Friday, December 31, 2010

NC: Wrong lunchbox; honor student suspended & charged for “weapon”

A standout North Carolina high school student has been suspended for the remainder of her senior year and charged with a misdemeanor for having a small paring knife in her lunchbox.

Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford told WRAL she accidentally took her father's lunchbox to Southern Lee High School in October instead of her own when school officials searched the lunchbox, along with several other students' possessions, possibly looking for drugs.

Ashley's father, Joe Smithwick told the station the lunchbox had a paring knife inside so that he could slice up an apple that accompanied it. "It's just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple," he said.

But school officials didn't see it that way. The athlete who takes college-level courses was suspended for the remainder for the school year, banned from campus and this month was charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds, WRAL reported.

Ashley says she finds the punishment particularly alarming because she's never been in trouble before. "I don't understand why they would even begin to point the finger at me and use me as an example," she told the station.

Lee County Superintendent Jeff Moss told the Sanford Herald that he couldn't discuss the specifics of Ashley's case, but that under school policy principals can determine discipline on a case by case basis and that discipline is usually less severe if a student who accidentally carries a weapon to school reports it rather than having a teacher find it.

"When the principals conduct their investigations, what typically is fleshed out is the true intent," he told the paper. "Bottom line is: We want to ensure every child feels safe on our campus."

Despite the suspension, Ashley is completing her coursework though online courses at Central Carolina Community College but says she worries how the incident will affect her college prospects. "When you have a criminal record no school's going to look at you," she told WRAL. "I have a pretty nice talent. I'm good at playing soccer and that talent is just wasted now."


Save the children from Hooters?

NOW calls on the breast-obsessed chain to stop serving kids

The National Organization for Women is protesting Hooters. I know: Yawn. Next I'll be interrupting major sporting events with breaking news that Gloria Steinem isn't a fan of the "Girls Gone Wild" franchise. But, seriously, the argument at play here is more interesting than it at first seems. It isn't the breast-obsessed chain's existence that is being challenged, but rather the fact that Hooters serves children. Clearly, there is abundant evidence that Hooters is guilty of poor taste (see: restaurant name) -- but should the chain be forced to card customers at the door and turn away anyone younger than 18? Several California chapters of NOW have filed official complaints alleging just that.

Hooters is described in official business filings as a provider of "vicarious sexual entertainment." NOW points out that the chain has "used this designation as a way to avoid compliance with regulations against sexual discrimination in the workplace." The official employment manual warns that a waitress is, as NOW paraphrases, "employed as a sexual entertainer and as part of her employment can expect to be subjected to various sexual jokes by customers and such potential contacts as buttocks slaps." At the same time, however, Hooters is marketed as a family-friendly restaurant. It offers a kid's menu, high chairs, booster seats and all sorts of merchandise for little tykes -- like a "Life begins at Hooters" T-shirt, an "I'm a boob man" onesie and a "Your crib or mine?" bib.

We could argue over whether Hooters has a healthy impact on a kid's developing view of women and sex, but I tend to think entertainment and dining decisions should be left up to individual parents. More important, that isn't the issue at hand. In this case, NOW (which hasn't always been a model of moderate thinking) has taken the exceedingly reasonable position that Hooters shouldn't be allowed to have the best of both worlds: Either it functions exclusively as an adult venue, and continues to protect itself (somewhat) from sexual discrimination claims, or it's held to the same standards as any ol' family restaurant and gets to keep on serving the kiddies tater tots and creepy onesies.


The Destructive Nature of Envy and Why Arabs Hate Jews

Jews show Arabs up as being useless and stupid

Nancy Kobrin, PhD, Joan Lachkar, PhD

As mental health professionals and as political analysts, it is our opinion, that the on-going Arab-Israeli Conflict is powered by Envy as the root cause. Just as Chaucer said that money is the root of all evil [Chaucer was quoting the New Testament. 1 Timothy 6:10], we say in turn that envy is the root of all evil. The Palestinians held the land for a thousand years and did nothing all those years to enhance or fertilize it, keeping it as a total wasteland. The Jews came back to their homeland and in decades transformed it to a rich green fertile land of Milk and Honey.

Politicians, historians, let alone the media, have grossly overlooked or shown myopia to the destructive nature of envy. Of course we don't expect these experts and governmental officials and people in Homeland Security to understand a fundamental principle, which governs all human forces as do psychoanalysts and those in the mental health profession. We feel, though, that it is our moral responsibility and the time is right to present the primitive nature of envy as fundamental to the political state as the centerpiece and major deterrent to peace.

More and more people are beginning to understand how peace negotiations, empathy, offers of land for peace are falsely embraced and then immediately repudiated. Several times the Israelis reached out to the Palestinians and each time the effort was rebuffed or repudiated. Yasser Arafat accepted Rabin's offer with much gratitude and smiles, only later to reveal his smile was really a smirk like the cat who swallowed the canary. Lttle did we know in the next breath he would bring explosives and weapons to wage an even fiercer war against the Jews, let alone to assuage his military cohorts martyrs who feared his betrayal to their cause -- the destruction of Israel.

Throughout history the Jews have been the most successful group of people in science, music, literature, entertainment and winners of Nobel prizes. We take a pause and question why? Jews throughout history have not only been encouraged to question G-d to not live by dogma, but to study Talmud. In doing so they have been for generations questioning, analyzing, and examining. Freud's nanny would read him Bible stories every night and in the story of Joseph, Joseph is asked to analyze three dreams. Is it any wonder that Freud would develop an entire psychology based on what might have been for having read these stories (dream interpretation, the understanding of dysfunctional families, the unconscious, sibling rivalry, oedipal rivals etc.)?

But why envy? The answer is simple. More than any group, the Jews have been awarded the Nobel Prize for worldwide recognition in such fields as chemistry, engineering, science, literature, medicine, entertainment, physics, economics, and peace winners. In spite of being one of the smallest populations represented in the world population (only 2 percent), the Jews excel. Another reason may be historical but Biblically-based Jews have not only adhered to the myth of being "G-d's Chosen People," they have made it a reality. Yet we hasten to add that being chosen means observing the 613 mitzvot of the Bible – it doesn’t mean that Jews are “special,” which of course is part of the reason why many envy. Success has not come easy for them, yet they have persevered through persecution, the Holocaust and hard labor.

