Friday, November 30, 2007

Intolerant Canada again: Christian Political Party Before Human Rights Commission for Speaking Against Homosexuality

Leader says: "I'm willing to go to jail over this"

The Christian Heritage Party of Canada (CHP) and its Leader Ron Gray are being investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission after a homosexual activist complained of material published on the Party's website he claims is offensive to homosexuals. Homosexual activist Rob Wells of Edmonton, has previously launched human rights complaints against Christian activist Craig Chandler in Alberta and has now made formal complaints against the CHP and Gray. Wells took issue with a 2002 WorldNetDaily news story republished on the CHP webpage as well as three Christian Heritage Party communiqu,s written by Gray.

The World Net Daily article in question concerned a study which found "Pedophilia more common among 'gays'". (see the item here: )

Of the three communiques, one was issued in 2004 and two in 2005. The first of these condemned the actions of the self-styled "gay militia" who disrupted a Christian meeting by shouting down the speaker. Gray used strong language to condemn the actions citing the gay militia, the "militant secularists and homosexuals" as the true "hate criminals." He noted that homosexual activists work to "normalize sexual perversion" in schools because they "want to recruit our children into their debauched lifestyle." (See it here: )

The second took issue with Canada's bill to legalize same-sex 'marriage', saying, "Why would anyone even contemplate putting the nation's children at risk to pander to the sexual appetites of a tiny minority of mentally-ill adults?" Gray added: "Yes, I said 'mentally ill'", noting that many psychiatrists still consider homosexuality a treatable disorder. (See it here: )

The third item dealt with Canada's "cone of silence" around all discussion related to homosexuality. The facts on homosexuality he stated are: "homosexuality is a treatable illness; homosexuality is abnormal; homosexuality is extremely unhealthy, shortening life expectancy by decades." (see it here: )

In an interview with, Gray maintained he does not harbour any ill will toward persons with same-sex attractions, in fact just the opposite. "Christians are probably the best friends homosexuals have in the world because we want to see them delivered from an addiction that will shorten their lives in this world and condemn them in the next, said Gray. "I'm not motivated by hate at all. I would guess that very few if any real Christians are motivated by hate in their response to these issues. It's a question of compassion."

Gray added: "Who truly loves you, someone who tells you the truth even when it hurts, or someone who will tell you you're okay even when you're headed down the wrong road. The Scripture says 'Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.'"

The CHP Leader believes that the case is of highest importance also for the Conservative Government in Canada. "I really think this is a crucial case because if an agency of the government, which the CHRC is, can tell a political party what it may and may not include in its political statements we have gone way down the road to totalitarianism," he said.

Gray says he wants to win the case but not by compromise but in a way which affirms freedom of religion, thought and political rights in Canada. Rather than arguing before the human rights tribunals, Gray would prefer the case moves to the courts where the burden of proof is more stringent.

Moreover, says Gray, if Wells "truly believes I'm motivated by hate, he should charge me with a hate crime" under the existing Canadian hate crime law. "I'm willing to go to jail over this," Gray told

Costs for the initial defense before the tribunal are expected to come to $20,000. Canadian Human Rights procedures give overwhelming advantage to plaintiffs. Defendents are liable not only for their own costs but also for those of the plaintiff plus fines should the complaint be upheld.


English-Only Showdown

Does Nancy Pelosi really object to a common language in the workplace?

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn't think that's controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show "the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English." A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it "very important" that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

Obstructionism also exists on the state level. In California, which in 1998 overwhelmingly passed a measure designed to end bilingual education, the practice still flourishes. Only 29% of Latino students score proficient or better in statewide tests of English skills, so seven school districts have sued the state to stop English-only testing. "We're not testing what they know," is how Chula Vista school chief Lowell Billings justifies his proposed switch to tests in Spanish.

Yet the public is ready for leadership that will forthrightly defend reasonable assimilation. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won plaudits when he said last June that one way to close the Latino learning divide was "to turn off the Spanish TV set. It's that simple. You've got to learn English." Ruben Navarette, a columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune, agreed, warning that "industries such as native language education or Spanish-language television [create] linguistic cocoons that offer the comfort of a warm bath when what English-learners really need is a cold shower."

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that last year filed over 200 lawsuits against employers over English-only rules, has a different vision. Its lawsuit against the Salvation Army accuses the organization of discriminating against two employees at its Framingham, Mass., thrift store "on the basis of their national origin." Its crime was to give the employees a year's notice that they should speak English on the job (outside of breaks) and then firing them after they did not. The EEOC sued only four years after a federal judge in Boston, in a separate suit, upheld the Salvation Army's English-only policy as an effort to "promote workplace harmony." Like a house burglar, the EEOC is trying every door in the legal neighborhood until it finds one that's open.

In theory, employers can escape the EEOC's clutches if they can prove their policies are based on grounds of safety or "compelling business necessity." But most companies choose to settle rather than be saddled with the legal bills. Synchro Start Products, a Chicago firm, paid $55,000 to settle an EEOC suit against its English-only policy, which it says it adopted after the use of multiple languages led to miscommunication. When one group of employees speak in a language other workers can't understand, the company said, it's easy for personal misunderstandings to undermine morale. Many companies complain they are in a Catch-22--potentially liable to lawsuits if employees insult each other but facing EEOC action if they pass English-only rules to better supervise those employee comments.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), who authored the now-stalled amendment to prohibit the funding of EEOC lawsuits against English-only rules, is astonished at the opposition he's generated. Rep. Joe Baca (D., Calif.), chair of the Hispanic Caucus, boasted that "there ain't going to be a bill" including the Alexander language because Speaker Pelosi had promised him the conference committee handling the Justice Department's budget would never meet. So Sen. Alexander proposed a compromise, only requiring that Congress be given 30 days notice before the filing of any EEOC lawsuit. "I was turned down flat," he told me. "We are now celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English."

That's what pro-assimilation forces are moving to do. TV Azteca, Mexico's second-largest network, is launching a 60-hour series of English classes on all its U.S. affiliates. It recognizes that teaching English empowers Latinos. "If you live in this country, you have to speak as everybody else," Jose Martin Samano, Azteca's U.S. anchor, told Fox News. "Immigrants here in the U.S. can make up to 50% or 60% more if they speak both English and Spanish. This is something we have to do for our own people."

Azteca isn't alone. Next month, a new group called Our Pledge will be launched. Counting Jeb Bush and former Clinton Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros among its board members, the organization believes absorbing immigrants is "the Sputnik challenge of our era." It will put forward two mutual pledges. It will ask immigrants to learn English, become self-sufficient and pledge allegiance to the U.S. It will ask Americans to provide immigrants help navigating the American system, the chance to eventually become a citizen and an atmosphere of respect.

This is a big challenge, but Our Pledge points out that the U.S. did it before with the Americanization movement of a century ago. It was government led, but the key players were businesses like the Ford Motor Company and nonprofits such as the YMCA, plus an array of churches and neighborhood groups.

The alternative to Americanization is polarization. Already a tenth of the population speaks English poorly or not at all. Almost a quarter of all K-12 students nationwide are children of immigrants living between two worlds. It's time for people of good will to reject both the nativist and anti-assimilation extremists and act. If the federal government spends billions on the Voice of America for overseas audiences and on National Public Radio for upscale U.S. listeners, why not fund a "Radio New America" whose primary focus is to teach English and U.S. customs to new arrivals?

In 1999, President Bill Clinton said "new immigrants have a responsibility to enter the mainstream of American life." Eight years later, Clinton strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville are warning their fellow Democrats that the frustration with immigrants and their lack of assimilation is creating a climate akin to the anti-welfare attitudes of the 1990s. They point out that 40% of independent voters now cite border security issues as the primary reason for their discontent.

In 1996, Mr. Clinton and a GOP Congress joined together to defuse the welfare issue by ending the federal welfare entitlement. Bold bipartisan action is needed again. With frustration this deep, it's in the interests of both parties not to let matters get out of hand.


Britain: Myths about rape myths

The Government is to produce "myth-busting" packs for juries to get more convictions for rape. These are supposed to demolish the idea that date rape does not count as rape, or that women who drink or dress provocatively are "asking for it". The details have not been finalised because of the small matter that pretrial information given by the prosecution might prejudice the trial. But politicians are determined to raise the conviction rate for this crime. "Where changes to the law are needed, we will make them," the Solicitor-General, Vera Baird, said yesterday. "Justice must not be defeated by myths and stereotypes."

Quite right. But I wonder if she and I have different notions of justice. For the more I look at this issue, the more myths I seem to find. The biggest is being propagated by politicians themselves. They repeat, ad infinitum, that the conviction rate for rape is scandalously low, at 5.7 per cent. They conclude from this that juries cannot be trusted. But 5.7 per cent is only the proportion of convictions secured out of the total allegations made, not the proportion of convictions secured out of the cases tried. The attrition rate in rape cases is high: only about 12 per cent of cases reach court. So in the courtroom, the true conviction rate is about 44 per cent, slightly higher than that for murder.

