Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Opponents of homosexual marriage to be discriminated against?

The hostility below is undoubted but it is unlikely to convert into action because the biggest critics of homosexuality are Muslims. And discriminating against Muslims would be deemed unacceptable. Muslims seem to be higher on the hierarchy of political correctness than are homosexuals -- otherwise Muslims would long ago have been condemned for their "homophobia"

One of my superstar former students, writing about his experience at one of our nation's premier law schools, sent me a note after reading my MOJ post on marriage, religious liberty, and the "grand bargain." Here is the text, with names removed to protect the innocent:
I had a first-hand experience with this reality in law school. One of my constitutional law professors taught the section of our course relating to same-sex marriage under the "inevitability" banner. I met with him in office hours later to talk to him about something else, but I brought up a question that I have been wrestling with: if the SSM advocates are right and opposition to SSM becomes analogous to racism in our society, what will happen to Catholics and others whose views on SSM cannot and will not change? Are they to be excluded from public office, political and judicial appointments, or places of trust and responsibility within private institutions (e.g., law firm partnerships)? I posed the question to him because I was curious to hear his response, since he is generally a kind and reasonable person who seemed open to other viewpoints.

His response was very disappointing, and it shook my confidence in him. He responded to me by saying something along the lines of:
"Well, they [Catholics and others] will either have to change their views or be treated in the same way that white supremacists and the segregationist Senators were treated. They were excluded from the judiciary entirely for decades because of the South's views on race."

He evinced no sympathy for the traditional marriage position or those who hold it. They were to be relegated to the ash heap of history. He said all of this to me knowing full well (because I had foolishly just told him) that I was a Catholic who opposed SSM.

Is anyone prepared to say that the view expressed by the professor is merely a fringe opinion in the contemporary academy? Is anyone prepared to say that it is the view of only a small minority, or a minority at all, in what University of Virginia sociologist Jonathan Haidt calls the liberal tribal-moral community of contemporary academia? Would anyone deny that there is a significant element in the elite sector of the culture---an element with real power over the lives and careers of people like my former student---that wishes to penalize or discriminate against those who refuse in conscience to yield to the liberal orthodoxy on issues of sex and marriage? Consider the professor's own words. He made no effort to hide his goals and intentions. On the contrary, he made it abundantly clear that Catholics and others who persist in their dissent are to be treated the way we treat white supremacists. They are to be stigmatized, subjected to discrimination, and denied the right to hold certain offices.

And this professor, as my student observed, is a "generally a kind and reasonable person who seems open to other viewpoints." What are we to expect, then, from those who are even less "open to other viewpoints"?


Hong Kongers resist idiotic photo ban

Should be more of it

More than a thousand people protested outside a Dolce and Gabbana store in Hong Kong on Sunday after the Italian clothing store allegedly prevented people from taking photographs of its shop front.

The protest followed reports that a Dolce and Gabbana security guard had stopped a photographer taking pictures of its shopfront from the pavement outside. More than 13,000 people had protested over the incident on Facebook.

People gathered Sunday outside the fashion brand's flagship Hong Kong store taking photos while some carried placards denouncing the store's actions. Dozens of police were deployed to maintain order.

"Trying to ban us from taking pictures in a public space, shame on them!" one protestor said on Cable News television.

Dolce and Gabbana Hong Kong did not immediately return calls for comment.

On Saturday, local politician and lawmaker Frederick Fung reportedly created a stir in the store by calling out slogans and confronting the manager while customers browsed among the luxury goods. Fung, who belongs to a pro-democracy political party in Hong Kong, had said the Italian brand needed "to make an announcement and apology".


A wretched 'reform' that could put a lame-duck into the British Prime Ministership

Precisely because the two most boring words in the English language are ‘constitutional reform’, people tend to ignore the subject. This is a pity, because such reforms normally have huge implications that are very far from boring.

For example, until a few weeks ago, if the Prime Minister chose to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament and call a General Election, he could easily do so.

This was a vital power — particularly at times (like now) when the country was ruled by an unstable coalition, with Cabinet members at each other’s throats to some degree or other.

However, as a result of the new 2011 Fixed-term Parliaments Act, a prime minister has lost that device. For this most offensive and self-serving law of modern times has removed the Queen’s prerogative power to dissolve Parliament. Instead, the power has been placed in the hands of Parliament itself.

Parliamentary terms are now fixed at five years. This means that the next General Election is scheduled to be held in May 2015. Of course, there are circumstances in which an election could be called earlier, but they are dependent on a complex set of events.

For example, Parliament can be dissolved if two-thirds of the House of Commons votes to do so on a no-confidence motion. But unless 434 of the 650 MPs currently in the House vote for the end of the Government, that won’t happen. Even the Blair government, after its landslide in 1997, did not have support on that scale.

Alternatively, the government may resign at any time: but an election is triggered only if, after 14 days, no one else can form an administration.

This could be a means of David Cameron getting an immediate election. However, the process would be messy. It might accidentally put a lame-duck, unelected Miliband government into power.

What’s more, trying to engineer an election in this way would be construed as an act of cynicism and would damage the Conservative Party hugely.

