Thursday, July 31, 2008

British Sikh girl beats anti-religious ban

With good British hypocrisy, the ban was not overtly anti-religious but there is little doubt that that was part of the underlying motive

A Sikh teenager excluded from school for breaking a "no jewellery" rule by refusing to remove a wrist bangle which is central to her faith was a victim of unlawful discrimination, a judge ruled today. The victory in the High Court for Sarika Watkins-Singh, 14, means that she will be returning to Aberdare Girls' School in South Wales in September - wearing the Kara, a slim steel bracelet. Her lawyers had told Mr Justice Silber that the Kara was as important to her as it was to England spin bowler Monty Panesar, who has been pictured wearing the bangle.

Sarika, of mixed Welsh and Punjabi origin, of Cwmbach, near Aberdare, was at first taught in isolation and eventually excluded for refusing to take off the bangle in defiance of the school's policy, which prohibits the wearing of any jewellery other than a wrist watch and plain ear studs. Today, the judge declared that the school was guilty of indirect discrimination under race relations and equality laws.

After the judgment, Sarika's mother, Sinita, 38, said: "We are over the moon.It is just such a relief." Afterwards, a spokeswoman for the family hailed it as a "common sense" judgment. Sarika said: "I am overwhelmed by the outcome and it's marvellous to know that the long journey I've been on has finally come to an end. "I'm so happy to know that no-one else will go through what me and my family have gone through." She added: "I just want to say that I am a proud Welsh and Punjabi Sikh girl."

Anna Fairclough, Liberty's legal officer who was representing the Singhs, said: "This common sense judgment makes clear you must have a very good reason before interfering with someone's religious freedom. "Our great British traditions of religious tolerance and race equality have been rightly upheld today."


It's certainly difficult to see what harm she was doing. I wonder whether this will prevent bans on Catholics wearing crosses too? Very annoying that the "purity ring" case was not similarly decided. The British government claims to be concerned about teenage promiscuity and pregnancy but Christian efforts to combat it were disallowed in that case! That Left-run Britain is an anti-Christian country is however now rather well-established.

Film unmasks Bush as the real Batman

By Andrew Bolt

FINALLY Hollywood makes a film that says US President George W. Bush was right. But director Christopher Nolan had to disguise it a little, so journalists wouldn't freak and the film's more fashionable stars wouldn't walk. So he hides Bush in a cape. He even sticks a mask on him, with pointy ears for some reason. Sure, when the terrified citizens of Gotham City scream for Bush to come save them, Nolan has them shine a great W in the night sky, but he blurs it so it looks more like a bird. Or a bat, perhaps. And he has them call their hero not Mr Bush, of course, or even "Mr President", but . . . Batman.

And what do you know. Bush may be one of the most despised presidents in American history, but this movie of his struggle is now smashing all box-office records. Critics weep, audiences swoon - and suddenly the world sees Bush's agonising dilemma and sympathises with what it had been taught so long to despise.

Well, "taught" isn't actually the exact word. As this superb Batman retelling, The Dark Knight, makes clear, its subject is a weakness that runs instinctively through us - to hate a hero who, in saving us, exposes our fears, prods our weaknesses, calls from us more than we want to give, or can. And how we resent a hero who must shake our world in order to save it, or brings alive that maxim of George Orwell that so implicates us in our preening piety: "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

(Alert! Alert! Spoilers ahead. Do not read on if you plan to see the film.)

This is The Dark Knight's theme. See how Bush - oops, I mean Batman - must time and again compromise his values, and ours, to save his city from far greater evils. And see how Nolan, who wrote the script with his younger brother Jonathan, empathises with him every time - as does the audience in the wide-eyed dark.

How many examples do you want? There's the scene at the police station in which Batman tortures Heath Ledger's sensationally vivid Joker - trying to cave in his face rather than simply, say, waterboarding him, as the CIA did to three of al-Qaida's most senior commanders. The audience understands. Batman has resorted to the last hope to make this terrorist squeal, because only the Joker has the information the police need to save two goodies who have just minutes left to live.

Of course, Batman is considerate enough to first jam shut the cell door with a chair, which means Commissioner Gordon and the police - who were watching through a one-way window - can rush to stop this terrible infringement of a prisoner's human rights yet still conveniently fail to break in. This helps them to preserve their purity while still getting from Batman the addresses they so gratefully grab with their clean hands. Note well this detail. We can pose as pure because harder men do what we need to keep safe - so safe, that we can afford to later despise them for it.

See it again when Bush - damn, I did it again - Batman, I mean, bugs every phone in the city to identify the whereabouts of the Joker, hoping to stop him before he blows up a shipload of civilians. His techno-whiz, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), is almost as horrified as a New York Times reporter told that Bush wants to wiretap the international calls of terror suspects. "This is wrong," he editorialises. "Spying on 30 million people isn't part of my job description." What a wonderful conscience. How brightly that man's halo will shine when the fighting is done, and the human rights seminars begin in the campuses of cities made secure.

