Saturday, May 17, 2008

Queer marriage decision in CA

An email below from Maggie Gallagher [], President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

A divided 4-3 California Supreme Court ruled today that marriage as the union of husband and wife is unconstitutional under the California constitution. The narrow majority ruled that there is a fundamental constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and that creating civil unions as an alternative for same-sex couples amounted to a violation of the state equal protection clause.

California is the first court since Massachusetts in 2003 to rule that marriage laws constitute unconstitutional discrimination. Courts in Maryland, New York, and Washington have rejected that argument.

"California's supreme court has just ruled that the 62 percent of Californians who voted for marriage as the union of husband and wife are just bigots. But thanks to the 1.1 million Californians who signed petitions to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November, activist judges will not have the last word in California, California voters will," said Maggie Gallagher, President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

"Most Americans understand that marriage is not bigotry. It is common sense -- unions of husband and wife have a unique status in law and culture because they really are different from other kinds of unions including in this way: they are uniquely necessary because they are the unions that both make new life and connect those children to their own mother and father," notes Gallagher.

To download a copy of the new iMAPP research brief, click here

Double standard on rights in Australia

by Andrew Bolt

OUR top human rights body is so savage on Australia that it claims we're guilty of "genocide". But when it comes to China, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission can't grovel enough. China, it claimed last week, has actually "contributed" to human rights and should not be so criticised by the West and nasty Tibetan protesters. It's doing its best.

You think I exaggerate HREOC's double standards? Then check the astonishing interview HREOC president John von Doussa gave on Chinese state television last week. Von Doussa was in Beijing for an international human rights forum, and his generous hosts couldn't have been happier when he appeared on their CCTV and trotted out their favourite lines on human rights. Run the tape:

Interviewer: The Beijing Olympic global torch relay has been disrupted by some Tibetan separatists, do you think such action complies with the international law on human rights?

Von Doussa: No, I don't ... (The right to protest) doesn't give them the right to engage in violence. And it doesn't give them the right to prevent other people from going about their lawful business and indeed expressing their particular points of view.

Pause the tape. Actually the vast majority of protesters at the rally have been peaceful and in no way breached the human rights they simply asked China to uphold. Most of the violence in the Canberra leg, in fact, seemed to come from pro-Chinese protesters organised by the Chinese embassy. And where is von Doussa's condemnation of China's refusal to let Tibetans and other human rights campaigners to express their "particular points of view" within China itself? Ah, back to the tape:

Interviewer: China has constantly been under attack by some Western media on its human rights situation. There seems to be a trend of politicising human rights and imposing Western standards to the country. Do you think this is a useful way of solving differences?

Von Doussa: No, I don't think it's useful ... the international human rights norms or standards which are being invoked are universal; they are rights to which China has contributed to ...

It has? Excuse me for butting in again but China has, on the contrary, propped up international human rights abusers - sending cash and weapons to Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, propping up Burma's junta, protecting Stalinist North Korea, and blocking attempts to stop the Darfur genocide unleashed by Sudan, its oil supplier and arms buyer. But back to the tape:

Von Doussa: The West is saying, look, for example we have broad, open trials with thorough investigation of crime and so on. You should be doing the same. What that overlooks is the economic situation and the developmental stage of China ... Once you eliminate poverty well then you can move on to a situation where people can much better enjoy a much broader range of human rights.

Pardon? China is entitled to deny fair trials, free speech and a free vote until it gets richer? How rich, exactly? Disgraceful. Von Doussa has entirely bought China's excuse for totalitarianism - that there is a clash between human rights and development, and one must wait for the other.

For the living contradiction of this argument of all tyrants, von Doussa should fly home via India, China's rival, which is also pulling itself out of poverty, but without denying its people the right to speak or vote. Or he could visit free Taiwan, if he doesn't mind outraging his communist hosts. What an appalling piece of cultural relativism - and of toadying to China.

Ironically, von Doussa has just one possible defence for seeming to sell out the values he's paid to uphold - that far from China being the human rights "contributor" he claimed, it is such an enemy of free speech that it censored the criticisms he went on to make. Without such an excuse, or at least an explanation, von Doussa should quit. If he can't be as tough even on China as his commission has been on his own country, he's no friend of human rights -- and, indeed, of the taxpayers who pay his wage.

To see the von Doussa interview on CCTV, introduced by former ABC-staffer-turned-China-mouthpiece Edwin Maher, go here


Australia: Wanna bet these rapists are Muslims?

The Press is so secretive about ethnic origins that it encourages us to speculate when no details are given. There are a lot of Muslims from Africa living at Moorooka and Salisbury is an adjoining suburb. And young Muslim males do tend to move in packs.

Four men accused of raping a 14-year-old girl have been granted bail in a Brisbane court. The men - aged 30, 25, 21 and 19 - appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday after being charged yesterday with numerous sex offences. It's alleged the men took the teenage girl to a hotel room in Brisbane on May 3 and repeatedly assaulted her.

