Sunday, March 11, 2012
My SPEECH belongs to me
Yet in December, the House approved bill HR 313 that would CRIMINALIZE even personal speech that merely _anticipates_ the use of drugs...
...in another country!
* The House Judiciary Committee defeated an amendment that would exempt speech that applied to drug use in nations where it is legal.
* It even defeated an amendment that would make the law enforceable only against real conspiracies among drug kingpins. (http://1.usa.gov/x4Hpxy)
* In an act of gutlessness, the House let the measure "pass" without even a voice vote.
* And author Rep. Lamar Smith boasted that the bill was "bipartisan" and had the support of the Obama Administration. (http://cs.pn/y2gi8E)
This means, if your own son says, "Next month, I'm going to Amsterdam, and I plan to get high," then you and your colleagues would sentence him to a federal prison.
AND BOTH PARTIES ENDORSED THIS?
It is pathetic that I even have to ask: What is the crime in merely talking about future drug use? How do we even know if it's true? And why would it matter to the U.S. government what one of its residents does while visiting a foreign country, when that something is LEGAL? Are we your children?
Under this bill... (http://huff.to/qu0MHb)
* A U.S. doctor who works with overseas doctors or government officials on needle exchange programs could be subject to criminal prosecution.
* A U.S. resident who advises someone in another country about how to run a medical marijuana dispensary would also be in violation of the new law, even if medical marijuana is legal in the country where the recipient of the advice resides.
I may or may not think some now-illegal drugs are unhealthy. I may or may not think using them are immoral.
But I will NOT sacrifice basic human rights, such as freedom of speech, just because I don't like where my neighbor takes his vacation.
HR 313 demonstrates how Drug Warriors are devoid of reason, disrespectful of the Constitution, and lacking in basic empathy and compassion. They show themselves to be brutal, backward, and fanatical by outlawing mere words about things they dislike.
I urge the entire Senate to oppose this atrocious bill. Kill HR 313 in committee, and if it or a similar bill comes to the floor, use all your parliamentary tricks, including filibuster, to defeat it.
The Holy Father condemns homosexual "marriage"
POPE Benedict XVI condemned gay marriage in a speech to bishops from the United States after the US state of Maryland last week became the eighth in the nation to legalise same-sex unions.
"Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage," the Pope said, warning against "the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage."
"Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature," he said.
He also said bishops could not overlook "the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation."
"The contemporary crisis of marriage and the family... has led to grave societal problems bearing an immense human and economic cost," he added.
Benedict has frequently warned against liberal family values in veiled references to homosexual marriage and adoptions by gay couples and the Catholic Church often condemns countries that recognise gay rights.
Benedict praised the visiting bishops for their pastoral work. "I appreciate all that your parishes, schools and charitable agencies do daily to support families and to reach out to those in difficult marital situations, especially the divorced, single parents, teenage mothers and women considering abortion," he said.
A “human-rights sceptic” and proud of it
Anyone who values liberty should be a card-carrying ‘sceptic’ of the European Court of Human Rights
When Shami Chakrabati, director of British lobby group Liberty, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today last week to argue against proposed reforms that would see far fewer cases going before the European Court of Human Rights, she branded her opponent, Dominic Raab MP, a ‘human-rights sceptic’. Such is the confidence of the human-rights lobby today that it has adopted a tactic established by climate-change activists: accuse your opponent of having committed a thought crime with their arguments, which they will then - as Raab did - be forced to deny vehemently .
It is time that such swaggering confidence was punctured. The human-rights framework that has developed in Europe, including the UK, over the past 60 years - built on the European Convention on Human Rights - is a dehumanising, anti-democratic system of law, deserving to be bulldozed at the earliest opportunity. It is time that liberal opponents of the human-rights system followed in the proud tradition established by homosexuals and hip-hop artists by re-appropriating the language used to keep them down: Sista, it’s time liberals were proud to be ‘human-rights sceptics’.
