Monday, April 25, 2011

Please Don’t Hit The Pinata! More Nanny-State Madness‏

Since hitting the pinata is originally a Mexican custom, it's a wonder the hysteric below has not been accused of "racism"

Prepare to have your jaw drop. Folks in the nanny-state are busy selling yet another concept that will push the next generation closer to becoming a mass of uninspired robots who are not allowed to learn about competition or even the concept of competitive fun.
The target du jour for those who would crush all individualism? Piñatas.

The anti-pinata folks have a problem with piñatas because people are encouraged to hit them.

That was not a typo, there are people on this planet who believe that hitting pinatas will harm the youth of America. If you think I am kidding, read the title of an article posted on‘s ’associated content’ section.


The author is Vanessa Bartlemus, a woman with degrees in Journalism and Psychology who is also the mother of a 2-yr-old daughter. Ms. Bartlemus’ column makes the anti-pinata argument stating:

"Piñatas are not a good idea for your child’s party. Children should never hit anything with a stick. Even worse, kids can get piñatas in their favorite character too. Doesn’t anyone slightly cringe at the thought of their child whacking Dora the Explorer or Elmo around with a baseball bat? What is that doing for a child’s character? Getting a flower or car piñata is only slightly less worse."

(I know plenty of parents who have nightly fantasies about whacking both Dora and Elmo piñatas. But I digress, back to the anti-piñata argument.)

The article continues:

"People carefully teach their children, from the first time they playfully hit as a baby, that hitting is wrong. They don‘t allow hitting in their family and they don’t spank. But then children are allowed to hit piñatas to the breaking point. Then they get candy; they are rewarded for violent behavior!"

Yes, yes, yes, breaking open a fake donkey or elephant or a fake star, filled with delicious treats is part of a GAME. It is fun and not part of a training program for future abusers. Anyone who has watched kids trying to break open a piñata probably remembers the laughter and fun, ending with a shower of candy.

Ms. Bartlemus does offer a suggestion to replace the typical piñata party game. She wants everyone to use a non-hitting piñata. The violence-free version has a string hanging from it. One child is chosen to pull the string and out comes the candy. No blindfolds, no spinning the child around and no more handing them a stick or a bat to watch them swing and miss.

And, in the overly-protected piñata world of Vanessa Bartlemus, there is also ‘social candy justice.’ She also advocates making certain that the candies are divided equally among all participants.

In other words, NO FUN. Hey kids, gather ’round, we’re about to pull a string and then equally distribute all of the goodies inside to each and every one of you! Frankly I was surprised that the article did not advocate for veggie-filled, string-pull pinatas.

To be fair, there are piñatas with questionable images on them. In researching this story I did find a site called piñ that sells virtually every kind of piñata you might imagine, including a few that would raise some eyebrows.

The people at piñ have also licensed characters from Disney and Nickelodeon. Does anyone believe that the marketing geniuses at both of these multi-billion dollar companies would allow piñatas bearing images of their bread and butter characters to be made and sold if they were causing harm to little ones?

Earlier this week, Jon Seidl reported on NY state’s attempt to micro-manage the games played at day camps. Thankfully, a media storm of criticism and attention seems to have brought some common sense to that situation.

Should the anti-piñata lobby gain any more strength, let us hope the media will again step up and fight for sanity. Banning the whacking of papier mâché figures with bats in order to gain access to tasty treats is just one more step towards building a next generation of emotional walking time-bombs, filled with pent-up rage from years of being told that any expression of anger is bad.


Lord Patten attacks 'intolerant' secularists

The new chairman of the BBC has waded into the growing row over secularism by warning that atheists are "intolerant" of religion.

Lord Patten of Barnes, the former Cabinet minister and a practising Catholic, said that he felt he was regarded as "peculiar" over his faith.

His comments come amid a deepening battle over the freedom of religious belief, which last week saw a Christian electrician threatened with the sack for displaying a cross in his van.

Lord Patten, a Conservative peer who will take control of the BBC Trust next month, is the highest-profile political figure to enter the debate over what is seen as a creeping attempt to remove Christianity from public life.

But his comments angered secularists, who last night expressed concern that his faith could affect his ability to remain objective in making decisions.

