Thursday, May 22, 2008

Britain: Marriage registrar 'faced dismissal for obeying Christian doctrine on homosexual unions'

(She is black so that may well protect her. Blackness is second only to homosexuality in the modern British hierarchy of privilege)

A civil registrar who refuses to officiate at partnerships between same-sex couples, claiming that it is "sinful" and against her religion, has brought a legal case that could have implications for ceremonies conducted throughout the country. Lillian Ladele, 47, a Christian, said yesterday that "as a matter of religious conscience" she could not perform civil partnerships for gay couples. She has accused Islington council, in North London, of religious discrimination and victimisation because it asked her to perform the ceremonies as part of her 31,000 pounds-a-year job.

Employment lawyers said that the case, which has angered gay rights groups, could affect councils throughout the country. It is expected to lead to a landmark ruling over whether employees can be required to act against their consciences. More than 18,000 same-sex ceremonies are performed each year under the Civil Partnership Act, which came into force in December 2005.

Clare Murray, of the employment specialists CM Murray LLP, told The Times that Ms Ladele's case could affect the way that councils throughout Britain organise their civil ceremonies. "They are all governed by the same legislation," she said. Even if Islington did lose, other councils might be able to argue that they were justified in requiring registrars to officiate for same-sex couples.

Ms Ladele said that Islington council was forcing her to choose between her beliefs and keeping her job by requiring her to undertake civil partnership duties. Giving evidence yesterday, she told the employment tribunal in Central London: "I hold the orthodox Christian view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others and that this is the God-ordained place for sexual relations. It creates a problem for any Christian if they are expected to do or condone something that they see as sinful. I feel unable to facilitate directly the formation of a union that I sincerely believe is contrary to God's law." More than 600 gay couples have had civil partnership ceremonies in Islington, making it Britain's third-most popular borough for the service.

Ms Ladele, who has worked for the council for 16 years, alleged that she was accused of being homophobic by gay colleagues at Islington town hall and was shunned by staff after refusing to carry out civil partnerships. She claimed that she was "ridiculed" by her boss, the superintendent registrar Helen Mendez-Childs, when she raised her concerns about the new ceremonies in August 2004. Ms Ladele said that her superior had told her that her stance was akin to a registrar refusing to marry a black person. For 15 months she swapped with colleagues to avoid the ceremonies. Formal complaints were made about her in 2006. Ms Ladele, who said that she was surprised that colleagues were offended, said that the council gave her an ultimatum to carry out the ceremonies or face being dismissed for gross misconduct.

She said that, to "punish" her for a principled stance, she was denied the chance to preside over lucrative weddings staged at special premises. "There was no respect whatsoever for my religious beliefs," she said. In 2006, Ms Ladele and another female registrar, who shared similar beliefs, were formally accused by two colleagues of "discriminating against the homosexual community". An internal disciplinary investigation as to whether she was guilty of misconduct began in May 2007. Ms Ladele said that staff started to act in a "different, hostile way towards me". "I continued to be civil towards everyone. People would just blank me. It hurt so badly," she said. She claimed that before the furore she had been conducting about fifty marriages a year but was then allocated as few eight per year. Britain's 1,700 registrars were effectively freelance and could opt out of ceremonies until last December, when they were brought under the control of town halls.

Ben Summerskill, of the gay rights group Stonewall, said that public servants were paid to "uphold the law of the land" and could not discriminate. "Doubtless there were those 40 years ago who claimed a moral objection to mixed marriages between those of different ethnic origin," he said. Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, said that the matter was "an important case for religious liberty". He said: "Other occupations allow conscientious objections. No homosexual couple is being denied their right to marriage, because other registrars are performing them."

Islington council denies religious discrimination or victimisation, and claims that Ms Ladele's stance breaches both its dignity-for-all policy and its code of conduct for employees.


Leftist War History To Laugh At

Cold war "revisionism" is not dead. I remember back in the '50s that Leftists would tell me how stories of oppression in Russia were "lies of the capitalist press". Not much has changed. Comment by Jules Crittenden below

Apparently the Cold War was a right-wing fantasy. Comments from Left Field:
Ronald Reagan did not "win" the Cold War. If any one person can be credited with bringing the Cold War to an end, that person was Mikhail Gorbachev. It's true that the Soviet Union fell in large part because it was bankrupted by 40 years of the most unprecedented arms buildup in human history, but that's nothing the United States should take pride in, because that arms buildup brought us to the brink of nuclear war at least twice, and it was totally unnecessary.

