Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The battle over eminent domain is a civil rights issue

Few policies have done more to destroy community and opportunity for minorities than eminent domain. Some 3 to 4 million Americans, most of them ethnic minorities, have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of urban renewal takings since World War II.

The fact is that eminent-domain abuse is a crucial constitutional rights issue. On Tuesday, the Alabama Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public forum at Birmingham's historic Sixteenth Street Baptist church to address ongoing property seizures in the state. The church was not only a center of early civil rights action, but also, tragically, where four schoolgirls lost their lives in a bombing in 1963.

Current eminent domain horror stories in the South and elsewhere are not hard to find. At this writing, for example, the city of Clarksville, Tenn., is giving itself authority to seize more than 1,000 homes, businesses and churches and then resell much of the land to developers. Many who reside there are black, live on fixed incomes, and own well-maintained Victorian homes.

Eminent domain has always had an outsized impact on the constitutional rights of minorities, but most of the public didn't notice until the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 ruling in Kelo v. City of New London. In Kelo, the Court endorsed the power of a local government to forcibly transfer private property to commercial interests for the purpose of "economic development."

The Fifth Amendment requires that such seizures be for a "public use," but that requirement can be satisfied, the Court ruled, by virtually any claim of some sort of public benefit. Many charge that Kelo gives governments a blank check to redistribute land from the poor and middle class to the wealthy.

Few protested the Kelo ruling more ardently than the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In an amicus brief filed in the case, it argued that "[t]he burden of eminent domain has and will continue to fall disproportionately upon racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and economically disadvantaged." Unfettered eminent domain authority, the NAACP concluded, is a "license for government to coerce individuals on behalf of society's strongest interests."

Some earlier civil rights champions, by contrast, often ignored, or worse helped to undermine, the rights of property owners. Ironically, the same U.S. Supreme Court which handed down Brown v. Board in 1954 also issued Berman v. Parker, in which the Court allowed the District of Columbia to forcibly expel some 5,000 low-income African-Americans from their homes in order to facilitate "urban renewal." It was Berman that enabled the massive urban renewal condemnations of later decades, which many critics dubbed "Negro removal" because they too tended to target African-Americans.

Four years ago, the city of Alabaster, Ala., used "blight" as a pretext to take 400 acres of rural property, much of it owned by low-income black people, for a new Wal-Mart. Many of the residents had lived there for generations, and two other Wal-Mart stores were located less than fifteen miles away. Several of the landowners, particularly those who lacked political clout and legal aid, ended up selling out at a discount.

In the three years since Kelo, 42 states, including Alabama, have enacted new laws limiting eminent domain power, but many of the new laws contain loopholes that make them easy to circumvent. Some 19 states have forbidden takings for "economic development" but continue to permit the exact same kinds of condemnations under the guise of alleviating "blight" a concept defined so broadly that virtually any property the government covets can be declared "blighted." If takings end up becoming a key constitutional rights issue for minorities in the 21st century, it will be fitting that the crusade against them begins in Alabama, where their victims have suffered most greatly. And there are few better places to kick off the debate than the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where the modern civil rights movement was born.


Please send more complaints

Otherwise how will Canada's taxpayer-funded hate police manage to keep their cozy sinecure?


Last week's letters page included a missive from Jennifer Lynch, Q.C., chief commissioner of the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission, defending her employees from the accusation of "improper investigative techniques" by yours truly. Steyn, she writes, "provides no substantiation for these claims," and then concludes:
"Why is this all important? Because words are important. Steyn would have us believe that words, however hateful, should be given free rein. History has shown us that hateful words sometimes lead to hurtful actions that undermine freedom and have led to unspeakable crimes. That is why Canada and most other democracies have enacted legislation to place reasonable limits on the expression of hatred."
Hmm. "History has shown us that hateful words sometimes lead to hurtful actions that undermine freedom and have led to unspeakable crimes." Commissar Lynch provides, as she would say, "no substantiation for these claims." But then she's a "hate speech" prosecutor and, as we know, Canada's "human rights" procedures aren't subject to tiresome requirements like evidence. So she's made an argument from authority: the great Queen's Counsel has risen from her throne in the Star Chamber and pronounced, and let that suffice. Those of us who occupy less exalted positions in the realm might wish to ponder the evidence for her assertions.

It's true that "hurtful actions that undermine freedom" and lead to "unspeakable crimes" usually have some fig leaf of intellectual justification. For example, the ideology first articulated by Karl Marx has led to the deaths of millions of people around the planet on an unprecedented scale. Yet oddly enough, no matter how many folks are murdered in the name of Marxism-Leninism, you're still free to propound its principles at every college in Canada.

Ah, but that's the Good Totalitarianism. What about the Bad Totalitarianism? You know, the one everybody disapproves of: Nazism. Isn't it obvious that in the case of Adolf Hitler, "hateful words" led to "unspeakable crimes"? This argument is offered routinely: if only there'd been "reasonable limits on the expression of hatred" 70 years ago, the Holocaust might have been prevented. There's just one teensy-weensy problem with it: pre-Nazi Germany had such "reasonable limits." Indeed, the Weimar Republic was a veritable proto-Trudeaupia. As Alan Borovoy, Canada's leading civil libertarian, put it:
"Remarkably, pre-Hitler Germany had laws very much like the Canadian anti-hate law. Moreover, those laws were enforced with some vigour. During the 15 years before Hitler came to power, there were more than 200 prosecutions based on anti-Semitic speech. And, in the opinion of the leading Jewish organization of that era, no more than 10 per cent of the cases were mishandled by the authorities. As subsequent history so painfully testifies, this type of legislation proved ineffectual on the one occasion when there was a real argument for it."
Inevitably, the Nazi party exploited the restrictions on "free speech" in order to boost its appeal. In 1925, the state of Bavaria issued an order banning Adolf Hitler from making any public speeches. The Nazis responded by distributing a drawing of their leader with his mouth gagged and the caption, "Of 2,000 million people in the world, one alone is forbidden to speak in Germany."

The idea that "hate speech" led to the Holocaust is seductive because it's easy: if only we ban hateful speech, then there will be no hateful acts. But, as professor Anuj C. Desai of the University of Wisconsin Law School points out, "Biased speech has been around since history began. As a logical matter, then, it is no more helpful to say that anti-Semitic speech caused the Holocaust than to say organized government caused it, or, for that matter, to say that oxygen caused it. All were necessary ingredients, but all have been present in every historical epoch in every country in the world."

Just so. Indeed, the principal ingredient unique to the pre-Hitler era was the introduction of Jennifer Lynch-type hate-speech laws that supposedly protect vulnerable minorities from "unspeakable acts." You might as well argue that Weimar's "reasonable limits" on free speech led to the Holocaust: after all, while anti-Semitism is "the oldest hatred," it didn't turn genocidal until the "reasonable limits" proponents of the day introduced group-defamation laws to Germany. 'Tween-wars Europe was awash in prototype hate-crimes legislation. For example, the Versailles Conference required the new postwar states to sign on to the 1919 Minorities Protection Treaty, with its solemn guarantees of non-discrimination. I'm sure Canada's many Jews of Mitteleuropean origin will be happy to testify to what a splendid job that far-sighted legislation did.

More here

Hatred of Technology

But it's all theory. Who cares about silly old facts?

Susan Greenfield's lower lip pouts as if to blow a raspberry. Then, in soothsaying mode, the solemn utterance: "The global cyber world promises a more reassuring, safer option than the messy world of in-your-face three-dimensional life. But the IT technologies are already blurring the cyber world and reality." The hooded eyes readjust from Delphic oracle to larky chick as she flashes a face-splitting grin. "There are people," she chortles, "who can't believe, eh! that the planes crashing into the twin towers were actually real, eh!" The punctuating "eh!" prompts you to agree.

Professor Greenfield, promoter extraordinaire of science, has written a book that makes routine auguries - global warming, economic downturns - look like mere gloomy hand-wringing. A specialist in brain degeneration, Greenfield is predicting that our teen generation is headed for a sort of mass loss of personal identity. She calls it the Nobody Scenario. By spending inordinate quantities of time in the interactive, virtual, two-dimensional, cyberspace realms of the screen, she believes that the brains of the youth of today are headed for a drastic alteration. It's as if all that young grey cortical matter is being scalded and defoliated by a kind of cognitive Agent Orange, depriving them of moral agency, imagination and awareness of consequences.

"They are destined to lose an awareness of who and what they are: not someones, or anyones, but nobodies, eh!" That expressive mouth widens again, the lower lip ripens. "The time is well nigh," she says, "to explore the impact of these technologies." ....

Greenfield has elaborated a theory about the influence of IT on young brains. Given the time young people spend gazing into screens, small and large - reckoned to be from six to nine hours daily - she believes the minds of the younger generation are developing differently from those of previous generations. "The brain," she says, "has plasticity: it is exquisitely malleable, and a significant alteration in our environment and behaviour has consequences."

She sets out a catalogue of repercussions: the substitution of virtual experience for real encounters; the impact of spoon-fed menu options as opposed to free-ranging inquiry; a decline in linguistic and visual imagination; an atrophy of creativity; contracted, brutalised text-messaging, lacking the verbs and conditional structures essential for complex thinking. Her principal concern is how computer games could be emphasising what she calls "process" over "content" - method over meaning - in mental activity.

