Saturday, April 28, 2012

For Societal Well-Being, Marriage is Foundational

I think that there is much truth in what  Marybeth Hicks says below but, given the way current divorce laws are weighted against men both in the USA and Britain, a man would have to be mad or seriously underinformed to marry in those countries.  No wonder many men "won't commit".  It could be financial suicide.  I myself have been married four times with no real adverse outcomes  -- but I do live in Australia,  which is a much more relaxed and hence saner society than most of the rest of the world

It’s official. Brad and Angelina are engaged, succumbing to pressure from family members to finally tie the knot.

Back in the day, that pressure would have come from a worried mother, or more likely, a protective father and the business end of shotgun.

But this is 2012. The family pressure to marry comes, in this case, from the Jolie-Pitts’ six children. Though the couple once said they wouldn’t marry until the privilege to do so was afforded to everyone, their political statement in defense of gay marriage ultimately lost out to the need to make a promise to their kids.

Who knows if this celebrity marriage will have more staying power than most? So far, their devotion to their children appears to reflect a certain level of commitment. But it takes much more than shared parenting to make a marriage. It takes work.

According to a 2010 study from the Pew Research Center, only about half of all adults were married as of 2008. In 1960, that number was 72 percent. And marriage itself is becoming a luxury of the wealthy and well-educated. The Pew study indicates there now is a 16 percent gap in marriage rates between college graduates and those with a high school diploma or less. In 1960, that gap was only 4 percent.

Worse, growing numbers of adults say marriage itself is becoming obsolete. In 1978, 28 percent of registered voters thought the institution of marriage was an outdated idea. Today, nearly 40 percent think this is so.

If the institution itself has not quite gone the way of the dodo, certainly the expectation that marriage is a lifelong commitment might be considered optimistic, at best.

Divorce is a likely outcome for between 41 percent and 50 percent of first-time married couples (the frequency of divorce depends on which research you believe), with 60 percent of second marriages ending in divorce and a whopping 73 percent of third marriages failing.

As the Huffington Post’s “Divorce” page reminds us, “Marriages come and go, but divorce is forever.” (Huffington Post doesn’t even have a “Marriage” page. Go figure.)

Former Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum used his campaign to remind us that successful marriages are crucial to the health and well-being of a society.  “Marriage is a society’s lifeblood,” he said. “Not everybody can or will marry, but all of us (married or not) depend on marriage in a unique way. Marriage is foundational: It creates and sustains not only children, but civilization itself.”

According to the Family Research Council, marriage is “the most important social act, one that involves much more than just the married couple.”

“To begin with, extended families are merged and renewed through a wedding. It also is through marriage that the community and the nation are renewed.

“Marriage also has beneficial social and health effects for both adults and children, and these gifts benefit the community and the whole society. … The future of the nation depends on the creation of good marriages and good homes for children.”

Of course, we don’t get married to save the nation. We don’t imagine our families as “mitigating structures” for the community, or as an economic force to uplift our towns and neighborhoods.  We marry for love.

Twenty-five years ago today, I married the love of my life, Jim Hicks. We couldn’t know then what it meant when people told us that a lifelong marriage would take work and sacrifice and selflessness.

We couldn’t imagine the frustrations and disappointments along the way, just as we could not have dreamed of the blessings and bounty that God - in his inexplicable grace - has allowed us to enjoy.

We only hoped for children, but never envisioned the four human beings whose mere existence affirms our own and personifies our love.  We simply said, “I do.” And then we did. With prayer and patience, love and laughter, we uphold the covenant we made all those years ago.

Obsolete? Not even a little bit. Love endures forever.



Some great British comedies no longer "correct"

Cowardly broadcasters are blacklisting TV classics like It Ain’t Half Hot Mum for fear of causing offence

BBC2 is currently halfway through airing a documentary series suggesting that the 1970s was a very misunderstood decade. Although it has briefly mentioned that several comedy shows of the era reflected the roots of a sexually permissive society and environmentalism, it is a fair bet that some of the more controversial – but truly groundbreaking – productions will be quietly ignored.

