Friday, February 18, 2011
British cops get it right for once
Whining burglar locked up after HE dialled 999 to complain he had been shot with air rifle after breaking into family home
A judge has backed a teenager for dispensing ‘summary justice’ by shooting a burglar with an air rifle. Gary Holmes, 19, said he fired twice in self-defence when intruder Lewis Patterson, 20, went for him with an iron bar. Lawyers agreed that Mr Holmes, who feared for the safety of his girlfriend and her two-month-old baby, had acted within the law to protect himself.
Astonishingly, Patterson himself called the police to claim he was the victim. But he pleaded guilty at Hull Crown Court to burglary and was sent to a young offenders’ institution for 18 months.
Judge Michael Mettyear said: ‘This was quite outrageous conduct. It must have been very worrying and distressing for your victim. It’s true to say he got some summary justice but nevertheless it is something that will live with him for a very long time.’
Mr Holmes, a factory worker, was at his mother’s house in Hull when he heard his dog barking at around 9.30pm last October. He looked out of his bedroom window and saw Patterson in the back garden. Mr Holmes said: ‘He was swaying like he was drunk. I knew something was going to happen. He was not normal.’
Mr Holmes grabbed an air rifle he used for shooting rabbits on a farm and ran downstairs. ‘On the way I picked up three pellets and put two of them in the gun,’ he said.
He found Patterson in his mother’s living room. He was attempting to steal his £1,250 motorcycle, which he stored there for safe-keeping. ‘I told him to get out, not very politely,’ Mr Holmes said. ‘He just looked straight back at me. I put the rifle up to him and he stepped out on to the patio. ‘I know a bit about firearms and the law, so I warned him. I showed him the rifle and he came back into the house again.
‘That was when he raised the iron bar he was carrying. So I raised the gun back up. Then I shouted again: “Get out.” He just stared at me. ‘He kept coming at me with the bar so I shot him. He then started to come towards me again and threw a brick at me. I shot him again. If I had let him hit me, I could have been in hospital or dead.’ Mr Holmes added: ‘At the time I was in shock. Thinking back, it was just a reaction. I don’t just shoot people.’
Patterson fled on a bicycle but then contacted police to report being shot. He claimed he was hit as he walked past the property, but was exposed as a liar. He was not seriously injured.
Mr Holmes said he acted on instinct and didn’t have time to think about the consequences. He praised the police for how they handled the investigation, although he was initially concerned about being charged himself.
‘I never expected to have to shoot a person,’ Mr Holmes said. ‘The first officers who came seemed quite surprised when I said I had shot him. I don’t think they knew what to think. They seemed a bit confused about who they were going to be charging, so they sent officers from CID to take a statement the next day. ‘They said, because he had threatened me, that I should be fine.’
Local councillor Nadine Fudge said of Patterson: ‘Criminals know that they can get away with so much these days and that’s why he called the police.’
Chief Superintendent Rick Proctor, Divisional Commander for Hull, said: ‘Common law states that anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime. ‘We would always encourage the public to do what is reasonable to prevent and detect crime, but obviously not put themselves or others at serious risk of harm by doing so.’
A Tale of Two Bad Laws
‘Obamacare’ collides with Ohio’s regulation of the truth.
No person, during the course of any campaign…shall…make a false statement concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official —An Ohio law
The subject of abortion roiled Washington last week, as it has frequently done during the 38 years since the Supreme Court, by nationalizing the issue, made it the cause of a deep fissure in American politics. Last week’s interest in abortion could have been, but was not, because of the simultaneously heartening and (one hopes) unsettling report about stunning success in treating severe forms of spina bifida in utero. If babies can be surgery patients 19 weeks after conception, are they not babies rather than mere “fetal material” whose “termination” is a matter of moral indifference?
And last week’s interest in abortion could have been, but was not, because of recent stomach-turning (one hopes) reports about the routine butchery of babies at a Philadelphia abortion mill. There, according to the district attorney’s office, late-term abortions often produced living, viable babies who were then killed by “snipping”—using scissors to cut their spinal cords.
Instead, last week’s congressional interest in abortion was part of the aftershocks from last year’s enactment of the health-care law, an event that is having odd reverberations in Ohio’s First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati. There, last November, Steve Driehaus, a freshman Democrat, lost his bid for a second term by 11,098 out of 201,518 votes cast.
