Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Australia: An old-fashioned Leftist bemoans the new moralistic (but not moral) Leftism
See here for research on how and why the Left use moral talk
IT'S popular to call Clive Hamilton, the Greens' candidate in the Higgins by-election, a left-winger. In fact, he's further to the right than the Liberal candidate. It's a sign of the decline of Left politics that a reactionary, pro-censorship sexual moraliser who hates the idea of working people enjoying a higher material standard of living could ever be considered left-wing.
Left-wing politics is based on the idea that all wealth is created by working people. However, the means to produce that wealth -- factories, call centres, bulldozers, production lines and so on -- is owned by capitalists, and so working people must work for a living. Different strands of Left thought call for different solutions, from working people having a larger share of the wealth they create, to working people revolting and taking over society and the economy and running it themselves. But all the different types of left-wing thought have one ideal in common: that working people deserve a better life, with more material wealth if they want it, and more freedom to decide how they should live.
Unfortunately that dream, and the word Left, have been captured by people such as Hamilton, who have more in common with old-style Catholic haters of the modern world than with left-wing supporters of an industrial society and all the benefits that it brings working people.
Hamilton was chosen by the Greens as their candidate in Higgins for his views on climate change and his ability to push that point of view forward in public debate. As is well known, Hamilton has said that "emergency" responses such as the suspension of democratic processes may be necessary to stave off what he sees as the threat of climate change.
This is not because, like many left-wingers, he doubts that parliament will respond to what working people actually need and want, but precisely because he does not trust ordinary working people to support the measures he deems necessary. Hamilton clearly is looking for the man on horseback who can save the environment, something that all genuine left-wingers distrust.
Hamilton is also proud of being the architect of the Rudd government's plan to censor the internet. Once again this reveals a deep distrust of ordinary people. By beating up a moral panic about pornography available on the internet, and by denying people have the ability to make their own moral judgments and decisions about what they look at, Hamilton rejects the self-responsibility that real leftists demand for themselves and others, and instead insists that the government do that job for us. This view is far to the right of even most people who vote for the Liberal Party.
He also hates the sexual freedom that was won by breaking down the old, oppressive social structures that existed before the 1960s. In his essay Rethinking Sexual Freedom he claims that the only two choices available to us are a "moral free-for-all" or the "careful exercise of restraint". Like a wowser complaining about the behaviour of others, Hamilton refuses to agree that people need to work out for themselves if they want to be restrained or not.
Hamilton's book Affluenza reveals his contempt for people who want to enjoy a higher material standard of living. We are, he says, in the "grip of a consumption binge" and our " whole society is addicted to overconsumption".
A real left-winger would celebrate the fact that people have more pleasure, more tools and more opportunities opening up to them than ever before. But Hamilton, like someone far more right-wing than a mere Liberal, hates the idea and wants us to retreat to a simpler age.
It's time that left-wingers stood up for their beliefs, rejected reactionaries like Hamilton and once again proudly said that we support industrial civilisation, the modern world, and more freedom and more material wealth for the working class. Any left-winger voting in the Higgins by-election this Saturday would do well to put Hamilton where he belongs: at the bottom of their preferences.
British marriage to become a meaningless ceremony?
Are there any rights and obligations of marriage that will not be extended to "shacked up" couples?
Two million unmarried couples need new legal rights to protect them from injustice if they separate, the new senior judge in charge of law reform has said. In many cases long-term partners cannot be adequately protected by existing laws, according to Lord Justice Munby, chairman of the Law Commission. It was time that the law was brought up to date with changes in society. “It is a fact that the number of people marrying today is less than it has been for over 100 years,” he said.
The comments by Lord Justice Munby, who was giving his first interview since taking up the post, will boost the case for a reform of the law pending a decision expected next year from the Government. The judge also indicated that there should be a review of the law on how a married couples’ finances are split on divorce. The Law Commission would soon be consulting on its next programme of work, he said, and the Court of Appeal had said that this area of law should be looked at.
Senior judges had consistently called for reform in this area after a series of “big money cases” with large awards and settlements. The Law Commission would therefore have to “think very carefully” and come up with good reasons for not doing it. Such cases have prompted accusations of unfairness, with wives taking large shares of their husband’s fortune. It was unsatisfactory, he said, that there was a single set of criteria for dividing the wealth of all couples, however large the sum involved. “It might be an advantage having an approach for each.”
