Thursday, September 30, 2010
A rare attack of sanity in a British court
But no credit to the useless British police
A desperate homeowner who injured a group of thugs with a catapult as they terrorised his neighbourhood has won backing from a judge who threw out the teenagers' claims for damages.
Bruce Harwood, 38, and his neighbours in a converted Georgian townhouse were subjected to a two-year reign of terror by 20 youths who urinated on the front door, threw eggs at the windows and regularly caused disturbances into the early hours.
The electrician finally snapped when the louts followed a car through the electronic gates protecting the Grade II listed building in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.
As the female driver ran into the building fearing for her safety, electrician Mr Harwood grabbed a catapult he needs for his business and fired a several 'warning volleys' of small ball bearings at them. Three of the louts were accidentally hit, leaving them with minor injuries to their legs and groins, and he was arrested by police.
He has now admitted causing actual bodily harm and been ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid community work. But in a common sense victory for victims of anti-social behaviour, the judge threw out the hoodie-wearing yobs' claims for £1,200 compensation each, saying they 'brought this very much upon themselves'.
Sitting at Cambridge Crown Court, Judge Gareth Hawkesworth said: 'In this incident, it is entirely clear to me that you and the other residents were subjected to a lot of incidents of anti-social behaviour that were deliberate provocations by local youths.
'On this occasion you and other residents had suffered from a number of disturbances that amounted to deliberate provocation. 'You responded by taking a catapult and firing it. Such action easily could have caused serious harm. Your fault was in not notifying police. 'But I think it wholly inappropriate that I should make a compensation order given that they brought this very much upon themselves.'
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Harwood, who has moved out of his £520-a-month penthouse flat and now lives with his fiancee in Northamptonshire, said: 'I was just trying to scare them away and I didn't think I had hit them. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt anyone. 'The police seem to have said to these lads "Poor you, let's get you some compensation" instead of "What the hell were you doing there?" 'This flat was my dream home and we've been under constant bombardment. Most people have moved out because they can't cope.'
It was on the evening of April 11 that 15 teenagers took advantage of the open gate to surge into the grounds of the four storey building, which had eight flats, forcing the terrified car owner to flee into her home. When Mr Harwood went to his window to see what was happening, the gang began chanting 'rich bastards' and started banging on the communal entrance.
Fearing they were going to break in and go on the rampage inside the building, he grabbed the catapult - which he bought for work to fire wire through tubes - and a handful of 38mm ball bearings which he used to fire several warning shots.
During the court case on September 21, Benedict Peers, defending, was reading out a long list of incidents involving the youths when he was stopped on the 13th example. Judge Hawkesworth told him he had heard enough to prove there had been 'provocation'.
Mr Harwood added yesterday: 'We've called police on so many occasions they sometimes don't turn up and have never arrested any of these kids. 'When you have 15 or 20 hoodies screaming and shouting you have to figure some way of getting them out. I was scared they'd get into the building.'
Three of the flats are empty at present because the occupants have had to move out. One of the other residents, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said: 'It's been going on well before Bruce moved in. I'm glad he did something because the police wouldn't.'
Free speech means the freedom to offend
A 'gang' (say the newspapers) of six British men have been arrested after a video of them burning copies of the Koran was posted on YouTube. Frankly, I'm revolted.
I'm revolted that people should publicly burn an artefact that millions of people revere, whether it is the Koran, the Bible, or even the American flag. These are actions which are intended to distress and outrage other people. Why do it?
I'm even more revolted that the laws in the United Kingdom allow people to be arrested for any such action.
Burning a flag or a religious or political book is an expression of an opinion, usually a deeply held opinion, that the item symbolises, or is the cause, of malign actions or beliefs. People should be able to express such opinions, even if it upsets and annoys others, without fear of being arrested and possibly imprisoned.
The United States has been served well for two centuries by a general presumption of free speech, encapsulated in an important amendment to the Constitution. It is felt there that free speech is vital if we are to have frank and open debate and a contest of ideas from which we can all learn and benefit. It is thought so important that it cannot be left to the judgement of officials or the police whether any particular statement is acceptable or not. We should have the same.
Many people in the UK think that the police are more inclined to prosecute attacks on the Islamic faith than on the Christian faith because Christians usually turn the other cheek while Muslims often get very angry indeed. They argue that Christians have even been prevented, by the police, from handing out Christian literature near a mosque; while it is unimaginable that Muslims would be stopped for handing out their texts near to a Christian cathedral.
