Thursday, June 16, 2011
Human rights victory for rapists and paedophiles in Britain
Thousands of sex offenders, including rapists and paedophiles, will be able to apply to be removed from the sex crimes register under human rights laws, the Government has announced.
A Supreme Court ruling has forced the Government reluctantly to draw up new rules allowing serious sex offenders put on the register for life to have their place on the list reconsidered.
The Home Office plans were opposed by child protection campaigners and Conservative MPs, who said some offenders could never be considered completely “safe”. The new rules were drawn up because the Supreme Court ruled that automatic lifetime inclusion on the register breached the Human Rights Act.
David Cameron said the ruling was “offensive,” but ministers say they have no choice but to comply by changing the rules on the register.
The case is the latest involving the Act to set judges against political opinion. It has increased calls for reform of the Act, which is being reviewed by a Coalition committee.
Under current rules, anyone sentenced to more than 30 months in jail for a sexual offence is put on the register for life on release. Those on the register are monitored by police and visited regularly by officers. The Home Office estimates that there are about 44,000 people on the register, about 25,000 of them for life.
Under the proposed rules, adults listed for life could apply for removal after 15 years. Their cases would be considered by police and probation officers. Those under 18 at the time of their crime would be able to seek a review after eight years.
The Home Office estimated that the change would mean more than 2,000 people a year would be eligible to seek a review. Offenders whose applications are rejected will have to wait another eight years before being able to seek another assessment. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said it opposed allowing child abusers to be removed from the register.
A spokesman for the NSPCC said: “Our view remains that adults who sexually abuse children should stay on the offenders register for life as we can never be sure their behaviour will change.”
Priti Patel, a Tory MP, said the court ruling added to the case for reform of the Human Rights Act. “Sex offenders are vile criminals,” she said. “Why are these people allowed to use human rights laws to protect themselves? What about their victims?”
This is not the first case of the Coalition being forced to introduce potentially controversial measures at the behest of judges. Ministers are drawing up plans to allow some prisoners the vote after a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr Cameron told MPs in February that the court ruling on the register “flies in the face of common sense”. He ordered an appeal, which was rejected in April, forcing ministers to draw up the new system.
Despite ministers’ reservations about the change, the Home Office’s “impact assessment” study suggested that it could bring some benefits. Removing some people from the register would mean that “police resources may focus on those offenders who pose a higher and continuing risk,” it said.
The department said investigations suggested that not all the 2,000 offenders a year eligible to apply to be removed would do so. It predicted a maximum of 1,200 offenders would apply for removal.
Some experts and campaigners believe that several offenders present a permanent danger, justifying permanent restrictions on their freedoms.
The Home Office said it was impossible to say how many, if any, applications for removal from the register would be successful. But Harry Fletcher, of the National Association of Probation Officers suggested that very few applications would succeed.
“No doubt there will be no shortage of sex offenders who will want to appeal against being on the register because of stigma and shame,” he said. “However it is highly unlikely that any will be successful. To be removed, the individual will have to prove that they are no longer a threat to women and children and this will be extremely difficult.”
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said some sex offenders would always pose a risk, but backed the review plan. “The reality is that the risks posed by some offenders can never be completely eliminated,” he said. “But we will continue to do all in our power to keep them to a minimum and believe that the proposed review process strikes the right balance between individual rights and public safety.”
Anticipating public unease about the new rules, the Home Office also proposed tightening the conditions applied to people on the register, forcing them to give the police their bank and passport details and notice of any foreign travel.
British Equalities office where women earn 8% more than men
Its role is self-evident in its title, but it seems the Government Equalities Office may have gone a little too far in correcting unfairness on its own doorstep. Its female employees are being paid an average of 7.7 per cent more than male colleagues. Across Britain, men on average earn ten per cent more than women.
Whitehall’s most politically correct department, set up to eradicate sexism across all the Government, also has nearly twice as many female employees as men. Of the 107 staff, 65 per cent are women. Three years ago, around the time Labour’s sexual equality supremo Harriet Harman took charge, 56 per cent of staff were women.
Tory MP Dominic Raab last night criticised the department’s apparently poor grasp of its own motto, ‘Putting equality at the heart of government’.
The Esher and Walton MP said: ‘It undermines the credibility of the equality and diversity agenda if bureaucrats at the government equalities office are preaching about unequal representation and the pay gap, whilst practising the reverse. It smacks of double standards.’ He believes men get a ‘raw deal’ because anti-discrimination legislation favours women, and he claims men are the victims of ‘obnoxious bigotry’ by women.
