Tuesday, March 23, 2010

British police investigate after homosexuals were 'turned away from B&B' by Christian owners

Homosexuals are a protected class but Christians are not, in sick Britain. Britain once was known for religious tolerance ....

Police launched an investigation today after a Christian bed and breakfast owner turned away a gay couple because she said it was 'against her convictions' to let them share a bed. Michael Black, 62, and John Morgan, have complained of unlawful discrimination after they were not allowed to take up their booking at the B&B in Cookham, Berkshire. The couple had booked a double room at the £75-a-night guest house on Friday and were met outside by owner Susanne Wilkinson.

She later admitted she had turned the couple away because it was her policy not to let same sex couples share a room.

Mr Black and Mr Morgan, from Brampton, Cambridgeshire, say they were treated like lepers.

It is illegal under the Equality Act 2006 to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and they have been interviewed after reporting the case to police. The couple had arranged the room because they were going for dinner with friends and to the theatre. Mr Black said: 'When we got out of the car she was immediately distant and unfriendly and then she said, "it's a double room", and we said "yes". 'She said, "It's a large double bed in a double room" and we said, "yes", and then she said it was against her convictions to let us stay.

'We said it was illegal to discriminate against people who stay in hotels because that's all we knew at the time and she said it was her private home and it was against her convictions. 'She said she was sorry and she was polite in a cold way and she was not abusive, so we asked our money back and she gave it to us.' He added: 'We were very shocked, and of course angry, that it happened. Neither of us has ever experienced homophobia before and I have been out since 1974. We felt we were treated like lepers and not fit to be under the same roof as her.'

Mr Black said that Mrs Wilkinson has said the men should have warned her, but the self-employed trainer said: 'It would be like saying to someone who runs a guest house, "I'm black or Muslim or blue-eyed" just in case they have a problem with it. 'There is no reason why we had to make it clear we were two men in this day and age. We have stayed in plenty of guest houses in Britain and abroad and have never had a problem.'

Mrs Wilkinson admitted to BBC News that she had turned the men away. She said: 'They gave me no prior warning and I couldn't offer them another room as I was fully booked. 'I don't see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I've held for years just because the government should force it on me,' she said. 'I am not a hotel, I am a guest house and this is a private house.'

The B&B's website boasts: 'A warm and friendly welcome awaits all guests at Susanne Wilkinson's Swiss Bed & Breakfast in the idyllic village of Cookham, near Maidenhead in Berkshire. 'This Swiss-English family offers first class hospitality in their spacious and comfortable home to business, tourist or family visitors from all around the world. English, French and German spoken.'

Stonewall, the gay rights campaign group, said that turning a couple away because of their sexual orientation was illegal. Spokesman Derek Munn said: 'Stonewall was delighted when the law changed in 2007 so that lesbian and gay couples could go on their holidays like anyone else. 'In open-and-shut cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation the law's quite clear - it's illegal for businesses to turn away gay customers or discriminate against them when providing goods or services, and this can't be overridden by personal prejudice.'

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said: 'We are aware of the incident and were contacted yesterday. The call has been logged as a homophobic incident. 'As the people live outside of the force area, we have asked Cambridgeshire Constabulary to speak to the individuals concerned.'


What's the Matter With Thomas Frank?

Directed by Joe Winston and Laura Cohen, the documentary version of Thomas Frank's book What's The Matter With Kansas? has just been released. Its timing could not be better given the new level of honesty that many liberal pundits have descended to in recent months.

As the American public has become more and more opposed to President Obama's agenda, many in the intelligentsia have responded with outright condescension and contempt.

When polls showed that a majority of Americans though the stimulus had been wasted Joe Klein of Time thundered, "It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you're a nation of dodos." When Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., suggested turning Medicare into a voucher system through which seniors would purchase their own insurance policies, Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic claimed "it's not clear how many seniors really have the ability to navigate the world of health care with the sort of sophistication to really hunt down the most cost-effective care, even if, as Ryan promises, they'd have more information at their disposal." Richard Cohen recently lamented that the one of the main reasons health care reform hadn't passed was that "the country suffers from a surfeit of democracy." Frustrated that cap-and-trade legislation was going no where in the U.S. Senate, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman let off a bizarre missive in which he claimed that one-party autocracy was better than democracy "when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today."

What is intriguing about these instances is that they come from people who are usually very circumspect and subtle about their condescension and contempt and worried that they should at least show some respect for the majority of Americans.

One person who has never suffered such compunction is left-wing polemicist Thomas Frank. In 2004, Frank published What's The Matter With Kansas?, the quintessential lament about people who don't realize that their true interests are in voting for politicians who support liberal policies.