Driehaus, a Catholic opposed to abortion rights, believes that he might have lost because of what he sincerely believes were false statements in broadcasts by the Susan B. Anthony List. The statements were that in voting for the health-care legislation he voted “for taxpayer funding of abortion.” Driehaus insists that “many organizations” supported the legislation “because” he and others secured language in it, and in an executive order issued by the president, that precludes federal funding for abortions.
SBA List, a pro-life political-action committee named in honor of the suffragette who called abortion “child murder,” believes with equal sincerity that its statements about Driehaus’s voting record were accurate. It says, accurately, that “every major pro-life group in the country agrees” that the health-care law allows taxpayer funding of abortion. The Conference of Catholic Bishops, which strongly favors reforms to broaden access to health care, nevertheless opposed the final bill because it thinks the law permits taxpayer funding of elective abortions, in contravention of federal policy since 1976.
That organization’s analysis (which can be read at USCCB.org/healthcare) stresses, among other things, the role of federal funds in subsidizing the purchase of health-care plans that include coverage of elective abortions. The National Right to Life Committee’s 23-page affidavit, arguing that the law contains “multiple provisions that do in fact authorize (i.e., create legal authority for) federal funding of elective abortion” can be read at nrlc.org/AHC/DvSBA.
The arguments of the pro-life groups are convincing, but the law’s pertinent provisions are so complex that Driehaus’s good faith should not be questioned. The law was cobbled together in haste. Many provisions are unclear because they were written to mollify one faction without angering another. Opacity was indubitably necessary for the dubious project of producing a congressional majority for legislation opposed by a large majority of Americans.
And then there is Ohio’s misbegotten “false statement” law, which is an invitation to mischief as a campaign tactic. Shortly before the election, when Driehaus learned that SBA List was planning to make its accusations against him on billboards, he got the law’s enforcement agency, the Ohio Elections Commission, to find probable cause for questioning SBA List’s assertion. The billboard company decided not to proceed when Driehaus threatened to sue it. Now Driehaus is suing SBA List for defamation.
This episode teaches two lessons. First, legislation that must be ambiguous and misleading, even to supporters, in order to be passed should not be passed. Second, no good can come of a law that makes government the arbiter of the truth of political speech.
Retire the racial bean-counters
Jeff Jacoby channels Dr. King
THE CENSUS BUREAU has begun rolling out state-by-state demographic data distilled from the 2010 Census. They include statistics on race and Hispanic origin that can be broken down with meticulous geographic precision. If you want to know how many African Americans live in Arkansas's Benton School District (1,302), or whether Maryland's white population has gone up or down since 2000 (down 0.9 percent), or which Vermont county has the most Hispanics (Chittenden, with 2,586), the Census Bureau can tell you. Spend a while with the census search engine, and you could be forgiven for thinking that the nation's racial composition has never been defined with such pinpoint accuracy.
Americans with parents of more than one race are one of the the fastest-growing demographic groups in the US.
In fact, the nation's racial composition has never been defined with less accuracy, and the margin of error is widening. Why? Because of the growing number of Americans like Michelle López-Mullins, who render the government's racial categories meaningless or obsolete. The University of Maryland student was introduced last week in a New York Times story that illustrates the difficulties faced by the bean-counters in an increasingly post-racial society:
"The federal Department of Education would categorize Michelle López-Mullins -- a university student who is of Peruvian, Chinese, Irish, Shawnee, and Cherokee descent -- as 'Hispanic,'" Susan Saulny's story began. "But the National Center for Health Statistics, the government agency that tracks data on births and deaths, would pronounce her 'Asian' and 'Hispanic.' And what does Ms. López-Mullins's birth certificate from the State of Maryland say? It doesn't mention her race.
"Ms. López-Mullins, 20, usually marks 'other' on surveys these days. But when she filled out a census form last year, she chose Asian, Hispanic, Native American, and white."
Though most Americans may still think of themselves as belonging to a single race, the multiracial population is surging. Racial boundaries are more permeable and easier to ignore than they have ever been before.
Today, one in seven new marriages -- 14.6 percent -- unites spouses of different races, according to the Pew Research Center. The interracial marriage rate has doubled since 1980, and is six times what it was in 1960. For some combinations, the rate of increase has been even more rapid. When Barack Obama was born in 1961, less than one new marriage in 1,000 was, like his parents', that of a black person and a white person. "By 1980, that share had risen to about one in 150 new marriages," Pew notes. "By 2008, it had risen to one in 60."
