Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Health and safety fears are making Britain a safe place for extremely stupid people

By Boris Johnson

Another triumph of the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid. They are now the most powerful lobbying force in the land. You can see the results of their campaigns on park benches, on street corners, on station platforms – and now their hectoring signage is sprouting on desolate beaches and once unspoilt stretches of moorland. They are more energetic than the RSPCA. They are more effective than the birdwatchers, the child‑protectors and the petrolheads put together. Indeed, for manic dedication they are only rivalled by Fathers4Justice. Ladies and gentlemen, let's have a big hand for this year's winner of the prize for the Most Successful Special Interest Group. I give you – the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid.

It was some years ago that my daughter and I first became aware of their achievements. We were exploring the magical cliff-top castle of Tintagel and we came across a sign on the edge of the cliff. It was expensively hand‑painted and about 1ft high. It said: "Edge of cliff". As a statement of the plonkingly obvious, it could have been bettered only if there had been another sign with a vertical arrow saying "Sky". We laughed so much we almost fell off.

Since then, the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid has been going from strength to strength. It has adorned the back of peanut packets with signs saying "May contain nuts"; it has embossed every plastic coffee sipper-lid with the information that the contents may be hot; and now, according to a wonderful pamphlet issued by the Manifesto Club, its activities are reaching a climax. I could direct you to a lovely pebble beach in Sussex, where visitors are warned with a hideous bright yellow sign and a pictogram of a man falling over that there is an "uneven surface". Another pictogram, complete with another tumbling idiot, warns that the beach may have a "slippery surface". Cor! I can just about see the case for warning railway passengers that if they run on a marble station concourse, and that concourse is wet, then they may be at risk of slipping.

But we are talking about a beach in Sussex. How dur-brained do you have to be to fail to grasp that pebble beaches are uneven and may be slippery? You might as well post a sign at the gates of the Vatican saying: "Caution: Pope at work". Or I could show you a park bench in London boasting an exclamation mark in a fluorescent yellow triangle and the warning, "May become wet". You don't say! A bench in London may become wet, the public is told. I wonder whether we are doing enough to alert people to this fact, that it is raining in London on average 6 per cent of the time. Perhaps we should have a giant sign at Heathrow saying: "Welcome to Britain – danger of moderate precipitation".

Then there is the deranged yellow sign in a Tooting cemetery warning visitors not to fall into open or sunken graves, and that disintegrating gravestones and other memorials may prove lethal to the bystander. But the all-time triumph of the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid – the sign that clinched it for them at this year's awards – was a big road sign that went up in Swansea. The English version said that this was a residential area and there was no entry for heavy goods vehicles. But it was the Welsh translation that represented a masterpiece of Extremely Stupid lobbying. This read: "Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i'w gyfielthu." It was a few months before someone had the nerve to point out that this gnomic message meant: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated."

In that magnificent story – of how Swansea council managed to put up a Welsh out-of-office autoreply, in the belief that it was something to do with heavy goods vehicles – there is much to be learnt about modern Britain. But I single out that incident today because it so perfectly illustrates the unthinking way in which we erect street furniture. We pollute our landscape with signs and clutter of all kind, when they may have nil semiotic value and do nothing for "elf and safety".

People often ask me why there are so many traffic lights, and why they seem to spend such an unconscionable time on red. The answer is that there has indeed been a huge expansion of traffic lights in the past 10 years, and each one generally represents the culmination of some campaign.

Typically, there will have been an accident, and local campaigners will get together with families of the victims to demand a solution. In these circumstances, it is very difficult for local politicians to resist. On the contrary, the overwhelming temptation will be to "do something". And though a plausible case can be made for each intervention, the cumulative effect can be counterproductive.

Again, we have been going through a long period in which lobbyists have demanded that pedestrians be segregated from the streets with big steel railings; and though this may seem sensible in some ways, the railings produce perverse results. They add greatly to the hassle of getting around on foot. They make the streets less permeable to pedestrians – and by doing their bit to discourage walking, they may even be encouraging a fatal rise in obesity.

In any case, they are certainly a serious health hazard for cyclists, who are in danger of being crushed or scraped against them by vehicles. The same point can be made about some of the forest of black-poled signs that we allow to sprout in our paths, overloading us with non‑information and creating a new collision risk to those who use the streets.

Of course, there is a balance to be struck, and the interests of the blind must be protected; but people are increasingly frustrated with pointless street clutter, and are ready to go back to common sense. That is why many London boroughs are now actively looking at removing traffic lights, and that is why we in City Hall are pursuing urban-realm projects to end the bossing and restore freedom of movement.

In the meantime, if you have any more examples of the work of the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid, I am all ears.


