Sunday, March 14, 2010

Britain's malignant social workers again

They let a child die -- But if you say you disapprove of homosexuality you could get your kids taken off you. Political correctness is all. Real abuse does not matter

An eight-year-old girl found hanged in her filthy bedroom had been "abandoned to her fate" despite years of involvement by social services, a court heard. Charlotte Avenall was found dead in a the "foul and disgusting" room with faeces smeared on the walls, floor, bedding, and soft toys. Neither her mother, Susan Moody, stepfather, Simon Moody, nor any other adult had set foot there for at least a month before her death on September 12 last year.

Susan and Simon Moody both admitted child cruelty between August 14 and September 12 last year when they appeared before Nottingham Crown Court. They admitted they "did wilfully neglect, abandon or expose Charlotte in a manner likely to cause her unnecessary suffering or injury to health".

It will be up to a later inquest to decide whether Charlotte's death at the family's terraced home in Moor Street, Mansfield, Notts, was deliberate or accidental. But it believed she died in her sleep after a length of cord with soft toys attached to it became tangled round her neck.

The case comes as the mother and stepfather of seven-year-old starvation victim Khyra Ishaq were jailed for her manslaughter. Angela Gordon was handed a 15 year sentence while Junaid Abuhamza was jailed indefinitely for the public's protection, with a minimum term of seven and a half years.

The latest cases have again raised questions about the efficacy of social services staff. It emerged during the trial of Gordon and Abuhamza that Birmingham City Council was aware of concerns about the child's welfare almost five months before her death.

Charlotte, who attended a special school, is also thought to have been in the habit of smearing faeces around her room. Her parents spoke only to answer to their names and enter guilty pleas as they stood side by side in the dock.

William Harbage, QC, prosecuting, told the court: "Nobody had been in Charlotte's bedroom for a period of four weeks or more before her death. "Her room was in a absolutely foul and disgusting state with faeces smeared all over the walls, floor, bedding and soft toys. Mr Harbage said the prosecution accepted Susan Moody had been "unwell" at the relevant time but the extent of that illness was "open to dispute". Mr Harbarge added: "Each parent had a duty of care for Charlotte and each should have checked the room. "If they did not do so themselves they had a duty to make sure that each other did so, or they should have made sure an outside agency did. "She did not ensure her husband did so and she did not ensure that social services or any other outside agency did so. "Effectively they abandoned Charlotte to her fate and left her at risk to health and unnecessary suffering."

Judge Joan Butler, QC, adjourned the case for reports until April 9 and granted the couple bail until then. An immediate investigation was launched after Charlotte's death when it became known she suffered from severe learning difficulties and was known to welfare services. It later emerged social services and other agencies had been closely involved with Charlotte her whole life as her mother was only 16 and living in foster care when she was born.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire County Council said:"A serious case review is underway which is being caried out by the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board. "Until that it is complete we will not be commenting."


Krauthammer is wrong on Wilders

On Monday, Charles Krauthammer had this, in part, to say about Geert Wilders:
What he says is extreme, radical, and wrong. He basically is arguing that Islam is the same as Islamism. Islamism is an ideology of a small minority which holds that the essence of Islam is jihad, conquest, forcing people into accepting a certain very narrow interpretation [of Islam].

The untruth of that is obvious. If you look at the United States, the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the U.S. are not Islamists. So, it's simply incorrect. Now, in Europe, there is probably a slightly larger minority but, nonetheless, the overwhelming majority are not.
The words "radical" and "extreme" connote the relationship between Wilders' view and mainstream thinking (in this they differ from the word "fascist," which connotes a specific ideology). In the politically correct West of today, I believe it is fair to characterize Wilders as radical and extreme.

But is Wilders wrong? Krauthammer says he is because the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the U.S. and Europe are not Islamists. Wilders does not deny this. As he said last week in London:
The majority of Muslims are law-abiding citizens and want to live a peaceful life as you and I do. I know that. That is why I always make a clear distinction between the people, the Muslims, and the ideology, between Islam and Muslims. There are many moderate Muslims, but there is no such thing as a moderate Islam.
Wilders is making a theological point here -- his contention is that Islam, as set forth in the teachings of the Koran, "commands Muslims to exercise jihad. . .to establish shariah law [and]. . .to impose Islam on the entire world." I'm no scholar of Islam, but I believe Wilders is correct. To show otherwise, one would have to explain away portions of the Koran. It is not enough just to call Wilders' interpretation of that book "narrow."

