Friday, April 11, 2008

Muslim sex offenders to be let off therapy?

Muslims convicted of sex offences could opt out of treatment programmes intended to stop them offending because open discussion of their crimes is against their religion. Ahtsham Ali, the prison service's Muslim adviser, said that there was a "legitimate Islamic position" that criminals should not discuss their crimes with others. The move could result in Muslim sex offenders being able to avoid sex offender treatment programmes run by the prison service, which involve group discussion of crimes.

Mr Ali is now planning to hold discussions with officials in the Ministry of Justice over the issue. He told Inside Time, the prisoners' newspaper: "I will be taking it forward as a matter of some urgency with colleagues, including those with policy responsibility for the sex offender treatment programme, who are very willing to discuss these issues."

The possibility of an exemption for Muslims came to light after a prisoner wrote to the newspaper asking for clarification of the position of Muslims on the programme. He wrote: "I have always insisted that it was against Islamic teachings to discuss your offence [with] anyone, let alone act it out within a peer group."

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "We are seeking to ensure that the policy for the sex offender treatment programme is sensitive to the diversity of religions within the prison context." However Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook, said that a change could lead to Muslims spending longer in prison because their risk of reoffending could not be assessed. [Good one!]


Boring buildings, courtesy of your neighborhood elitists

Have you ever wondered what ever happened to the creative, interesting architecture of yore? To my taste, so many modern buildings are glass and steel boxes -- works of engineering, without any aesthetic value to speak of. Well, this hardly constitutes a definitive study, but a New York magazine article on an unlikely sounding condo/hotel project in New York City's SoHo by Donald Trump, the comb-over king himself, and his partners offers a peek into the motivations behind dull construction.
There would be no architecturally forward design: It would be a simple, approval-friendly box, the way Trump likes it. "In New York," he says, "I can build a box as-of-right [within existing regulations]. Or I can get a creative design, go through ten years of community boards, and still get refused 32 to zero. Given that choice, I'll build a box."
Huh ... So you can put up boring buildings without a hassle, but creativity requires special permission and delay? I think I see a problem here. And just who are the local activists behind all this delay? Who are these civic-minded folks who the Donald Trumps of the world want to dodge through boxy designs that bypass review?
Once he grasped the scope of the project, no one was more outraged by the news than Sean Sweeney, the director of the Soho Alliance. Sweeney's group arguably created Soho as we know it, by pushing for "artist zoning" in the seventies and coining the very name "Soho" at its inaugural meeting. A slight and excitable man in wire-frame glasses, Sweeney occupies a Greene Street penthouse crammed with custom contemporary furniture and leads a life seemingly devoted to squashing out-of-context construction. "In 1990," he says, pointing out the window and across West Broadway, "they wanted to build a hotel there. I said, `Hey, you'll ruin my view!' We fought, and it stayed an empty lot for twelve years." The building that finally did go up is a modest-size condo, with a politely recessed top story. Trump Soho stands a few blocks beyond, splitting the sky in two.

Sweeney rallied other downtown groups, got the zoning-committee chairman at Community Board 2 to pledge support to the cause, and launched an aggressive campaign against the invader. He likes to frame his opposition to Trump Soho in vintage class-warfare terms. "We didn't fall off the pumpkin truck. He moved into the wrong neighborhood. We're a phoenix, and Trump is a vulture," he told me. Sometimes, though, his civic outrage crosses over into a more particular anti-Trump animus. Never mind that a number of other large-scale projects are already under way or being planned nearby. (The "manufacturing" designation, which allows hotels but not condos, has done precisely the opposite of what it was supposed to do. Within blocks, five hotels are being built right now, and six more are being talked about.) Sweeney seems more intensely alarmed by the brand, and the people it attracts, than anything else. "We don't want airline hostesses here," he says, "or people coming from Europe or Asia for a couple of weeks. Who was the first buyer in that building-a Croatian-Swedish soccer player? Trump represents everything we hate. Bad taste. D‚class‚. He's uptown, we're downtown, and never the two shall meet."
Wow. It takes a special kind of person to make Donald Trump seem like a sympathetic character. But Sweeney sounds like he's prick enough for the job. Under the circumstances, I'd build a boring box too.


Life experiences bring former Feminist back to the Church

The young Lorraine V. Murray had not been prepared for the "onslaught of atheism" awaiting her in the world of secular academia when she left her sheltered Catholic home. The author and columnist told Carl E. Olson of Ignatius Insight, the website of Ignatius publishing, that the "one thing" that might have prevented her losing her faith was proper preparation in Christian apologetics, a work of the Church largely abandoned after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's. "When I went away to college, the dragon of nihilism pounced on me," she said. "No one had prepared me for the onslaught of atheism that awaited me at the University of Florida." Her influences in her college philosophy classes were 20th century atheists like Jean-Paul Sartre and the feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir.

"One thing might have helped me," she said, "some knowledge of the arguments against theism and Christianity, and ways to counteract them." Murray is the author of "Grace Notes: Embracing the Joy of Christ in a Broken World", "Why Me? Why Now?: Finding Hope When You Have Breast Cancer", and "How Shall We Celebrate?". Her essays on Christian themes appear in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Georgia Bulletin, and The National Catholic Register.

