Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jewish school broke race laws by refusing boy whose mother had converted

This is muddled thinking even by the standards of modern British law. Despite what the judges said, Jews are a religion, not a race. There are Jews of all races. And the fact that the school was willing to accept a convert shows that the discrimination was not based on ancestry. It was based on religion. How can you be converted into a different race??? Even Michael Jackson couldn't manage that. The school just wanted the conversion to be up to orthodox standards and not some token thing

A leading Jewish state school broke race laws by refusing to admit a boy whose mother had converted to the religion, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday. JFS, formerly the Jewish Free School, is highly oversubscribed and has turned away several pupils for not meeting its criteria of Jewishness. Previous court hearings have supported its stance. Yesterday, however, the court ruled in favour of the parents of a boy named only as M. The school, in Brent, northwest London, rejected the 12-year-old child because his mother converted to Judaism at a Progressive rather than Orthodox synagogue. M’s father is Jewish, but custom dictates that the faith line passes through the mother.

The judges said that “the requirement that if a pupil is to qualify for admission his mother must be Jewish, whether by descent or by conversion, is a test of ethnicity which contravenes the Race Relations Act”.

The ruling will have widespread implications for other faith schools and puts the court on a collision course with the Office of the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, from which the school takes its definition of which children are Jewish. It strikes at the heart of whether being Jewish is a religious or racial question and means that such schools will now have to adopt a religious practice test.

JFS said that it was “disappointed” and would seek leave to appeal to the House of Lords — a decision supported by Sir Jonathan. “I have advised the leadership of JFS that they have my full personal support,” he said.

Other Jewish groups, however, welcomed the ruling, saying they had been marginalised and discouraged from speaking out. Rabbi Danny Rich, the chief executive of Liberal Judaism, said: “The JFS, a state comprehensive funded by taxpayers, has been exclusively following one Jewish religious authority and ignoring the rest. We object to standard-setting by just one section of the community to the detriment of the rest. The JFS will now be open to children from all types of Jewish background.”

The court ruling stated: “It appears to us clear that Jews constitute a racial group defined principally by ethnic origin and additionally by conversion and that to discriminate against a person on the ground that he either is or is not Jewish is therefore to discriminate against him on racial grounds. “If for theological reasons a fully subscribed Christian faith school refused to admit a child on the ground that, albeit practising Christians, the child’s family were of Jewish origin, it is hard to see what answer there could be to a claim for race discrimination. The refusal of JFS to admit M was accordingly, in our judgment, less favourable treatment of him on racial grounds.”

John Halford, who represented the boy’s father, said: “It is unlawful for a child’s ethnic origins to be used as the criterion for school entry. Such a practice is even more unacceptable in the case of a comprehensive school funded by the taxpayer.” Many other Jewish schools operate according to similar policies and will be affected by the court’s decision.

David Lightman’s daughter was also turned away by JFS because it did not accept her Jewish status, even though her mother is head of English at the school. Mr Lightman, an Orthodox Jew, said yesterday: “This is a victory for common sense and religious freedom. We are talking about two Jewish children who want an education. If the school thinks it’s worth spending millions of pounds to stop that happening, then they need to re-examine what Judaism is about.”

JFS is one of Britain’s oldest Jewish schools and is the largest Orthodox Jewish school in Europe, with 2,000 pupils. It is described by Ofsted as outstanding and is oversubscribed every academic year.


More arrogant British bureaucrats

'I was turned into a pariah for complaining about a yob' -- Woman blacklisted by her local council. And the council would not admit that they had got it wrong. She had to go all the way to the High Court to slap them down. Legal costs: Half a million pounds -- to be paid by the council's insurers. I'm guessing that when the insurance policy comes up for renewal they will have to pay a huge premium to get any insurance cover at all

Jane Clift saw it as her public duty to report a drunk she saw trampling flowers in a park. But her efforts led to a surreal nightmare in which she was branded potentially violent and put on a council blacklist with thugs and sex attackers. Her details were circulated to an extraordinary range of public and private bodies, including doctors, dentists, opticians, libraries, contraceptive clinics, schools and nurseries. Their staff were advised not to see her alone. The 43-year-old former care worker was forced to withdraw an application to become a foster parent and, eventually, to leave the town where she had lived for ten years.

