Thursday, December 06, 2007

Scouts hit deadline for 'pay-up-or-move' ultimatum

A deadline is looming today for officials with the Cradle of Liberty Boy Scouts organization in Philadelphia either to agree to a rent hike of $199,999 a year for their headquarters building or move. Neither officials with the Cradle of Liberty chapter nor the national headquarters for Boy Scouts of America immediately returned WND's calls requesting comment. The dilemma was created when several members of the city hierarchy in Philadelphia, reportedly including an open homosexual, ordered the council to abandon the national group's ban on openly homosexual members and leaders or the city would renege on a decades-old agreement.

For almost 80 years, since 1928, the Scouts have used the building for their headquarters under a lease, but that is set to expire and officials now are demanding $200,000 a year for rent, up from the previous rate of $1. "If they want to accept the national policies of the Boy Scout organization they have to be able to pay for it," Philadelphia City Councilman Jack Kelly told Fox News. A letter from Diaz set the deadline today for the Scouts to sign a new lease at the new rate or face eviction by the city.

John Braxton, a member of the Cradle of Liberty council and a retired judge, said the organization simply cannot afford the steep rent increase. The organization serves about 64,000 youth in the region, officials said. "It's disappointing, and it's certainly a threat," Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for the council, said recently. He said the additional money would have to be taken from programs for youth, which could cost the organization 30 new Cub Scout chapters.

Council officials have said they were unable to renounce the national organization's long-established policy of not allowing participation by atheists or open homosexuals. That policy was affirmed as legal and legitimate in a 2000 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But city officials allege that is discrimination and said they wouldn't rent taxpayer-owned property for a dollar a year to such people.

In a column, Robert Knight of the Culture and Media Institute of the Media Research Center said the Philadelphia decision is unfair. Knight, in his critique of a Washington Post report on the dispute, noted the Scouts "built the building with their own money and then gave it to the city in 1928." He also noted the Scouts' lease was "in perpetuity," but the city simply decided to renege. "The Scouts bar openly homosexual scoutmasters and members for moral reasons and for the sake of protecting young boys from possible harm, not because they are motivated by bigotry or prejudice," he wrote. "The Post article read as if the Scouts have no rational reason for wanting to determine whether prospective leaders or members are attracted sexually to males."

Local Scout officials had tried to institute a statement that "prejudice, intolerance and unlawful discrimination in any form are unacceptable within the ranks of Cradle of Liberty," but national scouting officials required adherence to the ban on homosexuals, they said.

"If I do not receive an executed lease, signed by the Boy Scouts, to remain as tenants paying a fair market rent, we will begin looking for alternative tenants that can take over the property June 1, 2008," Diaz said.

The Scouts' own guidelines, published on their website, note the organization was founded "on the premise of teaching boys moral and ethical values through an outdoor program that challenges them and teaches them respect for nature, one another, and themselves."

"The BSA respects the rights of people and groups who hold values that differ from those encompassed in the Scout Oath and Law, and the BSA makes no effort to deny the rights of those whose views differ to hold their attitudes or opinions," the group continued. "Scouts come from all walks of life and are exposed to diversity in Scouting that they may not otherwise experience. The Boy Scouts of America aims to allow youth to live and learn as children and enjoy Scouting without immersing them in the politics of the day.

"We hope that our supporters will continue to value the Boy Scouts of America's respect for diversity and the positive impact Scouting has on young people's lives. We realize that not every individual nor organization subscribes to the same beliefs that the BSA does, but we hope that all Americans can be as respectful of our beliefs as we are of theirs and support the overall good Scouting does in American communities," the group said.

In order to protect children, other rules also have been imposed, including, "One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is not permitted," and, "When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian."

WND recently reported citizens outraged by the city's ultimatum crashed the e-mail system of the Philadelphia mayor's office. About 150,000 Boy Scout-related e-mails were removed from the city's e-mail system, reported the Bulletin newspaper of Philadelphia. "We were deluged," said Terry Phillis, chief information officer for Mayor John Street. "We pulled the messages off so they wouldn't take the system down. It had to be done to protect system integrity." City officials in San Francisco and Boston have made similar decisions to displace the Scouts because of the group's behavior code.

Such disputes virtually never arose until homosexual organizations challenged the Scouts' policy, but lost at the U.S. Supreme Court level in that 2000 ruling. Then activist groups turned their sights on property arrangements such as in Philadelphia, where the Scouts have been using the donated property for years.

