By Heather Mac Donald
The race industry and its elite enablers take it as self-evident that high black incarceration rates result from discrimination. At a presidential primary debate this Martin Luther King Day, for instance, Senator Barack Obama charged that blacks and whites "are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, [and] receive very different sentences . . . for the same crime." Not to be outdone, Senator Hillary Clinton promptly denounced the "disgrace of a criminal-justice system that incarcerates so many more African-Americans proportionately than whites."
If a listener didn't know anything about crime, such charges of disparate treatment might seem plausible. After all, in 2006, blacks were 37.5 percent of all state and federal prisoners, though they're under 13 percent of the national population. About one in 33 black men was in prison in 2006, compared with one in 205 white men and one in 79 Hispanic men. Eleven percent of all black males between the ages of 20 and 34 are in prison or jail. The dramatic rise in the prison and jail population over the last three decades--to 2.3 million people at the end of 2007 (see box)--has only amplified the racial accusations against the criminal-justice system.
The favorite culprits for high black prison rates include a biased legal system, draconian drug enforcement, and even prison itself. None of these explanations stands up to scrutiny. The black incarceration rate is overwhelmingly a function of black crime. Insisting otherwise only worsens black alienation and further defers a real solution to the black crime problem.
Racial activists usually remain assiduously silent about that problem. But in 2005, the black homicide rate was over seven times higher than that of whites and Hispanics combined, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. From 1976 to 2005, blacks committed over 52 percent of all murders in America. In 2006, the black arrest rate for most crimes was two to nearly three times blacks' representation in the population. Blacks constituted 39.3 percent of all violent-crime arrests, including 56.3 percent of all robbery and 34.5 percent of all aggravated-assault arrests, and 29.4 percent of all property-crime arrests.
The advocates acknowledge such crime data only indirectly: by charging bias on the part of the system's decision makers. As Obama suggested in the Martin Luther King debate, police, prosecutors, and judges treat blacks and whites differently "for the same crime."
Let's start with the idea that cops over-arrest blacks and ignore white criminals. In fact, the race of criminals reported by crime victims matches arrest data. As long ago as 1978, a study of robbery and aggravated assault in eight cities found parity between the race of assailants in victim identifications and in arrests--a finding replicated many times since, across a range of crimes. No one has ever come up with a plausible argument as to why crime victims would be biased in their reports.
Moving up the enforcement chain, the campaign against the criminal-justice system next claims that prosecutors overcharge and judges oversentence blacks. Obama describes this alleged postarrest treatment as "Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others." Jena, Louisiana, of course, was where a D.A. initially lodged second-degree murder charges against black students who, in December 2006, slammed a white student's head against a concrete beam, knocking him unconscious, and then stomped and kicked him in the head while he was down. As Charlotte Allen has brilliantly chronicled in The Weekly Standard, a local civil rights activist crafted a narrative linking the attack to an unrelated incident months earlier, in which three white students hung two nooses from a schoolyard tree--a display that may or may not have been intended as a racial provocation. This entrepreneur then embellished the tale with other alleged instances of redneck racism--above all, t! he initial attempted-murder charges. An enthusiastic national press responded to the bait exactly as intended, transforming the "Jena Six" into victims rather than perpetrators. In the seven months of ensuing headlines and protests, Jena became a symbol of systemic racial unfairness in America's court system. If blacks were disproportionately in prison, the refrain went, it was because they faced biased prosecutors--like the one in Jena--as well as biased juries and judges.
Backing up this bias claim has been the holy grail of criminology for decades--and the prize remains as elusive as ever. In 1997, criminologists Robert Sampson and Janet Lauritsen reviewed the massive literature on charging and sentencing. They concluded that "large racial differences in criminal offending," not racism, explained why more blacks were in prison proportionately than whites and for longer terms. A 1987 analysis of Georgia felony convictions, for example, found that blacks frequently received disproportionately lenient punishment. A 1990 study of 11,000 California cases found that slight racial disparities in sentence length resulted from blacks' prior records and other legally relevant variables. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases from the country's 75 largest urban areas discovered that blacks actually had a lower chance of prosecution following a felony than whites did and that they were less likely to be found guilty at trial. Following conv! iction, blacks were more likely to receive prison sentences, however--an outcome that reflected the gravity of their offenses as well as their criminal records.