The Government’s own strategy on equality warns that ‘positive discrimination is not acceptable and is unlawful’. Yet the gender pay gap has almost doubled in the Government Equalities Office since 2008. It became a gulf under the leadership of feminist Miss Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader and the former equalities minister, who took over in late 2007. Six jobs out of every seven created since June 2008 went to women.
And before spending cuts were imposed on Whitehall, administration costs soared from just over £5million to £9.4million. The department spent nearly £185,000 on a conference to reverse sexism for women prisoners, holding ten events to discuss how to ‘best utilise the gender equality duty to meet the distinct needs of women offenders’. A further £3,768 was spent on venue charges for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month.
The department has also splashed out on glitzy events, including a European Union Women in Power summit in Cadiz, Spain, in February 2010 and a road show for female councillors.
An examination of its annual reports also revealed that it failed to meet its own target to reduce spending on pen-pushers. In the four years to 2010, staff levels rocketed from 62 to 130, dropping to 107 this year.
A spokesman played down the widening pay gap, adding: ‘Like all civil servants, staff are employed on fair and open competition. Gender is not a factor in any decisions.’
Ignoring Inconvenient Truths on homosexual Identity
The nation's increasingly visible and influential gay population generally draws eager attention from mainstream media, so why would stories about a big, new, federally-funded sex survey include scant mention of its counter-intuitive revelations about homosexual identity?
Could it be that the virtual black-out on reporting of "gay data" from this study stems from the fact that these numbers contradict politically correct notions about the prevalence and nature of real-life same sex attraction?
The research in question (from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics) earned considerable praise as the most scientific and authoritative report of American sexual behavior in at least 17 years. Most headlines, however, concentrated on one small aspect of the study, trumpeting the unexpected news that increasing numbers of young respondents remained virgins. In typical accounts, Time magazine announced “Surprise: In the Age of Sexting, Teen Virginity on the Rise” while USA Today announced “Sex study: More teens, young adults are virgins.”
No major news source focused on the survey’s single most startling disclosure: the fact that gay people comprised a vastly smaller segment of the populace than commonly assumed and frequently claimed. Even among purportedly uninhibited, liberated younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 44 (the study’s principal focus), a mere 1.4% identified themselves as “gay, lesbian or homosexual.” Moreover, there’s no evidence that the dramatically reduced stigma attached to homosexuality among the new generation has led to any increase in gay orientation: among men, respondents aged 20-24 were less likely to see themselves as gay than those between ages 35 and 44 (1.2% to 2.1%).
Contrary to popular notions that countless individuals who pretend to be straight actually wrestle with hidden, unfulfilled gay yearnings, while "out" homosexuals feel unshakably certain and unwavering in their gay identity, the survey showed that an overwhelming 93.5% of males report that they feel attraction “only for females” while just 1.2% say they’re attracted only to other men. Far from the commonly cited ratio suggesting that straights outnumber gays by 10-to-1, the new data reveal that those with exclusively heterosexual attraction outnumber those with solely gay inclinations by a staggering 78-to-1.
There’s also a powerful indication that the tiny minority who do profess gay identity actually feel far more confused and conflicted in their orientation than do their instinctively (and often unthinkingly) straight counterparts. Among men and women who describe themselves as homosexual or bisexual (a grand total of 3.7% of the 18-44 population) overwhelming majorities (81%) have experienced sex with partners of the opposite gender. Among those who call themselves heterosexual, on the other hand, only a tiny minority (6%) ever engaged in physical intimacy of any kind with a member of the same sex.
Adding to the evidence of more fluidity and uncertainty among those who proclaim their gay or bisexual orientation, a stunning 13.5% say they’ve never actually engaged in homosexual behavior of any sort. This means that those advocates for gay pride who realized even before puberty that they were exclusively, immutably homosexual, and then never wavered in their orientation, are, in fact, extremely rare. The new CDC/NCHS report shows that homosexual and bisexual respondents were nearly as likely to have made love to opposite gender partners (81%) as to partners of the same sex (86.5%).
Political correctness applauds those individuals who discover their “true nature” later in life, displaying the courage to come out as gay only after many years of heterosexual experience. At the same time, enlightened opinion denies a similar possibility of change in the other direction, insisting that anyone who “comes out” as straight after even the briefest interlude of homosexual behavior is, by definition, phony and self-deluding.
In fact, the numbers show that the great majority of those who “ever had same sex sexual contact” do not identify long-term as either gay, lesbian or bi-sexual. Among women aged 30 to 44, for instance, 11% report some form of same-sex contact at one point in their lives but only 0.7% presently identify as gay, and 1.1% as bisexual. In other words, for the adventurous minority who may have experimented (to use an old-fashioned word) with gay relationships at some juncture earlier in their lives, well over 80% explicitly renounced homosexual (or even bisexual) self-identification by the age of 35. For the clear majority of males (as well as women) who report gay experiences, homosexual activity appears to represent a passing phase, or even a fleeting episode, rather than a life-long, unshakable, congenitally pre-determined orientation.
