Sunday, June 12, 2011
Blessed are the Spongers? That's not what St Paul said, Archbishop
Why is it so bad to draw a line between the deserving and the undeserving poor? I have searched the Sermon on the Mount for the words ‘Blessed are the Spongers’ and I cannot find them – or anything remotely like them. So why does the Archbishop of Canterbury speak as if it was obvious that we should treat people who can work, but won’t, in the same way as we treat those who are truly in need?
As Dr Williams has decided to take up political commentating, I think I shall do a little bit of Archbishoping. Here beginneth the first lesson: In St Paul’s first epistle to Timothy, Chapter 5, we read: ‘If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.’
And in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, St Paul rubs it in, in that way he has: ‘This we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.’
This seems pretty clear to me, and a dozen generations before my own knew these words by heart and lived according to them. They gave to charity and supported the helpless and needy with all their might.
But they scorned those who sought to live off others when they had no need to. Our Welfare State took much the same line until Harold Wilson ‘reformed’ it in the Sixties.
I don’t mind bishops intervening in our national life. That’s what they are for. I like having them in the House of Lords to remind us of the foundations on which our country stands. But they are not there to act as reinforcements for the Liberal Democrats. They are there to remind us that we are at heart a Christian nation and people.
They should stand up for lifelong marriage, denounce the lax treatment of wrongdoers and the neglect of their victims, condemn public drunkenness, defend unborn babies against those who wish to kill them, stand in the way of stupid and unjust wars, and of selfish cruelty of all kinds. But they really have to get out of their heads the idea that the Welfare State must be unconditionally defended.
For it is the hard-working poor who pay for it, and who see their near neighbours living lives of shameless idleness on their money. And they also watch criminals profiting by their crimes, and getting away with it.
If the parsons, pastors, priests and bishops of this country took the side of the poor against these parasites, instead of acting as their spokesmen, they might find their churches filling up again. But as long as they talk like the TUC, they will stay at the fringe of our national life.
British police 'covered up' violent campaign to turn London area 'Islamic'
Police have been accused of “covering up” a campaign of abuse, threats and violence aimed at “Islamicising” an area of London.
Victims say that officers in the borough of Tower Hamlets have ignored or downplayed outbreaks of hate crime, and suppressed evidence implicating Muslims in them, because they fear being accused of racism.
The claims come as four Tower Hamlets Muslims were jailed for at least 19 years for attacking a local white teacher who gave religious studies lessons to Muslim girls.
The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered more than a dozen other cases in Tower Hamlets where both Muslims and non-Muslims have been threatened or beaten for behaviour deemed to breach fundamentalist “Islamic norms.”
One victim, Mohammed Monzur Rahman, said he was left partially blind and with a dislocated shoulder after being attacked by a mob in Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, for smoking during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last year.
“Two guys stopped me in the street and asked me why I was smoking,” he said. “I just carried on, and before I knew another dozen guys came and jumped me. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in hospital.”
“He reported it to the police and they just said they couldn’t track anyone down and there were no witnesses,” said Ansar Ahmed Ullah, a local anti-extremism campaigner who has advised Mr Rahman. “But there is CCTV in that street and it is lined with shops and people.”
Teachers in several local schools have told The Sunday Telegraph that they feel “under pressure” from local Muslim extremists, who have mounted campaigns through both parents and pupils – and, in one case, through another teacher - to enforce the compulsory wearing of the veil for Muslim girls. “It was totally orchestrated,” said one teacher. “The atmosphere became extremely unpleasant for a while, with constant verbal aggression from both the children and some parents against the head over this issue.”
One teacher at the Bigland Green primary school, Nicholas Kafouris, last year took the council to an employment tribunal, saying he was forced out of his job for complaining that Muslim pupils were engaging in racist and anti-Semitic bullying and saying they supported terrorism. Mr Kafouris lost his case, though the school did admit that insufficient action had been taken against the behaviour of some pupils. The number of assaults on teachers in Tower Hamlets resulting in exclusions has more than doubled from 190 in 2007/8 to 383 in 2008/9, the latest available year, though not all are necessarily race-related.
