Sunday, December 04, 2011

Jeremy Clarkson ignites the hypocrisy of the Left

It's OK for Leftists to make jokes in poor taste but not OK for others

Jeremy Clarkson has apologised for saying that strikers should be taken out and shot in front of their families. I suppose that was the right thing to do. To be honest, it’s a bit hard for me to judge because public-sector whingeing makes my own trigger finger itch. But the “in front of their families” bit was gratuitous even by Clarkson’s standards.

I like to think, though, that even if I were a Lefty I’d be able to tell the difference between saloon-bar rhetoric, in which being taken out and shot is the punishment for everything from paedophilia to leaving your wheelie bin on the pavement, and a really nasty joke.

Such as, for example, making fun of the physical appearance of disabled children.

That’s what the comedian Jimmy Carr did. “Why are they called Sunshine Variety coaches when all the kids on them look the f——same?” he asked in his most recent live show. Geddit? Children with Down’s syndrome have similar features. Not much “variety” there, eh? They’re all the same! Boom-boom!

Some friends of mine have children with Down’s syndrome. It’s a tremendously difficult disability, but the quality of love between the parents and child often seems especially intense, as if to help them meet the challenge. In my opinion, anyone who exploits this condition for a stand-up cackle is, if you’ll forgive a descent into Carr-speak, a f—––– sicko.

Jimmy Carr apologised. Sort of. But not before he’d defended his joke. “It was the 238th gig of the tour and nobody has complained so far,” he said – untruthfully. A mother of a child with Down’s syndrome complained about the joke a year ago. She begged him to remove it from his stage show. Carr didn’t even reply to her letter.

Still, I can believe that he told that joke hundreds of times without anyone in his right-on audience complaining. These aren’t people who would guffaw at the sight of a Sunshine coach. But they don’t mind Jimmy Carr crossing that line because gags about the disabled are “edgy” if made by comedians with radical political views.

This isn’t the only example. Ricky Gervais likes to throw around the word “mong”, short for “mongol”. What is it about Down’s syndrome that tickles the funny bone of Lefty comics? I suppose they’re so afraid of sounding racist, sexist etc that there aren’t many minorities left. And the kids don’t answer back.

All political tendencies exhibit double standards but the Left gets away with murder. This week saw the publication of an excellent article in Commentary magazine in which Jonathan Foreman tried to explain to a US readership why the Independent isn’t sacking its columnist Johann Hari, whom we now know is a plagiarist, fantasist and slanderous liar. Foreman’s conclusion was spot on. Hari escaped sacking because he told the right kind of lies, ones that amused liberal opinion-formers.

Twitter, needless to say, heartily embraces the double standards of the Left. It went bananas over Clarkson. Misery princess and New Statesman hack Laurie Penny declared: “I am ashamed to have a passport the same colour as the crypto-fascist propagandist Jeremy Clarkson. Whose salary, btw, is publically [sic] funded.”

Strangely, I have been unable to find a tweet from Laurie condemning Carr, with whom she appeared on the “edgy” but sanctimonious Channel 4 programme 10 O’Clock Live. But she did remind us that November 20 was Transgender Day of Remembrance. Must put that in the diary for next year. Do you think Jimmy or Ricky have some jokes up their sleeves about transsexuals? I doubt it, somehow. Wrong sort of minority.


March of the PC brigade: Atheists in court battle to ban Britain's town hall prayers

An atheist campaign to ban the historic practice of saying prayers at council meetings yesterday found its way to the High Court.

Former councillor Clive Bone, backed by an anti-religious campaign group, claims the tradition breaches his human right to freedom of belief. Mr Bone said he was ‘disadvantaged and embarrassed’ when Christian prayers were said in the council chamber.

Backed by the National Secular Society, Mr Bone wants prayers to be ruled out of the formal agenda of any local authority meetings.

His case reached the High Court yesterday at the culmination of a three-year campaign. Success could open the way for a drive to force Parliament to abandon saying prayers as part of Commons and Lords business.

The NSS has based its legal challenge on the claim that Mr Bone, as an atheist, should not be subjected to religious ritual, and that to do so breaks his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

However it was revealed yesterday that he is no longer a councillor in Bideford in Devon. Town clerk Heather Blackburn confirmed: ‘Mr Bone did not stand for re-election in May 2011.’

The Society said yesterday: ‘The NSS is taking Bideford Town Council to court after receiving a complaint from one of its councillors, Clive Bone, that he was disadvantaged and embarrassed as a non-believer by the saying of prayers as part of council business.

‘He has either to sit through them or leave the room without leave of the Mayor. The Council even rejected a suggested compromise period of silence.’

Its lawyer David Wolfe, told Mr Justice Ouseley in the High Court: ‘The claimants challenge the town council’s practice of holding religious prayers. ‘We say the conduct of holding prayers within the formal part of the meeting is an unlawful practice.’

Bideford council has voted to keep its prayers. Similar decisions have been taken by other town councils in Devon when the argument has been raised over the past three years.

