Concerned about the treatment her elderly mother was receiving in a care home, Rosalind Figg decided to look after her personally. She and her partner created an ensuite bedroom with an alarm system to wake them if 86-year-old Betty Figg, who has dementia, got up in the night. When her mother confirmed that she was unhappy, Miss Figg took her home in the hope that it would be the end of an unfortunate chapter in her life.
But two days later, amid astonishing scenes, the old lady was snatched back by social services. A distraught Mrs Figg was wheeled to a car with a blanket over her head after police who had been called in as back-up threatened to smash the door with a battering ram if the family did not hand her over. Yesterday she was back in her room at £2,000-a-month Butts Croft House in Corley, Warwickshire.
'I will fight tooth and nail to get my mum back,' said 55-year- old Miss Figg at her home in Coventry. 'I can't believe this has happened - I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and realise it has been a bad dream.'
Miss Figg's mother had lived alone in Coventry since the death of husband Brian 15 years ago. She was admitted to hospital last June suffering from swollen legs and was becoming increasingly forgetful. Her daughter initially agreed to advice from social services that she should go into a home and she moved to Butts Croft House in August, with the fees being paid by the family.
In October, Mrs Figg fell out of her bed and was starting to lose weight and her daughter decided to give up her pottery business to care for her at home. Divorced mother-of-four Miss Figg and her partner Christopher Roberts, 41, created the downstairs bedroom, installed wheelchair ramps and had a special bed delivered with sensors in the mattress so an alarm would wake them if the old lady got up in the night.
But a council occupational health specialist ruled the three-bedroom semi-detached home was still not suitable for Mrs Figg. She was taken back to hospital in November after picking up an oral infection. When she returned to the home, her daughter went to visit and discovered Mrs Figg's mouth was caked in dried blood and she was complaining of feeling hungry.
Last Saturday, as usual, Miss Figg took her out from the home but says her mother was so unhappy there that she decided not to return her. She said she had contacted police before doing this and officers had told her it was a civil matter and did not concern them. Miss Figg, who herself used to work as a carer, said she saw a real improvement in her mother in the next two days, by the end of which she was laughing and chatting to neighbours over a cup of tea.
However, Coventry City Council obtained an 'emergency warrant' from magistrates under the Mental Health Act on the grounds that a 'person believed to be suffering from a mental disorder is being ill treated and neglected'.
'Mum was escorted out of my house in her wheelchair and had a towel thrown over her head as though she was some kind of prisoner,' said Miss Figg. 'She is not happy in the home. She should back with her loving family where she belongs.' A neighbour who witnessed the raid said: 'I can't believe they brought a battering ram. They use them to break into drug dens, not to cart off little old ladies.'
A council spokesman said an independent advocate had been appointed to work in Mrs Figg's best interests. 'Staff from a number of agencies are involved in safeguarding her, including using statutory powers to protect her against further moves and to provide a mental health assessment after she was removed from a residential care home by her daughter against advice.' He said social care staff had been refused entry to Miss Figg's home and returned with police assistance. A police spokesman said: 'Police were asked to assist social services to remove an elderly woman to a place of safety. 'A warrant was granted and an enforcer was taken in order to gain access to the property if needed. The enforcer was not used.'
Butts Croft House is a 28-bed home which specialises in dementia care. It has not been rated by the Care Quality Commission since changing ownership in October. It was inspected for the first time under the new regime last month. A spokesman for the CQC said the report was still being finalised and was not due to be published until late May.
Civil liberties for me, but not for thee
Last week brought us two unrelated stories about nasty encounters between people going about their lives and law-enforcement authorities. One was a college-age environmentalist who was Tased and arrested by police in Eugene, Oregon. The other was the pastor of an Arizona church who was Tased and beaten by Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint well within the country. In both cases, the treatment of the men seemed not just brutal,but also largely unprovoked.
And in both cases, some commentators reserved their sympathy, because the victim was, to their eyes, the wrong kind of person. Perhaps Gawker summed up the phenomenon best in a piece about Pastor Steve Anderson called, "This is Not the Civil Libertarian Hero You're Looking For." Wrote John Cook:
[I]t sure seems like he was wronged by overzealous Department of Homeland Security goons. It's the war on terror and war against Mexicans gone mad! Liberals should be outraged. Conservatives should mock them for that outrage.As befits Gawker's usual tone, it's hard to figure out whether the author has an actual point to make. But his piece ably presents the notion that sympathy for people whose rights may have been violated is reserved for those with the "right" ideology and affiliations. Registered to vote with the other team? Too bad for you -- get lost.