On page one of his book Frank declares that "People getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about." In short, Republicans and conservatives hoodwink much of the middle class, like those good people in Kansas, into believing that what really matters are the social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. In so doing, those people overlook the GOP and conservatives' economic policies that benefit the wealthy but harm the common folk.

"American conservatism depends on its continued dominance and even for its very existence on people never making connections about the world, connections that until recent were treated as obvious or self-evident everywhere on the planet," writes Frank. Those connections include the ones "between the small towns (people) profess to love and the market forces that are slowly grinding those small towns backing into the red-state dust." This "country seems more like a panorama of madness and delusion…of devoted family men carefully seeing to it that their children will never be able to afford college or proper health care; of working-class guys in midwestern cities cheering as they deliver up a landslide for a candidate whose policies will end their way of life."

Frank's book paints a bleak picture of the Midwest. Yet, somehow, that gets lost in the documentary, to the point that viewers seem to notice. After a showing at Washington D.C.'s E Street Cinema last Friday, Frank and Winston put in an appearance to answer audience questions. One gentleman asked, "The theme of the book…was that people really wound up voting against their own interest. Do you feel that the movie really portrays that?"

Frank's response was in character: "It's there in the movie, you sometimes have to keep your eyes open. There are so many beautiful, ironic juxtapositions. You have to keep your eyes open. Look, I've seen it twenty times, okay." He referred to main streets that were boarded up and a scene that shows a crumbling building at the corner of 1st and Main Street.

Yet if phenomenon of people voting against their economic interests is rampant, as Frank claims in the book, then why is it so hard to find in the film? Why do most of the people in the movie seem to be doing rather well financially? Two of the families profiled, the Williards and the Bardens, live in rather nice middle-class homes. The Bardens are able to send their daughter to Patrick Henry College in Virginia. The Williards live in a nice house on a farm. Later in the film, it is reported that the Williard husband loses $300,000 in an investment scheme. While the result is tragic, if the Williards are voting against their economic interests, then how did they have that kind of money to invest in the first place?

Indeed, the movie undermines, albeit unintentionally, Frank's thesis. The Williard wife, Angel, started living with a man shortly after she left for college. She became pregnant by that man, dropped out of school, and gave birth to a disabled son. The boy's father was abusive to her, so much so that she contemplated suicide. She eventually asked God for guidance.

Following this, she returned to Kansas, and became involved in religion. Her new lifestyle led her to a husband who works as an emergency room physician, three beautiful daughters and a farm.

In Angel's experience, it's not hard to see how social issues are connected to economic experiences. Much research demonstrates that there are few ways that a woman is more likely to trap herself in poverty than by having a child out of wedlock-- a fate that Angel nearly suffered. By turning to religion and settling into a family life, she appears to have prospered. Perhaps the folks in Kansas know a lot better what their interests are than Frank thinks they do.

I asked Frank why his hometown of Shawnee, Kansas, didn't make an appearance in the film. Also lacking was Johnson County in which Shawnee is located and whose economic situation Frank so laments in his book. Frank replied that while Winston did film in Johnson County, he didn't use it so he could keep "geographic unity" in the movie. Winston didn't address the question.

Perhaps the concern was geographic unity. Or perhaps it's that we'd have seen a Johnson County not much like the one Frank describes in the book. As Steven Malanga pointed out, "Shawnee and the rest of Johnson County, have done especially well. For three years in the 1990s, the Shawnee area's unemployment rate actually dipped below 3%, making it one of the tightest labor markets anywhere." Furthermore, "And though Mr. Frank describes the place as practically desolate, Shawnee's population grew by a robust 27% during the 1990s. Even more astonishing, today, only 3.3% of its citizens live below the poverty level, compared with about 12.5% nationally."

Polemical works like Frank's tend to reveal more about their authors that they do about the people they are supposedly studying. For Frank it is axiomatic the leftist ideas lead to better economic results than conservative ones. If people are voting for conservative politicians, then those folks must be deluded somehow.

A genuine examination might actually ask these people about their economic situation and how that is related to social issues that they care about. If Frank were to do that, he might have to end up questioning whether liberal ideas really do lead to better results. Yet Frank suffers from what Thomas Sowell calls "The Vision of the Anointed." It is a vision held by many intellectuals in our society, a belief in their own superior knowledge and virtue that leads to a belief that they are an anointed elite who is qualified to make decisions for the rest of us in order to lead humanity to a better life. (For more on the incentive and constraints that foster this type of thinking, see Thomas Sowell's great new work, Intellectuals and Society.) To acknowledge that the people of Kansas are best suited to know their own interest and vote accordingly would mean that Frank would have to give up his belief in his superior knowledge and virtue.

