Wednesday, August 18, 2010
British justice on the side of the crooks again
Ex soldier subjected to 'intolerable' abuse by teenage thugs threatened with jail after confronting tormentors with a knife
Plagued for years by a gang of teenage thugs, former soldier John Cawley was at the very end of his tether. He had endured a catalogue of misery during which youths abused him in the street, broke his fence and hit his brickwork with hammers. They had damaged stone posts on his driveway, dangled from trees in his back garden and repeatedly kicked footballs at his walls and windows.
Over a five year period the father-of-two reported the gang of tearaways to the police around a dozen times but his nightmare had continued unabated.
But when he eventually snapped and confronted the gang in the street he was the one who was hauled before the courts and threatened with jail.
The judge even commiserated with him and demanded to know why more wasn’t being done to crack down on the yobs. Judge Andrew Woolman told him: ‘I’d like to know what somebody is going to do about this situation. ‘I have no doubt that for many years you were subjected to provocation of all types and forms from a large body of youths outside. ‘I appreciate your sense of injustice that nothing is being done by others about making the situation in your street tolerable.’
It later emerged the ringleader, Matthew O’Brien, 14, had been repeatedly in trouble with police but had been taken on a day out to meet football stars from Blackburn Rovers in an attempt to stop his unruly behaviour. However he continued to offend and was eventually handed an ASBO after officers admitted their leniency had backfired.
Preston Crown Court heard Cawley, 54, a warehouse worker, had been plagued by the gang of yobs since 2005. After they repeatedly kicked a football against his home he ran out into the street with a knife and shouted: ‘If I get hold of you I’ll kill you.’ He admitted he had been wrong to confront the gang with a weapon but said he had been pushed to the limit.
The father-of-two from Blackburn, Lancs said: ‘I know I was wrong to have the knife and I will serve my punishment but I think the system is a farce when you think of the way these children have been treated with kid gloves.
‘I just lost my temper after becoming sick and tired with all the abuse I was getting. I’ve never been in trouble with the police before and have served my country yet I am threatened with jail.’ He said: ‘These young yobbos deliberately try and get a reaction by antagonising us and then claiming innocence. They know the law can’t touch them. As far as I’m concerned the law is a complete waste of time.’
One neighbour, who also suffered at the hands of the gang, said: ‘What John did was wrong but I’m sure most people won’t blame him especially if they learned one of the yobs had been treated to a meeting with his football idols.’
O’Brien’s history emerged earlier this month when he was given an ASBO for smashed a football ball into the face of a pensioner.
A spokesman for Lancashire police said: ‘There have been 12 incidents reported by Cawley to police since the start of 2005.
‘Seven of the incidents have been reported this year, five of which relate to antisocial behaviour, one for damage to Mr Cawley’s house and the final incident is the offence for which he has been convicted.
‘A number of crime prevention measures have been offered to Mr Cawley which he has declined. Police carry out frequent patrols in the Highcroft area and a special operation codenamed Trojan also runs regularly on the estate to target antisocial behaviour, although we have received few complaints from other residents.
‘Several days ago we secured an ASBO against 14-year-old Matthew O’Brien who was behind much of the antisocial behaviour suffered by Cawley and in fact these incidents have helped to secure the order.’
Cawley was ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid community work after admitting possessing a knife in a public place.
O’Brien was given a two-year ASBO banning him from certain areas, forbidding him from acting in an anti-social manner and playing football in the road. He is also under a curfew from 8pm to 6am each day.
Why are men colluding in their own humiliation?
Movies and TV portray men as dolts, says a British mother concerned for her son
Boys are being out-performed by girls academically, socially and at work. They have worse GCSE results and fewer of them go on to higher education. Male graduates are 50 per cent more likely to be unemployed than girls.
Partly, this is the result of the feminisation of education —- 85 per cent of primary school teachers are women, while in GCSEs a high proportion of marks come from continual assessment, which suits girls, whereas boys tend to perform better in do-or-die exams.
And it is partly the result of all those centuries of male hegemony, which has left them complacent and ill-equipped to deal with competition from women.
There are other factors, of course. The loss of our manufacturing base means there are far fewer employment opportunities for the non-academic male.
Many working-class boys are deprived not only of jobs but also of fathers — or indeed any positive male role models in their community at all.
But in recent years a worrying additional ingredient has been added to this depressing vista: the increasingly common cultural message that men are dolts.
From Outnumbered (long-suffering husband whose children run rings round him, none more so than his daughter) to the immensely popular My Family, where Zoe Wanamaker’s spiky character, Susan, effortlessly manipulates her hapless husband Ben (who only became a dentist because he failed to get the grades to be a doctor), men are portrayed as idiots saved only by the wit and wisdom of women.
