated by a political and intellectual class that views this demographic revolution as a delightful source of enrichment for a Europe in need of redemption.
One hardly needs a crystal ball to predict the outcome of a clash between a determined and self-confident Muslim population and a European elite that lacks the will to defend itself—and worse, has long since abandoned the thought that Europe possesses much worth defending in the first place. Unless the continent’s political culture undergoes a dramatic transformation in the very near future, the suicidal ideology of the European Left practically guarantees not only that Europe as we know it will simply disappear amid the radical demographic shifts that the Left itself has engineered, but also that its trip to the graveyard will be accompanied by delusional hymns to multiculturalism, human brotherhood, and the glorious victory against resurgent fascism.
Kingsley R. Browne on Sex Differences
Post lifted from Keith Burgess Jackson
There are a number of reasons that "all-consuming" jobs are aversive to women. One reason, of course, is children. Seventy or eighty-hour (or even fifty or sixty-hour) work weeks are not compatible with the level of family involvement that many people, but especially many women, desire. Because women, on average, desire greater day-to-day involvement with their children than men do, intense career investment is more costly to them. Despite the fact that surveys find that women are as satisfied with their jobs as men are, they are less satisfied with the number of hours they work, despite the fact that they work shorter hours.
Not only are the psychic costs to women higher for participation in grueling careers, the psychic rewards may be smaller. Because women, on average, attach less value to being at the very top of their profession than men do, the psychic payoff to women from single-minded dedication to (or obsession with) achievement of professional status is often less than for men. That is, women are more likely than men to say, "If that's what this career requires, it's not worth it to me." In academia, a primary measure of status is scholarly productivity. Scores of studies of academic productivity have found that men publish more articles than women do, typically about 50% more (independent of whether they have children). This disparity is obviously not due to women's inability to publish more but rather to the fact that they choose not to.
Although one might argue that jobs should not be structured to require so many hours, the fact that some people (predominantly men) are willing, even eager, to work such hours, means that competitive pressures to be productive result in many other people working longer hours than they might like even in the absence of a formal requirement. The two most obvious solutions to this problem, if it is a problem, is to break the link between productivity and reward or to prohibit people, even those who are eager to do so, from working long hours. Neither of these courses of action is practical, of course. Even if universities stopped providing tangible rewards for scholarly productivity, the major status reward of scholarship is not in its tangible recognition by one's employer but by its reception in the scholarly community. As for limiting work hours, that is easy enough to do for factory workers, but not so easy for academics who may do much of their work at home or in otherwise unsupervised settings. Apart from practical concerns, there is, of course, the further question whether either of these responses would be desirable.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Black boys are victims of statistical racism says a leading criminologist who believes that yearly crime figures only reinforce the negative stereotype of young black men as `a problem' to society. Through extensive research Marianne Fitzgerald, a Professor of Criminality at the University of Kent has found that street crime is unrelated to ethnicity [It's just those racist police arresting innocent blacks, of course] but has everything to do with poverty and social circumstances. [So what causes poverty? Could it be ethnic characteristics?]
Fitzgerald who worked for the Home Office research unit for over 10 years was concerned about the way so called `ethnic' statistics were being used, particularly in the context of crime. She started by examining education statistics and then moved onto explore the notion `statistical racism' through the publication of crime figures. Her educational research led her to conclude that the education system (primary school to GCSE secondary stage) was letting down black children especially in poor areas. [Their own behaviour has nothing to do with their failure to learn, of course]
"In discussion, I'd see kids who we're unmistakeably bright but when I got them to fill in a short survey at the end of class, it was obvious they were being sent out into the world with a standard of literacy which was lower than that of my 8 year old granddaughter even though they were nearly twice as old and just as bright. "This meant their job prospects were poor; so their chances of legitimately earning the things they aspired to were very limited.
She added: "Yet, as I knew only too well, those in the poorest areas were surrounded by crime and opportunities for crime. Also very few of them were white but that was simply because these were areas that most whites had long-since abandoned." [And why would whites have abandoned them? Whites LOVE being victims of black crime!]
She has agreed with Trevor Phillips' admittance last year that black boys perform much worse in schools than white boys was true but pointed out that Asian boys from poor groups like the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were also under-performing. However when you contrast, pupils of Indian origin (a group on equal social-economic terms as whites [And why would that be?]) they actually do better than average, with Indian girls too out-performing whites in secondary schools.
The common denominator which stands out is ethnicity rather than race. [A distinction without a difference?]
Fitzgerald says that Trevor Phillips suggestion that black boys be given separate treatment rings alarm bells about what has been referred to as `statistical racism'. When analysising prison statistics she says she was labelled as a `liberal' criminologist because she questioned the massive over-representation of black people but not `Asians'. At the Home Office all major police forces were told that from 1996 they would have to provide annual statistics on stop/searches, caution and arrests broken down by ethnic group. To Fitzgerald it was obvious which group would come out on top. [Obvious indeed]
She said: "In the long term I had concerns about ways these figures might be interpreted as a measure of the scale of `black criminality', even if this wasn't stated openly." She highlights there was "a very pronounced degree of disproportion in the prison figures from the start." Similar patterns were also apparent in the Met's arrest figures "which account for the bulk of any supposedly national statistics for black people anyway, because nearly two thirds of the total black population lives in London."
The solution to statistical racism in the long-term, is to identify all of the factors which produce these patterns in the figures and addressing the underlying causes - many of which have nothing at all to do with race and ethnicity. For example street crime as a result of poor housing, unemployment or even the pressure to have the latest designer labels. [How awful to be under such pressure! An excellent reason to mug people!]
Statistical information could be used to emphasise that government policies, for example police operations are having an adverse effect on members of the black community - most of whom will be innocent of any crime. "The immediate challenge is to stop the figures being read as if they told us some objective truth about essential differences between whole groups of people," she says. [Group statistics don't tell us about group differences??]
Pro-Test: supporting animal testing
A new campaign by Oxford students makes the case for scientific progress and medical research
In recent months, medical research and animal testing has become an increasingly inflammatory topic in Oxford, England. The media interest has so far been in student fears and grievances, and the violent methods and intimidation of the animal rights protesters.
All acts of violence on the part of animal rights protesters should be denounced, and there are laws in place for this. Yet SPEAK, the non-violent animal rights group, is fully within its right to protest and make its case, however noisily.
There is little merit in being drawn into a debate about the methods of animal rights groups. This shifts the attention away from the key issues, which concern science, and our understanding of the role played by medical research in the advancement of human knowledge and welfare. Animal experimentation is an integral and necessary component of such research, and should be defended for these reasons.
With this in mind, a 16-year-old student set up Pro-Test, with the idea of defending the construction of the new Oxford animal facility. Pro-Test began with a small-scale counter-demonstration on 28 January 2006 with the slogan 'Support Progress: Build the Oxford Animal Lab'. In reaction to the positive response from Oxford students, local business owners and other people on the day, a website was launched: www.Pro-Test.org.uk. Today, Pro-Test consists of a group of students who are concerned above all with the promotion of science, medical research, reasoned debate, and human welfare. The goal of Pro-Test is to make the case for animal testing. It is generally well known that vaccines, antibiotics, transplant surgeries, medical devices such as pacemakers, and other developments would not be here today if animal testing had not been used. But animal rights activists want to stop all current and future animal testing.
Challenging this through a defence of scientific experimentation should not be just the particular concern of Oxford students, or of scientists. It is an issue that concerns society as a whole, and goes to the heart of how we understand ourselves, and what vision we have of humanity and the capacity for bettering human welfare through the pursuit of scientific research. Life as we know it would not be possible without experimenting on animals.
Animal rights activists often demonise scientists, pretending that they are sadists who enjoy torturing animals just for the sake of it. There are countless examples of the lengths to which scientists go to minimise the suffering of animals. But the simple point is that scientists are not sadists: they act in the way that they see fit, according to principles that they share with the rest of us.
Animal research takes place not because of the laziness of scientists, or because it is just the cheapest option foisted on to scientists by pharmaceutical companies that put profits before anything else. They take place because they are a necessary component of scientific research. At the early stages of biomedical research, alternatives to animal testing exist, which is why the majority of research devoted to finding new treatments is done through chemical, biochemical, biological and pharmacological assays involving DNA, RNA, proteins, and mammalian cells.
But in the end, drugs must be tested in an animal model in order to see the effects of a compound in the entire body, not just in a cellular environment. Testing drugs in animals before doing so in humans helps researchers find potential toxic side effects, as well as understand the metabolism of drug compounds and consequent effects seen throughout the body. This cannot be replicated in cellular assays.
As in all fields of human activity, errors have been made. Animal rights activists use isolated cases as reasons for stopping animal testing. In fact, looking more closely at such cases suggests the opposite conclusion: not less but more testing.