Much fun is made of the Jewish mother syndrome and her effort to enforce her "son's chosenness” through education, thinking, inventing, and there is some truth here. Freud once quipped in a joke about a Jewish mother running frantically along the beach screaming, "Help! Help! My son the doctor is drowning!” In many earlier contributions, this second author has written about how Jews because of the envy they evoke in others with this admiration comes sadistic attacks against them - hence the Holocaust.

Envy differs from jealousy and is considered to be the most primitive fundamental emotion. It is destructive in nature and is based on hatred and evil and its intent is to destroy that which is enviable. Jealousy, unlike envy, is based on love wherein one desires to be part of the family, the clan, the group or the nation. It is a higher form of development and does not seek to destroy.

In conclusion, as political analysts and therapists, it would be nice to offer a cure, suggestions, how to overcome this brutal and toxic syndrome, but that would be rather grandiose on our part. Our purpose is mainly to draw attention to an area that has not been given much attention by the media or those who study and unravel the mystery of terrorism and suicide bombings. Why else would an entire nation devote/dedicated themselves to destroying a tiny majority of people whom they regard with hatred and evil? For the time being, until a further explanation comes along, the answer is ENVY!


Christianity not mentioned in Australia's proposed national history curriculum

The draft national curriculum for history opened an exciting prospect. Here was a chance, I thought, to defend the honour of Christianity amid the cut and thrust of educational theory, pitting myself against the intricate arguments of those who would deny, or at least downplay, the greatness of the influence of Christianity in the unravelling of the great events of the ages.

Yet the compilers of the draft curriculum have chosen the simplest strategy of all: deliberate, pointed, tendentious and outrageous silence. In its 20 pages, the draft ancient history curriculum mentions religion twice. There is no reference to Christianity anywhere in the document.

The draft modern history curriculum is 30 pages long. Christianity is simply never mentioned, at least not explicitly. The word religion appears twice, the first occurrence in the context of Indian history, the second in the context of Asian and African decolonisation. However the precise phrase in which it is found discloses the agenda of the compilers: "The effect of racism, religion and European cultures." This, surely, is an oblique mention of Christianity and a judgment upon it at the same time.

The English philosopher Roger Scruton took the word oikophobia and gave it a new meaning. Oikophobia literally means fear of one's own home, but Scruton nicely adapted it to mean "the repudiation of inheritance and home", the contemptuous rejection of everything that one's parents and grandparents respected, fed by the vanity of a new and supposedly enlightened way of looking at the world.

The name of Christianity is particularly odious to those oikophobes for whom the hope of a multinational and God-free world stands in the place of the dream of a promised land. For such people Christianity has brought more misery than relief, more gloom than joy, more war than peace, more hatred than love.

And - let us be honest - they can produce evidence to support all those opinions. They can point to the massacres of the Crusades, the use of torture and connivance at capital punishment by the Inquisition, the ruthless eradication of the Albigensians, the Thirty Years War, apparent indifference (in some places) to slavery, the treatment of the Jews throughout European history, the fighting in Northern Ireland, the brutish behaviour of certain clergy towards children.

But against that - if they are honest - they will have to acknowledge that all the evil deeds done by men professing themselves Christian have been counterbalanced by all the good things that have been done in the name of Christ.

The systematic care of the poor, the relief of prisoners, the establishment of hospitals, schools and universities, the self-sacrificing saintliness of many clergy, active resistance to the bullying of civil authorities, the amelioration and ultimately the prohibition of slavery, and the improvement of the lot of women (yes, that too) . . . all these things have emerged within a society that has been predominantly Christian.

Even today, in the shadow land of the post-Christian era, there are many who insist on calling themselves Christians still who have abandoned the faith but maintain a firm commitment to what they rightly regard as the "Christian ethic".

Yet the draft curriculum in history avoids all of this. It is almost completely silent on the whole matter of Christianity. It chooses to ignore a worldwide religious movement that has marched with civilisation for 2000 years, infusing it with a morality that has shaped the thinking of the whole of society, including the minds of those who lost the faith but clung to the moral view. This omission is not just careless, it is staggeringly inept and profoundly dishonest.

What would an honest and inclusive curriculum look like? It would recognise the enormous influence of religion in the world since late antiquity.

Moreover, being an Australian curriculum, intended for students in Australian schools, it would not pretend to the possibly laudable but utterly impossible task of giving all the world's cultures and religions equal coverage, but will acknowledge that, like it or loathe it, Christianity has been the dominant faith and moral mentor for our nation since white settlement began, that many indigenous people have embraced it too, and that the more recent waves of settlers - including Muslims and Hindus - have scarcely been unaffected by it. It would be good to see our society honestly facing up to the implications of its own heritage, and mature enough to recognise the good alongside the bad, and wise enough to see that amid the imperfections of any human organisation there is much to take pride in.

For believers, though, the reality is that the incarnation of Christ was and is the greatest event in human history, and that this greatness is not simply a matter of degree, but it is a kind of an absolute and ultimate truth by which alone the significance of all other events must be judged.

Many unbelievers cannot but be angered by such assurance, and we should not be surprised or disappointed by a savage response to such claims.

Many of those most bitterly opposed to Christianity have perhaps sensed that we are on the ropes, utterly nonplussed by this apathy, and are determined to continue to wage that kind of war of attrition in the hope that we shall simply and finally melt away. My suspicion is that some of the framers of the curriculum are driven by such a plan, perhaps consciously, perhaps by instinct.

Many other people of goodwill, non or anti-Christian in their orientation, are willing enough to face us on the field of debate and controversy. Such people may indeed admire and respect aspects of Christianity, while rejecting all or most of its metaphysical tenets.

In many such men and women I think I can see - excuse the presumption - the characteristics of the unconverted St Augustine: all too often they bark against a faith they have not troubled (or have not been able, through the scandal of our failings and our own poor example) to understand.

Clearly it is the best interest of the Christian religion boldly and confidently to face the challenge of those who would with equal confidence contest the veracity and integrity of our claims.

To take the battle vigorously to the critic's gates, to emerge thus from the slough of indifference that now threatens to swallow us, is our best hope.



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.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jamie is right, today's spoilt children need to learn money needs to be EARNED

Yet again Jamie Oliver opens his big mockney mouth to talk about what’s good for children — only this time it’s not turkey twizzlers in his sights. He has announced plans for his own four children, saying that as soon as each reaches the age of ten, Papa will put them to work in the family business. Not in half measures, either.