But the bottom line issues for me are neither the theological question in the abstract nor the precise theology embraced by most Muslims in Europe. The core issues are: (1) whether (or to what extent) the massive growth of the Islamic population in countries like the Netherlands poses a threat to democracy, free speech, and other fundamental values and institutions and (2) if so, what to do about it. Wilders makes a strong case that the demographic trend poses such a threat, and a substantial one.

Some of his proposed solutions -- such as banning Islamic immigration -- are radical and extreme (as defined above), but that doesn't mean they are wrong. Indeed, it's plausible to believe they are reasonable solutions. But without living in the Netherlands or having studied it carefully, it's impossible for me to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to some of Wilders' more controversial specific proposals.


Free Market Fights Discrimination

It's axiomatic: Discrimination accounts for racial inequality in our society, and government action is needed to fix this injustice. Not so fast, says economist Thomas Sowell. There are many causes of inequality, and discrimination often explains less than we think it does. Furthermore, discrimination is most powerful when it's state policy, because government can force someone else to pay the price of discrimination. In the free market, businesses are "out to make a buck," and there's a heavy price from discriminating against potential customers and employees based on race. In part two of a wide-ranging interview with IBD, Sowell explains intellectuals' many misconceptions about race, discrimination and inequality.

IBD: In one of your first books, "Black Education: Myths and Tragedies," you said self-sufficient, intellectually oriented, hardworking black students were a threat to the preconceptions held by white faculty members who feel guilty about discrimination. Do you think such students — or even such black people, more generally — are a threat to the preconceptions of intellectuals?

Sowell: Yes. And they are a tremendous threat to the more militant blacks on campus who make a determined effort to keep them out. I mentioned in that book a young woman who did very well on the SATs whose mother was a maid and father an alcoholic, and the university admissions committee tried to keep her out. The self-interest of the academic black establishment I think is very clear in that black people like that student make it harder for them to mobilize recruits to their causes. Also, people like that don't minister to the need of white liberals to feel like they're doing something to get rid of their guilt.

IBD: Do you think that was part of the motivation behind the attacks on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he was nominated?

Sowell: Perhaps. But I'm also reminded of another situation that occurred at Harvard (involving) a black student who had come from a poor educational background. He had made a special effort to raise his educational level and wanted to attend a special summer program at Harvard for people who were going on to medical school. He received a form letter saying that he didn't need to be in this program because he had done so well. I then wrote to the head of the program that sent that letter saying, "You need to get the best people you can into the Harvard Medical School. If this guy needs some more help, for goodness' sake give him some more."

It's as if they didn't want to cultivate the most fertile ground. They wanted to make the desert bloom because that's more of an achievement for them. I was surprised to receive a letter from David Riesman at Harvard saying that he had argued the same thing even earlier to no avail. That told me that these people were just hellbent on doing things this way. Of course, that leads to such things as the Patrick Chavis case, as you may or may not be aware of.

IBD: That doesn't ring a bell.

Sowell: Patrick Chavis was a black student admitted to the medical school at the University of California, Davis, at about the same time Allan Bakke was denied admission. (Chavis was admitted under an affirmative-action program and may have been given the spot denied to Bakke, who later challenged the policy in court.) And for years thereafter, people pointed out that Chavis went to the black community to practice medicine. He was lionized for years until one year the death of one of his patients caused his case to come before the state medical board, which suspended his license. After a year of investigation, they cancelled his license permanently.

And going back to the case at Harvard, I closed my letter to this guy by asking, "Do you want to send your children to doctors who are like the ones you are accepting or the ones you are turning away?" It shows that the ostensible beneficiaries of these ideas and programs take a back seat to the need of the anointed themselves to maximize their own sense of importance, brilliance or whatever.

IBD: Now in your writing about race, one theme is that discrimination is usually due to government policy, not free markets. Why is that?