A famous example often cited by animal rights groups is thalidomide. Thalidomide was introduced in 1956 and marketed as a sedative. Within several years, its use had spread around the world and women began taking it to help combat the nausea associated with pregnancy. In 1961, several physicians linked thalidomide with birth defects they observed in cases of female patients who had been taking it. Very quickly, these results were confirmed worldwide, and thalidomide was taken off the market.
Thalidomide did initially pass safety tests in animals because the proper tests - namely, testing thalidomide in pregnant animals - were not performed. If a thorough battery of tests had been performed in animals, the birth defects would have been detected. Animal rights groups confuse an error resulting from an absence of testing with one resulting from conducting tests on animals. They claim, quite erroneously, that thalidomide did not cause birth defects in animals, only humans. Once the drug was pulled off the market, additional tests in animals were done, and it was found that mice, rats, hamsters, marmosets and baboons all suffered similar effects as observed in humans....
In contemporary debate, animal rights groups dominate the agenda. Those who oppose animal rights groups often concede on the principle, and argue only with the methods of animal rights activists. Yet the only way to challenge the climate of fear that currently surrounds the debate on animal testing is to win the argument. Confidence in the strength of their ideas will give people the will to stand up to the threats and intimidation. This can only come through a defence of animal research as a necessary component of scientific experimentation.
Pro-Test stands by the belief that the value of human life is such that these drugs should be tested on animals before they are tested on any human beings.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
With the approval of the Bush administration, a company owned by the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over commercial management of shipping and stevedoring operations at six major American ports, located on the eastern seaboard and in New Orleans. When attention was suddenly drawn to this development last week, the urge toward public-safety questions was understandable. Not panic, but legitimate questions.
Sure as Dean follows Howard, though, understandable concern rapidly degenerated into calculated hysteria from poseurs seeking to claim the high ground from a president against whose measure they stand as national-security Lilliputians. Accelerating the downward spiral, the administration's initially temperate but unconvincing defense of the transaction devolved just as quickly into nauseating politically correctness.
Neither corner of the ring has distinguished itself. In one, leading Democrats and some Republicans are evidently shocked to learn that many of the nation's ports are managed by foreigners. Indeed, even as they railed against the prospect of this buy-out by UAE's Dubai Ports World, Inc., they skipped past the inconvenient fact that the seller, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, is a British concern. Naturally, they prefer to cast the issue as one of foreign port-terminal management because they lack the gumption to state that the problem is Islamic participation in what is a gaping soft-spot in our armor. Yet, as usual, such too-clever-by-half cravenness has landed them in a box. Terminals at the ports in question - like many others in the country - have long been under the management of non-Americans. Should we expel everyone?
Especially precious in this regard is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's newfound passion for port security. Fresh from throwing in her lot with partisan efforts to derail the Patriot Act and frame the NSA's surveillance of wartime enemy communications as a crime, the '08 stars in Mrs. Clinton's eyes have suddenly twinkled with a fond memory: namely, how her husband managed to win the 1992 election, in large part, by getting to the right of the first President Bush on what was that era's great global menace - post-Tiananmen Square China. So here she is, trying to elbow her way to the right of the current Bush administration on the scourge of al Qaeda . and hoping the rest of us are struck by amnesia.
You may recall, however, that, upon election, President Clinton proceeded to get tough with Beijing for, oh, about ten minutes. After that, there was no transfer of precious technology and no national security secret that couldn't be had for the right price. Oh, and guess who now controls several port operations on the West Coast? And has for years? Well, whaddya know? It's China.
Indeed, Chinese infiltration of U.S. ports would have been even more pervasive if Senator Clinton's husband had had his way. In 1998, the Republican Congress (led by Senator James Inhofe (OK) and Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA)) had to stop him from turning over management of a 144-acre terminal at the former U.S. Naval Station in Long Beach to the Chinese Ocean Shipping Company - a subsidiary of the People's Liberation Army linked to arms trading to Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Pakistan, Cuba, and even the street gangs of Los Angeles.
Of course, in the Clinton years, when anyone had the temerity to suggest that maybe it wasn't such a hot idea to give away the store to thuggish, democracy-crushing Communists, we were told such troglodyte notions were insentient to the alchemy of "constructive engagement." This was the very "why make friends when you can let them buy you?" philosophy that led these super-competent, obsessed-with-national-security Clintonistas to sell $8 billion worth of F-16s, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, other advanced weapons, and sundry munitions to - guess who? - The United Arab Emirates.
That happened in early 2000. For those keeping score, that's less than two years after al Qaeda blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It is one year after the Clinton administration had Osama bin Laden targeted at a camp in Afghanistan . but called the strike off because the al Qaeda chief was in the company of high UAE officials, including an Emirati prince. A few months later, while the Clinton folks were getting the UAE its new military hardware, the regime's friends at al Qaeda were blowing up the U.S.S. Cole.
So why do I have this crazy feeling that, in a new Clinton era, we'd be apt to find a lot more "engagement" than exclusion of the UAE (not to mention other dubious "partners") at our ports? In any event, now that Senator Clinton is all over this port thing, it'll be interesting to hear how she plans to tackle those dread Chinese foreigners managing California's coastline - not to mention her explanation of why the administration in which she figured so prominently thought it was okay to sell lots of stuff that goes boom to a country apparently not even fit to run a port terminal.
Meanwhile, President Bush, who has never, ever vetoed anything in five years - not campaign-finance "reform" that shredded core First Amendment protections, not bursting budgets they haven't built calculators big enough to tally, not a law extending Fifth Amendment protections to alien enemy combatants, etc. - has somehow decided that this, the great principle of equal-market access for checkered Muslim regimes, is where he draws his line in the sand.
The president is promising to kill any legislation aimed at derailing the deal, so offended is he by the suggestion that, in the middle of a war against jihadists, a tiny Islamic country with a history of terror ties, which lives in an unstable, al Qaeda-friendly neighborhood, maybe, just maybe, might be a smidge less suitable for port management than, say, a private company based in England. (England, for those with a short memory, is a country with which we have a bit of history, and which was, for example, patrolling the no-fly zone with us in Iraq while the aforementioned Emirati prince was cavorting with bin Laden in Kandahar.) I mean, does it get any more chauvinistic than that?
So while Democrats pander to our fears (and thus adopt the very cudgel they claim the administration has clubbed them with since 9/11), the president panders to what he takes to be our sense of fair play. He has he challenged lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal reports, to "step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard" than a British company. Well, okay. The Middle Eastern company is wholly owned by an Islamic autocracy. The president says we need to democratize the Islamic world because autocracies are unstable. And this particular one, oil-rich but only about the size of Maine, has more non-citizens than citizens among its four million or so residents, is enmeshed in a territorial dispute with those famously reasonable mullahs in Iran (over the Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island), and has been a hub for international narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
Nonetheless, the administration regards the regime - which does not show much promise of democratic reform - as both friendly and adherent to moderate Islam. As usual, "moderate" is in the eye of the beholder. For example, it is a crime punishable by imprisonment in the UAE for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man - because that is a violation of the meta-tolerant Religion of Peace's sharia law, which governs the realm. Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women (and more than one if they like), but you can get sent to prison for such crimes as urging Muslims to convert to other faiths.
Moreover, as my friend Frank Gaffney points out, the regime despises our close ally, Israel. The UAE promotes the idea of a one-state solution in "Palestine" (hint: the one state is not Israel), and may well be funding charities in Gaza and the West Bank - where "charities" are notorious for underwriting terrorism. It was also a key supporter of the Taliban - one of only three countries to recognize bin Laden's kindly hosts as the official government of Afghanistan. In fact, the UAE is the country through which bin Laden was allowed to transit when al Qaeda moved its headquarters to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.
All that aside, we are at war with jihadists who, more than anything else, seek to strike us domestically with weapons of mass destruction - including nukes if they can access them. Lo and behold, it turns out that the UAE has been used as a transfer-station for nuclear components in the conspiracy of Pakistani proliferator A. Q. Kahn, who was selling technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. Obviously, the Kahn enterprise would have made other plans had it not believed it was on safe footing with the UAE.
Does all this mean the port deal ought to be scotched? I think it does, but I have a (slightly) open mind - as do a lot of other people who fret over our security. The Bush administration contends that the UAE has cleaned up its act since 9/11. There are reasons to be skeptical. The administration, after all, also counts Saudi Arabia and Yemen as cherished friends. It has set a laughably generous grading curve for Islamic regimes (and Islamic leaders) seeking the "moderate" diploma which qualifies them for the status of "ally" in the war on terror. Moreover, while the UAE has plainly taken some steps in the right direction, its facilitation of the enemy prior to 9/11 was substantial. It is not generally our practice to consider hardened criminals redeemed after only four years of good behavior - especially when "good" in this context is, to put it mildly, relative.
