Thursday, December 17, 2009
Perverse British justice again: The criminal gets a much better deal than the victim
Man who fought off a knife-wielding burglar is jailed while the intruder is let off! No allowance made for the fact that many normal men would lose their rag if their family had been so badly treated and threatened. If the habitual criminal involved can be let off, why could not the victim be let off too?
A millionaire businessman who fought back against a knife-wielding burglar was jailed for two-and-a-half years yesterday. But his attacker has been spared prison. Munir Hussain, 53, and his family were tied up and told to lie on the floor by career criminal Waled Salem, who burst into his home with two other masked men.
Mr Hussain escaped and attacked Salem with a metal pole and a cricket bat. But yesterday it was the businessman who was starting a prison sentence for his 'very violent revenge'. Jailing him, Judge John Reddihough said some members of the public would think that 56-year-old Salem 'deserved what happened to him' and that Mr Hussain 'should not have been prosecuted'. But had he spared Mr Hussain jail, the judge said, the 'rule of law' would collapse.
He said: 'If persons were permitted to take the law into their own hands and inflict their own instant and violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting the criminal justice system take its course, then the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse.'
Salem, who has previous convictions, has already been given a non-custodial sentence despite carrying out what the judge called a 'serious and wicked' attack.
Mr Hussain's nightmare began on September 3 last year when he, his wife, 18-year-old daughter and two sons aged 18 and 15 returned from their mosque during Ramadan to find three intruders in their home in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
They were tied up and told to get on the floor if they did not want to be killed. One of Mr Hussain's sons managed to escape and alerted Mr Hussain's younger brother Tokeer, 35, who lived a few doors away. Mr Hussain made a break for freedom by throwing a coffee table at his attackers. He and Tokeer chased the gang and brought Salem to the ground in a front garden.
Reading Crown Court heard how Mr Hussain and his brother then beat Salem while he lay on the ground, using a cricket bat, a pole and a hockey stick - leaving him with a fractured skull and brain damage following the 'sustained' attack.
What is the law on defending your home? If you use force which is 'not excessive' against burglars then the law is on your side. Last year's Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill contained clauses to protect people from prosecution if they act instinctively and out of fear for their safety. Justice Secretary Jack Straw said: 'Law-abiding citizens should not be put off tackling criminals by fear of excessive investigation. 'For a passer-by witnessing a street crime or a householder faced with a burglar, we are reassuring them that if they use force which is not excessive or disproportionate, the law really is behind them.'
Salem's condition meant he was unable to enter a plea to false imprisonment. He was given a non-custodial sentence-in October. Salem, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, did not give evidence at Mr Hussain's trial. Michael Wolkind, QC, representing Mr Hussain, who runs a soundproofing company, said his client's actions were 'taken in the agony of the moment' and that his 'calm judgment was not available'. 'If there was a call to arms it was down to the extreme moment of stress,' he said. Mr Wolkind said Mr Hussain, a devout Muslim, blamed himself for the attack and felt guilty for not protecting his family properly. 'It will take him a number of years to recover,' he said.
The court also heard from psychiatrist Dr Phillip Joseph who said Mr Hussain was a calm person who kept himself in control, but that his body had chosen the 'fight rather than flight' option....
Razi Shah, Mr Hussain's solicitor, said his family were devastated but hoped the conviction could be overturned at appeal.
Last night an MP condemned the decision to jail Mr Hussain as 'perverse'. Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: 'It's absolutely disgraceful. The public are sick to the back teeth of this kind of decision. 'Whatever the rights and wrongs, the starting point should be that this man's home was violated. He must have been absolutely petrified. 'A person who inflicts this kind of misery is free to go out and do it again somewhere. It's always the same, the real criminals get away scot free.'
More evidence the Anglican episcopate doesn't believe in anything
They are just dressup queens playing a role and fishing for popularity
THE new bishop for Britain's armed forces voiced regret today if he caused offence by saying the Taliban could be admired for their religious conviction and sense of loyalty. Stephen Venner said his comments in a newspaper interview appeared "incredibly insensitive," as he underlined his support for British troops battling Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
The Anglican clergyman nevertheless argued that it would be harder to reach a peaceful solution to the war in Afghanistan if the Taliban insurgents were all portrayed as "pure evil." "There's a large number of things that the Taliban say and stand for which none of us in the West could approve, but simply to say therefore that everything they do is bad is not helping the situation because it's not honest," he told the Daily Telegraph. "The Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other."
