Friday, May 20, 2011
Once again homosexuals get a better deal in Britain
William Blake’s rousing hymn Jerusalem is at risk of becoming ‘reserved for homosexual couples’, a Labour MP has warned. Former Anglican priest Chris Bryant highlighted the conflicting rules governing the use of the anthem – which was sung at the Royal Wedding – for ceremonies.
Heterosexual couples marrying in church find ‘many clergy refuse to allow it to be sung because it’s not a hymn addressed to God’, he said. Yet if the same couple were to have a civil service they could not use it because of its religious nature.
But the Government now plans to allow same-sex ceremonies with ‘a religious aspect’ to use the song.
The openly gay former Foreign Office Minister told the Mail: ‘I am fighting for the rights of straight couples’. ‘The government is now changing the rules to allow religious symbols at civil ceremonies for same sex couples. 'But in the interests of equality, the same should apply to heterosexual couples getting married in civil venues. 'It seems odd to say you can’t have Jerusalem for a straight wedding yet you can have it at the same place for a gay wedding.’
Yesterday he told MPs that ‘many clergy will refuse to allow it to be sung because it’s not a hymn addressed to God’.
He asked Commons Leader Sir George Young to investigate, saying: ‘Can we just make sure that Jerusalem is not just reserved for homosexuals?’ Sir George, the senior Conservative, paused before replying: ‘I think that Jerusalem should be sung on every possible occasion.’
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘Jerusalem was sung at the Royal Wedding and the Prime Minister thought it was a jolly good idea.’
The song is also sung at rugby matches by England fans, was adopted as the official song for the English football team and is sung at the end of every Labour Party conference.
Jerusalem was written in 1804 as a poem by William Blake, as an introduction to his much lengthier work, Milton a Poem.
Sir Hubert Parry composed the music to it in 1916 and it has become England’s most patriotic song. But its hints to a possible visit by Jesus to England have sparked controversy. Jerusalem also touches on the ‘dark Satanic Mills’ of the Industrial Revolution. Labour has reinterpreted the song’s call to ‘build Jerusalem’ as a reference to social mobility.
Its wide-ranging and ambiguous references have made it controversial in both civil ceremonies and churches. However last year, the Church of England called on vicars to allow them to use the hymn at weddings. The church said that while ‘opinion on the matter is strongly divided’, allowing it to be sung could be the ‘preferable decision from a pastoral point of view’.
Stephen Colbert's Free Speech Problem
The comedian runs up against campaign-finance law in an attempt to lampoon the Supreme Court
Comedy Central funnyman Stephen Colbert, like most of his friends and allies on the left, thinks that last year's Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC is, literally, ridiculous. To make his case that the ruling invites "unlimited corporate money" to dominate politics, Mr. Colbert decided to set up a political action committee (PAC) of his own. So far, though, the joke's been on him.
The hilarity began last month, when Mr. Colbert began to have difficulty setting up his PAC, which is a group that can raise money to run political ads or make contributions to candidates. So he called in Trevor Potter, a former Federal Elections Commission (FEC) chairman who is now a high-powered Washington lawyer.
Mr. Potter delivered some unfunny news: Mr. Colbert couldn't set up his PAC because his show airs on Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom, and corporations like Viacom cannot make contributions to PACs that give money to candidates. As Mr. Potter pointed out, Mr. Colbert's on-air discussions of the candidates he supports might count as an illegal "in-kind" contribution from Viacom to Mr. Colbert's PAC.
All was not lost, however. As Mr. Potter explained, the comedian might still be able to set up a "Super PAC," a group that can raise unlimited sums of money as long as it spends it only on independent ads, without donating at all to candidates. Super PACs exist because of another case that proponents of campaign-finance law despise, SpeechNow.org v. FEC.
So the newly dubbed "Colbert Super PAC" was off to the races. Mr. Colbert could finally show us how amusing it is to raise unlimited corporate dollars and spend them on political ads.
Or so it seemed. On May 11, Mr. Potter returned with more bad news: Viacom didn't like Mr. Colbert's plan because his on-air commentary might still amount to a contribution from Viacom to his Super PAC. It's difficult to place a dollar value on airtime, so a reporting mistake could put both Viacom and Mr. Colbert in legal hot water. Isn't campaign-finance law funny?
"Why does it get so complicated to do this? I mean, this is page after page of legalese," Mr. Colbert lamented. "All I'm trying to do is affect the 2012 election. It's not like I'm trying to install iTunes."
