Saturday, December 04, 2010
Southlake businessman told to remove donated Christmas tree from Chase branch
The annual attack on Christmas has begun
Chase Bank told a businessman to remove the Christmas tree he donated to a local branch because it could offend people.
Antonio Morales, owner of Bellagio Day Spa in Southlake, had assembled and decorated a 9-foot-tall tree in the lobby of the Chase Bank branch at 1700 E. Southlake Boulevard as a favor to the branch manager, who is one of his clients.
The tree remained in the lobby from the Monday before Thanksgiving until Tuesday. Morales said his friend called him Wednesday to tell him the tree had to go. She later showed him an e-mail from JPMorgan Chase saying that the tree had to be removed because some people were offended by it.
The bank referred questions to corporate offices. Greg Hassell, a JPMorgan Chase spokesman, said that the company's policy isn't anti-Christmas. "People wish their customers merry Christmas when it's appropriate," he said. However, to ensure that everyone who visits Chase branches feels welcome and comfortable, the bank's policy is to use only decorations supplied by the company.
"We appreciate the thoughtful gesture from Mr. Morales," Hassell said. "Unfortunately, we're unable to keep it [the tree] on display for the remainder of the holiday season."
JPMorgan Chase ensures that decorations are "something everyone is comfortable with, regardless of how they celebrate the season," Hassell said.
But others see the tree as a symbol of the season. A spokeswoman at Trinity Bank in Fort Worth said it has had a tree in its lobby since the Friday after Thanksgiving. "I've been in this business more than 30 years, and every place I've worked we've put up a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving," said Linda Robertson, assistant vice president.
Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, called Chase's decision absurd. "According to Advertising Age, 91 percent of American people celebrate Christmas," Fischer said. "That means that the single-most inoffensive thing you can do at this time of year is wish someone a merry Christmas."
Fischer said that companies that have gotten away from acknowledging Christmas claim that they do it because they want to be inclusive. "The most inclusive thing you can do is wish someone merry Christmas," he said. "This means that Chase is running the risk of offending far more people by disrespecting Christmas than they are by honoring it."
Hassell said that the Southlake branch was supplied with stickers that resemble Christmas lights. Company-supplied decorations vary at other branches, he said. "Normally they're small, not intrusive. I'm not sure this [Morales'] Christmas tree was intrusive. That's not really the issue here. It isn't a company-supplied decoration."
Hassell said the policy has been around for a few years, and that decorations change every year.
Morales said that he enjoys the Christmas season so much that he decorated 35 trees at his home. "I'm known for my Christmas trees," he said. In fact, Morales shared his talent this season with his landlord, a plastic surgeon.
"I put a tree up in his office," he said. "It doesn't offend him, and he's Jewish."
Shock Art and "Social Dignity"
The curator elites at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery were happily abusing the trust of the American taxpayer, with radical gay activists pushing a gay agenda, replete with the religiously bigoted, sadomasochistic and homoerotic fare, all under the auspices of "art." Then something happened. The public complained. Now these radicals are shocked -- shocked! -- that the "censors" are out to destroy their "artistic freedom."
It's like a bad rendition of "Groundhog Day." How many times must we relive this foolishness?
The sponsors tell us that "Hide/Seek" is "the first major exhibition to examine the influence of gay and lesbian artists in creating modern American portraiture," and how these gay and lesbian artists have made "essential contributions to both the art of portraiture and to the creation of modern American culture."
But that isn't enough. Theirs is a political message as part of a political agenda. To quote from their program, they want to strike a blow for "the struggle for justice, so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America's promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity."
"Social dignity?" I suspect those are not the first words most Americans would use to describe a video that was part of the exhibit that featured images of ants crawling over Jesus Christ on a crucifix. It is simply imperative that any "art" display by gays insult, in the deepest way possible, the sensibilities of Christians.
But apparently, this gay and lesbian "art" needs to push more, more, evermore. So we have depictions of homoeroticism, including images of male genitalia on display, pinups of naked men and paintings of two brothers, buck naked, making out. Still there must be more, so we have sadomasochistic themes, like imagery of mummified human remains and a portrait of a man devouring himself. Each has a "deep" meaning, see. Each is "art."