Although Obama identified himself simply as "black" in the census enumeration last year, a swelling cohort of younger Americans refuses to be so easily pigeonholed. The Census Bureau currently recognizes 63 possible racial labels, but that taxonomy is as limited and artificial as the one in an earlier age that sorted Americans into the categories of "white," "Japanese," "Chinese," "Negroes," "mulattoes," "quadroons," "octoroons," and "civilized Indians."
By what logic, for example, did the 2010 questionnaire classify Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese as separate races, yet lump Scandinavians, Arabs, and Slavs together as "white"? With so many millions of Americans dating, marrying, and loving across the color line, and with the population of blended Americans exploding, isn't it clearer than ever that the pressure to keep sorting ourselves into races that have no objective genetic meaning anyway is incoherent and counterproductive?
Yet instead of shutting down the racial bean-counters, the government is giving them new powers. The Times reports that new Department of Education rules require any student who acknowledges any Hispanic ethnicity at all to be reported solely as "Hispanic" in federal filings. That doesn't sit well with López-Mullins, whose Peruvian-Chinese-Irish-Shawnee-Cherokee family tree is considerably more diverse and interesting than the word "Hispanic" alone can possibly convey.
To be sure, some lobbies and grievance groups profit handsomely from aggravating racial distinctions. But most Americans have moved beyond the color-consciousness of generations past, and it's time federal agencies did too. Congress ought to instruct the Census Bureau to stop counting Americans by race, and to mark the occasion by installing at its headquarters a great monument bearing these words, which Thurgood Marshall wrote for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1950 Supreme Court case of McLaurin v. Oklahoma:
"Racial criteria are irrational, irrelevant, [and] odious to our way of life."
Vilifying the mainstream Australian population was a dumb idea
A surprisingly realistic article below from a writer for Australia's public broadcaster. Chris Uhlmann is political editor for the ABC news channel, ABC News 24. He makes the point that sanctimonious Leftist preaching and contempt for Australia has generated a backlash among young Australians against all that, a backlash that is now in full swing.
But persuading people was probably not the highest priority of the the Left. Most of all, they needed to vent their spleen. That they have ignited nationalism where there was virtually none before is however an amusing demonstration of how hate can be self-defeating
Each Australia Day acres of newsprint is devoted to worrying about the apparent rising tide of aggressive nationalism.
Young Australians have embraced January 26 in a way their parents never did. Flags fly from cars, men and women sport Southern Cross tattoos and gather to party in public places.
There is an ugly side to this, a few are using national symbols to exclude other Australians and that is unpardonable. But maybe we should try harder to understand where this assertive nationalism comes from.
Let's imagine for a moment that there might be an explanation for this phenomenon beyond the reflexive chant of "racism". Perhaps these young Australians were schooled in a society that venerated multiculturalism and they understood it to mean they lived in a nation of tribes: "Italian-Australian", "Vietnamese-Australian" and so on. The hyphenated Australians had clearly defined identities, symbols and even national dress and foods that made them distinct. That difference was celebrated as the essence of what made Australia good.
And the perceived threat to a multicultural society, endlessly explored, was the assumed intractable racism of the host population. So government reports were commissioned which proved the desperate need for racial vilification laws.
If you listened to the rhetoric of some of the champions of multiculturalism in the 1970s and '80s, it was also routine to hear that pre-war Australia was a deeply racist backwater where the food was awful and the people dull. One common mantra then was that it "didn't have a culture". Only after the immigration boom did the country get some and get interesting.
Where did that leave the sons and daughters of the pre-Second World War immigrants? What was the place of the currency lads and lasses?
Is it possible they grew tired of the grim assessment of their past and went in search of a more appealing narrative? Is it surprising that some should seek their own identity, find their own symbols, write their own mythology and define their sacred places?
Tony Wright noted in his book "Turn Right at Istanbul" that growing numbers of young Australians were making pilgrimages to Gallipoli. Many of the ones he met were there searching for a connection to a story they could call their own. This was an utterly spontaneous movement and completely at odds with routine predictions of the demise of Anzac Day that began to surface in the 1960s and '70s.
I vividly remember a university lecturer mocking Gallipoli as "mythology" and I wondered what was wrong with a nation-building myth. No right-thinking person in the multicultural '80s would think of deriding the tapestry of mythologies that binds other cultures.
Yet looking back in anger at every aspect of settlement since 1788 was such a common feature of the '80s and early '90s that it paved the way for the history wars.
In the decades multiculturalism enjoyed bi-partisan support and it was that rarest of public policies, it was perfect. Any attempt to question it or the enormous lobby it spawned was shouted down as racist.