The council’s legal defence is being aided by another pressure group, the Christian Institute. Mike Judge, of the Institute, said: ‘The Council have debated this several times. They’ve debated it, they’ve sought advice, they’ve held special meetings and they’ve voted on it.

‘And the majority of them said, actually we would like to continue with this practice. It cannot be unlawful for the Council to say prayers if it has democratically chosen to do so.’

Ministers yesterday indicated support for the council. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he could not comment on the issues before the High Court, but added: ‘This Government recognises and respects the role that faith communities play in our society.

‘Prayers are an important part of the religious and cultural fabric of the British nation. While the decision on whether to hold prayers is a matter for local councils, we believe they should have the freedom to do so.’

Mr Bone, a management consultant, is in his 60s and describes himself as ‘semi-retired’. He is a regular contributor of letters to newspapers on subjects ranging from engineering to the forthcoming remake of the Dambusters film.


U.S. Military to Rescind Policy Banning Bibles at Hospital

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said they are rescinding a policy that prohibits family members of wounded military troops from bringing Bibles or any religious reading materials to their loved ones.

The decision to rescind the ban on Bibles came exactly one day after a Republican lawmaker denounced the policy on the House floor and called on President Obama to publicly renounce the military policy.

“The President of the United States should address this and should excoriate the people who brought about this policy and the individual who brought it about should be dismissed from the United States Military,” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told Fox News & Commentary.

King spoke from the House floor Thursday blasting a policy memorandum from the commander of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center written by Chief of Staff C.W. Callahan. The September 14th memo covers guidelines for “wounded, ill, and injured partners in care.”

“No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit,” the policy states.

“That means you can’t bring in a Bible and read from it when you visit your son or your daughter, perhaps – or your wife or husband,” King said. “It means a priest that might be coming in to visit someone on their death bed couldn’t bring in the Eucharist, couldn’t offer Last Rites. This is the most outrageous affront.”

A spokesperson for the medical center told Fox News late Friday that the policy will be rewritten and its intent will be made “crystal clear.”

“The instructions about the Bibles and reading material have been rescinded,” said Sandy Dean, a public affairs officer for Walter Reed. “It will be written to articulate our initial intention which was to respect religious and cultural practices of our patients.” Dean said the instruction was “in no way meant to prohibit family members from providing religious items to their loved ones at all.”

If that’s the case, why is the policy being rescinded? “We don’t want there to be any misinterpretation of what we’re trying to say,” she told Fox News. “We appreciate Congressman King bringing this to our attention. We don’t want our instructions to be ambiguous.” We appreciate him bringing it to our attention.

Rep. King said the military has some explaining to do. “I don’t think there’s any excuse for it and there’s no talking it away,” King told Fox News. “The very existence of this, whether it’s enforced or not, tells you what kind of a mindset is there.”

“The idea that these soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that have fought to defend our Constitution, and that includes our First Amendment rights to religious liberty –would be denied that religious liberty when they are lying in a hospital bed recovering from wounds incurred while defending that liberty is the most bitter and offensive type of an irony that I can think of,” he said.

The policy has brought strong condemnation from religious and conservative advocacy groups. “It flies in the face of not only the Bill of Rights, but 200 years of federal law,” said Ken Klukwoski, of the Family Research Council. “This current administration is showing unprecedented hostility towards those practicing the Christian faith.”

“But beyond that,” he told Fox News, “We’ve also seen a militantly secular attitude of trying to sterilize the Defense Department of all references to faith.”

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, echoed Rep. King’s demand that whoever is responsible for the memo be fired. “It cannot be allowed to stand,” Land told Fox News. “It must be rescinded and the people responsible for perpetrating it should be fired.”

Land said the policy “shows the ugly face of the pseudo-tolerance of secularism.” “They claim to be tolerant but this is as intolerant as you can be – to not allow wounded soldiers to have religious artifacts,” Land said.

King said Americans must “take a very strong stand.” “Christians are generally nice people and for that reason they can victimize the Christians in this country,” he said. “There was a reason that Christ gave us the demonstration of righteous anger when he threw the money changers out of the temple. It gives us some license to throw these kinds of people out of the military.”

King said he’s been alarmed at a trend he’s seen to scrub Christianity from the military – most recently the decision to remove a cross from an Army chapel in northern Afghanistan because it violated Army regulations.

He placed the blame on the Obama Administration. “This is Orwellian,” he said. “Who would have believed even two or five years ago that the Executive branch of government led by our Commander in Chief Barack Obama would produce some kind of document that would prohibit family members coming into our military hospitals

Klukwoski said he’s noticed a similar trend in what he called “anti-faith measures.” “We are seeing a shocking level of hostility towards religious faith but beyond that – we’ve also seen a militantly secular attitude of trying to sterilize the defense department of all references to faith and references,” he said.


Criminalizing Your Internet Profile?

The New American (15/11) states,
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is backing a controversial component of an existing computer fraud law that makes it a crime to use a fake name on Facebook or embellish your weight on an online dating profile such as eHarmony. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a 25-year-old law that mainly addresses hacking, password trafficking, and computer viruses, should enforce criminal penalties for users who violate websites’ terms of service agreements, alleges the Justice Department.