‘I’m going to get them working three hours on a Saturday and a Sunday,’ he says sternly — yes, that’s three hours, each day — ‘to get them realising that you have to put in a few hours of sweat to get a couple of quid.’

Say what you will about Jamie Oliver — and there has never been a shortage of people with strong views about him — on this matter he is absolutely right. Moreover, if other parents were to follow suit, we would all be better off.

Children and young adults today are arguably less clued-up about money than any generation before them. ‘Cost’ and ‘value’ are meaningless to the average teenager, in £80 trainers that are as ugly as they’re obscenely priced, and paid for, of course, by Mum and Dad.

But there’s no point in blaming the teenager — not even for his nagging about ‘needing’ the damn shoes — when the fault clearly lies elsewhere. We are in the grip of a trend which has parents vying with each other to protect their offspring from financial realities. They’ll hock their souls, if need be, to ensure that darling kiddo never goes without.

The middle classes consider it a matter of pride that they ensure their children are recession-proof. Their homes aren’t, of course; nor are their jobs, their bills, their health and certainly not their own dreams of small luxuries. Heaven forbid, however, that the ­bubble-wrap should crack open long enough for the children to glimpse the truth of this — and heaven forgive the lengths to which some parents will go to make sure that it does not.

This week, more than any other in the year, millions will be calculating the cost of their deception. A family with two ­children, living on one average salary, will have spent a whole week’s net pay on those children’s Christmas presents.

Some 40 per cent of them will have thrown credit cards at the problem, which in real numbers translates as four million people getting into debt just to pay for Christmas. What’s more — and this is stomach-churning — we can expect three million still to be repaying the bill for this Christmas when the next one comes along.

But never mind. Even if one in five families will have trouble meeting this month’s rent or mortgage as a result, at least Jonny got his new bike. That’s what matters.

If it were only a seasonal ­madness, it would be bad enough. But with belts tightening everywhere else, the competitive ­display of indulgence to children is escalating. People on moderate incomes will have their children’s parties privately catered, the entertainment hired and the going-home bags stuffed with expensive goodies.

End-of-term gifts for favoured teachers — theoretically ‘from’ a schoolchild, but naturally paid for by the Bank of Mum and Dad — now include jewellery, cashmere and days in spas.

Holidays, toys and technology are a source of infinite parental pride — ‘only the best for my girl!’ — and it doesn’t even stop when the growing does; I recently heard a man boast about his 19-year-old son’s ‘gap year’. Not a gap year as you or I might know it, mind. He had paid for his little prince to flit from country to country, flying first class on planes and sleeping in five-star hotels, on the proud basis that ‘no son of mine’ would sleep in a hostel. He honestly believed that this proved him to be a better parent than his son’s friends’.

But what was even worse than spoiling the brat senseless was his reaction to my remark that his son would be better off working the trip; a spot of bar-­tending here, putting up a few deckchairs there. He simply wouldn’t hear of it. Nothing to do with his son’s ­dignity, either; the message was clear — menial work done by his ­children would demean him, their father.

And that, I think, doubles the problem. While parents continue to dip their hands into empty pockets so as not to deprive their children, they actually deprive them of learning the one thing they need to know about money: where it comes from.

You don’t know what money is until you’ve earned some; until you have, as Jamie Oliver bluntly puts it, ‘put in a few hours of sweat’. This is the first generation of parents which seems not to understand that. My grandmother slaved away, my mother earned all she spent, I had pocket money — but if I wanted more, I worked Saturdays, just as my daughter did, in an especially squalid supermarket.

Nobody quibbled about doing it; nor did it signify rich or poor. I have a friend made rich as ­Croesus by life as a rock star, but whose son was still made to earn his allowance, usually by offering to clean the family cars. (Though, I grant you, that ‘cars’ plural did make it very lucrative.)

It was a rite of passage worth more than just its pay packet. Young people who swap time and energy for hard cash learn the difference between flush and skint which, in turn, means their parents can stop the pretence at home. My own daughter knew the score exactly: I threw every last penny at her school fees, which meant that when much of her class spent Easter at the Pyramids, and she wanted to join them, a simple ‘no’ was understood and accepted.

Her partner, schooled in the Eighties, had the same kind of upbringing. His school’s skiing trip was so ­evidently unaffordable, he says, that he didn’t bother to ask: ‘In fact, I didn’t even take the letter home.’

A 14-year-old who has schlepped on a paper-round knows precisely what it takes to put a tenner in your pocket ... and, by extension, how many tenners must come out of that pocket for an iPhone.

And yet modern parents, far from encouraging their children to discover these real values for themselves — as Jamie Oliver plans to do — seem actively to strive against such enterprise.

You hear them making up excuses on their children’s behalf. Paper-round? Too dangerous. (It’s not.) Shop work? There isn’t any. (There is.) Sweeping up at the hair salon? Pays peanuts. (So?) Besides, Saturday is when they go to the football, shop for clothes or go clubbing....

And behind it all, that same, smug message: look at me, the perfect parent, paying for all their extra-curricular fun as well! My children, they want for nothing, I see to that.

Except, of course, they do. They want for learning, by example, that which will stand them in financial stead when their ­concerns are rather graver than a designer label in their kiddie Christmas stocking.

Jamie Oliver, as we know, could afford to buy his children all the labels under the sun. But by introducing them to the world of hard graft, he’s giving them a gift more valuable still. He’s making sure that they’ll be able to buy their own.


£3,000: the annual bill working Britons pay for Britain's lavish benefits system

Up by $200 under the Labour party governmernt

Labour's lavish benefits system has burdened working families with an average bill of £3,000 a year, figures revealed yesterday. Tory analysis of official statistics revealed that the average working family contributes an extra £200 a year towards the welfare system in real terms following changes made by Labour.

The Tories last night said the figures underlined the need to reform Britain’s bloated benefits system to reduce the pressure on taxpayers who have to fund it.

Conservative MP Gavin Barwell said: ‘The benefits bill rocketed under Labour. That’s why we will cut the ballooning welfare budget and make work pay through a radical new Universal Credit. ‘Ed Miliband and Labour’s opposition to our reforms, which will make work pay, show he is not on the side of fairness or hard-working families.’

Figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions show that the real terms cost of working age benefits, such as Incapacity Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance, rose by £3.2billion under Labour, hitting £48.2billion last year.

The increase left the 16.5million working households paying almost £200 a year extra to support those on benefits. The total cost of working age benefits is equivalent to £2,920 a year for every working household. The figures also reveal that the number of workless households increased under Labour from 3.7million to 3.9million.

