Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Homosexuals to be allowed to have church weddings in Britain
From a Biblical viewpoint it is sacrilege and a mockery of God
Homosexual couples will be able to take part in civil partnerships in church and other places of worship from next month, it will be announced.
Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, will say that the ban on the ceremonies in religious surroundings will be lifted on Dec 5. The move has been championed by David Cameron but is likely to be opposed by some church groups.
The scheme will be “voluntary” with no church compelled to offer same-sex services. However, it is likely that some campaigners will seek to push the matter further if churches refuse to open their doors to gay couples.
It is estimated that about 1,500 civil partnerships a year would take place in religious settings once the ban is lifted. There are currently about 5,500 civil partnerships taking place every year.
Liberal Jewish groups, Quakers and other minor Christian organisations have lobbied for the right to host civil partnerships with religious readings and hymns. However, the Church of England has warned that it would not bless same-sex couples. The speed at which the proposals are being introduced is likely to cause concern among Anglicans.
Although some in the state religion support same-sex unions, the official position remains that clergy are not allowed to bless the events.
When it was first proposed that the ceremonies could take place on religious premises, the Rt Rev David James, then the Bishop of Bradford, warned in the House of Lords that it would blur the distinction with marriage.
He also raised fears that what was first portrayed as an option would over time become an expectation and then a duty.
So the Church’s official response to the government Equalities Office consultation made it clear that the proposal must allow “unfettered freedom for each religious tradition to resolve these matters in accordance with its own tradition”.
It said the system had to operate on an “opt-in” basis and that individual clergy could not ask councils to host civil partnerships in their parish churches without the “prior consent” of the whole denomination. In the case of the Church of England, this would require the approval of its governing body, the General Synod, which has spent years tied up in the bureaucratic process of allowing women to become bishops.
The Church said it thought the Government’s setting out of the legal position would mean “it would not be possible to bring a successful discrimination claim on the basis of religious premises not being available for the registration of civil partnerships”, but urged ministers to make this clear during debates.
The fear is that rogue vicars will either try to host the ceremonies without permission, or to embarrass the Church authorities by bringing grievances over their inability to bless same-sex unions.
Homosexual couples, who have scored legal victories over businesses that refused them service, could also use the Equality Act or the Human Rights Act to claim discrimination if they were not allowed to form a civil partnership in church. Pressure groups are likely to set up campaigns for the Church, which has been made to look old-fashioned and out of step with public opinion by the anti-capitalism camp on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, to change its stance.
The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales also opposes the change but is likely to face fewer challenges as its clergy and congregations are more conservative than the Church of England.
Today’s move comes ahead of plans to give same-sex couples the right to marry, ending the legal definition of marriage as the union of a man and woman.
Another U.S. government attack on Freedom of Speech
The US House Judiciary Committee passed a bill earlier this month that — should it become law — could put me in jail for a joke I made years ago.
Back when I still had hair on my head, some friends and I loved Wednesday night at the Deer Park, a bar and restaurant in Newark, Delaware. Wednesday was Nacho Night, with half-priced nachos and Mexican beer. We were the unofficial nacho committee for local libertarians.
While grousing over the stupidity of the various forms of prohibition and victimless crimes, I realized that Mark, Brian, and I should fly to Amsterdam. Once at the airport there, my beer-soaked brain decided, the three of us should link arms and skip through the terminal as if the floor was made of yellow brick. But instead of singing about looking for some wizard, we would chant, “Hookers and pot; hookers and pot. We’re gonna get us some hookers and pot.”
It was pretty funny at the time. At least we thought so. Maybe you just had to be there.
Under this new bill, however, such a joke, would be a crime despite the fact that these activities are not criminal in Amsterdam, (unless skipping carries jail time there). They are illegal here in the land of the free, however, where people such as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), like to ignore the First Amendment and common sense.
