Leave working tipplers alone
By John Mortimer (creator of "Rumpole")
The true sickness of our times is not that we eat too much, smoke cigarettes or knock off a bottle of wine in an evening. It is the ever-growing tendency of medical boards, government officials, politicians and other groups who seem to have nothing better to do than tell us how to lead our lives. It is as if we are a nation of miscreant mortals who have to be constantly lectured on how to behave.
We have now been told by the Liverpool's Centre for Public Health that the middle classes consume too much wine in their homes. At dining tables in leafy towns and affluent suburbs, too many hard-working professionals are enjoying "hazardous" if not "harmful" amounts of alcohol night after night. British Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo seized on these findings as another chance to boss us all about. "Most of these are not young people. They are 'everyday' drinkers who have drunk too much for too long," she warns darkly. "This has to stop."
It was in the summer that the Government first suggested it was planning to do something about middle-class drinkers who enjoy a bottle of wine at home in the evening. Now action seems even more likely. What can we expect? An army of local council officials with breathalysers and clipboards knocking on our doors as soon as the sun passes the yardarm, and then returning to see if we are splashing too much cognac about after supper? Perhaps they will kill two birds with one stone, and take advantage of us in our Falstaffian merriment to snoop round our houses. They wouldn't approve of us smoking in our homes, either. Any of us who are caught might be banished from our own drawing rooms into the garden.
The absurdity of a government that allows thousands to become infected and die from superbugs in filthy hospitals, and then worries about how much wine we drink at supper in our homes, should be obvious.
Perhaps the situation needs clarifying. Yes, drinking is a possible danger to your health. But then so is rock climbing, sailing, deep-sea diving, parachuting and motor racing. Are all these activities to be forbidden by law because they are possibly dangerous?
Drinking is legal and the Government must realise that you are entitled to pursue any activity that you enjoy, even if it is at some risk. Nothing seems able to persuade our public officials of the true limits of government. Governments are there to regulate the economy, provide public services and make sure that the drains are working. But we are run by a bunch of snivelling puritans in a government that has made a speciality of poking its nose into every corner of our lives and trampling all over our civil liberties. In my view, many of them would benefit from a drink or two.
It is true that alcohol turns many of us into crashing bores. But a politician who enjoys his drink is likely to be far more fun and relaxed about life. George Brown, Harold Wilson's permanently drunk foreign secretary, may have overdone it, but at least he left us with the story - almost certainly apocryphal - of the evening reception at which he approached a figure in a purple dress for a dance. "There are three reasons why I will not dance with you," came the reply. "One, you are very drunk. Two, they are playing my national anthem. And three, I am the Archbishop of Lima."
But it is not only alcohol that they want to stop us drinking at home. Fresh milk is also out. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this week said we should be swapping revolting UHT milk for fresh pints - it would save on refrigeration and cut down on carbon emissions. So when the officials come round as we are passing around the peanuts with our pre-dinner drinks, they will want to poke about in our fridge in the national interest.
What else they find will, of course, become the subject of vital inquiry. Eggs, streaky bacon and sausages are serious causes of obesity, which might jeopardise our chances of being treated on the National Health Service.
Is there any reason why being fat should be regarded as some sort of sin? Shakespeare's Julius Caesar had, it seems to me, an extremely sensible view: "Let me have men about me that are fat: Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o'nights; Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous." Winston Churchill, who brought us through the war, was fat. Fat Falstaff is one of Shakespeare's most memorable and likeable characters.
Food without wine is an unattractive prospect and few people in France or Italy would indulge in it. It is true that the 18th century habit of drinking seven or eight bottles of port after dinner could be thought excessive, but puritanism is not the answer. This behaviour could be avoided if the young of today devoted themselves to the acquisition of some useful life skills, such as the best way to enjoy a bottle of fine wine and how to identify the precise point at which it is time to refuse another glass - a subject that should, I believe, be included in the high school syllabus, with the study of champagne reserved for A-level.