Well, that's pretty much what the nonprofit group Citizens United said to the Supreme Court in the case that Mr. Colbert is trying so hard to lampoon.
Campaign-finance laws are so complicated that few can navigate them successfully and speak during elections—which is what the First Amendment is supposed to protect. As the Supreme Court noted in Citizens United, federal laws have created "71 distinct entities" that "are subject to different rules for 33 different types of political speech." The FEC has adopted 568 pages of regulations and thousands of pages of explanations and opinions on what the laws mean. "Legalese" doesn't begin to describe this mess.
So what is someone who wants to speak during elections to do? If you're Stephen Colbert, the answer is to instruct high-priced attorneys to plead your case with the FEC: Last Friday, he filed a formal request with the FEC for a "media exemption" that would allow him to publicize his Super PAC on air without creating legal headaches for Viacom.
How's that for a punch line? Rich and successful television personality needs powerful corporate lawyers to convince the FEC to allow him to continue making fun of the Supreme Court. Hilarious.
Of course, there's nothing new about the argument Mr. Colbert's lawyers are making to the FEC. Media companies' exemption from campaign-finance laws has existed for decades. That was part of the Supreme Court's point in Citizens United: Media corporations are allowed to spend lots of money on campaign speech, so why not other corporations?
Whether Mr. Colbert understands that he has made the Supreme Court's point is anyone's guess. But there's nothing funny about what he has had to go through to set up a PAC, because real people who want to speak out during elections face these confounding laws all the time. And as his attempt at humor ironically demonstrates, the laws remain byzantine and often impossible to navigate, even after Citizens United.
There's a joke in here somewhere, but it isn't on the Supreme Court.
Obama sponsors hate
Rapper "Common" recently performed for "poetry night" at the White House. "Objection!" said the out-of-touch, Golf Channel-watching, Pat Boone-loving right-wingers, who called Common unworthy of an invitation to the People's House. The Comedy Channel's hip Jon Stewart ridiculed the unhip for their outrage. Who's right?
White House press secretary and apparent rap-o-phile Jay Carney, who hails from the mean streets of the Lawrenceville prep school and Yale -- where he majored in Russian and Eastern European studies -- defended Common as "socially conscious."
Common ought not, therefore, be grouped with non-socially conscious rappers -- the gold-chain-wearing, crotch-grabbing, dope-smoking, dope-selling, misogynistic kind who riff about killing cops, hating whites, and fighting the ever-present and all-encompassing racism practiced by The Man. (The Man, of course, briefly left his post in November 2008 and allowed the election of a black president. Everybody has bad days.)
Think of Common as a black Ward Cleaver, up from the 'hood, who comes in from a hard day at the office, sets down his briefcase at the coat rack, hangs up his tweed jacket and shouts, "Bitch, where's my dinner?!" Sure, Common, like the non-socially conscious rappers, has rapped about killing cops, beating up white people and burning President George W. Bush. But to be fair, even Common lovers admit that the first two might not be all that socially conscious. This is a poet with a soft spot -- for blacks who murder white cops.
President Barack Obama's White House celebrates open-mindedness and tolerance. For example, Obama just dined with the socially conscious Rev. Al Sharpton, the whitey-denouncing race hustler who rode to fame by falsely accusing a white former assistant district attorney of raping a black teenage girl. Sharpton's incendiary rants -- "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house" -- helped ignite a riot in Crown Heights that left a hundred wounded and a Jewish student stabbed to death.
Unlike Sharpton, Common never called then-New York Mayor David Dinkins, the city's first and only black mayor, a "n--ger whore." Besides, Common and Obama go way back. They both belonged to Trinity United Church of Christ, presided over by the Rev. Jeremiah "United States of KKK" Wright.
So what's the problem with Common?
His daughter is named after Assata Shakur, a black panther formerly known as Joanne Chesimard. Shakur was sentenced to life for her role in the execution-style murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. Shakur broke out of prison and fled to Cuba, where she still lives under political asylum. Congress passed a resolution demanding that Fidel Castro return her to the States. The FBI calls her a "domestic terrorist" and offers $1 million for her capture.
Now it's possible that Common named his daughter after Shakur because he likes the name. On the other hand, he did write a poem in which he calls Shakur an innocent woman wrongly convicted by the racist criminal justice system.
