Saturday, January 22, 2011
Britain: The Christian hotelier found guilty of gay bias looks set to lose her home and asks: So who's really being persecuted?
Christian hotel owner Hazelmary Bull has certainly had her faith tested to the limit this week. Yesterday, she was planning to make a four-hour round trip to visit her desperately ill husband Peter, 71, in hospital, where he is recovering from a triple heart bypass and valve replacement surgery.
How, she fretted, was she going to tell him that they were teetering on the brink of financial ruin? That there was little hope now of hanging on to the Cornish guesthouse they’d owned for 25 years; the home they’d poured not only their life savings into, but also their heart and souls. In the end, 66-year-old Hazelmary just couldn’t bring herself to do it.
On Tuesday, Peter was undergoing a nine-hour operation at the exact moment his wife of 47 years was sitting in Bristol County Court waiting to hear their fate. In a landmark ruling, which will have far-reaching implications for many Christians in Britain, Judge Rutherford ordered the Bulls to pay civil partners Martyn Hall, 46, and Steven Preddy, 38, £1,800 each in compensation for refusing to allow the couple to stay in a double room at their hotel.
The gay couple, IT workers from Bristol, sued the Bulls for £5,000 in damages under the Equality Act (Sexuality Orientation) Regulations 2007, after they were turned away from seven-bedroom Chymorvah House, near Penzance, in September 2008.
The Bulls argued that, as devout Christians, they let their double rooms only to heterosexual married couples and that their beliefs prevented them from allowing same-sex couples to share a double bed - although gay couples could stay in single or twin rooms.
This week, however, the judge ruled that the Bulls’ actions amounted to direct discrimination, on the grounds of sexual orientation, as there was ‘no material difference between marriage and civil partnership’.
Their lives are now in turmoil. Hazelmary is adamant that she and Peter will not compromise their religious beliefs, despite the court ruling. As a result, they have two options - face prosecution again by refusing to book double rooms to gay civil partners, or close the business. And if they close the business, which is already in debt, then they can’t afford to stay in their home.
‘I don’t want to tell Peter. I want to hold back for a little while, because he’s so ill,’ says Hazelmary, whose husband suffered complications after surgery. ‘He doesn’t know because the hospital has kept him sedated for two days. ‘The uncertainty of the future would take Peter down. He doesn’t cope well with stress. ‘I feel so upset. I don’t want us to leave Chymorvah like this. It feels like we are being driven out.
‘We have put everything into it and if we lose it we’ll be left with nothing. We’ll have no money to buy a new home and who will give us a mortgage at our age?’
Chymorvah is a small, loss-making hotel, which charges £43 per person per night. Yet the Bulls did not go into this business to make a fortune, but to offer Christian hospitality. They bought the house in 1986 for £81,000 and ploughed the money they’d made from their first B&B in Cornwall into it, renovating and updating the building.
They are now incapable of paying their £2,800-a-month mortgage, and have come to an agreement with their lender to pay less, for now. But Hazelmary says that with the hotel closed since Christmas and not due to re-open until Easter - if it ever opens again - this, too, will become impossible to meet.
‘Our lenders have been very sympathetic, but there will come a time when we will either have to sell or, if that doesn’t happen in this gloomy market, lose our home,’ says Hazelmary. ‘Even if we do re-open, things will be very tricky, because we are not prepared to compromise our beliefs. I would not be able to look God in the eye if I did.’
As evangelical Christians, the Bulls insist that ‘the Bible’s teaching is clear that a man should not lie with a man and a woman should not lie with a woman’.
Is this really the victory that campaigners envisaged: two elderly people facing ruin and this week subjected to a barrage of abusive phone calls and obscene emails which are now in the hands of police? Even Peter’s hospital has been plagued with nuisance calls.
‘Peter was airlifted to hospital on New Year’s Eve when he became ill and I believe the stress of this case exacerbated his condition,’ says Hazelmary. ‘I would have been at his side during surgery, but news on Monday afternoon that the judgment was about to be delivered came out of the blue.