Another criminologist--easily as liberal as Sampson--reached the same conclusion in 1995: "Racial differences in patterns of offending, not racial bias by police and other officials, are the principal reason that such greater proportions of blacks than whites are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned," Michael Tonry wrote in Malign Neglect. (Tonry did go on to impute malign racial motives to drug enforcement, however.) The media's favorite criminologist, Alfred Blumstein, found in 1993 that blacks were significantly underrepresented in prison for homicide compared with their presence in arrest.
This consensus hasn't made the slightest dent in the ongoing search for systemic racism. An entire industry in the law schools now dedicates itself to flushing out prosecutorial and judicial bias, using ever more complicated statistical artillery. The net result? A few new studies show tiny, unexplained racial disparities in sentencing, while other analyses continue to find none. Any differences that do show up are trivially small compared with the exponentially greater rates of criminal offending among blacks. No criminologist would claim, moreover, to have controlled for every legal factor that affects criminal-justice outcomes, says Patrick Langan, former senior statistician for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Prosecutors and judges observe the heinousness of a defendant's conduct, for example, but a number-crunching researcher has no easy way to discover and quantify that variable.
Some criminologists replace statistics with High Theory in their search for racism. The criminal-justice system does treat individual suspects and criminals equally, they concede. But the problem is how society defines crime and criminals. Crime is a social construction designed to marginalize minorities, these theorists argue. A liberal use of scare quotes is virtually mandatory in such discussions, to signal one's distance from primitive notions like "law-abiding" and "dangerous." Arguably, vice crimes are partly definitional (though even there, the law enforcement system focuses on them to the extent that they harm communities). But the social constructivists are talking about all crime, and it's hard to see how one could "socially reconstruct" assault or robbery so as to convince victims that they haven't been injured.
Unfair drug policies are an equally popular explanation for black incarceration rates. Legions of pundits, activists, and academics charge that the war on drugs is a war on minorities--a de facto war at best, an intentional one at worst.
Playing a starring role in this conceit are federal crack penalties, the source of the greatest amount of misinformation in the race and incarceration debate. Crack is a smokeable and highly addictive cocaine concentrate, created by cooking powder cocaine until it hardens into pellets called "rocks." Crack produces a faster--and more potent--high than powder cocaine, and it's easier to use, since smoking avoids the unpleasantness of needles and is more efficient than snorting. Under the 1986 federal Anti-Drug Abuse Act, getting caught with five grams of crack carries a mandatory minimum five-year sentence in federal court; to trigger the same five-year minimum, powder-cocaine traffickers would have to get caught with 500 grams. On average, federal crack sentences are three to six times longer than powder sentences for equivalent amounts.
The media love to target the federal crack penalties because crack defendants are likely to be black. In 2006, 81 percent of federal crack defendants were black, while only 27 percent of federal powder-cocaine defendants were. Since federal crack rules are more severe than those for powder, and crack offenders are disproportionately black, those rules must explain why so many blacks are in prison, the conventional wisdom holds.
But consider the actual number of crack sellers sentenced in federal court each year. In 2006, 5,619 were tried federally, 4,495 of them black. From 1996 to 2000, the federal courts sentenced more powder traffickers (23,743) than crack traffickers (23,121). It's going to take a lot more than 5,000 or so crack defendants a year to account for the 562,000 black prisoners in state and federal facilities at the end of 2006--or the 858,000 black prisoners in custody overall, if one includes the population of county and city jails. Nor do crack/powder disparities at the state level explain black incarceration rates: only 13 states distinguish between crack and powder sentences, and they employ much smaller sentence differentials.
The press almost never mentions the federal methamphetamine-trafficking penalties, which are identical to those for crack: five grams of meth net you a mandatory minimum five-year sentence. In 2006, the 5,391 sentenced federal meth defendants (nearly as many as the crack defendants) were 54 percent white, 39 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent black. But no one calls the federal meth laws anti-Hispanic or anti-white.
Nevertheless, the federal crack penalties dominate discussions on race and incarceration because they seem to provide a concrete example of egregious racial disparity. This leads to a commonly expressed syllogism: crack penalties have a disparate impact on blacks; disparate impact is racist; therefore, crack penalties are racist. This syllogism has been particularly prominent recently, thanks to the U.S. Sentencing Commission's 2007 decision to lighten federal crack penalties retroactively in the name of racial equity.
