Thursday, April 30, 2009

Germany: Voters decide the fate of faith in Berlin schools

Controversial referendum to determine if students get the option to study ethics or religion

In the United States, teaching religion in public schools is political dynamite. In France, forget it. But in Germany they've done it for decades. Except, that is, in Berlin, where postwar policies framed with help from the old Soviet Union have kept faith out of the classrooms. But in a city that sociologist Peter Berger once called "the world capital of modern atheism," a surprisingly robust grass-roots Pro-Reli movement by churches is challenging the traditional ethics classes that they say are poor substitutes for the religion teaching offered to other German pupils.

The churches seem to have captured a moment – along with a whopping 256,000 signatures for a referendum on the topic. They flooded streets with posters asking for a "free choice between ethics and religion." The result is a hot battle over values and city identity.

Today, Berliners are voting on whether to keep the required ethics class or broaden the curriculum to include a required class on a religion – Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Judaism, and others. Ethics is one of the options.

"There is nothing wrong with ethics classes, if they are neutral," says Christoph Lehmann, a devout Catholic and lawyer who started the Pro-Reli cause at his living room table a year ago. "But religious tradition is about creating a standpoint in life, and we feel the ethics class doesn't do this as well."

At the forefront of the debate is the issue of integrating Muslims. Berlin now has more than 200,000 Muslim students – almost half the student body in some districts. Exposing Muslim children to the Koran from teachers accredited through the state is seen by many Berliners as a check on extreme readings of Islam; and this is a key selling point for the pro-religion cause. "In a broader perspective, looking 20 years ahead, what's most important is the issue of Muslims," says Ralf Meister, a Pro-Reli advocate and general superintendent of the Lutheran Church in Berlin. "We don't solve a single problem with Muslims through the ethics class. We need a place where Muslims can learn some established facts about their religion."

Indeed, the falling apple for the ethics class was a 2005 "honor killing" of a Turkish woman that shocked this city. Following the murder, ethics classes became a required part of the curriculum.

For many churchgoers, however, the cure was seen as worse than the problem. Complaints arose that in a school day already taxing young minds, adding the ethics course eroded support and time for what had been a system of voluntary religion classes. Protestant and Catholic parents, mostly from the west side of the city, said ethics was slanted and undercut or trivialized faith traditions.

The Berlin debate blurs traditional left-right lines: Some theologians support ethics, while some leading Social Democrats back religion. The Pro-Ethik camp, as it is known, sees its program as a responsible way to teach citizenship and democracy, while also promoting dialogue among a diverse student body in something that's more subjective than math or science. "Kids from different origins should not be divided into different religions and into different classes," says Gerhard Weil, spokesman for Pro-Ethik. "We find it is better if all children can discuss ethical problems together."

One Pro-Reli parent, Julia Sebastian, says ethics courses vary with the teacher, but that the nod to religion in them sometimes boils down to students doing show-and-tell: "Muslim seventh-graders would bring a prayer carpet. Russian Orthodox kids brought a crucifix. And they are on the spot to explain their religion in front of the others. It's ridiculous."

One Catholic father is glad for religious diversity in ethics teaching but says, "My son knows more about Ramadan than Lent."

Public school religion classes here don't advocate the practice or "exercise" of a particular faith. They include deeper instruction in traditions and texts – but no prayers, services, or proselytizing. Religion advocates say a mandated class will bring better and more sympathetic teaching, since churches, mosques, and temples will have a say in the faith quotient of those teaching their tradition.

How well state-licensed teachers of religion would do with a plethora of minority faiths that diverge from the mainstream is largely unanswered by Pro-Reli circles. It is one reason the idea would probably cause strife in a diverse religious nation like the US, a country with more than a hundred Protestant sects and a First Amendment tradition of church-state separation.

In Berlin, the aims of Pro-Reli are more general. "Can religious education promote or hinder tolerance?" asks Mr. Meister, the Lutheran leader. "The debate is so emotional because it is getting to these basic questions and fears. We think a real encounter with religion can promote tolerance."

Pro-Reli organizers started small, with street petitions outside churches. The enthusiastic response stunned them: At one point, there were crowds of 20,000 in a single day. Movement leader Lehmann says it proves that "Berliners aren't hard-core atheists just because they don't declare themselves churchgoers."

Pro-Reli has been lionized by celebrities, bishops, and TV personalities, causing some in the ethics camp to call it a fad. Attack ads funded by the Pro-Ethik camp charge that the referendum could result in "mandatory" religion and raise the specter of church prelate hordes trying to snare young minds. Lehmann calls the ads unfair. The issue, he says, is mandatory choice (a course in religion or ethics) versus compulsory ethics.

Last month, Pro-Reli took an unexpected body blow from the Senate in Berlin, which leans toward keeping ethics. Originally, the vote on the referendum was scheduled for early June, along with European parliamentary elections – a concurrence that would no doubt bring more people to the polls. The Senate shifted the referendum to a single-issue vote on April 26.

Whether or not that move is ethical, it is certainly political: For the measure to pass, one-quarter of Berlin's voting population (600,000 out of 2.4 million) must feel strongly enough about religion in schools to come out and cast a "yes" ballot.


Feminist social theories put to the test

A dissertation at Orebro University in Sweden brings to light major weaknesses in feminist social theories. They are untenable, far too undeveloped, and laden with insoluble internal problems of logic.

“Feminist social theories provide us with an ideologically colored picture of society,” maintains Helen Lindberg. "As social scientists, we are duty-bound to follow a scientific ethos, otherwise no one benefits, not even women. Instead it hurts the struggle for gender equality. I am writing this dissertation in the hope that it will further the struggle for gender equality in society.”

The dissertation examines four comprehensive theories that each claims to address the issue of how we should be able to understand and explain gender inequality and the unbalanced power relations between the sexes today. The theories - Anna G. Jónasdóttir’s Theory of Love Power, Catharine M. MacKinnon’s radical feminism, Luce Irigaray’s gynocentric distinctivist feminism, and Judith Butler’s queer feminism - are very different from each other and offer different answers to the question.

Helen Lindberg feels it is unfruitful to use the theories for social scientific research on gender relations, since they rest on starkly ideological foundations and evince faulty internal coherence.

The theories offer little or no scope for the individual to be able to change or develop society and have difficulties accomodating empirical evidence. The dissertation also discusses the political goals that the theories can be seen as leading to. “Some of them are clearly utopian and others are vague and quite undeveloped,” says Helen Lindberg.

Helen Lindberg points to the splintering within the Swedish political party Feminist Initiative as an example of what happens in politics when the various feminist ideological positions meet.

It was not only that the party consisted of different strong-willed individuals. The members also based their convictions on different feminist ideologies, and when they were not compatible, strife ensued.

Instead, feminist social theories, like other normative and ideologically based social theories, such as Marxism and Liberalism, should be regarded as aids in establishing what problems need to be addressed. Helen Lindberg also points out that there is a parallel between Marxism and feminism regarding their development as scientific and ideological projects in that both have always had a close relationship with liberation-oriented political action.

Helen Lindberg also points to the development from feminism to postfeminism. Post feminism rejects the fundamentals of feminist theory and the previous foundations. Postfeminism shifts and expands the feminist focus from the relation between women and men to also include gender identities regardless of sex, for example, as urgent both as a research focus and for political attention.

In her youth Helen Lindberg was fascinated by Marxist-oriented radical feminism, but she found it wanting when it came to dealing with the experiences of different women. “Writing the dissertation has been like plunging into a fierce wrestling match with my own convictions,” says Helen Lindberg.


British family courts system accused of hiding evidence from parents

Parents fighting in the family courts for contact with their children are being denied access to their personal files by a corrupt system, a leading parental rights campaigner has said. Alison Stevens, head of Parents Against Injustice, has called for Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to force social services and individual courts to comply with the Data Protection Act. She said: “Local authorities have to send the requested files within 40 days . . . but they are often not following public law guidelines. It’s corruption within the system. They are playing God, and there must be some reason why — perhaps to hide things they have got wrong in the cases.”

Evidence is gathered from a variety of sources before children are taken from their parents in family courts. Tracking down and obtaining these documents can be very difficult because they are held by various bodies and must be applied for in different ways.

Ms Stevens said: “Parents should be entitled to their files — not just social services files but all files: from health visitors, GPs, different hospitals, the ambulance trust, psychologist reports, paediatrician notes and so on.”

The Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming has written to all MPs calling for a parliamentary review into the operation of the family courts. He said: “One of the ways legal practitioners prevent parents from fighting cases is by not giving them the paperwork. Often the paperwork doesn’t add up, so if parents got hold of it they would see what was going on.”

Many parents have welcomed the call for greater accountability. Roland Simpkin (not his real name) received his social services files seven years after his children were taken into care in 2001 amid allegations of abuse. When the allegations were shown to be unfounded, he sought to obtain the evidence held on him by social services to find out why he was still not allowed to see his children. He was sent his files last year, after pursuing his case through a series of letters, complaints and court orders, but he found that parts of the notes had been crossed through with black pen, words had been deleted and sections of paragraphs had been removed during photocopying.

Mr Simpkin said: “Despite being repeatedly found not to have harmed or posed a risk of harm to \ children or anybody else’s, the sheer amount of delay introduced by the sluggishness of the social services department to share information is likely to be a serious negative factor in any potential repeated contact \.”

In another case, Marc Tufano, an actor who has appeared in EastEnders and The Bill, has not seen his two sons for seven years because he cannot obtain the documents that he needs to bring his case to appeal. His children were given residence with his partner in 2003 after their relationship broke down. Though he immediately tried to launch an appeal, he said that he had found it impossible to obtain transcripts of the original court hearings because the court authorities had been slow to reply to his requests and had since claimed to have destroyed the documents.