Tower Hamlets’ gay community has become a particular target of extremists. Homophobic crimes in the borough have risen by 80 per cent since 2007/8, and by 21 per cent over the last year, a period when there was a slight drop in London as a whole.
Last year, a mob of 30 young Muslims stormed a local gay pub, the George and Dragon, beating and abusing patrons. Many customers of the pub told The Sunday Telegraph that they have been attacked and harassed by local Muslim youths. In 2008 a 20-year-old student, Oli Hemsley, was left permanently paralysed after an attack by a group of young Muslims outside the pub. Only one of his assailants has been caught and jailed.
Even during meetings of the local council, prominent supporters of Tower Hamlets’ controversial directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman – dropped by the Labour Party for his links to Islamic fundamentalism - have persistently targeted gay councillors with homophobic abuse and intimidation from the public gallery.
The Labour leader, Josh Peck, was attacked with animal noises and cries of “Unnatural acts! Unnatural acts!” when he rose to speak. The Conservative leader, Peter Golds, was repeatedly heckled as “Mrs Golds” and a “poofter”.
Mr Golds said: “If that happened in a football stadium, arrests would have taken place. I have complained, twice, to the police, and have heard nothing. A Labour colleague waited three hours at the police station before being told that nothing would be done. The police are afraid of being accused of Islamophobia. Another Labour councillor said that the Met is now the reverse of what it must have been like in the 1970s, with a complete lack of interest when white people make complaints of harassment and hatred.”
In February this year, dozens of stickers appeared across Tower Hamlets quoting the Koran, declaring the borough a “gay-free zone” and stating that “verily Allah is severe in punishment.”
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that during a routine stop-and-search at the time police found a young Muslim man with a number of the stickers in his possession. He was released without charge on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service. Police also had CCTV images of a second unidentified Muslim youth posting the stickers at a local railway station, but refused to release the pictures for several weeks.
Peter Tatchell, the gay human rights campaigner, said: “The police said no-one was allowed to talk publicly about this because they didn’t want to upset the Muslim community. We’ve made very clear the difference between the Muslim community as a whole and these particular fundamentalists, and the fact that the police wouldn’t publicly say what they knew was an absolute disgrace.”
When the CCTV footage was finally released, in early April, the culprit was quickly identified as 18-year-old Mohammed Hasnath, who last week pleaded guilty to a public order offence and was fined £100. Jack Gilbert, of the Rainbow Hamlets gay group, said a more serious charge should have been brought. “The vast majority of the community saw the material as threatening, but the police were not willing to accept it as threatening,” he said.
Hasnath’s “interests” on his Facebook page include Khalid Yasin, a hate preacher who describes Jews as “filth” and teaches that homosexuals must be killed. Yasin has spoken at least four times since 2007 at the East London Mosque, Tower Hamlets’ most prominent Muslim institution. Although the mosque claims to be against extremism, discrimination, and violence, it has hosted dozens of hate, extremist or terrorist preachers and also hosted a “Spot The Fag” contest.
In the same week that it issued a press release condemning the anti-gay stickers, the mosque was also due to host a “gala dinner” with Uthman Lateef, a homophobic hate preacher.
The mosque is controlled by a fundamentalist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, which says that it is dedicated to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed ... from ignorance to Islam.”
The IFE’s community affairs co-ordinator, Azad Ali, is chairman of the Muslim Safety Forum, an organisation officially recognised by the Met as its “principal [liaison] body in relation to Muslim community safety.” Mr Golds said: “This relationship may explain the police’s feebleness.” The IFE also has close links to the Tower Hamlets mayor, Mr Rahman.
There is no suggestion that any mosque official has been personally involved in any act of violence or intimidation. However, in an email obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, one IFE activist, Abu Talha, used the name of the group to threaten a local Muslim woman who ran a dating agency.
“I am asking you kindly to stop these activities as it goes against the teachings of Islam,” he wrote. “Let me remind you that I have a huge network of brothers and sisters who would be willing to help me take this further…If by tomorrow you haven’t changed your mind … then the campaign will begin.” The dating agency has now closed and the woman has left the area.
