Friday, October 21, 2011

Britain CAN trump Europe on human rights, says Britain's most senior judge

The Lord Chief Justice yesterday cast fresh doubt on whether Britain should be following the instructions of European human rights judges.

Lord Judge said that in arguments with the French-based European Court of Human Rights, ‘maybe Strasbourg shouldn’t win’.

His remarks to a committee of peers were the culmination of a growing movement of criticism among senior judges of the court and the decisions it tries to force on this country.

They suggest that discontent with the human rights court from the public and politicians, which came to a head in the row over whether prisoners should have the vote, is increasingly mirrored among the judiciary.

Lord Judge, head of the judiciary in England and Wales, told the Lords Constitution Committee during a discussion of how its rulings should be treated: ‘I would like to say that maybe Strasbourg shouldn’t win and doesn’t need to win.’

He questioned whether the most senior British courts needed to be bound by Strasbourg judgments.

‘For Strasbourg there is a debate yet to happen – it will have to happen in the Supreme Court – about what we really do mean in the Human Rights Act, and what Parliament means in the Human Rights Act when it said courts in this country must take account of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

‘I myself think it is at least arguable that, having taken account of the decision of the court in Strasbourg, our courts are not bound by them.’ Lord Judge added: ‘We have to give them due weight, and in most cases obviously we would follow them, but not necessarily.’

Up until two years ago, British courts accepted rulings handed down from Strasbourg without question.

Among the key decisions followed to the letter was the ruling that no British Home Secretary could set the jail term a murderer must serve, and the instruction that the treatment of children in the justice system must change because Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, the juvenile killers of James Bulger, did not receive a fair trial.

But the Supreme Court has recently challenged Strasbourg in at least two little-publicised cases.
Contested rulings: The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg's decisions have only persuasive influence in British courts

Contested rulings: The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg's decisions have only persuasive influence in British courts

Strasbourg judges are likely to make a new ruling on prisoner votes this autumn which will insist that Britain obeys the order to allow convicted offenders in the jails to vote in parliamentary elections.

Such a ruling could provide a major test of whether British courts are willing to defy the European judges.

Lord Phillips, head of the Supreme Court, indicated yesterday that he believed British courts had no choice but to obey.

He told the peers’ committee: ‘In the end, Strasbourg is going to win so long as we have the Human Rights Act and the Human Rights Act is designed to give effect to that part of the rule of law which says we must comply with the convention.

If we have Strasbourg saying “you can’t do that”, it raises some very real problems.’

Unhappiness among senior judges at the behaviour of the ECHR surfaced two years ago when newly retired Law Lord Lord Hoffmann warned that Strasbourg ‘considers itself the equivalent of the Supreme Court of the United States, laying down a federal law of Europe’.

Since then judges to question the Strasbourg court have included Lord Phillips, who said there were cases in which its judges should ‘think again’, and his deputy at the Supreme Court, Lord Hope, who said last year: ‘We certainly won’t lie down in front of what they tell us.’


Jihadi Terrorism and Radicalism

Book Review of Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge: European and American Experiences, second edition edited by Rik Coolsaet, Ashgate, 2011.

Nancy Kobrin, PhD

Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge concerning European and American experiences is an important updated second edition volume edited by Rik Coolsaet. He is eminently qualified to undertake this task as Professor of International Relations at Ghent University, Belgium as well as Senior Associate Fellow at the Egmont Institute in Brussels. He writes a stirring account of the recent problems concerning jihadi terrorism and its precursor phenomenon, radicalization. One of the most salient issues concerning radicalization is what makes someone become operational, that is what turns the faucet on which unleashes the violent rage of the individual, either in the collective or as a lone wolf. It seems that we are still in the early stages of understand such a complex phenomena.

There are many nuggets of information and thoughts that are found in this new and improved text. There are five new voices too: Leena Malki, Clark McCauley, Robert Lambert, Marc Sageman and most especially Lorenzo Vidino. Authors Cesari, Crenshaw, Fraihi, Peters, Roberts, Roy and Van de Voorde have either completely written new essays for this edition or have revised and update their former contributions of 2008 when the first edition appeared.

'Radicalization' means "to cause (someone) to become an advocate of radical political or social reform" and it derives from the Latin radix. However, with this second volume I couldn't help but associate another etymologically related word -- 'radish' -- because this root is eaten raw and is pungent, like the crudeness of the violence of the jihadis.

