Monday, December 27, 2010
The Queen defies animal rights fanatics
The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall came under fire from animal rights campaigners yesterday after they both wore fur hats on Christmas Day. The Russian-style hats they wore to attend a church service in Sandringham with other members of the Royal Family were made from fur from different types of fox, claimed experts.
Andrew Tyler, director of Animal Aid, said: ‘This strikes me as an ostentatious display of cruelty. To parade fur in 2010 says something unpleasant about the person wearing it.’
The Cossack-style hat worn by Camilla was made from ‘vintage fur’, by designer milliner Philip Treacy, using a piece of fur which had previously belonged to the duchess’s mother.
A spokesman for the Queen said she could not confirm if Her Majesty’s cream-coloured hat and matching coat trim were made from real fur but experts said they were convinced it was.
Many fashion designers continue to use fur in their collections, and campaigners have expressed fears that it has come back into style. They have called on celebrities and members of the Royal Family to ‘set a good example’ by choosing not to wear animal pelts. The Queen has worn fur in the past and her official robes for State occasions are trimmed with ermine, the winter coat of the stoat.
Camilla faced anger from animal rights organisations last year, when she wore fur twice during an official visit to Canada. First she wore a grey rabbit stole when she visited Newfoundland, together with a hat trimmed with fake fur. She then donned a calf-length cape lined with grey fox fur. Both pieces were said to have been ‘refashioned’ from vintage fur that had belonged to her grandmother, Sonia Cubitt, Baroness Ashcombe, whose mother, Alice Keppel, was a mistress of Edward VII.
The ethical question of ‘recycling’ vintage fur has split opinion, but Mr Tyler said: ‘It doesn’t matter when the animal was killed, it’s a body part and a product of cruelty.’
In 2000 Prince Edward’s wife Sophie apologised after she was seen wearing a fox fur hat. The Countess of Wessex said her decision to wear the hat on a skiing holiday in St Moritz, Switzerland, was ‘an error of judgment’.
Legislation to ban fur farming in Britain was passed that same year following a lengthy campaign highlighting the physical and psychological distress suffered by animals in some fur farms.
However, it remains legal to import fur and in China, now the world’s leading fur exporter, millions of animals who are killed for their fur are often skinned alive, according to the campaign group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
A Peta spokesman said: ‘Britain is a nation of animal lovers and more than 90 per cent of Britons refuse to wear fur. We hope that Her Majesty will choose to wear something more humane in future, that better reflects the values of the British people.'
Sorry, Archbishop, but there IS a big difference between the deserving and undeserving poor
As predictable as the bells pealing out the arrival of Christmas, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has once again managed to mark the festive season by a display of painful moral confusion.
First, he used his sermon at Canterbury Cathedral to rebuke the most prosperous for having yet to shoulder their load in the economic downturn. And then in an article for yesterday’s Mail on Sunday he wrote that the poor should be absolved of any responsibility for their own circumstances.
True, he acknowledged that there were doubtless ‘some who make the most out of the benefits culture’ — although even here he couldn’t resist a swipe at ‘some who have made the most out of other kinds of perks available to bankers or MPs’.
But he warned: ‘The Victorian distinction between the deserving poor and the rest is very seductive.’ And he added: ‘Even if there are those who are where they are because of their own bad or foolish choices in the past, that doesn’t mean they are any less in need in the present. And it can’t be said often enough that most people in poverty — and we should be thinking of children in particular — haven’t chosen it.’
This was an extraordinary thing to say. It means that even if poor people are dishonest or irresponsible, the rest of society must regard them as just as deserving of society’s largesse as the honest poor. But the notion that those who have behaved immorally or irresponsibly should be treated in exactly the same way as those whose behaviour has been irreproachable is itself profoundly amoral.
Of course, no one chooses to be poor. But some people do choose lifestyles that cause them to become poor — such as choosing not to work, or deciding to bring up children on their own.
And what was so disturbing about Dr Williams’s observation was that he seemed to be negating the importance of such choices. Indeed, by demonising the better-off while investing the poor with a halo, he came close to suggesting that wealth — however honestly or arduously earned — is intrinsically evil, while poverty is a holy state.
His core point was that no distinction should be made between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor — which to him clearly conjures up Dickensian nightmares of workhouses, cruelty and destitution. This distinction was, indeed, a key concept in Victorian times. However, after the development of the Welfare State, the idea that any poor people could be considered ‘undeserving’ was ruled out of court. Contrary to the beliefs of the founder of the Welfare State himself, William Beveridge, it became the accepted view that it was odious to hold any poor people responsible for their own poverty.