Morecambe and Wise is still lauded as the gold standard of the era, with The Two Ronnies a close second, but the swift fall from modern grace afforded to most other offerings of the time is a telling barometer of changing societal attitudes, and not always for the better.

Comfortable stockbroker-belt cheese, represented by Terry and June in their detached suburban house, has long since gone out of fashion, unless accompanied by a dysfunctional family aspect. And Man About the House – and its spin-offs George and Mildred and Robin’s Nest – are rarely aired since increasing gender equality meant even the merest hint of female subservience was frowned upon. However by far the biggest shift has been in the area of race.

One would struggle to discover it now, but the ‘70s brought forth a plethora of comedies inspired what was then the brand new idea of multiculturalism. A nation that was still emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, complete with a suspicion of foreigners, was coming to terms with the societal friction immigration invariably brings. And doing it rather well.

Differences were highlighted and ridiculed by shows such as Mixed Blessings, which charted prejudice surrounding inter-racial marriage. Racist Alf Garnett was laughed out of the house by his own daughter and made to look a hypocritical fool. And the macho, sometimes violent, animosity of Love Thy Neighbour – in which the ‘white honky’ Eddie mostly ended up being portrayed as an ignorant dinosaur – were all lost to our screens a long time ago, despite their arguably highlighting irrational bigotry on both sides.

To TV audiences, it’s like they never existed, with few programmers brave enough to schedule repeats. Their passing hides a valuable historical record of our nation’s agonising over race, and the consequential realignment of values to suit the modern age – all told with a slice of subtle education and a healthy dose of slapstick.

This denial of history has been subtle for quite a while, but has ironically been elevated by the BBC this week deciding that It Ain’t Half Hot Mum be marked as unsuitable for modern re-runs on the grounds of political correctness.

While BBC2 is admirably laying to rest myths about 1970s culture and attitudes, their schedulers have sent a different signal in condemning a series which was a major comedy success and enjoyed up to 15million viewers at its peak, all innocently chuckling through its seven year run.

Not uniquely for its age, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum lampooned the entire cast. There were stereotypes - of that there is no doubt - but they were just as likely to be the authoritarian stereotypical military Brit in the form of Windsor Davies, or the ineffectual fish out of water soldier, Gunner ‘Lofty’, as they were ‘Indian, Burmese or Japanese’ according to the reasoning behind the programme being shelved.

The BBC points to the terms of its trust status in censoring - because that is exactly what it is - this highly successful series based on their own self-administered sensibilities. That it was considered for repeats in the first place proves that it was likely to be popular, and was not black-balled as a result of projected apathy or lack of viewers. This means the decision was political, not based upon whether it was funny enough to merit re-screening or not.

This is perfectly illustrated by the fact that all the comedy series mentioned are available to buy on DVD at far from subversive sites such as Amazon. Even multicultural stereotype promoter Mind Your Language is available -  at a premium price - too. We’re perfectly free to watch these programmes. Just not, it would appear, on the BBC.

The recently-announced decision to exclude It Ain’t Half Hot Mum from future programming is all too depressing. Not only by depriving younger viewers an insight into what the BBC admits was ‘a different time’, but also by attempting to pretend that prejudices, even comical ones, never existed in the post-war era.

If we are to learn by history, the denying of it can serve no purpose except to encourage many to cast themselves as victims of politically-correct marginalisation and consequentially reinforce prejudices on race, rather than break them down.

Is the BBC really trying to say that the 1970s public – which they entertained without too many qualms at the time - were largely racist and uncaring? Many alive today who have experience of the decade would undoubtedly take that as a profound insult.

Additionally, if the BBC is quoting stereotypes as a reason for banning comedies from the 1970s, Dad’s Army’s black or white portrayal of Germans – complete with caricatured ‘Jerry’ accents – must surely soon be for the chop. As will ‘Allo ‘Allo, a show whose sole comic vehicle was stereotypical portrayals of Europeans, and authored by the same David Croft who crafted It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.

It is very sad that, yet again, something as innocent and life-enhancing as comedy is being censored as if it were damaging to the nation, when quite the opposite is true.