Even George Clooney, one of Hollywood’s sexiest and most bankable male actors, has fallen victim. That Saturday night DVD we watched was Up In The Air, which sees Clooney first dismissed as an ageing has-been by his young female colleague and then ultimately betrayed by the sexy, beguiling woman he decides he might finally want to settle down with.
I can understand women of my generation and the one following it taking part in this cultural assassination of men: we grew up, after all, being positively encouraged to fight our corner in what was still a vicious sex war.
But what I don’t understand is the way men themselves are colluding in what has now become a dangerous and damaging trend. Up In The Air was written and directed by men. The same is true for Outnumbered and the vast majority of episodes of My Family.
I can’t help but wonder where this will end and what sort of men our son and his peers will become.
The world has changed, and we must all change with it. Women will not return to subservience any more than men can return to a time when physical prowess cemented their dominance.
So equality would seem to me to be a pretty good way forward. Equality of opportunity, I mean, as well as equality of the sexes.
It’s time to call a truce, or we will all be casualties of the gender wars.
Muslim football team practices 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. during Ramadan
Rather amusing, on the whole
A Michigan high school football team is holding preseason practices in the middle of the night to help its Muslim players practice both faith and football.
The predominantly Muslim squad from Dearborn says the nocturnal regimen is a way for players to eat and drink while observing the holy month of daytime fasting known as Ramadan that started last week.
The August heat also played a factor in Fordson High coach Fouad Zaban's proposal to reverse the clock for a week of two-a-day practices.
Cutting practice wasn't an option at football-crazy Fordson, which is coming off a one-loss season and has won four state titles and three runner-up seasons since it was established in 1928. But nobody wanted to lessen the significance of Ramadan in the Detroit suburb widely known as the capital of Arab-America.
The moonlight practice is tailored for Adnan Restum and fellow Muslim teammates. Illuminated by the night lights on the football field, Restum recently joined a scrum of teammates at the end-zone water fountain, taking a break from a grueling preseason football workout to guzzle a drink.
In just a few hours, he wouldn't be able to take a sip. But the 17-year-old defensive tackle could rehydrate guilt-free during the 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. practice, and succumb to tempting boxes full of granola bars and chocolate milk, too.
"It feels really great," said Restum, who has been fasting since he was about 10. "If we're doing it during the day, we wouldn't have water and it would be really hot and everything."
Zaban proposed the late practices after realizing the rotating Ramadan would fall squarely during the start of a two-a-day practice schedule that launches football season.
Zaban, 40, a Muslim and former Fordson player, knows the high stakes. When Ramadan falls during football season, the players practice during daylight hours. But with August's heat and doubled practice schedule, concerns grew about players' health, particularly the high risk of heat stroke. "We know how hot it's been this summer -- it's not safe," Zaban said.
Working it out meant getting the approval of school and district administrators and the blessings of players, parents and police. Then, there were the residents in the surrounding neighborhood, who would hear more noise and see the illuminated field. So he sent letters explaining the decision.
Zaban is unaware of such schedule switches elsewhere, though other teams at the school and in the district have moved practices earlier or later in the day. It's been more than three decades since Ramadan last fell during football preseason and Fordson's Muslim population was far smaller then -- and, he notes, there were no field lights.
Zaban said the goal has been to let players break the fast at sundown and go to the mosque, and get players out in time for a meal and morning prayer before sunrise. The field is near bustling bakeries, cafes and restaurants catering to late-night customers.
But first, there are drills. "Keep running! Heads up!" Zaban yelled while leading a passing drill. And, when a receiver flubbed a one-handed catch, the coach barked, "Hey, two hands!" The result was 20 push-ups.
Zaban said whether players fast is a personal choice and never an issue raised by him or his staff. Still, he says, it shouldn't be an excuse for poor performance for the roughly 95 percent who do.
He ended the session before 4 a.m. with a message to the huddled, padded masses to "drink lots of water," "get a good meal in," and "man up."
Defensive tackle William Powell, one of the team's few non-Muslims, initially thought the coach was "out of his mind," but he's come around. In fact, he's even fasted. "I'm around 'em, so I've tried a couple times but it's hard," the 17-year-old said.
For Rami Fakih, a wide receiver and defensive back, the nocturnal regimen has taken some adjustment but for different reasons. The brother of recently crowned Miss USA Rima Fakih said he had to think twice before hitting the fountain. "Oh yeah," he said. "Then I remembered, you know. I looked up. There's no sun. I can drink. I can eat." With that, he walked off the field and into the darkness with plans to grab a quick bite with friends at a local bakery.
