Thursday, August 05, 2010
A "constitutional right" to homosexual "marriage"?
Someone must have ripped a page out of my copy of the Constitution because I can find nothing like such a right there. In fact there is no mention of homosexuality at all that I can see
SAME sex couples in California have a right to be married, according to a ruling issued today in federal court in San Francisco that overturns a ban on gay marriage in the state.
US District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker determined, after lengthy deliberation, that a California ballot initiative banning same sex marriage violates the US Constitution because it denies equal rights to gays and lesbians.
The voter-approved ban, known as Proposition 8, outlawed same sex marriage in California five months after the state Supreme Court made them legal. It passed in November of 2008 with 52 per cent of the vote.
Judge Walker presided over a two-and-a-half week trial in January on the constitutionality of Proposition 8. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued the ban is not constitutional because it creates two classes of people: One that can get married and another that cannot.
Judge Walker was withering in his criticism of Proposition 8. "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license," he wrote in his judgement. "The state does not have an interest in enforcing private moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose."
Lawyers for the backers of Proposition 8 made the case that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is vital to public interest because it promotes procreation, which is fundamental to the survival of the human race.
The Mormon Church has expressed "regret" at the judge's ruling. In 2008 the church urged it's followers to donate time and money in support of proposition 8.
Judge Walker’s ruling by no means ends the legal debate over Proposition 8. Today's decision is expected to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal and possibly to the Supreme Court.
Anti-Semites and double standards
by Jeff Jacoby
LATE IN JULY, a Hollywood honcho uncorks a blast of anti-Semitic bile, the sort of malignant stereotype about Jews one might expect from David Duke or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Is that newsworthy? It certainly was in 2006, when Mel Gibson, arrested in Malibu for drunken driving, demanded to know whether the arresting deputy was Jewish, and then launched into an anti-Semitic rant: "F-----g Jews," he raged. "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
What happened next was a Category 4 media hurricane. Within a week, according to the Nexis news database, the number of articles mentioning "Mel Gibson" and "Jews" had soared to 1,077. The New York Times reported the incident in a Page 1 story on July 30, and followed it up with much longer stories on Aug. 1 and 2. The coverage in the Los Angeles Times was even more extensive, with three front-page stories and another half-dozen inside. Numerous other papers gave heavy play to Gibson's tirade and its aftermath, including the Houston Chronicle, the New York Post, and USA Today. The network and cable news shows were all over the story, broadcasting scores of segments about it in that first week.
Pervading much of the media's coverage and commentary was a tone of unforgiving revulsion. "Let's not cut Mel Gibson even the tiniest bit of slack," began Eugene Robinson's op-ed column in The Washington Post. Talent agent Ari Emanuel's call for Gibson to be blacklisted was widely noted: "People in the entertainment business, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him," Emanuel wrote in an open letter on the Huffington Post.
On "The View," Barbara Walters announced that she wouldn't see any more of Gibson's movies, while Slate explained "How To Boycott Mel Gibson." CNN's Brooke Anderson, the co-host of "Showbiz Tonight," described "a sudden explosion of outrage with some of the most influential people in Hollywood now saying they will never work with Mel Gibson again." As if to confirm the point, ABC cancelled a Holocaust-themed mini-series it had been developing with Gibson. To repeat: All this occurred within seven days of Gibson's arrest on July 28.
But when, almost exactly four years later, another Hollywood bigfoot uttered an anti-Semitic rant, the reaction couldn't have been more different. In a July 25 interview with the Sunday Times of London, filmmaker Oliver Stone complained that "Jewish domination of the media" focuses too much attention on the Holocaust, and prevents Americans from understanding Hitler (and Stalin) "in context" -- a wrong he intends to right in a documentary he is making for Showtime. Stone described these media-controlling Jews as "the most powerful lobby in Washington" -- "hard workers" who "stay on top of every comment," and are responsible for the fact that "Israel has f---ed up United States foreign policy for years."