Her theory goes like this. The more we play games, the less time there is for learning specific facts and working out how those facts relate to each other. This can result, she maintains, in a failure to build highly personalised individual conceptual frameworks - the whole point of education and the basis of individual identity. If the purpose of a game, for instance, is to free the princess from the tower, it is the thrill of attaining the goal, the process, that counts. What does not count is the content - the personality of the princess and the narrative as to why and how she is there, as in a storybook. Greenfield avers that emphasis on process in isolation becomes addictive and profoundly mind-changing.

Here is her hypothesis. A natural brain chemical called dopamine is involved in all forms of addiction. Dopamine contributes to feelings of wellbeing on attaining a goal, especially when gratification repeatedly deferred is finally delivered. Falling levels of dopamine accompany the opposite situations, when gratification has been frustrated (for example, waiting for a phone call that never comes).

The area of the brain crucial to the dopamine hits is called the nucleus accumbens, which is associated with the prefrontal cortex, an area at the front of the brain. An under-functioning prefrontal cortex is linked with types of behaviour marked by total absorption in the here and now, and an inability to consider past and future implications. According to Greenfield, excessive dopamine can reduce the activity of brain cells in the prefrontal cortex, leading to its partial shutdown. She is speculating that the intense subjective "here and now" feeling, prompted and accompanied by dopamine "rewards" in computer play, creates a euphoric, self-centred ego boost, the pleasure of which can lead to craving and addiction.

What lasting effect does this repeated neglect in the prefrontal cortex have on the brain, and hence the mind? "Excessive dopamine hits might reduce activation in the prefrontal cortex, and in so doing tip the balance away from awareness of the significance, the meaning, of our actions," she says. So playing games in which I slaughter scores of all-comers with my trusty sword, as in the Tarantino movie Kill Bill, deals not with the significance of beheading and disembowelling of hordes of Japanese villains, but with the process - the action separated from meaning and consequences. "When those teenagers kicked that goth girl to death in the park recently," she says, "was it like a computer game for them? The buzz of the moment? Were they thinking of her as a person with feelings, with parents and siblings? Were they thinking of the implications for themselves the next day?"

For the mind to operate fully, Greenfield asserts, the prefrontal cortex must be active, and content must be a high priority. The world and oneself are then redolent with meaning. How do the young attain unique and enriched identities? "Through the world of focused conversation, nursery rhyme repetition, recitation and rote learning, of reading and writing interspersed with bouts of physical activity in the real world, where there are first-hand and unique adventures to provide a personal narrative, personalised neuronal connections. This is education as we have known it."

And what if "education as we have known it" fails? It will lead, she predicts, to the ultimate triumph of process over content: the Nobody Scenario. "For the first time in human history, individuality could be obliterated in favour of a passive state, reacting to a flood of incoming sensations - a `yuck' and `wow' mentality characterised by a premium on momentary experience as the landscape of the brain shifts into one where personalised brain connectivity is either not functional or absent altogether." .....

Greenfield tells me that she has friends who have faith and she quizzes them endlessly - Ed Stourton, the broadcaster, Jack Valero, Opus Dei's spokesperson in Britain, and a neighbour whose faith is helping him and his family overcome a serious illness. She pauses outside New College. This is the college of Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and professional antagonist of religion.

That Delphic lower lip is active again. "I'm not at all saying that all religious believers are fundamentalists; but what distinguishes the believing brain of the extreme kind - I mean the fundamentalist and the totalitarian - from the non-fundamentalist brains," she ventures, "is the emotion of disgust, eh. "The anti-Semitic imagery of the Nazis was associated with a virus, a stealthy and elusive infection [What complete and utter nonsense! The Nazis just applied German thoroughness to a belief that had been normal in Europe for centuries]. So combating such a difficult enemy in the struggle for community hygiene isn't just a punch-for-punch slugging it out. The enemy is a sickness. You've got to be on constant guard. You don't just get angry with disease - you destroy it, exterminate it." She nods towards New College. "The invisible viral foe could invade your body and, most importantly, your brain. That's the language used by Dawkins, who's developed non-belief into a belief system all of its own, and who constantly refers to religion as a virus." ....

For people in midlife, she asserts, the identity problem is affluence. "The reason we crave more clothes, cars, goods, brands, is that they'll say something about us, symbolise our distinct, preferably superior identity." [Typical Leftist boilerplate]


A Leftist to be missed

By Mark Steyn

The Australian columnist Pamela Bone died of cancer this weekend. She was a feminist, an atheist and most of the other -ists you might expect from a western woman of her general disposition (she was a recipient, among many other awards, of something called the "UN media peace prize").

But in her final years she came to see that the Islamization of the west represented a profound challenge to everything she believed in. It began fairly tentatively. She seems almost to be thinking aloud in this piece for the Melbourne Age on the British subjects born and bred who self-detonated on the London Tube:

In Melbourne the day after September 11, Muslim students at a state high school danced on the desks with glee. What are these young people being taught by their decent and law-abiding parents? Literature being sold at a store attached to a Brunswick mosque tells Muslims they should "hate and take as enemies" Jews, Christians, atheists and secularists, and that they should "learn to hate in order to properly love Allah". How many Muslims complain when they see this kind of hate literature? Did the large Sydney audience complain when Sheikh Feiz Muhammad charged recently that because of the way they dressed, women had only themselves to blame if they were raped? No, they applauded him.
The column ends as follows:
Perhaps it is time to say, it's been wonderful, but a few things need to be made clear. Perhaps it is time to say, you are welcome, but this is the way it is here.
"This is the way it is": That kind of talk is anathema to the multiculti elites in Oz, Canada, America, Britain and Europe. But Ms Bone saw no good in tolerant multiculturalists colluding with the avowedly unicultural and intolerant. She was especially tough on the two-tier sisterhood:
LET it be recorded that in the last decade of the 20th century the brave and great movement of Western feminism ended, not with a bang but with a whimper... I don't hold much hope on this International Women's Day of seeing big protests in Australian cities against female genital mutilation; or against honour killings, stonings, child marriages, forced seclusion or any of the other persecutions to which women are still subjected. The fire of Western feminism has quietly died away, first as a victim of its success, lately as a victim of cultural relativism, of anti-Americanism and reluctance to be seen to be condemning the enemies of the enemy.
She summed up the strange alliance between western progressives and a theocratic tyranny that stones women and executes homosexuals in this piece:
Why, in short, have Left and Right changed places?
I didn't agree with Pamela Bone on most things, even at the end. But she understood in a way that too few of the left do that her culture and her civilization need defending and that the relativist mush of the age (not to mention The Age) is insufficient to the task. I shall miss her, and I wish there were more like her.



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.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

British Muslim 'bullied' for converting to Christianity

British police no help, of course. Muslims are a protected class

A British citizen who converted to Christianity from Islam and then complained to police when locals threatened to burn his house down was told by officers to "stop being a crusader", according to a new report.

Nissar Hussein, 43, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, who was born and raised in Britain, converted from Islam to Christianity with his wife, Qubra, in 1996. The report says that he was subjected to a number of attacks and, after being told that his house would be burnt down if he did not repent and return to Islam, reported the threat to the police. It says he was told that such threats were rarely carried out and the police officer told him to "stop being a crusader and move to another place". A few days later the unoccupied house next door was set on fire.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a British human rights organisation whose president is the former Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, is calling on the UN and the international community to take action against nations and communities that punish apostasy.

Its report, No Place to Call Home, claims that apostates from Islam are subject to "gross and wideranging human rights abuses". It adds that in countries such as Britain, with large Muslim populations in a Westernised culture, the demand to maintain a Muslim identity is intense. "When identities are precarious, their enforcement will take an aggressive form."


British bureaucratic tyranny tightens

Post below recycled from Prof. Brignell. See the original for links

To get the following into context it is important to remember that it refers to a time when violent crime is worse than ever. Children are shooting and stabbing each other in the streets and burglaries, theft and shoplifting are carried out with impunity in the almost total absence of police on the streets. We are governed not by elected representatives, but by officials.

In the Democratic Socialist Republic of Hull a mother was fined o75 for dropping a piece of sausage roll when feeding her toddler. It was immediately gobble up by pigeons.

Draconian laws that were forced through Parliament as being absolutely necessary to track criminals and terrorists have been used for a variety of quite different purposes. A couple and their three children were put under surveillance without their knowledge by Poole Borough Council for more than two weeks. Their crime (of which they were innocent) was to be suspected of the grievous middle class sin of trying to do their best for the children in defiance of rules of socialist equality.

The common characteristic of these tawdry tales is the employment of enormous numbers of people at the taxpayers' expense, a non-productive army who are dragging down the already precarious economy. They have no connection with police or judiciary, yet are empowered to act as judge and jury in the imposition of fines on a scale that is out of all proportion to those imposed for what were once real crimes.

For this is Envirocrime, Orwellian Newspeak for a whole new raft of offences, mostly inspired by EU directives (but don't let the public know that, because our leaders like to maintain the pretence that they are still in charge) which have given rise to an era of surveillance and oppression that realises Orwell's nightmare. This leads us to:

A father of four in Cumbria now has a criminal record. His crime is to overfill his refuse bin so that the lid was ajar by all of four inches. The prosecution claim that this was in fact seven inches (clearly a hanging offence). Perhaps his offence would have been mitigated if it were for ten centimetres.