The press has covered this development voraciously, serving up a massive dose of crack revisionism aimed at proving the racist origins of the war on crack. Crack was never a big deal, the revisionist story line goes. But when Boston Celtics draft pick Len Bias died of a crack overdose in 1986, the media went into overdrive covering the crack phenomenon. "Images--or perhaps anecdotes--about the evils of crack, and the street crime it was presumed to stoke" circulated, as the New York Times archly put it in a December 2007 article. A "moral panic" (Michael Tonry's term) ensued about an imaginary threat from a powerless minority group. Whites feared that addicted blacks would invade their neighborhoods. Sensational stories about "crack babies" surfaced. All this hysteria resulted in the unnecessary federal crack penalties.
Since the 1980s, the revisionist narrative continues, experts have determined that powder and crack show more pharmacological "similarities than differences," in the Times's words, and that crack is no more damaging to fetuses than alcohol. The belief that crack was an inner-city scourge was thus a racist illusion, and the sentencing structure to quell it a racist assault. Or, as U.S. District Judge Clyde Cahill put it, in what one hopes is not a representative sample of the federal judicial temperament: "Legislators' unconscious racial aversion towards blacks, sparked by unsubstantiated reports of the effects of crack, reactionary media prodding, and an agitated constituency, motivated the legislators . . . to produce a dual system of punishment."
Leave aside the irony of the press's now declaring smugly that the press exaggerated the ravages of crack. (The same New York Times that now sneers at "images--or perhaps anecdotes--about the evils of crack" ran searing photos of crack addicts in 1993 that included a woman kneeling before a crack dealer, unzipping his fly, a baby clinging to her back; such degraded prostitutes, known as "strawberries," were pervasive casualties of the epidemic.) The biggest problem with the revisionist narrative is its unreality. The assertion that concern about crack resulted from "unconscious racial aversion towards blacks" ignores a key fact: black leaders were the first to sound the alarm about the drug, as Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy documents in Race, Crime, and the Law. Harlem congressman Charles Rangel initiated the federal response to the epidemic, warning the House of Representatives in March 1986 that crack had made cocaine "frightening[ly]" accessible t! o youth. A few months later, Brooklyn congressman Major Owens explicitly rejected what is now received wisdom about media hype. "None of the press accounts really have exaggerated what is actually going on," Owens said; the crack epidemic was "as bad as any articles have stated." Queens congressman Alton Waldon then called on his colleagues to act: "For those of us who are black this self-inflicted pain is the worst oppression we have known since slavery. . . . Let us . . . pledge to crack down on crack." The bill that eventually passed, containing the crack/powder distinction, won majority support among black congressmen, none of whom, as Kennedy points out, objected to it as racist.
These politicians were reacting to a devastating outbreak of inner-city violence and addiction unleashed by the new form of cocaine. Because crack came in small, easily digestible amounts, it democratized what had been a rarefied drug, making an intense high available to people with very little money. The crack market differed radically from the discreet phone transactions and private deliveries that characterized powder-cocaine distribution: volatile young dealers sold crack on street corners, using guns to establish their turf. Crack, homicides, and assaults went hand in hand; certain areas of New York became "like a war zone," retired DEA special agent Robert Stutman told PBS's Frontline in 2000. The large national spike in violence in the mid-1980s was largely due to the crack trade, and its victims were overwhelmingly black inner-city residents.
Though the elites are furiously rewriting crack history, many people who lived through it are not. In April 2007, Los Angeles prosecutor Robert Grace won the conviction of a crack dealer who had raped and strangled to death ten strawberries between 1987 and 1998. The "crack epidemic was one of the worst things that happened to the black and brown community," Grace asserts. Matthew Kennedy managed an infamous public housing project in Watts during the crack epidemic. "Some of us remember how bad it was," he says. When children avoid school for fear of getting shot by drug gangs, "you've just lost that generation." Lawrence Tolliver has witnessed his share of shootings outside his South Central barbershop. "Sometimes it was so bad you had to scout the horizon like a gazelle at a watering hole in Africa," he recalls.
