Wednesday, April 04, 2012

If You Can’t Beat The Truth, Silence It

A gut-wrenching example of the lengths to which men will go to silence the voices of conscience recently played out in an Ontario Court of Justice. There, Judge S. Ford Clements sentenced pro-life advocate Mary Wagner to 92 more days in jail, on top of the 88 days she’d already spent behind bars, all because she has been walking into the waiting rooms in Canadian abortion clinics and sharing hope with the women who are waiting to have their babies killed.

And the story gets worse. Clements was so outraged by Wagner’s passion for life that he lashed out at her in front of the court:
    You don’t get it, do you? What’s the rule of law? You’re required to abide by it … You’ve lost the right as a citizen to be anywhere near an abortion clinic or to speak to an employee.

    You’re wrong and your God’s wrong. You have complete contempt … There is a right to (abortion) in this country … You don’t have a right to cause (abortion-seeking women) extra pain and grief the way you do.

There are many ironies in Clements’ angry words, not the least of which was the fact that he equated Wagner’s message of Christian hope with “extra pain and grief” for women preparing to have an abortion. Yet Wagner has not been going into the waiting rooms to cause extra pain and grief but to impart good news which may, God willing, lead some women to walk out of the waiting room instead of having an abortion: thereby sparing a child’s life.

Note, too, Clements’ bombastic proclamation of “Your God’s wrong.” Most obvious is the fact that it’s not a judge’s business to make such a pronouncement. But ever since Adam and Eve stood in the Garden of Eden, man has been trying to prove God a liar or a heavenly miscreant. This judge in Canada is no different.

The good news is that Wagner was not intimated by Clements’ verbal outbreak, nor was she swayed by his low opinion of God’s judgment on matters of life and death. Rather, when asked whether she would stop going to abortion clinic waiting rooms and ministering to women for a period of three years—three years being the length of probation for having gone to the waiting rooms in the first place—Wagner said she would not stop going.

So Clements has tucked Wagner back into a cell for 92 more days.

I guess the message is: If you can’t beat the truth, silence it.


But tweets will never hurt me

The imprisonment of a UK student for posting ‘aggravating’ tweets about an ill footballer is no LOL matter

‘See the young man who was abusive about Muamba got a custodial sentence. Let it be a warning to all you immature souls. #thinkbeforeyoutweet.’ So tweeted ex-footballer Gary Lineker, popularising the #thinkbeforeyoutweet hashtag used in reaction to the news that 21-year-old student Liam Stacey was to be imprisoned for 56 days. Stacey had posted abusive comments about Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba who fell ill during an FA Cup match.

Lineker was far from alone in seeing the imprisonment of Stacey as an important warning for internet ‘trolls’ everywhere. The Apprentice star Lord Alan Sugar responded to the news with the tweet ‘BLOODY GOOD JOB. Be warned idiots!’, and veteran broadcaster James Whale claimed ‘people who abuse Twitter take note’. Others went still further, tweeting that they hope people will ‘rape the fuck out of him’ in prison, with the #DONTDROPTHESOAP hashtag being frequently used. One Twitterer even claimed, ‘I wouldn’t really care if Liam Stacey died. He’s a sick man, from the scum of the earth.’

Sure, even if Stacey had drunk the eight pints he claimed to have done before tweeting ‘LOL. Fuck Muamba he’s dead!!! #Haha’, you would still have to be pretty sick in the head to do so. And his racist responses to some people who criticised him afterwards were obnoxious. Stacey rightly deserved to be challenged and put in his place.

But the censorious Twittersphere wouldn’t stop at that. One person proudly boasted about being ‘one of 100s who reported his racist tweets to the police’, which eventually led to him being incarcerated. Upon being sentenced at Swansea Magistrates Court, district judge John Charles announced, ‘At that moment, not just the footballer’s family, not just the footballing world, but the whole world were literally praying for his life. Your comments aggravated this situation.’ The judge told Stacey he had done ‘untold harm’ to his future.

So you can now be locked up for 56 days simply for saying something that aggravates people? That Liam Stacey had less than 300 followers on Twitter out of a potential 140million means that a very small number of people would have been aggravated by him, and these could simply have chosen to block his comments. Had the comments been ignored, rather than highlighted by offence-seeking campaigners, they would have remained a miniscule drop into the ocean of 340million tweets made each day. Certainly a number of Stacey’s comments were racist, but to claim – as Judge Charles did – that this instigated other nasty tweets against Muamba is highly questionable. People are not automatons, and don’t just read comments and decide to mimic them. If others tweeted nasty comments about Muamba, they are responsible for them, not Stacey. A couple of racist tweets does not a racist pogrom make.