Here in West Wiltshire we received a full colour leaflet with the mind-numbing headline Exciting developments in recycling. One of the pleasures of moving here had been to find that the binmen were so helpful; nothing was too much trouble. Then recently, they were accompanied by a man with a clipboard, clearly teaching them how to be intractable. We are not only to have two different bins, but we are provided with plastic crates for recyclables. How is anyone who walks with a stick supposed to carry a crate? A separate large refuse vehicle, fully manned and spouting dreaded pollution, collects cardboard only. One poor old lady was seen this week struggling down to the community recycling bins with a large plastic bag in one hand, because she could not carry a crate through her house. In some areas people who leave for work before 7 am are faced with fines for putting out their rubbish too early.

Elderly people live in fear of breaking complicated rules that they do not understand and do not seem to make any sense. They do not realise that the whole purpose is to force them into ritualistic behaviour for reasons of religion. Madness, or what?

Women must be protected from Islamic brutality

A report that publicises the plight of Saudi women

THE first and second time her husband shot her, the distressed woman in her 30s rejected advice to file a complaint. To do so, she explained, would require the presence of her obligatory male guardian, who happened to be...her husband. Without him, her testimony would not be legally valid. Besides, the all-male police might accuse her of "mixing" with the opposite sex, a crime in the eyes of most Saudi judges. The third time her husband shot her, she died.

This tale, told by a Saudi social worker in a new report on women's rights in the kingdom, is particularly harrowing. Yet it dramatises the more mundane plight of millions of Saudi women who are unable by law to study, work, travel, marry, testify in court, legalise a contract or undergo medical treatment without the assent of a close male relative, be he a father, husband or, less commonly, a grandfather, brother or son.

That Saudi women are banned from driving is well-known. But it is the imposition of male guardianship over adult women, affirms the detailed report by Human Rights Watch, a New York-based monitoring group, that is the biggest obstacle to female advancement. As the report points out, half the kingdom's citizens are treated in effect like children or the mentally ill for the duration of their lives. Worse, the guardianship policy creates a paradox: women may be held legally responsible for a crime, even though they are not deemed to have full legal capacity.

Oddly enough, there appear to be no written statutes mandating male guardianship for women. In the religiously conservative kingdom, where Muslim sharia law is held to override all other rules, the practice stems instead from extremist Wahhabi interpretations of Muslim scripture, particularly from a Koranic passage that describes men as the "protectors and keepers of women". Sadly for Saudi women, the all-male Saudi judiciary is made up entirely of Wahhabi extremists.

Despite having signed various international charters for women's rights, the Saudi government has done little either to modify the system or to enforce the minor reforms it has sponsored. Theoretically, for instance, women above the age of 45 no longer need a male guardian's permission to travel, yet airport officials routinely demand it anyway. A judge may, in theory, release a woman from the guardianship of an abusive parent or spouse, but only 1-2% of such appeals succeed, says a lawyer in the report. More than half of university students are women, yet they make up a tiny fraction of the workforce. This year will see the first-ever crop of female law graduates, but the justice ministry is unlikely to license any to practise, and judges are even less likely to allow them in their courtrooms.

Liberal-minded Saudis have long criticised such foibles, comparing the kingdom unfavourably to Muslim and Arab neighbours where women are far less restricted. Even those Saudis who uphold their traditions as defending female "honour" may take note of another woman's testimony to Human Rights Watch. A mother tells her daughter why she remarried: "I sold my body so that my paperwork can get taken care of. It tarnished my reputation and dignity, but our affairs are getting resolved."

Optimists say the mere fact that the Saudi authorities let Human Rights Watch compile its report in situ is progress; four years ago the idea would have been damned as foreign interference. Last month, senior representatives from eight ministries met people from the rights group in Saudi Arabia and politely discussed the report ahead of publication, insisting that they could all "work together". The Saudis' officially sanctioned National Human Rights Commission, set up four years ago, privately agreed with many of the recommendations, predicting, among other things, that women would be allowed to drive cars "in the near future"-but such hopeful assurances have been given before. And, though one newspaper, the relatively liberal al-Watan, has aired parts of the report, the Saudi media have generally ignored it.



Given the often-appalling outcome of the recently enacted British bill of rights, one would hope not but many starry-eyed Leftists are pushing for it amid hope that our new Centre-Left government can be led down that path. Below are two counterblasts to the idea -- one from a conservative commenter and one from a centre-Left commenter. That they say largely the same thing is rather encouraging

Beware the galloping imperialist judiciary

By Janet Albrechtsen

Do not mistake the unseasonal rush of warmth over the weekend with global warming. Put it down to those advocating a charter of rights for Australia at the 2020 Summit in the nation's capital. Their aim is to bathe us in the warm language of human rights so that, ultimately, we will soporifically sign up to a new federal charter of rights.

The heat will be cranked up over the next few years. Having found a good friend in the Rudd Labor Government, and buoyed by success in Victoria and the ACT where charters already operate, charter enthusiasts have finessed one heck of a sneaky strategy to seduce us. What is at stake is Australia's traditional democratic deal where parliaments make laws on behalf of the people and judges interpret those laws. Charter enthusiasts have a different post-democratic model in mind. This class of lawyers, human rights activists and academics distrust the people as too unenlightened to embrace their preferred social agenda. Hence they want to vest power to decide major social issues in an unelected group of guardians of the greater good: the judiciary.

Armed with a charter, these social engineers can seek out a sympathetic judge to legislate their agenda from the bench, unfettered by the messy business of taking their agenda to the people. Here is their strategy. First, promise public consultation, as Kevin Rudd has done. If genuine debate follows, that will be a fine thing.

Unfortunately, as we know from Victoria and the ACT, the so-called independent committees entrusted to consult with the people were stacked with so many charter supporters, they operated like one-way steering committees. Neither Victoria nor the ACT trusted the people's view enough to put the charter to a referendum.

And keep your eye on academic and Labor aspirant George Williams. Having slogged away at a charter for years, he oversaw Victoria's charter of rights. Ditto Hilary Charlesworth, another charter lover who chaired the ACT committee. If they pop up on the federal committee, I'll bet my house on the outcome. Talk that Malcolm Fraser may join them only confirms the one-way debate in store for us.

That "debate" goes something like this. "How can a reasonable person be against a charter of human rights?" they ask rhetorically. Human rights are not controversial, right? Wrong. A moment's reflection reveals that rights are as diverse as people themselves. And this exposes one of the greatest con jobs practised on us by the modern human rights industry: the assertion that human rights are universal, clear and immutable. Even that most basic right - the right to life - is highly contestable. Defining what is a right and the ambit of those rights is where reasonable people can and do disagree.

The charter raises one simple question: when deciding these contestable issues, should we count the votes of the Australian people or those of a handful of judges? It's a no-brainer. These are political questions for the people to determine. Sending political questions to the judiciary does not transform them into legal questions.

Relax, say the charter advocates. A charter of rights is a tame little law, a modest one which will not transfer power from the people. Just look at Britain, they say. Britain has a special provision in its Human Rights Act to ensure parliament is not stripped of power: that there is simply a "dialogue" between the judiciary and parliament. Courts in Britain can only issue a declaration of incompatibility, telling government that a law offends their Human Rights Act. On paper, that's right. Governments can ignore the courts. However, the political reality is different.

Only a brave government will ignore a declaration of inconsistency from a court. And as NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said a few weeks back, the only meaningful dialogue for parliament should be with the people, not judges.

By all means take a close look at Britain. In Britain, after enacting the Human Rights Act to much fanfare, former PM Tony Blair changed his tune, promising a battle with the judiciary when British courts put out the welcome mat to radical Muslims, using charter rights to ignore British immigration laws. More recently, present PM Gordon Brown canvassed the need for amendments to the HRA to include responsibilities because the rights fetish was taking Britain in the wrong direction.

Not to worry, say the charter supporters. Look to Canada, they say, where a special provision in their Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows governments to specifically exclude charter rights from a specific law if that is their intention. In other words, the power of parliament is preserved. Look a little closer at Canada, I say. This clause has never been used, not once since the charter was introduced more than 20 years ago. Yet, this clause was the clincher when the charter was being proposed to Canadians. Charter advocates in Canada said it would protect parliamentary sovereignty.

Sound familiar? In fact, it has been politically untouchable for a government to draft legislation which apparently infringes the "rights" of Canadians in the charter. Williams knows that. He has written about it. And why do you suppose most Canadians now express a desire to elect their judges? The Canadian charter has siphoned power away from the people to unelected judges. Nothing modest about it.

These are not obtuse legal wrangles. They go to the heart of how Australia will be governed: by the people or by judges. The real stealth bomb in a charter of rights is the interpretation clause. Hang in there if it all sounds a bit dry. Charter advocates will hope you start tuning out right about now. Section 3 of the British Human Rights Act - more or less repeated in the Victorian Charter - says that "So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights." This is an open invitation to judges to ignore even the clearest of parliament's intent. The House of Lords has said so, describing this innocuous little "reading down" provision as "dangerously seductive", and "unusual and far-reaching in character".

Charter devotees are all in favour of a galloping imperial judiciary; it is integral to their postmodern democratic model where power is stripped from politicians they regard as too stupid and too slow to mould the perfect world. Done under the guise of protecting human rights, this power play where the lawyer class triumphs over the masses is just the most recent reminder of H.L. Mencken's warning that the "urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule". Remember that when the charter bandwagon comes to a town near you.