And you, American taxpayer, you are making it possible. Your $761 million annually to the Smithsonian, and $5.8 million annually to the National Portrait Gallery makes it possible for these gay activists to pitch their tents inside, put up their displays, call it "art," invite the world -- even children on "Family and Friends Day" on Nov. 21 -- and then scream bloody murder when someone complains.
Yes, there were complaints, with the Republican leadership in the House condemning this abuse of taxpayer funds. (The Democrats continue to be silent, no surprise.) The curators conceded there was an avalanche of complaints -- so many that they finally agreed to remove the offensive video with bugs on Jesus Christ.
Horrors! Censorship of the highest order! Stop the madness! Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik protested that in America, no religious group "gets to declare what the rest of us should see and hear and think about. Aren't those kinds of declarations just what extremist imams get up to, in countries with less freedom?"
It's mind-boggling that the same people who so quickly screech at the first sign of a religion near a government building don't get the point that it should be equally wrong to have a sign of anti-religion in a government building.
And don't they see the richest irony of them all? There is that which they find offensive -- a creche with the Baby Jesus on government property -- and that which they celebrate and defend as "art" -- a sacrilegious defamation of Jesus Christ, crucified. If it's wrong to promote the Christian religion with tax dollars, isn't it many times worse to trash the Christian religion with tax dollars?
Like the public broadcasters, the public gallery operators hunger to rise above the dreary, pedestrian tastes of those rubes in middle America who revere Jesus and aren't captivated by the "creative resistance" of the gay artistic vanguard. They demand "equality" and "inclusion" for the gay lobby, but there is no inclusion for the rest of us when it comes to what art they will declare advances the cause of "justice." Curators ought to be wise enough to know there are limits of government-funded art.
So the curator announced finally that he was pulling the video of ants walking over the crucifix. But he offered no apology. In fact, he insisted that contrary to allegations, this "art" was not "meant to offend." That's simply dishonest. Anyone with an IQ greater than that of a potato chip knows this was precisely what they intended. This to them is the Christmas spirit.
This week's false rape claim from Britain
A pregnant woman who took part in an alcohol-fuelled sex session with three men has been jailed for a year after lying to police that she had been raped. Sabrina Johnson, 25, performed sex acts on the three strangers she had met while walking home from a night out, Chelmsford Crown Court in Essex heard.
The following morning when she woke up, hung over and late for work, she told her boss that she had been dragged into a park by two strangers and forced to perform oral sex on them. Horrified workmates urged Johnson to report the attack to police, and detectives spent 311 hours investigating the alleged crime, at a cost of some £6,753.
The investigation continued until one of the men involved came forward with a voice recording that he had made on his mobile phone of Johnson consenting to the sex game.
Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC jailed the three-months pregnant supermarket worker for 12 months after she pleaded guilty to a perverting the course of justice. He said her lies had caused fear: 'This was an allegation of a terrifying nature. There was heightened public fear of rapists, an atmosphere of fear that was created wholly unnecessarily.' He added that it was only thanks to the mobile phone voice recording that the men were cleared.
He added: 'You had sexual relations with them and played some kind of sex game. One of the males, a prudent gentleman, recorded your consent on his mobile phone, including your image. But for his doing so he would have been very likely in deep trouble.'
The court heard that one of the men involved, none of whom have been named, contacted police when he saw an e-fit which resembled him. Judge Goldstaub said: 'The men had to make statements and supply their DNA to police officers, and it must have been a frightening experience, particularly for the man you identified. 'All he could say was that you had consented, but defendants often say so in rape cases, and juries are often invited not to believe them. 'The effects on the victim wrongly accused can be appalling, and might well have been in this case.'
The court heard Johnson had downed five gin and tonics, a glass of wine and Sambuca shots on a night out in her home town of Chelmsford on June 4 this year. She was walking home when she met three men in the street and they invited her for a drink in a nearby flat. The brunette played a drinking game with the men before performing oral sex on all three of them.
The court heard that the trainee assistant supermarket manager woke up the following morning with a hangover and was due to start work at the Co-op supermarket at 6am. She did not get into work until 12.45pm and told her boss it was because she had been attacked.
Prosecuting, Samantha Lawther told the court that Johnson had already received a warning from work for being late and her boss asked if she had a crime reference number. She later called the police and repeated her lies.
She told police that two men had dragged her from a cycle path into a wooded nature reserve area in Central Park, Chelmsford, and forced her to perform oral sex on them. She underwent a medical examination and specially trained officers interviewed her on video.