It takes shameless sleight of hand to turn an effort to protect blacks into a conspiracy against them. If Congress had ignored black legislators' calls to increase cocaine-trafficking penalties, the outcry among the groups now crying racism would have been deafening. Yes, a legislative bidding war drove federal crack penalties ultimately to an arbitrary and excessive point; the reduction of those penalties is appropriate. But what led to the crack-sentencing scheme wasn't racism but legal logic. Prosecutors rely on heavy statutory penalties to induce defendants to spill the beans on their criminal colleagues. "An amazing public spirit is engendered when you tell someone he is facing 150 years to life but has the possibility of getting out after eight if he tells you who committed a string of homicides," says Walter Arsenault, who headed the Manhattan district attorney's homicide-investigation unit in the 1980s and 1990s.
Impostors in the church
There have always been some of these -- particularly among the Anglican clergy -- but they are getting more open and are now found in other churches. But to most people of faith they are simply laughable
There is a Bible on a pedestal in Gretta Vosper's West Hill United Church in Toronto. She would prefer it did not have a special place, she said, because it is just a book among other books. In a similar way, the cross that is high above the altar has no special meaning, but there are a few older congregants for whom the Bible and the cross are still nice symbols so there they remain.
Though an ordained minister, she does not like the title of reverend. It is one of those symbols that hold the church back from breaking into the future -- to a time "when the label Christian won't even exist" and the Church will be freed of the burdens of the past. To balance out those symbols of the past inside West Hill, there is a giant, non-religious rainbow tapestry just behind the altar and multi-coloured streamers hang from the ceiling. "The central story of Christianity will fade away," she explained. "The story about Jesus as the symbol of everything that Christianity is will fade away."
The head of the United Church of Canada, David Giuliano, who went to divinity school with Ms. Vosper 20 years ago, said if he felt the way that she does, he would not be a minister. But it is not his job to condemn, he said, and the church is structured in such a way that complaints have to come from the congregation before any action can be taken. And so far there have been no complaints. He also sees the United Church, considered the most liberal of the mainline Protestant churches, as broad enough to encompass a wide range of theologies. Even Rev. Giuliano agrees that the name Christian -- which carries the baggage of colonialism and other ills -- should probably be phased out. Instead, he would replace "Christian" with "Follower of the Way" or "Follower of Jesus."
But it is an absolute certainty that Ms. Vosper would not go for "Follower of Jesus." Ms. Vosper does not believe in the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the miracles and the sacrament of baptism. Nor does she believe in the creeds, the presence of Christ in communion or that Jesus was the Son of God. In With or Without God, her book that was formally launched this week, she writes that Jesus was a "Middle Eastern peasant with a few charismatic gifts and a great posthumous marketing team."
The Bible is used in her services, but it gets rewritten to be more contemporary and speak to more people. Even the Lord's Prayer -- also known as the Our Father -- does not make the cut because it creates an image of a God who intervenes in human existence. And then there is the "Father" part that is not inclusive language and carries with it the notion of an overbearing tyrant who condemns people to hell. So why exactly does she still call herself a Christian, let alone a minister?
"I could leave the Church because I don't hold those orthodox understandings," she said. "[But] I think that in a generation or so we might stop using the term Christian, and I hope, perhaps we will stop using labels for every religious tradition. There is nothing wrong with a faith tradition evolving.
Modern Britain: No Laughing Matter
Earlier generations of Britons believed that certain things simply could not happen in Britain. Even in the country's darkest moments of war or depression, this conviction differentiated the then proud nation from the U.S.S.R., third world countries, and unstable regimes that might fall to dictatorship any moment. News blackouts, and the banning of a book or film of course occurred here or there, but these never seemed very serious events.
When the Thatcher government banned the sale of the novel, Spycatcher, in Britain, it was smuggled into the country from abroad, and reported in the press despite legal challenges. Humor was the public's usual way of dealing with such things, and the banning of a book that most people could get ahold of, turned politics into a laughing stock. And not for the first or last time either. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, when Oswald Moseley's "black shirt" fascists were parading through London, Lady Astor commented that if they should ever gain power the British people would die laughing. How prophetic this was. A few years later Charlie Chaplin denounced and mocked the Nazis in his film, The Great Dictator, even as prime minister Neville Chamberlain sought to win "peace for our time" by appeasing Hitler.
In the 1980s and early 1990s the satirical puppet show, Spitting Image, which mocked the politicians of the time, became a staple of television viewing, even for those who generally did not like television that much. The puppets were grotesque, but politics at that time - and before that time - was raw, unscripted. Thatcher, like other leaders, spoke from the gut as well as the brain, and the picture was not always pretty, but it was human, and it represented the British people. In an excellent op-ed piece for The Daily Mail recently, Lord Tebbit - Thatcher's once right-hand man - spoke of his love for his puppet-portrayal as a "leather-clad bovver boy," his dismay at the banal, politically correct, mainstream parties who seem indistinguishable from one another, and constant political failings that are, "so ridiculous that it is beyond satire."