Learning to drink properly can be a painful, although necessary experience. In my first term at Oxford, my friend Henry Winter and I managed to drink several bowls of sherry and then boil blue Bols and creme de menthe in an electric kettle and drink the horrible result. Since then, no gin, lime, Bols, sherry or creme de menthe has passed my lips - champagne has overwhelmingly replaced them in my affections.
But now the government would like to see off my pleasure altogether. Well, I am too old to take any notice. This morning at 6am, I started as I always do with a glass of champagne. I am writing this article with a glass of white wine by my side. And I hope to drink some more at dinner. I have only this to say to our rulers: "Get on with your jobs and leave the rest of us to eat, drink and be merry."
Furore over school giving kids condoms
A NATIONAL furore has erupted in the US after a school decided to provide children as young as 11 with access to birth control. The state-funded health centre at Portland's King middle school in Maine, which caters to grades six, seven and eight - typically children between 11 and 13 - has been handing out condoms to students for seven years.
But this week's decision caused an uproar not only because the Portland School Committee voted 7-2 in favour of providing birth control but that students in some instances will be able to get contraception without their parents' knowledge. Under state law, a child can be treated for sexual or mental problems or substance abuse confidentially, prohibiting medical staff from informing their parents.
The school, however, requires parental approval for the child to be treated at all at the campus health centre. Parents who do not wish their children to have access to the pill or condoms must also be willing to deny them any treatment at the centre, putting them in a dilemma.
During a heated public debate before the school committee voted, Diane Miller, a former school nurse, spoke against the measure; her words reflected the outrage throughout the US yesterday. "We are dealing with children," she said, "I am just horrified at the suggestion." Internet chat boards and radio talk shows were filled with angry responses to the decision, many noting that the age of consent for sexual relations is 16 and that in Maine it is a crime to have sex with a person under 14. Others raised the issue of links between cancer rates and birth control pills.
But proponents of the move said some students at the middle school were sexually active and that the greater issue was unwanted pregnancies. Portland's three middle schools reported 17 pregnancies since 2003 but that number did not include miscarriages or abortions that were not reported to the school nurse. "This is a service that is totally needed," head nurse Amanda Rowe was quoted as saying in a local newspaper. "It's about very few kids, but they are kids who don't have the same opportunities and access as other students." Richard Veilleux, a public health official, denied it would encourage kids to have sex. "This is about the kids who are engaging in sexual activity."
Some defended the decision. "I have an 11-year-old daughter. I got pregnant when I was 16," one woman wrote on CNN's website. "I remember being 13 and having sex. I knew it was wrong. I also know that knowledge is power. And empowering children in being responsible while having sex." Others said that relying on parents to raise children was too unpredictable and that government intervention in social life was necessary. More, however, complained that schools should be places of education, not social experimentation.
In a monumental nod to political correctness, the Empire State Building is to be lit up green in honor of the Muslim holiday Eid. The separation of Islam from terror is officially complete. Six years ago, Islamic terrorists screamed "Allah is Greatest!" as they slammed fuel-laden jumbo jets into two other New York skyscrapers. Six years ago, New Yorkers were worried about the Green Menace. Now, for the first time, New York's remaining famous skyscraper will be aglow in green - the color of Islam - to mark the end of Ramadan, a month of intense Islamic renewal. Officials say it'll be an annual event, in the same tradition of the yearly skyscraper lighting for Christmas and Hanukkah. What's next, Ground Zero festooned with crescent moons and stars?
Political correctness is running amok. Last week, the White House held a Ramadan dinner for Muslim leaders and activists, even though we are still waiting for them to condemn Islamic terror groups by name. To their delight, President Bush praised, and even suggested we all worship Allah. "I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian or any other religion, prays to the same God," he said, adding "I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace."