Sowell: Because there is a price to be paid in the free market and no price to be paid in government. Economists would say that's pretty obvious. I don't know if you are aware, but the case Plessy v. Ferguson was a put-up job between Plessy and the railroads. First of all, seven-eighths of Plessy's ancestors were white, so if he'd simply gone into a railroad car and sat there, he would've simply gone to his destination, got off, and there would be no case. Nobody would have seen any reason to question why Plessy was sitting in the white car. Plessy's attorney had to inform the railroad in advance so that the railroad could have its attorney on site and there could be a case.

The railroad's problem was that if they had one railroad car that was two-thirds full, and whites and blacks sit indiscriminately, that's fine. But if you have to separate cars for whites and blacks, and each car is only one-third full, you are going to have the extra cost of the car and the cost of the extra fuel to pull that extra car. The railroads really hated this stuff and they were happy to collude with Plessy to bring this case.

Furthermore, seating blacks in the back of buses was not something that happened since time immemorial. It happened at various times between the 1890s and first decade of the 20th century. The bus companies, which were privately owned at that time, fought tooth and nail against this stuff. They fought in the state legislatures to prevent the law from being passed. They took cases into the courts to get the law declared unconstitutional. And when they failed that they simply dragged their feet in enforcing it.

So, for years after these laws passed, blacks got on buses and sat wherever they pleased. It was only when the local political authorities begin to crack down and arrest the drivers and threatened to arrest the heads of the bus companies that it was enforced.

Another example: The black economist Walter Williams lived in South Africa at the height of apartheid, lived in a neighborhood that was legally supposed to be for whites only. And he was not the only one. I talked to the guy from South Africa, a white, who helped Walter get this place. He didn't want Walter to move into a neighborhood with lots of hostility for him and his family. So, he knocks on the door of the guy Walter would be living next to and asked him if he had any problem with a black man living in the house (next door). And the man replied, "Well, since there is a black man already living on the other side, why would I have a problem?"

South Africa during apartheid is a classic example of the costs of discrimination and the incentives that creates. Hundreds of construction companies were fined for violating the apartheid laws because it would cost them money (not to hire blacks). (The people who ran these companies) may have had the same views as the people who passed these laws, but the people who passed these laws didn't pay any price for it.

IBD: In "Markets and Minorities," you said collusion by Southern white employers against blacks immediately after the Civil War wasn't very successful. Why not?

Sowell: Particularly in an agricultural society, you have a fixed window of opportunity to get your crops planted in the ground. So, the white farmers would get together (like a cartel) to determine what they'd pay black workers, which would be below the market rate. But one of the problems with all cartels is that what is in the best interest of a cartel is seldom in the interest of every member of the cartel. So members of cartels cheat on each other.

What happens is, one farmer decides he's going to get the best black workers, (so) he offers (black workers) 10% more than what the cartel agreed to. Well, then the guy down the road who realized he is having a hard time getting anyone hired, and the planting season is coming upon him, decides he is going to offer 15% more. And before you know it the whole thing falls apart.


We're true believers in individual rights

Joe Hockey, a prominent Australian conservative politician, gives a classic statement of conservative values. In Australia, "liberal" still means what it used to mean -- quite unlike the soft Fascist politics that characterize the U.S. Democrats

YEARS ago I was introduced to the political party that is called Liberal. Its founder, Robert Menzies, was very clear about its commitment to liberty: individual liberty as much as social liberty. He said: "We took the name Liberal because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary, but believing in the individual, his rights and his enterprise."

I was ready to join such a party because in my younger days I had given great thought to the political philosophy that I found most compelling. I would like to think there was a moment of epiphany, but in the end there was one writer who stood out to me, and that was John Stuart Mill. Mill's famous statement of liberal principles is: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant."

And just in case we have a tendency to gloss over words such as freedom, Mill defines it: "The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it."

The way I see it, the choice is black and white: freedom for each and every one of us. Or freedom for an elite few who want to tell the rest of us what to do. In federal parliament I represent the only party that was established to advance the cause of liberty. I am concerned that some of the liberties we take for granted are being eroded by the actions of government. I fear that step by step and in a way that barely registers in the consciousness of most people, we are losing some of the protections against the arbitrary and interfering actions of the state.