Judge Charles concluded that, ‘I have no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you have done’. But he did have a choice. He could have ignored the ‘public outrage’, much of it emanating from snitches on Twitter, and upheld Stacey’s freedom of speech, the foundational freedom upon which all of our democratic freedoms rest upon. He could have recognised that if you lock someone up for saying what are deemed to be the ‘wrong’ things, no matter how vile, then free speech no longer exists in the UK. The state, in the form of court judges, is now seemingly permitted to become the arbiter of the boundaries of what can or cannot be said.

Even mounting a defence of the bedrock liberty of modern society is likely to see you attacked by the Twitterati, however. Broadcaster Piers Morgan, for example, tweeted to over 2million followers: ‘Trying to work out who’s more idiotic - that dumb, racist cry-baby #LiamStacey or those trying to defend him on grounds of “free speech”.’ Morgan continued: ‘Still getting Twitter trolls demanding their “free speech” right to racially abuse black footballers as they lie in comas. Just p*** off… Actually, I’ve got a better idea - keep spewing your racist filth, vile trolls, and let’s get you all arrested and jailed like #LiamStacey.’ (Hilariously, he then responded to his detractors claiming, ‘Come on you vile little trolls - let me have your worst. I can handle it. #SticksAndStones.’)

In a bitter irony, only last week, Tony Wang, the UK general manager of Twitter, declared that Twitter is ‘the free speech wing of the free speech party’. While Twitter itself may be neutral regarding the content of what is said on its site, it’s evident that many of its users are using it to erode free speech in the UK in the most chilling fashion. Twitter is as likely to be used to snitch on people to the police for making comments they disapprove of, or to campaign for offending people to be fired from their jobs or get kicked out of universities (there is currently a campaign to get Stacey kicked off his course at Swansea University), than it is to be used for members of the ‘free speech party’ to champion their cause. Indeed, it seems that for some, defending free speech on Twitter is tantamount to spewing ‘racist filth’.

Following Stacey’s arrest, censorious Twitter users are bending over backwards to try to out-censor one another. One such user wrote ‘LOL at Liam Stacey getting jailed by the Twitter police for racial comments. Hope all the coloured men rape the fuck out of him.’ He was then promptly reported to the police by another user, Ivor Sawbottom, who told him, ‘@ScoobyDrew93 your tweet is an incitement to violence. I am reporting you to @metpoliceuk.’ Twitter is fast becoming a highly intolerant sphere, with what can and cannot be said without censure shrinking all the time.

It is little surprise that Stacey was imprisoned for making comments about a footballer. At the present moment, there is an unprecedented crackdown on the behaviour and comments of football fans – people seen by the media and politicians to be little more than bigoted lowlifes. But make no mistake, Stacey’s imprisonment for expressing views on Twitter, no matter how vile, could have wide-ranging implications for the ability of all of us to speak freely.

Certainly, we should all think before we tweet (and speak) – to ensure we convey what is on our mind as accurately as possible. But we should not have to factor into this consideration whether or not we will be incarcerated by the state as a result. Stacey’s imprisonment demonstrates that such considerations do now have to be made. This marks a dark day for the most fundamental of our democratic freedoms.


France shows the way:   expels five Islamist radicals

FRANCE has expelled two Islamic radicals and plans to deport three more as part of its crackdown following last month's attacks by an Islamist who shot dead seven people.

An Algerian radical and a Malian imam were sent back to their home countries overnight, the interior ministry said.

A Saudi imam would not be let back into the country, a Turkish imam and a Tunisian radical would also shortly be expelled, and others would follow.

At an election rally in the eastern city of Nancy overnight, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was sending a very clear message.

"All those who make remarks contrary to the values of the Republic will be instantly put outside the territory of the French Republic, there will no exception, there will be no leniency," he said.

French police arrested 19 people in a crackdown on suspected Islamist networks in dawn raids on Saturday as Mr Sarkozy made the battle against extremism a keynote of his re-election campaign.

Of those, 16 were still in custody today, sources close to the investigation said.  Among them is Willie Brigitte, a Muslim convert arrested in Australia and extradited to France in 2003.