On unmarried couples, Lord Justice Munby said that a very significant proportion of children were conceived and born out of wedlock and the family unit was “very, very different from when I grew up”. Many children lived with step-siblings or others to whom they were not related, and were brought up by single mothers whose children were by different fathers. “We cannot blind ourselves to the reality of this, particularly — and this has been the experience of judges — when the consequence of this, and the undying myth of the common law marriage, is that the lack of [legal arrangements] can cause serious injustice.” Couples “assume they will have some kind of protection,” he said.
“An astonishing number of people believe that there is something called common law marriage which will entitle them to a share of finances and property.” He said that one way to tackle this myth was to educate people to understand the situation. But in his 35 years of professional practice such efforts had clearly had no effect — and “these injustices continue”.
The comments from Lord Justice Munby, who recently took up his three-year post in charge of the law reform watchdog, come as the Government awaits research findings from Scotland, where since 2006 unmarried couples have been granted legal rights on separation. The Law Commission of England and Wales, which he now heads, put forward proposals in 2007 for extending some legal rights where couples have children or would suffer hardship without a financial settlement.
Two months ago it put forward separate reforms under which unmarried couples would automatically inherit some of their partner’s estate on his or her death. Lord Justice Munby, a judge since 2000 in the family and administrative divisions of the High Court, said he did not believe that giving unmarried couples legal rights on separation as proposed by the Law Commission would undermine marriage. “I don’t believe [they do],” he said. “Lawyers — and I would have thought it was the same for the Law Commission — have to have regard to the society in which we live; and it is a fact that our society has changed in some respects immensely, even in the time I have been a practising lawyer.”
Lord Justice Munby said that the days had long since gone when the business of judges was to enforce morality.
Although ultimately such changes were for Parliament, that did not mean the Law Commission should wash its hands. It had to recognise realities and come up with suggestions for reform, if the law created injustice. He added that the Law Commission would shortly announce a “very exciting project consultation on adult social care”, or all the law relating to the care that people can receive in their own homes, from meals on wheels to help with washing and dressing. The reforms would save millions in bureaucracy and red tape, he said.
British police use 'tricks' to 'fiddle' crime figures
Police forces are using a series of tricks to manipulate crime figures to give a false picture of their performance, a former senior detective has revealed. The techniques – dubbed "gaming" – are used to create the illusion that fewer crimes are being committed and that a bigger proportion are being solved. Rodger Patrick, a retired Detective Chief Inspector, claimed that the methods are tacitly approved of by senior officers, police watchdogs and the Home Office.
The claims will reignite the debate about the validity of crime statistics after recent figures suggested that crime fell four per cent in the second quarter of this year, and following the admission by a police watchdog that some forces are failing to record violent crime properly. The techniques identified by Dr Patrick include:
:: "Cuffing" – in which officers make crimes disappear from official figures by either recording them as a "false report" or downgrading their seriousness. For example, a robbery in which a mobile phone is stolen with violence or threats of violence is recorded as "theft from the person", which is not classed as a violent crime.
:: "Stitching" – from "stitching up", whereby offenders are charged with a crime when there is insufficient evidence. Police know that prosecutors will never proceed with the case but the crime appears in police records to have been "solved".
:: "Skewing" – when police activity is directed at easier-to-solve crimes to boost detection rates, at the expense of more serious offences such as sex crimes or child abuse.
:: "Nodding" – where clear-up rates are boosted by persuading convicted offenders to admit to crimes they have not committed, in exchange for inducements such as a lower sentence.
Dr Patrick, who researched the subject for a PhD, said: "The academics call this 'gaming' but police officers would call it fiddling the figures, massaging the books or, the current favourite term, 'good housekeeping'. It is a bit like the police activities that we all thought stopped in the 1970s."
Serving police officers confirmed that the tricks were being used and gave examples of how they had been implemented. In one case, an offender shot at another man at close range but missed and broke a window behind his target. The offence was recorded as criminal damage rather than attempted murder. In another example, a man robbed in a city's red-light district – an area he had been innocently passing through – was told by officers they would be unable to record the crime without informing his wife he had been the area, leading to the complaint being withdrawn.
One detective, who declined to be named, said: "Name any crime and I'll tell you how it can be fiddled."
Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, which represents front line officers, said: "This research demonstrates that senior officers are directing and controlling widespread manipulation of crime figures. "The public are misled, politicians can claim crime is falling and chief officers are rewarded with performance-related bonuses."
Last month Denis O'Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, published an official report into the way police record violent crime and admitted the figures may be skewed by "perverse incentives" around government performance targets.
Dr Patrick's research highlighted figures from his own former force, West Midlands, which reveal what happened when senior officers cracked down on one of the gaming techniques. Rank and file officers were told in 2002 that informal police warnings could no longer be counted as a detection for common assaults. Within 12 months the number of recorded common assaults dropped from 22,000 to 3,000 while thousands more crimes switched to the category "other woundings". "Such a rapid adjustment indicates the organisational nature of the phenomenon and suggests some form of co-ordination and direction by management," the research said. "The scale of the 'gaming' behaviours measured in this thesis ... suggested senior officers were either directly orchestrating the behaviour or turning a blind eye to it."
Dr Patrick believes other gaming techniques are still being used in forces across the country.
The report also warned that the use of "stitching" was "significant", while "cuffing" had continued after the introduction of Home Office rules which were supposed to guarantee and standardise the way crimes are recorded. "Cuffing" can involve a situation where a victim of crime is accused of making a false crime report, and is therefore treated like a suspect rather than an injured party, Dr Patrick said. "You cannot have members of the public who have been victims of crime coming to the police for help and being treated like suspects. That is not right and it will erode confidence in the police," he said.
Dr Patrick found that watchdogs such as Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the Police Standards Unit had a "general tendency to underplay the scale and nature" of gaming. He was scathing of HMIC's failure to tackle the problem, noting there were no examples of chief police officers being publicly criticised by inspectors for this type of crime figure manipulation. HMIC tended privately to refer examples of widespread gaming to the Home Secretary or the police authority rather than "hold the chief constable to account" because of the risk of political embarrassment, he said.
Dr Patrick concluded that HMIC inspectors should be made accountable to Parliament rather than the Home Office, and suggested they should be drawn from other professions rather than solely from senior police ranks.
The false rape claims never stop in Britain
Cheating wife cried rape in text message to husband after fit of guilt over affair
A wife who cried rape because she felt guilty about cheating on her husband in their home was spared jail yesterday. Helen Dalby went to extraordinary lengths to stand by her false claim, having a full medical examination and even helping create an e-fit of her imaginary attacker.
But despite wasting £3,800 of public money and showing little regard for two men arrested, she was given a ten-month suspended jail sentence after admitting perverting the course of justice.
Judge David Tremberg told 35-year-old Dalby: 'The men (who came under suspicion) no doubt will have wondered what might have happened to them if this nightmare did not go away. Your lies diverted a massive amount of precious police time and resources from proper duty.' Dalby's behaviour risked weakening the cases of genuine rape victims and allowing dangerous offenders to be acquitted, he added. In similar cases prison sentences of up to two years have been imposed. But the judge ruled this case was 'exceptional' because Dalby did not act out of 'spite or malice', and imposed a more lenient sentence.
Yesterday she was back home with her husband Isaac, who has faithfully stood by her. Problems with their sex life caused by his long hours at work had driven Dalby into the arms of another man, he said. 'I've been hurt by Helen but I don't want to lose her,' added 35-year-old cleaner Mr Dalby. 'She realises she is lucky not to go to prison. It is terrible what has happened for these two men and their families.'
Dalby had a three-month affair with a man she met through a telephone dating service, the court heard. On 15 August, she had consensual sex with her lover at home in Grimsby before texting Mr Dalby to tell him she had been raped by a stranger.
David Cammies, prosecuting, said she later pretended to police that a man had followed her home, pushed her inside and attacked her in a bedroom. Officers launched an investigation, seizing clothes, bedding and a cigarette butt. Two innocent men - including her lover - were arrested and spent 'many hours' in custody before her lies were exposed, the court was told.
Outside Grimsby Crown Court, Dalby said: 'I am very, very sorry. It is the biggest mistake of my life. I didn't want to hurt anybody. Once I had said it, Isaac said we should call the police. It just snowballed.'
Police expressed surprise at the sentence and urged victims not to be put off from reporting genuine sex attacks.
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.
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