The question of individual behaviour and its consequences was airbrushed out of the welfare picture altogether. This was in large measure because Left-wing thinking — in the famous aphorism — replaced Methodism with Marx. And Marxist analysis holds that people are not responsible for their own circumstances, but are instead helpless tools of the capitalist system.
Obviously, many do become poor through cruel twists of fate. But others certainly contribute to their poverty through their own behaviour. For example, many women choosing to have babies without a permanently committed father on board doom themselves and their children to poverty and a host of other terrible disadvantages.
Of course, some lone mothers are the innocent victims of desertion. But it is crucial to offer all poor people assistance which will give them a leg up and out of poverty rather than kick away the ladder of opportunity from beneath their feet. Yet leaving them stranded with no escape route is precisely what the ‘non- judgmental’ view of poverty represented by Dr Williams has brought about.
Which is precisely the woeful state of affairs that the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is determined to end.
True, Dr Williams paid dutiful credit to the Government’s welfare reforms for its ‘clear intention to put things in place that will actually reduce poverty and help people out of the traps of dependency’. But clearly, he simply doesn’t understand that this depends to a large extent upon restoring the distinction between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor that he finds so abhorrent.
That is because it is not motivated by an absence of compassion, as he implies, but by its precise opposite — a deeply principled desire to end the trap of permanent poverty. And the way to do that is encourage behaviour that will end it, through viewing the poor as governed by the same impulses as everyone else.
Dr Williams’s view, however, effectively treats the poor as less than human. The essence of being human, after all, is to be capable of moral choice. And all of us, rich and poor, are capable of making those choices. The choice to be honest rather than fiddling the benefits system. To work, however demeaning the job, in preference to taking state charity. To bring children into the world only where there is a committed father to help bring them up.
But if people who make immoral — or amoral —choices benefit from these, that creates a fundamental injustice throughout society. For there is no surer way of undermining and demoralising those who refuse to cheat the system or who are living lives of self-restraint and responsibility. Yet that is precisely what our non-judgmental culture of dependency has given us — the moral degradation of an entire society.
You might think that the Church of all institutions would be in the forefront of fighting such cultural collapse. So why does Dr Williams put himself on the wrong side of the moral tracks?
Well, his disapproving reference to the Victorians is more than a little revealing. For during that period, it was Christians who spearheaded the great social reform movements which turned Britain from a society riven by crime, illegitimacy and drunken squalor into a tranquil country in which the traditional family was the crucible of social order.
That transformation came about through a profoundly moral view of the world rooted in a muscular Christianity. This upheld the dignity of every human being and the optimistic belief that people could redeem themselves through their own behaviour.
It was these Christian attitudes that led to the abolition of slavery and a host of other reforms. Yet Dr Williams has in the past apologised for the role of the church during this period, radiating deep embarrassment about religious impulses which once were a synonym for progressive attitudes.
This is rooted in a collapse of religious belief within the Church of England which has been going on for decades. Accordingly, it has steadily eroded its commitment to the moral codes embodied in the Bible and embraced instead the secular alternative – the religion of Left-wing ideology.
Thus Sunday school was replaced by social work, morality by expediency and holy war by class war.
Dr Williams undoubtedly wants to do good in the world. And he is far from being a stupid man; he is considered to be a profound thinker and theologian. But it took Iain Duncan Smith, in the striking article he wrote for this paper last week, to use without embarrassment the Biblical figure of Joseph to illustrate one of the key antidotes to permanent poverty — the committed father.
The fact is that what Mr Duncan Smith is doing embodies Christian conscience in a way that appears completely to elude the leader of the Anglican communion.
When a politician boldly links morality, religion and compassion while a religious leader can only spout Left-wing cliches, a society’s foundations have become shaky indeed.
The ACLU's Unholy War on Catholic Hospitals
Ho, ho, ho! Just in time for Christmas, the American Civil Liberties Union has launched a new salvo against people of faith. Even as billions around the world celebrate the birth of Christ, joyless, abortion-obsessed secularists never take a holiday.
On Wednesday, the ACLU sent a letter to federal health officials urging the government to force Catholic hospitals in the U.S. to perform abortions in violation of their core moral commitment to protecting the lives of the unborn. They're counting on sympathetic Obama rationing czar Donald Berwick -- a recess appointee whose radical views on wealth and health redistribution were never vetted by Congress -- to dictate which religious principles hospital operators can and cannot follow.
The ACLU reiterated its call for a federal probe -- read: fishing expedition -- of Catholic hospitals nationwide that refuse to provide "emergency" contraception and abortions to women. In practice, of course, every request for abortion is an "emergency" to the left.
