Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More on the ham sandwich "hate crime"

I mentioned this previously on Education Watch -- scroll down

When is a failure to respect the deep religious beliefs of a group regarded as a hate crime? In the state of Maine, we have an answer, one that ought to provoke outrage. In today's America, some groups are more equal than others, and media and local authorities seem unified in accepting this as fair, just, and normal.

Although the national media has been virtually silent on the subject, Lewiston, Maine has been rocked by a controversy over an alleged hate crime at the local high school cafeteria. Lewiston, you see, has become the host community for over 2000 Somali refugees, a very large number for a community as small as Lewiston (population approximately 36,000, with another 20,000 in neighboring towns including Auburn*). So when a student tossed a ham sandwich on a table in the cafeteria where a group of Somalian students were sitting, all hell broke loose.

That small community has see front-page newspaper stories, one student suspended and others under suspicion, with the Lewiston Police opening an investigation and (of course) something called the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence is working with the school to create a response plan. Ultimately, the determination was made that it was not a hate crime [But the school punished the student anyway], but the degree of seriousness with which this rather stupid and petty act was treated sends its own message. The blogger Bookworm provides some needed perspective:

Americans, especially students, find it hysterically funny to throw food. Heck, this propensity has been enshrined in several movies, starting with Laurel and Hardy, and moving up to the present time, with Animal House being a great recent example. While there's usually an element of aggression in throwing food at people, for the most part Americans consider it a great sport. (Indeed, back in the 1960s, my concentration camp experienced mother was absolutely horrified to learn that, at my sister's junior high school, an egg toss was considered a perfect fund raiser. She quickly got the PTA to put a stop to that kind of food waste

Blogger Tom McLaughlin, who writes opinion columns for several Maine newspapers, provides an excellent post on the incident and quickly gets to the meat (if you will) of the question:

There have been no reports I know of about how Muslims may be offended by classes teaching that homosexual behavior is normal and natural. Several public schools sponsor assemblies in which homosexual and transgender behaviors are natural too. Certainly there have been no front page headlines. Jews and Christians may be offended by such material also but our media is virtually silent about it.

He goes on to point out that in fact Christian students at various high schools have themselves been persecuted for daring to even voice their religious objections to homosexual behavior:

A week after the ham incident, over five thousand public schools across the country observed a "Day of Silence" in support of homosexuality. Students at all these schools were encouraged to be silent for a day to protest purported harassment of gay and lesbian students. They were also encouraged to wear T-shirts and buttons supporting homosexuality. Events of this nature have been sponsored by public schools for more than ten years. Though no homosexuals were harassed that day, Christian students who were offended by the school's orchestration of homosexual propaganda were. After peacefully expressing their opposition to what they consider brainwashing, dozens were suspended in several districts around California. In the Sacramento area, more than three thousand students stayed home to avoid exposure to pro-homosexual indoctrination. According to the Catholic news service

"Other students concerned about the one-sided messages determined to wear clothing and distribute literature which peacefully highlighted the dangers of homosexuality. Dozens of religious students were disciplined for expressing their viewpoints at Inderkum, Rio Linda and San Juan high schools."

McLaughlin points out that it was not the eating of ham sandwiches that got the Lewiston students in trouble (that is still legal, for now - but don't try this in Saudi Arabia), but rather the flaunting of ham - bringing it into close proximity in a manner intended to offend. But that is precisely the sort of behavior that is not just tolerated but indeed encouraged when it comes to offending those who have religious objections to homosexuality.

Let me go ont eh record here: I think it was a boorish act of the Maine students to put the ham sandwich on the table. It was rude and offensive. Some punishment - perhaps an admonition for the first offense - was in order. To call in a group with the title "hate violence" in its name and open a police file is overkill. But the same goes for students who flaunt their sexuality (any sexuality!) in schools.

In today's America, we have elevated some groups to a position of dominance over others, when we insist that their religious sensitivities be respected, while those of other groups are repressed by school authorities. A transparent agenda is at work, one that seeks to punish the religious beliefs of the majority of Americans while exaggerating the regard that must be paid to a minority's beliefs. Breaking the hold of Christianity on the majority populace is a priority who seek to transform America into a very different kind of country.

I await the appearance of a Muslim imam in Lewiston or Minneapolis who would fire up his adherents in the cause of expressing offense at public displays of homosexuality in the schools. The sound of "progressive" heads exploding would be music to my ears. I am likely to wait a long time, however, because the game being played is obvious, and the time is not yet right. Dhimmitude comes one step at a time.


New evidence that British blacks really are madder

Three years ago an official inquiry into the treatment of black people within Britain's mental health services concluded that the system was riddled with institutional racism and blamed the Department of Health for ignoring what it called "this festering abscess... a blot upon the good name of the NHS".

But now senior psychiatrists, some themselves from ethnic minorities, are hitting back, arguing that labelling psychiatric services as racist is both wrong and counter-productive. Professor Swaran Singh, a consultant based in Birmingham says, "the high rates of psychosis and the high rates of detention are not a result of racism", he insists.

The experiences of black people in mental health services are undoubtedly shocking: black men up to 18 times more likely to be diagnosed with psychotic illness than whites and four times more likely to find themselves locked up under the Mental Health Act. Understandably, for many within the black community the figures are powerful evidence that services are profoundly racist.