On the other hand, port commercial management is not exactly the same as port security. If it really insists on pressing ahead with this deal, the administration should have a chance to demonstrate why, at a time when our homeland is a target and it takes very few operatives to execute a massive attack, we should be comfortable with the UAE in such a prominent role at our borders - even if security remains primarily the task of the Department of Homeland Security. But the administration should make that case to Congress and the American people, not to a secret tribunal (the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) which is run by the Treasury Department - rather than the Pentagon or DHS - and for whom the promotion of commerce has pride of place over national security.
Which is all to say: This transaction needs a long, careful look. It doesn't need stone-throwing from opportunists who would be better advised to check their own glass houses. And it doesn't need bully-pulpit demagoguery. You don't need to be an "Islamophobe" to have doubts here. You just need to have an IQ of about 11.
What little boys were made of before lawsuits
BY NED CRABB
Two weeks ago, a six-year-old boy was suspended from first grade for three days for "sexual harassment" because he allegedly put "two fingers inside [a] girl's waistband while she sat on the floor in front of him," according to an AP story. Sexual harassment at age six. Growing up kind of fast these days, aren't they?
"He doesn't know those things," the boy's mother told the local press. "He's only six years old." The woman said she "screamed" about the suspension.
Yeah, well, I'd scream too. The whole thing is stupid--children poking at one another and then being punished for it in terms of adult concepts, described with adult words.
We didn't have "sexual" or "harassment" In The Old Days (henceforth, ITOD) when I was in school. The words were in the dictionary, but adults did not say "sex" in the presence of kids. Uh-uh. Children repeated things like that. And I certainly never heard a teacher use a silver-dollar word like "harassment" to describe the human-nature orneriness of children stuffed into a schoolhouse all day. ITOD we called it "teasing" or "picking on (someone)." Let me translate "harassment" into a couple of situations at one of the country schools in which I matriculated circa Truman-through-Eisenhower.
One day after school I was unmercifully teasing and picking on Dixieanna Hamlin in the cloakroom. I had a serious crush on Dixie and she was not giving me enough attention. Cleverly, I decided that amusing monkeyshines and teasing--grabbing her scarf, messing up her hair, etc.--would further her regard for me. "Ned Crabb," she said, eyes narrowed, "you stop that right now or I'm gonna let you have it." Assuming my antics were too hilarious to resist, I didn't even slow down. And so Dixie slapped me right across the jowls. I was stunned. And humiliated; it happened in front of other classmates. They stared at Dixie and me for a few seconds, their eyes round in amazement, then they bee-lined for the school bus.
I didn't speak to Dixieanna for weeks; didn't dare look in her direction. Eventually, she made a point of saying hello to me even when I desperately tried to look at something interesting out the window, such as a crow. She was nice to me in the lunchroom and on the bus, and after a while we became good friends. She never became my girlfriend, but the friendship lasted until we were adults and I moved away from Oklahoma. I had so nurtured my own humiliation at the slap that it wasn't until years later that I realized my persistent antics (the cloakroom had not been the only incident of teasing) had humiliated Dixie. It was a lesson I still carry with me. Thank God Dixie and I had not had the intervention of teachers and principals or the exquisite modern horror of charges of "sexual harassment," followed, as is often the case, by "psychological counselors" and civil-rights lawyers.
Another lesson in "harassment" ITOD came the next year, when a tough farm kid who was a buddy of a guy I'll call Joe Bob Eubanks, the scariest student-thug in two school districts, confronted me in the hallway and said: "Joe Bob is gonna beat the [very bad word, especially then] outta you after school 'cause you drew a cartoon of him." Now that, to my mind, was real harassment, though we called it "going after (someone)" back then. Joe Bob was "coming after" me. If I could've sicced a psychological counselor or a glowering lawyer on Joe Bob I would've leaped at the chance, but we hadn't heard of those things either.
There was no way I could've told a teacher or the principal about my impending disaster, because such a thing would have been disgraceful in the eyes of the other kids; I would've been "yellow." Besides, I really had used my budding artistic talent rather offensively, portraying Joe Bob as a knuckle-dragging gorilla with a finger up one nostril. (It was an early work from my Goya period.)
After the final bell, the knuckle-dragger came after me in front of a collection of onlookers. In a bizarre moment of possible hysteria I ran straight at him, head down, little fists pumping. It was no contest, naturally. Joe Bob put a fist in my teeth. Hoo boy, that hurt. Then he picked me up and slammed me face down, rubbing my face in the dirt. Somehow, I managed to squirm away and stand up. "You ain't had enough, runt," he said. I refused to cry and I didn't run--I simply backed away with alacrity. And then, to my amazement, about a half-dozen boys walked over and stood in front of me. "It ain't fair, Joe Bob," one of them said. I had not run, and had taken my punishment for the cartoon. I had schoolyard cred. Most children do have an innate sense of what is fair and what "ain't," and they will, quite often, settle things themselves.
I wish I could say that Joe Bob and I also became friends. No chance. If I ever see that guy again--even if he's the male equivalent of Mother Teresa--I'm gonna punch him in the teeth.
The Left's patron saint was a war criminal
Bolivia's Evo Morales solemnly invoked Ernesto ''Che'' Guevara, the patron saint of Latin America's woolly Left, in his presidential inauguration. An exhibit at New York's Center of Photography explores Guevara's fascinating afterlife as a marketing tool for all kinds of products, from watches to ice cream. Saint or gimmick, the durable Argentine adventurer lives on. Like Mickey Mouse, he sells and gets no royalties.
Guevara was slain in cold blood by the Bolivian army nearly 40 years ago. He had infiltrated Bolivia to test his theory that a few foci sustained by hard-core guerrillas would detonate the continental Revolution. It didn't work.
Freddy Alborta, a photographer from La Paz, took remarkable pictures of Guevara's corpse propped up on a laundry countertop. The intent may have been forensic, but the outcome was mystical. The shirtless Guevara looks like Jesus descended from the Cross or those images of the dead Christ venerated on Good Friday. The martyr's image at the moment of his sacrifice, seen by millions, opened the way to his apotheosis......
Guevara-worship may be naive or opportunistic, but there is something downright obscene in his promotion by capitalist commerce. Guevara simply was not a nice fellow. There is nothing benign about the real Guevara, pistol in hand, giving a cold-blooded coup de grace to the Castro regime's enemies at La Cabana fortress. Or his bloody repression of anti-Castro peasants in the Escambray mountains of central Cuba when the Castroite regime was 2 years old. Guevara's hands had much blood on them besides his own. In real life, he was a war criminal.
Guevara died a martyr's death while carrying out a fool's errand. He came to believe his own mythmaking. Cuba was no Vietnam and Castro no Ho-Chi-Minh. In Cuba, the corrupt and sloppy dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista imploded when it lost the support of the United States in 1958. Castro's genius lay in his ability to take control of the ensuing chaos; Guevara, who was along for the ride, read a proletarian Iliad into what was essentially a farce.
When he tried to replicate the Cuban outcome in Bolivia, revolutionary peasants were nowhere in sight. Castro's promised support did not materialize. The Bolivian military were supposed to join the people's legions or cave in like Batista's, but they did not. So Guevara died a delusional Argentine Robin Hood who, unlike his prototype, was not nearly as smart as the sheriff of Nottingham. Never mind -- pass the T-shirts.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Gay rights group are claming victory after anti-gay Muslim leader Sir Iqbal Sacranie pulled out from speaking at a London conference after gay protests. Sacranie was to have been a keynote speaker at a trade union-sponsored Unite Against Fascism conference at the weekend; however his views on homosexuality were widely condemned as echoing the anti-gay hatred of the BNP. "This climbdown is a victory for humanitarian values over homophobic prejudice. We want Muslim leaders like Sacranie to be part of the anti-BNP alliance, but only if they respect the human rights of gay people and other minorities," said Peter Tatchell of the gay human rights group, OutRage!, which helped coordinate the protests against Sacranie being invited to speak.
The conference organisers claim Sacranie withdrew because he had another engagement. But this is disputed by Peter Tatchell of OutRage! "Three days ago the conference organisers were adamant that Sir Iqbal would be a speaker," said Tatchell. "After being deluged with protests they are now saying he is no longer available. This is not a credible explanation. We believe the organisers realised they could not secure the acceptance of a homophobe at an anti-fascist conference, so they dumped him. "Sacranie's attitude to gay people is similar to the homophobia of the BNP. He should have never been invited in the first place.
Fellow OutRage activist and gay Muslim, Ramzi Islam, added: "Sir Iqbal is leader of the anti-gay Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). As well as actively campaigning to maintain homophobic laws like Section 28, he last month publicly denounced lesbians and gay men on BBC Radio, saying they were immoral, harmful and spread disease.
NO FREE SPEECH ABOUT CHAPPAQUIDDICK?
A community college student in Massachusetts faces possible disciplinary action for shouting "Remember Chappaquiddick!" during an on-campus speech by Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy yesterday. Paul Trost, 20, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., says he was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success. "Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said of the introduction, which occurred in the school's student center yesterday morning.