Lawyers are already drunk with power

By Bob Carr (A former Labor party Premier of NSW -- pic below)

Call it the first swallow of summer. Last week I met a lawyer who said while she opposed a charter of rights, all the barristers on her floor supported it, and for the obvious reason: the intoxicating whiff of litigation. A bill of rights, or a charter, will lay out abstractions like the right to life, or privacy, or property, and thus enable judges to determine - after deliciously drawn-out litigation - what these mean.

A shift in power from elected parliaments to unelected judges, by a process of "judicial creep", is part of the bill of rights package. Canada has had its Charter of Rights and Freedoms since 1982, planted in the constitution. Before that there was only a legislative version. Clearly this is something the zealots want to see happen here: the first step only a law, but followed by constitutional entrenchment.

Like Australia, Canada also has a shortage of doctors in rural areas. British Columbia came up with a scheme to encourage doctors to practise there, with a finely tuned system of incentives. The provincial Supreme Court struck it down, citing section 6 ("mobility rights") and section 7 (the "right to life, liberty and security") of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada's rural population is still under-served by doctors, thanks to judges who want to write society's rules.

That's the trouble. A menu of abstractions - that is, any attempt to list rights - wrenches from the cabinet table and the legislature and delivers to the courtroom things that ought to be determined by governments. Thus, in the most recent burst of judicial activism, judges in Britain have determined that the justice secretary can no longer block a parole board decision to release a dangerous prisoner. Judges also determined that failed asylum-seekers in Britain could have access to the National Health Scheme, again something that should be a matter for elected politicians.

In Scotland, because of a delay in placing toilets in prison cells, the Scottish Law Reporter estimates that prisoners may be entitled to awards totalling pound stg. 76 million ($158.7 million) because their cells violated the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Government had been caught up with another priority, expanding drug rehabilitation programs for inmates. Last year, pound stg. 750,000 was paid to 197 heroin-addicted prisoners who successfully argued that cutting short their treatment while in prison breached their human rights.

But there's another phenomenon that perverts proper process: police and bureaucrats in Britain anticipate getting overruled on human rights grounds and start to shape their responses. Pity the factory owner who, this month, had to pay pound stg. 20,000 to bailiffs to remove 40 Gypsies who had torn down a 2.4m fence and occupied his factory land. The police refused to act so as not to breach the travellers' human rights.

A friend of mine who sits in the House of Commons says when his constituents talk about loutish behaviour in the streets or around housing estates, they say: "I suppose the police can't do anything about it because of their human rights." Thus creeping judicial activism around a charter of abstractions renders negative a concept that should sit nobly and proudly in the lexicon.

When Kevin Rudd looks at the 2020 Summit's endorsement of a bill or charter, he'll be politically astute enough to know a move to enact a charter or bill in any form would meet the same commonsense opposition that doomed it in 1988, when Australians voted it down 69 per cent to 31per cent.

Consider the objectors. Business knows it just represents another layer of uncertainty; what judges will do with "a right to property" is anyone's guess. Churches are becoming aware their immunity from anti-discrimination laws - a justified immunity - will end with a charter or a bill of rights. Church leaders can democratically lobby parliaments and cabinets, but not non-elected, tenured judges. The most obvious effect of a charter is to add opportunities to defence lawyers in criminal matters.

I look forward to advising victims of crime groups of the consequences of a bill or charter. The power of police to stop and search people for a knife, and remove the knife, which we enacted in NSW in 1998, would not survive judicial activism based on freewheeling interpretations. And the decisive life sentences imposed on the state's worst killers (who were originally given indeterminate "never to be released" sentences) would also be found to contravene prisoners' rights, as in Britain.

Perhaps, as former justice minister Michael Tate seemed to foreshadow in The Australian last week, we will see a proposal for a list of rights to be overseen by a parliamentary committee, not by judges. A big retreat, but it will still be objectionable. I and others will take issue with any attempt by a group of zealots to arrogate to themselves the power to define, codify and nail down their definition at this time of what they think ought to be our rights. Talk about elitism.

Rights count. So much so they need the give and take of the common law, rowdy parliaments and the ebb and flow of public opinion. It's the commonsensical ethos of a people - temper democratic, bias offensively Australian - not a declaration of abstractions that will keep us free.



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.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Super-correct South Africa

A programme investigating initiation schools was retracted by the SABC on the grounds that stakeholders needed to be consulted before it was aired. Special Assignment, a weekly investigative documentary show, planned to broadcast a story on the death of 25-year-old UCT graduate Buntu Majalaza, who went to the bush to be initiated into adulthood, but died two weeks later on January 6 from septicaemia because of a botched circumcision. The programme focuses on the dangers of informal initiation schools where some students died.

The show was meant to be aired on Tuesday but was retracted two hours before the scheduled time. It is believed that the SABC refused to allow the show to go on air because of its controversial nature and its potential to offend traditional leaders. But SABC spokesperson Kaiser Kganyago said on Thursday that the show had not been banned but that the broadcaster had wanted to "consult stakeholders". He said they had had a similar situation last year when they had failed to consult stakeholders and had then "experienced big drama around cultural issues". He could not say when the SABC planned to air the show as the consultation was an "ongoing process".

Jason Stanier, a friend of Majalaza's who was interviewed for the report, said he hoped they would go ahead with the broadcast. "I want the show to be aired because I think it is an important story that needs to be told. There are people dying out there and we have the opportunity to tell the story. "From what I heard it was going to be a great show. "The producers had managed to get a few first-hand testimonies of the many outrageous things that are happening to these men who go to the bush.

"Maybe it's just me, but when did not wanting to offend people become more important than exposing the countless deaths that are occurring in these schools?" he said. Producer Hazel Friedman said she was very passionate that Majalaza's story be told.


Poor white boys are victims too

By Trevor Phillips (The black chairman of Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission)

To be sure, the problems of racial discrimination against minorities haven't gone away - black and Asian young men are still up to seven times more likely to be arrested by the police; Pakistani men will earn more than a quarter of million pounds less than their white equivalents over a lifetime; and young Bangladeshi women are having to settle for jobs for which they are overqualified. But we are also confronting for the first time in my lifetime an equality deficit not much talked about at Westminster. I am referring to the growing underclass of poor white boys - a forgotten group who also face a kind of institutional racism. I am deeply worried that they will grow into poor, disillusioned, alienated white men.

Why should the Equality and Human Rights Commission care? Many people, including our friends, think that it exists largely to shout the odds for anybody who is not male, white, straight and able-bodied. But that is wrong on every count. We aren't a minorities' pressure group. We work for the whole of society, not just those at the margins - though those who suffer most disadvantage have a right to come first in the queue for our support. (And let's remember that some of those who face systematic inequality aren't small minorities - women are a majority, most of us will become parents and virtually all of us will get old.)

What we are is a body that attacks unfairness wherever it sees it. That's why some of the wider trends that may be leading to greater inequality are right at the top of our agenda - economic change, the skills gap and, above all, migration.

Let me be unambiguous about this last issue. I am pro-immigration. The British people's experience is that managed migration has brought great advantages to the country, not the tide of hate that Powell prophesied. But immigration has also raised important issues - not least that if we aren't careful, the benefits from it will fall into the hands of employers, shareholders and middle-class professionals, while any burdens are left to be borne by the poorest in society.

So we have to ensure that the positive impact of migration is not offset by the costs - such as public services under increased pressure and an infrastructure that is struggling to cope. Let these issues languish in the tray marked "too difficult to talk about", and resentment will grow. We also need to be clear that worrying about the consequences of immigration does not make you antiforeigner. And we must tackle a vital question: why are some groups in society not getting the chances they deserve? Last week two reports highlighted again the issue of underachievement. A report by the Bow Group, the Conservative think tank, showed that in the past 10 years almost 4m pupils left school without gaining the basic qualifications of five good GCSEs.

The cost to the economy of low educational attainment - and low social mobility - is 32 billion pounds a year, or 1,300 to the average family, according to Reform, the independent think tank. Its report spoke of the "why bother?" generation - people who feel shut out by the system. If people feel shut out, they will try to find someone easy to blame: the outsider, the immigrant.

At the commission, we are doing research on educational underachievement and its link to ethnicity. Initial findings reveal that, for example, Bangladeshi and black African students at school outperform their white peers from comparable economic and social backgrounds. Statistics also show that black African, Bangladeshi and Pakistani students achieve higher GCSE scores than equivalent white students. We know that it is not only white children from poorer background who are struggling. Black Caribbean children are also underachieving.

In the autumn, after our research is published, we will host a conference on white working-class boys. We want to listen to the pupils themselves, the teachers and the parents. And we need to demonstrate that fairness is about equal treatment for all - black, white or Asian. It is only in tackling these issues that we take the toxicity out of debates on immigration, race and socio-economic underachievement. Fair treatment and equal chances are everyone's right. No one should feel the work of the commission is "not about me".


Council of Europe Declares Unlimited Abortion an Unconditional Right for all of Europe

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has passed a resolution to declare unlimited legal abortion an unconditional right. The Assembly passed the resolution with 102 to 69 votes with 14 abstentions. Amendments seeking to make the resolution less extreme in its promotion of abortion were rejected. In preparation for what is being described as a rushed vote, the Assembly restricted plenary session speeches to three minutes, amendment speeches to 30 seconds and denied the Assembly's legal affairs committee any scrutiny. Only 185 of the 318 members of the Assembly were present for the vote.