Like Gibson blaming Jews for the planet's wars, Stone's lament about Jewish control of the media is classic anti-Semitism, straight out of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Henry Ford's The International Jew. Unlike Gibson, however, Stone gave vent to his bigotry while perfectly sober. Yet far from triggering a media storm, Stone's anti-Semitic conspiracy-mongering barely stirred a breeze.
Seven days after his words first appeared, Nexis had logged fewer than 150 items mentioning Stone's toxic rhetoric. On ABC, CBS, and NBC, the news shows completely ignored the story. The New York Times restricted its coverage to two short items in its "Arts, Briefly" section -- and few other papers ran even that much.
Media mogul Haim Saban urged Showtime to cancel Stone's documentary, and posted a brief Huffington Post message calling on Hollywood to give Stone "a vigorous shove into the land of forced retirement." But few if any media voices seconded Saban's call -- not a word from Slate, for example -- and some went out of their way to pooh-pooh it: Los Angeles Times blogger Patrick Goldstein pronounced the idea "not so different" from "the infamous 1950s Hollywood blacklist."
Gibson and Stone are both guilty of indulging in rank anti-Semitism (for which both promptly "apologized"), but only Gibson was buried under a newsroom avalanche of outrage and disgust. What explains that glaring difference? Surely the media don't think Jew-baiting is intolerable only when it comes from a right-wing Christian like Gibson. Surely they wouldn't overlook Stone's noxious rant just because he is a pluperfect left-wing activist.
Surely that can't be the explanation for so disgraceful a double standard. Can it?
The Talibanisation of British childhood by hardline parents
Last November, on the steps of Tate Britain, I witnessed a scene that troubles me still. A furious Asian father was shaking his young son and tearing up the picture his child had drawn.
The boy kicked and cried. Recognising my face from TV appearances I had made as a commentator on current affairs, the father came across to say 'hello'.
So I asked him what his child had done that had made him so angry. He explained that according to his Islamic mentors, drawing pictures of people was forbidden. I was flabbergasted. After all, this was in the middle of Britain's multi-cultural capital - a modern metropolis, not some dusty backstreet in Kabul. What harm can there be in a picture?
So I asked the man if he owned a camera. 'Yes,' he replied. 'And a video camera.' So why, I asked, was it acceptable for him to take pictures, but not for his child to draw a stick figure?
'The madrasa teacher told me children are not allowed to,' he said, referring to the places of religious instruction for Muslim children, which are the equivalent of Sunday schools for Christians. 'I am not an educated man, so I must listen to them.'
You might think this encounter was a case of an ill-educated parent misinterpreting the teachings of his elders. Alas, in the past year I have come to realise his attitude towards his child is far from unique.
Such fundamentalist beliefs about parenthood are not uncommon. In private, teachers, lecturers, community, youth and social workers have told me many more such stories of the suppression of simple childhood pleasures in the name of Islam.
An investigation by the BBC revealed one London school where more than 20 Muslim pupils had been removed from music lessons because their parents felt such teaching to be anti-Islamic. Another one- off? No, the Muslim Council of Britain confirmed that music lessons are likely to be 'unacceptable' to 10 per cent of Muslims.
What should be a simple pleasure is instead seen by thousands of families as a symbol of moral decadence.
In my role as chair of the British Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD), which campaigns against fanaticism, many inner-city teachers have told me they feel paralysed by extreme demands.
Brainwashed Muslim parents ask school librarians not to lend their children storybooks. (Jacqueline Wilson, the former Children's Laureate, is targeted for 'leading children astray' with her stories that deal with contemporary social issues, such as single motherhood.)
Some Muslim children have been kept away from school visits to temples, churches and art galleries. Teddy bears and pets are also branded un-Islamic.
How about the daughter of a relative of mine, who was having a birthday-party and invited all the girls in her class. The Muslim pupils organised a boycott because she had invited 'unbelievers'.
