Tuesday, April 19, 2011
'What about burning poppies?' asks man jailed for setting Koran alight
Unequal justice in Britain
A man has been jailed for 70 days today after he burnt a copy of the Koran just over a month after a Muslim got away with a paltry £50 fine for a similar offence. Andrew Ryan, 32, stole a copy of the holy book from Carlisle Library then set it on fire by a monument in the city of Carlisle.
Last month Emdadur Choudhury was fined after he burned a poppy outside the Royal Albert Hall in London on Remembrance Day while shouting 'British soldiers burn in hell'.
As he was led down to the cells, Ryan shouted at the judge at Carlisle Magistrates' Court today: 'What about burning poppies?'.
Police arrested Ryan shortly the Koran burning in English Street on January 19.
Sentencing him at Carlisle Magistrates' Court, District Judge Gerald Chalk said: 'This is a case of theatrical bigotry. It was pre-planned by you as you stole the book deliberately. You went out to cause maximum publicity and to cause distress.'
He told Ryan that people were entitled to protest but not in the manner he chose. The court heard the defendant had six public order convictions between 2002 and 2010 including racial chanting at a football match and assault with intent to resist arrest. Judge Chalk said: 'You are a man who has a history of violence and disorderly conduct.'
Ryan pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated harassment and theft at an earlier hearing. Prior to the hearing, a Facebook page created by the 'English Defence League Carlisle Division' urged visitors to support 'Division Member' Ryan in his court appearance.
Around 10 men sat in the public gallery but walked out when District Judge Chalk announced the sentence. Comments of 'what a joke' and 'call that justice' were made as they left the courtroom. Before he was led to the cells, Ryan said: 'What about burning poppies?'
The court was told that Ryan's former probation officer witnessed him shouting and waving a book at Carlisle Cross outside the Old Town Hall in the city centre.
Ryan told him he intended to burn the Koran in a protest against the Muslim faith. He failed in his first attempt with matches before he succeeded with a lighter.
Ryan then continued to shout abuse about the Muslim faith as he held the burning book, before he threw it to the floor and walked away, the court heard. He then updated his Facebook page to reveal what he had done.
Margaret Payne, defending, said: 'Mr Ryan has said to me that the incident was silly and it is not something he would do again. 'He wants to make it clear that it was directed towards radical Islam such as the burning of poppies and flags. 'He would certainly not want Muslim people to think he had problems with their beliefs.
'Mr Ryan was brought up to respect the Armed Forces. Some members of his family were in the Armed Forces and he himself served in the Army between the ages of 16 and 20 in Northern Ireland.
'What caused him to 'lose it' on that day was that he had been looking at a website which had shown radical people burning poppies and abusing British troops returning from abroad.'
Unemployed Ryan was also sentenced to 30 days in jail for the theft of the book, to run concurrently. Following sentencing, Inspector Paul Marshall, of Carlisle CID, said: 'Today's result shows how seriously we take hate crime in the county.
'This incident was highly unusual for Cumbria as we have such low levels of hate crime in the county. 'However, when it does occur we investigate thoroughly so that offenders, and the local community, know that hate crime will simply not be tolerated.'
The screams must have been unbearable. High on the peaks of the Pennines, a terrified group of women, teenagers and children sat huddled in the half-finished ditches and walls of their hill fort, surrounded by gloating faces.
The men were missing, either killed in battle or taken to one side to be pressed into military service or sold for slaves by their captors. But that left the less valuable women and children to be disposed of. Any pleas for clemency fell on death ears.
Dozens, maybe even hundreds, of women, babies and children were stabbed or strangled, stripped of possessions and tossed into the ditch that encircled the fort. Then their attackers toppled a 13ft-high limestone wall over their broken bodies, covering the mass grave with a litter of rocks and soil.
The full story of that gruesome day on Fin Cop in Derbyshire 2,400 years ago, and the reason why two Iron Age clans came to blows, will never be uncovered. But the discovery of nine bodies thrown carelessly in a ditch is challenging some widely-held views about life in Iron Age Britain and whether life before the Romans was quite as peaceful as some academics like to claim.
It has become fashionable to interpret Iron Age hill forts, the 3,000 circles of banks and ditches found across the country, as farming settlements or status symbols - the prehistoric equivalent of Tudor castles and 19th century stately homes.
Dr Clive Waddington, of Archaeological Research Services which uncovered the bones, believes there could be 'dozens or hundreds' more bodies buried on the site. Radiocarbon dating shows that the Fin cop hill fort was built around 400BC, but was destroyed before completion.
Dr Waddington's team, assisted by hundreds of volunteers and local schoolchildren, uncovered the bodies in two sections of a ditch, created as part of the fort's defences. They included four babies, one who was unborn, a two-year-old toddler, a teenage boy and three adults, two of whom were definitely women and one whose sex is unknown. The bodies had been thrown in the ditch and covered with rubble from a stone wall.