The correct way to deal with these issues is simple. The right to free speech should apply equally to everyone. We might think that particular words or actions are gratuitously offensive – such as the disparaging nicknames given to racial groups – and as social beings we should argue with people to do that and try to get them to respect other people's sensibilities. But it shouldn't be against any law to offend people. It should certainly be against the law to threaten them or promote violence against them. And it should be against the law to use or threaten violence, even in response to some offensive remark or action. But there's a big difference between calling people offensive names and encouraging people to kill them.
Another attack on breastfeeding in prudish Britain
A young mother breast-feeding her baby was ordered into a changing room at High Street chain Primark
Aimee Edwards, 24, was feeding four-week-old George when a worker told her to use the changing room - or leave the store. The married mother-of-four was so angry that she left her shopping and walked out.
Mrs Edwards said: 'A woman shop assistant said if I wanted to breastfeed I had to go in the changing rooms or leave the store. 'She said it was offending other customers, but there were hardly any other shoppers near me. 'I thought she was joking at first as I have never had a problem in any other shop before.'
Mrs Edwards was shopping with her husband Ben and their children Ruby, three, and Morgan, 20 months, when baby George needed feeding. Mrs Edwards said: 'It's natural for a mum to feed her baby. Why should people feel offended? It's not as if they can see anything. 'I don't see why I should have to hide it. I was with my daughter and I want her to grow up thinking it is a natural part of life. 'I should not be made to feel ashamed. If that's their attitude then I don't know if I want to shop in a place like that.
'I have breast-fed all my children and I have never had this reaction. I don't even think about doing it now after having four children.'
Mrs Edwards from Bridgend, South Wales, was in the Swansea branch of the discount clothes store when the row broke out. She said: 'I put my shopping down and left the store. 'I think it's disgusting that I was doing something natural and I was faced with an ultimatum. 'If people don't like it then don't look. As campaigns say "breast is best", and then you get this kind of reaction.'
A spokesman for Primark, which has 143 stores across the UK, told Mail Online that the company had 'taken steps to ensure breastfeeding is better understood by all employees'. 'A supervisor in Primark Swansea approached a customer who was breastfeeding in the store and offered her the use of a fitting room cubicle which she felt would be more comfortable and would afford some privacy,' said the spokesman.
'Unfortunately, she inadvertently caused offence to the customer who mistakenly perceived that she was not welcome to breastfeed in the store. 'It was not the supervisor's intention to cause any offence - rather to offer assistance.
'However, we sincerely regret any upset that this incident may have caused and have taken steps to ensure that the company policy on breastfeeding is better understood by all Primark employees.
'Primark customers are welcome to breastfeed whilst shopping in our stores should they wish to do so. If any customer requires privacy for this purpose, every effort will be made to accommodate this request where possible.'
Indianapolis bakery refuses order for rainbow cupcakes for a national homosexual coming out day
OFFICIALS in Indianapolis are turning up the heat on a bakery that refused to take an order from a student group seeking rainbow-colored cupcakes for next month's National Coming Out Day.
A spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said city officials are conducting an inquiry into the bakery, Just Cookies, which declined to take the order last week from a diversity group at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which ordered the cupcakes for October 11.
"The city's position is, it's the city's Market, it's a public place," mayoral spokesman Robert Vane said "There is no litmus test for buying services or products at the City Market."
Just Cookies owner Lilly Stockton defended her bakery's decision last week, first claiming that the shop does not make cupcakes, and then telling a reporter that she did not have sufficient materials to make the rainbow colors.
But her husband, David Stockton, said he had a different reason for refusing to take the order. "I explained we're a family-run business, we have two young, impressionable daughters and we thought maybe it was best not to do that," he said.
The controversy has prompted an Indianapolis radio station to hold a "Gay Cupcake Party" tomorrow. As of early yesterday, nearly 400 people had indicated that they planned to attend the event.
Vane, meanwhile, said city officials are working to determine whether the order was refused because the bakery could not provide the desired product or because something else was at play.
"It's the other proprietor stating his personal views, that's the problem, because that's not the image of the City Market and the image Mayor Ballard is trying to portray," Vane told FOXNews.com. "That's beyond the pale."
Stevi Stoesz, a spokeswoman for City Market, a nonprofit organization with a 13-member board of directors, said officials there found the bakery's alleged conduct inappropriate. "As a public marketplace, we find it unacceptable, and this is very much an equal accommodations establishment," Stoesz told FOXNews.com. "We are working with the mayor's office and city [attorneys] to resolve the issue expediently."
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.