‘When the judgment was delivered, I was disappointed, but I can’t help feeling this isn’t over yet. There are many people in Britain, Christian or not, who are very worried about being told what to believe in their own homes. ‘This is a head-on collision between two lifestyles which are both equally protected under the human rights charter, but it seems our rights are now less equal.
‘This has never been a personal battle with Mr Hall and Mr Preddy. They were always going to feel the way they did and we were always going to feel the way we did. So is there a human rights charter out there which respects the feelings of us all? That’s what’s really on trial.’
‘I am not against leglislation which protects all members of society from discrimination. No one — not least myself — would want to see a return to the days when homosexuals were oppressed, but I believe the pendulum has swung too far the other way.
‘Christians are definitely being marginalised. There is no question about it and we have to be careful that we don’t exchange one brand of oppression for another. The human rights charter says faith is protected not just in the home but in the workplace. Well, this is my workplace.’
Left-wing bias? It's written through the BBC's very DNA, says Peter Sissons
For 20 years I was a front man at the BBC, anchoring news and current affairs programmes, so I reckon nobody is better placed than me to answer the question that nags at many of its viewers — is the BBC biased?
In my view, ‘bias’ is too blunt a word to describe the subtleties of the pervading culture. The better word is a ‘mindset’. At the core of the BBC, in its very DNA, is a way of thinking that is firmly of the Left.
By far the most popular and widely read newspapers at the BBC are The Guardian and The Independent. Producers refer to them routinely for the line to take on running stories, and for inspiration on which items to cover. In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’.
If you want to read one of the few copies of the Daily Mail that find their way into the BBC newsroom, they are difficult to track down, and you would be advised not to make too much of a show of reading them. Wrap them in brown paper or a copy of The Guardian, would be my advice.
I am in no doubt that the majority of BBC staff vote for political parties of the Left. But it’s impossible to do anything but guess at the numbers whose beliefs are on the Right or even Centre-Right. This is because the one thing guaranteed to damage your career prospects at the BBC is letting it be known that you are at odds with the prevailing and deep-rooted BBC attitude towards Life, the Universe, and Everything.
At any given time there is a BBC line on everything of importance, a line usually adopted in the light of which way its senior echelons believe the political wind is blowing. This line is rarely spelled out explicitly, but percolates subtly throughout the organisation.
Whatever the United Nations is associated with is good — it is heresy to question any of its activities. The EU is also a good thing, but not quite as good as the UN. Soaking the rich is good, despite well-founded economic arguments that the more you tax, the less you get. And Government spending is a good thing, although most BBC people prefer to call it investment, in line with New Labour’s terminology.
All green and environmental groups are very good things. Al Gore is a saint. George Bush was a bad thing, and thick into the bargain. Obama was not just the Democratic Party’s candidate for the White House, he was the BBC’s. Blair was good, Brown bad, but the BBC has now lost interest in both.
Trade unions are mostly good things, especially when they are fighting BBC managers. Quangos are also mostly good, and the reports they produce are usually handled uncritically. The Royal Family is a bore. Islam must not be offended at any price, although Christians are fair game because they do nothing about it if they are offended.
The increasing tendency for the BBC to interview its own reporters on air exacerbates this mindset. Instead of concentrating on interviewing the leading players in a story or spreading the net wide for a range of views, these days the BBC frequently chooses to use the time getting the thoughts of its own correspondents. It is a format intended to help clarify the facts, but which often invites the expression of opinion. When that happens, instead of hearing both sides of a story, the audience at home gets what is, in effect, the BBC’s view presented as fact.
And, inside the organisation, you challenge that collective view at your peril. In today’s BBC only those whose antennae are fully attuned to the corporation’s cultural mindset — or keep quiet about their true feelings — are going to make progress.
Moreover, making progress these days doesn’t mean just achieving the influence and prestige of a senior job with the world’s greatest broadcaster, once considered reward enough. For those breaking through into the senior ranks, there’s now big, big money and a gold-plated pension to be had
Which is why, although there has been plenty of grumbling on the shop floor about the escalation of pay for top BBC managers in recent years, it’s muted. No one wants to wreck his or her chances of a well-paid place in the promised land. The newsroom has many talented journalists of middle rank, who know what’s wrong with the organisation, but who don’t rock the boat for fear of blowing their futures.