At the end of the talk Friday, Frank stated that he was working on a new book about the Tea Party movement. Readers beware…If his new book is much like What's The Matter With Kansas?, you can look forward to learning more about Frank's sense of moral superiority than what motivates Tea Partiers.


The Eighteenth Brumaire of Barack Obama

First time tragedy, second time farce

After his 1851 coup d’état, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of the real Napoleon, pronounced himself Napoleon III. It was the rise to power of this great-man-wannabe that prompted the famous opening of Karl Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis-Bonaparte: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

The decade of the 1960s—the first appearance in full flower of modern American liberalism—was in many respects a tragedy. It was certainly a tragedy for American liberalism, which liberated itself from its previous (at least partial) mooring in common sense and the American tradition. It was to some degree also a tragedy for America. It took conservative politicians and policies decades to undo the damage of Great Society hubris, post-Vietnam weakness, and ’60s cultural foolishness. Much wreckage still remains.

Now we have the second appearance of ’60s liberalism in the policies and personages of the Obama administration. Marx noted that in the France of his time, “only the ghost of the old revolution circulated,” producing an “adventurer” who claimed to be heir to the great Napoleon, but who was “only a caricature of the old Napoleon.” Similarly, in the America of our time, we have a ghostly version of the liberalism of the 1960s, led by a man who is only a caricature of the vigorous if often mistaken liberals who once sought to reshape the nation.

The farcical nature of today’s liberalism was on display in last week’s three-ring Washington circus. In the central ring, we saw the dramatic unveiling of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care legislation, replete with special deals, squirrelly accounting, not-so-well-hidden payoffs, and attempts to evade the normal practices of democratic governance. In a side ring, we were able to view the embarrassing testimony of Attorney General Eric Holder before a House subcommittee, where he made clear how little serious thought he has given to what is required to keep America safe from our enemies. In the other side ring, we were able to see the near-hysterical condemnation by American officials, from Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on down, of a simple announcement of a permit for house-building in Jewish Jerusalem by the Israeli government.

What a scene! What a farce! Republican candidates running for office in 2010 should save the news clips from last week to remind themselves of their campaign platform: They need only promise to stand up against the fatal conceit of big-government liberalism, the fatal complacency of civil-libertarian legalism, and the fatal perversity of coddling our enemies and beating up our friends.

And presiding over this three-ring circus of liberal incompetence was President Barack Obama, who stands in relation to the towering and tragic figure of Lyndon Johnson as Napoleon III did to the real Napoleon. Have we had in modern times a president who was so out of his depth?

Which points to a problem. America in 2010 isn’t France in 1852. The world could survive farcical misgovernment in Paris in the mid-19th century—though in fact Napoleon III’s weakness and foolishness invited the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, which in turn could be said to have set in course the events that led to World War I. But in the America of 2010, won’t farcical misgovernment do real damage to the country and to the world? Could the circus acts end in tragedy?

They could. But, fortunately, here in America, we have an opposition party and an engaged public. Together, for the next few months, they can help push the administration towards more responsible—or at least less damaging—public policies. The Republican party will then gain seats in November, and will be able to do more to prevent further damage—and lay the groundwork not just for a return to the pre-Obama status quo in 2013 but for a vigorous conservative reform agenda.

If the nation can survive the next three years without too much damage, we have a great opportunity. As Marx wrote at the conclusion of his polemic, “when the imperial mantle finally falls on the shoulders of Louis Bonaparte, the bronze statue of Napoleon will come crashing down from the top of the Vendôme Column.” The failed experiment of Obamaism could similarly allow us to topple the statue of contemporary liberalism from our public square, and rebuild American politics and public policy on firmer foundations.

Or, we could fail to rise to the occasion. A statue of Napoleon still stands atop the Vendôme Column.


Australia: Police slam new rules on racial descriptions in seeking crime suspects

A LIMIT on racial descriptions of criminals was putting political correctness before crime busting, police say. Descriptions including Black African, Indian and Eastern European are among those dumped in media releases seeking crime suspects. They have been replaced by four categories: Aboriginal, Caucasian, Asian and other.

Police Association secretary Greg Davies said it was putting unnecessary impediments in the way of catching criminals. "It is quite silly and counter-productive and of no assistance to anybody to make everything vanilla," he said. "It is not a matter of being racist, it is a matter of solving crime." Sen-Sgt Davies said it should be about giving the public the best information possible. "It is political correctness taking precedence over solving crime," he said. "We need to have accurate descriptions of suspects if we are going to release information to the public. "We need to make it as specific as possible."

Chief Commissioner Simon Overland said they tended to use broad categories of race when speaking to the public. "We have moved away from those terms because sometimes they can cause offence," he said on radio.



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

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

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


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