Monday, August 09, 2010

Italy's top court rejects homosexual marriage

ITALY'S Constitutional Court today rejected legal recognition of gay marriage, saying arguments in its favor were either "unfounded" or "inadmissible".

Courts in Venice and Trento in the northeast sought the court's opinion after gay rights groups questioned whether not allowing same-sex marriage was a violation of human rights enshrined in the constitution.

They also argued that the ban may flout European and international obligations, and that the constitution does not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage.

The Italian Forum of Family Associations hailed the ruling, saying the court had "chosen in favour of the good of society".

But a group advocating gay marriage vowed to continue the struggle, "carrying it forward, both in the courts and in society, until the full equality of homosexuals is recognized in civil marriage law".

The Constitutional Court will issue a detailed opinion in the coming days.


No justice for British children?

Family court system could implode, warns its top judge

The family courts system is in "grave danger of imploding", Sir Nicholas Wall, the judge in charge of it, has warned. In a letter dated July 29, Sir Nicholas, president of the Family Division of the High Court, suggested legal aid cuts could mean that parents fighting to keep their children have to represent themselves in court.

He says he has been "inundated with expressions of serious concern" from judges about the cuts, which will almost halve the number of family law firms doing legal aid.

The letter, obtained by Community Care magazine, is his second stark warning of the crisis in children's justice. Last November, in a professional conference unreported at the time, he gave one of the most outspoken speeches ever made by a judge.

"Neither I, nor any of my colleagues, has any wish to engage in politics," he said. But "the time has now come when the judicial reluctance to go public … must come to an end."

Sir Nicholas warned that the system was in a "parlous state", in danger of collapse, and it was "the children who will suffer most". It was funded by people "who know nothing about it, and have never practised it … Neither the court itself, nor the out of court facilities, are serving disadvantaged children as they should."

It was, he said, "welfare, or farewell".

The judge's interventions are signs of unprecedented anger across the child protection world. Some parents say their children are being seized without cause by overzealous councils. The professionals say the error, more often, is leaving them with abusive parents – as, of course, with Baby P. Both groups may, in fact, be right.

Since the Baby Peter tragedy, the number of children subject to care proceedings has shot up by two hundred a month, a rise of more than 40 per cent.

Eight thousand children were taken into care last year alone. Yet, disturbingly, the number of infants not in care who died of neglect or abuse has also risen – suggesting that in some cases, the wrong children are being removed from their families, and the wrong children being allowed to stay.

In theory, there are many safeguards. No child can be taken from their parents without a court order, and later a full hearing. At the system's heart lies a person called a guardian – an independent expert, with a social work background, quite separate from the local council and family. The guardian's job is to get to know the child, investigate their circumstances, stand up for them in court and protect them against abuse of power by social services, or their parents.

"You look critically at what the local authority is doing, and you look critically at what the parents are doing," says Alison Paddle, a guardian since 1991, who is also spokesman for their professional body, Nagalro. "You give the child a voice."

Ms Paddle says that in her experience – she has done about 120 cases – it is rare for a council's concerns about a family to be completely baseless. "You often ask yourself why they haven't acted before. But unfortunately there's also quite a number of situations where the local authority haven't covered everything they should do to keep the child out of care. There may be relatives, for instance, who can offer something very positive but haven't been asked."

Another guardian fought off a local council which seized children for adoption after their parents left them home alone, caring for a disabled sibling. "The local authority overreacted," the guardian said. "They also lied to the court about the experience of the foster-carer, possibly placing a very disabled baby at risk by placing him with a very inexperienced carer."

The decision was overturned. Guardians can also get children placed in care where they think the social services have been too lenient.

In many places, however, the guardian system has effectively collapsed. At least 1,000 children going through care proceedings are now represented only by a constantly-changing stream of "duty guardians", people who often never meet the children they are supposed to be championing, let alone visit their homes, and base all their judgments on the local authority's paperwork.

Thousands of children never get a guardian at all, or have to wait weeks for one – by which time all the key decisions about their future may well have been taken, irreversibly.

The courts have no real investigatory capacity and tend to take the word of the experts. In some cases, say guardians, the course of a child's whole life is effectively decided in one brief phone call.

"Duty guardians or no guardians at all were happening in every single case I handled for several months," says Barbara Hopkin, a prominent family lawyer. "It's a rubber-stamping exercise. I was told by some [duty guardians] that they were not allowed to talk to the parents."

A family court judge, Graham Cliffe, said that the guardian service in his area, York, had "deteriorated at an alarming rate" and "reached crisis level – make no mistake about it, vulnerable children are being sold short."

Cafcass, the government quango which runs the service, blames the problems on the post-Baby P care rush, as social workers play it safe. That, perhaps, is reason to scrutinise applications more thoroughly, not less. And Cafcass's critics say the real problem is that it is a classic New Labour bureaucratic monster.

"In terms of funding, Cafcass has done quite well," says Paul Bishop, vice chairman of NAPO, its staff union. "But only fifty per cent of people in Cafcass are actually doing the job and the other fifty per cent are monitoring them and filling out forms."

