Thursday, December 25, 2008

Be very afraid, but not of Santa

IN Santa's grotto at a top London department store, Santa in his big white friendly beard sits on a bench and there is a large X marked on the bench a safe distance away where the child is firmly directed to sit, allowing a wide corridor of clear and unsullied air between the child and the potential kiddie-fiddler from the North Pole, with his red cheeks, strange reindeer and unaccountable affection for children. Santa is not allowed to touch the child. The child is not allowed to touch Santa. Happy Christmas, war is over. This is where we are now.

My three-year-old daughter was taken to see a different Santa recently, a more rural Santa, who had set up base on some farm complex, which at other times of the year sold organic produce. When my daughter stumbled, clambering on to the sleigh, Santa reached out and grabbed hold of her: an instinctive reaction, something we all might do. You don't want to see a child fall, do you? But it was the look on Santa's face when he realised what he'd done that chilled to the marrow: a look, according to my wife, of pure, blind panic and fright. "I'm really, really, sorry for touching her," he mumbled. "I didn't mean to. I thought she might fall." This is where we are now.

A couple of years back, in Cairns, another Santa was sacked from his grotto in a department store for having said "Ho, ho, ho" to the children waiting before him. According to the store, he should have said "Ha, ha, ha" but he was a Bad Santa. "Ho, ho, ho" might be perceived as being derogatory to women, it was strongly argued. A ho is African-American vernacular for a prostitute, or at least a woman of loose morals, so you can't say it any more. Ha, ha, ha. This is where we are now.

The Santa Claus in a department store in Louisville, Kentucky, was sacked because the children kept pointing out that he had extremely large breasts. This is because he was a she, a formidable woman called Marta Brown. But the breasts were not what the kids expected on Santa Claus, not when viewed in tandem with the traditional beard and stuff, so they took the piss. Brown was consequently sacked by the department store; but here's the good news: she is suing the firm for $US67,000 ($98,000) through the state commission on human rights, for injured feelings and sexual discrimination. This is where we are now.

In my lovely old home town of Guisborough, in Cleveland, they used to have Santa on a sleigh riding through the part-cobbled old market high street, dispensing sweets to the kids. Not any more. The insurance monkeys and the health and safety monkeys got together and decided that it would cost about US$30,000 in future to safeguard and insure such an event. So of course it was stopped. This is where we are, etc.

A Santa Claus working at Selfridges department store in London was sacked this year for having invited an elderly woman to sit on his lap. I do not know what the elderly woman was doing in the queue for the grotto but, of course, it is her right to queue up to meet Santa and get a present, just as it is your right and my right, the right of all people of whatever creed, colour, class or age. But you shouldn't have to put up with an outrage such as being invited to sit on Santa's lap, so Santa was sacked. A statement from Selfridges read: "We do not promote or proactively seek lap-sitting." Read that quote again and try to imagine the sort of person who wrote it: "Promote or proactively seek lap-sitting."

In the north of England a boy was not allowed to attend his school's Christmas party because his parents had insisted, ever since he joined the school, that he should not be required to attend lessons in religious education. The school presumably thought they were being scrupulous in abiding by the parents' wishes but apparently not. The boy's mum, Dawn Riddell, was incandescent at the cruelty inflicted on her poor son. Christmas parties, she said, "have got absolutely nothing to do with Jesus". I think that's one of my favourite quotes of this year or any year. And that's where we are now, too.

Those Santa-based examples above, drawn from the liberal, developed, democratic world, do not contain absolutely everything that annoys people about how we are now, but they cover a fair few bases. Utter stupidity and ignorance, an irrational and institutionalised fear of pedophiles, an institutionalised but perfectly rational fear of litigation, vexatious litigation, the triumph of health and safety legislation over everything (allied to a fear of vexatious litigation), the notion of equal rights taken to absurd conclusions, the ability of an individual to become enraged when an imagined right has been infracted, corporate and local council obeisance to a politically correct agenda with which no sane person would concur, and so on.

I don't know why the Left is quite so defensive about this stuff, only that it feels it has to be, to its public detriment. There is no ideological left-wing reason why we should assume that all men over the age of 30 are potential pedophiles, for example, unless it is a hangover from the old feminist notion that all men over the age of 30 (or indeed younger) are potential rapists. The problem, of course, is that while the Right has won most of the foreign policy and economic arguments these past 25 years, the Left has absolute hegemony in social services, council departments (regardless of which party they are run by) and the education system, so if the Left worries about this stuff, we all feel the consequences.

But it is our fear of pedophilia, or fear of litigation provoked by the intimation of pedophilia (which is, when it comes down to it, much the same thing), that is the most corrosive and damaging. One of the most telling and important political contributions of 2008 came from an old semi-reformed radical Marxist, Frank Furedi, now a professor of sociology, who delivered an attack on the strange and ambivalent manner in which we view children these days. "We cannot organise the world around the default position that we are all pedophiles," Furedi lamented in a magazine interview. He talked, too, about the other side of the coin, the control children seem to have over parents these days. Furedi called it "reverse socialisation", the kids being told to tell their parents to eat healthier food, or recycle their rubbish properly, or not to smoke in the home. And much of it can be dragged back to what Furedi called the pre-political authority of parents disciplining, or failing to discipline, their kids. They do not have an idea any more of right or wrong, he suggested.

