Wednesday, December 07, 2011
I went into Woolworths to buy Christmas cards yesterday. I am not fanatical about it as I am an atheist but I like to buy Christian-themed cards out of respect for the Christian basis of the holiday. But although Woolworths had a big range of cards I could find none with Christian themes. Pretty poor for Australia's biggest retailer!
So I went to the Indian shop next door where I occasionally see the owner reading a nicely-bound copy of the Bhagavad Gita in Hindi. Sure enough he had packs of cards with Christian themes. So he got my business.
A sad day when it takes a Hindu to show what tolerance is like! Why on earth would Woolworths be so bigoted against Christianity? Who is going to be offended by them including a few cards with Christian themes in their range?
Australia is not a religious country but there are still a lot of committed Christians about so they would find the Woolworths offering unsatisfactory and would go to (say) a newsagent to buy their cards. So bigotry is also bad business, as it usually is.
Now the elf n' safety monsters attack Britain's Christmas
Thompson Dawson was at Buckingham Palace last week to receive an MBE from the Queen for services to charity. It was a proud moment for the 82-year-old businessman, who has been bringing joy to children for the past four decades while raising money for leukaemia research.
After his wife Marie died from cancer in 1972, Mr Dawson became involved in a charity she helped set up which would arrange Santa Claus visits to children in the Greater Belfast area.
Up to 30 volunteers would give their time every December to dress up as Father Christmas and delight youngsters with a surprise visit to their homes. In exchange, their parents would make a small donation to the charity.
For almost 40 years, Mr Dawson has run the operation with military precision. He is too modest to say how much money he has raised, but it must add up to tens of thousands of pounds, if not more.
This enchanting scheme covered a wide area from Lisburn to Carrickfergus and reached across the sectarian divide, even at the height of the Troubles.
I heard about Mr Dawson from his nephew Colin, who wrote to me after an item in this column concerning instructions which had gone out to parents who volunteer to play Santa in schools that under no circumstances must they allow children to sit on their knee.
Although Mr Dawson has been honoured by the Queen for his achievements, there will be no more home visits from Santa for the children of Belfast.
The scheme has had to be abandoned under the burden of bureaucratic interference. In the past couple of years, vetting of volunteers has become more intrusive and onerous.
Despite the fact that the parents invited the Santas into their homes and were present throughout, every single volunteer is considered a potential paedophile unless he can prove otherwise.
Mr Dawson decided that because of the amount of time and paperwork involved he could no longer continue. When I spoke to him yesterday, he didn’t want to make a fuss but is clearly bitterly disappointed.
His pride at receiving his MBE is tinged with sadness that a scheme which brought innocent pleasure to children and raised thousands for leukaemia research has had to be abandoned.
Mr Dawson hopes to keep the charity going through setting up a Christmas grotto in a local shopping centre, where parents can bring their children. But home visits from Santa, the unique feature of his beloved project in memory of his late wife, are gone for ever — another victim of the hysterical paedophobia of the child protection industry.
As his nephew Colin put it to me: ‘I fully understand the need to protect our children but it saddens and angers me in equal measure that fear has removed the joy and spontaneity of many worthwhile causes and activities that were once taken for granted.’ Amen to that.
Under the guise of ‘protection’, the State delves ever-deeper into our private lives. For instance, Harry Foster writes from Middlesbrough to tell me about his wife’s attempts to give something back to society.
Jackie Foster is a grandmother in her 70s who volunteered to help children read at a local school. Nothing unusual in that. My wife used to do the same when our kids were young.
But the forms she was expected to fill in were both extensive and intrusive — everything from her mother’s maiden name to what qualifications she left school with. They even demanded her marriage and birth certificates. Eventually, when a woman from the council came round to interrogate her, Jackie politely withdrew.
She also applied for a part-time job making tea and coffee in a charity shop run by a local hospice. As well as the usual background checks, they wanted to know what medication she was taking.
As a retired postal worker, who left the Royal Mail after 22 years with an exemplary reference, Jackie was understandably insulted. What damn business was it of anyone if she was taking prescription medicine? She was only going to make tea, for heaven’s sake.