British oldsters' coffee morning banned for health and safety reasons

A group of pensioners have been banned from holding a coffee morning at a public library for health and safety reasons in case they spill hot drinks on children. This thin excuse to mess other people around just shows how power-hungry British bureaucrats are. They are little men desperate to find some way of making themselves significant

The seven members of the coffee morning for over 50s have met at Eye Library in Eye, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, every Tuesday for the last four years without incident. But council officials have now axed the meetings claiming that toddlers from a nearby nursery who use the library at the same time could be injured if hot coffee spilt on them.

Now members, who used to pay 20p each to the library to cover costs, have arranged to meet at each other's homes instead. Derek Taylor, one member of the coffee club, condemned the "laughable" move and claimed they had usually finished their drinks by the time the toddlers arrived for their half hour visit.

Mr Taylor, of Eye, said: "It is just laughable really. It is health and safety gone through the roof. Nearly four years ago we set up a coffee morning at Eye Library after the librarian at the time came up with the idea, and since then about seven of us have been going there every Tuesday.

"About three weeks ago a toddlers group started coming up on the Tuesday as well, and then this week when we went, we were told that we would not be allowed any tea or coffee because of health and safety reasons because there is a risk we could spill hot tea on the children.

"However, we understand that is not the case at all, because we have always finished our drinks before the children even arrive, and that it is the case that the librarian doesn't want to wash up extra cups. "It is very disappointing, we all thoroughly enjoy the weekly meeting, it is a chance for us all to catch up and have a chat."

Retired office worker Patricia Owen, 70, and her husband Ray, 69, from Eye Green, near Eye, have also been attending the coffee mornings since they were launched. Mrs Owen said: "We are being told we can't have a hot drink. Health and safety is a silly excuse. We have now made alternative arrangements and plan to have our coffee mornings at each other's homes."

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) called for sensible risk assessments to be made. A spokesman said: "This would seem to be a disproportionate reaction to risk. I'm sure a sensible compromise could be found that does not leave these pensioners on the streets."

A spokesman for Peterborough City Council, who run the library, said: "Eye Library is a small library and there were concerns about hot drinks being served to the group when there were small children sitting very close by. "However, we do not want to spoil anyone's fun, and will be speaking to both groups to see if we can be more flexible about the timings so that the nursery group are not in the library at the time the coffee morning is meeting."


Britain in battle for its soul, says Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen

Britain is facing a “battle for the soul of the nation”, an archbishop warned yesterday at the inaugural meeting of a group that threatens to split the Church of England. The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, called for a spiritual renewal of Church and State in his keynote speech to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in London. Dr Jensen, arguably the most powerful evangelical in the Anglican Communion and a driving force behind the conservative revival, said: “In this country, the Christian foundations have been shaken. In this and the next generation there will be fought what may amount to the last battle for the soul of the nation.

“It will be an ideological war, a war of ideas. But great issues will hang upon the outcome: the fate of a culture and the eternal fate of souls.” He warned: “The culture of the West has adopted and promulgated anti-Christian belief and practice.

“It confronts every Christian with the choice of submission or harassment. It pretends to be the true heir of the Christian faith, and that the entire structure of Christian thought can disappear into the receding past. The conflict is over the authority of Jesus Christ. The fact that sexual ethics is where the contest is sharpest should not divert us from this basic truth.”

Members of the fellowship said their agenda was to reform the Church of England from within and to bring the increasingly liberal Anglicans in the West back to their biblical Protestant roots. They are opposed to blessing gay civil partnerships, ordaining gay clergy and, in particular, the ordination of women bishops.

Many Anglicans believe the fellowship’s agenda is backward-looking and would alienate moderate believers. Delegates meeting in Westminster Central Hall took comfort from messages of support sent by the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. In her letter, the Queen sent “good wishes to all concerned for a successful and memorable event”. Dr Williams said: “I shall be glad to hold all of you in my prayers for the occasion.” Even the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, gave his backing to the new group, despite being an advocate of women bishops.

Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, accused the Queen of “a serious error of judgment”. He said: “It is very alarming to see the Queen endorse a homophobic grouping within the Church of England.”

Bishop Greg Venables, primate of the Southern Cone in South America, told delegates: “Schism is not the point of what is happening. Schism is when you separate over secondary issues. This is about essential theology. That is where the divisions are coming. It is not schism, it is real separation.”

Leaders of the fellowship told The Times that they believed disestablishment was both inevitable and necessary if the Anglican Church was to remain true to its biblical heritage.