Rape is a shocking crime. But you would expect it to be at least as hard to prosecute as murder. More than four out of five allegations are now made against a partner, friend or acquaintance. About half of those involve drink and/or drugs. Jurors think long and hard about decisions if there is no witness, only circumstantial evidence and where a guilty verdict means a minimum of seven years in jail. Gang rape by strangers carries the same minimum sentence as rape by a drunken partner. There is no equivalent to manslaughter, because victim groups feel that a lesser charge would downgrade the seriousness of the crime. Yet some lawyers feel that some juries are not convicting because they feel that the right crime is not being tried.

No one argues that there must be something wrong with the law because only 40 per cent of those tried are convicted of murder. Yet rape is a deeply emotive issue. The Government has already bent over backwards to bend the law. It has changed the definition of consent. It has created specialist rape prosecutors. It now plans to make "hearsay evidence" - complaints of rape to a third party - admissable in trials. Yet the number of allegations that result in a conviction is still falling, because although more people are being found guilty of rape, allegations have jumped by about 40 per cent in the past five years.

This is partly because more women are prepared to come forward. That is a good thing. There are now some excellent sexual assault referral centres and rape crisis centres, which welcome women in and collect evidence - although provision of these is still too patchy. There is also a growing number of rape allegations involving binge drinking, which tests definitions of guilt to the limit.

The focus on trials is obscuring the more important question of why so few cases come to court at all. Earlier this year a report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service found enormous variations in the way that different police forces deal with rape. That remains a problem. It is clear that some forces are sceptical about some claims, particularly those that involve alcohol, and that many women are easily discouraged from pursuing cases that are traumatic to endure.

Home Office research undertaken two years ago at six different referral centres found that a sixth of the complaints that were dropped by police were classed as false allegations. A quarter were dropped because of insufficient or no evidence. A third were dropped because the complainant withdrew - some because a report had been made by someone else, against the person's wishes. This is tricky territory. It is right to encourage women to come forward. But a Home Office analysis of the British Crime Survey recently stated that "only 60 per cent of female rape victims were prepared to self-classify their experience as rape". If those women did not see themselves as victims, I wonder why the Home Office is so keen to make them so?

What hits you when reading reports of these cases is the painful individuality of each one. It is impossible to generalise about the infinite circumstances of human behaviour. Some people fear reprisals. Some want to deal with the trauma in their own way. Some are not sure what really happened. These are the delicate lines on which so many judgments must turn.

In March the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of a 25-year-old computer software engineer, Benjamin Bree, for raping a 19-year-old student after a night of drinking with friends. The judges ruled that the student was still capable of consenting to sex, even after consuming substantial amounts of alcohol. They also ruled that a drunken person can lose the capacity to consent, and that would amount to rape. That seems to me to be an intelligent calibration. Ministers are still considering whether to insist that no agreement can be taken as consent if it is given when intoxicated. But that would make a drunken man accountable for his deeds, but not a drunken woman.

It is an outrage that some men are getting away with rape. But I also worry that the language in which the issue is now being discussed implies that the only right result is a conviction. That would be a travesty of justice. It is no good trying to bust myths about rape if you are also going to propagate the myth that everyone is guilty as charged.


Abstinence Activist Elected to School Board that Fired Him

Liberal School Superintendent Resigns in Protest

After being fired for promoting abstinence among students at the school where he worked, ex school supervisor Chris Lind has been elected to the Prior Lake-Savage district school board in Minnesota.

Lind, who was a hallway and parking lot supervisor at a local high school and a "conservative Christian" was told by District Human Resource Director Tony Massaros that he could not discuss abstinence from sexual activity with any students, during or after school hours, on or off campus, according to a friend who witnessed the meeting. Lind was told that this restriction included Sunday Bible school classes at his own church, and it even extended to former students of the school. He was also told to take down his "My Space" website, which purportedly gave advice to the many students who sought his counsel.

However, after the Prior Lake-Savage School District fired Lind on the recommendation of Superintendent Tom Westerhaus, the voters returned him to the District in the months following, electing him to the school board early this month.

Westerhaus soon after announced his resignation, stating that he couldn't continue to function as the employee of the man whom he had fired so recently. What galled Westerhaus the most was the fact that the people of the school district had clearly sided with Lind. "It isn't that one person. It's the 3,400 people who said he's one of the best candidates for School Board," Westerhaus told a local reporter. "I'm being told this was courageous. I don't know that's what this was, but I'm taking a stand. Maybe that's what we need now in education more than ever."

Chuck Darrell of the Minnesota Family Council, noted that the school district that fired Lind has a "sex ed program" that promotes promiscuity and unnatural sexual behavior. "Perhaps Lind would have kept his job if he had limited his discussions to other comprehensive sex education topics such as how to get an abortion or oral sex with a dental dam," Darrell writes on MFC's blog, which has covered the issue for months. "The recent rise in STDs and STIs in Minnesota is proof that current sex education curricula are a colossal failure," says Darrell. "And, as long as schools continue to fire personnel for promoting abstinence then we can only expect more of the same."

Although Lind will soon be a school board member, he has not ruled out the possibility of a lawsuit against the same board for his firing.



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.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

There are also posts about political correctness on today's EDUCATION WATCH and FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC

Media figure criticizes political correctness

During an appearance on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw pointed out that before the invasion of Iraq, even "people who were critical of the war" thought that Saddam Hussein "had weapons of mass destruction," as he responded to criticism that the media were not aggressive enough about challenging President Bush before the Iraq invasion. And while commenting on racial issues, giving his view that "we need to have a dialogue in this country" about race, Brokaw lamented the problems posed by "political correctness" which means "you're in danger of being a racist if you go against the merits of some issues and just try to look at it objectively." Brokaw added: "Within the black culture, there's a fear about speaking out, about what some people see as wrong, because they say, don't go there, you know, it will only hurt our people."

After a discussion of Brokaw's views on the Vietnam War, during which Brokaw recounted that he was "enraged" upon hearing tapes of Lyndon Johnson expressing "deep doubts" about the war even while the former President "kept pouring people in" as "he was protecting his political ass," CNN host Howard Kurtz turned the subject to the Iraq War. Kurtz: "In terms of the coverage, do you see certain parallels here to Iraq? Most people would say, and I would agree, that the media did a pretty poor job during the run-up to the Iraq War in terms of the way that President Bush was selling it, and now, of course, the coverage in recent years has been more critical."

Brokaw defended the media's coverage of the run-up to the invasion, pointing out that most skeptics believed at the time that Iraq had WMD, and contending that there was little opposition to the war expressed within the Democratic Party at the time. Brokaw: "The one thing I would disagree with you about, a lot of what happened on the run-up was unknowable. People did believe he had weapons of mass destruction. People who were critical of the war and the idea of going to war did, in fact, think that he had weapons of mass destruction, which was one of the bases for-"

After conceding to Kurtz his view that "on the war plan [the media] should have been a lot more skeptical," Brokaw continued: "Yeah, but you have to remember the opposition voices were not that many in this town, for example, in Washington. There just weren't that many. We put Brent Scowcroft on 'Nightly News.' I did a two-way with him. And I was one of the few places where he would go where he would do that. We did have Senator Bob Byrd on the air and Ted Kennedy on the air, but it passed by a pretty considerable margin."

Regarding the current news of the diminishing violence in Iraq, Brokaw acknowledged that for the media, "it's time to take a look at it again," and that the media should "take notice of the fact that the attacks are down," but he also poured water on the positive news by contending that "these are small signs of some progress four years later," and that recent developments "won't solve the political issue about whether Iraq can handle its own destiny."

Later on, after Kurtz brought up the controversy over Don Imus making racist comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, Brokaw recounted that he had hoped something positive would come out of the affair in the form of a "dialogue in this country" about race. He contended that in general there is too much "political correctness" and "danger of being [called] a racist" when expressing disagreement on a racial issue. Brokaw: "I think that we do need to have a dialogue in this country. We don't have language for dealing with race. Everybody hides behind political correctness or a certain mythology. No one wants to offend, no one wants to get at the facts of it. You're in danger of being a racist if you go against the merits of some issues and just try to look at it objectively. That goes on across the racial spectrum, by the way. Within the black culture, there's a fear about speaking out, about what some people see as wrong, because they say, don't go there, you know, it will only hurt our people. So I do, we used to talk about race with a lot more candor than we do now."


Britain: Mention God and you're seen as nuts

Tony Blair has sparked controversy by claiming that people who speak about their religious faith can be viewed by society as "nutters". The former prime minister's comments came as he admitted for the first time that his faith was "hugely important" in influencing his decisions during his decade in power at Number 10, including going to war with Iraq in 2003.

Mr Blair complained that he had been unable to follow the example of US politicians, such as President George W. Bush, in being open about his faith because people in Britain regarded religion with suspicion. "It's difficult if you talk about religious faith in our political system," Mr Blair said. "If you are in the American political system or others then you can talk about religious faith and people say 'yes, that's fair enough' and it is something they respond to quite naturally. "You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you're a nutter. I mean . you may go off and sit in the corner and . commune with the man upstairs and then come back and say 'right, I've been told the answer and that's it'."