Multiculturalism fell from favour during the Howard years, but the word was never removed from the immigration portfolio. By late 2006, the Labor Party was falling out of love with the idea too. It introduced two new words to the shadow immigration portfolio "integration and citizenship" and flicked multiculturalism into a junior portfolio.
The then shadow minister Tony Burke's explanation for the change was "Integration is how you make a multicultural society work". It sounds perfectly reasonable but it is not a construction that would have passed muster in the mid-80s or early '90s. Then words like "integration" and "social cohesion" were lumped with the anathema that was "assimilation".
Multiculturalism was dumped from the Immigration Department's name when Labor took power in 2007 and it was not included in any of Labor's portfolios under either Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard.
Now it's being redeemed.
In a speech at the Sydney Institute the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen set out to resuscitate multiculturalism and to cast Australia's brand as unique. He sees it as very different from the experiment in Germany and Britain, where it is widely viewed as a divisive. Chancellor Angela Merkel says it has "utterly failed" and British prime minister David Cameron agrees.
Mr Bowen's opening gambit was that "our multiculturalism is underpinned by respect for traditional Australian values".
He pointed to a speech by former prime minister Paul Keating who said "the first loyalty of all Australians must be to Australia, that they must accept the basic principles of Australian society. These include the Constitution and the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, freedom of speech and religion, English as a national language, equality of the sexes and tolerance".
I'm sure that Mr Bowen would disagree, but, in practise, that was not the way multiculturalism was packaged here in the 1980s and 1990s. Then suggesting that there was any such thing as "Australian values" was an invitation to be abused by the multicultural industry. I know because I did and I was.
The dull, pre-war Australians, the ones who apparently got by without a culture, built those values. And despite Mr Keating's fine words the real failing of the last incarnation of multiculturalism was its acolytes almost never gave the host population any credit for creating the kind of society that could absorb mass immigration, largely without violence. That is an extraordinary achievement and one to be celebrated. But it rarely was. All too often the impression was that multiculturalism prospered in spite of the pre-war population, not because of it.
By 1996 so entrenched was the feeling that Labor had lost touch with its own people that the Coalition could win a landslide election victory by promising to govern "For All of Us".
So why is Labor re-birthing multiculturalism now? No doubt Mr Bowen believes it is the best policy for continuing to build a cohesive immigration-based nation.
But it is also a political strategy to help dig Labor out of the its border protection mess. It needs to shore up its left flank while it continues to run a hard line on boat people to neutralise the attack from the right.
Above all, it needs to head off any attempt by the Coalition to use shared values as a weapon in the immigration debate, because there is a deeply divisive issue simmering in the sub-plot of the immigration brawl.
What Ms Merkel and Mr Cameron were talking about when they dubbed multiculturalism a failure was a concern that Muslim immigrants in their countries are not integrating. Mr Cameron said that it was time to assert a "more active, muscular liberalism" where equal rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and democracy are actively promoted to create a stronger national identity.
In short, when faced with a powerful set of alternative beliefs real border protection begins with clearly defining and defending your bedrock beliefs. No nation that doesn't do that can stand.
Here the problem is nowhere near as acute as it is in Europe. But that doesn't matter, what matters is perceptions. Both major parties know that the concerns expressed by Ms Merkel and Mr Cameron are shared by large parts the Australian community. It lies at the heart of the visceral reaction some people have to boat people. And the feeling is not confined to one ethnic group.
Until now this debate has been played out in code. But the game has just changed.
Now the Prime Minister is demanding that Opposition leader Tony Abbott distance himself from comments attributed to his immigration Scott Morrison that the Coalition go on the attack over Muslim immigration. Mr Morrison denies he made the comments in shadow cabinet. Tony Abbott has publicly recommitted the Coalition to a non-discriminatory immigration policy.
This is very dangerous water for both major parties and both would be well advised to tread carefully.
If Labor is to make a fist of its reunion with multiculturalism it must ensure that, this time, at its core, the policy loudly proclaims that that there are some bedrock principles that all Australians must share.
Alas, setting out to rebrand multiculturalism with yet another anti-racism strategy at its heart leads you to believe that Labor has learned little from the past. Once again the key message seems to be that the main problem with social cohesion is the insatiable racism of the host population. This dangerously misreads the public mood. There is an appetite for some muscular liberalism.
The problem with the Coalition is it seems to have yet to work out how it goes about governing for all of us.
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.