The once popular phrase “sexual preference” has been universally (and indignantly) replaced with the term “sexual orientation” because conventional wisdom now insists there is no element of choice in the development of our erotic identity. According to current thinking, sexual orientation represents such a profound, intrinsic, inalterable part of who we each are that it’s meaningless to discuss willfulness or volition when it comes to its formation.
This may well be the case for the 94% of males and 87% of females (aged 18-44) who have never experienced same-sex contact of any kind and may never have questioned the single-minded, exclusively straight outlook—an outlook deemed “normal” in an earlier age.
For the less than two percent of men and women who describe themselves as gay, however, the issue of sexual orientation remains vastly more complicated, regardless of societal disapproval or endorsement of their behavior. When statistics show that huge majorities of self-reporting homosexuals have experienced sex with partners of the opposite gender it powerfully suggests that gay identity only seldom counts as automatic or unequivocal.
The media reported on none of these significant and provocative aspects of the study (officially released with much fanfare through the Department of Health and Human Services) despite the fact that the national sample of 13,495 made it one of the most significant surveys of its kind. Perhaps many reporters simply disregarded conclusions that contradicted conventional wisdom, resorting to the common contention that embarrassed participants always under-report their same-sex involvements. To minimize these factors, researchers used “Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviewing” asking respondents to enter their “own answers into the computer without telling them to an interviewer.” They also couched questions in terms meant to stress the open, non-judgmental attitude of investigators, asking for instance: “People are different in their sexual attraction to other people. Which best describes your feelings?”
If shame or reticence nonetheless led to misleadingly low numbers for those who described themselves as gay, then why didn’t the same factors similarly reduce reports of gay sexual experience (more than four times more common than homosexual identification)? If embarrassment caused under-reporting of gay activity then how could so many respondents (44% of males, 36% of females) overcome their shyness to confirm participation in the rarely discussed practice of anal intercourse?
At a time of exploding deficits and crushing public debt, skeptics may rightly question the decision to invest scarce federal money in an ambitious new sex survey, even when that report produces data that most Americans would welcome as good news—like the declining median number of life-time sex partners for both women (3.2) and men (5.1).
Informed advocates as well as ordinary citizens may argue about the deeper meaning of such perspectives, just as they dispute the cultural or political relevance of the new report’s revelations on homosexual identity; there’s no pat, obvious conclusion as to the application of this research to fiercely contested issues like same sex marriage or the drive for a gay-friendly military. But not even the most prestigious investigation can provide ammunition or enlightenment until our leading news sources overcome the prevailing cone of silence to offer full, fearless accounts of important, provocative information that the government scientists actually found.
“Western parents need to chill out about their kids”
The author of Paranoid Parenting says that far from needing a stricter ‘Asian’ approach, Western parenting is already way too intensive
Last night, in a debate in London titled ‘Western parents don’t know how to bring up their children’, regular spiked contributor Frank Furedi clashed with Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother , and others. Furedi’s opening remarks are published below.
When it comes to discussing parenting, everyone thinks they are warranted to take their own personal story and recast it as a philosophy. On no other issue are you allowed to communicate such prejudices and such stereotypes as you are in relation to parenting.
So Theodore Dalrymple [one of the other speakers] happened to hear a couple of children swearing and concluded that this has never happened before in British society. Children of his generation would never have used a four-letter word, that was unthinkable. And now we apparently have this epidemic of children who go around swearing and so it is obvious that British parents are not doing their bit. Amy Chua [another speaker] concludes that in Western societies children have too much choice. Really? They have so much choice that middle-class children in London literally have their entire lives organised for them by their parents.
From the moment they get up in the morning to the evening, when they are passed around by their parents from one activity to another, literally they have no free time to be children and to relax. The idea that we live in a world where children have incredible choices, and where parents are laid back, chilled out and ‘just get on with it’, is a myth. It bears no relationship with reality. I think it’s important to realise that when we talk about Western parenting, what we are really talking about is intensive parenting. Western parenting is phenomenally intensive today. Parents now spend far more time with their children than they did in any other generation. Each day, a working mother in the twenty-first century in Britain spends two to three hours more looking after her children than a mother who stayed at home in the 1970s. That’s how intensive it has become.