Even Alastair Campbell - his former communications director who once said, "We don't do God" - has conceded that Mr Blair's Christian faith played a central role in shaping "what he felt was important". Peter Mandelson, one of Mr Blair's confidants, claimed that the former premier "takes a Bible with him wherever he goes" and habitually reads it last thing at night.

His comments, which will be broadcast next Sunday in a BBC1 television documentary, The Blair Years, have been welcomed by leading Church figures, who fear that the rise of secularism is pushing religion to the margins of society. The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev John Sentamu, said: "Mr Blair's comments highlight the need for greater recognition to be given to the role faith has played in shaping our country. Those secularists who would dismiss faith as nothing more than a private affair are profoundly mistaken in their understanding of faith."

However, Mr Blair, who is now a Middle East peace envoy, has been attacked by commentators who say that religion should be separated from politics and by those who feel that many of his decisions betrayed the Christian community.

In the interview, Mr Blair, who was highly reluctant ever to discuss his faith during his time in office, admitted: "If I am honest about it, of course it was hugely important. You know you can't have a religious faith and it be an insignificant aspect because it's profound about you and about you as a human being. "There is no point in me denying it. I happen to have religious conviction. I don't actually think there is anything wrong in having religious conviction - on the contrary, I think it is a strength for people."

Mr Blair is a regular churchgoer who was confirmed as an Anglican while at Oxford University, but has since attended Mass with his Roman Catholic wife, Cherie, and is expected to convert within the next few months.

He continued: "To do the prime minister's job properly you need to be able to separate yourself from the magnitude of the consequences of the decisions you are taking the whole time. Which doesn't mean to say . that you're insensitive to the magnitude of those consequences or that you don't feel them deeply. "If you don't have that strength it's difficult to do the job, which is why the job is as much about character and temperament as it is about anything else. But for me having faith was an important part of being able to do that. Ultimately I think you've got to do what you think is right."

Mr Blair's opponents say his religious zeal blinded him to the consequences of his actions, and point to his belief that his decision to go to war would be judged by God. The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said last night that Mr Blair's comments echoed the feelings of religious leaders. Mr Campbell, in the same TV programme as Mr Blair, said the British public were "a bit wary of politicians who go on about God".


Australia: Sperm donors to ban Muslims, lesbians?

Why is discrimination bigotry? We ALL practice discrimination in our personal life. Women tend to choose tall men and men tend to choose busty women, for instance. Hence boob jobs for women and Filipina brides for short men. And what is more personal than your offspring? More practically, I believe that there is a shortage of sperm donors -- hence the new legislation -- as men are scared away by possible legal obligations to offspring (Obligations that have in fact been imposed by courts in Sweden). So giving donors the right to express personal preferences should encourage more of them to come forward

A BIZARRE row is set to erupt over claims that reproductive donors will be given the right to direct their sperm or eggs not go to certain groups such as Muslims, Jews, single mothers or lesbians. Critics believe the Iemma Government's Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill allows sperm and egg donors to specifically discriminate against ethnic, religious and other minorities.

The Bill, due to be debated in the NSW Legislative Council, is primarily aimed at allowing donor-conceived children to access information about the donor parent when they turn 18.

But Greens MP John Kaye said yesterday there was widespread concern the Bill, as currently drafted, allowed donors to nominate classes of people to whom their sperm or eggs may not be given. "While the Bill contains a number of positive features, it is simply unacceptable to enshrine discrimination into the law," Mr Kaye said. "Granting legal sanction to bigotry and prejudice sends an appalling message that it is acceptable to discriminate on grounds that are irrelevant."

Under the Bill, the names of donors in NSW will be recorded on a compulsory central register to guarantee they can be found by their offspring. But Health Minister Reba Meagher has said the legislation will not oblige donors to have contact with their offspring or make them legally or financially responsible for the children.



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.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It had to come

Just north of the U.S., in Canada, a waitress is in danger of being imprisoned for posting non-PC Bible verses on the net. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has actually threatened to imprison 21-year-old waitress Jessica Beaumont for posting Bible quotations online. Although Ms. Beaumont's home has been raided by the police, she has not yet been criminally charged for her politically incorrect views, because she has broken no laws. That's why the Tribunal was utilized to keep her mouth closed - by throwing her in prison for "human rights" violations if necessary. Beaumont's impermissible opinions were accompanied by two Bible verses frowned upon by liberals:

Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. -LEVITICUS 18:22

If a man lies with man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. -LEVITICUS 20:13

The CHRT has barred her from posting similar remarks, even on websites hosted in other countries. By simply posting biblical scripture, she could be jailed for up to five years. How's that for a precedent? We might want to stop worrying about human rights in Pakistan, and pay some attention to what's going on just over our northern border - especially since we've been traveling down the same road.



Protesters delay debate by David Irving and BNP leader Nick Griffin at Oxford

A group of protesters broke through the security cordon and forced their way into the Oxford Union last night, throwing a planned talk by BNP leader Nick Griffin and controversial historian David Irving into disarray. After pushing and shoving their way through the doors into the hall at 8.45pm they staged a sit down protest at the debating table. Scuffles erupted as the protesters tried to get into the building which had been surrounded by tight security ahead of the event.

Earlier, hundreds of noisy protesters surrounded the Oxford Union. The Oxford Union has been under significant pressure to cancel the freedom of speech event at which the two are guest speakers. Chanting, waving placards and singing, the crowd that gathered to object to their presence at the debating society was considerably larger than the handful of students inside the Union.

The rally organisers, including Unite Against Fascism and Oxford-based community groups, had hoped at least 1,000 people would turn up in their support. But estimates put the crowd numbers at closer to 500.

Those arriving for the event had to get past heavy security and faced jeers of "shame on you". The debate was "temporarily postponed" when police moved in to remove the protestors, before it finally started at 10pm, with speakers split into two groups for safety.

It was considered by university authorities to be too dangerous to walk Mr Griffin and Mr Irving across the quadrangle between the main Union building and the debating hall. Instead Mr Irving spoke alongside broadcaster and author Anne Atkins and Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris in the debating hall while Mr Griffin was among debaters speaking in the main Union building.

The decision to invite Griffin and Irving, made after a vote among members of the debating society, has outraged equalities watchdog chief Trevor Phillips and prompted a senior Tory MP to resign his life membership of the Union. Shadow defence minister Julian Lewis said the students should be "ashamed" of themselves. In a letter to the Union's officers and standing committee, Dr Lewis, MP for New Forest East, said he was resigning his life membership "with great sadness". In his resignation letter, he said: "Nothing which happens in the debate can possibly offset the boost you are giving to a couple of scoundrels who can put up with anything except being ignored."

The presence of the pair on the list of speakers prompted a series of high profile withdrawals from the platform, including Defence Secretary Des Browne. Martin McCluskey, president of the Oxford Student Union, said it was "disgraceful" the pair were being given the same platform as past speakers who include Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama. Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris, who is billed to speak at the event, said banning Mr Griffin and Mr Irving would risk turning "bigots into martyrs".

The Oxford Union Debating Society is a separate body from the Oxford University Student's Union and the university. It has said it was important to give people of all views a platform. Mr Griffin, who was convicted in 1998 for incitement to racial hatred for material denying the Holocaust, has repeatedly insisted the BNP is not a racist group. Mr Irving has insisted he was not a Holocaust denier - despite spending three years in prison in Austria for the crime.

On Monday, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she "thoroughly deplores" their views. But Ms Smith, an Oxford graduate, said it was up to the debating society to make its own decision about allowing Irving and Griffin to attend the freedom of speech event. "They have been exposed and discredited time and again by people vastly more qualified than you in arenas hugely more suited to the task than an undergraduate talking-shop, however venerable."


Chris Brand has more links about the events above

The incorrectness of big wins in sport

Following the New England Patriots' complete destruction of the Buffalo Bills' defense, we learned two things: Andrea Kremer would totally go out with Tom Brady, and the Patriots are offensive (pun!!1!) simply by taking the field and playing the game they're paid to play. It wasn't the first time the Patriots have beaten an opponent as severely as they beat the Bills, and, not surprisingly, it wasn't the first time they've been accused of "running up the score." 24, 24, 31, 21, 17, 21, 45, 4, and 46. Those are the Patriots' margins of victory in their ten games this season. That's an average margin of victory of over 23 points.

The latest wails of "running up the score" came after the Patriots twice went for the touchdown on fourth down instead of settling for a field goal in the Bills game. The oft-cited "unwritten rules" were brought up, that it is unethical to go for it on fourth down if you're enjoying a comfortable lead. This rule applies to almost any team sport, especially baseball, where, if you're up by about 8 runs or so, it becomes unethical to steal bases, bunt, bring in your better pitchers, and try trick plays.