In a lecture delivered last week at Our Lady of Grace and St Edward in Chiswick, called 'Personal Faith and Public Service: Christian witness in the wider world', Lord Patten said he was dismayed by the attitude of secularists to the Pope's visit last year.

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist campaigners, called for Pope Benedict XVI to be arrested when he came to Britain last year over the Catholic Church's record on child abuse, and demonstrations were held in London to protest at state funding for the papal visit.

"Some of the arguments put forward by secularists against the Pope's visit were lacking in intellectualism and were extraordinarily mean-spirited," said Lord Patten, who oversaw the Government's preparations for the papal trip.

"I'm surprised the atheists didn't have better arguments [against the Pope's visit]."

He claimed those who reject religious belief were hypocritical to portray religious people as being narrow-minded given the level of aggression they have displayed to Christians.

"It is curious that atheists have proved to be so intolerant of those who have a faith," he said.

"Their books would be a lot shorter if they couldn't refer to the Spanish Inquisition, but it is them who tend to have a level of Castillian intolerance about them."

The former governor of Hong Kong and current chancellor of Oxford University, who described himself as a cradle Catholic, said his own experience was that people looked down on him intellectually for having religious belief

He said: "It makes people think I'm peculiar and lack intellectual fibres because I don't have any doubts about my faith, but I'd be terrified to have doubts."

This admission echoes the claim made by Tony Blair in 2007 that people in political life who speak about their faith tend to be viewed by society as "nutters".

A report earlier this year, endorsed by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, warned that the Church faces a battle to prevent faith being seen as "a social problem" and says the next five years are set to be a period of "exceptional challenge".

Fears have been growing that Christians are suffering from an increasing level of discrimination following a series of cases in which they have been punished for sharing their beliefs.

Last week, Colin Atkinson, an electrician, was summoned to a disciplinary hearing by his employers for displaying a small palm cross on the dashboard of his company van - but eventually allowed to keep the symbol of his religion.

However, Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said he was alarmed by Lord Patten's criticism of secularists and questioned whether he could remain impartial in his role as chairman of the BBC Trust, which is designed to represent the concerns of licence-fee payers.

"Lord Patten's comments don't bode well for his position as chairman of the BBC Trust," he said.

"He is supposed to represent all viewers, not just Catholics or religious people and I am quite concerned that he will not be able to be objective when religion comes into conflict with free expression in programme-making."

Mr Sanderson suggested the Conservative peer's faith could also influence his response to debates over the amount of time the BBC devotes to religion, which has been a recurring source of tension between the corporation and the Church of England.

Over recent years, the BBC has upset Christians by broadcasting the controversial Jerry Springer the Opera, which depicted Jesus in a nappy, and commissioning a cartoon featuring an infantile Pope bouncing on a pogo stick.

Fears have been raised amongst Church leaders that the BBC has become increasingly hostile to Christianity, but last year the corporation rejected calls from secularists for atheists to be included on Radio 4's Thought for the Day.


Welfare handouts aren't fair – and the British public knows it

A new survey shows that despite years of propaganda from the Left, Britons retain a deep-seated sense of fairness and individual responsibility, says Janet Daley

Like a mythical traveller seeking truth, a think tank has asked a profound question: what is fairness? And lo, the people have answered with (almost) one voice: what "fair" means is that those who are deserving shall receive, and those who are not shall be – well, not exactly cast out, but certainly not entitled to everything that's going.

As we report today, Policy Exchange – supposedly the Prime Minister's favourite ideas outlet – has done a brave and unusual thing. Rather than polling the public just on policy and voting intention, it has put a far more abstract moral issue before them. It instructed the pollsters at YouGov to find out precisely what the public thought the most powerful term of approbation in the political lexicon – "fair" – actually amounted to.

The quite unequivocal reply that was received (with breathtakingly enormous majorities in some forms) came as no surprise to this column. To most voters, fairness does not mean an equal distribution of resources and wealth, or even a redistribution of these things according to need. It means, as the report's title – "Just Deserts" – implies, that people get what they deserve. And what is deserved, the respondents made clear, refers to that which is achieved by effort, talent or dedication to duty: in other words, earned on merit.