Ministers are planning a range of new measures to help people on benefits to get back into work. They are also planning a £25,000 annual cap on the amount of benefits an individual household can receive. The figures do not include the cost of pensions or locally administered benefits such as housing benefit.


New German airports chief calls for passenger 'profiling'

The incoming president of the German Airports Association called in an interview Tuesday for Israeli-style profiling of passengers to expedite security lines and improve safety.

Christoph Blume, who is also the head of Germany's third busiest airport in Duesseldorf, told the daily Rheinische Post that frequent travellers with a long and clean track record could get express treatment at security checks.

"Israel for example uses a risk-based approach," said Blume, who will become president of the ADV airports association in January.
"Passengers are put into various risk groups. Safe customers on whom there is sufficient data and who regularly fly the same route are not checked as much as passengers on whom there is no or little data. "Germany should consider Israeli 'profiling'."

Israel's strict airport screening, applied for decades at the country's Ben Gurion international airport and by Israeli airlines abroad, is based in part on the ethnicity of passengers. It entails assessing the risk posed by a passenger according to his nationality, background and behaviour. Israeli security agents consider Arab or Muslim travellers as potentially high threats.

Blume, who did not speak of profiling based on factors such as race or religion, said targeted checks would be in the interest of all travellers.

But German police union GdP said such measures opened the door to discrimination without necessarily being more effective. "To assume that potential attackers only come from certain countries and have certain features could prove to be a risky mistake when someone who does not fit the profile launches an attack," union president Bernhard Witthaut said in a statement.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently proposed a similar strategy under which passengers would be screened to a degree linked to the amount known about them. The idea is to be debated among IATA members next year.

In November, British Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans to introduce tougher vetting for passengers booking from potentially hostile countries or who pay for their tickets in cash.


Los Angeles City Council condemns "Islamophobia," ignores hate crimes against groups victimized far more often

MPAC has skillfully played the victim card against the Los Angeles City Council, despite the fact that statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims are rare -- much rarer than the incidence of such crimes against other groups. "Hyperbole rules in Muslim debate," from the Los Angeles Daily News, December 26 (thanks to Pamela Geller):

WITHOUT serious debate or examination, the Los Angeles City Council recently passed a resolution that opposes "Islamophobia" and "repudiates" random acts of violence against Muslims.
This admittedly ceremonial resolution apparently accepts the premise that residents of the city commit acts of hate against Muslims so often that it warrants an official resolution from city leaders condemning and repudiating these acts. Is this really the case?

According to the latest hate crime report from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, 88 percent of all religiously based hate crimes in 2009 were against Jews. Hate crimes that targeted Muslims (3 percent) ranked slightly above those directed at Scientologists (1 percent). In fact, the commission found that attacks against Christians (8 percent) outnumbered attacks against Muslims.

In any case, the actual number of reported hate crimes based on religion is quite small. In a county that has more than 10 million highly diverse residents, only a total of 131 crimes based on religion took place in all of 2009. Of course, this in no way takes away from the emotional or physical harm that each and every one of these attacks causes.

Since only 3 percent of 131 hate crimes during 2009 was directed against Muslims, it's difficult to understand why city leaders would pass a resolution that zeroes in on the category that has the next-to-lowest numbers recorded by the County's Human Relations Commission.

It appears that the City Council simply took information provided by an advocacy group, one that's hardly unbiased, and uncritically spat out a resolution opposing "Islamophobia" and "random acts of violence against Muslim-Americans."

This begs the question: Except for some Islam-hating cretins with sub-zero levels of intelligence, exactly who is in favor of random acts of violence against Muslims?

The term "Islamophobia" has crept into popular use, drummed into our consciousness by a sensationalized Time magazine cover story, and activists who exaggerate anti-Islamic bias for the causes they espouse. The term dominated the often angry debates that swirled around the plan to build a mosque 600 feet from Ground Zero in New York. While there are extremists at both the left and right ends of the political spectrum, the issues surrounding this controversial building project are far more complex than anti-Islamic bigotry.

Factually, there is no alarming number of attacks against Muslim-Americans. According to the FBI, the largest number of recorded hate crimes against Muslim-Americans took place in 2001. That year the number dramatically escalated from only 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001 - the year that young Muslim men drove planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field outside of Shanksville, Pa., murdering 3,000 innocent Americans in the name of Islam.

Prior to the City Council resolution, the Muslim Public Affairs Council released a statement expressing skepticism about tactics used by law enforcement among Muslim-Americans. The statement referenced the recent and troubling incident where the FBI says a young Somali man in Portland, Ore., plotted to blow up a public Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The MPAC statement also mentioned a similar case in Baltimore, where the FBI says a Muslim convert planned to bomb a military recruitment center in that city.

This statement from MPAC is in effect a thinly veiled claim that government agents entrapped these wannabe-terrorists. But as we have discovered, this young man's dilemma in Portland was hardly entrapment - in fact, as we know, his father called the FBI to let them know about his son's growing jihadist views. Nonetheless, the claims from MPAC and other Islamic activists groups were taken seriously enough to cause a response from the nation's attorney general. Eric Holder gave a 20-minute speech in San Francisco at the annual dinner event of Muslim Advocates, an Islamic civil rights group....



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.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let’s make 2011 the year of free speech

We should take to task the film censors, advert-banners and political blacklisters who think they know better than us

Unfortunately, in 2010 the idea that the public needs to be protected from ‘dangerous ideas’ did not get ousted alongside the New Labour government. Instead, in the disparate spheres of politics, culture, education and advertising, words, opinions and images continue to be censured, corrected, silenced and removed from public view in the name of protecting us from harm.

The busybodies who take the liberty to decide what we, the public, are allowed to hear clearly cannot tell the difference between words and deeds, and do not understand that without the right to hear all sides of an argument or to see full versions of movies or plays, we don’t actually have genuine freedom of expression and conscience. Without access to a broad range of views and aesthetic judgements, we can’t truly work out for ourselves what is wrong or right, what is good or bad.

Here in Britain, many civil liberties campaigners were hopeful that the Lib-Con coalition government would help us reclaim the freedoms robbed by New Labour micro-managers. We heard that the database state was being rolled back, the ID cards scheme was getting slashed, and some surveillance cameras would be disassembled. Yet while some of the intrusive and unwieldy symbols of the surveillance society have certainly come to feel out-of-date and so New Labour, our new rulers continue to treat our minds as play dough to be kneaded and moulded into an ‘acceptable’ shape.