And I mean real, proper, balls-in-hand sceptics. It’s time that the acceptance of human rights as our standard for freedom is interrogated with a view to exposing its illiberal assumptions. Of course, the idea mooted by the UK Liberal-Conservative government predictably falls short. The reforms, to be debated at an international conference in Brighton next month, propose that no case would be considered by the European Court unless a national court has ‘manifestly made an error in its interpretation of the convention’, or if the case ‘raises a serious question about the way the convention is interpreted or applied’. The proposals follow high-profile cases in which the government has been prevented from doing what it wants to do by the European Court. Most recently, the wigged up saviours of humanity in Strasbourg have prevented the deportation of radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada and forced the UK government to consider giving prisoners the right to vote.
You don’t have to be a little Englander, or even right wing, to recognise that it is an affront to democracy that unelected and completely unaccountable judges, who have absolutely no democratic mandate, are able to override the decisions of elected representatives. It is appalling that European judges can make significant political decisions over a body of citizens across Europe to whom they will never have to answer.
But there is a more fundamental reason that liberals should be sceptical of human-rights law: because it makes us all less free. Human rights are not ‘rights’ in a liberal sense at all. They bear no resemblance to the ‘rights’ fought for by the radical liberals of the English Civil War, or the French and American revolutions, which sought to limit the power of the state and protect the autonomy of citizens. Instead, human rights treat people as fundamentally vulnerable and in need of state protection. This view of human vulnerability, in the eyes of the human-rights lobby, justifies the granting of absolute power to the state to set the boundaries of freedom.
Take, for example, the ‘right to a private and family life’ protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The courts will not consider a claim under Article 8 unless it is convinced in the courtroom that you have a ‘family life’ worth protecting. How the courts have defined ‘family life’ for the purposes of Article 8 is laughably antiquated. In 2002, the courts ruled that ‘family life’ does not exist where a relationship between parents and their grown-up children is ‘only emotional’, in that the children are no longer economically dependent on their parents. Neither are unmarried parents likely to be considered a family, unless they maintain sufficient levels of contact with their children. How can any ‘liberal’ support the idea that your family life is only worthwhile if it conforms to what the state decides a family should look like?
Or take Article 10, which purports to protect our freedom of expression. Of course, the very concept of ‘freedom of expression’ owes its existence to radical liberals like John Stuart Mill and Voltaire, who argued that there can be no exceptions to free speech, otherwise you do not have free speech at all. But human-rights lawyers will tell you that Article 10, along with most other human rights, is a ‘qualified right’ because there is a long list of conditions under which the state can interfere with it. This list includes where it is necessary in the ‘interests of public safety’ or for the ‘protection of health or morals’. Such broad qualifications mean that as a means of limiting state power, ‘qualified’ human rights are all but useless.
In fact they are worse than useless. History has shown that this qualified, state-sanctioned notion of freedom makes human rights a force in opposition to the civil liberties fought for by the radicals of the past. Since the European Convention on Human Rights was made directly applicable in UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998, it has approved the introduction of reams of draconian anti-terror legislation, including new powers of surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 that give local authorities increased powers to spy on their citizens. The Human Rights Act has also allowed new legal bans that limit how we can use public space. Rather than promote freedom, human rights have fostered an environment in which state interference has become commonplace.
This is why anyone who believes in freedom should be a card-carrying, philosophical ‘sceptic’ of the European Court of Human Rights. We should be sceptical of unelected judges making political decisions; sceptical when human-rights lawyers tell us we are vulnerable plebs in need of the state’s protection and, perhaps most importantly, sceptical of the very ideological foundation of the human-rights framework: the idea that the state should decide for us what freedom looks like.
British law doesn't give a damn about fathers
By Louis De Bernières
Some years ago, I was outside a pizza restaurant when a young woman turned up, pushing a pram. She was preceded by a small boy who must have been about four years old. He stopped at the door, whereupon she said: ‘Well, open the f***ing door, you little s**t.’ I think my disillusionment with the idea that there was something sacred, sublime and beautiful about mothers and motherhood began on that day.
Shortly after, I spent some years working in a truancy centre, where we tried to give a little general education to children who had missed years at school. In many cases, it was clear that the reason for these absences had been mothers who kept them at home either because the women were lonely or because they needed the children as babysitters.