Just as Kennedy began speaking, Trost was walking out of the room when he shouted, "Remember Chappaquiddick!" "Most of the crowd gasped," Trost said. "Then I walked out of the student center." The student says a campus police officer went outside and stopped him. He also saw some state troopers go outside, the type who accompany Kennedy around the state to provide security. Trost says the cop took down his information and told him he would be hearing from school officials about disciplinary action. A spokesman with the campus police verified the incident but stressed that Trost was not arrested.
The student said one of his teachers confronted him after a class about the Chappaquiddick issue. "One of my teachers called me ignorant and told me this was an embarrassment to the school," Trost told WND. "She said to me, 'Can't you forgive him after all these years?' And I said, 'No, he killed somebody.' "If it had been me or any other person, we'd be in jail," Trost says he told his instructor.
Referring to his two-word shout, Trost said, "I did it because I know about Kennedy's past. I know what happened at Chappaquiddick. "I wanted to send a message to him that my generation still knows about it. We haven't forgotten about it." Trost said he was satisfied to know that students on campus were talking about the Chappaquiddick incident later in the day - some of whom, in fact, were not familiar with it.
In 1969, Kennedy was driving a car that went off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Mass. His passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, was killed after the car landed upside down in the water. No autopsy was ever performed to determine her exact cause of death. At the time, Kennedy claimed he tried several times to swim down to reach Kopechne to no avail. He came under fire for not reporting the incident to authorities until the next morning. In the interim he reportedly made an effort to call a family legal adviser.
"I haven't yet found out what's going to happen to me," Trost said, referring to the warning from campus police.
FOOD CORRECTNESS GETS AN ELECTRONIC BOOST
Or how to ensure that kids pig out on everything fattening once they escape parental control
A student slides a tray toward the cafeteria cash register with a healthy selection: a pint of milk, green beans, whipped sweet potatoes and chicken nuggets - baked, not fried. But then he adds a fudge brownie. When he punches in his code for the prepaid account his parents set up, a warning sounds: "This student has a food restriction." Back goes the brownie as the cashier reminds him that his parents have declared all desserts off-limits.
This could be a common occurrence at Houston schools when the district becomes one of the largest in the nation with a cafeteria automation system that lets parents dictate -and track - what their kids get. Primero Food Service Solutions, developed by Houston-based Cybersoft Technologies, allows parents to set up prepaid lunch accounts so children don't have to carry money, said Ray Barger, Cybersoft's director of sales and marketing. It also shows the cashier any food allergies or parent-set diet restrictions for his or her account, and the student is not allowed to buy an offending item.
Parents also can go online to track their child's eating habits and make changes. "If parents want Johnny to eat chips one day a week, they can go in and make changes to allow them to buy a bag of chips on, say, Fridays," said Terry Abbott, spokesman for Houston Independent School District, the nation's seventh-largest with more than 250,000 students.
Robin Green, whose 14-year-old son, Jerry, is in seventh grade in the Houston district, said she would probably sign up for the new voluntary monitoring system once it's implemented within the next year. Green was concerned that parents from low-income families without access to computers would not be able to participate, but Abbott said parents can go to their school and work with cafeteria representatives.
Barger said his company's system already is being used in schools in Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee, as well as other Texas cities. Several other companies have similar cafeteria monitoring programs at other schools.
Prepaid cafeteria accounts have been around for five to 10 years, but programs that allow parents to say what their kids can or can't eat are a more recent development, said Erik Peterson, spokesman for the Washington-based School Nutrition Association. His organization did not have exact figures on how many school districts use such programs.....
Karen Cullen, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children's Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, cautioned that the system is good only if it sparks communication between parents and their children on healthy food choices. "Kids need to be able to make healthy choices," Cullen said. "Parents can't be in charge. Children need some freedom."
Friday, February 24, 2006
Below is just the introduction to a big article by the redoubtable Keith Windschuttle
For the past three decades and more, many of the leading opinion makers in our universities, the media and the arts have regarded Western culture as, at best, something to be ashamed of, or at worst, something to be opposed. Before the 1960s, if Western intellectuals reflected on the long-term achievements of their culture, they explained it in terms of its own evolution: the inheritance of ancient Greece, Rome and Christianity, tempered by the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the scientific and industrial revolutions. Even a radical critique like Marxism was primarily an internal affair, intent on fulfilling what it imagined to be the destiny of the West, taking its history to what it thought would be a higher level.
Today, however, such thinking is dismissed by the prevailing intelligentsia as triumphalist. Western political and economic dominance is more commonly explained not by its internal dynamics but by its external behaviour, especially its rivalry and aggression towards other cultures. Western success has purportedly been at their expense. Instead of pushing for internal reform or revolution, this new radicalism constitutes an overwhelmingly negative critique of Western civilization itself.
According to this ideology, instead of attempting to globalise its values, the West should stay in its own cultural backyard. Values like universal human rights, individualism and liberalism are regarded merely as ethnocentric products of Western history. The scientific knowledge that the West has produced is simply one of many "ways of knowing". In place of Western universalism, this critique offers cultural relativism, a concept that regards the West not as the pinnacle of human achievement to date, but as simply one of many equally valid cultural systems.
Cultural relativism claims there are no absolute standards for assessing human culture. Hence all cultures should be regarded as equal, though different. It comes in two varieties: soft and hard.
The soft version now prevails in aesthetics. Take a university course in literary criticism or art theory and you will now find traditional standards no longer apply. Italian opera can no longer be regarded as superior to Chinese opera. The theatre of Shakespeare was not better than that of Kabuki, only different.
The hard version comes from the social sciences and from cultural studies. Cultural practices from which most Westerners instinctively shrink are now accorded their own integrity, lest the culture that produced them be demeaned.
For instance, although Western feminists once found the overt misogyny of many tribal cultures distasteful, in recent years they have come to respect practices they once condemned. Feminist academics now deny that suttee, the incineration of widows, is barbaric. The Indian-American cultural studies theorist, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak gives suttee an honourable place in Indian culture by comparing it to the Christian tradition of martyrdom. Feminists once denounced the surgical removal of the clitoris of Muslim women as female genital mutilation. Lately, the procedure has been redefined as genital "cutting", which the literary and art critic Germaine Greer now argues should be recognized as an authentic manifestation of the culture of the Muslim women concerned.
Similarly, the Parisian literary theorist, Tzvetan Todorov, in The Conquest of America (1985), compares Mexican cannibalism to the Christian Eucharist, and the Australian postmodern historian, Greg Dening, in Mr Bligh's Bad Language (1992), declares Polynesian human sacrifice to be the ritual equivalent of British capital punishment.
Something is obviously going terribly wrong here. The logic of relativism is taking Western academics into dark waters. They are now prepared to countenance practices that are obviously cruel, unnatural and life-denying, that is, practices that offend against all they claim to stand for.
To see how decadent these assumptions have become, compare today's relativism to the attitude that prevailed when the culture of the British people was in its ascendancy. Sir Charles Napier, the British Commander-in-chief in India from 1849 to 1851, signed an agreement with local Hindu leaders that he would respect all their customs, except for the practice of suttee. The Hindu leaders protested but Napier was unmoved:
You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.
The moral rationale of cultural relativism is a plea for tolerance and respect of other cultures, no matter how uncomfortable we might be with their beliefs and practices. However, there is one culture conspicuous by its absence from all this. The plea for acceptance and open-mindedness does not extend to Western culture itself, whose history is regarded as little more than a crime against the rest of humanity. The West cannot judge other cultures but must condemn its own.
Coup against Summers a dubious victory for the politically correct
A plurality of one faculty has brought about an academic coup d'etat against not only Harvard University president Lawrence Summers but also against the majority of students, faculty, and alumni. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which forced Summers's resignation by voting a lack of confidence in him last March and threatening to do so again on Feb. 28, is only one component of Harvard University and is hardly representative of widespread attitudes on the campus toward Summers. The graduate faculties, the students, and the alumni generally supported Summers for his many accomplishments. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences includes, in general, some of the most radical, hard-left elements within Harvard's diverse constituencies. And let there be no mistake about the origin of Summers's problem with that particular faculty: It started as a hard left-center conflict. Summers committed the cardinal sin against the academic hard left: He expressed politically incorrect views regarding gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and the military.
The original no-confidence motion contained an explanatory note that explicitly referenced ''Mr. Summers' apparently ongoing convictions about the capacities and rights not only of women but also of African-Americans, third-world nations, gay people, and colonized peoples." The note also condemned Summers for his 2002 speech in which he said calls from professors and students for divestment from Israel were ''anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent."
Although the explanatory note was eventually removed from the motion, it was the 400-pound gorilla in the room. Summers was being condemned for expressing views deemed offensive by some of the faculty. I personally disagreed with some of Summers's statements, but that is beside the point in an institution committed to academic freedom and diversity of viewpoints.