'We excavated ten metres but there is 400metres of ditch around the site, and the implication is that could be dozens - if not hundreds - of bodies there,' said Dr Waddington.
There were no personal possessions, suggesting the captors removed any valuables. Dr Waddington believes they were massacred after the hill fort was attacked and captured by a rival chieftain.
There are clues that the hill fort was created in a hurry and that the victims knew they were at risk. 'The ditches and fort were never finished. They had started to make a second wall but that wasn't completed,' he said. 'You can tell that it was a hasty thing - they were trying to rapidly build it and it was not done on time.'
Dr Waddington said archaeologists have increasingly interpreted hill forts as status symbols, not military defences. 'But we know from Classical sources that the British were warlike,' he said.
'It's true that some of the hill forts don't make sense as strongholds because they are not built at the top of hills, or because they are overlooked. But that probably means there is truth in both views.
'The early castles of the 11th and 12th centuries were strongholds, but the later Tudor ones, after the invention of gunpowder, were statements of status. The same is likely to be true of the Iron Age.'
Animal bones in the ditch show they farmed cattle and pigs and kept horses.
Save us from the gamble of living
Paul Syvret gets fired up by an attack on two-up, Australia's traditional gambling game
THE world can be a dangerous place. Luckily though, we have the forces of law, order and social engineering to guide us through its perilous waters.
Thus it was a relief last week to see our authorities threaten a Cairns hotel with all manner of perdition should the publican persist with thumbing his nose at the law by hosting a two-up game on Anzac Day.
Two-up is, after all, one of the most villainous of gambling pursuits in that it is one from which the Government can't rake any tax revenue.
But why stop at the Red Beret Hotel in the north, given that on Monday there will hundreds of pubs and clubs across Queensland openly flouting the laws of our land?
We should have squads of crack police mobilised across the state ready to swoop at the first sign of a couple of pennies spinning through the air in a lazy arc; ready to batter down the doors of any drinking den from within which can be heard the beery cries of "head 'em up".
Normal policing duties should be suspended for the day, so that our officers can once and for all wipe this scourge from our midst. Federal Independent Andrew Wilkie has the right idea with his fixed-bayonet charge at the poker machine lobby.
Mind you, it's all very well to propose we issue "licences" to people who want to have a flutter, set pre-determined spending limits and decrease the amount you can wager but we're still being sort of half-pregnant here, aren't we?
Even we casual punters, who don't mind the occasional bet on the silly things, would be better off with that $20 in our pockets than the coffers of some rapacious leagues club which will only squander the money on yet more sporting facilities or subsidised Sunday roasts for the nannas.
If pokies are such a pestilence, wreaking misery on the hapless minority who don't know when to stop, why not ban the things altogether?
Then we could return to the good old days when pokies were illegal, and the gaming machine business was run quietly and efficiently (and out of the public eye) by organised crime rings and certain entrepreneurial elements of the Queensland Police Service.
One thing I don't understand though is why some forms of gambling (the pokies) are considered so much more evil than others.
The long-suffering Mrs Syvret and I were at the local leagues club on Saturday night to watch the mighty Broncos flog the Roosters rather than for the purposes of the punt and sitting in the sports bar.
At the next table was a posse of very well lubricated young men who had amassed a spectacular collection of losing TAB and Keno tickets, which eddied in great swirls around the empty pot glasses.
They looked to be having a whale of a time (and had a thirst you could photograph), but surely there lay in those piles of discarded betting slips the same seeds of ruination that were being planted by the purseful by the little old ladies in the gaming room next door?
And booze is part of the problem here. With the tobacco industry fighting a rearguard action and Andrew Wilkie's war on the pokies being prosecuted with brutal resolve, the demon drink appears to have slipped under the radar of those tireless social engineers whose self-appointed task it is to save us from ourselves.
We need labelling akin to that planned for a pack of smokes, depicting diseased livers and torn, bloodied faces of glassing victims.
And if a licence to gamble, accompanied with pre-set bet limits is good enough for the punters, then perhaps similar self-harm minimisation mea- sures should apply to tipplers.
Why not a licence to drink, accompanied by a weekly ration card that would allow no individual more than two standard drinks a day with a couple of days off the grog altogether? Admittedly there could be a just a wee problem in controlling the subsequent black market in ration card trading, but it would certainly make shouting a round of drinks at the local pub a lot more affordable.
The protectors of our physical and moral fibre also need to cast their eyes farther afield than the so-called sin industries of smoking, drinking and gambling, for there are myriad other traps lurking amid our everyday lives.
While much attention and debate has been devoted to the hazards of junk food, what of seemingly innoc- uous foodstuffs that harbour potential nastiness?
Why, for example, is the carton of full cream milk in my fridge not plastered with confronting health labels warning me about the dangers of cholesterol? Surely some photos of diseased arteries from the cow juice would save lives?
And salt. You can buy the deadly stuff by the kilogram with not so much as a single cautionary word of warning to be seen on the packet.