It's just an example of how no one can be offended anymore in this country. On this blog, as well as in many other venues, I've made what some consider extremely liberal claims (e.g. drugs should be legalized), but one liberal issue I completely abhor is political correctness. It's often hypocritical and almost always an infringement on First Amendment rights. The Patriots didn't even speak - they simply played a game well. Here's a list of people you can't offend in this country:








Anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone who is in the armed forces

The Bush administration, and the government in general

The disabled

People who are squeamish when it comes to violence or "foul" language

NEW: Bad sports teams, or otherwise good teams simply getting demolished

It's politically correct to not run up the score. It's politically correct to not brag and to modestly acknowledge your success. It's politically incorrect to humorously reference a movie about homosexuality - still a fine source of humor for many in the comedy industry - and analogize it to basketball, as Phil Jackson did.

Back to the Patriots - what did the P.C. people want Belichick to do instead? Kick a field goal and tack on more points? At least if he goes for it on fourth down, he gives the Bills defense a chance to step it up and prevent them from scoring any points. At that point, with the Patriots leading as emphatically as they were, the difference between a touchdown and a field goal (four points) was moot anyway.

Isn't it more insulting to "play down" to your opponent after you get out to a sizable lead? It says, at least to me, "I'm so good, I don't even need to try hard to beat you. I can take out all of our best players and play second- and third-stringers." Don't want the Patriots to run up the score? Keep them out of the end zone. That was the response Leon Grant of the Seattle Seahawks gave to reporters when asked about Chad Johnson's touchdown celebrations (another thing you're not allowed to do when the P.C. police are around): And though none of the Seahawks wants to witness one of Johnson's elaborate celebrations, they are more concerned with the reason it would occur rather than the act itself. "My mentality is that if you don't want a guy to do all of that on you, just keep him out of the end zone," Grant said.

The Patriots will continue to win by at least three touchdowns, and will kick sand in the face of their opponents as they go for the fourth on fourth down.



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.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

British pro-homosexual laws becoming unglued

Government plans to criminalise the stirring up of hatred against gays and lesbians are in disarray because of a Cabinet split over the need for such a law. The split – between Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Attorney-General, and Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary – are likely to scupper plans for a new offence. Baroness Scotland has privately expressed concern about the controversial legislation proposed by Mr Straw, The Times has learnt.

Mr Straw announced the plans last month with the backing of Harriet Harman, the Equalities Secretary. He had said that he would bring forward an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill this month to extend the law that already protects religious and racial groups, carrying up to seven years in jail. He had also said that he would listen to views about whether the incitement offence should be extended further to cover hatred against disabled and transgendered people.

But Baroness Scotland, who is also determined to crack down on the problem of homophobic behaviour, believes that there are sufficient laws on the statute book to deal with the issue. She also has concerns about the difficulities of getting the proposal through the House of Lords, which gave a rough ride to measures on incitement to religious hatred and substantially watered them down. She is understood to have told colleagues that she wants to see more successful prosecutions in this area, but is unconvinced that a new law is the way to do it and would prefer to focus on existing procedures.

It is the second time in recent weeks that ministers’ plans have failed to win the support of Baroness Scotland, the country’s senior law officer. Last week The Times reported that she believed the case had not been made for extending the time that terror suspects can be held before charge.

Mr Straw’s plan was to mirror the offence of incitement to religious hatred. The amendment would cover hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality. Ministers insist that it would not prohibit criticism of gay and bisexual people but protect them from incitement to hatred because of their sexual orientation. But, despite strong backing from bodies such as Stonewall, the campaigning group for gay rights, the proposals have caused controversy and been condemned as a threat to freedom of speech, including from some prominent homosexuals. Matthew Parris, the Times columnist, wrote that “some groups may be so weak and fragile as to need the law’s protection from hateful speech. I’d like to think that we gays are no longer among them.”

In a letter to The Times this month, Rowan Atkinson, the actor, criticised the plans, saying that society was “working things out” without the need for any “legislative interference”. He was concerned about the “extendable” nature of the legislation not just to the disabled and transsexuals but to anyone else who could claim that they could not help the way they are. “Men, for example. Or women. Or people with big ears.”

There were warnings that the move could mean that vicars would face a threat of jail for preaching from the Bible; others said that gay rights were being given priority over Christian values and would be used to silence those with strong Christian beliefs.

Most police forces now record hate crimes and the Crown Prosecution Service already deals with hate crime by scrutinising cases for a racial, religious, homophobic or transphobic element. Special “hate crime panels” are to be introduced after the success of a hate crime scrutiny panel in West Yorkshire, which two weeks ago won an award for its work. The panel, which includes members of the “hate crime partnerships” in the area such as Stop Hate UK and Bradford Hate Crime Alliance, has seen a rise in the prosecution of hate crimes in the area and a fall in the failure rate. Courts in England and Wales already have the power to impose tougher sentences for offences that are motivated or aggravated by a victim’s sexual orientation.


Britain: Political correctness infests the pantomime

Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned British panto? Struggling under the weight of political correctness, the much-loved Christmas tradition is not what it once was, report Chris Hastings and Stephanie Plentl

"I've delivered a script?. which I hope ticks all the necessary panto boxes: transformation scene, community song, unspeakable jokes along with songs, slapstick, rewards for the good and punishment for the wicked," says Stephen Fry. "Being Cinderella, there are naturally Ugly Sisters, a Fairy Godmother, a Prince Charming, a Dandini and a Buttons. No Baron Hardup or Broker's Men, which might disappoint some hard-line traditionalists, but damn it, surely I can be allowed some leeway."

It might be seen as a long overdue coming together of two national treasures: Stephen Fry has written a pantomime. And he has certainly allowed himself some leeway. For the audiences of over-15s who attend his version of Cinderella, at the Old Vic, this Christmas will barely have settled into their seats when, in Act One, Buttons comes out as gay. By the end of the show, his journey of self-discovery is complete and he has entered into a civil partnership with the dashing valet, Dandini.

Welcome to British pantomime, 2007. The centuries-old tradition of a Christmas romp is transforming under pressure from political correctness. In Fry's case, the gag can be seen as an entertaining and relatively harmless spoof of life in modern Britain. In other cases, however, the changing nature of modern life is pushing some shows to the verge of extinction.

Traditional favourites, such as Robinson Crusoe and Sinbad, have been all but abandoned by producers, who fear that the depiction of "natives" and "cannibals" will cause offence on race grounds. At the same time, the custom of having a female star playing the Principal Boy, which goes back to the 19th century, is on the verge of extinction because of fears that modern audiences may interpret her relationship with the female lead as a lesbian one. Instead, audiences are being offered revamped versions of such favourites as Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, which now carry loaded messages on school bullying, waste recycling and gay rights.

Cinderella is not the only festive favourite to be infected by political correctness. Several upcoming productions have been rewritten to accommodate modern sensibilities. Those versions of Robinson Crusoe that have survived tend to have the eponymous hero befriended by the pirates, rather than politically incorrect natives. The character of Man Friday is more likely to be white than black.

Producers are also wary of including anything that may be too sinister or frightening. Shows such as Hansel and Gretel and Babes in the Wood, which used to include scenes in which children were abducted, are either struggling to be shown or are being rewritten to avoid complaints from over-sensitive parents. In a production of Jack and the Beanstalk, at the Riverfront theatre, Newport, this year, the Giant will kidnap the village's livestock rather than the children.

The changes have infuriated panto veterans. Norman Robbins, an actor and director who was also Britain's most prolific contemporary writer of panto, quit the business in 2005 because of "undue interference". He said: "Political correctness, which, to my mind, is absolute stupidity, is doing a lot of damage. It is absolute rubbish to say that a female star shouldn't play the Principal Boy. It is like doing a Shakespeare play and taking away some of the characters. "By having a girl as Principal Boy, you kept the thing in the realms of fantasy. Whatever was happening to the characters, the story stayed light and fairy-like."

The consequence of this cautious climate is that audiences are left with a narrower range of productions to choose from. Tony Gibbs, the chief executive of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association, which has more than 2,500 members, said the ever-sensitive issue of race was encouraging the organisation's members to "play safe". "There is a dilemma and a tension between the need to stereotype villainous characters for ease of identification and the fear of vilifying someone because of their race," he said

Staff involved with an upcoming school pantomime production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears last week posted a message on the theatrical website Amdram, asking whether they should keep the script's reference to "those gipsies" in what the school describes as these "you gotta be careful" days. One respondent advises: "Unless you want lots of adverse publicity, I would change the script. Why not change gipsies to 'vagabonds'?".

Such attitudes would have been unthinkable 20 years ago, when panto revelled in its ability to entertain children and shock parents. In the 1970s and 1980s, established female stars, including Dame Maggie Smith, opted to play male roles in Christmas spectaculars. But Qdos Entertainment, the country's largest producer of pantomimes, says that an actress appearing in the role of the young male hero would now be a rarity.