In the minds of at least some vocal members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, expressing such politically incorrect views is the academic equivalent of provoking Islamic extremists by depicting Prophet Mohammed in a political cartoon. Radical academics do not, of course, burn down buildings, at least not since the 1970s. Instead they introduce motions of no confidence and demand resignations of those who offend their sensibilities (while insisting on complete freedom of speech for those with whom they agree -- free speech for me but not for thee!).
Once the academic bloodletting began, it was difficult to stanch the wound. Everything Summers did, or did not do, became the object of criticism. Not only was the honeymoon over, the divorce had begun, at least in the minds of those determined to get rid of Summers. When he selected a new dean of Arts and Sciences, there were complaints. When the new dean resigned, there were complaints, some from the same faculty members who opposed the original selection.
When Summers recused himself from any investigation of his friend Andre Shleifer for investing in Russian companies while he was consulting about the Russian economy, he was condemned by some who would have condemned him even more vociferously had he not recused himself.
Summers could do no right in the eyes of his radical critics, who could never forgive him for his perceived original sins and who saw an opportunity to build wider coalitions every time Summers took actions that alienated other groups, as a president -- especially an activist and sometimes abrasive president -- will inevitably do. Some less ideological critics of Summers's leadership style then joined the radicals in a cacophony of strange bedfellows, but the core of the opposition always remained the hard left.
It was arrogant in the extreme for a plurality of a single faculty to purport to speak for the entire university, especially when that plurality is out of synch with the mainstream of Harvard. It was dangerous for the corporation to listen primarily to that faculty, without widely consulting other professors, students, and alumni who supported Summers. Now that this plurality of one faculty has succeeded in ousting the president, the most radical elements of Harvard will be emboldened to seek to mold all of Harvard in its image. If they succeed, Harvard will become a less diverse and less interesting institution of learning governed by political-correctness cops of the hard left. This is what happened in many European universities after the violent student protests of the late 1960s. It should not be allowed to happen at Harvard in the wake of the coup d'etat engineered by some in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The Left's latest attempt to destroy childhood happiness. Below is a transcript of the Fox News "Schools Banning 'Tag'" story -- lifted from The Locker Room. See also further commentary on The Locker Room
Bill Hemmer, host: It's a part of childhood in playgrounds all across the country, but now there is a push in some schools to ban the game of "Tag." From Seattle, Dan Springer's in right now. Dan, good morning.
Dan Springer, reporter: Yeah, Bill, how did we ever survive to adulthood? First it was dodgeball, and now an increasing number of schools in America are banning the playing of "Tag" on their playgrounds. The latest is Adams Elementary in Spokane, Washington. The principal claims the students were getting hurt and also were being coerced to play. Fearing lawsuits and hurt feelings, she put an end to "Tag."
Principal (Mary Weber, not identified by Fox): There's a bullying issue if students don't want to participate in something, and they're kinda being forced to by someone running up to 'em and shoving them and saying "You're It!" Um, we want all students not only to be safe but to feel safe.
Springer: The ban upset many of the students, and one decided to do something about it by circulating a petition. In just a couple of hours, third grader Kubby Boyd had 46 signatures. But when he gave them to the principal with a suggestion that anyone who is too rough be disciplined, well, the principal refused to budge.
Kubby Boyd, third grade student: I felt pretty bored when I came outside because we usually have nothing to do, and that's all we play, "Tag."
Springer: Some schools in California, New Jersey and Wisconsin have already banned "Tag," agreeing with the National Association of School Psychologists, which believes quote "There's a potential for some victimization" endquote. But others say not letting boys be boys is hurting them and society.
Christina Hoff Sommers: Our children are healthy. They're not fragile and in need of all of this zealous protectiveness, and we actually harm them when we deny them the healthy challenges of childhood.
Springer: Now while there is no more unsupervised "Tag" in the Spokane school, they do allow it in gym class, albeit with a Nerf ball. And in case you're wondering, football is allowed on the playground; however, there's a catch, Bill: you can't run. You can throw the ball, but no running with the football.
(Available currently from this Fox page among others; right now it's the top Java-script link under "Video" on the right-hand menu down the page.)
California Domestic Violence Lawsuit Will Help Secure Services for All Abuse Victims -- Including Males
Yes. There ARE abusive women, incorrect to mention it though that might be
At the age of 11, Maegan Woods tried to stop a domestic dispute between her parents. She soon found herself staring down the barrel of her father's shotgun. She watched helplessly as the trigger was pulled. She is only alive today because the gun didn't fire--the safety was on. Maegan was abused and witnessed domestic violence in her home for most of her childhood. By age seven there had been knife attacks, punches, kicks, and more. It was hard to leave--the abuser was the one who earned the money, and the victim was unable to work because of a disability. On numerous occasions they looked for help to escape the abuse but were refused. Why?
Because in Maegan's family, the abused spouse was her father, and the battering and child abuse were perpetrated by her mother.
The California Battered Women Protection Act of 1994, codified in Health & Safety Codes Section 124250, et. seq., created funding for domestic violence shelter-based services. However, by defining domestic violence as something only experienced by women, the statutes exclude male victims from receiving state-funded domestic violence services, including shelter, hotel arrangements, counseling and legal services.
Meagan, now 21, and her father, David Woods, are the lead plaintiffs in a new lawsuit against the State of California and numerous state agencies and state-funded domestic violence service providers. Beginning in the mid-1980s, David was violently attacked on numerous occasions by his wife Ruth, who suffers from a bi-polar disorder which, in her case, creates a propensity toward violence.
On several occasions David decided that he and Maegan should get out of the house to escape Ruth's violence. However, with his disabling condition and inability to work, David had no money to provide for himself and his daughter. Numerous times he contacted a Sacramento domestic violence agency he had heard of in the media, WEAVE, but they always told him "we don't help men," and never offered him a referral to another facility. David tried churches and various programs, but all they could offer for men were homeless shelters with waiting lists. He found nothing for abused men and their children. David gave up and sank into a heavy depression.
By February 2003, Maegan began telling her father to find a place of safety from Ruth's violence. He again called WEAVE and again was told "we don't help men." Maegan, then 18, became so frustrated watching David being abused that she called WEAVE herself and insisted they help her father. According to Maegan, WEAVE said they do not help men, and that men are the perpetrators of domestic violence, not the victims.
That year Ruth finally began to seek professional help for her problems. David, loyal and a firm believer in his marriage vows, stuck by her. In January 2004, the two appeared together on the NBC's John Walsh Show and discussed Ruth's violence.
Domestic violence policies based on the woman good/man bad model kept David trapped in his violent marriage in a number of ways. The biggest reason David didn't leave Ruth was Maegan. She was frequently the target of Ruth's attacks, particularly when David wasn't around to protect her and take Ruth's blows. Domestic violence researcher Richard Gelles, whose groundbreaking work on domestic violence in the late 1970s was instrumental in bringing the issue to public consciousness, explains that current policies often trap abused fathers like David. They can't leave their wives because this would leave their children unprotected in the hands of an abuser. If they simply take their children, they can be arrested for kidnapping. Moreover, they would probably lose custody of their children in the divorce anyway, again leaving their children in harm's way.
These cases often have tragic results. In the highly-publicized Socorro Caro murder case, Socorro often abused her husband Xavier, a prominent Northridge, California rheumatologist, and once assaulted him so badly he had to have surgery to regain his sight in one eye. Trapped and not knowing what to do or where to go, Xavier endured the abuse, once telling his wife "one day you are going to do something that cannot be undone." A short time later Socorro shot and killed three of their four children. Their baby survived only because Socorro ran out of bullets. She was later convicted and sentenced to death for the murders.
While police intervention often works for abused women, abused men understandably fear that once the police are involved, their wives will accuse them of being the abuser and it is they who will be believed. Draconian arrest policies often direct police to make an arrest, and police are often pressured to arrest the man. The anti-male bias of police policies was evident in the Woods case. During the 1995 shotgun incident, Ruth called the police after David wrestled the shotgun away from her. Maegan yelled to her mom, "Tell the truth!" and Ruth told the police she wanted them to come because she wanted to kill her husband.
Nevertheless, when the police arrived and David opened the door to let them in, the officers immediately grabbed him by the wrist, wrestled him to the ground, and handcuffed him. They only uncuffed him after Maegan told them that it was her mother who had the gun.
What's needed are domestic violence policies tailored to the needs of all victims of abuse, regardless of gender. Decades of research shows that heterosexual males make up a significant part of the population of domestic violence victims. According to the most recent fact sheet released by the Centers for Disease Control, men comprise over 35% of all domestic violence victims. In a meta-analytic review of 552 domestic violence studies published in the November, 2000 issue of the Psychological Bulletin, psychology professor John Archer found that 38% of the physical injuries in heterosexual domestic assaults were suffered by men....
