Tuesday, October 04, 2011

World Vision can fire non-Christians says SCOTUS

THE US Supreme Court has agreed the World Vision Christian charity organisation can hire and fire its workers based on their religious beliefs.

The nine justices of the nation's top court, opening their new term, upheld a ruling by a lower court that World Vision was a religious organisation and as such was exempted from laws against religious discrimination.

Three former employees, who had been fired in 2007 in a dispute over the requirement that they had to be Christians, had taken their case to the Supreme Court. But the justices today refused to take up the suit, meaning the lower court's ruling from August stands.

"Today's action by the US Supreme Court represents a major victory for the freedom of all religious organisations to hire employees who share the same faith - whether Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, or any other religion," the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns, said in a statement.

World Vision employs some 30,000 people around the world.

Mr Stearns said he was "pleased, relieved and gratified with the court's action" which brought to an end four years of legal battles. "Our Christian faith has been the foundation of our work since the organisation was established in 1950, and our hiring policy is vital to the integrity of our mission to serve the poor as followers of Jesus Christ," he added.


Egalitarian civilisations 'are weaker' than those with inequality

This will all be familiar to students of dominance hierarchies in the animal kingdom. In such hierarchies the territories of dominant animals expand as food becomes short and the weaker animals simply get pushed out to die. So the survivors of a stressful situation are always the strongest and fittest animals in the group -- which is good for the survival of the group and too bad about its weaker members. Konrad Lorenz is the best known writer in that field

Societies with entrenched class systems thrive better than those with a strong egalitarian streak, suggests new research from the U.S. When the lower end of society has less than the upper classes, it makes people more likely to emigrate in search of better conditions, according to the team at California's Stanford University.

The team used a computer simulation to model two factors - stability and rates of migration for two types of society, one 'egalitarian', and one unequal. The results make surprising reading.

In the 'stratified' cultures, with a rigid class structures, shortages of food or money affected the poorer people more, while those at the top were less affected and social hierarchies remained intact.

The survival of the ruling class - and the social structure that put them in place - meant that such societies could adapt more quickly. By comparison, in societies which operate along more equal lines, deprivation is shared between the population. They bear the impact more widely and are thus less able to adapt, and slower to recover.

'The fact that unequal societies outnumber egalitarian societies may not be due to the replacement of the ethic of equality by a more selfish ethic,' as originally thought,' said cultural evolution specialist Deborah Rogers, lead author of the study. 'Stratified (unequal) societies simply spread and took over, crowding out the unequal populations.' This difference in 'survivability' was most easily seen in the early stages of human societies.

'This is the first study to demonstrate a specific mechanism by which stratified societies may have taken over most of the world,' Marcus Feldman, an evolutionary biologist at Stanford.

'Inequalities in socioeconomic status are increasing sharply around the world. Understanding the causes and consequences of inequality and how to reduce it is one of the central challenges of our time.'

That means the unequal cultures grow and spread across the globe, while the equal culture is displaced, adding to the list of reasons why communism failed as a societal model when faced with capitalism.

The research, published in the science journal PLoS ONE, leads to the galling suggestion that the 'bankers bonus' culture ultimately keeps our society strong by a driving sickened and struggling public away in search of a better life.

The research paper grew out of PhD work by the cultural evolution specialist Deborah Rogers, though she is now a researcher at the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany.

Various theories have been put forward for the development of inequality and hierarchical societies in the early years of human civilisation, with some suggesting it was to do with control of crop irrigation systems, while others have said it occurred slowly as a result of small differences in wealth due to inheritance.


Conservative MP's bill takes aim at Canada's hate speech provisions

A Conservative backbench MP from Alberta believes a majority of his caucus colleagues will support his private member's bill that would repeal controversial sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act banning hate speech over the telephone or Internet.

Tory MP Brian Storseth introduced Friday in the House of Commons a bill that would scrap Section 13 of the human rights code dealing with complaints regarding "the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet."

He said he believes the current human rights code fails to protect freedom of speech, which is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and insists Canadians are better off if the government repeals sections 13 and 54 — the latter section deals with associated penalties.

The code as it currently reads allows too many frivolous cases to proceed against citizens, he said, when hate speech that could generate harm against an individual or group is already covered by the Criminal Code.

"Freedom of speech is the freedom that all other freedoms are built on. It cannot be restrained to the politically correct," Storseth, MP for Westlock—St. Paul, said Friday as he introduced Bill C-304. "The best way to fight bigotry is to ensure that we protect and enhance our fundamental freedoms in this great country of ours."

Conservative caucus chairman Guy Lauzon said the private member's bill "hasn't even come near caucus." However, he figures Storseth has canvassed a large number of Tory MPs for their support — otherwise he probably wouldn't have introduced the bill. "There's no point putting something forward if it's not going to carry, so I'm sure that Brian has done that," Lauzon said. "Personally, I like his bill."

NDP justice critic Joe Comartin noted the House of Commons justice committee previously examined the issue and found the human rights code was a bit outdated and needed some revision.

But he disputes Storseth's argument that the section restricts free speech and must be abolished. "I don't agree with him," Comartin said Friday. He also questions whether the bill will receive support from Prime Minister Stephen Harper or the majority of the Tory caucus. "I'm not sure about his analysis of the membership of his party," said Comartin, adding he hasn't heard Harper endorse the idea.