But, of course, even Lucius, thrust not into a newspaper office but into a position of responsibility where he must choose urgently between moralising or saving lives on a ticking time-bomb of a ship, chooses to help Batman bug just seconds after declaring it "wrong". For the record. It's the choice the audience always knew he'd make, and would have despised him for dodging.

But the residents of Gotham? They soon end up hating Batman. If he hadn't gone after the Joker so hard, they cry, maybe the Joker wouldn't have blown up their hospital, or planted bombs on ships, or killed so many soldiers, or flown aeroplanes into office towers, or blown up a Bali bar, or . . . sorry, have I confused fact with fiction, again? Anyway, the citizens hate Batman, especially once they are safe, for disturbing their sense of order, and violating their nice rules for defining their goodness - rules that are less useful for defying the evil of men who, Batman's philosopher-butler Alfred says, "just want to watch the world burn".

And they hate him also as many Europeans hate Bush, for showing that what protects their world are not ultimately the laws they pass, but a violence that intimidates them, because they cannot match it. They hate him as many once hated Ronald Reagan for defying a Soviet Union they feared would fight back. They hate him as Melbourne University's hand-washing Professor Tony Coady, for one, can now afford to hate the men who dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, deploring this war-ending attack as "an act of terrorism far greater than any single act of terrorism since by non-state actors".

This hatred is the burden that Batman accepts - and which The Dark Knight explains better than the comics did. When Batman doubts the good he had done, Alfred urges strength: "Endure, Master, endure. Take it. They'll hate you for it, but that is the point of Batman. He can make the choice that no one else can make - the right choice."

Batman does not need, and cannot get, the soaring opinion polls and flattering media coverage of a hero. He must instead be not only the citizens' saviour, but its scapegoat for its anxiety over what it took to save them. As Commissioner Gordon says, in reluctantly branding Batman an outlaw: "We'll hunt him because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector . . . a dark knight."

Mind you, the same excuses for violence, and for defying the public's will, is used by vigilantes and tyrants. And Nolan is so careful to sugar his pill that some critics, and not only of the Left, have taken his film as an attack on Bush instead. Take's deputy editor, Anne Thompson, who seizes on the scene in which the Joker taunts Batman: "What would I do without you? You complete me . . . To them (the public) you're just a freak. Like me." Concludes Thompson: "The film-making suggests the Joker has, like a Shakespearean fool on PCP, hit on a harsh truth: Batman has more in common with his killer-clown foe than with the normal people he means to protect. So should we conclude The Dark Knight argues that Bush and bin Laden are two sides of the same coin?"

Answer: are you kidding? In fact, the Joker is saying that without Batman's great good to oppose, his great evil would never be realised in its horrific glory. It would be like Hitler being allowed to exterminate nothing more than mosquitoes. Who'd care? What's more, Batman clearly has more in common with the people he tries to protect than does the Joker with people he tries to destroy, or the audience wouldn't be cheering him, and the next film in the series wouldn't be Batman III but The Joker II.

No, the cinema audience understands what the Gotham citizens do not - Batman's dilemma and the awesome imperatives of responsibility. And they are with him, not his critics.

So why don't Americans in particular leave the movie cheering Bush as they cheered Batman? Because in leaving the cinema they stopped being that audience and re-entered their own real Gotham City - with a real Batman they once more feel driven to hate for all the hard things he's had to do to protect them. They have become the citizens of Gotham they were watching just minutes before with contempt. But Bush would understand. As Alfred says: "He's not being a hero. He's being something more."


"Unhealthy" to display the flag of England in England??

A retired teacher says she was banned from waving her Cross of St George flag during a Proms performance on health and safety grounds. A steward told Rosalind Hilton to put the five foot flag away during the Last Night of the Halle Proms event at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall.

She and sister Susan Stanyard were preparing to hoist the flag above their heads for Land and Hope and Glory in the rousing finale, having unfurled the flag over the balcony by her seat. She was later told it could have been a danger to those below. Mrs Hilton, 58, from Chester, said: "Every year I always go with my sister Susan. We make a real deal of it and dress up in red, white and blue. "Every year I take the flag which is quite large. There are English, Scottish and Welsh flags and towards the end, when they play Land of Hope and Glory, everyone stands up and waves them around. It's a fantastic atmosphere. "But in the second half after about five minutes a steward arrived and asked me to take it down. She said: 'You can't have that flag up.'

"When I asked the manager why, he said it was policy in the Bridgewater Hall that you can't have anything hanging from the sides. I told them they were just being kill-joys." Ridiculing the assumption that dangling flags were dangerous, she plumped the furled-up standard on the manager's head and asked him: "Would that really hurt if it fell on your head?"

She said the interruption last Saturday "ruined the whole evening" and commented: "Who wants to get up and sing, 'Britons never, never shall be slaves,' when the health and safety Nazis are making a mockery of our freedom?" Her party was offered eight-inch plastic Union Jacks instead, leading her husband Keith to conclude: "They are trying to suppress us using the English ensign." Mrs Hilton has vowed to get an answer on why her flag was banned: "I have asked them to look in their policy document and send me a photocopy of where it says you can't hang flags."