As I have written so often on this page, when ordinary people use the word "fair", they mean that you should get out of life pretty much what you put in. Or, as the report's authors put it, "Voters' idea of fairness is strongly reciprocal – something for something." By obvious inference, a "something for nothing" society is the opposite of fair. And this view, interestingly, is expressed by Labour voters in pretty much the same proportion as all others.

Imagine that. After all these years of being morally blackmailed by the poverty lobby, harried by socialist ideologues and shouted at by self-serving public sector axe-grinders, the people are not cowed. Even after being bludgeoned by the BBC thought monitors and browbeaten by Left-liberal media academics with the soft Marxist view of a "fair" society – from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs – they have not bought it. They do not believe that if people are poor, it is necessarily society's fault, and therefore society's duty to deal with the consequences.

No, they say, as often as not, poverty is a consequence of lack of effort or self-control – and, therefore, the individual must accept the consequences. And they do not believe that such character failings and their consequences should be disregarded in the apportioning of welfare or help from the state – help which they know is made possible by the efforts of those who do "the right thing". They still have a firm and undaunted conception of the "undeserving poor" – a term so unfashionable that no politician would be capable of uttering it – and would like such people to be made to accept their reciprocal obligation to society in return for any assistance from public funds.

So the idea of "workfare" schemes, in which the long-term unemployed must undertake services to the community such as litter collection or graffiti removal if they are to continue receiving benefits, is hugely popular. Indeed, the public believes that one of the causes of unemployment is that out-of-work benefits are too generous.

This is a striking example of how voters can come to a common-sense understanding of an economic situation – that if you pay people not to work (or to be poor) then they are likely to stay out of work (or remain poor) – even though almost no one in public life has ever enunciated it. More surprising, perhaps, is the robust demand that those who could work, but won't, should have their benefits cut or stopped altogether – even if they have children. There seems to be little sympathy for the argument that the children of the workshy should not be penalised for their parents' fecklessness.

Now, this matter of children, and how they affect matters, is an interesting one. Those who responded to this poll seemed to take a quite startlingly hard line on the question of how much the presence of children should be taken into account by the welfare state. A majority said, for example, that there should be no additional child benefit paid after the third child, and they were only lukewarm on the subject of tax breaks for families with children (although they certainly prefer tax reliefs to cash benefits). And although they believe that lone parenthood should be discouraged, they are not particularly keen on the idea of encouraging marriage by incentivising it through the tax system.

On the face of it, this might appear odd, given what seem to be the traditional (some would say almost Victorian) attitudes that are expressed about work and life's vicissitudes in the survey as a whole. I think the result might have been different if the wording of the question had been more clearly linked to fairness: ie, is it fair that a married person supporting a family should pay the same amount of tax as a single one with no dependants?

But that notwithstanding, there is a comprehensible pattern here. I suspect that people now see marriage and the having of children as a matter of personal choice – a private decision one makes for oneself – rather than as a virtually inevitable part of adult life. Raising a family in today's world is not viewed so much as a function of accepting your grown-up role in the community, but a lifestyle option which you or may not adopt according to your personal tastes. What follows from that assumption is that you must accept responsibility for that decision.

That is the common thread throughout this survey: overwhelmingly, and with remarkable consistency, people reiterate their belief in individual responsibility. Their insistence that those who are able should be prepared to support themselves – and any children they produce – is not mean-mindedness or lack of compassion. (There was a clear message that those genuinely unable to make their own way should be helped.) Rather, it is an acknowledgement of the value of self-respect and self-determination: an understanding that taking responsibility for yourself is a proper part of fully fledged grown-up life, and that not having such expectations of people demeans them.

That part of the argument has been won. Now the case must be made more clearly that those who are carrying out the most important business of the society, by raising its children in a responsible way, are genuinely deserving of special consideration – even if it was their own self-sacrificing decision to do so.


Orange County's Misguided Award

He has wished for "the implementation of Sharia [Islamic law] in all areas" of society, said Muslims can never accept homosexuality and predicted God's wrath on America for its support of Israel.