H.R. 313 is the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2011. According to Radley Balko’s article in the Huffington Post, H.R. 313 would make it a federal crime to “discuss or plan activities on foreign soil that, if carried out in the U.S., would violate the Controlled Substances Act — even if the planned activities are legal in the countries where they're carried out.” The basic charge would be conspiracy.
In developing the story, Balko spoke with Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.
According to Piper, “Under this bill, if a young couple plans a wedding in Amsterdam, and as part of the wedding, they plan to buy the bridal party some marijuana, they would be subject to prosecution. The strange thing is that the purchase of and smoking the marijuana while you're there wouldn't be illegal. But this law would make planning the wedding from the U.S. a federal crime.”
H.R. 313 is another example of the constant and pervasive government creep of intrusion into the everyday lives of people, trespassing on our liberties. Let’s not blame just the Republicans for such a bill. The Senate version, S. 1672, is sponsored by North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad.
One of the bill’s opponents, civil-libertarian attorney Harvey Silverglate, calls H.R. 313 “an abomination.”
First, there's no intuitive reason for an American to think that planning an activity that's perfectly legal in another country would have any effect on America. So we're getting further away from the common law tradition that laws should be intuitive, and should include a mens rea component. Second, this is just an act of shameless cultural and legal imperialism. It's just outrageous.
Nothing good can come of this law. It goes beyond limiting attempts at humor. It will create more enemies for the United States. As Silverglate said, “I don't see any interest other than to a desire to impose our moral and cultural preferences on the rest of the world.”
Just as a fence helps prevent trespass onto another’s property, the Constitution was to have been a fence between the people and the government to prevent government encroachment into the rights and everyday affairs of a free people. Yet it seems the Constitution itself needs a fence to protect it from government encroachment as well.
A fence around the Constitution could take several forms, but one that would really tick off politicians is a reading test. There would only be one question: What part of “Congress shall make no law” don’t you understand?
Future gang members 'can be spotted at age three'
African features alone would be a powerful predictor -- getting it right in at least a third of cases
Children as young as three can be identified as violent gang members of the future, according to a new Government report.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans to cut off gang violence at the root by intervening in “problem families” from the moment children are born.
A new Home Office report said the beginnings of teenage violence lie in the “very earliest childhood experience”. It found warning signs are “already clear” by the time a child enters primary school, including neglect, aggression, absence from class and slow development.
Children identified as "at risk" by the age of three are more than twice as likely to have criminal convictions by the age of 21, the report said.
“Early intervention is absolutely key,” Mrs May said. “That may need to come at a very early age indeed, with toddlers, ensuring they just don’t go down that road.”
No new money will be available for prevention of gang violence, since riots involving hundreds of gang members blighted London and other UK cities over the summer. However, the Government had previously promised around £10 million will be re-directed from other areas of the Home Office next year to tackle the problem in general.
Mrs May insisted that “very often the effective intervention is not the expensive intervention”. She said hundreds of thousands of pounds can be spent on a single “problem family”, but often the money is not spent in the right way.
Iain Duncan-Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, estimated that around £12,000 was needed to “turn a family around” Improving “dysfunctional” communication between hospitals, social workers and police is crucial, he said.
Mr Duncan-Smith wants these organisations to “map” the family life of youths who are at risk of joining gangs or already members.
As part of a package of measures, the Government also wants to re-house gang members and their families if they show willingness to leave behind their lives of crime.
It is also planning to bring in injunctions for children as young as 14 to stop them socialising with gang members or going into certain problem areas. Around 100 experts in youth violence will be hired to tackle areas with particular problems.
Violence against girls connected to gangs was another key problem identified in the report. Mrs May said it was a “chilling” development that girls are being raped during disputes between rival gangs.
“They would be the partners of gang members,” the Home Secretary said. “They would find themselves being abused and sometimes being used as weapons - raping a rival gang leader's girlfriend to get back at that gang.”
She said the Home Office would provide £1.2 million of extra funding for an estimated 10,000 victims of sexual violence by gangs.