Mr Tufano said: “I have begged these government agents to leave me alone so as I can see my sons without being harassed by endless arguments over the paperwork they require. It is made impossible for parents to get hold of the documents they need.”

Sezgi Kapur’s two daughters were taken from her in 2003 amid allegations that her violent attitude towards care professionals could be harmful to her children, allegations she denies.

Before the hearings in the family court, her requests for her social services files were ignored or denied, and she was forced to apply for court orders to disclose the documents. Without them, Ms Kapur was unable to respond to the evidence gathered against her by social services and care workers, and so was unable to fight her case effectively.

After the files were provided, she discovered that the minutes from high-level social services meetings about her case had been withheld and that memos had been circulated to those who attended asking them to “destroy all previous copies” of notes from the meeting.

Ms Kapur said: “These meetings painted a picture of me as a volatile, aggressive, threatening individual who was alienating professionals, who might one day emotionally harm my children through this purported alienation. It was incredible to read this. “I fired six sets of solicitors because they failed to get disclosure of all my documents. If the parents do not get a fair trial, the children do not either.”

Shaun O’Connell, a lay adviser working on behalf of Environmental Law Centre, said: “If you’re not familiar with the Data Protection Act and you don’t know the format and structure, it’s impossible.”


Australia: Why the lenient sentences for egregious criminals?

I documented long ago how great the gap is between what the courts deliver and what the public want. Nothing seems to have changed. Note the latest episode: "A driver who veered onto the wrong side of the road and killed a motorcyclist while tuning his car radio has walked free from court". I think many will see no reason why negligence causing death should be treated any differently from murder yet the courts are completely indulgent of such episodes

From my reading, Australian courts are somewhat more punitive than British courts but not as punitive as U.S. courts. There are however a lot of what seem very lenient sentences from some American courts too -- JR

I reckon the judiciary has a magisterial disdain for what you and I believe is justice. They certainly talk the talk. Judge Felicity Hampel thundered at stalker and nasty child pornographer Ross Andrew Sargent that he was predatory, and his secret toilet videos were a gross violation of the women and girls he filmed - then slashed his jail sentence to two months.

Judge Margaret Rizkalla had similarly harsh words for Matthew James Vernon, one of Victoria's worst sexual offenders. He raped an 11-year-old he was babysitting, and the poor girl had Vernon's child, an unimaginable physical and psychological trauma. "The complainant is now torn between the world of being a mother and the world of being a child,'' Rizkalla observed. "It cannot be overlooked, but the child will be a constant reminder (of Vernon's shocking and selfish crime),'' she said sternly - before sentencing him to a fraction of the decades he could have received.

Judge Roland Leckie was on to serial killer Peter Dupas's shortcomings 25 years ago. Sentencing Dupas in 1985 for a knife-wielding rape - and knowing his violently dark past - he told the convicted man, "there is a strong possibility of your reoffending'', and then let him serve relatively light sentences, concurrently, as well. Tragically, Nostradamus had nothing on the prescient Leckie. So far there's been lots of talking, but not much walking.

Last week there was more talk around killer-driver Brett Franklin, whose sentence for claiming the lives of sisters Glenda Thomson and Michelle Hurst, and seriously injuring Glenda's daughter Tara, has been reduced on appeal to just 5 years. It was a lenient sentence to begin with. The work of young, drunk, irresponsible drivers is one of the bigger issues in the community.

"We will catch you,'' warned Assistant Commissioner for Traffic Ken Lay on television and in billboards across the state over Christmas. And in Franklin's case they did get their man, if the young bloke can ever be called one. Franklin had previously lost his licence for speeding. On the night he killed Glenda and Michelle in a TAC ad come to life, he was about three times over the legal limit and friends begged him not to drive. Franklin knew better and, showing off doing burnouts and fish-tailing, his V8 lost control.

His original sentence would have seen him behind bars for only seven years, not much when you plead guilty to charges that could see you cop 20 years each on the two main counts - and you have form. Franklin also pleaded guilty to two charges of negligently causing serious injury. Now things get interesting, Judge John Smallwood complaining that the five-year maximum sentence for this too low.

That was a coincidence. Six days earlier Judge Joe Gullaci had dealt with a Brendon James Healey. Healey, driving drunk, had hit and almost killed Jordynne Wilkie, 6, along with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. JUDGE Gullaci said it had been a miracle that Healey, who jumped bail and fled overseas, had not wiped out four generations of the same family. He also commented that the five-year maximum sentence for negligently causing serious injury was inadequate - but then gave Healey a minimum sentence of four years when the bloke pleaded guilty to four of the offences, and why don't we chuck in speeding, skipping bail and exceeding .05 for bad measure?

Attorney-General Rob Hulls was listening. As shadow attorney-general he had pledged he would review sentencing laws, aware that we wanted tough penalties for serious offenders. In 2007, Hulls wrote to the Sentencing Advisory Council seeking advice on the maximum penalty for negligently causing serious injury, later doubling it from five years to 10. The Government was "committed to ensuring that adequate maximum sentences are in place'' he was reported saying at the time.

But that's just talk. You can increase as many maximum sentences as you like, but if the judiciary won't apply them, or anything getting near to them, then it's just legislation taking up shelf space. According to figures compiled by the Sentencing Advisory Council, the number of people jailed after being convicted in the higher courts of causing injury intentionally or recklessly is extraordinarily low, about one in five. Another one in four receives a ``wholly suspended sentence'' - ie, they walk. MANY others get community-based orders. Gee, I can feel that soggy lettuce thrashing the backs of my legs right now.

So what about the more serious culpable driving - you've killed someone and it's your fault? The Sentencing Advisory Council says of those convicted of this between 2001 and 2006: "Imprisonment terms ranged from one year to 12 years and three months, while the median length of imprisonment was five years.'' That should break your heart. More than 100 drivers have killed more than 100 of us for a median penalty of five years' jail. The worst offender received about 60 per cent of the possible maximum. That's why you might not be safe on the roads. If a bunch of those drivers was serving the 20 years behind bars, the Brett Franklins and Brendon Healeys of this world might think twice. We should be outraged. To the maximum. It's time to help judges see things our way

THERE are few more acute moments in the life of a democracy than when one person sits in judgment on another. It is a burdensome responsibility in which those we appoint must rise above any petty reactions of the aggrieved and look beyond simple biblical punishments that remain popular, but are these days mostly meted out drunkenly in pubs. We no longer take an eye for an eye, but we have turned the other cheek too far.

Our judiciary acts without prejudice or bias, and is objective. But our judges and magistrates go easy on lawbreakers and, I believe, are failing us with sentences that do not reflect community attitudes and that too often are well short of what their authors expected. Too often, criminals receive quite light sentences, appeal them, and are further rewarded with even lighter sentences. The Sunday Herald Sun reported earlier this month that our Court of Appeals had slashed 116 years of jail time off killers, rapists and drug dealers in the past 16 months. Those precedents further damage our faith in the system because they become part of "current sentencing practices''.

I would like to see every judge and magistrate's performance recorded and constantly updated. We should be able to look up their sentencing records. Legal fraternity insiders know the hanging judges and those who go easy - so why can't we? Why doesn't every sentencing decision record what percentage of the possible maximum has just been delivered? It would shock many people to know how infrequently a robust sentence is handed down. Each of those percentage figures should be filed against a name. Soon, an insightful profile of the sentencing inclinations of judges would emerge and we could deal with any anomalies.

We have a right to know the judges whose decisions are most regularly challenged in the Appeals Court. We have a right to know which judges' have the most decision overturned. Let's put an end to concurrent sentences. They are not sentences at all.

LET'S have no time off for good behaviour. Add time for bad behaviour, and plenty of it.

Finally, given how out of touch so may magistrates and judges seem to be, let's learn from the successful Operation Beacon, in which all operational police, more than 8000 of them, were retrained throughout 1994 after a series of unnecessary shooting deaths sparked public uproar. Almost immediately, the shootings stopped and the reputation of Victoria Police recovered.

We need an Operation Beacon for the Victorian judiciary in which every magistrate and judge is "retrained'' - familiarised once more with the contours of common thought, the great aggregates of opinion held by the society in which they work. Judicial life is privileged, exclusive and too often isolated. We can fix that. We should.



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.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

British pupils aged 11 compelled to learn about homosexual sex

Campaigners say the sex education review for children needs to go farther

Compulsory sex and relationships lessons for 11-year-old children are to include classroom discussions on gay unions and civil partnerships. Secondary pupils will learn about contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), while primary school children will learn about their bodies and friendships, a review of sex education has concluded.

The review was ordered in October after ministers announced that sex and relationships education (SRE) lessons should be made compulsory to help primary and secondary pupils to “navigate the complexities of modern life” and to ensure that children learnt their sex education from the classroom, not the playground.

The changes to personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) classes mark the culmination of decades of campaigning by sexual health organisations, who believe that the patchy nature of sex education in schools is helping to fuel a record level of teenage pregnancy and STIs in England.

Last night campaigners welcomed the review, conducted by Sir Alasdair MacDonald, a secondary head teacher in Tower Hamlets, East London. However, they suggested that its recommendations did not go far enough.

Although the new PSHE classes will be compulsory from 2011, faith schools in England will be given licence to provide sex and relationships education within the context of their own values. This could mean that children will be taught that their religion regards the use of contraceptives as a sin. Parents will also have a legal right to withdraw children from SRE classes. Currently one in 2,500 parents withdraws children from nonstatutory sex education classes.