Johnson took officers to the park and showed them where the 'rapists' had attacked her. She claimed a group of women had walked past on a nearby path and scared off the attackers. Detectives cordoned off part of the park, put up yellow boards appealing for witnesses and publicised the bogus attack in a bid to bring witnesses forward. In the appeals Johnson was described as a 'defenceless young woman' and said to be 'badly traumatised by her ordeal'.
A team of 21 officers worked on the investigation and extra detectives and police officers were were drafted in to patrol the area in order to allay community fears.
CCTV cameras from the town were scoured for the bogus rapists. Johnson gave police detailed descriptions of the men including their clothes and helped officers create e-fits which resembled two of the innocent men. One of the men saw the e-fit and contacted police. All three men were questioned and had DNA swabs taken but they were never charged because one of them had a damning recording on his phone of Johnson consenting to the sex game.
Johnson confessed when she was confronted with her lies, the court heard. She told officers: 'Things just started getting bigger and bigger and I could not stop it. 'I realise what I have done. It's appalling, I'm ashamed of myself. I'm really sorry.'
Her solicitor, Peter Barlex, told the court in mitigation that Johnson only had a vague memory of what had happened because she had been drinking. He added that she had been badly affected by a diet which restricted her to 410 calories a day and prohibits solid food. Mr Barlex said Johnson was very sorry for lying and apologised to police and all victims of rape.
He told the court that the defendant had only contacted police at the urging of her ex-partner and workmates. He said 'It was a situation that got out of hand and she could not get out of it.'
Speaking outside court Detective Chief Inspector Mark Wheeler from Essex Police said he hoped Johnson's lies would not stop genuine victims coming forward. He added: 'Stranger rape is a very rare offence in this county. Essex Police will do everything possible to support the victims and bring the offender to justice. 'We encourage victims to contact the police and they will be interviewed by specially trained officers and dealt with sensitively.' [Will the accused men also be dealt with sensitively? There is every reason to]
The pushy parents of modern-day radicalism
Showbiz mothers who make their daughters do tapdance don’t have a patch on the middle-class parents dropping their kids off at student demos
It has become de rigueur in recent years to look down one’s nose at pushy parents. To be snobby about those mums (it’s mostly mums) who make little Olivia do 20 hours of tap a week in the hope that she’ll grow up to be a twenty-first century Ginger Rogers or at least the new Bonnie Langford.
But those parents with stars in their eyes don’t have a patch on a far more respectable breed of pushy parent: the political pushy parent, who sends their kids on anti-government demonstrations, complete with packed lunches, in the hope that they’ll grow up to be a twenty-first century Sylvia Pankhurst or at least a new Tariq Ali. These mums and dads are ‘living through their kids’ in a far more serious and sad way than the showbiz ones.
Probably the most striking thing about last week’s student demo against the Lib-Con government’s cuts and tuition fees agenda was not the protest itself – which, like all youth protests, was loud, bracing and had some good points as well as bad ones – but rather the sad-dad effect.
It was the way in which university lecturers, teachers, journalists and middle-class parents – the respectable adult world – gave a vigorous nod of approval to the demonstration, fantasising that it was some kind of genetic or educational extension of their own inner youthful radicalism. It is a shocking indictment of contemporary adult society that it is now effectively pushing forward children – what it rather patronisingly refers to as ‘the Harry Potter generation’ – to do its dirty work for it.
Like that fortysomething uncle who insists on wearing skinny jeans, or the greying dad who quotes N-Dubz (‘As Dappy wisely says…’), certain sections of adult society couldn’t resist bopping awkwardly on the sidelines of last Wednesday’s protest in central London. The results were often highly embarrassing. ‘Wow’, said one newspaper reporter, ‘the atmosphere in Trafalgar Square is fantastic’. ‘The excitement of bunking off school AND climbing public statues AND swearing in front of police is very obvious’, she continued, sounding for all the world like that drama teacher we all had – maxi-dress, ridiculous earrings, penchant for Victoria Wood – who’d say things like: ‘In my class anything goes, even rude words!’