Professor Singh's view has seen him accused of setting psychiatry back 20 years, but he is adamant. He says the term "institutional racism" damages the very people it purports to help and "is erroneous and too simplistic an explanation for ethnic differences. What it does is it creates a wall of mistrust between between service users and service providers."

But in the last few months, research by the Institute of Psychiatry in London has turned the argument on its head. The largest-ever study of psychosis tested the theory that psychiatrists wittingly or unwittingly allowed their clinical judgment to be influenced by the colour of their patients' skin. Researchers removed the ethnicity of a patient from their notes and asked a doctor to assess them. What they found was that psychosis was still diagnosed nine times more often in black people from the Caribbean - almost exactly the same rate as their presence within mental health services.

Professor Robin Murray from the Institute says the evidence is remarkable. "We have pretty well excluded the possibility that this is a result of misdiagnosis", he says. In fact, the results suggested the opposite. "Psychiatrists in the UK are less likely to diagnose psychosis in somebody who is black than white with the same symptoms", argues Professor Murray.

The real explanation for so many more black people in mental health services, it is claimed, is that they suffer from higher levels of mental illness. The reasons for that are thought to be social: fractured families, exclusion, poor education, unemployment and cannabis use - all problems which particularly affect the black community.

Research also came up with an explanation for the higher rates of detention under the Mental Health Act. Black people are twice as likely as white patients to be referred to a psychiatrist by the police or a court rather than their GP. In other words, black patients arrive in the system when their condition is much more serious, requiring their detention. According to some psychiatrists, the consequence of wrongly blaming racism for black people's high representation in mental services is that the real causes of mental ill health in the black community are ignored.

Just as concerning is the claim that some dangerously ill black patients are discharged into the community because white mental health tribunals are worried they may be accused of racism. Dr Shubulade Smith, a consultant psychiatrist at the world-famous Maudsley Hospital in South London says an all-white panel wouldn't listen to her arguments about one of her black patients. "He was really at risk getting hurt because of the illness that he had, and the tribunal discharged him", she says. "I don't know what was going on in their minds other than they were too scared of thinking that they might be being racist towards him."

Dr Smith, herself a black woman, believes psychiatry needs to focus less on internal racism and more on helping deal with the real causes of mental illness out in the community. "Let's do something about those factors that increase the likelihood of people becoming unwell in this way," she says. "Let's do something about that."


No justice - Australian rape victim's father

What is not mentioned below is that the victim of the rape was treated exceptionally poorly because the NSW justice system went into overdrive to water down severe sentences handed to a Muslim gang. Being kind to Muslims was the driving priority in the matter -- anything to achieve that

THE father of one of the Sydney women raped seven years ago by Bilal Skaf's gang says rape victims should avoid court, and take matters into their own hands instead. The father, who cannot be named, said criminal justice in the state was so biased against victims of crime that rape victims should have nothing to do with it. "Do not go to court. Sort it out outside of the court, if you get my drift," he said. "Once you get to court, you will not get justice. It is a justice system in name only."

This father's damning assessment was delivered after a man known as MG was acquitted of raping his daughter, who can be identified only as Miss C. While MG was acquitted of raping Miss C, he did not walk free. He is serving two 15-year sentences for his role in other rapes. Skaf and other members of his gang are already serving prison sentences for attacks on Miss C.

Her father's advice to avoid the justice system prompted the NSW Rape Crisis Centre to call for urgent reforms to ensure people are not tempted to take the law into their own hands. "Violence solves nothing," said manager Karen Willis. "I empathise with this man's position. What his daughter has gone through for seven years would be appalling. It shows we still need more changes such as special sexual assault courts to ensure people do not take the law into their own hands."

Miss C's father said his daughter had received "horrific" treatment by the courts and defence lawyers. "They subpoenaed her medical records and even said in court that she had an orgasm during one of the rapes. How in the hell would they know?" he said. "She now rarely goes out. She won't go out in crowds and when she does, she won't go out for very long. "She hates being outside, particularly when she sees Muslims. She is so anti-Islam it is unbelievable, and to be honest, so am I."

The fact that the MG case dragged on for more than five years meant he no longer had any faith in the adversarial system of justice. "The prosecution are hindered in what they can do, whereas the defence can rip these girls apart," he said. "It took seven years and my daughter could not do it any more and she was one of the strongest of the lot."

Miss C abandoned her involvement in the MG case because of delays and the removal of top prosecutor Margaret Cunneen. Her father said it was time to switch to a more inquisitorial system to stop defence lawyers dragging out cases. He also called for a better system of selecting judges. "They say the law is equal. Don't believe it," he said.

During his daughter's ordeal in the court system, he had taken his concerns to the NSW Law Society and both sides of state politics. He said he had been "spoken down to" by the Law Society, ignored by then Attorney-General Bob Debus and told by the state Opposition that real reform would require constitutional change.

He contacted The Australian after the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal wrote to this newspaper last week about the MG case. Miss C's father said he rejected the court's statement that Ms Cunneen's removal had not triggered his daughter's decision to walk away from the case.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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