Sexual health charities warned that allowing parents to opt out, even if it involved only a small number, was an infringement of young people’s rights. Julie Bentley, chief executive of fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, said that while religion and sex education were not incompatible, schools should not be allowed to interpret the report “to mean they can tell young people, for example, that contraception isn’t a matter of choice – it is simply wrong”.

She added: “We would like further assurances that when SRE becomes statutory, all schools will teach it responsibly, ethically and factually as a core subject.”

Simon Blake, national director of the sexual health charity Brook, said: “Young people need to understand the law – that you can get contraception, that you can have an abortion – and understand the health benefits of practising safer sex. It would not be right for anyone to tell them that this is wrong, but it is OK for them to be told that some people believe it is wrong.”

The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales welcomed the opt-out. “This is a crucial right in a community where parents are the first educators of their children, because parents are responsible for bringing up their children, and not the State,” it said.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, accepted Sir Alasdair’s review, subject to a four-month consultation that will look again at the content of SRE lessons, but told MPs that he would keep the right of nonacceptance under review.

Sir Alasdair said that making PSHE compulsory would help the quality of teaching. “There is probably greater variability in teaching and learning in this subject than in most other subjects,” he said.


Newspapers are a dying breed because of technology and disappearance of neutrality in reporting

By Dan Gainor. This is testimony Dan Gainor gave before the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy of the Committee on the Judiciary April 21, 2009. The topic was a hearing on “A New Age for Newspapers.”

I’m Dan Gainor, Vice President of Business and Culture for the Media Research Center. It’s an honor and privilege to come here and speak about one of my favorite topics in the world – newspapers. From the first time I ever read on my own, newspapers have been a part of my life. I’ve worked at three different dailies and several weeklies and online news operations following that calling.

You don’t have to tell me that the newspaper business in changing. Three of those organizations I have worked for are now out of business. Until recently, I wrote a column for the Baltimore Examiner, but it closed putting dozens of friends and fellow journalists out of work.

The news media are going through a time of epic changes and that is never easy. In a few short years, evening dailies have all but died out. The rise of the Internet changed even more. Newspapers first lost most of the employment advertising to firms like and since have lost classified ad revenue to Craigslist. Other sources of revenue – from personal ads to real estate – have met with smarter, more nimble competition.

While it is fair to blame much of the decline in newspapers to technology, it is not the only factor. The newspaper industry has changed too – for the worse. Standards have slipped or all but disappeared. The concept of a journalist as a neutral party has become a punch line for a joke, not a guideline for an industry.

We all saw how poorly the mainstream press covered the last election. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, voters believed that the media wanted Barack Obama to win the presidential election. “By a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win,” Pew reported. Other surveys confirmed it: According to Rasmussen, "Over half of U.S. voters (51%) think reporters are trying to hurt Sarah Palin.”

It wasn’t just surveys, it was journalists themselves. According to Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell, in a column headlined: “An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage,” the paper’s election coverage consistently supported Obama in everything from positive stories to flattering photos.

That same slant reappeared last week during the Tax Day Tea Party protests. The Post didn’t write a story about more than 750 events nationwide until the day they happened – far different from how they handled other protests. Their own media critic Howard Kurtz even knocked such minimal coverage. The New York Times did preview the events six times – and five of those were negative.

Such one-sided reporting has destroyed the credibility of the print press. Among newspapers, the most trusted name in news is The Wall Street Journal and just 25 percent of readers “believe all or most of what [that] organization says” according to Pew. For The New York Times, that number is 18 percent and USA Today 16 percent. The only publications lower are People magazine and The National Enquirer.

In fact, for The New York Times, the number who believe “almost nothing” in the newspaper is nearly identical to those who do believe. And while newspaper credibility has taken a hit among both Democrats and Republicans, it is lowest among Republicans with the Times having just a 10 percent credibility rating in that group. One person in 10? You could write graffiti on a wall and have more people believe you. But the Times still has widespread influence and a story on the front page can be picked up appear in some form in countless media outlets.

The Times’s former Public Editor Daniel Okrent answered the question the Times is a liberal newspaper by saying: “Of course it is....These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you’ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed.”

For decades many in the media have been working with their eyes closed – convinced of their own neutrality when all around them feel otherwise. In study after study, journalists consistently admit they support liberal causes and vote for Democratic candidates. In 2004, Pew found journalists identified themselves liberal over conservative by a five-to-one ratio. Were journalists the only ones voting for president, they would have elected a Democrat every time since 1972.

The Society of Professional Journalists, to which I belong, has a detailed Code of Ethics. At its heart, it says journalists should provide “a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” They do neither. It’s fitting, then, in a hearing to discuss the “diversity of voices,” that everyone here grasp a key point. Diversity of voices in print isn’t about news, it’s fiction.


The Genocide Mechanism

By Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus was in Geneva during the UN Durban II conference and counter-conferences last week, and writes about how ordinary people can be convinced to participate in genocide)

Survivors of the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur spoke in Geneva this week at the parallel conference on human rights to counter the UN Durban II event. Listening to them describe how they were systematically demonized by the killers made it clear that genocide does not happen in a vacuum. The hate condition of a population willing and anxious to commit genocide needs nurturing. Genocide must be framed positively to get the necessary broad public support.

Common to the framing of all genocide is a very specific kind of demonization. In Rwanda, the Hutus taught that the Tutsis were cockroaches and snakes. Tutsi women were portrayed as cunning seductresses who used beauty and sexual power to conquer the Hutus. In Bosnia, a fictitious news report said Muslims were feeding Serb children to animals at the Sarajevo zoo. Radio Rwanda repeatedly broadcast a warning that Hutus were about to be attacked by Tutsis, to convince the Hutus that they needed to attack first to protect themselves.

This demonization included two specific components. First, the victims had to be perceived as a clear and present threat, so that the killers were convinced they were acting in self-defense. Second, the victims were dehumanized, so that the killers convinced themselves that they were not destroying real human beings.

A decent person will not join in a murder of innocents, but a decent person might join in the killing of a subhuman who is threatening his very existence. Framing genocide as self-defense can turn decent people into killers. Protection of children and family can turn a calm neighbor into a passionate murderer, because self-defense is always justified.

In Darfur and Rwanda, all that was necessary to turn a society of ordinary people into killers was to convince them that they were in danger, and that the people endangering them were less than human.

LOOKING BACK on Jewish history, it is clear that the method used to foment violence against Jews has always involved the same framing of "self-defense," with only the details changed.

So when Jews were falsely accused of poisoning wells in the Middle Ages, causing thousands of deaths, even decent people joined in the killings. They did not perceive themselves as murderers because they were defending themselves and their families. When Jews were believed to be using blood of children for Passover matzot, even decent people felt comfortable massacring Jews, as they were defending their children from horrific torture.

Even Hitler used this argument of self-defense in Mein Kampf: "In this case [given the Jews' threat to the German people] the only salvation remaining was war, war with all the weapons the human spirit, reason, and will could muster... If the Jew... is victorious over the peoples of this world, then his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity... Thus I believe today that I am acting according to the will of the almighty creator: When I defend myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." Hitler, too, packaged his genocide as legitimate self-defense. The details may change in each society, but the framing is always the same.

EXAMINING PALESTINIAN hate promotion today, it is especially striking and disconcerting that these components of the past genocides against Jews are prominent elements of the hate promotion of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas against Jews and Israelis. Two items on Hamas TV earlier this month clearly document this.

Hamas TV broadcast a skit featuring actors playing a Jewish father and son, in traditional hassidic garb, discussing the hatred of Muslims that their Jewish religion mandates. The father even revives the age-old libel that Jews drink the blood of Muslims: "Shimon, look, my son, I want to teach you a few things. You have to hate the Muslims... we want to kill the Muslims, we Jews want to drink the blood of Muslims." He later criticizes his son for washing his hands in water before prayer: "We have to wash our hands with the blood of Muslims" (Al-Aqsa TV, April 3). Ironically, the Hamas accusation that Jews drink Muslim blood came the week before Passover, the anniversary of many horrific blood libels.

That same day, a Hamas religious leader ended his sermon with the promise of eventual genocide of the Jews. But to frame it properly, he opened with a depiction of Jews as the enemies of humanity: The Jews are inherently evil, seek to rule the world and are a threat to Muslims and all of humanity.

This is how Ziad Abu Alhaj framed it: "Hatred for Muhammad and Islam is in their [Jews'] souls, they are naturally disposed to it... Israel is a cancer that wants to rule the world." He concluded that the Jews are destined to be annihilated: "The time will come, by Allah's will, when their property will be destroyed and their children will be exterminated, and no Jew or Zionist will be left on the face of this earth" (Al-Aqsa TV, April 3).

THIS DEMONIZATION and dehumanization of Jews is not limited to Hamas. Although hesitant to call for explicit murdering of Jews while seeking Western money, the PA continues its unrelenting framing of genocide as self-defense and for the common good. In the PA-Fatah media today, Jews and Israelis are demonized through malicious libels, including such lies as the assertion that Israel intentionally spreads AIDS and drugs, conducts Nazi-like medical experiments on Palestinian prisoners and is planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Says the Palestinian chief religious justice, Tayseer al-Tamimi: "The AIDS issue needs to receive due attention... since we neighbor a society [Israel] where the disease is widespread and which acts to transmit [AIDS] to Palestinian society. The occupying authorities, especially in Jerusalem, are working to spread drugs and drug addiction, without a doubt" (PA radio, February 17, 2008).

And this from Dr. Mutawakil Taha, head of the Palestinian Writers' Union and former PA deputy minister: "We saw how they [Zionists] stab bellies of pregnant women, slaughter infants and eat life in cold blood. They targeted children and the wombs of women so this people won't reproduce" (PA TV, March 4, 2008).