Lots of adults were explicitly trying to recapture their own youths through their effusiveness over Wednesday’s demo. One mum, approving of her daughter Alice’s decision to bunk off school, told the Observer that it stirred ‘memories of her own radical youth’ – all those ‘Greenpeace sit-ins and Free Nelson Mandela marches’. Yet for other overexcited, presumably older adult observers, the protesters were like the ‘angelic spirits of 1968’: these youth have given us ‘pictures of revolution, the real thing, in its romantic and large-minded soixante-huitard form’, said one, no doubt teary-eyed hack. This is pure projection, with variously aged adult cheerleaders insisting ‘it’s just like the Eighties!’ or ‘it’s just like the Sixties!’.
Most embarrassing of all (certainly for any self-respecting young radical) was the open involvement of parents and other adults in facilitating and bringing to a conclusion the youthful demonstration. One newspaper says that the parents of some of the younger protesters, the 14- to 17-year-olds who bunked off school, ‘had dropped their children, by car, at the start of the demo’. These kids reportedly had ‘snack lunches and bottled water thoughtfully provided by their parents’.
When the children were kettled by the cops, their parents ‘frantically’ texted them advice and phoned both the Metropolitan Police and the BBC to complain and to get updates. One mother says a ‘very sympathetic policewoman’ on the Met’s helpline offered her ‘reassurance’. I remember when it was considered embarrassing if your mum phoned a mate’s house to check if you were okay during a sleepover. But to phone the cops to find out, in the words of one demo-approving dad, ‘when our children will be home’? That’s the death-knell of radicalism right there.
The institutions of adult society effectively gave children permission to be on the demo. Some headteachers made no effort to prevent their pupils from leaving school premises, with the head of Camden School for Girls even hinting that she admired her school’s 200 bunking protesters. For some in the teaching and university worlds, it seems, this was less a 1968-style revolution than a kind of educational field trip, an extension of those citizenship classes in which children are taught about the importance of voting and community activism. As one adult observer said, ‘many un-enfranchised schoolkids showed virtually no interest in politics’, but this demo ‘changed everything’. Maybe they’ll get that A* now.
What this adult sanctioning and glee over Wednesday’s demo really reveals is an adult world that now pushes its children to do its political work for it. Teachers, university workers and journalists, like many others, are concerned about the Lib-Cons’ cuts agenda and the future of British society more broadly. But lacking any serious ideas, bereft of an effective language in which to articulate and pursue their concerns, they hide behind groups of children instead, hoping that the young ones’ fresh-facedness, their energy, their implacable anger (at least as excitedly talked up by the adult observers), will land a political blow where their own ideas and ideals have failed.
So journalists describe the protest as a ‘children’s crusade’, a combination of innocence and anger, in an attempt to present it, and the specific anti-Lib-Con ideas that they hope are driving it, as beyond question, as an utterly un-ignorable stand against Cameron and Co. After all, who would want to challenge, far less mistreat, ‘the Harry Potter generation’, with their cute placards saying ‘Dumbledore wouldn’t stand for this shit’?
A group of academics and journalists wrote to a newspaper about the importance of protesting against the government’s ‘cuts to state support for higher education’ – but they presented themselves as ‘parents of sixth-form school students concerned at the tactics adopted by the police at the demonstration’. Here, grown-ups are trying to turn kids into ventriloquist’s dummies for their own political agendas – and trying to warn off the state and the Lib-Con political machine by effectively saying: ‘Don’t touch the kids, their protest is pure and childlike!’
At the same time there’s a large serving of self-loathing in some of the baby-boomers’ booming praise for the youthful protesters. Many of the adult observers of the current student demos are really saying that youngsters are right to kick back against us, the selfish, planet-destroying adults. The reason the youth are angry, said one commentator, is because we, ‘their parents’ generation’, have ‘handed them a global meltdown: global warming, global debt and global insecurity’.
This dynamic – where adults effectively welcome what they see as youthful punishment of the adult world for its numerous sins – captures what lies behind today’s broader anti-boomer outlook: not so much a serious or independent youthful questioning of contemporary society, as a kind of internal corrosion of adult authority itself, a collapse of commitment to old ideals like liberty and risk-taking. Another reason many of today’s adults love the look and sound of the current student protests is because, like political S&Mers, they think they deserve a good kicking.
Of course cross-generational solidarity is no bad thing. But this isn’t that. This is pretty vacant adult actors sanctioning and flattering youthful protesters for their own fairly narrow political benefit. The kids may be all right, but the adults aren’t.
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.
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