Political correctness is, or should be, promoted as a way of improving lives not detracting from them. By banning a TV show in which millions have found enjoyment, the BBC are playing the modern game of pandering to the too-easily offended, and depriving the many a dash of simple comedy joy for fear of feeding an ever-vanishing minority of bigots.

They mean well, without question, but without conflict comedy fails; it was the situation which provided the comedy. With friction comes fun. Dispensing with It Ain’t Half Hot Mum tries to rewrite history through censorship, is a condemnatory slap in the face to those who enjoyed it, and employs political correctness as a tool to yet again make life that little bit more dreary.


Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians

Just as Jews were once expelled from Arab lands, Christians are now being forced from countries they have long inhabited.

The church in Bethlehem had survived more than 1,000 years, through wars and conquests, but its future now seemed in jeopardy. Spray-painted all over its ancient stone walls were the Arabic letters for Hamas. The year was 1994 and the city was about to pass from Israeli to Palestinian control. I was meeting with the church's clergy as an Israeli government adviser on inter-religious affairs. They were despondent but too frightened to file a complaint. The same Hamas thugs who had desecrated their sanctuary were liable to take their lives.

The trauma of those priests is now commonplace among Middle Eastern Christians. Their share of the region's population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer.

As 800,000 Jews were once expelled from Arab countries, so are Christians being forced from lands they've inhabited for centuries.

The only place in the Middle East where Christians aren't endangered but flourishing is Israel. Since Israel's founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%.

Christians are prominent in all aspects of Israeli life, serving in the Knesset, the Foreign Ministry and on the Supreme Court. They are exempt from military service, but thousands have volunteered and been sworn in on special New Testaments printed in Hebrew. Israeli Arab Christians are on average more affluent than Israeli Jews and better-educated, even scoring higher on their SATs.

This does not mean that Israeli Christians do not occasionally encounter intolerance. But in contrast to elsewhere in the Middle East where hatred of Christians is ignored or encouraged, Israel remains committed to its Declaration of Independence pledge to "ensure the complete equality of all its citizens irrespective of religion." It guarantees free access to all Christian holy places, which are under the exclusive aegis of Christian clergy. When Muslims tried to erect a mosque near the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Israeli government interceded to preserve the sanctity of the shrine.

Israel abounds with such sites (Capernaum, the Hill of the Beatitudes, the birth place of St. John the Baptist) but the state constitutes only part of the Holy Land. The rest, according to Jewish and Christian tradition, is in Gaza and the West Bank. Christians in those areas suffer the same plight as their co-religionists throughout the region.

Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, half the Christian community has fled. Christmas decorations and public displays of crucifixes are forbidden. In a December 2010 broadcast, Hamas officials exhorted Muslims to slaughter their Christian neighbors. Rami Ayad, owner of Gaza's only Christian bookstore, was murdered, his store reduced to ash. This is the same Hamas with which the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank recently signed a unity pact.

Little wonder, then, that the West Bank is also hemorrhaging Christians. Once 15% of the population, they now make up less than 2%. Some have attributed the flight to Israeli policies that allegedly deny Christians economic opportunities, stunt demographic growth, and impede access to the holy sites of Jerusalem. In fact, most West Bank Christians live in cities such as Nablus, Jericho and Ramallah, which are under Palestinian Authority control. All those cities have experienced marked economic growth and sharp population increase—among Muslims.

Israel, in spite of its need to safeguard its borders from terrorists, allows holiday access to Jerusalem's churches to Christians from both the West Bank and Gaza. In Jerusalem, the number of Arabs—among them Christians—has tripled since the city's reunification by Israel in 1967.

There must be another reason, then, for the West Bank's Christian exodus. The answer lies in Bethlehem. Under Israeli auspices, the city's Christian population grew by 57%. But under the Palestinian Authority since 1995, those numbers have plummeted. Palestinian gunmen seized Christian homes—compelling Israel to build a protective barrier between them and Jewish neighborhoods—and then occupied the Church of the Nativity, looting it and using it as a latrine. Today, Christians comprise a mere one-fifth of their holy city's population.