Some of the arrests were made in the southwest city of Toulouse, where gunman Mohamed Merah was shot dead by police last month after a 32-hour siege at a flat there.

Of the two deported overnight, Algerian activist Ali Belhadad had served 18 months in France for his part in a 1994 attack on a Marrakech hotel in which gunmen killed two people and wounded two others, said the ministry.

Belhadad, who had in recent weeks re-established links with the radical Islamist movement, had been deported to Algeria, the ministry said.

Also deported overnight was Malian imam Almany Baradji, who had been preaching anti-Semitism and advocating the wearing of the full-face veil, said the ministry. Wearing the full-face veil in public is illegal under French law.

The ministry said that Saudi imam Saad Nasser Alshatry, who had promoted the isolation of women, was currently out of France but would be refused entry should he try to return.

Moves were also underway to expel Tunisian Islamist activist Malek Drine and Turkish imam Yusuf Yuksel from the country, said the ministry.

France last week banned four Muslim preachers from entering the country for a conference of the Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF), citing their "calls for hatred and violence".

In Algeria meanwhile, one of the lawyers for Merah's father said a 10-strong legal team would represent him in his lawsuit against France's elite RAID police unit that killed his son.

"Seven Algerian lawyers and three French lawyers are going to represent the father of Mohamed Merah in France," lawyer Zahia Mokhtari said.

Mohamed Merah was shot dead by a police sniper on March 22 at the end of a 32-hour siege at his flat in Toulouse.  The 23-year-old had shot dead three soldiers, and three children and a teacher at a Jewish school, in three attacks last month.


Australian government should legalise and tax drugs, report says

Prominent minister Bob Carr agrees but PM Gillard has already rejected the advice.  Criminalizing something that most Australians do at some stage seems crazy to me and  I have never smoked ANYTHING -- not even a cigarette.  Sure pot is harmful but so is alcohol

THE war on drugs has failed according to a new report calling for a national debate on the controversial topic of decriminalising drugs.

The report, released today, urges politicians to face the taboo subject. It says a massive re-think is needed to tackle the illegal drug trade that allows organised crime to flourish and is "killing our children".

The report draws on the views of high profile Australians and health experts.  Its verdict is that the tough law and order approach is doing more harm than good.

Put together by not-for-profit think-tank Australia21, the report includes the views of former federal law enforcement officers, health ministers, and premiers, including Foreign Minister Bob Carr, former NSW health minister Michael Wooldridge and former West Australian premier Geoff Gallop.

Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery is quoted as being "strongly in favour of legalising, regulating, controlling and taxing all drugs".

"A first step towards such a regime could be decriminalisation, similar to the approach adopted 10 years ago in Portugal or an adaptation of that approach," he writes.  But he does not advocate making all drugs available to "anybody wanting them".

Australia21 stops short of directly backing decriminalisation but one former top prosecutor says in the report drugs should be legalised, regulated and taxed to control use.

Ahead of the report's release today, Senator Carr said he supported decriminalising low-level drug use but stressed he did not want illicit substances as readily available as cigarettes and alcohol.

"A bit of modest decriminalisation, de facto decriminalisation at the edges, simply freeing up police to be doing the things they ought to be doing would be a sensible way of going about it," he told Channel 7.

Senator Carr said decriminalisation would enable police to direct their resources elsewhere.  "I was very frustrated, from time to time, when I heard about police with sniffer dogs at railway stations hoping to catch people with small quantities of marijuana or raiding nightclubs hoping to get people with ecstasy," he said.

Senator Carr, whose brother Greg died of a heroin overdose in 1981, said he was proud to have opened a medically supervised injecting room at Kings Cross when he ran NSW.

"As premier I sponsored a medically supervised injecting room so that people who are hooked on this wretched, addictive white powder ... would have a chance," he said.  "While they were there, you could persuade them to give the stuff up and to enter treatment to get off it."

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said there is not yet a lot of evidence that decriminalising drugs would improve the situation.

While a parallel was often drawn with legal drugs like alcohol, there was a valid argument that alcohol regulation was not working when there were high rates of teenage binge drinking.

"The fact that we have challenges in being able to stop illicit drugs doesn't necessarily mean that deregulating it entirely and making them legal is going to prove the right solution," she told ABC radio.

Policymakers had to tread very cautiously in the area.  "As a government we're always interested and happy to engage in debate," Ms Roxon said.  "But there's a pretty high threshold that they're going to have to get over to convince not just the government but the community that this would be a positive step."



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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