Mr Ahmed Ullah said: “There has been a gradual increase in these kinds of attacks, that’s for sure.” A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “When any allegation of crime is made to us, we investigate appropriately. We will always take action against hate crime in accordance with, and within the confines of, the law.”
Revealed: How thousands of Irish fine defaulters sent to prison by judges are sent straight back home after an hour or two inside
Fine dodgers sentenced to jail time are released from prison after as little as an hour or two because of a secret government policy, the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal. Every day, as many as 20 prisoners are taken to jail, processed – and then swiftly sent home on 'temporary release'. One defaulter, sentenced to a week, was told by gardaí taking him to Mountjoy: 'Don't worry, you'll be home in time for dinner.'
This extraordinary 'revolving door' policy means that a fortune is being spent on transportation to jail, even though these offenders will never spend a night in the cells.
And it means that while the public believes fine defaulters are serving terms for non-payment of debt, they are in fact being let off with a quiet slap on the wrist.
This weekend, Justice Minister Alan Shatter admitted that he was aware of the policy – but claimed the practice was made official by his predecessor Dermot Ahern.
The Irish Prison Service could not say what the average sentence served was for the 8,325 people jailed for non-payment of fines since 2010. But senior prison sources said that for the 1,642 offenders jailed between January and March of this year, the average stay was 'just a couple of hours'.
On average, 18 people are sent to jail every day for non-payment of fines while 24 others go to prison for other crimes. Quizzed if the average stay was one night, an official said: 'It would be even less than that, a couple of hours in the majority of cases. Sometimes, the person might end up spending the night in jail but that would be highly unusual and the majority of them are freed immediately.'
The IPS said candidates for temporary release were identified by different means but usually on the recommendation of the prison governor. The primary factors are the nature of their offence, length of sentence, their potential threat and their previous criminal record.
One Justice Department official said, however, that current arrangements were not acceptable and effectively made it open season for non-payment of fines. 'The simple fact is that the punishment for non-payment of a fine is an hour or two in prison,' he said. 'Nobody wants to tell the truth or spell this out because it will only encourage people not to pay fines if they are certain there are no repercussions.'
Chronic overcrowding is being blamed for this policy of near-automatic temporary release. A fear of continuing adverse publicity over holding ordinary citizens – who do not have serious criminal backgrounds – in packed jails such as Mountjoy has also been a factor.
A department spokesman said: 'Yes, the Minister is aware of this policy. This policy was initiated by minister Ahern during the term of the previous government and it was a consequence of that government's failure to prioritise alternative remedies to addressing the issues of non payment of fines.'
The practice has been condemned by the State solicitor for Limerick, Michael Murray, who said the automatic release of offenders 'brought the law into disrepute'. 'Making orders that are not enforced is not good for the judicial or legal system and I think it is very unsatisfactory that this should be happening,' he said. 'It brings the law into disrepute.
'The other side of the coin is that there is obvious public concern that people are going to jail in the first place for relatively trivial matters like for example non-payment of a TV licence. 'Personally, I don't have a major concern there, as in the vast majority of cases people can get the fine removed if they are very poor. More often, it is an act of defiance. 'There is a type of person out there who will defy the law and scream blue murder, when if they gave up cigarettes or drink for a week, they could comfortably pay it.'
Mr Murray said jail terms for fines were still being implemented in the case of more serious offenders, and were simply added to sentences.
Meanwhile, the cost to the justice system is incalculable, with expensive escort arrangements to transport prisoners. Non-custodial costs for the IPS were estimated at €57.9million in 2009, a considerable proportion of which relates to escorts and those jailed for non-payment of fines. In some cases, particularly outside Dublin, offenders have to be driven long distances from their local court or home to the nearest prison facility.
While prison vans are used where possible, sources have confirmed that taxis and buses are paid for when no alternatives are available.