Pat Buckley of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, who was present at today's debate, said, "Today is a tragic day for Europe, not least because this report in favour of even more killing of unborn children was rushed through the Assembly without proper scrutiny...The only consolation is that the resolution is not legally binding." Nigel Dodds, MP and MLA for Belfast North, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and a minister in the Northern Ireland executive, said, "It's a sad day for the unborn child in Europe, but the fight goes on."

Assembly member Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, representing Malta, a country which upholds the right to life of all children, born and unborn, opposed the resolution, warning that "a society which destroys its young condemns itself to oblivion."

The Assembly, the oldest of the pan-European organisations, has no power to compel compliance among member states, but its recommendations are nonetheless influential in other bodies such as the European Court of Human Rights. Buckley continued, "Nothing in the European Convention on Human Rights recognises a right to abortion or confers on individuals a right to require a state to permit or facilitate abortion. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the issue of when the right to life begins is a question to be decided at national level. It follows that the legal protection afforded to early human life must also be decided at national level."

The PACE committee met in late March to discuss a report that called for the total elimination among European Union member states of any legal restrictions on abortion. The report called for "access to safe and legal abortion" and urged all the member states to "guarantee women's effective exercise of their right to abortion." The committee's report criticised even the legal restrictions not specifically restricting abortion, saying, "The repeated medical consultations required, the time allowed for changing one's mind and the waiting time for the abortion all have the potential to make access to abortion more difficult, or even impossible in practice".

"The ban on abortions does not result in fewer abortions, but mainly leads to clandestine abortions, which are more traumatic and more dangerous. The lawfulness of abortion does not have an effect on a woman's need for an abortion, but only on her access to a safe abortion," the report said. It also recommended that countries make "sex-education" mandatory for young people, a strategy that precipitated in Britain one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the western world.


Dutch Gov't to Marriage Commissioners: Won't do Gay "Marriages"? Then No Natural Marriages Either

The dogmatic Dutch love their homosexuals

The Netherlands equality commissioners have ruled that if a civil marriage commissioner refuses to conduct wedding ceremonies for homosexual partners, they must be barred from conducting ceremonies between men and women as well. The Equal Treatment Commission (CGB) ruled yesterday that local authorities are "not violating the equal treatment law if it refuses to appoint a marriage registrar who does not wish to marry persons of the same sex on grounds of religion".

The judgment comes after the municipality of Langedijk placed advertisements for two marriage registrars and demanded that applicants be prepared to conduct wedding ceremonies for natural couples and for same-sex partners.

The Christian Union party called the ruling an "unnecessarily harsh approach." The party, Christen Unie, is a Dutch orthodox-protestant and Christian-social party that holds "conservative" social views and centre left ideas on economic, migration, social and environmental issues. A party spokesman said, "This ruling does not help us further in the search for a careful balance between groups in society with differing beliefs" about homosexual "marriage".

When it comes to freedom of conscience for Christians and anyone who objects on moral grounds to homosexuality, however, it seems that homosexual political activists are only willing to apply tolerance to those who agree with their views.

In 2007 in Canada, homosexual activists fought efforts to allow marriage commissioners the right to exercise their freedom of conscience. When a Conservative MLA in New Brunswick tabled a piece of legislation meant to protect Christians and others who objected to the imposition of "gay marriage", homosexual activists responded with outrage, saying the legislation would grant rights to individuals who "discriminate" and would be an affront to the "equal marriage" movement.



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.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pet correctness in Switzerland

It is a world in which the goldfish are never lonely, the dogs are always obedient and the guinea-pigs are never tormented by children. Under a new Swiss law enshrining rights for animals, dog owners will require a qualification, anglers will take lessons in compassion and horses will go only in twos. From guinea-pigs to budgerigars, any animal classified as a "social species" will be a victim of abuse if it does not cohabit, or at least have contact, with others of its own kind. The new regulation stipulates that aquariums for pet fish should not be transparent on all sides and that owners must make sure that the natural cycle of day and night is maintained in terms of light. Goldfish are considered social animals, or Gruppentiere in German.

The creator of this animal Utopia is the Swiss federal parliament, the Bundesrat, which adopted a law this week extending to four legs the kind of rights usually reserved for two. The law, which comes into force from September 1, is particularly strict over dogs: prospective owners will have to pay for and complete a two-part course - a theory section on the needs and wishes of the animal, and a practice section, where students will be instructed in how to walk their dog and react to various situations that might arise during the process. The details of the courses are yet to be fixed, but they are likely to comprise about five theory lessons and at least five sessions "in the field".

The law extends to unlikely regions of the animal kingdom. Anglers will also be required to complete a course on catching fish humanely, with the Government citing studies indicating that fish can suffer too. The regulations will affect farmers, who will no longer be allowed to tether horses, sheep and goats, nor keep pigs and cows in areas with hard floors. The legislation even mentions the appropriate keeping of rhinoceroses, although it was not clear immediately how many, if any, were being kept as pets in Switzerland.

Animal protection groups have greeted the news enthusiastically, but critics say that it means an extra financial burden on taxpayers and animal owners, and that it will be impossible to monitor the implementation of the rules. Farmers' associations have protested, arguing that the law will have a negative effect on the economy and decrease their competitiveness on the international market.

One tabloid newspaper has accused the Government of pandering to the needs of guinea-pigs while ignoring more important animal issues, such as its failure to enforce a ban on dangerous dogs. But Hans Wyss, head of the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office, said: "The aim is not only to ensure treatment of animals appropriate to each species, but also to decrease the risk of attacks by dangerous dogs. Inappropriate treatment could lead to behavioural disorders."

Doris Leuthard, the Economics Minister, assured pet owners that the authorities would not be visiting people's homes to enforce the law - although in extreme cases officials would have the power to intervene - but would count on the results of the training and a positive response from an "informed population". "We do not want to create a surveillance state," Mrs Leuthard said. She added that, in an age of consumer concern for animal welfare, farmers would benefit from the new law.

The attitude of the Government is in sharp contrast to some alleged practices in Switzerland: activists campaigning for a ban of the production and trade in cat fur products claim that tens of thousands of cats are killed each year to satisfy a growing domestic and foreign market fuelled by the belief that cat fur can alleviate the pain of rheumatism. The cats are skinned by specialised tanneries for various products, ranging from 30 pounds for a single fur to 200 for a cardigan and more than 800 for a large blanket - which might explain the total absence of stray cats in the country. There have also been reports coming from France about cats disappearing from areas along the Swiss border.

Should pet owners require advance guidance as to what will be expected of them, a goverment website provides it. One entry reads: "Guinea-pigs are very sensitive social animals. They are interesting to look at, but not at all appropriate to be cuddled or carried around by children." And a word of warning for those planning a mercy killing for their goldfish: special chemicals will be required "to put them to death". Flushing them down the loo is no longer an option.


Homosexual Sex Kills

Can you imagine officials at a middle school, junior high or high school setting aside a day to promote "tolerance" for heavy smoking and drinking among children? How about a day where teachers encourage kids to "embrace who they are," pick up that crack pipe and give it a stiff toke? Neither can I. The public would go ballistic, and for good reason.

But that hasn't stopped officials in thousands of schools across the country from promoting other politically correct and socially "in-vogue" behaviors that - both statistically and manifestly - are every bit as dangerous as the aforementioned frowned-upon behaviors. That's exactly what the homosexual activist "Day of Silence" is all about - advancing, through clever, feel-good propaganda, full acceptance among children of the homosexual lifestyle.

By recently admitting that "HIV is a gay disease," Matt Foreman, outgoing Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, acknowledged what the medical community has known for decades: the homosexual lifestyle is extremely high-risk and often leads to disease and even death. In fact, multiple studies have established that homosexual conduct, especially among males, is considerably more hazardous to one's health than a lifetime of chain smoking.

To the consternation of "gay" activist flat-earthers and homosexual AIDS holocaust deniers everywhere, one such study - conducted by pro-"gay" researchers in Canada - was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (IJE) in 1997. (see the study here: )

While the medical consensus is that smoking knocks from two to 10 years off an individual's life expectancy, the IJE study found that homosexual conduct shortens the lifespan of "gays" by an astounding "8 to 20 years" - more than twice that of smoking. "[U]nder even the most liberal assumptions," concluded the study, "gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871. . [L]ife expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men." This morose reality makes a strong case for a fitting redefinition of so-called "homophobia," that being "Homophobia: The rational fear that 'gay sex' will kill you!"

The fact that we don't have mandatory surgeon general warnings on the side of condom wrappers is a testament to the power and influence wielded by the radical homosexual lobby. (Warning: Male-male anal sodomy has been proven to shorten your lifespan by up to 20 years.)

Not surprisingly, that same homosexual lobby and its codependent enablers in the mainstream media moved quickly to sweep the IJE study under the rug. Under tremendous pressure, the researchers who conducted the study even jumped into the political damage control fray issuing a statement which read, "[W]e do not condone the use of our research in a manner that restricts the political or human rights of gay and bisexual men or any other group."

Of course, that's all just worthless fluff. All the political spin in the world doesn't change reality, nor does it eliminate the study's disturbing conclusions or practical implications. The research left ZERO wiggle room for anyone who would argue that homosexuality is a "perfectly normal and healthy alternative sexual orientation."