What is really interesting is that all these so-called ‘Asian attributes’ discussed in Amy Chua’s book [Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother] are not Asian at all. Anybody who has been to New York or Massachusetts will recognise those characteristics straight away. To give an example of how it works: the other day a friend of mine in New York told me a story about how her four-year-old has been on a waiting list for a high-powered pre-school nursery. She had been on it for months and months. And the mum wanted to know how she could train her child to get into the nursery so that she could play with toys. At first I thought she was exaggerating, but then I went online and discovered that there is an online service called ‘How to ace a pre-school interview’. And it wasn’t a service for Chinese people or Cambodian refugees. It was for Westerners.
This is pretty much what it said: Education nowadays starts even before kindergarten. The best and most elite preschools don’t just have expensive tuition, they have long waiting lists of eager parents who would send their children there in a heartbeat. If you’re lucky enough to have a preschool call you and your child in for an interview, you should do everything in your power to give the best possible impression. That kind of competitive, high-powered parenting will be quite familiar to anyone who lives in north London. Indeed, in most middle-class neighbourhoods in London and around Britain there seem to be more tutors than rats these days.
One side of the stereotype today is that parents over here are laid back and relaxed and care a lot about a child’s self-esteem. And then the other side of the stereotype is that in China and elsewhere in Asia, parents are really hardass and they would never dream of spoiling their child. There has been a protracted debate in China about ‘little emperors’, about how much children have been spoiled by their parents. That debate has been going on for a very long time. But the awkward fact is that if you happen to go to Shanghai or Beijing, you will actually find the equivalents of Islington mummies and daddies, who are adopting exactly the same, fairly intensive parenting style that exists over here. They just say it all in Chinese rather than English.
So it seems to me that we are essentially discussing two middle-class approaches towards parenting – ‘intensive parenting’ in the West and ‘tiger parenting’ in the East – rather than two things that are really culturally different from one another. It’s very easy to get confused in this debate. My argument is simple and straightforward. Western parents are actually quite good at parenting, if they are left alone. Parenting is not rocket science; you don’t need a PhD in developmental psychology to be a good mum or dad. There is no problem with Western parents. No, the real problem is that society now does everything in its power to make it difficult for parents to have confidence in their judgement calls. We make it very hard for parents to live the life of a parent, to feel like a real parent, because all their intuition and all their approaches towards life are constantly undermined.
So what are the problems that we face in the West? The first one is that we have a tendency to devalue parental confidence. Time and time again, we continually pathologise what parents do. All the politicians in all the political parties seem to dine out on lecturing parents about their failures. I can remember the moment when – it was either Gordon Brown or David Cameron, but they were totally together on this issue – when one of the political leaders gave a typical presidential lecture. They adopted that tone of compassionate care and said ‘y’know Jim’ – it was on the Today programme or something – ‘parenting is probably the most difficult job in the world’.
And everybody thinks a politician deserves a standing ovation because he says ‘parenting is the most difficult job in the world’. But actually it isn’t. Being a nuclear physicist is a lot more difficult that being a parent. Being a Formula One driver is, on balance, a bit more complex than changing your son’s nappies.
In truth, what people really mean when they say that parenting is the most difficult job in the world is that the ordinary mums and dads over there are unlikely to be up to this very difficult task. You, mum, and you, dad, need a phenomenal amount of parenting advice. You need a posse of experts to come in and hold your hand and give you what they call ‘support’.
What we now have are constant reminders telling us how difficult parenting is, which of course makes parents very insecure. This then leads to what I think is the real problem – which is that there is now so much pressure on parents to do this very difficult job well that they start to live their lives through their children. And as you live your life through your children, you begin to lose sight of what it is that you ought to be doing. When you live your life through your children, your parenting style becomes synonymous with your identity. And that’s the really tragic thing about the world that we live in today: you forget about the real job of childrearing and become much more concerned about parenting as a cultural accomplishment of identity construction.
The reason why we have debates like this one is because the transformation of parenting into a way of forging an identity, its close relationship with who we are, means we can’t just relax about different parenting styles. You can’t simply say, ‘Well, Amy brings up her child this way, that’s cool, I don’t like it but that’s her business’, or ‘Jessica brings up her child another way, y’know, that’s fine, but I wouldn’t do that’. Instead of just saying that some parents do things differently because their children are different or their circumstances are different, we feel an urge to make a political issue out of who we are as parents. And the more we make a political issue out of it, the more we take our eyes off the real job – which is looking after our kids in the best way that we can.
I think that on a good day, Western parents do that really, really well. The problem is not that Western parents can’t bring up their kids; the problem is that, due to all the cultural and political pressures that I have described, Western parents have lost the capacity to chill out, relax and get a life.
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.