Tuesday, April 06, 2010
The hypocrisy of the British Left's hate-mongers
The Observer newspaper prides itself on its impeccable 'liberal' credentials. Indeed, the latest edition carries a splendid editorial in support of free speech.
Yet the very same paper splashed on its front page a vituperative attack on the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling, who had the audacity to suggest that perhaps people who run bed and breakfast establishments should have the right to decide who sleeps under their own roof.
Grayling's comments arose out of a story which this column carried last week about a B&B in Wokingham run by a devout Christian, who turned away a couple of gay men. For the record, I wrote that Susan Wilkinson should not have refused to accommodate Michael Black and John Morgan. In 2010, if you run a boarding house you must expect the occasional same-sex couples as guests.
I also went on to say that she was probably in the wrong business, although I condemned the fact that she had been investigated by the police for 'hate crime' and had received vile threats, including one to burn down her home.
Some of you emailed disagreeing with me, as is your prerogative. Readers argued that since this was Mrs Wilkinson's own home, she was entitled to pick and choose her guests. That's an argument I respect, even though I don't concur. It is a difference of view among friends, nothing personal.
Chris Grayling's opinion was in line with those of you who took me to task. He says that had Mrs Wilkinson been running a High Street hotel, she would have been in the wrong because discrimination is against the law. But since this was her home, different rules applied.
That is a perfectly respectable view to take. But Grayling's remarks were secretly taped and passed to The Observer, which decided that this was a major scandal, whose importance outweighed anything else which had happened in the world last week. It was cited as evidence that the entire Conservative Party is anti-gay.
The usual hysterical suspects queued up to demand Grayling's resignation. Hereditary Labour lackey Dame Ben Summerskill, the hate-mongering bigot who runs the homosexual pressure group Stonewall, predictably went ballistic. His tried-and-tested tactic is always to howl down and smear anyone who questions any aspect of his own selfish agenda. I've been on the receiving end often enough. It comes with the turf.
Even though I have been vocal in supporting civil partnerships and equal rights for gay couples in areas such as housing, health and pensions, I have been tarred as a 'homophobe' because I don't believe 'post-dusk social networking' in public toilets is a way to behave and think that adoptive children should be placed with a man and a woman wherever possible.
Self-styled 'liberals' are now trying to destroy the career of a decent politician simply for expressing a point of view which I would guess is held by at least half the population. Secret tape recordings, smear campaigns. These are the disreputable weapons of fascists, not liberals.
I have often argued in this column that those who force 'tolerance' down our throats are among the most intolerant bullies on Earth. They only tolerate opinions which chime with their own world view. Anyone who dissents must be traduced and punished. They enforce their beliefs with totalitarian ruthlessness and, under New Labour, often with the full support of the law.
Thus, old age pensioners who protest at a gay Pride rally find themselves arrested. Scottish firemen who refused orders to attend a similar event because homosexuality offends their religious devotion are fined and suspended from work.
Those who speak out against the fashionable Leftist agenda are not merely wrong, they are denounced as inherently evil.
Until the election campaign loomed, anyone who expressed even the mildest reservations about the uncontrolled level of immigration was trashed as 'BNP', 'Little Englander' or 'racist' - the guardianistas' favourite term of abuse.
Along with many of our other traditional liberties, New Labour has mounted a sustained assault on freedom of speech. The old idea of 'I abhor what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it' has been buried alive.
Even Conservative politicians are frightened of their own shadow, scared of uttering any criticism of the modern consensus around 'diversity' lest they be cast into the outer darkness.
But, as I wrote last week, 'diversity' and 'tolerance' is a one-way street. I am reliably informed there are gays-only boarding houses which exclude heterosexuals, but I have yet to hear of one being prosecuted for operating such a policy. Unlike Susan Wilkinson they have not been pilloried and threatened. Nor will they be. Nor should they be.
With the economic debate dominating the electoral landscape, it is easy to overlook the liberties we have lost over the past 13 years. Freedom of speech is precious and must be defended at all costs.