Former WND columnist Hans Zeiger, who wrote a book about the Scouts and their battles, "Get Off My Honor: The Assault on the Boy Scouts of America," said the Boy Scouts since 1911 have been reaching out to the disabled, racial and ethnic minorities, Native Americans and inner city children with the lessons of right and wrong.

"When it comes to a Scout troop, sexual orientation is an issue that goes beyond differences in skin color or economic status. It affects such matters as tenting arrangements and the development of pre-teenage masculinity in a close-knit group of boys and men," he wrote. "So here's what I say to the radical Left in the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed . Take away the funding. Seize the 75-year-old headquarters building. The Scouts can survive without it," he wrote at the time.

WND also reported earlier this year a Scouts victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit dismissed a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union to stop the Defense Department from allowing the Scouts to hold its National Jamboree every four years at Fort A.P. Hill in Fredericksburg, Va.



I would have thought that Islam was "aggressively fierce" too

Germany could be asked to ban the U.S.-based Church of Scientology under a Hamburg security official's proposal that contends the group violates human rights. Hamburg's secretary of the interior, Udo Nagel, plans to seek a nationwide ban of Scientology at this week's meeting of top German security officials, spokeswoman Ulrike Sweden said Monday.

The German government considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people. During the summer, it initially refused to allow the producers of a movie starring Scientology member Tom Cruise as Germany's most famous anti-Hitler plotter to film at the site where the hero was executed, although it did not expressly state Scientology as its reason.

If all 16 states agree to the proposal to ban Scientology, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble would be asked to initiate proceedings against it, Sweden said, confirming a report by Focus magazine. The report quotes Nagel saying that Scientology pursues "anti- constitutional goals in an aggressively fierce" manner that run counter to human rights and dignity.

A spokeswoman for Scientology, Sabine Weber, called Nagel's proposal "more than incomprehensible" and pointed out that the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Scientology when Russia denied its application to register as a religious community.

The United States has said that Germany discriminates against some religious groups, including Scientology, that Germany does not recognize as a religion.


British discrimination case thrown out

A Pakistan-born engineer who claimed he was racially discriminated against by a company because of his name has lost his case. Qamar Mohammed Malik told an employment tribunal that construction company Amec Group Ltd's Treforest branch ignored a CV sent under his own name. But when the 49-year-old, of Cardiff, sent a fake CV using a Welsh name he was granted an interview, he said.

Amec, which had denied the claim, welcomed the tribunal's decision. Mr Malik said he was "disappointed" with the ruling, which was announced on Monday. He added: "I have to accept the ruling and move on but I hope some lessons have been learned. "I was not looking for compensation. I just wanted to make a point and stop discrimination happening. "I have four children and I don't want them to experience it when they get older and start looking for a career."

He told the Cardiff hearing last month that he first applied for a job in November 2006, e-mailing his CV to Amec's office manager in Treforest, near Pontypridd. When he was told there were no vacancies, Mr Malik composed a similar CV with inferior qualifications, using the name Rhyddir Aled Lloyd-Hilbert. The fictional man had fewer O-levels than Mr Malik and was slightly older. Mr Malik claimed Amec responded "positively" to the fictional CV of Mr Lloyd-Hilbert, who was told he could earn up to 33,000 pounds with the firm.

Speaking during the tribunal, he said he decided to send a fictitious CV using a Welsh-sounding name because the rejection by Amec had been at "severe odds" with advice he was previously given by the company. He added: "It smacked of the racism that I used to experience in the early 1980s."

But Mike Hartwell, catchment manager for the construction arm of Amec at the time, told the tribunal the fictitious CV had also been rejected for the site engineer role Mr Malik originally applied for. He said Mr Lloyd-Hilbert was contacted regarding a quality inspector role because he indicated he was planning to move to Wales, whereas Mr Malik had a Reading address on his CV.

The tribunal panel ruled unanimously that his "claim of race discrimination is not well founded and is dismissed." An Amec spokesman said: "We welcome the unanimous decision made by the Cardiff employment tribunal, which fully recognises that we did not racially discriminate against Mr Malik. "We are a major international company, employing many thousands of people around the world, and select people solely on their suitability for the particular job. "Our code of business conduct, which all of our people are required to follow, makes it clear that discrimination on racial or other prohibited grounds is not tolerated under any circumstances."


A right not to be offended?

The right not to be offended is now the most sacred right in the world. The right to freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement, all are as nothing compared with the universal right to freedom from offense. It's surely only a matter of time before "sensitivity training" is matched by equally rigorous "inoffensiveness training" courses. A musician friend of mine once took a gig at an elevator-music session, and, after an hour or two of playing insipid orchestral arrangements of "Moon River" and "Windmills of Your Mind," some of the lads' attention would start to wander, and they'd toot their horns a little too boisterously. The conductor would stop and admonish them to bland things down a bit. In a world in which everyone is ready to take offense, it's hard to keep the mood Muzak evenly modulated.