Much more here
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Still some concern for free speech in Britain
David Irving, the far-right British historian, sat stunned and open-mouthed yesterday when an Austrian court found him guilty of denying the Holocaust and sentenced him to three years in jail. "I'm very shocked and I'm going to appeal," Irving, 67, said as he was bundled out of the Vienna courtroom by armed anti-riot police. From the public gallery a British supporter shouted "Stay strong, David", before he too was led away.
But in Britain there was dismay at a verdict that could turn Irving into a right-wing martyr. Irving had pleaded guilty to denying the Holocaust in two speeches in Austria in 1989. He was arrested when he re-entered the country, where it is a crime to deny the Holocaust, last November, and had been in custody since.
During his seven-hour trial yesterday Irving sought to convince the jury that he had changed his mind and now acknowledged the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis. "I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," he told the court. But the judge and jury were unswayed. One hundred and fifty-eight people have been convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria between 1999 and 2004, but only a handful other than Irving have been imprisoned.
Lord Janner of Braunstone, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, was pleased by the conviction. He said: "It sends a clear message to the world that we must not tolerate the denial of the mass murderers of the Holocaust. The Nazis tried to wipe out an entire people . . . We must learn the lessons of the past to build a decent society for the future."
The verdict came amid a furious debate in Europe over freedom of expression, with many defending the media's right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The Arabic television station al-Jazeera broadcast the verdict to its Islamic audience.
Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, was recently acquitted of making speeches inciting racial hatred. Abu Hamza, the radical Islamic cleric, was sentenced last week to seven years in prison for inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder.
In Britain there was alarm at the sentence. "Anyone who denies the Holocaust is off their rocker," Gerald Howarth, Tory MP for Aldershot, said. "But to send a man to prison for three years for something that he said sixteen years ago and has since changed his view - what are we coming to?" Anthony Beevor, the military historian, said: "However nauseating, these people should be confronted in debate rather than chucked into jail and turned into martyrs."
The verdict will end for good the career of a man banned from a dozen countries from Canada to South Africa for belittling the murder of the Jews and glorifying Hitler. In 2000 Irving was forced into bankruptcy when he unsuccessfully sued Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic who had called him a Holocaust denier. He was ordered to pay 3 million pounds in legal costs and had to sell his Mayfair home.
She said yesterday: "He should have been met by the sound of one hand clapping. The one thing he deserves, he really deserves, is obscurity."
(From The Times)
And another good comment:
"A few Austrians, such as Lothar Hobelt, an associate professor of history at the University of Vienna, believe it should never have been set up at all.
"This is a silly law by silly people for silly people," he said. "In fact, having a law that says you mustn't question a particular historical instance, if anything, creates doubt about it, because if an argument has to be protected by the force of law, it means it's a weak argument.""
NO FREE SPEECH FOR CHRISTIANS
My name is Robert xxxxxx and my wife and I are teachers in xxxxxx in Florida. My daughter is a 10th grader who also attends xxxxxx High in xxxxxx County. A few days ago, my wife got a phone call from their assistant principal saying Robyn, my daughter, was written up and sent to the office. Her biology teacher said that Robyn was voicing her disapproval of having a new Gay Alliance club at xxxxxx. Robyn said that by allowing this volunteer gay club, they were putting a stamp of approval on it. The biology teacher said that Robyn should respect student's right to be gay. My daughter, Robyn, said "You give those people that right, but you won't give my Lacrosse team funding or recognize it as a school sport." The assistant principal said if Robyn continues to "show disrespect" to Ms xxxxxx, she will face the consequences. My wife said, "I can't tell my daughter to change her belief or not voice it if it challenges her faith." "My daughter is a Christian." The API replied by saying, "I'm a Christian, too, but I must protect their right to sin."
My point is, "Where do we draw the line?" Should our concern for "political correctness" and civil rights/liberties govern our actions in daily life to a point that we entrust our minor children with important eternal lifestyle decisions? Sexual orientation, birth control, and abortion to name a few. Many children in high school are asked to make adult decisions that they are not qualified to make. And yet her school won't even fund or host the sport she plays so passionately. Where's the value system here?
My fear is that our "cradle to grave" government control of our children will result to a generation that will lack passion, drive, moral and ethical values, and will no longer view human life as valuable, precious, and irreplaceable. The truth is, God did! That is why Jesus died for us. I also fear that society will use our "right" to protect our "wrongs" to a point that 2+2 can equal whatever you want it to. I guess this philosophy will help with "standardized testing" but to what standards... The only standards that we can be tested on are God's standards as written in His word!
Campus Liberal Commits a "Hate Crime"?
No doubt he will weasel his way out of it -- with the co-operation of all concerned
A contributor to Cornell University's "premier liberal voice" has been charged with stabbing a black student on the university's campus after using "racial epithets" toward him. According to the Cornell Daily Sun, Nathan Poffenbarger [Class of] '08, a regular contributor to the campus magazine, "Turn Left" was charged with second-degree assault, a class "D" felony, after allegedly stabbing a visiting student on West Campus during an altercation on Saturday (February 18).
Police said the attack stemmed from a racial incident. "Witnesses told police Poffenbarger was yelling racial remarks at someone else, when the victim, a black male student, stepped in to stop him. The victim's name has not been released," News10 reported. According to the Ithaca Journal, Poffenbarger is white.
Capt. Kathy Zoner of the Cornell Police Department, told the Sun that the current charges could be elevated to class "C" under hate-crime statutes "if racial motivations are proven."
Wayne Huang , the former editor-in-chief of "Turn Left," confirmed that Poffenbarger was a regular contributor to the magazine. Huang and "Turn Left" staff member Josh Perlman both said they were "shocked" to learn Poffenbarger had been arrested in this matter:
"He had written a lot of good news pieces for us," said [Perlman]. "I had spoken to him earlier that day about a new article he was going to be doing. He didn't seem weird or anything when I spoke to him, just enthusiastic to be writing as he usually was. I was extremely shocked to hear about all this. This seems really out of character."
According to "Turn Left's" website, its mission statement is to "uphold and maintain tolerant and respectful political dialogue on the campus, promote and practice an ideology rooted in the belief of equality and freedom."
Emergency workers took the victim to Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira where he is in stable condition, the Sun reported.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Italy going soft on criminals too
Italy's highest court ruled Friday that a man who raped the 14-year-old daughter of his girlfriend can seek to have his sentence reduced because the girl was sexually active, news reports said.
The ruling provoked an outcry across Italy, was condemned by UNICEF and prompted other justices on the court to issue a statement saying the ruling was wrong and in the future would be cited as a bad example of a high court decision, the ANSA news agency reported.
The case goes back to 2001, when a court in Sardinia convicted Marco T. of sexual violence and threats against the 14-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend and sentenced him to more than three years in prison, ANSA said. He requested a reduced sentence, saying the crime was less serious because the girl had already had several sexual partners. His request was rejected, but Italy's high court said the judges should re-evaluate the decision because the girl "since the age of 13 had had many sexual relations with men of every age." "And it's right to assume," the ruling went on, according to ANSA, "that at the time of the encounter with the suspect her personality, from a sexual point of view, was much more developed than what one might normally expect from a girl of her age."
The suspect's lawyer, Andrea Biccheddu, defended the ruling, saying the episode between his client and the girl "didn't provoke any trauma," because the girl had had so many sexual partners. He said his client deserved to have his sentence reduced by two thirds, the agency said.
VIOLENT BLACK MUSIC TAKES LIVES
I reproduce below a news report followed by another article arguing that violent black music is dangerous and should not be beyond criticism
News report excerpt:
Earl Patrick McNeese, better known to Fredericksburg-area hip-hop fans as Praverb the Wyse, winced when he read the news about the fatal stabbing of Courtland High School junior Baron "Deuce" Braswell II. First, McNeese, a 23-year-old Stafford County resident, felt some of the pain experienced by the victim's family--and by the families of the six teens charged in the crime. Then the hip-hop artist grieved for the damage done to the image of a genre he's been trying to help liberate from the chains of a "bad boy" image. "Rap music already has a bad stigma and this incident adds more fuel to the fire," McNeese said.
Like many others, he read news reports that the stabbing took place while "Knuck if You Buck," a song popularized by the Crime Mob rap group, was playing at a Four-Mile Fork motel party. Crime Mob is made up of teens who were members of an Atlanta gang. The lyrics in the 2004 song make references to fighting at a party. The song is "crunk music," meaning "crazy drunk," and incites behavior similar to moshing and slam dancing, he said. Crunk, a bass-heavy type of rap music with risque lyrics, is hot right now and getting a lot of radio play on hip-hop stations. Turn the radio dial to any hip-hop station and crunk is there. Drive past the mall and it may be blasting from passing car radio speakers.