Frank Lombard’s Wish List

by Mike Adams

The main stream media is finally discussing the sexual preferences of Frank Lombard - the Duke University administrator accused of molesting and offering his five-year-old adopted son for sex, via the internet. Naturally, the newspapers are focusing on threats to the gay adoption movement not threats to those who are adopted by gay parents. I’d like to bring the conversation back to Frank Lombard for a moment. His potential as a child molester should have been detected by social workers and friends alike.

Just one look at Frank Lombard’s Amazon Wish List should have convinced anyone that he should not be adopting a young boy. The names and descriptions of some of Lombard’s favorites follow:

1. Dear Boys. This film is about an aging gay writer who becomes more demanding of the young men he has affairs with. They, in turn, are drawn to one another. In other words, it is a film showing a bunch of young men having sex with one another – with full frontal nudity, of course. So, why not let Frank Lombard adopt two little boys?

2. Constantine Giannaris, The Short Films. This collection of films includes one called “A Place In The Sun.” In it, a bored 35 year old Greek man falls in love with an 18 year old Albanian boy. The product description says “The two share little in common except their boredom and the only way they both know to relieve it, sex.” This film shares something in common with the first one – an older man with a proclivity for younger men. So, why not let Frank Lombard adopt two little boys?

3. Antibodies. This film deals with both pedophilia and serial murder. In fact, the film opens with a sequence in which Gabriel Engel who has raped, killed, and mutilated more than a dozen young boys, is arrested by the police. Surely, this is the kind of film any adoptive parent likes to watch. Pedophilia, rape, and mutilation Jeff Dahmer style. So, why not let Frank Lombard adopt two little boys?

4. Punish Me. In this film, Jan is a 16-year-old juvenile delinquent placed under the supervision of Elsa Seifert, his 49-year-old probation officer. As her daughter prepares to leave home, and her marriage begins to fall apart, Elsa longs for something outside of her routine. You guessed it: The teen offers to be sexually subjugated to Elsa. So she enters into a sadomasochistic relationship with the teen. What’s wrong with the adoptive parent who likes watching films of adults having sex with under-aged boys? And why not let Frank Lombard adopt two little boys?

5. Boy Crush. No need for elaboration, here. Let’s just let Frank Lombard adopt a couple of little boys!

6. Rock Haven. It’s no surprise that the gay love affair in this film is between two teenagers. Does Frank Lombard ever like to watch gay sex between people who are actually old enough to buy a beer? Let’s not ask too many questions. Just let him adopt a couple of little boys and hope he doesn’t molest them before they’re old enough to buy that first beer – or peach wine cooler or whatever their preference might be.

7. Naked Boys Singing. No red flags here. And no need to explain a complicated plot. Let’s just let Frank Lombard adopt some little boys now!

8. The Living End. This is a great film for Frank Lombard to watch given that he teaches classes on HIV/AIDS at Duke University. In this film, there is lots of gay murder and violence. Furthermore, two HIV-positive men remain sexually active after learning they are HIV-positive. Did I mention that Frank Lombard is the Associate Director of the Center for Health Policy at Duke? Here’s a good health policy: Don’t sodomize others after you learn you are HIV positive. Maybe I should teach a course on HIV/AIDS at Duke University. In the meantime, let’s let Frank Lombard adopt some little boys!

9. First Out 2. Wow, isn’t this amazing! A teacher succumbs to the seduction of one of his students. When he sees the student and his father outside of the Principal s Office the following morning, he’s overwhelmed with guilt, worry and fear for the consequences of his impulsive actions. More evidence of Frank Lombard’s obsession with inter-generational gay love. Let’s get that man a couple of little boys!

10. Boys Love. You really aren’t going to believe this one. A magazine editor sets out to profile a teen model and ends up having gay sex with him. More gay inter-generational love. Let’s give Frank Lombard some little boys!

11. Glue. Well, this one is bound to make Frank Lombard come unglued. On look at the cover of this movie makes it appear to be a piece of child pornography. And, indeed, a quick read of the product description shows its lead actor is only 15 years old. And it has a truly complicated plot line. Two guys and a girl take turns having sex with one another. But it raises some interesting questions, doesn’t it? Like: Why does Amazon sell child pornography? And, why don’t we let Frank Lombard adopt a couple of little boys?

12. The Toilers and the Wayfarers. Finally, we see that Frank Lombard has chosen a film about teenagers involved in gay prostitution. This doesn’t necessarily mean he would put his own child up for prostitution. So, let’s just give him a couple of young boys and hope for the best!

None of this article was intended to say that the adoption agency was negligent in allowing Frank Lombard to adopt two small boys. After all, they were only black children. It’s not like any good white children were put into harm’s way. Nor was this article intended to suggest that gay men often adopt boys out of some sick sense of sexual perversion. I see gay male couples walking around with their adopted little girls all the time. Don’t you?



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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