Each of the men - including two brothers - were allowed bail on condition they report to police five days a week and have no contact with the girl. The oldest, a 30-year-old man from Sherwood, has been charged with two counts of rape, four counts of indecent treatment of a child and one count of possessing child exploitation material. The 21-year-old man, also from Sherwood, faces two counts of rape, one count each of carnal knowledge of a child under 16 and possessing child exploitation material, and four counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16.

The 25-year-old man from Moorooka has been charged with one count each of rape and indecent treatment of a child under 16. The 19-year-old, also of Moorooka, faces three counts of rape, one count of carnal knowledge of a child under 16 and three counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16. The 25-year-old and the 19-year-old will face court again next month while the other men will reappear in July.


Note: I would be particularly pleased if the speculation above is incorrect, as it might go a little way towards showing our media elites that their secrecy can have the opposite effect to that intended - i.e. it might cause minorities to be unfairly blamed

Customer service in Britain: It's non-existent

I am putting this up because the reports below mirror my own experience of Britain. I think they are even worse than the Indian bureaucracy -- and that's private British firms as well as government that I am talking about. Maybe Zimbabwe is worse

Go abroad. That is the only sensible conclusion to draw from the huge online reaction to Weekend's article last month on customer service in Britain. Singapore does it better, so does Japan, so does Canada. Even the French, once fabled for their rudeness, get your approval. "In France, medical staff take pride in patient care," reported Geoff Miller. "In Britain, they are obtuse, bureaucratic, unhelpful."

India also gets the thumbs-up. "A good shopkeeper looks after his customer whether the customer buys anything or not," wrote Sridhar Rao, contrasting the care and attention shown by Indian shopkeepers selling saris with the "abominable" service at PC World.

Not that emigrating did the trick for Graham, a retired Barclays employee. To continue paying his pension, his erstwhile employer requires him to supply evidence every six months that he is still alive - an exercise that has involved him in an interminable round of ignored emails and emails that took three weeks to get a response. "Revolution!" mused Graham at his hideaway in the sun. "Now there's a thought..." Thank you for taking the trouble to name and shame the worst offenders. All the usual suspects were there, with BT and British Airways leading the field.

It was hard to know whether to feel more sorry for Dave Coomber, being shunted from one operator to another as BT tried to work out if he had a "fault" or a "technical problem" - he thought they were synonymous, poor sap - or for Nikki Brown, gearing herself up to tackle the BA customer service department about some missing luggage. When she was told that customer service would not be accepting any calls for the next four weeks because it was still clearing a backlog of complaints arising from a spell of bad weather nine months previously, her patience snapped. It would have taken "the resilience and determination of an Antarctic explorer" to beat the system.

Other organisations to incur your wrath were WH Smith in Cheshire ("the cashiers seemed to feel that acknowledging the customers except to take payment was forbidden"); Boots online, whose asinine emails reduced Sylvia Chapman to a screaming banshee; the Abbey bank ("worst ever customer service"); and a London branch of HSBC, where Emily Fleming suffered a double whammy of "rock music blaring from wall speakers" and "tellers who resembled a pair of zombies".

HSBC clearly needs to raise its game. Fred Wall, visiting his local branch, was spared the loud music, but was snookered by a super-polite branch manager who told him to "take a wee seat" while he sorted out his problem. Fred took his wee seat, while the manager, as far as he could see, did nothing.

It was the sense of "being given the runaround" - passed from unhelpful official A to unhelpful official B - that really irked Telegraph readers. Brian Simpson contacted Sterling Airlines to try to trace an item that his wife had lost on a flight from Gatwick to Stockholm. He ended up being referred to the Copenhagen police department. You have to laugh.

All Mark Roberts wanted from the Department for Work and Pensions was a simple calculation of an overpayment to his late father. That was the start of a surreal 10-month round of phone calls shuttling his inquiries from Salford to Gloucester to Dearne Valley to Stornoway to Corby and back to Stornoway.

You all had your bugbears, from automated answering systems to teenage cashiers chatting to their friends on mobile phones. For Andrew Parsons, the worst of the lot were medical receptionists - "trained by ex-KGB interrogators of General rank to look at you like you are in the gutter whilst trying to extract the information".

In fairness, even though most readers seemed to share my despair at the standard of customer service in Britain, a significant minority took the opposite view. Organisations that received bouquets for their service included Virgin Atlantic, school examination boards, the Arcade Bookshop in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire, and the staff at Sudbury Hill station.

Several of you argued that customers had to treat staff with respect, not just demand service as of feudal right. "Try working on the other side of the counter," advised Edward Westcott, "and see the snobbery, arrogance and downright rudeness that some customers display to shop workers. Think about when you are at the till on your mobile or talking to your companions behind you while you fling your credit card at the assistant. Civility works both ways." Touche. Norman, another shop worker, made a similar point. "I could write a book on the amount of abuse I have received over the years." His biggest gripe was the increasing tendency of customers to complain loud and long in the hope of getting compensation. One customer claimed that he missed his holiday flight because he had been sold a pint of milk that went off, then demanded hundreds of pounds' compensation.

One of the underlying themes of your emails, with their Kafkaesque tales of ordinary citizens entangled in red tape and bureaucracy, is the debilitating pace of modern life: too many people in too much of a hurry to find the time to smile.



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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