But wait -- here's a video of him calling Barack Obama a devil. He's a Republican! And the jack-booted thugs at DHS are calling all God-fearing Republicans terrorists. Conservatives should be outraged! Liberals should mock them for that outrage. Wait -- are DHS checkpoints along U.S. highways good or bad now? We're so confused.
In cruder form, that notion is captured in comments on news reports about the cases. At the Register-Guard, one genius passing opinion on the Tasing of Ian Van Ornum, who rode the lightning twice while lying, restrained, face-down on the sidewalk said, "Just looking at this guys hair tells me that the police were justified."
In the comments on my own column about Anderson's encounter with Border Patrol and Arizona highway patrol officers, which resulted in 11 stitches, a reader said, "I have a hunch this Anderson boy provoked this incident and, most likely, is not being truthful. Anderson is a classic religious kook, a poorly educated Jesus freak."
Maybe I'm being old-fashioned here, but I'm under the silly impression that our rights are dependent on our being human and having a pulse -- not on party affiliation, culture, religion or whether or not we approve in any way of the people about to enjoy a close encounter with the authorities.
Look, when we treat civil liberties, or protections of any sort against the powers-that-be, as special privileges to be doled out only to those with the right opinions, then we all lose. The authorities are only too happy to exploit that attitude as a wedge to divide and conquer us all, piecemeal. Between the unsympathetic political opponents of whoever has been abused, and the habitual fans of state authority who sympathize with nobody who confronts the authorities (you know, the people who comment, "When A Uniformed Officer (Read Authority Figure) Tells You To Do Something, Keep Your Smart Mouth Shut And Do It."), the government can always command a majority against one of their victims and his few friends.
That is, they can if we play that game. We don't have to. We can -- and should -- treat protections for our rights as setting the basic ground rules for dealing with each other. With those rules established, we can get about the business of vilifying one another and engaging in the usual political and cultural combat. But those rules are fundamental -- without them in place for everyone, we have no protections for ourselves.
It's up to you, folks. You don't have to like other people to respect their rights. But if you're going to consider civil liberties and individual rights as special privileges to be reserved only for your tribe, you better hope that your buddies are in power -- forever.
Political correctness is only a pretence at the kindness that is basic to Christianity
The world has gone wild over the video of Susan Boyle auditioning for “Britain’s Got Talent.” All over the internet, her triumphant rendition of “I Had a Dream” from Les Miserables has attracted the notice of millions, and become the occasion for an avalanche of easy modern-day moralizing: Don’t judge a book by its cover, witness the horror of our ageism/sexism/lookism, etc., etc., etc. The entire episode is being treated as a classic underdog tale, and a heartening reminder that great gifts can lurk in inauspicious places.
But in an increasingly secular and politically correct world, perhaps what too few of us have considered is this: What treatment would have been due Susan Boyle had her performance not been superb? What would have happened if her singing had been as undistinguished – as laughable, even – as her appearance and demeanor led the “Britain’s Got Talent” audience to expect? And what should have happened?
There’s no doubt that Susan Boyle cut a mildly ridiculous figure as she strode to center stage, with her unfashionable hair, frumpy dress, and bushy eyebrows. Witnessing the eye-rolling and sneers of the crowd as this slightly pathetic figure confessed her dream of becoming “as big as Elaine Page,” it’s clear that had she performed as the crowd had anticipated, she would have been mocked and humiliated, publicly, on a massive scale. And few of us would have thought twice.
Today, most of us have become sensitized – and rightly so – against deriding people for their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, creed or sexual orientation. That’s all to the good. But social pressure from the politically correct not to be deemed racist, sexist or homophobic only suppresses certain manifestations of a universal human urge to mistreat others that we deem somehow “below” us; it doesn’t address their source – that is, the darkness in the human heart.
Using political correctness as a moral compass designed to inject some civility into a secular world may protect individual members of certain designated-victim groups. But in contrast to the Judeo-Christian creed, it offers little guidance about what is due each and every individual, simply because she is a human being entitled to basic dignity – yes, even when she’s not bursting with youth, beauty or riches. Especially then.
As it turned out, there is much to admire about Susan Boyle: Her remarkable ability and the selflessness of her life, until recently spent caring for ailing parents. But even without a touching life story and a dazzling talent, she and her situation merited a little compassion. The hero of Jane Austen’s Emma, George Knightley, put it perfectly as he rebukes the heroine for her disrespectful treatment of a good-hearted but aging, garrulous and rather foolish old maid in their village:
Were she a woman of fortune, I would leave every harmless absurdity to take its chance, I would not quarrel with you for any liberties of manner. Were she your equal in situation—but . . . consider how far this is from being the case. She is poor; she has sunk from the comforts she was born to; and, if she live to old age, must probably sink more. Her situation should secure your compassion.After Knightley’s reproach, Emma’s conscience is awakened, and she is stricken with shame. But that was in the old, pre-“modern” England. Would it be as true today?