As many as 200 gangs cause fear in communities across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and other UK cities.
The Government's goal is to cut youth violence by the end of this parliament. However, Mrs May's critics said she had failed to address the impact of spending cuts on local authorities, police forces and charities who work to reduce the problem.
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, said she applauded the aims of reducing gang violence, but “it sits badly with 20pc cuts to Sure Start and well over 20pc of cuts to the youth service.”
Mehboob Khan, of Local Government Association, welcomed the recognition that “violence on the streets often starts with trouble in the home”.
But he said councils, not central government or agencies, should be at the forefront of work to tackle gangs and called for the next year’s £10 million of funding to be directed straight to local areas.
Call off this culture war against “the poor”
In a speech for the Liberty League in London, Brendan O’Neill denounced the dictatorship of do-gooders colonising poor communities
I think we should always be very sceptical whenever we hear the phrase ‘the poor’. And we should be super-sceptical whenever we hear the phrase ‘the underclass’.
Because I can guarantee you that every time you hear those phrases, you will discover far more about the person doing the talking than you will about the people being talked about. You will discover far more about the speaker’s own fears and prejudices than you will about the lived experiences or morality of those cash-strapped sections of society.
In no other area of public life does anecdotage trump evidence as fantastically as it does in discussions about ‘the poor’. In no other area of political debate is it so acceptable to marshal rumour and hearsay to your cause as it is in debates about the underclass or the residuum or whatever we’re calling it these days.
Indeed, I would argue that ‘the underclass’ is not an objective social phenomenon – it is more like a moral phantasm, magicked into existence by the subjective panicking of people at the top of society. The underclass is an imaginary category, whose existence is not proved by graphs or hard-hitting investigations but rather by the fireside storytelling of journalists and academics who claim to have encountered this strange tribal group.
This was brilliantly captured in a comment piece in the Independent published in November 2008, which contained the following sentence: ‘A friend of mine has worked in child protection for 20 years and she says that, yes, there is a definite underclass.’ Well, there you have it – you can’t really argue with such searing social evidence.
Of course, there is such a thing as ‘poor people’ – people who have less money than you. But there isn’t really such a thing as ‘the poor’, meaning a whole swathe of society who allegedly share the same degraded morality and who are all promiscuous and fond of booze and so on. I think the service that ‘the poor’ provide for the political and chattering classes today is as a kind of fodder for moralism, a kind of endless pit of anecdotes and horror stories that are used to motor moralistic campaigns and moralistic commentary.
What we have today is a situation where all sorts of activists and thinkers basically go fishing for anecdotes in ‘underclass’ communities and then use those anecdotes to justify their own Victorian-style campaigns of pity or condemnation. This means that everyone has a tendency to see in ‘the poor’ what they want to see, what is most useful for them and for the promotion of their pet projects.
So for example, child-protection charities, or the child-protection racket as it ought to be called, see widespread depraved child abuse in poor communities. They always exaggerate it, of course, by lumping together everything from a child being slapped to a child being killed as examples of child abuse – because the more abuse there is, the more these charities can continue to justify their own miserable existences.
Likewise, domestic-violence charities imagine that wife-beating is rife on council estates and in poor communities, especially after tense football matches and during times of recession. That is why in 2009 the New Labour government, with the backing of domestic-violence campaigners, published a pamphlet advising women how to cope with ‘recession-related domestic violence’ – because it fantasises that poor men are naturally violent and that they therefore become more violent as they become more poor.
Campaigners concerned with food fantasise that ‘the poor’ spend all day eating so-called junk food. This means someone like Jamie Oliver can make utterly unfounded statements about the gastronomical depravity of poor people and nobody challenges him. He claims that in some ‘white trash’ communities – his words – children are eating such bad food that they are now vomiting up their faeces. This is complete nonsense, of course, a physical impossibility. Once again, it reveals far more about the base, scatological mindset of certain sections of the chattering classes than it does about life or dinnertime in less well-off communities.