In one secondary school, a talented Muslim pupil was cast in the leading role in the George Bernard Shaw play Caesar And Cleopatra. Her parents didn't seem to object, and all was going well until the dress rehearsal, when she turned up at school with bruises on her face, crying and refusing to go on stage. The local imam had summoned her family and warned them that acting in plays was 'worse than whoredom'.
The father, an engineer, refused to be cowed, but the mother, scared of what people would say, beat her daughter and threatened to take her out of school (which she duly did).
In my role as chair of the BMSD, I am advising young people in such hard situations. Take 13-year-old Femida, who lives in a refuge with her Jordanian mother, a wedding singer. Her father, a convert to Islam, had become more and more authoritarian. Mother and daughter fled after he took a hammer to the CD player and TV set, and tried to throttle his wife. 'He was screaming that he wanted to kill my voice so I could be a good Muslim,' says Femida.
I am also helping Sana, a beautiful, 20-year-old Somali woman. Her family was happy once. Her father, a teacher, believed in female emancipation. They had books, radios and threw parties. 'I dress modestly, but I could buy nice clothes, wear earrings, dance,' she says.
Five years ago, her father died and her brother became head of the family. At university, he had joined a radical Islamic society and Sana and her mother had to submit to his fanatical interpretation of Islam. Sana has since had a breakdown.
I have met Muslim lawyers and academics who have turned to Taliban-style beliefs. These men propagate Wahhabism - the joyless and backward Saudi belief system followed by Al Qaeda and espoused by hate preachers such as omar Bakri and his successor Anjem Choudary.
In 2003, Bakri told a journalist that their brand of Islam would get to increasing numbers of young minds and hearts. It has - and to their parents, too.
The rapid spread of rigid, diehard Islam is deeply worrying. Yet those in power, focused on terrorist cells, seem oblivious to this other peril.
For many of us Muslims, this creeping Talibanisation of childhood is unendurable. On September 10, 2001, in a newspaper column, I condemned the brutal Taliban rulers in Afghanistan, where girls and women, shrouded in full burkas, were beaten and denied health and education.
Joy was banished, as it was in China during the Cultural revolution. Unless stopped, I wrote, the Taliban would extend their reach beyond Afghanistan. The very next day, Taliban-backed Al Qaeda operatives hijacked planes and brought down the Twin Towers.
Make no mistake, Taliban devotees are in our schools, playgrounds, homes, mosques, political parties, public service, private firms and universities.
Free-thinking Muslims have lacked courage to oppose what is going on, while politicians do nothing for cynical reasons - best, they think, not to antagonise possible voters.
Meanwhile, the liberal position is to let people be and do what they wish within the law. Liberals tolerate the intolerable because they don't have to live with the consequences. Yet the problem is in part caused by liberal values.
Appalled by our excessively consumerist and permissive societies (as are many non- Muslims), Muslim families are trying to find ways to protect their children...
And then there is the connection with Muslim homelands, all of which are getting more Talibanised, Pakistan most of all. The result is utterly corrosive, in particular for women and children who are paying the social price for fundamentalism. Invaluable educational activities and ordinary pleasures are considered haram - sinful - by fathers and husbands.
Vulnerable as they are, children and young people cannot be expected to resist the rules and new order to protect their futures.
If this was happening in any other nation, we would be condemning it loudly. Yet here, curtailed and deficient education endured by many Muslim children is seen as a religious entitlement, which, if opposed, apparently confirms Islamophobia.
Tolerant Muslims who fear and loathe the propagators of Bin Laden's Islam can see where this will lead. Young British Muslims - too many of whom are way behind in educational achievements and at the bottom of the job market - will be affected unless we can find a way of stopping the ideologues...
Why are we fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and indulging Taliban values here? Even if it offends liberal principles, the powerful must find a way of stopping Islamicists from promulgating their distorted creed. If they don't, the future is bleak for Muslims and the country. Many of us British Muslims care deeply about both.
It's children who pay for the 'having it all' lie
By Fay Weldon
Emma Thompson is right. A woman can't have it all. There has never been a time when she could. If she tries, something suffers - whether it be her job, her children or her husband.