Turkey is just another petulant Muslim State with primitive attitudes
THE most underreported story of the month must surely be the announcement by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that he no longer supports the accession of Turkey as a full member of the European Union. His reasoning was very simple and intelligible, and it has significant implications for the Barack Obama "make nice" school of diplomacy.
At a NATO summit in Strasbourg, France, in the first week of April, it had been considered a formality that the alliance would vote to confirm Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former prime minister of Denmark, as its new secretary-general. But very suddenly, the Turkish delegation threatened to veto the appointment. The grounds of Turkey's opposition were highly significant.
Most important, they had to do with the publication of some cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2005 lampooning the Prophet Mohammed. In spite of an organised campaign of violence and boycott against his country, and in spite of a demand by a delegation of ambassadors from supposedly "Islamic" states, Rasmussen consistently maintained that Danish law did not allow him to interfere with the Danish press.
Years later, resentment at this position led Turkey - which is under its own constitution not an "Islamic" country - to use the occasion of a NATO meeting to try again to interfere with the internal affairs of a member state.
The second ground of Turkey's objection is also worth noting: a television station on Danish soil broadcasts, in the Kurdish language, to Kurds in Turkey and elsewhere. The government in Ankara, which evidently believes that all European governments are as untrammelled as itself, brusquely insists that Denmark do what Turkey would do and simply shut the transmitter down.
Once again unclear on the concepts of the open society and the rule of law - if the station is sympathetic to terrorism, as Ankara alleges, there are procedures to be followed - the Turkish authorities attempt a fiat that simply demands that others do as they say.
The implications of all this, as Kouchner stated in an interview, are extremely serious. "I was very shocked by the pressure that was brought on us," he said. "Turkey's evolution in, let's say, a more religious direction, towards a less robust secularism, worries me."
This is to put it in the mildest possible way. It's not just a matter of a Turkish political party undermining Turkey's own historic secularism. It is a question of Turkey trying to impose its Islamist and chauvinist policies on another European state, and indeed on the whole NATO alliance. And if this is how it behaves before it has been admitted to the EU, has it not invited us all to guess how it would behave when it had a veto power in those councils?
For contrast, one might mention the example of re-united federal Germany, easily the strongest economic power in the EU, which painstakingly adjusted itself to its neighbours - to the extent of giving up even the deutsche mark for the euro - and adopted the slogan "not a Germanised Europe but a Europeanised Germany".
With Turkey, it seems the reverse is the case. Its troops already occupy one-third of the territory of an EU member (Cyprus), and now it exploits its NATO membership to try to bully one of the smaller nations with which it is supposed to be conjoined in a common defence. For good measure, it continues to be ambiguous about its recognition of the existence of another non-Turkish people - the Kurds - within its frontiers.
President Obama's emollient gifts were on display at the NATO summit, where he eventually persuaded the Turks to withhold their veto on the appointment of Rasmussen. Accounts differ as to the price of this deal, but a number of plum jobs and positions now appear to have been awarded to Turkish nominees.
Much more important, however, the foreign minister of France has reversed his previous position and has now said: "It's not for the Americans to decide who comes into Europe or not. We are in charge in our own house." Put it like this: Obama's "quiet diplomacy" has temporarily conciliated the Turks while perhaps permanently alienating the French and has made it more, rather than less, likely that the American goal of Turkish EU membership will now never be reached. And this is the administration that staked so much on the idea of renewing our credit on the other side of the Atlantic. This evidently can't be done with sweetness alone.
On the question of Turkey's accession, I used to be able to make either case. Admitting the Turks could lead to the modernisation of the country, whereas exclusion could breed resentment and instability and even a renewal of pseudo-Ataturkist military rule. On the other hand, admission would put the frontiers of Europe up against Iran and Iraq and the volatile Caucasus, so that instead of being a "bridge" between East and West (to use the unvarying cliche), Turkey would become a tunnel.
The Strasbourg crisis clarifies the entire picture and should make us grateful to have been warned in such a timely fashion. Turkey wants all the privileges of NATO and EU membership but also wishes to continue occupying Cyprus, denying Kurdish rights and lying about the Armenian genocide. On top of this, it now desires to act as a proxy for Islamisation and dares to waste the time of a defensive alliance in trying to censor the press of another member state.
Kouchner was quite right to speak out as he did, and the Turkish authorities will now be able to blame the failure of their membership scheme not on the unsleeping plots of their enemies, but on the belated awakening of their former friends.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.