A nice sentiment. But militant Muslims believe peace cannot be attained until Islam dominates the globe. And they make up much of the Muslim establishment in America. We know this by the words they've been caught on tape mouthing to Muslim audiences. We know this by their radical associations. But more damning, investigators recently uncovered smoking-gun documents revealing that many founders of the major Muslim groups in the U.S. were involved in a secret plot to take over the U.S. by using our religious and political freedoms against us.
They call themselves Americans, but they view our system of government, our way of life, as an abomination to Allah. They've devised a scheme to sabotage our "miserable house" from within and dismantle it piece by piece, replacing it with "Dar al-Islam" - the House of Peace. Then, and only then, will there be the kind of peace the president believes Islam represents today.
Ignorance and blind tolerance only make it easier for the Islamists to make inroads. Inch by inch, sharia is creeping into our society. We see it:
* At airports, where authorities have agreed to Muslim taxi drivers' demands to build footbaths in public restrooms for Islamic washing and praying.
* On college campuses, where trustees have agreed to demands by the Saudi-tied Muslim Student Association to add Islamic holidays, prayer rooms and footbaths.
* In Congress, where officials have set aside a room for a growing number of Muslims to meet and pray inside the otherwise high-security Capitol building.
* At Quantico, where Marine brass have agreed to build an Islamic center at the request of a former Gitmo imam who previously insisted on Islamic meals, Qurans, prayer beads, oils and other amenities for the terrorists held there.
* At West Point, where Army officials have followed Quantico's lead and set up their own mosque for Muslim cadets.
* In Brooklyn, where school officials agreed to provide local Muslims and Arabs with their own publicly funded madrassa.
* In Detroit, where city planners have caved to demands to let mosques broadcast the call to prayer in Arabic five times a day, including the early-morning hours, noise ordinances be damned.
And on and on . . . until we, too, resemble Eurabia.
Another Muslim serial rapist in Australia
Gets only nine years. If a Muslim serial rapist (such as Bilal Skaf) gets a really long sentence, the legal establishment turns itself inside out to overturn the sentence -- though they don't seem to have been able to do anything about the disgusting Hakeem Hakeem -- so I suppose this is the best we can hope for
A man has been jailed for at least nine years for raping four women and attacking two others. Sedat Avci, 21, of Broadmeadows, terrorised women in the northern suburbs between April and August 2005. Most victims were walking alone in the evening and were subjected to terrifying sex attacks. Avci had pleaded guilty to seven counts of rape.
County Court Judge Jeanette Morrish said yesterday Avci had waged a "cowardly, aggressive and violent campaign" on vulnerable women but believed his prospects of rehabilitation were good because of his youth and his return to the Muslim faith. She sentenced Avci to 16 years in jail, with a minimum of nine. The maximum term for rape is 25 years.
Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara slammed the jail term and said he planned to write to the acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Jeremy Rapke. "That's 1.5 years each for six women who have got life sentences -- it's a terrible disgrace," Mr McNamara said. "It's a great insult to the victims and the community." Mr Rapke will review the case.
Avci was just 19 when he violently assaulted women in Coburg, Coolaroo, Brunswick and Hawthorn. One victim was about to drive off when Avci asked to use her mobile phone. He then forced his way into her car and repeatedly raped her. In a victim impact statement read in court, the woman said her life had been turned upside down. "I will have to work every day of my life to make sure this doesn't define who I am," she said. A victim who was raped twice while walking her dogs said the memory of the attack haunted her.
Avci also pleaded guilty to a count of aggravated burglary and another charge of robbery after attacking a pregnant woman in front of her children, aged three and four.
The serial rapist was arrested in August 2005 after police matched his fingerprints to those on a newspaper at the scene of an attack. A psychiatric report revealed Avci did not have a mental impairment at the time of the attacks, but was using amphetamines. Avci threatened most of his victims with a knife and in one case told a woman who tried to escape he would shoot her if she tried again.
In a letter of apology to his victims, Avci said he had "no good excuse" for what he had done. "To say sorry is not enough to heal the heartache and pain I have caused to your lives and your families' lives," he said.
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 INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.