A July 2008 article in Al-Ayyam accused Israeli settlers of releasing rats in Jerusalem's Old City "to turn the [Arab] residents' life into a living hell, forcing then to leave..." (July 17, 2008). A PA TV video clip juxtaposes scenes of a real Israeli tank with fictitious scenes of a child actor being shot, creating the fiction that Israelis deliberately target and shoot Palestinian children (PATV, May 15, 2008).

Just as the Tutsis were described as cockroaches and snakes, both Hamas and the PA have described Jews as loathsome and dangerous animals, including cockroaches, spiders, scorpions and alligators. While each libel is somewhat different, their essence is the same: The Israelis and the Jews are dangerous, they are not human, we need to defend ourselves from them and we are clearly justified in doing so.

It is tragic that this framing of genocide as necessary self-defense has been so chillingly successful. A poll after last year's murders of eight teenage yeshiva students found that "84 percent of Palestinians support the terror attack killing eight young students in a Jerusalem yeshiva on March 6, 2008" (Poll by Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, The New York Times, March 19, 2008). How can an entire Palestinian society support the murder of children? Clearly, the framing of Jews and Israelis as mortally dangerous to Palestinians has been totally successful.

Israel now faces a society that is very possibly past the stage of genocide framing and at the point of seeing the killing of Israelis, even teens, as justified. All that would be necessary for the population to go along with the final script, detailed so many times by its leaders, would be the means.


Australia: The "Four Scorners" come unglued

We see once again the bias and lack of ethics we have come to expect from Left-leaning public broadcasters. It is now completely clear that nothing they say should be taken seriously

Nick Kaldas specialises in assassinations. It was not his intention, it just worked out that way. He is on leave from his job as Deputy NSW Police Commissioner to head the investigation by the United Nations Special Tribunal into the assassination of a former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri, and several related murders and murder attempts.

Kaldas has also served in Iraq training the new police force, which routinely deals with political murder. His expertise in such dark matters began back in 1994, when he led the investigation into Australia's first political assassination, the murder of the NSW Labor MP John Newman. A local Labor politician and Vietnamese community leader, Phuong Ngo, was convicted in 2001 of orchestrating the killing.

Eight years later, to the distress of Kaldas, he has had to deal with a different kind of assassination - character assassination. It began on April 7 last year, when ABC's Four Corners broadcast a program which questioned whether the conviction of Phuong Ngo had been a miscarriage of justice, based in part on sloppy conduct by Kaldas.

The Four Corners program was loaded with suppositions such as this one, by a former Labor politician: "I don't think they [Phuong Ngo's accusers] had anything else to go on. I think just because he was Vietnamese." Friends of Ngo, such as the refugee advocate Marion Le, were quoted claiming there had been "a miscarriage of justice".

The report was based in part on the work of two academics from the Australian National University, Hugh Selby and Don Greig. Soon after the program went to air, both men made submissions to the Chief Justice of NSW, James Spigelman, calling for the murder case to be reopened. On the basis of these submissions and the public claims made in the Four Corners program, Spigelman ordered a judicial inquiry into the case. This was highly unusual. On the same day, the NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, issued a press release dissociating himself from the decision. [Spigelman was a far-Left student in his university days]

The Chief Justice ordered the inquiry without seeking advice from the NSW Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, or the NSW Crime Commission. The matter had been exhaustively examined by hearings of the NSW Crime Commission, a coroner's inquest, a committal hearing, three Supreme Court trials (one aborted, one resulting in a 10-to-one hung jury, and one which led to the conviction of Ngo), an appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal, and an appeal to the High Court of Australia, which declined to give leave to hear the case.

The inquiry went ahead. The cost to the taxpayer was $770,000. When it was over, the judicial officer who conducted the inquiry, the retired judge David Patten, issued a devastatingly comprehensive rejection of the accusations that had been regurgitated on Four Corners and put by Ngo's supporters in submissions to the inquiry, including a former independent member of the NSW upper house, Peter Breen. To quote from Patten's report, released last week:
"Not one scintilla of evidence points to any wrongdoing or improper activity by Mr Kaldas … despite a number of allegations by various supporters of Mr Ngo there is no evidence that the investigation of Mr Newman's murder was conducted otherwise than professionally and competently …

"[The] material put before the inquiry increased rather than diminished the strength of the Crown's case at trial. Moreover, Mr Ngo's own evidence, which was not before the jury at the trial where he was convicted, was, I believe, very destructive of his claim of innocence …

"Regrettably, the strength of the evidence available against Mr Ngo was virtually ignored by his supporters in their submissions to the inquiry. Unsupported allegations of gross impropriety were substituted for analysis of the facts … Mr Selby's submission to the Chief Justice … lost all significance, in my opinion, when scrutinised at an open hearing …

"I find that nothing in the matters raised by Mr Selby [and] nothing which has come before me [suggest] the investigation into Mr Newman's murder was conducted otherwise than thoroughly and competently by police officers dedicated to the task."
During the preparation of the Four Corners report, Kaldas declined to be interviewed on camera because, he told me last week, he had come to the view that the ABC reporter, Debbie Whitmont, was biased against the Crown case. He did, however, agree to go through the trial evidence with Whitmont, in detail. He took notes of these meetings. When the Four Corners program went to air he found that not one of the points he had made to Whitmont was mentioned.

Unusually, the accusations made on Four Corners were subjected to forensic scrutiny and the report by Patten found the inquiry had "increased rather than diminished" the strength of the Crown's case. He criticised Ngo's supporters for their "lack of objectivity", "intemperate language" and "making allegations of fraud, perversion of justice, and improper conduct … without a shred of evidence".

Yet all this was the basis on which the two ANU academics and Four Corners based their claims. Debbie Whitmont submitted the report for a Walkley Award. And won.

Last week, Four Corners issued a statement standing by its report. No acknowledgement of error. No acknowledgement of distress caused. No hint of admission that the program contained innuendo, omission, supposition, false accusation and a preconceived outcome. This is exactly the sort of case another ABC program, Media Watch, should examine, but it is the last thing it would touch, because the opinionated Media Watch actually operates as Ideology Watch. Such is the ethical rigour at our ABC.



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.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Antiabortion activist videos crooked abortionists

Killing that baby comes first for them and they would rather cover up crime than notify the girl's parents

The girl's voice in the videotape is tiny and tentative. She is talking to a nursing aide in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bloomington, Ind. The girl wants an abortion. The aide explains that the girl will need a parent's consent because she is only 13. The girl balks; she does not want to name the father. "Cause, I mean, he would be in really big trouble," says the girl. Her boyfriend, she explains, is 31.

The aide drops her head into her hands. "In the state of Indiana," says the aide, "when anyone has had intercourse and they are age 13 or younger . . . it has to be reported to Child Protective Services."

There is a 60-second gap in the tape, according to the running timer on the video. What happens next is meant to be explosive. "OK," says the aide, "I didn't hear the age. I don't want to know the age. It could be reported as rape. And that's child abuse."

"So if I just say I don't know who the father was, but he's one of the guys at school or something?" asks the girl. "Right," says the aide, who has just stepped into a carefully laid trap.

As it happens, the boyfriend does not exist. The girl is not pregnant. Nor is she 13. She is Lila Rose, a 20-year-old UCLA history major with a little voice and a bold plan to expose what she and many abortion foes see as Planned Parenthood's wrongdoings. Since 2006, Rose has orchestrated undercover "stings" at Planned Parenthood clinics in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Bloomington, Tucson, Phoenix and Memphis.

Surreptitiously videotaping their interactions, she and a friend have posed as abortion-seeking teens impregnated by older men. The videos -- boiled down to five minutes, with portentous music and fast cuts to heighten the drama -- are posted on Rose's website,, and YouTube.

Rose's strategy -- accusing Planned Parenthood of failing to report suspected statutory rapes -- is not a new one in the antiabortion trenches. But the new-media twist on the idea has put her front and center of a new generation. "There is this stereotype of who we pro-life leaders are, and for the most part it would be white middle-aged religious men trying to impose their will on women," said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition. "So now with Lila, you bring this young, fresh college student that completely blows any stereotypes away. No one is going to accuse Lila of being mean, vindictive and harsh."

Rose's goal is to undermine legal abortion by showing that Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country, abets sexual exploitation by counseling pregnant minors to lie about the ages of their adult boyfriends. Planned Parenthood officials strenuously deny the charge. Protecting minors is a crucial part of their mission, they say, but with 30,000 employees and volunteers and 850 clinics, they say, mistakes are inevitable.

Abortion is not likely to be outlawed any time soon, but Rose's work is having an impact, particularly on a local level, where abortion foes are increasingly focusing their efforts. On Wednesday, Tennessee lawmakers said they would seek to end a $721,000 contract with Planned Parenthood, citing outrage over what they saw in a video Rose had posted two days earlier from a Memphis clinic. She posed there in July as a 14-year-old impregnated by a 31-year-old; a Planned Parenthood staffer says, "Just say you have a boyfriend, 17 years old, whatever."

Last month, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to suspend a grant worth nearly $300,000 to Planned Parenthood that was earmarked for sex education, not abortions. A conservative Tustin businessman raised the issue with Supervisor John Moorlach after meeting Rose and seeing her videos.

Last year, after the Indiana videos were posted on Rose's website, Bloomington's Herald Times reported that the nurse's aide seen on the tape had been fired. A second Planned Parenthood staffer, in Indianapolis, resigned: Rose's tape appeared to show that employee directing the young woman across the state line to a clinic in Illinois, which doesn't have a parental consent law.

A grand jury is investigating whether Planned Parenthood violated the law, said Mario Massillamany, a spokesman for the prosecutor of Marion County, where Indianapolis is located. "After we stated we were conducting an investigation, they hired a group to conduct better training for their staff," he added.