The risks associated with homosexual conduct are so drastic, in fact, that U.S. health regulations prohibit men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have had sex with MSM, from even donating blood. Consider that, according to the Food and Drug Administration, MSM, "have an HIV prevalence 60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first time blood donors and 8,000 times higher than repeat blood donors."

Adults and children who engage in homosexual conduct, especially males, are also susceptible, at an astronomical rate, to nearly all other forms of sexually transmitted disease (STD). For example, the Hepatitis B virus is about five to six times more prevalent among "gays," and Hepatitis C is twice as common.

But perhaps most shocking are today's syphilis rates among homosexual men and adolescents. A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that although homosexuals comprise only a fraction of the population (one to two percent), they account for an epidemic 64 percent of all syphilis cases.

In light of the irrefutable medical facts, it should be considered criminally reckless for educators to teach children that homosexual conduct is a normal, safe and perfectly acceptable alternative form of sexual expression (or "sexual orientation").

But instead, the "gay" lifestyle is vigorously promoted in our public schools. Sexually confused children who suffer from gender identity disorder and same-sex attractions are told to "embrace who they are," and are encouraged to entertain deviant and dangerous sexual temptations. "But always use a condom!" liberal educators bellow. (Forget that condoms have a perilously high failure rate and are incapable of preventing numerous STDs such as the HPV virus.)

On April 25, 2008, the pro-homosexual indoctrination of your children comes to a boil. Homosexual activists and like-minded liberal educators will be pushing the so-called "Day of Silence" on kids in thousands of schools across the country. The "Day of Silence" (DOS) is organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), one of the most militant and well-funded of the powerful homosexual pressure groups. DOS purports to confront the alleged systematic harassment and bullying of children who self-identify as homosexual, bisexual or "transgender."

To be sure, bullying and harassment should not be tolerated against anyone, anywhere for any reason, and those who engage in such activities should be firmly disciplined. However, DOS has very little to do with "bullying" and has everything to do with propaganda....

Children are impressionable. Their young minds are fresh clay ready for molding, and these adult homosexual activists know it. Your child's spiritual, emotional and physical well-being belongs in your hands, not in the hands of liberal activists and elitist educators with a deceptive and destructive political agenda. It's time to shatter the silence with truth.


Anti-human Overpopulation Hysteria

In a recent column Albert Mohler, the current president of the prestigious Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, comes out swinging against what he calls (echoing the words of Malcolm Muggeridge), "The Great Liberal Death Wish.". Mohler's column was prompted by an apocalyptic piece that appeared in USA Today, entitled "Might our religion be killing us?". In the article Oliver "Buzz" Thomas argues that the commandment, given to Adam in the Garden of Eden, to "be fruitful and multiply" is leading to the destruction of the planet, and suggests that instead of encouraging procreation religions ought instead to be promoting smaller families, at a limit of two children. He also suggests that governments ought to introduce tax incentives for those who limit their families, instead of for those who have children.

Thomas draws a parallel between Christianity and the religion of the Aztecs, the latter of which demanded mass human sacrifice and encouraged widespread violence, and which ultimately contributed to the demise of the Aztec civilization. "We moderns are far more sophisticated, of course," says Thomas, "but if we persist with some of our religious practices, we could be heading down the same disastrous dog trot."

"Consider the Roman Catholic Church's continued opposition to modern birth control or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' (i.e. Mormons) encouragement of large families," he says. "This might not alarm you unless you realize that nearly one in every five humans on the planet is Roman Catholic and that the Latter-day Saints belong to one of the fastest-growing religions in the Western Hemisphere. Many Orthodox Jews and some Muslims also eschew birth control.

"Population growth hits hardest in the poorest nations, and as poverty increases, public health declines. I am quite certain that God is not the author of human misery, but by preaching against birth control at the same time we are preaching against abortion, it seems that we're making God out as cruel, a buffoon, or both." "We must stop having so many children," he concludes. "Clergy should consider voicing the difficult truth that having more than two children during such a time is selfish. Dare we say sinful?"

Mohler, however, retorts that Thomas's article "fails on multiple grounds," and instead points out, "The real population problem the world is almost certain to face in the future is too few babies being born - not too many." "Russia," observes Mohler, "is experiencing a net decrease in population, a situation that could threaten social stability. In China, the nation's disastrous 'one child only policy has led to a dramatic gender imbalance.and the rapid aging of the population means that basic social needs will present a crisis." "In reality, population growth is already subsiding on a global basis." This decrease in population will have particularly disastrous consequences for the developed world, says Mohler, asking, "What happens when the number of retirees approaches the number of workers? That economic experiment cannot work."

Mohler accuses the ilk of Thomas as promoting an approach to population control that "is rooted in an elitist distaste for larger families and an ambition of some to control the reproductive destiny of others." "In any event, a couple deciding to have additional children will often reflect a rational approach to getting out of poverty - not the cause of poverty in itself. Put bluntly, even in economic terms children usually bring greater economic benefits than costs over the long term."

He concludes, "For Christians, far more than economics is at stake. The far larger issue is the glory of God in the birth and maturation of godly progeny. Children are to be received - and conceived - as gifts, not as threats of environmental disaster."


More British Catholic Adoption Agencies to Close Doors instead of Bowing to Sexual Orientation Regulations

When the Labour government's Sexual Orientation Regulations were passed last year, the leadership of the Catholic Church in England and Wales warned that the new law would spell the end of Catholic involvement in social service, particularly adoption. Now the first of the UK's Catholic adoption agencies affected are announcing they will close their doors for good rather than betray religious principles and their guiding principle of the good of the child.

Bishop Malcolm McMahon said his diocese of Nottingham would be cutting ties with the their adoption agency, the Catholic Children's Society, because of the law that forces them to consider homosexual partners as equally qualified to adopt as people in natural heterosexual relationships. "We have been coerced into this, I am not happy about it at all," the bishop told Catholic News Service April 18. "The regulations have coerced the children's society into going against the church's teaching, and we don't wish to do that."

The Nottingham agency, together with that of the Northampton Catholic diocese, will become a secular institution "with a Christian character" by merging with the adoption agency of the Anglican Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham in October. The parish churches of the diocese will no longer solicit funds to support the agency. The Nottingham agency was founded in 1948 by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and placed 25 children a year with adoptive families.

Contrary to common accusations that Catholics are trying to unjustly discriminate against homosexuals, the Catholic Church holds that its motivation is rather the desire to protect the best interests of children. The Church teaches, according to recent documents from the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, that allowing a child to be adopted by homosexual partners "would actually mean doing violence to these children" by placing them into a situation where their full social and spiritual development would be threatened.

Homosexual partners have had the legal right to adopt children in Britain since 2002. The new law, however, removes the right of Catholic and other Christian agencies to decline to consider homosexuals for adoption.

The move by the Nottingham diocese follows similar decisions made elsewhere in Britain. In the summer of 2007, shortly after the legislation was passed, the Leeds-based Catholic Care, which placed 20 children a year with adoptive families, voted to pull out of adoption services. Bishop Patrick O'Donohue of Lancaster announced at the same time that the Catholic Caring Services, an adoption agency working in Lancashire and Cumbria, will likely close rather than bow to the regulations.

When the legislation passed in 2007, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, attempted to find a compromise in which Catholic adoption agencies would be exempt. Tony Blair, later to be received into the Catholic Church by the same Cardinal, refused to consider an exemption. Instead Blair offered his own version of a compromise: Catholic agencies had a year to adjust to adopting children to gay partners or close. That deadline comes at the end of this month.

The conflict comes at the same time that local branches of government continue to discriminate against Christians who volunteer to take in foster children. In November 2007, Vincent and Pauline Matherick, a Christian couple who had fostered children for years, were told by their Somerset council that they would no longer be allowed to continue because of their religious objections to homosexuality. They were later reinstated but only after a media furor and notices to the council by a Christian lawyers' group.

In February this year, it was reported that a Christian couple in Derby, Eunice and Owen Johns, is suing the local council after their application to foster children was refused because of their religious objections to homosexuality. In addition, the Labour-controlled council adoption panel was said to be "upset" that the couple insisted that children in their care would be required to accompany the family to church on Sundays.

In September 2007, an independent investigation revealed that a local council's fear of being labelled homophobic had allowed a total of 19 boys to be placed with a pair of homosexual child molesters. Despite growing reservations by staff and complaints from the mother of two of the boys, the Wakefield council placed the children into the care of Ian Wathey and Craig Faunch who were convicted in May 2006 of molesting and filming eight-year-old twins and two 14 year-old boys.



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.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Liberal Hate Speech May Doom Dems' Election Hopes

First it was Rev. Jeremiah Wright's expletive-laced sermons and anti-Semitic rants that plunged the Obama campaign into full damage-repair mode. Then Barack triggered an uproar when he remarked about down-on-their-luck voters, "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them." That's right, the reason those yahoos place their faith in a Higher Power is because they can't find themselves find a decent job.

Then Obama turned on Hillary. During a Pennsylvania campaign stop he twice stuck his opponent with the harsh, "Shame on her." Mocking her new-found support for gun rights, he compared her to a warmed-over Annie Oakley. So much for Barack the Unifier.