The Lib-Cons and their social psychology advisers call it ‘nudging’: it’s about gently pushing us, ‘empowering us’, to make the right choices, to think pleasant thoughts, to do good. And so anyone or anything that can potentially lead us to behave badly must be removed. We’ve gone from ‘the politics of behaviour’ to ‘the politics of the brain’.

The idea that a minority should determine for the rest of us what we are allowed to say, think or listen to now spans the political spectrum. Remember, for instance, when the Conservative home secretary Theresa May used exclusion powers for the first time? It was to disallow Mumbai-based televangelist Dr Zakir Naik from giving a series of lectures in Britain in the summer. May was very much following in the footsteps of the former Labour home secretary, Jacqui Smith, who barred from Britain hundreds of people deemed not ‘conducive to the public good’. Such bogeymen have ranged from Muslim preachers to an American ‘shock jock’, from neo-Nazis to an Israeli politician. May used the same rhetoric as Smith, helping to make Naik’s crackpot views seem somehow mysterious and dangerously persuasive when they are nothing of the sort.

Nowhere is the clampdown on extreme views felt more acutely than in universities. These institutions should ideally be offering young people a unique chance to engage in free-flowing debate, to listen to – and question – everything. Yet in 2010, academia continued its transformation into the frontline of the ‘war against terror’. With universities viewed as hotbeds of ‘radicalisation’, higher education lecturers have been co-opted into keeping students in check. And student bodies, too, have been all too willing to ‘no platform’ ideas deemed too wacky, un-PC, or too potentially harmful for public airing.

Many people have internalised the idea that they have the right to decide on behalf of others what is acceptable or what is not – and that they should be thanked for doing so. So in 2010, eight people complained that an advert showing a pregnant nun with a tub of ice-cream, beneath which it said ‘Immaculate Conception’, was in poor taste. The Advertising Standards Authority duly banned it.

For others, the expression ‘the means justify the ends’ has no bounds. Take the National Health Service smoking cessation group. It recently demanded that children should be banned from watching films like 101 Dalmatians and Lord of the Rings because they show people smoking. In this instance, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) said banning was inappropriate. Yet in other cases, the BBFC has seen fit to cut and slash movies in the name of protecting adults from supposedly harmful images. Forty-nine scenes were cut out from the political horror flick A Serbian Film, severely compromising, in the view of the filmmakers, the movie’s message. The BBFC also gave a fairly tough 15 certificate to the British film Made in Dagenham simply because it featured swearing factory workers.

All of which begs the question: who the f**k do these prudes think they are? They are little more than jumped-up, self-styled guardians of morality who think they know better than the rest of us.

Whether it’s the government sending a message about what opinions are acceptable, the Advertising Standards Authority upholding the complaints of tiny, easily offended minorities, or the BBFC determining what kind of violent scenes or foul words audiences can stomach – today censorship is repeatedly dressed up as being for our benefit. And that’s one idea we should seriously challenge in 2011.


Being Nice Hasn't Protected Sweden

The Grinch Steals Christmas. Sweden, a country that has prided itself on its good sense, openness, decency, and neutrality has suddenly encountered the unexpected: the terror war coming home to them. Fortunately, the suicide bomber who wanted to blow up Swedes doing their Christmas shopping was incompetent—and he succeeded only in blowing up himself. You can be sure that the Swedes are now revisiting their practices regarding Islamist immigrants, as have all other European countries that have been under attack.

On December 15, the Security Police in Stockholm presented a report on “violence-prone networks” in Sweden. They conclude there are perhaps 200 Jihadis in the country, about 30 of them trained in Somalia. These networks live in three of Sweden’s major cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo. Malmo has long been identified as having a social democratic City Council that is so pro-Muslim that a large part of the Jewish population has left the city.

An audio file in Swedish and Arabic was sent to the Swedish news agency ten minutes before the jihadist suicide bomber killed himself in one of two explosions in central Stockholm. The audio said: “Now the Islamic state has been created. We now exist here in Europe and in Sweden. We are a reality. Now your children, your daughters and your sisters will die as our brothers, our sisters and our children are dying.”

While we in the west protect freedom of speech, the Islamists fight it. “Insulting Islam” in print or cartoon is enough motive for murder. Will we start censoring ourselves as a result of this?

The bomber was Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly, a 29-year old citizen of Sweden whose Iraqi parents were given sanctuary from the horrors of Iraq. He was a typical young Swede—wearing bluejeans, spiked hair, and was once a disc jockey until he married a fanatical Muslim woman in Luton, England who, according to her grandmother, “turned her husband into an extremist.” She is in hiding with her three beautiful children, including the youngest, who is named Osama (to honor 9/11, it seems). Wife Mona Thwany, a Romanian, was converted to radical Islam on a trip to North Africa.

Sweden is also in the news because of its arrest warrant against anarchist publisher of other people’s mail, Julien Assange. Assange is accused of rape—and his defenders are sure that this is a frameup—showing how Sweden is the lap dog of the United States, whose diplomatic cables were stolen by an American soldier and broadcast on line to the world by WikiLeaks. Assange’s techno-terrorist organization.

WikiLeaks’ Tarnished Underbelly. has done a little investigating of WikiLeaks and has found that one of its most trusted operatives is a Swede with the pseudonym “Israel Shamir” (a.k.a. Adam Ermash or Joran Jermas). Shamir’s job is to select and distribute the stolen cables to Russian news organizations. Echo Moskvy radio in Russia has identified Shamir as the fabricator of a cable that claimed that there was collusion among those who walked out on Iran’s president Ahmadinejad’s nasty speech to the United Nations in October. Shamir calls Amhadinejad the “brave and charismatic leader” of Iran.

He refers to the Auschwitz death camp as “an internment facility attended by the Red Cross, not a place of extermination. He told a Swedish journalist that “it’s every Muslim and Christian’s duty to deny the Holocaust.”

More Suicide Attacks Planned. Iraqi authorities have obtained confessions from captured insurgents who claim al Qaeda is planning suicide attacks in the United States and Europe during the Christmas season. The Iraqis have notified Interpol about this, and note that the Swedish attack was probably part of this plot. American security officials consider these threats credible.