In clarifying his comments, Bishop Venner told BBC television that the words were were from a short section of a long interview. "The way it's come out .... makes it look incredibly insensitive and if that has caused offence, I am deeply grieved by it because that's the very last thing that I would want to do," he said.
The British Government's strategy in Afghanistan includes attempting to divide the Taliban insurgency by splitting off mercenaries from the Islamist militant hardcore and encouraging them into the democratic fold.
Bishop Venner gave his "full support" to the British troops and their allies. "The way that the Taliban are waging war in Afghanistan is evil, both in their use of indiscriminate killing and their terrorising of the civilian population. No religion could condone their actions," he said.
The conflict has claimed the lives of 100 British soldiers this year alone, and 237 since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001.
Where Australian conservatives went wrong
By Peter Coleman, an "eminence grise" of Australian conservatism
IT would be a fatal mistake to blame the recent mess in the Liberal Party on its leaders. They must take their share of the blame but the problems go deeper than politicians, even the best of them. Most critics blame Malcolm Turnbull, whose experience shows that leadership calls for more than brains and drive, of which he has plenty. Others blame John Howard, who was a highly successful prime minister but failed on the great test of settling the succession. Others go back further, even to Malcolm Fraser.
But the real failure of Australian conservatism lies not with its parliamentary leaders. It is conservatives themselves. It is the job of the conservative public to point the politicians in the right direction and then trust them, the practical parliamentarians, to navigate through the political currents. In Australia the conservative public has left it to the politicians to create the guiding ideas, something very few of them are good at.
There are four traps into which politicians fall when they are thrashing around in opposition in search of policy. The first is adopting dogma or ideology. It is usually an act of desperation, although it may for a moment seem the solution. John Hewson's Fightback was a great example. It led to a catastrophic defeat in the election.
The second trap is opportunism. A classic case is the decision of the Liberals in the NSW parliament to oppose the privatising of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. There may have been a political dividend -- the frustration of the Iemma Labor government in NSW -- but the loss of credibility in the abandonment of principle was high and reinforced a growing sense of a party without principles.
A third trap is demagoguery. This is the politics of big gestures. The recent example is Turnbull's espousal of the emissions trading scheme. It will do nothing for global warming and it would burden Australians with new taxes and regulations. But it seemed a splendid gesture at the time.
This sometimes leads to a fourth trap: uncritical loyalty. If the rank-and-file conservatives are uncertain, they are inclined to accept the leader's decisions. This was notably the case with the ETS. Most conservatives were always suspicious of the ETS, of the dislocation, unemployment, controls and taxes involved.
Loyalty is or can be a source of great strength, but there are occasions when the conservative public, the rank-and-file party members or their parliamentary representatives, must stand up, as L. S. Amery did in the House of Commons in 1940 and called out to his leader (Neville Chamberlain): "In the name of God, go!" If enough of them had done this when Howard was plainly losing his touch as prime minister, the Liberal party would not be as devastated as it has been. The same sort of misplaced loyalty prolonged the Turnbull agony. The vast majority of rank-and-file Liberals did not agree with him on global warming but they remained loyal until the last days.
What is to be done? The guiding principle, as always, is: Trust the People! It is to them, to the rank-and-file conservatives, that we must look for solutions. I recall vividly how, after Gough Whitlam's defeat of the Liberal government in 1972, the new Liberal leader, Billy Mackie Snedden, organised a huge canvass of every Liberal branch and member seeking their ideas of what went wrong and how to fix it. The Labor party guffawed. Some Liberals had nothing to tell Snedden. But it was a step in the right direction. It shook up the party and its shibboleths. It placed the onus of reform not on parliamentarians but on liberals and conservatives at large. It contributed enormously to the rout of the Labor party soon after.