But we’ve been here before. Even women who volunteer to arrange the flowers in churches are subject to criminal records checks, just in case they plan to molest the choirboys.
When it comes to child ‘protection’ we are all considered guilty unless we can prove ourselves innocent in advance.
In the most outrageous example, a supply teacher in Newcastle has been sacked after giving a lift home to a 17-year-old boy who had lost his bus fare.
Martin Davis, who has been teaching for 23 years, was working at Tyne Metropolitan College helping pupils with dyslexia prepare for the world of work.
Last month, the boy approached him and said he had no money for his bus fare home.
‘I said that because he lived on my route home I would give him a lift,’ said Mr Davis, who has two children.
‘A week later one of the office staff at the college pulled me to one side, having heard about me giving the boy a lift, and said it was a stupid thing to do because I was opening myself to all sorts of allegations. I said I was sorry and she just told me not to do it again, and that seemed to be the end of the matter.’
Next thing he knew he was accused of gross misconduct by the agency which employed him, suspended without pay and told there was ‘no way back’.
No wonder thousands of adults who would otherwise willingly volunteer to give up their time to work as sports coaches and youth club leaders are not prepared to put themselves through an impertinent, forensic vetting process to prove they’re not a kiddie fiddler.
There really is something depressingly sick in a system consumed by paranoia, which sees a sinister motive in every act of human kindness and Christian charity — and regards every adult who wants to work with children as a potential paedo waiting to pounce.
Of course, the authorities insist that all this is necessary to protect children and any personal information gleaned will be kept confidential. Right. If you believe that, you probably still believe in Santa Claus.
Santa a 'Red-faced symbol of over-indulgence' according to British magazine
Now Father Christmas has been banished from the nation's newsstands - so as not to upset cash-strapped families who can't afford presents this year. Radio Times have dropped the iconic figure from the front cover of their Christmas edition, for the first time in nearly a decade.
The TV listings bible said it wanted to reflect the nation’s current mood by banishing Santa, a 'symbol of the boom years'.
Instead the Radio Times has opted for a 'festive flowing illustration' of a Christmas tree, which it feels better reflects the tough economic climate by 'harking back to simpler times'.
'This is going to be a difficult Christmas for many people and we have tried a cover that’s nostalgic and makes people feel warm,' said the magazine’s editor, Ben Preston.
'For many years Santa has been a cheery fixture of our legendary Christmas double-issue... but somehow that didn’t feel right this year. 'At a time when so many people are hunkering down with friends and family and turning their backs on extravagant gift-giving, we wanted something different.'
This year’s front cover has been illustrated by artist Kate Forrester, whose other work includes commissions for John Lewis, Tiffany and Penguin Books. According to Mr Preston, the red and green cover is 'nostalgic and beautiful, to lift the spirits in troubled times'.
It won’t be the first time Santa has been ditched as the cover star during times of austerity. Following the infamous Black Wednesday in 1992 he was replaced with a snowman. And he also disappeared from the Christmas cover when the dotcom bubble burst in the early 2000s.
But the magazine’s sensitive approach hasn’t stopped bosses from increasing the price of the Christmas edition by 4.2 per cent. This year’s edition goes on sale from Wednesday and costs £2.50, up from the £2.40 charged last year.
Australia: Parents who spank kids 'only human'
A PARENTING guide author has reignited the smacking debate by defending parents who snap and hit their children as "only human".
Anne-Marie Taplin, author of Being Mummy and website parentingexpress.com, said some parents fell into the gap between "what should happen and what actually happens". "Children can be very good at pushing parents' buttons and sometimes you can just feel a surge of rage and lose control," Ms Taplin said.
While acknowledging current advice that smacking was unacceptable, the mother of two said it was not fair for others to judge parents who hit their children.
"I would never advocate hitting a child but I think we need to acknowledge that parents are only human and be very careful about how we judge the people who are doing one of the world's most challenging jobs," she said.
Australian laws allow corporal punishment of children as long as it is "reasonable" in the circumstances, but Victorian coroner John Olle earlier this year pleaded with parents to "never hit a child". Mr Olle was inquiring into the death of a girl, aged two.
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 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.