The entire Cold War was premised on two false beliefs: one, that the Soviet Union had a military arsenal equal or superior to our own, so that we always had to "catch up"; and two, that the Soviet government had global expansionist ambitions, and was willing to launch a first strike on the United States to achieve those ambitions. In fact, the Soviets were convinced that the U.S. government was planning to launch a first strike on them.

The Soviets never had the financial resources to conduct the kind of arms race that went on for those four decades, but they felt they had no choice, because, from their point of view, they could not imagine why the Americans would be so committed to building up their nuclear arsenal - way beyond the point of parity - if they were not planning on using those nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union. This, and much more, is laid out in meticulously researched detail by Richard Rhodes, in his book Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race, which I read a couple of months ago.
Haven't read the book, but apparently it details what a peace-loving, kite-flying, deeply misunderstood nation the Soviet Union was.

What I'm getting from this is that Soviet nukes were no big deal, as long as they had more than us, and if we just had a little faith in human kindness. Now she tells us. It's something like that, anyway. It's not entirely clear what this dingbat from Left Field is saying on that score, and I'm way too neurotically war-addicted to think straight at present. But apparently Soviet global expansionist ambitions were OK as long as they did not entail first-strike nuclear plans. Millions of eastern Europeans, Koreans, Vietnamese, Afghans, Cubans, Angolans, Nicaraguans, etc., will be glad to hear it wasn't a problem after all. We should take no pride in the fall of the Berlin Wall, etc., because if we waited for another 50 years or so . actually I'm not sure about that part because she never explains how and when the Soviet Union was supposed to end itself. I think the idea might be along the lines of the Obama doctrine: importune softly and carry a white flag.

It's a relevant history lesson, because much like Ahmadinejad doesn't really intend to get a bomb and blow up Israel and control the Middle East, neither was the Cold War about the advance of international socialism of the most vile, degrading and murderous variety. Like this Bush Iran thing, it was about the scourge of American paranoia.
The world we are living in now, and those "serious threats" that the neocons see everywhere they look, are the inheritance handed down to us from the Cold War and its enthusiastic adherents. All of the C.I.A.-engineered coups, U.S.-supported brutal dictatorships, arms deals, defense contracts, creation of new weapons systems, and wars - Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, the war of sanctions, the invasion of and war against Iraq, and the continuing military occupation - have not made Americans, or anyone else in the world, one bit safer. Which is why those who believe so deeply in war as a means to address existential threats continue to tout war as the way to go: It hasn't worked yet, but they are still hoping that it will.
We should use our words, military industrial war pig complex is bad, threats are not serious, and anyway, we have it coming. Related matter, while we're on the subject, which Yanqui Imperialista war pig's bright idea was it to force the Soviets to flood the world with AK-47s?

Here's an earlier post from some porridge-brained Left Fielder who actually thinks the Soviets were a threat. Sheesh. He has correctly noted however that letting Iranians get nukes and dominate the Middle East is no big deal.

Everyone of course is riffing off this absurd piece by Jennifer Rubin at Commentary that suggests Obama is some kind of naive moron.


Rupert tells it like it is

A "pretty strong degree of anti-Semitism" in Europe is at the root of the hostile coverage Israel receives in parts of the European media, Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation global media chief, charged on Thursday. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post following his appearance at Jerusalem's "Facing Tomorrow" presidential conference, Murdoch (pictured) said it was hard for Israel to obtain fair media coverage in Europe because it was forced to "start off behind." Elaborating, Murdoch said: "If you go to the BBC, the French press, places like that - they start as hostile, and it's very difficult to overcome. But you've just got to press on and do what you can."

In a series of characteristically striking assessments, Murdoch went on to say that "the whole of Europe has gone soft. You've got a degree of disintegration - though that's too strong a word - of society." Where Britain was concerned, he said, "maybe it's a lack of leadership, too." In an implied critique of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, he added, "You didn't have lack of leadership with Tony Blair."