Conservative party members voted a few years ago at their annual convention in favour of a resolution to eliminate the human rights commission's authority to "regulate, receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints" dealing with hate speech on the Internet.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who oversees the human rights commission, voted for the resolution.

The prime minister, meanwhile, has said that "everyone has some concerns" about the issue and that it's a delicate balancing act to protect free speech without inciting hatred.

On Friday, the Canadian Human Rights Commission said that complaints regarding hate speech account for slightly more than one per cent of those received by the quasi-judicial body. Only two such complaints have been received since 2009, both of which were dismissed, said commission spokesman Craig Carson.

"The commission serves the will of Parliament and so is following the debate with interest," Carson said. "The Commission works to ensure that only complaints of real and actual discrimination under the act are accepted."


Anti-Catholic bigotry lives on among the Australian Left

The designations QC [Queen's Counsel] and SC [Senior Counsel] invariably suggest a barrister [trial lawyer] who is considered and skilful in cross-examination. Court reporters usually take note when, in answers to tough-minded questioning from a QC or SC, a defendant or respondent replies that he or she simply cannot remember the circumstances of a certain event.

The tables were turned on Friday following a series of tweets from the prominent Melbourne barrister Julian Burnside. First up, Burnside tweeted that Susan Mitchell's Tony Abbott: A Man's Man , which was released on Saturday, was a "great book". Burnside concluded: "Abbott will lead the country back to the dark ages." Soon after, the Melbourne QC sent out a tweet: "Paedos in speedos". Not surprisingly, the tweetdom interpreted Burnside's comment as linking the Catholic Abbott with the paedophile scandal in sections of the Catholic Church.

Burnside then issued a tweet which declared: "This is an unprompted apology to Abbott. He is NOT a paedophile and I was not referring to him. He has many flaws but that is not one of them." Asked by The Weekend Australian whether he was replying to a tweet which asked: "Are sexist abbotts like predator priests?", Burnside replied that he could not recall. Well, now.

Mitchell's 196-page tome is essentially an anti-Catholic sectarian rant of a kind prevalent in Australia a century ago. Mitchell's message is that Australians should not elect the Coalition led by Abbott because he is a conservative Catholic who has "never left the Catholic Church". Mitchell, who did not attempt to interview Abbott for her book, presents the Opposition Leader as a "mad monk" and an immature "zealot" who is ingrained with "sexism and misogyny" and who does not acknowledge the separation of church and state.

In the author's view, Abbott has been reliant on "a series of older male mentors throughout his life". They include, wait for it, "his father, who once hoped to become a Catholic priest". Shame. Then there are the Jesuit priest Father Emmet Costello, John Howard, Cardinal George Pell and the late political activist B.A. Santamaria. All except Howard are Catholic.

Henry Rosenbloom, who runs the book's Melbourne publisher, Scribe, has allowed a number of factual errors to remain in Mitchell's text. I will detail these in my Media Watch Dog blog on Friday. The essential criticism of Mitchell and Rosenbloom is that they believe it is acceptable to describe Abbott as "dangerous" on account of his Catholicism.

Louise Adler,who as chief executive of MUP published Abbott's book Battlelines, wrote in the Herald on Saturday that "the gap between Mitchell's reading and my acquaintance makes me reflect on the disjunction between the public performance and the private reality". Adler is a not a conservative.

The fact is that Abbott, both in government and in opposition, employed a number of senior women on his personal staff. He is politically close to such senior Liberal Party MPs as Julie Bishop and Bronwyn Bishop.What's more, according to the latest Newspoll, Julia Gillard leads Abbott by only two points - 39 per cent to 37 per cent - when females are asked who would make the better prime minister. The evidence suggests that, unlike Mitchell and Burnside, many voters do not regard him as a dangerous misogynist intending to create a Christian theocracy in the Antipodes.

Abbott critics fail to understand he is a pragmatic politician with the ability to communicate in a direct language which virtually all Australians can understand. With the next federal election unlikely before late 2013, there is no point in the opposition releasing detailed policy and setting itself up as a target as John Hewson did in the early 1990s.

In his influential Herald column last week, Peter Costello suggested Abbott's economic and industrial relations policies have been unduly influenced by Santamaria's legacy and that of the Democratic Labor Party, which went out of existence in 1978 when Abbott was 19. Three leading Coalition figures - Abbott, Andrew Robb and George Brandis - have had some relationship with Santamaria and/or the DLP.

Costello also mentions three others educated in the Catholic school system - Christopher Pyne, Joe Hockey and Barnaby Joyce. Yet there is no common position among this lot on economic or social policy. Some are ardent economic reformers - Robb and Hockey come to mind. Others are quite liberal on social policy - for example, Brandis and Pyne. Moreover, Santamaria was a protectionist and a social conservative who attempted to talk Abbott out of becoming a Liberal MP.

According to Costello, the "DLP was good on defence and the Cold War but not up to much on economic issues". Fair enough. But the DLP was also the first parliamentary party to oppose the White Australia policy and its principal influence on social policy was to achieve government funding for non-government schools which, in time, benefited the families of both Catholic Abbott and Protestant Costello and many more besides.

Abbott's political success has surprised many commentators. The key to understanding the Opposition Leader is to play down ideology. Mitchell's sectarian rant obviously excited Burnside. But it is unlikely to have much long-term effect.



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.


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