EU judges want Sharia law applied in British courts

Judges could be forced to bow to Sharia law in some divorce cases heard in Britain. An EU plan calls for family courts across Europe to hear cases using the laws of whichever country the couple involved have close links to. That could mean a court in England handling a case within the French legal framework, or even applying the laws of Saudi Arabia to a husband and wife living in Britain.

The Centre for Social Justice think tank today attacked the so-called Rome III reform as ludicrous. It warned it would slow down cases, increase costs and lead to unjust results. However, in a report it says existing arrangements are 'anti-family'.

Currently, a couple from different EU states can have their divorce heard in the first country where one of them files divorce papers. Because different states offer varying financial advantages to spouses in terms of division of wealth, the resulting 'race to court' in the best jurisdiction discourages couples from trying to save their marriage, it says.

The report calls for a simpler solution, with each country applying its own laws and cases being heard in the country where the couple have the closest connection. At least nine EU states - not including the UK - are said to want to push ahead with the Rome III plan.


Britain: Give us back our private lives

As Labour unveils plans to monitor every one of our phone calls and emails, it is time to demand an end to state snooping. "Your moves are monitored by your bus tickets. There are CCTV cameras on every building and computer chips on the rubbish bin – and they can tell a lot about your life by studying your rubbish ...Security has got absurd."

The Russian journalist Irada Zeinalova wasn't talking about Putin's Russia. She wasn't even talking about life in the old Soviet Union. She was talking about Britain today.

Mrs Zeinalova has lived in Britain for several years. But she doesn't like the level of intrusion into her private life that she experiences. Many native Britons take the same view. An increasing number of people resent the constant surveillance that has become common in many cities in Britain. Britain has more security cameras per head of population than anywhere else in the world: each one is justified, at least by those who have installed it, by the role it plays in detecting and reducing crime.

Just as insidious is the amount of data the state now holds on its citizens – and the Government last week unveiled plans to hold still more, because your every phone call, email and visit to a website will be monitored by the state.

Some of the material the state collects, such as tax and pension details, is an unavoidable part of the bureaucracy necessary to run a modern state. Other databases are also, in principle, uncontentious: doctors cannot treat you effectively if they do not know your medical history, for instance, so the keeping of medical records is beneficial rather than harmful.

Still other databases – the violent offender and sex offender registers, for example – can be said to have a role in fighting crime. But there is a slippery slope here, and it leads to a state of permanent police supervision of everyone. "Preventing and detecting crime" can be used as a justification for expanding databases and surveillance almost indefinitely. And it has been. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) defines and regulates spying by government bodies. As the Home Office's latest consultation paper on RIPA reveals, at least 42 government departments and organisations are entitled to spy on the public. They include such bodies as the Charity Commission, the Department for Environment, and the Department of Work and Pensions. If you include local authorities who are also allowed to spy on you, there are more than 400 government agencies entitled to snoop.

The Government says that such organisations are involved in ensuring that people comply with the law. It adds that the police cannot be required to do everything: they simply do not have the resources. Ministers stress that we have no reason to be worried. They insist that those "with nothing to hide have nothing to fear". The problem is that everybody has something to hide: some degree of privacy is necessary for human dignity – as Jacqui Smith, of all people, should now know, after what happened to her husband. [Exposed as a porn addict]

The protections against any government department using surveillance unjustifiably are, in theory, considerable. Public authorities have to be "satisfied" that surveillance is "necessary and proportionate". Officials are meant to "consider the impact of these techniques on the privacy of those under investigation". Public authorities who use surveillance are "subject to independent inspection". The practice, however, has been very different. Officials frequently seem to think that they are justified in spying on private citizens if they suspect them of any violation, however apparently insignificant. That explains the hundreds of hours spent secretly observing whether people have been recycling correctly, or have let their dogs foul the pavement.

But it has not been the independent inspectors who have revealed such abuses. It has been newspapers such as The Sunday Telegraph. The checks and balances have clearly not worked: 183 councils have used surveillance powers 10,288 times over the past five years. Only in one in 10 cases has the result been a successful prosecution, caution or even a fixed penalty notice.

Given past practice, is it possible to believe that an effective system of regulation can be put in place? If you think it is, you will accept the ministers' argument that surveillance can be restricted to cases where it is "necessary and proportionate". If you do not, then you will agree that the only way to halt our slide towards a version of Orwell's Big Brother is to curb the power of state officials to order surveillance, restricting it to cases where national security is clearly at stake, and to the agencies that are dedicated to that purpose.

The increasing amount of spying raises another problem: how to ensure that the data will not fall into the wrong hands. The Government promises to safeguard our privacy but it has not been able to do so. For example, even Gordon Brown's medical records have recently been accessed by a doctor who had no reason to look at them. Officials also enter data wrongly into data bases. People have been wrongly identified as criminals, as benefit cheats or frauds.

The fallibility of state officials may be the biggest threat. In the 18 months since computer disks containing the records of all 25 million families receiving child benefit were lost by officials, at least a dozen other departments have admitted to losing vital personal data on millions of people. Should the data fall into the hands of criminals, the potential for damage is immense.

Neither of these problems has deterred the Government from increasing the spying powers of state organisations. Under the rubric of "data modernisation", Labour is committed to expanding the databases it holds on the population, and so the state's capacity for surveillance. The "Intercept Modernisation Programme" will store details of all of our phone calls, text messages, emails and visits to internet sites; the "National Identity Register" will store biometric data on each of us; "eBorders" will keep a record on each time anyone leaves or arrives in Britain ... The list of "data modernisation" programmes continues to grow. If all of them come to fruition, it will mean that in Britain private life, at least as we know it, will become a thing of the past.

We might all be safer. But the price of that greater security will be the destruction of privacy – and a significant amount of human dignity.


Australia: Appalling black-run grocery stores in black communities

More Federal intervention? Nope. The Leftists will just talk and do nothing

In one Queensland community, a packet of pasta costs $4, a kilo of tomatoes is worth almost $9 and deodorant is sold for more than $10. But the food is often out of date and the store is unclean.

In a damning submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry into indigenous community stores, Lockhart River residents say people have fallen ill after eating poor-quality food from a local store. The submission - compiled by Royal Flying Doctor Service employees on behalf of Lockhart River residents - accuses the community store of stocking "mouldy" bread, "rotten" fruit, frozen vegetables which have been defrosted and refrozen and meat that tastes like "cardboard" when cooked. The submission complains about a lack of healthy quick meal options, no pricing on some goods and a filthy store environment.

A comparison of prices shows Lockhart River residents pay up to seven times more than shoppers in Cairns for some common items. Tomatoes, for example, cost $2.45 kg in Cairns, but $8.66 kg at Lockhart River. The cheapest pasta in Lockhart River costs $4.02 for a 500g packet, but the same product could be bought in Cairns for 59c.

A submission from the Kowanyama community on Cape York says its store also sells out-of-date foods with prices up to three times those in Cairns. It says complaints are generally ignored. Supporting those submissions, the Australian Red Cross has told the inquiry such "exorbitant" prices are unjust. "The poorest people in the country are forced to endure the highest prices in the country," the submission says.

According to the Red Cross, the situation has directly contributed to malnutrition and chronic disease in Australia's indigenous population. The inquiry will hold public hearings in the Northern Territory this week.



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.


Monday, April 27, 2009

You can't win: Disney Accused of Racial Insensitivity Over First Animated Black Princess

The arrival of a black First Lady in the White House might have been greeted with celebration around the world, but the similarly historic debut of Walt Disney’s first black princess has not been received so warmly. The studio, known for its wholesome and predominantly white family values, has made several changes to its first African-American princess, Tiana, who will star in a new animated film this Christmas entitled "The Princess and the Frog," amid accusations of racial insensitivity.

Disney has already changed the profession of the princess (an aspiring restaurant entrepreneur instead of a chambermaid) and name (Tiana instead of Maddy, which critics thought was too similar to “Mammy," a once-common term for black female slaves in white households). Tiana will be played by Anika Noni Rose, who starred in "Dreamgirls," while Tiana’s mother will be played by the talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.

The controversy has intensified after it was revealed that the film would be set in New Orleans and that Tiana would find love with a white prince — well, almost. His skin has been described as olive-toned and he will be voiced by Bruno Campos, a Brazilian actor.

“What? No black prince? What’s up with this?” blogged James Collier on Acting White, an anti-racism Web site, in a posting typical of the general disbelief among the film’s most vocal black critics. “Perhaps Disney doesn’t want the future mothers of dwindling white America being imprinted so early in their lives with the notion of a black suitor.”

Another blogger, Angela Helm, attracted nearly 3,000 comments on the Black Voices Web site when she complained that “even though there is a real-life black man in the highest office in the land with a black wife, Disney obviously doesn’t think a black man is worthy of the title of prince."

It has been more than seven decades since Disney released its first princess movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The company’s “princess division” has eight characters, which generates an estimated $4 billion in revenues annually.

Until now, the line-up of royal heroines, which includes a Native American character (Pocahontas) and an Asian character (Mulan), was missing something: a black woman. And so the decision was made in the mid-2000s — before anyone outside of Chicago had heard of the Obamas — to make Tiana the ninth princess.

According to leaked details, the princess is transformed into a frog after kissing one and has to venture into the mystical bayous of Louisiana to find a cure from a voodoo queen.


'What makes you think it's natural to be heterosexual?': British Christian teacher suspended over homosexual rights

A senior teacher has been suspended from his £50,000-a-year job after he complained that a training day for staff was used to promote gay rights. Kwabena Peat, 54, was one of several Christian staff who walked out of the compulsory session at a North London school after an invited speaker questioned why people thought heterosexuality was natural.

