Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Solstice

Post below lifted from No Pasaran . See the original for links. Immediately below is the soft-porn actress chosen by the BBC to portray the Blessed Virgin.

Trapped in Beeb-istan: the Provisional Wing of the PC left has finally found a way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Former Brookside babe Jennifer Ellison is to star in a new BBC adaptation of the Nativity story. The new show will be broadcast live on BBC Three on December 16th and will see Ellison playing the part of a pregnant Mary who is fighting to stop her asylum-seeker boyfriend Joseph from being deported.

Further, the Ho Ho Hosebag will be sexing-up the dumbing-down of the greatest story ever told:

Jennifer Ellison will don a silver catsuit to play an angel in the BBC's new adaptation of the Nativity story.

I suppose the point they're making really is that there is no reason to become a citizen since the only notion they now have of what a citizenship is feeling perpetually guilty about your very being. That's sure to bring the brain-trust knocking on their doors, and that forgiveness and salvation are available with a Scheisster and paperwork sent to the Home Office.

This is the same BBC that refers to any other nations newcomers as immigrants, but otherwise as "migrants" only when referring to a foreigner in the UK, legally there or not, seeking citizenship or not.


When the controversy over the cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten depicting the Prophet Muhammad erupted early in 2006, a leading article in the Guardian of London suggested that John Stuart Mill was a "better guide" to the issues involved than Voltaire. What exactly does the father of modern liberalism have to tell us about insult, offense, and the limits of free speech?

In considering what circumstances could justify limits on expression, Mill offered what has become a basic standard in liberal societies, known as the Harm Principle, according to which the "only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." Now, for Mill, actions are harmful which directly violate the rights of a person (rights being understood by him to be certain "immunities" enjoyed by persons against the power of rulers). And if we grant that definition of harm, then very few limits on freedom of expression are going to be justified, since very few expressive acts could plausibly be said to cause harm to the rights of others.

This is not to say, however, that no expressive act (a piece of speech, say, or a cartoon) could cause harm. Mill takes the example of speech about corn dealers. It is reasonable, he says, to declare, in print, that corn dealers starve the poor, but it is not permissible to make the same claim before an angry mob gathered outside a corn dealer's home. In the latter case, the speech is an incitement to "some mischievous act" and places the rights, and indeed the life, of the corn dealer in danger.

Some critics, including some of those who wrote about the Danish cartoons affair, think this definition of harm is too restrictive. They argue that in addition to the Harm Principle, we need something such as what the philosopher Joel Feinberg calls an Offense Principle. But, as Jerome Neu points out in "Sticks and Stones: The Philosophy of Insults" (Oxford University Press, 304 pages, $29.95), it not clear where we would find the "Aristotelian mean" that would tell us just how sensitive to insult we can reasonably be. In any case, it would be very hard to apply such a principle, since some people take offense simply because they are oversensitive, or because they harbor unjustified prejudices.

It is sometimes said that justice requires that we defer to the interpretation that vulnerable minorities give of the speech acts and gestures directed at them. The problem with this, according to Mr. Neu, is that "feeling insulted is not an infallible guide to being insulted"; it is not obvious that we can trust the vulnerable always to get the interpretation right. What are we to do, for instance, with people whose beliefs make them peculiarly susceptible to insult or offense? Mr. Neu's rich and luminously written book is, among other things, an attempt to answer such questions.

A distinctive feature of insult, then, is that it is more often felt than intended to be given (and of course intention matters; especially, one might say, in cases such as that of the cartoons). Borrowing the terminology of the English philosopher J.L. Austin, Mr. Neu makes the very interesting suggestion that this has a good deal to do with the language of insult. Unlike promising or censuring, for example, there is no "distinctive performative verb for insulting"; that is, we don't say, "I insult you," whereas we do say, "I promise to you" or "I censure you." This means that insults are often ambiguous: One can be insulted without taking offense (the insult can, as Austin puts it, "misfire"), just as one can take offense where none is intended. There are also significant implications here for restrictions on hate speech confined to profane or vulgar language. There can be "politely worded insults," after all, but to prohibit these as well would be to risk "stifling all controversial discourse." It is one thing to claim that words are also deeds and can do harm, and quite another confidently to specify the words that wound.

Mr. Neu's skepticism about hate speech legislation, speech codes, and blasphemy laws is grounded in a very Millian understanding of what is involved in upholding freedom of speech. We should, he argues, see certain kinds of discomfort, offended feelings, and so on as being among the unavoidable costs of free thought, inquiry, and argument. The Muslim protesters who besieged the office of the editor of Jyllands-Posten were entitled to his respect, but not his "submission." Failing to recognize that these are not the same threatens to make free expression itself the "victim."