The extinction of the Middle East's Christian communities is an injustice of historic magnitude. Yet Israel provides an example of how this trend can not only be prevented but reversed. With the respect and appreciation that they receive in the Jewish state, the Christians of Muslim countries could not only survive but thrive.


Young Australian Aborigines are the principal authors of their own misfortunes

It's no good blaming the police

What is the likely fact missing from the following droll entry in the NSW Police media log for Wednesday, September 28, last year?

"Police have arrested two boys aged 15 and 11 following the pursuit of a stolen car in Sydney's inner west this morning. About 3.30am police spotted a stolen white Honda Civic travelling along Parramatta Road at Stanmore.

"The car failed to stop after being directed and a pursuit was initiated … The pursuit was terminated after … the car crashed into a gutter at an intersection [in Petersham].

"When police approached the car, the 15-year-old driver was allegedly armed with a pair of scissors … The driver, from Glebe, was subjected to a breath alcohol analysis and returned a reading of 0.042."

The same likely fact is missing from a incident two weeks later on October 11, reported on "A 14-year-old girl allegedly failed to stop for a random breath test and led officers on a high-speed car chase before crashing and rolling a car in western Sydney this morning, police say."

The car chase took place about 3am in the western suburb of Whalan.

There have been other similar incidents leading up to the depressingly predictable crash and shooting in Kings Cross early on Saturday, when a stolen car, driven by a 14-year-old, ran down two pedestrians.

What sort of kids are on the streets after 3am, in stolen cars, drinking alcohol, driving recklessly and resisting police?

You know the answer. The statistical probability points to a subculture that is overwhelmingly over-represented in arrests, convictions, incarceration, child abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, alcohol abuse and substance abuse. This subculture functions in a culture of moral apartheid, which perpetuates the vicious cycle.

It was inevitable that a feral teenager in a stolen car was going to run over someone. Cars are more lethal than guns. They kill or seriously injure thousands of people a year, while guns are used in only several dozen murders or attempted murders a year.

In Kings Cross on Saturday morning, Sarah Roberts and Tanya Donaldson were on the footpath when they were bowled over. Roberts, 29, was rushed to hospital. The joyriders going to Kings Cross in a stolen car were begging for trouble and it duly came when a police foot patrol, attempting to stop a vehicle that had already hit two women, fired into the front window to immobilise the car.

In so doing the police wounded the 14-year-old driver and the 17-year-old front seat passenger. The police were aiming at the windshield, not the occupants. When a car is being driven with such callous indifference to safety that two pedestrians are knocked over, police must assume the car's occupants are also dangerous and attempt to subdue them quickly. These incidents take place in instants, not minutes.

It turns out that the driver of the car has been known to police since he was eight. Eight! Five occupants of the car, including two 14-year-olds, were later charged with various offences.

Yet since the incident the two who were shot have been presented as victims, with stories about anger in Redfern. At a rally outside NSW Parliament on Wednesday organisers accused police of "attempted murder".

Predictably, Anthony Mundine, he of the quick fists and quick mouth, entered the fray via Twitter: "Heartbreaking day for me visiting 14 y.o kid shot by police at Kings Cross. I'm at loss to understand how cops could shoot unarmed kids!!!"

He later added: "Barry O'Farrell needs to take a serious look at his police force. All I keep hearing about [is] trigger happy cops killing people. Wrong fo[r] real!!!"

It is not "trigger happy cops" the community is worried about. The bulk of the anger coming out of the Kings Cross drama is from a much wider community sick of violent, self-destructive behaviour by young Aborigines. The community is sick, too, of the constant use of the term "disadvantage" to rationalise the irrational and excuse the inexcusable.

Mundine continued to dig a hole for himself on Twitter yesterday - "police intentionally shot to kill!" - followed by this: "Yes the kids should be trailed [sic] for what they did! But the police should be trailed [sic] for attempted murder!"

Sarah Roberts and Tanya Donaldson were minding their own business when they were mowed down by a dangerous fool. As to their welfare, Mundine had nothing to say, other than this: "DID THEY DIE???"



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING 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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