Political correctness has cowed society and politics, and trodden down common sense and humor. Unlike the defiant, bawdy Brit of the past, today he thinks before he speaks, running through the list of forbidden words, and making sure not to let one slip. And so much now is taboo. The English Democrats Party is under investigation for racism, for using the term, "tartan tax," a student was arrested for calling a police horse "gay," and, if you need to see the proof of such extreme "politically correct" intolerance, a Youtube video showing a young man being arrested for singing, "I'd rather wear a turban" (deemed racist by the arresting officer), can be seen here.
A common language is one of the traditional, defining marks of a nation, and the criminalization of words will have a very profound consequence for the British. Though rarely acknowledged as such, humor is another defining mark, and one that makes use of the nation's language in particular ways that relies on the audience having a good general knowledge of culture, history, and politics. Notably, Voltaire once commented that tragedies could be translated from one tongue to another, but that comedies could not. Anyone wishing to grasp the English comedy would need to, "spend three years in London, to make yourself master of the English tongue, and to frequent the playhouse every night," he suggested.
Political correctness has changed British politics and society, the latter of which has been famed for its ability to laugh at itself - an ability that has certainly helped to keep it free and democratic. Extremists - whether of the fascist, politically correct, or Islamic type - are united in their suspicion - even rejection - of humor. Humor shows them for what they really are. When the "Mohammed cartoons" provoked riots and death threats by Islamic radicals, Jack Straw could only remark,
I said at the time that the cartoons were reprinted in Europe - though not here in the United Kingdom - that doing so was needlessly insensitive and disrespectful. The right to freedom of expression is a broad one and something which this country has long held dear. [.] But the existence of such a right does not mean that it is right - morally right, politically right, socially right - to exercise that freedom without regard to the feelings of others.With those words Straw beheads the figure of humor before our eyes, in order to appease those who might be offended. Not every Muslim is humorless, of course, and in the U.S., for example, there is a comedy show called "Allah made me funny," with Muslim comedians who are able to poke fun at themselves. The show was the initiative of Preacher Moss, who wanted to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims after 9/11. Yet in Britain we see that appeasement has become de facto policy of the "liberal" media, with various controversial words or subjects banned. Ben Elton - a comedian and author once noted for his staunchly Left-wing politics - recently accused the B.B.C. of being too "scared" to poke fun at radical Islam, noting that he was even told not to use the entirely innocuous phrase, "Mohammed came to the mountain" apparently for fear of the consequences.
A few days ago, it emerged that the B.B.C. and rival television broadcaster I.T.V. insisted that the Christian Choice political party make changes to the language of its electoral broadcast concerning their opposition to the building of Europe's largest mosque in London. The party had described Tablighi Jamaat, the group behind its planning, as "separatist," and noted that some "moderate Muslims" were against the mega-mosque. But the B.B.C. was worried, and insisted the group be described as "controversial" instead. And, it disallowed the term "moderate Muslims" as it implied that Tablighi Jamaat was not moderate. I.T.V. would not even allow the group to be described as "controversial," although this would certainly appear to be an appropriate - if mild - term. Tablighi Jamaat is opposed to Muslims mixing with non-Muslims, and wants to separate their flock from Jews and Christians by - according to one of their advocates in Britain - creating, "such hatred for their ways as human beings have for urine and excreta."
Ten years ago, we would have laughed at a comedy sketch in which people were banned from describing hate mongers as "controversial." We would have laughed at a sketch of a student being arrested for calling a horse "gay." The lunacy of it all seems so Monty Python or Spitting Image, yet this is the reality of modern Britain.
But I wonder if bawdy, rowdy humor is not now being confined to the past, and along with it an entire way of thinking, and an effective weapon that has proved the best defense of common sense and ordinary people. Gone, it seems, is the type of politician that was feisty and unapologetic in the pursuit of liberty. Contrast Churchill - drinker, cigar smoker, and a man with a quick wit and sharp tongue - with those who embody modern politics - Gordon Brown, Jack Straw, Ken Livingstone, Tony Blair, or David Cameron - and one cannot help but feel that the future of Britain may be no laughing matter.