The presentation was given by Sue Sanders, a co-founder of the Schools Out organisation which campaigns for gay equality in education. According to Mr Peat, Ms Sanders, herself a lesbian, said that staff who did not accept that being gay was normal had ‘issues’ they had to deal with.

Mr Peat, a history teacher who is also a head of year, said he was upset that people who disagreed on religious grounds had no chance to respond. He wrote privately to the three staff members who organised the session, complaining about Ms Sanders’ ‘aggressive’ presentation. In his letter, he cited the Bible and warned that practising homosexuals risked God’s ‘wrath’.

But the staff complained to the school’s principal that they felt ‘harassed and intimidated’ by the letter and, after an investigation, Mr Peat was placed on paid leave. He is now being supported by the Christian Legal Centre. ‘I am very disappointed, although not shocked,’ the married father of three said last night. ‘I am the one who has been harassed and intimidated – for expressing my religious views.’

Mr Peat, who has spent most of his career teaching in inner-city London schools, joined Park View Academy, a large secondary comprehensive in Tottenham, three years ago. He said he was very supportive of ‘equality and diversity’ programmes.

The row erupted in January when the school held an In-Service Education and Training (Inset) day, during which staff were required to attend a session on child protection issues. Ms Sanders, 62, founded the voluntary organisation Schools Out in 1974. However, the £850 training session was organised by Chrysalis, a training team that specialises in diversity issues.

Mr Peat said he had expected her merely to provide information to help teachers handle homophobic bullying, but she had gone much further. ‘She started promoting homosexual lifestyles and suggesting those who had objections should sort out their prejudices. She said, “What makes you all think that to be heterosexual is natural?” It was at that point I walked out.’

In a statement last night, headteacher Alex Atherton said: ‘An allegation of intimidation and harassment is currently being investigated.’

Ms Sanders said her training sessions were designed to ‘raise awareness’.


France’s Barbarian ‘killers’ stir spectre of anti-semitism

FRANCE must confront its dark side this week when 28 members of a gang called the Barbarians go on trial in Paris for murdering a Jewish mobile phone salesman. The killing of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, who was held to ransom for three weeks on a council estate in the grim Parisian suburbs, sickened a country haunted by a history of anti-semitism and wartime collaboration with the Nazis.

Relatives of the victim last week expressed indignation at the defence’s attempts to cast doubt on claims that Youssouf Fofana, leader of the gang, had chosen to kidnap Halimi in 2006 because he was Jewish.

“We’re shocked that there is even any debate about it,” said Anne-Laure, one of Halimi’s sisters. She noted that Fofana, who insisted on gang members calling him “Osama”, had often insulted Jews and sung verses from the Koran in between ransom demands over the telephone. He allegedly told his accomplices that he wanted to kidnap a Jew because the Jewish community was rich, would stick together and would pay a big ransom.

“My son died because of that prejudice, just like millions of Jews before him,” wrote Ruth Halimi in a recent book about the ordeal in which she compared the kidnapping with that of Daniel Pearl, the American journalist beheaded by Muslim extremists in 2002.

After several previous attempts at kidnapping Jews and extorting money from Jewish doctors, Fofana employed an attractive schoolgirl as “bait” to lure Halimi to a meeting in the suburbs. He was set upon by the Barbarians whose members included blacks, Arabs and whites from Portugal and France.

Ruth Halimi complained in her book that police told her not to worry. “You don’t kidnap someone to kill them,” she was told. “They won’t kill your son.”

The kidnappers initially asked for £450,000 to be transferred to them electronically. The family was advised by police to ask for a face-to-face meeting before paying any money, but negotiations kept foundering.

The kidnappers were torturing Halimi - for their amusement, it seems - with acid, cigarette burns and cardboard cutters. When they eventually tired of the negotiations, they stabbed him several times in the body and throat and dumped him by the side of the road. He died in an ambulance.

Fofana fled to the Ivory Coast, from where he continued to taunt Halimi family members over the telephone until he was arrested. Just as shocking as the brutality was the fact that so many people knew about it and failed to tell the police. The girl who had been used in the “honey trap” told several friends about the kidnapping, but none came forward. One of the gang members who did not want Halimi to be killed told his father what was happening. He advised the boy to keep quiet.

Some 160 witnesses will be called to the stand in a trial which, to the disappointment of the victim’s family, is expected to be closed to the public on the grounds that most of the defendants were minors when the crimes were committed. The trial will focus attention on rising attacks on Jews over the past few years, during which thousands have emigrated to Israel. Ruth Halimi had her son’s body disinterred in 2007 so that his remains could be reburied in Israel.

“You will never be able to hurt him any more,” she wrote in her book, addressing the killers. “I took him away from here because one day you will be free and you would have been able to come and spit on his tomb.” The desecration of Jewish graveyards has become a common crime in France.


Obama, Alinsky, and Scapegoats
'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' - Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals.
That's what Barack Obama taught his ACORN followers in all his Community Agitator classes in Chicago. That slogan defines mob scapegoating, of course. It is an exact prescription for whipping up mobs -- by race, by gender, by ethnicity, by religion. If you want to know how to whip a mob of Pakistani Taliban fascisti to whip a young girl for flirting with a young man in public, this is exactly what you do: Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personality It, and Polarize It. And notice that "the target" is no longer a human being. It's an "It." Try substituting the word "victim" for "target," and you see how it works.

This is exactly what the Dixiecrats did to blacks in the Jim Crow South, and what President Obama does today with capitalists who run General Motors and Wall Street.

So the purported comedienne Janeane Garofolo interprets the anti-tax tea parties as obviously racist. You see, Ms. Garofolo can read minds, in spite of all the obvious decency of the tea party protesters. And Obama's Department of Homeland Security has now pinpointed our chief terrorist danger: It's "right-wing extremists," including Iraq War vets coming back home.

In psychiatry, scapegoating is called "displacement of rage," and it is often said to be a low-level defense, one that comes easily to people who are already emotionally troubled or impaired. With mature adults scapegoating doesn't work very well -- not unless you can make them into insecure wrecks by destroying their incomes, for example. That's what happened to the German middle class in the Weimar Republic. It's what will happen in this country if the economy fails to recover. That is why it is so vital to keep the administration from its most extreme spending plans, which could harm the economy if the Democrats in Congress are foolish enough.

Scapegoating is very simple, and very malevolent. It is the defining feature of human destructiveness. All the truly irrational actions in human history involve displaced rage. Pathological societies in the world are always torn by a search for new scapegoats.

Scapegoating is a really effective manipulation for mobs that have long ago decided that their real enemy is... anybody. Because that overwhelming feeling of rising rage matters much more than whoever is the victim of the moment. That overwhelming tension is intolerable and seeks an outlet.

For instance, the target could be the kulaks.
"Comrades! ... You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the bloodsuckers. ... This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let's choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks. ... Yours, Lenin."

That's Lenin the mob leader after the Bolshevik revolution. 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' The kulaks were Russian peasants who owned a couple of cows instead of just a scrawny goat like most others, and therefore provided juicy hate objects for the mob. Lenin knew how to whip up those mobs because that's how it was done during the four centuries of Romanov rule before the Revolution. It is deeply ingrained in Russian folklore -- you can see it in the opera Boris Godunov, where a pair of Orthodox priests whip up a mob to kill two Catholic priests, foreigners from Poland. That was just before 1500 AD.

Scapegoating is emotional high explosive that you can direct at will, like those fire-spewing proton packs in the movie Ghostbusters. You just 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' It's like pulling a trigger on human emotions and watching the human target get blown away. We've seen it ever since the Boomer Left took over the media, most recently with the abuse heaped upon George W. Bush.

Saul Alinsky was born in 1909 of Russian Jewish parents in New York City. Why was the Alinsky family living in America in 1909 rather than Minsk or Pinsk or Omsk or Chomsk? Because they fled the Russian pogroms of 1890-1910, like thousands of other Jews.

I don't know if Alinsky's parents were direct victims of the peasant mobs, but chances are that his aunts or uncles or grandparents must have been. I have a friend whose grandmother was knouted to death by Cossacks in Poland in the 1920's. I don't think her grandchildren and great-children have ever come to terms with that horror, even though they are living in the next century in America. It is a multigenerational trauma. Horrific traumas can have that effect. In the Jim Crow South blacks were scapegoated by the very same kinds of mobs, led by the very same kinds of agitators -- virtually all of them white Democrats. It seems that some blacks are still experiencing the emotional ripple-effects, decades later.

Now follow this closely: The Alinsky family fled to the United States because life was intolerable in the old country. They found safety in America. Emma Lazarus was another Jewish immigrant, who understood the difference between the Old and New World well enough. She wrote about the Statue of Liberty,
"A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame."
Emma Lazarus must have been an extraordinary woman, because her poem brims with gratitude for the New World: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...".

That is a very different feeling than the young Saul Alinsky harbored. Little Saul must have seen the Statue of Liberty often enough on the skyline of his childhood. But he never understood it the way Emma Lazarus did. We can only wonder why, because thousands upon thousands of persecuted refugees kept flowing into New York City when he was growing up.

And then little Saul grew up and wrote Rules for Radicals, and dedicated his life to ... the very same art of whipping up mobs that his parents fled from. Rules for Radicals might have been written by a medieval mob agitator; only a few words need to be changed. 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' Substitute "heretic" or "witch" for "target" and you have all the religious persecutions in human history. Substitute "blacks," and you have a Dixiecrat lynch mob. Substitute "whites," and you have all of J-Wright's sermons at Trinity United, Chicago. It's all the same thing. Human nature doesn't change. Alinsky:
"Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution."
Funny thing is, Emma Lazarus thought that America was the revolution those huddled masses were looking for.