So please, someone, take responsibility for our lives and remove the temptations of all potentially risky life choices. We clearly don't know what's good for us and are incapable of making our own decisions.
Opposing gay marriage doesn't mean I'm barking
By Barry Cohen, who is homosexual and who happens to be my favourite Australian politician, sadly now ex. His book, "The Yartz" must be about the funniest book I have ever read -- JR
I'M in love with Jamie and Hamish, before that it was Fergus and Dougal. Now that I've got that off my chest I sense an enormous feeling of relief. No more regrets. No more hiding my preferences. Everyone knows now. I can relax.
Despite that, I don't plan to marry any of them, primarily because I don't like nails down my back during the night even if they are those of a border collie. Which brings us into the topic du jour: gay marriage.
When I first saw it mentioned about 20 years ago I nearly had a conniption. What a wonderful sense of humour these boys and gels have. Then I realised they were serious. My amazement was exceeded only when I saw recent polls sponsored by the gay movement to show the majority of Australians actually support marriage between same-sex couples. My, how things have changed.
If I had any doubts, they were removed while watching a recent episode of ABC1's Q&A. The subject was raised and any doubts as to whether Q&A stacks its audience with a Left bias were dismissed by the sneering, booing and ridicule at any member of the panel who was less than enthusiastic about gay marriage. The inference was that those who opposed it were homophobic and-or barking mad (no pun intended).
This tactic has been used by the Green-gay lobby because they are well aware there is nothing the cognoscenti and commentariat dislike more than to be called right-wing, neo-conservative or redneck. One's views on same-sex marriage, climate change, hatred of Israel and the US guarantees you acceptance by the cafe latte set. Just in case you hadn't realised it by now, I'm of the view that the idea of two people of the same sex being "married" is absurd. But homophobic, I think not. Unlike many of the "in" crowd I have runs on the board.
Let me take you back to October 18, 1973, in the House of Representatives.
John Gorton, member for Higgins: "I move that in the opinion of this House homosexual acts between consenting adults in private should not be subject to the criminal law."
A stirring address by the former prime minister was followed by Moss Cass (Maribyrnong), John Cramer (Bennelong) and Bert James (Hunter). The debate was cut short due to the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Please, no jokes about queens.
The question was put and carried by 64 to 40. Among those who voted yes were Les Bury, Jim Cairns, Clyde Cameron, Moss Cass, Don Chipp, Frank Crean, Kep Enderby, Gorton, Bill Hayden, Phil Ruddock, Ian Sinclair, Tom Uren, Gough Whitlam, Ralph Willis and you guessed it, yours truly.
On the "no" side were Lance Barnard, Kim Beazley Sr, Lionel Bowen, Rex Connor, Cramer, Fred Daly, Paul Keating, Jim Killen, Phil Lynch, Billy Snedden, Bill Wentworth. Gradually the states followed suit.
My philosophy was simple. It is enshrined in a column I wrote in The Australian (January 25, 1995) when gays started to get serious about what most Australians thought was a huge joke.
I wrote: "It concerns me not at all what adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom or for that matter their kitchens, bathroom or laundry. Should they choose to stand on their heads, wave their legs in the air or swing from chandeliers, providing they do not do each other a serious mischief, it is, or should be entirely a matter for them."
Having held that publicly expressed view for as long as I can recall, it will not surprise readers that on those occasions when I was called upon to vote in the House of Representatives on such matters I voted against legislation that discriminated against homosexuals. I have since applauded any measure by any government or institution that has broken down the prejudice against those with a different sexual preference.
A lot has happened in the past 40 years that has been of benefit to the gay community. Some I agreed with, others went too far, but marriage between people of the same sex giving them equal status with heterosexual couples, in my view, goes way beyond the pale. They argue that the present law discriminates against them. It does. And it's the same reason why I can't marry Jamie or Hamish.
And how about the discrimination against pedophiles, prohibiting sexual relations with children? Why do we discriminate against 15-year-old girls and boys for what used to be called carnal knowledge? Why do we ban men from entering women's toilets or vice versa? I could go on but I'm sure you discern my drift. We discriminate because society believes it is the right and moral thing to do.
Marriage was considered, until recently, sacrosanct. Bigamy and polygamy are banned. Why should we discriminate against men who want more than one wife, or wives who want more than one husband?
With all its flaws, and few marriages are perfect, marriage is the bedrock on which our society is based. It won't be if these twerps have their way.
The time has come for us "neocons" to fight back and tell the gay community that we've gone from prohibition to tolerance to acceptance, but we won't accept that gay marriage and conventional marriage is the same thing.
They might have got some of what they wanted if they had asked for a gay marriage act, quite separate from conventional marriage but can you expect them to accept a gay marriage certificate proclaiming them to be a gay couple?
It is to be hoped that those who support conventional marriage as one of the building blocks on which our society is built will stand up and tell the gay community it's not going to happen. Not even if hell freezes over.
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.