Even Iran is Under Attack. Suicide bombers killed at least 39 people and wounded dozens more December 15. Sunni Baluchi terrorists had targeted a procession of Shiite Muslims in a town in south-east Iran. The Iranian government accused the US of complicity—although the US has blacklisted this group, Jundallah, as terrorists. This thing is indeed global.


The attempted marginalization of Christians in the USA

It is, for many of us, the most powerful line in the most powerful carol of the Christmas season: “Long lay the world in sin and error pining ‘Til He appear’d … and the soul felt its worth.”

So reads John Sullivan Dwight’s English translation of Adolphe Adam’s beautiful French carol, O Holy Night. Singing and listening to that song this year, though, I’ve been sadly reminded what an unholy year it has been for many Americans – particularly Christians – in the courtrooms of our nation. So many crucial judgments this year seemed calculated to convince believers that they have no worth at all, in our country’s “halls of justice.”

In California, for instance – with one sweeping and breathtakingly arbitrary ruling by a federal trial court – Christians were effectively told that they have no place in the political process of the state, and that marriage as we’ve always known it, the union of one man and one woman, is now unconstitutional and irrelevant to the needs and concerns of children.

In 2009, another federal court determined that Christian law students cannot block the participation of non-Christian law students in the election of officers for a club designed for … Christian law students. Incredibly, to outlaw that kind of “prejudice” against those who don’t believe, the courts encouraged universities to institutionalize prejudice against those who do. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court concurred in that judgment. So much for the worth of souls who care about the souls of others.

Meanwhile, across the country, in New York, a federal court ruled that a Christian medical professional has no right to sue, should her hospital employers violate federal law and compel her to take part in an abortion, whatever the pretext. Even if the Christian has affirmation in writing that she will not be forced to participate in abortions. Even if helping with an abortion is a mortal sin. In other words, in a nation whose founders regarded the protection of religious freedom as the holiest duty of the law … religious freedom is now expendable, if it interferes with the business of medicine.

Is this the spirit and letter of the law now, in America?

That marriage means nothing …

… that the need to separate faith from citizenship is now so critical that Christians are to be denied any meaningful participation in the electoral process …

… that the freedom to gather with people who share one’s beliefs is forfeit to the political correctness of those beliefs in the eyes of the state …

… that the voice of one’s conscience is no longer valid for the making of life-and-death decisions …

… that religious liberty isn’t worth the paper our Constitution was written on?

That’s the way the legal winds are blowing, in our nation today. So it’s not just the winter cold sending chills along the spines and into the hearts of so many citizens and voters.

In our courtrooms, our law schools, our legal journals and our judges’ chambers – as in that little town of Bethlehem two thousand long years ago – “the hopes and fears of all the years” are met, in the increasingly dark night of America’s soul.


Federal Regulators Wage War on Christmas

It's worth noting not only that the War on Christmas has continued, but now federal regulators have joined the wrong side. Christians should get far more aggressive in fighting back, because the Constitution is on their side.

Various outlets have reported throughout December that regulators from the Federal Reserve told privately-owned banks that they can’t have Christmas displays. It’s illegal for government agents to do that.

The Federal Reserve is a public-private hybrid. In one sense, it’s a private bank with money reserves, and also serves as a clearing house for checks and wire transfers from other banks.

In another sense, it’s a government agency. It was created by Congress and its board members are appointed by the president of the United States. It determines the money supply in the economy and sets interest rates. The Fed has regulatory authority over every bank in the United States. And its regulations and orders carry the force of law.

One such order violates the U.S. Constitution. One Fed regulation, called Regulation B, disallows “words, symbols … and other forms of communication” that “suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion.” That regulation is okay in many circumstances, but not all.

A bank in Oklahoma City displayed Bible verses and had a cross on the tellers’ counter. Some bank workers also wore “Merry Christmas” buttons. Fed regulators visiting the bank said that these displays violated Regulation B, and ordered them removed. A similar situation is unfolding in Nebraska. The American Exchange Bank of Lincoln has also been told to discontinue religious displays.

This is outrageous. Government actors—as that’s what Fed regulators are whenever they give an order to a privately-owned bank—cannot order a private person (and a corporation is a “person”) or the individuals working there not to engage in religious expression. To the extent that Regulation B suggests anything to the contrary, that regulation (and any order based on it) is unconstitutional.

The Constitution is firmly on the side of these banks and private citizens. Joe Infranco is an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), one of the foremost religious-liberty organizations in America, which litigates countless cases nationwide defending religious expressions. About this bank situation involving the Fed, Infranco says, “It’s ridiculous that people have to think twice about whether it’s okay to publicly celebrate Christmas. An overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas and are opposed to any kind of censorship of it.”

It’s unfortunate that the War on Christmas hasn’t gotten much attention this year. With the understandable focus on massive deficit spending and other economic issues, such as the tax-extension deal (loaded with hundreds of billions of dollars in new deficit spending) and the defeated $1.2 trillion omnibus, there hasn’t been a big media appetite for the ongoing secularization of American society.

Yet that’s exactly what we’ve seen. Christmas parades where renamed “holiday parades” this year, despite the fact that Christmas remains a federal holiday officially recognized by this nation. And in the midst of this increasingly anti-Christian bias, we see the inexcusable action of federal regulators telling private banks and citizens that they cannot freely celebrate Christmas.

No federal order or regulation can trump the U.S. Constitution. It’s time for Christians to reengage in this fight for religious liberty. Stop playing defense. Go on offense. Make a New Year’s resolution that next Christmas will see people unapologetically celebrating the birth of Christ, and an uncompromising legal fight against any government officer who tries to stop it.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christians 'are denied human rights by our courts,' claim British bishop and top judge

An Anglican bishop and Britain’s former top judge yesterday launched an impassioned defence of the rights of Christians in an increasingly secular society. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, said judges wrongly discriminate against people of faith because they are ignorant of religious beliefs.

He said failure to support the beliefs of Christians and other religious people could drive them from their jobs and blamed the Human Rights Act for allowing them to be victimised.

The bishop was backed by ex-Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf, who said the courts had gone ‘too far’ in restricting the rights of Christians in the workplace. He said it was ‘about time the tide turned’.

The two were speaking at the end of a year in which Christian relationship counsellor Gary McFarlane lost his appeal against dismissal after he refused to give sex therapy to a homosexual couple, and nurse Shirley Chaplin lost a discrimination case after she was moved to a back office job because she wore a crucifix.

During the General Election campaign, David Cameron promised to abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, which would spell out rights and responsibilities based on British traditions. But that promise has been watered down by the Coalition agreement, which promises only to set up a commission to ‘investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights’.