Alinsky did not write his little book of Rules against the Tsar of Russia, nor against mob demagogues in general; rather, he wrote it in a rage against free market wealth, against capitalist individualism, against the prosperous middle class and its most successful home, the United States of America. Alinsky became the hero for other agitators -- people who used to call themselves "communist agitators." Those were not shameful words when little Saul was growing up, they were proud words.

Agitare comes from the Latin word for "stirring up," the same root as the word "activist." A "community activist" is just a slightly different name for the old phrase "communist agitator" -- one who stirs up a group, just like those old hairy demagogues in Tsarist Russia and Poland, and then in Soviet Russia, Germany, China and Cambodia, in Rwanda and Kosovo, the Punjab and Indonesia ....

Question: How is it that little Saul Alinsky, child and grandchild of victims, became the new persecutor?

Here is a strange twist of fate. Starting with the huge expansion of the US college campuses in the Sixties, Saul Alinsky's little book went viral. Alienated middle-class kids with no personal experience of poverty or suffering -- in the sense that blacks knew it in the South and the Jews and many others in Europe and Asia -- they all went around with Alinsky's Rules for Radicals in their backpacks. Radicalism became romantic. Alienated and ignorant kids yearned to become Che Guevara and kill the capitalists. That's how rich kids like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn learned their theology. It's how they became heroes in their own eyes. Such saintly people, giving their all for the poor and helpless.

Hillary Rodham complained about her authoritarian father when she was a child, and instantly on getting to Wellesley she fell for Saul Alinsky and his Rules, and became an admiring disciple of the Master of Scapegoating. Hillary's first major political act was to join the staff of the Senate Watergate Committee, where she wrote a legal brief for the Committee on why President Richard Nixon should not, repeat not, be allowed legal counsel in his impending impeachment and trial.

'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.'

See how it works? So the persecuted become the persecutors. Hillary the victimized child -- at least in her own mind -- became the really visceral hater of the Clinton White House. The black victims of mobs in the South had children and grand-children, some of whom -- by no means all -- became the Reverend J-Wright, or Louis Farrakhan. The children of victims of Russian persecution, some of them -- by no means all -- became romantic Alinsky radicals. Those children of wealth worshipped men of violence, and sanitized them -- Che, Mao, Fidel, Carlos the Jackal, Ayers, Mumiah, the list goes on.

The Reverend J-Wright preaches mob incitement. It's all over his sermons. His younger successor in the same church, Rev. James Moss III, has his own style of incitement. He tells his congregation that black people will never be accepted by whites; they are lepers, with an ugly skin condition that makes them diseased outcasts forever. Sweet, ain't it? The worst Dixiecrat agitator during Jim Crow couldn't have put it worse than that.

Take the rage that people feel and direct it to the most convenient human victim. 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' J-Wright started life as a Black Muslim, as he tells it, and then studied Black Liberation Theology. What's BLT? Well, Pope Benedict says it's a cover name for Marxism. In this case, racial Marxism. Which brings us right back to Lenin whipping up the Bolshevik mobs to kill the kulaks.

It doesn't matter where you direct the rage. Brazil's Marxist president Lula blames "white people with blue eyes." We are living in a time of reverse racism, having flipped Dixiecrat racism to the other side. The tragedy is that we have not transcended race, not and as long as racial demagogues can squeeze this new hatred for money and power. The Obamas are the very incarnation of reverse racism. That is why they felt the need to show contempt to the Queen of England, and to bow down to the pre-medieval King of Saudi Arabia. In the next four years, or eight, or longer, you will see them do that over and over and over again, because that is their lifelong obsession.

Barack Obama and Michelle attended J-Wright's church for twenty years, and had their little girls baptized and raised at Trinity United. Our President was brought up by a mother who was a young college radical from Mercer Island, WA, and Kansas. His absentee father in Kenya was a proud post-colonial socialist -- until, it seems, he ran into trouble with Jomo Kenyatta and had two car accidents in a row; the second one of which killed him. But Barack Obama didn't draw the rather obvious lesson that his father may have been assassinated by a typical post-colonial tyrant. Instead, he adopted the side of the persecutor in the same way the young Saul Alinsky did. Obama grew up in his early years in Indonesia, where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese had recently been massacred by -- you guessed it -- raging ethnic mobs looking for scapegoats. Oddly enough those Indonesian massacres are not mentioned in Obama's two autobiographies.

Obama's first boyhood mentor was the CPUSA's guy in Hawaii, a black man filled with racial rage and resentment, and little Barry was handed on from one radical friend to the next, in a long chain by way of Harvard Law to the Chicago Democrat Machine. The one big gap in his autobiography is his college years at Columbia, but knowing what we know we can fill that in pretty well. He married Michelle, herself a daughter of an African-American ward boss and friend of Jesse Jackson, who made a brilliant career out of scapegoating corporations for money, power and personal fame. Then Barack was taught politics by Emile Jones, the political godfather of Southside.

There's only one useful rule for predicting human beings:

People tend to do in the future what they did in the past.

So Barack Obama is now President of the United States.

What will he do?

How about 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It?'

There go those AIG bonus guys. Let's tax ninety percent of their bonuses and smear them in the media. Done.

There goes Rick Wagoner. Let's kill his career at GM. Done.

Let's try to rouse up the mob against Rush Limbaugh. Oops! Forget it --- he's got his own megaphone. Next time just go for the ones who can't protest.

Now he darkly threatens trying officials responsible for making policy in the Bush administration.

Life will be so much better then, won't it? Or will it?



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.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

California Att’y Gen Says Non-Discrimination Is Unconstitutional

Jerry Brown (remember him?) — once California governor, now California Attorney General, and possible future California governor — says in a letter to the California Supreme Court that the prohibition against preferential treatment based on race or gender that was added to the California Constitution by Prop. 209 is unconstitutional.
To the extent that the prohibitions against race- and gender-based discrimination in article I, section 31 of the California Constitution (hereafter referred to as section 31) are aligned with the prohibitions enforced under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, section 31 is constitutional. However, to the extent that section 31 is interpreted more broadly to bar race- or gender-conscious programs that would be permissible under the Fourteenth Amendment, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the federal Constitution....
Brown’s argument seems to be identical to one the ACLU and NACCP tried, most recently, in Michigan, to no avail. Closer to home, it also seems to be identical to one even the Ninth Circuit all but laughed out of court in rejecting a challenge to Prop. 209 right after it passed. As the opinion by Judge O'Scannlain put it:
.... Proposition 209 amends the California Constitution simply to prohibit state discrimination against or preferential treatment to any person on account of race or gender. Plaintiffs charge that this ban on unequal treatment denies members of certain races and one gender equal protection of the laws. If merely stating this alleged equal protection violation does not suffice to refute it, the central tenet of the Equal Protection Clause teeters on the brink of incoherence.
It appears that Jerry Brown is asking the California Supreme Court to decide who is incoherent, Jerry Brown or the Fourteenth Amendment. The choice would seem to be clear, but then nothing is completely clear in California.


The Chronicle of Higher Education takes note of Attorney General’s Brown’s letter today, here. If you have access to the Chronicle, the comments to this note are worth reading.


The Los Angeles Times has a good article on this issue today. It quotes, to good effect, Sharon Browne, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation who is challenging a San Francisco law giving preferences to women and minorities. (It is that case that prompted the Calif. Supreme Court’s request for an opinion on Prop. 209 from Attorney General Brown.)
“It would be incredibly strange for the California Supreme Court, 13 years after Prop. 209 was adopted, to say at this time it is unconstitutional,” said Browne, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative public interest law firm.

The state high court unanimously ruled in 2000 that Proposition 209 prohibited a San Jose outreach program. That ruling cited a 1997 decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that found Proposition 209 constitutional.
Strange indeed. If the California Supreme Court were now to adopt the view that Prop. 209 is unconstitutional, would it have to conclude that it was unanimously wrong in its 2000 opinion, City of San Jose v. Hi-Voltage Wire Works?


Separate but Unequal Protection

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) have quietly re-introduced the federal thought crimes bill, H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. As has proved to be true in both Europe and Canada, this Orwellian piece of legislation is the direct precursor to freedom killing and speech chilling “hate speech” laws. It represents a thinly veiled effort to ultimately silence – under penalty of law – morally, medically and biblically based opposition to the homosexual lifestyle. The bill is expected to be marked up Wednesday before the full House Judiciary Committee.

Under the 14th Amendment, victims of violent crime are currently afforded equal protection under the law regardless of sexual preference or proclivity. If passed, H.R. 1913 will change all that. It overtly and, most likely, unconstitutionally discriminates against millions of Americans by granting federally preferred status, time and resources to individuals who define their identity based upon aberrant sexual behaviors (i.e., “gay” and lesbian “sexual orientation” or cross-dressing “gender identity”).

Of course, this entire concept flies in the face of the 14th Amendment. It inarguably codifies unequal protection under the law, creating a two-tiered justice system made up of first-class victims such as those who self-identify as homosexual or “transgender” and second-class victims such as the elderly, children, pregnant women, veterans, the homeless and others who choose not to engage in homosexual or cross-dressing behaviors.

There is exactly zero evidence to suggest that homosexuals or cross-dressers do not currently receive equal protection under the law. In fact, you need only look to the most famous “hate crime” of all – Matthew Shepard – for proof. Although the evidence determined that Shepard's murder was not a “hate crime” by definition (a misconception still widely propagated by the homosexual lobby, the media and liberal lawmakers) the two thugs who committed the crime nonetheless received life in prison – and rightfully so. (Shepard's murder turned out to be the end result of a robbery for drug money gone from bad to horrible).