Ethnicity matters

I see no indication that ethnicity is irrelevant in the USA. On the contrary, I see indications that the importance of ethnic rivalries is growing within the US along with mass immigration from non-Western countries. The reason why this haven't had serious repercussions yet is because the white majority clings to the idea that ethnicity doesn't matter. But as the white majority grows smaller and eventually disappears, these ethnic rivalries could potentially grow a lot worse as there would no longer be a stable majority group in the country.

The USA, and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, were founded as modern states by people of European origins. European Americans made up almost 90% of the population in the USA until a few decades ago. I don't know about a single example where a country has totally changed its majority population, and where the people who originally shaped the country's institutions have been rendered a minority, and where this hasn't resulted in a huge change in that country's culture.

If the present immigration to the USA continues, the culture will change profoundly, and a few decades from now the USA will no longer be a Western country. Alternatively, the United States as a unified country could collapse. I've mentioned that option before. It's perhaps not the most likely scenario, but it is one that Americans should take seriously. If the USA should, for some reason, not survive this century in its present shape, it will be because ethnicity does matter after all:
US minorities don't trust each other

The three main minorities in the United States - blacks, Hispanics and Asians - have little trust for each other and hold prejudiced views about Americans of different ethnic origins to their own, a poll showed Wednesday. "This extraordinary poll reveals some unflattering realities that exist in America today," said Sandy Close, head of new America Media (NAM) which sponsored the poll together with ethnic media groups.

Forty-four percent of Hispanics and 47 percent of Asians are "afraid of African-Americans because they are responsible for most of the crime," the survey of 1,105 adults drawn from the three ethnic groups showed.

More than half of black Americans polled and 46 percent of Hispanics said Asian business owners do not treat them with respect. And half of African-Americans said Latin American immigrants "are taking jobs, housing and political power away from the black community."

Hispanics and Asians, whose populations are made up mainly of immigrants, were positive about the American dream, saying that those who work hard in the United States reap the rewards of their toil.

In contrast, more than 60 percent of African-Americans dismissed the American dream as not working for them.

All three ethnic groups viewed white Americans in a more favorable light than they did members of another minority. Sixty-one percent of Hispanics, 54 percent of Asians and 47 percent of African-Americans said they would rather do business with whites than members of the other two groups.

"The poll reaffirms that while race relations between ethnic groups and whites grab the headlines, there are also serious racial problems between minority groups in America," said Sergio Bendixen, an expert on Hispanic and multilingual polling. "Blacks feel they are left out of the American Dream and are being displaced by newcomers, and each group buys into the negative stereotypes about the other two," he said.

The three minority groups did agree that the United States would be a better place if blacks, Asians and Hispanics held more authoritative positions at universities, in business, media and government. They also said they believe racial tensions in the United States will ease over the next 10 years.


Conservative British Muslim tells some home truths

The Conservative peer who helped negotiate the release of the primary school teacher jailed in Sudan for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Mohamed attacked her fellow British Muslims today for their "victim culture". Baroness Warsi, a Conservative spokeswoman on community cohesion, also criticised Labour for its "patronage politics" and for having encouraged the "divisive concept" of multiculturalism.

Lady Warsi, 36, born to Pakistani parents in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, is the youngest member of the House of Lords. She came to public notice earlier this month when she was asked by Lord Ahmed, a Labour peer, to accompany him to Sudan to mediate the release of Gillian Gibbons, who had been jailed for insulting Islam.

The situation in Sudan had been extraordinary and "thankfully" could never happen in the UK, Lady Warsi told a race relations conference in London this morning. "And yet it had echoes of situations we do get in Britain," she added, describing how cultural misunderstandings had exacerbated a local problem, which had then been taken up by religious and political leaders "busting for a fight". "These three factors - local disputes, cultural misunderstandings and hardliners stirring up trouble - these are very familiar to us in Britain," she said.

It was entirely possible to respect religious doctrine while living within a democracy, Lady Warsi said. To do so successfully, it was crucial to make the distinction between religious faith and cultural practice. "This distinction is vital because there is a growing tendency among some people to describe what are really social expectations - and often pretty dubious ones - as religious requirements.

"...British Muslims have the foremost responsibility here," she added. "As long as the Muslim community remains in a victim culture, a siege mentality, they allow others to control the debate.

"When it comes to Islam, the majority of Muslims understand the difference between culture and religion. It's not for others to tell Muslims what is and isn't Islam. It's for the community, and in that I include myself, to expound the truth about our faith - not let others interpret it for us. It is for us to be the change - not let others impose it on us."

Lady Warsi, who is thought to be the first British Muslim to serve in either the Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet, pointed out that she gone to Sudan with a Labour peer and had been proud to be part of a bipartisan effort where party differences did not matter. "But this is not to say that there are no differences between the parties when it comes to cohesion at home," she added.



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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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