Yesterday the bishop said he ‘generally welcomed’ the Human Rights Act but said it was being used without reference to religious sensibilities. He said: ‘There is growing up something of an imbalance in the legal position with regard to the freedom of Christians and people of other faiths to pursue the calling of their faith in public life, in public service. One major context is obviously the Human Rights Act.’

He condemned the treatment of Mr McFarlane, who was sacked by Relate after refusing to give sex therapy to a gay couple because it contradicted his religious beliefs. The bishop said: ‘We have had a statement from a senior judge this year that matters of Christian belief were only matters of opinion and the law couldn’t possibly take countenance of them in coming to decisions about the rights and wrongs of particular behaviour in the workplace.’

He argued it was not an option for Christians to keep their faith private. ‘Anybody who is part of the religious community believes that you don’t just hold views, you live them. Manifesting your faith is part of having it and not part of some optional bolt-on.’

He said in the McFarlane case, ‘judgment seemed to be following contemporary society, which seems to think that secularist views are statements of the obvious and religious views are notions in the mind. That is the culture in which we are living. The judges ought to be religiously literate.’ He also accused Parliament of having behaved ‘quite tyrannically’ over the treatment of Catholic adoption societies, which were told they would have to accept gay and non Christian staff.

Lord Woolf said the bishop’s complaints did have ‘a grounding in the facts’ and added: ‘I think it’s a very good thing that you voice those concerns because the tide goes in and the tide goes out in these areas and sometimes it’s about time the tide turned a bit and started to go back. We may have gone too far.

‘The law must be above any sectional interest even if it is an interest of a faith but at the same time it must be aware of the proper concerns of that faith. ‘The law should be developed in ways that, wherever practicable, it allows that faith to be preserved and protected.’


My father got to work even when the sea froze... then came 50 years of 'progress'

Peter Hitchens comments from Britain

Actually I didn’t much like the Fifties, which I remember as bleak and chilly and smelling of damp raincoats, stale tobacco, suet pudding and cabbage. Not to mention the chilblains.

It is the fate of those who don’t much like the present to be told all the time that they are yearning for some bit of the past, when they’re not. Even so, as I try not to laugh too loud at the pretensions of the supposedly advanced modern world, I cannot help being fairly sure that the past 50 years or so have not been a matter of unmixed progress.

I remember winters when the sea at the end of our road actually turned to ice, winters when the milk on the doorstep froze into a sort of dairy rocket, with the foil top perched on the solidified cream, winters when our garden was full of gigantic snowballs for weeks on end.

And as far as I can recall, my father still went off to his work each day and so did everyone else. The trains and buses continued to run, the roads and pavements were swiftly cleared of ice and snow.

In that Britain of town clerks, rural district councils, bus conductors with peaked caps station masters, the Gas Board, unreformed county boundaries, yards, feet, inches, pounds and ounces, we somehow managed to be far more efficient than we are in the days of chief executives, Metropolitan Authorities, Network Rail, centimetres and kilograms.

And I think more and more that we have mistaken newness, modernity and packaging for reality.

Yes, of course, the narrow, shabby restrained country of 50 years ago had its drawbacks. What is interesting is how many of them we have managed to retain in our frenzy of change – the deep and wasteful class divisions, the bad diet and general poor health, the neglect of the old, the grim cities – though now they are grim in a different, more modern way.

Our supposed progress, by contrast, is often a shallow matter of possessions, plastic and paint, accompanied by a shocking level of incompetence and defeatism, which afflict us when we face any sort of challenge – from foot-and-mouth disease to a few inches of snow.

At Christmas, in some strange but powerful way, the past lives in our minds as at no other time. Perhaps those of us who still remember it should recognise honestly during this moving and reflective season that in our haste for change and modernisation, we have lost at least as much as we have gained.


Follies of a feminized society

I get labeled a misogynist all the time. But I'm simply pointing out that men and women are different. Or at least they used to be.

We’ve done away with gender roles. As a culture we decided the smaller the chasm between male and female, the more evolved our society would be. But there’s a reason you have yours and we have ours. We’re different, and that’s a good thing. Why is it that the same people who beat the celebrate-differences drum when it comes to cultures refuse to acknowledge the biggest cultural difference on the planet? Men and women. I guarantee you Japanese men, German men, and black men have a hell of a lot more in common than your average dude and chick. Let’s face it. Women are better with the kids when they get a boo-boo, but when it comes time to disarm the roadside bomb, that’s where the fellas come in.

I have a theory that I think will put things into perspective. Look at society as a giant X. Women on one bottom leg, men on the other bottom leg. The date: 1950. Women cooked, cleaned, took care of the kids, and mended torn dungarees. Men provided, fixed the car, patched the roof, and warded off intruders with a baseball bat. Then the sixties arrived. Each gender moved a little higher up the leg of the X. Women stopped shaving their armpits and men grew their hair out. Women started going to work and men started taking their car to the mechanic. Now we get into the eighties. Figure we’re about halfway up the X leg before the cross. Men start applying mousse and eyeliner, women are more worried about having rock-hard abs than they are about their kids.

Now the nineties. School districts are being sued for girls’ rights to play on the boys’ football team, and being a woman trapped inside of a man’s body is as real a medical diagnosis as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In the 2000s, we officially hit the intersection of the X. Men are “metrosexuals” getting mani-pedis while their wives drive a jeep to their job as an NFL sideline reporter. If you go to a store today you can find unisex fragrances. This idea would have never worked in the fifties. Women’s perfume came in a glass slipper and smelled like baby powder and lilacs; men’s cologne came in a ship or a football and smelled like a pine cone.

I grew up in the seventies with a steady diet of “the reason girls play with dolls and boys play with trains is because of the Man’s homophobic agenda.” Bulldust! My son loves trains. All boys love trains. They can’t help it, it’s in their blood. It’s amazing that the train wasn’t invented earlier, considering that young boys have been around for millions of years. It’s heroin for them— they go berserk for it. If you put a boy alone in a room with some Thomas the Tank Engine toys and some Barbies and don’t say a word, I guarantee that he’ll go right for the trains.

What the hell were my mom and her angry hippie friends thinking? And why haven’t they apologized?