An exceptional woman of today - young, beautiful, healthy, energetic, talented and a logistical genius - can get pretty near it. But most of us just don't have all these advantages. We aren't Superwomen, after all: we are just women. We get tired trying to do it all. So forget having it all.
'All' is a wonderful vision. Contented children, rewarding career, adoring partner, proud parents, fun friends, an active sex life and, at night, the sweet sleep of a clear conscience. Who wouldn't want all that?
But do you know anyone who has it? I don't. I rather thought perhaps Emma Thompson did - mother, film star, scriptwriter and wife as she is. But apparently not. Obviously well able to afford to, she now tells us she's fleeing back into the home.
If just one element in today's equation for a perfect life goes wrong - we get made redundant, the child care leaves (possibly with one's husband), friends drift off, Botox goes wrong - then all the balls in the great juggle that is a working mother's life fall to the ground.
And while we go on scrabbling for the perfect life, unable to abandon the vision, it's the children who suffer in a world that two generations of feminists have created.
Fifty years ago, it was the women who had a bad time. We were exploited, unable to earn or contribute to society; domestic slaves dependent for their living on the goodwill of men, too often trapped in distressing relationships. Meanwhile, the men and the children flourished.
These days the men still flourish, and the women do, too. Now it is the children who suffer. Children see more of their teachers and their peers than they do of their families. Mothers continue to love their children to distraction, but how much do the children of today love their mothers?
It is hard-wired into mothers to bond with their babies. But the child's bond with the mother is a more fragile link, short-lived at the best of times, the child destined as it is to grow up and leave home.
Envisage the scene. Today's mother comes back from work, exhausted but (one hopes) making an effort. The table is laid, the meal microwaving. But the child of 12 would rather slope off to its room, the computer and the TV than sit down to a family meal.
It may well be, too, that he or she will have a genetic connection with only one adult at the table. More children now live in households with step-parents than in the old fashioned Mum and Dad variety.
Today's child is fearful of divorce. Ask what it wants most in all the world and it says: 'Mum and Dad to stay together.' Mum and Dad, selfish in their own desires, don't listen.
So did we feminists get it wrong, back in the Seventies, when we fought for our liberation? When we suggested that only male oppression stopped us from 'having it all'; that we could work, we could earn, we could love, we could have equal dignity.
Well, we fought a noble battle and we got a lot of it right. Just not all. Women are happier than they used to be. We are not as sexually neurotic as we were; we don't worship men unthinkingly, and we can earn and spend our own money.
We aren't disgraced if we don't marry, and we don't have nervous little squeaky voices when we speak in public. You may not believe it, but that's how it was. We don't have to put up with the indignity of being second-class citizens - and that is a great achievement.
But we never paid any attention to what to do with the children. We certainly never imagined handing them over to other lesser-paid women to bring up, making them strangers to us, their mothers. Yet, that, sadly, is what has happened. We fought against the definition of women as 'people who have children'. And now the birth rate falls and falls.
We resented the assumption that we weren't so much 'people' as mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and widows. We didn't want to be seen as existing only in relationship to a man.
In refusing this definition, we inadvertently bred a race of young men who 'won't commit' to women. Why wouldn't they be frightened? Today's young women are so confident in their power, their effectiveness, as they seek to cultivate the aggression which once belonged to the young male. There seems almost to have been a gender switch, so that the young men shrink and protect their feelings, while the girls are highly predatory.
I am not suggesting for one minute that women go back into the home. How could we? Who would support us if we did? No, there is no retreat possible. Leaving out the fact that staying at home and looking after children is deadly boring for the majority of women, one male wage today is not enough to support a family.
The trouble is that feminism sang to capitalism's tune. If the women of the West went out to work, and both sexes worked equally punishing hours, male wages could, in real terms, be halved as the workforce was doubled.
So the male wage that once kept a family, mysteriously no longer can. This, too, is something that we did not foresee. I only hope the next generation will do better. Do I feel apologetic? Yes, I do.
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.