Now, after a bitter four-year legal battle with Slough Council, the stain on her character has finally been removed. The High Court ordered the council to pay her 12,000 pounds in libel damages after a case which has cost taxpayers an estimated 500,000 in legal fees. Mrs Clift said last night: 'I hope this means others will never have to go through the hell I have suffered.'

Jane Clift, 43, was 'outraged' in December 2005 on learning she had been put on the council's 'register of potentially violent persons', with officials warned only to approach her in pairs, a High Court jury heard during a week-long trial. Her QC, Hugh Tomlinson, said she was unfairly branded a trouble-maker in order to 'get rid of her' due to her persistence in pursuing complaints against the council and its staff.

The court heard in August 2005 Mrs Clift confronted an abusive drunk in the town's Sheffield Road Rest Gardens after she objected to a small boy vandalising a flower bed. Her deadlock with the council developed over Mrs Clift's claims that staff in its anti-social behaviour unit took no action over her complaints.

Former care worker, Mrs Clift, claimed damages for libel from the council and its then head of public protection, Patrick Kelleher, both of whom denied the claims. Each insisted that they acted in good faith. On Wednesday the jury rejected allegations that Mr Kelleher had acted maliciously, but upheld Mrs Clift's libel claim, awarding £12,000 damages.

Ms Clift sued for libel over the insertion of her name on the violent persons' register, and over an email distributed by Mr Kelleher. The jury found the disputed register entry and email were not 'substantially true', but cleared Mr Kelleher of allegations of malice in composing the email.

She said she had no idea such a register even existed before her name was added to it. The entry expired after 18 months but by then she had been forced to leave Slough. Mrs Clift, who now lives in Birmingham, said: 'I am not and never have been violent - as the jury have found. 'It has taken me four years to clear my name and I hope Slough and other councils never again misuse their registers.'

Simon Davies, from the human rights watchdog Privacy International, said: 'This just shows the megalomania of these local authorities. This poor woman was subjected to a Kafkaesque ordeal because of an incorrect allegation made by one official. 'It is the sort of behaviour that we would have condemned if it came from China or Russia. Our councils seem to be out of control.'

During the eight-day hearing the court was told Mrs Clift had told another council worker that, as far as she was concerned, Miss Rashid could 'drop down dead'. She followed up with a letter in which she wrote: 'I felt so filled with anger that I am certain I would have physically attacked her if she had been anywhere near me. I truly am not of that nature and so, surely, this should act as a wake-up call to the borough as to the capacity she has for offending people.'

But her counsel, Hugh Tomlinson, said the letter was misinterpreted and the decision to put her on the register had been 'completely ridiculous'. Her name was added to the blacklist because she was 'a thorn in their side' and the council thought the move would mean no-one would take her seriously.

Mr Justice Tugendhat ordered Slough to pay the legal costs of the case, estimated at between 450,000 to 500,000 pounds. Mrs Clift brought the action under a 'no win no fee' arrangement with her legal team.

A council spokesman said later: 'The jury found that what we recorded about Mrs Clift was not true, but they were not prepared to find that we acted in bad faith. 'We will reflect carefully on how we need to respond.'

See here and here (The Daily Mail article was incomplete so I have inserted part of a report on the case above from another newspaper)

Stupid feminist ideology puts theory before reality -- as usual

Swedish parents keep 2-year-old's "gender" secret

A couple of Swedish parents have stirred up debate in the country by refusing to reveal whether their two-and-a-half-year-old child is a boy or a girl. Pop’s parents, both 24, made a decision when their baby was born to keep Pop’s sex a secret. Aside from a select few – those who have changed the child’s diaper – nobody knows Pop’s gender; if anyone enquires, Pop’s parents simply say they don’t disclose this information.