John Conway, its director, who will oversee 19 productions this year, said lesbianism featured so frequently on television that audiences would automatically reach the wrong conclusion about a romance involving the Principal Boy. Describing the prospect of even a chaste peck on the check as "too risque", he added: "We rarely have girls playing boys now. It is not political correctness - it's awareness of trends."

If over-cautious producers are one part of the problem, the audience itself is proving another. Ian Liston, the artistic director of the Hiss and Boo theatre company, which is producing five shows this Christmas, said: "When we put on Snow White in Truro, recently, there was a serious exchange of letters in the local paper between us and an audience member who was angry that we had used dwarves in the show. He said that it was demeaning and that we should have used jockeys instead. I retorted that that would be demeaning to jockeys. There comes a limit to how much you can do."

Britain's health-and-safety culture is also making an impact with some performers who fear their on-stage slapstick could expose them to legal action. Last year, the producers of Peter Pan in Cornwall had to do battle with health and safety officers who wanted the children in the audience to wear hard hats during the flying scenes. In Preston, audiences were told that the performers couldn't throw sweets at the children in case someone got hurt.

Many panto performers are now beginning to censor themselves. Tudor Davies, a veteran writer, director and actor, said: "Aladdin is becoming one of the hardest ones to do because of Abanazar's role as an Arabian villain. I know some actors in the role are even wary of generating too many boos, because of the race issue. "

Tommy Cannon, one half of the Cannon and Ball comedy duo, is appearing in Jack and the Beanstalk this year at Hull."You are getting to the stage where you are frightened to do anything as a joke," he said. "We used to do Babes in the Wood a lot and we'd play the robbers who kidnap the children and whisk them away in a pram. But people actually believed something was happening to the kids on stage and we would get complaints. "You used to ask a kid to come on stage and give you a kiss on the cheek. You would turn around and they'd catch you on the lips and nose. But we used to get complaints over that. People forget that this is panto and that sort of censorship is so wrong. These pantos are disappearing and they are not coming back."


McCain not correct enough

It was near the end of a long day on the campaign trail for Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The Arizona senator was taking questions at Trinity Restaurant and Bar on Hilton Head Island after his third speech of the day. A woman included a crude reference to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in her query. "How do we beat the .... (rhymes with rich)?" she asked.

McCain initially looked a little confused, glanced away briefly and then smiled. "May I give the translation?" he asked with a laugh, then adding, "That's an excellent question." McCain noted that a recent poll had him slightly ahead of Clinton in a head-to-head matchup. Then he added, "I respect Sen. Clinton; I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democratic Party."

Despite that respect, the senator said, he has "fundamental philosophical differences" with her. "She's a liberal Democrat, and I'm a proud conservative Republican," he said. "I believe our country is a conservative nation. ... I will win, I promise you."

In the scheme of things, it didn't seem to top a couple of dozen other things McCain said or did that day. So, like several other news outlets, I didn't include it in my news story at the time. But the New York Times was all over it. So was CNN. The network's Rick Sanchez did a full segment. Enter the blogosphere and the columnists.

DemocraticUnderground.Com said - incorrectly - that McCain called Clinton a (rhymes with rich). Then it hyperventilated a bit, ratcheting up the rhetoric. "What would he call (Barack) Obama if he were the front-runner?" it followed up. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts, whose pieces run in our paper, raised a similar question. To his credit, Pitts got the facts right, or at least those he chose to present. So he asked how the questioner would have referred to Obama, to Bill Richardson, who is Hispanic, and to Joe Lieberman, who is Jewish. But Pitts omitted McCain's statement of respect for Clinton and the rest of his answer and faulted him for laughing.

As have others, he made the valid point that women in politics frequently face a double standard. That is, men - and women, too - often disdain female candidates with traits such as toughness and assertiveness, which are usually admired in men. That lingering prejudice, Pitts surmised, prompted the woman's word choice and the senator's shruggish reaction.

Maybe. But what was McCain supposed to do? Upbraid the woman for her crude language? It hardly would have worked. He'd just regaled the crowd with a yarn about how his mother once threatened to wash his mouth out with soap. She'd read about some of the epithets he'd hurled at his North Vietnamese captors when he'd been a prisoner of war. Maybe he should have, after having just told a lawyer joke (see below) and an Irish joke, given a stern lecture on political correctness. Get real, folks.

Instead, McCain brushed aside - perhaps not all that deftly - the questioner's characterization. He said he respected Clinton. He focused on the part of the question he thought was "excellent." That is: How do the Republicans beat Clinton? Many people are offering odds that they won't. But McCain's answer - though obviously self-serving - was on point.

Back to that other - not so excellent - question. How would the woman who asked about Clinton have referred to Obama, Richardson or Lieberman if one of them led the pack? It's the silly season, when folks rev up their rhetoric in a quest for extra bases. So why not assume the worst? Why not assert that her tastelessness is the moral equivalent of sexism, or even racism? Here's why: Given the waggish mood in the room at the time, that's far too big a reach. Don't bother to slide; you're out.

I don't know the woman, who, by the way, told reporters she leans toward voting for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But I doubt that she would have used the sort of racist slurs that some folks speculate about. As likely as not, she would have used a word that almost rhymes with custard. Or should that be basted?

There goes Lawyers for McCain. Some jokes are worth retelling, especially if, as happened in last week's column, a production glitch deletes the punchline. McCain noted in Hilton Head that at least two kinds of humor still pass the p.c. test: Irish jokes and lawyer jokes. He told one of each. Here's the lawyer joke. "How can you tell the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? "One is a scum-sucking bottom dweller and the other is a fish."


Australia: Sometimes you can't win

And trying to protect Aboriginal children from abuse will almost always be an example of that

ABORIGINAL social workers in Brewarrina say the indigenous community there is confused and fearful after the attempted removal of four children from their families last week, which sent two of them into hiding. Grace Beetson, who runs the Ourgunya women's refuge, described "scenes reminiscent of the film Rabbit-Proof Fence" when Department of Community Services workers and police arrived at the children's house to take four of them into care on Thursday.

"Bystanders watched as police used capsicum spray on emotional fathers and ripped two children [aged three and six months] from their 18- and 19-year-old mothers' arms," Ms Beetson said. "Aboriginal women outside of the house and across the street were crying, whilst children were running around distraught, fearful and screaming."

Ms Beetson said neither mother was aware she was under departmental scrutiny, but a spokesman for the department said it had been working on the case and "seeking to engage the family without success".

Two other children aged eight and 11, who were sisters of the young mothers, had since gone into hiding after learning that they were also scheduled to be removed, Ms Beetson said. "Their mother . has desperately requested support from DOCS in the past. These children had been taken into care and then returned when appropriate placements could not be found. Whilst a care plan was drafted and respite specifically requested, the family received no further support or resources from DOCS," she said.

A protest march was being organised in Brewarrina, amid fears that a radical crackdown like that in the Northern Territory was being planned for western NSW. But the department said the two babies were taken into care "amid serious fears for their safety" and that department case workers "were thrust into a scene of escalating violence and personal risk when attending the premises". "The decision to remove these children was not taken lightly. Such decisions are always difficult," the spokesman said. "DOCS recognises the distress of the family and the community in this case but must put the safety of these children first."

Earlier this month, Brewarrina was the scene of the funeral for two-year-old Dean Shillingsworth, an Aboriginal boy whose body was found in a suitcase in a pond in Ambarvale. Dean's death was the first of a series of tragic incidents this month that has put unprecedented pressure on a department already under strain. Dean's father, Paul Shillingsworth, grew up in Brewarrina. Dean's mother, Rachel Pfitzner, of Rosemeadow, has been charged with his murder.

The Minister for Community Services, Kevin Greene, said two new DOCS case workers began work in October in nearby Bourke and two more positions were being advertised as part of a NSW Government strategy to boost child protection resources in western NSW.



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.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Bicycle sex

After careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that, if we wish to live in a civilised society, we ought to defend the right of cyclists to have sexual relations with their bicycle behind a locked bedroom door.

When I first saw the headline a week ago, about a Scotsman being convicted of simulating sex with a bike, it just raised a wry smile. Only later, when sent the full news story (such tales always linger on the BBC's "most e-mailed" chart) did I realise it was the legal case, not the crime, that should be seen as outraging public decency.

The 51-year-old (let us save him from further exposure), was convicted of "a sexually aggravated breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner and simulating sex". Police were called to an Ayr hostel after two cleaners discovered him, wearing only a T-shirt, holding his bike and moving his hips back and forth. The Sheriff's Court gave him three years' probation - and placed him on the sex offenders register.

What "sexually aggravated breach of the peace"? Those upset cleaning ladies only saw it because they used a master key to open his locked door. It seems that such is our obsession with sex crimes today that even the old adage about "not caring what people do in their own bedrooms" no longer applies.

And what exactly did they hope to achieve by putting him on the sex offenders register? Will it make the anxious bicycle owners of Scotland feel safer at night? Should we all demand the right to know if our neighbours worry their bikes? Perhaps the vacuum cleaner community will also demand protection against uninvited advances. What such bizarre cases do achieve is to lengthen that worse-than-useless register further still, reinforcing the false impression of us being besieged by an army of sexual predators.