Before Cafcass was created, in 2000, children's guardians were lightly managed – and in most parts of the country, every child got a guardian within 24 hours. In the new era, when some children never get a guardian at all, staff say they have to fill out five forms for every action they take, swallowing a third of their working week.

Anthony Douglas, Cafcass's chief executive, insists that talk of a meltdown is "alarmist". "We've absorbed 30 per cent more work in a year," he says.

Yet the legal aid cuts are a double whammy. "All the parties in a case have to use different firms, but after October, there will only be one family law firm doing legal aid in the whole of Devon,' says Hopkin. 'It's a complete disaster'.

In April, the county's child protection department was criticised by a judge as "more like Stalin's Russia ... than the West of England".

Sir Nicholas's leaked letter says that across the country, many of the new solicitors given legal aid contracts have no experience in family law, and may "not know fully what they are doing". And these cuts are quite separate from new, further, reductions to legal aid being planned by the Coalition government.

It is fair to say that almost everyone involved with the children's courts – the professionals, the parents and the children themselves – has never been unhappier. The real problem is not, perhaps, that social workers are evil, or that all parents are liars. The problem is that in cases needing very fine judgments, a dysfunctional system is making it harder to get those judgments right.


Sexual statism

The decline of the male economy — and of fatherhood — arises less from the empowerment of women than from the government’s usurpation of the family

In “The End of Men,” the cover story of the July/August Atlantic, Hanna Rosin describes “how women are taking control of everything.” Suggesting that “the economics of the new era are better suited to women,” Rosin believes the fair sex are winning the struggle for the survival of the fittest. In what is apparently cause for celebration, she writes, “three-quarters of the 8 million jobs lost were lost by men” in the ongoing Great Recession. “The worst-hit industries were overwhelmingly male and deeply identified with macho: construction, manufacturing, high finance.” She contends that the economic crisis “merely revealed—and accelerated—a profound economic shift that has been going on for at least 30 years.”

The Atlantic used the same issue to ask, “Are Fathers Necessary?” Pamela Paul cites a widely publicized study purporting to prove that fathers are harmful in rearing children and that lesbians do it better. The study is politics camouflaged as social science—its authors acknowledge that the parenting virtues they extol are defined “in part in the service of an egalitarian ideology.” Their message echoes Rosin’s: within the home, as in the national economy, men are unreliable at best and pathological at worst. The Atlantic assures us that the decline of men is the product of impersonal forces against which we are powerless to respond, even if we wished to—which apparently we do not.

Rosin, whose essay is #1 on the magazine’s “Biggest Ideas of the Year” list, certainly identifies an important trend. But the phenomenon she describes is the result not of inexorable social forces but of conscious political decisions. The end of men is the consequence of the most profound trend in public life today: the sexualization of politics and the politicization of sex.

The emergence of sexual politics has elicited strikingly little critical treatment. Yet it represents the most radical change in the nature of government in modern times. The economic effects are only symptoms. More far-reaching are the vast shifts in political power at every level. Feminist ideology pervades every item on the public agenda: not just “women’s issues” like abortion but everything from gun control (think of the “Million Mom March”) and DWI laws (Mother Against Drunk Driving) to foreign policy (Code Pink). “Women have the most to gain and the most to lose in the climate crisis,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed during the Copenhagen conference. “The impacts are not gender-neutral… . Women feel the consequences first.” Not an issue in public life has not been “gendered.”

The transformation of society wrought by sexual politics is most readily apparent where Rosin begins her article: with what she calls the “matriarchy” of the inner cities. Government policies produced this matriarchy: the men who are “increasingly absent from the home,” as Rosin writes, have been removed by welfare agencies and courts. The women are “making all the decisions” in inner-city households because the men have been forced out and government has usurped the role of father and husband, providing protection and income directly to the women and children. This produces in urban America not a “working class,” as Rosin terms it, but a class of government dependents whose living arrangements have been engineered by state officials.

As single motherhood spreads from the lower to the middle classes—among whom it is growing fastest—so does Rosin’s matriarchy. In the suburbs as in the cities, it is promoted by government machinery originally justified as helping the poor: child-care services, care for the elderly, public education, and publicly controlled healthcare.

Rosin insightfully observes that “the U.S. economy is in some ways becoming a kind of traveling sisterhood: upper-class women leave home and enter the workforce, creating domestic jobs for other women to fill.” This is an economic bubble about which G.K. Chesterton long ago warned. “The whole really rests on a plutocratic illusion of an infinite supply of servants,” he wrote, “Ultimately, we are arguing that a woman should not be a mother to her own baby, but a nursemaid to somebody else’s baby. But it will not work, even on paper. We cannot all live by taking in each other’s washing, especially in the form of pinafores.”

Like the recently burst bubbles in banking and housing, this one is a creation of state regulation. It reveals the trajectory of the new sexual politics: not toward eliminating gender roles—which the welfare state has not done and can never do—but toward politicizing and bureaucratizing feminine ones.

While elite feminists did assume previously male occupations, many more women have entered the workforce in professionalized versions of traditional homemaker roles. This has transformed childrearing and other domestic tasks from private family matters into public, communal, and taxable activities, necessarily expanding the size and power of the state and leading to the creation of vast bureaucracies to oversee public education and social services.