I do not suggest a repeat performance under Tony Abbott. We now have what we did not have back then: a range of think-tanks, issue groups, magazines and blogs working successfully in the conservative interest. Their influence has been great and salutary. There would probably have been no privatisation, deregulation or tax reform if it had been left to politicians. It was the think-tanks ranging from the Centre for Independent Studies and the Institute of Public Affairs to the Institute for Private Enterprise and the Sydney Institute, or pressure groups such as the H. R. Nicholls Society, magazines such as Quadrant and publishers such as Connor Court that laid the foundation for the reforms in industrial relations, financial regulation, taxation and indigenous policy.
What would have been the state of the debate on global warming and the ETS without the think-tanks and a few independent journalists? No matter how sound or fraudulent may be the science supporting the Rudd-Turnbull ETS, there was for years little serious attempt to expound or expose it in the parliament. When Ian Plimer wrote the major critical Australian book on the subject, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming: The Missing Science, it was a small and little-known Melbourne show, Connor Court, and the IPA that published it. It is an international bestseller.
In recent years the conservative public and its organisations have too often dropped the ball. How else to explain their quiet when the Howard government committed itself to centralisation in Canberra and the abandonment of federalism? If ever there were a conservative principle, it is the diffusion of political power summed up as federalism. But on issue after issue the government centralised power: in industrial relations, taxation, education. To dress this up as nationalism is an abuse of nationalism.
The first step in the revival of philosophical liberal and conservative ideas will be the strengthening and expansion of the think-tanks, policy groups and magazines. The second step is taking their message to the public at large. Magazines such as Quadrant continue to play a major role. But in the age of the internet, the blog has become a key medium. (Andrew Bolt's blog has been a major player in these debates.)
But there is still one task that is appropriate to the Liberal party itself, whatever support it may draw from outside its ranks. That is the statement and restatement of the underlying philosophy of the Liberal party. I do not mean a crib that tells politicians what to do next. I mean the ideas that broadly guide Liberals in and out of parliament.
This is an old story. The Liberal Party has often over the years set up a philosophy committee to help revitalise the party's ideas and rescue it from the temptations of opportunism. Time and again the committee members spend months on meetings, discussions, drafts. In due course the committee reports to the party. The party then thanks the committee for its important work. Then nothing more is heard of the report. I have a humble example. Some 20 or more years ago when I was doing a stint in the federal parliament, I chaired a philosophy committee charged with the task of drawing up a set of fundamental principles. We dutifully did so. We nutted out 15 of them. (The inevitable crack was that we produced one more than US president Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points.) Our charter was duly debated, amended, and adopted, and then filed and forgotten. Worldly MPs believe that philosophy is no substitute for political savvy.
Yet philosophy is like Freud's unconscious. You can repress it but it will come out somewhere. We have inherited a free, prosperous and peaceful society. But there are always mischiefs and faults to be corrected.
Some call this sort of approach pragmatism and trace it to Edmund Burke or David Hume or Thomas Hobbes or some other conservative philosopher. But most liberals and conservatives call it it simple realism. They prefer an unsystematic approach.
Whatever you call it, the task of the conservative and liberal public is to see to it that the parliamentary party does not abandon realism or fall into the traps of dogma, opportunism or demagoguery, supported by appeals to loyalty. Our present discontents are due to the fact that it has fallen into one of these traps and the conservative public has let them get away with it.
This is well documented in The Howard Era, a new collection of essays on the successes and failures of the last Coalition government. It is edited by Keith Windschuttle, David Martin Jones and Ray Evans and published by a new publishing company, Quadrant Books. The book's first theme is the absolute rightness of John Howard's boast on the night of his defeat in 2007 that he was bequeathing to the incoming Rudd government "a stronger and prouder and more prosperous country" than it had been when he came to office in 1996.
But the book's second theme is how often the Howard government fell into the same traps to which oppositions are prone. It was centralist dogma that led it to undermine the federal compact. Most notorious was the use of the corporations power to justify the centralising WorkChoices legislation. In education policy, Martin Jones argues that one federal minister for education after another set out to centralise or socialise our universities and undermine the classical liberal education.
The government also became increasingly prone to opportunism. The most telling example was the Howard government's last-minute adoption in 2007 of an ETS without any serious attempt to prepare the party or explain it to the public. It was, writes Ray Evans, "an ignominious finale to a distinguished career". When the government did at last adopt a good policy in Aboriginal affairs -- the Northern Territory intervention -- a sceptical electorate suspected more opportunism.