Popular anthems from the Last Night of the Proms include Thomas Arne's Rule Britannia and Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1.

But such flag-waving patriotism has come under attack before. In March Margaret Hodge, the culture minister, criticised the BBC Proms for not being multicultural enough. She said the BBC Proms, which run from July to September at the Royal Albert Hall, did not do enough to encourage a British sense of "shared identity". She said: "The audiences for many of our greatest cultural events - I'm thinking in particular of the Proms - is still a long way from demonstrating that people from different backgrounds feel at ease in being part of this." Her comments were roundly condemned. Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's position on this is quite clear - he thinks the Proms are a good institution."

Nick Reed, chief executive of the Bridgewater Hall, said: "No-one was refused admission to the concert because of a flag, and flags were in abundance as they always are at proms concerts. "We do not allow large flags to be draped across the balconies in case they fall on patrons below and we take exactly the same approach with coats, bags and other items. "The Halle proms concert was enjoyed by a capacity audience and we received no other comments."


University makes unfounded allegations and then grovels to a racist black woman

Says the inimitable Mike Adams:

Contrary to popular opinion, the case of Keith Sampson at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is not over. An article by the Associated Press seemed to imply that the case was resolved. But, having done some thorough research on the case - more thorough than the AP, I believe - I respectfully dissent. And, today, I am calling for an investigation of university Chancellor Charles Bantz as well as university spokesman Rick Schneider.

Keith Sampson is really a rare kind of student. First of all, he was willing to take a job as a janitor to help pay for his college education. But, even more impressive, he spends his break time reading scholarly books on subjects such as American history. But, when he decided to read a book on race relations - one describing how students at Notre Dame defeated the KKK in the 1920s - all hell broke loose.

A black female co-worker at IUPUI decided to charge Sampson with racial harassment. This matter should not have been hard to resolve since the book, which Sampson checked out from the IUPUI library, was objectively anti-Klan and anti-racist. The only difficult part of the case should have been deciding the fate of Sampson's accuser. Had she intentionally leveled the false claim of racial harassment, she should have been fired. Had it been accidental, she should have been sent to sensitivity training to get over her obvious prejudice against white people.

But, of course, this happened in a university setting, which means that common sense never had a fighting chance. Sampson was told last November that his conduct constituted racial harassment. The affirmative action officer (Lillian Charleston who is now retired) stated "You used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading this book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your black co-workers." Such ignorance is by itself a good argument against affirmative action.

But, fortunately, the ACLU - like the blind squirrel that occasionally finds a nut - found out about Lillian Charleston who is obviously a nut, and more than a little squirrelly. With pressure from the ACLU, Charleston exuded sheer eloquence in later telling Sampson "There is no university policy that prohibits reading (scholarly books) on break time." Too bad she's retired. This woman is obviously brilliant.

But of course this was not good enough. Remember that in November Charleston had said "We conclude that your conduct" - of reading a scholarly book in front of a black woman - "constitutes racial harassment." But after the ACLU got involved in February the university informed Sampson that no disciplinary action would be taken because they were unable to determine whether Sampson's conduct was intended to disrupt the work environment. But, of course, the work environment was disrupted by a hypersensitive black female with a distorted view of the "typical white person" - and what a good thing this bigot isn't running for President of the United States! So, I took the time to call Rick Schneider to ask him about the uncertainty of the university's findings.

Regrettably, Rick Schneider was the most evasive, stammering, and uncertain administrator I've ever spoken to (in the six years I've been investigating university speech codes). For example, I asked him whether the charges leveled against Sampson were objectively false and he could not answer. When I asked him whether he even believed in the existence of objective truth and falsity, he replied "I do not wish to get into a general philosophical discussion with you." I swear I'm not making this stuff up. And I do believe in objective truth. But, finally, I did get a direct answer from Rick Schneider. When I asked whether he was aware any other acts of racial harassment by Sampson he stated unequivocally "No." And this is very important.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Wall Street Journal recently asked someone from media relations at IUPUI the same question. The media relations person replied that Mr. Sampson had engaged in other racially insensitive conduct and that Mr. Sampson was aware that he had. And this is why we need an investigation of Mr. Schneider. If Rick Schneider was not the person who made those statements to The Wall Street Journal it is very good news for him. But, of course, that only means that someone else should be sued for defaming the character of Mr. Sampson whose personnel file is clean and who has never engaged in any racially harassing behavior (despite the university's pathetic attempt to smear him). But the Chancellor must also be investigated in order to explain this statement made in an email sent by Rick Schneider:
"The chancellor has sent letters of apology to Keith Sampson, to the co-worker of Keith Sampson who filed the complaint, and to two co-workers who were interviewed as part of the investigation of the complaint. In these letters, the chancellor said he regrets this situation took place and believes this matter could have and should have been handled differently."
The public has every right to see that letter in order to ascertain the reason why a university president would apologize to an obviously racist black woman who disrupted the IUPUI work environment with an objectively false accusation of racial harassment. Keith Sampson has suffered a good deal of grief although not as much as the lacrosse players at Duke University. But at least Duke's chancellor didn't apologize to the stripper.



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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