Candidate Hillary Clinton has made her share of caustic remarks as well, often directing her barbs at members of the male species. Shortly after she announced her candidacy, Clinton traveled to Iowa to press the flesh. In response to a question about persons like Osama bin Laden, she responded with a sly grin, "And what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?" And hours before she pulled off her New Hampshire primary upset, Hillary regaled the audience with this biting stereotype: "the remnants of sexism are alive and well."

Not so long ago, liberalism was synonymous with tolerance and open-mindedness. If you weren't of the liberal ilk, you were almost suspected of being a closet bigot. But in the last decade, the good name of liberalism has gone to the gutter. Remember the racist, thick-lipped caricatures of Condi Rice when she was named Secretary of State? Recall former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill who blamed the 9/11 attack on the victims themselves? And how is it that modern liberalism has come to embrace resurgent anti-Semitism?

Then there's the suppression of free speech on college campuses. At Colorado College, the Feminist and Gender Studies Program produces the Monthly Rag. The latest issue featured an excerpt from The Bitch Manifesto and a vulgar discussion of "packing" in which a woman creates the appearance of a male genitalia under her clothes. But when a group of men issued its own flyer satirizing the Monthly Rag, progressive administrators charged the students with violating the campus speech code.

So how did liberalism devolve into a wellspring of potty-mouth rants, crude stereotypes, and campus intolerance? Part of the reason, I'm convinced, is the ever-strengthening grip of radical feminist ideology on the liberal conscience. Were you in New Orleans this past weekend? If not, do you realize you missed Jane Fonda's reading of The Vagina Monologues at the Super Dome? Actress Kerry Washington was also there. She was particularly touched because the Monologues compares a woman's vagina to New Orleans and the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. (I'm not making this up!)

Recently I had the unpleasant task of reading Catherine MacKinnon's 1989 tome, Toward a Feminist Theory of State. Now required reading in women's studies programs, the book is best described as the Mein Kampf of the radical feminist movement. While Mein Kampft blamed Aryans' woes on an alleged international Jewish plot, Toward a Feminist Theory of State sees men as secretly aligned in a vast anti-woman conspiracy. MacKinnon alarms the reader with improbable statistics such as "85% of working women will be sexually harassed," and "one-fifth of American women have been or are known to be prostitutes." She then concludes that "the major distinction between intercourse (normal) and rape (abnormal) is that the normal happens so often that one cannot get anyone to see anything wrong with it." By reducing females to docile and helpless creatures who lack moral agency, MacKinnon does an enormous disservice to women. In the end, her high-octane screed epitomizes gender intolerance at its worst.

Five years after MacKinnon's book was published, along came Sen. Joe Biden's Violence Against Women Act. That became the occasion for another round of male-bashing.

Newspaper reports openly portray men as wily batterers. But when singer Amy Winehouse admits to using her husband Blake as a punch-bag, persons look the other way. "I'll beat up Blake when I'm drunk. . If he says one thing I don't like then I'll chin him," she once bragged.

Just imagine, I once believed the Democratic agenda would bring about a kinder, gentler existence to our planet. Now I'm beginning to have my doubts. I suspect many Americans will feel the same way come Election Day.


Balanced approach to homosexuality in Singapore

They don't supervise your bedroom but you are not allowed to promote homosexuality

A Singapore television station has been fined for airing a show that featured a gay couple and their baby in a way that "promotes a gay lifestyle," the city-state's media regulator said. The Media Development Authority fined MediaCorp TV Channel 5 some 15,000 Singapore dollars ($11,600), it said in a statement on its website.

The station aired an episode of a home and decor series called Find and Design that featured a gay couple wanting to transform their game room into a new nursery for their adopted baby. The authority said the episode contained scenes of the gay couple with their baby and the presenter's congratulations and acknowledgment of them as a family unit "in a way which normalises their gay lifestyle and unconventional family setup".

The episode was in breach of rules on free-to-air television programming, which disallows content that promotes, justifies or glamourises gay lifestyles, the statement said. Earlier this month, the authority fined a Singapore cable television operator, StarHub Cable Vision $S10,000 for airing a commercial that showed two lesbians kissing.

Under Singapore law, gay sex is deemed "an act of gross indecency" punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. Despite the official ban on gay sex, there have been few prosecutions. But authorities have banned gay festivals and censored gay films, saying homosexuality should not be advocated as a lifestyle choice.


Europe or Eurabia?

By Daniel Pipes

THE future of Europe is in play. Will it turn into "Eurabia", a part of the Muslim world? Will it remain the distinct cultural unit it has been for the past millennium? Or might there be some creative synthesis of the two? The answer has vast importance. Europe may constitute a mere 7 per cent of the world's landmass but for 500 years, 1450-1950, for good and ill, it was the global engine of change. How it develops in the future will affect all humanity, especially daughter countries such as Australia that still retain close and important ties to the old continent. I foresee potentially one of three paths for Europe: Muslims dominating, Muslims rejected or harmonious integration.

* Muslim domination strikes some analysts as inevitable. Oriana Fallaci found that "Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam". Mark Steyn argues that much of the Western world "will not survive the 21st century and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most European countries". Such authors point to three factors leading to Europe's Islamisation: faith, demography and a sense of heritage.

The secularism that predominates in Europe, especially among its elites, leads to alienation from the Judeo-Christian tradition, empty church pews and a fascination with Islam. In complete contrast, Muslims display a religious fervour that translates into jihadi sensibility, a supremacism towards non-Muslims and an expectation that Europe is waiting for conversion to Islam.

The contrast in faith also has demographic implications, with Christians having on average 1.4 children a woman, or about one-third less than the number needed to maintain their population, and Muslims enjoying a dramatically higher, if falling, fertility rate. Amsterdam and Rotterdam, in about 2015, are expected to be the first large majority-Muslim cities. Russia could become a Muslim-majority country in 2050. To employ enough workers to fund existing pension plans, Europe needs millions of immigrants, and these tend to be disproportionately Muslim due to reasons of proximity, colonial ties and the turmoil in majority-Muslim countries.

In addition, many Europeans no longer cherish their history, mores and customs. Guilt about fascism, racism and imperialism leaves many with a sense that their own culture has less value than that of immigrants. Such self-disdain has direct implications for Muslim immigrants, for if Europeans shun their own ways, why should immigrants adopt them? When added to the existing Muslim hesitations over much that is Western, especially concerns about sexuality, the result is Muslim populations who strongly resist assimilation. The logic of this first path leads to Europe ultimately becoming an extension of North Africa.

* But the first path is not inevitable. Indigenous Europeans could resist it and, as they make up 95per cent of the continent's population, they can at any time reassert control should they see Muslims posing a threat to a valued way of life. This impulse can be seen at work in the French anti-hijab legislation or in Geert Wilders's film, Fitna. Anti-immigrant parties gain in strength; a potential nativist movement is taking shape across Europe as political parties opposed to immigration focus increasingly on Islam and Muslims. These parties include the British National Party, Belgium's Vlaamse Belang, France's National Front, the Austrian Freedom Party, the Party for Freedom in The Netherlands and the Danish People's Party.

They are likely to continue to grow as immigration surges ever higher, with mainstream parties paying and expropriating their anti-Islamic message. Should nationalist parties gain power, they will reject multiculturalism, cut back on immigration, encourage repatriation of immigrants, support Christian institutions, increase indigenous European birthrates and broadly attempt to re-establish traditional ways.

Muslim alarm is likely to follow. US author Ralph Peters sketches a scenario in which "US Navy ships are at anchor and US marines have gone ashore at Brest, Bremerhaven or Bari to guarantee the safe evacuation of Europe's Muslims". Peters concludes that because of Europeans' "ineradicable viciousness", the continent's Muslims "are living on borrowed time". As Europeans have "perfected genocide and ethnic cleansing", Muslims, he predicts, "will be lucky just to be deported" rather than being killed.

Indeed, Muslims worry about just such a fate; since the 1980s they have spoken overtly about Muslims being sent to gas chambers. European violence cannot be precluded, but nationalist efforts will more likely take place less violently; if anyone is likely to initiate violence, it is the Muslims. They have already engaged in many acts of violence and seem to be spoiling for more. Surveys indicate, for instance, that about 5 per cent of British Muslims endorse the 7/7 transport bombings. In brief, a European reassertion will likely lead to ongoing civil strife, perhaps a more lethal version of the 2005 riots in France.

* The ideal outcome has indigenous Europeans and immigrant Muslims finding a way to live together harmoniously and create a new synthesis. A 1991 study, La France, une chance pour l'Islam (France, an Opportunity for Islam), by Jeanne-Helene Kaltenbach and Pierre Patrick Kaltenbach, promoted this idealistic approach. Despite all, this optimism remains the conventional wisdom, as suggested by an Economist leader in 2006 that dismissed, for the moment at least, the prospect of Eurabia as scaremongering. This is the view of most politicians, journalists, and academics, but it has little basis in fact.

Yes, indigenous Europeans could yet rediscover their Christian faith, make more babies and again cherish their heritage. Yes, they could encourage non-Muslim immigration and acculturate Muslims already living in Europe. Yes, Muslim could accept historic Europe. But not only are such developments not under way, their prospects are dim. In particular, young Muslims are cultivating grievances and nursing ambitions at odds with their neighbours.