These are precisely the professions now being expanded by the Obama administration’s massive stimulus expenditures. The effect is to amplify the intrusion of the state into the home—indeed, the displacement of the home by the state. For as feminists point out, the feminine functions were traditionally private. Professionalizing feminine roles has therefore meant institutionalizing in government bureaucracies responsibilities that were once characteristic of private life. The politicization of children and the usurpation of parental rights under the guise of child protection are the clearest manifestations of this.

Fathers have been marginalized, and their lives are ever more directly administered by the state. They are not simply “absent,” as Rosin writes—they are increasingly likely to be under the control of the judicial and penal systems. Rosin’s article provides a telling example of a particularly state-feminist form of punishment now meted out to men: therapy.
None of the 30 or so men sitting in a classroom at a downtown Kansas City school have come for voluntary adult enrichment. Having failed to pay their child support, they were given the choice by a judge to go to jail or attend a weekly class on fathering…. This week’s lesson…involve[d] writing a letter to a hypothetical estranged 14-year-old daughter named Crystal, whose father left her…

What is clear from Rosin’s account is that the therapy, like the penal system, has been designed less to punish the alleged crime than to psychologically recondition men. The class leader
grew up watching Bill Cosby living behind his metaphorical “white picket fence.” “Well, that check bounced a long time ago,” he says. … He continues, reading from a worksheet. What are the four kinds of paternal authority? Moral, emotional, social, and physical. “But you ain’t none of those in that house. All you are is a paycheck, and now you ain’t even that. And if you try to exercise your authority, she’ll call 911. … You’re supposed to be the authority, and she says, ‘Get out of the house, bitch.’ She’s calling you ‘bitch’!” … “What is our role? Everyone’s telling us we’re supposed to be the head of a nuclear family, so you feel like you got robbed.” … He writes on the board: $85,000. “This is her salary.” Then: $12,000. “This is your salary. … Who’s the man now?” A murmur rises. “That’s right. She’s the man.”

This is not law enforcement. It is government indoctrination.

Rosin neglects to mention that none of the men in Kansas City has been convicted of any crime. They have not run afoul of police, prosecutors, and juries through the normal criminal-justice process. Instead, they are subject to welfare officials who exercise quasi-police and quasi-prosecutorial powers. They are brought—in what is sometimes described as an “expedited judicial process”—before a judge (or a black-robed lawyer known as a “judge-surrogate”) who may spend a few seconds glancing at some documents before entering orders to evict them from their homes, separate them from their children, confiscate their earnings, and sentence them to re-education or incarceration, all without the benefit of due process.

Attorney Jed Abraham calls this system of bureaucratic adjudication “Orwellian”: “To [enforce] child support, the government commands … a veritable gulag,” he writes in From Courtship to Courtroom. Bryce Christensen of Southern Utah University agrees: “The advocates of ever-more-aggressive measures for collecting child support … have moved us a dangerous step closer to a police state.”

Preventing crime and aggression is evidently not what state-feminist ideology is all about: at its heart is economic redistribution and political power. Near the end of her article Rosin notes, quite approvingly, that “violence committed by middle-aged women [has] skyrocketed.” This is taken as a sign that “the more women dominate, the more they behave, fittingly, like the dominant sex.” Rosin references an ultraviolent Lady Gaga video that “rewrites Thelma and Louise as a story not about elusive female empowerment but about sheer, ruthless power. … She and her girlfriend kill a bad boyfriend and random others in a homicidal spree and then escape in their yellow pickup truck, Gaga bragging, ‘We did it, Honey B.’”

Rosin and her allies are more subtle—and most importantly, they have coercive state power at their disposal—but the bragging sounds remarkably similar.


Australia: Christian candidate bullied for her Christian stance on homosexuality

An Australian Senate candidate was under fire Monday for comparing the allowing of gay marriage to "legalizing child abuse," a Sydney newspaper reported. Wendy Francis, who is attempting to win a seat in Queensland for the conservative Family First party, made her views known in a Twitter message Sunday which has since been deleted.

"Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimizing gay marriage is like legalizing child abuse," the message read. "Australia would never recover from legalizing gay marriage. Those who advocate this are not thinking of the dramatic consequences," it continued.

Francis has previously expressed similar views in media releases, Australian media blog Crikey reported.

A media release on her website, which has also since been deleted, read: "Homosexuals who are pushing for this don't care about children; they care only about their selfish desires. "Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse and legitimizing gay marriage is like legalizing child abuse," it continued.

The Australian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby called the comments "offensive."

"Comments which characterize same-sex families as promoting emotional abuse towards children is deeply, deeply frustrating and offensive," the group's policy and development coordinator Senphorun Raj said.

"In Australia there over 4,380 children living in same-sex families, and to have children in those families be stigmatized by such comments, stigmatizing their same-sex parents, disenfranchises those children and effectively promotes attitudes of homophobia that will continue to marginalize and ostracize children and parents living in same-sex families."

Thousands of Twitter users responded to Francis' comments, some calling them "baseless and astounding."

SOURCE. More details here


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 is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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