On arrival at the jail, the prisoner is met by officers, has their details taken, is photographed and then assigned a number. But then, without being allocated a cell or coming into contact with other prisoners, the majority are granted so-called temporary release. And the fine is effectively written off.
Australia: Charter's quest for utopia imperils existing freedoms
Despite the dismal results of Britain's recently enacted Bill of Rights, there is pressure for something similar in Australia. Ted Lapkin (below) points out major problems with the proposals. The British bill seems to have succeeded mainly in liberating criminals and oppressing Christians
Human Rights are supposed to be one of those motherhood and apple pie ideas that enjoy universal support without qualm nor question. At least, that's the theory.
But in the reality of 21st century politics, the term has been hijacked by the left and invested with a distinctly partisan tinge. In contemporary policy debate, the rhetoric of human rights is routinely deployed as a polemical weapon. And all too often, the spectre of a bigotry allegation is enough to intimidate into silence those whose views deviate from politically correct orthodoxy.
Now that the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is up for its quadrennial review, we've been treated to a surfeit of such moral posturing. Former British attorney-general Lord Goldsmith blew into town on a brief visit to give us a tuppence worth of hectoring and lecturing.
His Lordship primly instructed us that we must renew the charter as "the hallmark of a civilised, democratic society". Apparently, anyone who harbours misgivings about the charter is both uncivilised and anti-democratic.
Liberty Victoria president Spencer Zifcak made claims of similar pomposity, arguing that the charter established a "floor beneath which a life of dignity can no longer be led". Presumably, before the enactment of the charter in 2006, we were all eking out an infelicitous existence of vulgar barbarism.
But I refuse to be cowed by a left-leaning human rights industry that brazenly attempts to arrogate the moral high ground in the debate over the charter. I will step up to express my reasoned concerns about the pernicious impact of the charter on Victoria's democracy and political liberties.
I want the laws that govern my life to be written by people who are answerable to me at the ballot box. Like Thomas Jefferson, I believe that governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
But the charter is all about transferring power from our elected parliamentary representatives to a coterie of unelected judges beholden only to themselves. It injects the judiciary with a dose of political steroids, tempting it to become an active player in the dance of legislation.
The charter entitles the Supreme Court to declare a law "incompatible with human rights". And while Parliament may override such a declaration of incompatibility, the intervention by unelected judges into the business of our elected legislature entirely distorts the political dynamic. It offends against the separation of powers principle that is a foundation stone of modern democracy.
The empowerment of our own judges to meddle in affairs beyond their proper brief is bad enough. But the charter also authorises the Victorian courts to predicate their incompatibility rulings on the opinions of non-Australian judges. Section 32 (2) declares the judgments of "foreign courts and tribunals relevant to a human right may be considered in interpreting a statutory provision".
Think about that for a moment.
We live under a system of Victorian laws enacted by a Victorian Parliament chosen by the Victorian people to reflect Victorian moral sensibilities and standards. But the charter invites activist judges to cherry pick foreign judicial rulings in order to foist alien legal fads and fashions upon us.
While our judiciary is not directly answerable to the people, at least the Victorian governments that appoint judges must front up to the ballot box every four years. But when it comes to the foreign judges whose rulings are authorised for use in Victoria by the charter, we are deprived even of that indirect influence.
Thus the charter is doubly anti-democratic. It rewards the pretentions to power of an unelected local judicial elite. It also encourages a reliance on rulings of foreign courts whose philsophy and values are alien to our system of common law.
The essence of representative democracy was encapsulated in a single sentence by Abraham Lincoln when he spoke of "government of the people, by the people and for the people". But democracy is imperiled if an overseas court ruling can be used to negate the will of the Victorian people.
The charter is replete with many other serious shortcomings, most notably its failure to protect one of the most essential rights of all – the right to own and acquire private property. And a convicted sex offender exploited the charter to emasculate the Extended Supervision Orders that are designed to keep our children safe from sexual predators.
But the most profound flaws of the charter stem from something much more central to its philosophical core. It was H.L. Mencken who observed: "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it."
In a utopian quest for the perfect society, the charter imperils our existing democratic liberties and freedoms.
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.