This would be the same racist criminal justice system that the socially conscious rapper insists unjustly convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal, currently serving a life sentence for the execution-style murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. But let us not single out Common. Abu-Jamal defenders include Hollywoodies Ed Asner, the late Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Ossie Davis, Mike Farrell, Tim Robbins and Whoopi Goldberg, as well as the French. Not all of the French, just the ones like the then-mayor of Paris who made Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen and the Parisian suburbanites who named a street after him.
Common does not personally advocate violence. He merely adopts a character, and becomes a tool through which urban angst of the streets is given voice. Does actor Anthony Hopkins actually eat people with some fava beans and a nice Chianti?
Middle-agers, who grew up on Motown, are hopelessly out-of-touch. Why if it were today, Smokey Robinson would be doing drive-bys on Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Stax and Motown would trade lead over which label was "keepin' it real." Otis Redding would be sitting on the dock of the bay, recovering from gunshots fired by the Temptations -- strapped, cruising the streets in a tinted SUV, searching for respect. It's hard out there for a pimp.
When not rapping, Common stays in touch with his inner Klansman. Like the Klan, Common condemns interracial dating. Sticklers might recall the heat then-presidential candidate George W. Bush took when he agreed to speak at Bob Jones University, which, at the time, forbade interracial dating among students without parental permission.
When asked about "mixed-race relationships," Common explained: "I disagree with them. ... Sometimes to get back up to the level of respect and love, you've gotta stick with your own for a minute and build a certain amount of strength and community within yours so that other people can respect and honor your traditions." Unlike the Klan, Common approves of interracial sex, in which he admits having indulged. He opposes only interracial relationships, like the kind that produced ... President Obama.
Maybe Common will rap about that at next year's poetry night. Until then, peace out.
Australia: Victoria's Premier drops compulsory Aboriginal welcome
Good riddance to a stupid bit of tokenism. It is pioneers such as my ancestors who made Australia what it is today. If you are going to single out any group in multicultural Australia, a better case could be made for honouring them.
I have a picture of my grandfather's bullock team on my wall and every time I look at it, I am reminded of the quiet heroism with which they laboured to bring civilization to this vast country. Henry Lawson knew the bullockies (teamsters) well. Read his poem "The Teams" to get a picture of them. He describes my grandfather pretty well
The Premier has confirmed he will no longer force ministers and public servants to acknowledge traditional Aboriginal land owners at official events.
In a major policy shift that has upset some indigenous leaders, the State Government has dumped a Labor protocol as too politically correct. Brumby government ministers had to acknowledge the "traditional owners and custodians of this land".
But Mr Baillieu believes Labor's stance was dictatorial and has told his ministers that such acknowledgments aren't compulsory.
Former premier Steve Bracks has also slammed the state government calling their decision a "retrograde step." "I acknowledged the traditional land owners of Australian regularly when I spoke as premier." "I would have thought we would have moved on quite a bit," he said. "Thousands of times I started my speech with an Aboriginal welcome and I always felt very strongly about it."
He warned that people in defiance of the government could start using Aboriginal welcomes to embarrass the party. "That's what will come of this, it's the wrong step," he said.
Wurundjeri elder Auntie Di Kerr said she was saddened by the change, which comes as the AFL prepares for its indigenous round. "It's nice to be actually recognising first nation's people because we've been neglected and downtrodden for so many years," she said. "It shouldn't be a forced thing either, it should be a respectful acknowledgment and honest."
Mr Baillieu still acknowledges traditional owners at indigenous functions, but uses a new form of words at mainstream events.
"Can I particularly acknowledge all of those, past and present, including our indigenous communities, whose love of this land has made this a place we treasure and a state we all seek to nurture," he said at the recent inauguration of Governor Alex Chernov.
A government spokesman said the only requirement was that ministers and MPs used respectful language, including appropriate acknowledgments to particular audiences. "Unlike the former Labor government, ministers are free to express themselves as appropriate for the occasion," he said.
The issue has been raised at the federal level, with Tony Abbott attacking Labor MPs for "tokenism" and misplaced political correctness.
Tim Wilson, policy director for the Right-wing think tank Institute of Public Affairs, said the new policy made sense because indigenous acknowledgment were over-used. "The obsessive acknowledgment can only belittle and undermine the intent of such statements," he said.
Labor's spokesman for aboriginal affairs, Richard Wynne, said: "Labor believes it is the right thing to do to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and it causes great offence to Aboriginal people when political leaders fail to do so."
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.