The Catholic Church makes clear that it is morally permissible under certain circumstances to treat directly the cause of the mother's medical condition, even if those efforts unintentionally and indirectly cost the baby's life. But Catholic health providers must never directly trade one life for another.
Civil liberties activists have a particular vendetta against devout Phoenix Catholic Bishop Thomas Olmsted, who recently revoked the Catholic status of a rogue hospital that performed several direct abortions, provided birth control pills and presided over sterilizations against the church's ethical and religious directives for health care. "It would be unfaithful to pretend the institution is still Catholic," Olmsted concluded.
"The dioceses cannot be permitted to dictate who lives and who dies in Catholic-owned hospitals," the ACLU's lawyers fumed in response.
But shall it be left to the ACLU and Obamacare bureaucrats to determine the Catholicity of a Catholic hospital?
And shall it be left to litigious secularists to sabotage the First Amendment rights of religious-based health care entities with impunity?
No. The ACLU now seeks to unilaterally rewrite a federal emergency medical treatment law passed by Congress in 1986 to mandate that all hospitals provide abortions. But for more than three decades, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, federal law has firmly established strong conscience protections for individual health care providers and hospitals who are reluctant or unwilling to "counsel, suggest, recommend, assist or in any way participate in the performance of abortions or sterilizations contrary to or consistent with" their "religious beliefs or moral convictions."
As the Washington-based Becket Fund, a public interest law firm that defends the free expression of all religious traditions, pointed out to the feds: "The ACLU has no business radically re-defining the meaning of emergency health care,' just as it has no business demanding that religious doctors and nurses violate their faith by performing a procedure they believe is tantamount to murder. Forcing religious hospitals to perform abortions not only undermines this nation's integral commitment to conscience rights, it violates the numerous federal laws that recognize and protect those rights."
According to the Catholic Health Association, Catholic health care facilities form the largest not-for-profit health service sector in the United States -- serving one out of every six patients in America and providing 15 percent of the hospital bed capacity in the country. Moreover, Catholic health care institutions employ about 540,000 full-time workers and 240,000 part-time workers.
If the abortion lobby gets its way, faithful Catholic hospitals and Catholic medical professionals who follow their consciences and adhere to canon law could see their federal funding yanked. And radical social engineers may well force the shutdown of countless Catholic hospitals at a time when Obamacare costs and consequences are already wreaking havoc on the health industry.
Fewer jobs, less access to health care, less freedom and more lives lost: Merry Christmas from the ACLU.
Liberal Paper Sued for Racial Discrimination
A major subsidiary of The Washington Post, one of America’s great liberal newspapers, has been sued for racial discrimination. Read it for yourself in the Post:
“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday sued The Washington Post Co.’s Kaplan Higher Education unit, alleging that it discriminated against black job applicants by refusing to hire people based on their credit histories.”
But it wasn’t front-page news. Instead, it was on page 14 of the print edition.
The EEOC said the liberal company “violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964…” Title VII prohibits hiring practices that have a discriminatory impact because of race and are not job-related and justified by business necessity.
What is fascinating is that various “progressive” groups are now beating up on the Post, which is pro-Obama. “How The Washington Post Helps Kaplan Rip Off Students” is the headline on www.change.org, which comments on how “Former students and staff are coming forward with horror stories from the Washington Post Company-owned school.” The scandal is an old one that has been covered extensively by Accuracy in Media. In effect, the paper’s subsidiary has been getting students deep in federal debt for courses that produce very few good jobs. Taxpayers are on the hook for the uncollected debts.
Now we find out that Kaplan has allegedly been discriminating against minorities in the process, making the scandal even more odious.
Kaplan figures in a CNBC documentary, “The College Debt Crisis,” which notes that student loan debt will surpass $1 trillion in 2012.
When Kentucky Senator-elect Rand Paul, as a candidate, questioned the reach of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Post was alarmed, noting that he had created a “controversy.” Now the paper’s sister company stands accused of violating the law.
Post columnist Eugene Robinson, a regular on MSNBC, accused Rand Paul of living in what the headline called “Libertarian La-La Land.” He suggested Paul was the Tea Party’s Madhatter. Robinson wondered if Paul believed that the federal government had the authority to outlaw racial discrimination in private businesses. He said the candidate had “loopy beliefs.”
Now that the EEOC has sued the Post, saying its subsidiary engaged in racial discrimination, will Robinson tackle the subject in print and on MSNBC? Will Robinson take on his employer?
Don’t hold your breath. Kaplan is a cash cow for the Post newspaper, meaning that it helps pay the salaries of columnists like Robinson.
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.