Likewise, the murderer of Mary Stachowicz – a devout Catholic grandmother who was brutally killed by a homosexual man in Chicago merely for sharing the Bible – was also given a life sentence. The system worked in both cases and both victims received equal justice under the law apart from any discriminatory “hate crimes” legislation.

Yet, proponents of H.R. 1913 claim it’s needed to curb an epidemic of so-called “hate crimes” committed against homosexuals and those who suffer gender identity disorder. This is a lie that is knowingly and intentionally cultivated by a very well funded and intrinsically deceptive homosexual lobby. The alarmist propaganda simply doesn’t square with the facts.

According to the latest FBI statistics, in 2007 there were about 1.4 million violent crimes committed in the U.S. Of those, only 1512 were reported as “hate crimes” motivated by “sexual orientation” bias. Over two thirds of those were allegations of “hateful” words, touching, intimidation, pushing or shoving. There were a mere 247 cases of aggravated assault (including 5 deaths) allegedly motivated by “sexual orientation” bias nationwide. In each case, where appropriate, offenders were prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and victims were afforded the exact same justice guaranteed every other American.

The entire push for federal “hate crimes” legislation is rooted in fraud. In fact, many of the most high profile reports have turned out to be false. For example, investigators determined that the very “hate crime” (Andrew Anthos in Michigan) exploited by liberal lawmakers to justify the same legislation in the last Congress, was a false report. It never happened. And instances of such fabricated and politically motivated “hate crimes” continue to pile up.

So, if proponents of H.R. 1913 are neither justified nor motivated by an actual need for the bill – as clearly demonstrated – then what drives them? The answer is twofold. First, passage of “hate crimes” legislation would place the behaviorally driven and fluid concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” on an equal footing with legitimate, neutral and immutable “suspect class” characteristics such as skin color or a person’s true gender.

This creates both a sociopolitical and legal environment wherein traditional sexual morality officially becomes the new racism. Those who publically express medical, moral or religious opposition to the homosexual lifestyle are tagged by the government as “homophobic bigots” to be treated no differently by law enforcement, the courts or larger society than the KKK or neo-Nazis.

In short, this bill places newfangled “gay rights” in direct conflict with our enumerated constitutional rights. It becomes the first step in the official criminalization of Christianity. It’s a zero sum game and someone has to lose. Ultimately, what we lose are our First Amendment guaranteed rights to freedom of speech, religious expression and association.

But the threat is not just some shadowy phantom looming in the near future. It’s a clear and present danger. While debating the notion of “conspiracy to commit a hate crime” in the last congress, Artur Davis (D-AL) admitted that the legislation could be used to prosecute pastors for merely preaching the Bible under the concept of “inducement” to violence.

Furthermore, under existing criminal statute if H.R. 1913 becomes law, actual violence or injury need not take place for a “hate crime” to occur. For example, if a group of Christians are at a “gay pride” parade and a one of them gently places his hand on a homosexual’s shoulder and shares that there is freedom from homosexuality through a relationship with Jesus Christ, then, voila, we have a battery and, consequently, a felony “hate crime.”

But the Christian needn’t even touch the homosexual. If the homosexual merely claims he was subjectively placed in “apprehension of bodily injury” by the Christian’s words then, again, the Christian can be thrown in prison for a felony “hate crime.” The FBI has included mere words – “insults” and “intimidation” – in calculating “hate crimes” statistics and – under the current political regime in Washington – there’s every reason to believe they’ll subjectively consider “insults” and “intimidation” (read: traditional sexual morality) for purposes of prosecuting “hate crimes.”

Yes, it’s a brave new world and with H.R. 1913 – among other things – a once free America has moved, both literally and figuratively, a quarter of a century beyond Orwell’s 1984.


The dreaming Diamond is losing his sparkle

Hmm. A Papua New Guinea tribesman is suing the The New Yorker magazine over an article penned by MacArthur "Genius" and Pulitzer Prize winning author Jared Diamond. The $10-million suit claims that Diamond falsely accuses the tribesman and another colleague of criminal acts, including murder, in a bloody revenge tale.

While PNG tribesman Daniel Wemp admitted telling stories to Diamond and others, a friend of his said that it's common practice: "When foreigners come to our culture, we tell stories as entertainment. Daniel's stories were not serious narrative, and Daniel had no idea he was being interviewed for publication."

My brother-in-law and his wife spent eight years in PNG in isolated villages. They often recounted how the villagers would tell them stories they insisted were true - in most cases, for good-natured entertainment to see how gullible the Americans were. John and Kim soon learned to recognize and enjoy being the butt of the jokes.

I'm reminded of anthropologist Margaret Mead's acclaimed work "Coming of Age in Samoa," which celebrated sexual openness among Samoan adolescents. Some scholars have dismissed those claims as untrue, arguing that the 23-year-old Mead herself may have been told "stories" by the young people she interviewed.

Jared Diamond is celebrated for his "Guns, Germs, and Steel," but I was appalled by the tunnel-vision approach in his more recent book "Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed," in which he claims overuse of resources led to the collapse of several societies and should serve as a warning for our current societies. For an excellent critique of Diamond's "Collapse," read Ron Bailey's article, "Under the spell of Malthus."

Diamond is also celebrated for his ornithological studies in PNG. Maybe he needs to spend more time studying humans to recognize when he's being gulled.


NOTE: For more on Jared Diamond's creative (ab)use of tribal 'lore' see this critique of his Easter Island 'ecocide' theory

Thought Police Muscle Up in Britain

By Hal G. P. Colebatch

BRITAIN appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely.

There are no concentration camps or gulags but there are thought police with unprecedented powers to dictate ways of thinking and sniff out heresy, and there can be harsh punishments for dissent.

Nikolai Bukharin claimed one of the Bolshevik Revolution's principal tasks was "to alter people's actual psychology". Britain is not Bolshevik, but a campaign to alter people's psychology and create a new Homo britannicus is under way without even a fig leaf of disguise.

The Government is pushing ahead with legislation that will criminalise politically incorrect jokes, with a maximum punishment of up to seven years' prison. The House of Lords tried to insert a free-speech amendment, but Justice Secretary Jack Straw knocked it out. It was Straw who previously called for a redefinition of Englishness and suggested the "global baggage of empire" was linked to soccer violence by "racist and xenophobic white males". He claimed the English "propensity for violence" was used to subjugate Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and that the English as a race were "potentially very aggressive".

In the past 10 years I have collected reports of many instances of draconian punishments, including the arrest and criminal prosecution of children, for thought-crimes and offences against political correctness.

Countryside Restoration Trust chairman and columnist Robin Page said at a rally against the Government's anti-hunting laws in Gloucestershire in 2002: "If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum-seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you." Page was arrested, and after four months he received a letter saying no charges would be pressed, but that: "If further evidence comes to our attention whereby your involvement is implicated, we will seek to initiate proceedings." It took him five years to clear his name.

Page was at least an adult. In September 2006, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher's first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: "It's racist, you're going to get done by the police!" Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott. Headmaster Anthony Edkins reportedly said: "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark. We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form."

A 10-year-old child was arrested and brought before a judge, for having allegedly called an 11-year-old boya "Paki" and "bin Laden" during a playground argument at a primary school (the other boy had called him a skunk and a Teletubby). When it reached the court the case had cost taxpayers pound stg. 25,000. The accused was so distressed that he had stopped attending school. The judge, Jonathan Finestein, said: "Have we really got to the stage where we are prosecuting 10-year-old boys because of political correctness? There are major crimes out there and the police don't bother to prosecute. This is nonsense."

Finestein was fiercely attacked by teaching union leaders, as in those witch-hunt trials where any who spoke in defence of an accused or pointed to defects in the prosecution were immediately targeted as witches and candidates for burning.

Hate-crime police investigated Basil Brush, a puppet fox on children's television, who had made a joke about Gypsies. The BBC confessed that Brush had behaved inappropriately and assured police that the episode would be banned.

A bishop was warned by the police for not having done enough to "celebrate diversity", the enforcing of which is now apparently a police function. A Christian home for retired clergy and religious workers lost a grant because it would not reveal to official snoopers how many of the residents were homosexual. That they had never been asked was taken as evidence of homophobia.

Muslim parents who objected to young children being given books advocating same-sex marriage and adoption at one school last year had their wishes respected and the offending material withdrawn. This year, Muslim and Christian parents at another school objecting to the same material have not only had their objections ignored but have been threatened with prosecution if they withdraw their children.

There have been innumerable cases in recent months of people in schools, hospitals and other institutions losing their jobs because of various religious scruples, often, as in the East Germany of yore, not shouted fanatically from the rooftops but betrayed in private conversations and reported to authorities. The crime of one nurse was to offer to pray for a patient, who did not complain but merely mentioned the matter to another nurse. A primary school receptionist, Jennie Cain, whose five-year-old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus in class, faces the sack for seeking support from her church. A private email from her to other members of the church asking for prayers fell into the hands of school authorities.

Permissiveness as well as draconianism can be deployed to destroy socially accepted norms and values. The Royal Navy, for instance, has installed a satanist chapel in a warship to accommodate the proclivities of a satanist crew member. "What would Nelson have said?" is a British newspaper cliche about navy scandals, but in this case seems a legitimate question. Satanist paraphernalia is also supplied to prison inmates who need it.

This campaign seems to come from unelected or quasi-governmental bodies controlling various institutions, which are more or less unanswerable to electors, more than it does directly from the Government, although the Government helps drive it and condones it in a fudged and deniable manner.

Any one of these incidents might be dismissed as an aberration, but taken together - and I have only mentioned a tiny sample; more are reported almost every day - they add up to a pretty clear picture.



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.