In an interview with newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in March, the parents were quoted saying their decision was rooted in the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction. “We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” Pop’s mother said. “It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”

The child's parents said so long as they keep Pop’s gender a secret, he or she will be able to avoid preconceived notions of how people should be treated if male or female. Pop's wardrobe includes everything from dresses to trousers and Pop's hairstyle changes on a regular basis. And Pop usually decides how Pop is going to dress on a given morning. Although Pop knows that there are physical differences between a boy and a girl, Pop's parents never use personal pronouns when referring to the child – they just say Pop. "I believe that the self-confidence and personality that Pop has shaped will remain for a lifetime," said Pop's mother.

But while Pop’s parents say they have received supportive feedback from many of their peers, not everyone agrees that their chosen course of action will have a positive outcome. “Ignoring children's natures simply doesn’t work,” says Susan Pinker, a psychologist and newspaper columnist from Toronto, Canada, who wrote the book The Sexual Paradox, which focuses on sex differences in the workplace. “Child-rearing should not be about providing an opportunity to prove an ideological point, but about responding to each child’s needs as an individual,” Pinker tells The Local. “It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to keep this a secret for long. Children are curious about their own identity, and are likely to gravitate towards others of the same sex during free play time in early childhood.”

Pinker says there are many ways that males and females differ from birth; even if gender is kept ‘secret,’ prenatal hormones developed in the second trimester of pregnancy already alter the way the child behaves and feels. She says once children can speak, males tell aggressive stories 87 per cent of the time, while females only 17 per cent. In a study, children aged two to four were given a task to work together for a reward, and boys used physical tactics 50 times more than girls, she says.

But Swedish gender equality consultant [A "consultant". Wow! That sounds authoritative! They would have got a different response if they had consulted me -- and I DO have a doctorate in Psychology] Kristina Henkel says Pop’s parents' experiment might have positive results. “If the parents are doing this because they want to create a discussion with other adults about why gender is important, then I think they can make a point of it,” Henkel says in a telephone interview with The Local. “You can talk about there being a non-stereotypical gender; if you are a girl you can do the same as a boy, and if you’re a boy you can do the same as a girl.”

Henkel also says a child's sex can deeply affect how they are treated growing up, and distract them from simply being a human being. “If the child is dressed up as a girl or boy, it affects them because people see and treat them in a more gender-typical way,” Henkel explains. “Girls are told they are cute in their dresses, and boys are told they are cool with their car toys. But if you give them no gender they will be seen more as a human or not a stereotype as a boy or girl.” She says that without these gender stereotypes, children can build character as individuals, not hindered by preconceived notions of what they should be as males or females. “I think [No harm in thinking but what evidence does she have?] that can make these kids stronger,” Henkel says.

Anna Nordenström, a paediatric endocrinologist at Karolinska Institutet, says it’s hard to know what effects the parents' decision will have on Pop. “It will affect the child, but it’s hard to say if it will hurt the child,” says Nordenström, who studies hormonal influences on gender development. “I don’t know what they are trying to achieve. It’s going to make the child different, make them very special.” She says if Pop is still ‘genderless’ by the time he or she starts school, Pop will certainly receive a lot of attention from classmates.

“We don’t know exactly what determines sexual identity, but it’s not only sexual upbringing,” says Nordenström. “Gender-typical behaviour, sexual preferences and sexual identity usually go together. There are hormonal and other influences that we don’t know that will determine the gender of the child.”

Both Nordenström and Pinker refer to a controversial case from 1967 when a circumcision left one of two twin brothers without a penis. Dr. John Money, who asserted that gender was learned rather than innate, convinced the parents to raise 'David' as 'Brenda' and the child had cosmetic genitalia reconstruction surgery. She was raised as a female, with girls’ clothes, games and codes of behaviour. The parents never told Brenda the secret until she was a teenager and rebelled against femininity. She then started receiving testosterone injections and underwent another genetic reconstruction process to become David again. David Reimer denounced the experiment as a crushing failure before committing suicide at the age of 38. “I don’t think that trying to keep a child’s sex a secret will fool anyone, nor do I think it’s wise or ethical,” says Pinker. “As with any family secret, when we try to keep an elemental truth from children, it usually blows up in the parent’s face, via psychosomatic illness or rebellious behaviour.”

But with a second child on the way, Pop's parents have no plans to change what they see as a winning formula. As for Pop, they say they will only reveal the child's sex when Pop thinks it's time.