I might not like to share a room with a bike-sexual. And I suspect that some other cyclists may harbour unhealthy thoughts about their machines, as they parade about on their "trophy bikes" to show that they are better men than us. But wheeling out the law to say one who "saddles up" in private should be padlocked to the same list as rapists and paedophiles? On your bike.


Progressive Superstition

Post below lifted from Don Boudreaux. See the original for links

Here's a letter that I sent today to the Gray Lady:
Opposed to globalization, Jeff Milchen asserts that "The only truly sustainable path for business in the 21st century is localization" (Letters, November 23). Mr. Milchen should learn some history. He can begin with Fernand Braudel's 1981 book The Structures of Everyday Life, which details the living standards of ordinary Europeans during the late middle ages. This era was emphatically one of localization: people consumed only locally grown foods and locally made clothing. All building materials were local. There were no highways, railways, or CO2-emitting engines to pollute the local atmosphere with greenhouse gases or with foreign goods and foreign ideas.

But paradise had its price. Starvation was common, as was death by plague. Giving birth was more dangerous for women than a game of Russian Roulette. People lived in tiny one-room dirt-floor huts without indoor plumbing. During the winter, some of the farm animals (all local!) shared these accommodations.

What little "business" there was during the long era of localization - subsistence farming - might have been sustainable, but human dignity and human life certainly were not.

Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux
I googled "Jeff Milchen" and, not surprisingly, found that he frequently is identified with so-called "Progressives." Ironic, isn't it, that "Progressives" advocate a return to the economic arrangements of the dark- and middle-ages?

The not so great generation

The "greatest generation" is a term sometimes used in reference to those Americans who were raised during the Great Depression, fought in World War II, worked in farms and factories and sacrificed for the war effort while maintaining the home front. Following the war, these Americans, many of whom were born between the turn of the century and 1930, went on to produce a level of wealth and prosperity heretofore unknown to mankind.....

There's little question that the greatest generation provided their offspring, the baby boomer generation, with goods and services that their parents could not afford to give them. But tragically, the greatest generation did not instill in their children what their parents instilled in them, the values and customs that make for a civilized society. In previous generations, people were held responsible for their behavior. Today, society at large pays for irresponsible behavior. Years ago, there was little tolerance for the kind of crude behavior and language that's accepted today. To see men sitting while a woman was standing on a public conveyance used to be unthinkable. Children addressing adults by their first name and their use of foul language in the presence of, and often to, teachers and other adults were unacceptable.

A society's first line of defense is not the law but customs, traditions and moral values. These behavioral norms, mostly transmitted by example, word-of-mouth and religious teachings, represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. They include important thou-shalt-nots such as shalt not murder, shalt not steal, shalt not lie and cheat, but they also include all those courtesies one might call ladylike and gentlemanly conduct. Policemen and laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. This failure to fully transmit value norms to subsequent generations represents another failing of the greatest generation.

If there's an American generation that can justifiably be called the greatest generation, it's that generation responsible for the founding of our nation -- men such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington and millions of their fellow countrymen. This is the generation that threw off one form of oppression and laid the foundations for unprecedented human liberty. That is not a trivial achievement, for most often in mankind's history, one form of oppression has been replaced with another far worse, as we've seen in Russia, China and Africa.

More here



Hardly a week goes by without a British columnist having recourse to mention George Orwell. Whether the subject is compulsory ID cards, the growing Nanny State or a surveillance system to rival that of any communist country, the words "Orwell warned us" remains the recurring theme.[1]

While 21st century Britain may be doing its best to turn Orwell into a prophet, there is one point where, for all his genius, George left us manifestly unprepared. Although it is an aspect overlooked in contemporary discussion, it is also the key to understanding the current situation.

The point is simply this: the reign of Big Brother is being introduced to Britain from the liberalism of the far left, a tradition that has historically championed Orwell's defence of civil liberties and free expression.

This observation is particularly germane when considering the new corpus of offences restricting speech, religion, public debate and, in some cases, even thought itself, to that cluster of ideas which the liberals have designated `politically correct.'[2] The State's eagerness to function as Guardian, not simply of law and order, but also of the ideologies of its citizenry[3], was made patently obvious last year when New Labour tried to push through legislation as part of the Religious Hatred Bill which would have made it an offence to criticise different religious truth-claims.

Even without the impetus of such a law, UK police currently operate under `guidance' that defines a `hate incident' so broadly that it can include debating another person about their lifestyle.[4] Although this guidance has no statutory force, and has been called `pseudo-law' by one distinguished constitutional lawyer, it can influence the policy of police constabularies provided it does not lead to an actual charge being issued.[5] The effect is that simply to express certain viewpoints is at least treated as criminal.[6]

It was this tendency to police beliefs that Dr. N. T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham, lambasted in an address to the House of Lords on 9 February, 2006. Dr. Wright referred to a new class of crimes which "have to do, not with actions but with ideas and beliefs." He said:

"People in my diocese have told me that they are now afraid to speak their minds in the pub on some major contemporary issues for fear of being reported, investigated, and perhaps charged. My Lords, I did not think I would see such a thing in this country in my lifetime.. The word for such a state of affairs is `tyranny': sudden moral climate change, enforced by thought police."[7]

From religious organisations that must now navigate the increasingly complex labyrinth of gay rights laws[8] to Christian Unions that are being forced to admit atheists into their ranks[9], it is clear that today's liberals are making sure Big Brother does more than merely watch us: he's checking out our credo.[10] Chesterton was surely prophetic when he conjectured that, "We may eventually be bound not to disturb a man's mind even by argument; not to disturb the sleep of birds even by coughing."[11]


It is instructive to note that this dogmatic intolerance of dissent, while putting public debate into a state of paralysis, has come to Britain in the package of `tolerance', `equality', `human rights' and even - heaven help us - `freedom'. These were, of course, the values of classical liberalism championed by the humanists of the Enlightenment.[12] But while the contemporary liberal still likes to think of himself as operating within the ideological legacy framed by such men as Hume, Locke, Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau and Mill, the totalitarian utopia towards which he strives would presumably be anathema to these defenders of freedom in so far as it is the ultimate betrayal of genuine liberal values.

This is a point that has not been missed on the old fashion liberals who still remain among us. For example, in his book The Retreat of Reason, Anthony Browne argues that the dogmatic, bullying posture of the contemporary liberal is a betrayal of the true liberalism and rationalism of the Enlightenment.[13] We find a similar theme in the work of the lesbian and self-proclaimed leftist Tammy Bruce, former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organisation of Woman, and author of The New Thought Police: Inside the Left's Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds[14] and The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values.[15] In these works, Bruce uses a liberal platform to critique left-wing anti-intellectualism, thought totalitarianism and inverted racism, being careful to insist that she is not a conservative. Similarly, the British commentator Melanie Phillips is careful to tell us that, though "styled a conservative by her opponents"[16], she is really defending the liberal values of the Enlightenment. ".liberalism," said Phillips at a recent conference, ".has so badly undermined itself and departed from its own core concepts that it is now paralysed by moral and intellectual muddle.. What we are living through in the west is nothing short of a repudiation of the Enlightenment, a repudiation of reason; and its substitution by irrationality, obscurantism, bigotry and clerical totalitarianism - all facilitated by our so-called `liberal' society, and all in the name of `human rights.'[17]

Nor is it merely a handful of liberal intellectuals on the fringe who have been challenging the encroachment of left-wing totalitarianism. When Tony Blair's New Labour government began to be perceived as a threat to Britain's ancient civil liberties, it was the nation's mainline liberal newspapers, notably the Independent, the Guardian and the Observer, who unleashed the harshest criticisms of his `Orwellian' assault on `liberal values.'[18]

The liberal community is, therefore, divided between two kinds of ideologues: those, on the one hand, for whom the appellation `liberal' is, strictly speaking, an anachronism since they would deny freedom using the rhetoric of liberal values. These I will refer to pejoratively, but also descriptively, as `illiberals.' On the other hand, there are old fashion liberals who keep crying out, "What has happened to the values of the Enlightenment? Aren't we supposed to be liberals?" Rather confusingly, the later group - which I will refer to as classic liberalism - is often now associated with conservatism, as they seek to conserve the genuine liberalism of our pluralist humanist society.

In this essay I will attempt to chart why liberalism has fractured into this matrix. I will propose that the totalitarian agenda of the postmodern illiberal, while on the surface at complete odds with the values of classical liberalism, is also the logical corollary of the man-centred ethics of the Enlightenment. While agreeing with classical liberals like Browne and Bruce that the emerging totalitarian thought-control represents an anti-intellectualism significantly contrary to the rationalism of 18th century liberalism, I will also suggest that these developments are simply the fulfilment of where the Enlightenment project had to enivitably lead......