Not that talent alone is enough to get on at the BBC. The key to understanding its internal promotions system is that, for every person whose career is advanced on ability, two are promoted because it solves a problem for management.
If Human Resources — or Personnel, as it used to be known — advise that it’s time a woman or someone from an ethnic minority (or a combination of the two) was appointed to the job for which you, a white male, have applied, then that’s who gets it.
But whatever your talent, sex or ethnicity, there’s one sure-fire way at a BBC promotions board to ensure you don’t get the job, indeed to bring your career to a grinding halt. And that’s if, when asked which post-war politician you most admire, you reply: ‘Margaret Thatcher’.
Much more HERE
Obama Should Embrace Race and Gender Neutral Initiatives that Outlaw Government Sanctioned Discrimination
By an overwhelming margin, Arizona voters approved a ballot initiative in November that explicitly forbids government agencies from discriminating on the basis of race, sex and ethnicity. Despite the best efforts of far-left pressure groups to mislead the electorate and intimidate supporters, Proposition 107, also known as the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative (ACRI), prevailed with 60 percent of the vote.
As Americans celebrated and recognized Martin Luther King Jr. for his commitment to equality and the ideals of the founding period on January 17th, now would be the opportune moment for President Obama to express support for ACRI and other race neutral initiatives that enjoy broad support. ACRI is part of a larger national effort that began with Proposition 209 in California back in 1996.
In December, a federal judge rejected legal challenges to the law, which also passed by a substantial margin. Ward Connerly, a former University of California regent, who is now president of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), has been the galvanizing force behind the civil rights measures. Thus far, the initiatives have prevailed in Washington State, Michigan and Nebraska.
The Arizona law amends the state constitution to read as follows: “This state shall not grant preferential treatment to or discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.”
Unfortunately, President Obama’s administration continues to advance race and gender preferences as a matter of policy. Although he campaigned as a racial healer, open to a socio-economic form of affirmative action that would not exclude white Americans, Obama has thus far failed to follow through on public policy measures that would advance King’s vision; quite the opposite in fact. He also on record as opposing Connerly’s initiatives.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a scholar with the Hudson Institute, has identified some of the key provisions that open the way to preferential policies.
Government agencies and private contractors must now incorporate racial and gender preferences into their employment practices under Section 324 of the Dodd-Frank finance bill. This key provision calls for the creation of at least 20 new Offices of Minority and Women inclusion. The healthcare bill also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award preferences to those with “underrepresented backgrounds.”
“Section 324’s provisions are broad and vague and are certain to increase inefficiency in federal agencies,” Furchtgott-Roth has said. “To comply, federal agencies are likely to find it easier to employ and contract with less-qualified women and minorities, merely in order to avoid regulatory trouble. This would in turn decrease the agencies’ efficiency, productivity and output, while increasing their costs.”
There is no escaping the conflict between the discriminatory language folded away into the legislation and the Obama Administration’s rhetorical opposition to racial profiling. In a joint White House news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon last May, Obama characterized Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, SB 1070, as a “misdirected expression of frustration” that would subject law abiding individuals to unfair racially motivated scrutiny.
But it would seem that Obama Administration officials must now “profile” on the basis of race and ethnicity to enforce the new legislation. By contrast, the same Arizona state lawmakers, who have been on the receiving end of White House criticism, successfully advanced a constitutional amendment that explicitly bans government sanctioned discrimination.
Obama should carefully consider the remarks of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who has argued against the use of set asides and preferences in his written remarks. Discriminatory practices cannot be resolved by transferring them from one group to another, he has observed. The answer, instead, is to constrain the government from pursuing policies that violate the principle of equality.
With state lawmakers in Utah now giving consideration to their own ballot initiative, Obama should reverse course and reaffirm the colorblind policies Dr. King enunciated so forcefully.