The truth is that very few people seem to be aware of this new Act, and that a major constitutional change has happened. Certainly, no one voted for it.

The new law — which can keep a government in power long after it has passed its sell-by date — has put a sizeable hole in the hull of the glorious ship that used to be called British democracy.

It could, one day, mean this country is ruled — and I use that term advisedly — by a succession of rocky minority governments, or coalitions, that try to stagger on to complete the requisite five-year term. That would be a travesty of democracy.

However, lumbered as we are with five-year Parliaments, we must get used to the notion that when a government runs out of steam it cannot be removed by a simple Commons vote of confidence (as happened to Jim Callaghan’s decrepit Labour government in 1979).

Nor can it resign and ask the country for a new mandate (as Edward Heath did in February 1974). Instead, Britain can become saddled with incompetent, and unrepresentative, governments until the five-year term elapses.

Tragically, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act is but the latest example of the inevitable problem that comes with any attempt to change, or rig, the British constitution: that such changes, or riggings, always have serious unintended consequences.

Often, these are plain to see; but another feature of constitutional reform is that the politicians who legislate for such changes are usually acting out of cynical motives and care little about the effects.


Shackle the free press? Crikey, it just doesn't bear thinking about

Gerard Henderson comments from Australia

As the saying goes: "Can you bear it?" In much of the Western world, the established media is under threat from social media. It is at this time that some who once benefited from old media become critical of all journalism.

Take the Crikey publisher, Eric Beecher, who is a former newspaper editor. In his submission to the independent media inquiry, headed by Ray Finkelstein, QC, Beecher declared that there was not enough focus on "quality journalism" in Australia, which he regards as central to "civilised society".

All well and good. Except for the fact Beecher's Crikey newsletter is not the embodiment of quality journalism. For starters, it does not engage a fact-checker. Indeed, the online publication actually proclaims the fact it publishes undocumented "tips and rumours". Crikey also, on occasions, publishes the home addresses of people who are targets of its occasional contributors.
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Last month, Crikey reported on my (alleged) poor behaviour while attending an ABC TV pre-record function in Sydney. I was in Washington DC at the time. On another occasion, Crikey published an article by Mark Latham containing my home address. Both pieces were followed by after-the-event apologies. Neither would have got through in the first instance if Crikey had proper editorial checking. Yet Beecher sees fit to call for more government regulation of the print media and to lecture-at-large about quality journalism.

Then there is Latham himself. The former Labor leader has lodged a complaint with the Press Council concerning recent reports in The Sunday Telegraph about his behaviour at a public school swimming program in Camden. The newspaper reported he vehemently criticised Bev Waugh, mother of the cricketers Steve and Mark Waugh, about the program.

These days Latham apparently believes he is a victim of media intrusion and that his utterances in public places should not be reported. If the Press Council upholds this complaint, media freedom will be severely curtailed. Latham is a columnist with The Spectator Australia and The Australian Financial Review and appears as a commentator on Sky News (part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd). In addition, Latham receives an indexed superannuation benefit of around $75,000 a year, due to his time as a federal parliamentarian. In other words, he is the beneficiary of taxpayer funding.

As the Transport Workers Union official Wayne Forno pointed out in the AFR in 2003, virtually all the jobs Latham held, up to and including becoming Labor leader, were "provided by the ALP". His employment after politics is a consequence of his time as a Labor MP.

In recent years Latham has been banging on about the primacy of privacy. In August last year he wrote that "no matter one's standing in society, a basic right of citizenship is the capacity to enjoy the quiet pleasures of a private life".

The problem is one of double standards. The Latham Diaries (Melbourne University Press, 2005) named a married Labor parliamentarian as having had a "long-running relationship" with a female lobbyist in Canberra, who was named. Latham also identified a female journalist in Sydney with whom he "once had a fling". And he cited a former ALP staffer whom he claimed had an affair with the "missus" of a senior Labor official in Melbourne. And now Latham is pleading with the Press Council to prevent a newspaper from reporting a public exchange he had with a swimming coach.

In August 2002, Latham issued a release of a speech he planned to give in a grievance debate in the House of Representatives. He misjudged the time limit, and only the first half of the speech was delivered. In the second half, Latham attempted to defend his actions in breaking the arm of an East European-born taxi driver, who had a wife and dependent children, during an altercation. Latham named the taxi driver and then asserted that the man "aspired to workers' compensation and that's what he's now got". It is a callous and cruel comment that also took no account of the taxi driver's right to privacy.

The call for greater regulation of the print media does not just come from former editors and ex-politicians. In his decision in Eatock v Bolt last September, Judge Mordecai Bromberg made findings concerning not only what the News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt wrote about "fair-skinned Aboriginal people" but also what he did not write. Bromberg objected to Bolt's "tone" and said it was important "to also read between the lines". This, despite the fact the law is supposed to be about establishing facts - not making inferences.

There is good reason for the media to act responsibly. But there is also good reason to preserve a free media, independent of excessive regulation. And there is no reason to listen to the likes of Beecher and Latham on what constitutes responsible media behaviour. It's just not bearable.



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. 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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