This odious campaign against Chris Grayling is a timely reminder of the nasty, vindictive, intolerant little country we have become under New Labour.
Victoria Cross hero refuses to shake British Prime Minister's hand
There is widespread animosity to Brown in the British armed forces because they were sent into battle with inadequate and unsafe equipment -- resulting in avoidable deaths
Johnson Beharry, Britain's highest decorated serving soldier, refused to shake Gordon Brown's hand in a protest during a state ceremony. The winner of the Victoria Cross said Mr Brown had repeatedly disrespected him, his uniform and the Armed Forces.
The Prime Minister has since written a letter to Lance Corporal Beharry in an attempt to make amends.
But L/Cpl Beharry said it was a personal, rather than political gesture, according to The Sun. He said that Mr Brown had not looked him or any other servicemen in the eye at a reception in Downing Street in November 2008. Then in Westminster Abbey during the Remembrance Day service last November he said the Prime Minister was “fidgeting and moving” during the two minute silence. “I've got head and back injuries that put me back in hospital in a lot of pain quite regularly, so if I could do it there's no reason he couldn't," he said. "It was very rude.
“I was absolutely furious with him. All that was going through my head was to knock him out. “So on the official line-up that time, I decided I'd get his attention and let him know how I felt. “When he offered his hand to me I just turned around and walked away. I wanted him to think about his actions and it worked.”
The NCO from the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment said Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister’s wife spotted his snub and wanted to invite him to No 10 to apologise, but no invitation materialised.
L/Cpl Beharry added: "This is nothing to do with the election, or who I want to be PM. My problem is with him personally, Gordon Brown the man."
Downing Street last night said Mr Brown was "seriously concerned" about L/Cpl Beharry's comments and had immediately written to him. His spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has the utmost respect and admiration for Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who has shown great courage. "Mr Brown has written a personal letter to Johnson Beharry this evening to reassure him of his personal admiration and the great respect in which he is held by the whole country."
Women can go topless in Maine but men must not look
That seems to be the latest addled feminist thinking
About two dozen women marched topless from Longfellow Square to Tommy's Park this afternoon in an effort to erase what they see as a double standard on male and female nudity.
A group of women and men who had shed their tops march down a Congress Street sidewalk from Longfellow Square to Tommy's Park. They were promoting the freedom of women to be topless in public. The group attracted many amateur and professional photographers.
The women, preceded and followed by several hundred boisterous and mostly male onlookers, many of them carrying cameras, stayed on the sidewalk because they hadn't obtained a demonstration permit to walk in the street. About a thousand people gathered as the march passed through Monument Square, a mix of demonstrators, supporters, onlookers and those just out enjoying a warm and sunny early-spring day.
After the marchers reached Tommy's Park in the Old Port, some turned around and walked back to Longfellow Square, but most stayed and mingled in the park. Some happily posed for pictures.
Police said there were no incidents and no arrests – nudity is illegal in Maine only if genitals are displayed.
Ty McDowell, who organized the march, said she was "enraged" by the turnout of men attracted to the demonstration. The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on.
However, McDowell said she plans to organize similar demonstrations in the future and said she would be more "aggressive" in discouraging oglers.
Australian conservatives not backing net censorship plan
OPPOSITION leader Tony Abbott says there is insufficient evidence ISP filtering is effective enough to warrant his full support. Mr Abbott hasn't been convinced internet filtering can really trap net nasties as there was no substantial technical evidence.
"We certainly haven't seen the kind of technical assurances that we'd need so let's wait and see how this thing develops," he said in response to a question on the ABC's Q&A program last night. "I want to see protections in place. I don't want to see our kids exposed to really terrible stuff on the internet. On the other hand I don't want to see the internet destroyed by a filtering system that won't work so I guess for me it's a factual issue.
"Can you have a filtering system that is effective, that doesn't lull parents into a false sense of security and which doesn't in the process make the internet ineffective as the kind of marvellous research tool and educational device that it is? "I don't know at the moment ... I just don't know," Mr Abbott said.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, however, argues that his filter is "100 per cent accurate" following a live trial of the blocking process with nine ISPs.