The point is that while there are many good mothers in the world, there are plenty of bad and often abusive mothers, too, yet we still have a Family Justice system that prizes mothers and motherhood, but devalues fathers.
When David Cameron wrote an article in the Sunday Telegraph one Father’s Day, he made a point of attacking absent fathers. I snarled with contempt and threw the paper across the room. He clearly had no idea that a very high proportion of fathers are absent because they are forced to be so by vindictive and possessive mothers, and the family (in)justice system that backs them up.
David Cameron has young children, and he ought to consider what it might be like, if, God forbid, his marriage ever ended, to find that the courts are against him — and that any orders they made giving him access to his children were unenforceable.
He might win the right to have them for half the time, but if Samantha withheld access to the children, there would be absolutely nothing he could do about it, except apply for another order she could ignore.
Judges of both sexes are the kind of people who have never had to change a nappy in their lives, and don’t see why any man would want to. They also seem to have a strangely warped moral sense.
Now that family (in)justice is under review, any male MPs with small children ought to take note of what might be done to them the moment their marriage or relationship goes wrong, as mine did two years ago.
Since then, as patron of Families Need Fathers, I have received many letters of support, many of them telling dismal and heartbreaking stories.
The surprising thing is that most of them come from grandmothers. They write about their sons’ repeated breakdowns, caused by being separated from their children, or about how children are brainwashed to reject their fathers. This is called ‘parental alienation’ by those in the know.
I have had letters from paternal grandparents who are desperate with grief, because ever since their grandchildren were abducted (as they see it, and so do I), they have never seen them again.
Lest I seem misogynist, I should say that the passion you have for your children is the most powerful and overwhelming emotion you can have, and the behaviour of some mothers is entirely explicable because of this.
One of the reasons I became a father was that a friend of mine told me that until you have had children, you know nothing of human love. I have since found out that he was right.
The problem is that when you go through a break-up, this extreme passion results in an equally extreme selfishness with respect to sharing them. If I had my way, I would have my children all the time. I had a vision of how their childhood was going to be, and I was not going to give it up. The trouble is that your ex feels the same.
Some people resort to dirty tricks, one of the commonest and most successful of which is to accuse the other parent of sexual abuse or violence. The authorities will take several years failing to investigate, during which time the accused will be allowed little or no contact with the children.
A judge is then equally likely to rule that the children have got used to the separation from their parent, and should not be disturbed by having it reversed. It is not illegal or punishable for someone to accuse you falsely in this way, and nor is it illegal for a solicitor to suggest it as a tactic.
The courts are seemingly unaware that women are almost as likely to be violent as men, and so the same accusations against them are less likely to be believed. As I once had a girlfriend who attacked me every time she got drunk, I am not inclined to fall for any myths about the gentler sex.
Another dirty trick commonly employed by mothers is to move a long way away and take the children with her. In this way, while a man may have the right to have the children three days a week, if the mother has moved to the other end of the country, or even abroad, it makes fatherhood impossible.
British Family Law doesn’t, in short, give a damn about men. A judge in Cambridge told me that he was appalled by how often men were simply treated as sperm donors and cashpoints. The more you can withhold the children from a father, the more maintenance he has to pay because the mother — having turned herself into the primary carer — is less likely to be able to work, and will have more costs to bear.
There seems to be little expectation that mothers should make a financial contribution, even though we all know mothers who successfully go out to work or run their own businesses, and despite school hours meaning it’s perfectly possible to get part-time work. Middle-class mothers will be relieved to know they are considered too delicate to have to go and stack shelves in Tesco like everyone else. There is, therefore, a very strong financial incentive to make sure that fathers have their children as little as possible.
A big part of the problem with Family Law, as practised at present, is that it is adversarial, and this has given rise to hordes of lawyers who exist to exploit the hurricane of emotions that overtakes you.
They raise the level of aggression and acrimony, and some of them will clean you out of every penny you have. They are masters of delay and of creating new things for you to argue about and hate each other for, and the vituperation and litigation will not end until one of you cannot pay them any more.