There are two ways to interpret the DOJ's push to criminalize a breach of online “terms of service.”

The Civil-Libertarian Interpretation

The civil-libertarian interpretation is that the DOJ finds the use of fake names and information on the Internet to be a barrier to collecting the personal data it desires for monitoring peaceful behavior. But passing legislation to outlaw “bad” data would be a lengthy, problematic process, during which civil-liberties and privacy advocates would howl. Thus, the DOJ is attempting to sidestep the process by interpreting existing laws in a new way.

It wants to use the CFAA to enforce the online contracts that go into effect whenever a user registers and clicks the “I Agree” button. Specifically, the DOJ wants to apply a general-purpose prohibition against any computer-based act that “exceeds authorized access.”

Thus, in addressing Congress, the DOJ's deputy computer-crime chief stated that this CFAA provision should be interpreted broadly enough to permit “prosecutions based upon a violation of terms of service or similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider.”

In the name of national security, the DOJ seeks to criminalize a tort violation that is usually viewed as trivial. Indeed, as Orin Kerr, a professor at George Washington University Law School, stated “All of these sites, Facebook and Twitter included, have terms of service, which are written extraordinarily broadly. No one ever reads what those terms are. I'm a law professor. I just click yes.”

If someone is found to be in violation of an online contract by, for example, using a fake name on Facebook, then the current “penalty” is to have his account closed and, perhaps, his ISP blocked from the site.

If the DOJ is successful, however, that offense could be prosecuted as a crime. Lying about your age or other personal characteristics on sites such as could be similarly criminalized.

Kerr continues,
If you … read what those terms of service are, they'll include things like all the information you give has to be accurate. You have to be a certain age, if you've given any information about things that you like, where you live. If any of that is inaccurate, you are technically in violation of the terms of service of the site. But if that is a criminally enforceable rule, then suddenly pretty much everybody who uses computers is a criminal. And it's incredibly easy for the Justice Department to step in.

In short, the DOJ is seeking a vast, unprecedented power to regulate and criminalize the flow of information over the Internet. The DOJ is unlikely to use this new power against the lovelorn who shave 10 years off their ages, but that power would be available to be used against anyone at the DOJ’s own discretion.

The DOJ’s Interpretation

DOJ justifications range from fighting terrorism to combating the specter of inside trading. The most common justification, however, is one seemingly designed to capture public sympathy. The DOJ says it wants to be sure it can successfully prosecute the next Lori Drew.

In 2006, a thirteen-year-old named Megan Taylor Meier committed suicide in reaction to cyber-bullying by Lori Drew, the mother of one of Megan's schoolmates. Drew faked an identity on MySpace in order to conduct her cruel campaign.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which functions under the DOJ, investigated for a year before allowing the case to go public to the media. The case created a national sensation. In Missouri, where Megan had lived, it turned out that Drew could not be prosecuted because she had broken no existing law. (In response, the state's harassment law was later expanded, so that it became a crime for adults over 21 to use a phone or electronic device to cause emotional distress to children under 18.)

Propelled by cries of “Justice for Megan!,” prosecutors then charged Drew in California (where the headquarters of MySpace is located) with three felony counts of violating the CFAA and one felony count of conspiracy to violate. In order to make the charges better fit the CFAA, which was designed to prevent hacking, the prosecutors argued that Drew's violation of the service contract was akin to hacking into MySpace's computers for criminal purposes.

In 2008, a California jury convicted Drew of three lesser, misdemeanor charges. The convictions were reversed on appeal. U.S. District Judge George Wu stated that allowing the convictions to stand “basically leaves it up to a website owner to determine what is a crime … and therefore it criminalizes what would be a breach of contract.”

He further stated that the government's interpretation of the CFAA would give prosecutors the ability to criminally convict anyone who violated online “terms of service.” This, Wu argued, “would convert a multitude of otherwise innocent Internet users into misdemeanant criminals.”


The DOJ is asking Congress for sweeping new powers that have the potential to impact most people in America. On November 18, a DOJ representative provided the Internet civil-liberties guru Declan McCullagh of CNET with a transcript from a Congressional hearing. The purpose was to assure McCullagh and his readers that “the DOJ is in no way interested in bringing cases against the people who lie about their age on a dating site or anything of the sort.”

And yet, a Left-Right coalition that includes the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and FreedomWorks warns of just that. In a letter sent to the Senate, the coalition stated, “If a person assumes a fictitious identity at a party, there is no federal crime. Yet if they assume that same identity on a social network that prohibits pseudonyms, there may … be a CFAA violation. This is a gross misuse of the law.” (PDF)

Understandably, people are reluctant to grant government widespread and vague powers over their daily lives. And the criminalization of any tort is a power best denied.

Even if the DOJ's reassurances to Congress and the public are sincere, the agency is prone to mission creep, and muscles tend to be flexed. Indeed, the DOJ's attempt to radically expand the interpretation of the CFAA beyond its original intent is a testament to mission creep.

Of the two interpretations, it is better for freedom to be safe than sorry.



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 is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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