The Pope challenges the Left

Theodore Dalrymple

It is a nice question as to whether a true or a false accusation provokes more outrage in the accused. So when, a few days before the Pope’s late visit to this island, Cardinal Kasper said that arriving at Heathrow was like arriving in a Third World country, he was much excoriated by those who hate Cardinals as a matter of principle, and was immediately accused of racism, the accusation against which no defence is known.

Quite apart from the fact that the term Third World corresponds to no racial category, the all too swift resort to the accusation always puts me in mind of Lear’s remark in Act IV:

Why dost thou lash that whore?
Strip thine own back.
Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
For which thou whip’st her.

In other words, the accusation of racism is often but a smokescreen for the accuser’s own doubts.

It is obvious to all who know Heathrow that the Cardinal’s remarks about our largest airport could have been interpreted in another way than racist: that its disorganisation, its atmosphere of always being on the verge of chaos or collapse to be brought about by one more passenger, its over-crowdedness, its sheer physical messiness, brings to mind the urbanisation of the Third World. Has anyone ever heard of people choosing to fly through Heathrow when an alternative presented itself, just because they liked the experience of Terminal Three? The very idea is absurd; the question answers itself; and while the tendency or ability to muddle through might be an admirable one in some circumstances, it certainly is not in the design of airports.

In other words, Cardinal Kasper’s terrible crime was to be right, to draw attention to an unpleasant aspect of our reality from which we would rather avert our attention because we cannot face the effort, and no doubt the expense, that would be required to change it.

A great deal of the hostility to the Pope’s visit was likewise caused by his having been right, at least in some things, such as the insufficiency of consumerist materialism as a basis for a satisfactory existence. There are few human types less attractive, surely, than failed materialists, which is what the British, or at least so many of them, now are. They consume without discrimination what they have not earned: which is why many of them are so grotesquely fat as well as so deeply indebted. Indeed, there is scarcely any kind of debt or deficit to which we as a nation have not resorted in order to continue (at least for a time) on our vulgar and degraded way. A nation that behaves thus is quite without honour or self-respect, collective or individual. All this Benedict XVI has seen with a perfectly clear eye; and if what George Orwell once wrote, that we have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men, we might even call the Pope the George Orwell of our time.

Gratitude is seldom the reward of those who see an unwelcome truth more clearly than others; quite the reverse. But Benedict’s ‘crime,’ apart from being German, goes much further than his failure (or worse his refusal) to screen out the unpleasant consequences of consumerist materialism from his vision, which it is the duty of all right-thinking people. He lays down a ethical challenge to our utilitarian ways of thinking; in other words, he is a heretic to be excommunicated from the Church of Righteous Liberalism.

In pointing out some of the fallacies, oversimplifications, dangers and empirically unfortunate results of contemporary rationalist utopianism, the Pope is potentially provocative of the kind of spiritual crisis that John Stuart Mill recounts in his Autobiography. When he was twenty, Mill, who had hitherto been trained as a kind of calculating machine for the felicific calculus, asked himself a question, with (for him) devastating results:

Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be erected this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?’ And an irrepressible self-consciousness answered ‘No!’At this my heart sank within me; the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been founded in the continued pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.

In other words, Benedict XVI presents not a challenge to this or that piece of social policy, but to a whole Weltanschauung. And hell hath no fury like a questionable Weltanschauung questioned.

Here it is necessary for me to declare an interest, or rather lack of one. Just as one cannot write of the question of tobacco-control without declaring that one owns no shares in a tobacco company, so I must declare that I am not a Catholic, that I am not religious, that I am not therefore an apologist for the curia or anyone else. I am, in fact, not a systematic thinker at all, lacking the capacity or patience for it. And I disagree with the Pope on many things, but I do not therefore hate him.

The quite extravagant expressions of antagonism towards him — such, for example, as that consideration be given to arresting him for crimes against humanity — seem to me to bespeak a very odd, almost paranoid, state of mind. And while I hesitate always to use Freudian concepts, surely the idea of projection, the attribution to others of discreditable inclinations, thoughts or behaviour that one has oneself had or indulged in, is appropriate here.

As everyone knows, the Catholic Church has been embroiled in a scandal about the sexual abuse of children by priests and the religious. It is the Pope’s supposed complaisance towards and responsibility for child abuse that has led people like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins to call for his arrest for crimes against humanity, under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction for such crimes. No one would say that the church has acted always with appropriate expedition in dealing with the problem.

But the problem is not only, or even mainly, that of the church, quite the contrary. It is universally accepted that step-fathers, for example, are many times more likely to commit both physical and sexual abuse against children than biological fathers; and since step-fatherhood has now become a very much more common relationship than it once was, thanks to the social reforms of the last fifty years or so, it is likely that the great majority of child abuse that occurs in this country is committed by them. Moreover, it is a matter of common knowledge that many mothers connive at such abuse because they wish to retain the favours of the step-fathers.

It follows from this that, if the Pope should be arrested for crimes against humanity, so should the following categories:

* Divorcees with children

* Step-fathers

* Single mothers

* Feminists and all other proponents of lax marriage and easy divorce, including journalists

* All legislators who have eased divorce laws and all government ministers who have either failed to support marriage by fiscal means or have actually weakened it by those means

* All judges and other lawyers who have administered easy divorce laws instead of having refused to do so

* All social workers and social security officials who have sought advantages for or administered payments to non-widowed single parents and no doubt many others.

I hope I need not say that I am not in favour of the arrest and trial of perhaps forty per cent of the population between the ages of twenty-five and sixty, or that I expect secular social ‘liberals’ either to arrest themselves or each other, but that they should does seem to follow from the argument of at least a few of their representatives. Indeed, the very resort of some liberals to the language of arrest shows how, not very far beneath a veneer of libertarianism, lies an authoritarianism that makes Benedict XVI look very liberal indeed. They want arguments to be settled by arrest: in other words, who can arrest whom, assuming that they will always be the ones to wield the handcuffs.

As is well known, Professor Dawkins has suggested that a religious upbringing should in itself be considered a form of child abuse, because in his view it is a form of child abuse; but he then drew back from the obvious inference that such an upbringing should be illegal. Of course, there are degrees of child abuse as of every other crime; but if a religious upbringing is not so abusive as to merit legal sanction, is it properly to be called child abuse at all, given the current connotations of that expression?

Given that so intelligent a man as Professor Dawkins, and others like him, were so clearly illogical on the matter of the Pope’s visit, are we not entitled to suspect a deep emotional confusion within them: for example, one caused by a robust and unaccustomed challenge to a brittle Weltanschauung?



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.


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