Well, indeed; but whose fault is that? Place it alongside all the stuff I mentioned above and it would seem to be the logical consequence of an agenda driven by the liberal middle-class Left over the past 30 years, in which the common denominator is the yearning for an artificial world that is entirely risk-free. Certainly there must be no risk to life or limb, even if that risk is vanishingly small. No risk, either, that anyone could possibly be offended by anything, no matter how barking mad you would have to be to take offence. No risk that anyone's sensibilities (religious or otherwise) might be offended, no matter how thin their skins may have become over the years. It is an aspiration towards a pretend world, a confection every bit as make-believe as Santa's grotto. Still, have a good Christmas now. And remember: it's got absolutely nothing to do with Jesus.


False rape accuser who wasted 7,000 police hours and cost British taxpayers $600,000 is finally jailed

This doesn't happen, of course. Ask any feminist

A 'dangerous fantasist' who wasted 316,000 pounds of public money by falsely claiming to have been raped, kidnapped and blackmailed was jailed for four years yesterday. Police spent 7,000 hours investigating bizarre allegations made over six months in 2006 by Michaela Britton, a court heard. She tied herself up and slashed herself with a blade to make her stories seem more credible and arranged for her car to be shot at. Her 'whopping lies' included claiming she was being blackmailed for 10,000 pounds over a pornographic video stolen from her home which was made with an ex-boyfriend said to be a Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist officer.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that police wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds investigating her complaints. Britton, a senior loss adjuster, also claimed her line manager at Churchill Insurance in Romford put a gun to her head after she spurned his advances. Eventually, detectives became suspicious of Britton and began tracking her movements by installing CCTV outside her partner, Mick Murray's, house in Chelmsford, Essex, where she often visited.

The 40-year-old mother of one, from Chelmsford, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Judge David Turner told her at Chelmsford Crown Court: 'You are a dangerous fantasist. 'Your conduct has been pathological and profoundly and protractedly wasteful of police resources.'

It is alleged that throughout the allegations, Britton had the help of a former partner, Paul Hendle. Ramiz Gursoy, prosecuting, said she was motivated by financial gain after falsely putting in an insurance claim for about 40,000 pounds following a burglary. The court heard how Britton had a previous conviction from 1990 for obtaining property by deception when 61 offences were taken into account.


British Police banned from climbing a 3ft ladder without training

Police officers have been forced to attend a health and safety seminar to learn how to climb a ladder. The officers had been installing roadside electronic speed indicators for months, using a 3ft ladder, without injury or incident. But when health and safety officials learnt of the scheme they ordered the special training. Officers were then banned from moving the signs between locations until they had completed the course. Around 45 officers and more than 80 civilian volunteers have now had the training, organised by the police, Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Fire and Rescue.

Last night MPs reacted with disbelief, saying the scheme was a waste of taxpayer money and police time. Ben Wallace MP, for Lancaster and Wyre, said: 'It's another example of the tail wagging the dog, of bureaucracy gone mad. It beggars belief that bureaucracy stands in the way of common sense, even when it concerns our police force.' A senior police officer said: 'It is a preposterous waste of police time and taxpayers' money and it is time the health and safety Gestapo had their wings clipped so that people can go about their jobs using their own common sense.'

As part of the seminar, police officers and civilian workers were warned they must wear high-visibility jackets and leggings and cone off the area when installing signs in bad weather just in case pedestrians bump into their ladder. The signs, which are erected as part of a road safety initiative, flash a smiley face if the driver is within the speed limit, and a sad one if they are breaking it.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: 'It would appear that, although working at less than one metre above ground level, staff should have been on a ladder training course. 'It is fair to say that risks associated with deployment of a Spid (speed indicator) sign have not changed, but the risks associated with working at height were not fully appreciated initially.' Lancashire police said proper training courses had also been introduced because some of the signs had not been mounted correctly and could not detect all oncoming traffic. Local authorities say the course does not cost anything, apart from staff time. Nine seminars have been held so far.


Pope denounces 'gender theory'

Sad that it needs the Holy Father to tell us that men and women are different

Pope Benedict XVI has denounced gender theory, warning that it blurs the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to the "self-destruction" of the human race. When the Roman Catholic Church defends God's Creation, "it does not only defend the earth, water and the air ... but (it) also protects man from his own destruction'', the Pope said in his end-of-year speech to the Vatican hierarchy today.

Gender theory, which originated in the United States, explores sexual orientation, the roles assigned by society to individuals according to their gender and how people perceive their biological identity. The Catholic Church has repeatedly spoken out against gender theory, which gay and transgender advocacy groups promote as a key to understanding and tolerance.

"If tropical forests deserve our protection, humankind ... deserves it no less,'' the 81-year-old pontiff said, calling for "an ecology of the human being''. It is not "outmoded metaphysics'' to urge respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman'', he told scores of prelates gathered in the Vatican's sumptuous Clementine Hall.



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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