Australia: Deadly bureaucracy

Ineptitude of self-serving know-all bureaucrats caused many deaths in the Victorian bushfires

The bureaucratic ineptitude being revealed at the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission is at once extraordinary and infuriating. The lessons have implications for every aspect of government in Australia and demand a radical rethink about the dominance of politicised bureaucracies within our lives. The emerging picture eerily imitates Franz Kafka's The Trial.

Government fire services furtively developed their doctrinaire rules, then enforced them with mindless zeal. Fire and emergency supremos were provided with limitless authority to bend citizens and communities to their rigid controls without effective scrutiny or supervision. What emerges is a layer of self-styled bureaucratic intelligentsia devising policies that became sacrosanct in themselves regardless of their original purpose. Ideological processes left no room for common sense, pragmatism or compassion, and opportunities to help vulnerable people were wasted. Policies bore testimony to the assumption that the population was so imbecilic as to need greater protection from itself than from raging wildfire.

Sound familiar? This mindset is magnified by its ubiquity in modern Australian government and alarm bells should be ringing. Failures equally significant but less conspicuous are probably simmering away beneath the whole gamut of populist government decision-making. The danger is fanned by the speed and dimension of decisions that are made under of a veil of urgency associated with recession, security and other confected emergencies.

Day after day, emergency service tsars present themselves to the royal commission as though they are the stars atop the tree of knowledge. The Country Fire Authority seems genuinely bamboozled that a handful of head office executives did not prove to be wiser than its thousands of volunteers who have intimate knowledge of local roads, properties and personalities. Directions, strategies and resources were issued and controlled by executives far removed from the horrific reality that their edicts and regulations created. Volunteers and citizens were left to fend for themselves after bureaucratic strategies descended into chaos.

Rigid and enforced controls were relaxed only when they were mocked into submission by a recalcitrant inferno. The winding trail of blunders growing from stubbornly centralised remote control defies the imagination. Emergency call centres were overwhelmed while extensive volunteer networks lay idle. NSW firefighters were called up with media fanfare and weren't provided with so much as a map. One homeowner was relieved to see a NSW bushfire tanker arrive at his front gate, only to learn it was lost.

ABC radio had been anointed the official emergency broadcaster with little regard for the millions who listen to commercial radio. Descriptions of the official information feed provided to the broadcaster conjure visions of a garbage chute funnelling ad hoc faxes, phone calls, emails and web bulletins. Producers and announcers consumed valuable time piecing together the scraps of intelligence.

To his credit the CFA chief officer continues to roll up to the royal commission to take his medicine. It will be interesting to see if his past and present ministers will also be required to testify and give an account of their stewardship. Neither justice nor recovery will be served if the bureaucrats are hung out to dry by themselves.

The vast body of evidence suggests a great deal of loss and destruction could have been avoided if local knowledge, experience and commitment had been respected and used. Instead, the politicians and their bureaucrats shared a motivation to exert close and uncompromised control. An aggressive resistance to contestable advice allowed policy-makers to deny the existence of culpable knowledge. The mandarins eventually succumbed to their own intoxicating publicity and stared down the risk of their knowledge deficit. Dysfunctionality bred like a virus in a hotbed of intellectual conceit.

The implications are sobering for every aspect of government policy. School principals especially must be crying tears of blood as they witness the obscene waste of money occurring under the ridiculously rigid policies of the so-called Building the Education Revolution.

Of course the critical role of bureaucracy must be respected and communities are happy to oblige. However, such respect does not establish government entities as the sole repository of wisdom. People don't expect governments to be omniscient but they are entitled to hold them to a lie as much as a truth. Including communities in practical policy formulation must go far deeper than the cosmetic consultation most Australian governments practise.

It must also go deeper than community cabinet meetings and a prime ministerial revival of an imagined Australian lexicon. It also goes beyond the federal government's notion of "umpire politics" where decisions are designed to mute the lobbyists rather than genuinely serve the nation.

Real change requires courage and creativity that is shared and accepted with a parity of worth. The view that these qualities are vested exclusively in parliamentary and bureaucratic empires is a dangerous and culpable vanity that Australia simply cannot afford.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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