The genre originated in Memphis with the group Three 6 Mafia, but Atlanta has taken most of the credit with artists such as Lil' Jon and OutKast. McNeese wasn't at the motel party, but says he can guess what happened during what he calls "a sad incident, indeed." "Did the song spark the incident?" he said rhetorically. "In my opinion, yes. The song was intended to liven the party up--and it did, to an extent where someone got killed." "I just hope this incident draws people together, and it teaches teens that loyalty to your school or neighborhood is cool, but at the same time extreme loyalty can result in tragedy," McNeese said.
Lonnie B, a DJ, recording artist and hip-hop icon in the Richmond area, has different ideas. "You can't blame the music for somebody's actions," Lonnie B said. "If people are that ignorant and weak-minded, the problem is much bigger than the music." But he also said, "It's more likely to happen when you play crunk music, but it can happen to any type of music." He said: "Hip-hop is not music, it's a lifestyle. Hip-hop is the way you talk, the way you dress, the way you talk or slang. Rap is the words, the music. Crunk is a sound."
The suggestion that "Knuck if You Buck" might have had some small part in his murder is certainly generating letters to The Free Lance-Star. Some readers may feel that the idea of a link between the two clearly violates the most sacred rule of "political correctness"--that "gross" equals "good." Anyone who objects is likely to offend someone, with the clear suggestion that the offender is somehow involved in "hate speech," which of course is the end of all discussion--if not the end of all reason.
If we are looking beyond a mere inanimate song as the perpetrator of the violence, we might wonder about the kid with the knife. Perhaps he is responsible for killing Baron Braswell. However, we might also ask whether the kid with the knife would have stabbed Baron if his "nice" friends were not screaming "Mayfield Mob," beating Baron to the floor, and kicking him. Or whether the temporary thugs (as the "nice boys" were called) would have knocked Baron to the floor if the DJ had not chosen to play songs which he well knew would incite "dancers" to crash enthusiastically into each other--in keeping with the somewhat violent sentiments of the song.
Which brings us to another tenet of the Political Correctness Religion: "Songs (and those that sing them) are sacred." As long as it has a melody or, in the case of gangsta rap, a beat, any words or any behaviors are perfectly acceptable. In fact, if "nobody can understand the words," or if 100 percent of the people who listen to the song do not go out and stab someone, it must be okay, and should not be criticized. In fact, even looking at the lyrics might be a violation of somebody's First Amendment rights. One might also wonder if the guy with the new "gangsta" CD thought about playing "punchin' stompin' backbone-breaking" music in a dark room to stir up a crowd of kids who had recently been tackling each other on the footfall field.
To move further up the chain, one might wonder about the rich record producers in New York and Los Angeles. Think of how much money they've made by taking the most self-destructive, brutal, woman-abusing losers and making them multimillionaire heroes for our "nice kids" to copy--sometimes with fists and feet and knives and time in jail. Academics, students, rappers, and "experts" all say that "violent video games, and violent movies and TV shows" don't really have much of an effect on the society. But I guess Baron didn't know that.
And neither do the little boys who grow up hearing again and again that little girls are just "hos and b-----s." Or the little girls who think that's the way they're supposed to act. Or the five "nice kids" whose lives are now ruined because they have now experienced the Real Rule: "Garbage in, garbage out."
As a teacher who has been helping to supervise school dances for 40 years, I have found it instructive to watch what kids do in response to different songs--from tenderly dancing with their sweeties to slow love songs, to happily bouncing around to "YMCA." And then comes the instantly scary and awesomely disgusting stuff that goes on when a few of "those" songs are played in a row. We know firsthand that, contrary to the experts, music does affect behavior and so requires serious supervision by those more aware of consequences than 14- to 17-year-olds--and the "experts" who write books.
As the local police know well, any dance that continuously plays that stuff in a dark room is absolutely certain to have the same kind of behavior that just resulted in so many lives being ruined and so many people being hurt--guaranteed. Maybe we should wonder whether exposing our children to poison just to make rich guys richer is as innocuous as the experts say.
We seem to be part of a society that thinks that "Knuck if You Buck" and its associates are harmless ways to educate our children as to how they should treat each other. Maybe we're not much different from the Mad Mullahs who teach their little boys and girls to blow themselves up in the middle of their own people another harmless educational miracle.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Catholics must worship that stupid loser on the cross, I guess. Let's have some fun Jihad instead! In any case, you can believe -- as I do -- that homosexuals should be treated on their individual merits (I don't care where they put their dicks as long as it is not coercive) without also believing that defenceless children should be thrust into the midst of a perverted life
Governor Mitt Romney and a legislative leader yesterday delivered unwelcome news to the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts, who plan to seek permission from the state to exclude gay and lesbian parents from adopting children through its social service agencies. The governor said he was not authorized to give such an exemption, and State Representative Eugene L. O'Flaherty, the House chairman of the joint committee on the judiciary, predicted little support among lawmakers for any request by Catholic adoption agencies for an exemption from the state's antidiscrimination policies. ''I would say there would not be an appetite to entertain that," O'Flaherty said.
The comments were made a day after the Globe reported a plan by the four bishops of Massachusetts -- representing Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Fall River -- to hire a Boston law firm to explore legal and political strategies for opting out of gay adoptions. Catholic Charities of Boston, the social service arm of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, has in the past two decades processed a small number of gay adoptions in compliance with state antidiscrimination laws. The Vatican has stated such adoptions are ''gravely immoral." The bishops' plans are at odds with the 42-member board of Catholic Charities of Boston, which voted unanimously in December to continue the practice of allowing gays to adopt.
Yesterday, representatives of the archdiocese and Catholic Charities said the funds to pay the Boston firm, Ropes & Gray, to prepare a legal strategy for the exemption were coming from the budget of Catholic Charities of Boston. Some board members expressed surprise, and dismay, that the agency's funds were being used for that purpose. The members serve three-year terms and at the pleasure of Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley, several members said. ''I'm shocked," said Donna DePrisco, a board member. ''I find it hard to believe."
One board member, who asked to remain nameless, said the bishops' plans has angered many on the board. The board member said some on the panel may consider resigning if the bishops persist with the plan. Meanwhile, the bishops' hope of getting help from Romney, who is a strong opponent of gay marriage, was dashed yesterday. Romney said that when he read the story in the Globe yesterday morning, he asked his legal counsel to research whether he had the authority to exempt an organization from regulations governing the placement of children with same sex couples. ''My understanding is that any exemption would require legislation and would not be something I would be authorized to do on a personal basis," the governor said. He did not express his own view on the issue.
O'Flaherty said that over a dozen years ago the Legislature adopted the law barring contractors from discriminating against gay couples, and said lawmakers would be unlikely to entertain the bishops' request. ''This is a very divisive issue that I don't see making it onto agenda for a debate," O'Flaherty said. ''We have enough on our plate already." He said he would oppose granting such an exemption to any social agency that contracted with the state, although he said he respected the church's right to follow its own doctrine on the issue.
The bishops may also consider going to court to fight the requirement that they adhere to the state's antidiscrimination policy, on First Amendment grounds protecting religious freedom. In the past two decades, Catholic Charities of Boston placed 13 children with same-sex couples, a fraction of the 720 adoptions the group completed during that time. Those adopted were all foster children who were considered hard to place because they had special needs or were older. If Catholic Charities does not get an exemption, it either has to allow gay adoptions to continue or risk having its adoption license pulled, state officials have said
Russia's first homosexual parade vetoed by 'outraged' city
In portraying conservatives as "homophobic", American Leftists seem to have have forgotten how the Soviets treated homosexuals. The few reservations modern-day Western conservatives have about homosexuals ("marriage", adoption) are nothing compared to the Soviet response. I am old enough to remember Soviet officials actually claiming that homosexuals did not exist in the Soviet Union: Such behaviour was said to be "bourgeois" and "pre-revolutionary". It would do our current Leftist shriekers good to find out what REAL "homophobia" is
Plans to stage Russia's first gay pride parade have been vetoed by Moscow's city government on the grounds that the idea has caused "outrage" in society. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's administration said yesterday it would not even consider an application for a parade, prompting Russia's gay community to threaten legal action in the European Court of Human Rights.
Gay and lesbian activists have been campaigning for permission to stage the country's first gay pride event on Saturday 27 May. The date marks the 13th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Russia in 1993. But the plans have drawn a furious reaction from religious leaders and been condemned as "suicidal" by other gay activists .
Earlier this week Chief Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin warned that Russia's Muslims would stage violent protests if the march went ahead. "If they come out on to the streets anyway they should be flogged. Any normal person would do that - Muslims and Orthodox Christians alike ... [The protests] might be even more intense than protests abroad against those controversial cartoons." The cleric said the Koran taught that homosexuals should be killed because their lifestyle spells the extinction of the human race and said that gays had no human rights.
The Russian Orthodox Church has called it "the propaganda of sin". Bishop Daniil of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk yesterday condemned the plans as a "cynical mockery" and likened homosexuality to leprosy.