The rise and rise of the secretive state
Below is a Saturday editorial in "The Australian" which says that freedom of speech has become a critical issue in Australia
TODAY'S World Press Freedom Day is about much more than journalists being able to do their jobs unimpeded. It is about the public's right to know the truth about how the governments they elect and the services they pay for, such as police and hospitals, operate. This year, the day comes at the end of an appalling week for press freedom.
On Wednesday, armed police from the Major Fraud Squad raided the Perth office of The Sunday Times newspaper. They spent four hours trying to prise out the source of a story that had embarrassed the Government of Alan Carpenter, a former journalist. The story was in the public interest, relating to a request by Treasurer Eric Ripper for $16 million to pay for advertising for the Government's re-election campaign. It was the second time in a month that police, whose stretched resources would be better employed fighting crime, had entered the Sunday Times offices to uncover the sources of political stories.
Speaking on behalf of the media coalition, Australia's Right to Know, News Limited chairman and chief executive John Hartigan said: "This is a disturbing reminder that governments in Australia will resort to legal muscle to redress political embarrassment. Do we now live in a country where whistleblowers and journalists can expect to be hunted down and charged if they reveal government information that is a matter of legitimate public interest? The answer, regrettably, appears to be yes."
The armed raid, reminiscent of those in countries such as Malaysia, erodes Australia's credibility in speaking out against the intimidation again meted out to the media this week in Fiji. The Fijian Government, known for its brutality, corruption and totalitarian rule, arrested Evan Hannah, managing director of The Fiji Times on Thursday night, forcibly removing him from his home, pending deportation. The arrest came two months after another Australian, Russell Hunter, publisher of the rival Fiji Sun, was arrested in a night-time raid on his home and deported.
Amid such repression, it should be reassuring to know that federal Labor, in the run-up to the November election, promised a mature and open approach to freedom of information. A Rudd government, the ALP's policy document said, would "drive cultural change across the bureaucracy to promote a pro-disclosure attitude". Information would be withheld only "where this is in the public interest". The Australian community would be able to "properly access information in the possession of the commonwealth Government."
These fine commitments have already melted into hollow rhetoric with the federal Government using FOI laws to block the release of advice about the wage-push inflationary effects of its industrial relations changes. In response to an FOI request from the ABC, the bulk of the 38 pages produced this week were censored. A Treasury official's lily-livered excuse was that full disclosure would "be contrary to public interest as they are internal documents containing information which could raise unnecessary debate on matters considered by cabinet". This ridiculous mindset, reflective of Orwell's Big Brother, deems economic debate "unnecessary" and against the public interest.
In reality, Treasury concerns about Labor's abolition of the Howard government's IR reforms have been known for months. In August, Treasury secretary Ken Henry underlined the importance of flexible labour markets for sustaining full employment. Months after the triumphant abolition of Work Choices, full disclosure of the relevant Treasury advice would have been no more than mildly embarrassing for the Rudd Government. But a cynic might suggest it feared the advice could come back to haunt it in the event of an inflationary wages breakout. The public interest, however, demands openness rather than a cover-up and Mr Rudd's silence on the subject yesterday was deafening.
This penchant for secrecy pervades both sides of politics and much of the legal system, to the detriment of public life. This newspaper, for instance, spent much of the last parliament battling former treasurer Peter Costello's blocking the release of data about bracket creep and the use of the First Home Buyers Scheme. The Australian lost the case in the High Court.
In a report released at last night's Australian Press Freedom Media Dinner in Sydney, the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance noted numerous perturbing instances of censorship. These included the sentencing of former public servant, Allan Kessing, to a nine-month suspended jail term after he was found guilty of leaking a report on serious gaps in airport security to The Australian. The issue was vital to the public interest.
In the US, freedom of speech is fundamental to national culture and guaranteed under the First Amendment. Australia's establishment, in contrast, is increasingly embracing the censorious, "less is more" mentality of the taciturn British civil service. At every turn, civil libertarians battle to keep the public in the dark about lawyers' clients facing charges. States such as Queensland keep pertinent school performance data under wraps, while Tasmania refuses to release details of secret proposals for taxpayers to subsidise pipelines to service the controversial Gunns pulp mill. Secrecy, control and spin have rendered free speech fragile. This is bad for democracy and the issue deserves elevating to the centre of national debate.
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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.