For example, when I said the right not to be offended is now the most "sacred" right in the world, I certainly didn't mean to offend persons of a nontheistic persuasion. In Hanover, N.H., home to Dartmouth College, an atheist and an agnostic known only as "Jan and Pat Doe" (which is which is hard to say) are suing because their three schoolchildren are forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Well, OK, they're not forced to say it. The pledge is voluntary. You're allowed to sit down, or, more discreetly, stand silently, which is what the taciturn Yankee menfolk who think it's uncool to sing do during the hymns at my local church. But that's not enough for "the Does." Because the pledge mentions God, their children are forced, as it were, not to say it. And, as "Mr. and Mrs. Doe" put it in their complaint, having to opt out of participation in a voluntary act exposes their children to potential "peer pressure" from the other students. U.S. courts have not traditionally been sympathetic to this argument. The ACLU and other litigious types might more profitably explore the line that the Pledge of Allegiance is deeply offensive to millions of illegal aliens in the public school system forced to pledge allegiance to the flag of a country they're not citizens or even legally admitted tourists of.

Let us now cross from the New Hampshire school system to the Sudanese school system. Or as The Associated Press headline put it: "Thousands In Sudan Call For British Teddy Bear Teacher's Execution."

Last week, Gillian Gibbons, a British schoolteacher working in Khartoum, one of the crumbiest basket-case dumps on the planet - whoops, I mean one of the most lively and vibrant strands in the rich tapestry of our multicultural world - anyway, Mrs. Gibbons was sentenced last week to 15 days in jail because she was guilty of, er, allowing a teddy bear to be named "Mohammed." She wasn't so foolish as to name the teddy Mohammed herself. But, in an ill-advised Sudanese foray into democracy, she'd let her grade-school students vote on what name they wanted to give the classroom teddy, and being good Muslims they voted for their favorite name: Mohammed.

Big mistake. There's apparently a whole section in the Quran about how, if you name cuddly toys after the Prophet you have to be decapitated. Well, actually there isn't. But why let theological pedantry deprive you of the opportunity to stick it to the infidel? Mrs. Gibbons is regarded as lucky to get 15 days in jail, when the court could have imposed six months and 40 lashes. But even that wouldn't have been good enough for the mob in Khartoum. The protesters shouted "No tolerance. Execution" and "Kill her. Kill her by firing squad" and "Shame, shame to the U.K." - which persists in sending out imperialist schoolmarms to impose idolatrous teddy bears on the youth of Sudan.

Whether or not the British are best placed to defend Mrs. Gibbons is itself questionable after a U.K. court decision last week: Following an altercation with another driver, Michael Forsythe was given a suspended sentence of 10 weeks in jail for "racially aggravated disorderly behavior" for calling Lorna Steele an "English bitch." "Racially aggravated"? Indeed. Ms. Steele is not English, but Welsh.

Still, at exactly the time Gillian Gibbons caught the eye of the Sudanese authorities, a 19-year-old Saudi woman was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail. Her crime? She'd been abducted and gang-raped by seven men. Originally, she'd been sentenced to 90 lashes, but her lawyer had appealed and so the court increased it to 200 and jail time. Anybody on the streets in Sudan or anywhere else in the Muslim world who wants to protest that?

East is east, and west is west, and in both we take offense at anything: Santas saying "Ho ho ho," teddy bears called Mohammed. And yet the difference is very telling: The now-annual Santa lawsuits in the "war on Christmas" and the determination to abolish even such anodyne expressions of faith as the Pledge of Allegiance are assaults on the very possibility of a common culture. By contrast, the teddy bear rubbish is a crude demonstration of cultural muscle intended to cow and intimidate. When east meets west, when offended Muslims find themselves operating in Western nations, they discover that both techniques are useful: Some march in the streets, Khartoum-style, calling for the pope to be beheaded, others use the mechanisms of the West's litigious, perpetual grievance culture to harass opponents into silence.

Perhaps somewhere in Sydney there's a woman who's genuinely offended by hearing Santa say "ho ho ho" just as those New Hampshire atheists claim to be genuinely offended by the Pledge of Allegiance. But their complaints are frivolous and decadent, and more determined groups are using the patterns they've established to shut down debate on things we should be talking about. The ability to give and take offense is what separates free societies from Sudan.



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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