Murdoch owns a considerable proportion of the British print media, including The Sun and Times dailies, and the SKY satellite network. His newspapers' support was critical to the electoral successes of prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Blair, so his comment about a current lack of leadership is potentially significant for Brown and his would-be replacement, Conservative Party leader David Cameron.

Turning to the presidential contest in the US, where again Murdoch's media holdings carry immense potential influence, he praised Democratic front-runner Barack Obama as "a very smart guy" and noted that "we supported him against Hillary Clinton" for the Democratic nomination. His various US media outlets had not yet "declared where we are" regarding the presidential race against Republican candidate John McCain, he said, and the country would get "a much better look at Obama" in the months ahead. But "so far, you've got to say that a majority of people like what they see," said Murdoch. "A majority of Democrats" certainly do, he added.

Murdoch said he did not think Israel need be worried by the prospect of an Obama presidency, nor specifically by the Illinois senator's inexperience and potential naivete when grappling with the threat posed by Iran. "Don't worry about naivete," he said. Whoever became president would face a learning curve. "Presidents are made by events. All great statesmen are made by events. So let's see how he would react," Murdoch said.

Earlier, in his comments to the conference, Murdoch noted approvingly that each advance in media technology, starting with the printing press and through to the Internet, had made information more widely and cheaply available - an instance of democracy at work. Evidently a Jerusalem Post reader, Murdoch chose to cite only this newspaper and his own Times of London as two such readily accessible, free news sources on the Internet.

It required smart people with strong character to take advantage of developing technology, he said, and today's economy offered great rewards to those who had these qualities. "You Israelis know this from your history," he said, praising Israel for using its "human capital" to make up for the lack of natural resources and help carve a modern society and a technological leader out of desert.

To help maximize that Israeli human capital, he said he had agreed to serve on a task force of Israeli and American businessmen to investigate the viability of a new high school geared toward cultivating a new generation of Israeli leaders - a school that could serve as an Israeli education model. Leslie Wexner, chairman of the Columbus, Ohio, based The Limited clothing chain, and Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher/owner of the New York Daily News and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report, had also agreed to participate in the initiative, launched by President Shimon Peres.

Taking stock of Israel at 60 in his interview with the Post, Murdoch, 77, whose holdings here include the News Data Systems broadcast technology company and a share of TV's Channel 10, spoke warmly of Israel in general and specifically its economy, expressing confidence that the country is going to thrive in coming years.

However, he noted, "you have this huge problem of hostile neighbors, financed and promoted by an Iran which has unlimited money and is led by Islamic extremism." Hamas is not interested in compromise, he said. And while Fatah, in the past, would always talk peace "but never meant it, now maybe they mean it but they're very weak."

The world needed to face up to the threat of Islamic extremism and while Murdoch said he was "not as pessimistic as most people" about the threat of a nuclear Iran, he stressed that "God knows, we want to stop them." "Any government that uses a nuclear weapon is signing the self-destruction of their whole nation," he said. "Nobody wants that or would do that." But Islamic extremism was going to be around for a long time, and "the greatest danger is if nuclear weapons were to fall into the hands of nongovernment [extremists], who wouldn't hesitate to put a bomb onto Tel Aviv or New York City... That's by far the biggest danger to the world."

He suggested countering the extremists by doing "everything you can to encourage prosperity in the world of Islam and education to keep people away [from extremist ideology] and ensure they're not tempted by this.

Having said that, however, Murdoch, who sat down with the Post after a lengthy meeting with Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, acknowledged that he was at a loss to explain the viciousness of Islamic extremism, as exemplified by the July 7, 2005, public transport bombings in London, carried out by four British-raised Muslims. "I don't understand how prosperous British-born Muslims would [do this]," he said.

Returning to the role of the media, he said some networks such as Al-Jazeera were giving extremism "respectability to some extent" and that "in the world of the Internet, every philosophy gets its run."


Seriously, some of my best friends are anti-Semites

Former Australian Labor Party minister Barry Cohen brings his trademark good humour to a very serious subject

My favourite definition of an anti-Semite is "a person who hates Jews more than is absolutely necessary". Susan Chandler, the former Victorian Liberal Party campaign manager who described a colleague as a "greedy f..king Jew", appears to qualify. The object of Chandler's affection was Adam Held, the Liberal candidate at the recent federal election for the Victorian seat of Melbourne Ports. Held is Jewish, as is his opponent, the sitting member Michael Danby.