The menace of men who hate women
By David Aaronovitch, writing from Britain
IMAGINE for a moment that terrorist violence was, as some insist, linked to real grievances. Think what the women of the world might do to some of the men.
Let's say the Iranian authorities, who insist they will not be "swayed by the hue and cry in the West", do hang or stone Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani for alleged adultery and murder. Would any Iranian diplomat be safe from the avenging female army?
Or the husband of Aisha, and the Taliban judge who ordered him to cut off his young wife's nose and ears after she dared to run away from her spouse's violence. What might the women's mujaheddin do to them? Set fire to their beards and cut off slowly the attributes they imagined conferred on them the right to mutilate another human being?
And the executioners of the nameless woman of Badghis. Or say Mullah Daoud, the Taliban big cheese who was one of three judges who declared that a widow who had become pregnant must be an adultress, and should be flogged in public until nearly dead and then shot in the head. "We gave this decision so that in future no one should have these illegal affairs," the mullah said, although no man has been punished.
The "Revolutionary Women's Command", unable to locate the mullah, would simply target any male in any country with a Pashtun name. "You must learn to suffer as we have suffered," a video made by a woman in a burka would say.
The cases are real, the fantasies of revenge are not. In some ways I wish they were. If only you could take these bearded, yelling, violent woman-haters and subject them to the same treatment they hand out. But it would be wrong, counter-productive, and there are so many of them.
Twenty years ago, political philosopher Amartya Sen raised the relatively undiscussed question of the missing women. In any population, he pointed out, you might expect slightly more women than men because of life expectancy. But in some parts of the world this wasn't the case. In China, there were 107 men to every 100 women. In India it was 108, and in Pakistan 111.
For whatever reason, this meant something like 100 million women were simply missing. So where had they gone?
Probably they were killed at birth, died avoidably in childbirth or were denied the same rights as males to medical care.
In a recent book on women in the developing world, Half the Sky, American writers Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn write about how girls in India between the ages of one and five were 50 per cent more likely to die than their brothers. "More girls have been killed in the past 50 years precisely because they were girls than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century," they say.
Kristof estimates there are annually about 6000 "honour killings" (ie murders of women wanting minimal rights) worldwide. And as many as three million girls and women have been coerced - as opposed to recruited - into the Third World sex trade.
Weirdly, when Sen or Kristof and WuDunn or Time magazine point this out, the reaction of some in the West is to accuse them of a colonialist mentality.
One female Cambridge academic said last week - from the very belly of women's free speech and free agency - that the "affluent West" had "little to offer Afghans other than bikini waxes and Oprah-imitators". And a British critic of Half the Sky demanded: "Why are we so wonderful? Our society is still just as sexist, albeit in more subtle ways, than the burka-enforcing Taliban. Working on a farm and producing your own food is a far more viable and healthy option than slaving in a sweat or sex shop."
The dead woman of Badghis is in no position to argue that perhaps the West might have offered equality before the law, a fair trial, an absence of overwhelming judicial male violence, and life. She may have gone to her death with that "stoic docility" noted by Kristof and WuDunn. She is unlikely to have had any education, and may have regarded her death as in some way inevitable and necessary. No one seems to have asked for her views, or to have been interested in them.
And why should we be? We have our own battles to fight. We ought perhaps to lament the way the world is, the way its different cultures are, and then move on. It isn't as if we don't have plenty of stuff left over from our own misogynist past. Take that residual squeak of what the Iranians call the "golden penis" - the entitlement of the boy to a greater share - emitted every time girls do better at school. Up goes the whine that there is "feminisation" of education that disadvantages boys, who can only succeed when coursework is not assessed. What utter rubbish!
Here's why it matters so much. Even if we felt no moral imperative to help (and many do), we have every practical motive. We simply aren't cut off from the fate of the world's women. A small example surfaced last week after the shooting of the British couple in Pakistan.
We reported the cases of a number of young British women on the run from forced marriages and male "honour" violence in this country. As the Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood explained, when young Asian women have the chance and the education, they certainly want to exercise their own choice.
But far more than that, the oppression of women holds back social and economic development in societies that practise legal misogyny, making them poorer and more violent.
Birth rates are higher and poverty worse in the world's anti-women cultures, where girls are usually uneducated.
And where there are more young men than young women, as a result of polygamy and early death, I bet there is also more violence, more psychosexual dysfunction, more substitution of the bomb for the girlfriend. And we all get it in the neck.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). 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.