There is much that I agree with in this volume, for example "the ideological narrative is not the root cause of radicalization" (p. 262) and that radicals are not produced in a vacuum, the context is extremely important. I would hasten to add that culture plays a significant role. Furthermore the "intersection of personal history, and that enabling environment" (p.263) such as in the case of Mohammed Bouyeri who brutally murdered Theo Van Gogh is crucial to understanding what unleashed his regression into such psychotic behavior.

The term 'humiliation' appears along with another concept 'code of honor' throughout the volume as an emotional root of the problem. Yet the key emotion really is shame which was missing. The context of these environments or breeding grounds for radicalization occur in shame honor cultures where the female is completely devalued. Even in the West there are pockets of shame honor cultures or families, which helps to explain the converts draw to jihad. The female suicide bombers merely internalize male hatred of the female as self-hatred and under the guise of a suicide bombing operation can mask their complete lack of social standing and value as well as years of blatant abuse and manipulation. This is why the issue of honor killing and the suppression of women's rights is so important because, for example, the Centre for Social Cohesion in Britain did geomapping of areas where they found honor killing and jihadis. Lo and behold, they were nearly the same areas. Yet few wish to connect the dots between the behavior and the ideology. The ideologies act like a girdle for a very weak and fragile, bullying personality of an emasculated male.

True, the concept of social bonding is discussed in a series of these essays, especially Sageman's work in which he refers to the 'bunch of guys' phenomena or Malkki on the radical left terrorist campaigns in Europe and the US. However, social bonding and leaderless jihad can not have arisen de novo. There has to have been underlying major characterological psychopathology which contributed to this pathological social bonding. Elsewhere I have argued that the first bond in life with the mother is the attachment pattern for later in life. In shame honor cultures the maternal bonding is most problematic at best, again because the female is completely devalued and abused.

Van de Voorde cites Jerrold Post's work while not naming his Political Paranoia text per se, nonetheless the fact that paranoia surfaces in this discussion, inadvertently links back to the mother once again. This makes for prime problems in future social bonding. We see this in the importance of kinship and friendship bonding (p. 262) about which Coolsaet writes. Muriel Degauque, the female suicide bomber convert, exemplifies this bond as well (p. 165) There also is discussion of attachment to a role in Horgan and Taylor's essay on Disengagement, De-radicalization and the Arc of Terrorism (p. 180). This attachment can be understood as a kind of metaphor for a problem in social bonding and attachments. Professor Diego Gambetta, who is not a contributor to this volume, is one of the few counterterrorist experts who has raised the question of jihadis being schizoid, meaning forming attachments to hard, cold weapons as well as computers and cyber space rather than being able to bond to people without resorting to violence. Terrorists lack empathy.

Along these lines it is interesting to note that the work of Jessica Stern is drawn upon but not her most recent moving memoir Denial. The defense mechanism of denial points to how highly dissociated terrorists are. Paranoia by definition means that one is dissociated from reality and seeks to defend against it because it is too painful to acknowledge vulnerability and death.

The question of recidivism looms large for those working to rehabilitate jihadis and prevent them from lapsing back into terrorist behavior. A future area of inquiry which might be helpful to explore is the recidivism of sex offenders. Jihadis have very problematic fetishes and psychosexual problems. We see this in their choice of introducing bombs into breast implants, the anus and even underwear to say nothing of shoe, which speaks to a developmental obsession and obviously a perversion.

Nevertheless Coolsaet and his colleagues have done an admirable job of informing the expert and lay readers about the challenges which we continue to face. Perhaps a third volume might include recent developments in neuroscience, biometrics and even the area of the unconscious. This volume makes a great reader for students of this subject matter.


Australia: Vague laws let courts dictate public morality

SOME recent cases, including the prosecution of News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt, highlight the dangers that flow from the assertion of group rights.

Relying on legislation such as the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act and the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, groups of individuals have claimed offence at public comments on the basis that the allegedly offensive comments promote intolerance.

In fact, the idea of toleration, famously espoused by John Locke in his 1689 Letter Concerning Toleration, is being turned on its head. In it, Locke sought to distinguish the business of civil government from that of religion.

Written when controversy surrounded the idea that Catholics should be able to practise their religion in Protestant England, or Jews or Muslims enjoy religious freedom in a Christian nation, Locke argued that the state and the church had separate functions. He sought to find a way that people of different religious beliefs could live together.

As summarised by Jonathan Sacks, toleration "aims not so much at truth but at peace. It is a political necessity, not a religious imperative, and it arises when people have lived through the alternative: the war of all against all." Hence the political separation of faith and power; of church and state: "No person shall be compelled to support any religious worship, but all persons shall be free to profess their religious opinions."