It's true that the rise of religious extremist movements and their expressed belief that only violence can lead to justice - a proposition refuted by the examples of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King - represents a challenge to societies. Our response should be to enhance and expand liberty, not to curb or curtail it.

As a liberal, a legislator and a lawyer, it is the anti-terrorism laws, enacted by a government of which I was a member, that has given me great cause to reflect on our individual rights. Under normal circumstances, much of the powers conferred on enforcement agencies are ones that I would be horrified to see any democratic government advance. In particular, I make mention of preventive detention without charge that severely limits access to legal assistance or even outside communication; control orders that limit movement and may be in force for up to 10 years; and expanded police stop, search and interrogation powers. However, I reached the conclusion that the threat to liberty of so many justified the actions we took against so few. When effectively the whole polity is under threat from attack by people determined to bring it down, then the government's responsibility is to secure the safety of its citizens.

What is important to me is that the restrictions on individual liberty contained in our anti-terrorism legislation do not become permanent. The act includes a sunset clause for some of its more draconian elements. There is a compelling case for those sunset clauses to be something less than their present 10 years. We must objectively, dispassionately and regularly review their efficacy, preferably in a bipartisan way.

And this brings me to other threats to our freedoms that are much closer to home. Some of these come from our own political leaders. For example, there was a recent suggestion that the drinking age be raised to 21. Yes, we have a problem with binge drinking. But if you are old enough to fight for your country, if you are old enough to vote, if you are old enough to be tried in a criminal court as an adult, then you are an adult, and the concept of telling someone who is 18, 19 or 20 that they are prohibited from consuming alcohol is an infringement of individual liberty.

Similarly, we see the federal government seeking to introduce laws that will effectively censor the internet. Of course we all want to stop unlawful material being viewed on the internet. There are appropriate protections in place for that and I have personal responsibility as a parent. I don't mean to suggest that there is no room for government intervention and regulation. There is probably a legitimate debate to be had about the controls (for example, via the classification system) placed on extremely violent video games.

But in other areas such as DNA testing, data matching, credit history and mobile phone tracking, we must be ever vigilant to prevent the punishment of the few becoming the entrapment of the many.

In addition to this, we should be concerned about the rapid proliferation of closed-circuit television cameras across our cities. Even in my local area CCTV was set up to protect the welfare of revenue-raising parking meters from vandals, but they have inadvertently provided a viewing platform of the community going about its business.

In every state and territory there is an endless and rarely challenged demand for expansion in police powers, taken to extremes in Western Australia with a proposal to allow virtually unrestricted stop-and-search powers for police. I understand similar proposals also have won favour in Victoria. Surely the Australian interpretation of liberty extends to the right of an individual to go about their daily business without being subject to a random body search by police.

Finally, the government has before it the report of the [Frank] Brennan committee, which recommends a human rights act. The federal Coalition has indicated its opposition to such a bill, a position I support. My concerns about a human rights act lie in the power and authority that such an act would give to the judiciary. Such responsibilities would be undemocratic and ultimately undermine the independence of our courts.

A conflict often occurs between different human rights. Many, if not all, involve contestable propositions that fall outside the usual role of judges to interpret the law through the prism of legal principles; they are essentially political rather than legal judgments. For example, the courts could be asked to judge whether a law that bans tobacco advertising infringes on free speech. This is not a legal issue but one that should fall within the responsibility of democratically elected legislators to determine.

I am a true believer in the separation of powers. If courts are making findings on contestable and essentially political issues, politicians and those in the community who support the actions of the parliament will find themselves criticising their findings. Unwittingly, judges will find themselves players rather than arbiters and be the subject of the full weight of public opinion and sanction. There are better ways to guarantee human rights.

Ultimately it is what beats in the hearts of Australians that forms the best protection. Our desire for a fair go, our healthy scepticism and our belief in self-reliance, diversity and our multicultural society are the values that have guided Australia's development. It is the duty of us all to ensure every new generation of Australians - whether native-born or recently arrived - share those ideals.



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

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

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


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