Speaking on ABC Radio last week, he said: "The internet filter that we are proposing has been shown to be 100 per cent accurate - no over blocking, no under blocking. It's 100 per cent accurate because it targets a defined URL address ... it's an individual page within a website."
Joe Hockey is one opposition frontbencher who has made his views on the filter crystal clear. In his speech "In Defence of Liberty" at the Grattan Institute last month, the shadow treasurer expressed concern the government would take advantage of the filter to broaden its censorship reach.
"The government’s Internet filtering proposals is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice. "But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale. "Protecting liberty is about protecting freedoms against both known and future threats. Some may argue that we can surely trust a democratically elected government in Australia to never try to introduce more widespread censorship. I am not so sure," Mr Hockey said.
The federal government wants to introduce mandatory ISP filtering so online content rated RC or Refused Classification would be automatically blocked by ISPs. Legislation to force ISPs to start blocking the internet is expected to be introduced in the second half of this year.
Kevin Rudd is set to cast the online filtering net wider in the coming election, a major backflip from original plans unveiled at the previous polls.
But online experts say the definition of RC is too broad, highly subjective and can trap legal, adult material.
Labor first unveiled its internet filtering plan in the lead-up to the 2007 election and people hardly bat an eyelid since the emphasis was explicitly on the safety of children - not adults - on the internet. In his manifesto - Labor's Plan for Cyber safety – Senator Conroy, then Opposition spokesman for communications and IT, said: "Labor recognises that cyber safety today is an important part of children's overall health and well-being, yet it is one that is not being adequately addressed by the Howard government."
Senator Conroy laid-out a five-pronged plan to enhance cyber safety for children, including the introduction of a "clean feed" to stamp out net nasties. "(Labor will) provide a mandatory 'clean feed' internet service for all homes, schools and public computers that are used by Australian children.
"ISPs will filter out content that is identified as prohibited by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The ACMA 'blacklist' will be made more comprehensive to ensure that children are protected from harmful and inappropriate online material," he said at the time.
Today, Senator Conroy has his sights firmly set on stamping out RC content which he argues includes child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act. They are illegal to purchase in the physical world and such laws should extend to the virtual world, he says.
The Classification Board determines what type of content falls under RC and other ratings. At the moment, there are three content areas that guide the board's decisions - film, games and publications. There is no category for the internet and as such, videos on Google's YouTube site, for example, are judged as films. "As long as it's moving it's a film. Otherwise it's a publication," a Classification Board spokeswoman said.
(A public consultation process is underway to see whether there should be an R18+ classification category for computer games.)
However, Senator Conroy's definition of RC is not exhaustive and can be misleading as online free speech advocate Irene Graham points out in one of many examples. "RC material is a wide-ranging category of content which includes material deemed to 'offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults'," Ms Graham said.
The depiction of actual sexual activity between consenting adults involving lawful fetishes could also be classified as RC content and blocked by Senator Conroy's filter, she said.
Senator Conroy's office has admitted that the process is open to one's interpretation. Asked whether the government believes there are no grey areas when it comes to RC material online, a spokeswoman for Senator Conroy said: "State and federal attorney's-general decide on the guidelines for Refused Classification based on 'community standards'. "There will always be content that various individuals disagree with but importantly it is the Classification Board, an agency at arm's length from the government and representative of the community, which makes the decisions about individual cases," she said.
Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre executive director at the University of New South Wales, David Vaile, says the internet cannot be treated as a tangible product. "The internet has eroded the distinction between published and unpublished - where this meant central production and distribution, and a sale based revenue model," Mr Vaile said. "Now everyone can and is a publisher, and the volume is so high that humans cannot be afforded to classify it all. This means the classification model has broken for the internet."
Internet giant Google also believes the filtering regime is too broad. "(It) limits freedom of access to information. A broadly scoped mandatory filter could block important content which informs public debate on socially and politically controversial issues and we do not believe that governments have the right to block that information," a Google Australia spokeswoman said.
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.