Murray was interviewed to promote her new book, "Confessions of An Ex-Feminist", which is about her explorations in faith and return to the Catholic fold. Murray, born in 1947, is among many of her generation who was seduced away from Catholicism in university in the 1960s, the time when secularist anti-Christian philosophies were first becoming de rigueur in academia.

She describes herself as having been "a radical feminist, championing the belief that there was no such thing as innate masculine and feminine natures". It is not widely understood by Christians that feminism has moved far away from its origins in the movement simply to grant women the right to vote. Murray describes her radical feminism, also called "gender feminism", as the idea "that social conditioning produced the obvious differences between male and female behavior. Thus, to equal the playing field between men and women, one had to tweak the conditioning of children."

From their origins in the radical feminism described by Murray, gender feminist theories have become the foundation of the homosexualist political movement and philosophies. "The feminist agenda" she said, "emphasized that conflict, unhappiness and misery were part of every woman's journey, and then placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of men."

She says that "free sex" is essential to the feminist philosophies. "Radical feminists generally disparage marriage and family," she said, "seeing them as restricting women's freedom, so sex without commitment is somehow a positive thing," a belief she describes as "poisonous".

Gender feminism, she says, has become entrenched in academia and "women's issues" are "synonymous with a rigid creed" extolling lesbianism, transgenderism and paganism and in which abortion is essential to freedom. When Catholics and other Christians "point out the blinding light of the obvious," that abortion destroys a human life, radical feminists "see traditional religion as some monstrous conspiracy to keep women unhappy".

After gaining a doctorate in feminist philosophy, Murray taught philosophy in college, in which capacity she carried out a "personal vendetta against God and the Catholic Church... and touted feminism as the cure for many social ills." But her first idea that feminist theories were wrong came after an abortion, which she describes as a "shattering" experience.

Her journey back to the Faith, she said, began when she came to an abrupt realization. "I realized I had never prayed for the repose of my parents' souls, although they had been dead many years," she said. After that, she says she experienced a "mysterious sense of someone reaching into my life and tugging at me." She re-entered the Catholic Church as a "cafeteria" Catholic, retaining much of her feminist ideas, including the support for abortion. After suffering breast cancer and fearing she would die, she says her life transformed. She found a spiritual director, a priest, who carefully explained the rationale behind the Catholic doctrines she found problematic.

Murray was influenced by the Catholic American author Flannery O'Connor whose letters defended Catholicism from the fashionable nihilism of the 1950's and 60's. She describes her final return to the fullness of the Catholic Faith in connection with finding spiritual healing and forgiveness for her abortion.


Christians have a win for once: Insulting works removed from atheist's exhibition in Vienna Cathedral Museum

If it's OK for Muslims, it should be OK for Christians too

Outrage from viewers and readers of online coverage, including that of, has prompted Vienna's Dommuseum, the art gallery attached to St. Stephen's Catholic cathedral, to remove some of the works in a blasphemous exhibit of paintings and sculptures. One of the worst paintings in the exhibit depicts Christ and his Apostles as homosexuals engaged in an orgy. The Gloria TV website carried a short film of the exhibition and Catholics around the world responded condemning the depiction of Christ as an active homosexual.

The artist, Alfred Hrdlicka, a Marxist and self-proclaimed atheist, had titled the exhibition of his work "Religion, Flesh and Power," and said that he was pleased it was being displayed in the Catholic museum. He told Reuters, however, that he had been surprised that the museum had agreed. "For me it was quite surprising the museum wanted to show the piece in the first place," he said. "If the Cathedral Museum is having problems now, it's not really my affair, it's for the Cathedral Museum to deal with."

The museum's curator, Bernhard Boehler, replied to the complaints saying, "I don't see any blasphemy here. People can imagine what they want to." He referred to a depiction of the flagellation of Christ that showed a Roman soldier holding the Lord's genitals. Boehler told Reuter's news service that the work that drew the most complaints was the painting of the Last Supper that depicted Christ and his Apostles in a homosexual orgy. The museum said many of the complaints came from overseas where people had read about the exhibition online. Boehler added, "We look for art on biblical themes, but we can't always choose how the artist will interpret them."

But many have asked how the exhibition could have been accepted in the first place, given the reputation for orthodoxy of the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schoenborn. US conservative columnist Rod Dreher wrote on his widely read religion blog, "I wouldn't have guessed that, given his reputation, a man like Schoenborn [sic] would have stood for this abomination for half a second." "I take it that Vienna's Cardinal Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn must be deceased or imprisoned, because I can't imagine that an actual bishop would allow a desecration like this in a church museum, much less the one belonging to his cathedral (and next to his residence)," Dreher wrote.

A statement from the Cardinal's office said that the removal of the works "has nothing to do with censorship, rather corresponds with the understood 'reverence for the sacred'". The Cardinal's spokesman made no statement condemning the works, saying merely, "It is also an act of respect towards those believers who feel this portrayal offended and provoked them in their deepest religious sensitivity."

The verbal complaints from Catholics around the world were compared by Boehler and Hrdlicka to the riots, bombings and killings that followed the publication of the Danish newspaper cartoons of Mohammed. Dreher continued, "I'm glad that we don't have to worry about Catholic mobs worldwide burning down Austrian embassies and attacking screenings of 'The Sound of Music' to protest this blasphemy. But quietism from church authorities in the face of something like this - and not only quietism, but tacit endorsement, given the venue! - sends a powerful message of how deep the rot has gone."



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

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

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


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