Black Man's Burden: Those Who Make Them Victims
"Black man's burden," read the headline in the Los Angeles Times piece. "African-American men," read the subheading, "are still often judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character."
It must be MLK Day. This is when the guilt-ridden, blame-seeking, personal-responsibility-avoiding, racism-under-every-rock, oh-so-sympathetic, victicrat media tell us about Martin Luther King's "unfinished" legacy. Never mind that America, two years ago, elected a black president.
"Racism is like that," Judy Belk wrote. "A dripping faucet of sorts. You ignore it until you can't anymore." As proof of today's "dripping faucet" of "racism," Belk gives three examples.
First, she warned her son, then 13, to be wary of "strange-acting folks" when riding on Oakland's BART rapid transit system. Her son, however, told her that riders assumed him to be in the category of "strange-acting folks." "I just noticed," he said, "the last couple of times I was on BART, I could feel I was making several white women nervous when I sat near them. ... I could just tell." Her son, says Belk, was being ... stereotyped! Racism!
News bulletin: The crimes committed by a minority of young blacks affect how others -- of all races -- view the majority of law-abiding young blacks. And Oakland is one of America's most crime-ridden cities, with a disproportionately large amount of the crime committed by young black men. And though a lot of crime is same-race crime, when it is black-white interracial, by an overwhelming margin the perps are black and the victims are white.
By their early 30s, 3.2 percent of white males have been imprisoned, while 22.4 percent of black males -- nearly 1 in 4 -- have spent time behind bars. Yes, people find young black men, especially if they look and dress like Coolio, scarier than old white men who look and dress like Bob Newhart. Weird.
Jesse Jackson once told an interviewer that when hearing footsteps behind him while walking down a street at night, he is relieved if he turns to see the sound is coming from white feet.
Michelle Obama, when asked whether she worried about the safety of her then-presidential candidate husband, said, "I don't lose sleep over it, because the realities are that, you know, as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station." She probably didn't mean a gas station in Beverly Hills.
Second, Belk said that her 6-foot-5-inch son, then 16, "stormed into the house complaining to no one in particular: 'Why does everyone assume that just because I'm black, I play basketball? That's just plain racist.'" Sure, while his height was "undoubtedly part of the equation, it wasn't all of it (emphasis added)." What's the rest of "the equation"? That a lot of black men who are tall don't play basketball -- and it's "racist" to assume that they do? Oh, where have you gone, Rosa Parks?!
Third, Belk's son, then starting graduate studies at the University of North Carolina, and her husband were victims of "racial profiling" on a road considered "treacherous territory for black men": "The night he and my husband arrived in town to move him into his new apartment, they were stopped on the interstate by the police, allegedly for not moving to the outer lane when passing a police car that had stopped another driver. ... Like it or not, racial profiling still plays into many law enforcement decisions." Racism, case closed!!!
Police departments in many major cities have long required cops to write down the race of those stopped, as well as the race of the cop doing the stopping. In some cases, cops do indeed stop a "disproportionate" number of black motorists -- compared with their percentage of actual drivers. Does this show illegal "racial profiling," as opposed to cops focusing on high-crime areas or cops responding to the very behavior of the drivers stopped?
New Jersey state troopers, during the late '90s, were accused of illegally profiling black drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike. At the request of the U.S. Justice Department, the state commissioned an independent study to find out why troopers stopped so many black motorists. It turned out that black drivers drove faster than white drivers -- and the faster the speed the more likely the driver was black. The Justice Department, citing "flawed methodology," refused to accept the study. New Jersey commissioned a second study. Same result.
More to the point, Belk writes, "My husband told me he was glad to have been there to model ... how to behave during a police stop, something every black man needs to be prepared to handle." Exactly. Behave appropriately and so will the cops, the occasional bad apple aside.
Belk is right. There are certain things every young black person "needs to be prepared to handle." And one of them is this: learning to reject newspaper articles, relatives, friends, teachers and the media that are determined to convince them that they remain forever victims. Now, more than ever, hard work, drive and focus win the race.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.