Animal-welfare charities imagine that poor people are always mistreating their pets, especially their so-called dangerous dogs. This means that someone like Jon Snow, liberal London’s favourite newsreader, can say about dangerous dogs: these ‘violent uncontrollable animals… these beasts fulfil some animal instinct [within their owners]’.
Meanwhile, right-wing commentators concerned about the decline of manners and morality see in ‘the poor’ a tidal wave of foul language and disrespect. Christian groups worried about the state of the institution of marriage see in ‘the underclass’ too much fornication and too many single mums. Left-wing academics who find materialism distasteful see a rising tide of mental illness – or what they call ‘affluenza’ – amongst less well-off people who are only interested in acquiring more ‘stuff’ rather than becoming better people. And so on and so on.
Time and again, across the political spectrum, from the conservative right to the radical left, people cite ‘the poor’ and their depraved antics as a way of promoting their own prejudices. ‘The poor’ have become a kind of vast political library for politicians and opinion-formers, who go in, borrow an anecdote or a horrible image, and then use it to push their narrow political agendas.
The unreliability of this library, the fact that it is little more than a gallery of imaginary horrors that the chattering classes pilfer from, was brilliantly summed up in a recent Conservative Party report which claimed the following: ‘In the most deprived areas of England, 54 per cent are likely to fall pregnant before the age of 18.’ Actually, it’s not 54 per cent but 5.4 per cent. But decimal points don’t matter when your aim is simply to paint a picture of doom designed to make you look morally upstanding in contrast to the immoral poor.
The problem with all this stuff is not only that it is ill-informed and snobbish and annoying, although it is all of those things. The real problem is that this orgy of moralism towards ‘the poor’ increases and exacerbates the very thing that is actually denigrating poor communities today: external intervention.
The demand of all these underclass-obsessed agents of doom is always more state or political or charity intervention into poor people’s lives, whether it is more tough policing or what they call ‘tough love’. More CCTV cameras or more charity assistance. More cops on the street or more welfare handouts. More parenting classes, more relationship education, more psychological analysis, more food advice, more dog-training expertise… all of this and more is now offered to ‘the poor’, as every area of their lives becomes fair game for the meddling of experts and emissaries from the welfare state.
From the right to the left, there’s now a desire to lift ‘the poor’ out of their moral and economic squalor by re-educating them or wrapping the welfare safety net more tightly around them. This is a disaster, because the problem facing ‘the poor’ today is not their own moral turpitude or some natural propensity to violence and gluttony – it is the dictatorship of do-gooders that wants to colonise their lives. It is this dictatorship of do-gooders that weakens community bonds by inviting poor people to become more reliant on the state than they are on each other. It is this dictatorship of do-gooders that ruptures family ties by communicating to children the message that there are experts out there who are better at bringing them up than their own parents are. It is this dictatorship of do-gooders that undermines free-spiritedness and aspiration in less well-off communities by welfarising every aspect of their existences.
It is fashionable these days to talk about balancing freedom and responsibility, as if there is a contradiction between these two things. But there is no contradiction. Indeed, it is only through being free that you can become a morally responsible being. It is only through exercising freedom of thought and speech and choice that you can become morally autonomous and properly responsible for your life and its direction. As John Stuart Mill argued in On Liberty, ‘The human faculties of perception, judgement, discriminative feeling, mental activity and even moral preference are exercised only in making a choice. The mental and moral, like the muscular powers, are only improved by being used.’
Today, people’s mental and moral powers are being decommissioned, weakened, undermined, put out to pasture by the relentless intervention of the welfare, nanny and psychological states into their lives, constantly telling them how to parent, how to eat, even how to think about themselves and their futures. So next time one of those snobs obsessed with rescuing ‘the underclass’, and its children and its pets, wonders out loud why there seems to be a lack of spirit and drive in some poor communities, you should tell them: ‘It’s your fault. Get out.’
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.