One can virtually dismiss from consideration the prospect of Muslims accepting historic Europe and integrating within it. American columnist Dennis Prager agrees: "It is difficult to imagine any other future scenario for western Europe than its becoming Islamicised or having a civil war." But which of those two remaining paths will the continent take? Forecasting is difficult because the crisis has not yet struck. But it may not be far off. Within a decade, perhaps, the continent's evolution will become clear as the Europe-Muslim relationship takes shape.

The unprecedented nature of Europe's situation also renders a forecast exceedingly difficult. Never in history has a civilisation peaceably dissolved, nor has a people risen to reclaim its patrimony. Europe's unique circumstances make the outcome difficult to comprehend, tempting to overlook and virtually impossible to predict. With Europe, we all enter into terra incognita.


Fear of democracy

West stands by idly as its foundations are being rent asunder. Last Friday the UN's Human Rights Council took a direct swipe at freedom of expression. In a unanimous 32-0 decision, the Council instructed its "expert on freedom of expression" to report to the Council on all instances in which individuals "abuse" their freedom of speech by giving expression to racial or religious bias. The measure was proposed by paragons of freedom Egypt and Pakistan. It was supported by all Arab, Muslim and African countries - founts of liberty one and all. European states abstained from the vote.

The US, which is not a member of the Human Rights Council tried to oppose the measure. In a speech before the Council, US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Warren Tichenor warned that the resolution's purpose is to undermine freedom of expression because it imposes, "restrictions on individuals rather than emphasiz[ing] the duty and responsibility of governments to guarantee, uphold, promote and protect human rights."

By seeking to criminalize free speech, the resolution stands in breach of the UN's Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of that document states explicitly, "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

The Europeans' decision to abstain rather than oppose the measure seems, at first glance rather surprising. Given that the EU member states are among the UN's most emphatic champions, it would have seemed normal for them to have opposed a resolution that works to undermine one of the UN's foundational documents, and indeed, one of the most basic tenets of Western civilization. But then again, given the EU's stands in recent years against freedom of expression, there really is nothing to be surprised about. The EU's current bow to intellectual thuggery is of course found in its response to the Internet release of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders' film "Fitna."

The EU has gone out of its way to attack Wilders for daring to utilize his freedom of expression. The EU's presidency released a statement condemning the film for "inflaming hatred." Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenendeissued statements claiming that the film "serves no other purpose than to cause offense." Then too, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon blasted the film as "offensively anti-Islamic."

These statements follow the EU's quest to restrict freedom of speech following the 2005 publication of cartoons of Muhammed in Denmark's *Jyllands Posten* newspaper. They also come against the backdrop of the systematic silencing of anti-jihadist intellectuals throughout the continent. These intellectuals like Peter Redeker in France and Paul Cliteur in the Netherlands, are threatened into silence by European jihadists. And the governments of Europe either do nothing to defend and protect the threatened thinkers or justify the intellectual blackmailers by sympathizing with their anger.

It is axiomatic that freedom of expression is the foundation of human freedom and progress. When people are not allowed to express themselves freely, there can be no debate or inquiry. It is only due to free debate and inquiry that humanity has progressed from the Dark Age to the Digital Age. This is why the first act of every would-be tyrant is to take control over the marketplace of ideas. Yet today, the nations of Europe and indeed much of the Western world, either sit idly by and do nothing to defend that freedom or collaborate with unfree and often tyrannical Islamic states and terrorists in silencing debate and stifling dissent. There are two reasons that this is the case.

In the first instance, the political Left, which rules supreme in the EU's bureaucracy as well as in most of the intellectual centers of the free world, has shown through its actions that it has no real commitment to democratic values. Rather than embrace democratic values, the Left increasingly adopts the parlance of democracy cynically, with the aim of undermining free discourse in the public sphere in the name of "democracy."

Writing of the leftist uproar against Wilders' film in Europe in Der Speigel, Henryk Broder noted that almost across the board, the European media has castigated Wilders as "a right wing populist." As Broder notes, on its face this assertion is absurd for Wilders is a radical liberal. In "Fitna," the outspoken legislator shows how verses of the Koran are used by jihadists to justify the most heinous acts of mass murder and hatred. His film superimposes verses from the Koran calling for the murder of non-Muslims with actual scenes of jihadist carnage. It also superimposes verses from the Koran vilifying Jews with footage of Islamic clerics repeating the verses and with a three year old girl saying that she learned that Jews are monkeys and pigs from her Koran classes. "Fitna" concludes with a challenge to Muslims to expunge these hateful, murderous religious tenets from their belief system.

While arguably, but not necessarily inflammatory, Wilders' film serves an invitation to Europe and to the Islamic world to have an open debate. His film challenges viewers - both Muslim and non-Muslim - to think and to discuss whether Islam accords with the notions of human freedom and what can be done to stop jihadists from exploiting the Koran to justify their acts of murder, tyranny and hate.

As Broder notes, by calling Wilders a "right-wing populist," the Left seeks to silence both him and his call for an open discourse. The underlying message of such labeling is that Wilders is somehow beyond the pale of polite company and therefore his message should be ignored by all right thinking people. If you don't want to be intellectually isolated and socially ostracized like Wilders, then you mustn't watch his film or take it seriously. Doing so would be an act of "right-wing populism" - and everyone knows what that means.

Like all anti-democratic movements, today's political Left seeks to silence debate and so undermine democracy first by demonizing anyone who doesn't agree with it and then, by passing laws that criminalize speech or override the people's right to decide how they wish to live. In the EU, the Lisbon Treaty effectively regurgitated by bureaucratic fiat the constitution that was rejected by voters in France and Holland and was set to be defeated by the British. In Britain, Parliament has labored for years to pass a law which would criminalize the act of insulting Islam. Then too, one of the first acts the Brown government took after entering office last summer was to prohibit its members from talking about "Islamic terrorism."

As in Europe so too, in Israel, the Left goes to extraordinary lengths to undermine democracy in the name of democracy. In just one recent example, this week, leftist law professor Mordechai Kremnitzer warned the Knesset not to pass a law enabling a referendum on the partition of Jerusalem and the surrender of the Golan Heights. As Kremnitzer sees it, "If the verdict of a referendum is determined by a small majority, that includes Arab voters then a certain sector whose view was not accepted is liable to attempt to reject the legitimacy of the referendum and may fight against it violently." That "certain sector" Kremnitzer was referring to, of course are the Jews who oppose the partition of Jerusalem and the surrender of the Golan Heights by a large majority.

Kremnitzer's argument is both ridiculous and self-serving. It is ridiculous because he knows that in 2004, Likud members held a referendum of the government's planned withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria. Then prime minister Ariel Sharon pledged to abide by the results of his party's vote. But then, when 65 percent of Likud voters rejected his plan, he ignored them. And public's the reaction, while strong, was completely non-violent.

The only force that used sustained force and intimidation in the run-up to the withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria was the government. It deployed tens of thousands of policemen to break up protests, bar protesters from travelling to lawful demonstrations, and jailed protesters without trial for months. In its overtly anti-democratic and legally dubious actions, the government was ably defended by Kremnitzer and his colleagues who either stood by as the civil liberties of the protesters were trampled or enthusiastically defended the government's abandonment of democratic values by calling the protesters "anti-democratic." Indeed, in his testimony Wednesday, Kremnitzer parroted that argument by claiming that referendums "are a recipe for harming democracy."

Aside from being factually and theoretically wrong, Kremnitzer's argument -- like the arguments of the EU bureaucracy which sidelined Europe's citizenry by passing the Lisbon Treaty -- is transparently self-serving. Like his EU counterparts, he knows full well that his support for an Israeli surrender of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights is a minority view. So his actual concern is not the health of Israeli democracy, but the power of the political Left to determine policy against the interests and wishes of the public.

The second reason that the Left acquiesces to the silencing of speech is because its members are just as concerned about the threat of Islamic supremacy as their political opponents. But unlike their opponents, they are too cowardly to do anything about it. This point was made clear too, in the wake of the release of Wilders' film.

This week a delegation of Christian and Muslim Dutch religious leaders travelled to Cairo to speak to religious Islamic leaders. Speaking to Radio Netherlands, Bas Plaisier, who heads the Dutch Protestant Church said that the delegation's mission was to "limit the possible consequences" of Wilders' film. The consequences he was referring to, of course, are the prospects of violent Muslim rioting and attacks against the Dutch and against Christians worldwide. Radio Netherlands reported that Plaisier "has been receiving disturbing reports from Dutch nationals all over the world, including ones about fear of repercussions among Christians in Sudan, the Middle East and Indonesia."

So the real reason the Dutch Protestant Church decries the film not because it thinks Wilders is wrong, but because its leaders believe that Wilders is absolutely right. It's just that unlike Wilders, who has placed his life in danger to express his views, they are too cowardly to defend themselves, and so, they travel to Cairo to genuflect to religious leaders who daily oversee the preaching of hate and Islamic supremacy in Egyptian mosques. They go on bended knee to coo before those who coerced the institutionalization of Egypt's religious persecution of its Christian Coptic minority and its silencing of liberal critics of the Mubarak regime and the Muslim Brotherhood.

And that is the rub. By squelching debate - out of loathing for their non-leftist political opponents and out of fear of jihadists and the regimes that promote them -- the West as a whole undermines not only its own values and foundational creeds. It also undermines the non-jihadists of the Islamic world, who, if ever empowered, would work to promote a form of Islam that does not respond to challenge with violence but rather with the discourse of reason and mutual respect for differences of opinion.



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.