But there is no occasion for despair. When Peter Costello asked Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore why he no longer believed Australians were becoming the white trash of Asia, his answer was: "You've changed!"
It was liberals and conservatives who together brought about that change. They can do it again, provided they remember the war is too important to be left to the generals.
For history buffs, a note from Rafe Champion: "I have one quibble, Peter blamed the excesses of the Fightback package for losing the unlosable election in 1993. I think that was a magnificent package, and it united the party after years of ruinous division between wets and dries.
Two factors killed it, one was the GST, "a bridge too far" that was too easy to ridicule by hostile commentators.
The other was the commentariat, the media and working journalists. They demonstrated for the first time the extent to which they are hostages to a political party, committed partisans in the contest. They are our biggest problem in generating any kind of rational debate. They have sold out their principles and their credibility and the nation will pay a heavy price if they do not lift their game."
Why "Merry Christmas" Matters to America
The New York Times recently revealed that, before abandoning the idea, Barack and Michelle Obama had considered eliminating The White House’s traditional nativity scene as part of an effort to celebrate a “non-religious” Christmas. In light of that story, it wasn’t entirely surprising to learn that this year, for the first time, the President’s Christmas card contains neither any mention of Christmas itself nor a quote from the New Testament. Obviously, the Obamas aren’t fans of overt displays of Christian religiosity.
The White House has told Fox News Radio that the card represents nothing but an attempt to recognize that Americans are celebrating other holidays at this time of year – not just Christmas. No doubt that approach is imbued with politically-correct, multicultural sensitivity, but it also, perhaps, reflects a world view that’s out-of-step with most regular Americans – and even America’s heritage.
For starters, the use of the term “Christmas” doesn’t seem to be as offensive as the politically correct would have us believe. A recent Rasmussem Report found that fully 72% of Americans preferred “Merry Christmas,” compared to 22% who favored a more generic greeting, like “Happy Holidays.” And a December 2008 USA Today/Gallup poll found that 93% of Americans celebrate Christmas. How offended could Americans be by a reference to a holiday that they themselves are celebrating?
Even setting aside the overwhelming predominance of Christmas observance in this country, it’s not clear why the elimination of “Christmas” (or any Bible reference) on the Obamas’ card is deemed necessary. How many reasonable Christian people would be upset by the use of “Happy Hannukah” in Israel or “blessed Ramadan” in a majority Muslim country? Would a normal Christian be incensed – even in a majority-Christian country like America – by being wished a “Happy Hannukah” by a Jewish person (or president!) or a “blessed Ramadan” by an observant Muslim one? Let’s hope not. After all, those are benedictions, not curses.
Efforts to promote “season’s greetings” and “happy holidays,” both in The White House and the larger culture, seem to rest on the assumption that “Merry Christmas” will offend those of other faiths, or of none. But is it truly so intolerable to be confronted with the indicia of a religion that is not one’s own? In a country that was founded on the concept of religious tolerance by all and toward all, it’s not clear why this should be the case.
What’s more, why should a religious holiday like Christmas be deemed unique in its potential to offend? In contrast to their apparent reticence to highlight the Christianity inherent in Christmas, the Obamas apparently perceive no insensitivity in celebrating holidays – like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo – that point up specific ethnic differences among Americans. Historically, our country has suffered far more internal turmoil based on race and ethnicity than on religion – and we have a far larger number of different ethnicities than religions. The difference in approach makes no sense.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether a President uses the specific word “Christmas” on a card, as opposed to a Bible verse or some other religious element. What does matter is when the occupant of the highest office in the land attempts to transform the Christmas (or Hannukah or Ramadan) season into nothing more than a great big “happy holidays” opportunity. Intentionally or not, that approach serves to replace religiosity with some variety of civic secularism that swaps belief in God for a diffuse and undefined “holiday spirit.”
And for America, that’s a dangerous path. Religion not only provides meaning to life and illuminates life’s larger truths; it also helps a free people remain free by providing them with ways to govern themselves individually, without having to resort collectively to the heavy hand of government.
So permit me to say what the Obamas’ card does not: Merry Christmas.
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 or 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.