My solicitor was agreeable to the idea of mediation right from the start, and I estimate that her charges came to about one-third of what my ex had to pay. My solicitor and I were open-mouthed with amazement when, at one hearing, they turned up with three lawyers.
Early on in the break-up, I found myself receiving orders from these enemy solicitors, who seemed to have a fantasy that they actually had some authority over me. I was to have the children every other weekend, and the weekend was to begin on Saturday morning and end early on Sunday evening. I was not to go and help out in my son’s nursery during the early days, when that was the only way I could get to see him.
I said to my solicitor: ‘Why can’t I just go and kidnap them back?’ But I was advised not to get involved in open warfare.
Even so, I am not the kind of person who reacts kindly to being told what to do by people who knew neither me nor my children, and who, I believe, just wanted my head as another trophy.
Their firm’s propaganda clearly displays their pride in duffing over the eminent or rich. They began a prolonged war without it ever occurring to them to ask my ex if she thought she was really doing the best or the right thing.
Luckily, the judge in Norwich wasn’t going to take any nonsense. The first question he asked was ‘What about a process of reconciliation?’ The second thing he said was that, with all respect, lawyers were part of the problem, and why didn’t we do everything by mediation?
We did sort out the sharing of the children by mediation, which turned out to be quick, easy and cheap, although painful at times. During the inevitable rows, the mediator just looked out of the window until we had finished.
My ex did not want to deal with finances by mediation, however, and that became a fantastically long and expensive ordeal that ultimately took no account whatsoever of the fact that a writer’s income fluctuates wildly from year to year.
The general public may not know that family law is ‘judicial’. That is, it is made up by judges as they go along. There is no proper code of practice and no proper code of laws, except that judges tend to follow previous rulings.
You are faced with a situation in which you and your solicitor have no idea what the likely outcome is, because, as I was often told: ‘It all depends on the judge. You might be lucky, and you might not.’
The judge in Norwich I have already described. The one in London dealing with the question of finance was mainly starring in her own show, immensely enjoyed her own robust humour, did not let me speak at all and did not let my barrister finish a sentence.
So what is to be done? Any review of family law has to take account of the fact that times have changed. Fathers now do things that only mothers used to do. We enjoy it, we want to carry on doing it and we want to remove the anomaly and injustice involved in the judicial habit of thinking that mothers count and fathers don’t.
Many countries have equality as a default position, and I have not heard of this causing any problems. Children are sometimes annoyed about having to live in two places at once, but that is all it is — a bit of an irritation.
I’d be mildly vexed if I was halfway through a jigsaw puzzle and had to leave it at one house to go to the other, just as I am certainly vexed when I discover that all my children’s socks have disappeared because they are at their mother’s house.
Women continue to struggle for equal rights in the workplace, and I have always supported them in this, ever since I became interested in feminist issues in the Seventies.
Women were demanding that men should take more of a share of domestic responsibilities, so that their talents could flourish in the wider world. Well, we have — and a lot of us have grown to love it.
I have my children half the time now, and I only feel truly happy when I have them in the house. The love exchanged between us makes any other kind of love a bit of a sideshow, which in some ways is a pity, but I wouldn’t change it.
My ex and I live harmoniously not very far apart, and the more the legal horrors recede into the distance, the easier it becomes to get along. A pleasant friendship and companionship has reappeared, which help me to push away the anger and resentment that still frequently perturb me.
There was, however, a time when I was utterly bereft. For some months, I was helpless with rage and frustration and an overwhelming sense of injustice, always aware that any extreme expression of my despair would inevitably be used against me in order to show that I was unstable. Of course I was unstable! Isn’t that normal when you’ve been thrown into Hades? I am very surprised that there are not more murders and suicides relating to parents separating, although there are many such.
I was only able to carry on because I never gave up hope, and I knew that the most important thing was to give the children a good future.
I was also given a cause to fight for. Our children, their fathers and their fathers’ relatives have got to have rights enshrined in law, because our pains and pleasures, our joys in our children, are as pure and profound as those of mothers and their relatives. The children need all of us.
On Mother’s Day next weekend, I hope David Cameron publishes an article in a newspaper pointing out that it is more often fatherless children that become delinquent, not motherless ones.
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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.