Now, Muzammil Siddiqi is about to be honored by Orange County, Calif.'s Human Relations Commission. Siddiqi "has steadfastly worked with other faith leaders to build understanding of the great commonality that exists between all religions, despite the political clashes that can drive wedges between them," an announcement from the board says. Siddiqi is among "amazing individuals and groups who have made extraordinary human relations contributions to Orange County!"

Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, is active in interfaith programs and even traveled to Auschwitz and Dachau last summer. He signed on to a statement acknowledging "chilling places where men, women and children were systematically and brutally murdered by the millions because of their faith, race, disability and political affiliation."

As the Investigative Project on Terrorism's profile of Siddiqi shows, his views have not always been so tolerant of others.

A year after 9/11, Siddiqi indicated the identities of those responsible remained unresolved. " It is - the point is that we said - whosoever did it, we condemn it. We did not say it is Muslims who did it," he told a convention of the Islamic Society of North America in September 2002. "We did not say this and that. But the point is that whosoever did it, it was wrong. And this is a basic point … We cannot say in surety whoever did it or not. But the point is that if the name of Islam is taken, we have to clarify the name of Islam."

Homosexuals need "to repent, turn to God and take Islam seriously," he told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2001. "Being gay and Muslim is a contradiction in terms. Islam is totally against homosexuality. It's clear in the Koran and in the sayings of the prophet Mohammed."

In an online question and answer session two years later, Siddiqi called homosexuality "evil" and warned that tolerating it begs God's wrath. "There are agencies and lobby groups that are working hard to propagate it and to make it as an acceptable and legitimate lifestyle," he wrote. "For this reason it is important that we should speak against it. We should warn our youth and children about the evil of this lifestyle. We should make it very clear that it is Haram and absolutely forbidden. It kindles the wrath and anger of Allah."

God's wrath was on Siddiqi's mind during an October 2000 rally in Washington. The rally came a month after the second Palestinian intifada had started. The violent uprising started after Israeli political leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, a holy place for Jews, but also the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had been planning the violence, and used Sharon's visit as a pretext.

Israel was solely to blame for the conflict, Siddiqi said, although American support facilitated it. "We want to awaken the conscience of America. America has to learn that because if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come," Siddiqi said. "Please! Please all Americans, do you remember that, that Allah is watching everyone. God is watching everyone. If you continue doing injustice, and tolerating injustice, the wrath of God will come."

By the time the rally occurred, the Jewish Holy Site of Joseph's Tomb was destroyed by Palestinian rioters and two soldiers were lynched in Ramallah.

Yet, "the Palestinian demonstrators are not violent people," Siddiqi said. "The violent people are those who are oppressing them day and night and for many years. We want to say to our government to respect the right of the Palestinian people. Do not be the blind supporters of oppressors. And al-Aqsa, my brothers and sisters, is our sacred mosque. It belongs to Islam. It belongs to all the Muslims of the world, 1.5 billion Muslims of the world, it belongs to them. We cannot accept any threat to the al-Aqsa mosque."

Siddiqi described the rally as "a gathering of all the Muslims of America, all the national organizations of Muslims of America together." And he was not alone in making statements condemning American policy. Muslim Public Affairs Council founder Maher Hathout blasted Israel as an "apartheid brutal state," saying of its leaders that "butchers do what butchers do."Abdulrahman Alamoudi, then the head of the American Muslim Council and one of the nation's most influential Muslim political activists, taunted the U.S. designations of Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist organizations. Alamoudi would plead guilty three years later to illegal dealings with Libya and to aiding a plot to assassinate a Saudi crown prince.

No speaker at the 2000 rally called on Hamas or other terrorist groups to cease attacks on civilians.

It is unknown whether Orange County officials were aware of Siddiqi's history when they selected him for recognition. It's also possible that Siddiqi's views have moderated in recent years, though there is no public record of him recanting.

In a letter to Orange County supervisors, retired law enforcement agent Gary Fouse suggested that Siddiqi "come forward before May 5 and publicly address these charges. If there is a credible explanation for these allegations, or if they are not true, let him make it clear. Then I would not oppose the award. If he cannot explain or refute these concerns, then I see no justification for this honor."



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.


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