It appears Held earned Chandler's ire during the campaign when he committed the unforgivable sin of doing an Oliver Twist and asking for more. It wasn't gruel he was after but extra political pamphlets for his campaign. Chandler obviously thought it was a plot by the Elders of Zion to corner the market in political pamphlets. Today pamphlets, tomorrow the world. One would have thought that in view of Held's work ethic a more apt description would have been "a hardworking f..king Jew".

Clearly, Chandler is not the sharpest knife in the Liberal drawer. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature would not have committed such terms of endearment to email. Nor would they have been outraged at the suggestion that they had done anything wrong. "Anti-Semitic? Moi? Some of my best friends are Jews." She may have a few less in the not-too-distant future.

It's strange how anti-Semites rarely recognise their own prejudice. As a young and promising golfer I indicated to my boss, a charming and cultured man, that I was interested in joining his golf club. "Sorry, son, no Jews, jockeys or jailbirds." He couldn't recognise his responsibility as a human being to take a principled stand against anti-Semitism.

In the 1940s, when Jews were unable to join any of the A-grade clubs in Sydney or Melbourne, they decided to build their own clubs and were immediately attacked for being exclusive. That the clubs had non-Jewish members was conveniently ignored.

After World War II, and the attempt by the Nazis to destroy European Jewry, there was sympathy and support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the mandated territories of Palestine. When the UN voted in November 1947 to create an Arab and a Jewish state, the neighbouring Arab countries attacked the Jewish state. That Israel survived was first met with disbelief, then awe and finally anger. Those, particularly on the Left, who had wept openly for the murdered millions, started to resent Jews no longer being victims.

How dare Jews win? How dare they defend themselves against those who wished to destroy them? How dare they refuse to accede to the absurd demands of the people who had created the problem by refusing to accept the UN decision? Jews had decided that they no longer wanted the sympathy and tears of the liberal Left. They wanted to survive, on their own terms.

As Israel repulsed attempts to destroy it, the anger of the liberal Left increased in intensity. As internationally famous lawyer Alan Dershowitz stated, "Throughout the world, from the chambers of the UN to the campuses of universities, Israel is singled out for condemnation, disinvestment, boycott and demonisation."

Anti-Semitism? "No! No!" cried Israel's critics. "We don't hate Jews, just Israel." For many, Israel became the pariah state. Anti-Semitism became acceptable again. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman responded: "Criticising Israel is not anti-Semitic and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction, out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East, is anti-Semitic and not saying so is dishonest."

It's the double standards by which Israel is judged that incenses Jews and their supporters. Dershowitz's story of Harvard University president A. Lawrence Lowell's attempt to limit the number of Jews admitted to Harvard in the 1920s because "Jews cheat" is the classic double standard. When an important alumnus objected on the grounds that non-Jews also cheated, Lowell replied, "You're changing the subject. I'm talking about Jews."

In Australia today many journalists are incapable of recognising their own deep-seated prejudices. When I asked one journalist why he and many of his colleagues felt it necessary to mention that certain businesspeople were Jewish, particularly those who had brushes with the law, he bridled at the suggestion that this was anti-Semitic. "It's part of the story," he spluttered. "Really?" I replied. "How, exactly?" He was unable to give a coherent reply. I asked, "Do you know and mention the religion of James Packer, Rupert Murdoch, Christopher Skase, Kerry Stokes or Alan Bond?" "No," he replied, somewhat shamefaced. "And nor should you," I told him, "Because it's irrelevant."

Others were more astute. No mention of religion. They just pointed out that the person they were writing about was a regular visitor to Israel. More clever still was the television program about a Jewish businessman who had just been released from jail. No mention he was Jewish, just a shot of him with his rabbi. Anti-Semitic? Perish the thought.

Then there's the sinister Jewish lobby. One Canberra journalist becomes apoplectic on the subject. Again, no mention of the Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, union or dozens of business and special interest groups that continually lobby governments. No suggestion that they are insidious or sinister. Oh dear, no. Selective indignation, dear readers, is anti-Semitism.

As a young boy growing up in the aftermath of World War II, I hoped that anti-Semitism would gradually fade away. Regrettably, that has not been the case. It is alive and well and, it would appear, still common among what was once called polite society.



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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