We have seen that the Enlightenment's approach to epistemology, aesthetics and ethics is, at best, a terminal philosophy, containing in itself the seeds of its own self-destruction. Having established this principle, we are now in a position to better understand the continuity and discontinuity that exists between today's illiberals and their Enlightenment forebears. Just as there is continuity and discontinuity between the rationalistic empiricism of Locke and the radical scepticism of Hume or Postmodernism, and just as there is continuity and discontinuity between the aesthetic values of the Enlightenment and the nihilistic decadence of postmodern art, and just as there is continuity and discontinuity between Rousseau's doctrine of the Noble Savage and the Reign of Terror's brute savagery, so there is both continuity and discontinuity between the classical liberalism of the Enlightenment and the tyranny of today's illiberalism. Put simply, those who wanted to champion human rights and liberty as free-standing values unhinged from any transcendent ethical framework, necessarily planted a self-destruct mechanism on the very values they sought to uphold.

There may be little resemblance between a body newly dead and the rotting corpse a month later, yet the latter is what the former will inevitably become if it is left unburied.


Of course, the contemporary illiberal will not admit that the inevitable rot has set in. Like the characters in Orwell's Animal Farm, he continues to use the principled rhetoric of his predecessors even when the substance has been sucked dry. As Rose noted:

"The Liberal still speaks, at least on formal occasions, of `eternal verities,' of `faith,' of `human dignity,' of man's `high calling' or his `unquenchable spirit,' even of `Christian civilization'; but it is quite clear that these words no longer mean what they once meant. No Liberal takes them with entire seriousness; they are in fact metaphors, ornaments of language that are meant to evoke an emotional, not an intellectual, response - a response largely conditioned by long usage, with the attendant memory of a time when such words actually had a positive and serious meaning."[43]

Like Orwell's animals, who brought slavery under the banner of equality and liberty, the contemporary illiberal is all too happy to welcome any and every erosion of freedom provided it is done in the name of one of his ethical axioms and, more importantly, as long as it does not remove any of his own cherished freedoms.

To their credit, the advocates of today's secular theocracy are more nuanced than those of the French Revolution. Instead of the guillotine they have political correctness; instead of the reign of terror they have mass media at their disposal. They have also added to the pantheon of secular virtues new axioms, which are even more notorious for their entropy. Look how quickly the virtue of multiculturalism degenerated into competition for group power.[44] Look how quickly diversity became a charter for uniformity.[45] Look how quickly the rhetoric of victimhood gave rise to the tyranny of the minority.[46] Unlike the Christian ethical system, which remains ever fixed in the solidity of the transcendent unchanging God, the liberal's ethical base is characterised by a constant ethical flux.

We live in a world where the ethical entropy has all but run its course. The humanitarian liberalism of the Enlightenment has warped into the inhuman illiberalism of today, with results that would do even Orwell proud.

As the laissez faire liberalism becomes the new orthodoxy and permeates our institutions of power, it can no longer rage against the establishment, yet because its orientation is intrinsically revolutionary, the only option is to revolt against those beneath its power structures - those, for example, who still dissent from the grinding uniformity it demands. As illiberalism begins venting its revolutionary zeal on those who refuse to be squeezed into the status quo, the stage is set for a conservative counter movement. That is the point at which secular liberalism becomes unstable, for all totalitarian regimes must eventually end in mass discontent and therefore revolt.

This presents the advocates of sanity with a tremendous opportunity, but it also carries with it an enormous danger. The opponents of illiberalism are all too willing to arm themselves with the principles of classical liberalism and fight against symptoms rather than causes. Thus, many conservative apologists are now urging their liberal opponents to simply be better liberals, more consistent with the Enlightenment values they claim to cherish. If the liberals are ever convinced by such an argument, all that would happen would be to simply wind up the clock three hundred years and then watch the whole cycle unwind again. This is because liberal values can never be sustained without first going back and re-establishing a pre-Enlightenment epistemic base. The Biblical terminology for that process is called repentance, and therein lies the difference between freedom under God or enslavement under man disguised as liberty.

Much more here


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.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Advice to Young Men: Do Not Marry, Do Not Have Children

Marriage is a foundation of civilized life. No advanced civilization has ever existed without the married, two-parent family. Those who argue that our civilization needs healthy marriages to survive are not exaggerating. And yet I cannot, in good conscience, urge young men to marry today. For many men (and some women), marriage has become nothing less than a one-way ticket to jail. Even the New York Times has reported on how easily "the divorce court leads to a jail cell," mostly for men. In fact, if I have one urgent piece of practical advice for young men today it is this: Do not marry and do not have children.

Spreading this message may also, in the long run, be the most effective method of saving marriage as an institution. For until we understand that the principal threat to marriage today is not cultural but political, and that it comes not from homosexuals but from heterosexuals, we will never reverse the decline of marriage. The main destroyer of marriage, it should be obvious, is divorce. Michael McManus of Marriage Savers points out that "divorce is a far more grievous blow to marriage than today's challenge by gays." The central problem is the divorce laws.

It is well known that half of all marriages end in divorce. But widespread misconceptions lead many to believe it cannot happen to them. Many conscientious people think they will never be divorced because they do not believe in it. In fact, it is likely to happen to you whether you wish it or not.

First, you do not have to agree to the divorce or commit any legal transgression. Under "no-fault" divorce laws, your spouse can divorce you unilaterally without giving any reasons. The judge will then grant the divorce automatically without any questions.

But further, not only does your spouse incur no penalty for breaking faith; she can actually profit enormously. Simply by filing for divorce, your spouse can take everything you have, also without giving any reasons. First, she will almost certainly get automatic and sole custody of your children and exclude you from them, without having to show that you have done anything wrong. Then any unauthorized contact with your children is a crime. Yes, for seeing your own children you will be subject to arrest.

There is no burden of proof on the court to justify why they are seizing control of your children and allowing your spouse to forcibly keep you from them. The burden of proof (and the financial burden) is on you to show why you should be allowed to see your children.

The divorce industry thus makes it very attractive for your spouse to divorce you and take your children. (All this earns money for lawyers whose bar associations control the careers of judges.) While property divisions and spousal support certainly favor women, the largest windfall comes through the children. With custody, she can then demand "child support" that may amount to half, two-thirds, or more of your income. (The amount is set by committees consisting of feminists, lawyers, and enforcement agents - all of whom have a vested interest in setting the payments as high as possible.) She may spend it however she wishes. You pay the taxes on it, but she gets the tax deduction.

You could easily be left with monthly income of a few hundred dollars and be forced to move in with relatives or sleep in your car. Once you have sold everything you own, borrowed from relatives, and maximized your credit cards, they then call you a "deadbeat dad" and take you away in handcuffs. You are told you have "abandoned" your children and incarcerated without trial.

Evidence indicates that, as men discover all this, they have already begun an impromptu marriage "strike:" refusing to marry or start families, knowing they can be criminalized if their wife files for divorce. "Have anti-father family court policies led to a men's marriage strike?" ask Glenn Sacks and Dianna Thompson in the Philadelphia Enquirer. In Britain, fathers tour university campuses warning young men not to start families. In his book, From Courtship to Courtroom, Attorney Jed Abraham concludes that the only protection for men to avoid losing their children and everything else is not to start families in the first place.

Is it wise to disseminate such advice? If people stop marrying, what will become of the family and our civilization? Marriage is already all but dead, legally speaking, and divorce is the principal reason. The fall in the Western birth rate is directly connected with divorce law.

It is also likely that same-sex marriage is being demanded only because of how heterosexuals have already debased marriage through divorce law. "The world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50% divorce rates preceded gay marriage," advocate Andrew Sullivan points out. "All homosexuals are saying . . . is that, under the current definition, there's no reason to exclude us. If you want to return straight marriage to the 1950s, go ahead. But until you do, the exclusion of gays is simply an anomaly - and a denial of basic civil equality."

We will not restore marriage by burying our heads in the sand; nor simply by preaching to young people to marry, as the Bush administration's government therapy programs now do. The way to restore marriage as an institution in which young people can place their trust, their children, and their lives is to make it an enforceable contract. We urgently need a national debate about divorce, child custody, and the terms under which the government can forcibly sunder the bonds between parents and their children. We owe it to future generations, if there are to be any.


Ending race dependency

Believe it or not, we have come a long way regarding race in America. Though blacks have gone from being discriminated against in the law to being victimized by laws intended to help them, there have been positive changes. Ward Connerly, head of the American Civil Rights Institute, hopes to make more changes next November - by breaking black Americans free from the chains of dependency. Racial preferences are "the last thing that connects black people to the era when blacks were dependent on the government," Connerly told me earlier this month.

With an eye toward nailing the coffin shut on black victimization by the government, he is calling his Election Day 2008 campaign, "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights." On that day, he is hoping for a victory over racial preferences in referendums in Nebraska, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Oklahoma. According to Connerly, victories on these ballots could mark "the end of an era."

Connerly is in a good position to make such grand claims and have such high hopes. Whereas Election Day 2006 was a widespread wipeout for Republicans, he was a rare winner that day. His Michigan Civil Rights Initiative received an affirmative from 58 percent of voters to amend the state constitution to prohibit state and local government "from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the areas of public employment, public contracting and public education."