Today the issue is not only religion. It extends to cultural identity and multiculturalism.

If the new philosopher-judges, such as the court in the Bolt case, subscribe to one view of these matters, they are little different from the theologian-judges before the Lockean settlement.

This is occurring when the political notion that the law should not intrude into areas of private behaviour has been transformed into the moral assertion that a person now has the right to do anything not precluded by law.

The political judgment about the boundaries of the law is now translated into a moral judgment about rights. What one was permitted to do now becomes what one has the right to do. And having asserted a right, many insist it should be protected by the law. Hence Locke's political toleration has been combined with the new moral relativism.

As Sacks cautions, "When political liberalism is combined with moral relativism it reconnects morality and politics, the very thing liberalism was supposed to avoid."

A moral judgment that liberalism allowed a person to express in the realm of faith and religion, or today culture and identity -- for example about religious belief, including the alleged beliefs, customs or practices of other religions -- is now swept into the political realm.

In morally relative politics, a right to do something must be protected as a new human right. Not only is the activity now a right, but the people involved are right (or at least as right as anyone else). To say otherwise is intolerant. Such intolerance is discriminatory and should be punished. How the wheel has turned in three centuries.

One of the great achievements of the political liberalism of the 17th and 18th centuries was the idea that the individual is the foundation of the polity. The law treated individuals as its basis. This notion was foundational to liberal democracy.

Hence in the spirit of this development, the 1776 US Declaration of Independence boldly asserted that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed".

Under this formulation, it is the individual who possesses political rights and whose consent legitimates government. It was a rejection of the idea that rights subsisted in classes of people, whether determined by birth, hierarchy or membership of a particular group. It is central to the liberal democratic experiment.

Increasingly, however, rights are now being asserted on behalf of groups. A claim is made for example, that the expression of a moral judgment about the beliefs, statements or actions of another group should be unlawful because it is offensive to members of the group or that it is likely to insult that group.

Whereas the laws of defamation protect the individual against libel and slander, it is now claimed that moral judgments or observations about a group should be unlawful and punishable. This is a significant shift.

The main fault lies with the parliaments that have created vague laws from abstract principles about which judges can be tempted to conclusively determine public morality on issues such as speech and thought in a multicultural society.

Laws that enable groups, rather than individuals, to assert rights should be repealed before we head any further down this dangerous path.


A load of waste paper and a dog-mess bin in an art gallery? It must be Turner Prize time

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that a group of painters and decorators had left behind a pile of their paint-spattered dust-sheets.

In fact this collection of crumpled paper, suspended plastic bags and scattered chalk is the work of one of the four finalists in this year's annual Turner Prize competition.

The other artists' work includes enamel paintings of mundane scenes including a dog dirt bin and a rundown pub, shaky split-screen videos of tower blocks and a piece titled 'Do Words Have Voices' which features a battered and scratched wooden table.

The exhibition for the world's most controversial prize for modern art launches in Newcastle's Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art tomorrow. This is the first time the Turner Prize has been held at a non-Tate venue in its 27-year history. But the displays are certain to generate the same amount of criticism about whether they deserve to be defined as art.

The prize is notorious for rows over the artistic merit of its exhibits - which have included an unmade bed, balls of elephant dung and a room with a light turning on and off. This year's finalists are only slightly less controversial.

Karla Black's innovative approach to sculpture sees her suspending plastic bags from the ceilings of galleries and using small scrunched up balls of dough in her pieces. She selects things she 'cannot help but use' which include powder-paint, plaster, crushed chalk, Vaseline, lipstick, topsoil, sugar paper, balsa wood, eye shadow, nail varnish and moisturiser.

Another Scot, Martin Boyce, has created atmospheric, angular sculptural installations which have philosophical names like 'Do The Words Have Voices.'

Hilary Lloyd uses still and moving images as well as sound to portray abstract urban environments. She makes her technical equipment a part of her sculptures, clearly displaying the audio-visual tools.

George Shaw's naturalistic paintings of urban landscapes, council estates and abandoned houses are small in scale but give out a strong message. He paints the landscape of his adolescent life. Each scene exists within a half-mile radius of George's childhood home on the Tile Hill estate in Coventry.

The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, located on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead, has a world class modern art collection of its own - as well as offering almost unparalleled views over the city of Newcastle.

It is the UK's largest display space for contemporary art outside London, and was created from a derelict 1940s grain warehouse as part of a drive - spearheaded by Gateshead council in the 1990s - for transformation through culture.

SOURCE (See the original for pix)


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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