The mayor's spokesman, Sergei Tsoi, said a parade would not be allowed. "[The plans] have caused outrage in society, particularly among religious leaders," he said.
In the Communist era Russian homosexuals were jailed for five years and their "condition" was classed as a mental disorder. In post-Soviet Russia public acceptance of homosexuality has been glacial. An opinion poll last year showed 43 per cent of Russians believed gay men should be incarcerated.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Sounds like she is a REAL idealist. She'll end up a GOP voter. Smith College is a private liberal arts college for women located in Northampton, Massachusetts. A highly selective institution with an undergraduate enrollment on campus of 2,500
I recently found my application essay for Smith from back in high school when I was applying to colleges. In response to the question, "Why did you choose to apply to Smith College?" I wrote, "I have a fervent interest in social justice. Your focus on instilling a spirit of diversity, acceptance and social responsibility excites me. The atmosphere of your school is welcoming. It is a place where intellectually curious young women can be fully challenged."
Last week, I attended the Hot Seat debate on the topic of whether the "Vagina Monologues" was empowering or demeaning. I came because I was interested in hearing both sides of the argument and I assumed other people were as well, regardless of their personal views about the play. The room was almost completely full, with people standing along walls even though new rows of chairs had been added in the back. From overheard conversation, I gathered the impression that most people were supportive of the "Vagina Monologues," but I still, assumed that they had come to be an attentive audience. After all, if you don't want to hear any criticism about the "Vagina Monologues," you can go to see the play or have discussions with like-minded friends. Why would you go to listen to a debate if you have an enormous opposition to hearing both sides?
So you can listen to your side attack the other, apparently, and so you can be rude from the anonymous comfort of your seat. While the debaters opposed to the "Vagina Monologues" managed to keep their points related to the text of the play and its possible influences, the debaters involved with the production of the "Vagina Monologues" accused the other side of "parroting" a Web site that they cited in their arguments. It was, no question about it, a low shot. In one word, they managed to communicate: "Not only are you wrong when you disagree with us, but you are incapable of forming your own opinions. We have our own opinions. We are better, and smarter, than you."
Never mind that a more disrespectful opposition might have, in response, accused them of "parroting" Eve Ensler and others involved in the formation of the "Vagina Monologues." I think they were pretty sure that the other side would not do that, and that if they did, they would be disparaged by the vast majority of the audience. How would the debaters from the "Vagina Monologues" know that the audience was on their side? Because the audience was seemingly incapable of silencing their scorn and contempt for those arguing that the Vagina Monologues are misguided feminism gone awry. While they managed to refrain from shouting, they constantly spoke in contemptuous tones, burst into conversation after everything the opposing side said and yet were miraculously quiet when it was their side's turn to take the microphone. Perhaps they misunderstood their role: in a debate, the debaters on stage are the ones invited to talk and express their thoughts. The audience consists of those invited to listen, and to later express their own thoughts during the question-and-answer portion of the event.
All this sadly confirms what I have noticed in my one and a half years at Smith College: Respect and diversity are very important qualities to the student body, as long as the people who want respect are on their side, and as long as their diversity does not include the diversity of opinion. Are you black, Asian, blind, gay or someone who speaks English as a second language? You'll be welcomed to Smith, which is how it should be. Do you think that modern feminism has gone a little overboard in recent years, that a fetus with a beating heart is a human life or that George W. Bush has ever said one single sentence that expressed a good thought? You'll be outwardly despised, your classmates will automatically assume that based on your belief in one area you hold an entire set of beliefs that may not accurately represent what you think and any signs you put up on campus - in places approved by the college - will mysteriously disappear. This is not how it should be.
I have a twofold theory as to the blatant disrespect on campus, though I'm not sure how accurate it is. The first part is that disrespectful people see their rudeness as "expressing their beliefs". Expressing your beliefs is fine. It's when you don't let other people express their beliefs, or when you denounce their intelligence for doing so, that the problem comes in. The second part is that, in the minds of some students, the opposition are not full people. They are Representative of What's Wrong With the World.
Actually, they embody the purpose of education: to think for yourself.
Britain galloping down the road to serfdom
By Theodore Dalrymple
ID cards and smoking bans are only the tip of British servitude
I have lived under a Latin American military dictatorship where daily life was freer than in Britain today. Of course, you couldn't go out into the street and shout "Down with Se¤or Presidente", at least not without dire consequences; on the other hand, you were considerably less surveyed, supervised and harried as you went about your business than you are in contemporary Britain.
The average Briton, we are told, is filmed 300 times a day once he steps out of his door. His home is hardly his castle, either. If he doesn't have a television he receives repeated menaces from the licensing authority, which may send an officer to inspect his house. And the form granting him the inestimable democratic right to vote comes with the threat of a 1,000 pound fine if he doesn't fill it (and he'll go to prison if he doesn't pay the fine).
Numerous officials have the right of entry, and his most private affairs are increasingly of interest to the tax authorities, who have de facto, though not de jure, dictatorial powers. When, as rarely happens, a Chancellor of the Exchequer reduces a tax, he is said by almost every commentator to be giving money away, which implies that we all accept, like the good slaves that we are, that the economy belongs to the Government, and the fullness thereof.
If the citizen should drive, he soon discovers that his vehicle confers anxiety rather than freedom. Slight infringements of the driving rules are photographed and he is fined. When he parks he soon discovers that wheel-clamping is the one public service that works with clockwork efficiency. Squeezing money from him is likewise the one task that the State takes seriously, for he cannot rely on the police to protect him, or the schools to educate his children, or the hospitals to succour him when he is ill, or public transport to take him anywhere without hitch. A bloated payroll does not translate into efficient services: on the contrary, it is incompatible with them.
The State is increasingly concerning itself with the individual's private habits, instituting a reign of virtue, chief among which is healthiness (we are approaching the situation of Samuel Butler's satire, Erewhon, a country where illness is a crime). Though not a single smoker is unaware of the dangers of smoking, and hasn't been for 30 years or more, he is now to be prevented from smoking in public, even when he is among other smokers only.
The pettiness of this official persecution of smokers (who are not prevented from paying a lot of tax) can hardly be exaggerated. The hospital in which I used to work instituted a no-smoking policy, so that smokers had to leave the building to smoke. To do this, one orthopaedic patient needed a wheelchair, but to hire a wheelchair he had to pay a 60 pound deposit, which he did not have. He grew so angry that he needed sedation.
Increasingly the citizen is asked to denounce his neighbour, for example if his neighbour is cheating social security. (Cheating it is the only rational response to so preposterous, impersonal and inhumane a system.) This official invitation to atomise society further by sowing mistrust among the population has not yet been entirely successful; but posters such as the one I saw last weekend in a bookshop - "Racism is a crime. Report it!" - engender a vague but nevertheless all-pervasive anxiety. After all, racism is a vague term, open to many interpretations, and there is an increasing tendency to treat complainants as if their complaints were self-justifying: you have been badly treated if you think you have been badly treated. Far from being a generous and compassionate principle, this attention to, or even encouragement of, complaint confers immense and often arbitrary powers on officialdom. It is not liberating, it is infantilising.
In many NHS trusts, bullying is defined as behaviour that causes a person to feel bullied. No objective evidence whatever is necessary, and the resolution of any complaint is at the discretion of bureaucrats, who thus assume Kafkaesque powers. More and more of us live in an atmosphere of vague and unseen surveillance that might at any moment explode into unanswerable accusation.
We also live in a propaganda state. No one believes what a government official says any longer because he is assumed to be a liar, ex officio as it were, even when he is telling the truth. We assume that all official information is self-exculpating, self-congratulating or self-glorifying in intent, that all official speech is therefore spin or political advertising. Those of us who work in the NHS - not a small number - receive expensively produced glossy publications from our employers, full of photographs of happy, smiling workers meeting happy, smiling customers, at the very same time as drastic cuts must be implemented to meet burgeoning debts and there are patients in casualty who have been waiting for hours for admission. One is reminded of the Stalinist images of flaxen-haired peasant maidens serving at banquet tables groaning with food of every description that were disseminated to the world in the midst of one of the most severe famines in history.
Let them eat lies! In this context, the proposal that we should, at all times, carry identity cards containing a great deal of personal information is particularly sinister. We all know that a suicide bomber is not going to be put off by the mere possession of a biometric ID card, and that the only thing that will deter muggers is efficient policing. Are victims of mugging going to be able henceforth to demand muggers' identity cards before handing over their cash at knifepoint?
But the requirement that we should carry such cards will no doubt give the police another target to aim at: 20 non-carriers a week, for example, producing 1,000 pounds in fines. After all, the immense outlay on producing the cards and the interest on the resulting debt will have to be paid for somehow. You know it makes sense.
In the meantime, Britons always, always will be slaves.