He won despite a barrage of ridiculous and desperate attacks. A radio ad from One United Michigan asked, "If you could have prevented 9/11 from ever happening ... would you have?" It continued, "If you could have prevented Katrina ... what would you have done?" Then, "On Nov. 7, there's a national disaster headed for Michigan ... the elimination of affirmative action." The ad argued that a "yes" on the referendum would issue a "no" to equal opportunity for women and minorities. In truth, Connerly's effort is all about equal opportunity. It is about ending discrimination against white males, and ending the stigmatization of blacks as victims.

As we head into 2008, Connerly sees a convergence of factors pointing toward a time of real transition for America. Barack Obama, whose interracial parents could not have gotten married in some states a few decades ago, is a serious Democratic contender for president. Blacks and whites alike see the power of Oprah Winfrey. Bill Cosby, in his book with Alvin F. Poussaint, "Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors" (Thomas Nelson, 2007), encourages individual responsibility and "no more excuses." Cosby and Poussaint point out that in 2002, there were 1.2 million black-owned businesses in the United States, which marked a 45 percent increase in five years.

More than ever, this is a land of opportunity. Fifty years ago this fall, we needed the 101st Airborne to get black children into their Little Rock, Ark., high school. America has "come so far," Connerly tells me. "And now the rollback against government victimization of blacks may soon be complete." That would be quite the Super Tuesday.



John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's campaign to expose the power of Washington's Israel lobby through the promotion of their book, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," has now completed its tour of Britain, with more sinister consequences than they perhaps realize.

The two professors are adamant that they bear no hostility to Israel, and that both Israel and America would benefit from the removal of the lobby's control over their relationship. Their concern for Israel's wellbeing will be appreciated by its citizens, but what should we Brits make of them?

This is not an incidental question. "The Israel Lobby " was first published in the London Review of Books, and Britain has a strong and vigorous anti-Zionist campaigning movement, which has managed to persuade several British trade unions to support a boycott of Israeli goods. Mearsheimer and Walt may have written about America, but their book leaves its imprint on Britain.

The professors have strongly rejected the frequent accusation by their critics that they are merely mainstreaming the core idea of modern anti-Semitism: that Jews, in whatever form, conspire to control governments, provoke wars and so on. They insist that the Israel lobby in America is "only doing what other special interest groups do, but doing it very much better."

The problem on this side of the Atlantic is that British politics lacks anything approaching the American system of openly declared political lobbies; a similar, AIPAC-style operation in Westminster would not just influence policy, it would also subvert fundamental democratic mechanisms.

This has not stopped people from making similar claims about pro-Israel influence in Britain. In 2003, Labour MP Tam Dalyell claimed that former prime minister and party leader Tony Blair was unduly influenced by a "cabal of Jewish advisers."

More recently, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tonge claimed that "the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world... its financial grips." Those who assume that Zionism has a global reach and unlimited power cannot but assume that what they now "know" - thanks to Mearsheimer and Walt - is done in Washington must have its equivalents in London, Paris and elsewhere.

So the might of Jewish organizations is inflated, conspiracies imagined, to fill the gap between the reality of a Jewish community trying to do its best for Israel, and the fantasy of politicians and prime ministers bowing their knee to the power of the almighty Lobby.

And what does this power consist of? The most recent evidence presented concerns a debate that was held at the Oxford Union in October, on the question "This House believes that one-state is the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict."

To argue for the motion, three well-known advocates of the Palestinian cause. And to argue against it, amongst others, Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry and Beyond Chutzpah, and hardly known as a supporter of Israel. When several people informed Luke Tryl, the President of the Oxford Union, that Finkelstein was not normally considered an advocate for Israel, Tryl withdrew the invitation, sparking the predictable claims that this was evidence of the lobby silencing one of Israel's critics.

How do Finkelstein's supporters know that the Israel lobby was behind Tryl's change of mind? Because Tryl, in an email to Finkelstein, revealed that, "Many people expressed concern that the debate as it stood was imbalanced and people felt that as someone who had apparently expressed anti-zionist sentiments that you might not be appropriate for this debate. I tried to convince them otherwise but was accused of putting forward an imbalanced debate and various groups put pressure on me. I received numerous emails attacking the debate and Alan Dershowitz threatened to write an Oped attacking the Union. What is more he apparently attacked me personally in a televised lecture to Yale."

Had Finkelstein originally been billed to speak FOR the motion, nobody would have objected and the debate would have gone ahead as planned; as in fact happened at the Union in May of this year, when he spoke, ironically enough, for the motion that "This House believes the pro-Israeli lobby has successfully stifled Western debate about Israel's actions." He has already been invited back for 2008. Three invitations to the Oxford Union in two years: so much for being "stifled." Finkelstein made his name writing about the finances of Holocaust compensation. (He should try getting a book about Saudi funding for terrorism past the British libel courts to really feel what it means to be silenced.)

In Britain at least, Israel gets more media coverage than any other ongoing overseas story. The case against Israel is frequently aired in the mainstream media and debated at the conferences of Britain's biggest trade unions. The idea that critics of Israel are in any way gagged is absurd. Yet British anti-Zionists see themselves as holders of a hidden truth, struggling against a mighty and terrifying conspiracy to silence them, and now they have confirmation from the highest levels of American academia. If there is a Jewish conspiracy, it is remarkably ineffective.



By Jeff Jacoby

The Federalist Society is the nation's leading forum for conservative and libertarian thinking about the law and its impact on public policy. Its members include Supreme Court justices, law school professors, and more than 40,000 practicing attorneys and law students nationwide.

Yet in many precincts on the left, the organization has long been regarded as a mysterious and somewhat sinister right-wing cabal. Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, for example, has warned that "membership in the Federalist Society" and its "secret handshake" have become the keys to the judicial kingdom.The Federalist Society, thundered The Nation in 2001, "benefits big business, it's anti-egalitarian, it shuts plaintiffs like the poor and disabled out of the courts." Its members "lack compassion, working to support favorite sons like gun manufacturers and HMOs." (Actually, the Federalist Society does not bring lawsuits and never takes stands on political issues.)

After President Bush nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court two years ago, The Washington Post ran a Page 1 story on his ties to the group. "Roberts Listed in Federalist Society '97-98 Directory," the headline noted darkly. "Court Nominee Said He Has No Memory of Membership." Why a nominee's involvement with a legal debating society should be problematic wasn't clear, but as the story observed, "many Democrats regard the organization with suspicion."

That suspicion came in for some razzing here last week, when the Federalist Society marked its 25th anniversary with a black-tie gala in the capital's vast Union Station. Master of ceremonies Theodore Olson, the former solicitor general, mischievously congratulated the 1,800 guests on having made their way to an "intimate, clandestine gathering of the secretive Federalist Society."

When Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito took the podium, he recalled the early 1980s, when members of the Washington, D.C., chapter would meet over lunch at the Empress, a local Chinese restaurant.

At the first meeting he attended, Alito said, he was greeted by a colleague who remarked sheepishly: "This is like meeting someone at a bordello." Those bordello days are a distant memory now. The guest list at Union Station was a who's who of the conservative legal establishment. On hand were senators, judges, legal scholars, former attorneys general -- but also such liberal lions as Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals and Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union. The dinner speakers included President Bush, who spoke about judicial confirmations, and not one but three Supreme Court justices -- Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. (I attended the event as a guest of the law firm of McCarter English.)

The Federalist Society got its start at Yale Law School in 1982, when a handful of conservative law students banded together to challenge the prevailing liberal orthodoxy on campus. The group's second chapter formed at the University of Chicago Law School, where its faculty adviser -- the future Justice Scalia -- had no inkling of the success that was to come. "I never imagined that there would be a chapter at every major law school in America," Scalia told the Union Station audience. "We thought we had planted a wildflower in the weeds of academic liberalism. Instead it was an oak."

The Federalist Society's remarkable growth and impact attests to the power of its ideas -- above all, that the state exists to preserve freedom, that limited government and separated powers are essential to American constitutional democracy, and that judges have a duty to interpret the law, not invent it. The organization flexes its muscle not through lobbying or endorsing judicial nominees, but through something even more potent: standing for principles and defending them in open and robust debate.

"There was a time when we thought that intellectual ferment was on the left and the right was brain-dead. The Federalist Society played a major role in reversing that assumption," says Walter Dellinger, a Duke University law professor who headed the Office of Legal Counsel and was acting solicitor general during the Clinton administration. It is one of a slew of testimonials that appear at the Federalist Society website, most of them from luminaries on the left.

At a time when so much of what passes for public discourse is poisonous and extreme, the Federalist Society's commitment to fostering dialogue and intellectual diversity is a priceless resource. "The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas," Oliver Wendell Holmes famously observed long ago. "The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market." Why then do so many liberals persist in bad-mouthing the Federalist Society? Perhaps because they fear that Holmes was right.


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.